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After 35 Years, Washington Allowed Stuart And John To Get Married Today

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var addthis_config = {“data_track_addressbar”:true};Stuart Wilber and John Breitweiser got married today, the first day the state of Washington allowed same-sex couples to enter into the institution of marriage. Stuart and John have been together for 35 years — exactly 35 years. They met December 8, 1977, and so they begin their 36th year together as husbands.

There’s something very special about the institution of marriage. Perhaps it’s not for everyone, but clearly it is for Stuart and John, and they have lived their lives proving that point.

This wedding is especially important and gratifying to us at The New Civil Rights Movement, as Stuart is a beloved writer here. An LGBT activist, Stuart was instrumental last year in getting Seattle’s Space Needle to fly the gay pride flag. He wrote a great piece about it, and we invited him to become a contributing writer. Stuart’s response was that he’d be able to write an occasional piece. Eighteen months, more than three dozen great articles, countless story ideas, and a constant display of selflessness later, Stuart proved his dedication to the LGBT community is far more than “occasional.”

Stuart penned a beautiful and moving wedding announcement, which we’d like to share with you here:

If it wasn’t love at first glance; it was love at first dance – our road to Marriage

Stuart Wilber, a contributor to The New Civil Rights Movement, and John Breitweiser, an artist with an extensive résumé of solo and group exhibitions, met on a snowy night at a club in Chicago on December 8, 1977; (I’ll save you doing the math – it was 35 years ago.)

I spotted John chatting with a group of his friends; he was dressed in the uniform of the era: beard, checkered shirt, his jeans tucked into the red boot socks that were peeking out of his Doc Martens; adorable then as he is now. A couple of beers, and I worked up the nerve to ask him to dance; John likes to say that no one dances quite like I dance. After a couple of dances, I asked him if he wanted to go home with me – it was the 70’s, we were very direct in those days; he looked at me as if I had lost my mind and refused. Then I asked if I could join him and his friends, but he said no again. Sometime later, when I grabbed my coat and headed toward the exit; John, who says he had been keeping an eye on me, told his friends he had to leave, grabbed his coat and caught up with me as I was leaving.

Slogging through the still falling heavy snow, we were asked to help push a car free from a snow bank. John dislocated his knee and hobbled the few remaining blocks to my house. We spent the night in front of a roaring fire and despite his swollen, throbbing knee as well as rug burns… we have been together ever since.

In 1978, Stuart opened “In a Plain Brown Wrapper,” a gallery which exhibited cutting edge work by leading artists including Robert Mapplethorpe, Hollis Sigler, Keith Smith, George Platt Lynes, Charles Demuth, Janet Cooling, Paul Cadmus, and, yes, John Breitweiser; art that dealt with sexuality and gender identification. The next year Stuart opened the eponymous gallery, Stuart Wilber, Inc. with the same focus.

After five years of battling snow and ice, the couple relocated to San Clemente, California, seeking a friendlier climate. Instead, they encountered a climate of homophobia where life as an openly gay couple became a political act. Stuart served on the board of Laguna Beach Shanti and worked with GLAAD on letter writing campaigns. John’s art turned political; he began a body of work that dealt with violence against gays and lesbians. The paintings were widely exhibited on college campuses and galleries in Orange County, and in 1994, John was named Man of The Year by the Orange County Cultural Pride Committee.

The couple relocated to Seattle, where Stuart, concerned about the lack of publicity for the 2009 National Equality March, began promoting it and secured the endorsement of PFLAG and other national organizations for the D.C. event, as well as working with the activist group, Seattle OUTprotest, to organize a local march to promote the  approval of Referendum 74. The bill was approved and granted domestic partnership rights to same sex couples in Washington State. In 2010 Stuart was invited to join a group of other LGBTQ activists at a retreat at the Highlander Research and Education Center, where, in the footsteps of Bayard Rustin, Rosa Parks, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., they were schooled in techniques of non-violent civil disobedience, and strategized on the next steps to achieving full legal and social equality. The retreat was the genesis of GetEQUAL, an organization he continues to work with and support.

In 2011 he organized a successful effort to ask Microsoft to stop allowing the funding of Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate groups by removing its online store from the Christian Values Network, and with fellow activist Josh Castle whom he met at Highlander, spearheaded a successful campaign to have the pride flag raised on Seattle’s iconic Space Needle.

On December 9, the first day their marriage is permitted in the state they now call home and the first day of their 36th year together, surrounded by family and friends, John Breitweiser and Stuart Wilber will be married in Seattle. Mary Bacarella, Vice President Brand Management of Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass, who worked with Stuart and Josh to meet a $50,000 community grant to raise the flag on the Space Needle, will officiate.

 

Images: Then and now, John Breitweiser, left, and Stuart Wilber. Wedding Day, by Joe Mirabella, via Instagram

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Thinly-Veiled Incitement to Violence and Overt Racism’: Trump’s Truth Social Post Sparks Outrage

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Donald Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” but on Friday night took his social media approach to his Truth Social website.

