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LGBT Rights And The Dallas Principles: Now, More Than Ever?

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Major changes within the LGBT community, such as the resignation of HRC’s Joe Solmonese, marriage equality in New York, and the official repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, remind us that now is a good time to re-visit The Dallas Principles.

 

Given the news a few weeks ago of Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese’s impending resignation and the possibility of a change of direction by HRC’s Board of Directors and his replacement, I think it is time to again take a look at The Dallas Principles, authored a little more than two and a quarter years ago.

For those not familiar with the Dallas Principles, on May 15-17, 2009 in Dallas, Texas twenty-four activists and donors, frustrated with the Obama administration’s pace of fulfilling its campaign promises to the LGBT community, gathered to discuss the immediate need for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the United States. Collectively they prepared The Dallas Principles.

The Dallas Principles is a set of eight guiding principles to achieve full LGBT equality. The principles are:

  • Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be enacted now. Delay and excuses are no longer acceptable.
  • We will not leave any part of our community behind.
  • Separate is never equal.
  • Religious beliefs are not a basis upon which to affirm or deny civil rights.
  • The establishment and guardianship of full civil rights is a non-partisan issue.
  • Individual involvement and grassroots action are paramount to success and must be encouraged.
  • Success is measured by the civil rights we all achieve, not by words, access or money raised.
  • Those who seek our support are expected to commit to these principles.

I think that especially the number two, “We will not leave any part of our community behind,” number six, “Individual involvement and grassroots action are paramount to success and must be encouraged,” and  number seven, “Success is measured by the civil rights we all achieve, not by words, access or money raised,” need to be considered carefully by HRC’s Board as they move forward.

Individual involvement and grassroots activism has not been encouraged by HRC and although the organization excels at raising money and gaining access, we have failed to achieve full federal equality. Many in our community feel that the organization has not been all-inclusive; that those who are transgender, people of color, the youth and women of our community have not been adequately represented. Some think that HRC has lost touch and is resistant to input from its constituency.

As a supporter of HRC, as well as the more grassroots-driven new kid on the block, GetEQUAL, I am encouraged by the possibility of a change in focus at HRC. Not that Joe Solmonese isn’t good, perhaps too good at what he does; HRC’s fundraising is impressive and many in the media and the establishment consider HRC to be the face of the LGBT community. Joe looks great on TV; he is urbane – well-mannered, well-spoken and well-dressed. Many in the beltway establishment saw us or still see us as affluent, urban dwellers in well-tailored suits and tuxes – at least those of us they choose to take seriously. The rest of us were easily dismissed as drag queens and dykes on bikes – at least that’s who they see spotlighted in the media at Pride-time.

The truth of this impression is reflected in Judge Antonin Scalia’s 1996 dissent in Romer, Governor of Colorado, et al. v. Evans et al. In Romer an amendment to the Colorado state constitution (“Amendment 2”)  that would have prevented any city, town or county in the state from taking any legislative, executive, or judicial action to recognize gay and lesbian citizens as a protected class was passed by Colorado voters in a referendum. The decision in Romer set the stage for Lawrence v. Texas (2003), where the Court overruled its decision in Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), when the Court had ruled that a law criminalizing homosexual sex was constitutional.

Justice Scalia wrote (and Justices Clarence Thomas and Rehnquist concurred) that, “The problem (a problem, that is, for those who wish to retain social disapprobation of homosexuality) is that, because those who engage in homosexual conduct tend to reside in disproportionate numbers in certain communities… have high disposable income,… and of course care about homosexual rights issues much more ardently than the public at large, they possess political power much greater than their numbers, both locally and statewide.”

This is an old, argument and sadly echoes an anti-Semitic one. In essence Scalia is regurgitating the myth and misperception that because the LGBT Community is urban, rich and vocal, it possesses disproportionate political power and is not entitled to the protections of The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment under guidelines established by previous decisions.

Is it any wonder that Scalia has this impression? For if HRC is perceived to be the face of our community, the face they have presented inside the beltway is as Scalia purported. When they concurred in their dissent, Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist had obviously not encountered or chose to ignore the many transgender people, out rural lesbians, queer homeless youth, undocumented gay and lesbian students or African-American gay men from Mississippi, to name a few who don’t fit their stereotype of us as rich, politically powerful city dwellers.

But times have changed and a new generation of voices is demanding to be heard. Regardless of the image HRC next chooses to adopt, and I hope it will be less homogenous; the faces in our New Civil Rights Movement will be as diverse as the colors of the rainbow banners they carry and our new generation of young activists, be they lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or straight allies, is much less patient and far more vocal than before.

