A Chronology of The Development of the Various Communities of GLBT/TQ

Listed in order of the onset of their respective movements

1945-1950

Gay and lesbian Soldiers returning from World War II settle in cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York rather than returning to small towns.  There they found  under ground communities of gay and lesbian people.

While being gay or lesbian, might not have been specifically illegal meeting another lesbian or gay person and hooking up with them was defined as solicitation for a lewd act.  Actual homosexual acts were illegal in most if not all states.

1950-1960

The Mattachine Society, the first modern US Gay organization was founded in Los Angeles in 1950.  Its founders included Harry Hay, Rudi Gernreich, Dale Jennings and lovers Bob Hull and Chuck Rowland.

In 1952 some of the early members split with the original group and founded ONE Inc.

From Wikipedia: The Mattachine Society existed as a single national organization headquartered first in Los Angeles and then, beginning around 1956, in San Francisco. Outside of Los Angeles and San Francisco, chapters were established in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and other locales. Due to internal disagreements, the national organization disbanded in 1961.

The first post-war lesbian organization, the Daughters of Bilitis was founded in the mid-1950s.

One of the earliest connections of “transgender as umbrella” to the gay community was Jose Sarria, a drag queen, who performed at The Black Cat, a bar on Montgomery Street in San Francisco.  Dressing as a member of the opposite sex was illegal under  650.5 of the penal code and could include women wearing front zipped jeans or trousers as well as T to F transsexual and transgender people dressed as women.

In the 1955-60 period both ONE and Virginia Prince had to fight with postal authorities for the right to mail magazines or news letters.  This was an extremely important free speech battle and as much as I hate Virginia Prince I give her a great deal of respect for fighting this battle along with the people of ONE.

There were small groups of heterosexual transvestites across the nation as well as services such as resorts where they could go to cross dress.  The name game started early when Prince decided that transvestite sounded “gay” or something and would never do because being gay meant being a pervert.  So heterosexual TVs became “femmephiles”

In 1952 and 53 the stories of “sex changes” started appearing in the news.  While the surgeries had been done earlier Christine Jorgensen and Roberta Cowell became the first “famous transsexuals”. They do not appear to have considered themselves part of either the gay movement or CD movement although in the years after Stonewall Christine appeared to be publicly supportive of the Gay and Lesbian Movements as well as furthering the rights of transsexual and transgender people.

1960-1968

In the late 1950s early 1960s Dr. Burou opened a clinic in Casablanca where he started performing relatively large numbers of transsexual to female surgeries.  this is where April Ashley and others went.  The women who went to Dr. Burou seemed decidedly hipper than Roberta and Christine.  In the US Dr. Elmer Belt was performing small numbers of surgeries as was Dr. Barbosa in Tijuana.  Aleshia Brevard had her SRS from (if memory serves me correctly Dr. Belt in that time frame.

In California the bars were more likely to be actually gay or lesbian owned than in New York where they were Mafia owned and or operated.  In California the bar owners formed the Tavern Guild and organized against police harassment.  Drag Pageants and balls were common and there was the start of the Imperial Court system.

Gay protests and riots regarding police harassment of gay bars started occurring. including an incident in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

In 1963, John Rechy’s break through memoir/novel “City of Night” was published and what had been a hidden world or at least a world ignored by hetero-normative society became visible. The book has realistic depictions of the queens (transgender sex workers) who were part of the downtown Los Angeles scene in the late 1950s.

1965 Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings and others start picketing in various locations regarding employment discrimination:  Wikipedia: In 1965, Gittings marched in the first gay picket lines at the White House,[30] the US State Department, and at Independence Hall in Philadelphia to protest the federal government’s policy on discrimination of homosexuals, holding a sign that read “Sexual preference is irrelevant to federal employment.”   Transsexual or transgender people were not involved in these protests

1964 Life Magazine published “The Homosexual in America” a nasty piece of gay bashing that nonetheless increased gay visibility (but not lesbian visibility).  Coming on the leading edge of the wave of the sexual freedom revolution that made the 1960s and 70s an era of sexual liberation the article was a case of even nasty bashing publicity being good publicity.

