Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Taxpayers foot bill to ghettoize gays

It seems that something terrible has happened -- society has become too gay-friendly. So gay-friendly, in fact, that same-sex couples and families are moving out of gay ghettos like San Francisco's Castro district into "straight" neighborhoods. Well, something's got to be done about that. And the taxpayers should have to pay for it.

The city, meanwhile, is spending $100,000 on a plan aimed at keeping the area's gay identity intact.

Wow, isn't that thoughtful of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors? I wonder why they're being so generous with the taxpayers' money.

"Having a specific neighborhood politicians can point to, can go to and shake hands or kiss lesbian babies, has really solidified the gay vote, our political muscle," said longtime community activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca at a forum in November.

No kidding.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Baseball Player Pee -- More Important To Democrats Than LGBT Rights

Wow, you'd figure after receiving a thorough evisceration over their lousy excuses on gay rights, the Democrats would stop damaging themselves.

Then again, this is the party led by Howard Dean, who seems addicted to the flavor of his own foot.

Yesterday, I mentioned Democrats' claim that, while they'd love to focus on gay rights, there are more pressing concerns. Those "pressing concerns" included building monuments on remote islands, naming federal buildings, and banning internet gambling. But now Democrats are getting ready to step up to a new, even more important issue. . . steroid use in baseball:

Giants slugger Barry Bonds and other baseball players under suspicion of using performance enhancing drugs have been asked by Major League Baseball's lead steroids investigator to turn over medical records and submit to interviews.

A letter urging the cooperation of Bonds and other players was sent Feb. 1 by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who is leading baseball's steroids inquiry. The letter, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, was accompanied by medical waiver forms that, if signed, would allow investigators to view Bonds' and other players medical records.

Members of Congress have told Mitchell they might might intervene if baseball's own investigation is hampered by lack of player cooperation.

Apparently, our esteemed Congresscritters in Nancy Pelosi's House of Representatives are planning lengthy public hearings -- complete with subpoenas -- to demand that baseball players submit their private medical records, as well as urine samples, to the Major League Baseball corporations to "clear the air."

Where are the hearings on gays in the military -- such as the two-dozen gay linguists fluent in Arabic who were fired at a time of huge shortages in linguists, simply because they're gay? Completely off the table.

Is Ms. Pelosi planning on subpoenaing anti-gay state officials who are breaking up gay families in Oklahoma or voiding health care benefits for LGBT public employees in Michigan? Not hardly.

What about debating the impact that the federal DOMA, with its blanket ban on recognition of democratically-decided state gay partnership bills, like in Connecticut? Not in this lifetime, buddy.

Simply put, Democrats from Howard Dean all the way down the line are demonstrating through their actions that they don't give a whit about gay equality in any area.

It's so pathetic that it reads like something out of a Saturday Night Live parody, but amazingly, it's completely true. The new Democratic Congress under Nancy Pelosi is more focused on subPEEnaing jars of urine from baseball players than in protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens.

That should make for an interesting campaign issue come 2008, no?

Then again, I guess it is a small positive change. Washington's political class will be demanding someone else's urine, rather than spraying theirs all over the populace.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

"Now is not the time for gay issues to divert attention from our important work."

How many times have we heard that title quote from Democrats (and "gay-friendly Republicans" before them)?

Probably thousands of times.

Whenever we as LGBT people (or especially LGBT Libertarians) point out that Democrats and Republicans should support laws to treat gays and lesbians equally under the law, we're told that gay people are "selfish" for wanting to put our "special interest issues" ahead of "more important things."

Apparently, the constitutional rights of millions of Americans are now "special interest issues."

Meanwhile, just what is this "important work" that's taking up so much of Congressional time? Obviously, this stuff must be vital national security stuff -- perhaps averting an attack.

Or balancing the federal budget? (Although it doesn't seem clear why that would take months -- just cut discretionary spending, allow people to opt out of Social Security, and put caps on entitlement spending and you're there.)

