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August 15, 2008

Why Support Barack Obama?

Let me say right off the bat that I was initially skeptical of Barack Obama's true commitment to the GLBT community.

Having been a radical gay activist in NY and having put in many hours on Bill Clinton's first campaign in 1992, I was adamant about Clinton's support of our community. Unfortunately, shortly after taking office, he back-tracked and capitulated on most of the promises he made to us.

To say that I was pissed off would be an understatement. On one hand, I could understand the politics behind his actions but on the other, the radical activist side of me couldn't quite reconcile the opposing reality that the man I believed in would so easily back down to the political pressures of the moment.

It was a very psychologically difficult time for me. I knew without a doubt that Clinton would be a far better option than Bush Sr (who I had virtually no respect for to begin with) and being somewhat of a political pragmatist, I was still glad I supported and voted for him. I couldn't shake the bad feelings I had about his betrayal though so I became "uninvolved" and refused to work for his reelection in '96. But I still did vote for him.

That's the basis of my skepticism of Obama. I'm gun-shy. It's also the reason that I didn't support Hilliary in the primaries. I've heard very strong comments of support from a Clinton before and I just couldn't convince myself that it wasn't deja vu all over again.

I was born in Chicago and raised in a small town north of the city. Much of my family still lives there and I have a fairly good understanding of the psyche of that region. Of course prejudices still exist there but overall it is one of the more progressive and tolerant parts of the country. Even considering the brief controversy surrounding the boat races at Crystal Lake (which is about 5 miles from where I grew up) during the Gay Games, the majority of the population is pretty open and welcoming.

However, many of us who grew up under Mayor Richard J. Daley's powerful grip on the political structure of not only Chicago and the state itself but of that entire region are deeply distrustful of politicians in general. That's why, to me, the wide support Barack has there is very impressive.

The stories and information I hear about him do seem to be true. And the more I hear, the more I'm beginning to believe that he really does mean what he says. He has also backed up his rhetorical support by concrete, political actions.

One of the most telling was right after he took office as an Illinois State Senator. He immediately signed on as a sponsor of legislation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Even when one of the gay sponsors of the bill wanted to take out that phrase in hopes of making it easier to pass the bill, Obama was insistent on keeping it in and lobbied extensively for its passage. That's a very impressive, proven commitment. Illinois now has some of the most progressive GLBT legislation in the country.

If you are serious about wanting to live up to your obligation to vote but you still aren't sure of voting for Obama, I have a suggestion. The Advocate just published an in-depth piece on Obama and I strongly suggest that you take the time read it. It's a little long but you can always save it to your hard drive and read it over when you have the time. If you're serious about making an intelligent, informed decision, I urge you to read that piece. Trust me, it's worth the effort.

Just one final thought on this - for now.

If you're a person of integrity, intelligence and compassion, there's no way you could possibly justify supporting or voting for John McCain.

His startling reversals of professional and personal morals for political gain have been just too numerous and too mind-boggling to leave any kind of doubt that he would be just as bad as our current President. Maybe even worse considering that he doesn't have the same level of astounding ignorance that "GW" has demonstrated over and over again. McCain is shrewd and calculating and would back whoever and whatever he felt would do him the most good regardless of the consequences for the rest of us.

Obama or McCain. That's what our choices are in November. If you honestly care about the GLBT community, this country as a whole and the world in general then not voting is simply not an option!

To read The Adocate's story go to: The Advocate

August 14, 2008

Update For Today's Prop 8 Action In Irvine California

Chino Blanco sent me the following update info for today's action at the Shubert Flint PR firm (address, entrance & staging area is in the photo above):

For map links, times, etc. go to: chinoblanco.blogspot.com

If you have questions or need to talk to someone in CA about the demo, Call Vern Nelson at 714-235-8376 (VERN).

I urge everyone in the basin area who has the time later this evening to attend this event. It should be fun for you and eye-opening for some of their clients.

Below is a reduce version of the flyer that'll be passed out.

Click Here for a full size version that you can print out to take with you.

August 13, 2008

Proponents Of Prop 8 Leave An LA Times Editor Speechless

The Los Angeles Times editorial board has a long-standing practice of inviting representatives on both sides of an issue to meet with them (separately) before publishing editorial opinions. This gives each side an opportunity to express their feelings and gives the editors a deeper understanding of the issues.

The LA Times published their opinion on Proposition 8 in an editorial on August 8th. Apparently though, some interesting and outlandish statements were made during a meeting with supporters of Prop. 8 that weren't published in the opinion piece that opposed that measure.

Karin Klein, who is an editor and was at that meeting, published her account of it at the LA Times Blog Opinion L.A.. Karen said:

At one point, the conversation turned to the "activist judges" whose May ruling opened the door to same-sex marriage, and how similar this case was to the 1948 case that declared bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional. According to one of the Prop. 8 reps, that 1948 ruling was OK because people are born to their race and thus are in need of constitutional protection, while gays and lesbians choose their homosexuality. So much for the expert opinions of the American Psychological Assn. and the American Academy of Pediatrics that people cannot choose their sexuality. Oh, those activist doctor types.

As if that weren't bad enough, Karen went on to say that one Prop 8 supporter said:

Gay rights are not as important as children's rights, and it's obvious that same-sex couples who married would "recruit" their children toward homosexuality because otherwise, unable to procreate themselves, they would have no way to replenish their numbers.

