Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Problem of Ageism In the LGBT Community

Something I think all gay men need to hear...
Posted by Davey Wavey on Friday, January 29, 2016
I came out in mid-life and was struck by the emphasis on youth and beauty in the gay community.  Indeed, I felt  like a "has been" before I got out of the gate.  Sadly, the problem of agism within the LGBT community has not gotten any better since I came out.

I make no claim to have been among the earlier warriors for gay equality, but over the last 15 years, I have tried very hard to make life for LGBT Virginians through involvement with Equality Virginia (Legends committee for 6 years and monthly supporter), founding and supporting Hampton Roads Business OutReach ("HRBOR"), active political involvement, including donating to gay friendly politicians, writing a monthly LGBT column in VERR Magazine, and providing substantial financial support for HR Pride.  My husband has been there right beside me as have many of my friends in the LGBT community of my generation.  I am not trying to brag or blow my own horn. The reality is that in Hampton Roads to a large extent, it is always the same people writing the checks, fighting the fight and putting themselves out there to change minds and hearts.

Yet, meanwhile many young gays do nothing to support the larger LGBT community and take for granted the much improved world in which they now live and seem oblivious as to who and what got us to where we are today.  Worse yet, they show no respect for older gays who fought in the trenches to make things better for all of us. The above video posted by Davey Wavey struck a cord with me has a message that some in the younger generations really needs to hear.

The Hillary Clinton "Top-Secret" Email Controversy Explained

One of the most exasperating things about the Clintons is that so many of their political problems are self inflicted.  The most recent example is Hillary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server reportedly for "convenience."  Other stories have suggested that she was not alone in employing the practice, but with an eye toward running for the presidency, why give an opening to her enemies? Whether or not there is any legitimacy to claims that she had truly classified or "top secret" information on the server remains to be seen as explained in a piece in Vox.  As we have seen from the Benghazi circus, Republicans will use the claims against Clinton whether they are true or not.  Again, why give them an opening?  Here are article excerpts:

The saga of Hillary Clinton and her emails took an unusual turn on Friday: the State Department announced it is withholding 22 emails because they contain information marked "top secret." And Clinton's campaign immediately objected, putting out a statement demanding that the emails be released.

So what is going on here? Why are these emails top secret, why is it a big deal, and why would Clinton, of all people, want them released?

It's impossible to know the answers to those questions with absolute certainty without seeing the emails. But the key dispute is over whether the classification shows that Clinton was emailing out highly sensitive secrets or if these were everyday emails that just got swept up in America's deeply broken classification system. There's some real reason to believe that the latter is at least possible. Here's what we know and how to parse this latest email controversy.

This might seem unimportant. If it's top secret, then it must be really sensitive, right?
Not necessarily. A large proportion of documents that our government classifies are not actually that sensitive — more on that below. So the key thing now is to try to figure out: Were these emails classified because they contain highly sensitive information that Clinton never should have emailed in the first place, or because they were largely banal but got scooped up in America's often absurd classify-everything practices?

[O]ne good way to make an informed guess is by asking whether the emails were classified at the moment they were sent or whether they were classified only later. The reason this matters is that if they were immediately classified top secret, then that is a good sign that they contained information that is known as "born classified" — that it was information in itself obtained by classified channels or because it was generated internally by classified means. 

[I]f the information were classified only later, then that would indicate it was more banal, or that it was not classified for any reasons particular to the emails themselves. Again, see below on how a boring email could become marked as top secret.

According to a statement by the State Department, "These documents were not marked classified at the time they were sent."

In other words, they do not contain information that was "born classified," but rather fall into the vast gray area of things that do not seem obviously secret at the time but are later deemed that way — not always for good reason.

The American government's system for classifying things as secret is widely considered a giant mess, by which agencies reflexively overclassify things, and the reasons for classifying often make little sense. It is thus extremely easy to imagine that Clinton's emails were classified not because they contained super-sensitive national secrets, and possibly not for any good reason at all, but rather just as a product of America's broken classification system.

This goes back to 1982, when the Reagan administration began a program of such aggressive classification that the unofficial slogan was, "When in doubt, classify." This waned under Bill Clinton but shot back up dramatically under George W. Bush, so much so that by 2004 the mere bureaucracy for classifying documents cost $7 billion per year.

The problem, in other words, isn't that the rules for classification are too strict. It's that the rules are unclear, messy, or contradictory, to the degree that the rules exist at all, and individual people and agencies have learned to overclassify to stay on the safe side.

The problem has grown so severe that it has hampered even the ability of American intelligence officials and policymakers to access the information they need to do their jobs. The head of the 9/11 Commission, Richard Ben-Veniste, told Congress in 2005 that "the failure to share information was the single most important reason why the United States government failed to detect and disrupt the 9/11 plot." He warned, "Information has to flow more freely. Much more information needs to be declassified. A great deal of information should never be classified at all."

