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Marriage Equality with a Side of Fries

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Marriage equality, LGBT immigration, the challenges same-sex married binational couples and their families face — and what marriage really means. Columnist David W. Ross explains.

Yes. I was your atypical waiter/writer/actor in L.A. But I was actually happy to be waiting tables. It meant I could focus on my writing during the day and have the time to do my homework for acting class. Yes, you can actually have homework for acting class. Quinceañera, a film I was in, had won Sundance a few months earlier and I was trying to get used to people gushing over the film (as they should, it was amazing!) and then me having to ask them if they wanted fries or salad with their burger. I was proud of the film, so it wasn’t as painful as it sounds, and I had experienced a similar thing in my early twenties in London when I had opted to work in a juice bar and journalists from my boy band days (the ones that had me on the cover were the most embarrassed) would come in and sheepishly order a carrot and ginger or banana strawberry.

This past week I was listening to NPR’s “To The Point” on KCRW radio. Warren Olney, the host, and his guests were talking about the President’s recent speech on immigration reform. They argued about the DREAM Act, the Hispanic vote and the fact that deportations are up 70% under Obama (specifically, convicted criminals). Not once did they mention LGBT immigration issues. Neither did the President, mind you. Which was obviously a bone of contention for many LGBT immigration advocates.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said, “The president delivered this speech because he wants a constructive and civil debate on the need to fix the broken immigration system so that it meets America’s economic and security needs for the 21st century,” and finished off with, “It is fundamental for America to win the future. His remarks are not meant to be a laundry list of all the issues that immigration reform should address.”

Ouch. Laundry list. That smarted a little. Is LGBT immigration just a bullet point on a laundry list? Tell that to my friend Craig, who’s about to be deported because America (thank you, DOMA,) doesn’t recognize his U.K. marriage so his husband (whose job relocated them to New York) can’t sponsor him with a visa or green card.

Or my friends who have a family, two teenage boys, and face the threat of a knock on the door from ICE at any moment. The stress of raising two teenage boys on a relationship is one thing, but add deportation at any moment and that’s a fine mix of top stressors.

 


Now, do I want to say one day that I’m married, even if it’s still not legal? Yes. Because the word has gravitas and meaning in our culture. It means, to me, that I’ve made a commitment to someone. That I have created family with someone. That I have promised myself till death do us part. I’m into the more classic wedding vows… But maybe we shouldn’t call it marriage until it’s the same as the other marriage.



 

Now, I’m not about to rail on the President about this. I understand marriage equality, politically, is a difficult and delicate subject in this country. What I was a little miffed about and have been for several months now, is the lack of media coverage of the LGBT experience. There has been a flurry of mentions, especially when USCIS decided to halt deportations for about 24 hours in March and a little recently when the deportation of Henry Velandia, a Venezuelan who is married to an American, had his deportation put on hold by a judge in a New Jersey immigration court, the day after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder set aside a ruling in a similar case.

But I’m constantly surprised when media outlets, (especially, for example, Warren Olney’s show this past week on NPR,) fail to mention the LGBT issue, as it relates to immigration. I realize it’s a small part of a larger issue in this country but it would have been nice to hear Warren mention the fact that there are over 30,000 bi-national couples living in this country, with over 40% of them having families. It would have been nice to hear that mentioned along side the DREAM Act and alligators in moats.

But then I have to remember, we’re just a bullet point at this point.

Maybe when we all realize the full extent of the rights missing from same-sex marriage in this country, and the human cost of laws like DOMA. Maybe then we’ll no longer be just a bullet point on Washington’s agenda.

I had a lot of regular customers at the restaurant I worked at. For most of that time I was working on “I DO,” the script I’m about to go into pre-production for (A “gay green card movie,” that highlights immigration rights for bi-national couples). Many regulars would ask me how it was going. I would recount tales of writhing on the floor, chewing my shoes, crying for hours begging my muse to let me in on her secret for what the film should “really” be about. Many times, these smart, well-educated men would joke and say they’d marry me if I needed a green card. I would just smile and say, “I’m good, thank you, but even if I did need a green card you still couldn’t marry me to keep me in the country.”

They would always look a little perplexed, “What about Massachusetts?” “We could relocate to the East coast but that still wouldn’t do it.” Then I would have to explain that immigration is a federal level right not afforded to same-sex couples. Marriage equality exists only on a state level now, and there are over 1,300 federal level rights missing. Would you like fries or salad with that burger?

