Saturday, December 24, 2011
There was a time, once upon a time, when politicians could get away with bashing gay people because they were like unicorns: abstract beings that everyone whispered about, but had never seen (or knew they had anyway). My, how times have changed. Many Republican presidential hopefuls, like Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, have each taken their swipe at the mythical “gay” in this race, each appeasing the religious right anti-gay base with their declarations against this community. Each has been, in turn, confronted by actual gay and lesbian people—much to the candidates’ consternation.
First, it was Mitt Romney who chose a stereotypical-looking Vietnam veteran to cozy up to at a diner in New Hampshire. Surprise! The vet was a gay man who quizzed Romney on why his spouse should be different from any other when it comes to collecting his military pension.
Rick Perry was next, confronted by a 14-year-old bisexual girl at an appearance in Iowa. “I just want to know why you’re so opposed to gays serving openly in the military, why you want to deny them that freedom when they’re fighting and dying for your right to run for president,” Rebecka Green, a high school student from Decorah, asked Perry.
“Here’s my issue. This is about my faith, and I happen to think, you know, there are a whole host of sins,” Perry responded. “Homosexuality being one of them, and I’m a sinner and so I’m not going to be the first one to throw a stone.” But, he would be the first to throw out “teh gay” from the military, even though “thou shalt not kill” is a pretty big sin according to that book called “The Bible.”
Then, it’s Michele Bachmann’s turn. After being confronted by an 8-year-old boy (in South Carolina, no less) who told her his lesbian mommy didn’t need changing, she and her husband met up with a “gay-friendly Iowan” who confronted them on the percentage of gay people in the population.
[W]hat Romney, Perry, and Bachmann are discovering is that gay and lesbian people are not mythical creatures they can bash with impunity to win religious right votes. Instead, they are real, living, breathing, taxpaying, churchgoing, and yes, voting, people who refuse to be silent when their lives are used as political fodder.
Next we are headed back to Virginia Beach for dinner with one of the boyfriend's long time clients and her family. After that, it will either be going to church or going to a favorite club that's open tonight. In some ways I think I'd have a more spiritual experience dancing at the club. We'll see.
Christmas Day, we are hosting an open house and should have a number of friends stopping by who either don't have family in the area or who may be looking for a break from family gatherings. On Monday, both my daughters and their boyfriends will be coming over and staying for dinner.
As the narrative above demonstrates, my holidays have improved immensely since the ones I experienced when I first came out. Those first couple of Christmas seasons were among the worse ones of my life. Thankfully, I failed in my suicide attempts and I'm around to enjoy the vastly better circumstances with which I am now blessed. My message to others making the coming out journey is that it does get better even if not at the pace we'd like. It's so very important to hang on to that truth even in the darkest hours. As alone as you may feel, it will not last forever. I'm living proof.
Friday, December 23, 2011
Speaker John Boehner’s announcement that a deal has been reached on a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut (to buy time to negotiate a year-long deal, mind you) is welcome news. That means 160 million Americans won’t get slapped with a tax increase on Jan. 1. That means unemployment benefits will continue to flow to millions of Americans who want to work but can’t find work. That means the drag on the economy analysts warned it would have would not happen. Merry Christmas, everyone.
Boehner’s colossal cave comes after three days of being pummeled by Senate Republicans, President Obama and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the latter being the equivalent of the Republican principal’s office. Boehner said, “The Senate will join the House in immediately appointing conferees, with instructions to reach agreement in the weeks ahead on a full-year payroll tax extension.” He added, “We will ask the House and Senate to approve this agreement by unanimous consent before Christmas.”
But during his live press conference late Thursday afternoon, Boehner looked like and sounded like a haunted man. Unlike this morning, when he stood with fellow GOPers to defy a demand from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to pass the two-month extension, the leader from Ohio stood alone to deliver the news. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virg.), who slammed President Obama for going Christmas shopping yesterday with his dog Bo rather than help save House Republicans from themselves, wasn’t there. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who failed in his job to be an early-warning system for the Speaker by knowing where the votes were or weren’t, wasn’t there, either.
The American people are the winners in this latest bit of Washington craziness. But Boehner comes out the biggest loser. The man from Ohio has little to no control over his recalcitrant caucus. The inmates are running the asylum.
