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It’s Time The Most Diverse Group In History Became One

 

 

As an independent voice in LGBT politics, I have the luxury and the responsibility to support those ideas that bring us closer to our goals. I received an email yesterday from Tacoma Washington resident and Board Chair of Tacoma Rainbow Center, Willie Painter. In it, he addresses an issue I have struggled with over the past few months: our diversity, which is our greatest strength, is under-utilized, untapped, and, as a result, is becoming our Achilles heel. Our diversity has led us to our recent wins in Vermont, Maine, even Iowa, but is also inhibiting our ability to address challenges with one clear voice in the battlegrounds of New Hampshire, New York, and especially California. In fact, California has become the “Groundhog Day” in our fight for equality: we continue to loose there, over and over, and we will continue to do so until we figure out how to move our message forward.

It’s no secret we lost California because we didn’t talk to the right people, use the right words, or use our greatest strength: our selves. That’s changing, and, while the travesty that is Proposition 8 has won and won again, we are moving towards the right message. But our adversaries are waging an all-out war, using the most heinous of all weapons: lies told about children, using children. It’s time we call NOM and others on this ugly tactic.

We have simple truths: we are the faceless, nameless, average, ordinary citizens who live simple lives, unknown to most, and we are the superstars of stage and screen, science, and services. Many of us want families, and children, and many of us do not. There is a strong meme wafting about the Internet right now, bemoaning the gentrification and assimilation of our outliers, our most colorful and unique members. But the more we wage these battles within our group, the more we risk taking our eye off the ball. Already, this week, we let the media control the conversation: instead of focusing our energies on next week’s fight in New Hampshire, or the three weeks left in our New York battle, or the work left to do on the Hate Crimes Bill, we let our anger over a lost Proposition 8 move our efforts. Now, we risk two losses: the one we have already lost over and over in California, and, in my opinion, the more important battle in New Hampshire. Why more important? Because our battle in New Hampshire was won, by the people already there. They won the war the right way: by being themselves, convincing their friends and neighbors without outside armies. And, since 2003, the majority of New Hampshire voters support gay marriage. For us to loose a tangible result of the battle in which we have already won hearts and minds is inexcusable.

All this brings me back to where I started. I received an email yesterday from Willie Painter, a man I have never met, never spoken with, and until yesterday had never even heard of. We have exchanged a few emails now. And now, I will share with you his message. And following it, the thoughts of two of our better-known LGBT orgainzations: Freedom To Marry, and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Dear LGBTQ organization leaders:

In the past 24 hours, I have been solicited for donations by Human Rights Campaign, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, my state’s local Equal Rights Washington, and a handful of others! All these aforementioned organizations have communicated their opinions regarding the California Supreme Court’s decision in response to Prop. 8. All these aforementioned organizations have made a plea for funds to enable them to advocate on behalf of LGBTQ people in the fight for marriage equality. However, in all of these communications, there has been no indication that these wonderful, like-minded organizations (and presumably many other federal and state LGBTQ organizations with a mission that seeks equality under the law for LGBTQ citizens) are collaborating and using donations in a collective, leveraging way to most effectively fight for equality on behalf of all those of us who desire and seek to get married and have marriage rights legally recognized in every state, throughout the United States.

We are strongest when we collaborate, when like-minded organizations are completely transparent with one another and their respective stakeholders, and when donors know that their donations are maximized by the leveraged use of their precious funds. I believe that we will soon see a day when LGBTQ people have the same legal rights as their heterosexual counterparts in every state. That day will come much sooner when all LGBTQ organizations commit and actively work together in ways that leverage the collective power of their respective supporters/volunteers/donors. So, that is a challenge I offer to all those in leadership positions of our LGBTQ organizations throughout the United States. And I, hopefully just like all the other hundreds of thousands of US citizens just like me, want our day, the day of true and actual equality, to come sooner rather than later. And I am confident that the hundred of thousands of US citizens just like me will become more actively involved than ever when LGBTQ organizations throughout the United States unite on this common front that will define this remarkable period in our humanity.

I ask you leaders to strongly consider holding a summit to tie the bond that your respective organizations share–equality. Please seek to find a way to most effectively and collaboratively advocate on behalf of us LGBTQ people in the United States who, perhaps more than ever before, need your leadership during this pivotal time of our shared future, soon to be our shared history. Let’s together make the transition from future to history one that we can all be proud of.

