Friday, July 31, 2009

Report Says Gay Community Has Relinquished Momentum on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

This past Tuesday, announced the publication of a new Palm Center report on efforts by gay and gay-friendly activists, journalists and others to block consideration of an executive order suspending “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The new report, “A Self-Inflicted Wound: How and Why Gays Give the White House a Free Pass on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” was written by
Palm Center director Aaron Belkin.

“Some members of our community have been circulating misleading arguments which ended up as talking points for the President of the United States,” Belkin said. “It is not our job to provide
Washington with reasons to continue to discriminate.”

Yesterday, a working group including former Congressman Marty Meehan and two retired Generals released a statement correcting misleading and inaccurate claims about “don’t ask, don’t tell” that are addressed in today’s report.


The Palm Center is a research institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The Center usesrigorous social science to inform public discussions of controversial social issues, enabling policyoutcomes to be informed more by evidence than by emotion. Its data-driven approach is premised onthe notion that the public makes wise choices on social issues when high-quality information isavailable. For more information, visit

Hattip: & www.palmcenter.ucs

Obama Administration Pressures Hastings to Drop Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell!


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Join the Impact - Chicago Organizer Offers Rationale for National Equality March

Nik Maciejewski, co-founder and organizer, Join the Impact - Chicago
offers his thoughts on the National Equality March set for October 10-11th.

Former LGBT March Organizer Speaks Out

from GAY CITY NEWS - 07.29. 2009
Top-Down “National March for Equality” Won’t Wash
by Steve Ault

As one of the lead organizers for the LGBT community’s first two marches on Washington — in 1979 and 1987 — my ears perked up when I heard there were plans for a new one.

I checked out David Mixner’s website where the “National Equality March” was announced, ostensibly for and by the LGBT community, although the name of the event was devoid of any such reference. The date was set, as was an overarching statement of purpose, but unlike the earlier actions, there would be no specific demands.

Despite rhetoric invoking the “grassroots,” it appears the leadership already had been decided: Mixner, and a few self-selected others. The whole package was signed, sealed, very neatly wrapped, and then delivered to the LGBT community as a fait accompli.

To date there have been four national marches on Washington organized by the LGBT community — in 1979, 1987, 1993, and 2000. The first three were great successes; the fourth a fiasco marked by a huge event-day rip-off of participating small business people, followed by bankruptcy, lawsuits, and an FBI investigation — not to mention a turnout a mere fraction of the 1987 and 1993 marches.

By no coincidence, the first three were run democratically, with grassroots involvement in decision-making and organizing; the fourth — the grandiosely named “Millennium March” — had self-selected leadership and a decision-making process closed to the community.

Briefly, here’s how our first three marches were organized and structured. The primary decision-making steering committee, national in scope, was comprised of delegates elected at regional meetings, assuring representation from all parts of the country while also mandating gender parity and inclusion of people of color. National organizations and spokespeople from unrepresented and underrepresented constituencies were added to make sure just about everyone had a seat at the table. The leadership was in turn elected from and by the steering committee. This decision-making process — admittedly contentious and chaotic at times — won acceptance as fair and inclusive. The ability to be both heard and represented motivated people from all over the country to commit time, energy, and resources to building these marches — a factor at the very heart of their success.

In each instance, when the big day finally arrived, we reveled in and were empowered by our accomplishment. The first three marches on Washington strengthened our movement largely because they were democratically-run grassroots efforts on a massive scale. They have thus become milestones in both our developing self-awareness and our history as a politically effective community. They have even served as models for other movements seeking social change. Some traditions are worth fighting for.

That’s not to say a future march must be organized exactly the same way in order to succeed. We should, of course, take full advantage of the many new social networking technologies available to connect us with each other. But these technologies cannot replace what is unique about face-to-face meetings and old-fashioned grassroots organizing — experiences crucial to building and sustaining a sense of community.

The importance of process also becomes obvious when considering the major issues:
To Have a March or Not: The issue of resources and priorities inevitably arises from the ways in which a national action affects local or statewide work. Under current economic conditions, the matter of resources, in the case of both organizations and individuals, is especially relevant.

And If So -- When to March: Three months is a very brief lead-time. Such short notice precludes a real grassroots effort that, by nature, takes a while to get off the ground, the Internet notwithstanding. Some would maintain that a march should be held during the year leading up to a presidential election for maximum impact.

What to Call It: The name we give to our community, which evolved over time to become more inclusive, was incorporated into the title given to the first three marches; not so for the fourth, and apparently that will also not be the case for this one. There are different viewpoints on this question, but they have not been debated.

What It’s For — the Political Message: Focus can be lost with too many demands, but unlike the current endeavor, usually a demonstration does include a set of demands. Perhaps a happy medium is best. Some would argue that change is more important than “equality” — that before demanding an equal slice of the pie, one should consider whether the pie itself is rotten.

True, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is idiotic, but what about the role played by the US military? As for marriage, some will point out that its allocation of benefits based on relationship status discriminates against the unmarried. If so, is extending access to a prejudicial institution the way to go?

With HIV/ AIDS and more, no one can deny the unique and historic intersection between the needs of the LGBT community and the issue of health care. Is it not possible, in fact, that a single-payer health care system could benefit far more members of our community than all the topical equality issues combined? Doesn’t this discussion merit open debate?

The Program: Who speaks for and represents the community is always a hot topic — and no small matter.

Related events: In previous instances, related events were planned in addition to the march and rally. Most frequently, a lobbying effort was included. But in conjunction with the 1987 march, we organized a huge, empowering civil disobedience action at the US Supreme Court protesting its Bowers v. Hardwick decision the year before upholding the sodomy laws of Georgia.

There’s a lot to mull over, a lot to debate, and a lot to decide. The issues raised here are but a few possible examples, presented not as endorsements, but as an indication of how the current discussion could easily proceed. One thing is certain, however — the discussion needs to proceed openly, with decisions made democratically.

Differences between the grassroots and top-down models are evident in their contrasting approaches to the inclusion of people of color. With the former, representatives are selected by and from their communities and are part of the decision-making process of the entire effort from the outset. With the latter, people of color are selected by the leadership — after major decisions have already been made — and are used to lend the event and its planners a veneer of credibility.