A case in point of a cleric who has no business opening his mouth on anything is Chicago Cardinal Francis George. As Bishop Accountability reports (click on the link "George") based on a Dallas Morning News investigation, Cardinal George has been directly implicated in protecting sexual predator priests. Yet despite this possible criminal conduct, George has the audacity to compare the gay rights movement to the Klux Klux Klan. If that's the case then, I guess it's fair game to compare George to a pimp who specializes in peddling underage prostitutes. Truly, as I have noted before, I do not see how any truly moral person can remain a Catholic given the foulness and moral bankruptcy of the Church's leadership. Here are highlights from the Chicago Tribune.
Chicago's Cardinal Francis George has never been shy about expressing his views on divisive issues like abortion rights and civil unions for same-sex couples. But gay rights groups said the Chicago archbishop crossed the line when he compared the gay rights movement to the Ku Klux Klan. George's comments aired Wednesday during a Fox Chicago newscast. The entire interview is slated to run Sunday evening.
You know, you don't want the gay liberation movement to morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan, demonstrating in the streets against Catholicism." George said.
Pressed by Fox Chicago's Mike Flannery and Dane Placko, George acknowledged that it was a strong analogy, but reiterated his sentiment. "The rhetoric of the Ku Klux Klan; the rhetoric of some of the gay liberation people — who is the enemy? Who is the enemy? The Catholic Church," George said.
In October, city officials and parade organizers agreed to change the route and time of the gay pride parade in order to safely accommodate larger crowds, moving it from noon to 10 a.m. But leaders with Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, which would be on the new parade route, later objected, arguing that it would interrupt morning services. On Wednesday, an agreement was reached to move the start time back to noon.
Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda, a Chicago-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, said he was so shocked when he watched a clip of the interview online that he had to stop and replay it. "I literally had no words," Martinez said. "To equate a movement that is about acceptance, diversity and joy to a group of men in white hoods standing on a lawn and burning a cross is very hurtful and it's just not truthful."
The Rev. Thomas Srenn, senior pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, declined to comment Thursday about the cardinal's comments, saying he had not contacted George about the parade changes because it was a local issue. A spokeswoman for the archdiocese said people should view the entire interview, which will air on Christmas Day. "Whether it was the best choice of analogy I don't know.
If anything ought to be equated with the Klan it's the Church hierarchy that continues to go out of its way to denigrate LGBT individuals, deprive us of civil rights and depicts us as objects to be subjected to hate and scorn. Cardinal George was obviously looking in the mirror and engaging in transference when he made his hateful comments.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta greeted her girlfriend, Citlalic Snell, on the pier with a kiss and embrace, making them the first same-sex couple to be chosen by the Navy for this very public moment. The crowd cheered. It was a small but significant sign of progress in the U.S. military.
Yet, on the same day, military officials announced that the Army had charged eight soldiers in connection with the death of a young Chinese-American private who was allegedly taunted with ethnic slurs and so brutally hazed by men in his unit in Afghanistan that he shot himself in October. According to his family, Danny Chen, who was 19, wrote in letters that he was teased for being Asian and subjected to frequent jokes about Chinese people.
In some ways, the military has made exemplary progress in modernizing its culture. Long desegregated along racial, ethnic and gender lines, the armed forces now allow gay soldiers to serve openly as well. . . . . But the military, like other institutions, has continued to struggle along the way with racism, sexism, sexual assaults and homophobia. The repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is less than a year old; Gaeta and her girlfriend — who is also a sailor — could not have kissed so publicly at a homecoming a year ago. (Gaeta won the "first kiss" spot in a raffle among the crew.)
Racism within the ranks is still an issue. The military's zero tolerance policy is a start, but it takes strong leadership to educate and sensitize young and often unworldly soldiers about the level of respect that all their fellow soldiers are due.
The Army was right to move quickly in investigating and bringing charges in the Chen case; with hard work and leadership, we hope diversity in the military can become a non-issue in the years ahead. After the two women kissed on the Virginia pier, the rest of the crew filed off the ship and immediately turned to the bigger issue at hand — reuniting with their family and friends.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Now that Congress has reached agreement on what must be one of the worst pieces of legislation in years — the temporary payroll tax holiday extension — let’s survey the damage.
To begin with, what even minimally rational government enacts payroll tax relief for just two months? As a matter of practicality alone, it makes no sense. The National Payroll Reporting Consortium, representing those who process paychecks, said of the two-month extension passed by the Senate just days before the new year: “There is insufficient lead time to accommodate the proposal,” because “many payroll systems are not likely to be able to make such a substantial programming change before January or even February,” thereby creating “substantial problems, confusion and costs.”
