CA Police Warn Of Carjackers Using Grindr To Lure Victims

Jim Burroway

May 25th, 2016

Grindr_logoThe San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department issued a statement warning that over the past two weeks, there have been two cases where carjackers have used the gay hook-up app Grindr to lure their victims:

The first carjacking occurred May 15, 2016, near the intersection of Muskrat Avenue and Air Expressway in the City of Adelanto. During this investigation the suspect, identified as Steven Thomas, allegedly used a firearm to steal the victim’s vehicle and wallet. Thomas who had recently been paroled for possession of stolen property, was arrested by the Sheriff’s Specialized Enforcement Division in the City of Desert Hot Springs a few days after theincident.

The second carjacking occurred May 23, 2016, near Yates Rd and Ridgecrest Rd in Victorville. The suspect, identified as Allan Soto, allegedly stole the victim’s vehicle using force. Soto was located a few hours later and arrested with the assistance of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Departments Aviation Division. Both victim’s vehicles were recovered by deputies and returned to them.

Citizens are encouraged to be diligent and safe when using any type of social media dating applications. Anyone with information about criminal or suspicious activity is encouraged to contact their local Sheriff Station or WE-TIP at 1-800-78CRIME (www.wetip.com) and can remain anonymous.

According to the Los Angeles Times, it’s not yet clear whether Soto and Thomas were working together or whether these crimes are part of a larger operation. Grindr says it is cooperating with law enforcement.

First Same-Sex Couples Are Marrying In Colombia

Jim Burroway

May 25th, 2016

The Washington Blade explains:

Two men on Tuesday became the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Colombia. Fernando Quimbayo and José Ticora, who have been together for two years, exchanged vows before a registrar in the city of Cali. El País, a Colombian newspaper, posted a video of the ceremony on its website.

This wedding comes after the Colombia Constitutional Court ruled late last month that same-sex marriages did not violated family protections within the Colombian Constitution and that “the current definition of the institution of marriage in civil law applies to them in the same way as it does for couples of the same sex.”

The Blade also points out that couples had been entering into “solemn unions,” somewhat akin to registered partnerships, since 2013. Those unions are now considered marriages under Colombian law.

OK Lawmakers Make Last-Minute Effort Move Anti-Trans Bathroom Bill

Jim Burroway

May 25th, 2016

With a 10-10 tie vote, an Oklahoma House Committee last night failed to move SB-1619, a bill requiring school districts to provide separate bathrooms for students who object to sharing bathrooms with transgender students. With a tie vote, the bill stays in the committee. It should be noted that the committee was recessed, and not adjourned, after the tie vote. The bill remains in committee, and could be heard again at any time during the legislative session, which ends at 5:00 p.m. on May 27. And with Oklahoma being Oklahoma, just about anything is still possible as long as the Legislature is still in session.

Last night’s quickly-called hearing by the House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget came as a surprise to LGBT activists. Earlier that day, Freedom Oklahoma sent out a press release saying “Leadership in the State House of Representatives informed Freedom Oklahoma today that SB 1619 – a bill targeting transgender youth with segregated bathrooms – will not move forward this session. … Freedom Oklahoma will stay vigilant in making sure there are no more 11th hour attempts to harm LGBTQ Oklahomans and it is our hope that the grown ups are back in control under the dome at 23rd and Lincoln.”

Vigilance was warranted. No sooner had that statement gone out when Freedom Oklahoma sent out this tweet:

Details are scant, but it appears that SB-1619 was added to the agenda at the last minute as an emergency item. The committee, chaired by Rep. Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville) was in a marathon session moving bills to the House floor when suddenly Rep. Dan Fisher (R-Yukon) brought up SB 1619 for consideration:

According to tweets from JRLegislativeReport, Fisher pushed hard for the bill’s passage, citing the Obama Administrations recent guidance on Title IX funding stating that issues of transgender discrimination fall under the Title’s gender equality provisions. After what appears to have been a contentious back-and-forth, Sears called for a recess:

It’s unclear what happened during that recess, but about an hour after the committee resumed its work, it deadlocked, with Sears join the “nays.”  Vice Chair Dennis Casey (R-Morrison) and Reps. Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) and Harold Wright (R-Weatherford) also joined the committee’s Democrats to block the measure. The Associated Press reported, “In a letter to lawmakers Monday, the presidents of both the Tulsa Regional Chamber and Greater Oklahoma City Chamber warned of ‘severe economic damage’ that could result from the measure.”

