Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for February, 2014

Norway, Denmark, Netherlands Cut Aid to Uganda

Jim Burroway

February 25th, 2014

Three European nations moved swiftly after Uganda president Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law:

Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende said his country would withhold about $8 million in aid, saying the law violates “fundamental human rights,” TheLocal.no reported Tuesday.

“Norway deeply regrets that Uganda’s president today signed a new and stricter law against homosexuality,” Brende said in a statement Monday. “It will worsen the situation of an already vulnerable group, and criminalize individuals and organizations working for the rights of sexual minorities.”

…Danish Aid Minister Mogens Jensen indicated his country would divert about $9 million in aid earmarked for Uganda, TheLocal.no said.

Dutch Foreign Trade and Aid Minister Lilianne Ploumen and Foreign Affairs Minister Frans Timmermans said the $9.6 million aid money sent annually to the Ugandan government to improve its judicial system will be stopped, DutchNews.nl reported. Justice Ministry official Teeven said the Netherlands would be flexible on granting asylum to homosexuals from Uganda now that the “draconian” measures were in effect.

Sweden has announced that they are considering redirecting its planned $10.7 milli0n in aid to Uganda. Britain had already suspended all direct aid to Uganda in 2012 following a massive embezzlement scandal in the Ugandan Prime Minister’s office.

The U.S. and Canada say they are reviewing their options. Sen. Patrick Leahy earlier today issued a statement saying he “cannot support providing further funding to the Government of Uganda” until the State Department’s review is complete.

Queen Bea steps down

Timothy Kincaid

January 28th, 2013

The Netherlands is to have a new monarch.

CBC

Dutch Queen Beatrix announced Monday that she will abdicate on April 30 after 33 years as head of state, clearing the way for her eldest son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, to become the nation’s first king in more than a century.

The Queen has been immensely popular, especially during the past tumultuous decade where she served as a symbol of stability amidst cultural division.

Her son, Prince Willem-Alexander, is considered a competent replacement but does not evoke the same level of emotional connection. However his wife, Argentinian Princess Maxima, does have tremendous support of the people. And she is perhaps best known as one of Europe’s most gay-supportive royal.

Maxima is one of the few royals in the world to be open about her support for gay rights—she was one of the first to attend an LGBT rights conference in 2008 and also signed a declaration ensuring LGBT rights in the Netherlands.

Dutch Catholic Church allegedly castrated boys

Timothy Kincaid

March 21st, 2012


Oh dear God.

BBC is reporting a story that is shocking beyond almost anything I can imagine hearing today:

Henk Hethuis, a pupil at a Catholic boarding school, was 18 when he told police in 1956 he was being abused by a Dutch monk. He was castrated on the instructions of Catholic priests, NRC Handelsblad said, and told this would “cure” him of his homosexuality.

The same happened to at least 10 of his schoolmates, the newspaper said.

If this is true, it goes beyond even the most heinous of crimes the Church has committed in the past century. To castrate the victims of their molestation illustrates a depravity that is nearly unfathomable. Truly, this is an evil act and if the Vatican knew of and sanctioned this act, it is an evil organization.

[okay, only 40% of NH Republican caucus voting to repeal marriage runs a close race in the "shocking" category. Wild day today]

Did Gen. Sheehan Really “Climb Down” From Blaming Gay Soldiers for the Srebrenica Massacre?

Jim Burroway

March 30th, 2010

That’s what some European news outlets are reporting. That “climb down” comes in the wake of outrage over Gen. John Sheehan’s testimony in support of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” before the Senate Armed Services Committee in which he blamed the presence of gay Dutch soldiers for the 1995 massacre of more than 8000 Muslim men and boys. Sheehan claimed that this is what the Dutch chief-of-staff General Henk van den Breemen of the Royal Dutch Marine Corps had told him.

Members of the Dutch military swiftly and vigorously challenged Sheehan’s remarks. The Dutch defense minister, Eimert van Middelkoop, called Shehan’s comments were, “scandalous and unbefitting a soldier,” and the Prime Minister denounced him as “irresponsible.”