Unfortunately this story will be immediately politicized, polarizing people into seeing Clinton as absolutely guilty or absolutely innocent.

The Associated Press got a little carried away in writing this up, declaring that the government had "confirmed" that "Hillary Clinton's unsecured home server contained some of the U.S. government's most closely guarded secrets." Maybe this will turn out to be true, but at present we have no idea that it is, and it strikes me as irresponsible to assert this when anyone who has reported on the government's overclassification addiction knows that classified information is just as likely to be banal as is to be "the US government's most closely guarded secrets."

It makes sense why the Clinton campaign would want these emails released. If they remain top secret, then this will give her Republican opponents an opening to accuse her of bandying highly sensitive secrets around on her private email account, and thus paint her as dangerously irresponsible.

The Clinton campaign's statement is obviously meant to imply that the emails are harmless enough to be immediately released and thus do not contain anything particularly sensitive. But it's also possible this is just a clever bluff.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

New Mormon Church Anti-Gay Policy Leads to 32 Suicides

Image by Brian Palmer via Facebook
Religion is a toxic evil for society in my view, but it is especially evil in terms of the damage done to LGBT lives and psyches.  In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell, the bitter old men in the Mormon Church leadership felt the need to ratchet up it's anti-gay extremism and that henceforth people in same-sex marriages would be declared "apostates" and that their children would be barred from being baptized in the Mormon Church.  A support group for Mormon parents of LGBT children is reporting that the new policy is having deadly consequences: 32 young LGBT Mormons have taken their own lives since early November, 2015, when the policy was announced.  The New Civil Rights Movement looks at the depressing fruits of religious based hate and bigorty.  Here are highlights:
Thirty-two young LGBT Mormons reportedly have taken their own lives since early November — when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a new devastatingly anti-gay policy labeling people in same-sex marriages "apostates" and barring their children from being baptized.

All of the victims were between the ages of 14 and 20, with an average age of 17. Twenty-seven were male, three were female and two were transgender, and all but six of the suicides occurred in Utah. 

Those figures are based on a report from Mama Dragons, a support group for the Mormon parents of LGBT children that we first told you about last May. Wendy Montgomery, co-founder of Mama Dragons, announced recently during a conference of Affirmation, another Mormon LGBT support group, that the families of the 32 victims had contacted her directly about the death of a child or sibling.

The Deseret News, a Salt Lake City-based daily newspaper owned by the Mormon church, reported the shocking figure Wednesday after obtaining the following statement from senior LDS leaders.

But in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in favor of nationwide marriage equality, the church took a major step backward. In the policy released Nov. 5, the church relegated same-sex couples to the same status as those in polygamous marriages, labeling them "apostates," a term for those who've renounced their faith. The policy also bars the children of same-sex parents from becoming full members of the church until they turn 18, disavow their parents' relationship, and leave the household.

The new policy prompted thousands to leave the church in protest. Then, earlier this month, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Russell M. Nelson, declared that the policy was a revelation from God to LDS President Thomas S. Monson, which elevated it to the status of church doctrine. Nelson is next in line to become church president, and his wife later said that LGBT people could "repent" and have their "sexual feelings be in harmony" with God's law. 

Even before the new policy was announced, Utah had the fourth-highest rate of suicide in the nation, and suicide was the No. 1 cause of death for children ages 10-17. Sadly, the families of LGBT Mormons who commit suicide typically don't publicize it because they want to avoid the associated shame from fellow church members.

LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to attempt suicide as those who report no or low levels of family rejection. And one quarter of young transgender people "report having made a suicide attempt."

Hate, bigotry and death are the fruits of religion.  In the case of the Mormon Church, it is particularly sad - I grew up through high school in Central New York not far from where Joseph Smith claimed to have discovered the golden tablets upon which the Mormon faith is based.  Local always viewed Smith as a shyster and con-man and fraud.  That's the basis for the Mormon faith: fraud and untruth. 

Anti-Gay Marriage Bill Sent Back to Committee Over Interracial Marriage Concerns

Was Carrico trying to give a pass to racist clerks?
In his quest to prostitute himself to the rabid Christofascists of the Virginia GOP base and/or stay in the good graces of the foul haters at The Family Foundation who threaten primary contests against those who do not do their bidding, Charles W. Carrico Sr. (R-Grayson) introduced the so-called "Kim Davis bill" which would allow circuit court clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses to any couples if doing so offended their beliefs.  The bill was put forward supposedly to protect "religious freedom" but really is a license to discriminate effort.  On Wednesday, the bill was passed out of committee on a partisan vote - Republicans out numbering Democrats - to move to the full Virginia Senate.  

