I will no longer be used. Will you be?

It should now be apparent by those who are aware of the recent and not so recent sweep of history that a few facts have been coming into focus.  And if it is not, it should be.

Both major political parties of the United States use GLBT people.  It’s not that they ignore us, it’s not that they regard us as an inconvenience.  No, they actively use us to achieve the only thing that is important to them: achieving and maintaining political power, which power is used to enhance the wealth and status of selected groups in our society.

And if you look at the flow and ebb of political power, and what is done with this power with respect to not just GLBT issues, but women’s issues, immigration issues and all manner of social issues is this: Both parties have an interest in keeping the political game going.

It is well established among GLBT folks that the Republican Party has been and continues to be hostile to the well being and first class citizenship of our people; this is not and has not been in dispute for a long, long time.  They are hardly blameless in the game of American social values football, while they tend to be neglected because their position is and has been so clear for so long.  Nonetheless, the interest is in not so much oppressing GLBT people as using them.  Using our existence for fundraising, for demagoguery and for all manner of pandering in order to win elections; to keep and hold power.

Nonetheless, this leads to extremes of social discourse that tend to slide under the perceptual range of the average American; there are things we notice and pay attention to that average people who are not so much interested in GLBT issues tend to ignore, less those that spend inordinate amount of time on liberal political radio and so-called “liberal” blogs and websites.

Extremes such as this.

If you asked me, I would agree with a few propositions, were they brought to me by my GLBT friends and gay allies:

1.  Yes, there are people who genuinely hate and/or fear GLBT people, even people who occupy political office, and that for those people, this is not a game, given the opportunity, they would destroy us, and possibly have all of us killed.

2.  Yes, those people (who want to destroy us) tend to be concentrated on the far right, and that those people in the political center, or to the left of center, where anti-gay, tend to want more to use us and keep us from advancing, than they want to “destroy” us.

What is not so clear, however, to the average politically unengaged American, is the degree to which prominent Democrats, and the Democratic Party, also use GLBT people to their political ends, all of which makes the tolerance among Democrats to far right extremes doubly disgusting in that these extremes of hate and fear might not exist but for the fact that Democrats use this debate to keep and enhance their power.  

Remember, my proposition is the Democrats and the Democratic Party in general are using us despite full knowledge of the degree of damage this hate does to the social discourse.  And that this is a political game played out among Democrats and Republicans, not to settle the social debate on one side or another, but to keep the debate going, to serve their political ends.

This may be somewhat obvious to the average poster on Docudharma, but I would point things out that might not be so obvious to the average American.

Friday Philosophy: Health care, employment, and housing (or lack of same)

Dr. Jennifer Potter, Director of the Women’s Health Program at Fenway Health announced a health fair for LBT women on May 11 in  this morning’s edition of Bay Windows.  That will be in the midst of National Women’s Health Week.

She acknowledges that LGBT people all experience health disparities because of continued discrimination and ignorance on the part of of health professionals.  But she also notes that the majority of research and funding for LGBT people is directed at gay men’s health, primarily at gay men infected with HIV.  LBT people are often left out in the cold.

Aside:  I’ve had a lot of personal experience with that, having had to train my own medical practitioners how to treat me.  Too often, medical schools don’t provide training in how to interact with transpeople, let alone how to treat us.  Back in the early 90s I participated in a video interview with a doctor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (Karen Young:  her son was a student at the university where I taught) to be used in its ethics courses, hoping to address the issue.  I do not know if it is still being used…and I never received a copy.

On Email Gay Bashing, Or, ENDA’s Already Getting Ugly

It wasn’t but a couple of days ago that we had a conversation about The Fear and the emails that are used to spread it, and I figured with that out of the way we had dealt with the topic, and that we’d move on to new things.

Well, we would be moving on, Gentle Reader, if it wasn’t for the fact that an email came in today that was so ugly, so disturbing, and so indicative of what we are about to see as the battle over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) begins to heat up (ENDA being possibly the next “big contentious thing” that this Administration hopes to accomplish), that I had to interrupt my story schedule to bring it to your attention.