[W]hat were they thinking in the first place? What business operates two months at a time? The minimal time horizon for business is the quarter — three months. What genius came up with two?
The tax-holiday extension — presumably to be negotiated next year into a 12-month extension — is the perfect campaign ploy: an election-year bribe that has the additional virtue of seizing the tax issue for the Democrats.
The House Republicans’ initial rejection of this two-month extension was therefore correct on principle and on policy. But this was absolutely the wrong place, the wrong time, to plant the flag. Once Senate Republicans overwhelmingly backed the temporary extension, that part of the fight was lost. Opposing it became kamikaze politics.
Note the toll it is already taking on Republicans. For three decades Republicans owned the tax issue. . . . . The Democrats set a trap and the Republicans walked right into it. By rejecting an ostensibly bipartisan “compromise,” the Republican House was portrayed as obstructionist and, even worse, heartless — willing to raise taxes on the middle class while resolutely opposing any tax increases on the rich. House Republicans compounded this debacle by begging the Senate to come back and renegotiate the issue, thus entirely conceding the initiative to Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Having finally realized they had trapped themselves, House Republicans quickly caved, with help from a fig leaf contrived by Sen. Mitch McConnell. The GOP’s performance nicely reprises that scene in “Animal House” where the marching band turns into a blind alley and row after row of plumed morons plows into a brick wall, crumbling to the ground in an unceremonious heap. With one difference: House Republicans are unplumed.
Ouch!! Sometimes the truth hurts and sometimes it's best not to allow one selves to be ruled by the most ignorant and delusional elements in the GOP. Will the House GOP learn from this mess? I hope not.
[T]he founder of the far-right American Family Association Don Wildmon endorsed Newt Gingrich for president, citing Gingrich’s stringent attacks against the judiciary and the need to stop Mitt Romney from winning the Republican nomination as reasons for his endorsement. Wildmon told AFA spokesman Bryan Fischer, who has harshly criticized Gingrich, that he was originally “ecstatic” about Rick Perry but decided against supporting him due to his poor debate performances and said that only Gingrich can stop “the homosexuals and the liberals” from their plot to “destroy the family” and “the whole of Western Civilization.”
Wildmon: If we don’t have a strong leadership that knows and believes in maintaining our Judeo-Christian heritage, we’re going to lose it. And let me tell you, don’t load up any buses because there’s nowhere else in the world that what we have can be replicated. It’s gone and it is gone forever if Obama or Romney wins the presidency, it’s gone and it’s gone forever. That’s a strong statement, I’m not trying to scare anybody, I’m not trying to say I got any kind of intellect, but I just see it and it’s there and if we lose this country, it’s gone and it can never again be replicated.
Now and I say this with Newt sitting there, only Newt knows Newt’s heart other than God, I think that he has paid his dues, I think he has accepted his forgiveness, God has forgiven him, I forgive him, let’s go on to do what’s best for the country.
I am supporting Newt because I think he’s the best fellow for the job, as far as sin, we know what’s in Newt’s past, Paul was a murderer, Moses was a murderer, David was an adulterer and for all intents and purposes a murderer, the man has paid his dues, he’s been forgiven by God. Am I supporting him? Yes I am. Why? I’ll say it again; I think that everything considered he is the best candidate for the office.
Frankly, Wildmon and those like him in the Christianist/Tea Party base of the GOP are the true threat to America. They embrace ignorance and bigotry and the marginalization of others. Moreover, they are delusional if they think the rest of the world isn't going to leave the USA in the dust if the nation's so-called conservative leadership doesn't stop trying to move the country decades if not centuries backwards in time.
Today on The 700 Club, a man with an openly gay son asked Pat Robertson how he can show his son “the love of Jesus when you know his sexual preference is an abomination to God.” Robertson told the father to love his son by encouraging him to “un-acquire” his sexual orientation and “get out of this.” Robertson’s advice should come as no surprise, as The 700 Club has featured “ex-gays” and the televangelist has said that gays and lesbians are “on their way to hell,” will bring America into the “ash-can of history” and prompt God to destroy America.
Robertson: Well you can love, you know what they say, you love the sinner and hate the sin, but I think what you got to do is love him, you’re his father. You want to say, ‘look I don’t agree with what you’re doing but I love you, you’re my son, you came from my body, you’re part of me and I’m with you but I’d like you to get out of this.’ I know people disagree with the question of homosexuality; is it something that they’re born with or is it something that’s acquired? I think a lot of it is acquired, I don’t know all the genes or the genetics that’s in your son as to what is causing him to do whatever he’s doing, you’ll have to figure that one out. But normally speaking, a person who has acquired this can un-acquire it. We’ve had many people who have indeed left the homosexual lifestyle and gone into a heterosexual relationship and have been very, very happy. But all I can say is love the son, love the son, and show him what you consider a better way.
