Sunday, February 28, 2010

HRC's Joe Solmonese finally gets it "...our time is now"

With the entire city of Washington, DC consumed with passing and/or blocking health care reform for the past year it's become abundantly clear to many in the LGBT community that very few, if any, of the promises made to us by President Obama during his campaign were going to be kept.

We were fortunate last year to see the passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.But when we pushed for Washington to move forward on repealing "The Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), we were told by Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese and other dyed in the wool gay Democrats to slow down and be patient. The "slow and steady" crowd told the rest of us we were whining like spoiled brats demanding instant gratification and that we didn't understand the political process. Solmonese even told us to wait until after Obama's second term before we assess his record.

As Washington insiders, Joe and his crowd where awfully short-sighted not to see that the president was spending so much political capital on health care reform, that there would be precious little left to advance LGBT rights. They ignored the growing nationwide discontent with the Democrats, who squandered their super-majority over the last year and accomplished virtually nothing. They didn't seem to understand until this week that the mid-term elections would mean a reshuffling of the balance of power in DC. They didn't see the window of opportunity slamming shut... until now.

A couple of weeks ago I reported on the "blog swarm", a coalition of LGBT bloggers, including John Aravosis of AmericaBlog, Pam Spaudling of "Pam's House Blend", Bil Browning of The Bilerico Project, Joe Jervis of Joe.My.God, Andy Towle of TowleRoad on several others, that was formed in order to put pressure on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to use its influence in Washington to push the president and congress to move more quickly on repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" this year. As expected, HRC initially poo-pooed the gay net roots and again called for patience.

Pam Spaulding attended the HRC Carolinas Gala fundraiser in Raleigh, NC Saturday night. Guest speakers included Clay Aiken and Meredith Baxter, but the real show stopper turned out to be Joe Solmonese himself, who made some bold pronouncements that appear to signal a reversal in strategy for the nation's largest LGBT advocacy organization.

Pam reports that Solmonese made the following four promises to the crowd:
1. "We are going to eliminate the tax that you pay on domestic partner benefits. We're going to get rid of that this year at long last."

2. "We are going to extend domestic partnerships to federal employees."

3. "We are going to get people living with HIV/AIDS treatment much earlier if they are on public assistance."

4. "And finally, finally this year we are going to bring down the discriminatory policy known as 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'...once and for all."
Solmonese added, "I also get that there is a drumbeat coming from our community to put more pressure on, to make more demands of the President and members of Congress to get it done this year because who knows what's going to happen at the mid-term elections and frankly they are right and our time is now."

I'm not quite sure how Joe can make such grandiose promises, but it should be interesting to see how all of this plays out. The year-long Pentagon study on repeal of DADT hasn't even begun yet and there has been no timetable put forth for full repeal. Solmonese has a habit of making grand pronouncements only to reverse himself weeks later. I'm glad he's finally gotten on board, but I can't help but wonder for how long. 

The following video of Joe Solmonese's speech at the HRC Gala is courtesy of Pam's House Blend:

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cool site of the week: Church Sign Maker

 Ever wonder where those wacky church signs that are just too funny to be real come from? You've seen them circulating the web. People post them on their FaceBook walls and email them to everybody they know (which is really annoying, btw). There's a good chance they're all fakes, thanks to where you can choose from a wide variety of templates and make up your own church signs. Make up one of your own and send it to Jay Leno. 

Is Virginia's Homophobia Hurting Its Economy?

The Washington Post reports in Saturday's edition that a bidding war in the DC Metro area to attract aerospace and defense manufacturing giant Northrop Grumman has taken an interesting turn of events with a queer twist. In January the world's fourth largest defense contractor announced plans to relocate from the Los Angeles area to the Washington, DC area by the end of 2011. Naturally both Maryland and Virginia would love to be the new home state of the company that ranked 76 on the Fortune 500 in 2008.

According to The Post, LGBT rights groups and the state of Maryland are pressuring Northrop Grumman not to choose Virginia based on the commonwealth's anti-gay Marriage Amendment and Gov. Bob McDonnell's failure to include LGBT state workers in the executive order he signed earlier this month banning workplace discrimination.

The Post reports: In a letter sent Thursday to the company's CEO, Maryland State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) argued his state's stand on gay rights better mirrors the company's own longstanding commitment to gay and lesbian employees.