Sheehan has climbed down somewhat from his accusation in a letter sent yesterday to the now retired Gen. van den Breemen, in which Sheehan wrote that “the failure on the ground in Srebrenica was in now way the fault of the individual soldiers.” A copy of the letter which has been provided to BTB and other outlets reads:

Gereral Henk van den Breemen
Royal Dutch Marine Corps (Ret.)
[personal address redacted]
Netherlands
29 March 2010

Dear Henk,

Thank you for our much appreciated conversations of the past week. During the mid-1990s, you and I discussed a broad range of issues and policies that reflected the social, political and financial pressures under which NATO Alliance members struggled. I am sorry that my recent public recollection of those discussions of 15 years ago inaccurately reflected your thinking on some specific social issues in the military. It is also regrettable that I allowed you to be pulled into a public debate. As a fellow Marine, I have the deepest respect for you personally and professionally. NATO and the Netherlands were well served by your leadership.

To be clear, the failure on the ground in Srebrenica was in no way the fault of the individual soldiers. The corporals and sergeants executed their orders based on the priorities of the political authorities. Unfortunately, the rules of engagement were developed by a political system with conflicting priorities and an ambivalent understanding of how to use the military. As we know, the consequences of those compromises were devastating.

I wish you the very best during this Easter season.

John J.Sheehan
General U.S.Marine Corps (Ret.)

This is a climbdown from Sheehan’s placing blame on individual gay soldiers in Srebrenica, but it is not a complete disavowal of Sheehan’s position. In this letter, he now shifts his blame to “a political system with conflicting priorities and an ambivalent understanding of how to use the military.” This echoes accusations hurled by opponents to DADT that allowing soldiers to serve with honesty and integrity — two core values of all branches of the armed services — somehow represents a political meddling in the conduct of military affairs. (I would also hasten to add that civilian control of the military is also a core value insisted upon by our founding fathers and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.) So while media outlets and DADT repeal advocates may celebrate over this climb-down, I have a feeling that Sheehan’s position hasn’t changed one bit.

Anti-gay general’s comments infuriate the Dutch

Timothy Kincaid

March 19th, 2010

sheehanWhen Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee invited retired General Jack Sheehan to speak in opposition to allowing openly gay soldiers to serve in the US Military, they certainly didn’t think he would start an international incident with his comments. But as it has turned out, Sheehan’s comments have now become a point of anger, ire, and ridicule around the world.

Sheehan sought to counter one of the most compelling arguments for lifting the ban on gay servicemen: that many of our allies have done so without problem. He wanted to persuade committee members that, indeed, modern militaries that have “liberalized” their forces and allowed gay soldiers to serve have suffered dramatic consequences.

So Sheehan blamed one of Europe’s military blunders, the inept protection of a town in Bosnia by Dutch peace-keeping forces, on these liberalizing perspectives, and in particular the policy of including gay soldiers. And he claimed that he had this on the authority of Henk van der Breemen, the Netherlands Chief of Defense Staff.

The massacre of 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica is an important event in the modern history and culture of the Dutch people. The Netherlands government commissioned a study and delved deeply into the causes which contributed to the inadequate defense, and the event led to the ouster of van der Breemen and eventually the resignation of Prime Minister Wim Kok. And while the Dutch take responsibility for their part in the tragedy, they rightly note that other nations share blame as well for not committing adequate resources and for not sending air response when requested.

To speak of this event – and to claim Dutch sources – from an outsider’s perspective was a most incautious action. And is was also unwise not to recognize that the Dutch pride themselves in their acceptance of gay people into the fabric of their culture and life and that they see statements that appear to be homophobic as boorish and personally offensive.

Though not exactly a parallel, testifying that the Dutch military leaders blamed the massacre at Srebrenica on gay Dutch soldiers is a bit like some foreign official claiming that Dwight Eisenhower had told him that the incarceration of Japanese-Americans was the fault of Jews. It is irrational, touches on matters of national shame, is deeply insulting and causes an immediate anger, disgust, and revulsion.

And, indeed, the Dutch have been deeply insulted. And have responded vehemently to deny any connection between the events in Bosnia and the Dutch policy of allowing gay soldiers.

The statement has been denounced by van der Breemen, who called it “absolute nonsense” and stated that he does not and never has shared Sheehan’s views on gay soldiers.