Rep Fisher, who is a pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon, made waves last year when he proposed a bill targeting Advanced Placement U.S. History courses in Oklahoma. “There seems to be a very clear leaning in the new framework to communicate that America is just not a good place. We’re exploiters. We’re abusers. We put down the poor. The rich rule. All those kinds of things,” said Fisher. But after it was pointed out that not just anybody can create an college Advanced Placement course and expect universities to accept them for course credit, the bill failed to make it to the House floor.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, May 25

From Michael’s Thing, November 11, 1979, page 35.

Irish brewer James Everard opened the Everard Baths in 1888 in an old renovated church building. He had bought it in 1886 and turned it into a music hall known as “The Regent.” It flopped a few months later. It reopened again as “The Fifth Avenue Music Hall,” but that, too, closed soon after. Everard renovated it again, and on May 7, 1888, he opened it as a Turkish bath.

Everard died in 1913, and the property was sold to Meyer Smolowitz, who in 1921 sold it for the princely sum of $175,000 to a lawyer by the name of Abraham Harawitz. Harawitz announced that he would spend another $100,000 on renovations for the “bathhouse and dormitories.  By then, it had already become popular with gay men and picked up the nickname “Everhard.” Police raided the premises in 1919 and arrested nine customers and the manager for lewd behavior, and arrested fifteen more in another raid in 1920. But despite those raids, the Everard Baths remained a major gay venue through the succeeding decades. Well-known patrons over the years included Gore Vidal, Rudolf Nureyev, Lorenz Hart, Truman Capote and Ned Rorem.

In 1977, a fire broke out in the Everard, killing nine customers and injuring ten more (see below). The fire destroyed the top two floors of the four-story building. After the building was rebuilt, the Everard reopened in 1979, and remained open for another seven years. It finally closed for good in April 1986 in a city-wide campaign by New York mayor Ed Koch to shut down all of the city’s bathhouses in response to the AIDS epidemic. The building is still there and houses the Yung Kee Wholesale Center.

Author, poet and playwright Oscar Wilde was the toast of London. He made his mark in literature in The Picture of Dorian Gray (an annotated edition with some of the more homoerotic themes restored was released in 2011). His essays made him a respected man of letters, while his popular plays (Salome, A Woman of No Importance, and especially The Importance of Being Earnest) burnished his reputation for sophisticated wit.

But the wild success of Earnest, which premiered February 14, 1895, was quickly eclipsed by Wilde’s conviction and sentencing for homosexuality. Four days after the premiere of Earnest, Wilde was denounced as a homosexual by the Marquess of Queensberry (see Feb 18). Wilde, who was involved with the Marquess’s son, Alfred Douglass, ignored the advise of his friends and sued the Marquess for libel. That proved disastrous. During cross-examination, Queensberry’s lawyer asked Wilde whether he had ever kissed a particular young man, Walter Grainger, in greeting. “Oh, dear no,” Wilde replied, “He was a peculiarly plain boy. He was unfortunately extremely ugly. I pitied him for it.” Queesnbury’s lawyer pounced on Wilde’s admssion for not kissing Grainger: it wasn’t that Wilde didn’t like kissing men, but that he didn’t want to kiss this particular “ugly” man.

