Wednesday, July 18, 2007

An Important Task For Libertarians: Fighting For LGBTQ Refugees

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has issued a strongly-worded press release describing the conditions that gay and lesbian people in Iran face.

Despite a widely publicized outcry two years ago when Iranian authorities executed two young men in the northeastern city of Mashhed, the government continues to target, arrest, prosecute, and execute individuals under its sodomy law. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) condemns Iran’s violations of human rights law and asks that human rights groups around the world work to support those targeted by the government.


In May 2007, the Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) was the first to report that the police forces in the city of Esfahan had raided a birthday party and arrested more than 80 people. The police apparently suspected that the attendees were gay and were possibly engaged in sodomy, though nor proof of either has been established. Later, police unconditionally released most of those arrested, but required substantial bail for 17 of the arrestees. A judge told the families of those set free on bail that they would be tried on sodomy charges. Based on IRQO’s reports and IGLHRC’s investigation, some of the detainees were severely tortured while in custody. In the last two years, IGLHRC has worked with IRQO to find refuge for a number of gay Iranians forced to leave their country and who have applied for refugee status, many of whom faced arbitrary arrests, police brutality and even lashings for being gay.

Outright Libertarians joins in IGLHRC's call for assistance for our LGBTQ compatriots around the globe who face torture, prison and even execution simply for being gay. IGLHRC recommends the following actions:

1- Support Iranian LGBT groups, such as Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO). IRQO is a volunteer-based group of Iranian activists who try to reach out to LGBT population in Iran through publication of monthly magazines, phone counseling, and podcasts, educating the Western media about the situation in Iran, and helping Iranian LGBT asylum seekers outside the country. Find out more about IRQO by visiting their website:

2- Ask your own government to take action in one of the following ways: a) Send a letter to your government’s foreign ministry recounting these incidents and asking them to expressly call on the Iranian government to abide by its international treaty obligations by halting the abuse and prosecution of people who are or are perceived to be LGBT. b) Ask that your government’s immigration service adopt policies to provide refuge to individuals who fear persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity. As with all refugees, housing, food, and financial resources are needed to sustain them during the often lengthy process of establishing asylum or other legal status.

We believe that US lobbying of Iran would not be effective. We also believe that a Libertarian position on immigration reform would eliminate the need for much of the housing, food and financial resources that ILGA deems necessary as a result of lengthy big-government bureaucratic processes.

Outright calls for a compassionate, apolitical asylum system that welcomes refugees who are persecuted based on their sexual orientation as full participants in American society, with the right to find employment, enter into business, and support themselves immediately after arrival -- without lengthy government-imposed delays. In short, refugees should quickly receive a green card, and all the rights and responsibilities that come with it. We also encourage all Americans to contribute their own resources, including financial donations, space, and legal aid, to individuals from Iran and similar places where being gay can result in human rights abuses.

Some have inquired as to why we are "such sticklers" on the question of immigration equality. The answer is simple: with literally thousands of people facing death, we cannot afford to "compromise" on such a key issue. The time for action is now.

We continue to affirm that all people have the right to live and love freely, as they choose, and we call upon the US government to make good on that most fundamental of a human right by ending its slam-door policy.

The steps we take as a country today will determine whether our society's 50-year-old vow of "never again" was a commitment, or just an empty slogan.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Republican Desperation Reaches Pathetic New Lows

Thanks to my favorite non-partisan blogger KipEsquire's watchful eye, we found this fantastic gem from the right-wing Blog for Bush:

For my fellow Americans who are gay - I just advise you how Bill Clinton treated your cause in 1993 after you went flat out for him in 1992. You will be betrayed again, if you are fool enough to back Democrats in 2008. True, we conservative Christians might not seem the logical home for you, but you do know where we stand, we are ready to compromise and we will never, ever betray you. You might want to think about that as you watch the debate, and make your donation and voting choices.

That's right.

Republicans -- right-wing conservative Republicans, who have blazed a trail of hatred and bigotry against gay people for 20+ years -- are positioning themselves as the alternative for gay people tired of Democratic duplicity.

The mind boggles. The jaw drops. The eyes cross.

How desperate can the Republicans get, as their party continues to crumble into dust?

I mean seriously. Think about this for a second.

These are the same Republicans who sponsored a Constitutional Amendment designed to make us second class citizens.

These are the same Republicans who launched an anti-gay jihad in dozens of states the last two elections, culminating in laws that took health benefits away from gay families in Michigan; that threatened the private consensual contracts of gay couples in Virginia with nullification; that passed state amendments that made gay people forever non-citizens of their states in major areas.

This is the same Republican Party that was instrumental in banning gay parenting in Florida, whose "moderate" Bush governor endorsed that law.

