January 30, 2010

Prop8 arguments end. An argument: Stability and more lasting relationships

Prop 8, Final Session: Both Sides Claim Victory & Receive Judge’s Praise
by Roger Brigham
EDGE San Francisco Editor
Both sides in the federal court challenge to California’s ban on same-sex marriage concluded their cases Wednesday. And-surprise!-both claimed victory. Closing arguments likely will not be made until March at the earliest.

In the San Francisco courtroom on Wednesday morning, the defense’s last witness, author David Blankenhorn, explained how same-sex marriage would "extend a wide range of the natural and practical benefits of marriage to many lesbian and gay couples and their children." Marriage equality would lead to "fewer children growing up in state institutions and more growing up in loving adoptive and foster families."

"A higher proportion of gays and lesbians would choose to enter into committed relationships," he said. That would "contribute to more stability and to longer-lasting relationships for committed same-sex couples."

Even sexual promiscuity would lessen "among lesbians and--perhaps especially--gay men." Most importantly, acceptance of same-sex marriage would "signify greater social acceptance of homosexual love and the worth and validity of same-sex intimate relationships."

Anti-gay prejudice would decline as well as, more specifically, a reduction in anti-gay hate crimes, he said. Fewer gay men and lesbians would marry someone from the opposite sex, "and thus would likely reduce instances of marital unhappiness and divorce."

In addition, Blankhorn praised gay marriage as a "victory for the worthy ideas of tolerance and inclusion." It would decrease prejudice in society in general against otherness--or, as he put it, "the number of those in society who tend to be viewed warily as ’other’ and increase the number who are accepted as part of ’us.’"

In that respect, he concluded, "gay marriage would be a victory for, and another key expansion of, the American idea."

Proposition 8 proponent Andrew Pugno countered that the burden of proof was on the challengers. Here’s all the defenders of the voter initiative that stripped away the state’s short-lived marriage equality from the California constitution had to do: Simply show that the best situation for children to grow up in was in homes with both biological parents. And the ’one man, one woman’ definition of marriage is the only institutionalized relationship that provided that.

"Believe it or not, that’s our whole case," Pugno said at the close of the morning session in San Francisco. "Other issues, such as the damage caused to gays and lesbians, Pugno said, are "political issues for society to decide."

The challengers presented evidence in direct and cross examination to fill in the vacuum in which the Prop 8 proponents would have it examined and to rebut their assertions about marriage.

"The most remarkable thing about this case was the unanimity of the witnesses on both sides," David Boies, the defense attorney who cross examined both of the defenders witnesses said, "although it didn’t start out that way."

He praised "witness after witness after witness of the highest experts in the land," who "told the story of how Proposition 8 damages gay men, damages lesbians, and damages children."

The Prop 8 challengers maintained that they had managed to get witnesses for both sides to testify on the benefits of same-sex marriage. For example, they seemed to be pretty unanimous that it would decrease divorce rates overall.

Nor did it threaten heterosexual marriages in any way. And it benefitted the children raised by gay and lesbian couples. A ban, on the other hand, hurt gays and lesbians.

It was impossible, Boies argued, to believe that Prop. 8 was not fueled at least in part by prejudice. If the initiative had not been on the ballot in 2008, gay and lesbian couples would have marriage equality today.

Boies and Theodore Olsen led the legal challenge. They made an odd couple--the most prominent adversaries in the 2004 case Bush v. Gore before the Supreme Court that decided the presidential election.

"I have been fortunate to be involved in a number of important cases," Boies said. "This one rates right there at the top. It involve the most basic civil right for a portion of the population that has suffered discrimination for centuries,"

Chief Judge Vaughn Walker called it "a fascinating case extremely well presented on both sides. I’ve been particularly struck by especially many of the younger attorneys in this case." He then took the time to walk around and shake hands with each of the attorneys before leaving the courtroom.