In short order, Wilde lost the case (see Apr 5). The next day, he was arrested and charged with gross indecency. His first trial began on April 26, with Wilde pleading not guilty. It was during that trial that Wilde uttered these famous lines under cross-examination:

Charles Gill (prosecuting): What is “the love that dare not speak its name”?

Oscar Wilde: “The love that dare not speak its name” in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as “the love that dare not speak its name,” and on that account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an older and a younger man, when the older man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it.

Despite that admission, Wilde’s first trial ended in a hung jury. But a second jury on May 25 found him and another friend guilty. Justice Alfred Wills sentenced them to the maximum sentence allowed by law: to two years of hard labor:

Justice Wills: Oscar Wilde and Alfred Taylor, the crime of which you have been convicted is so bad that one has to put stern restraint upon one’s self to prevent one’s self from describing, in language which I would rather not use, the sentiments which must rise in the breast of every man pf honor who has heard the details of these two horrible trials. That the jury has arrived at a correct verdict in this case I cannot persuade myself to entertain a shadow of a doubt; and I hope, at all events, that those who sometimes imagine that a judge is half-hearted in the cause of decency and morality because he takes care no prejudice shall enter into the case, may see that it is consistent at least with the utmost sense of indignation at the horrible charges brought home to both of you.

It is no use for me to address you. People who can do these things must be dead to all sense of shame, and one cannot hope to produce any effect upon them. It is the worst case I have ever tried. that you, Taylor, kept a kind of male brothel it is impossible to doubt. And that you, Wilde, have been the center of a circle of extensive corruption of the most hideous kind among young men, it is equally impossible to doubt.

I shall, under the circumstances, be expected to pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In my judgment it it totally inadequate for a case such as this. The sentence of the Court is that each of you be imprisoned and kept to hard labor for two years.

[Cries of “Oh! Oh!” and “Shame!”]

Oscar Wilde: And I? May I say nothing, my Lord?

The court adjourned.

Col. Alfred Redl was a Galician native from a poor family in what is now Ukraine but was then a part of the Austrian Empire. He joined the Austrian army where his keen intelligence and facility with languages outweighed his poverty-stricken background and opened doors into the officer corps. That was a rarity, since officers were nearly uniformly drawn from the rich and the politically well-connected. Redl was appointed to the counter-intelligence service, and his innovations quickly led the way to a series of promotions which led to his becoming the service’s chief in 1907. In 1911, Redl was honored with the Expression of Supreme Satisfaction, which was a personal honor bestowed by Emperor Franz Josef himself.

But while that was happening, Redl was also an spy for Russia, starting probably around 1903 (although the Austrian Empire’s official rendition of events had him starting only in 1912). How he became a spy for the Austria’s arch enemy isn’t clear, but we do know that Russia became aware of Redl’s homosexuality as early as 1901, and it is believed that Redl was blackmailed. Before World War I broke out, Redl handed over Austria’s plan for invading Serbia, revealed the names of Austrian agents in Russia, and underestimated Russia’s military strength to the Austrian military. The results were disastrous for Austria. With Russia and Serbia knowing Austria’s moves ahead of time, it is estimated that Redl may have been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Austrian soldiers and civilians.

Ironically, Redl’s innovations in Austria’s counter-intelligence service proved to be his undoing. When Redl was promoted up and out of the counter-intelligence service, his successor and protégé, Major Maximilian Ronge, became aware of some suspicious envelopes, stuffed with cash but no note, being delivered to the Vienna post office for a Herr Nikon Nizetas for General Delivery (in other words, with no address; the post office was to hold the envelopes for Nizetas to pick up). Because of the large sums of money involved and evidence that the envelopes may have come from Russia, Ronge personally led the investigation. To Ronge’s surprise, it was Redl who arrived at the post office to claim the envelopes. When Ronde and a group of officers confronted Redl at the Hotel Klosmer where Redle was staying, Redl cordially invited them into his room and admitted his crimes. Redl then asked to borrow a revolver. Knowing what would come next, Ronge and his men left a Browning pistol and left, waiting outside the hotel for the sound of the gunshot. Redl removed his uniform, wrote one last farewell letter, and shot himself.

