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MassResistance Insanity

From Kuwasi Balagoon - revolutionary New African anarchist

"i think we tend to use the term "left" too lossely, everybody left of Reagan ain't left. Basic self-determination, the means of production being in the hands of the workers, should be the criteria of recognizing an ideology as left. Just because someone doesn't want some fool in Washington to blow the world to pieces doesn't make them left. Everybody who protests the curtailing of civil liberties that effect them, ain't left. And we make a mistake when we assume that they are, and they let us know we made mistakes when the basic issues arise.

When a gay group protests lack of police protection, by making an alliance with police to form a gay taskforce, they ain't making a stand against the system they are joining it. Putting more power in the hands of those who attack them for being what they are in the first place. Those women's organizations with membership with underpaid Black, Puerto Rican and Mexican maids, who decided to vote differently when the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated, can't be called Left, just as Blacks mobilizing to field a presidential candidate arn't left. Left is the land and means of production in the hands of the masses and Right is land and the means of production in the hands of a few pigs."

Kuwasi Balagoon was a Black revolutionary soldier who died on Dec. 13, 1986 from AIDS related illness. While I think we need more than just the means of production in the hands of the masses, I think this is a helpful statement from Kuwasi for us to think about. Kuwasi is a forgotten queer hero who struggled for liberation!

Today: National Day of Silence

QueerToday.com stands in solidarity with all of the young people across the nation participating in the Day of Silence to draw attention to anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. This year's event is in honor of Lawrence King, the 8th grader who was murdered early this year for being gay.

Break the Silence at the new queertoday.com by starting a blog and sharing your experiences with the Day of Silence or anti-lgbt harassment.

Break the silence here: http://queertoday.ning.com/?xgi=hAcfffY

Greenwashing of the Gays!

Welcome New Englade Blade Readers!

The Boston Pride 2008 theme "Sustaining our Community, Conserving Our World" presents queer activists with an excellent opportunity to demonstrate why environmental justice is important. I applaud the activists who voted for it on the Boston Pride web site.

Though it is a great theme, I worry it could be a reflection of the "grenwashing" of the gay community. We must remember that corporate sponsors of gay events and publications such as Ford, Bank of America, Chevy, Clorox, Pfizer, and Proctor and Gamble are not "green."

Being "green" has become more trendy and popular than we could have ever imagined, even after Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth I don't think anyone saw this coming. In the past few months the magazine shelves have been filled with "green issues." Not to be outdone The Advocate premiered its "green issue" this week. Aside from the color choice the content was far from green. Maybe a little racist (see below), but not "green."

The Advocate's corporate advertisers submitted a bevy of "greenwash." The first ad in the magazine is for a Hybrid Lexus. There is not a peep about corporate destruction of the environment in the Editor's letter. And the first article in the magazine about "green" issues is one that praises Ford motor company for having the largest "green roof" on a building and the company's 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign (I just threw up a little in my mouth because Shell Oil is one of HRC's major corporate funders).

The magazine continues by giving lots of tips, geared towards the wealthy, on how to go "green." Paint with organic paint. Change your light bulbs. Drive a hybrid SUV. Pay for carbon offsets. Even Rufus Wainwright chimes in telling Advocate readers to turn off their electricity for a day.

Then there are the "green warriors" who the Advocate admits were hard to find. Yes, these folks are on the front lines of fighting for environmental justice (a term I couldn't' find in the entire issue). There is a fashion designer, an architect, and an interior designer. Heroes!

Next up, an interview with General Motors praising their "concept" car. (The gays like totally forgot who killed the electric car.)

Finally, on page 48 of the "green issue" the Advocate has an advertisement for itself featuring a photo of a person of color's hand holding a white hand set in a forest. The tagline: "he wanted to show me some exotic places." So there you have it. Buy a hybrid SUV and have sex with an "exotic" brown person and your martini sipping Friends will be "green" with envy!

Now I do my fair share of little "green" things. I use my own cloth bags when I shop, I eat a plant based diet (yes that saves your health, saves money, animals, AND the environment - but you won't hear Al Gore admit that little inconvenient truth), I use energy saving light bulbs, I don't wear leather, and I've asked my employer to green their products in the staff kitchen. But I'm also realistic about the fact that even if we all do those little things the ocean's plastic garbage bin that is twice the size of Texas will not disappear, and the entire world's environment is doomed unless we get the oil companies and their buddies to stop.


As the gay community jumps on the green trend, it is up to queer activists to expose the scientific truth. We must join hands with our friends at organizations like ACE in Boston - an organization that empowers teens to fight for environmental justice issues such as better public transportation, and no biolabs. We must make our voices heard by first creating coalitions with activists on the front lines, and then by educating others at events like Boston Pride, where corporate Coal Industry investors like Bank of America will likely engage in well-funded "greenwashing" campaigns.

On May 10th (Youth Pride Day) QueerToday.com will launch a new social network and publish a green toolkit that you can use to inform yourself and others about environmental justice during this "green" Pride season.

In the Life: Beauty on the Black Market

Exposing Teen Jails

"Erica was 16 when she was sentenced to Columbia after running away, a probation violation of an earlier marijuana conviction.

She admits she was a girl quick to sass her parents, full of anger about the death of a relative that happened around the same time Katrina wrecked her family's Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, home.

Nervously touching a sparkly barrette in her red hair, she cries as she describes how guards forced her legs into tight metal shackles. She said she was cuffed and chained when she ate and used the bathroom -- and was even forced to play soccer that way against other girls." Read more at CNN>

This is why we must radically change our justice system, and we must immediately legalize marijuana.

AIDS Drug Maker Inflates Cost 400% - Wants Documents Sealed

Photo: ACT UP! Protests Abbott's 400% cost increase of AIDS Drug Norvir.

Today my employer Prescription Access Litigation asks:
What is Abbott Trying to Hide?

"
In December 2003, Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) decided to increase the price of its HIV/AIDS drug Norvir (ritonavir) by 400%. PAL member Service Employees International Union Health & Welfare Fund filed a class action lawsuit against Abbott in October 2004, alleging that the price increase violated the antitrust laws.

Norvir is a “protease inhibitor” (PI) that is commonly used as part of AIDS “drug cocktails” (combinations of prescription drugs working together). Norvir is very important because it “boosts” the effects of other PIs taken by HIV/AIDS patients. Abbott, by increasing the cost of Norvir by 400%, effectively forced HIV/AIDS patients to pay significantly more for their life-saving drug regimens. (The Wall Street Journal did an excellent story in Jan. 2007 laying out the history of the price increase, “Inside Abbott’s tactics to protect AIDS drug“)

Abbott faced a firestorm of criticism for this outrageous price increase — there were shareholder resolutions, protests at Abbott headquarters, a boycott by hundreds of physicians, Attorney General investigations, numerous newspaper editorials lambasting the move, etc. But Abbott refused to even consider reducing the price. The only significant challenge to Abbott’s conduct is the lawsuit brought by SEIU Health and Welfare Fund and two patients.

