Abroad, America’s greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we are all created equal, that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; that if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.
We must continually renew this promise. My Administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. We are going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws – so that women get equal pay for an equal day’s work. And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system – to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nations.
A few days ago I announced that I started one of those ask-me-anything platforms. The first question I got was from a 20-year-old reader who asked how I came out, and how I would suggest she come out. (She mentions being in college and having a supportive liberal family and gay friends - to give you all context.)
So, this response post is a bit long because, well, damn - there’s a lot there! I’m trying out the break-line formatting option, so hopefully those who want to scroll on by can, and those interested in coming out stories and advice, you are welcomed to
FRESHMAN DEMOCRATS FACE TROUBLE IN 2010 IF CONGRESS DOESN’T PASS A PUBLIC OPTION
Polls in 10 frontline freshman districts show:
68% of voters want a public health insurance option
By 5 to 1, voters want their Representative to fight to add the public option over passing the Senate bill By 3 to 1, persuadable voters are less likely to vote for the local Democrat if Congress doesn’t pass a public option as part of reform
55% say Democrats need to do more to fight big corporations 56% say Democrats haven’t done enough to fulfill Obama’s 2008 campaign promises
52% of Democrats are less likely to vote in 2010 if Congress doesn’t pass public option — Republicans more likely
Click here for more data and to take action to tell your Reps to get the public option included in a final bill!
The Gays going to the weddings of The Straights - A Question
Hi smart readers!
Lately I have been thinking about a topic I’d love to get your takes on (you gays in particular, but also you straights)!
So, weddings: they keep happening. And for awhile, it was like, palpable that straight allies we’re, in political theory, “down” with supporting gay marriage, and yet would keep entering in to the discriminatory institution as it stands, because the concept of marriage equality didn’t so much seem like a viable reality. But things have changed! We are now in a place where marriage equality exists in some states, is banned in others, was stripped from others, and is recognized in a few more.
In other words, we now exist in a vastly murky legal terrain. But the senselessness and harm of the institution remaining discriminatory has only gotten more clear. Today the institute of marriage stands clearly as a legally enforced system of apartheid. (And I mean that in the purest sense of apartheid - a term which means “A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups.”)
So, it’s gotten more personal to a lot of folks on a whole lot of levels.
What are the gays to do when their straight ally friends get married and invite them to join in celebration of their accessing a legal institution they believe to be discriminatory? As someone recently put it to me: it is a bit like how, sure, racial segregation existed for a long time. And a lot of folks started to think it was wrong. And then some places became integrated, and a lot of white folks supported that and refused to eat at Whites Only establishments.
But then, some folks were raised to believe that it was an important thing in their personal life and status to gain acceptance to the local country club. And, yes, that country club was slower to integrate than more public venues. But, you know, some folks were raised to believe that access to such an institution was an important thing for them to gain. And, although now we live in a time where someone who is a member of such a club (and they remain out there, in fewer numbers!), well that’s not so much a good pr move!
So the argument presented to me is that marriage is now at a place where your straight friends are often like: I really think you should be allowed into my country club! And I will vote for that when possible. And I’m really sorry you can’t come in. But, you understand, it is really important for me to exercise this privilege I have access to.
But then, not only that. They kind of want you to hang out in the parking lot while they go in for a round of golf and then cheer happily for them when they walk out. And also throw down some funds to buy a toaster or something in celebration.
And, well, aren’t we at a point where it’s just gotten too clear that accessing a discriminatory institution is a flaunting of social privilege, particularly if one wishes LGBT folks also had that privilege , and no matter how much they were raised wanting entry into the country club, they should choose not to enter in, knowing their friends would be blocked at the door and thrown out? Let alone expecting this access to be celebrated by those not included?
But then, what is it like to really be That Gay? You know, the one who believes such things and refuses to go to weddings of their straight friends. What are both the personal and political implications of such an act? And, really, have we had this conversation enough to expect straight allies to be thinking through this situation in a way that reflects the present and shifting social and political realities?
I’m just thinking outloud here folks. So any of you with good thoughts on the matter, I would love to hear what you think. Any opinions?
"We knew what we wanted our name to feel like, but we really didn't know what the words were that made it feel that way."
I came across this quote today, in an article where the lovely Kamara Thomas explains the process of coming up with a name for her band, Earl Greyhound.
For whatever reason, it just struck me. It seems to match a lot of what is going on in the world these days. There is the feeling, but there aren’t just yet the words to match it. (At least I am lacking them.) Tell me the story of Haiti in only words? Impossible. Tell me the sense of nervousness in America about unemployment and increased hunger? We know what things feel like right now, I just don’t know what the words are to match that feeling.