At first, Emperor Franz Josef tried to keep the circumstances behind Redl’s suicide under wraps, but Redl’s death soon became a rallying point for a number of factions within the government. Aristocrats pointed to Redl’s humble background to demand that the officer corps be returned to its all-aristocratic foundations. His Galician upbringing brought all Slavs in the officer corps under suspicion, despite the fact that Redl was ethnically German. And a rumor that Redl was Jewish, despite his Roman Catholic upbringing, stoked yet another wave of anti-Semitism in central Europe.

But more crucially, the Redl Affair became a worldwide symbol of the vulnerability of high-level government officials to blackmail, particularly where homosexuality was concerned. During the Cold War, the Redl Affair, along with the 1951 defection to the Soviet Union of British spies Guy Burgess and Don MacLean, reinforced the argument that gay people could not be trusted in government, and during McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade in the 1950s, homosexuality and communism were further linked as twin threats to national security.

Rep. William G, O’Neill (D-Ocala), chairman of the Legislative Investigations Committee.

That charge was levied in a report by the Florida Legislative Investigations Committee, which was Florida’s homegrown version of the McCarthy Red and Lavender Scares from a decade earlier. Known popularly as the Johns Committee for its first chairman, state Senator and former acting Governor Charley Johns, it was established in 1956 to investigate alleged communist links to the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1957, the Legislature broadened the committee’s mandate to investigate gays in the state’s colleges and universities. In 1961, just as that mandate was about to expire, the Johns committee issued a biennial report to the Legislature which claimed that it found evidence that eight men in Miami were operating a “call ring” which put teenage boys “through what amounts to a regular course in training in homosexual acts. When properly trained they are made available to older homosexuals the same as female prostitutes.”

The report, filed by Rep. William G, O’Neill (D-Ocala), the committee’s chair, alleged that the men “converted” school boys between 13 and 17 years old to “homosexual practices” by the use of pornography, liquor, and “narcotic drugs.” It also said that three of the eight men had been arrested. This investigation, the report added, was “one of the most important and serious investigations it (the committee) has ever made, but disclosure of details now would destroy the work.” ONE magazine was skeptical of the charges:

It seems to this reporter that there have been entirely too much acceptance of alleged happenings as reported by investigative bodies or individuals who are never required to give absolute and irrefutable proof. We have for years been hearing about supposed homosexual “rings” and “clubs” that serve their memberships play-boy style. I defy anyone to show me one.

ONE was right to be skeptical, as no such case has ever hit Florida’s newspapers as far as I’ve been able to determine.

The report was far from finished however. Under the heading, “Homosexual Conduct on the Part of State Employees, Particularly in the Field of Education,” the report reminded the Legislature that since July 1, 1959, 39 teachers’ certificates had been revoked, and there were another 14 cases pending before the State Board of Education. “The committee is in possession of sworn testimony concerning homosexual conduct in excess of 75 additional public school teachers,” the report said (see Apr 22 for the case of five teachers from St. Petersburg). “Practicing homosexuals,” the report warned, “almost invariably turn to the recruitment of young people as sex partners… Practically all children are susceptible to being recruited into homosexual practices at one stage or another of their development… [and a] homosexual teacher, having direct supervision over numerous children, can and does do tremendous damage to quite a large group of children when the teacher turns to the recruitment of young sex partners.”

The report then scolded school administrators, saying that “with few exceptions, there is an almost uniform inability or unwillingness on the part of the responsible administrators to cope actively, aggressively and effectively with the problem. … The combination of administrators ignoring the problem and his [administrator’s] lenient dealing with the individual when caught makes the public education system in Florida a veritable refuge for practicing homosexuals.”