The lawsuit has overcome significant hurdles (the Court denied Abbott’s motion to dismiss and motion for Summary Judgment, and certified the case as a class action), and the trial is scheduled to begin this summer. Abbott has again filed a motion for Summary Judgment. Such motions are filed with the Court after the parties have completed discovery (exchange of documents, depositions of witnesses and experts) but before the trial. Abbott is essentially asking the Judge to rule in its favor, arguing that based on the evidence, there’s no way a reasonable jury could find in favor of the plaintiffs.

Both Abbott and the plaintiffs have filed numerous documents with their Summary Judgment motions, and now Abbott is asking the Court to “seal” many of those documents, i.e. make them not available to the public. The motions and papers concerning Abbott’s request are here, here and here.

Why does Abbott want to keep these documents a secret and out of public view? "

Rainforest Action Network Shuts Down Bank of America

Today. Copley Square, Boston

Members of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) have connected themselves with metal tubes in front of Bank of America at Copley Square to protest the corporations funding of the coal industry which destroys communities. Police are currently breaking them apart.


Bravo! Boston is desperate for more direct action protests!

RAN should jump in the Pride parade this year since the theme is sustaining our world/communities.

Join their facebook group. Join the QueerToday.com facebook group.

Thanks to Trevor for sending photos from his fancy schmancy I-phone!



From Their Flyer:
While the world is calling for immediate action to confront climate change reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and end our reliance on dirty coal energy, Bank of America (Boston Pride Corporate Sponsor) is continuing to use your money to invest in the most destructive and polluting industries.

Coal:
  • responsible for 40% of US greenhouse gasses (2 billion tons/year)
  • largest source of toxic mercury contamination
  • power plants are the leading cause of asthma and lung cancer responsible for over 24,000 death annually
  • Mountaintop removal mining has destroyed over 450 mountains in Appalachia, buried thousands of miles of streams and poisoned water supplies.

Bank of America made headlines with an environmental initiative pledging support for "environmentally sustainable business…. (and) to address global climate change." While hailing themselves as leaders in addressing climate change – CEO Ken Lewis' lofty rhetoric is at odds with his company's track record. This pledge commits less than 2% of their assets to this cause, spread out over the next 10 years. What are they doing with the other 98% of their $1.4 trillion in assets? Raking in record profits from America's fossil fuel addiction.

A Doctor For Trans Children

Dr. Norman Spack specializes in helping Trans youth at a new clinic in Children's Hospital.

The Boston Globe printed an interview with the doctor this weekend.

" SPACK: Transgendered kids have a high level of suicide attempts. Of the patients who have fled England to see me, three out of the four have made very serious suicide attempts. And I've never seen any patient make [an attempt] after they've started hormonal treatment."

Sally Kern's Troubled Theology

The infamous Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern (left) has gotten a lot of attention, so she is a perfect example of the dangers of anti-gay theology. I've written a fairly lengthy theological essay responding to some of her bigoted ideas. To save space, I've only posted an excerpt here. You can read the rest of the essay at Queertoday2.

"To suggest that the values of a ancient West Asian monarchy (i.e. ancient Israel) or texts written in an imperial Roman dictatorship (i.e. the New Testament) should be simply applied to a modern, post-industrial society is absurd and dangerous. Too many people have suffered and died because literalists refused to leave ancient customs and assumptions in the ancient world. But it is no surprise that right-wing bigots like Sally Kern would want to preserve as many values from authoritarian, hierarchical societies as possible...."

Read more.


Massachusetts Family Institute Lies Again

Among the long list of deceptions Massachusetts Family Institute has tried to perpetrate against the public comes yet another attempt to put a spin on reality. The transgender rights bill (H-1722) has been put to study, and that has MFI's Kris Mineau declaring victory against it on their website and subsequent emails to supporters:

"Massachusetts Family Institute also strongly opposed and testified against an array of other anti-family bills that are now defunct. The following bills have also been sent to a "study," meaning they are effectively dead for this legislation session."


Here are portions of his testimony at the Judiciary Committee Hearing on the matter:

"This bill is a radical assault on the right to privacy and safety of all women and children on behalf of one of the smallest special interest groups, which can be accommodated otherwise."


MFI's delusional logic here is that sexual preditors (to them GLBT people are one in the same) may now have access to public rest rooms.

"It is estimated that the ratio of male-to-female transsexuals to genetic males is at the most 1:2000 (or five one-hundredths of 1%) with the ratio of female-to-male transsexuals being even smaller."


His point here is that this group is too small to bother with. He seems to feel that if a group is too small their needs are outweighed by his wants.

"This bill would add the vague terminology of “gender identity or expression” to the state ban on sex discrimination. The bill says, “The term ‘gender identity or expression’ shall mean a gender-related identity, appearance, expression, or behavior of an individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.” There is no generally accepted definition for “gender” or “expression,” which would cause chaos in the inevitable swirl of litigation, as activists press for access to the most private spaces of the opposite sex.

The word “gender” (as opposed to “sex”) is dangerously vague. It refers to socially constructed roles unrelated to biology. The term denies immutable biological differences between the sexes and places women and children at risk from biological males."

Here is Mineau's attempt to mire the public is legaleze. First he says that there is no legal definition for gender, then tries to inject his own opinions on the matter as fact, throwing in the word "dangerously" for good measure. Keeping the public afraid is how this organization keeps it's funding, so I can understand why we hear this language from them so often.

"Transgenderism is classified as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Under this bill, if a father and his young daughter went to a public accommodation and the young girl needed to use the ladies room, her own father could not go in with her, but a man claiming a gender identity disorder could."

Apparently Mineau thinks that if transgender is a mental disorder they are not to be afforded the dignity of equality. Then in a bizarre twist he tries to say that parent's aren't allowed to cross the gender line for the sake of their small children needing to use the bathroom. What parent has not already come across this problem and dealt with it? The public accomodates what it sees fit to; all situations are up for their individual scrutiny. A man trying to help is little girl try to use the facilities has the public sympathy, just as someone with "mental disorders" do too. Mineau wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants people to believe that transgender is a disorder, but then wants the public to hold that against these people somehow. People should not be discriminated against on the basis of who they are inherently, but for people like Mineau this is too difficult of a concept to grasp.

"H1722 also deletes protection from discrimination for children, or based on marital status, veteran status or membership in the armed services, or recipients of public assistance. Public policy should not allow an infinitesimally small percentage of the population with a psychiatric disorder to use whatever public restroom or bathhouse they want, while simultaneously removing protection of families with children, veterans and people on public assistance."