Amicus parties have one week to ask for permission to file amicus briefs, which will be restricted to 15 pages. The opposing sides have until Feb. 26 to file their summaries, at which time Judge Walker will schedule their closing arguments, probably March at the earliest.


Roger Brigham, a freelance writer and communications consultant, is the San Francisco Editor of EDGE. He lives in Oakland with his husband, Eduardo.

January 28, 2010

MSNBC' RACIST: CHRIS MATTHEW AND HIS SIDE KICK PAT BUCHANAN

Chris Matthews And Pat Buchanan: MSNBC’s Racists
by DAVID BADASH on JANUARY 28, 2010 · COMMENTS (1)
in BIGOTRY WATCH

We all know the disgusting positions MSNBC’s Pat Buchanan has taken when it comes to race, LGBTQ rights, and, well, just being a compasionate human being. For instance, after a pre-election Barack Obama’s speech on race, Buchanan offered this:

“America has been the best country on earth for black folks. It was here that 600,000 black people, brought from Africa in slave ships, grew into a community of 40 million, were introduced to Christian salvation, and reached the greatest levels of freedom and prosperity blacks have ever known.”

Tonight, during President Obama’s first State of the Union, Chris Matthews went on and on about… the President’s race. Via ThinkProgress:

“You know, I was trying to think about who he was tonight, and it’s interesting: He is post-racial by all appearances. You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour. You know, he’s gone a long way to become a leader of this country and passed so much history in just a year or two. I mean, it’s something we don’t even think about.

“I was watching, I said, Wait a minute, he’s an African-American guy in front of a bunch of other white people. And here he is President of the United States and we’ve completely forgotten that tonight — completely forgotten it. I think it was in the scope of his discussion. It was so broad-ranging, so in tune with so many problems, of aspects, and aspects of American life that you don’t think terms of the old tribalism, the old ethnicity. It was astounding in that regard — a very subtle fact. It’s so hard to even talk about; maybe I shouldn’t talk about it, but I am.

Unacceptable. Matthews has been called on the carpet before about his comments on gender. This was unprescedented and MSNBC needs to take action to purge racism and bigotry from its payroll.

January 27, 2010

Unfair generalizationj by straight ally

TUESDAY, JANUARY 26, 2010
Joy Behar Makes Unfair Generalization about Gay Relationships
Joy Behar of ABC's The View and her own show on HLN called The Joy Behar Show has been an ardent straight ally on behalf of the LGBT community but is coming under criticism for generalizations about gay male relationships.

In a segment on The View she argues that gays take monogamy less seriously, and that it is permissible for gay men to have affairs. She maintains that the straight world is more inclined to break up a relationship where one partner goes astray while the gay community is more accepting of such behavior.


The gay community much like the straight community has a variety of viewpoints when it comes to the issue of monogamy. There are gays and straights who are polyamorous and have multiple partners, and there are many who regard monogamy as right for them. To assert a blanket statement for the entire community is plain misinformation and wrong to those millions of LGBT people who do practice monogamy.

adamfoxie: Contact Joy Behar via Twitter and tell her generalizations are not fair and in this case like in many cases untrue. We are a diverse society, gays just like straights, but gays more so. A generalization of this type is use against us to keeps apart in civil laws.

January 26, 2010

Thousands of Tenants might be getting a rent check from their Landlords

Thousands of NYC Tenants Could See Rent Rebates

By Melissa Russo
NBCNewYork.com
updated 7 minutes ago
Some of the next rent checks in the mail could be headed to tenants instead of landlords.

Thousands of New York City renters could receive rent rebates now that a State Supreme Court Judge has thrown out recent minimum rent increases imposed by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board.

The ruling could mean an unexpected windfall for tenants who live in rent stabilized units and and pay less than $1,000 a month in rent.

The judge basically found the recent rent inrease penalized poorer and lower-paying tenants. Landlords have long complained that they struggle to make ends meet because rent protections block them from imposing reasonable rent increases on longstanding stabilized tenants.

