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Mailbag: “Same Gender Marriage” and “The New Civil Rights Movement”

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Today I’m responding to a few emails we’ve recently received. You’re always welcome to email me or leave a comment in the contact section. And please know that I do read all the comments you make on the blog!

Ken writes,

“Please consider using same gender marriage. This term helps outsiders with confusion of sexual orientation, transgender and gender identity. It humanizes us more thanks.”

Thanks, Ken, it’s a valid and interesting point.

Back in February, I explained my choice to stop using the term “gay marriage,” in most situations.

Ideally, I would just use “marriage,” but that has drawbacks, primarily because many people, especially those who arrive here via the Google, search for “gay marriage” a lot. It’s actually one of the top search terms for this site. (Some others the past few weeks? “god hates fags,” “westboro baptist church,” “doma,”fox news,” and “cpac.” Go figure.)

We rely on search engines, along with social media — like Facebook and Twitter — and your kind remembering to visit us a few times a day, to get our information and our message out, and to pick up a few bucks (and I mean a very, very few bucks!) along the way. So, the terms “gay marriage,” “same-sex marriage,” and even “marriage equality” have to take a front seat sometimes, or folks won’t know we’re here.

(While we’re on the topic, forgive me for asking, but I do want you to know that every time you share our work via Twitter and Facebook, it means a great deal to us here. Every re-tweet, every Facebook posting keeps us motivated and re-affirms our efforts. The more you share us with your friends and family and co-workers, the more motivated to keep bringing you our original content we become! And the more folks who join our Facebook page, the more our work gets into the right hands. You have no idea how powerful each of you are.)

I’ve tried to not use the term “gay marriage,” except in an occasional title, to remain as clear as possible. After all, we’re fighting for marriage, not something else.

As far as the term “same gender marriage,” I have no desire to use it any more than I have a desire to use “gay marriage,” or even “same-sex marriage.” While I understand and appreciate the desire to be as accurate and affirming as possible, I’d like to try to use just “marriage.”

But, since that’s not yet possible, I will add “same gender marriage,” to our lexicon, and use it interchangeably, but I won’t revert to it entirely, and I hope some day soon, to be able to stop using modifiers all together.

Thoughts?

# # #

Richard writes a long, very kind email, (Many, many thanks for the kind words! Here’s just part of it,) but has an issue:

“I really love your blog.  It manages to be comprehensive and thorough, which takes a lot of energy and dedication.  So thanks for that.  The only thing that has bugged me since I’ve been reading this blog is the title.  I happen to be both Gay and African-American.  I’ve made it my business to be out, and to do more than my part to help achieve equality for my fellow queers.  I’ve even worked as an organizer on a local LGBT rights campaign…

“Getting to the point, the title of your blog bugs me because it makes me tense. It reminds me of the implicit division between the civil rights movement for LGBT people, and the civil rights movement(s) for people of color.  If one is considered new, then the others must be old, right?  Why do we need to differentiate these movements?  Why can’t we see these seemingly disparate efforts as part of a larger struggle for human rights?”

Well, Richard, here’s the thing.

First, I have a confession: I never really loved the title of the blog. When I started it, just days after Prop 8 passed, I “crowd-sourced” the name, and had my friends on Twitter vote. This was their favorite.

But it is a valid name, and here’s why.

After Prop 8, the term, “new civil rights movement” was everywhere. (So was the phrase, “Is gay the new black,” which I never liked either.)

And we are fighting a new civil rights battle. And we are a movement.

The battle for marriage equality has never really been fought like this before, by so many people before, and so successfully before.

Some members of the black or African-American community take issue with the term, and some claim we’ve co-opted it. I disagree. Here’s someone whose words should ring loud and clear. New Jersey Senator Nia Gill, who happens to be African-American, and who, in December of 2009, during New Jersey’s marriage equality debate, spoke so eloquently of marriage equality, saying,

“When we get to the issue of the constitution […] History shows you could never have contemplated that marriage is between a man and a woman. If you look at the constitution, at its intent, the constitution intended that African-Americans would never be full participants.

“The legislators – the female ones – would not be here, because the constitution never intended for a woman to have the right to vote. And if we looked further at what the constitution intended – as if it is a stagnant body – then we know that disabled people would have no rights, under the equal protection clause, that they have access to public buildings.