In 1964, SIR, The Society For Individual Rights was founded in San Francisco. SIR was a transitional organization and was in many ways several years ahead of its time.  It was far more open than The Mattachine Society.  It created a model for the modern LGBT/T Community Centers.  While it was limited to gay men, it held lesbian inclusive conferences as well as being a place one could go to get the information that would connect one with lesbian or transsexual groups and resources.

http://www.gmax.co.za/think/history/2004/040330-SFriscoRights.html :

At a time when same-sex dancing was banned in bars, SIR’s most popular events were regular dances held at the group’s space on 6th Street near Market in the heart of San Francisco’s skid row. Opened in April 1966, the SIR Center – the nation’s first gay and lesbian community center – contained office space, a library, and a large public assembly area.

SIR’s social activities proved to be the drawing card that got members involved in its service and political work. Along with other local groups, including the Daughters of Bilitis (the nation’s first lesbian rights group) and the Tavern Guild (an organization of gay bar owners), SIR helped form the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, in conjunction with progressive Protestant clergy. A police raid on the coalition’s New Year’s fund raising ball in 1965 brought media attention to the plight of the city’s homosexuals and helped build public sympathy. SIR and the other groups started hosting candidate forums, and progressive politicians began courting the gay vote, taking out ads in Vector, SIR’s glossy magazine. “If politicians do not openly address themselves to homosexuals,” SIR president Beardhemphl told the San Francisco Examiner in 1966, “they do not need our 90,000 votes.”

1966

Darrell G Raynor , Jan 1, 1966, publishes, “A Year Among the Girls”, documenting heterosexual transvestism in America including meeting with Virginia Prince as well as a visit to a transvestite resort run by Susanna. I remember thinking the whole idea of heterosexual transvestism was kind of strange in a way I didn’t think the cross gender behavior of queens as strange. While the heterosexual CD groups have always maintained a distance (fear) of association with either homosexuality or transsexualism I too was naively hetero-normative  in my own association of needing to be female and assuming I would be heterosexual after SRS.

In August the queens and transsexuals living in San Francisco’s Tenderloin rioted after an incident of on-going police abuse in what has come to be referred to as the Compton’s Cafeteria Riots.

In November, Johns Hopkin’s announced they had begun performing sex change operations.

In late 1966 early 1967 COG, (Change Our Goal) started meeting at San Francisco’s Glide Memorial.  It went on to become the Transsexual Counseling Service operating under the aegis of the War on Poverty.  It was an organization by and for transsexuals who wanted to have lives beyond the ghetto of “drag queen.”  The groups rapidly distinguished themselves based on often arbitrary lines at first, but by the early 1970s those lines had become one line, surgery or being surgery tracked made one transsexual rather than a queen.

From James Driscoll’s “The Transsexuals” published in Transitions: A Journal of Sociology writing about events occurring in 1967.

(With Transsexuals) More than this, the medical contacts strengthen the feminine self-concept of the girls. They feel that they now have some positive medical sanction to their claims for womanhood, and this feeling commits them more firmly than ever to their career pattern as a transsexual.  The hormone treatment itself brings about some startling bodily changes in a surprisingly short period of time. After about three months of hormones, the girls begin to develop a bust, and there are visible changes in the distribution of body fat. The shoulders become thinner, and the hips and buttocks fill out. Body hair begins to fall off, and facial hair becomes lighter and sparser. Needless to say, these changes are extremely encouraging to the girls. Once they have gone this far, they begin to live almost entirely for the eventual operation. They refer to themselves exclusively as women. The drag queen is now regarded as some sort of a freak: a homosexual who dresses as a woman.

This along with “A Year Among the Girls” documents how there was never any real interaction between heterosexual CDs, queens(transgenders) and transsexuals, indeed the animosity we see today has always been present.

I have always believed the events of 1968 payed a role in the uprising that occurred in June of 1969 at The Stonewall in New York City, in that minority rage was no longer suppressed and boiled over into open rebellion against police repression.  From Columbia University, to the ghetto up-risings, to People’s Park.  People were no longer willing to be treated like sub-humans by armed thugs in blue uniforms.

Stonewall seemed less important to me in the Bay Area in 1969, perhaps because the news took days to reach us in any detail, but it is equally possible that events earlier in the year meant that gay liberation as a movement was already in full swing when Stonewall occurred.

Many of the claims made by “Transgender Inc” that transgender people were always part of the LG communities and that Sylvia Rivera’s participation in the Stonewall uprising proves it, fail to take into account the parallel world aspects of LGT.  I’m deliberately eliminating bisexual from this because it too is a relative late comer to the alphabet soup.