The experience of working out the structure and putting the marches together served as a unique and indispensable training ground for many burgeoning activists and movement veterans. The overwhelming majority of those who helped build these events would undoubtedly concur — arguing strenuously that a new generation of LGBT activists should not be deprived of a similar experience.

Organizers of the current march may claim we’re at a critical moment and just don’t have time to do it any other way. This response won’t wash. In 1987, the Supreme Court had recently decided that our sexuality could define us all as criminals; our very existence was challenged. Meanwhile, we were in the depths of a devastating epidemic with a president who wouldn’t even utter the word AIDS. Yet, we took no convenient or facile shortcuts. Building a community-wide mandate was too important.

Coming up with an idea, promoting it, and then testing it is all well and good. Self-selecting leadership for an event that purports to represent and speak for an entire community is not. A leadership style or process that makes raising community issues akin to petitioning Caesar is simply not acceptable. Earlier generations of LGBT activists would not have tolerated this power grab. We must make our voices heard now.

Native New Yorker Steve Ault, who can be reached at, served as co-coordinator of the first National March on Washington for Lesbian & Gay Rights in 1979, and co-chair of the second in 1987. He was a member of the Gay Liberation Front and a founding board member of the LGBT Community Services Center of New York City. For more information about the LGBT community’s marches on Washington, check out “The Dividends of Dissent,” a book by Amin Ghaziani, and visit This discussion can also be informed by an Internet search on the “Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament.”

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vanasco: It’s Time to Stonewall Obama

from a posting on Gay Independent Forum
by Jennifer Vanasco
First published in the Chicago Free Press on June 17, 2009

It is starting to seem like a tautology that if the Obama administration is asked to weigh in on a question of gay rights, then it will come down on the wrong side.

It happened again last week.

Obama’s Department of Justice crafted a brief defending the Defense of Marriage Act that used all of the arguments of the anti-gay Right. Heterosexual marriages are “traditional,” it said. Denying federal recognition to legal state marriages doesn’t hurt anyone, it said. States don’t have to recognize gay marriages performed by other states just like they don’t have to recognize a marriage between an uncle and his niece, it said.

We do not have a “friend in the White House.”

We do not have a “fierce advocate.”

What we have is an enemy.

He is, sure, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, wearing a glittering costume embroidered with “Hope,” “Change” and empty promises. He is master of doublespeak, saying that he is against DOMA yet not protesting when a Bush-holdover presses a poison dagger of a marriage brief into our chests; he says he supports the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but has yet to issue a Stop-Loss order to keep hunted gays and lesbians in their military jobs.

Leave gay rights to the states, he says. Leave them to Congress.

Barack Obama is no longer hurting us with benign neglect. Barack Obama’s administration is now actively attacking us.

If George W. Bush had responded this way to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DOMA, we would be rising in the streets. We would be protesting in front of the White House.

"Barack Obama has forgotten, perhaps, that we are human beings with families. He perhaps has made the erroneous assumption that we will wait our turn humbly, hats in hand, until he decides to be beneficent in the waning days of a second term. We need to show him that we will not."Barack Obama is not our friend. He is not our fierce advocate. He is someone who used our vulnerability and hope to get elected.

Joe Solmonese, executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, wrote a beautiful letter to the White House expressing just this sense of betrayal. “I cannot overstate the pain that we feel as human beings and as families when we read an argument, presented in federal court, implying that our own marriages have no more constitutional standing than incestuous ones,” he wrote.

We need to show him that we will not.

The world is a different place than it was five years ago or even six months ago. Establishment Republicans — Dick Cheney! Joe Bruno in New York! — are now coming out in favor of gay marriage. A majority of Americans favor the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Gay and lesbian civil rights are no longer a fringe issue. And gays and lesbians are no longer a minority who will be placated with hate crimes legislation in lieu of full and equal rights.

There will always be urgent issues competing for a President’s attention. That’s what being President is. But those other issues shouldn’t make us back down. In fact, they should make us fight harder.

Health care? DOMA might make it impossible for our spouses to be our dependents in a federal health care program. The economy? Our families would certainly be better off if the money we paid to Social Security could go to our loved ones if we passed before they did. The war? America would have a stronger fighting force if it stopped ejecting perfectly qualified, long-serving soldiers just because they are gay.

We must stop giving Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt. It is time to show him that we will not support a second term, that we will not support the Democratic Party, if this continues. We will not give a dollar of our money. We will not give an hour of our time.

We will Stonewall him and his administration. The time for being treated as the equal Americans we are has come, and we will not be pushed aside.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shame!! - McCain Calls Typical Legislative Amendment on Hate Crimes an "Abuse of Power"

Gay Marriage and the Constitution
Why Ted Olson and I are working to overturn California's Proposition 8.
By David Boies
Wall Street Journal - 7.20.2009

When I got married in California in 1959 there were almost 20 states where marriage was limited to two people of different sexes and the same race. Eight years later the Supreme Court unanimously declared state bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional.

Recently, Ted Olson and I brought a lawsuit asking the courts to now declare unconstitutional California's Proposition 8 limitation of marriage to people of the opposite sex. We acted together because of our mutual commitment to the importance of this cause, and to emphasize that this is not a Republican or Democratic issue, not a liberal or conservative issue, but an issue of enforcing our Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and due process to all citizens.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the right to marry the person you love is so fundamental that states cannot abridge it. In 1978 the Court (8 to 1, Zablocki v. Redhail) overturned as unconstitutional a Wisconsin law preventing child-support scofflaws from getting married. The Court emphasized, "decisions of this Court confirm that the right to marry is of fundamental importance for all individuals." In 1987 the Supreme Court unanimously struck down as unconstitutional a Missouri law preventing imprisoned felons from marrying.
There were legitimate state policies that supported the Wisconsin and Missouri restrictions held unconstitutional. By contrast, there is no legitimate state policy underlying Proposition 8. The occasional suggestion that marriages between people of different sexes may somehow be threatened by marriages of people of the same sex does not withstand discussion. It is difficult to the point of impossibility to envision two love-struck heterosexuals contemplating marriage to decide against it because gays and lesbians also have the right to marry; it is equally hard to envision a couple whose marriage is troubled basing the decision of whether to divorce on whether their gay neighbors are married or living in a domestic partnership. And even if depriving lesbians of the right to marry each other could force them into marrying someone they do not love but who happens to be of the opposite sex, it is impossible to see how that could be thought to be as likely to lead to a stable, loving relationship as a marriage to the person they do love.