“It is a civil rights issue – not because African-Americans own the copyright to civil rights, it is a civil rights issue in the analysis of the equal protection of the fourteenth amendment in the constitution. And maybe some in my community want to hold on to it, because it’s ours. Because our blood has been shed for the right to vote, and we jealously guard that as a re-affirmation of being American. And so we hold it, because no one can do civil rights and have civil rights better than we do. That’s emotional, but it is certainly not an analysis of the constitutional imperatives that face us. It’s a civil rights issue.

“Each side has an emotional story to tell. So I am not involved in that. But I am involved in how does this strip people of the equality under the law. And as an African-American and as a woman who would jealously guard all the civil rights struggles, this is a civil rights struggle on the magnitude and importance for the people who have died for the right to vote, for the people who have died to allow women the right to vote. And if I took a different stand, which would be a more traditional stand, that the community that identifies with me wants me to take, then I will have breached the tradition and the trust of the elders and the ancestors. And so I vote for the equality of marriage because I believe in the constitution.”

(emphasis mine.)

But I want to stress that I do believe in building coalitions. I also want to point you to two pieces here that say just that. One, by Tanya Domi, titled, “Wisconsin Union Uprising: Why This Is The LGBT Community’s Moment,” and the other, which will be published tomorrow morning, by Jay Morris, titled, “Building Coalitions: Is the Enemy Of My Enemy My Friend?

I think the black or African-American community has so much to teach us, and I am sad there is often division between our communities. We should rally and fight together, not fight each other.

And I want to stress that the title of the blog was never meant to be about exclusion, it was meant to let people know, because far fewer people two and a half years ago did, that our quest for marriage equality and equality in general is a civil rights issue, and we have every intention of fighting for equality and our civil rights until we get them. Along the way, we all should be fighting for everyone’s civil rights. That’s why I don’t limit my work here to LGBTQ issues.

# # #

So, dear readers and writers, what say you? Please, keep the comments, thoughts, ideas, along with the retweets and Facebook messages coming!

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘Ran a Bribery Center Blocks From the White House’: Comer Mocked for Claiming No Evidence of Trump Influence Peddling

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The powerful Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, James  Comer (R-KY) is being highly mocked after declaring he will investigate President Joe Biden for “influence peddling” despite admitting there’s little if any evidence President Biden has engaged in influence peddling.

When pressed, he pointed to Biden’s classified documents and one alleged email from Hunter Biden’s laptop.

But when pressed again by a frustrated CNN host, asking why he’s not investigating ex-president Donald Trump, he couldn’t offer a valid reason, except to claim there no evidence of it.

Some were quick to point out the Trump’s tenure in the White House was filled with alleged influence peddling operations.

Here’s Chairman Comer with CNN’s Pamela Brown on Sunday. While the transcript is a bit simplified, it’s not far off.

“What’s different with Joe Biden is we’re investigating the Biden family for influence peddling,” Comer said on CNN Sunday evening. “We have a strong suspicion that people around Joe Biden, mainly in his family, have been peddling access to the Biden family, with our adversaries around the world, and when we find out that they have multiple classified documents scattered throughout multiple residences and office buildings across the East Coast, then this raises a huge red flag for us. We want to make sure that those documents in the possession of Joe Biden weren’t somehow sent to our adversaries and didn’t somehow compromise our national security.”

READ MORE: The Powerful GOP Oversight Committee Chairman Is Pushing a Baseless Narrative That Biden Is ‘Compromised’

CNN’s Pamela Brown pushed back.

“But you’ve also talked about how you worried about the same situation with the Trump family. Trump had 300-plus documents at Mar-a-Lago, why don’t you have that same concern?” Brown asked. “I mean, there are visitors going in and out of Mar-a-Lago from different countries, including China, there’s been a Chinese spy who was arrested at Mar-a-Lago and it was in an unsecure location at Mar-a-Lago. So would you apply that same concern evenly across the board?

Comer was unimpressed with the facts she presented.

“If someone can show me evidence that there was influence peddling with those classified documents that were in the possession of President Trump, then we would certainly expect it.”

His defense for the Chinese spy? It’s a public place – making all the more dangerous for unsecured classified documents.

“Do you have evidence of influence peddling with the classified documents that was for Biden?” Brown asked. “It sounds like you don’t – you’re looking into it, but why wouldn’t you look into it in the same way for Trump?”

