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Archive for April, 2012

The Facebook Photo that Will Break your Heart

April 25, 2012 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Headline

In spite of being legally married in the U.S. State of Iowa, Inger Knudson-Judd and Philippa Knudson-Judd don’t get to spend much time together or with their 12 year old daughter.  In fact, prior to this most recent 5 week visit, the couple hadn’t seen each other in 6 months.  Why?  The Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) allows the Federal Government to refuse to recognize Inger and Philippa’s marriage and Philippa is not a U.S. citizen.  These stories are all too common.

In early April, 2012, five same-sex couples who are not able to obtain green cards for their foreign-born spouses filed a lawsuit challenging DOMA’s prohibitions against gay couples petitioning for legal status for their spouses.  Victoria Neilson, legal director for Immigration Equality who is leading the charge, stated that their group has asked that the Obama Administration to change these policies, or at least suspend green card applications rather than rejecting them until DOMA challenges can be resolved.  Neilson explained:

We have recently gotten a definitive no from the administration on that request, so we sort of feel like we’re at the end of the line on advocacy. Our next step is to take it to the courts.”

Which brings us to the photo.  Yesterday, Inger had to drive her wife to the airport after a five week visit and they don’t know when they will next see each other.  So when I opened my Facebook news feed, I saw this photo from Inger:

Inger and Phillippa say Goodbye

Inger and Philippa say Goodbye

And my heart broke.

Via Wipe Out Homophobia on Facebook, Inger released this response:

We have a 12 year old daughter and so are trying to do things the legal way…, but [we] have hit road blocks every step of the way. *** It is really hard to hold your family when their hearts are breaking, my arms just aren’t that long. After 4 1/2 years of trying to find a solution, nothing has changed.

Some say that DOMA protects families, but does this family look protected?  These are the faces of our families; this is the real suffering caused by discrimination.

How Dare You Protest A President During an Election Year – An Historical Perspective

April 23, 2012 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, Featured, Thought of the Gay

Alice Paul - Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty
“Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty”

About a hundred years ago, then Governor of New Jersey, Woodrow Wilson remained *undecided* on the issue of women’s suffrage.  Although he was a dedicated progressive, taught at a women’s college and had two daughters who were suffragists, his opinions were still evolving on whether or not women should be allowed to vote. Giving women the right to vote, it was argued, would lead to federal interference in elections and, *GASP* voting rights for African Americans.  Thereafter, Wilson became President of the United States, and his position on women’s voting rights remained ambiguous during his first term.

A parallel can be drawn between then-President Wilson and now-President Obama.  Although President Obama’s stance on human rights (more particularly gay marriage) is evolving, one cannot truthfully say that President Obama supports full LGBT equality.  In fact, President Obama, in spite of stating during his 2008 campaign that he would sign an Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on sexual orientation and gender identity, has now refused to do so.  Further, even though he declared support for ENDA, he failed to fiercely demand it when the House and Senate had “hope” of passing the legislation.

The Suffragists of the Congressional Union (later known as the “National Woman’s Party” [NWP]) began staging petition drives and demonstrations to get President Wilson’s attention and demand he endorse the right of women to vote. At first, these demonstrations were largely met with bemusement and condemnation.  In spite of the demonstrations and petitions, Wilson failed to act.  The NWP stepped it up a notch and threatened to actively campaign against Wilson and the Democratic Party during the 1916 election.  But war broke out in Europe and the issue of peace became more important to many, but not all, of the suffragists, and they in turn supported the re-election of Wilson.

When the United States joined World War I, many thought the demonstrations by the suffragists would come to an end, believing that no one would dare protest a war-time President.  However, the NWP continued its demonstrations outside the White House, including chaining themselves to the White House fence. They were met with great hostility from both men and women, many of whom had also been and perhaps were still suffragists.  Banners were torn from their hands, they were spit on, insulted and demeaned all because they refused to bow to an establishment which ignored them – or worse, treated them with hostility.  They were arrested and often jailed for substantial lengths of time on trumped up charges, but their actions made headlines around the world giving momentum to their cause.  The suffragists who were more moderate took advantage of their more radical counterparts and presented themselves as a more obvious alternative.  This rebel/reformer approach is discussed in detail in Bill Moyer’s book Doing Democracy: The MAP Model for Organizing Social Movements.

