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Apologists Need Not Apply

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My, how far we’ve come! Time was, a hundred years ago, being labeled a homosexual gave you a free pass – to go directly to jail. In New York City’s 1903, seven men went to prison for up to twenty years after police raided a bath house. A decade later, the term “faggot” was first used in print. Then, in 1920, the word “gay” was first used to describe, well, gays.

Speed through much of the twentieth century. We had our day in the sun in the 60’s, and the 70’s a bit. The 80’s were not kind to us – and then in the late 90’s and the early part of this decade, we started to gain some support. But all of a sudden, now, it seems, we’re the most popular game in town! Why, even the President wants to hang out with us!

Yes, President Obama is trying to get a little more hip to the gay thing. He’s invited some top-notch gays to the White House for cocktails. And just days before the DNC’s flailing $1000-a-plate LGBT fundraiser! (Hosted by that bastion of gay rights himself, Joe Biden, whom HRC gave all of a 78% on gay rights last year, and whom the ACLU gave a “mixed record” rating of 60% on civil rights…)

Seems they’re dropping like flies (well, no flies dare enter the White House anymore, but) at DNC fundraising headquarters, ever since that nasty business with the Department of Justice’s DOMA brief invoking incest and under-age marriages to support the Defense of Marriage Act. Can you believe that the Bush version of the DOMA brief was worse? My word, yes, how far we’ve come!

So, do we support Obama? Or oppose him? There are so many sides to this argument.

There’s the radical left, who supposedly think (according to the radical right) that Obama was going to hand down gay rights to everyone on Day One. Of course, no one thought that at all, but the Right likes to say, “Finally, gays realize Obama is keeping his campaign promises!” Never mind they claim that he’s not on any other issue, but the Right is funny that way. (Funny that way, as in, the Right spent the weekend complaining about Obama taking his daughters out for custard for fifteen minutes the day before Father’s Day.)

Then there are the gay-supporting centrist liberals, who think Obama should keep his promises as soon as possible, repeal DOMA and DADT, get Hate Crimes passed, and ENDA too. Not all at once, but they want to see some sort of a plan, a vision, a nod, a hint that it’s somewhere not-too-far back in Obama’s mind. They recognize that there are other things on Obama’s plate, but they also are cognizant of opportunities, not to mention the fact that civil rights should be a priority for any democracy.

And then there are the apologists. You know them. The gays who don’t think gays should be married, or who think gays can’t handle marriage, or that marriage would be nice, but, not right now, honey, I have a headache. Oh, I mean, you know, when you can fit it into your busy schedule, dear. Did you remember your umbrella, sweetie?

The apologists think everyone else should come first. Our President is, after all, a busy man. He’s got the economy, which seems to be entering another downward spiral (and just when things seemed to be going so well!) He’s got that messy business in Iran (not that he has anything to do with it really, but the Right likes to think he does,) and he’s got the upcoming health care legislation battle (because lord knows a few Democrats woke up with amnesia last week and thought they were Republicans.) He’s far too busy to spend his time on messy things like civil rights for gays!

The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart, in Sunday’s “For Obama, a Hit and a Miss On Gay Rights,” wrote that “… the Obama administration bungled the politics surrounding its filing of a brief in a case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act…” So, it was the politics that were bungled? Not the entire brief, I suppose? He then goes on to write, “On Wednesday, he signed a memorandum extending a number of benefits to the partners of gay federal employees. This was the culmination of work that began in December.” Culmination of work that began in December? More like Monday when it was clear things were getting choppy on the SS DNC Fundraiser. Capehart describes the criticism Obama is getting as “searing,” and says “it borders on a blind rage.” (I hate that word “rage,” like when Michelle Malkin uses it to describe gays: “The insane rage of the same-sex marriage mob.”)

The apologists like to think if they wait just long enough, are polite just long enough, are the good boys and girls their mothers taught them to be, that their government will see them waiting on the corner and reward them with a goody basket full of gay rights. Well, I have some bad news. Waiting and being polite, as much as I personally like those things, aren’t going to get us what we deserve, what we want, what we need. As much as I like being chivalrous, I know that it takes some pushing and some name-calling and a lot, a lot of speaking truth to power to make things move.

I don’t know about you, but, while I like my president, I like equal rights more. I value equal rights more. And I need them, more. Sorry to say, I’m not sorry any longer. And just as I no longer have any need to make apologies for who I am, I no longer have any need to make apologies for what my president, or my Congress, does – or does not do – any longer.