So I decided to have a look at the "important work" that Congress has been indulging in within the last 12 months. All of these Very Important Issues had widespread Congressional support:

1) Gay people wanting immigration equality to sponsor their foreign same-sex partners were told to either break up, leave the country, or maintain a telephone-based relationship. But Democrats and Republicans found the votes to ban online gambling web sites.

2) Gay people who are married or civilly partnered in various US states have had their relationships bases declared null and void by the federal government for over a decade. But in the last year, Democrats and Republicans alike found the votes to mandate and fund electronic tracking ear tags for cows.

3) Gay folks who want to serve openly in the military, in a time of a shortage of personnel that could be accurately characterized as a crisis, were told by Nancy Pelosi that her party would not even consider the issue in this session of Congress. But she and her fellow Democrats -- as well as Republicans -- had plenty of time to debate and pass the "Bainbridge Island Japanese American Monument Act." (We're sure the monument will be quite nice, just as we're sure that most Japanese Americans have never heard of it).

4) Gay parents who are concerned about federal laws and state laws that could deprive them of custody of their children if they cross the wrong border were completely ignored. However, Congressional Democrats and Republicans were fortunately able to pass the "an act to allow for the renegotiation of the payment schedule of contracts between the Secretary of the Interior and the Redwood Valley County Water District."

5) Gay and lesbian Americans seeking equal treatment in taxation and pension treatment from their Social Security payments were told to shut up and keep paying. . . after all, who cares if a surviving partner loses a home to taxes if he's the same gender as the deceased? Nancy Pelosi's House of Representatives had more pressing matters, including 4 bills naming post offices or other federal buildings just this month.

Wow. If I was cynical, I'd think the Democrats really didn't care much about the welfare of gay people, and simply use it as a campaign issue to raise money every two years from the LGBT community.

They're Gettin' Desperate, Folks

Here's a typical Democratic Party attack on our party.

It's a bit more shrill, desperate, and mean-spirited than usual -- all of which make it rather amusing. It would appear that, after our party took the Democrats out to the woodshed over gay issues, we embarrassed them to the point where they had to publish this sort of claptrap.

Even worse (for the Democrats), they're trying to differentiate themselves from us on social issues! There's actually discussion amongst the follow-up comments (which are a combination of personal attacks on Libertarians and inaccurate nonsense) that claims that Libertarians don't take a stand on issues that aren't important to straight white guys.

Well, this Libertarian pointed them to our party's excellent Valentine's Day press release that proved, yet again, our commitment to gay equality in a way that Democrats simply won't pursue. It has "gone to moderation," so it's not certain if they'll allow me to post in their sandbox. Ergo, I post it here for your benefit:

Ask them about gay marriage and they’ll say “the government shouldn’t be involved in marriage at all.”

This sort of mischaracterization is typical. Here’s the Libertarian Party press release on gay marriage from this month. Get back to me when you Democrats manage to get your national party to make a similar release, OK? :)


Millions of Americans Denied Equal Rights on Valentine’s Day

Some States Provide “Separate But Equal” Policies While Others Still Practice Absolute Discrimination
(Washington, DC) Valentine’s Day is the traditional holiday where loved ones express their affection for each other through the giving of cards and gifts or the sharing of romantic dinners. It is also the most common day for Americans to become married. This Valentine’s Day is an appropriate time to reflect on the millions of Americans who are denied, by law, the same basic rights most people in this country enjoy.

At the federal level and in most of our states, lifelong homosexual partners are not allowed the same property and contractual rights as their heterosexual counterparts. As gay couples in these states aren’t recognized as being married, it impacts their ability to obtain insurance, make health care decisions for each other in times of medical crisis, adopt children and inherit property.

Massachusetts is the only state in the country to treat gay people the same as everyone else. Hawaii, California, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey and the District of Columbia provide “Separate But Equal” policies in the form of civil unions or domestic partnerships. Most states don’t honor same-sex marriages or civil unions granted in other states.