It’s been amazing to work on the film and meet so many people who have been fighting for decades on the issue of LGBT immigration. I set up a campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for the film and because of that I’ve heard hundreds of stories of families being ripped apart, by time (months apart waiting for paperwork), space (Americans having to move to a country that has equal rights for same-sex marriage, leaving their birth families here in the U.S.) or Immigration & Customs Enforcement (the constant threat of a knock on the door, or mail with terrible news). Many have emailed me saying, “thank you” for writing a movie that we all hope will raise awareness for the issue. But my issue is that not enough of the LGBT community really knows just how many rights are lacking from lack of legal, state and federally-recognized civil marriage equality.

You hear the word “marriage” and you assume that it covers everything. It doesn’t. Maybe we should call it same-sex unions, or homoriage… (OK, that was terrible). But calling it “marriage” at this stage is confusing to everyone. Not to mention gasoline for the flame that is religion.

Now, do I want to say one day that I’m married, even if it’s still not legal? Yes. Because the word has gravitas and meaning in our culture. It means, to me, that I’ve made a commitment to someone. That I have created family with someone. That I have promised myself till death do us part (I’m into the more classic wedding vows.) But maybe we shouldn’t call it marriage until it’s the same as the other marriage. You know, the straight peoples’ thing. When it has all the rights, rules and privileges that a marriage should provide. Until then the fight isn’t just for the word, it’s not just for white poofy dresses or walking down the aisle in a “hetrocentric” ceremony (my friends always argue about why we should be fighting for a heterosexual institution.) It’s for protection. For family. For basic human rights.

“Two Words Can Change Everything,” is my film’s tag line, but I often wonder if I should change it to “Two Words Should Change Everything.” Being the romantic that I am, I think I prefer the first. But I’m always hopeful for the second.

 

David W. Ross is best known for the 2006 Sundance smash Quinceañera and mid-nineties chart topping boy band Bad Boys Inc. After traveling the world, David has made L.A. his home where he has penned his first feature, “I DO,” a character-driven “gay green card” movie highlighting marriage inequality.

Read David W. Ross’s most-recent previous piece at The New Civil Rights Movement, “If You Don’t Help, This Film About Same-Sex Binational Couples Won’t Get Made.”

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OPINION

‘Stop Bringing Up Nazis and Hitler’: Marjorie Taylor Greene Smacked Down by Democrats

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U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene was strongly criticized by two Democratic Congressmen after the Georgia Republican’s remarks about “Ukrainian Nazis” and her attempts to paint Ukrainians as Nazis.

“Stop bringing up Nazis and Hitler,” U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) urged, after Greene’s remarks suggesting there is a large Nazi problem in Ukraine, during a House Oversight Committee hearing. “The only people who know about Nazis and Hitler are the 10 million people and their families who lost their loved ones, generations of people who were wiped out. It is enough of this disgusting behavior, using Nazis as propaganda. You want to talk about Nazis, get yourself over to the Holocaust Museum. You go see what Nazis did. It’s despicable that we use that and we allow it and we sit here like somehow it’s regular.”

Moskowitz began by telling the Committee his “grandparents escaped the Holocaust.”

“So my grandmother was part of the Kindertransport out of Germany. Her parents were killed in Auschwitz. My grandfather, her husband escaped Poland, from the pogroms,” he continued.

READ MORE: ‘Used by the Russians’: Moskowitz Mocks Comer’s Biden Impeachment Failure

“There are no concentration camps in Ukraine. They’re not taking babies and shooting them in the air ’cause they’re Jewish. There’s no gas chambers. There’s no ovens. They’re not railing people in, they’re not ripping gold out of people’s mouth. They’re not taking stuff out of their home. They’re not trying to erase a people. They’re Ukrainians.”

Greene’s remarks over the weekend had caused anger.

“It’s antisemitic to make Israeli aid contingent on funding Ukrainian Nazis,” Congresswoman Greene declared Sunday from her official government social media account, as legislation to support Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan moved to the top of Speaker Mike Johnson’s priority list in the wake of Iran’s attack on Israel. Her implication appeared to be Ukrainians are Nazis – a Putin talking point.

