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Obama, DADT, DOMA and the War on LGBT People.

October 15, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Thought of the Gay

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...
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Lamar Smith (R-TX), a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the U.S. House of Representatives – and my district’s representative – has asked the court to let him, and not the Obama administration’s Department of Justice (DoJ), appeal the ruling in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. US Dept. of Health and Human Services, et al., striking down key provisions of the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Smith claims that the DoJ, “has clearly let the president’s policy preferences dictate its litigation strategy” and that, “DOMA … should receive a true defense rather than a hollow one designed to pacify political constituents.”  It’s no surprise that Smith’s actions are being supported by the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization of “Christian” lawyers.

But Lamar Smith doesn’t have to intervene.  The DoJ has already filed their appeal in this case indicating that our fierce advocate, President Barack Obama, will continue to defend the legislative acts he feels are unconstitutional.  According to a DoJ spokesperson: Tracy Schmaler, “The Justice Department is defending the statute, as it traditionally does when acts of Congress are challenged.”

And that appears to be exactly what the DoJ has done with the recent ruling and court order declaring the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy unconstitutional.

At some point, we need to recognize a fact.  There is no legal requirement or duty for the president to defend a statute.  While the DoJ keeps implying it, you’ll note they’ve never said it, because it isn’t true.

In fact, the Justice Department has recently refused to appeal a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  That ruling, issued Aug. 6, 2010, declared the regulations forcing individuals or small groups to obtain a permit for First Amendment-protected activities unconstitutional.

So why is it that the man who said: “My attitude is if people are being treated unfairly and unequally, then it needs to be fixed,” and who has been labeled as a fierce advocate of LGBT people, is defending DOMA and DADT?  Is it like Lamar Smith alleges and they aren’t going to defend the laws as aggressively as opponents of equality would hope? Alas, I’m afraid the only answer I have for you is this:

Obama is no Lady Gaga.

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Inauguration Declares Equality for All – Except Gays

January 21, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Discrimination, LGBT News

My hope for enjoying the inauguration as an American and citizen of the world was lost when, openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson’s invocation was not aired due to a “misunderstanding” between HBO and the Obama administration.  The Obama inauguration committee apparently “mistakenly” advised HBO (the network with exclusive broadcast rights) that this very politically charged invocation by Robinson which was seen by many as Obama’s effort to include the gay community, was part of the pre-show and should not air.  I was sick.  I kept imagining how such a mistake could be made in the spirit of inclusion.  Tuesday came and, having took the day off work for the inauguration, I sat myself in front of the TV to watch the event and hope for some sort of “apology” and recognition of all of us as part of this country.  Instead, what I received was a message of equality and diversity, in Black and White.

By now you’ve all heard the controversy regarding Rick Warren’s invitation to deliver the invocation at the Presidential Inauguration.  Many LGBT activists and their allies called the Obama administration out on his invitation to Warren.  Warren, who compared gay marriage to pedophilia, incest and polygamy, did deliver the invocation.  In true religious hypocracy, he said:

Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans. United not by race or religion or by blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all. When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us.

When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us. And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches and civility in our attitudes—even when we differ.

I died a little inside and the inauguration – what was supposed to be the greatest moment in my life as it relates to the greatness of the United States was now nothing but meaningless sidebar.  Warren, asking God to forgive when “we fail to treat our fellow human beings… with the respect that they deserve…” while he continually fails to treat a large segment of human beings with ANY respect, reminded me of the man who beats the hell out of his wife every night only to apologize the next morning – over and over again.  Stop asking God to forgive you for your wrongs Mr. Warren and start doing something to earn forgiveness from those you are holding under the water.

I then spent the remainder of the inauguration thinking too much about how the statement “equality for all” was met with such great applause – how comments about the end of discrimination and segregation were met with such great fanfare – yet people are still suffering under the foot of those that rule.  We build a wall against the Latinos, we profile the migrant worker, we bash gays and lesbians and disenfranchise our transgendered brothers and sisters – all the while we celebrate our great victory in the civil rights movement, a movement which is now being defined as “black and white” rather than “we the people.”

The following is what you didn’t see:

What I’ve Learned Thus Far – The Nationwide DOMA Protest (cont.)