“There is a cloud of sadness hanging over the heads of countless Americans this Valentine’s Day,” said Libertarian National Committee Chairman William Redpath. “It’s certainly more difficult to enjoy that bouquet of roses or box of chocolates from your partner when you realize that your government won’t accept your long-term relationship. Hopefully, Americans will use Freedom to Marry Week to reflect on equality in marriage issues. We’ve eliminated our racist marriage laws, but not those that discriminate based on sexual preference or identity. Perhaps some day the government will treat all people, black and white and gay and straight, exactly the same.”

Libertarians call for real equality for gay marriage on Valentine’s Day — Howard Dean goes on the 700 Club to bash gay marriage; Hillary Clinton announces her strong support for DOMA; John Kerry calls his only gay-issues press conference to condemn gay marriage in Massachusetts.

If liberal Democrats want to attack Libertarians on social issues, I assure you that our party won’t come out waving the white flag.

Let's start by noting the obvious fact that Democrats so often appear to define "diversity" as Democrats excluding, insulting and/or bullyragging anyone with the temerity to disagree with them -- Libertarians, Greens, Republicans or independents alike.

Such faux-diversity is indicated by their "count every hanging chad for Gore because every vote counts" campaign that included spending millions of dollars to prevent Libertarians, Greens and independent candidates from running against Democrats across the country -- including using a civil lawsuit to bankrupt a Green Party executive in Pennsylvania who had the temerity to dare to try and run for office against them. What happened to "count every vote?" What happened to "every vote matters?" What happened to civil rights, the right to vote, the free market of ideas, democracy, and diversity?

Oh, don't be silly. To Democratic activists, those things only matter when Democrats are having them violated by Republicans. Diversity, honesty, and the free market of ideas don't extend to others in their world -- and the linked article is the latest proof of the same old Democratic hypocrisy.

The fact is, when Democrats attack Libertarians, it's because they're running scared. They know that we're holding them accountable for their decision to keep the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. They know we're holding them accountable for Democrats' anti-gay comments (including those from Howard Dean's recent appearance on right-wing Christian conservative talk shows). They know that we're holding them accountable for their president, Bill Clinton, enshrining anti-gay bigotry into federal law. They know that we're pointing out the absurd stances of their candidates, who claim to support DOMA and federal recognition of civil unions at the same time (despite the fact that DOMA obviates all federal recognition of same-sex families). They know that we're pointing out that neither Hillary Clinton, nor John Edwards, nor Barack Obama have any substantive commentary on gay issues on their web site (in fact, a recent search for the word "gay" on those three candidates' sites turned up not a single result).

Contrast that to Harry Browne's passionate defense of the rights of gay people -- or Michael Badnarick's status as the only major national presidential candidate to participate in a gay pride parade (the largest one, in San Francisco), and you can see why they're pointing and shooting at us.

In short, they know that we're the only national party that will make real "equality" under the law a reality.

And they cannot take the pressure. Deep down, I believe they're starting to sense that their free ride on LGBT issues has come to an end.

So they lie and engage in the sort of general attack-dog politics that they squealed about when Karl Rove deployed it against them.

I've got a whole heaping helping of bad news for them though -- unlike the Democrats who cower in the face of having to take real positions on issues, we've made our stances public and consistent. The Libertarian Party has publicized them in the most unambiguous ways. Every month our membership grows. Every election, our candidates -- not the Democrats -- own the bully pulpit on gay rights.

Worse still for Democrats -- on issues important to LGBT people, and indeed all Americans, we've got a vision that more and more Americans are rallying behind. They have. . . well. . . lame excuses for their pathetic record in government, coupled with even lamer insults towards the folks holding them honest.

Worst of all for Democrats -- we've only just begun. :)

Hat tip to nonpartisan blogger KipEsquire for his heads up to this Democratic desperation.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Same Tune, Different Day

So Arnold Schwarzenegger has backtracked on his earlier hints of a pro-equal-rights stance and underscored that he will veto any bill that requires California to treat gay couples the same as heterosexual couples:

Asked if he would sign a gay marriage bill, the governor replied, "No. I wouldn't sign it because the people of California have voted on that issue."

The governor was obliquely referring to the passage of Proposition 22 in 2000 to limit marriage to a man and a woman. The measure only applied to out-of-state marriages; state lawmakers had already restricted marriages performed in California to between a man and woman in the 1970s.