"Here in Maryland, we value our gay and lesbian citizens as part of a diverse population that makes the state strong," Madaleno wrote. "Virginia is doing the opposite and letting its LGBT citizens -- and those considering whether to move and work there -- know that they and their families are unwelcome second-class citizens. And they are counting on corporations like yours not to care."

The Los Angeles-based company is currently deciding between Virginia, Maryland and the District as a new home for its 300 top executives, running an unusually public contest among the three.

Both Madaleno and Equality Virginia have written letters to Northrop Grumman CEO, Wesley Bush urging the defense contractor to pick Maryland and accusing Virginia Governor McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli of turning back the clock on civil rights, while Maryland's attorney general announced this week that the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Northrop Grumman has consistently received a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign for its workplace protections of LGBT employees.

The Post article contiues, Tucker Martin, a spokesman for McDonnell, responded that companies can enact the same corporate policies for their own employees in Virginia as in other states. He jabbed back at the Maryland rhetoric, insisting Virginia has been winning jobs because it doesn't have the "high taxes and excessive government interference and regulations found in some neighboring states."

"This Maryland legislator isn't really interested in job-creation," Martin said. "If he was, he would spend his time trying to enact Virginia's model of low taxes, limited regulation and strong right-to-work laws."

In other words, the governor of Virginia is abdicating his responsibility to protect the citizens of his own state because private employers are free to choose whether or not to discriminate against their employees. Write that down and remember it every election day (because we have them every year), including the one that will give you the opportunity to replace Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Kathy Griffin - Mariska Hargitay "Law & Order" Lip-Lock: FAIL! (video)

In an upcoming episode of Law and Order: SVU, scheduled for March 3rd, Kathy Griffin plays a lesbian activist, named Babs Duffy,  involved in the investigation of the death of one of her group's members. As the investigation moves along, Griffin's character works closely with Detective Olivia Bensen, played by lesbian icon, Miriska Hargitay. Naturally, Babs gets "mixed messages" from Bensen and plants one on her.
It looks like the "mixed-messages" tradition continues in Hollywood. SVU has done a really good job over the years in portraying LGBT stories in a fairly realistic manner without resorting to stereotyping. Why then are they now falling back to the tired old scenario where the only way a lead character could have a same-sex encounter is through a misunderstanding? Why is the gay character once again portrayed as the predatory aggressor? The fact that Kathy Griffin reportedly had some creative input in the story is the really confusing part.

When are we going to see some really bold moves in prime time TV when it comes to telling our stories? We all know people who came out later in life after years of marriage and raising kids.

Why not have Detective Eliot Stabler (played by hottie Chris Meloni) realize that he can't live a lie any more? It would certainly fit his brooding, moody character who can't seem to manage a happy home life for more than a few weeks at a time. Melonie has already played gay in the HBO series "Oz", so it wouldn't effect his career in any way. It would certainly be a breath of fresh air to TV franchise that is beginning to show its age.

Here's a clip of the kissing scene between Kathy and Mariska that could have been written by anybody anywhere that had never met a gay or lesbian person. Sure, Kathy is her usual sarcastic self, but this was not worthy of her efforts, especially with Olivia's slightly (?) homophobic parting remark to a coworker at the end of the scene.

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Follow-up: Jim Moran (D-Va.) Stands Up for Gay Soldier on House Floor (video)

U.S. Congressman Jim Moran (D-Virginia, 1991-p...Image via Wikipedia
In a move that finally gives Virginia reason to be proud, Congressman Jim Moran stood on the house floor on Wednesday and read a moving letter from a gay active duty serviceman that detailed his experiences serving under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell". (DADT). This is the letter I referenced yesterday that has made national headlines as the Pentagon prepares a year-long study on the effects of repealing DADT.

The following video is from the Rachel Maddow Show. The text of the letter is posted on MSNBC here.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

This Queer Little Planet: British Prime Minister Honors Gay Service Members

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown played host to gay and lesbian military personnel at 10 Downing St. last night at a reception marking the tenth anniversary of the repeal of the prohibition of gays and lesbians serving in the British armed forces.

According to Pink News, Brown told the audience that the British people owe gay and lesbian soldiers a "debt of gratitude we can never fully repay". He added, "I promise you that no one need walk the road to equality alone again."

