Ugandan Religious NGO Lays Off Staff After US Aid Cuts
August 18th, 2014
The Ugandan opposition magazine Observer reports that the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), which is composed of members from the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox and Seventh Day Adventist churches, has had its funding withdrawn for its HIV/AIDS program by the U.S. Agency for International Development over the IRCU’s support for the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Funding from the European Union was also withdrawn, forcing the IRCU to lay off its entire paid staff.
The multi-denominational organization was this month forced to lay off all staff after USAID abruptly ended its financial support worth $34.5m (Shs 89.7bn). This funding accounted for about 90 per cent of IRCU’s resource envelope. The local organization says it is a victim of its anti-gay stance, which the donor finds unacceptable, although some sources claim IRCU failed to meet some of USAID’s rigorous accountability procedures. Suspension of funding was communicated to IRCU in a June 26 letter by USAID Country Director Lislie Reed. She told the religious body that their partnership was being terminated effective July 31. According to IRCU General Secretary Joshua Kitakule, the funding was supposed to end in December 2014, but USAID had agreed to fund another follow-on project.
…Disagreement between the Americans and IRCU started when the religious leaders came out publicly to support the December 20, 2013 passing of the now-annulled Anti-Homosexuality Act. Religious leaders were vocal in their support for the law that criminalises homosexuality, and even organized an event at Kololo to celebrate after President Museveni endorsed it. At the time, the NGO’s budget had a balance of $7m (Shs 18.2bn), which was to cover the one year remaining on the funding calendar. This was cut to $2.35m (Shs 6.1bn), forcing IRCU to lay off at least 30 of its 55-member workforce. That number has further been reduced to just five after USAID terminated the partnership. The remaining employees are now not salaried.
Thousands sign up for NOM’s Target boycott
August 15th, 2014
Target, that fine purveyor of clothing and household goods, signed onto an amicus brief expressing their opposition to anti-gay marriage bans. And this has infuriated the National Organization for Marriage.
So much so that NOM is harnessing its tremendous power and influence to punish the monster-store for daring to “maligned millions of voters who support the traditional definition of marriage by effectively likening them to ‘haters’ or ‘bigots.’” Nom has called upon its supporters to stand in unison and let the corporate giant know just how strong they are and what threat Target faces for insulting anti-gay voters.
And thousands of NOM supporters have stood together to be counted. Yes, literally thousands; 2,756 to be exact. And that’s almost nearly reaching the goal that NOM set of 2,800 proud defenders of traditional marriage. Surely within the next month they’ll get there!
Because NOM fears for the safety of its petitioners, they disallow showing names of signers. Thus we cannot know whether those 2,756 principled buyers include those ubiquitous few who seem to sign every petition, such as Mickey Mouse, Mike Hunt, and You’re Haters. But, even if so, I am certain that there are many many good souls showing their shopping muscle and threatening the profitability of Target stores everywhere.
Granted, this is not exactly the most popular petition currently being circulated on electronic media. For example, 5,114 have signed to “Tell Dove to stop using Photoshop in their ads” and 69,791 people want the show Shark Hunters to be cancelled. Both of which pale next to 271,469 people who want Dunkin’ Donuts to stop using styrofoam cups.
But NOM can be proud. They’ve stood up and been counted.
And now Target can treat NOM’s boycott with all the seriousness that it deserves.
Support for Marriage Equality Accelerates
August 15th, 2014
America’s growing support for marriage equality is rapidly accelerating, with support in the latest McClatchy-Marist poll now at 54-38 percent. It’s 75-19 for those aged eighteen through twenty-nine, and solid majorities support marriage equality in all age groups up to age sixty. And even for those above sixty, opposition has now fallen to the fifty percent mark. What’s driving this huge shift from just a few years ago?
By 71-27 percent, American adults say they know someone who’s gay. That’s a dramatic change from a generation ago, when a 1999 Pew poll found that Americans said by 60-39 percent that they didn’t know anyone who was gay. … The personal experience makes a big difference. Those who know someone who’s gay support same-sex marriage by 61-31 percent. Those who say they don’t know anyone who’s gay oppose same-sex marriage by 57-36 percent.