Now, given the lack of any limits on alleged religious belief that could motivate a protesting clerk, the bill has been sent back to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee because as written, segregationist could cite the Bible and refuse to issue licenses to interracial couples.  Carrico claims that such was not his intent - only gays were supposedly targeted- but given the very strong racist undertones of the agenda of The Family Foundation that I have observed over the years, I cannot candidly believe Carrico's story line.  The fact is that the Bible was long cited as justification for slavery, segregation and interracial bans in Virginia - the Virginia Supreme Court even did so in the Loving case before being overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The Washington Post looks at the chaos Carrico's bill would potentially unleash.  Here are highlights:
Virginia legislators on Friday decided to take a closer look at a bill to make sure that it would not let court clerks deny marriage licenses to interracial couples.

The measure, which passed out of a committee to the full Senate this week, was intended to protect clerks who object to issuing licenses to same-sex couples, something the bill’s Republican sponsor promoted as a matter of religious freedom.

But the legislation provided such wide latitude to refuse licenses that Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr. (R-Grayson) initially said that it would cover clerks who objected to marriages on any grounds, including those based on objections to interracial marriage. . . . on Friday, he asked to have his bill sent back to the Senate Courts of Justice Committee for further study.

The bill would give clerks or deputy clerks the freedom to refuse to issue licenses to couples if they object to their unions on “personal, ethical, moral, or religious grounds.” Those they turn away could be issued marriage licenses at a Department of Motor Vehicle office — an option that critics liken to the “separate-but-equal” justification for segregated schools that was ultimately declared unconstitutional.

The legislation does not specify any class of couples that could be denied licenses from clerks, but Democrats dubbed it the “Kim Davis bill,” a reference to the Kentucky clerk who was jailed last year after refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples.

Opponents, including the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, contend that the measure — even as intended — is unconstitutional. But supporters, including the Family Foundation of Virginia, said it is needed to protect religious liberties in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that legalized gay marriage.

The bill passed the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Wednesday night over the objections of all six Democrats and one Republican, freshman Sen. Glen Sturtevant of Richmond.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) vowed to veto the measure if it reaches his desk.
There is an easy solution: public officials need to either do their jobs or seek other employment.  Religious belief does not belong in the public square and no one in public should be allowed to cite real or feigned religious belief to ignore the law and the U.S. Constitution.  End of discussion.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Anti-Gay Republicans Advance Virginia Gay Marriage Opt-Out Bill

Anti-gay Sen. Tommy Norment
One thing that one can always count on is that if the Virginia general Assembly is in session, Virginia Republicans in the legislature will be striving to make life Hell for LGBT Virginians while working to grant special rights to extremist Christians.  The 2016 session of the Virginia General Assembly is keeping up this tradition as Republicans advance anti-gay bills while killing gay friendly bills.  Some of the usual crackpots and extremist have introduced anti-gay bills, and the rest of the GOP members with few exceptions, are supporting them so as to not run afoul of Victoria Cobb, the queen of hate and president of The Family Foundation, Virginia's leading hate group. One has to wonder how the GOP House member caught on Grindr - some believe his identity has been confirmed - will vote if the bills reach the floor of the House of Delegates.  Local Senator, Tommy Norment, cast his vote with the hate merchants.   Here are highlights from the Daily Press on the GOP support of special rights for Christofascists:

Senate Bill 40 is heading for the Senate floor. If it passes the full General Assembly, it's a lock for a gubernatorial veto.  Gov. Terry McAuliffe's administration sent someone to Wednesday's committee meeting to note his disapproval, a step the governor doesn't typically take on pending legislation.

Sponsoring state Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Galax, said the bill is a response to the arrest of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue licenses to gay couples in the wake of last year's U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. She spent five days in jail.

Carrico's bill would have the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles issue marriage licenses whenever a local clerk objects on "personal, ethical, moral or religious grounds."

The legislation passed the Senate Courts of Justice Committee 8-7. Committee Democrats voted against the bill. Freshman Republican state Sen. Glen Sturtevant, R-Richmond, was the only Republican to join them.

State Sen. Thomas K. "Tommy" Norment Jr., the only Peninsula senator on the committee, voted for the bill.

A number of religious groups supported the bill, including The Family Foundation. Spokesman Chris Freund called the bill "a win-win," because marriage licenses will be available even if clerks don't want to issue them.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Equality Virginia opposed the bill. ACLU lobbyist Claire Guthrie Gastañaga said clerks have a duty "to serve all members of the public equally."  "It's any personal whim you're authorizing people to discriminate on," she said.

The committee also dealt Wednesday with Senate Bill 10, which would strip various gay marriage prohibitions from Virginia state code, comporting Virginia law with the Supreme Court's ruling and current practice.  The committee's Republican majority declined to approve the bill, with Chairman Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, saying it's better to leave those changes to a more comprehensive editing being undertaken by the Virginia Code Commission.

