Showing posts with label Pro Gay Government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pro Gay Government. Show all posts

January 10, 2017

A USAF Gay Serviceman Classified as Undesirable is Now Honorable

A 91-year-old veteran who was dismissed from the U.S. Air Force as "undesirable" in 1948 because he is gay has had that discharge status changed to "honorable." 
The move by the Air Force comes in response to a lawsuit filed in November by H. Edward Spires of Norwalk, Connecticut, who served from 1946 to 1948 as a chaplain's assistant, earning the rank of sergeant. 

Hubert Edward Spires, left, is seen in this handout photo taken when he was in the Air Force. Spires, 91, was discharged due to his sexual orientation in 1948 and has filed a lawsuit seeking to change his status so he can have a military burial.

Spires was forced out of the military in 1948 after an investigation into his sexual orientation. 
Spires' attorneys said he was originally denied the discharge upgrade after the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in 2010 because the Air Force said his records had likely been lost in a 1973 fire.  
The Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records informed Spires on Friday that the honorable discharge had been approved by the Air Force Review Boards Agency. 
Spires' attorneys have said he is in poor health and would like a military funeral, which the upgrade makes possible. 
"The idea that this man of faith who served dutifully as a chaplain's assistant in the armed forces, who built a life and a career that has brought joy to those around him, would leave this earth considered undesirable in the eyes of his country, it's unthinkable," Spires' husband, David Rosenberg, said during a briefing on the case at the Yale Law School in November. 
Spires' case also was championed by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who said Monday that the Air Force’s decision "corrects an incredible injustice."


March 3, 2016

US Ambassador to UN Takes Russian Counterpart to Gay Play

Image result for Tony Award-winning play “Fun Home”

Over 70 countries have anti-gay laws which is one reason why Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, decided to take 17 U.N. ambassadors to the theater Tuesday night to see the Tony Award-winning play “Fun Home” whose main character is a lesbian with a closeted gay dad.

Power, a strong advocate for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals, got a standing ovation at the end of the play, led by Tony nominee Beth Malone who thanked her and President Barack Obama for doing “so much for LGBT rights.”

Based on the autobiographical graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, “Fun Home” centers on growing up in a family-owned funeral home in a small Pennsylvania town where the daughter realizes she’s attracted to women and the father has secretly had affairs with men.
Power said she invited a diverse group of ambassadors to see the stories of real lives to bring home “the challenges that LGBT people face every day around the world.”

According to a report last June by the U.N. human rights chief, at least 76 countries have laws used to criminalize and harass people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, including laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships among adults.

The 17 ambassadors spanned the globe from Australia, Vietnam and Namibia to Norway, Mexico, Uruguay and Russia, which was strongly criticized for its anti-gay laws ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Several ambassadors said after the play that they arrived not knowing what it was about.

Power said the play dramatizes the LGBT issue “in a way that (U.N.) resolutions and statements never can.”
“This is the way we are going to break through,” she said. “It’s about imagining oneself. It’s about imagining one’s child. It’s about imagining one’s father.”

But Power stressed that “it takes time to change the DNA of the U.N. just as it’s taken a lot of time to change the DNA of the United States.”

Actress Cynthia Nixon from the TV series “Sex and the City” moderated an after-theater panel with the writers and cast, followed by comments from several ambassadors.
“Too often our work is about abstracts,” Switzerland’s Ambassador Jurg Lauber said. “Once in a while it’s important to tell us it’s about people.”

Joao Vale de Almeida, the European Union’s ambassador to the U.N. who is from Portugal, said his younger brother told him that he was gay on a long car ride – similar to one in the play – and they organized the way that he would tell their parents.

“It could have gone wrong but they went pretty well,” he said. “It’s a good story in my case. I know (for) other people, the stories were not so good.”
Vale de Almeida said the performance was “great” and told the cast “it’s crucial that you shared (the story) with everybody.”

August 19, 2015

The Administration has Made LGBT Rights a Priority Around The World and it Resonates


Matthew Cuenca-Daigle’s husband is a Foreign Service officer who last year gladly accepted a position at the American Embassy in Beijing. But only months before his husband’s language training was to begin, embassy officials said it was unclear if Mr. Cuenca-Daigle could get a long-term visa, given that China does not recognize same-sex marriages.

The officials said that Mr. Cuenca-Daigle could get a three-month tourist visa. But he would then have to leave China before it expired and travel to Japan, South Korea or elsewhere to apply for a new visa, waiting a few days or potentially much longer for it to be issued. There was also the uncertainty of whether a new visa would be granted at all.