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Openly Gay Soldier Killed in Iraq

From The Palm Center:
SANTA BARBARA, CA, February 24, 2010 – Congressman Jim Moran read a letter on the floor of the House of Representatives today from an active duty soldier in Afghanistan. Congressman Moran stated that the soldier had, “learned that a fellow soldier was also gay, only after he was killed by an IED in Iraq. The partner of the deceased soldier wrote the unit to say how much the victim had loved the military; how they were the only family he had ever known.” The soldier originally provided the letter in response to an inquiry for the Pentagon’s current study of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

This is the second publicly known case of a gay soldier killed in action during the current wars in the Middle East. The first was U.S. Army Major Alan Rogers, who died while on patrol in Iraq in January, 2008. Statisticians have estimated that more than 200 gay and lesbian service members have perished since the onset of the conflict. Military leaders this week suggested in Congressional hearings that gay and lesbian troops disrupt the force.

Dr. Nathaniel Frank stated that, “It is important to honor the sacrifice of all American troops, and we do so today and always.” Frank is Senior Research Fellow at the Palm Center.
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Maryland Can Recognize Out of State Same-Sex Marriages

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 04:  Wesley Gann and J...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Add my home state of Maryland to the growing list of states that are moving to fairness and equal treatment under the law for all its citizens. On Wednesday, Maryland Attorney General, Douglas F. Gansler released a long awaited statement saying that under current state law, there is nothing preventing the Free State from recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Maryland law does allow domestic partnerships that offer some, but not all of the rights extended to married couples, but it is still illegal to perform same-sex marriages in the state.

The Baltimore Sun reports:
With the ruling, state agencies will be required to extend all benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy to married gay couples. These could include health insurance expansion, spousal legal immunities, property rights, the ability to file wrongful-death suits and perhaps some tax benefits, experts said yesterday.

"There is no law in Maryland that says we don't recognize out-of-state marriages between same-sex couples," Gansler said. "Based on the law and the state of the law in Maryland and the Constitution of the United States, this is what the law is." 

"What we say in this opinion is a prediction, not a prescription" as to how a court would interpret the law, Gansler wrote. "While the matter is not free from all doubt, in our view, the Court is likely to respect the law of other states and recognize a same-sex marriage contracted validly in another jurisdiction."

So what is a queer Maryland couple to do if they want to get gay married? In some neighborhoods, it will be as simple as crossing the street and entering the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriage will become legal next week.   
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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Wave Wednesday: "What I like About You" by The Romantics

Talking in Your Sleep (song)Image via Wikipedia

Founded in 1977, the Romantics were generally considered too pop to be punk, so they got tagged with the New Wave label. The band achieved the greatest success in 1983 with the single, "Talking in Your Sleep".

From 1980, here is "What I like About You", which went on to be featured in major TV ad campaigns. While the song only peeked at 49 on the Billboard charts when it was first released, it has become their most memorable song.

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Arrest Warrent Issued in VT for Ex-Lesbian Mom

Former lesbian Lisa Miller, who failed to turn over custody of her daughter to her ex-partner on January 1st, as ordered by a Rutland, VT judge, is now officially a fugitive.

Metro Weekly reports:
A family court judge in Vermont Tuesday issued a warrant for the arrest of former lesbian Lisa Miller who disappeared with the child she once shared with her former civil union partner, Janet Jenkins.

Judge William Cohen, a judge in Rutland County, Vermont, ruled February 23 that Miller was in contempt of the Vermont court for failing to turn over custody of the daughter to Jenkins on Jan. 1, as ordered.

According to one of Jenkins’ lawyers, Sarah Star, the judge’s order is essentially an arrest warrant for a misdemeanor. Jenkins must now hope that the state’s attorney in Rutland will seek to file felony criminal charges against Miller. If he does, law enforcement officials in all 50 states, she says, will be empowered to arrest Miller and hold her on $50,000 bond.

Just last week, Judge Louis Harrison, a family court judge in Bedford, Virginia, said he could not issue an arrest warrant for Miller because he could not be sure Miller was aware of the Vermont judge’s order.
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Gay Marriage Ban Fails in WV

It is gratifying to see that Democrats in our neighboring state have the balls to stand up to right wing bigots.

From The Charleston Gazette: CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Democrats in the House of Delegates on Tuesday swiftly shot down Republican attempts to advance a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

GOP delegates unsuccessfully tried to force a floor vote on a bipartisan resolution (HJR5) called the "Marriage Protection Amendment." The proposal calls for a statewide referendum on whether to amend West Virginia's constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

This week, Republicans launched a push to make the House vote on measures they say Democrats have allowed to die in the legislative process.  They want to do that by "discharging" bills from committees, bringing them directly to the floor for a vote.