“We have evidence that the Biden family has been very cozy with people from the Chinese Communist Party. We have evidence that Hunter Biden was receiving payments that were that were linked directly to the Chinese Communist Party through those Chinese energy companies. We’re very concerned about all the money connected to Ukraine.”

“How is that connected to classified documents?” Brown again pushed.

READ MORE: Principal Ordered Librarian to Take Down Holocaust Survivor’s Famous Quote Just Days Before Holocaust Remembrance Day

“We don’t know we want to look. We see there’s one email that’s been identified that is suspicious that we want to look into. We want to make sure that there’s one email that was on Hunter Biden’s laptop wasn’t one of the classified documents. So I think there’s ample reason to be concerned.”

Comer revealed he has no evidence against President Biden or the Biden family.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) called it a “a politically-driven fishing expedition.”

“Republican hypocrisy on full display,” Gomez tweeted in response. “How can you launch an investigation without any evidence? This is a politically-driven fishing expedition — full stop. Lots of political stunts, not a lot of problem-solving.”

But, as several people noted, there is plenty of apparent evidence against Donald Trump.

HuffPost White House correspondent S.V. Dáte called Comer out: “Trump ran a bribery center five blocks from The White House,” he shouted, referring to the Trump D.C. Hotel, while tweeting in all-caps.

“Just a stunning dereliction of duty,” charged Robert Maguire, the research director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). “Trump brought in tens of millions of dollars as president from businesses he refused to divest, which were used by special interests and foreign governments to enrich him while currying favor with him and his administration.”

Telling Chairman Comer he is “happy to chat,” Mother Jones’ David Corn tweeted, “I know of 2 billion reasons Comer and the House Republicans should look at the Trump family regarding influence peddling and overseas dealings.”

Corn is likely referring to the $2 billion “investment” Trump son-in-law and senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner received.

“Six months after leaving the White House,” The New York Times reported last April, “Jared Kushner secured a $2 billion investment from a fund led by the Saudi crown prince, a close ally during the Trump administration, despite objections from the fund’s advisers about the merits of the deal.”

READ MORE: Criminal Charges Against Trump Possible as Manhattan DA Presents Grand Jury With Evidence in Hush Money Probe

MSNBC’s Steve Benen likened Comer’s interview to “watching a snake eat its own tail.” Benen also pointed to Comer’s second attempt, Monday morning, which did not go well.

Bloomberg’s Emily Wilkins, the Vice President of the National Press Club, apparently mistakenly, said to Comer: “So you are asking questions about Trump.”

He made clear he is not.

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Principal Ordered Librarian to Take Down Holocaust Survivor’s Famous Quote Just Days Before Holocaust Remembrance Day

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A Pennsylvania principal drew criticism last week after telling a Bucks County school librarian to take down posters with a famous quote by Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize winning human rights activist, professor, and Holocaust survivor, just days before Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Central Bucks School District reportedly has ties to an organization that appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of anti-LGBTQ hate groups.

Despite being under investigation by the U.S. Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights after an ACLU complaint, the Central Bucks School District earlier this month voted 6-3 to pass “a contentious policy that bans teachers from engaging in ‘advocacy activities’ and displaying inclusive symbols like Pride flags in their classrooms,” WHYY reported earlier this month.

Citing that new rule, known as Policy 321, the school principal told Central Bucks High School South librarian Matt Pecic to take down four posters that displayed Wiesel’s famous quote from his 1986 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, WHYY reports.

“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented,” Wiesel said.

READ MORE: $1 Billion Campaign From Group ‘Linked to Staunchly Conservative Causes’ Will Try to ‘Redeem Jesus’ Brand’ in Super Bowl Ads

The principal reportedly told Pecic if he did not comply human resources would have to get involved. Pecic, who has worked for the school district for three decades, met with the principal accompanied by his union representative.

“If I didn’t take it down, I knew there would be consequences that could impact me,” Pecic said. “It’s a horrible feeling. And you feel like you have to do something that you don’t agree with.”

Making the issue even more difficult, “Pecic’s ninth-grade daughter, a Central Bucks student at Holicong Middle School, originally emailed him the quote,” WHYY reports.

“This is where I get choked up,” Pecic said. “She said that ‘this quote reminds me of you.’”

Pecic describes himself as someone who often speaks up, “if I disagree with something, especially if I think it’s not for the benefit of students, I will say something.”

On Thursday, after uproar from the community, the district stepped in and allowed the posters with Wiesel’s quote to be put back up.