The Dutch Ambassador to the United States, Renée Jones-Bos, released a statement saying that she couldn’t disagree more.

I take pride in the fact that lesbians and gays have served openly and with distinction in the Dutch military forces for decades, such as in Afghanistan at the moment.

The military mission of Dutch UN soldiers at Srebrenica has been exhaustively studied and evaluated, nationally and internationally. There is nothing in these reports that suggests any relationship between gays serving in the military and the mass murder of Bosnian Muslims.

As we noted yesterday, the Dutch military was quick to respond. But the statements caught the attention of the Dutch people and the government of the Netherlands and seemed to slur the identity of the Dutch as a people. A reader informs us that the story was on the news all day and the claims elicited response from several officials. (New York Times)

The Dutch defense minister, Eimert van Middelkoop, added that the comments were, “scandalous and unbefitting a soldier.” Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch foreign minister, chimed in on Twitter, calling the explanation of what happened at Srebrenica “extremely strange.” Jan Kleian, the head of the Dutch military union ACOM, told Dutch television, “That man is just crazy.” He added, “That sounds harsh, but what else can I say, because it is complete nonsense.”

The anger and response went to the highest level of government (WaPo)

The Dutch prime minister Friday denounced as “irresponsible” a claim by a retired U.S. general that gay Dutch soldiers were partly to blame for allowing Europe’s worst massacre since World War II.

Dutch officials, from the Cabinet to the military, were outraged by retired Gen. John Sheehan’s remarks at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

But this story is not limited to US and Dutch media. Media from around the world, including many nations that are allies and whom allow openly gay soldiers, have picked up the retired general’s comments. And, as reported, they appear to show contempt for foreign militaries and for the soldiers who are fighting by our side in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So now we have an international incident. Now our perception around the world has been tarnished. And now our State Department has had its job made more difficult.

Dutch military disagrees with Sheehan’s revision of the Srebrenica massacre

Timothy Kincaid

March 18th, 2010

Retired General Jack Sheehan’s assignment of the blame for the Srebrenica massacre to gay Dutch soldiers was not confirmed by the Dutch. From Voice of America

Asked for comment, Dutch military officials expressed astonishment. The spokesman for the Netherlands Ministry of Defense, Roger van de Wetering, told VOA Sheehan’s assertions are “total nonsense” and that he “cannot believe that a man of that rank is stating such a thing.” He added that he had never heard Sheehan’s allegation before from any source in the Netherlands or anywhere else.

Many historians have argued that Dutch peacekeeping forces in the Balkans were under-equipped and hampered by operational limitations imposed by the United Nations.

Sheehan blames Bosnian massacre on gay Dutch soldiers

Timothy Kincaid

March 18th, 2010

sheehanIn a page right out of Scott Lively’s playbook, retired General John Sheehan assigns gay the blame for one of the world’s atrocities. This time, it’s the massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica. (Herald Sun)

A RETIRED US general today said Dutch UN troops defending Srebrenica in the Bosnian war failed to prevent the 1995 genocide partly because their ranks included openly gay soldiers.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, pressed him to clarify his comments about Srebrenica.

“Did the Dutch leaders tell you it (the fall of Srebrenica) was because there were gay soldiers there?” asked an incredulous Senator Levin.

“Yes,” Gen Sheehan said and added: “They included that as part of the problem.”

Gen Sheehan, who retired from the military in 1997, said he had been told that by the former chief of staff of the Dutch army.

Nearly 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were slaughtered by the Serbs at Srebrenica. This assignment of blame to gay soldiers appears to be a new theory, one that was not discovered by the Dutch in their subsequent review of what went wrong.

Sheehan appeared to be arguing that the liberalization of the European militaries led to weakness and suggesting that allowing gay soldiers to serve resulted in sissy-boy soldiers. He didn’t share his views on how that worked in the Israeli army.

Senator Levin wasn’t having it and called Sheehan out on his biases. (Navy Times)

“I think we all remember Srebrenica,” Levin said. “Any effort to connect that failure on the part of the Dutch to the fact that they had homosexuals … is totally off target. I see no suggestion of that. It’s no more on point than the fact that they may have allowed African or Dutch-African or women” to serve.

“My comment was that the liberalization … ” Sheehan said.