Notably, Robertson’s own Regent University in a study of sexual minorities (gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer or bi-curious) involved or once involved in opposite-sex relationships found that heterosexual behavior did not alter their homosexual or bisexual orientation
With the rapidly changing global economy and the increasing need to attract talent, the Hampton Roads area desperately needs to change its ignorant, backward image. That's not going to happen with Robertson, CBN and Regent University daily underscoring the image that is harming the area's future and causing the educated younger generations to leave the area.
When discussing his amazingness, Newt Gingrich sometimes exaggerates somewhat, as when, discussing Bosnia and Washington, D.C., street violence, he said, “People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jan. 16, 1994]. What primarily stands between us and misrule, however, is the Constitution, buttressed by an independent judiciary.
But Gingrich’s hunger for distinction has surely been slaked by his full-throated attack on such a judiciary. He is the first presidential candidate to propose a thorough assault on the rule of law. That is the meaning of his vow to break courts to the saddle of politicians, particularly to members of Congress, who rarely even read the laws they pass.
So, Gingrich . . . . warns that calling the Supreme Court supreme amounts to embracing “oligarchy.”
Judicial deference to majorities can, however, be a dereliction of the judicial duty to oppose actions irreconcilable with constitutional limits on what majorities may do. Gingrich’s campaign against courts repudiates contemporary conservatism’s core commitment to limited government.
Gingrich radiates impatience with impediments to allowing majorities to sweep aside judicial determinations displeasing to those majorities. He does not, however, trust democratic political processes to produce, over time, presidents who will nominate, and Senate majorities that will confirm, judges whose views he approves.
To teach courts the virtue of modesty, President Gingrich would attempt to abolish some courts and impeach judges whose decisions annoy him — decisions he says he might ignore while urging Congress to do likewise. He favors compelling judges to appear before Congress to justify decisions “out of sync” with majorities, and he would sic police or marshals on judges who resist congressional coercion. Never mind that judges always explain themselves in written opinions, concurrences and dissents.
Gingrich’s unsurprising descent into sinister radicalism — intimidation of courts — is redundant evidence that he is not merely the least conservative candidate, he is thoroughly anti-conservative. He disdains the central conservative virtue, prudence, and exemplifies progressivism’s defining attribute — impatience with impediments to the political branches’ wielding of untrammeled power. He exalts the will of the majority of the moment, at least as he, tribune of the vox populi, interprets it.
Atop the Republican ticket, Gingrich would guarantee Barack Obama’s reelection, would probably doom Republicans’ hopes of capturing the Senate and might cost them control of the House. If so, Gingrich would at last have achieved something — wreckage, but something — proportional to his swollen sense of himself.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Studies continue to show the important economic impact immigrants have on the national economy as well as states, be it the millions in losses Alabama faces after passing a draconian immigration law to the number of jobs immigrants help create.
Now venture capitalists are arguing for immigration reform for the sake of the economy after a study showed that immigrants founded almost half of the U.S.’s top 50 start-up companies and are vital management or development employees at roughly 75 percent of the nation’s leading cutting-edge companies.
Companies with immigrant founders include the textbook rental company Chegg and the online craft site Etsy. The most common countries of origin for these entrepreneurs were India, Israel, Canada, Iran, and New Zealand, and for many, their experiences creating a start-up were “uniquely American,” according to the report by the National Federation for American Policy
The NFAP’s report concludes that the U.S. needs policies to retain talented entrepreneurs in the U.S., but the hoops can be high for those who want to immigrate to the U.S. And the cap for H-1B visas, highly sought after for IT workers, has already been reached for the 2012 fiscal year, so anyone who wants to apply for the visa will have to wait another year before trying. “It’s a gamble whether an entrepreneur should stay or leave right now, and that’s not how the immigration system should work,” said Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association, according to the Chicago Tribune. “What we need is legislation that helps these entrepreneurs from outside the United States.”
Yesterday evening, George Allen held an online townhall meeting via Facebook. At the peak of the event, only 35 people were watching, many of whom were probably Felix Macacawitz's political staffers, and by the end there a lot fewer. So, it's fair to say that almost nobody was watching as Allen, who thought the camera was turned off, complained about how "uh, god, torturous" the experience of speaking to voters was. Allen also jokes about "reindeers" and "elves in the servers," sarcastically says "let's do this tomorrow!," comments about the "great spontaneity" ("TAKE THREE!"), and asks "what do you reckon it was for me?" in response to a comment about how "nervewracking" the experience was.
