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Archive for April, 2010

A Message for Anti-Voting Rights for DC Residents

April 27, 2010 Leave a comment

As if killing the DC Voting Rights bill wasn’t enough. Today, the Maverick-Not Maverick Senator from Arizona, John McCain and the Junior Senator from Montana, Jon Tester (D), introduced a stand-alone bill that would further gut DC’s strong gun regulations.

From WTOP:

The bill would repeal the District’s ban on semi-automatic weapons and remove the requirement that guns be kept unloaded and disassembled when stored in the home or office.

It would also authorize District residents to buy guns and ammunition in Maryland and Virginia, and it would repeal registration requirements.

I think Jon Stewart sums up how I feel about this bill and Sens. McCain and Tester. The message starts at about 7:40.

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Religious Right Has No Intention of Letting Uganda Anti-gays Bill Die

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

This despite reports that the Uganda Parliament’s Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee doubts the Anti-Homosexuality Bill will pass.

Religious extremist Lou Engle’s group The Call is planning a rally next month in Uganda and will include calls to support the legislation.

From Truth Wins Out:

“He [Warren Throckmorton] reports that The Call Uganda, an organization which has both political and religious purposes and supports Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, is preparing for a large rally on May 2.

According to Throckmorton, ‘The relative quiet in Uganda surrounding the bill could easily be broken by this event.'”

Engle is a scary guy. His intensity is unnerving and he has a penchant for using disturbing images to get his point across. His work against families and reproductive health rights is legendary. His message is one of hate and he calls on followers to become martyrs for Christ.

Just check out some of The Call’s videos for a taste.

The Call Uganda is just the kind of thing supporters of the all but dead Anti-Homosexual act need to bring it back to life.

From Throckmorton:

‘I am quite concerned that this event could have the same kind of impact that the March 2009 anti-gay conference had in Uganda. At that event, Scott Lively told his Ugandan audience that gays were behind Nazi Germany and possibly involved in the Rwandan atrocities. In general the conference reinforced the desire of some religious leaders to persuade the government to create laws which would eliminate homosexuality from the nation.”

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British Government: Kill-the-Gays Bill Sponsor Banned if Bill Passes

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Just off the heels of the last week’s Senate vote condemning the Ugandan Anti-homosexual Bill comes the news this week that the UK plans to ban the bill’s sponsor MP David Bahati from entering the country if the bill is passed.

From The Guardian:

Civil servants in the Foreign Office, the Department for International Development and the Borders Agency are drawing up plans to block the visa of born-again Christian MP David Bahati if he does not drop legislation that would see consenting adults who have gay sex imprisoned for life and impose the death penalty on those with HIV – which will be called “aggravated homosexuality”.

The move is the most recent rebuke from the British Parliament toward the Ugandan government. Earlier this month, 118 British MPs publicly dencounced the homophobic legislation. Speaking for the group of MPS, activist Peter Tathcell said in a statement, “Even if the death penalty is dropped, the Bill will remain unacceptable. It will still violate the equality guarantees of international human rights agreements.”

This seems to be confirmed in today’s news:

The British government is concerned by a wave of anti-gay sentiment sweeping Africa that has also put pressure on homosexual people in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Nigeria.

Read about that uptick in violence here.

The issue appears to be coming to a head in the UK’s Parliament. The Guardian article also says an “unnamed” senior British official has said the issue could become a “major diplomatic incident if the Ugandans do not back down.” It goes on to report that the Ugandans seem to be using stalling tactics to delay passage of the bill until next year, especially amid the intense international pressure to kill this bill.

Box Turtle Bulletin says these “stalling tactics,” if indeed true, confirm reports that the bill is most likely not to receive a vote.

But with President Yoweri Museveni’s bid to extend his twenty-five year rule for another five years, the bill could be resurrected at any time if Museveni decides it is to his political advantage.

Dead or not, the American government should show its support for the British government’s moves.  The Senate resolution was a welcome step, but we need this vote coupled with executive action. The State Department can show solidarity with its British counterpart and give Bahati the same warning.

Let’s go one step further and issue the same warning to Museveni, too!

I’ve been told that the State Department is preparing to review the entire continent’s human rights record, a reportedly unprecedented effort. It is thought that this review should result in solutions to get various African nations to adopt more tolerant and accepting policies toward LGBT Africans. Homosexuality is currently illegal in 37 countries across the vast continent.

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DC Voting Rights Put on Hold Again, Gun Provision is the Culprit

April 20, 2010 Leave a comment

It seems the gun legislation that the Senate attached to the bill last year is what did the legislation in.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the “price was too high” to include the gun provision, which the NRA lobbied for to be included.

The bill lost the support of the League of Conservation voters, which signaled on Monday that it would not be endorsing the compromise legislation.