Except for Delegate Tom Louisos, D-Fayette, the House's Democratic majority on Tuesday voted to postpone consideration of the Republican motion to discharge the marriage amendment.

Later, the committee that controls the flow of bills decided to keep that motion off the House's agenda.

House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, said the discharge attempts are about open debate on issues he says constituents want the Legislature to take up.

"Once again, through a procedural motion, [debate] has been blocked," Armstead said after the House postponed his motion Tuesday.

In the coming days, Republican delegates plan to try to force floor votes on more bills, including one to require drug-testing of welfare recipients, Armstead said.

Republicans are off to a rocky start with the plan. On Monday, Delegate Patrick Lane, R-Kanawha, unsuccessfully tried to discharge a measure that would increase tax breaks for elderly and disabled people.

Republicans also tried to force a vote on the marriage amendment last year, but Democrats blocked the move.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Joe Lieberman taking on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) was asked by the White House to take on the task of getting the ball rolling on ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) legislatively. Nobody expects the 17-year-old discriminatory policy to be ended overnight, but it's good to some movement on the subject. Lieberman has announced that he will introduce legislation to end DADT next week.

Lieberman, who left the Democratic party to run for re-election as an Independent, has drawn the ire of liberals by supporting John McCain in the '08 elections after being Al Gore's running mate in 2000. Some call it bi-partisanship, I call it political schizophrenia, but some think that Lieberman is the perfect guy for the job. We'll see how it all comes out in the wash.

Lieberman told the NY Daily News, "My own experience as a member of the Armed Services Committee, visiting our troops on bases here in this country and abroad, particularly in war zones, the most remarkable quality you'll find is unit cohesion. What matters is not the gender of the other person in your unit or the color or the religion or in this case the sexual orientation. It's whether that person is a good soldier you can depend on. And that's why I think it's going to work"... "I see this as an extension, the next step of the civil rights movement."

Read the full article here.

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Rachel Maddow takes on Virginia's Bob McDonnell (video)

Virginia state welcome signImage via Wikipedia

File this one under "It's our own damn fault". Once again Virginia is a national laughing stock and our duly elected homophobic leaders are the target of Rachel Maddow's insightful commentary in a piece she calls "Christianist ignorance revives discrimination in Virginia"

I don't know about you guys, but I am ashamed and embarrassed by the lack of backbone among Virginia's Democrats and Independents. 

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Viking Zombie Boyfriend, by Jeremy Rizza (2-23-100

Notes from Jeremy:
"My original script had Alexandru talking to Dill instead of Rorik, but at the last minute I figured out that he would never steal from Rorik.  He might scam Rorik out of his unwashed boxer shorts so he can sniff them in his tomb all the live-long day, but stealing? That would be going too far!"

Visit for past strips, character back stories and cool merchandise. 

Posted with the permission of the artist.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sshh! Saturday Feb. 27th is Same-Sex Hand-Holding Day (Video)

Calling on all readers, members of Roanoke Equality, Equality Virginia and any other LGBT people and allies, this is an easy one! I know we're all busy and can't always get to the meetings, but if you want to show your pride and take part in a direct action that doesn''t require much of your time or effort, this is right up your ally. All you have to do is get over your aversion to public displays of affection.

Saturday, February 27th is Same-Sex Hand-Holding Day (SSHH!) All you have to do is be in public with someone of the same gender that you care about and hold his/her hand, take a picture and send it to "A Day in Hand". That's it. No signs, no chanting, no getting arrested. Just a simple PDA to bring attention to the fact that we're here and we're queer.

Project founder, David Watkins says, "Holding hands with your partner, where you can, is about being true to yourself and to those you love. This is not a protest, a rally, a Pride or a march. This is about you and the life you lead every day."

What we've learned in the last 40+ years since Stonewall is that the more visible we are the greater acceptance we have from the general public.