January 12, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Community Outreach, LGBT Action Alerts

After my last  post describing my adventures in downtown San Antonio while attempting to gather signatures to the Open Letter to Obama, I took to the streets again.  It was about 10:30 p.m. when I, along with three others, pulled into the parking lot near a local gay bar.  The crowds were coming at full force and we could have used several more people to try to obtain everyone’s signatures.  It was windy and cold, but our reception was warm and tender… for the most part.

We split into two groups of two people, each with pads of signature pages, the letter and pens.  As people walked toward the clubs, we would stop them and ask for their support.  Many were anxious to get inside into a warmer climate, but those that took time to hear us out were grateful for our involvement and some offered their stories.  One kindly gentleman took a look at the letter and advised me that it hit very close to home for him as he had lost his job due to his sexual orientation.  He told me about his lawsuit and how difficult it was for him.  We discussed the Tennessee man who was recently fired for his sexual orientation as well.  I learned that, in spite of my very comfortable and supportive employment, I wasn’t immune from the reality of sexual orientation discrimination in my own employment.  After our conversation, he thanked me for what I was doing.  It was a very touching experience and I learned that in my zeal to make a difference, I must not forget compassion.

I then spoke with two ladies who were members of our military and serving under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (“DADT”).  We discussed the policy and the efforts to revoke it – and the likelihood that the Obama Administration will do away with the discriminatory policy [at 4:15].  I then inquired as to the murmurs I’ve heard from other military personnel that DADT protects LGBT soldiers from discrimination and aggressive acts by other members of the military.  They were stunned by the representation and completely disagreed with the argument.  They did state, in summary, that lower ranking military members may feel that way, but the truth of the matter was that the DADT was not a protection but a discriminatory policy.  I learned that we must continue to work to repeal DADT and hold the Administration accountable should it remain in effect.

Many LGBT people have made several comments that the African American community is not supportive of LGBT rights and issues.  While working the streets downtown, we approached three African American ladies in a group.  They had a small child with them.  They listened to us and reviewed the letter.  As one of them read the letter, she saw the portion which requested that DOMA be repealed and said, “That’s what I wanted to see.”  She grabbed the pen, pointed it out to her friends and they all anxiously signed the letter. Overall, the “group” that was seemingly the most responsive and most interested in the issue was the African American population.  Not one African American we approached refused to sign the petition.  One of the ladies was wearing a shirt that said, “All we need is love.”  That is what I learned from them.

I noticed that many of the younger people had no interest in signing the petition, even young LGBT people at the clubs.  Most were in too big of a hurry to meet up with their friends inside or stated things such as “I’m not political”.  The older generation (late 20’s and above) seemed much more receptive and had many stories to tell about things that have happened to them.  I learned that, until it happens to you, you probably won’t care too much about it.  I also learned that I miss the ignorant bliss of youth.

Many of the LGBT people I spoke with had never heard of DOMA and required a bit of a history lesson on the subject.  I learned from them that we have a lot of educating to do of our own community.

Some of the more trivial things I learned were: that when it is cold outside, you should wear gloves even if you don’t think you need them; when people have to “pee” you shouldn’t ask them to sign a petition, even though you have no access to a restroom and have had to go for over an hour; that you can never have too many pens; and that people wear too much cologne to the clubs.

Perhaps the most defining thing I learned was that I am s till frightened.  I thought I had overcome my fear of reactionary people and what they may do to me as a gay man, but instead of being the strong, self-assured person I thought I was, I was shaking inside everytime I approached a heterosexual couple and asked them to support LGBT equality.  In that I learned that I was “heterophobic” by the strictist definition.

How I Scare Lesbians – The Nationwide DOMA Protest

January 10, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Community Outreach, LGBT Action Alerts

The National DOMA Protest was conducted today.  I made it to the rally point and met up with the handful of people that showed up.  With letters in hand we took to the streets of San Antonio and began asking for signatures.

After approaching many presumably heterosexual people and a few people who declared their homosexuality, I noticed a lesbian couple (complete with hand holding) and approached them and asked whether or not they would sign the petition to support gay rights and repeal DOMA.  I was flabbergasted when they told me firmly, “no.”  I was so flabbergasted that I didn’t even say my typical, “thank you anyway, have a beautiful day” or any other nicety.  I just stood their – staring blankly.  Two of the people obtaining signatures with me were standing nearby.  I turned and saw their puzzled looks as well.