Schwarzenegger, a Republican who has shifted noticeably to the center, cited the same initiative in vetoing in 2005 a same-sex marriage bill by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). Leno is pushing a similar bill, AB43, this year, and has already lined up enough support to ensure passage in the legislature.

According to an account of the governor's remarks reported by the Sacramento Bee Friday, Schwarzenegger also said that if another gay marriage measure goes on the California ballot in the future, "the people can make the decision."

Now pardon this Libertarian's cynicism, but since when have politicians suddenly been in favor of "the people" deciding major issues?

We certainly didn't have our voices listened to when George W. Bush launched his illegal Iraq war under false pretenses.

When deficits ballooned and federal spending soared, not one of the millions of people who were calling for restraint was even consulted -- let alone listened to.

On a variety of so-called "tough issues," politicians from both of the old parties thrust themselves into the fray and made self-described "tough calls" with "unpopular decisions" that they described as "tests of leadership."

But it seems that on simple treatment of gay Americans under the law, our Constitution isn't sufficient. After all, that's just a piece of paper that gets in the way of "tests of leadership."

And courts? Heaven forbid gay folks go to court and demand that our constitutional rights be respected. Why, judges who go against the will of a majority of a small contingent of voters are horrendous activists! How dare they insist that the Constitution take precedence over the inflamed passions of statism? Gays should go to the legislature and convince the legislators -- as politicians from George W. Bush to John Kerry insisted we do.

OK, so on gays march to the legislatures, where they get popular votes in favor of equality in places as divergent as California and Connecticut -- only to have Schwarzenegger and other politicians suddenly become timid direct democrats.

Something tells me that this is less about the "will of the people" and more about the immorality of lazy, duplicitous politicians.

Speaking of which, whenever Libertarians point out that Republicans and Democrats are all the same on many issues (including gay issues), we're accused by their partisans of "poisoning the debate." Someone should inform California Log Cabin Republican spokesman James Vaughn:

"We want to make sure we keep the dialogue open with anyone. Our community should keep an open mind whether it is with presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani, or the governor," sad Vaughn. "They are all in the same boat when it comes to their views on this issue."

Indeed they are in the same boat -- the one labeled "principle-free politician."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Libertarians Co-Sponsor Gay Adoption Town Hall Meeting in Palm Beach County, FL

Be a part of the effort to overturn this nation's only legislative ban on gay and lesbian adoption.

Please attend this important event if you're in the Palm Beach area the evening of Tuesday, March 27. When you RSVP for the event, be sure to list the "Libertarian Party of Palm Beach County" in the Organization field.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day from the Libertarian Party

The Libertarian National Committee and state Libertarian parties from Massachusetts to California are reaffirming their thirty-five-year commitment to marriage equality this Valentine's Day.

In honor of National Freedom to Marry Week, the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts is pleased to reiterate its long-held position that government must not discriminate against same-sex couples in its various marriage laws. We hope that the LGBT community will recognize the Libertarian Party's thirty-five year commitment to equal rights, contrast that with fair-weather friends in the Democratic and Republican Parties (as evidenced by 40 Democrats and 22 Republicans voting for banning same sex marriage in Massachusetts this past January), and decide that now it's time to Vote Libertarian.

As we celebrate Freedom To Marry Week, California Libertarians reemphasize our call to end anti-gay government discrimination and reinforce our party's unwavering commitment to ending DOMA, anti-gay adoption laws, unequal tax treatment, discrimination in inheritance, and other laws targeted at gay American families.

"There is a cloud of sadness hanging over the heads of countless Americans this Valentine's Day," said Libertarian National Committee Chairman William Redpath. "It's certainly more difficult to enjoy that bouquet of roses or box of chocolates from your partner when you realize that your government won't accept your long-term relationship."

Compare that with what the LGBT Democratic Party front groups (like HRC) can get out of their party chairman, Howard Dean, and I think it's obvious that the Libertarian Party remains light years ahead of the Democrats on LGBT equality.