Levin interrupted. “I agree with that,” he said. “They weren’t good in that respect. They were trained to be peacekeepers, not peace enforcers. … But to slide over from that into a suggestion that it had something to do with the fact that homosexuals were allowed in the Dutch army suggests that somehow or other homosexuals are not great fighters. … I think that is totally wrong.”

It will be interesting to hear the response of the Dutch government to Sheehan’s assertions. [Update: Dutch military officials have responded.]

Sheehan also shared his opinions on the attitudes of soldiers, decades after he was last in any position to know. (Stars and Stripes)

On Thursday, retired Marine Gen. John Sheehan, former head of U.S. Atlantic Command, told lawmakers he supports the yearlong review but believes researchers will conclude that such a change is detrimental to unit cohesion and morale.

“Military life is fundamentally different than civilian life,” he said. “Popular culture may have changed over the years, but military culture and responsibilities have changed very little.”

Sheehan said known homosexuals in units he commanded caused disruption for all his Marines, forcing troops to choose sides and creating fear among those who had to work closely with them.

Having presented an argument that is both outdated and bizarrely homophobic, I wonder if Sheehan has actually hurt his cause.

Charts from day six

Timothy Kincaid

January 20th, 2010

The Courage Campaign’s Brian Leubitz found charts on the marriage rate and divorce rate in the Netherlands for the past few decades. They add clarity to yesterday’s testimony.

netherlands divorce

Prop 8′s Chuck Cooper wanted to spend a lot of time talking about the period from 1994 to present where it might appear that enacting marriage correlated to (and perhaps caused) a decline in the marriage rate. But viewing the larger graph shows that this was a false and fraudulent argument.

Marriage equality to be recognized in Dutch Caribbean islands

Timothy Kincaid

December 29th, 2009

sabaThe Kingdom of the Netherlands includes six islands in the Caribbean Sea. Three, Sint Eustatius, Saba and Sint Maarten, are in the Northern Caribbean near the Virgin Islands, and three, Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire, are in the South, off the Venezuela coast.

Currently, the Dutch are in the process of restructuring the borders and autonomy of the various entities. And part of that process is determining the extent to which Dutch Law will apply to local administration.

The Netherlands is one of the seven nations in which (along with a few states and localities) same-sex marriage is recognized. And when it comes to same-sex couple recognition, it appears that the Kingdom will insist that there be no discrimination. (the St. Maarten Daily Herald)

Married and registered gay couples will obtain legal protection against discrimination by government agencies in the BES islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba after the islands have obtained their new status as public entities in the Dutch Kingdom.

it is the intention of the Dutch government to incorporate a new article in the BES Implementation Law stating that weddings and registered partnerships executed in the Netherlands confer the same legal rights as weddings executed in the public entities.

As Antillean law is replaced with Dutch law, the conducting of marriages on the BES islands will become legal.

It is not immediately clear how this will impact Aruba, Curaçao, or Sint Maarten, but we know that Curaçao has taken steps to attract gay tourists.

A gay bashing event on St. Maarten brought into question the commitment of local authorities to provide safety for gay tourists there. But after an initial response that appeared apathetic, authorities decided that it was in their interest to improve relations.

Attitudes throughout the Caribbean may not be as affirmative as could be wished, but those planning on vacations in the sun may consider those Caribbean islands that are under Dutch influence to be better choices.

Readers Send In Their Protest Pictures

Jim Burroway

November 15th, 2008

Send us your photos, and we’ll post them right here.

From René van Soeren in Amsterdam:

Dear Jim,

In solidarity with our sisters & brothers in California (and Florida, Arizona etc) we send you this webarticle about the Love Exiles Protest 15 November on the Homomonument in Amsterdam, the first city in the world where same sex couples got married on 1 April 2001.

From Leah and Brenda (married in CA on Oct. 25) in Albany:

The protest in Albany, NY today was awesome! We drew a crowd of between 400-500 people. A great turn out for a small city on a rainy day!

From Katherine in Baltimore:

Only about 500 people showed up, and it got shut down early due to some harsh rain… most Marylanders attended the D.C. protest instead of going local.


From Kimberly in Boulder, CO:

No photos–sorry!