So Mr. Cuenca-Daigle’s husband, who had said no to other State Department positions in favor of the one in China, backed out of the Beijing job.

“He had turned down the rather important positions he could have taken instead,” Mr. Cuenca-Daigle said.

From the earliest years of the Obama administration, the State Department has made securing the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people around the world a priority. But the department is increasingly trying to secure equal opportunities for a group much closer to home: its own employees.

Around 50 percent of State Department positions around the world are effectively off-limits for Foreign Service officers who would want to move with their same-sex spouses, according to current and former department employees and Glifaa, an advocacy group for gay and transgender people in the State Department, the United States Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps and other foreign affairs offices in the government. Glifaa’s acronym comes from its original name, Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies.

Some countries, like Brunei and Qatar, will not issue diplomatic visas to same-sex spouses. Others, like China and the Philippines, have more ambiguous and inconsistent policies under which getting a visa can depend on the person behind the visa counter.

These disputes could affect 100 to 200 families among the State Department’s 14,000 Foreign Service officers at American embassies and consulates abroad, according to officers’ estimates. (Neither the State Department nor Glifaa keeps an official count.)

“It’s increasingly a problem, as some countries have wanted to take a stand on the issue of marriage equality that isn’t really theirs to take,” said Michael E. Guest, a former United States envoy to Romania, who in 2001 was the State Department’s second openly gay officer to become an ambassador.

Last month, more than 100 members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging the State Department to deny visas to the spouses of diplomats from countries where the same-sex spouses of American Foreign Service officers are unwelcome. The department responded that it was unable to do that for legal reasons.

Instead, the State Department says that the work involved in resolving the visa issue is being done quietly, by necessity. 

Officials there also say that progress has been made: In 2011, according to department statistics, only 38 percent of the postings around the world could guarantee visas for same-sex spouses. And this year, the department appointed Randy W. Berry, a longtime diplomat, as a special envoy for the rights of gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Most countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East deny same-sex spouses diplomatic visas. In many cases, spouses are permitted to enter the country, but the visas do not allow them to work and most often require them to leave every few months to reapply, as in the case of the tourist visa for China. The spouses also do not have the protections that come with diplomatic visas.

The local political climate can make not carrying a diplomatic visa problematic. In December 2013, in the middle of a confrontation between India and the United States over the arrest of an Indian deputy consul general in New York for her treatment of a housekeeper, the Indian Supreme Court reinstated an anti-sodomy law. After the court’s ruling, a prominent Indian politician suggested that the government arrest the same-sex companions of American diplomats.

“Put them behind bars, prosecute them in this country and punish them,” the politician, Yashwant Sinha, said.

Even as support for same-sex marriage grows in the United States, some countries have been pushing back against gay rights. Macedonia approved a constitutional amendment this year defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. In 2014, the Nigerian president signed a ban on same-sex relationships that threatens violators with 14-year prison terms. Same-sex relationships are still legal in Russia, but a 2013 law banning gay “propaganda” was widely interpreted as a vehicle to suppress gays in the country.

“L.G.B.T. families are essentially taking a risk,” Mr. Guest said, “particularly in countries where homosexuality is criminalized, or where governments are homophobic in their public attitudes.”

Publicly, officials say that the State Department is working to ensure that all of its employees and their families can be sent anywhere in the world.

Matthew Cuenca-Daigle, whose husband is a Foreign Service officer, at their home in Alexandria, Va. 
They did not move to China because Mr. Cuenca-Daigle was unlikely to get a long-term visa there. 

“It’s increasingly a problem, as some countries have wanted to take a stand on the issue of marriage equality that isn’t really theirs to...
Do we allow diplomats and other officials from Muslim countries to bring more than one wife here officially? 

“We refuse to accept that equal treatment by our foreign counterparts is too much to ask,” Heather Higginbottom, the deputy secretary of state for management and resources, said in June.

But despite official assurances, Mr. Guest said gay men and women in the State Department worried that they would miss out on jobs that could help advance their careers.

“Many of the hardship posts, including posts where homosexuality is an issue in the host country, are potentially many of the most career-enhancing places,” Mr. Guest said. “And not being able to go to them does place a limit on career options.”

There is also concern that as more gay officers join the Foreign Service after marrying, the department will steer them toward postings where they will not face problems moving with their spouses.

State Department officials reject the notion that the visa problems will have a significant impact on gay officers’ careers, and say that there remain many places around the world where they can serve.