Friday Morning Male Beauty

The Core Differences between Clinton and Sanders

I generally agree with Paul Krugman's views and in a column today in the New York Times he takes a look at the descent into insanity in the GOP fueled by unlimited money, but just as importantly, racism and other bigotry.  He also reviews the competing views of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton on needed change and the route needed to get there.  I like many of Sanders' proposals but continue to worry that the socialist label that the GOP would wrap around him might not be fatal in the general election.  Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has all her much discussed baggage.  Here are column highlights:

Every time you think that our political discourse can’t get any worse, it does. The Republican primary fight has devolved into a race to the bottom, achieving something you might have thought impossible: making George W. Bush look like a beacon of tolerance and statesmanship. But where is all the nastiness coming from?

Well, there’s debate about that — and it’s a debate that is at the heart of the Democratic contest.

Like many people, I’ve described the competition between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders as an argument between competing theories of change, which it is. But underlying that argument is a deeper dispute about what’s wrong with America, what brought us to the state we’re in.

To oversimplify a bit — but only, I think, a bit — the Sanders view is that money is the root of all evil. Or more specifically, the corrupting influence of big money, of the 1 percent and the corporate elite, is the overarching source of the political ugliness we see all around us.
The Clinton view, on the other hand, seems to be that money is the root of some evil, maybe a lot of evil, but it isn’t the whole story. Instead, racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice are powerful forces in their own right. This may not seem like a very big difference — both candidates oppose prejudice, both want to reduce economic inequality. But it matters for political strategy.

As you might guess, I’m on the many-evils side of this debate. Oligarchy is a very real issue, and I was writing about the damaging rise of the 1 percent back when many of today’s Sanders supporters were in elementary school. But it’s important to understand how America’s oligarchs got so powerful.

Crucially, the rise of the American hard right was the rise of a coalition, an alliance between an elite seeking low taxes and deregulation and a base of voters motivated by fears of social change and, above all, by hostility toward you-know-who.

Yes, there was a concerted, successful effort by billionaires to push America to the right. That’s not conspiracy theorizing; it’s just history, documented at length in Jane Mayer’s eye-opening new book “Dark Money.” But that effort wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far as it has without the political aftermath of the Civil Rights Act, and the resulting flip of Southern white voters to the G.O.P.

Racial dog whistles, demagogy on abortion and so on would be rolled out during election years, then put back into storage while the Republican Party focused on its real business of enabling shadow banking and cutting top tax rates.

But in this age of Trump, not so much. The 1 percent has no problems with immigration that brings in cheap labor; it doesn’t want a confrontation over Planned Parenthood; but the base isn’t taking guidance the way it used to.

If the ugliness in American politics is all, or almost all, about the influence of big money, then working-class voters who support the right are victims of false consciousness. . . . .
On the other hand, if the divisions in American politics aren’t just about money, if they reflect deep-seated prejudices that progressives simply can’t appease, such visions of radical change are naïve. And I believe that they are.

[T]here’s still a lot of real prejudice out there, and probably enough so that political revolution from the left is off the table. Instead, it’s going to be a hard slog at best.

[O]ne reason the right has gone so berserk is that the Obama years have in fact been marked by significant if incomplete progressive victories, on health policy, taxes, financial reform and the environment. And isn’t there something noble, even inspiring, about fighting the good fight, year after year, and gradually making things better?

Ted Cruz: the Big Loser in Last Night's Debate

Frankly, if there was a star at last night's GOP debate, it was Megan Kelly who got off some real zingers and put Ted Cruz in his place when she played videos of Ted Cruz's past statements on immigration reform which diametrically differ from what he is now saying on the campaign trail and tried to claim last night. It's as if she had prepped with Rachel Maddow.  It was delicious to watch.  Others took their hits last night and overall Jeb Bush and John Kasich came across as the most rational - not that sanity and rationality matter for much any more in today's GOP.  As for Marco Rubio, his statements aimed at prostituting himself to Christofascists made me question why he doesn't simply have "I'm a pandering whore" tattooed on his forehead. A column in the Washington Post looks at Cruz as the big loser and other aspects of last night.  Here are excerpts:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who has been in a tailspin since Trump put him in his place at the last debate on “New York values,” had his worst debate outing, to put it mildly. His initial question on Trump’s absence ushered in a drippy tribute to Iowans who welcomed his family, but then dwelt too long on Trump. Asked about his inconsistent defense record, he doubled down on his silly embrace of “carpet bombing.” The event vividly explained that without someone to attack Cruz has precious little to say.

In a cringe-worthy moment, he got shouted down by moderator Chris Wallace for interrupting. He looked, well, weak. Complaining about others attacking him (they were not) drew boos from the crowd. His joke that he would have to leave the stage if people don’t stop being mean fell flat.