Boulder had about 500 to 600 people turn out to the capital. The crowd was peaceful but engaged and a great mix of GLBT’s and allies. For about an hour and a half various people spoke including representatives from PFLAG, Boulder Pride, the mayors office and the city council. The local Methodist pastor spoke and told the crowd of another kind of Christian that believes in equality for all of Gods people. A black, lesbian, Universalist minister, Rev. Alicia Forde, spoke of her journey and of ours as a collective whole. A local psychiatrist spoke and said some pretty profound words, “Gay marriage is here. It just hasn’t happened yet.”

Overall it was a great turnout and great crowd.

From Sara in Santa Cruz ,CA:

From Ampersand in Portland, OR:

I posted a few photos of one of the two Portland demonstrations today here.

From Rachel in Raleigh, NC:

Today’s protest in Raleigh drew approximately 1,000 out of their homes despite the rain. Jimmy Creech spoke before we marched to the governor’s mansion and hung a rainbow flag on an empty pole outside the gate. Our peaceful gathering included many, many gay allies who stood with us in reminding the country that the time to end discrimination is now, this day, this hour.

From Charles in New York:

I’ve been reading Box Turtle Bulletin for a few weeks now. I was at the protest today in New York. Here are some of my pictures.

From Tracie in Louisville, KY:

Brutally cold and wet but a couple of hundred showed up through out the day!

From Dan in Boise, ID:

Was only able to stay for about 45 minutes but here are the pictures I took.

From Michael in Chicago:

I went to the rally in Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago today, and I took a bunch of pictures there. Here is the link to them on Flickr. … One item of particular interest you will no doubt want to check out is the final picture in the set above. Other places may have had larger numbers than Chicago or more exciting speakers, but only Chicago had BOTH Peter LaBarbera and Matt Barber (with only two other people) providing the protest anti-protest!



From Sachi in San Diego:

Here is a link to the pics I took at the San Diego march.


From Marilyn in Seattle:


From KipEsquire in New York City:

From Arbitrary.Marks in Austin, TX:

From our own Daniel Gonzales in Ventura, CA:

From Adrienne Critcher in Shreveport, LA:

“We had a great rally downtown in Shreveport, LA in front of the Caddo Parish Courthouse (seen in the movie “W”). Shreveport is located in very conservative Northwest Louisiana, close to both Texas and Arkansas. There were over 150 people present with great signs. The event was sponsored by the Louisiana State University in Shreveport Gay-Straight Alliance and P.A.C.E. (Political Action Council for Equality – www.loveandletlove.org ). Lots of young people and the media there too! A great success!!”

From Bill and Robert in Pasadena, CA:


About 400 or so people came to the rally in Pasadena, CA. We heard from a minister from All Saints Church, an African-American who was once firehosed during a civil rights protest in the South, a Mormon opposed to Prop 8, gay husbands, and lesbian moms. We marched from City Hall down Colorado Blvd. to Old Pasadena and back. Lots of people honked their horns in support, and I didn’t hear one homophobic word from anyone driving by.

Marriage Rights Around the World

Timothy Kincaid

May 15th, 2008

The following countries offer some form of recognition to same-sex couples:

Marriage

Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, United States (Massachusetts, California)

Civil Unions

New Zealand, Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), Argentina (Buenos Aires, Rio Negro), Mexico (Coahuila), Uruguay, United States (Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey)

Registered Partnership or Domestic Partnership

Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, , Slovenia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Italy (City of Padua), Switzerland, Hungary, Australia (Tasmania), United States (Maine, Washington, Oregon)

Other Methods of Limited Recognition

France (PACS), Germany (Life Partnership), Croatia (Law of Same-Sex Relationships), Andorra (Stable Union of a Couple), Mexico (Mexico City – PACS), Colombia (Common-law marriage inheritance rights), Israel (Limited recognition of foreign legal arrangements), United States (Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits; New York – recognition of out-of-state legal marriages)

Although recognition is in a rapid state of change, this is my best understanding of the current rights provided. Several nations are in the process of adding or revising recognition.

Two Real Fathers

Jim Burroway

September 14th, 2006

Here is something making the rounds from Dutch television, via YouTube.

For all the real fathers out there, and their kids.