The authors of the Dallas Principles are Juan Ahonen-Jover, Ken Ahonen-Jover, John Bare, Jarrett Barrios, Dana Beyer, Jeffrey H. Campagna, Mandy Carter, Michael Coe, Jimmy Creech, Allison Duncan, Michael Guest, Joanne Herman, Donald Hitchcock, Lane Hudson, Charles Merrill, Dixon Osburn, Lisa Polyak, Barbra Casbar Siperstein, Pam Spaulding, Andy Szekeres, Lisa Turner, Jon Winkleman, and Paul Yandura.

 

Stuart Wilber lives in Seattle with his partner and cat. Equality continues to elude them.


 

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News

RFK Jr. Apology Over Sexual Assault Allegation ‘Disingenuous’ – Unsure if More to Come

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent candidate running for president, has apologized to the woman who accused him of sexual assault, and separately told reporters he does not know if there are more potential accusers.

The 70-year old anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist who has said a worm ate a portion of his brain, has not denied allegations of sexual misconduct. A recent Vanity Fair profile reports that in 1998, Eliza Cooney, 23-years old at the time and working as a part-time baby sitter for RFK Jr. and his wife’s children, felt his “hand moving up and down her leg under the table” during “a meeting in the family kitchen.”

There are other allegations in the Vanity Fair profile that include Kennedy being shirtless in Cooney’s bedroom and asking her to rub lotion on his back, which she said was “totally inappropriate.”

And this: “A few months later, Cooney says, she was rifling through the kitchen pantry for lunch after a yoga class, still in her sports bra and leggings, when Kennedy came up behind her, blocked her inside the room, and began groping her, putting his hands on her hips and sliding them up along her rib cage and breasts. ‘My back was to the door of the pantry, and he came up behind me,’ she says, describing the alleged sexual assault. ‘I was frozen. Shocked.’ ”

RELATED: ‘What in the F’: RFK Jr. in Photo With Alleged ‘Barbecued’ Dog Carcass Disgusts Critics

The Washington Post Friday morning reported RFK Jr. “privately apologized to a woman who accused him of sexual assault, saying he does not remember the alleged incident and that any harm he caused was ‘inadvertent.’ ”

“’I have no memory of this incident but I apologize sincerely for anything I ever did that made you feel uncomfortable or anything I did or said that offended you or hurt your feelings,’ Kennedy wrote in a text message to Cooney sent at 12:33 a.m. on July 4, two days after her accusations became public. ‘I never intended you any harm. If I hurt you, it was inadvertent. I feel badly for doing so.’ ”

Cooney told The Post that Kennedy’s texted message was “disingenuous and arrogant.”

“I’m not sure how somebody has a true apology for something that they don’t admit to recalling. I did not get a sense of remorse.”

READ MORE: Critics: Where’s Trump’s Hour-Long Press Conference With Policy Questions from Reporters?

Also on Friday, hidden in the middle of a Boston Globe soft profile of the presidential candidate whose support has reportedly now hit ten percent – possibly enough to change the outcome of the election – is Kennedy’s apparent acknowledgment there could be more allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Asked if other women might come forward with similar allegations he said, ‘I don’t know. We’ll see what happens.’ ”

The Globe notes Kennedy “is currently on the ballot in nine states, and submitted enough signatures to eventually get on the ballot in 15 states. There are five other states where the campaign claims to have enough signatures but hasn’t turned in them in yet, in some cases because the window to do so hasn’t opened.”

FiveThirtyEight reports there is a 58% chance the election “is decided by a smaller margin than the vote share for third-party candidates,” meaning Kennedy, who has the largest portion of third party votes, may have the potential to change the election outcome.

In a parenthetical addition, Vanity Fair updated its report, writing: “After this story was published, Kennedy told the Breaking Points podcast, in response to Cooney’s allegations, that he is ‘not a church boy… I have so many skeletons in my closet.’ When pressed to respond directly to her claims, he told the anchor, ‘I’m not going to comment on it.’ ”

READ MORE: ‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

 

 

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OPINION

Critics: Where’s Trump’s Hour-Long Press Conference With Policy Questions from Reporters?

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Following President Joe Biden’s 58-minute long unscripted, solo press conference without a teleprompter, fielding questions from reporters and responding with nuance and depth on a range of issues including foreign and domestic policy, some critics are calling on his opponent, ex-president Donald Trump, to do the same.