By contrast Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), who has been picking up momentum and going hard after evangelical voters, had an exceptionally strong first half of the debate, navigated his way on immigration and may have pushed closer to Cruz in Iowa.

In his face down with Cruz on immigration, Rubio went for blood, saying, “This is the lie that Ted’s campaign is built upon” — namely that only he is a conservative and everyone else is a RINO. Rubio kept going, “We’re not gonna beat Hillary Clinton with someone who’s willing to say or do anything to win an election,” and accused Cruz of trying to “trump Trump on immigration.” All Cruz could do was to cite support from anti-immigration extremists like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) — whom is unknown by the vast majority of voters outside Alabama.

Jeb Bush did not avoid embracing his father and brother, and made his pitch for a candidate with a “record of accomplishment.” Throughout he seemed steadier and more relaxed than at any time previously, citing his detailed plan to defeat the Islamic State. He wound up in an argument with Rubio over “amnesty,” accusing Rubio of “cutting and running,”  although he then seemed to undercut himself by saying he agreed to support Rubio’s bill. . . . Without Trump on the stage, Bush arguably had his best debate night. We will see if it came too late in the race to make up lost ground.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie chose to hit Clinton rather than his opponents, citing her mishandling of confidential material.

Rand Paul got his chance to make his case for anti-interventionism and criminal reform. In his best moment of the night, he slammed Cruz for switching positions on immigration, in essence taking Rubio’s side in the argument as to whether Cruz was an opportunist. He flatly said Cruz had an “authenticity” problem.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich made his usual pleas for mature leadership, but once again lacked the stage presence and concrete, specific ideas to distinguish him from the crowd. He gave an impassioned plea for helping the mentally ill. For much of the debate however he seemed to be an afterthought.

Finally, Dr. Ben Carson rarely made an impression, although he put in a plug for getting tough with Russia. His quiet demeanor seemed like resignation, a sign his campaign has played out.

With several winners and one obvious loser (Cruz), the debate may cement rather than change preferences. The GOP as a whole regained some solemnity and brain cells without Trump present. The voters will render their verdict on Monday.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

More Thursday Male Beauty

"Compassionate Conservativism" Has Disappeared from the GOP

Personally, I always found George W. Bush's preaching of "compassionate conservatism" to be bogus - bullshit might be more on point - given the hate and bigotry that flowed from his administration.  And that's not even venturing into the issue of the lies and deceit used by Bush/Cheney to take America to war in Iraq and ultimately set the stage for the rise of ISIS.  Yet, compared to the misrule of Bush/Cheney, today's slate of GOP presidential candidates make George W. Bush look like a veritable Mother Theresa.  A column in the New York Times looks at the ugliness that is now the norm in the Republican Party and its base.  Here are excerpts:
Back in 2000, George W. Bush did something fascinating: On the campaign trail he preached “compassionate conservatism,” telling wealthy Republicans about the travails of Mexican-American immigrants and declaring to women in pearls that “the hardest job in America” is that of a single mother.  Those well-heeled audiences looked baffled, but applauded.

That instinct to show a little heart helped elect Bush but then largely disappeared from Republican playbooks and policy. Yet now, amid the Republican Party’s civil war, there are intriguing initiatives by the House speaker, Paul Ryan, and some other conservatives to revive an interest in the needy.

Liberals like myself may be tempted to dismiss these new efforts as mere marketing gestures, meant to whitewash what one of the initiatives acknowledges is “the longstanding view of a meanspirited conservatism.”
[U]ltimately whether the poor get help may depend less on Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders than on Republicans at every level. Whether Medicaid is expanded, whether we get high-quality pre-K, whether we tackle addiction, family planning and job training, whether lead continues to poison American children — all these will depend mostly on Republicans who control Congress and most states.

I’d be thrilled if Republicans participated in debates about poverty, rather than forfeited the terrain. A real debate would also elevate issues that now are largely neglected, and it would create an opening to hold politicians’ feet to the fire: If Ryan cares, then why did he try to slash budgets for evidence-based programs that help children?

One reason for skepticism that any of this will get traction: Among the candidates who skipped the forum were the front-runners, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Neither seems interested in this arena.
The sad truth is that neither party has done enough to address the shame of deep-rooted poverty in America. So let’s hope for a real contest in this area, because everybody loses — above all, America’s neediest — when most of the time one party doesn’t even bother to show up.