The group reports to already have pics from some very prominent (okay, mostly British) LGBT people, including:
Stephen Fry - Literary God (pictured)
Sandi Toksvig - Comedy Goddess
Cleve Jones - Harvey Milks right hand man
Boris Johnson - London Mayor
Ken Livingston - Ex-London Mayor
Peter Tatchel - A Grade Activist
4 Poofs and a Piano - BBC 1 band
John Snow - Broadcaster
Michael Cashman - Minister of European Parliament
Ben Bradshaw - Politician

For more info, the

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CPAC Poll: Stopping Gay Marriage Not a Priority for Conservatives

Some interesting developments have come out of last week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) convention. It all really started back in December when the gay conservative group GOProud announced it would be a co-sponsor of the event, prompting some arch-conservatives to withdraw their support for the event.

On Thursday, former VP Dick Cheney made a surprise visit to the CPackers on the heals of his interview last weekend where he voiced his support for ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell and he was resoundingly not booed.

On Friday, Alexander McCobin of Students for Liberty thanked the American Conservative Union for welcoming GOProud (which he referred to as "GOPride", but thanks for the effort) as a cosponsor and was greeted with boos.

Next, Ryan Sorba, of Young Americans for Freedom, was booed off stage by a bunch of "unruly gays that are trying to infiltrate the party and ruin it." Yes, that's right, folks. If you want to ruin a party, invite the gays.

But perhaps the most bizarre news to come out of the convention were some of the results of the polling of participants. Each year the organizers conduct a straw poll of likely presidential candidates. The winner was former GOP presidential hopeful and libertarian-leaning Ron Paul. Paul's former rival for the White House, former Mass. Governor and rabidly anti-gay Mitt Romney came in second, with Sarah "I didn't quit, dammit" Palin coming in third.
The results of polling of the most pressing issues for conservatives showed that, like liberals, respondents were least concerned about gay marriage, with just 1% saying it was a priority. The most fascinating thing is that when each of these findings were announced at the convention, they were greeted with boos. Yes, folks, they booed themselves. Conventioneers largely brushed off the polling results due to the fact so many younger people were "allowed" to take part. Excuse me, but weren't these young upstarts raised in conservative, "family values"-type families? ("Bristol Pain to the white courtesy phone!")

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Don't Get Rolled Again! Boycott 2010 White House Easter Egg Roll

The White House has announced plans for this year's annual Easter Egg Roll. The theme this year, chosen by First Lady Michelle Obama,  is "Ready, Set, Go!"

Last year the White House made a point of inviting LGBT families to participate and is doing the same this year. Last year the move was seen as a sign of hope for many of us who believed in the message of change.

The past year has been a huge disappointment for many of us who had such high hopes for this president after so many decades of having our needs ignored, our trust betrayed and our humanity diminished by past presidents. LGBT people supported president Obama and the democrats like never before in the '08 elections and have been rewarded with a smattering of crumbs judiciously scattered at well-chosen, photo-op moments. The sycophantic folks of Gay, Inc., who claim to represent our interests in DC, scramble to their black tie events, posing like best buds with politicians who don't even know their names.

Tickets to the Easter Egg Roll are distributed by a lottery system. Results will be announced on Thursday, March 4th. Not surprisingly, supply of tickets have been given to, you guessed it, Family Equality Council, Human Rights Campaign and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The White house is encouraging the groups to invite their members. Last year over 100 gay and lesbian families took part in the event.

This year, we should send a message to the president that we will not be cast as bit players in his latest public relations production. We will not play the roll of token homosexual and smile for the cameras while the President stalls and plays games with our rights. We'll either stay home or take to the streets to demand less posturing and more action from our "fierce advocate". A lot of parents will say it's a great opportunity for their kids to go to the White House. It's a moment their kids will never forget. But it's a much better opportunity to teach your kids an important life lesson about standing up for what is right.

Don't get rolled again this Easter. Boycott the White House Easter Egg Roll!

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Guest Post: "Disability and Health Care - what it really means" by Beverly Johnson

The LGBT community is so diverse and seems to become even more so every day. There is no single way to be gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered, intersexed questioning or curious. For a while I've been asking readers to share their stories here and I finally found someone brave enough to be the first. 

Beverly Johnson is a 40+ year old lesbian living near the Roanoke Valley. After becoming disabled through a job related injury she had to readjust and rethink much of her life. Bev says, "It was the best 'bad thing' that ever happened to me." She met her partner/wife after this life changing event and they have shared nearly 10 years together. The two share a home in the country with their four-legged fur-kids, where Bev's writing and her wife's art are fed from the inspiration around them. Bev hopes to open the eyes as well as open a few hearts, especially in the LGBT community. Check out Bev's website, the Azure Phoenix for some really cool and diverse pride wear.