So George, if it's so painful for you to speak to Virginia voters, if you hate campaigning so much (just like you hated being in the U.S. Senate), why on earth are you running? It's not like anybody's forcing you to do this, right? If you want to just drop out now, and go back to full-time shilling (for boatloads of cash) for the dirty energy industry, that's fine with us. Just a friendly suggestion. :)
My thoughts? Being a full time attorney sucks most of the time. The hours are terrible and one is pressed to juggle time and commitments to keep everyone happy all of the time. Why would George want to go back to being an attorney when an elected official has so much less accountability. And who am I supporting to fill Webb's soon to be vacant seat? It's not George Allen.
Every year the Virginia General Assembly holds hearings “to hear from the public” on what services should be funded in the new Biennial Budget. Today we are reading the Governor’s Proposed Biennial Budget to learn if there are any new funds to eliminate the ADAP waiting list. So far, doesn’t look like it … in fact, I’m a bit concerned … could there actually be less ??
Plan to attend any one of these hearings to tell our legislators why HIV medications must be available to every PLWH in this state.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 5, 2012 (Hearing begins at 10:00 a.m.)
Big Stone Gap (directions)
Mountain Empire Community College, Philip Taylor Hall, Goodloe Center
FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 2012
(Hearing begins at 10:00 a.m.)
Fairfax County (directions)
George Mason University, Fairfax Campus, Johnson Center, Dewberry Hall
FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 2012
(Hearings begin at 12:00 noon)
Newport News (directions)
Christopher Newport University, Ferguson Center, Music and Theater Hall
Virginia Military Institute, Marshall Center for Leadership and Ethics, Hall of Valor
Medical College of Virginia, Larrick Student Center, 900 Turpin Street
It’s been three months since the dock landing ship [Oak Hill] left home for Central America, and all of the usual fanfare is waiting to greet its crew: crowds of cheering families, toddlers dressed in sailor suits, and the lucky, excited woman who’s been chosen to take part in a time-honored Navy tradition, the first homecoming kiss.
In this case, that woman is 22-year-old Citlalic Snell. She’s a sailor herself, assigned to destroyer Bainbridge, but today she’s in civilian clothes – jeans, boots and a stylish leather jacket. Watching pierside as the Oak Hill pulls into port, she absentmindedly twists the small diamond ring that’s on her left hand.
A handful of top officers are first off the ship, and then comes a young woman in dress blues, Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta. Snell cracks a wide smile. “That’s her,” she says.
When Gaeta spots her, she smiles too. They embrace. With all eyes watching, they keep the kiss short, and the crowd cheers. As the rest of the crew begins to file off the ship, Gaeta and Snell slip away for a few moments alone before speaking to a group of news reporters. They say they’re both a little embarrassed by all the attention, but they understand it. “It’s a big deal,” Gaeta says. “It’s been a long time coming.”
They explain that they’ve been dating for a little over two years, about as long as they’ve been in the Navy. They met right after boot camp. They were roommates at their first training school, where they both became fire controlmen.
Until this September, when the military’s ban on openly gay service was lifted, they worked hard to keep their relationship secret. When Snell came home from her last deployment in August, kissing on the pier wasn’t an option.
“This is the first time we can actually show who we are,” Snell says. Adds Gaeta, "It's nice to be able to be myself." While she says she already considers Snell her wife, they’re planning for a wedding down the road.
I wasn't there and cannot verify this. But it qualifies as a Kinsley gaffe, in as much as the GOP does not merely have no outreach to gays, but actively promotes candidates who seek our disappearance from the face of the earth through "reparative therapy", whose supporters boo openly gay servicemembers in public, who wish to amend the federal Constitution to deny us core civil rights, who find a defense of gay people from violence and persecution abroad to be against "American values", and who back every hate crime laws but those that protect gays from violence.
In another post, Andrew went on to speculate as to whether the GOP is near the point of imploding (we can only hope). Here's his apt question:
The House Republicans have now all but guaranteed that taxes will go up on middle-class Americans because of what they themselves have called "high stakes poker." And this moment may as well sum up why Americans despise this Congress as deeply as they do.