Even though Karen is an accomplished and seasoned editor, she said that she was left momentarily speechless. She also said that the recruitment argument "made no logical sense at all."

Wouldn't it be great if the editors here in Arizona and in Florida held their own meetings and then reported on those. Give a fanatic the opportunity to talk in that kind of environment and they will invariably show themselves to be the idiotic fools they really are. We just need to make sure that they have that opportunity and that the media covers their comments in earnest.

August 12, 2008

Right-Wingers Setting Up Challenge To Separation Of Church And State

A few weeks ago, onlinejournal.com posted an excellent article by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.. Apparently the rightwing-nuts are planning a multi-pronged event in September that they hope will end-up before the Supreme Court.

Their objective is to force a challenge to the restrictions that prevent any religion from using its pulpits and/or resources to openly politic for or against candidates and legislations that they support or oppose.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a group of lawyers dedicated to realizing the Dominionist goal of marrying church and state, has taken another step in that direction.

The Pulpit Initiative
Reclaiming pastors’ constitutional right to speak Truth from the pulpit

On Sunday, September 28, 2008, we are seeking pastors who will preach from the pulpit a sermon that addresses the candidates for government office in light of the truth of Scripture. The sermon is intended to challenge the Internal Revenue Code’s restrictions by specifically opposing candidates for office that do not align themselves and their positions with the Scriptural truth. By standing together and speaking with one voice, it is our hope to recapture the rightful place of pastors and churches in American life. [italics added]

On July 11, the propaganda organ of Don Wildmon’s American Family Association ran an article, titled “Wildmon: Prop. 8 vote crucial in culture battle.” That article said (in part):

The Arlington Group, a coalition of about 60 pro-family groups and ministries, will stress the importance of the November 4 vote in California on Proposition 8, a proposed constitutional amendment that would protect traditional marriage. To do that, pastors will be encouraged to use one Sunday in September to focus on the sanctity of marriage. Churches also will be encouraged to take up a special offering which will go toward the fight for marriage in California. [italics added]

Not only do these people want the pulpit politicized, they want the worship service turned into a political fund-raising event!

The article is incredibly informative and eye-opening. I would strongly urge you to go to onlinejournal.com and read it for yourself.

August 11, 2008

VA Director Prohibits Voter Registration In VA Hospitals

On May 5th, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, James B. Peake issued a directive banning nonpartisan voter registration drives at federally financed nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and shelters for homeless veterans. This is insanity!

According to the NY Times article, because of this ban, disabled and confined veterans who have made enormous, life changing sacrifices to defend our freedoms, not the least of which is the right to vote, are being cut off from even being able to register.

On June 30th Connecticut Secretary Of State Susan Bysiewicz visited the VA Hospital in West Haven to distribute information on the state’s new voting machines and to register veterans to vote. She was not even allowed inside the hospital.

On the sidewalk outside, Secretary Bysiewicz met Martin O’Nieal, a 92-year-old veteran who lost a leg while fighting the Nazis in WWII. O'Nieal has been a resident of the hospital since 2007 and he told her that he wanted to vote last year but there was no information at the hospital about how to register and the nurses could not answer his questions about how or where to cast a ballot. What's wrong with this picture?

The two reasons Peake issued this ban are astoundingly idiotic. First, he claims that voter registration drives are disruptive to the care of its patients. You've got to be kidding me!

Second, he claims that VA employees cannot help patients register to vote because the Hatch Act forbids federal workers from engaging in partisan political activities. This interpretation of the Hatch Act is completely out of left field. There is nothing partisan about registering people to vote as long as you don't promote a particular candidate or political position.

This insidious, immoral, unpatriotic and extraordinarily hypocritical action taken by Secretary Peake is, quite simply, disgusting!

What is the government afraid of? Other than maybe Barack Obama might be elected. I've personally talked with quite a few veterans while waiting to be seen for appointments at my local VA and I unexpectedly found that the overwhelming majority said that they intended to vote for Obama. Maybe also because the latest polls of active duty men and women show that a majority are not opposed to gays serving openly in the military which indicates a significant change in attitude among the people actually defending our country.

According to the article, bills that would require the department to repeal the ban have been filed in both houses of Congress. They need to be signed into law no later than Oct. 1, so that veterans in V.A. care don’t miss their states’ deadlines to register to vote in the fall elections. That this is even necessary is mind boggling!

As a veteran myself, I am going to shoot off a quick email to both my Senator and my Congressman about this.

To read the full article, go to: NY Times

I just got off the phone with Council for the Senate Rules Committe, Adam Ambrogi. He told me that Senate Bill S3308, introduced by Senators Diane Feinstein and John Kerry, should move to the Senate for a vote when they return in September.

He also told me that House Bill HR6625, introduced by Congressman Robert Brady, was passed unanimously just before breaking for recess.

Mr. Ambrogi gave me his direct line and asked that if I hear any other information about voter registration in VA facilities or these bills to contact him. So, if anyone out there has or comes across anymore information please leave a message at the "Comments" link below or contact me via email.

UPDATE - 8/16/08...
According to a posting at Advocate.com today, troops serving abroad have given nearly six times as much money to Obama's presidential campaign as they have to McCain's. Apparently what the vets at the VA center here told me (see story above) seems to be the sentiment pretty much service-wide.

To read the full story go to: Advocate.com