Moreover, there is no longer any credible contention that depriving gays and lesbians of basic rights will cause them to change their sexual orientation. Even if there was, the attempt would be constitutionally defective. But, in fact, the sexual orientation of gays and lesbians is as much a God-given characteristic as the color of their skin or the sexual orientation of their straight brothers and sisters. It is also a condition that, like race, has historically been subject to abusive and often violent discrimination. It is precisely where a minority's basic human rights are abridged that our Constitution's promise of due process and equal protection is most vital.Countries as Catholic as Spain, as different as Sweden and South Africa, and as near as Canada have embraced gay and lesbian marriage without any noticeable effect -- except the increase in human happiness and social stability that comes from permitting people to marry for love. Several states -- including Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont -- have individually repealed their bans on same-sex marriage as inconsistent with a decent respect for human rights and a rational view of the communal value of marriage for all individuals. But basic constitutional rights cannot depend on the willingness of the electorate in any given state to end discrimination. If we were prepared to consign minority rights to a majority vote, there would be no need for a constitution.

The ban on same-sex marriages written into the California Constitution by a 52% vote in favor of Proposition 8 is the residue of centuries of figurative and literal gay-bashing. California allows same-sex domestic partnerships that, as interpreted by the California Supreme Court, provide virtually all of the economic rights of marriage. So the ban on permitting gay and lesbian couples to actually marry is simply an attempt by the state to stigmatize a segment of its population that commits no offense other than falling in love with a disapproved partner, and asks no more of the state than to be treated equally with all other citizens. In 2003 the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas held that states could not constitutionally outlaw consensual homosexual activity. As Justice Anthony Kennedy elegantly wrote rejecting the notion that a history of discrimination might trump constitutional rights, "Times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress. As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom."

There are those who sincerely believe that homosexuality is inconsistent with their religion -- and the First Amendment guarantees their freedom of belief. However, the same First Amendment, as well as the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, preclude the enshrinement of their religious-based disapproval in state law.

Gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters, our teachers and doctors, our friends and neighbors, our parents and children. It is time, indeed past time, that we accord them the basic human right to marry the person they love. It is time, indeed past time, that our Constitution fulfill its promise of equal protection and due process for all citizens by now eliminating the last remnant of centuries of misguided state discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The argument in favor of Proposition 8 ultimately comes down to no more than the tautological assertion that a marriage is between a man and a woman. But a slogan is not a substitute for constitutional analysis. Law is about justice, not bumper stickers.

Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

THE " Oh Lord, Not Now!" NAYSAYERS - Mixner Responds to National Equality March Critics

from David

"There is a new chapter within the LGBT civil rights movement that can only be described as the "Oh Lord, Not Now!" movement.

"These well meaning, hard-working and intelligent folks want a very neat time-lined, totally safe and predictable movement. One where, as a community, we do not publicly move until we are assured of victory. They don't want us to venture from a proscribed game plan that mostly originates out of a Washington-based political strategy to gain our freedom. They live in fear that we will move too quickly, make someone uncomfortable and put our political friends in a tough spot. Afraid to risk defeat, they believe we have to make everyone like us and be on our side. Most amazingly they seek the approval of others instead of insisting that others have to liberate themselves from their own long held myths in order to receive this marvelous gift that our community brings."

Read the rest of his blog post here.
photo credit: Charlie Rose Show

Monday, July 20, 2009

Comments Sought for Repeal of HIV Travel Ban

The Center for Disease Control & Prevention is seeking comment on a proposal by Obama adminstration to repeal the HIV/AIDS travel ban to the United States.

Among the key provisions of the new rules proposed in the administrative outline by the CDC are that: HIV infection would no longer be included on the list of “communicable disease of public health significance”; Testing for HIV infection would no longer be required as part of the U.S. Immigration medical screening process; and HIV infection would no longer require a waiver for entry into the United States.

This repeal is long overdue and something that was promised by Barack Obama during the U.S. Presidential campaign.

Send your supportive comments here.

hattip: Queers United

A Passionate Plea to Scientists to Act on HIV/AIDS by Stephen Lewis (Co-Director - AIDS Free World)

In my younger days, decades upon decades ago, we were consumed by the threat of nuclear annihilation. The forces of darkness, East and West, seemed in the ascendance. The Doomsday clock inched its way to midnight.

And then there arose, across a spectrum ranging from the scientists and engineers writing in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, through to the Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, aloud clamouring cry of protest, accompanied by marches, banners, polemics, statements, press conferences demanding, in the name of humankind, that the madness end.

And it did, at least for a time at the end of the Cold War. And the scientists and doctors won Nobel Peace Prizes and showed the power of scholarly activism for the whole world to see. Two weeks ago, just prior to the meeting of the G8, a full-page ad appeared in the FinancialTimes, with the headline “Scientists Call on World Leaders to Take Action on Climate Change”. It was signed by twenty-five of the most renowned climatologists and earth scientists. They didn’t get all they wanted by any means, but they jolted the political leadership into the recognition that the scientists are mobilized, are watching, are keeping the rest of the world informed and will not be silenced.

I was immediately reminded of the letter, signed by eighty-one acclaimed medical clinicians and researchers right after the Toronto AIDS conference, demanding the resignation of the then South African Minister of Health for reasons everyone in this audience understands. It was an important moment in the accelerating, cumulative pressure for a change in policy, a change now underway.

In truth, there are many in this audience who fought for that change. This is an audience that has devoted itself to making the world a better place, so I hope that what I’m about to say will
-- No one should underestimate the power and influence of science when it decides to take a stand. The two co-Chairs of this Conference are striking examples, amongst many, of the extraordinary impact scientists can have. And never has the exercise of power and influence been more imperative than at this moment in the fight against the AIDS pandemic. Your individual and collective voices are needed … sure, you have the technological and laboratory acumen, you know about vaccines and microbicides and triple combination therapy and viral loads and CD4 counts and pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis … the entire panoply of sophisticated scientific discovery and intervention.