Judge Who Refused To Marry Same-Sex Couples Found "Unfit" for Bench

Anti-gay judge Vance Day
An Oregon state court judge who has refused to marry same sex couples has been unfit for the bench by the Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness.  Like lunatic County Clerk Kim Davis, Judge Vance Day believes he is above the law and can ignore the rules of Code of Judicial Conduct, much like the judge who heard my divorce did even though the Virginia Code of Judicial Conduct bars anti-gay bias on the part of judges and requires that they refuse themselves if they cannot be unbiased.  The difference is that in Oregon, the judicial review body seemingly takes its oversight duties seriously whereas in Virginia, the Judicial Review Commission is a joke based on my personal experience.  I hope Judge Day is removed from the bench and that a message is sent that judges and court clerks are not above the law.  The New Civil Rights Movement looks at this development.  Here are highlights:
A judicial oversight panel investigating complaints against Marion County, Oregon, Judge Vance Day, has recommended that the State Supreme Court remove Judge Day from the bench. Judge Day came to the panel's attention in May of 2014 when he refused to officiate at the weddings of same-sex couples after Oregon legalized marriage equality.

The Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability sent its formal recommendation to the Oregon Supreme Court this week, accusing Judge Day of discrimination based on sexual orientation, among other serious charges.
"His misconduct is not isolated. It is frequent and extensive,” the commission found. 
The commission charges Judge Day “willfully” violated ten different rules of the Code of Judicial Conduct, including his refusal to officiate at the marriages of same-sex couples. The commission said whenever a same-sex couple asked Judge Day to officiate, he told his staff to lie about his availability and direct them to another judge. Judge Day did not dispute that practice, but argued same-sex couples were not denied their rights because another judge was always found to marry them.

Day is only the sixth judge in the state since 2007 to have been referred for sanctions to the Supreme Court.
Virginia could stand to take some lessons from Oregon.

Anne Frank's Stepsister Who Survived Auschwitz Compares Trump to Hitler

While Donald Trump is having his peevish feud with Fox News, Eva Schloss, the stepsister of Anne Frank, who herself survived Auschwitz, has compared Donald Trump to Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler. Schloss made her comparison in an interview to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying that she sees little difference between Hitler's rhetoric and that of aspiring president Donald Trump.  She also took aim at Republicans who are opposing America's acceptance of refugees - much as it did  with Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler and the coming Holocaust.  The Daily Mail has details.  Here are highlights:
Anne Frank's stepsister who survived Auschwitz has compared Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.

Eva Schloss, now aged 86, met Anne in Amsterdam where both their families took refuge after fleeing from Nazi Germany. After the war, Eva's mother Fritzi married Anne's father Otto Frank.

Now, in an interview to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Schloss has reflected on the traumatic period - and she sees little difference between Hitler's rhetoric and that of aspiring president Donald Trump.

'If Donald Trump become[s] the next president of the US it would be a complete disaster. I think he is acting like another Hitler by inciting racism,' Schloss told Newsweek.

Anne Frank was 15 when she died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945. 
Schloss, the co-founder of Anne Frank Trust UK, was detained at the same time and sent to Auschwitz. She survived and now lives in London. 

She also takes aim at America for resisting calls to take more refugees from Syria - comparing the migrant crisis to her own experience during the Holocaust.

Trump has been vocal about his beliefs that America should place a ban on Muslims entering the country, and vows he would implement such a ban if he were to be elected president.

He also vows to build a wall along the Mexican border. In his bid to promote this idea, he released a campaign video using footage of a war zone in Morocco. 

She adds: 'The situation today is worse than it was under Hitler because at that time all the Allies—the U.S., Russia and Britain—worked together to combat the terrible threat of Nazisim. If we don't work together, the world will never be able to resolve the threats it faces today.' 

Her words come as Trump heads for the crucial Iowa caucus, which could make or break his run for the Republican nomination.

The controversial real estate mogul has come under fire for his comments about immigrants, his vows to ban Muslims from entering the United States, and to build a wall on the Mexican border 'that Mexico will pay for'.
And Trump's supporters?  They are like the "good Germans" who allowed Hitler to come to power through similar demagoguery and racism and then looked the other way in most cases as the Final Solution was implemented by Hitler and his regime.  

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Joan Walsh: Why I’m Supporting Hillary Clinton

While conservative pundits continue to engage in a circular firing squad as they either decry or support Donald Trump, there is similar back biting going on among some Democrats who seem to forget that the number one goal is to make sure that a Republican is not elected to the White House in November.  Unlike on the GOP side of the aisle, none of the Democrat candidates are insane or extremists, and thus, the issue becomes (i) who is most electable and (ii) who best represents all Democrats.  In a piece in The Nation, Joan Walsh makes the case that she believes Hillary Clinton is best qualified and deserving of support.  Here are excerpts:

Invited by the French Institute for International Relations to join its Annual Conference on the United States in Paris, along with my new friend Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review, I went on to address several classrooms of university students in Toulouse. I got the most questions about Donald Trump, of course, but the Hillary Clinton–Bernie Sanders race was a close second. French students are excited to know there’s an actual socialist in the race; female French students are worried that Clinton could lose, yet again.

I did something in France I don’t often do at home: I came out of the closet as a full-fledged Hillary Clinton supporter. And this time, as opposed to 2008, I’m backing her without apology, as the right and even radical choice. More than without apology; after 40 years of voting for male presidents, I’m supporting Hillary with excitement, even joy.