Lt Choi Pleads Not Guilty, Trial in April – Breaking

Yesterday, Lt Dan Choi and a fellow veteran had themselves handcuffed to the White House fence to peacefully protest the Obama administration’s empty words and lack of action on ending “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”   This disgraceful policy allows over 600 military servicemembers per year to be tossed out of the military merely for sexual orientation.  They were arrested and held overnight in jail, incommunicado.


Protesters also staged sit ins at Speaker Pelosi’s offices in San Francisco and Washington DC.

A spokesperson for Nancy Pelosi’s office said, this morning, that “they didn’t have the votes” to do anything this year.

Robin McGehee of Fresno, CA, of GetEqual,  who was at the arraignment in Washington, DC, is reporting that Lt Dan Choi and Capt Jim Pietrangelo,  have been arraigned before the judge this afternoon, and have pled Not Guilty.   They have now been released from federal custody and will go to trial April 26.   http://twitter.com/speechadvice

“We will not admit guilt in our fight for equality”

“We may have been caged up physically, but many are caged up in their heart.”

– Lt. Dan Choi  March 19, 2010

Americablog also had witnesses there yesterday and disputes another version of events being put out by another LGTB group.


Joe Sudbay:

Lt. Dan Choi and Capt. Jim Pietrangelo should be released from jail today. They were arrested yesterday after handcuffing themselves to the fence in front of the White House to protest Obama’s inaction on repealing DADT. The President plays a key role in that legislation, but despite a vow to do it in the State of the Union, the White House isn’t moving. It was the first time I’ve seen civil disobedience up close. And, it was intense. To think it’s come to this with the Obama administration. But, it has.  This week, Barney Frank made it abundantly clear that the White House really needed to speak out on its desire to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year. That was Monday. No word from the White House, which says everything. There is no plan, despite the promises. It seems that everyone in DC knows that, but not everyone will admit it.

There is a plan, Joe.  They’re going to ignore you until you make yourself heard, which requires many different ways.  Just like with ending the mid east war expansions, getting everybody into a real health care system and not just a junk insurance plan, or forcing the banks to stop stealing people’s life savings, or making the government do something about carbon emissions besides more Nukes, or preserving a woman’s right to chose to bear children.

So don’t let somebody tell you it’s better to use your time to make phone calls on behalf of OFA instead of reading, writing, talking, blogging, protesting, photographing, communicating, and badgering incumbents and candidates.

We’ve (anybody who needs equality, and that is all of us, rich, poor, all colors, all genders, all faiths) got a plan, too.



updated to add link to my diary yesterday, and the americablog link

Lt Choi Arrested For Equal Rights Protest, Others Too @ Pelosi’s Office

Lt. Dan Choi, a nationally known LGBT activist and Iraq War veteran who the military is attempting to discharge because of its Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, led a group of protesters to the White House today, where he and Capt. Jim Pietrangelo let themselves be handcuffed to the wrought iron fence in an act of peaceful civil disobedience.  They were subsequently arrested and are now being held in jail pending court tomorrow.

The Advocate, 3/18/2010


United States Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser told The Advocate that both men were taken to Park Police’s Anacostia station, where they were charged with failure to obey a lawful order. Choi and Pietrangelo will be held overnight and are scheduled to appear in D.C. Superior Court on Friday.

“You’ve been told that the White House has a plan,” Choi told rally attendees. “But we learned this week that the president is still not fully committed. … Following this rally, I will be leading [the protest] to the White House to say ‘enough talk.’ … I am still standing, I am still fighting, I am still speaking out, and I am still gay.”

 Lt Choi and Capt Pietrangelo, handcuffed to the fence at the White House on March 18, 2010, while the crowd chants “Equality…..  NOW ! ”                          

Despite the Democrats holding the majority in the House and Senate since 2006,  and the White House since January 2009, during campaigns which Democratic candidates called for the repeal of DADT,  nothing has changed much in that soldiers who are outed in terms of their sexuality can still be discharged against their will for nothing but being attracted to the same gender irregardless of performance and duty.  This in spite of the issue of inequality being used for fundraising purposes, people seeking justice have been told “not now, it’s too controversial while we’re doing something else first” repeatedly.   While the President finally mentioned the topic in this year’s state of the Union address, he intends to put language about it into a fiscal appropriations bill for next year.