This is the same Republican party under which discharges from the military have soared to new heights in the middle of a war -- and then complains about shortages in the areas where the discharges have hit hardest.

This is the same Republican Party whose administration dramatically increased the number of challenges to asylum applications for gay and lesbian foreigners seeking refuge in this country from murder -- while simultaneously loosening standards for religious persecution and other categories of individual less under threat than ever before. (Dozens have been sent back to their countries to be tortured and murdered as a result).

This is the same Republican Party that runs a fake "libertarian" presidential nominee who declares in Congress that the Constitution doesn't "guarantee a right to sodomy," and that Supreme Court justices who cited the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection under the law overruled the rights of "the people of Texas" to imprison their gay populations.

This is the same Republican Party whose "pro-civil union" candidate thinks that New Hampshire's civil unions "go too far" because they're called "spousal unions."

This is the same Republican Party who wields federal ERISA regulations as a club to target gay families who are legally married or partnered and permits employers to cite ERISA as a precedent for overruling mutually-agreed-upon employment benefits -- ex post facto.

This is the same Republican Party who colluded with Democrats to do a lot of this stuff -- and plenty more.

Yes, we "know where the Republicans stand." They stand on the precipice of the chasm of irrelevant, hateful, mean-spirited, meddlesome, statist politics -- and thankfully they'll be hurtling off the edge shortly.

And Republicans will "never, ever betray" us?

They haven't just betrayed gay Americans. They've betrayed all of us -- ALL Americans -- through their un-American campaigns. . . their persistent assaults on our shared humanity, our shared and cherished Constitutional rights and freedoms, our families, our men and women in uniform, our neighbors, and our very decency as a nation of laws.

Disillusioned Democrats and Republicans already know that if they want a party that REALLY stands for something -- including the equality under the law of ALL Americans (gay or straight) -- they've got a real choice. . . the Libertarian choice.

The only choice Republicans have, given their record, is to what degree they'll ask for forgiveness for their sins against our Republic and the American Way.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Libertarian Presidential Nominee Robert Milnes Answers Our Survey

We screwed up. Thanks to the "usefulness" of Yahoo's bulk mail filter, Robert Milnes's reply to our survey -- dated 22 May -- sat in my junk mail filter. Fortunately, no other candidate surveys are in there.

Our apologies go out to Mr. Milnes, his campaign, and most importantly, our readers, for not getting this information to you in a timely manner.

We have heard from one other campaign that they have not yet received the survey. As a result, I will be contacting each "quiet" campaign once again to make sure they received the survey, and ascertain whether they wish to participate. My top priority is that you get the scoop on where Libertarian candidates stand on LGBTQ issues.

So without further ado, here is Robert Milnes' answers to our survey questions.

1) Since the early 1990s, Congressional legislation has blocked LGBTQ people from serving openly in the military. This discriminatory legislation, commonly referred to as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (or DADT), has resulted in the discharge of thousands of qualified military personnel solely on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. As president, will you support the complete repeal of DADT and issue an executive order as Commander in Chief permitting openly LGBTQ people to serve in the military?


2) In 1996, Congress passed (and Bill Clinton signed) the Defense of Marriage Act (or DOMA). This law overrules the constitutional right of LGBTQ people to equal protection under the law by banning all federal recognition of same-sex relationships for various purposes (such as sponsoring a foreign partner for a visa, or filing a joint tax return). It also allows states to ignore the Constitution’s “full faith and credit” clause and reject other states’ certification of same-sex relationships. As president, will you support efforts to overturn DOMA?


3) LGBTQ people are subject to unequal tax treatment in a number of areas. For example, while opposite-sex married couples aren’t taxed for joint health benefits, same-sex couples must pay income tax on domestic partner benefits that include health care coverage. Asset transfer taxes, estate taxes, and inheritance taxes that aren’t charged to heterosexual couples must be paid by LGBTQ couples. As a result, many LGBTQ couples will pay over five times the tax of a comparable heterosexual couple over the life of their relationship. As president, will you take steps to eliminate tax discrimination against LGBTQ people?


4) The District of Columbia is a federally-administered District. Recently, Congress has considered and/or passed a number of laws related to LGBTQ issues in the district that are distinctly homophobic, including a ban on gay adoptions, a ban on recognition of same-sex couples, and a law forbidding gay people from having their out-of-district adoptions recognized. As president, will you veto this legislation and other similar legislation in the District of Columbia?


5) At this moment, the House and Senate are considering “hate crimes” legislation that seeks to make attacks on gay people (as well as certain other minorities) “more” of a crime than a violent attack on a member of a majority class. As president, will you lobby against – and veto – such legislation?