The Libertarian Party is strongly committed to the repeal of state and federal laws and amendments defining marriage, assigning special rights to people based on sexual orientation or gender identification, and laws which deny same-sex partners the rights enjoyed by others, such as adoption of children and spousal immigration. Libertarians hope to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and adamantly oppose any proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The Libertarian Party would like to wish ALL Americans a Happy Valentine's Day!

Today, I'm proud to be a Libertarian.

(Click here to Digg this story.)

Monday, February 12, 2007

GLBT Americans Are Declaring Our Independence

After a disappointing decade in the political scene for gay people, many gay Americans decided to change their strategies.

After Bill Clinton signed DOMA and banned gay people from serving openly in the military, we realized that we weren't going to get our rights through the Democratic president -- who viewed gay Americans as an ATM machine that could be attacked in "pro family" campaign ads later. . . ads paid for with gay campaign contributions.

Still, gay Americans maintained some hope in the Democratic Party. After all, we reasoned, Bill Clinton was just one man -- and the larger party was with us, right?

Maybe not.

We gritted our teeth and suffered through a 2000 presidential campaign where Al Gore was so unfamiliar with gay issues that he proclaimed support for "civic unions" (not civil unions), and who announced that he supported DOMA and federal recognition of same-sex relationships (despite the fact that the two positions are mutually exclusive).

Then, we suffered through years of Republican gay-baiting, culminating with the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment. Democrats, perhaps predictably, put up a tepid response -- and many of them voted for it, without any penalties from the "pro gay" party leadership.

Then, came 2004 and John Kerry's campaign -- where Kerry attacked the idea of gay marriage, declared his support for anti-gay state amendments, and after losing to Bush, called his first gay-specific press conference to underscore his resolute opposition to marriage equality.

This year, Nancy Pelosi kicked off her "historic victory" by announcing that Democrats would preserve the military's anti-gay ban. She followed up that announcement with a decision to strike ALL gay-rights-related votes from the agenda. . . curtly informing rare gay-supportive Democrats that redressing a decade of anti-gay laws was not of even remote importance.

On state issues, things weren't any better -- in fact, they were rapidly deteriorating. Democrats raised millions of dollars from gay Americans but spent, by one account, less than $20,000 in the last election cycle to fight anti-gay state constitutional amendments. (Many Democrats, including Kerry, expressed support for those amendments).

One-time gay-rights superstar (and Democratic Party leader) Howard Dean appeared on Pat Robertson's television program to declare the party's resolute opposition to gay marriage -- going so far as to lie about what the Democrats' platform said to garner support.

Dean then shut down the gay outreach office at the Democratic National Committee and fired the party's gay outreach director because his partner wrote an e-mail critical of the Dems "lack of commitment" on gay issues.

(Incidentally, Outright Libertarians hasn't yet received a response to our inquiry to the Democrats asking when Dean is planning on firing James Carville due to his partner's criticism of Democrats. Then again, Carville is straight and Donald Hitchcock, the fired former gay outreach director, isn't. Make of that what you will).

After all of this, one of gay activism's "quiet riders" has begun pursuing a new strategy, the Atlantic Monthly reports:

Gill’s decision to shift away from national politics seems dictated even more by his philosophy about how to engage most effectively in politics than by the mediocre gains chalked up during the Clinton years. “If your objective is to innovate and take risks, you move faster with a small group,” Gill’s political director, Guerriero, told me. “If Columbus had needed a conference call before setting sail for America, he’d still be at the dock.” (This kind of gridlock has long hampered the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay political organization.) Though Gill, too, has suffered disappointments, his grand experiment is, for better or worse, more consistent with the pragmatic direction of twenty-first-century politics than anything else on the Democratic horizon.

In short, Gill is targeting the most anti-gay politicians in the country, to prevent the worst bills from coming to light -- without regard to the Democratic Party's priorities. This approach could, theoretically, send gay money to Republicans, Libertarians, Greens or independents against Democrats -- and it holds Democrats to account for their lousy approach on gay rights.