But Judge Emily Jane Goodman said Monday the rent increases in question "penalized" tenants who had failed to move in a city with virtually no affordable housing. The increases approved by the NYC Rent Guidelines Board took effect over the past two years.

Renters paying less than $1,000 a month would be subject to a higher percentage increase than renters paying more than $1,000. For instance, Landlords charged 8.5% or $85 dollars, whichever amount was greater. The NYC Law Department has announced plans to appeal the ruling, and to stall any refunds/changes until the appeal has been decided.

Harold Ford Wants To Run For Hillary Clinton’s Senate Seat – As A Republican

Harold Ford Wants To Run For Hillary Clinton’s Senate Seat – As A Republican
by DAVID BADASH on JANUARY 25, 2010 ·
in ECONOMICS, NEWS, POLITICS

I know, amazing, isn’t it. Harold Ford, the Blue-Dog-Democrat, the Chair of the right-wing Democratic Leadership Council, the man who ran in Tennessee against gays and for god, the man who makes over a million dollars a year as a Vice Chairman for Merrill-Lynch (now, Bank of America,) wants to run against incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand to be the junior Senator for New York. But he sounds more like a Republican than a Democrat.

Or, perhaps, he sounds more like the Republicans who deny they are Republicans so they can fool voters into thinking they understand where the country’s populism is right now.

Ford hasn’t a clue.

Don’t take my word for it. Take Nobel-prize-winning economist and New York Times’ columnist Paul Krugman’s:

“Wow. Harold Ford’s op-ed in today’s Times has to set some kind of new standard for cluelessness.”

Ford gives his cluelessness — and, a lot of cash — away with these words in his New York Times Op-Ed that ran today:

“SCOTT BROWN’S victory last week in the Massachusetts Senate race, following the Republican gubernatorial triumphs in New Jersey and Virginia, marked the third time in three months that the Democratic Party has lost the support and trust of independent voters.”

“First, cut taxes for businesses — big and small — and find innovative ways to get Americans back to work. We can start by giving any companies that are less than five years old an exemption from payroll taxes for six months; extending the current capital gains and dividend tax rates through 2012; giving permanent tax credits for businesses that invest in research and development; and reducing the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent.”

Think Progress weighs in nicely,

The cost of the corporate tax cut alone would be about $1 trillion over ten years, or $100 billion per year. As for extending the current capital gains and dividends rates, which are a product of the Bush tax cuts, a similar move in 2008 (which extended the rates through 2010) cost about $51 billion, with more than half of the benefit going to the richest 0.2 percent of households.

Whether or not you care about doing the math, remember this: Too many Democrats and Independents thought sending Obama a “message” by giving anti-gay Scott Brown their vote was a good idea. Harold Ford –despite his claims to the contrary — is Scott Brown, sans the Cosmo skin shots and (I assume) the truck.

There’s not that much difference between the two, not in the issues that most affect LGBTQ Americans. Ford is anti-gay, and now, pro-Republican style tax cuts. He’s not even a right-wing Democrat at this point. Perhaps his ties at BOA have done him in. Funny, he could have a chance running as a Republican. Nah, scratch that. Not in New York!

On the other hand, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, whom I personally have heard speak to us and for us, has proven her dedication to repealing DOMA and DADT, to passing ENDA, and to securing a more promising future for the LGBTQ community.

January 21, 2010

Vice Chairman for Mer. Lynch ..Harold Ford new idea for relief for new yorkers..lol

Harold Ford rolled out a couple of new ideas today for dealing with the shaky economy. For the first time, he proposed cutting the payroll tax for all businesses for six months as a way to "put more money in people's pockets."

And in a proposal sure to play well on Wall Street - where Ford is taking a leave of absence from his job as vice chairman of Merrill Lynch - Ford said the federal corporate tax should be reduced to 25% from 35%.