This is ridiculous.  


In the fiscal years since the policy was first introduced in 1993, the military has discharged over 13,000 troops from the military under DADT.[23][51][52] The number of discharges per year under DADT dropped sharply after the September 11 attacks and has remained relatively low since. Discharges exceeded 600 every year until 2009. Statistics on the number of persons discharged per year follow:

2007 —  627  discharged

2008 —  619 discharged

2009  —  so far  428 discharged so far    

Rick Sanchez of CNN does a good job covering this in this video.  Lt. Choi and Capt. Pietrangelo chained themselves to the White House fence today, then were arrested, in an act of peaceful civil disobedience to protest the lack of action on the ENDA Non Discrimination Act, and for ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the military. Choi is an Iraq veteran.

The protest at the White House was followed by sit ins at House Speaker Pelosi’s offices in San Francisco and in Washington, DC later that afternoon by LGBTQ activists with “Get Equal.”   http://www.getequal.org/getenda/  Per their website, 4 people have been arrested at Speaker Pelosi’s Washington DC office.   The ones arrested in San Francisco have been cited and released.   twitter for Get Equal  http://twitter.com/getequal

Newsweek The Human Condition blog 3/18/2010


The group appears to be convinced that the administration and Congress are not moving forward with gay-rights legislation, despite Obama’s call in the State of the Union for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and assurances that ENDA is being explored. This week, however, The Advocate published an article in which Barney Frank claimed that the administration wanted to push the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” into next year.

According to GetEqual’s statement: “ENDA legislation has been stuck in the House Committee on Education and Labor since last year. Contrary to what has been told to many LGBTQ allies in Congress, The Hill reported in December that Pelosi assured Democrats she would not bring any controversial bills to the floor for a vote this year.”

But activists say that politics should take a back seat to human rights and basic safety. “A recent study on discrimination found that 97 percent of transgender people who responded had experienced some level of harassment and 26 percent had been fired simply for being transgender,” said David McElhatton, who is described in the statement as a transgender activist who participated in the San Francisco action today. “We thought we had an ally in Nancy Pelosi, but she has taken our equality for granted. We are not going to let up on her until she takes action to ensure that we are all protected in the workplace.”

Human rights are civil rights.  We can’t be invading country after country on the rationalization of some sort of mission to “democracize” them with western values when we continue to discriminate here at home on the basis of religious and gender identity.  These people who are willing to defend and even die for us, only wish to continue to serve their country honorably.

End Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year.

Don’t let the fear be the enemy of the good.


h/t to Lady Libertine for the links


Wings 1

Every once in a while I get into a rhythm wherein my graphics all stem from the same emotional and artistic source.  I make one graphic and keep on modifying it until the emotional impulse seems to have run its course.

This was apparently one of those “once in a whiles”, but instead of ending up with the usual 2 to 4 pieces, I ended up with at least 10 (ten as of the beginning of this piece, though more may be created and added by the time I hit the end.

The original piece had the feel of a wing, which of course lead insistently into the theme of flying.

Friday Philosophy: Downward mobility

Earlier today, teacherken posted an essay entitled, American, land of opportunity – Not!.  It was mostly about the the limits of upward mobility caused by race and class.  In fact, the paper he cited discussed downward mobility caused by those factors.

Downward mobility is not strange to people in the trans community.  In the news yesterday was this report from the 2010 Creating Change conference, courtesy of Renee Baker for dallasvoice.com.

Numbers.  They were preliminary numbers, but numbers nonetheless.  And I’m a numbers person in the eyes of most part, so I thought I would share and comment on them.

They are not exactly new.  The numbers come from a preliminary report dated in November.  NGLTF released an even rougher sketch of the data earlier in last year.