Greene on Wednesday spent several minutes again implying there are many Nazis in Ukraine, as she was refuted by a top scholar, Yale professor of history Timothy Snyder. Dr. Snyder is the author of a dozen books, including two on Nazis and the Holocaust, and is an expert on the Holocaust, Central and Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union, and serves on the Council on Foreign Relations.

Responding to Greene’s remarks, Snyder told the lawmakers, “no far-right party has ever crossed three percent” in a Ukrainian election.

READ MORE: ‘Scared to Death’: GOP Ex-Congressman Brings Hammer Down on ‘Weak’ Trump

Greene was also criticized by U.S. Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL), who called her out for her “hypocrisy” and reminded her that in 2022 she “spoke at event led by white supremacists.”

That event was hosted by white supremacist Nick Fuentes:

Watch the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Big Journalism Fail’: Mainstream Media Blasted Over Coverage of Historic Trump Trial

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News

‘Used by the Russians’: Moskowitz Mocks Comer’s Biden Impeachment Failure

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After Democratic House Oversight Committee Ranking Member Jamie Raskin blasted Republican Chairman Jim Comer, declaring “somebody needs therapy here” during a heated verbal brawl Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL) mockingly urged committee members to come together to “begin Comer’s therapy session.”

In a viral three-minute walkthrough of the discredited far-right wing chairman’s efforts, including making false claims and use, as Moskowitz noted, Russian disinformation to try to build a case against President Joe Biden, the Florida Democrat appeared to put the final nail in the impeachment coffin.

Moskowitz told the committee members Chairman Comer has to “face the fact that he was taken by the Russians,” and “was used by the Russians.” He also noted the committee has “already lost” Comer “to Russian propaganda.”

“I mean, we got to build a forcefield around the Chairman to make sure we don’t lose him to Chinese propaganda as well.”

READ MORE: ‘Big Journalism Fail’: Mainstream Media Blasted Over Coverage of Historic Trump Trial

Moskowitz made clear, through his well-known wit, that Comer “no longer has impeachment” as an option to use against President Biden.

The video has gone viral, with over 175,000 views in just over one hour.

Read the transcript of Moskowitz’s remarks and watch the video below or at this link.

“Let me start by saying, obviously Chairman Comer’s not here, but I think in light of what we witnessed earlier, I think it’s important that together as a committee that we begin, Chairman Comer’s therapy session, right. You know, a member of the other side wanted to confirm what the title of the hearing was, right, Chinese propaganda. Well, we know the title of the hearing certainly isn’t about impeachment anymore. And Chairman Comer has suffered tremendous loss, and we all know in our life, what it’s like to suffer tremendous loss. There’s all sorts of different stages of grief and that’s the loss obviously, of his of his impeachment hearing. And everyone deals with that in different ways and sometimes it takes time to grieve and struggle and and fill that hole that void that now exists now that he no longer has impeachment.”

“The only way we as a committee are going to help Chairman Comer get better is we have to get to the root cause. Right? So for today’s therapy session, okay, I want to talk about denial. Right? The denial that the impeachment hearings are over, and the denial, obviously, that he started with the 1023 form, which was Russian disinformation. And so, you know, Chairman Comer’s psychology teaches us that, you know, someone might be like him, using denial as a defense mechanism. And signs include that you refuse to talk about the problem. You find ways to justify your behavior, you blame other people or outside forces for causing the problem. You persist in your behavior by consequences. You promise to address the problem, maybe in the future, or you avoid thinking about the problem. And so in addition to these signs that Chairman comer has been displaying, as we saw at the beginning, he also might be feeling hopeless or helpless.”

READ MORE: ‘Scared to Death’: GOP Ex-Congressman Brings Hammer Down on ‘Weak’ Trump

“I just want the chairman to know that we’re pulling for him. We really we really are. I know, I know. It’s been hard to become someone who was used by the Russians. But the good news is, is that he’s this hearing today on Chinese propaganda, because we’ve already lost him to Russian propaganda. I mean, we got to build a forcefield around the chairman to make sure we don’t lose him to Chinese propaganda, as well.”

“In fact, you can see behind me, these are quotes from the chairman, Chairman Comer. Every single solitary time and there are hundreds more that he went on TV in interviews and talked about this 1023 form, which was all Russian disinformation. But we gotta make the Chairman understand that it’s going to be okay. We will get him through this, but he’s got to recognize, gotta recognize that denial is not just a river in Egypt. He’s gonna have to face the fact that he was taken by the Russians.”