The night before, I took to the streets handing out fliers near the local “gay” district.  As I approached a group of presumably lesbian women in front of a local gay bar, I attempted to disarm them with a big smile, a pink piece of paper, the lesbian friend nearby and a huge “Hi!”  They scattered.  I turned to one and said, “Would you like to participate in the DOMA protest tomorrow to support gay rights?”  She rolled her eyes at me and said, “no… thank you,” in what was likely the most condescending tone anyone has ever spoken to me in.  The one remaining woman was likely humoring me with her “interest.”  Ultimately, it became clear she had no intention of attending.

But, not all was lost.  An adorable couple and their little girl (roughly 5 or 6 years old) stopped to sign the letter and talk with us.  While her parents were reviewing the letter, the little girl was asking all sorts of questions to her parents about what we were doing.  She was trying to read the letter her mother was holding and said, “Is that so gay people can get married?”  Her mother responded with a yes and the little girl says, “FINALLY!”  My heart glowed with joy.

In a conversation with another couple (also adorable) I began my speech about the first section of DOMA and how it violates Article IV Sec. I of the U.S. Constitution and that even its author, Bill Barr, supports its repeal.  After talking for several a couple of minutes, the young lady looks at me and says, “Can you dumb this down a bit?”  We shared a laugh and I advised its generally in support of “gay marriage” and hate crimes legislation.  Her husband (or boyfriend) said, “If I sign this does it mean I have to marry someone of the same sex.”  I quickly advised him, “No.  But if your interested I do know some people.”

Over all, the experience was positive – for me, it was an excercise in confidence.  Each time I approached someone I was essentially coming out of the closet all over again.  The most negative response received that I’m aware of was “God doesn’t like homosexuals.”  I wasn’t there at the time, but I’m sure I would have simply asked, “Does God like chocolate?”  Just to find out if they knew the answer.

Lawsuit Filed to Remove “God” from Inauguration

January 09, 2009 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Religion

As Rick Warren prepares to take the stage at the Obama Inaugeration, a lawsuit was filed naming Plaintiffs as:

Michael Newdow; Mel Lipman; Dan Barker And Annie-Laurie Gaylor; Marie Castle; Herb Silverman; Kirk Hornbeck; Catharine Lamm; Richard Wingrove; Christopher Arntzen; John Stoltenberg; Katherine Laclair; Louis Altman; “Unnamed Children;” The American Humanist Association (“AHA”); The Freedom From Religion Foundation (“FFRF”); Minnesota Atheists; Atheists For Human Right[s] (“AHFR”); Atheist Alliance International (“AAI”); New Orleans Secular Humanist Association (“NOSHA”)

and Defendants as:

Hon. John Roberts, Jr., Chief Justice Of The U.S. Supreme Court; Presidential Inaugural Committee (“PIC”); Emmett Beliveau, Executive Director, Pic; Joint Congressional Committee On Inaugural Ceremonies (“JCCIC”); Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairperson, JCCIC; Armed Forces Inaugural Committee (“AFIC”); Major General Richard J. Rowe Jr., Chairperson, AFIC; Rev. Rick Warren; Rev. Joe Lowery.

The lawsuit has spawned much controversy due to the outrage held by many members of the LGBT community to the non-gay friendly Rick Warren’s appointment to lead the invocation.  In one posting regarding the lawsuit, the author states:

Those who were responsible for the lawsuit, these individual atheists and their organizations,The American Humanist Association; The Freedom From Religion Foundation ; Minnesota Atheists; Atheists For Human Rights; Atheists Alliance International; New Orleans Secular Humanist Association, coupled with the gay terroristic activities surrounding the passing of Proposition 8 in California, and Rick Jacobs, who chairs the California’s Courage Campaign and the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender), are the abject clearinghouse for America’s immortality and anti-America sentiment. These groups are nothing less than moral nazis and terrorists.  See: Postworthy

Try as I might I can’t decide which group will suffer the most from the association.  Will the reputation of the LGBT community suffer from the association with the atheist organizations the most or will the atheist associations suffer the association with the LGBT community the most?  As a gay atheist, I find myself battling for equality on two fronts – my lack of religion and my lack of heterosexual desires.  The primary difference between the two is, although I did not choose to be a gay man, I did choose to “come out” – whereas I not only chose to “come out” as an atheist, but I also chose to “be” an atheist.