One would think this news would be demoralizing for the National Organization for Marriage and other marriage equality opponents. These results also show the kind of dilemma the Republican Party will be facing the next several years:
There are still opponents. Republicans oppose same-sex marriage by better than 2-1. Tea party supporters oppose it by nearly 3-1.
…And while there’s been vocal opposition, the poll found that virtually any movement in public opinion has been in favor of same-sex marriage. Twelve percent of adults have switched from opposition to support; just 1 percent changed from support to opposition.
Fourth Circuit Refuses to Stay Virginia Marriages
August 13th, 2014
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request for a stay of its July 28 ruling which declared Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. The appeals court voted 2-1 to reject the request filed by Michèle McQuigg, a named defendant in the lawsuit. McQuigg is the clerk of court for Prince William County, which includes the outer suburbs of Washington, D.C.
The next step would be to seek a stay from Chief Justice John Roberts, who oversees the Fourth Circuit. Roberts has the option of considering the request himself or referring it to the full U.S. Supreme Court. McQuigg’s lawyer, Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Byron Babione, announced that he will take that next step. So far, the Supreme Court has granted every request for a stay in marriage cases elsewhere.
Virginia Attorney Mark Herring announced last Friday that his office has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case itself, writing that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage “denies gay people the equal protection of the law.” McQuigg has said that she will also file an appeal.
If no stay is issued, same-sex marriages will begin next Wednesday.
Uganda Parliament Speaker: Re-Approving Anti-Homosexuality Act “Is Going To Be Smooth”
August 11th, 2014
A march took place in Kampala to present a petition to Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga demanding the reintroduction of the recently nullified Anti-Homosexuality Act. Over the weekend, 207 Ugandan lawmakers signed a petition asking that Kadaga circumvent Parliamentary rules and call a snap vote to re-approve the AHA after the Constitutional Court nullified the law after parliament approved it in December without a constitutionally-mandated quorum. The first speaker in this raw NTV Uganda footage is unidentified, but the second is Kadaga, who told the crowd:
…thank the religious leaders, the young children, the public who are here, who have come to present a petition demanding that we re-table the Act. I just want to inform the public that I think that notwithstanding anything that happened, the public should be grateful to the members who have stood on the side of the family all this time and had the courage to sit and enact this law. And I want to assure you that now that we have the 207 signatures, the rest is going to be smooth.
The ruling National Resistance Movement’s Parliamentary caucus is set to meet with President Yoweri Museveni to map out a plan for the Anti-Homosexuality Act’s future.
NARTH Announces Rebranding Effort
August 7th, 2014
The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality announced yesterday that it will be rebranding itself as the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI), with NARTH functioning as a “separate Insitute” within ATCSI. According to an emailed announcement from NARTH President Christopher Rosik:
In recent years NARTH has been increasingly involved in legal and professional efforts to defend the rights of clients to pursue change-oriented psychological care as well as the rights of licensed mental health professionals to provide such care. In this context, it has been alarming to encounter frequent distortions and omissions pertaining to the scientific record regarding change in sexual orientation and the harms alleged to occur from professional assistance with such change.
In order to respond to these important developments more clearly in our mission, the NARTH board voted in January of this year to create a new organization, titled Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI). NARTH will remain and function within ATCSI as a separate Institute that will continue to focus on matters pertaining to the psychological care of clients with unwanted same-sex attractions and behaviors. Nothing in our mission changes, but we anticipate that our outreach will be significantly expanded.
You can see the ATSCI’s new web site here. NARTH styles itself a professional organization, but the ATSCI has a specific section for with religious outreach.
Faced with more state legislatures considering bans on change orientation therapy for minors, NARTH has been unsuccessful in its campaigns to stop those drives. Earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a request from newly-appointed NARTH board member David Pickup to overturn lower court rulings that upheld California’s ban on ex-gay therapy for minors. NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi admitted that about half of all clients are teens and they represent a growing customer base. NARTH has been operating for several years on a minuscule shoe-string budget. It’s hard to see how this latest move will have much of an impact.
BREAKING: Same-Sex Marriage Opponents Are Being Summarily Executed Following Kangaroo Court Trials!
August 5th, 2014
Worried over a string of Federal Court decisions striking down marriage bans across the country, National Organization for Marriage Chairman John Eastman told a reporter: “It’s like we’re in Stalinist Russia.”