It also is taking gay money away from the Democratic Party front groups like HRC, NGLTF, and GLVF that masquerade (almost fraudulently) as "nonpartisan." And that has the Democratic Party's scions quite upset with you, me, and every other gay person who has decided that the Democratic party is worthless. Gay Democratic luminary Jeff Soref complains:

"One of the problems with Tim’s strategy is that he’s turning people away from national politics at a time when Democrats have just achieved a big victory — one that we weren’t as big a part of as we might have been, perhaps because of his steering gay money away from the national level. I’ve personally gotten calls, pre- and postelection, from Democratic leaders who feel the gay community has not been as supportive in this election as in previous ones."

Of course, what have Democrats done to earn that money? Zero. In fact, many have harmed gay people and then come calling later for additional cash. Soref issues a thinly-veiled threat about the "dire consequences" of demanding a return on our political investment:

"There’s a tangible downside to disengaging. In a competitive environment, our issues may not get the attention we want them to get."

What he means is that Democratic presidents might sign DOMA laws instead of vetoing them. Ooops, Clinton signed DOMA.

What he must mean then is that Democrats won't be able to talk in an educated fashion about basic legal concepts like civil unions -- oops, that happened during Al Gore's run.

Perhaps he means that Democrats will go homophobic en masse and strongly support anti-gay constitutional amendments -- oops, like hundreds of Democrats in legislatures across the country, as well as John Kerry, did.

Hey, wait a minute -- there's no downside to this strategy after all. All we're doing is shifting our cash to candidates who deserve our support based on their positions and actions while in office. Executed fairly and properly, that can only be good for Libertarian candidates.

How about that? Holding politicians to account by supporting Libertarians can drive change after all. . . and the powers that be are already expressing their displeasure.

We must be on the right track.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Better late than never

Back in December, I posted about some "controversial stuff" that had just happened within the Libertarian Party, but said that I would hold my tongue (and ask Outright's other bloggers to do the same) until I had a chance to speak personally with the man at the center of the controversy.

Well, the man was Bob Barr, former Congressman from Georgia and sponsor of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). And the controversy was that he was appointed in a highly questionable manner as the Southeast Regional representative to the Libertarian National Committee, despite the fact that he still supports DOMA, while the Libertarian Party has officially called for DOMA's repeal. He also was public enemy number one of the Libertarian party just five years ago due to his total support for the Drug War (and vote in favor of the Patriot Act).

And we've now talked. It took more than six weeks since I first contacted his office in December, but he finally spoke with me on the phone for 15 minutes on Monday. And he's just as against equal rights for LGBT people as he always was. He's apparently budged an inch or two on the Drug War and apparently even regrets voting for the Patriot Act, but for his past anti-gay legislation and rhetoric, he offers no apologies.

So, it's time for the Libertarian Party leaders who recruited Bob Barr and very publicly welcomed him to the LNC with the biggest fanfare the Party could muster to clarify that this appointment does not represent the LP's abandonment of its decades-old gay-friendliness. And this coming week, February 11-17, National Freedom to Marry Week, is the perfect time to make that public statement of equally large fanfare in favor of marriage equality.

Please use this link to ask decision makers at the Libertarian Party headquarters in D.C. and on the Libertarian National Committee to publicly restate the Party's commitment to equal rights under the law for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. They took great pains to welcome Bob Barr to the Party, with press releases, blog posts, and nearly half of the latest LP News, in addition to open letters from the LNC Chair to the membership. They should expend just as much effort reassuring lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender voters that Libertarians still defend their equal rights to marry, adopt children, and serve openly and honestly in the military and in other taxpayer-funded jobs, despite having the author of DOMA serving on our National Committee.

Republican Drama Queen

Pity poor Massachusetts State Senator Scott Brown. The staunchly anti-gay Massachusetts politician apparently had his feelings hurt over colorful comments about his anti-gay legislative efforts posted by some high school students:

Sen. Scott Brown was discussing his stance on gay marriage during an assembly at King Philip Regional High School on Thursday according to WHDH-TV, when he decided to share the comments written about him and his family posted on a facebook.com page dedicated to a pro-gay rights history teacher at the school.

