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“Not One Candidate”

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

The DNC released “Not One Candidate,” today.  It’s a video that calls attention to the stunning lack of leadership that the current GOP nomination candidates have exhibited in recent debates.  It’s pretty disgusting and it’s nice to see the DNC using this moment to highlight such irresponsible behavior. I’m happy to see the GOP implode, but I also think the antics that have been playing out at the last three debates must not be overlooked.

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Categories: liberal, Politics Tags: ,

What Does Solidarity Look Like in 2011?

December 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Back in July, I wrote about then recent observations of the relationship between the Latino and the LGBT communities. The observations were made while attending Netroots Nation and I was feeling especially hopeful that both communities were genuinely interested in building a bridge to each other, especially since this was the first real overture I had ever witnessed from the LGBT movement to address its abysmal record on diversity and outreach to people of color.  At a day-long LGBT pre-conference event, immigration was a breakout subject all its own and many of the attendees talked at length about the need for the LGBT rights movement to stand in solidarity with the fight for fair and just immigration reform. Recognizing the secret life and the kind of closet undocumented immigrants live in seemed to resonate with the largely white, gay male bloggers who were in attendance.  Witnessing these activists having robust conversations about how both movements can join forces in order to affect greater and more positive change was an encouraging sign that things were about to change going forward.

Of course, this was months before the devastating mid-term elections and the historic lame-duck Congressional work session that had everyone biting their nails in anticipation. This was before political maneuvering cast doubt on the passage of the DREAM Act (important to the Latino community) and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (important to the LGBT community). And, it was before the U.S. Senate dashed any hopes that these two communities could work together, as it did when the august body scheduled both DREAM and DADT repeal for votes in the last remaining weeks of the session. In a Congress that was as politically charged and partisan as this one, it seemed nearly impossible to ask the Senate to consider (gasp!) two difficult votes that would mean a great deal to both communities fighting for them. Suffice it to say that all that talk of building bridges and standing strong together went out the window as both communities galvanized their networks for the fight that lay before them.

We all know what has happened since then. The DREAM Act and Latinos got the shaft and DADT repeal passed and was subsequently signed into law just days later. The president says he is confident repeal will happen in a matter of months, not years, and before long the United States will join the rest of the developed world in its attitude toward LGB men and women in the armed forces. This is fantastic news and, while I’m still a vocal critic of the military who has many reservations about a standing army, I recognize what this means in the name of advancing equality and I wholeheartedly welcome the change.

Now that repeal has happened, however, I’m wondering if there is still interest in the LGBT community to restart that conversation that was started last July. It is pretty clear now that the LGBT rights movement is not going to have any other legislative victories akin to the repeal of DADT anytime soon. True, the president has said that he wants to see DOMA repealed but that’s a two to four year time frame we’re talking about and the reality is that the movement shouldn’t really expect to see the White House or the Congress do much to advance its issues in the next two years.

Given that reality, I humbly suggest that the LGBT rights movement do everything it can to continue that show of solidarity with the Latino community and pour energy into getting the next Congress to make the DREAM Act a reality. Now, I don’t think that we should rest on our laurels with the DADT repeal. We should continue the fight for equality, but we should also take the opportunity to show to the world just how inclusive and thoughtful the LGBT movement can be. Now is the chance to show Latinos, and indeed all LGBT people of color, that the movement cares about them and values them enough to help them take up arms in the fight against bigotry, racism and xenophobia even if its a fight that will help only a very select group of people. Indeed, the repeal of DADT has no effect on me whatsoever, but I supported the fight nonetheless. So did thousands of the DREAMers (many of which happen to be gay, I might add) who thought it was an unjust law.

Now is the time for the LGBT movement to get involved in the immigration struggle. Just this week, the White House announced an all-out grassroots campaign to get Congress to act on DREAM.