Many Foreign Service officers say that in the not-so-distant past, coming out could lead to being denied security clearances. In the early 2000s, during the administration of President George W. Bush, gay Foreign Service officers who brought up concerns about visas for their partners were routinely reminded that they had signed up for worldwide availability. 

In 2009, the department began making same-sex domestic partners eligible for the same benefits as spouses in heterosexual marriages: paid travel expenses to international postings, language training and the use of American government medical facilities abroad.

As gay Foreign Service officers try to overcome the visa hurdle, there are mixed opinions about whether the State Department is doing enough. Regina Jun, the president of Glifaa, acknowledged that the department could do only so much.

“It’s such a sensitive issue,” she said. “Some of these countries have their own domestic agenda, and they’re not ready to publicly say yes.”


July 22, 2014

Mass Mayor to donate $5 to Gay orgs for each complaint she gets from antigays


The mayor of a Massachusetts city has fired back at conservative protests of her move to void a contract with a Christian college that opposes U.S. efforts to protect gay rights, vowing to donate $5 to a local gay-rights group for each complaint call she receives.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll last week terminated a contract that allowed Gordon College to operate Salem's town hall, after the school joined other religious organizations in appealing to the White House to exempt it from federal rules forbidding employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
Complaints began coming in after an article on the issue ran on, a website owned by conservative commentator Glenn Beck's company.
"Apparently, Glenn Beck is not happy about the city's stance terminating our contract with Gordon College," Driscoll wrote in an open letter posted on her Facebook page on Wednesday.
In her post she said her office had received more than 50 complaint phone calls from people who appear to be readers of conservative blogs. She vowed to donate $5 to Salem’s North Shore Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth for each call she receives on the Gordon matter.
"I hope these donations, made as a direct result of the persistence of those who would deny LGBT citizens their equal rights, will help you in growing and strengthening your organization," she said.
Driscoll said the college’s stance on gay rights violated a city ordinance barring Salem from contracting with discriminatory organizations.
Gordon officials could not be reached for immediate comment on Thursday. 

June 21, 2014

All Married Couples will receive equal treatment from the Federal Government


 The full array of American opinion on gay marriage has been on display all week, with decisions and rhetoric that cover all bases.

President Barack Obama's administration announced today that the Labor Department will draft rules allowing same-sex married partners who work for the federal government to take leave to care for an ill spouse -- just as heterosexual married couples already could.
That's just one step. In a memo to Obama today, Attorney General Eric Holder said the government has taken many others, working over the last 12 months to ensure “that committed and loving married couples throughout the country would receive equal treatment by their federal government regardless of their sexual orientation."

The Social Security Administration announced that it will extend survivor benefits, lump-sum death benefits and aged-spouse benefits to same-sex couples in states that grant inheritance rights to gay couples under state law. Federal law bars the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs from issuing directives that conflict with laws in states that do not recognize gay marriage, but the Social Security Administration suggested that it may have some leeway. For example, if benefits are granted when a couple lives in a state recognizing gay marriage and the couple later moves to a more restrictive state, the benefits could continue.

Furthermore, some states allow for certain inheritance rights in a "non-marital legal relationship," such as a civil union. Ohio, however, is not one of those, according to information from the Social Security Administration.

In addition to the Social Security announcement, the acting director of the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that VA will allow, on a case-by-case basis, married gay couples to be buried side-by-side in VA cemeteries. The word "marriage" will not define the standard, because of state laws that use that word restrictively. Instead, VA will consider national-cemetery burial benefits for anyone in a "committed relationship."
Additionally, VA will issue stipends to cover funeral and burial costs to the "survivor of a legal union." The old rule used the words “eligible surviving spouse,” which could create obstacles for married gay couples. 

June has always been a big month for brides and grooms. But June 26 marks the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down the section of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, that prohibited the federal government from providing benefits to same-sex married couples.

After that ruling, the Justice Department quickly set out to identify "every federal law, rule, policy and practice" in which marital status was a factor, seeking to expunge DOMA's "discriminatory effect," Holder said. His 9-page memo today laid out the results and announced the VA and Social Security news.

Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, said today's actions "take us ever closer to the day when all American families enjoy full and equal justice under law." She urged Congress to pass the Respect For Marriage Act "and make marriage equality the law of the land."
That is unlikely. The Republican Party has a majority in the House of Representatives and enough members in the Senate to block bills recognizing gay marriage. The opposition is so strong that Ohio Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, who last year began supporting gay marriage, said that his stance on the issue would make it hard for him to win the GOP presidential nomination if he ran.