Brown, a Republican from Wrentham, opposes gay marriage.

”I hate scott brown” and ”scott brown ascends from the underworld,” were two of the tamer comments on the site, some of which contained profanities.

Some of the comments were aimed at Brown’s daughter, Ayla Brown, a former American Idol finalist and scholarship basketball player at Boston College.

He read the comments verbatim, even naming the students who wrote them in some cases, witnesses said.


”What I was doing was reading from what they had written about me and about my family,” Brown said. ”I actually called them on it. I said ’Now there’s hate speech and then there’s respectful proper speech.”

So, launching efforts to marginalize the children of same-sex couples, dramatically increase their taxes and health care costs, prevent American gay men and women from sponsoring their foreign partners for visas, describing their families as "unnatural and perverted," referring to homosexual people (including teens) as "objectively disordered," and a whole other slew of nasty things I could write pages about is just dialogue in an honest debate.

But a couple of insults on a web site about a public figure rise to the level of "hate speech."

By that standard, your faithful author here has been "hate speeched" hundreds of times last year, and I'm not even a politician!

Brown's outrage didn't stop at the assembly. As he wheedled to the International Herald-Tribune:

"And now I find out I'm being portrayed as a vile-speaking hate-monger. It's pretty saddening. I feel very badly that I'm being victimized here," he said.

Goodness, I'd always suspected the victimhood schtick in the media has been carried a bit far, but this is ridiculous. A powerful, influential, well-paid politician has been "victimized" by some high-schoolers who reportedly wrote on a web page that he "eats shit?"

One could argue that Mr. Brown "has his head up his ass," but not this author. I wouldn't want to further victimize the clearly traumatized Senator. So instead, I will simply note that he suffers from apparent cranial-rectal inversion syndrome.

That's clearly not a natural state, in fact, it's redefining biology! In a respectful spirit of dialogue, I urge the good Senator to de-invert, lest he be compared to the rump of an equine mammal.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Will queer Dems finally refuse the back of the bus in 2008?

It's so rare to hear an LGBT Democrat suggest that it's acceptable to burn a couple of bridges with their party leaders in the quest for marriage equality. But David Mixner correctly points out that in the struggle for black civil rights, progress was only made when those in the movement finally prioritized equal rights over party loyalty:

Like other great civil rights campaigns, this fight will require fortitude. We won’t win this one without some nasty fights, anxiety that we may lose friends and even wholesale set backs. In the 1960s, as the battle against racial inequality raged, many state and local governments passed oppressive laws to stop justice from winning out. Even California passed an initiative rolling back fair housing legislation. This push back should be expected in a time of great social and legal change.

Now, David Mixner is quite influential with our friends the Stonewall Democrats, as well as with large national LGBT advocacy organizations and even the DNC. But the question is whether his will be the lone voice, or if other queer Democrats with recognizable names will decide that 2008 is finally the year to refuse to sit in the back of the Democratic Party bus.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Please don't let NGLTF follow HRC as a DNC parrot

I was very proud of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force last May when they took a stand and returned a DNC check after Howard Dean stabbed queer America in the back.

But the Task Force's latest press release, on Bush's budget, has me worried. While they're absolutely right that continued war spending is a "perversion," I'm concerned when they say:

We look forward to working with Congress to restore some of the drastic cuts that have been made in the past few years in social service programs and support a budget that reflects the true needs of America.

Let's all make this very clear to NGLTF -- that queer does not equal socialist. Big government throughout history has done great harm to sexual minorities. Our best hope for equality is to constrain the power of government, and that starts by constraining the budget of government.

Big spending may help Democratic politicians like Howard Dean further their careers, but it doesn't help LGBT folks in the least. HRC has already chosen Democratic politicians over LGBT equality. Let's hope NGLTF doesn't make the same mistake.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Economic Consequences of Anti-Gay Laws, Part 2

Remember how I blogged several months ago about the effects of anti-gay laws on local economies? Back then, Virginia had passed one of the nation's most stridently anti-gay laws in the country -- potentially invalidating even private contracts between same-sex partners and their family members. As a result, gays began an exodus from Virginia that impacted everything from decisions to invest in the state (as highly qualified employees in many areas were becoming difficult to find due to the gay ban) to home buying plans (many real estate agents reported cancellations of interest in Virginia homes even in suburban DC).