Uganda’s Government to Appeal Court Decision Nullifying Anti-Homosexuality Act
August 1st, 2014
Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper, quotes MP David Bahati as saying that the government will appeal the Constitutional Court’s decision striking down the Anti-Homosexuality Bill to the nation’s Supreme Court:
Ndorwa West MP, David Bahati on Friday said that the Attorney General will petition the Supreme Court over the Constitutional Court ruling on the Act; just hours after court nullified it (Anti-Homosexuality law) which was approved by President Yoweri Museveni in February 2014.
“I want to thank the speaker, MPs who stood for what is right. The lawyer that represented government said she was not given chance to prove that there was quorum in parliament.
The court case ruling is no victory at all, the morals of the people of Uganda will prevail,” Mr Bahati said in a press briefing before adding, “The Attorney General who is very competent will petition the constitutional court over the constitutional court ruling. Our competent legal team will continue to petition the Supreme Court and I believe we will win.”
Bahati was the sponsor of the Private Member’s Bill. There has been no confirmation from the Attorney General’s office. The Constitutional Court is made up of five members of Uganda’s Court of Appeals and is subordinate to the nation’s Supreme Court.
Former ex-gay leaders issue letter opposing change therapy
July 31st, 2014
Buzzfeed has a copy of a letter issued by nine former ex-gay leaders expressing their opposition to therapy designed to change, reduce, or impact sexual orientation:
Recovery from conversion therapy is difficult at best. Some remain forever scarred, emotionally and spiritually. Conversion therapy reinforces internalized homophobia, anxiety, guilt and depression. It leads to self-loathing and emotional and psychological harm when change doesn’t happen. Regrettably, too many will choose suicide as a result of their sense of failure.
In light of this, we now stand united in our conviction that conversion therapy is not “therapy,” but is instead both ineffective and harmful. We align ourselves with every major mainstream professional medical and mental health organization in denouncing attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity. We admonish parents to love and accept your LGBT children as they are. We beseech the church to accept, embrace, and affirm LGBT persons with full equality and inclusion.
Those signing are:
Yvette Cantu Schneider
John J Smid
In addition to the names above, many more former ex-gay leaders have – to varying degrees – left the movement and disavowed their previous beliefs or efforts.
July 30th, 2014
ho·mo·phone: \ˈhä-mə-ˌfōn, ˈhō-\ noun : a word that is pronounced like another word but is different in meaning, origin, or spelling.
Like bear/bear or their/they’re/there.
“Homophone” doesn’t mean what Clarke Woodger, owner of a Provo-based English language learning center, thinks it means:
But when the social-media specialist for a private Provo-based English language learning center wrote a blog explaining homophones, he was let go for creating the perception that the school promoted a gay agenda.
Tim Torkildson says after he wrote the blog on the website of his employer, Nomen Global Language Center, his boss and Nomen owner Clarke Woodger, called him into his office and told him he was fired.
As Torkildson tells it, Woodger said he could not trust him and that the blog about homophones was the last straw.
“Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality,” Woodger complained, according to Torkildson, who posted the exchange on his Facebook page.
Wooder, speaking of his English as a Second Language students, told the Salt Lake Tribune’s Paul Rolly, “…People at this level of English … may see the ‘homo’ side and think it has something to do with gay sex. Makes cents to me.
Haley’s right-wing challenger supports marriage decision
July 29th, 2014
Nikki Haley, the Republican governor of South Carolina, is perceived to be weak by some of the state’s more extreme citizens. She simply isn’t sufficiently conservative on taxes, spending, education, or health care.
And in the race as an “Independent Republican”, seeking to provide an alternative to her radical liberalism (from a South Carolinan’s perspective), is former legislator and judge Tom Ervin. But Ervin may not tick all of the boxes one might expect from those to the right of Haley. (CharlestonCityPaper)
Government does not belong in the bedroom. My personal faith affirms that marriage is between a man and a woman but under our Constitution, people in this country are afforded equal protection under our laws.
This means that anyone should be free to marry the person they love. Government should not be in the bedroom, but it should also not be in the church. Individual churches should be allowed to decide which marriage ceremonies they want to perform.
Further action on this matter, such as an appeal by the state, is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
Well, ummm, yeah exactly!
So far, Haley has expressed support for the ban and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen was noncommital.