Court Transcripts of one of the witnesses for prop 8..by the way she was pulled out by the proponents of prop8

Katherine Young Deposition Transcript
JANUARY 20, 2010
Katherine Young Deposition – 11/13/2009

Q – Okay. In the course of the work that you have done, have you come to form an opinion as to whether gay people have been historically the subject of prejudice and discrimination?
A – Yes, there have been certainly points in history where that has been true.

Q – Okay. Let me use your word, “durability”. Do you believe that children are advantaged by increasing the durability of the relationship of the couple raising them?
A – Yes.
Q – And do you believe that the durability of the relationship of a gay couple is enhanced by permitting the gay couple to marry?
A – On that variable, yes.

Q – And you believe that allowing gay couples to marry will increase the durability of those gay couples relationships, correct?
A – Okay. I’ll say yes.

Q – Okay. And increasing the durability of those relationships is beneficial to the children that they’re raising, correct?
A – On that one factor, yes.

Q – And is it the case that the number of children being raised in families that you describe as the norm was decreasing significantly befor marriage in the United States?
A – It was decreasing.

Q – Okay. Is it the case that love and commitment are the reasons that most people feel for wanting to marry?
A – Today? Probably yes.
Q – Indeed, you have seen studies that indicate that, correct?
A – Yes.
Q – And you have not seen any studies that indicate the contrary, correct?
A – Correct.

Q – And do you believe that love and commitment are reasons that both gay people and heterosexuals have for want
A – Correct.
Q – This is a statement of the American Psychoanalytic Association and I want to direct your attention to the position statement issued by the American Psychoanalytic Association approved January seventeenth (17th), two thousand eight (2008), you see that title, “Marriage Resolution”?
A – Yeah, yeah.
Q – And let me ask you to look at the marriage resolution, it begins,”WHEREAS homosexuality is a normal variant of adult sexuality…”, you see that?
A – M’hm.
Q – Do you have any reason to disagree with that statement?
A – I would prefer to have a working definition of homosexuality here, but I have no basic problem with this.
Q – The second statement says, “WHEREAS gay men and lesbians possess the same potential and desire for sustained loving and lasting relationships as heterosexuals…”, you see that?
A – Yes.
Q – Do you agree with that?
A – Yes.
Q – The next statement says, “WHEREAS same-sex couples are raising children and have the same potential and desire as heterosexual couples to love and parent children…”, you see that?
A – Yes.
Q – Do you agree with that?
A – Yes.

Q – Okay. So, if you have a single parent, your view is it doesn’t make any difference whether that single parent is a male or a female, correct?
A – Correct.
Q – And your opinion is it doesn’t make any difference whether that single parent is gay or straight, correct?
A – Correct.

Q – My question is, is it your view that because something was the norm in the past, it should be continued in the future?
A – Okay, now, I’ll answer that question. It’s not…do I answer it?
Q -Yes.
A – Okay, not necessarily.
Q – Okay.
A – Just because something is a norm, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is an appropriate norm, and it has to then be reassessed in the contemporary context to see if t norm should remain.

Q – All right. We talked earlier about the fact that gay people have historically been subject to prejudice and discrimination, you recall that?
A – Yes.
Q – Now, it’s the case that women have also historically been subject to prejudice and discrimination, correct?
A – Correct.
Q – And the prejudice and discrimination against women, like the prejudice and discrimination against gay people, was often justified by religion assertions and beliefs, correct?
A – Sometimes it was, yes.
Q – Often it was, correct?
A – Often it was.
Q – And the discrimination and prejudice against women was also often justified by the argument that it promoted or protected the traditional family, correct?
A – Yes.
Q – And various racial groups including Blacks have historically been subject to prejudice and discrimination, correct?
A – Correct.
Q – And that prejudice and discrimination, again, like the prejudice and discrimination against gay and lesbians, was often justified by religion, correct?
A – Yes.