Well, today the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the sweeping anti-gay marriage law passed by that state makes domestic partner benefits provided by local and state government institutions, public universities, and other public institutions illegal:

Public universities and state and local governments would violate the state constitution by providing health insurance to the partners of gay employees, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

A three-judge panel said a 2004 voter-approved ban on gay marriage also applies to same-sex domestic partner benefits. The decision reverses a 2005 ruling from an Ingham County judge who said universities and governments could provide the benefits.

"The marriage amendment's plain language prohibits public employers from recognizing same-sex unions for any purpose," the court wrote.

Now, many Libertarians have issues with public universities and government funding of various activities. However, it's a plain fact that said institutions represent a huge proportion of the services and higher education in that state -- and the voters of Michigan, whether intentionally or not, have ensured that large numbers of gay and lesbian professionals either leave or refuse to apply for positions in Michigan. In other words, a huge proportion of the best and brightest professors, researchers, and other employees won't even consider Michigan.

Doubtlessly, public employers in other states (not to mention private employers such as private universities) are dancing a jig at the moment -- government has altered the supply of talent to ensure that other states' pool of employees grows dramatically at Michigan's expense. Similar laws exist in several other rust belt states -- some so stringent that observers have mused that they may also apply to private employers.

Gay employees will increasingly choose employers and homes in states like California, Massachusetts, Arizona, and other states that have voted down hate laws over Ohio, Michigan, Alabama and other states that have embraced them. And not coincidentally, those states that have embraced hate are economic basket cases, while those that chose not to are some of the best-performing economies in the country.

For example, the University of Michigan -- a top business school and public institution -- will doubtlessly lose out in the war for talent with public and private universities in other states for highly prized business professors to institutions in other more tolerant areas. As those top academic and professional recruits head to Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Oxford, Thunderbird, INSEAD or other places, their profiles will grow even more prominent -- draining still more employees away from UMich.

The economic activity of universities isn't limited to teaching. As the best and brightest professors who happen to be gay or lesbian head to other institutions, the halo effects they deliver will go with them. Startups growing from academic research will pop up in other places -- not Michigan. Undergraduates and graduates deciding to stay locally to start businesses or join leading companies will stay in other places -- not Michigan. Private research grants and R&D expenditures going to top institutions will go to other academic communities -- not Michigan.

The supreme irony in this sorry situation is that the same states that drove out their talented, prosperous gay population -- and have suffered economic decline as a result -- will then demand that tolerant states that benefitted from an influx of gay people bail out the failing states with gay cash. However, mention their own culpability in the situation, and the anti-gay states will not budge.

A Libertarian government would fix the bases of both problems -- getting government and mob-rule referendums out of the business of deciding whether or not you "deserve" a gay professor, and leaving human resource decisions (and benefits negotiations) to employers and employees. . . not Pat Robertson and Lou Sheldon.

UPDATE: Blogger KipEsquire has noted the impact that a similar law in Wisconsin has had on that state's academic landscape:

At least three gay professors at the University of Wisconsin have left for other schools, since the University will not give benefits to partners of gay faculty. This includes two professors in the nation's top ranked Sociology Department (not for long I suspect).
Expect other gay professors to vote with their feet. And expect the University to suffer as other people, including straight professors and students, refuse to attend a University that practices discrimination.

We need to keep in mind of course that this is not the University of Wisconsin's doing — indeed, they were quite vocal in denouncing Wisconsin's mini-DOMA and predicted exactly this sort of brain drain, as I observed in my previous post on the subject.

Be careful what anti-gay laws you wish for...you may get them.

Indeed. No matter what one's views on gay marriage are, attacks on the economic life of gay families are just as detrimental on the health of the larger community as they are on the gay families themselves.