From HuffPost’s Amanda Terkel:

On a conference call with journalists Wednesday (12/22/2010), White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the President is willing to “wage a very public campaign” to push the DREAM Act, which would grant undocumented students who were brought into the United States as minors by their parents a path to citizenship through higher education or military service. He added that grassroots activism will be essential to success.

The emphasis on the last sentence is mine. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last few years is that LGBT activism is a force to be reckoned with. I’ve seen the intense lobbying, fundraising, and activism efforts the LGBT movement mobilizes when it needs to, and together with the Latino community, we could expose the worst of our national legislators and present a united front in the call for justice and equality. If the LGBT movement really wants to make inroads with the Latino community, it will heed this call and begin to lay the groundwork for the coming fight. And, for all you partisan Dems out there, imagine how the party could capitalize on a united effort between LGBT’s and Latinos working together to fight for immigration reform.

As you can imagine, the Latino community has been working feverishly to plan for the next Congress and it is working with the White House to explore the administrative courses of action available to the president.

As the New York Times put it:

Mr. Obama doesn’t need Congress to curb the Department of Homeland Security, which is deporting at a record pace many of the very people he says deserve a chance to stay. That means reforming Secure Communities, a fingerprinting program that will soon turn every local police department in the country into an arm of Immigration and Customs Enforcement – a looming disaster for public safety and good policing. He can tell border agents to stop harassing and scaring innocent people.

He can halt deportations of students who would have qualified for the Dream Act, under the time-honored practice of deferred action for those who pose no threat. He can have the Labor Department redouble efforts to expose wage-and-hour violations endemic in the immigrant workplace.

Perhaps most important, he can stop enabling the Republicans who are itching to make things worse. He can defend against the propaganda that all illegal immigrants are by definition a class of criminals instead of people trapped in a web of bad laws, misguided policies and squandered potential. And he can repudiate the myth that all America’s immigration problems will be solved at the Mexican border.

Communities of color, especially LGBT’s, are paying close attention to what the LGBT rights movement does next. Its leaders would do well to show their commitment to communities of color by getting on board with this fight and doing what is right in the name of equality for all.

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Netroots Nation and Me

July 21, 2010 2 comments

I’ve been a busy traveler these past couple of weeks and I’m a bit exhausted from having worked at the annual NCLR conference in San Antonio.

Now, I’m off to the Netroots Nation 2010 conference in Las Vegas. This is really a treat for me and I’m eternally thankful to Mike Rogers and his National Blogger and Citizen Journalist Initiative and another pair of great friends who I’ll be working with while in Vegas.

This is going to be my first Netroots Nation conference and I’m super psyched about it. First off, I’m looking forward to storming Las Vegas with a few thousand fellow progressives and meeting some new friends.

Mostly, though, I’m looking forward to jumpstarting my writing, which has been sorely lacking these days.

Part of that lack in content has to do with what Jim and I have been dealing with these days, not the least of which is a dismal job situation that has soured both of our moods for quite some time.

We’ve also been grappling with one of the worst episodes Jim has ever dealt with and being a caregiver for him has sort of zapped my energy. It is exhausting and I can only imagine how hard it must be for him, and still, I would not trade living with and being his partner for antyhing. We have been through so much together and I’m glad that I’ve been able to be around for him when he needs it the most. There is so much misunderstanding of mental health and I’ve been with him on those days when it seemed like nobody cared about what he was going through. It must be a lonely place sometimes, but at least I’ve been around to see him through it.

So, my hope is that going to Netroots will provide the boost I need to get back to the craft I love so dearly and which I think could use improvement. You should expect to see more posts on this space and on Bilerico.com from myself and other Bilerico Projectors this week.

With that, I’m off to Netroots to enjoy what is arguably one of the best conferences around. Seriously, check out the agenda, even if you’re not going. It should entice you to go next year.

So, hasta luego. The next time you hear from me, I’ll be in Vegas, baby!

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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.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “A Message for Anti-Voting Rights for …“, posted with vodpod

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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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