Sylvia Rivera and other “queens” were initially involved in the Gay Liberation Front, which for a brief and shining moment united gay men, lesbians, queens maybe even a few transsexuals in a generally left wing movement that associated itself not only with “Gay Liberation” but all liberation movements as well as the anti-war movement.

Unfortunately Gay Liberation Front was incredibly short lived.  Lesbians objected to gay male sexism.  Gay male misogyny and worship of masculinity caused the queens to be treated as pariahs.  Many gay men were more conservative than others and rejected the ties with other liberation movements.

In New York City, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha Johnson founded STAR, Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, an organization of queens, who were often people of color and just as often street sex workers.  Lee Brewster founded Queen’s Liberation Front, slightly upscale, better educated, more given to doing sex work in bars and phone.

Sylvia had many problems due to poverty and substance abuse plus a combative personality particularly when drunk which alienated her from the more conservative Gay Activist Alliance, which superseded the GLF.  Marsha Johnson was murdered and Sylvia pretty much disappeared until she emerged years later clean and sober with the gravitas of being both a survivor and a person of history.  Not a bad accomplishment in reality given how few transgender people of that era survived the violence, the substance abuse and AIDS.

Sex work was often a given since it was generally impossible to get ID that matched your gender presentation until after SRS.

The same was true of our organization in San Francisco.  The people involved both as workers and as clients were transsexual and in the process of obtaining SRS.  Nixon’s ending of the War on Poverty damaged our ability to live up to certain goals but we were able to continue to meet others thanks to a grant from the Reed Erickson Foundation.

By about 1973-74 the various factions that had briefly united under the banner of the GLF were barely speaking to each other.

In  Los Angeles, Morris Kight and other visionaries had founded the Gay Community Services Center.  Just as the Transsexual Counseling Services (later the National Transsexual Counseling Unit) provided counseling and access to services, these organizations were less politically oriented than aimed at serving their communities.

In 1976 I was attending sessions of a group called Renaissance, in Los Angeles, run by Jude Patton, Carol Katz and Joanna Clark.  This is where I first heard the term “transgender”, which then occupied a space between transvestite and transsexual.  It specifically meant someone who lived full time as a member of the sex not commonly associated with their present genital and who was neither working towards SRS or desired SRS.

This group met at a public health clinic, not at the Gay Community Services Center, again the parallel universes phenomena.

In 1976 or 77 gays and lesbians managed to work out some of their differences and lesbian started getting equal billing in the organizational titles.  The Gay Community Services Center became the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center.

The anti-transsexual battles within the lesbian communities ignited during this time after having died down for a few years after the trashing of Beth Elliott.

It was about this time that people breaking away from Tri-Ess, in many cases after having concluded they were transsexual rather than heterosexual cross dressers started publishing a newsletter that became a magazine titled “Tapestry” when it changed formats in the early-mid 1980s.

The people putting out this newsletter are the actual founders of the modern Transgender Movement, something to be said for coming from a background of at least some privilege and education.  While the majority of states had passed provisions regarding changes of ID including birth certificates and driver’s licenses, as well as passports for post-op folks many actual transgender (original definition) as well as pre-op folks were left twisting in the wind.

The late 1970s were marked by the rise of the ultra right wing Christo-Fascist anti-women, anti-gay and anti-lesbian politicians and movements aimed at depriving gay and lesbian people of their hard won and only newly realized rights.  Transsexual and transgender people were so invisible at that point as to not be on the religious right’s radar much less within their cross hairs.

Self-help/support groups remained the general rule for TS/TG folks through out the 1980 and up into the early 1990s.  AIDS became the focus of the gay community and lesbians took over positions of leadership within the “Gay and Lesbian” community.  Even though AIDS killed many transsexual and transgender sex workers, and certain groups within various cities had a majority of trans-sex workers testing HIV positive, TS/TG people were an invisible component of those dying from or living with HIV.

The Q emerged in the late 1980s with Act-Up, Queer Nation and Larry Kramer hitting the streets and publications full of rage regarding the Reagan/Bush regime’s  malevolent neglect of the people with AIDS and the ethnic cleansing this neglect was causing.

At some point bisexual people became part of the alphabet soup.

Finally we come to the point in the 1990s when transsexual and transgender people joined the mix. Post-SRS,  lesbian and gay people had always been part of the lesbian or gay communities in spite of the controversy our presence sometimes aroused.