"It puts me at odds with my party in many respects," Portman said in a videotaped interview for the Wall Street Journal's website with Peter Robinson, a fellow with the conservative Hoover Institution. In the interview, posted Tuesday, Portman said that he believes that treating people as they are is “a conservative position."

"My God," he continued, "is a God of mercy and justice and grace and acceptance. So I'm very sort of reconciled with my position on this, which is that my son and others who are gay and lesbians ought to be able to lead their lives as my wife and I have for 28 years now."
But politically, “It probably makes it difficult for me to win a primary election at the national level."

A different set of opinions was voiced on Capitol Hill during the 2014 March for Marriage on Thursday, sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage. The event did not get widespread press coverage, and in interviews with the Daily Signal, an online news platform created by the Heritage Foundation, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Republican of Kansas, said the media has promoted "homosexual marriage" and "a breakdown of families."
“We've reaped the whirlwind of disaster because of that for numerous years," Huelskamp said.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican from Pennsylvania and one-time presidential candidate, told the Daily Signal that the media have tried to “redefine what marriage is, so through that redefinition it makes it obvious that anybody should be able to get married and as many people as they want should be able to get married, because it simply is a relationship and nothing more than that."

And former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, another former presidential candidate, called it "inexplicable" that in the current culture, "if you take a stand against tradition, you're somehow open-minded, but if you believe that those traditions are there for a reason and that they have served us well, then you are a hater. I don’t follow that."

Nationally, 55 percent of Americans support gay marriage, a new high, according to the Gallup polling organization. But that does not translate to legalization in every state. Ohio voters banned gay marriage in 2004, but activists say voters appear willing to reverse that decision now. Yet groups pushing for the right may wait to go to the ballot, saying they want to make sure the time is right rather than risk losing.

Stephen Koff, Plain Dealer Washington Bureau ChiefBy Stephen Koff, Plain Dealer Washington Bureau Chief 

May 6, 2014

Posters featuring same-sex couples to go up in Santiago,Chile stations

 Chilean advocacy group, Movimiento de Liberación Homosexual (Movilh), has joined forces with Metro Santiago to promote an anti-discrimination campaign that features LGBT people on posters that will be placed in the capital city’s subway stations.
The campaign, launched April 29 at the Universidad Católica station, also aims to raise awareness and acceptance of people with disabilities, seniors, pregnant women and others. The Universidad Católica station was declared a space of respect and diversity in memory of 24-year-old Daniel Zamudio, a gay man who died in March 2012 after he was attacked in a park, Movilh says on its website.
Months after Zamudio’s murder, the Chilean Congress passed hate-crime legislation that had been bogged down for years. People refer to the new legislation as the Zamudio law, which allows people to file anti-discrimination lawsuits and makes provision for hate-crime sentences for violent crimes.

March 6, 2013

Chicago Mayor Urges Couples to get Married

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. - PHOTO: Provided
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on March 4 sent a letter to his network of supporters urging them to contact their Illinois state representative to tell the lawmaker to support the marriage bill now pending in the Illinois House.
Emanuel, who worked for both presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and served in the U.S. House, wrote:
Dear Marriage Supporter:

Here in Illinois, we’ve always taken the lead. 

In 2011, it was supporters like you who led the charge in urging our  General Assembly to extend basic rights to same-sex couples by passing  civil unions. Because as our nation has struggled to ensure equality for all, it’s Illinoisans who have stood at the forefront.

Now, two years later, as support for the freedom to marry escalates to record-levels around the country, Illinois can take the lead once again  by securing marriage for all loving couples in our state—as soon as this week.

The clock is ticking.
The House is poised to vote on the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act in the coming days.
And I know from talking with several of my friends in Springfield that some members of the House still  haven’t decided which way they’ll vote.

If  we’re going to pass this bill, it’s crucial that members of the House  hear from marriage supporters every single day until the freedom to  marry becomes law in Illinois. Click here to send a message to your  Representative now.

I’ve spent a lot of time in politics. And no matter where I’ve served—Congress, the Obama Administration, or as the mayor of the great city of   Chicago—one principle has always remained true: Real change happens when citizens stand strong, tell their stories, and urge their lawmakers to do what’s right.

Illinoisans want all loving couples in our state to be able to share in the freedom  to marry— the latest polls show that voters support this legislation  by a 21-point margin. It’s time for the laws of our state to reflect the values of our people. It’s time for Illinois to take the lead.
What happens in the next week is up to you. Let’s do what it takes to bring home a victory for the thousands of Illinois families  who are counting on us right now.