Had I not declared myself last week, in a Toulouse university lecture hall, I’d have probably done it here anyway, after watching the CNN Democratic presidential town-hall meeting Monday night. The town hall itself was great; Clinton, Sanders, and Martin O’Malley all looked admirable and presidential, in contrast to their awful Republican rivals. Democrats have a lot to be excited about this year.

But one moment got me particularly excited, and not in a good way. It came when a young white man—entitled, pleased with himself, barely shaving yet—broke the news to Clinton that his generation is with Bernie Sanders. “I just don’t see the same enthusiasm from younger people for you. In fact, I’ve heard from quite a few people my age that they think you’re dishonest. But I’d like to hear from you on why you feel the enthusiasm isn’t there.” 

Yes, the “likability” issue. I found myself thinking: Not again. Why the hell does she have to put up with this again?
My problem wasn’t merely with the insulting personal tone of the question. It was also the way the young man anointed himself the voice of his generation, and declared it the Sanders generation. Now, I know Bernie is leading among millennials by a lot right now in the polls. Nonetheless, millions of millennials, including millions of young women, are supporting Hillary Clinton. And my daughter, as Nation readers know, is one of them. I find it increasingly galling to see her and her friends erased in this debate.

Which brings me to another reason I’ve felt compelled in the last week to come out publicly and forcefully for Clinton, which is Sanders’s dismissing Planned Parenthood’s endorsement (and that of NARAL Pro-Choice America) by labeling them part of the “establishment.” I appreciated Sanders supporter Kathy Geier’s acknowledgment here in The Nation that her candidate once again came off as tone-deaf on an issue of gender. Yet Geier seconded Sanders’s assertion that these two groups fighting for reproductive justice deserve to be termed “establishment”—and therefore unfavorably compared to the upstart, grassroots, and genuinely radical groups that back Sanders. 

 Just like my lefty friends who praise Sanders for loudly promoting the single-payer solution to healthcare because it’s important to raise the issue’s standing and profile, I praise Clinton for making repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which bars Medicaid from paying for abortion for poor women, a major public campaign issue. I acknowledge Sanders has voted the right way, and I’m grateful for it. But Clinton is leading on it, the same way she brought up the vile Planned Parenthood video hoax in the very first Democratic debate. That leadership matters to me. 

Finally, I’m struck by the insistence among Sanders supporters that Democrats who support Clinton—and right now, we are still the majority—are doing so joylessly, like party automatons. On Monday, on my Facebook page, where a lot of my close friends are supporting Sanders, three people I love shared the same op-ed by Republican operative Alex Castellanos, which purported to explain why Clinton’s campaign “sags” (get it?) while Sanders “surges.” This is the same Castellanos, by the way, who defended calling Hillary Clinton a “white bitch” during the 2008 campaign, when Jeffrey Toobin complained about it. “Some women, by the way, are named that, and it’s accurate,” he said smoothly. Trust me: If Castellanos had used a racial slur against Obama eight years ago—”Some black men, by the way, are named [N-word, or your slur du jour], and it’s accurate,” for instance—no progressive would be enthusiastically touting his views on the 2016 Democratic campaign. Not one. Could I really be the only one who remembered his ugly sexist attack on Clinton?  

Eight years ago, I found myself drawn into the media vortex, standing up for Clinton in the face of extraordinary media bias and sexism of the type Castellanos typified. I styled myself as a Clinton defender, not exactly a supporter, partly for journalistic reasons, and partly because I was genuinely torn about not supporting the amazing African-American senator running in the primary against her.

I’m being told it should be, that once again the historic quest of the first front-running female presidential candidate should take a backseat to another historic crusade, that of our first Brooklyn-born Jewish socialist.

I’ve always admired Sanders, but I happen to think he has more than a tin-ear on gender. He routinely talks about “mothers” needing family leave, and he doesn’t even seem to try to substitute the now-customary (on the left, anyway) “he or she” or “him or her” into his speeches.

Still, the larger message to Clinton supporters is that our demand for equal representation at the highest level of government at last, by a supremely qualified woman who is thoroughly progressive if not a socialist, must sadly wait. Again.

I won’t wait. I’m supporting Clinton, joyfully and without apologies. That’s not the same as without reservations; I continue to wonder whether she’ll be more hawkish on foreign policy than is advised in these dangerous times. I’m concerned that she’s too close to Wall Street; I really wish she hadn’t given those six-figure talks to Goldman Sachs. But I genuinely believe she’ll make the best president.