The AFER Case to Overturn Prop. 8

January 13, 2010

Ford Selling snake oil


HAROLD FORD JR. SELLS SOME SNAKE OIL ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY

The New York Times published an extensive interview with potential New York Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. which includes discussion of his anti-gay votes on marriage, and his recent sudden announcement that he changed his mind and is a supporter:

FordQ. Let’s talk about gay marriage. You know your record very well, but to quickly remind you, you voted to ban same sex marriage, with the Federal Marriage Amendment, twice.

A. I can say up until 2003, most organizations and national organization that had an office in Washington dedicated to fighting for equality for Americans, I enjoyed broad support and big support from them. The marriage votes drove my ratings down considerably, and arguably rightly so. I have been a supporter of civil unions. My opponent raised the issue on the campaign trail in Tennessee.

As the presidential race unfolded, one of the things I recognized during the campaign: My position on same-sex marriage resembles President Obama’s over the years. Frankly, up until maybe a year ago, that of the senior senator in the state, Senator Schumer, who was opposed to same-sex marriage.

Q. Where are you now?

A. I am for gay marriage. Or same-sex marriage. I don’t want to say it the wrong way. I think people are sensitive to it. I have been painted as being this right-wing zealot on choice. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think there are legitimate questions around my support for —

Q. Let’s focus on your two votes to ban same-sex marriage. Can you explain that? Walk me through that.

A. The last three years, think about what has transpired. How many states have either courts and or legislatures that have declared same-sex marriage is acceptable in their states? There has been a robust debate.

I don’t think it’s a great leap to go from civil unions to gay marriage — I may be in the minority in believing that. But I don’t think there is. Long before I arrived in New York, my commitment to issues of fairness and equality are clear and obvious and unmistakable. And in light of that, and consistent with that, according the same rights that a couple were married, versus the rights provided by civil unions, I don’t believe the difference is that great. I understand that in certain communities it’s not viewed on equal footing. But my change, or my maturation to that point....

Q. What changed for you?

A. Understand, I did not start at zero and get to 10. I started at 8. This is my point: I think some of the press accounts of my record have been distorted or just been wrong. People make it sound as if — let’s go back to the votes in the Congress.

Q. Do you regret those votes, then?

A: I have been in politics for 14 years. I was elected back in 1996 ... over the 14 years, have I learned and have I listened? Absolutely. Understand, Michael, I did not go from zero to 10. I was for civil unions and believed strongly that the flow of benefits and protections that would be provided in a civil union for same-sex couples, the decisions that have to be made, when health hardships are faced, when economic hardships are faced, I wanted all of those protections. I never strayed from them. It was just the issue of marriage, that particularly over the last three years, I have come to understand differently.

Started at 8? Imho, the federal marriage amendment votes put him back at zero.

He also knows the five boroughs of New York City because he briefly landed in them by helicopter.

POSTED 12:04 PM EST BY ANDY TOWLE IN GAY MARRIAGE, HAROLD FORD JR., NEW YORK,NEWS | PERMALINK


January 7, 2010

No to Grand Hyatt-Manchester

Say No to Manchester - Rally at Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel!

LGBT groups, union groups, and allies will be protesting this Saturday, January 9th against the Manchester Grant Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, California. There have been numerous demonstrations at the resort due to the fact that the owner Doug Manchester donated $125,000 to ban same-sex marriage in the state.

The wildly successful protests have entered into their second year and organizers estimate the hotel has incurred over 8 million dollars in losses as a result of their boycott and protests.

Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel
Saturday, January 9, 2010
One Market Place, San Diego
2:00PM

Keep your day job "Homophobe"

Post image for Harold Ford Is Anti-Gay

Former Congressman Wants To Be NY’s Senator

Harold Ford, that intelligent, nice, analytical, passionate man you sometimes see on MSNBC, who used to be the U.S. Congressman from Memphis, Tennessee, and lost his Senate bid in 2006, is anti-gay.