Rahm Emanuel

November 22, 2012

Government is Needed to Protect LGTB Rights and That is Not GOP

Ken Mehlman is either deluded or disingenuous. The former chairman of the Republican National Committee is among those now trying to bring the Republican Party around to the cause of gay marriage. In today’s Wall Street Journal he made his case.
Here is the most egregious paragraph.
Some misperceive the issue of marriage equality as exclusively progressive. Yet what could be more conservative than support for more freedom and less government? And what freedom is more basic than the right to marry the person you love? Smaller, less intrusive government surely includes an individual deciding whom to marry. Allowing civil marriage for same-sex couples will cultivate community stability, encourage fidelity and commitment, and foster family values.
Same-sex marriage will encourage fidelity and commitment, and foster family values? We can’t predict the future of culture, and I suppose Mehlman is entitled to his dreams. But a sober-minded observer sees that same-sex marriage puts an exclamation mark on the transformation of marriage and parenting from the basic norm for adult life into one life-style choice among many, one that we can enter and exit as our choices change. There’s nothing about same-sex marriage other than the now redefined word “marriage” that remotely suggests “family values.”
Even more ridiculous is the notion that redefining marriage makes government less intrusive. The notion of civil rights that fuels the push for “marriage equality” requires pumping up the power of the state to bulldoze older traditions and attitudes that stand in the way of the full acceptance and affirmation of homosexuality. It’s going to lead to litigation, regulation, mandated school programs and “inclusivity” seminars, and lots of other legislation. For good and for ill, the civil rights revolution of the 1960s created entire government bureaucracies, which in turn led to corporate diversity consultants and many other positions, all keyed to compliance.

Mehlman needs to either open his eyes or be honest: the gay rights movement can’t succeed unless and until the apparatus of the state is brought to bear on traditional institutions that don’t treat homosexuality and heterosexuality equally. It’s not just religious institutions. Basic cultural practices such as sex-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms will be revised—and always under pressure from the courts and government bureaucracies tasked to ensure LGBT rights.
This is in the nature of all progressive projects. The push toward redefining marriage involves creating a new possibility that would not otherwise come to pass if traditional institutions and attitudes were left alone. How will this change be effected. What will have sufficient power to overcome the always substantial solidity of the status quo? Government, of course. That’s why the progressive project is always essentially political.
Case in point: by Mehlman’s way of thinking, the most basic institution of civil life, marriage itself, is a creation of the modern state to be redefined as the political will sees fit. If we can redefine marriage at such a fundamental level, then what is there in society other than individual choices and the power of the state?
Moreover, were I to design a cultural agenda to guarantee a fresh and widespread expansion of the modern welfare state, it would be the sexual revolution. Divorce, co-habitation, single-parenting, the general decline of marriage among working and middle class people—all these social phenomena atomize us, tending as they do toward lives organized around individual needs and choices. This makes us more vulnerable to our own stupidity, our disordered desires and lack of self-discipline.
That’s why, without the oldest and most effective social safety net—the family—we’re bound to need expanded government-funded programs. Put differently, without a transcendent order in ordered liberty, we’ll get politically generated order, which is another way of saying more government.
Final Thought: Mehlman’s delusion or disingenuousness exposes the latent, revolutionary character of the free market ideologues who play a very important role in the Republican Party. For them, the solution to all social problems is “more freedom and less government.” That’s obviously absurd. Only self-discipline and a robust sense of personal responsibility allow us to live with less government. Given original sin and the disordered character of our desires, more license—the freedom to do as we please—calls for more government. It’s a deep truth about society that Thomas Hobbes saw with great clarity.

October 12, 2012

How Steny Hoyer Came About Going For Gay Marriage

Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer is speaking out on how his view of same-sex marriage has evolved.
Hoyer, who voted 16 years ago to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, tells The Baltimore Sun that he had believed for a while that civil unions would offer protections to same-sex couples. However, he now tells the newspaper that he believes full marriage benefits are needed.
Hoyer says his 1996 position on the Defense of Marriage Act was “probably a mistake.” Since then, Hoyer also has learned that one of his three daughters is gay.
Hoyer says that throughout his career he has thought people should be treated equally. He says his position has evolved into thinking marriage has a broader meaning.

Featured Posts

Fewer People Think LGBT Face Discrimination But Is That True?

 Over the past decade, the gay rights movement has had a lot to celebrate. Within a single generation, a politically divided countr...