It’s been a long time since Trump has held an actual unscripted, lengthy, solo press conference, with questions from reporters, and well-over a year since he did one that wasn’t centered on his legal crises.

“When is last time Trump did an hour long press conference? Anyone know?” asked Bloomberg News’ Steven Dennis Thursday night after the President’s press conference.

“So now the media will demand that Trump hold an hour-long press conference on complex foreign policy issues — right?” snarked attorney and legal commentator Tristan Snell, who headed the successful New York State civil prosecution of Trump University.

READ MORE: ‘Dead Heat’: Biden Ahead or Tied With Trump in Two New Post-Debate Polls

“Trump is getting a free pass just like he did in 2016. No way he could do a press conference for 40 minutes after 3 long days with world leaders. He is incoherent most of time when he’s not spewing bile,” declared CNN Political Commentator Karen Finney Friday morning.

“It’s now time for the corporate media to dissect every word Trump says for the next two weeks, have debates on his mental state, amplify the small number of Republicans who want Trump to drop out and demand he hold a press conference where we can dissect him even more,” remarked attorney and SiriusXM host Dean Obeidallah Friday morning.

“Per CSPAN last time Trump held a press conference that approached an hour in length at which he took questions from reporters, he was still president,” observed Aaron Fritschner, Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) Friday morning.

READ MORE: ‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

He adds, “Per the CSPAN archive, the last time Donald Trump took questions from reporters in a press conference was on February 8th. National and campaign reporters made an issue of the lack of press conferences with Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. To date, they have not done so with Trump.”

On November 8, 2022, from Mar-a-Lago, after polls closed, Donald Trump delivered remarks discussing the midterm elections. He spoke for about four minutes to supporters and took no questions from reporters, whom he mocked. (Full C-SPAN video.)

Semafor’s David Weigel argues, “A lot of the ‘whatabout Trump’ stuff is cope, but he really is getting an easy ride with interviewers compared to 2016 or 2020.”

“Most of his interviews are softball-fests. When he did All-In the campaign had to clean up his green card/diploma answer.”

READ MORE: ‘No Change’: Biden Debate Performance Has Had ‘Almost No Impact’ on 2024 Race Report Finds

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News

‘Segregated?’: Republican Ridiculed for Call to Return to ‘Where America Was in the 1960s’

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A Republican U.S. Congressman is being criticized for his remarks calling for a return to the 1960’s, a direct attack on federal government social safety programs like welfare and food stamps.

Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-WI), who has spent a decade in the House often fighting against those programs, lamented that “every year of course, I am lobbied by people who want the government … to take up an even greater role in their children’s life, be it daycare, be it preschool, be it after school programs, whatever. They clearly want the children raised by the government. So I hope the press corps picks up on this, and I hope Republican and Democratic leadership put together some sort of plan for January in which we work our way back to where America was in the 1960s.”

RELATED: Republican Complaining It’s ‘Almost Impossible’ for Straight ‘White Guys’ to Get Appointed by Biden Has History of Bigotry

“We now have the TANF program which gives cash benefits to people,” Grothman continued. “Indeed there are over 70 government programs in which your benefits are based on percent of poverty, which is to say, you get benefits if either you if you are not working hard or and if you are not married to a spouse who is working hard because as soon as you have one person who’s working kind of hard, they’re going to make enough money. They’re not eligible for all these programs. So, when you consider the powerful forces who wanted to get rid of the family, perhaps this is not a coincidence.”

This is not the first time Rep. Grothman has attacked critical social safety net programs.

Last month, in an interview littered with racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic remarks, claiming progressives, social justice movements, and the government for decades have wanted to destroy the family unit, he blamed the federal government for “bribing” low-income women with welfare to prevent them from marrying.

The 1960’s were plagued by racial segregation, discrimination, inequality, police brutality, the Vietnam War, anti-war protests, resistance to the draft, pollution, civil unrest, and political assassinations.

READ MORE: ‘Betrayal’: Trump Hosts ‘Russian Puppet’ Viktor Orbán as Biden Hosts NATO Leaders

Critics slammed Grothman Thursday. One, national security attorney Brad Moss, responding to the Republican’s desire to return to the 1960s, asking: “Segregated? Watching presidents and major political figures be assassinated?”

Others mentioned Project 2025, suggesting it is the vehicle Republicans plan on using to reach Grothman’s desired goal.

Watch the clips below or at this link.

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