There is absolutely no explanation of this charge given, but I guess it goes along with Mineau's scare tactics. Perhaps Mineau thinks that his word is good enough. Perhaps he thinks that the public has forgotten that he is behind a petition so rife with fraud that there was a special hearing to investigate the matter, or that since then Senator Edward Augustus has proposed legislation preventing the elements which led to this trouble. Mineau had charged KnowThyNeighbor.org with intimidation because they posted the names of people who signed his petition, yet he used Wanted: Dead or Alive style posters against legislators himself. Isn't that more clearly intimidation? When the legislators met on the historical day of June 14, 2007 and voted 151-45 to deny Mineau's attempt to write discrimination into the Constitition he claimed that those who changed their votes were given what amounts to bribes. Time and Mineau's inability to prove his accusations have shown the truth behind this claim. Mineau's testimony on H1722 is yet another mistruth that he had hoped the public would fall for. In addition to all these lies Mineau tries to re-sell the idea that Catholic Charities was forced to pull out of Massachusetts rather than be forced to abide by our laws against discriminating against same sex families interested in adoption. In actuality Catholic Charities had already allowed several adoptions to same sex couples over the years, but since the dawn of marriage equality had tried to cover up this truth and seem more conservative. To say they were forced out is simply untrue, the board did not want to go, but it was Cardinal O'Maley's call to make. Let's put the blame where it's due. From the Boston Globe we find the unbiased truth:

"In the past two decades, Catholic Charities has placed 720 children in adoptive homes, including 13 with same-sex couples."

For the betterment of public understanding on this matter, review the talking points made by the Massacusetts Transgender Political Coalition and the facts supported by the ACLU:

House Bill 1722 would make it clear that discrimination on the basis of an individual’s “gender identity or expression”* also violates those state civil rights laws.

• Transgender students will be protected from discrimination in public schools.
• The Massachusetts laws forbidding discrimination in employment, housing, and credit and in places of public accommodation will explicitly apply to transgender individuals.
• Transgender people will have the same rights as others to bring complaints to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), to have that agency evaluate and hear their claims, and to bring their claims to court.
• The MCAD’s advisory boards will be encouraged to include transgender members, just as diverse representation from various communities and businesses is encouraged under current law.
• The Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth will become a more inclusive Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth.
• Assaults and property damage crimes intended to intimidate individuals because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or disability will be punished in a like manner when they are committed with the intent to intimidate an individual because of gender identity or expression. The State Police, who have responsibility now for keeping records and making reports concerning crimes motivated by bigotry or bias, will add crimes because of gender identity or expression to those records and reports.
• Sex-segregated accommodations will continue to be available, as they are now, consistent with a person’s own gender identity or expression.

In 1989, Massachusetts passed Ch. 516, “An Act Making It Unlawful to Discriminate on the Basis of Sexual Orientation,” making clear that our Commonwealth’s basic civil rights laws protect gay men and lesbians. Since then, 14 states have passed or amended their state anti-discrimination laws to protect gay and lesbian rights and have included transgender rights. Minnesota (1993); Rhode Island (2001); California and New Mexico (2003); Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, and Washington, DC (2005); New Jersey and Washington (2006); Colorado, Iowa, Oregon, and Vermont (2007).



My take on all this is that Massachusetts Family Institute's practices are founded on lies, is morally bankrupt, and therefore cannot be trusted. They are nothing more than a group of bigots trying to perpetuate a time when they were free to discriminate against whom they chose without public opinion against them. America is growing in a direction that takes it away from such devisiveness, and into a direction that encourages individuals to embrace themselves for who they are. We in Massachusetts have been known for being the leaders of liberty and enlightenment since before our nation's existance. Giving equality and protection under the law is not just the morally responsible thing to do, it's one of our founding principles that our Constitution calls for.

Hate Speech On Campus? Should it be allowed?

Framingham State College is allowing the Young Conservatives to sponsor a speaker who will spread hateful lies about the LGBT community on March 31.

The speaker, praised and promoted by MassResistance, a group recently deemed a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, will be giving a speech about his upcoming book The Born Gay Hoax.

Call Student Life:
(508) 626-4616

Click here to contact Framingham State.

Watch Ryan Sorba Speak at another College on Google Video.

Cheers & Jeers

Cheers to Barney Frank for supporting the decriminalization of Pot. (Still in the doghouse for splitting ENDA though!)

Jeers to Hillary Clinton for keeping the pressure on Obama over his Pastor Rev. Wright - a pro-gay fighter for social justice who has been smeared by the media.

Jeers to Quebec for ending Sex Ed!

Cheers to the Boston Pride Committee for choosing the most progressive theme of the options presented. (Now let's cut down on the corporate nature of this event!)

What are your cheers & Jeers?

Making political sense of an "outraged sensibility": Whiteness, Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama

Some white people, including white queers, in this country (and still, far too few of us white people) have chosen to work for social justice, including racial justice. Some actively oppose the structures that prevent people from living life on their terms. Some come out of the privilege-closet for protecting voting rights, preventing discrimination, fighting for poor people's self-determination, and supporting political candidates that reflect their values.

Fewer white people enliven their commitment to freedom and fuller humanity by re-learning history. Re-learning the history of this country enhances attempts to show up and confront injustice alongside those who live it, inherit it and never forgot it the first time. Re-education puts our hope and individual actions into a movement-building context. Without this re-education, the recent conflict between Pastor Jeremiah Wright and Senator Barack Obama has the potential to confuse, alarm and upset white people--those who support Obama and those who don't.

In his article, "Of National Lies and Racial Amnesia: Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama, and the Audacity of Truth," one white guy, Tim Wise, a long-time and well-respected white antiracist writer-educator (www.timwise.org), really helped me connect the historical struggles to the current political landscape embedded in this conflict and escape the vacuum of the monolithic media frenzy. He provides an opportunity for a piece of this re-education right here and now. So, if you're white like me and you like justice, read this article--it might be helpful in working for change with sincerity and simultaneously, continuing to question the pre-established ways of being American and white.

Here is the link to the article: http://www.lipmagazine.org/~timwise/NationalLies.html

These are some questions that came up for me while reading: What happens when political leaders who offer up hope for the vision of justice suddenly say something I know isn't true? How can I be sincere in my commitment to anti-racist movement building when it doesn't make me feel "nice"? How do I both act in support of individual political leaders of color and also, refuse to again accept inaccurate retellings of the past and mis-representations of a minister of color's anger? How do I share both my outrage toward injustice and my hope for the future?

What came up for you?

The 2008 Boston Pride Theme

Your votes made a difference. Boston Pride chose the most progressive of the themes they presented as options. With just 500 votes cast, there is no doubt the QueerToday community made an impact. This year's umbrella theme leaves the door open for discussion about the issues we care about in our community. I'm down with the environmental justice aspect as well.

Now, let's keep encouraging the Pride committee to gather smaller local sponsors and shed the big corporate folks who work against our interests.


From NewEnglandBlade:

Pride 2008 Theme: Sustaining Our Community, Conserving Our World


At its Tuesday, March 18 meeting, the Boston Pride Committee ended months of speculation, debate and online voting with the announcement that the theme that 2008 Parade marching groups must somehow embody will be: "Sustaining Our Community, Conserving Our World."
The committee has already committed to a number of environmentally-sensitive initiatives: renting office space in a green-certified building, requiring parade and festival applications to be submitted online only, and encouraging parade-goers to carpool or take public transit during Pride Week, which begins June 6 with a flag-raising at City Hall. The committee is also asking parade participants to partner with local "green" groups and businesses.
"Boston has always been progressive, and here we go being progressive again," said Pride Committee President Linda DeMarco, who added that going green this year will be "a huge task for us as an all-volunteer group."
But "green" is not the only way the committee is imagining groups will approach defining "sustainability." Cale Moore, who is the chair of the merchandising sub-committee, said the word could be used to describe issues like health care and social reform.
"We want to encourage our community to think about these things and how they affect the world," said Moore.