You work a job, have a home, lead a life to which you are accustomed to, and in the blink of an eye it is all gone. When you go to apply for that long term disability insurance that you paid extra for through your workplace, you find that your benefits have been canceled because you are no longer an employee of the company though which you acquired your insurance. And you are no longer an employee because while the doctors were making an assessment of your situation and injuries, the company you gave 50+ hours a week to decides to dissolve your contract (more politically correct than being fired) something they are allowed by state law to do if you can no longer perform the job for which you were hired.

You result to Medicare and Social Security Disability in order to have some money coming in. Then you will hear things like; "Gee, I wish I could sit home and draw a check once a month" and "it must be nice to have free health care." Ignorance must truly be bliss.  Nothing is free. Medicare comes out of the pitiful amount of Social Security one draws and it does not cover all expenses. You cannot find additional coverage if you are disabled and under the age of 50. Once you reach 50, you can get additional coverage through AARP, if you can make it that long without the care.

I joke about having the best parking spaces and that my cane comes in handy for unruly children and rude adults. I joke about how I cannot be related to a Weeble (remember that toy) cause Weebles wobble but they don't fall down - and I fall down all the time. Joking is a coping mechanism, that eventually, at least for me, leads to smiling again, except on really bad days.

What else happens when you become disabled? Approximately 90% of the friends you ran around with, camped with, went on trips with and had parties with - suddenly become invisible. All the times you lent your back to helping someone move, or watched a neighbors home while they gone, is out the window if you need a ride to the store or someone to help you mow your lawn.

You nurse your 16-year-old truck because you cannot afford a new or used one. Banks will not touch you for loans because your income is set and below poverty level. You find a second hand dorm refrigerator when your full sized one dies because you cannot afford a new one AND you make do with that for 4 years. You learn to fix everything imaginable in your home because calling a repairman at 50$ an hour is so not going to happen. You sell everything you can on eBay to pay the light bill. Every piece of clothing you buy comes from Good Will, because you can't afford the 19.00 jeans from Wal-Mart. You save to buy room heaters because replacing your heating system is 5 x's more expensive.

Then there are the spouses and partners of the disabled. If you are married (legally so), well you have a bit of a break because most companies will allow for spouses to take time off caring for a disabled husband or wife. But if you are unmarried (either living together or a gay couple), your partner does not get time off for caring for “friend”, only family members. And, for those straight couples out there, they often divorce or never marry for strictly a financial reason after one of them becomes disabled.

Sometimes even your family does not understand why you can no longer be somewhere at the drop of a hat. Why you ask for assistance with grocery money because your prescriptions for the month were more than your mortgage, and then there is the keeping up of appearances.

On the heels of all the talk about health care reform, I have heard so much hatred and discrimination that I am ashamed of the people. I heard just tonight that Medicare was one of the reasons that health care is in the shape it is in. So tell me, why is it OK for our tax dollars to pay for congress and the house and the president to have the top of the line medical care and not OK for our tax dollars to cover those who are in need or for that matter, even the average citizen? Double standards are shocking are they not? It's like saying "you are beneath", "you are less than", you have no rights even if you did what you were supposed to do and worked hard and paid into the system all those years".

Grow up America and stop your whining. So what if you cannot afford a new car or a gym membership every year? Heaven forbid if your cell phone is not the latest and coolest one on the market. Oh have mercy if you cannot afford to go out and eat once a week - even to McDonald's.

There needs to be reform all around, but reform does not mean exclusion of those who do not meet a certain standard to which YOU think they should be accustomed to.

Back to being disabled and health care. Read, make yourself informed, and I am NOT talking about the political rhetoric that is using hatred and fear-mongering to make you buy what they are selling. Go to sites, which specialize in advocacy for the disabled, ill and elderly. Listen to those who are on the front lines. Think for yourselves instead of letting parties and movements sway your emotions.

But hey, what do I know? Here I am advocating change, not that I matter, after all, to so many I am getting it all for "free". Bitter? Sometimes. But I would never wish what happened to me on another, even if it would be a learning experience and a wake-up call.