What?? Yup. I couldn’t believe it either. I have always liked him. I was saddened when he lost to Republican Bob Corker. I thought it repugnant when I saw those nasty GOP ads that showed a white woman talking about meeting Ford at a Playboy party. They were nasty, racist, and I think lost him the election.

Today we learned that Ford wants to challenge Kirsten Gillibrand for her New York Senate seat that Hillary Clinton vacated. So I did some research and felt like I had been sucker-punched. Here’s some of Ford’s voting record:

  • Voted yes to Constitutionally define marriage as one-man-one-woman.
  • Voted yes on a Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage.
  • Voted against ENDA
  • Voted no to ban gay adoptions in D.C. (OK, he got one out of four right.)

He is pro-life. He voted to allow school prayer during the “War on Terror.” He was a member of the “Blue Dog” Coalition of conservative Democrats.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of his voting record and stands that I like. But he is not our guy. No one who votes against marriage equality is our guy. No one.

Via Alan van Capelle, Pride Agenda Executive Director:

“Ford supports a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. In fact, he voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment both times it reached the House floor. He has also gone out of his way to condemn court rulings (New Jersey’s, for example) that called for equal treatment under the law for same-sex couples. During his last year in the House, Ford received a 25 (out of 100) rating on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard.”

Oh, and by the way: Ford is chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Many don’t know much about the DLC, but here’s what I’ll say: It’s the reason the Democratic party is so conservative. Who’s opposed to the DLC? Progressives.

Who are some of Ford’s predecessors at the DLC chairmanship? Sam Nunn, Bill Clinton, and yes, none other than healthcare reform-hating Joe Lieberman.

Congressman Ford, don’t quit your day job.


January 4, 2010

NYT on the 3 Americans who inspired "Kill the Gays Bill"

NYT ON THE 3 AMERICANS WHO INSPIRED UGANDA 'KILL THE GAYS' BILL

The NYT looks at the three Americans who participated in Stephen Langa's Uganda conference on homosexuality last March, and, by their discussions of "ex-gay" therapy, pedophilia, and dangers to traditional marriage, set in motion the process which ultimately led to the "kill the gays" bill:

Lively

Published: January 3, 2010

KAMPALA, Uganda — Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.

Related

Gay in Uganda, and Feeling Hunted (January 4, 2010)

Times Topics: Uganda

Marc Hofer for The New York Times

Nikki Mawanda, 27, who was born female but lives as a “trans-man” in Uganda, described abuse by the police and others.

Marc Hofer for The New York Times

Stosh Mugisha is going through a transition to become a man.

Readers' Comments

The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.

For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”

Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.

One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.

Donor countries, including the United States, are demanding that Uganda’s government drop the proposed law, saying it violates human rights, though Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity (who previously tried to ban miniskirts) recently said, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”

The Ugandan government, facing the prospect of losing millions in foreign aid, is now indicating that it will back down, slightly, and change the death penalty provision to life in prison for some homosexuals. But the battle is far from over.

Instead, Uganda seems to have become a far-flung front line in the American culture wars, with American groups on both sides, the Christian right and gay activists, pouring in support and money as they get involved in the broader debate over homosexuality in Africa.

“It’s a fight for their lives,” said Mai Kiang, a director at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, a New York-based group that has channeled nearly $75,000 to Ugandan gay rights activists and expects that amount to grow.

The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.

“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.

“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”

Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statementsissued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.

Human rights advocates in Uganda say the visit by the three Americans helped set in motion what could be a very dangerous cycle. Gay Ugandans already describe a world of beatings, blackmail, death threats like “Die Sodomite!” scrawled on their homes, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape.

“Now we really have to go undercover,” said Stosh Mugisha, a gay rights activist who said she was pinned down in a guava orchard and raped by a farmhand who wanted to cure her of her attraction to girls. She said that she was impregnated and infected with H.I.V., but that her grandmother’s reaction was simply, “ ‘You are too stubborn.’ ”

Despite such attacks, many gay men and lesbians here said things had been getting better for them before the bill, at least enough to hold news conferences and publicly advocate for their rights. Now they worry that the bill could encourage lynchings. Already, mobs beat people to death for infractions as minor as stealing shoes.