Sincerely,

Willie Painter

I reached out to a few friends in the LGBTQ arena. I’m grateful to them for their responses:

“While we know all of our partners in the movement for the freedom to marry work hard to collaborate, it’s also true that there should be more.  With the progress recently achieved in the number of states joining Massachusetts and Connecticut in embracing marriage and the increasing efforts being made by our opponents to slow that progress through fear and innuendo, now is clearly the time for us all to work together as closely and forcefully as possible.  We need to win more states and build the climate for change nationally, and that will only happen if we all individually talk about why marriage matters with our friends and family, neighbors and colleagues while helping to support a co-ordinated, collaborative movement of partner organizations, both gay and non-gay, in the struggle to end discrimination in marriage. “   —  Evan Wolfson, Freedom To Marry

“We agree that a collaborating movement is a stronger movement! The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has worked with numerous LGBT and non-LGBT organizations over the last 36 years. While each LGBT organization makes a unique contribution to our movement, we are proud of our extensive history of collaborative initiatives. For example, we:
work in partnership with SAGE (the premier LGBT organization working on aging issues) to address LGBT aging concerns and we receive collaborative funding for this work;
work in ongoing coalition with many national LGBT advocacy organizations in lobbying for pro-LGBT legislation and administration policy changes;
have hosted for over a decade the National Policy Roundtable (over 35 national LGBT organizations coordinating policy work and sharing strategies) and the National Religious Leadership Roundtable (a convening of over 65 faith leaders working to counter religious-based bigotry and promote understanding of and respect for LGBT people);
worked side by side with state, local and national organizations to win marriage equality in Massachusetts and Maine, and work with states across the country on nondiscrimination measures and marriage equality. And we have worked in partnership with organizations in California for over five years on marriage equality.
Our National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change has been called the “Town Square of the Movement,” where our colleagues come together to strategize about collaborative efforts, share resources and hone new skills and technologies. We invite advocates and activists from across the country to join us for next year’s Creating Change in Dallas, Texas.

We are honored to collaborate with so many talented and dynamic organizations.”
—  Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

For the record, I agree with Willie: It’s time our LGBTQ organizations find a way to work together, publicly, to move the ball forward. Our diversity is most effective when it’s leveraged. Together.

So, what’s your thought? How do you feel our leaders are serving us? What do you feel are the necessary next steps for us to achieve full equality, in marriage and civil rights, for all LGBTQ peoples?

(image: thms.nl)

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'ABSOLUTE MASTERCLASS'

Texas AG Ken Paxton’s office “dysfunctional” with child porn and shady political dealings

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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is running for a third term in office while facing civil and criminal fraud charges for allegedly handly sketchy trade deals, giving office positions to donors, and trying to overturn the 2020 election.

However, a new Associated Press (AP) story paints Paxton’s office as highly political and dysfunctional.

Paxton’s office botched “Operation Fallen Angel,” an investigation that indicted six men on allegations of forcing teen girls to “exchange sexual contact for crystal methamphetamine.” Paxton’s office largely dropped the charges because they lost track of their key witness.

Another prosecutor said he quit Paxton’s office in January after supervisors pressured him to withhold evidence in a murder case, the AP wrote.

Eight of Paxton’s top deputies quit or were fired in autumn 2020 after they went to the FBI to accuse Paxton of using his office to help a donor who had employed a woman that Paxton admitted to having an extramarital affair with. The FBI’s investigation is ongoing.

The AP story notes that Paxton gave a senior role to a California attorney who gave him $10,000 to fight his 2015 securities fraud indictment. Paxton also hired Tom Gleason, a former police officer whose father donated $50,000 to Paxton’s legal defense. Gleason was given a job advising Paxton on child exploitation as well as Medicaid and voter fraud.

Gleason was fired less than two months into his new job. Paxton’s office didn’t explain why, but “three people with knowledge of the matter” told the AP that, during a work presentation at the agency’s Austin headquarters, Gleason played a video of “a man raping a small child” to highlight the difficult work facing child abuse investigators.

“It was met with outrage and caused the meeting to quickly dissolve,” the AP wrote. “Afterward, Paxton’s top deputy, Brent Webster, told staff not to talk about what happened.”

The AP also wrote that before Texas’ March primary elections, Amber Platt, a deputy over criminal justice cases, held a meeting asking lawyers in Paxton’s offices about which upcoming cases that would best help his reelection chances.

Despite all this, Paxton has a five-point lead over his Democratic opponent, Rochelle Garza.

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'BRUTAL'

Russia is torturing civilians in camps around eastern Ukraine

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The Russian military has established 10 torture sites in the eastern city of Izium, Ukraine, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Torture is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

Eight men died killed under torture in Russian custody, the AP wrote. All but one were civilians.

