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January 16, 2009


Al Sharpton, who has been a consistent and unfaltering supporter of GLBT rights, including gay marriage, has taken the Mormon church and other right-wing, religious fanatics to task.

Speaking from the pulpit of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA at the launch of the Alliance of Affirming Faith-Based Organizations, Sharpton was, as always, sharp and unyielding in his admonitions.

“I am tired of seeing ministers who will preach homophobia by day, and then after they’re preaching, when the lights are off they go cruising for trade,” Sharpton said, his words generating a roar of response from the crowd.

The Alliance was formed to counter anti-gay religious rhetoric. It was founded by Rev. Dennis Meredith, who recently came out as bisexual, and includes Dr. Kenneth Samuel, pastor of Victory for the World Church; Rev. Paul Graetz of First Metropolitan Community Church; Rev. Geoffrey Hoare of All Saints Episcopal Church; and Rabbi Joshua Lesser of Congregation Bet Haverim.

“We’re going to be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves,” Meredith said. “If we have to go to a high school, we’ll go to a high school. If we have to go to a college, we’ll go to a college. … Somewhere there has to be a religious voice to counter the other religious voices that preach intolerance.”

Sharpton continued his diatribe by saying:

“We know you’re not preaching the Bible, because if you were preaching the Bible we would have heard from you. We would have heard from you when people were starving in California, when they deregulated the economy and crashed Wall Street you had nothing to say. When [alleged Ponzi schemer Bernie] Madoff made off with the money, you had nothing to say. When Bush took us to war chasing weapons of mass destruction that weren’t there you had nothing to say. … But all of a sudden when Proposition 8 came out you had so much to say, but since you stepped in the rain, we gonna step in the rain with you.”

“It amazes me when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being delegated into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners,” Sharpton told a packed audience on January 11th.

“There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people’s bedrooms and claim that God sent you.”

Sharpton will serve as the national face of the Alliance and help to recruit new members. I don't think they could have picked a better or more articulate spokesperson than him.

To read the full story, go to: The Southern Voice

I just found this video at Box Turtle Bulletin. It's from a YouTube posting by the American News Project website. It's very appropo to Reverend Sharpton's comments above and reinforces his criticism about monies being spent fighting gay marriage instead of helping people who need it.

It runs about 7:19 minutes but it's well worth the time spent...

January 15, 2009

Another Country Legalizes Gay Marriage...
Norway has had civil unions in place since 1993 but has never legalized full gay marriage rights. That changed on January 1, 2009.

Norway's new law now allows marriage, adoption, and assisted pregnancies for same-sex couples as well as all other benefits available to heterosexual couples.

Norway becomes the 6th nation to recognized same-sex marriages. They join Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003), Canada (2005), Spain (2005) and South Africa (2006).

In a country that was founded on the concept of equal rights for all of its citizens, why is America trailing so far behind so many other countries? We're supposed to be the shining light of freedom and equality for the world, instead, on this issue, we've become a dim bulb in the darkness of oppression. When are we going to stop letting the religious, right-wing fanatics repaint the portrait of America in their own narrow-minded image?

Gay Man Named Head of Export-Import Bank...
Fred Hochberg, who was the openly gay director of the Small Business Administration under President Bill Clinton, is now poised to be named the director of the Export-Import Bank by President-elect Barack Obama.

According to ABC News, the Export-Import Bank is the federal government's export credit arm that helps finance the sale of goods exported from this country. Hochberg will be the bank's first openly gay director.

Hochberg has long been active in both gay politics and the Democratic party. According to The Advocate, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign where Hochberg has served on the board and is now a member of HRC's public policy committee, said:

"Fred is one of the most highly qualified and experienced public servants in our community, and the fact that President-elect Obama has tapped him for such an important economic position speaks well for the LGBT community."

January 14, 2009


President-elect Barack Obama has appointed John Berry as the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Although many in the GLBT community were hoping to have Berry named as Secretary Of The Interior, this appointment would have a much more direct and far-reaching impact on the lives of all GLBT government employees. The OPM is responsible for recruiting job applicants, filling vacancies at federal agencies, developing performance review processes, administering benefits, and overseeing nondiscrimination policies. The Director is also the top adviser to the President on all personnel matters.

The Advocate reported that,

Although Beltway LGBT leaders had been pushing for an openly gay cabinet appointee, they were enthusiastic about Berry's appointment and said it was the most prominent position to be held by an openly gay person in the federal government. “The selection of John Berry to head the Office of Personnel Management, making him the highest-ranking openly gay official ever, is a meaningful step forward for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community,” said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese.