And that’s your work, and it’s of inestimable value. We need you to unravel the secrets of thescience, to make all of that elusive and mysterious information accessible to the untutored rest of us. But we need the scientific community as well to speak clearly, and unequivocally, boldly andevocatively to the power-brokers of this world, telling them of the risks and the benefits, andwhat will happen if they make the wrong choices.

Somehow, along with the science, we need the activism. They are inseparable.So when, as now, there’s a backlash against funding for AIDS, with mindless charges against AIDS exceptionalism, you should find a way, collectively, to shoot down the pinched bureaucrats and publicity-seeking academics who advocate exchanging the health of some for the health of others – who propose robbing Peter to pay Paul rather than arguing, in principled fashion, that money must be found for every imperative, including maternal and child health, and sexual and reproductive health, and environmental health as well as all the resources required toturn the tide of the AIDS pandemic.

It can never be an either/or. We’re talking about human lives for God’s sake, not about the phony parsing of balance sheets. The Treasuries of the western nations are very artful at the divide andconquer route. We must never allow them to play one part of the health sector against the other.HIV/AIDS, for all the horrendous human consequences, has objectively strengthened health systems, has brought together all the sectors of government from agriculture to education, hasintegrated private and public initiatives, has exponentially raised awareness of the consequences of gender inequality, has spawned remarkably novel ideas for raising resources … all of it inevitably improving human health overall.

Believe me, if we could have back the lives we’ve lost, I’d relinquish in a heartbeat the institutional gains that flow from AIDS. But we can’t, so at least don’t undervalue or dismiss the gains.

It’s so easy for the detractors to coddle specious arguments. Rather than asking for more money,they have this punitive spasm to ransack resources for AIDS. You must not let them get awaywith it.

And when the G8 won’t renew its 2005 commitment to universal access; when the G8 cynically uses the financial crisis to threaten cutbacks to AIDS funding; when the G8 once again, yet again, always again subverts its own promises and in so doing compromises the health of millions, then it’s time for science to speak with one powerful voice of accusation. And when the Global Fund faces a shortfall of several billion, you would do the world a tremendous service by simply finding a way, collectively, from your positions of authority, to remind the political leadership of how they used precious public money to bail out the banks, so that Goldman Sachs could make a profit of $3.4 billion in the second quarter of 2009, JP Morgan Chase could make a profit of $2.7 billion in the same period, and with obscene contempt for the human condition, pay bonuses, yet again, beyond the dreams of hyperactive wealth.

You spend every day of your working lives to make life possible, and the power brokers devalue your work with the fraudulent plea of destitution. Don’t let them get away with it. But funding isn’t the only issue; the issues proliferate. When the Government of Senegal jails eight gay AIDS activists for no reason except homophobia, setting back the fight against AIDS, where are the scientific voices of condemnation?

Right now, in the Caribbean, every country save the Bahamas, has laws that criminalize homosexuality. We tiptoe round this twisted form of racism. We submit to ridiculous claims ofcultural relativism. The Prime Minister of Jamaica, in the safety of Parliament, makes the mostcontemptible statements about gay men, leaving every elemental component of human rights intatters, and he’s never called to account ... not by the UN Human Rights Council, not by the G8,not by the G20, not by the Commonwealth … only by the gay activists themselves. What iswrong with the international community? If this is how it behaves, it doesn’t deserve the name“community” at all. And if the political leadership lacks the courage to confront such outrageous slander, you shouldn’t lack the courage. You’re scientists. You know that it’s a scientific realitythat a certain percentage of the world’s people is gay. So tell the political philistines to get over itand stop wrecking such damage. More, you know that an ugly homophobic culture is a threat to public health that inevitably serves to spread the virus … I beg you to say so. The majesty of science is its influence.

Then there’s the issue, commonly known as PMTCT --- prevention of mother to child transmission. This should have been the easiest intervention of all, instead we’ve had a panorama of unnecessary death for both the mothers and their children. So-called PMTCT has been a colossal failure, subjected to twisted linguistics, lousy science, governmental chicanery, and astonishing delinquency on the part of United Nations agencies. Only now is the political establishment coming to its senses. But it needs your help so that it never goes off the rails again.What help?

Let me count the ways.

First, never again should it be called mother-to-child transmission. It should better be called vertical transmission. How is it that we so casually, mindlessly demonize the mother by naming her as the vector?

Second, even now a dreadful double standard prevails: in the industrial world we use full HAART; in the developing world we still use, in the majority, single-dose nevirapine. You’re scientists: you know what that means in terms of unnecessary infant infection and death.

Third, we abandon the mothers. In 2007, only 12 per cent of pregnant women living with HIV identified during antenatal care, were assessed for their eligibility to receive ARV treatment. That’s an unconscionable neglect of women that smacks of vestigial misogyny.

Fourth, the WHO/UNICEF/UNAIDS guidelines on breastfeeding, and the use of breast-milk substitutes are widely ignored. To this day, the value of exclusive breast-feeding for six months in stemming HIV infection and providing the infant with the strongest possible immunity to other diseases is still caught between conjecture and disavowal. Sometimes I think that every Minister of Health should be required to take a mandatory course from Dr. Coovadia. Failing that, the UN, and primarily UNICEF, should do its job, and mount a massive global education campaign to replace myths with facts about infant feeding. Political and cultural influences can be dead wrong where infant feeding is concerned; the scientists here assembled have an indispensable role to play in setting the world straight.

And there’s one other matter I must raise. The epidemic of domestic sexual violence that lacerates the soul of South Africa is mirrored in the pattern of grotesque raping in areas of outright conflict from Darfur to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in areas of contested electoral turbulence from Kenya to Zimbabwe. Inevitably, a certain percentage of the rapes transmits the virus. We don’t know how high that percentage is. We know only that women are subjected to the most dreadful double jeopardy.

The point must also be made that there’s no such thing as the enjoyment of good health for women who live in constant fear of rape. Countless strong women survive the sexual assaultsthat occur in the millions every year, but every rape leaves a scar; no one ever fully heals.

This business of discrimination against and oppression of women is the world’s most poisonous curse. Nowhere is it felt with greater catastrophic force than in the AIDS pandemic. This audience knows the statistics full well: you’ve chronicled them, you’ve measured them, the epidemiologists amongst you have disaggregated them. What has to happen, with one unified voice, is that the scientific community tells the political community that it must understand one incontrovertible fact of health: bringing an end to sexual violence is a vital component in bringing an end to AIDS. The brave groups of women who dare to speak up on the ground, in country after country, should not have to wage this fight in despairing and lonely isolation. They should hear the voices of scientific thunder. You understand the connections between violence against women and vulnerability to the virus. No one can challenge your understanding. Use it, Ibeg you, use it.