The committee’s report had its intended effect: the Florida Legislature approved an additional appropriation of $75,000 to the Johns Committee and renewed its charter for another two years and added a mandate  to look into “the extent of infiltration of agencies supported by state funds by practicing homosexuals and the policies of state agencies in dealing therewith.” Now, the Committee was specifically authorized to do what it had been doing all along without legislative authorization. And the following year, 1962, Florida saw the second highest number of teacher investigations on record. In 1963, the Committee said that its work still was not done so the Legislature renewed its charter again for two additional years. In 1964, the fruits of that “exhaustive investigation” were finally made public when the Johns Committee issued its final report, “Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida” (Mar 17). Known as the “purple pamphlet” for the abstract purple cover that was added to obscure the more provocative photos inside, the report was blasted as an exercise in taxpayer-funded pornography. The Legislature responded to the controversy by finally pulling funding for the committee and forcing its disbanding.

[Sources: Karen L. Graves. And They Were Wonderful Teachers: Florida’s Purge of Gay and Lesbian Teachers (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009).

“Del Mcintire” (pseudonym for Don Slater).  “Tangents” column. ONE 9, no. 7 (July 1961): pages 18-19.

Associated Press. “Committee Reports: State School System A Homosexual Refuge?” Ft. Pierce News Tribune (May 25, 1961): page 1.

United Press. “Legislative Probe Group Requests Crackdown on School Homosexuals.” St. Petersburg Times (May 26, 1961): page 10A.

Fire officials ordered the  Everard to install a sprinkler system in 1976. They were installed by May 1977, but they hadn’t been hooked up to a water supply yet when, during the very early hours of Wednesday morning, a mattress fire broke out. Occupants went through several fire extinguishers trying to put out the flames before finally calling the fire department.

By the time firefighters arrived, about 80 to 100 occupants had managed to flee the building, many of them clad only in towels or robes. Others clung to windows awaiting rescue by the more than 200 firefighters who arrived at the scene. Nine customers didn’t make it.. Seven died from smoke inhalation, one from respiratory burns, and one from injuries sustained after jumping from an upper floor.

Identification of the victims was complicated by the fact that many of them had registered under assumed names. Friends wound up identifying them rather than family. They were: Hillman Wesley Adams, 40, South Plains, NJ; Amado Alamo, 17, Manhattan; Anthony Calarco, age unknown, The Bronx; Kenneth Hill, 38, Manhattan; Brian Duffy, 30, address unknown; Patrick Knott, 38, Manhattan; Ira Landau, 32, Manhattan; Yosef Signovec, 30, a Czech refugee whose address was unknown; and James Charles Stuard, 30, Manhattan, who was a well-known DJ at the club 12 West.

George Ames, manager of the Club Baths in Boston, was on the premises when the fire broke out. He told reporters later that the customers remained calm, although “the young employees… were hysterical. … The management at the Everard showed no regard for the customers. They are just a bunch of straight people coining money at the expense of the gay community.” Ames criticized the club for its lack of sprinklers, fire escapes, and emergency lighting. The National Gay Task Force’s Bruce Voeller (May 12) described the Everard as a “shabby, dreadful place, run down and grubby beyond words.” He pointed out that there had been a fire five years earlier, and there was nothing more than a “cosmetic renovation,” of the facility. The only reason the Everard was still popular, he said, was because of its long history and its location in a safe neighborhood.

(Note: This video of the fire erroneously give the year as 1975.)

The fire destroyed the top two floors. They were rebuilt and the Everard reopened in 1979 — this time with sprinklers — only to close again in 1986 during a campaign by New York mayor Ed Koch to close all of the city’s bathhouses in response to the AIDS epidemic.

His roots are in theater, mainly Shakespeare, where he continues to perform in a number of state productions in Britain. But beginning in 1969, he branched out in film and television, covering a wide range of genres from drama (And the Band Played On, Gods and Monsters), to mystery (Six Degrees of Separation, The Da Vinci Code), to action and fantasy (X-Men, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, as Gandolf).