Have something to share? Express yourself in 750 words or less and send it to It can be a commentary, funny story, poem or just something you want to get off your chest.  
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McDonnell's Exec Order Does Not Protect Virginia's LGBT Statehouse Workers

During his '09 campaign for governor, Bob McDonnell said he would not sign an executive order protecting gay and lesbian employees from workplace discrimination as his predecessors Warner and Kaine had done. McDonnell said that anti-discrimination policies were the purview of the legislature and that he didn't believe that such protections were needed. He added that no one would face discrimination in the workplace on his watch.

The problem is that signing the workplace non-discrimination order is a tradition going back 36 years in the commonwealth and has been the first or second executive order signed by each new governor. McDonnell would have been really hard pressed to justify not doing the same. So, on February 5, 2010, Gov. McDonnell did sign Executive Order 6  which prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, political affiliation, or against otherwise qualified persons with disabilities, but not sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

But as recent history shows, the executive order carries no legal weight. The scope of Executive Order 1 (2006) was tested last year in the case of Moore vs. Virginia Museum of Natural History. Micheal Moore had worked at the museum in Martinsville for several years until being forced to resign in November 14, 2006. Moore had received glowing performance reviews throughout his tenure, but left after enduring months of anti-gay harassment.

Moore filed suite against the museum, represented by attorney/blogger/activist Michael Hamar (Michael in Norfolk). Hamar posted the court's ruling in the case last July:
The Circuit Court for the City of Martinsville has ruled in Michael Ware Moore v. Virginia Museum of Natural History that Executive Order 1 (2006) signed by Virginia Governor (and DNC Chair) Tim Kaine provides no cause of action to gay Virginians fired for discrimination based on sexual orientation nor does it waive the Commonwealth of Virginia’s defense of sovereign immunity against fired gay employees seeking redress.
When asked by the Washington Blade to comment on the ruling, Gov. Kaine's office had this to say:
Gordon Hickey, a Kaine spokesperson, said the governor “feels very strongly” about non-discrimination in the state workforce, but that the executive order would be enforced within the executive branch of government as opposed to the court system.“The executive order remains in place, and it will be enforced as an internal policy,” he said. “If anybody is found to have been fired or discriminated against based on sexual orientation, they can be dealt with through personnel procedures of the state.”
In other words, the previous Executive Orders were only personnel policies that only applied to Statehouse employees, not state employees in general, and had no legal standing. 

The bottom line is that LGBT Virginians have never had any real protection from workplace discrimination and never will until we demand it. While McDonnell's position on LGBT rights has always been blatantly bigoted, at least he has been honest about it. We knew what we were getting with him and as LGBT Virginians we chose to stay home on election day and let the homophobes have their way. We have only ourselves to blame.  

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

US Troops are Ready for Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal

When Adm. Mike Mullen appeared with Defense Secretary Robert Gates before the Senate Armed Services Committee two weeks ago to announce a year-long study on the affects of repealing the ban on openly gay service members, one of the major concerns voiced by opponents was the impact on troop morale, and preparedness.

During a trip to Jordan this week, Mullen engaged in a question and answer period with troops based in Amman and noticed toward the end of the session that no one had asked him anything about repealing "Don't ask, Don't tell". So he asked.

McClatchey news reports:

Navy Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was nearing the end of a 25-minute question and answer session with troops serving here when he raised a topic of his own: "No one's asked me about 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'" he said.

As it turned out, none of the two dozen or so men or women who met with Mullen at Marine House in the Jordanian capital Tuesday had any questions on the 17-year-old policy that bars gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military — or Mullen's public advocacy of its repeal.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Darryl E. Robinson, who's the operations coordinator for defense attache's office at the U.S. Embassy here, explained why after the session. "The U.S. military was always at the forefront of social change," he said. "We didn't wait for laws to change."

After Tuesday's question-and-answer session, Mullen told McClatchy that although he's held three town hall sessions with troops since his testimony, not a single service member has asked him about the issue.

At Tuesday's session, which included not only Marines, but members of the Army and the Air Force, both male and female service members explained why they were nonplussed by the issue: They'd already served with gays and lesbians, they accepted that some kind of change was imminent, and, they said, the nation was too engulfed in two wars for a prolonged debate about it.

That there's been so little reaction raises questions about how much study the issue needs and whether the Pentagon study is meant to pacify its concerns — or Congress'.

Read the full story here.

Here is how you you can have an impact on the efforts to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. 

This Thursday, as the Senate Armed Services Committee meets again to hear testimony on repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell, it is vital that citizens flood the Senate with phone calls demanding the law be repealed NOW!