When I said at the outset that this was the most critical moment, I wasn’t indulging in rhetorical flourish. As has been pointed out time and time again, 2010 is the anointed year for universal access. We have but seventeen short months. If ever the scientific community was to engage in public activism, that time is now. Not only must we save every life we can in that seventeen months, but we have to create such energy that the tide of intervention is irreversible, and neitherfinancial downturns nor the feckless caterwauling of the critics of AIDS funding will compromise our goal.

Make no mistake about it: that means taking on the development aristocracy and those who advise and influence it … for example, DfID in the United Kingdom, and the World Bank and the IMF and even the World Health Organization.

Pause for a moment to think what we’re dealing with. AIDS exceptionalism is a perfectly defensible and descriptive concept. Why do you think the world created an organization called UNAIDS? AIDS was exceptional. AIDS is exceptional. I tramped the high-prevalence countries of Africa for more than five years; if I wasn’t viewing the most exceptional communicable disease assault of the twentieth century, then the word “exceptional” needs to be re-defined. As a consequence of that exceptionality, and the tremendous campaigning of grass-roots advocates, AIDS received funding, a lot of funding … never enough to be sure, but enough torecognize the exceptionality.

Then along come the detractors, driven by resentment, resentment at the success of the AIDS movement. These arithmetic arguments alleging that AIDS is getting too much money at the expense of other health imperatives … this is simply naked academic and bureaucratic envy. I know I’m not supposed to say that, but it’s got to be said.

Why? Because the critics know that it’s not a matter of pitting one aspect of health against another. The critics know that it’s a matter of measuring the resource needs of global health against the crazy expenditures that the world makes on other things. But the seething resentment that pulsates beneath the surface creates this false argument.

I urge the scientists and activists here assembled not to fight on the terrain of the poseurs. Your whole life is in the world of AIDS. You know the legitimate resource requirements. You just can’t permit an intellectual contrivance --- an argument in favour of accepting the size of the pie and slicing it differently, rather than demanding a larger pie --- you can’t allow that to be used to justify a terrible reversal in public policy. People infected with HIV or at risk of infection, are suddenly tossed onto the landscape of treatment ambiguity, and the gains we’ve made and the momentum we’ve achieved are put at risk.

Is my naiveté showing? Why is it not possible to allocate sufficient money for every aspect of global health, of which AIDS is but a part, and in so doing, meet the Millennium Development Goals … money which is but a fraction, a miniscule fraction of all the public dollars that have found their way, in one short year, into the bottomless pits of greed and avarice? No one dies from a surfeit of money. People die when poverty and disease are the twin ingredients of life.
Madiba turned ninety-one yesterday. I strolled down to the waterfront here in Cape Town wherepeople were singing and dancing and irrepressibly celebrating the life of their national treasure.This country has been through tough tough times. The numbers of deaths, the psychoticdenialism, the political betrayals; it’s taken an incredible toll. And yet, in the liberation and itsaftermath, and the constitution, the law, the courts, the phenomenal culture of community activism, most sublimely exemplified by the Treatment Action Campaign … in all of that, therelies hope. I saw hope everywhere yesterday. And if that tumultuous passage from despair to hopecan happen here, it can happen anywhere.

But to take it to a global scale, requires the collective will of people like the people at this conference… people who speak with unimpeachable scientific authority, and if they so wished,and brought advocacy to bear, could move the mountains of resistance and inertia.You could strike a fatal blow against the pandemic. I salute those of you who have already risento that challenge. I leave it with all of you.

Speech by Stephen Lewis, co-Director, AIDS-Free World, delivered at the opening of the International AIDS Society Conference onPathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, Cape Town, South Africa, July 19, 2009, 8:30 pm, local time.

hattip: Mark Milano

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tom Duane Admonishes NY Senate for Inaction on HIV/AIDS

Dwight DeLee Convicted of 1st Degree Manslaughter

A jury convicted Dwight DeLee of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime in the killing of Lateisha Green. - 07/17/2009
Transgender Legal Defense Education Fund Statement on Verdict

Obama to NAACP:"Presidents Needed To Be Pressured into Action."

Excerpts from
Obama's Speech to the NAACP
100th Anniversary Convention, NYC
[emphasis added]

"From the beginning, these founders understood how change would come -- just as King and all the civil rights giants did later. They understood that unjust laws needed to be overturned; that legislation needed to be passed; and that Presidents needed to be pressured into action. They knew that the stain of slavery and the sin of segregation had to be lifted in the courtroom, and in the legislature, and in the hearts and the minds of Americans. "

"They also knew that here, in America, change would have to come from the people. It would come from people protesting lynchings, rallying against violence, all those women who decided to walk instead of taking the bus, even though they were tired after a long day of doing somebody else's laundry, looking after somebody else's children. (Applause.) It would come from men and women of every age and faith, and every race and region -- taking Greyhounds on Freedom Rides; sitting down at Greensboro lunch counters; registering voters in rural Mississippi, knowing they would be harassed, knowing they would be beaten, knowing that some of them might never return."

"Because of what they did, we are a more perfect union. Because Jim Crow laws were overturned, black CEOs today run Fortune 500 companies. (Applause.) Because civil rights laws were passed, black mayors, black governors, and members of Congress served in places where they might once have been able [sic] not just to vote but even take a sip of water. And because ordinary people did such extraordinary things, because they made the civil rights movement their own, even though there may not be a plaque or their names might not be in the history books -- because of their efforts I made a little trip to Springfield, Illinois, a couple years ago -- (applause) -- where Lincoln once lived, and race riots once raged -- and began the journey that has led me to be here tonight as the 44th President of the United States of America."
"... I understand there may be a temptation among some to think that discrimination is no longer a problem in 2009. And I believe that overall, there probably has never been less discrimination in America than there is today. I think we can say that."
"But make no mistake: The pain of discrimination is still felt in America. By African American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and a different gender. (Laughter.) By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. =By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion simply because they kneel down to pray to their God. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights."

photo credit: APA

Hate Crimes Passes, Faces Veto
By Kerry Eleveld - 07/15/2009

The Senate voted 63-28 Thursday night to end discussion on the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was subsequently adopted by unanimous consent as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill.