Data that says that progressive action by those in DC is good! You’re welcome. xoxo
(PS - Go here for the charts and here for the cross tabs. Also, yes, lets pause to be glad that a collective crew of some Progressive groups (MoveOn.org Political Action, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and Democracy for America) were organized enough to have this poll set up in advance, so as to frame today’s post game debate in some, you know, data!)
A poll was conducted immediately after the election last night of 1000 registered Massachusetts voters who voted for Obama in 2008. Half of the respondents voted in the MA special election for Republican candidate Scott Brown; half of the respondents did not vote at all. The poll definitively shows that voters who stayed home and voters who switched party allegiance share very common frustration and anger at an economy that continues to work better for Wall Street than Main Street.
There’s a real populist anger out there. Voters worry that Democrats in power have not done enough to combat the policies of the Bush era. Both sets of voters wanted stronger, more progressive action on health care reform, as well. In summary, the poll shows that the party who fights corporate interests—especially on making the economy work for most Americans—will win the confidence of the voters.
95% of voters said the economy was important or very important when it came to deciding their vote.
53% of Obama voters who voted for Brown and 56% of Obama voters who did not vote in the Massachusetts election said that Democrats enacting tighter restrictions on Wall Street would make them more likely to vote Democratic in the 2010 elections.
51% of voters who voted for Obama in 2008 but Brown in 2010 said that Democratic policies were doing more to help Wall Street than Main Street.
Nearly half (49%) of Obama voters who voted for Brown support the Senate health care bill or think it does not go far enough. Only 11% think the legislation goes too far.
So, inevitably, Marueen Dowd had to have a green tea drinking sit down with San Francisco’s Mayor Newsom. We all knew this would happen sooner or later.
And yet! Still! Reading the piece that came out of that sit down still made me want to throw things at my computer.
Here’s the thing: Stop blaming the gays!
Basically, Newsom is trying to frame his failed career as being brought down by everyone who hates how much he loves the gays. And, oh, how sad he thinks that is, but how he thinks he did the right thing.
You know what was not the right thing to do? Fucking your best friend/campaign manager’s wife who also happened to work for you! Also? Claiming you did it while drunk, at your office, your office being the Mayor’s Office in City Hall! Also? Failing to bring about the change in murder rates or homelessness you campaigned on; that also might be a bit of a problem. Maybe also, if you are a Mayor of a town that feels like you are never there, and that you were always positioning for the next big thing, that could additionally cause harm to a career. Perhaps having poor relations with the press and poor relations with the legislative branch, on top of all of that, didn’t help.
The point I am making is simple: The Gays are not to be blamed for Gavin Newsom’s poor choice of hair product, nor his tendency to get drunk and fuck a staffer who is best friends with the man who was to run the Mayor’s campaign for Governor. We didn’t keep the murder rate in San Francisco high, and we didn’t keep massive numbers of homeless still on the streets. And we are also not to blame for the exploding failure that his career became.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he pushed the law and allowed thousands of LGBT couples to marry in 2004. I was there. It was beautiful. But, no, that IS NOT the reason his career fell apart. And if he really were such a staunch advocate for us queer folk, he would not now be blaming his colossally self-destructed career on us.
As Shakespeare would throw down: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars, but in ourselves.”
Also known as: Stop blaming the gays for shit you fucked up on your own. We are not your Yoko Ono!
"If this lady loses, the health care reform bill that the beloved late senator considered his legacy, will die. And the reason it will die… is because if Coakley loses, Democrats will only have an 18 vote majority in the Senate, which is more than George W. Bush ever had in the Senate when did whatever the fuck he wanted to…?!" - Jon Stewart
Here’s the thing everybody: health care reform does not have to die. Democrats control a majority of both houses and the majority of the American people want true health reform to be passed now. Massachusetts has the most progressive health care of any state in the nation. Those voters didn’t vote against the national reform effort - which is nowhere near as progressive as it is in Massachusetts - because it was too far to the left. No. The American people, in poll after poll, want real health care reform (including a public option) as well as a serious and large piece of job creation legislation to be passed through now. This is the message we are getting, and we have enough Democrats in office that this work can be done, and done well, if leadership is taken and some courage is shown. There are good legislative options on the table. We know what needs to be passed in order to make better the lives of people throughout this country, who are still very much hurting right now. And we are just entering into a legislative year where this can happen. But those in Washington must be bolder and stronger in their actions, so that the base which showed up in 2008 does not grow weary, disillusioned, disappointed or purely angry.
So, for what it’s worth, one thing you might want to do is to go over here and sign a petition that the Progressive Change Campaign Committee just launched to tell the powers that be just that.
Tonight might be the impetus we need to get that spirit of change to return back to Washington, the way it did a year ago tomorrow.
My two cents/For what it’s worth/Nobody asked me/Stepping off the soap box now!