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OPINION

‘Big Journalism Fail’: Mainstream Media Blasted Over Coverage of Historic Trump Trial

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The media’s ability to shape public opinion is well-documented, and by the end of the second day of the first criminal trial in history of a former U.S. president critics are slamming the content, framing, and focus of mainstream media organizations. The biggest concerns: refusing to cover the former president’s apparent inability to stay awake in court, too much identifying information of potential and chosen jurors, and even subtle descriptions that can be used to feed into false perceptions the trial is “unfair” or, as the ex-president likes to say, a “scam.”

Overnight, CNN’s Oliver Darcy’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter blasted mainstream media outlets that “strangely show little interest in reporting on Donald Trump’s courtroom naps.”

“Imagine, for a moment, if President Joe Biden were to be caught openly sleeping at an important hearing,” Darcy posits. Trump was caught “nodding” off repeatedly several times over the first two days of trial (there is not trial Wednesdays). “Then imagine it were to occur at another important hearing the next day. Not only would right-wing media outlets like Fox News run wild with coverage questioning his fitness for office, mainstream news organizations would no doubt also treat the snooze fest as a serious news story. But, for some unknown reason, Donald Trump falling asleep at his historic criminal trial in New York (as he apparently did, again, on Tuesday) has been met with a rather muted response.”

READ MORE: SCOTUS Justices Appear to Want to Toss Obstruction Charges Against Some J6 Defendants: Experts

Noting, “It’s important,” Darcy asks, “why has much of the press fallen asleep at the wheel?” and serves up some examples – or lack thereof.

“ABC News and NBC News didn’t even bother mentioning it on their evening newscasts and many major outlets haven’t even filed straight stories on it. To be frank, if not for The NYT’s Maggie Haberman reporting on the matter Tuesday, it’s unclear whether the public — which is relying on news organizations to be its eyes and ears in the courtroom, given cameras are barred — would know about it.”

“It’s all the more bizarre given that Trump has made attacking ‘sleepy Joe’ a central tenet of his campaign, framing the president as lacking the stamina to serve in the nation’s highest office. Which is to say, the fact that Trump is the one apparently unable to stay awake in his own criminal trial isn’t a trivial story.”

Jennifer Schulze, a media critic who was a Chicago Sun-Times executive producer, WGN news director, and adjunct college professor of journalism, pointing to Darcy’s criticism, calls it “a big journalism fail.”

READ MORE: ‘Scared to Death’: GOP Ex-Congressman Brings Hammer Down on ‘Weak’ Trump

The ex-president is facing 34 felony counts for falsification of business records when he paid hush money to an adult film actress then allegedly tried to cover it up, which some say is election interference.

New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan is overseeing the Trump trial, and ordered the identities of all jurors and prospective jurors to remain anonymous. Trump has a proven track record of alleged attempts to intimidate witnesses, judges, prosecutors, and others involved in his trials.

Some are concerned the media went too far in posting and publishing some possibly identifying information internet sleuths could use to piece together their names.

“There is seriously far, far too much identifying information about prospective jurors, several of whom are now empaneled, coming out in the press,” warned attorney and author Luppe B. Luppen.

Here’s how Fox News host Jesse Watters used that information to target one empaneled juror, while attempting to discredit the trial.

Fox News’ Sean Hannity went after “Juror Number One,” who is the foreperson.

It is not just Fox News targeting jurors.

Even The New York Times’ coverage of jurors drew the ire of critics.

READ MORE: ‘Your Client Is a Criminal Defendant’: Judge Denies Trump Request to Skip Trial for SCOTUS

Here’s how The Times’ Jonah Bromwich reported on the jury foreperson:

“The foreperson who was just selected — that’s juror one, the de facto leader of the group who will likely help steer deliberations — works in sales and enjoys the outdoors. He is originally from Ireland, but will help decide the former American president’s fate.”

University of Wisconsin—Madison professor of political science, who has a Ph.D. in Government, criticized the Times’ reporting.

“100% certain if the foreperson were native born, they would not have written this sentence and used the formulation of ‘former president’ subtly implying the foreperson from Ireland is somehow not a real American.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

 

 

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