Capitol Hill Switchboard: (202) 224-3121
Senate Contact List:

Facebook activists Phil Attey, Meghan Stabler, David da Silva Cornell, Lisa Equality Talmadge, Aaron E. Baldwin, Ian Jopson, Justin Elzie, Bo Dixon and Roanoke Equality's Frank House and Steve Publicover ask for your help in harnessing the power of Facebook and unleashing it on the Senate.

Our organizations and our lobbyists aren't strong enough to make this happen without constituent pressure, and there is no greater way to build that pressure than through each of our individual social networks on Facebook.

Tips on Calling Your Senators:

1. Only call YOUR Senators! (Members of Congress don't count "outside callers")
2. Residents of the District of Columbia please make your calls to Senators Reid & Levin
3. Get them to answer: Does the Senator support the repeal?
4. Ask to be put on a special email list to be informed on the Senator's efforts to repeal DADT.
5. Ask to meet with the Senator the next time they're back in your district.

Help Spread The Word:

1. Invite your friends to this Facebook event.
2. Use the "share" feature to post the event on your profile.
3. Use your status update to urge friends to call their Senators
Sample status update:
"urges my friends on Thurs - Feb. 11 to call your Senators (202) 224-3121 and demand they repeal DADT now!
4. On Twitter, tweet the following:
Join the call to repeal #DADT on #Facebook | | #cc10 #lgbt #gay #equality #p2 #topprog

In addition to calling your senators, we encourage you to plug into these organized efforts to pressure Congress to repeal DADT:

Act On Principles Citizen Whip Count Effort
Register and report the outcome of your calls on the ActOnPrinciples website so that we can keep a citizen whip count in the House and Senate.

Voices of Honor Campaign
HRC and Servicemembers United have teamed up to channel email into Congress and organize lobby visits, both in your home district and on Capitol Hill.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
SLDN is mobilizing people to lobby your Members of Congress and write letters to the editor in your local newspapers.

The Courage Campaign's Don't Wait Campaign
The Courage Campaign is mobilizing messages directly to Senator Levin, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee

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New Wave Wednesday: "One Thing Leads to Another", The Fixx (Music Video)

In 1983, British New Wave band The Fixx rose to number 4 on Billboard Hot 100 with "One Thing Leads to Another".

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Blog Swarm" urges HRC to pressure Obama to move on DADT Repeal

Via Americablog:

A group of progressive and LGBT blogs have launched a blog swarm aimed at the Human Rights Campaign. The goal is simple: Get HRC to push the White House to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell this year. 

The blog swarm is sponsored by AMERICAblog Gay, Pam's House Blend, Michelangelo Signorile, Sirius OutQ & the Gist, DailyKos, TowleRoad, Joe My God, Bilerico, and Slog

We need leadership from the White House to get the repeal of DADT. The President can include repeal language in the Defense budget he sends to Capitol Hill. There's still time for that. In addition, Servicemembers United have crafted a repeal plan that would meet the needs of all the key players.

Unfortunately, too many D.C.-based progressive groups have not challenged the Obama administration's failure to follow through on campaign promises. They've enabled the inaction in order to maintain access. But, we've started to reach a point with the Obama administration where allies are publicly demanding action, or promises are never kept. Just last week, the AFL-CIO was forced to send an action alert to its members, targeting the White House. If it's good enough for the unions, it's good enough for us.

We truly believe that if HRC were to openly call on the White House to get DADT repealed this year, it would happen. Mostly because Democrats are rightly worried about the gay vote (and the support of our straight allies) months before a critical congressional election. Their fears are unfounded. But, we need to push hard and we need everyone pushing in the same direction.


Please contact HRC today, and urge them to publicly demand that the President take the lead in getting DADT repealed this year.

We are at a unique moment in history. Pro-gay Democrats control the White House and the Congress. Momentum is building for the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And the polls show that the American people, even Republicans, are on our side. We can win this battle. But only if our leaders choose to lead. Gay Americans helped elect this President and this Congress with our votes, our money and our time. And gay Americans have funded HRC for years, in exchange for a promise of results once the Democrats finally came to power.

You've done your job. Now it's time for the President, Congress and HRC to do theirs.

HRC Front Desk: (202) 628-4160
TTY: (202) 216-1572
Toll-Free: (800) 777-4723

HRC Web site comment page.
General membership email at hrc:

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