A professor of mine once said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated not because he was uniting blacks, but because he was uniting everyone. I know it’s not the most profound assessment of his life’s work and perhaps it’s a bit weird for a white, middle class guy to say this, but thinking about MLK’s model of mobilization for change and just how truly profound it was chills me to the bone.
We’d better society a lot more today if we continued to follow in his example.
Okay, last MLK post for the day. (I think!) But, oh, this song!
Historian Maurice Isserman notes that many Americans who listen annually to excerpts of the 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech are not aware that “the occasion for that speech was officially known as the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom ]emphasis added]… [T]he march called for a ‘massive Federal Public Works program to provide jobs for all the unemployed,’ and spoke of the ‘twin evils of discrimination and economic deprivation.’”
King’s focus on economic justice became even sharper in the last years of his life. A noteworthy part of his critique of the Vietnam War was the idea that aggressive foreign interventionism exacted not only a moral cost but also an economic one: spending on the war was undermining President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs. In his famous April 1967 speech at Riverside Church in New York City, King made a damning indictment of a budgetary imbalance that continues to this day: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift,” he said, “is approaching spiritual death.”
Anyone aware that today, another bill has been introduced to restart a Public Works program to help get more people work in a more stable manner and quicker? Well, yes, there is. Here we go again, trying to do what is not easily done, but needs to be!
Tonight my mind wouldn’t leave Haiti. In between trying to work a bit to maybe do some good (or attempt to!) in our own country, my thoughts kept straying back.
I realized I needed a soundtrack to this contemplation, as well as a more proper education in Haitian music. My search took me all over the Internet, but here is a good starting point or two, if you also feel the need to be surrounded by the music of Haiti right now.
In the midst of all this, I got an excited, near frantic, call from a friend. Without mentioning the word on all our minds, she launched into a breathless flow of thoughts around a new idea for a fellowship program to get community organizers and planners to work together when the redevelopment phase begins, to build new communities that match the wants and needs of the people who call the place home. Minutes into her excited flow, I had to pause her: “Are you talking about Haiti?” I asked. She didn’t even locate her thoughts and ideas as, she said; “Isn’t Haiti the topic we all are thinking about tonight?”
At the same time, open on my screen, was this somewhat heartbreaking collection of stories from Haitian literature, sent to me by a friend.
From the four corners of the city the fires rise from the heaped refuse and burn our eyes. At the end of dusk, the fire-bugs crucify the misery of Port-au-Prince to shut it up. We walk on, subdued, half blinded by an untrustworthy fog. It is at this moment that night descends over the visage of our Mother. This incomparable face which will never leave you, in spite of the storm fallen into your life, in spite of the fire which devours it.
Yanick Lahens, “La Couleur de L’Aube.” Translation by Mr. Bell.
Over here, with the sounds of a country’s long resistance playing in the night air of an open window, one more candle will be lit. One more prayer sent out. Reaching for whatever marginal thing it is we can do. Haiti on the mind.
“YO, ECONOMIST – I was scandalised to learn I had been previously scandalised without even knowing it, when I read that Gordon Brown had “scandalised Americans” by referring to our president as “Barack”. I think this may be a case of British self-flattery.
Before the outbreak of such outrage three things would have had to happen which simply did not. First, Americans would have to know who Gordon Brown is. Second, they would have to know that he referred to President Obama as Barack. Finally, and most importantly, they would have to care. I don’t recall any news story on this. We reserve such interest for the mistresses of our sports celebrities. Lates,
Steve R New York”
Amazing. As in, actually printed in the Economist, amazing!
Or suppose that gorgeous wing spread speckled hawk begins to glide above my body laying down like dead meat maybe start to rot a little bit not moving see just flat just limp but hot not moving see him circle closer closing closer for the kill until he makes that dive to savage me and inches from the blood flood lusty beak I roll away I speak I laugh out loud
So, after excitedly telling everyone I knew that I was going to see Elektra on its closing night at the Met, it was mentioned by a few friends that folks knew lots about what I wore, but little about what I thought of it all.
Well, it was gorgeous. I don’t know enough to tell you how it compared to prior presentations, or the histories of the performers involved, and how they held up. I can tell you things like: I lost myself to the music at various points. I thought the bare stage set-up was somewhat brilliant, but perhaps in part because I was rows from the stage and could thus watch closely the facial expressions of the singers, as well as the details behind the barely open massive door that centered the set.
In thinking about my take on the experience, and what I knew about, or not enough about, to really say anything of use, well, I went off a bit! Apparently there have been various mental strands floating about my head over the last few years, on the topic of opera. And learning opera. And access to opera. And who and what all play a role in those topics. And so, thus, below you will find yourself something of a non-fiction novelette. Or, a rant, if you will. Enjoy if you might!