As my regular readers know, I was also very disappointed that there were no cabinet positions filled by an openly gay person. The importance of this appointment however, along with Nancy Sutley as head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Bishop Gene Robinson being picked to give the inaugural kick-off event invocation does help to balance that disappointment with a more positive sense of hope for our future.

January 13, 2009


In what appears to be an attempt to quell the furor over Obama's pick for the inauguration day invocation, the president-elect has asked The Right Reverend Gene Robinson to offer the invocation at the inaugural opening ceremonies.

The inaugural kick-off event will be held Sunday, January 18th on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with president-elect Barack Obama at his side.

As I'm sure most of you know, Bishop Robinson was the first openly gay person to be ordained a Bishop in the Episcopal Church in 2003. His ordination made headlines around the world and the church is still going through a period of readjustments and realignments as a result. Much to the credit of the church's hierarchy, they have stood by their decision ever since even though some of their more hardline conservative dioceses have choosen to split from the worldwide main body of approximately 2.3 million members.

Although Robinson endorsed Obama even before the New Hampshire primaries and has offered the president-elect advice and counsel over that last couple of years, he was, like all of us, dismayed and frustrated over Obama's pick for the inaugural invocation. When he heard the news about Rick Warren, who has likened being gay to incest and statutory rape, Robinson said "it was like a slap in the face."

The Advocate reported that after receiving the invitation, Robinson told the New Hampshire Concord Monitor that he felt his inclusion in the opening event would be incredibly affirming to gay people.

"It's important for any minority to see themselves represented in some way," Robinson said. "Whether it be a racial minority, an ethnic minority, or, in our case, a sexual minority -- just seeing someone like you up front matters."

An editorial in today's Concord Monitor called Robinson's choice a blow against bigotry.

Robinson's elevation to New Hampshire bishop in 2003 was met with much euphoria here, but he quickly became the symbol of a growing fissure in the Anglican Church. Those who object most vigorously to the church's liberalization in recent years (gay clergy and female priests, for example) have made Robinson's ordination a final straw of sorts. He has been threatened with violence. Numerous conservative congregations have split from the church or aligned themselves with sympathetic bishops overseas. At a meeting of Anglican officialdom in England last summer, Robinson was pointedly excluded.

All of which, Obama seems to be saying, is less important than showing Americans that his administration will have room for all voices. That Obama - who knows well the risk of associating with controversial clergy - admires Robinson's own courage and compassion and is willing to prove it before the nation and the world.

Wow 'em, Bishop Robinson.

I couldn't agree more! Go Gene!

January 12, 2009


For those of you who may doubt that the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is really needed, consider the case of David Hill.

David was the Director of Human Resources for the Arte Hotel in Brentwood, Tennessee. The Arte was formerly a Holiday Inn that was bought by its current owner, Tarun Surti.

Not long after taking over the hotel, Surti fired David for no other reason than the fact that David is gay. Surti was totally unapologetic for his blatant, homophobic discrimination saying, "I don't give a damn. They can sue me. I will not have any of the gays in leadership roles in my hotel!"

When WSMV Channel 4 News reporter Katina Rankin asked assistant general manager Leonard Stoddard if he thought that David was fired solely for being gay, Stoddard said,

"I do believe that's a very fair assumption."

"Did you agree with his decision?" continued Rankin.

"I did not," said Stoddard. "It is in our employee handbook that no one should be discriminated against, harassed verbally, physically or any other means for their sexuality, their sexual orientation, gender, race or anything of that sort."

Box Turtle Bulletin, who also covered the story, reported that:

Stoddard said Hill’s termination came after Surti received a letter which listed the names of several gay staff members including Hill and Stoddard. That letter was written by a former employee who had been fired for, among other reasons, being gay, Stoddard said.

…Stoddard said Surti fired Hill and told Stoddard he would soon need to find a new employer, as well. Stoddard has worked at the hotel for 10 months. He has not been officially terminated yet, but expects to be soon.

So, it appears that Surti isn't finished firing all his gay employees yet.

What more blatant proof of homophobic discrimination does congress, or anyone else for that matter, need to get ENDA passed NOW! This kind of thing is happening throughout the country and until this bill is passed, the GLBT community has no legal recourse to stop it.

In this case however, there are a couple of things we can do. First, BOYCOTT Arte hotels. According to their own logo, they're worldwide.

Second is to express our dissatisfaction through their email contact site at:


Pass this info on to your friends and families and if you have a blog, post it there too.