“What these people have done is set the fire they can’t quench,” said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who went undercover for six months to chronicle the relationship between the African anti-homosexual movement and American evangelicals.

Mr. Kaoma was at the conference and said that the three Americans “underestimated the homophobia in Uganda” and “what it means to Africans when you speak about a certain group trying to destroy their children and their families.”

“When you speak like that,” he said, “Africans will fight to the death.”

Uganda is an exceptionally lush, mostly rural country where conservative Christian groups wield enormous influence. This is, after all, the land of proposed virginity scholarships, songs about Jesus playing in the airport, “Uganda is Blessed” bumper stickers on Parliament office doors and a suggestion by the president’s wife that a virginity census could be a way to fight AIDS.

During the Bush administration, American officials praised Uganda’s family-values policies and steered millions of dollars into abstinence programs.

Uganda has also become a magnet for American evangelical groups. Some of the best known Christian personalities have recently passed through here, often bringing with them anti-homosexuality messages, including the Rev. Rick Warren, who visited in 2008 and has compared homosexuality to pedophilia. (Mr. Warren recently condemned the anti-homosexuality bill, seeking to correct what he called “lies and errors and false reports” that he played a role in it.)

Many Africans view homosexuality as an immoral Western import, and the continent is full of harsh homophobic laws. In northern Nigeria, gay men can face death by stoning. Beyond Africa, a handful of Muslim countries, like Iran and Yemen, also have the death penalty for homosexuals. But many Ugandans said they thought that was going too far. A few even spoke out in support of gay people.

“I can defend them,” said Haj Medih, a Muslim taxi driver with many homosexual customers. “But I fear the what? The police, the government. They can arrest you and put you in the safe house, and for me, I don’t have any lawyer who can help me.”

The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.

“I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.

“That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”

Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.

Ata companion piece on gays in Uganda and how they're suffering:

Anti-gay sentiments are one thing, and hardly unique to Uganda. But what seems different here is the level of official, government-sponsored anti-gay hate speech.

“I detest gays in my heart,” said Kassiano E. Wadri, a member of Parliament and the chief whip of the opposition. “When I see a gay, I think that person needs psychotherapy. You need to break him.”

It’s no surprise, then, that many homosexual people here insisted on being interviewed anonymously, including one car salesman who goes by Bob. He lost his job working in a hotel a few years ago after the Red Pepper, a Ugandan tabloid, published a list of names of homosexuals, including his.

“When your boss finds out you’re gay, you get harassed,” he said. “Then you start getting scolded in front of others. Then fired.”

It is hard finding a boyfriend, he said, “because you don’t know who to trust.”

He took a deep breath and looked down at his hands. “It’s a very big mess to be gay in Uganda,” he said.


January 2, 2010

Rick Warren needs $900,000 What do you think he ought to get???


Rick Warren Pleads to Flock for Cash
By Michelle Garcia

The Rev. Rick Warren has pleaded to parishioners of his Christian mega church for donations to fill a $900,000 gap in the budget.

Warren, who has campaigned for the passage of Proposition 8, sent an urgent letter to followers of the Saddleback Church on December 30, saying that he needed the money within 48 hours.

"With 10% of our church family out of work due to the recession, our expenses in caring for our community in 2009 rose dramatically while our income stagnated," he wrote. "Still, with wise management, we've stayed close to our budget all year. Then... this last weekend the bottom dropped out."

The weekly offering was less than half of a typical offering, leaving them $900,000 in the hole for 2009. However, he followed up on his blog, that the gap is not due to mismanagement of funds.

"Because our church attracts a lot of attention, the media will undoubtedly report my letter, but only partially, not telling the whole story," he wrote, asking parishioners not to let the attention bother them.

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