The Big Mo, By the Numbers
July 28th, 2014
As I pointed out in today’s Daily Agenda, today marks the date in which Illinois formally rescinded its anti-Sodomy law in 1961. I included a version of the above chart in that post. But where the original chart also showed the percentage of the population living in states offering civil unions, I decided that the more interesting development now is the dizzying number of court cases that have struck down marriage bans in fourteen states and two appeals circuits.
So this brought out the geek in me, which resulted in the updated version you see here. And as you can see, it took 41 years from 1961 when time Illinois eliminated its anti-sodomy statute before 70% of the U.S. population was free of those archaic laws. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court freed the remaining 30% with Lawrence v. Texas.
In 2004, marriage equality arrived in Massachusetts, making the freedom to marry available to 2.2% of the U.S. Population. In just twelve years, that figure has risen to 44%. Another 31% now live in states where state and federal courts have struck down marriage bans. Those decision are on hold pending further appeals, but also it means that in about a quarter of the time that it took to get rid of criminal penalties against gay and lesbian relationships, three-quarters of the U.S. population now live in states which either provide marriage equality or are on the cusp of doing so.
And with the three recent Appeals Court decisions, two in the Tenth and today’s in the Fourth, there are now five more states — Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming — where those decisions are now established precedent for cases working their way through the courts in those states. That’s another 6% of the U.S. population. And as BTB commenter Matt pointed out, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) has announced that it would be “futile” to try to continue opposing similar lawsuits in his state, and so he’s not even going to try to do so.
That leaves only 19% of the U.S. population untouched by the fast-paced expansion of what is quickly becoming a universal recognition of the fundamental right to marry. Can you feel the exitement?
Six AIDS Researchers, Advocates Confirmed Dead on MH17
July 19th, 2014
An earlier report from The Australian placed that toll at 108, but this morning Malaysian Airlines released its official manifest which confirms that six AIDS researchers and advocates were on board MH17 on their way to the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne when it was shot down over eastern Ukraine:
Malaysian Airlines has confirmed six HIV/AIDS researchers and advocates were among those who were on an airliner that pro-Russian separatists apparently shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday.
Joep Lange, a prominent Dutch HIV researcher who is a former president of the International AIDS Society, which organizes the biennial International AIDS Conference, and his partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, were among the 283 passengers and 15 crew members who were on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
A passenger list that Malaysian Airlines released on Saturday also confirms Pim de Kuijer, another Dutch national who worked for Stop AIDS Now, and Glenn Thomas, a former BBC journalist who was a press officer for the World Health Organization, were also on Flight 17.
The airlines has also confirmed Lucie van Mens, another Dutch HIV/AIDS researcher, and Martine de Schutter, a program manager for Bridging the Gaps, were on the flight.
Report: More Than 100 AIDS Activists Were On Board Aircraft Shot Down Over Ukraine
July 17th, 2014
The Australian is reporting that among the passengers of Malaysian Flight 17 that was shot down over Eastern Ukraine were as many as 108 AIDS activists who were flying to Melbourne in Australia to attend the 20th International AIDS conference. That conference is set to begin on Sunday.
Among those thought to have been killed was prominent Dutch researcher Joep Lange, a former president of the International Aids Society. Glenn Thomas, a World Health Organisation media relations coordinator, also died in the crash, according to Dr Haileyesus Getahun, coordinator of the WHO’s Global TB program. Delegates Lucie van Mens, Martine de Schutter, Pim de Kuijer and Jacqueline van Tongeren were also reportedly on the flight. Dr Van Mens, director of program development and support at the Female Health Company, has been involved in public health, focusing on prevention of STIs and HIV/AIDS, since 1995.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation tweeted that MH17 was due to change its flight number after landing in Kuala Lumpur to MH129 before proceeding to Melbourne.
— ABC News (@abcnews) July 17, 2014
Malaysian flight in Ukraine included many AIDS researchers/activists
July 17th, 2014
Buzzfeed is reporting that the Malaysian flight which may have been shot down by Russian forces in Ukraine included a number of prominent AIDS researchers and activists traveling to the AIDS 2014 Conference in Australia. Confirmed so far include Joep Lange, prominent HIV researcher from Netherlands and Glenn Raymond Thomas, a Geneva-based spokesman for World Health Organization.