McKellen was among the earliest actors to come out publicly as gay. He came out in 1988 during a BBC interview while discussing the controversial Section 28 of the Local Government Bill, which stated that local governments “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship” (see May 24). According to a 2003 interview, McKellen said he visited Environment Secretary Michael Howard (who was responsible for local governments) to lobby against the bill. Howard reaffirmed his approval of Section 28, and in a defining moment of chutzpah, asked McKellen to leave an autograph for Howard’s children. He did. It read, “Fuck off, I’m gay.” McKellen remained politically active and co-founded the British gay-rights group Stonewall in 1989. In 2007, he became a patron of The Albert Kennedy Trust, an organization that provides support to homeless and troubled LGBT youth.

McKellen is properly called Sir Ian McKellen. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979, was knighted in 1991 for services to the performing arts. He was also named a Companion of Honour for services to drama and to LGBT equality in 2008.

She got her start on the NBC soap opera Another World, where she won a Daytime Emmy in 1991. Appropriate, given that so much of her life reads like a soap opera. She was the daughter of a Baptist choir director who disclosed his homosexuality to his family just before dying of AIDS in 1983. That same year, her brother died in a car accident. Four years later, Heche launched her acting career with Another World as soon as she got out of high school. From there she took a series of roles in television and film, including If These Walls Could Talk (1996), Walking and Talking (1996), Wag the Dog (1997), and I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997).

It was at about that time that Heche began dating comedian Ellen DeGeneres. They had said they would get a civil union if it became legal in Vermont, but they broke up in August, 2000. Just hours after news broke of their relationship ending, she appeared that the rear door of a house in Fresno County wearing nothing by shorts and a bra, asking if she could take a shower. She had curled up on the couch for a nap when sheriff deputies arrived. She told officers that she was “God, and was going to take everyone back to heaven in a spaceship.” She was taken by ambulance to a hospital, but was released a few hours later.

That episode became the stuff of tabloid headlines and served as a turning point in her 2001 memoir Call Me Crazy (which she wrote in only six weeks), where she described the her sexual abuse by her father, and her subsequent emotional problems and drug abuse. Meanwhile, her mother, Nancy Heche capitalized on her daughter’s fame and became an important speaker at ex-gay conferences where she claimed that her prayers “cured” Anne’s lesbianism. Anne, who is bisexual, says that her mother’s campaign is “a way to keep the pain of the truth out.” In 2011, Anne said that she doubted that she would ever reconcile with her mother.

In 2001, Heche married a cameraman who she met during DeGeneres’s 2000 standup comedy tour, and had a son the following year.  They divorced in 2007. That same year, she moved in with actor James Tupper, who was her co-star in the ABC comedy-drama Men in Trees (2006-2008). She had her second son with Tupper in 2009.

KKK Circulates Anti-Trans Flyer In Alabama

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2016

Residents of Mobile and Dothan, Alabama are finding this flyer left at their homes:

trasngender_kkk

According to the Dothan Eagle:

Dothan Police Chief Steve Parrish confirmed the police department had received the report, which was initially being handled by the criminal investigation division (CID). “What you’re dealing with is potentially implications of a hate crime or promoting a hate crime, so we notified the FBI,” Parrish said.

Capt. Will Benny, the supervisor of CID, said a man made a report to the Dothan Police Department on Monday of having received a flier from the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) at his home. Benny said the man, an east Dothan resident, also reported his neighbor had received one too.

…Benny said there was actually no crime committed in the distribution of the flier, which he said also solicited donations from the public. Benny said the KKK flier and report were forwarded to the FBI as intelligence information.

Capt. Stacy Robinson also said the flier was forwarded to the FBI as a precautionary measure. “Obviously any time you get hate-related material there’s a reason to be cautious and to investigate it,” Robinson said.