HRC Makes Deal with Bush?

Here is one I don't remember hearing about.

From
Wikipedia:

"
HRC was criticized by gay activists when the group's leaders announced that the organization would be softening its demands for equal rights and consider making political bargains, such as supporting President George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security partly in exchange for the right of gay partners to receive benefits under the program. [23] [24]"

This is as sick as it gets.
HRC considers selling out all of the people who would be harmed by privatizing social security - all of the working and middle class - so that their rich constituents could get partner benefits. I suppose it is no surprise considering their corporate sponsors like Shell Oil company and Washington Mutual. Is it starting to make sense why they endorsed John McCain's bff and warmonger Joe Lieberman?

Join our HRC Doesn't Speak for Me Facebook group today.

Read more about how HRC stayed silent about issues concerning HIV/AIDS and sold out our community time and time again>

Damn You Rich!

Guest Post:
by "devilstower" (see more by this DailyKos blogger)

Damn you rich! You already have your compensation.

Damn you who are well-fed! You will know hunger.

Damn you who laugh now! You will weep and grieve.

Damn you when everybody speaks well of you!

A rant from a radical preacher? Without a doubt. Someone on the Obama campaign? Well, Sen. Obama says so. That's the Scholars Translation of Luke 6:24-26, and the speaker is Jesus of Nazareth.

In the King James Version, the first part of Luke 6:24 reads "But woe unto you that are rich!" That comes off as quaint and a lot less shocking to modern ears -- not the kind of preaching that nets you space on Fox News. But Jesus meant his words to be shocking. He meant them to strike against the status quo and shake up the comfortable.

God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human.

God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.

That's Jeremiah Wright.

Is the vision of a pastor standing in his pulpit shouting "God damn America" shocking? Yes. But don't mistake Wright's (or Jesus') statement for what some drunk in a bar would mean using the same phrasing. Wright isn't saying "FU America!" he's saying "these actions of America are worthy of God's condemnation." He's just saying it in a way that cuts through the Sunday morning sleepiness and makes people sit up in their pew.

From Gandhi to King, it's in the nature of spiritual leaders to grab their audiences by the throat and their nations by the short hairs. This was true at the time of the Civil War and during the Civil Rights movement. Martyrs did not become martyrs by appealing to the status quo.

Don't take this to mean that I agree with every word that Wright spoke (e.g. the United States did not create AIDS), but neither do I feel like his words require that "his church should lose it's tax exempt status" that he's a traitor, or that he's an embarrassment to his church or to Senator Obama -- all comments that have appeared on this site.

Do I think that 9/11 was the "chickens coming home to roost?" Yeah, I pretty much do. Of course the terrorists bear the personal responsibility for their actions and the deaths that resulted. But to pretend that decades of actions overseas had nothing to do with that terrible morning is far more delusional than anything said by Rev. Wright. If you jab a stick into a hornet's nest and shake it for fifty years, the hornets might do the stinging, but you can't blame only the hornets. Actions have consequences, and though we may pretend to both purity of motive and prescience about outcomes, the truth is that violence tends to generate violence in return. Or, as that radical I quoted above said "those who take up the sword, will die by the sword."

The purpose of a good sermon isn't to placate, ease, and make people comfortable. A dangerous religion isn't one that challenges people and makes them squirm. Makes them angry. A dangerous religion is one that is too amicable to what you already think, one that pats you on the head and sends you forth in assurance of your own righteousness. If you want to search for "traitors" in the pulpit, turn your eye toward those who never find anything wrong in the actions of this nation.

I understand why Senator Obama finds it necessary to distance himself from Rev. Wright. There were plenty of things in those sermons that I don't agree with, and I'm suspect many of the ideas that grate on my nerves also strike the Senator as either wrong or unsustainable politically. These days, three isolated words on the news seem far more important than context or intent. But I wish he didn't have to do so.

Because getting your personal beliefs regularly challenged, rather than reinforced, is important.

Save San Francisco Queer Nightlife!

Guest post by Trevor Hoppe (blog)

SF Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell have put forward legislation that would effectively kill independent queer nightlife in San Francisco. The bill, "would require anyone who promotes two or more events a year to obtain a permit, and would enable police to determine who to hold accountable for a security plan, any health or safety rule violations, or creation of a public nuisance."

More importantly, it would require event promoters to provide proof of at least ONE MILLION DOLLARS in liability insurance!!!! One Million Dollars!!!

The best queer nightlife in San Francisco would be killed under this new legislation. How can indie queer organizers afford this costly burden? They couldn't. The parties would be over.

This kind of regulation and government encroachment on queer lives -- along with real estate development -- has been destroying gay nightlife in cities across the US. We've seen the closure of some of the most famous clubs in the country over the past five years: Club Universe in San Francisco; The Roxy in New York; Backstreet in Atlanta; Nation in DC -- just to name a few!

Tell Supervisor Maxwell and the Entertaintment commission that this legislation is bullshit and should be killed ASAP. Contact Maxwell here -- and here's the Entertainment Commission's contact info:

Entertainment Commission City Hall, Room 453 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place San Francisco, CA 94102

Phone: (415) 554-4539
Fax: (415) 554-7934

Web: www.sfgov.org/entertainment

Robert Davis, Executive Director
(415) 554-7793 voice
(415) 554-7934 fax
bob.davis@sfgov.org

Jocelyn Kane, Deputy Director
(415) 554-5793 voice
(415) 554-7934 fax
jocelyn.kane@sfgov.org

Audrey Joseph, Chair
City Hall, Room 453
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102

To leave a message for any Entertainment Commissioner, please call (415) 554-6678.

Anti-Immigrant Neanderthals Strike Again

Racist Providence Store Owner Demands Latin@s' Social Security Card

"You shall not pervert the justice due to a resident alien..." Deuteronomy 24:17

"The resident alien who lives with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt; I am YHWH your God." Leviticus 19:34

From the Providence Journal:
'All José Genao planned to do at the heating equipment supply store was buy a spare part for his boiler.

While the owner began searching for the part, Genao and his friend began speaking to each other in Spanish.

As owner David C. Richardson was ringing up Genao’s $18 purchase, he demanded to see their Social Security cards.

...When Genao told Richardson “he did not have the right to ask all those questions,” Richardson pulled out a membership card for Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, a group that seeks curbs on illegal immigration.

Then, he lifted the phone receiver and threatened to call immigration authorities, Genao said.

“He [Richardson] grabbed the phone and said, ‘I can call ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] anytime I see an illegal immigrant,’ ” said Genao. “He also said, ‘I can make a citizen’s arrest.’ 