I’ve come to feel passion for Clinton herself, and for what I see as a movement that supports her, even though only Sanders is judged a “movement” candidate. I believe she’s evolved back to be the progressive Democrat she used to be, more progressive than her liberal husband. Some of my feelings remain defensive, but in a warmer sense: I really don’t want to see her abused again. I’m tired of seeing her confronted by entitled men weighing in on her personal honesty and likability, treating the most admired woman in the world like a woman who’s applying to be his secretary. I’m stunned anew by the misogyny behind the attacks on her, and her female supporters . . .

[W]omen will be hurt the most by a GOP presidency. Naturally, I will back Sanders if he’s the nominee. I promise I’ll eventually feel joy about it—after grieving, if Clinton were to lose again. But if that were to happen, it wouldn’t be because I was too busy protecting my lefty bona fides to say I support her, enthusiastically, this time around. I stand with a lot of women who feel the same way, including my daughter, and we won’t be erased. 

Story on Virginia Republican Caught on Grindr Goes Viral

The other day this blog noted a story at GayRVA about an anti-gay Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates who was caught using his Grindr account in Richmond to look for hookups while snowed in during the recent snow storm.   Since then, the story has gone viral and has been picked up by LGBT blogs around the country and has ignited yet another running debate of the propriety of "outing" closeted anti-gay politicians.  Some have criticized GayRVA for failing to reveal the identity of the legislator.  While I understand the concerns that lead to the decision to not reveal the individual's identity, I would likely have "outed" him after a little more investigation.  A piece in Metro Weekly looks at the debate and information that seemingly narrows down who this hypocrite is.  Here are highlights:
The Grindr-cruising lawmaker has voted:
  • In favor of a “conscience clause” exemption allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples.
  • In favor of allowing on-campus university clubs and groups to discriminate against LGBT individuals for the purposes of membership.
  • Against an amendment that would have prohibited anti-LGBT discrimination in state employment.
  • Against the nomination of Judge Tracy Thorne-Begland, Virginia’s first openly gay judge, to the Richmond General District Court.
[O]nline commenters have noted that the clues provided by Kutner essentially come close to revealing the lawmaker’s identity — for instance, while many Republicans voted against Thorne-Begland’s nomination for a judgeship when he was first nominated in 2012, only four currently-serving Republican lawmakers from Southwest Virginia were in the legislature and voted against Thorne-Begland’s subsequently successful nomination in 2013.

In an interview with Metro Weekly, Kutner said he’s received several requests from readers interested in learning the man’s identity.
“A Grindr conversation alone is debatable evidence,” Kutner says. “That certainly played a role into whether or not I wanted to out somebody, without really confirming things.

Kutner hopes the lawmaker will use this incident to think carefully the next time he’s faced with an LGBT-related piece of legislation, such as restricting the bathroom use of transgender students in school or granting county court clerks an exemption to refuse to issue marriage licenses.

But for those who insist that Kutner has a duty to “out” the closeted gay lawmaker, he says they’re missing the larger point: that the atmosphere in Virginia is so toxic that a person in a position of power feels the need to stay in the closet. 

“I’m not surprised to see people go on this witch-hunt, but outing this person is not going to make it illegal to fire gay people, it’s not going to remove the anti-gay animus. Honestly, it’s only going to make things more combative. . . . . we are flipping out to find out who’s gay — which is the same thing they’re doing,” he says. “Can you imagine Victoria Cobb right now, figuring out who she can out and try and ruin? It’s scary and weird. I’m not surprised by the reaction, but I would definitely like to see this energy shifted to a bit more of a positive place.”

Again, I understand the reasoning, but I would not have been so kind to this scum bag.   Dan Savage and I are on the same page in terms of the appropriateness of outing such politicians.  Here are excerpts from The Stranger:
I disagree: this legislator's votes against workplace protections for LGBT people, adoption rights for same-sex couples, and the judicial appointment of a qualified out gay man speak loudly of his hypocrisy and the the particular kind of damage done when closeted conservatives abuse their political power to protect their closets. We've heard this song about a thousand times before...

Just another closeted conservative asshole throwing other LGBT people under the bus—attacking other LGBT people with his votes—to deflect attention away from his own sexuality. He figures that no one will suspect him of being gay so long as he maintains a perfect anti-gay voting record—that more than qualifies this asshole for an outing. Here's hoping Internet sleuths are already on the case; there's more than enough detail in Kutner's open letter (and those Grindr pics) to identify this guy, if only through process of elimination. Get on it, Internet.

But, hey, even if the Internet sleuths fail us... this guy may wind up outing himself in the end. "[We’re] choosing to leave [him] anonymous," the say the editors at GAYRVA, "however we hope this message reaches [his] desk and [he'll] consider the words below if and when [he] have a chance to vote on LGBTQ related bills in the future."

If he casts another anti-LGBT vote, GAYRVA will out him. But if he pulls a 180 and suddenly starts casting pro-LGBT votes, he'll be outing himself. Checkmate either way.
And yes, I WILL be working to confirm the individual's identity.