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MN Police Officer Sentenced 3.5 Years for Death of George Floyd

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Former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Keung has been sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for aiding and abetting manslaughter in the death of Black city resident George Floyd.

Keung, age 29, had accepted a plea deal in order to avoid an additional charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. His guilty plea acknowledged that the restraining holds used by police on Floyd were excessive and likely to cause serious harm.

Video of Floyd’s May 25, 2020 murder at the hands of city police captured footage of Keung kneeling on Floyd’s back while another officer knelt of the man’s neck. for over nine minutes, officers applied pressure to Floyd while he laid face down in the street, crying and telling officers that he couldn’t breathe while also calling out for his mother.

Video of Floyd’s murder sparked international outrage and inspired protests against institutional racism and police brutality.

Keung is the fourth and final police officer to receive prison time for his role in Floyd’s death. He will serve his new sentence and a federal sentence for Floyd’s death concurrently, serving a total of about 2 1/2 years for the killing.

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Virginia Republican Files Bill Defining a Fertilized Egg as a Human

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Virginia State Delegate Marie March (R) has pre-filed House Bill 1395, a law that would define life as beginning at fertilization.

“Life begins at conception and each person is accorded the same rights and protections guaranteed to all persons by the Constitution of the United States,” the proposed bill states.

The proposed bill would effectively outlaw all abortions in the state and even endanger the use of Plan B (aka. “The morning-after pill”), a medication that prevents fertilized egg cells from attaching to a woman’s uterine wall.

The bill could also effectively criminalize in vitro fertilization, a method of inducing pregnancy that uses fertilized eggs and discards any unused ones.

Even though Republicans control the state’s House of Delegates, it’s unclear if the bill would have any chance of passing the state’s Democratic-led Senate. The legislature won’t reconvene until January 11, 2023.

Virginia currently allows a woman to get an abortion within roughly 26 weeks of pregnancy. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has proposed passing a law that would reduce that window to 15 weeks, a period of time in which most women may not even realize they’re pregnant.

In response to March’s bill the Virginia Reproductive Equity Alliance said in a statement, “In the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and despite the vast majority of Virginians who oppose it, Virginia’s anti-abortion elected officials keep proving there are no limits to their extremism and true intentions to ban abortion for all Virginians.”

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Georgia GOP Says Its Voting Restrictions “Backfired” & Helped Dems Win Senate Seat

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When two Republicans lost Georgia’s special runoff senate elections in January 2021, state Republicans in the General Assembly re-wrote voting laws to restrict absentee ballots and give voters fewer days to vote in future runoff elections.

However, after Republicans lost yet another runoff election for Georgia’s Senate seat — with Herschel Walker losing to his Democratic competitor, Rev. Raphael Warnock, earlier this month — state Republicans want to re-re-write the rules, hopeful of a more favorable outcome.

Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), the official who oversees the state’s voting procedures, said he plans on giving three proposals to lawmakers when they return to the General Assembly in January.

“[The proposals] include forcing large counties to open more early-voting locations (in an attempt to reduce the hours-long lines some voters waited in) … lowering the threshold candidates must achieve to avoid a runoff from 50 percent to 45 percent; and instituting a ranked-choice instant-runoff system that would not require voters to come back to the polls again after the general election,” The New York Times reported.

To be clear, it’s unclear whether these changes would’ve helped Walker win. But they stand in contrast to the changes state Republicans made to voting laws following their failed January 2021 Senate runoff ambitions.

The changes after that time severely restricted the types of people eligible to receive an absentee ballot. While 24 percent of the January 2021 vote came via mail-in absentee ballots, the rule changes resulted in 5 percent of mail-in votes coming in for the January 2022 runoff.

Republicans also lowered the number of in-person early voting days to five (though the rule change allowed counties to add extra days.) The Times found that 28 of Georgia’s 159 counties opted to add extra in-person early voting days — 17 of the counties that did largely backed Warnock while 11 backed his challenger.

Before the recent run-off election, Raffensperger also tried to enforce a state law forbidding in-person early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. However, Warnock successfully sued to prevent the law from going into effect.

Overall, the changes may have “backfired,” Republicans told The Times, actually encouraging Democratic voters to come out in greater numbers.

While Republicans point to the large turnout of runoff voters as “proof” that their changes didn’t discourage voting, Warnock’s campaign criticized the changes, saying that such restrictions shouldn’t make it harder for people to vote in the first place.

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