But the question comes up from time to time.  Do transfolk really need to be covered by an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act?  

Will You Wait With Us?

(please rec at dkos too)

If you will indulge me for a few minutes, I have a thought experiment in which I would like you to participate. Sit and close your eyes for a minute. Now imagine, you wake up and it’s tomorrow. The government tells you that you aren’t married to your love. Everyone in the media calls your marriage a “marriage” with scare quotes, or a partnership or even worse. Some in the media decide to tell you that you’re completely sick and wrong. That your existence and the love you have for your partner is not love but a sick, hedonistic perversion.

Nobody understands you.

People cast you out and ignore you.

They call you names.

A simple story about a boy

(Please rec at dkos too)

Michael is nineteen years old. He lives in Tennessee, otherwise known as hell on Earth for transgender people. He goes to school in a relatively more liberal part of the state but things are still ridiculously hard on him. Add to that the fact that his parents don’t really accept or care about him the way he is.

His parents, if you can call them that, are your typical homophobic conservatives who are not adaptive to any sort of change whatsoever. He came out to them as a boy four years ago, and you’d think by now they’d gain some sort of understanding or at LEAST want to learn more about being transgender, but that’s not the case with those people. His dad recently told him, paraphrasing, he is a GIRL and his dad will never recognize him as a boy. Ever. In case you haven’t figured it out already, this is mind-numbingly stupid.

It doesn’t help that there are so many misconceptions about transgender people, but honestly, it doesn’t help that they won’t take the time to learn about it and rid themselves of their incorrect views on it. His parents seem to think that transgender and intersex are the same, and that he’s somehow trying to say that he has ambiguous genitalia or looks. He looks like a guy, because, you know, he IS, but they argue that he doesn’t and they also argue that if he does, it doesn’t matter because he’s not a boy. They argue that he’s been constantly indoctrinated and brainwashed by people and by “facts” he read on the internet. Michael is a really smart guy. Probably the most intelligent guy I’ve ever met, really. When he first realized something was off with his body, he started reading about it. He posted on transgender internet forums and met people who were the same, so he could learn about what’s making him feel that way. This is a logical step for anyone. This isn’t some sort of secret plan to turn oneself into a boy. He wanted to understand and to be closer to people. He wanted to stop feeling so alone and scared.

Good News on the LGBT front! (and what you need to do to help)

Once more to the well.  

Without rehashing the last weeks’ debates over President Obama’s relationship with the LGBT rights movement, I wanted to outline a list of legislation that is currently in play, along with recommendations about what we can do to help speed the processes along.  There’s nothing worse than the feeling that we have no say in the political process, but here are four opportunities to get vocal in a concrete, direct way:

1. the Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligation Act

2. the Employment Non-Discrimination Act

3. the Matthew Shepard Act

4. the Military Readiness Enhancement Act

And the best part is, you really can help.  All four of these bills are before Congress (or about to be introduced), and your representatives are waiting to hear from you.

Fragile Coalitions: Lessons from ENDA and McClurkin, part I

The last month has not been a good one for the loose confederacy of interests usually filed under progressive causes.  First, LGBT activists nearly devoured themselves over the proposed changes to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), in a struggle that challenged the commitment of ostensibly queer activists to the T part of the acronym and eventually resulted in public resignations from the nation’s most powerful LGBT lobby.  Second, the Obama campaign’s ill-advised decision to launch a gospel tour with publicly outspoken anti-gay singers led to a series of campaign flubs, bitter exchanges, and an epic flameout on Daily Kos that really has to be read to be believed. 

Though I don’t doubt the general commitment of everyone involved to the same umbrella set of goals, the fissures and lack of well-articulated overlap between interest groups has the potential – especially when lacking a strong central figure to act as leader – to turn nasty.  That’s exactly what happened this past month, and I want to perform a brief autopsy to show where things went wrong, and whether it’s possible to avoid these kinds of explosions in the future.  Spoiler alert: I really don’t think so.

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