Fast forward again to 2012: Many LGBTQ organizations have also stepped it up notch to demand President Obama take action to protect employees from discrimination.  Leading the way in this endeavor is the grassroots organization GetEQUAL, which is best known for protest actions that lead to arrest, including chaining members to the White House fence and blocking Las Vegas Boulevard. Like the suffragists, these more radical activists are facing severe criticism of their tactics from the “more moderate” human rights groups; however, the mantra is slightly changed. No longer is the criticism because of war-time, but because this is an election year for President Obama.

Like Wilson, Obama’s position on LGBT equality is ambiguous in many respects.  For example, Obama has clearly stated that he does not support marriage equality, but that he supports equal rights for LGBT people under the law.  Some LGBT advocates argue that this is his way of winning the upcoming election, at which point he will “evolve” on the subject of marriage equality, while others see it as mere subterfuge and the President putting his own safekeeping ahead of the safety of the people he represents.

Many LGBT bloggers have condemned the actions being taken by GetEQUAL and others as a childish, fame-seeking approach to activism that will result in the election of Mitt Romney.  Some have gone as to declare that our “real enemies” are out there and we should go after those “real enemies.”  This attitude assumes that a person who does not support marriage equality and who has failed to take action to protect workers from unfair discriminatory practices is not a “real enemy.”  But the assumption goes far further – it assumes that these activists are “going after Obama,” when they are clearly designed to defeat the injustice created when another campaign promise by the LGBT’s “fierce advocate” was broken.

While many remain content to be beaten as long as the blows don’t break the skin, I for one prefer not to be beaten at all.  That is not criticism of my reformer friends who are accepting of the blows of the President without question, but it is where I stand within this equation as a rebel.

“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Bully Attacks Attendees at Anti-Bullying Rally

April 04, 2012 By: jaysays Category: Youth Issues

Flour Bluff School District came under fire last year when its Superintendent refused to allow a Gay Straight Alliance to form on campus. After significant pressure and national media attention, the District tentatively allowed the group to form.  This year, the failures of the administration are again coming into the spotlight.

Teddy Molina, a 16 year old student at Flour Bluff High School, took his own life this past weekend after enduring the wrath of a gang of football players known as “The Wolfpack.”   Although Flour Bluff administrators deny knowledge of The Wolfpack, students have indicated that teachers are certainly aware of the gang and have even asked them to remove their Wolfpack t-shirts in the past.

Teddy was familiar with the Wolfpack.  After being tormented by the group, Teddy turned to his parents.  They withdrew him from Flour Bluff High School shortly before his untimely death.  Some students have stated that the Wolfpack threatened to invade Teddy’s home and harm his mother and sister if “He didn’t do something about himself.”

Of course, none of the accusations can currently be proven, but there is one thing that is clear – Flour Bluff, like many school districts, has a bully problem.

In fact, at an anti-bullying rally this afternoon, things turned violent. One of the students, alleged to be  member of The Wolfpack gang, jumped from the SUV driven by his father and began attacking rally attendees, including family members of Teddy and other students. The gang member’s father, Tommy Martin, accused rally attendees of throwing rocks at them as they passed by.

Video of attack.

Koby Ozias, a District Lead for GetEQUAL TX,  was present. According to Koby, the rally had been going for approximately 2 hours prior to the attack. Several students had noted that members of The Wolfpack gang had been driving by and flipping off the crowd, but no other incidents had occurred.  When the attackers hit children, several rally attendees fought back, while others attempted to seperate the grieving family from the assailants.

After the attack, police demanded the rally attendees leave the site. Although attendees complied, they hope to plan another event for tomorrow.