Transgender as umbrella owes much to the work done by the people who published Tapestry and to events occurring at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. I am not exactly certain if Nancy Berkholder was TS/TG post or pre-op, but she was thrown out of the festival.  This was circa 1993 or 4.  The next year Riki Wilchins and others formed Camp Trans as a protest.

It was about this time that more progressive Gay and Lesbian Centers opened their doors to transsexual and transgender groups and started providing support as well as facilities.  Some times this accommodation felt more welcoming than at other times but at least the effort was made.

This did not solve the friction between transsexual and transgender people, however and the wars between these two factions continue to this date.

With regard to the relationship TS/TG people have with Gay/Lesbian…

Just as with the differences between gay men and lesbians the priority given the needs of each group has always been a matter of disagreement, with the various factions threatening to leave the loosely based coalition if their needs are not given top priority.

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Randi’s Challenge to Homeopathy Manufacturers and Retail Pharmacies

From:  http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/1208-feb5video.html

Saturday, 05 February 2011

Skeptic James Randi challenges sellers of scam medications as hundreds stage worldwide “overdose” on homeopathic pills

Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.—To expose a scam industry that endangers and rips off millions of consumers a year, world-renowned conjuror, escape artist, and skeptic James Randi has put one million dollars on the line.

In a video statement released at 10:23 a.m. (ET) today, Randi joined hundreds of consumer advocates in more than 25 countries in exposing so-called homeopathic remedies—scam medications with no active ingredients that are sold by major retailers with no warning to customers. Demonstrators around the world swallowed homeopathic products by the handful, in a worldwide day of action inspired by a lecture by James Randi in which he downed an entire bottle of homeopathic sleeping pills to show they had no effect.

Continue reading at:  http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/jref-news/1208-feb5video.html

Ronald Reagan is Dead I want My Country Back

I hated Ronald Reagan from the first.  When he was governor of California and started waging war upon the Universities and Colleges because the students had the audacity to believe in freedom, justice and equality.

I was involved in the People’s Park uprising in Berkeley during May 1969.  He said to the police and the National Guard who were there with shotguns, rifles and bayonets, “If it takes a blood bath lets get on with it.”

James Rector was shot by the police and died.  Another man was blinded.  Reports say at least 150 people were wounded by the police firing buckshot and bird shot into the crowds.

His presidency was marked by dirty wars that resulted in the genocide of hundreds of thousands of people in Latin America.

He flooded the black communities of America with CIA smuggled crack cocaine then created a prison industrial complex that continues to imprison so many people of color.

In light of all his monstrous actions I can not help but wish John Lennon had survived the assassination and Reagan had died instead.  The world would be a far better place.

On Friday I was reading the Rude Pundit, someone I recommend highly when you need an antidote to the right wing asshole pundits of talk radio and Fox News.

Rant on Brother!

As usual he nailed my feelings about what a scumbag Reagan was in a piece titled:  Nine (or So) Ways to Celebrate the Centennial of Ronald Reagan:

In it there was a link to a piece he wrote upon Reagan’s death in 2004.

http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2004/06/dead-president-this-is-not-going-to-be.html

Reposted with permission:

6/06/2004

Dead President:
This is not going to be one of the many “let’s-be-kind-to-the-dead-Alzheimer’s-ridden-wrinkled-guy” panegyrics the “liberal” media has been trotting out for the last day and a half. This is not an attempt to find a silver lining in the ruination, the waste lain by the presidency of Reagan. We will not be saying that “Reagan loved dogs.” No, this is nothing like that. This is going to be a “rip that saggy-necked cocksucker out of his coffin and skullfuck him until his eyes roll out into the street” kind of thing.

Ronald Reagan was the worst kind of evil, the kind that wears the mask of goodness and morality. He was like the affable grandfather who loved molesting his grandkids. Oh, how Grandpa smiled when he fondled us. Damn, how we didn’t mind the finger-fuckings, how we didn’t care how many psychic scars Grandpa left us with as long as Grandpa smiled at us, said he loved us, and gave us candy to keep us quiet. But, Jesus Christ, how we must live with those barely repressed wounds, the damage that afflicts every step we take.