Trump accused Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of having a “death wish” after a government shutdown was averted.

“Must immediately seek help and advise (sic) from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!” he said of Elaine Chao, who served in his cabinet for four years as Secretary of Transportation.

Trump’s post generated outrage online.

“Nothing to see here,” conservative lawyer George Conway tweeted. “Just a former president of the United States seeking to incite violence against the minority leader of the United States Senate and launching a racist verbal attack on the leader’s wife.”

Former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu wrote, “Donald Trump using blatant racist tactics in his desperate attacks on McConnell by trying to ridicule Asian American former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s name calling her ‘Coco Chow’ — [McConnell] and [GOP] should call him out and reject his racist hate — will they do it?”

“Hardly shocking that Trump would threaten Mitch McConnell by capitalizing the words ‘death wish’ — dog whistle invitation to Trump’s extremist supporters — same Trump who believed his own VP Pence deserved to be lynched by the angry Jan. 6 mob Trump incited to violence,” Wu added.

Janai Nelson, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, wrote, “I double dare all major media outlets to call this what it is: thinly-veiled incitement to violence and overt racism.”

Podcaster Fred Wellman said, “Elaine Chao was Trump’s Secretary of Transportation for 4 years and he just called her the ridiculously racist nickname ‘Coco Chow.’ Yes…you are a racist if you still support this broken *sshole.”

Jonah Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of The Dispatch, wrote, “Look, I think the gross bigotry, stupidity, dishonesty, and demagoguery of this is obvious on so many levels and I’m embarrassed for the country. But, because no one else will, I feel I have to point out he also misspelled advice.”

 

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Republicans suggest defunding Veteran Affairs even though it helps 9 million vets

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Republican legislators are starting to suggest defunding the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the office founded in 1989 to assist with veteran needs. The VA assists with getting veterans mental and physical healthcare, educational opportunities, community support, and other everyday housing and living needs.

An Arizona legislator, captured on video participating in a mock congressional hearing, said he supported shutting down the department.

“That’s sort of what I’m thinking because … I hear no good stories. I had zero in my district,” the legislator said in a video posted by the far-right watchdog group Patriot Takes. “So I guess it’s a matter of us leading the fight to defund it.”

A second video, posted by the same account, showed Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz advocating for defunding the VA while speaking at an event held by FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group.

“This is my question to the group. Is it savable? Why not abolish the VA, take all of the money that we are otherwise spending and go to an any willing provider system inside of our communities?” Gaetz says in the video. “And then, if people get bad care, they can vote with their feet and you don’t have a two-tier system of healthcare in this country with our veterans and then with everyone else.”

Generally speaking, Republican policies favor the privatization of all government functions, thinking that a “small government,” “free-market,” “for-profit” privatization provided by a corporation can solve any market ill.

In reality, if entire communities are deprived of VA access, U.S. military veterans will be left largely on their own to get their life needs met after military service. Those who lack money or transportation won’t be able to “vote with their feet” and find a local care provider to handle their specific issues… they’ll either have to spend massive amounts to get such essential care or just go without.

In late July, 41 Senate Republicans voted against a bill aimed at protecting veterans exposed to toxic materials during their military service. The legislation would have expanded care to 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. It would have also added 23 toxic and burn pit exposure-related illnesses to the VA database, Newsweek reported.

After massive blowback, Senate Republicans re-voted on the bill and helped it pass.

Patriot Takes posted the video hoping that it would encourage veterans and military members to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.

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'PRIORITIES'

Red states are lining up to stop Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan

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Six red states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina — are suing the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden over Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for individuals making less than $125,000 a year.

The Biden administration based its plan on a 2003 law. According to the Justice Department, the law, initially meant to help military members, says that Biden can reduce or erase student loan debts during times of national emergency.

The red states’ lawsuit, filed Thursday in Missouri, said that Biden’s plan was “not remotely tailored to address the effects of the pandemic on federal student loan borrowers.” The lawsuit adds that, since Biden recently declared the COVID-19 pandemic as over, he can’t use it as a justification for his wide-scale debt relief plan, ABC News reported.

“It’s patently unfair to saddle hard-working Americans with the loan debt of those who chose to go to college,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said of her state’s lawsuit. “The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that.”

The states argued that Biden’s plan inflicted a “number of ongoing financial harms” to student loan providers and also “will ultimately disrupt revenue to state coffers.” They also argued that Biden’s plan violates the Administrative Procedure Act, a law regulating how federal agencies ensure that presidential policies are well-reasoned and explained, the aforementioned publication reported.

Despite these claims, the White House has said it will continue with its plan, confident it can survive a court challenge.

“Republican officials from these six states are standing with special interests, and fighting to stop relief for borrowers buried under mountains of debt,” White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said Thursday. “The president and his administration are lawfully giving working and middle class families breathing room as they recover from the pandemic and prepare to resume loan payments in January.”

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