... Genao, a Rhode Island state employee, is a native of the Dominican Republic and a U.S. citizen. He speaks fluent English. He said his friend — who declined comment — is also a Dominican native and U.S. citizen. “There is no problem with his status,” said Genao. “He is legal.” State records list both as registered voters. '

Folks, this is where anti-immigrant rhetoric takes us. Every Spanish speaking person and Latin@ person is a suspect. It is tempting to focus on the fact that American citizens were harassed and make that the injustice, but the evil here is the racism and anti-Latin@ sentiment that go along with anti-immigrant hysteria. You cannot separate the two. Anti-immigrant activists like to say that this is just about the law and enforcing the law--as if people who vehemently oppose "illegal immigration" were busting down the doors to make legal channels for immigration a lot easier. Rather, ideas about how "those people" are stealing jobs or causing crime or straining our social system lie behind "illegal immigration" rhetoric (as the article makes clear). So cut the bullshit--this is not about law; it's about your distaste for Latin@ immigration. And that is why we rightly call the anti-immigrant movement racist.

When the right-wingers were scouring the Bible for anti-gay passages, in their haste to cite Leviticus 18:22; 20:13--the infamous "you shall not lie with a man as with a woman" passage--they seem to have skipped some verses that pose some problems for their political foolishness. Biblical passages, including some in the very book used to condemn queer people, repeatedly support justice and kind treatment for immigrants. Even an ancient West Asian despotism had some concept of decent treatment of immigrants, but it's obviously too much to ask for America--you know, the Christian nation. Excuse me--"Judeo-Christian" nation (snickers sarcastically)

The notion that this country should be hostile to foreigners is barbaric and stoops to levels even ancient peasant societies condemned. Decent and ethical people should expect and demand hospitable treatment for immigrants.

Call for Proposals: Translating Identity Conference


Just passing on this call for proposals for the sixth annual
Translating Identity Conference (TIC), which will take place on November
8th, 2008, at the University of Vermont.

TIC is a student-run event (free and open to the public)
that focuses on gender and gender identities. We hope to reach out to
the University of Vermont, the Burlington community, and the nation as a
whole to educate us all further on transgender and gender non-conformant
topics. Check out our website, for more information, or email us at tic@uvm.edu.

Guerrilla Queer Bar to Take Over Faneuil Hall Bar

Boston: Guerrilla Queer Bar takes over predominately straight venues.

"
Call your grandmother and rally your friends...Get ready for GQB's biggest takeover yet!

This friday at 9pm, we'll be taking over the nation's oldest bar - The Bell In Hand. While we're sure they've seen plenty in their 213 year history, they ain't seen nothin' yet!

The party starts at 9pm, but with our numbers there's sure to be a line, so show up early.

Its right in the Quincy Market area, so you can get there easily from either the Government Center or the Haymarket T Stops."

MA Trans Rights Bill Hearing Updates

Trevor Wright Reports from the State House:

1:09PM:

  • Over 100 supporters of HB1722 already in attendance.
  • Deval Patrick will submit testimony. Says he had daughter proof read it for him.
  • Martha Coakley to submit testimonial in favor of the bill.
  • Brian from the anti-gay MassNews asked for Trans Rights Sticker. Response: "That will be a dollar donation to MTPC."
Read New England Blade's Report>

Read Bay Windows Full Report>

Take Action! Hearing on Trans Rights Tuesday March 4

The Joint Committee on the Judiciary has scheduled an open hearing on HB1722, “An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes” for the afternoon of Tuesday, March 4 at the State House. It is scheduled for room A-1, but may get moved to Gardner Auditorium. Those wishing to testify in support of this legislation should sign in by 1PM and plan to be there for the entire afternoon. MTPC will have people there to guide and help you. Read More at MTPC>

Call or email your legislator TODAY and ask them to support H.B. 1722.

To Call:
1. To find out who your State Representative and State Senator are, and to get their phone number, go to http://www.wheredoivotema.com/bal/myelectioninfo.php and type in the address where you are registered to vote: You want to call your "Senate in General Court" and "Rep in General Court."

2. Calling Script:
Hello, my name is______, and I am a constituent of Representative/Senator______. I am calling because I would like him/her to support House Bill #1722, An Act Relative to Gender-Based Discrimination and Hate Crimes. This bill simply expands the existing non-discrimination statutes to include protection from discrimination based on gender identity and expression. Will Representative/Senator ______ support this bill?

GRAGGER: Radical Purim Party!

GRAGGER/NOISEMAKER!!

Workmen's Circle First Annual Radical Purim Party

Celebrating Gender Justice!

Saturday, March 22

8pm-1am

At Community Church of Boston

565 Boylston Street

Sliding scale $10-20

All Ages Event Honoring Keshet and Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition

Music by Zili Misik, DJ D'hana, and What Cheer Brigade!

Performance! Costume Contest!

The Gragger, the Jewish Noisemaker, is traditionally used to drown out the names of our foes. On this night, we'll make some serious noise in a rowdy call for justice and joy!

WANT TO PERFORM AT GRAGGER? Online casting call starts today! Let us know if you want to be considered for a main part – or want to have a ton of fun as part of the general cast! Email Marjorie@workmenscircleboston.org

Where Killas Get Hung: Anti-Queer Violence in Jamaica

We can go to the tropics
Sip piña coladas
Shorty, I could take you there
Or we can go to the slums
Where killas get hung
Shorty, I could take you there…

Sean Kingston, Take You There

“…the only Jamaicans who aren't some combination of homophobic, drug addicted and savage have been murdered by the ones who are.”

Comment at former HRC activist Wayne Besen's blog in response to his column on anti-queer violence in Jamaica


Like most people, I am appalled by the anti-queer violence and terrorism that seems to have gripped the island of Jamaica. The stories of murder, cruelty and mob-violence are gut-wrenching and the rhetoric coming from Jamaican churches, political leaders and ordinary citizens is frightening. Let me reiterate that I support the use of violence for self-defense and if that is an option queer Jamaicans are considering, they should have our full support.

Yet, as terrible as these acts are, those of us in the US watching these horrors (and let’s not forget our own horrors here in the “civilized” USA, such as the murders of teenagers Simmie Williams and Lawrence King) need to be very careful about how we characterize Jamaica and think about our political response to the violence there.

I’m not a West Indes scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I can tell you as a religious studies student that to simply say that “Christianity” is causing the problem is incredibly naïve. Religious expressions are tied to social and economic factors—and this is true regardless of whether we are talking about the ancient world (my area of study) or the modern world.

A political response to anti-queer violence in Jamaica requires careful attention to economic and social issues in Jamaica—something I have seen precious few commentators on anti-queer violence in Jamaica address. On the other hand, I have seen plenty of stereotypes about Jamaica and the Third World that are, if not outright racist, are borderline racist.

Jamaica has one of the lower poverty rates among “Third World” countries and it seems to have experienced economic growth over the last few years. But class stratification, lack of opportunity, crime and even poverty remain large problems. Kingston has the second highest murder rate in the world, so many people—not just queers—are killed violently on a regular basis. I suspect, and again I must emphasize that I am not a West Indes scholar, that anti-queer violence has the same roots as these other expressions of violence and is tied to the broader social problems faced by Jamaica. As Jamaican-born lesbian poet Staceyann Chin put it:

When it comes to the poorest of the poor what it comes down to is bread and butter. They are willing to have conversations and are willing to protect people who protect them in different ways. You can’t talk about gay rights in Jamaica when a black boy does not even have food and clothes. How the hell are you going to tell him to allow somebody to be gay, when he is not even being allowed to eat?