Further to that, I’m sick of the inappropriate use of the word terrorists when referring to the actions and reactions of the LGBT community to the passage of proposition 8.  I remember a time in America where terrorists where generally those doing the attacking, not those defending themselves from attackers.  I refer you to another post regarding resin poisoning threats against gay bars in Seattle.

Near the beginning of the Rick Warren scandal, I made this post about how we [LGBT people] are upset that the prayer leader is against civil equality for homosexuals, but could care less about the fact that the Government is again sanctioning religion.  Looks like someone was listening.

Supporters of the oath of office, which has “traditionally” included the words “Under God,” claim that it was inserted into the oath by George Washington – this claim is debatable as many believe it is a myth.  As a side note, “Under God” was not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954 due to pressure from the Knights of Columbus.

Giving Up Hope for a Gay Tomorrow

December 31, 2008 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

Staying motivated is often the most difficult thing when it comes to LGBT activism and human rights generally.  The odds are against us, yet we cannot lose.  Losing is not an option in this battle because every time those that propagate hatred against us are victorious, they gain power.  We may loss battles, but we cannot lose the war.  Why?  Our lives are at stake.  This is not an issue of marriage, it is not an issue of Due Process or Separate But Equal clauses.  We have our lives to lose and I believe that my life, and the life of those around me, is worth fighting for.

Yesterday, my hope and motivation faltered.  Sometimes, even I lose focus and wander into the land of despair.  I start to have terrible thoughts like “we’re going to lose” or “where is everyone else.”  I start to feel alone, tired and scared.  Especially when the very leadership I call upon doesn’t respond.

Yesterday, you likely heard a loud thud noise.  My hopes and dreams of equality slammed to the ground while I browsed local HRC websites in South Texas looking for information on the National DOMA protest for January 10th. I checked every local LGBT organization I could think of – all of their websites – NOTHING.  I emailed San Antonio’s HRC over two weeks ago.  No response.  I contacted the “organizer” in one city (two weeks ago) offering to volunteer – no response.  I contacted her again thinking she’s likely busy and missed the email, no response.  I also checked Austin’s Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce website which has a calendar of LGBT events – January 10th, nothing listed.  I checked San Antonio’s Gay and Lesbian Community Center’s website – not listed.  I emailed San Antonio’s Gay and Lesbian Community Center, the email was returned undeliverable.  We are relying on these local organizations to lead us – but perhaps it is time that we learn to lead ourselves and to play by our rules.

I was devastated.  I looked inward for the answers to the questions that are already starting to roll out into the blogospheres “when, where, how is the DOMA Protest going to work when there is so little information available?”  Today, I spoke with a dear friend who I haven’t spoken with in a couple of weeks and she reminded me of the importance of human rights and human dignity.  She reminded me that being tired or frustrated is fine, but that if I give up, I lose.

So, as we ring in the new year, I challenge each of my readers to download the letter to Obama and the signature pages [link].  Start obtaining signatures today!  Don’t wait for January 10th. Send it to your friends, your neighbors, your family and have them sign it and start getting signatures as well.  Have them send it on to their family, friends and neighbors.  It is time we each step forward individually and swallow our fear and make a difference. It is time for us to stop waiting for someone to speak out for us and start speaking out for ourselves.

Stand up my LGBT brothers and sisters.  Stand up and be counted.  Run with me toward victory because victory is our only option.

Instructions for the letter to Obama:

1) Download the letter;
2) Sign the letter;
3) Get others to sign the letter;
4) Scan it and submit it to the upload page (to be provided by JTI circa January 10) JTI has since stated they want the hard copy of the letter, please mail the original signatures no later than Monday, January 12, 2009 to:

Join The Impact
PO Box 141491
Columbus, OH 43214

If you are a blogger, post this information to your blog.  If you have a website, a gay friendly business – anywhere on the web… circulate the information via link or write your own.  If you use Digg or Reddit – put this information there.  Print multiple copies and take them to your friends.  We don’t have to wait until January 10th to gather signatures or sign the letter or to have others sign the letter.  We can do this, we can win, we must be victorious!

Remember, a full address is not needed but a zip code is required.