This country, this world will never get over the destruction wrought by this man. Practically every awful thing going on in this country can be traced, in one way or another, to Reagan. Soldiers are dying in Iraq right now because of this man, because of his insane support for dictators, for turning a blind eye to genocide and madness. A decade behind in AIDS research? The power of the religious right in making public policy? The war on feminism? We’re just scratchin’ the surface of the repeated rapings of this country by Reagan’s re-defining conservatism to the right, which dragged the rest of the nation, the rest of the political spectrum with it. He made liberal a dirty word. He opened the regulatory books for industries to rewrite them in their image. He presided over the other greatest intelligence failure, when we “missed” the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union. And we’re not even talkin’ yet about Iran-Contra, the second part of the Republican trifecta of massive abuse of power (Watergate being first, and the Iraq war being third). Reagan was a goddamned cancer, but he could sell it, like an old time preacher, with a twinkle in his eye and a promise of greater days tomorrow; he was like a suave Greek pimp who will sell you a syphilitic Turkish whore – sure, you’ll get your rocks off, but, oh, how you’ll pay, motherfucker, oh, how you’ll pay.

Let’s focus in on one thing: poverty. Reagan shifted the conversation on poverty, as he did with so many things, away from economics and the vicissitudes of capitalism and towards a 19th century notion of morality. The poor were, in Reagan’s view, more easily tempted into immorality. They were “welfare queens” who exploited the good-heartedness of the government and the populace in general. Indeed, the whole debate about welfare never escaped from Reagan’s enormous racist lie of the welfare queen because it was a story that comforted so many middle class white people, allowed them to abandon any pretense of wanting to correct past wrongs.

Let’s narrow even further, to one bill. In his first budget, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, Reagan stripped away the ability of the working poor to transition off welfare, taking 100% of their income out of their welfare payments. Previously, the standard had been the 30 and a third rule – subtract the first $30 and 1/3 of income in order to wean the working poor off the government teat. The OBRA cut food stamps, Medicaid, and child care. It reduced or eliminated spending on prenatal, maternal, and child health care, school lunch programs, and day care, as well as eliminating Aid to Families with Dependent Children for some families. Sixty percent of cuts in federal entitlements were on programs to poor: AFDC was cut by $1 billion, Medicaid by $500 million, and food stamps by $700 million, erasing 875,000 people from the food stamp program. Because of these cuts, a working poor family of three had less income than one who stayed on AFDC. Much of this was directed at women, where Reagan sought to roll back the feminist movement through governmental tough love. “There you go, bitches, wallow in the filth of my philosophy,” he was saying.

Here’s the evil part: this was done to offset huge tax cuts. Here’s the extra evil part: the tough love didn’t work. More people ended up on welfare (not cruelly disappeared from the welfare rolls as under Clinton’s welfare “reform”). The cuts for fiscal 1982, which totaled $35.2 billion, also affected disability benefits, subsidized housing, unemployment insurance, student loans, Pell grants, impacted areas aid, medical education, sewer grants, postal subsidies, trade adjustment assistance, small business loans, mass transit systems, highway funds, and more. Much of the spending was shifted to the states, as if that was somehow a greater good. The end result was to put a stake in the heart of the War on Poverty, effectively negating the role of the poor in national politics, who couldn’t mobilize if they had to work two or three jobs in order to put food on the table, shifting so much of the social concerns of the government to the middle class. Welfare rolls grew while unemployment fell. And the seeds of the distance between rich and poor were sowed, and their vines bear fruit each year after.

Remember: this is one bill. One action. At the beginning of his presidency. With nearly eight years to go. Eight years where he smiled at us, regaling us with “common people” stories that comforted us amid the inferno.

Did he know what he was doing? Was Reagan a puppet? Of course he was, and by the end of his presidency, when he had descended into Woodrow Wilson-like levels of uselessness, he was merely a wax dummy. But if one surrounds oneself with cruel and evil people, if one listens to their counsel and signs off on their ideology, then, puppet or not, one is part and parcel of the evil that they do. He dumbed down the Presidency by making his ignorance into an asset; without him, there would be no George W. Bush for we could not begin to think that so slouching a human would be the person we say represents us all. Reagan made us think that this is what the presidency is: a summation of men (and women) and their ideology, not a man unto himself.

The final fuckin’ joke is that because Reagan got to disappear into the clouds of his diseased brain, functioning only as a conveyer between tubes that fed him and tubes that removed his piss (with the shit-ridden diaper thrown in for good effect), he never had to see what he had done. He never got to look down from that shining city on a hill, the bullshit chimera of a nation that would never exist, and see the shards of the shattered country he left behind.