READ MORE: Trump-Aligned Christian Nationalist Group ‘Taps Into Unholy Well’ That Threatens Democracy

“We regret that the decision was made to remove it,” the district said in a statement, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported,  “and in a manner that promotes not only the importance of the novel, but continued awareness and education surrounding the Holocaust and its National Day of Remembrance this coming Friday. The district apologizes for any hurt or concerns this has caused, particularly for those in the Jewish community.”

The Central Bucks School District hired a public relations firm, Devine + Partners, at the cost of $15,000 a month, “in an attempt to repair strained public relations and improve the school district’s image,” The Buck’s County Herald reported last summer.

Devine + Partners was hired to help after “a series of executive decisions made by the Central Bucks School District, most of which appear targeted towards the LGBTQ+ student body.”

“This includes the removal of Pride Flags in the classroom, under the justification that they were political symbols, and as such, not fit for the classroom. It also includes only allowing students to attend Human Growth and Development classes that matched with their assigned genders at birth, and pausing said classes shortly after they began, effectively outing these students to their teachers and peers.”

READ MORE: McCarthy Sat for an Interview With Trump Jr. – One Bragged About an ‘Illegal’ Act, One Wished His Dad Would ‘Show Some’ Love

WHYY is a separate report notes on Monday that the Central Bucks School District has ties to an anti-LGBTQ hate group, the Family Research Council.

The district is currently reviewing five books after rolling out a new, harsh policy “which aims to keep books that a yet-to-be-determined group might deem ‘inappropriate’ for unspecified ‘sexualized content’ out of school libraries,” WHYY reported in July.

“Recent updates to the policy were reviewed by a conservative Christian law firm, Independence Law Center, as first reported by the Bucks County Courier Times,” WHYY adds. “The Independence Law Center is the legal arm of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which is a statewide branch of the national organization Family Research Council, an anti-LGBTQ Christian nationalist group designated as an extremist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

Earlier this month NBC 10 Philadelphia reported on the passage of Policy 321 by the school board. Watch below or at this link.

 

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News

Criminal Charges Against Trump Possible as Manhattan DA Presents Grand Jury With Evidence in Hush Money Probe

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Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has empaneled a special grand jury and prosecutors are now presenting evidence against Donald Trump in their revived investigation into hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and one other woman during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Calling it “a dramatic escalation of an inquiry that once appeared to have reached a dead end,” The New York Times reports the Manhattan DA is “laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months,” and says it “a clear signal” that Bragg “is nearing a decision about whether to charge Mr. Trump.”

Among the witnesses testifying is David Pecker, “the former publisher of The National Enquirer, the tabloid that helped broker the deal” with Daniels.

READ MORE: $1 Billion Campaign From Group ‘Linked to Staunchly Conservative Causes’ Will Try to ‘Redeem Jesus’ Brand’ in Super Bowl Ads

Prosecutors have also contacted members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and have subpoenaed phone records and other documents that could provide evidence.

But The Times notes that a “conviction is not a sure thing, in part because a case could hinge on showing that Mr. Trump and his company falsified records to hide the payout from voters days before the 2016 election, a low-level felony charge that would be based on a largely untested legal theory. The case would also rely on the testimony of Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer who made the payment and who himself pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the hush money in 2018.”

Cohen broke with Trump and in 2016, “made the extraordinary admission in court on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had directed him to arrange payments to two women during the 2016 campaign to keep them from speaking publicly about affairs they said they had with Mr. Trump,” The Times reported in 2018.

The payments were made “for the principal purpose of influencing the election” for president in 2016, Cohen testified.

He was sentenced to 36 months in prison.

“Days before then-President Donald Trump left the White House, federal prosecutors in New York discussed whether to potentially charge Trump with campaign finance crimes once he was out of office,” CNN reported on Friday, citing a new book from CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

But they “decided to not seek an indictment of Trump for several reasons, Honig writes, including the political ramifications and the fact that Trump’s other scandals, such as efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and the January 6, 2021, insurrection, ‘made the campaign finance violations seem somehow trivial and outdated by comparison.'”

Award-winning journalist and author Brian Karem tweeted: “As someone who worked extensively with [Michael Cohen] on the book ‘Revenge’ I can say this: Facts show that the MOST dangerous criminal case against Donald Trump could be made by the Manhattan D.A.”

Read The Times’ full report here.

This article has been updated to include Brian Karem’s tweet.

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