For the GOP to vote down sustaining a tax cut - after a huge majority in the Senate and president had both signed off - and to stalk off into the Christmas vacation leaving a struggling workforce in the lurch ... well, it's a novel form of politicking, don't you think?
If you wonder why Obama is slowly rising again, I'd look less to his own smart re-framing of the issues than to the utter fecklessness of the opposition party. The circus of the primaries and the farce of the House will not leave the public consciousness very soon.
The FAMiLY Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats and Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center have endorsed conservative values stalwart Rick Santorum for president, who, despite a strong record of opposing abortion rights and marriage equality, has failed to gain any significant traction in the state. Santorum is also the only GOP presidential candidate to campaign in all 99 of Iowa’s counties and has participated in over 350 town halls. The Leader’s board has agreed to remain neutral in the caucuses.
Vander Plaats and his group have sought to position themselves as kingmakers of the Iowa caucuses, hosting a presidential speakers forum earlier this year, and asking candidates to sign a 14-point marriage fidelity pledge vowing to oppose same-sex marriage. During today’s announcement Vander Plaats downplayed the influence of his personal endorsement, saying that the endorsement may have limited value, given the proximity of the Jan. 3 caucuses:VANDER PLAATS: He has been a stalwart and a soldier for the sanctity of human life and God’s design for the family, one man-one woman marriage…. So today, I as an individual am going to endorse Rick Santorum. I’m going to mobilize whatever resources I have at my disposal to advocate for him. I will not tear down another candidate….I believe Rick Santorum comes from us. He comes from us, not just to us. He’s one of us….I also recognize that we’re down to fourteen days minus Christmas.
A Gallup poll released several weeks ago found that Santorum — a candidate who has camped out in Iowa and delivered every bigoted anti-gay argument imaginable — is the least acceptable nominee for president from the Republican Party — according to Republicans. Just 27 percent of GOP voters said Santorum could represent the party in 2012; 62 percent said he was “not acceptable.”
The FAMiLY Leader has its own long history of anti-gay and anti-Muslim rhetoric. An early version of the group’s fidelity pledge suggested that children were better off under slavery than they are under Obama, and the document likens homosexuality to polygamy, adultery, or polyandry, attacks gays as a public health risk, and foments the non-existent “Sharia” threat to America.
Given the foulness of his endorsers, one can only assume that Santorum will now seek the endorsement of the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups.
More than three million people stand to lose unemployment insurance benefits in the near future because of an impasse in Congress over how to extend the aid and how to offset the cost.
Jobless benefits have been overshadowed by debate on a payroll tax cut, but have become a huge sticking point in negotiations on a bill that deals with both issues. Republicans would continue aid for some of the unemployed, but would sharply reduce the maximum duration of benefits and impose strict new requirements on people seeking or receiving aid.
Democrats said these changes made no sense at a time when 45 percent of jobless workers had been unemployed for more than half a year and the average duration of unemployment — 41 weeks — was higher than at any time in 60 years.
They are toying with people’s lives. I’m getting really scared and nervous.” Mr. Grandstaff said he was making $43,000 a year when he was laid off in March from the collections department of a major cellphone company. Now he is working at a part-time job for $8 an hour and hoping the position will lead to full-time work.
Brenda G. Crosier, 52, of Northglenn, Colo., outside Denver, is also at risk of losing extended unemployment benefits. She said she applied for five to eight jobs a week but rarely received responses . . . .
Major provisions of the federal unemployment insurance program begin expiring in the first week of January, and people would begin to feel the effects over the next several months. By mid-February, the Labor Department estimates, 2.2 million workers would have lost jobless benefits, and by the end of March, 3.6 million will be affected. People in states with the highest unemployment rates would be among the hardest hit.
Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, the senior Republican on the Finance Committee, said: “I don’t see why you have to go more than 59 weeks. In fact, we need some incentives for people to get back to work. A lot of these people don’t want to work unless they get really high-paying jobs, and they’re not going to get them ever. So they just stay home and watch television. I don’t mean to malign people, but far too many are doing that.”
Representative Jim McDermott, Democrat of Washington, said the Republican proposals amounted to “the most drastic attack on the unemployment system” in 75 years.
Democrats say the program has reduced poverty and helped stabilize the economy, reducing the depth of the last recession. Republicans say the benefits have led some people to reduce their efforts to find new jobs. Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, said: “The problem is not a lack of effort for those seeking a job. The problem is a lack of jobs.”