The national and local branches of the League of Women Voters and D.C. For Democracy, which bills itself as the city’s largest progressive organization, said Monday they will not support the voting rights bill because it would strip the city of its ability to set its own gun laws. Concerns over the gun amendment have also spurred several D.C. Council members to urge Congress not to vote on the measure, but supporters maintain that a broad coalition is ready to accept the amendment if it means voting rights.

Mary G. Wilson, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, and Billie Day, president of the League’s D.C. chapter, said in a joint statement that they reached their decision not to support the measure “reluctantly and sadly, but firmly” because of concerns over the gun amendment.

What a blow to District residents, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Mayor Fenty. All parties have fought hard to get this passed and after waiting more than a year, it seemed the District was close to getting that prized vote in Congress.

Nobody wanted the gun provision included, but at this juncture it made sense to go through with it. Fenty Norton has repeatedly said they could get that language changed once the measure was passed.

Now we’ll never know and District residents will continue their checks to the federal government and also forgo their constitutional guarantee to representation in Congress.

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Happy Emancipation Day! Happy Visitation Rights Day!

April 16, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s only a government holiday for the District of Columbia, but it’s a very special one. It’s also extra awesome since Jim gets the day off as a District government employee.

Emancipation Day in a nutshell:

On April 16, 1862, more than eight months before the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln signed the act that freed the slaves in the District, and we mark the day to celebrate freedom and reflect on the unfinished work in the pursuit of equal rights.

It’s an important day for the District especially considering the advancements DC voting rights activists have made in the last few years. The holiday is also especially prescient given the news earlier this week that the DC Voting Rights Act is going to receive a floor vote in the House probably late next week….oh and it will be debated with that wretched gun amendment attached to it, too.

[Del. Eleanor Holmes] Norton said that the bill, which would grant the residents of Washington a voting member of Congress, would include a provision enhancing gun owners’ rights in the District, a measure Norton had resisted including.

I’ve got to hand it to Norton on this one. She has proven to be a highly effective voice for the District on this issue and she has been especially strategic about leveraging the political capital her party in the House gained after the 2006 elections and especially after the 2008 elections.

Together with DC Vote, Norton has put together the first bill in a long time that has any hope of passing. Surely the gun amendment has been a tough pill to swallow and it has definitely split District residents. Personally, I don’t think we should kill this bill because of the amendment. We’ve come too far in this fight and the rest of America lives with the Second Amendment just fine.

As Michael O’Brien of  The Hill writes:

Norton said that the strength of pro-gun rights forces in Congress had only grown over the past year, and with the specter of reduced Democratic majorities in the House and the Senate looming after this fall’s elections, she planned to proceed with her bill anyway.

‘I have given this fight all that I had. There is nothing left to do but make the hard decision,” she said. “I believe residents would not want us to pass up this once-in-a-life-time opportunity for the vote they have sought for more than two centuries.’

I”ll take the vote and once we have it we can lobby our representative to introduce legislation to change this law.

Other happy news today?

Obama has made more inroads with the gay community with his announcement today that any hospital that accepts Medicare and Medicaid funds must not discriminate in its visitation rights policies. It does not only apply to LGBT Americans, but to all Americans.

From the President’s memo to the Department of Health and Human Services:

Often, a widow or widower with no children is denied the support and comfort of a good friend. Members of religious orders are sometimes unable to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions on their behalf. Also uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives — unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.

The president and his staff worked behind the scenes on this one and it’s an awesome move on the Administration’s part.

Is today’s news foreshadowing of more favorable legislation to come i.e. ENDA, DADT….DOMA?

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Spend Your Money Wisely

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

If you’re looking to spend your hard-earned money on frivolous crap that supports the likes of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, then consider the latest in GOP fashions:

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Key Senate Committee Speaks Out Against Uganda Anti-Gay Bill

April 14, 2010 1 comment

In case you missed it today, the Senate Foreign Relations committee passed a resolution by unanimous consent late last night that calls on Ugandan legislature to kill the Anti-Homosexuality Bill currently under consideration.

From the HRC Back Story blog:

The Senate Resolution, introduced by Sens. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, expresses the United States government’s “unequivocal” opposition to the proposed Ugandan bill. Stressing the “universality of human rights” and the bill’s potential to undermine U.S. efforts to combat HIV/AIDS globally, the resolution calls upon the Secretary of State to more closely monitor human rights abuses that are motivated by sexual orientation and to encourage the repeal or reform of similar laws around the world. Next, the resolution will need approval by the full Senate.

This is great news as it means the United States Congress is one step closer to officially rejecting that bill on moral grounds. It is, however, just a resolution and has no kind of enforcement language included. There is a similar resolution making its way through the House.

It is encouraging to see language in the resolution that calls on the president and the Secretary of State to better monitor the continent for human rights abuses. Despite its lack of any kind of real effect, this resolution does bolster arguments made here and the rest of the blogosphere that American foreign aid should be withheld from any country that systematically persecutes minorities of any kind. It provides the kind of of leverage needed to apply more pressure to the administration to act.

Start pressuring!

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