“The Senate made a strong statement this evening that hate crimes have no place in America,” said Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “This is a victory for all Americans – particularly those like Judy Shepard who has endured what no mother should ever have to.”

Though the amendment garnered three votes more than necessary to reach cloture, the fate of the hate crimes measure is now partially linked to $1.75 billion in funding for F-22 fighter jets that is also included in the DOD legislation.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates both oppose the F-22 program and a White House spokesperson said the president will not sign a DOD bill that continues to fund the program.

"The President has long supported the hate crimes bill and gave his personal commitment to Judy Shepard that we will enact an inclusive bill,” said Shin Inouye, referring to Shepard’s Oval Office visit with the president earlier this year. “Unfortunately, the President will have to veto the Defense Authorization bill if it includes wasteful spending for additional F-22s. The collective judgment of the Service Chiefs and Secretaries of the military departments is that the current program is sufficient to meet operational requirements. A Presidential veto would not indicate any change in President Obama’s commitment to seeing the hate crimes bill enacted."

Senators Carl Levin and John McCain have offered a bi-partisan amendment to remove the F-22 funding that is scheduled for a vote Monday, but insiders say the count is unclear.

If the amendment fails and President Obama vetoes the bill, it will be sent back to the Senate for a rewrite. A Democratic Senate aide said Senator Reid was optimistic, nonetheless, that hate crimes would ultimately make the final version of DOD authorization.

“This was a good vote,” said the aide. “Senator Reid is hopeful that we can keep this language in the final bill.”

David Smith, vice president of the Human Rights Campaign, also indicated that hate crimes stood a good chance of being signed into law despite the F-22 snag.

“We are very confident that the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act is going to get to the president's desk,” Smith said. “There might be some bumps along the way but it will eventually get there.”

The hate-crimes measure would broaden a federal statute that already protects citizens against bias crimes based on their race, color, national origin, or religion to include crimes committed against citizens for their actual or perceived gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. It would also allow the federal government to provide assistance to local law authorities investigating a bias crime and to step in where local authorities are themselves unable or unwilling to prosecute a hate crime.

Senator Edward Kennedy, who is being treated for brain cancer, originally introduced the legislation in the Senate in 1997.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Controversy Continues in the American Episcopal Church Over LBGT Issues

Cleve Jones Responds To Questions About Upcoming National Equality March on Washington, D.C.

San Diego News Network asks: Tell us a bit more about the planned LGBT march on Washington in October. Why is it necessary, what message do you hope it will send, and when was the last time we saw something like this in the nation’s capitol?

Cleve Jones responds: I don’t think we’ve ever seen something like this before, because the technology didn’t exist to do it. A quick thing on the march: after the film [Milk] came out in November, hundreds of young people e-mailed me and wanted a march on Washington, and I discouraged them. I saw marches through the lens of previous marches that were difficult and complicated productions that cost millions of dollars; and some debts didn’t get paid, and many felt alienated by the marches because they became entertainment events, not political statements.

At that time, I also held a lot of hope for Obama and the new Democratic majority. But, by inauguration, I was already nervous and facing skepticism. And when Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi said repealing DOMA is not a priority, I thought, “Oh my gosh, we’re in trouble.” About that time, David Mixner put out a call for a march on Washington, and I found myself saying, “Yes, I’ve changed my mind – we do need to march.” We have to do everything we can; I mean everything. We have to write letters, we have to lobby, we have to do sit-ins and acts of civil disobedience. And shortly after, David Mixner gave an interview, I think to the The Advocate or someone, saying I should lead the march, and I thought, “I have a family and a job, but, um, OK.” So the response to that was overwhelming.

There was a fair amount of criticism too all over the blogosphere, but for every naysayer blogger, there was 1,000 e-mails from people saying they wanted to march. So, it’s the National Equality March, on Sunday Oct. 11, and we’re hoping to fill the weekend with training workshops and town hall meetings. We do not want parties; no raves, no circuit parties, no fundraisers – nothing like that. That isn’t what this was meant to be. We want to make a serious political statement, and think very carefully about the tone and content of that weekend. We want people to leave their dancing shoes at home, and put on their marching boots. Let me be really clear, though: I’m not talking about hiding the trannies or any of that crap. This is for everyone in the LGBT community – the lesbians, the gay men, the bisexuals and most certainly the transgender community. When I talk about the tone of this march, I’m not talking about any of that closet nonsense. I want it to be serious and focused on politics.

photo credit: Mark Finkenstaedt For The Washington Post

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

HAIR Cancels October 11th Performance So Cast Can Join National Equality March in Washington DC

In an unprecedented move, the producers of HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical have announced they are canceling the show’s October 11th performance so that the entire cast can join the National Equality March in Washington, D.C.

The announcement was made this evening by the cast of HAIR at a spirited rally in Los Angeles (the entire company of HAIR has traveled from New York to California to appear on tonight’s broadcast of “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien”).

The cast was joined at the rally (for Rally excerpts click here) by National Equality March organizer and historic LGBT activist Cleve Jones, Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk) and a handful of other prominent equality advocates.

In a statement, Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of The Public Theater and producer of HAIR, said “The Public Theater has always aspired to make theater that matters, that speaks to the great social issues of our time. HAIR has never been just a show; its message of change and hope and inclusion is one we try to live, not just preach. This is the moment when we need to recognize the right of all citizens, gay and straight, to have their love and their unions acknowledged by the state. We are proud to join with Cleve Jones and the National Equality March in support of gay marriage. Peace now! Equality now! Justice forever!”

Ticketholders for the October 11, 2009 performance of HAIR, can exchange their tickets for a different performance of Hair as follows: if you purchased your tickets at the box office, please bring your tickets back to the Al Hirschfeld Theatre Box Office; if you purchased your tickets through (either by phone, by mail, or online), you can exchange your tickets by phone with Customer Service Department (212-239-6210 in the tri-state area or 800-543-4835 outside of the tri-state area); if you purchased your tickets from any other source, you must contact the original ticket-seller.