Russian forces captured Andriy Kotsar, tied him up, and threw him for several days in a trench covered with wooden boards. They beat his legs and arms and smashed his knees with a hammer. They then took his ID and passport so that he would find it hard to prove his identity, get help, or escape.

Russian forces captured him two more times after that. The torture was worse both times, Kotsar said.

“Russian torture in Izium was arbitrary, widespread, and absolutely routine for both civilians and soldiers throughout the city,” the Associated Press investigation found. The torture included waterboarding and electrocution, among other pain-inducing methods.

Mykola Mosyaky, a 38-year-old Ukrainian soldier, was handcuffed, thrown in a pit of dirty water, and hung by the wrists until his skin went numb.

“They beat me with sticks. They hit me with their hands, they kicked me, they put out cigarettes on me, they pressed matches on me,” he stated. “They said, ‘Dance,’ but I did not dance. So they shot my feet.”

Dr. Yuriy Kuznetsov, an emergency room physician in Izium, said that Ukrainians are showing up to his hospital with torture-related injuries, including “gunshots to their hands and feet, broken bones and severe bruising, and burns.” The victims never say how they got their injuries, worried about retaliation if they do.

A father and son who were both tortured said they could hear women’s screams every night as Russian soldiers raped them in a nearby garage.

Russians showed one local woman the body of her battered, unconscious soldier husband, pressuring her to provide information that she knew nothing about.

At least 30 bodies taken from a mass grave in the city showed “visible marks of torture,” including “bound hands, close gunshot wounds, knife wounds, and broken limbs.”

“[Torture] serves three purposes,” said Rachel Denber of Human Rights Watch. “Torture came with questions to coerce information, but it is also to punish and to sow fear. It is to send a chilling message to everyone else.”

On September 30,  Russia held sham referendums in the eastern Ukrainian territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson. While the referendums sought to cede the territories to Russia, their outcomes were pre-determined by Russia as a way to basically lay claim to the territories.

The U.S. called the referendums illegal and also authorized an additional $12 billion in military aid to Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said of the referendums, “Recently, someone somewhere held pseudo-referendums, and when the Ukrainian flag is returned, no one remembers the Russian farce with some pieces of paper and some annexations. Except, of course, law enforcement agencies of Ukraine. Because everyone who is involved in any elements of aggression against our state will be accountable for it. And I thank everyone who brings these moments of victory closer, who returns the Ukrainian flag to its rightful place on Ukrainian land.”

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'APPARENTLY INEBRIATED'

Supreme Court refuses to protect Mike Lindell from a billion dollar defamation lawsuit

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The Supreme Court just started its new term, and among its first act, it refused to hear an appeal from Mike Lindell — the conspiracy theorist, supporter of former President Donald Trump, and MyPillow CEO — who wanted the court to throw out a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against him.

The lawsuit was filed by Dominion Voting Systems, a manufacturer of voting machines, to litigate against Lindell for his repeated claims that their machinery played a role in “stealing” the 2020 election from Trump. He made his claims on Fox News and various media and social media outlets.

In response to Dominion’s lawsuit, Lindell filed a countersuit accusing the voting machine company of using the court system to “silence Lindell’s and others’ political speech about election fraud and the role of electronic voting machines in it.”

His countersuit also accused the company of “waging lawsuit warfare on private citizens…under the auspices of ‘defending election integrity’…[rather than] fixing their notoriously and demonstrably insecure voting machines.” The lawsuit said the company had “embarked on a concerted, collective enterprise to extort silence from their dissenters or bring financial ruin on any and all who persist in speaking their minds.”

In August 2021, Lindell held a public “cyber symposium” which, he said, would show undeniable proof about how voting machines helped steal the 2020 election.

Rob Graham, a cyber expert who attended the symposium, said, “[Lindell] gave us experts NOTHING today, except random garbage that wastes our time.” Graham said the Lindell had promised to give cyber experts who attended the symposium “packet captures from the November 2020 election could be unencrypted to reveal evidence of voter fraud.” Graham said those packets were never provided.

Fox News refused to run advertisements about the symposium. Lindell was accused of using the symposium as nothing more than to try and maintain relevance and continue the narrative about the “stolen election.”

Several months after the 2020 election, Lindell claimed that Trump would return as president by August. 2021 Lindell said this would occur either through Supreme Court rulings or “two other bonus pathways” involving vote audits in states that Trump lost in 2020.

Lindell said that once the Supreme Court considers his evidence of voter fraud, the justices will unanimously rule 9-0 in favor of allowing Trump to become president once again.

Lindell was wrong.

 

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