Mobile’s NBC affiliate also reported flyers in midtown neighborhoods:

This isn’t the first time Mobilians have been given flyers from the “loyal white knights of the KKK,” similar flyers where found on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and KKK flyers handed out at the Trump rally last August.

Donald Trump To Court Anti-Gay Extremists

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2016

Time magazine has reported that the Trump campaign is actively courting religious and social conservatives as he turns his attention to the fall general election. A meeting has been set for June 21, and invitees represent just about the entire anti-gay brain trust:

The invitation. (Click to enlarge.)

The invitation. (Click to enlarge.)

Former presidential candidate Ben Carson is working with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Bill Dallas, who leads United in Purpose, to plan a closed-door session for about 400 social conservative leaders to meet with Trump in the coming weeks in New York City. A broader steering group of about 20 people includes people like American Values president Gary Bauer, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and Family Leader president Bob Vander Plaats.

“We are looking for a way forward,” Perkins says. “The main thing here is this is to have a conversation.” He described the planned meeting as “a starting point for many.” The Trump campaign has not publicly confirmed that the meeting will take place.

Other anti-gay activists include Phil Burress (Citizens for Community Values), Ken Cuccinelli, Ronnie Floyd (Southern Baptist Convetion), E.W. Jackson, Harry Jackson, Cindy Jacobs, Joseph Mattera, Penny Nance (Concerned Women for America), Ralph Reed (Faith and Freedom Coalition), Pat Robertson, Rick Scarborough (Vision America), and Tim Wildmon (American Family Association).

Trump’s outreach doesn’t end there:

Trump campaign surrogates are separately organizing a more official faith advisory committee for the candidate, with Mike Huckabee being discussed as a possible national chairman. Televangelist Paula White, a Trump supporter and a senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center in Florida, have been organizing the group behind-the-scenes with Tim Clinton, president of the 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors, according to several people familiar with the project.

I Thought We Were Done With This…

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2016

But people and news outlets in San Diego are still talking about the debacle during the Padres’ Saturday night game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, when the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, who were invited to sing the National Anthem, was instead left standing in the middle of the field while the P.A. played a recording of a lone female voice singing the “Star Spangled Banner.” After an anemic response to criticism on Sunday, the Padres finally stepped up to the plate yesterday (see how I used an appropriate sports metaphor there?) and issued a more formal apology, announced a reprimand of one of their employees and the firing of a professional D.J. working the booth, and invited the chorus back to Petco Park for a do-over.

Everybody’s happy, right?  Well, almost.

Also yesterday, DJ ArtForm, who was working the boards that night, went to Facebook to issue his “deepest apologies and sincere regret” for the error: “I have felt the consequences of my mistake as a dream job has dissolved before my eyes which does not take away that I am extremely sorry for the horrible mistake that occurred. I have family members & friends that are a part of the LGBT community and I have always been a supporter of Equal Human Rights, so it pains me greatly to see that I am being accused of acting intentionally. As a former high school and college baseball player, I understand the importance of ensuring equality for all in sports and am appalled by some of the negative, homophobic comments made by fans related to the National Anthem incident.”

So now, the SDGMC has taken to Facebook to ask the Padres to give DJ ArtForm his job back.

We also would like to publicly accept the sincere apology of DJ ARTFORM and recognize his support for the LGBT community and equality for all people. We do not wish to see him lose his job with the San Diego Padres and kindly ask the Padres to reinstate him. Everyone deserves a second chance.

SDGMC also said, ” we applaud the San Diego Padres organization and its chief executive Mike Dee for its ongoing efforts to make something good come out of unfortunate recent events. We have met with Mr. Dee and he has agreed to meet with and work closely with the LGBT community to bring our communities together with constructive, positive change.”

House Dems Promise More LGBT Amendments, GOP Leaders Counter With Rule Change

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2016

These two stories go hand in hand. Here’s the first:

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD)

House Democrats will keep trying to force floor votes on the issue of LGBT nondiscrimination after an amendment they offered to a spending bill last week failed when Republicans switched their votes, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Tuesday.