HAIR opened at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre on March 31, 2009, following previews from March 6 and is currently selling tickets through to January 3, 2010.

The musical opened to mostly excellent reviews: "emotionally rich revival" (NY Times); "a smile-inducing celebration of life and freedom" (NY Daily News); "the most exciting new show in town" (Bloomberg); "gives Broadway a welcome jolt of energy" (The Record); "If this explosive production doesn't stir something in you, it may be time to check your pulse." (Variety).

With book and lyrics by James Rado and Gerome Ragni, and music by Galt MacDermot, HAIR is directed by Diane Paulus.

The cast features Gavin Creel (Claude), Sasha Allen (Dionne, White Boys Trio), Caissie Levy (Sheila), Megan Lawrence (Mother), Bryce Ryness (Woof), Will Swenson (Berger), Jackie Burns (Black Boys Trio, Tribe), Kaitlin Kiyan (Black Boys Trio, Tribe), Nicole Lewis (White Boys Trio, Tribe), Megan Reinking (Black Boys Trio, Tribe) and Saycon Sengbloh (Abraham Lincoln, White Boys Trio, Tribe).

The musical depicts the birth of a cultural movement in the 60's and 70's that changed America forever: the musical follows a group of hopeful, free-spirited young people who advocate a lifestyle of pacifism and free-love in a society riddled with intolerance and brutality during the Vietnam War.

As they explore sexual identity, challenge racism, experiment with drugs and burn draft cards, the "tribe" in HAIR creates an irresistable message of hope, peace and change that continues to resonate with audiences 40 years later.

HAIR was a phenomenal success when it first played on Broadway in the 60's, and again in 2008, when it was a hit at the Delacorte Theater.

The musical is being produced on Broadway by The Public Theater and Elizabeth Ireland McCann.

HAIR was the show that, in 1967, officially opened The Public Theater’s long-time home on Lafayette Street.

Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical has the distinction of being the first off-Broadway musical to transfer to Broadway, (It moved to Broadway on April 29, 1968 and ran for 1,873 performances).

as reported by

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pressure Is A Good Thing

This past Monday blogger Rex Wockner interwiewed Steve Hildebrand (Obama's Deputy National Campaign Director) regarding the President and various issues queer issues.

It is a worthwhile read. Hildebrand emphasized that the President welcomes the pressure and Congress needs it to act. In my view this adds more fuel to the fire regarding the need for a National Equality March on Washington in DC this October.

26 Activists Arrested in DC Capitol Protest

AIDS Activists Risk Arrest in Capitol Building
Demanding Promised Funding & Policy Changes

With a new HIV infection every 9 ½ minutes in the US, why are we bailing out the bankers and leaving people with HIV without?

Washington, DC— Dozens of AIDS activists from across the Northeast U.S. risked arrest today, staging a loud demonstration inside the Capitol Rotunda on the eve of key Congressional votes on appropriations for life-saving programs and one day before President Obama’s first trip to Africa since his election.

The activists decried the Obama administration’s failure to make good on a range of AIDS campaign promises including his pledge: to lift the federal ban on funding syringe exchange, to fully fund lifesaving global AIDS programs, and to fully fund AIDS housing programs in this year’s budget. The activists demanded Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Congressional leadership fix President Obama’s flawed budget proposal.

“HIV is not in recession,” said Omolola Adele-Oso of DC Fights Back. “So why are we bailing out the bankers with $9 trillion, but breaking promises to fund life-saving AIDS programs in the US and around the world at a fraction of that cost?”

Activists noted that despite campaign pledges to increase bilateral global AIDS (PEPFAR) funding by $1 billion a year and fully fund the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the Administration’s budget proposal essentially flat-lines global AIDS funding. Unless President Obama and Congress keep their promise to fund their fair share of the Global Fund’s needed, for example, the Global Fund will have to cut billions of dollars worth of life saving grants.

The activists also denounced the administration’s failure to lift the ban on syringe exchange funding. “Thousands of people have died in the past decade because clean syringes aren’t available,” said Jose De Marco, an HIV+ member of ACT UP Philadelphia and Proyecto Sol Filadelphia. “President Obama, who many of us worked to elect, promised to follow the science and lift the federal funding ban on needle exchange, but his budget explicitly included the ban. Now it’s up to Congress to show real courage where the President has not.”

“We are here because we know that our friends, families, and communities are still dying,” said Larry Bryant of Housing Works. “From DC to California to Zambia people living with AIDS need Congress to act this week and need the administration to make good on its promises.”

Gustavo Pedroza, of the New York City AIDS Housing Network commented: "Housing is one of our most basic needs and a critical part of HIV treatment, care and prevention - without it, other strategies to fight HIV simply don't work. Given the rising cost of housing, President Obama's proposal to flat-fund federal AIDS housing programs will mean low-income people with HIV will lose their housing, not to mention longer waiting lists for a life-saving home."

News Reports - Police arrest 26 AIDS activists at Capitol protest - 07/09/2009
Rollcall - AIDS Activists Arrested After Shutting Down Capitol Rotunda- 07-09-2009

Support Grows for National Equality March this October

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chad Gibson Speaks Out on Stonewall-like Bar Raid in Fort Worth

Please click here to listen to the full video.
Police boss Raymond Kelly is under fire in new book
Sunday, July 5th 2009, 2:39 AM, NY Daily News

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly is shrugging off a stinging new book by longtime antagonist Leonard Levitt.

The former Newsday columnist writes in “NYPD Confidential: Power and Corruption in the Country’s Greatest Police Force” that he was personally thrilled when Mayor Bloomberg brought Kelly back in 2002 for a second stint as PC. “I respected his judgment, temperament, integrity,” says Levitt, who believed the cop’s cop could end the tight-lipped siege mentality that reigned over the NYPD during Rudy Giuliani’s administration. Kelly returned the love, Levitt says, by calling him “the only reporter in New York with b---s.”

But after a string of stories that Kelly called inaccurate (one he branded “mendaciously vindictive”), the commish drove out to Long Island to complain to Levitt’s editors. Shortly thereafter, Levitt says, he found his usual cop contacts shirking him.

“An inspector I knew in Brooklyn told me his chief had warned him, ‘Being seen with Lenny Levitt is committing career suicide.’”