The fact that those receiving unemployment are real people with real families to support seems lost on most Republicans in Congress. Apparently, if one doesn't have the means to write a fat campaign contribution check, you no longer count in the GOP's increasingly sick world view. I know a number of people currently seeking jobs and sadly, the jobs aren't there.
Gay men who live in U.S. states where same-sex marriage is legal make fewer doctor visits, have lower healthcare costs, and in general lead happier and healthier lives, according to a new study being published in the American Journal of Public Health.
The researchers surveyed the demand for medical and mental healthcare from more than 1,200 gay men registered with a Massachusetts health clinic in the 12 months prior to the 2003 change and the 12 months afterwards and found a 13-percent drop in healthcare visits after the law was enacted.
This was regardless of whether the men were in a stable relationship, the American Journal of Public Health reported.
There was a reduction in blood pressure problems, depression and “adjustment disorders,” which could be the result of reduced stress, researchers said.
A spokesman for the Terrence Higgins Trust, a UK-based sexual health and HIV charity, told the BBC that “there is a known link between health and happiness.”
“It’s no surprise that people who are treated as second class citizens tend to have low self esteem, which in turn makes them more likely to take risks,” the spokesman said. “Whether this is drugs, alcohol abuse, or unsafe sex, treating gay men unequally has lasting repercussions for their health.”
More coverage on the study findings can be found here in the American Journal of Public Health. I especially like this policy finding that anyone honest about reducing health care costs ought to embrace:
Conclusions. Policies that confer protections to same-sex couples may be effective in reducing health care use and costs among sexual minority men.
I continue to believe that Christianists hate gays intensely because we - like evolution - represent a huge threat to their house of cards religious belief system that is based on a selective reading of an increasing factually and scientific unreliable document: the Bible. If the Bible is wrong about the creation story, wrong about the existence of Adam and Eve and wrong about its condemnation of same sex relationships, the entire house of cards collapses and the fear stricken Christianists are left with nothing. Worse yet, many will be faced with the realization that they led their lives based on a lie. They will go to any lengths to avoid facing this truth - including seeking vengeance on those whose lives and loves underscore the falsity of their belief system.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
When the Republicans of Minnesota campaigned in the 2010 midterms, their top priority would be jobs and the economy, they told voters. But after taking power, a funny thing happened. The self-described "socially conservative" Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch decided that what really needed to be done was rewriting the State Constitution to permanently enshrine discrimination in the laws of the North Star State.
Under Amy Koch's majority leadership, the Minnesota Senate voted to amend the Minnesota Constitution to declare that "a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in Minnesota." Koch, of course, voted for the bill herself.
[S]ome news has surfaced that begs the question: should defenders of the sanctity of marriage consider voting Koch out of their sacred matrimonial club? Amy Koch, a married mother of one, resigned her leadership position late last week. News reports say she was confronted by her Republican colleagues over an "inappropriate relationship" with one of her direct subordinates.
Turns out Koch could be in more trouble than just losing her job. Did you know the act of adultery is still a crime in Minnesota? Statute 609.36 reads:
Subdivision 1. Acts constituting. When a married woman has sexual intercourse with a man other than her husband, whether married or not, both are guilty of adultery and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both.
Democratic Senator Ellen Anderson thought policing the private sex lives of citizens was perhaps not in the state's best interest and made an effort to repeal the law in 2010. But the usual staunch defenders of marriage objected. Tom Pritchard and his organization, the Minnesota Family Council (MFC), have long been out front and center trying to protect marriage from the gays. (Pritchard also famously suggested that kids bullied to death were asking for it.)
I have full confidence we can now expect Tom Pritchard to call upon the state to conduct a thorough investigation if the law of Minnesota has been violated. Enforcing the adultery statute vigorously will send an important message, after all. The "consequences" of letting scofflaws go unpunished are "enormous" to "the rest of society," I am told.
Amy Koch's own marriage would have been better off had she spent less of her time worrying about the gays defiling its sanctity and more time at home, practicing her family values, with her own family.
Please go to the article and vote on whether Kock should loose her right to marriage since she has defiled the "sanctity of marriage." I suspect you all know how I voted!
As for the Christianists who fund these fraudulent organizations are even worse than the "ex-gay" whores they support financially. They either support these bogus programs for political purposes or because they are so mentally damaged by their religious indoctrination that they cannot accept that the Bible is wrong on the issue of homosexuality - I'd go so far as to describe them as suffering from a form of mental illness - that they will spread all kinds of hatred and slanderous information about LGBT individuals.