“There will be” more amendments, the Maryland Democrat said. “We believe that our country is all about inclusion. We certainly differ from [Donald] Trump on that issue.”

Last week, House GOP leaders broke their own rules to orchestrate the defeat of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY)’s amendment restoring President Barack Obama’s executive order requiring federal to maintain anti-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation and gender identity. A clause overturning the order had been inserted into the 2016 Defense Appropriations Bill by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK).

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had promised to return the House to regular order and to be a stickler about House rules and the vote clock.  but he was convientiently AWOL during these shenanigans. He also didn’t bother to criticize the rule-breaking, saying he knew nothing about what happened. And here is where the second story comes in: Ryan informed his caucus this morning that he’s going to tinker with a key rule that have been in place since the GOP took over the House five years ago:

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Ryan laid out plans at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning to require that members submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides.

The change will not yet be in effect this week for a bill to fund the Energy Department and water infrastructure projects. But lawmakers would have to abide by the requirement, which before now was optional, starting with appropriations bills considered after the Memorial Day recess.

By requiring amendments to be made public in advance, GOP leaders would be able to anticipate difficult votes and figure out a strategy before the last minute. Specifics of the revamped process, such as the deadline for members to file their amendments, haven’t been determined by leadership yet.

… Top Republicans have touted the use of open rules as a return to “regular order” and a way to empower individual members. But it has backfired spectacularly on House Republicans twice in the last year.

The change affects appropriations bills only. On all other bills, the Speaker has discretion in determining which amendments will be considered from the floor.

Charlotte Pulls “Compromise” With State Over HB2

Jim Burroway

May 24th, 2016

Yesterday, the city of Charlotte was scheduled to vote on a proposed repeal of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. The ordinance had already been overruled by North Carolina’s HB2, which not only overturned local anti discrimination ordinances across the state, but added a highly controversial provision requiring that trans persons use public restrooms that matches their birth certificate. The state legislature and governor did all of that in exactly one day. Contrary to statements by Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and other anti-LGBT extremists, the Charlotte ordinance did not address public restroom usage. In a potential compromise, the city would repeal its anti-discrimination ordinance and the legislature would “modify” some parts of HB2. I haven’t found any description of what those modifications were supposed to be.

But just before Charlotte’s city council was scheduled to meet yesterday, the Council released a statement saying the vote would not be on the agenda. The local Chamber of Congress had been pressing for the “compromise”:

The Charlotte Chamber declined to comment Sunday on the HRC criticism. But in an op-ed posted Sunday, Chamber President Bob Morgan said the City Council “should act to take the first step in a process we hope leads to reforms to HB2 that advance our city and state as places where discrimination is not tolerated – for anyone.” He said the council should take that step in response to “an overture” by the legislature.

The chamber says it opposes discrimination in any form but has not taken a position on HB2, unlike some other business groups in the state, which have asked for a repeal of the state law.

The chamber has previously lobbied city officials to be more conciliatory toward Raleigh leaders in their public statements. But the group upset some in the city when it issued a statement praising Gov. Pat McCrory’s executive order in early April that was an attempt to defuse the controversy over HB2.

Council members believe there are six votes for the symbolic repeal: Republicans Ed Driggs and Kenny Smith, and Democrats Greg Phipps, Claire Fallon, Vi Lyles and James Mitchell. (Lyles and Mitchel supported the ordinance in February; the others opposed it.) Those six votes would have been enough to pass the repeal, but not enough to sustain Mayor Jennifer Roberts’s veto. Later in the meeting, Republican council member Kenny Smith proposed a resolution to place the ordinance’s repeal on the agenda for Wednesday. That resolution failed 7-4.

The HRC sent a letter to the Council urging them not to compromise: “This moment in which we find ourselves is quickly defining the type of nation we are destined to be. Today, you are standing on the right side of history.”

 

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