“The police department under Kelly became more sparing of information than under Giuliani,” writes Levitt, pointing to Kelly’s ordering cops to turn over their private cell phone records to find out who’d spoken to reporters. “He refused to release such minor details as his public schedule [and ] the weekly schedule of officers facing [corruption] charges.”

“Despite his accomplishments and successes” in lowering crime rates and heading off terrorists, “Kelly remained bitter toward those he felt had wronged him,” Levitt claims. “Ironically, the man Kelly increasingly reminded me of was the man he most despised — Rudy Giuliani,” who had fired him.

Levitt contends that Kelly also resented former Commish Bill Bratton — even though he, too, was a victim of Giuliani’s wrath — because Bratton had belittled the accomplishments of Kelly’s first term. In 2001, when Bratton came through New York, “Kelly refused to take his calls,” Levitt claims. He also asserts that Kelly refused to meet with former Commissioner Howard Safir.

Levitt continued to hammer Kelly, writing about his clashes with several members of his personal security detail. In 2005, when he started writing for Newsday as a freelancer, Levitt says the NYPD demanded that he give up his 1 Police Plaza building pass. Later, when his contract with the paper expired, he says he was barred from entering the building and saw his picture posted at the front desk as a possible “security threat.”

The NYPD insisted the moves were unrelated to his critical reporting. NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne suggests Levitt is the one with a grudge. He declined to dignify Levitt’s allegations beyond calling them “recycled, fabricated gossip driven by personal animus, unimproved with age.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Texas Cops Raid Bar on Stonewall Anniversary

The Daily Dish details information regarding the violent attack on patrons at a gay bar in Fort Worth, Texas. One person, Chad Gibbons, remains in intensive care.

other news accounts
Dallas Voice - Gays, lesbians rally in Fort Worth over bar raid
On Top Magazine - Hundreds Protest Police Raid At Fort Worth Gay Bar

Is the Administration Changing Their Tune or Is It Just SPINNING the News?

Gates Mulls Changes to Gay Ban
July 01, 2009 -

Defense Secretary Robert Gates indicated Tuesday that the Department of Defense is looking at alternative ways of implementing the department’s regulations surrounding “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

"One of the things we're looking at is, is there flexibility in how we apply this law," Gates told reporters aboard a military plane, according to AFP.

Gates reportedly discussed the policy with President Barack Obama last week, and the defense secretary’s comments suggest that the changes DOD is considering are in line with those called for in a letter sent to the president by 77 House members several weeks ago.

“We ask that you direct the Armed Services not to initiate any investigation of service personnel to determine their sexual orientation,” read the letter, authored by Rep. Alcee Hastings, “and that you instruct them to disregard third party accusations that do not allege violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That is, we request that you impose that no one is asked and that you ignore, as the law requires, third parties who tell.”

In Tuesday’s interview, Sec. Gates said the department was looking at whether they could take into consideration the motive behind an outing.

“If somebody is outed by a third party, does that force us to take action?" he explained. "That's the kind of thing we're looking at -- seeing if there's a more humane way to apply the law until it gets changed."

The comments are a far cry from those he made in April in which he questioned whether the policy would be overturned at all.

“If we do it, it’s important that we do it right, and very carefully,’’ Gates said, according to The New York Times.

Policy analysts said the Defense Secretary’s remarks suggest that President Obama has tasked Gates with finding a short-term solution to the ongoing discharges.

“Short of an executive order, it looks like this has been put onto Gates’s plate to maybe informally modify the implementation of the rules,” said Aaron Belkin of The Palm Center, a research institute that released an analysis last month concluding that the president had the legal authority to issue an executive order halting gay discharges altogether.

Belkin added that the move appeared to be a crafty way for the White House to shift the burden of responsibility away from the president.

“This is no longer the civilians telling the military what to do -- you're letting the Republican Secretary of Defense decide how to implement the law within his own agency,” he said.

While the secretary’s Tuesday interview is first concrete indication that the Pentagon is re-evaluating the military’s gay ban, Gates also noted some hurdles to altering the policy.

"What I discovered when I got into it was it's a very restrictive law,” he told reporters. “It doesn't leave much to the imagination, or a lot of flexibility."

But that’s not the way Nathaniel Frank, a legislative scholar at The Palm Center, reads the law. Frank, who recently authored the book “Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines The Military and Weakens America,” said there’s room within the law for assessing both whether evidence of someone’s sexuality is “credible” and whether to make a “finding” related to someone’s sexual conduct.

“The law gives discretion to commanders to determine what's credible evidence,” Frank said, “and we know that commanders do look the other way because in times of war, discharges plummet.”

Frank noted that in accordance with historic patterns per-year discharges peaked at around 1200 just before 9/11 and are now down to just over 600 a year.

Frank added that just as what’s credible is open to interpretation, so is whether to issue a determination of someone’s sexual conduct.

“The law says that a service member will be separated if a finding is made,” he explained, “but nowhere does the law require that a finding actually be made.”

Obama Praises Gay Pioneer Frank Kameny

Organizers for DC March to Confer this Thursday

Conference Call 07/02: DC March Plans
Nationwide Press Conferences 07/08

If you've given your addy to the folks organizing the march, your in-box this week received a message about a conference for later this week, and it looks like there will be nationwide news conference next week. As of next week, the organizers will be looking at only three months remaining till their action happens. We'll see if a miracle occurs and there's a decent-sized turnout on the Mall. Here's the email about upcoming organizing for the march:

Thanks for signing up for the National Equality March this October 10-11 in DC!

We're excited to take to the streets in a few months, but the real work is about to begin.

In early July, we're going to launch a new national campaign called Equality Across America with one simple demand: full federal equality for all LGBT Americans in all matters governed by civil law. Now.We hope you're fired up and ready to make change in your community. If we're going to win full equality, we need grassroots organizing in every one of the 435 Congressional Districts.

On July 8, will you hold a press conference in your Congressional District to announce the new campaign? We'll provide you with talking points and a sample press release during a conference call with Cleve Jones on Thursday evening of this week.Please take the time to tell us what you're doing in your community. If your group can organize locally as part of this national movement, let us know what you're up to and how we can get in touch with you. And when we launch our new website in a couple weeks, we'll have a map that shows all of the groups fighting for full equality across America.

See you in the streets,
Equality Across America and the National Equality March team

hattip: Michael Petrelis