Yes We Can – An America For Change

November 05, 2008 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

In Obama’s historic and most memorable acceptance speech as the President Elect of the United States of America, he proclaimed:

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

And I wept.  I cried for the country I had forgotten was with me, not against me.  I cried for the country I thought was dead but had suddenly risen from the grave.  I cried for all the martyrs of the American Dream, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Harvey Milk, Addie Mae Collins, James Chaney, Brandon Tina, Jonathan Daniels, James Byrd and the multiples of others who died because of the color of their skin or their denial of denying themselves and they stood up and said, “Yes we can.”  I cried because I had given up on the USA and no longer felt the pride I had felt so many years ago to stand up and salute the red, white and blue.  I was both proud and humbled.  And then, he spoke to me:

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

For being reminded not to abandon my hope, to not be the cynic, to never forget that I too am an American, I stretch out my hand to you and say, “Thank you Senator from Illinois, the next President of the United States of America.”

For a full transcript of Barack Obama’s 2008 acceptance speech for the Presidency of the United States of America, please follow the below provided link.

TEXT of President-Elect Barack Obama Speech | Views | TheRoot.com.

Alex Okrent’s Blog: Equality is a Moral Imperative

November 04, 2008 By: jaysays Category: LGBT News, Marriage Equality

I suppose some would complain that since the election has heated up, I’ve covered too serious of topics, forgetting my ordinarily laugh at the world self and instead substituting for more serious topics (hence the “seriously”).  Well, this post is no exception… seriously.

Some will remember President Elect Obama’s (no I don’t think I’m being too premature) open letter to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community from February 2008.  Reading that letter now, as Obama’s campaign comes to a close and American’s cast their votes, I find myself wondering, “Does he mean it?”  We all remember the promises of Bill Clinton – taking our money and passing laws such as “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and “the Defense of Marriage Act.”  We don’t ALL particularly fault Bill Clinton for these measures, but it was certainly a slap in the face to those of us that put  our hearts and money where our mouths were.  Granted, I did not vote for Bill Clinton in his 1992-1996 bid, I was too young to vote – but I was listening, and I was aware.

In the wishy washy game of politics, there’s just no way to know whether or not we will experience the same slap from Barack Obama.  Considering his more recent commentary that he is against “gay marriage,” it looks as though we are set for failure; however, I have a dream, but more than that, I have hope.

To read the full text of Obama’s Open Letter to the LGBT Community, please see Alex Okrent’s Blog at:

Barack Obama and Joe Biden: The Change We Need | Alex Okrent’s Blog: Equality is a Moral Imperative.

Obama’s Plan for America – Equal Rights and Exclusionism

November 03, 2008 By: jaysays Category: Commentary, Thought of the Gay

We all know President George W. Bush has been noted for his antics while intoxicated, be it on alcohol or other substances, but did you know about Obama’s history with narcotics?  Obama, in his book, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance wrote:

Junkie.  Pothead.  That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man, Except the highs hadn’t been about that, me trying to prove what a down brother I was.  Not by then, anyway.  I got high for just the opposite effect, something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind, something that could flatten out the landscape of my heart, blur the edges of my memory.  I had discovered that it didn’t make any difference whether you smoked reefer in the white classmate’s sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you’d met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids who had dropped out of school and now spent most of their time looking for an excuse to brawl.  …  You might just be bored, or alone.  Everybody was welcome into the club of disaffection.

Oddly, in all that, I didn’t even pause at the drug use, instead, I was struck by the “club of disaffection.”  That line caught me and held on to my breath for a moment.  I, too, have been welcomed into the club of disaffection – back then I was “hip” rather than worried about breaking a hip.  I bonded deeply at that line with Barack Obama.  The difference was that I wasn’t trying to be black enough or white enough, but trying to forget that the world, generally, loathed the homosexual – or at least felt the homosexual was less of a person than our heterosexual counterparts.

We are the disaffectioned, the blacks, Asians, Hispanics, gays, atheists, Arab and any number of other minority groups in America, now joined together in the club of disaffection.

But that isn’t the case.  Each of the disaffectioned ones claim our own club with our own colors and, like the affectioned ones, ignore those that aren’t in our club.

That’s where Barack Obama has gone wrong for me.  He has forgotten, in spite of a career based upon civil rights, that civil rights are equal rights for one and all.  That’s not to say I won’t proudly cast my vote tomorrow for Barack Obama – former pothead and future president (nothing new there).  I only hope that in his quest for civil rights, he remembers me as I will always remember him.

First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me.’ First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me. — Martin Niemöller (Niemoller)