Which is why former HRC activist Wayne Besen’s haphazard call for an attack on Jamaica’s economy is extraordinarily misguided. Besen, who has great faith in the power of American gays to affect the economy of foreign countries, says, “It is time to hand an ultimatum to Jamaica's public officials: Stop allowing rampant abuse of gay people or your economy will be crippled.” Not only does the imperialistic tone of this statement slap you in the face, it shows that Besen could care less about the social factors that may be the cause of anti-queer violence. For all we know, an economic crisis in Jamaica might actually make the situation worse for queer people by exacerbating the island’s social problems!

This isn’t the first time the white-dominated gay community in Europe and the US have responded to Jamaican homophobia. In the early 2000s, Peter Thatchell, a gay activist in Jamaica's former colonial master, organized protests against violently homophobic lyrics in Jamaican reggae and hip-hop. Some raised concerns about whether or not these protests were playing into anti-black images and stereotypes in Britain and did not appreciate the complexity of the social situation in Jamaica. But such concerns fell on deaf ears. Apparently, Thatchell argued that people should just fall in line with his (Eurocentric) analysis and response to homophobia in Jamaica.

Before cavalierly proposing to, say, wreck the economy of a third world country, those of us concerned about forms of oppression besides just anti-gay oppression, would need to integrate the other forms of oppression that exist in Jamaica such as sexism, class stratification, poverty, etc in our analyses and responses to anti-gay violence.

One political response I think that may be consistent with these principles would be to welcome queer Jamaicans who immigrate to the United States and elsewhere (this would require us to support lenient immigration laws), and help exiled queer Jamaicans organize and strategize about ways to organize queer people in Jamaica—if that is a concern of theirs. We could also express solidarity with indigenous queer organizations in Jamaica (like J-FLAG) by providing them with whatever support we can. Perhaps, instead of calling for boycotts, Besen could call for fundraisers for queer Jamaican organizations and groups.

Raising awareness about the plight of queer Jamaicans as well as showing solidarity by demonstrating can be appropriate, if the political message is one of solidarity and support for queer Jamaicans and respect for queer Jamaicans as the ones who should ultimately take the political lead in response to the violence there. I don’t have a problem with the Metropolitan Community Church’s response per se, but I do believe that all people who want to show solidarity with queer Jamaicans should show that they are working in consultation with queer Jamaicans.

Regardless of what solutions there could be, I strongly believe that queer Jamaicans—not white, gay men like Besen and Thatchell—should be taking the lead on how to respond to anti-queer violence there. If an organized political expression of exiled queer Jamaicans or indigenous queer Jamaicans want to call for a boycott or some other form of external political pressure, that would be their decision to make—and of course then we could support such measures. It is not, however, up to the mainstream gay community in the United States to dictate to queer Jamaicans what they “need” and how to “help” them.

See also Staceyann Chin's "On Leaving Jamaica" and her interview on Jouvay.com

P.S. Take a look at some of the racist comments Besen’s column provoked. Besen sometimes steps in to a discussion when it gets too problematic. He was silent about these:

“I never had any desire to go to that shithole anyway, and I never will, even if they stop the attacks (not likely). I'd rather spend my money on civilized people and cultures. Sounds like a place where rush limbo would show up with his suitcase full of viagra. Barforama!”

“A bunch of stoned savages. What a bunch of immoral a-holes. I would not spend a dime there. These people can go to HELL.”

“Personally, I think batty boys should ban together and shoot Jamaicans. The world would be better without them. They are disgusting, unshowered creatures with roaches in their hair.

"Notice these fucking cowards hunt gay people in packs. They always outnumber the gay people and have weapons. Why can't they fight one-on-one? Because Jamaicans are a bunch of low-life scum sissies.”

I’m sure the posters would howl with indignation at the suggestion that these statements are clearly racist even as they employ classic racist letimotifs and terms (e.g. the generous use of the term “savage”). Never mind that many of the queer people they are supposedly concerned about are a part of this culture of “savages.”

Perversion of Justice

"NEW YORK — For the first time in U.S. history, more than one of every 100 adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report documenting America's rank as the world's No. 1 incarcerator. It urges states to curtail corrections spending by placing fewer low-risk offenders behind bars.

Using state-by-state data, the report says 2,319,258 Americans were in jail or prison at the start of 2008 _ one out of every 99.1 adults. Whether per capita or in raw numbers, it's more than any other nation." - HuffingtonPost




Boycott NERP & Barney Frank

Given that Barney Frank continues his speaking tour to incoherently justify his transphobic campaign to split ENDA, I encourage the queer communtiy of Boston not to attend the North East Regional Pride Conference that will be hosted and organized by Boston Pride. Frank is one of the keynote speakers.

Barney Frank and the Human Rights Campaign do not deserve our praise, and especially not our money. HRC has lost every trans member of their board and trustees this year due to ENDA.

Related: San Francisco Pride Nominates HRC for Pink Brick Award over ENDA

" For the first time, an LGBT organization has been nominated for San Francisco Pride's Pink Brick award – an award meant to recognize groups and individuals who've run afoul of the community or pushed for antigay measures.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and its president, Joe Solmonese, are nominated this year for continuing to support a proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act that does not include protections for transgender individuals......

The other Pink Brick nominees this year are Bill O'Reilly of Fox News..." Bay Area Reporter

Post-apartheid racism in South Africa

This is despicable. A group of white students at the University of the Free State in South Africa humiliated black elderly workers at the school by, among other things, feeding them a dog food soup into which the students had urinated. Just despicable.



According to a BBC report, "The video was reportedly recorded in protest at moves to integrate black and white students in the same residences at the University of the Free State."

Read more on the blog of Ray Hartley, editor of The Times, South Africa.

Another Attack in Florida

(Fort Lauderdale, Florida) Police are investigating the brutal beating of a gay man outside a Fort Lauderdale diner, an attack that came in the wake of the killing of a 17 year old transgender teen on a city street. - 365gay.com

Chicago 10 & 1968

On Monday Wing and I were lucky enough to see a pre-screening of the new movie Chicago 10 that documents and portrays a part of the story of the 10 activists put on trial for the anti-war protests in 1968 at the Democratic National Convention. The producer and one of the Chicago 10, Tom Haydon were on hand to answer questions. Below is a preview of the movie, which was phenomenal. It opens Friday. But do remember, it's only one person's interpretation and only a small peice to the many stories from those protests and the events leading up to them.

In related news, local activists in Denver announced this week a campaign called Recreate '68. They are calling on anti-war activists to continue the spirit of resistance and ensure the voices of the people are heard at the Democratic National Convention this summer. Click here for their web site.


Solidarity with the Somerville 5

The Somerville 5 are Black youth who were racially profiled by white Medford police then attacked, beaten, maced and arrested on April 20, 2005. They were charged with numerous crimes and suspended from Somerville High School. They became a symbol across Boston of youth standing up and fighting back against racism and police brutality.