The sooner that organizations like Exodus are stomped out of existence and exposed for the frauds and liars that they are, the better off the world will be. I began my activist journey helping to expose "ex-gay" poster boy Michael Johnston as a total fraud back in 2003 and I continue to believe that ending the "ex-gay" myth is vital to securing full equality for LGBT individuals. Think Progress commented on the ad as follows:
A full-page ad promoting ex-gay therapy has appeared in the leading Trinidad newspaper Sunday Express, titled “What You Should Know About Homosexuality.” A similar advertisement was also recently published in a Jamaican newspaper, LGBTQ Nation reports. As one equality activist put it, “They looked at this…and thought it was okay to publish? Not that something is wrong with publishing a religiously slanted ad, but one that openly discredits a community, questions their movement towards rights and even, in a sense, undermines their actual existence is definitely a problem.”
The other thing that needs to happen is that the American Psychological Association needs to become aggressive and push state licensing agencies to revoke the licenses of therapist who engage in this kind of bogus quackery - and yes, I do mean Minnesota among other states. Similarly, states need to shut down "Christian counseling" clinics if they don't meet state licensing requirments. Lastly, we need to see more victims of "ex-gay" ministries and/or their families suing these for the harm that they do.
When the Columbia Library closed each night at ten, it was the custom of John Spofford Morgan, who was studying for a master’s in international affairs, to hop on the subway and head downtown to the New Verdi on West 72nd. Back then, there were two kinds of bars for gay men, he says: pickup joints and old-friends joints. The New Verdi was the latter, but it turned into the former when at around 10:30 on May 17, 1947, Louis Halsey walked in. “Love at first sight,” says Lou now. “Was it?” John wonders. “For me it was slower.” In any case, Lou and John spent the night together, just as they have spent most nights in the 64 years ensuing. Last month, they got married.
John is 94, recovering from a broken hip but otherwise as hale and handsome as Lou, 88, says he always was. One snapshot shows the pair on a beach in Beirut in 1952. Lou looks like Tony Curtis, glossy and pompadoured. John looks like JFK except, as his mother used to complain when people compared their families, “we have chins.”
Both served in the Navy in World War II, but on different oceans, as in a way they were from different worlds on land. John, who still speaks in the accent of the turn-of-the-twentieth-century elite, worked as an economist. Lou, of Hungarian-immigrant stock, cut hair for decades at the Westbury Hotel.
[B]eing gay was a great equalizer then. And being married is a great equalizer now. “People say, ‘So if you’re married, where’s the certificate?’ ” Lou explains. “Now we have it.” The pair ignored domestic partnership when it came along (“A halfway step,” says John), and since they had already invested in the complicated legal work-arounds—trusts, powers of attorney—needed to protect one another, they didn’t see the point of claiming marriage rights in, say, Iowa. But when the law passed here in June, they knew they would take the step.
The small ceremony, with a minister and three witnesses, was held in their Village apartment on November 11, a date they chose because they have for years noticed the time 11:11 on the clock by the bed. They did not exchange rings and got no gifts, “except bourbon!” Lou says. “But he”—he waves at John—“started to cry.”
I wish them both happiness. And I wish folks like that self-enriching whore Maggie Gallagher would take a good look at the harm they are doing by trying to deprive couples like this one from equality under the CIVIL marriage laws. Gallagher and those like her are truly horrible human beings.
Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann and her husband Marcus dismissed a woman who confronted them with information about the size of the gay population at a campaign event in north central Iowa on Sunday.
CNN reports on the exchange at a pizza restaurant, where the candidate was approached by a woman wearing a Bachmann sticker and holding a sign that said, “Gay-friendly Iowan.”
Schnell then said, "I wonder if you're aware that 10% of the population is gay. And if you have 28 children, then 2.8 of those kids are very likely gay." Bachmann seemed to ignore her, but then replied after Schnell commented that she was not listening.
"Well, that's according to the Kinsey Report," said Bachmann, in a reference to the sex researcher. Marcus Bachmann, who has been accused of offering therapy to “change” gay people at his clinic in Minnesota, said, "Your facts are wrong.”
"That's not valid?" asked Schnell. "No, it isn't," said the congresswoman before she moved to the next table. Her husband added, "No, it's not at all. It's been a myth for many years."
[T]he event also drew other gay rights activists, including a college student who wanted to ask Bachmann about gay teen suicides but was told she would not be taking questions.
If the Bachmann's want to talk about myths, then they need to come clean on the myth that "Marcia" isn't a huge closeted queen. He makes most drag queens look ultra-butch.