6) At this moment, the House and Senate are considering the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would regulate businesses and ban the right of employers and employees to voluntary affiliation by banning private sector discrimination based on sexual orientation while possibly creating hiring quotas mandating the hiring of LGBTQ people. As president, will you veto ENDA?


7) LGBTQ people around the world face tremendous challenges in the face of government and societal persecution. In places ranging from the Palestinian Authority to Iran to China to Singapore to Algeria to Zimbabwe, LGBTQ people are regularly imprisoned, tortured, beaten, mutilated, and murdered simply because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Many seek asylum in the United States, but find their application delayed or denied due to government policies that seek to limit immigration. As a result, the US government regularly sends back thousands of people to an uncertain fate – or worse, a certain fate of torture and death – rather than welcoming the oppressed. As president, will you support efforts to reform the immigration system to allow oppressed LGBTQ people from abroad to find sanctuary and freedom in America?


8) State and federal regulations have severely restricted the availability of certain kinds of health insurance, such as “catastrophic care” coverage, to force people into expensive HMOs and similar programs that offer so-called “comprehensive” coverage. As a result, healthy LGBTQ people have not been able to buy insurance that fits their needs, and many are unable to afford health insurance – rendering them vulnerable to catastrophic illness (and financial stress) as a result. As president, will you support efforts to eliminate regulations that restrict the ability of LGBTQ people to buy health insurance that is “right-sized” for them?


9) The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) is legislation currently in Congress that would allow unmarried Americans (heterosexual or gay) to sponsor a same-sex or opposite-sex partner for residency in the United States. As president, will you support UAFA?


10) As president, you will be the chief executive of the federal government, with tremendous decision-making power over general employment policy. Will you take steps to ensure that gay federal employees are treated equally to heterosexual employees in the provision of health care benefits and other conditions related to employment?


11) Efforts to water down, or even eliminate, the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms have been gaining momentum. Self-defense is a crucial right for many LGBTQ people, who have often avoided severe injury or even death due to the prudent use of a firearm for self-defense. Organizations such as the Pink Pistols have emerged to help protect and defend this right. As president, will you unambiguously support the right of LGBTQ Americans – and all other law-abiding people – to keep and bear arms for self-defense as outlined in the US Constitution?


12) LGBTQ parents – especially adoptive parents – often find difficulty in traveling across the country due to anti-gay state laws that refuse to recognize their status as parents granted by their home state. Some have even lost custody of their children due to a simple vacation that took them into “hostile territory.” This is in direct violation of the Constitution’s full faith and credit clause that requires states to recognize other states’ certifications and legal status. As president, will you take steps to uphold the full faith and credit clause to ensure that LGBTQ parents don’t suddenly become legal strangers to their children simply by crossing a state line?


13) Do you have any other comments or statements that you’d like to make to the LGBTQ community?

Yes. Your questionaire is very relevent to your issues. Assuming it is honestly answered it identifies "real" libertarian candidates and gets them on the record. As to which real libertarian you endorse or choose, that seems to have to be made on other criteria.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Grinding the news into Gravel

The Advocate has run a puff piece on Mike Gravel.

Just who is Mike Gravel? You'd be hard-pressed to know the answer without reading the article. Yours truly had never heard of him until stumbling across the linked article.

He's apparently a little-known candidate for the Democratic nomination for president of the USA. His claim to fame is a minute-long YouTube film of him skipping rocks across a pond and a cameo on the Daily Show.

His campaign, so far, has raised only about $100,000 -- or less than 10% of the typical budget for the Libertarian presidential campaign in a bad fundraising year.

So of course, the queer Democratic-leaning media gives him plenty of attention -- including pats on the back for positions that aren't any more pro-gay than those espoused by the frontrunners for the Libertarian nomination (as polled by Outright Libertarians).

Then, a year after Mr. Gravel is forgotten -- when the Libertarian candidate is chosen, has $2 million to spend on a campaign, and espouses unapologetically pro-gay positions on the issues -- much of the queer press will inevitably decline to provide any proportional coverage of the Libertarian campaign. . . let alone meaningful coverage.

The war drums will beat for Hillary, Obama, or whoever bears the Democrats' brass ring, regardless of their substantive position on LGBTQ issues.

And the most ironic part of the whole thing is that huge swaths of the queer press will inevitably cite "a lack of campaign funds" as a reason not to cover the national candidates who aren't Demopublicans or Republicrats. Just 12 months after publishing a glowing report of a Democrat with less than 10% of the funding power, who supposedly merits coverage because "with little chance of winning, he can say almost anything, which should make for a deadly combination."

Meanwhile, our candidate won't be saying "almost anything" -- (s)he'll be saying something.