Almost three years later, the Medford cops andMiddlesex DA are continuing with their attempts to railroad the remaining 2 defendants, Cassius Belfon and Earl Guerra. Jury selection will start on Wednesday, February 27 and the trial is expected to begin on Thursday, February 28. These young men should be allowed to get on with their lives. Both Cassius and Earl will be graduating from high school this year and are looking forward to attending college. Both are active in organized sports and church activities.

The pursuit of this racist vendatta by the Medford Police and DA is an outrage, particularly in light of the fact that the first trial of Calvin Belfon and Isaiah Anderson was rife with conflicting police testimony and lies. One witness for the prosecution turned against them and testified in defense of the Somerville 5, saying she had been coerced and duped. Other witnesses were taken to the police station and threatened. The judge stated in a memo that it was clear that the police initiated the attack on the youths, resulting in the youths being forced to defend themselves.

For one and a half years, the Committee to Defend the Somerville 5, friends, family and supporters picketed, rallied, held press conferences, conducted a national phone/fax campaign, held fundraisers and then packed the courtroom. The judge, the jury, the police and the DA all
took note of this. As a result, the DA's plan to lock the youth in prison for 2 years was stopped! But they were found guilty of some charges and given 2 years probation.

Enough is enough! We need to defend our youth! Demand all charges be dropped against Cassius Belfon and Earl Guerra!

Come pack the court:
Thursday, 2/28/08 9:00 AM and for however long the trial lasts.
Middlesex Juvenile Court
121 Third St.
Cambridge
(brick building, corner of Thorndike and Third Streets, Lechmere Stop on Green Line)

Call, Fax or Write the Judge.
Demand Case be dismissed and all charges dropped!
Chief Justice of Juvenile Court
Honorable Martha P. Grace
3 Center Plaza, #520
Boston, MA 02108
TELEPHONE: 617-788-6550
FAX: 617-788-8965

Thank you,
Committee to Defend the Somerville 5
c/o The Action Center
284 Amory St.
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
617-522-6626

Reforming the left?

So, unfortunately I haven't had any time to check in with recent QueerToday posts until now, and I stumbled upon a great post made a couple weeks ago on "reforming the left." I wanted to follow-up by spewing a couple of thoughts it conjured up.

The problem identified was how we can get the political left in the U.S. up to progressivist par with other countries such as France. One of Wingy's suggestions included, "the rejection of the conservative notion that social progress slows down economic progress." I want to really take this point a couple steps further.

First, I totally agree that this is one of the core setbacks for an effective left-progressive politics in the U.S. We must come to fully understand that 1) social progress does not inhibit economic progress, but also, somewhat more controversially perhaps, that 2) social progress and economic progress are not in any way separable, despite a relentless discourse that this is indeed so.

social vs. economic progress? economy & culture under neoliberal order
For issue #1: The 'conservative' notion that social progress impedes economic progress is actually, quite unfortunately, not at all exclusively conservative. It is a widely and passionately held tenet that cuts across a diversity of political camps, including liberals and mainstream/reformist LGBT folk. What it is, however, is neoliberal. Most of you I'm sure are aware of the term, but just in case someone is not, neoliberalism refers to the economic, cultural, and political tendencies since the late 1970s that have stressed the dismantling of the welfare state, limited government interventions, the opening ("freeing") up of markets---and in areas where there are no markets, the actual creation of markets---and a mass privatization of the public services sector. The turn to neoliberalism (with the Reagan administration in the U.S., though in development for years prior) coinciding with (and facilitating) globalization and transnational capitalism has had DRAMATIC effects obviously on the world's economies, wealth distributions, but more important for this discussion, and not generally considered, it has had dramatic effects on cultural politics, our left-progressive politics, and very much the mainstream LGBT movement.

the magically disappearing public
The biggest effect neoliberalism has had on social progress is a huge privatization of public services and a massive withdrawal of funds from the social welfare system. Neoliberal logic has it that public institutions can do a whole lot better when they are privately competing on "free" markets, as the "freedom" to compete and participate in globalizing markets will be most productive. By out-sourcing public services over to profit-maximizing private corporations, these self-interested corporatations will, as the story goes, be more efficient and through competition exhibit better results. If you want to know what these results are, just look at the health care system in the United States. HMOs were invented out of the rise of a neoliberal state---these "free" corporate entities are a neoliberals' capital dream machine. The effects, as we all are very aware, are tragic. These entities are redistributing wealth--upwardly--into the hands of a few while those on the bottom are not only being massively extorted, but not receiving adequate care and services, and in the most unfortunate of cases, are literally being killed off while the uppercrust is moneypocketing what remains from the lack of funding available to them. More broadly, neoliberalism has induced a spiraling decline of the social safety net and widespread funding lapses for all sorts of social services. We are all feeling the dwindling of social security and public services in our lives (except the very rich). Private households are being stripped of resources while the responsibilities that should belong to the public sector are being thrown onto them.

When we talk about the belief that "social progress impairs economic progress," what we're really talking about is neoliberalism. Social progress, translating into social services and public funding, according to neoliberal ideas, is contrary to the "national interest," putting the U.S. at danger. Public funding and social security means slowing down the profit soaring of U.S.-based corporations and surrending U.S. global market control over to foreign enterprises. In a globalized capitalist new world order in which we readily compete across huge transnational markets, economic efficiency, limited market interventions (just allow everyone to compete and voila!), good fiscal policy, and privatizing everything under the sun so it is thrown into "free" markets is all that matters----public funds, social progress, etc. are old-school inefficient structures that literally put the United States at risk. Instead, these are privatized, which in turn, once in the hands of profit-maximizing private corporate bodies, results in heinous care and an upstream flow of capital towards the very top (for instance, HMOs). It is not surprising why some call neoliberalism a big capitalist "class restoration" project, seeking to restore all the world's wealth to the very rich. So, to say that "social progress impairs economic progress" is a conservative belief is being too optimistic--instead, it is a neoliberal way of thinking in the minds of conservatives and liberals alike. Neoliberal discourse, not conservative beliefs, is what is making tons of progressives push for an emphasis on "economic issues."

a great divide and single-issue "cultural" politics
For issue #2: To make matters worse, neoliberalism has had a powerful force in ripping apart our left-progressive politics by creating divisions in "economic"/redistributive and "cultural"/recogntion politics when these had not been there (and are not there). This is mainly attributable to the fact that the neoliberal agenda sees to an "end of the political" where all that matters is economic efficiency. "Freedom" for neoliberalism, the same freedom we might call "democracy," is really a freedom of transnational corporations and free private property owners to compete in ever-opening markets. Some refer to this neoliberal process as a "downsizing of democracy," for the simple reason that freedom, politics, democracy, culture, etc. are all, in a sense, thrown by the wayside for "free" markets. "Cultural" political issues are seen as distinct because they tend to wind up involving the public sector (which is anti-neoliberal as I talked about above) and because they do not directly pump up and free up markets. The results have been drastic. What had been a broad progressive framework has now been replaced by single-issue tunnel-visioned political projects (to some, status-elevating crusades), e.g, gay marriage or abortion. Part of why this has happened is because of the rising notion that on the one hand we have "economic issues"' and on the other we have "cultural issues." This notion has been tragic for a comprehensive progressive movement, because these two types of issues are not at all separable. To start with, the economy is culturally constituted, and "cultural issues" determine how people live out their economic interests. The institutions and entire cultural context that situate the economy are just as important to the conversation of "economic issues" as the economy itself is. The right has been able to succeed because of this schism in the left's neoliberal political ideas.

abortion vs. reproductive freedoms and access to medical care
Let's take abortion. The right has done so well because the left has singled-out this one particular facet of a much wider and necessary political enterprise involving reproductive freedoms, comprehensively. To talk about abortion within the realm of morality, "life or death," and a war of cultures---this single-issue politics is missing the boat altogether. The conversation we need to be having is about access to medical care: preventing unwanted pregnancies, supporting households and childcare, minimizing abuse. Or, talking about the right to have a choice, broadly construed, and the support and safety net in place for households and for childbearing. The right has relied on our singling-out of this "cultural issue" (abortion)---for instance, many churches are anti-abortion based on cultural-religious convictions, yet are comprised of many non-rich people that stand to benefit from (and actually would love to see) a wider installment of reproductive freedoms and services, and more generally, more funding for households and public care. A comprehensive progressive political program would attract and ally up with all sorts of unexpected folk if we re-framed the conservation about what really matters. These churches, comprised of non-rich people, for instance, would find such freedoms appealing, but once framed as a "cultural issue" (abortion), are left to ally with the right on religious grounds.

gay marriage vs. idiographically-defined household and family recognitions
A similar situation occurs with gay marriage or "marriage equality." While the demographic norm in this country shows a steady decline of marriage, the LGBT movement is bolstering up this age-old institution and converging with the right using a rhetoric of 'responsibility' (we are responsible and respectable loving adults that want children and capital!) and backing up a discourse on the exclusive institution of marriage that has ironically been dwindling for a while now. Again here, the conversation should be about how we can idiosyncratically choose a household configuration that works for us, and how we can spread or not spread benefits, assets, and rights to one another in the particular ways we actually live our lives (rather than dyadic conjugal units with dependent children, which is not even a demographic norm). This conversation is particularly important given neoliberalism's increasing destruction of services and funding for these ever-more-pressured households, loaded with more responsibilities. There are a variety of current households and families that stand to benefit from the legal recognition of their configurations. Many of these are currently allied with the right, even though they would find the opening up of a diversity of household recognitions very appealing (e.g., "reciprocal beneficiaries" by, ironically, conservatives). This consituency, however, must ally with the right because the left and LGBT movement has singled-out this issue as a "gay marriage" issue, which is not at all appealing for these folk. Though many are for basic gay rights, e.g., civil unions, when it comes to the "cultural issue" of marriage, they must ally with the right.

The right has succeeded only because it relies on left-progressive politics letting neoliberalism shatter its political thought (and sometimes the right setting the stage for this), separating out cultural and economic politics as if these indeed are separable, coming up with horrible narrow-minded single-issue "cultural" political projects that a great deal of the country cannot align with simply because they're framed in these ways. If we were to take on a broad progressive framework, for instance, re-framing the abortion issue to talk about our access to medical care, right to make choices broadly, preventing unwanted pregnancies, and reproductive freedoms, then we'd actually have a conversation going somewhere and ally with a huge amount of people currently aligning with the right on "cultural" grounds. Just the same, if we were to re-frame the marriage debate and talk about recognition of all sorts of new households that a great deal of us, in the very complex ways we actually live our lives today, stand to benefit from, then we'd be getting somewhere (please see http://www.beyondmarriage.org/ !). And above all, if we were to include in these discussions, the fact that democracy itself is being downsized, the public is shrinking, and neoliberalism and the globalized capitalist new world order are redistributing the world's wealth upward and away from private households, services, and care that we everyday require and will require, then we might be getting somewhere.

Until then, however, the left isn't making a lot of mileage, sadly.

Keep Pressuring HRC!

Congrats to the protestors in New York City and all those who are speaking out against the HRC agenda! Click Here to join our HRC Doesn't Speak For Me facebook group. In addition to the Trans issues let's not lose site of their other favorite forms of oppression, their man Joe Lieberman is sticking with McCain and his call for 100 more years in Iraq.

"Faced with a boisterous picket line that drew a crowd of more than 50 and with the absence of every lesbian, gay, and bisexual elected official from New York City -- and nearly every other prominent city Democrat -- Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, used his keynote address at the group's annual Midtown Manhattan dinner to answer critics who fault it for going along with a version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that does not include protections for transgendered Americans....

The Radical Homosexual Agenda, which provided the drum corps as well as many of the bodies for the picket line, distributed flyers criticizing the corporate policies of several major HRC corporate sponsors. The flier argued, "HRC isn't just derailing the needs of the majority of the queer community. They're also narrowing our vision of what queer relationships can be."

The crowd repeatedly returned to the chant, "What do we want? Liberation. Fuck that assimilation." - Keep Reading - Gay City News

Harvard Lambda Legal Conference to focus on Trans issues

Hey all... you should check this out!

The third annual Harvard Lambda Legal Advocacy (HaLLA) Conference will examine the interaction of the transgender community and the law. The panelists, leading activists, advocates and academics from around the country, will speak on topics including youth and families, sex-segregated public facilities, health care and employment.

Dates: February 29th and March 1st.

For more information: http://www.hlslambda.com/halla/panel-schedule.html

This would be a great place to also talk about how "rights discourse" affects radical movements for change. This is an opportunity to question how advocacy work is moving forward, which things work to truly end violence against trans people and which things increase the power of the state.

Another Queer Youth Murdered

Fort Lauderdale: Simmie Williams, a gender non-conforming 17 year old, was murdered after an alleged altercation that is being investigated as a hate crime.

While the media perpetrates anti-trans framing and stirs up hysteria about boys in girl's locker rooms, our youth are being murdered. Feministe has more.

The hearing on the Massachusetts Trans Rights bill will be held on March 4.

CANCELLED: Evo Morales in Boston

Cancelled!
"
Late this afternoon, we learned that President Morales will be
postponing his trip to Boston in favor of attending to recent, urgent
matters at home in Bolivia.

We do not have a new date for his engagement in our community.

His trip would have taken him to Providence, Boston and Atlanta (after
journeying to Brazil and before travelling to Europe). The entire
itenary has been postponed.

In practical terms, this means, of course, that we are cancelling the
Boston event and will to look forward to working again with the
Bolivian government and community at welcoming their revolutionary
leader.

We will send out a second announcement in Spanish and forward the
official Bolivian Embassy statement as soon as we receive it.

We recognize that many individuals and organizations have worked hard
to make this event possible and deeply regret this development.
However, as reflected in the enthusiastic response to President
Morales' anticipated visit, there remains much energy and strength to
stand in solidarity with and learn from the people of Bolivia and
Latin America."