Or maybe, gasping his last, the Alzheimer’s clouds parted and Reagan had a moment of clarity, a moment when he at last grasped the enormity of his blithe cruelty; maybe he understood the stunning, horrible, Christ-forsaken abandonment of the poor, the weak, the beaten down, the tossing aside of every “ideal” of uplifting the people in his maniacal pursuits of putting down the lid on the piss-stained toilet of Soviet communism and of tearing the condom off the cock of capitalism so that it infects us all with “free trade.” When Lee Atwater, mentor to Karl Rove and one of the gurus of Reagan and then Bush I’s campaigns, was dying of brain cancer, he had such an epiphany about the world he helped to create. He called the umitigated greed of the Reagan/Bush era a “spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.” Would that we all get such Kurtzian moments of realizing the horror.

Reagan’s dead. Fuck him. Fuck Nancy. Fuck the 1980s. Fuck all the tributes that are going on for the next week while his putrid corpse criss-crosses the nation he helped desiccate. Christ, put that fucker in a hole and let’s get on with it, with the neverending work of righting the legion of wrongs he did to us all, a legacy rife with its Rumsfelds, Cheneys, and Bushes.

And when Reagan’s finally quivering in the cold, cold ground, waiting for demons to tear his soul into bite-sized pieces so he can feel thousands of hells at once, the Rude Pundit will dance, dance, dance, grotesquely, madly, on the still shifting dirt of his grave.

Africa shows signs of winning war against female genital mutilation

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/feb/06/female-circumcision-sister-fa

African women, including Senegalese hip-hop star Sister Fa, are leading a successful campaign against the widespread practice of female circumcision

Tracy McVeigh

The Observer, Sunday 6 February 2011

In Africa, if you play music in an open space, any music, then people will generally come. “It is the way to reach people, to bring them together.” So says Sister Fa, a Senegalese urban soul and hip-hop star who has been lending her voice to a remarkable new drive against female circumcision in 12 of the countries worst affected by the practice across the continent.

The first report into a United Nations project that began in 2008 has shown remarkable success rates with more than 6,000 villages and communities in six countries already abandoning the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) – also known as cutting or female circumcision – with the numbers growing every month.

The change is down to a unique approach with a proper understanding of local culture, says Sister Fa, who has seen her own home town of Thionck Essyl, where she herself was “cut”, abandon it altogether. Mutilation is practised in 28 African countries, where 140 million women have been subjected to the brutal practice and a further two million are at risk every year.

“We’re using music because the young people are the future. They need to understand that they are not alone,” Sister Fa told the Observer from Dakar, where she is on a tour called “Education Against Mutilation”. Other cultural ambassadors are performing similar journeys.

“It is when you are alone, when you think: ‘How can I not cut my child? She will be marginalised, pushed in a corner’,” Sister Fa continued. “When the cutting ceremony is organised for the village and one girl is not there, everyone will know that she is not there, the whole village knows she is not cut. Then that girl is treated like an animal, you can’t get married, you can’t cook or pass water to someone for them to drink.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2011/feb/06/female-circumcision-sister-fa

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The Siege of Planned Parenthood

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/05/opinion/05collins.html?_r=1&src=ISMR_HP_LO_MST_FB

By GAIL COLLINS
Published: February 4, 2011

As if we didn’t have enough wars, the House of Representatives has declared one against Planned Parenthood.

Maybe it’s all part of a grand theme. Last month, they voted to repeal the health care law. This month, they’re going after an organization that provides millions of women with both family-planning services and basic health medical care, like pap smears and screening for diabetes, breast cancer, cervical cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

Our legislative slogan for 2011: Let Them Use Leeches.

“What is more fiscally responsible than denying any and all funding to Planned Parenthood of America?” demanded Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the chief sponsor of a bill to bar the government from directing any money to any organization that provides abortion services.

Planned Parenthood doesn’t use government money to provide abortions; Congress already prohibits that, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. (Another anti-abortion bill that’s coming up for hearing originally proposed changing the wording to “forcible rape,” presumably under the theory that there was a problem with volunteer rape victims. On that matter at least, cooler heads prevailed.)

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/05/opinion/05collins.html?_r=1&src=ISMR_HP_LO_MST_FB

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10 Things Conservatives Don’t Want You To Know About Ronald Reagan

From Think Progress: http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/05/reagan-centennial/

By Alex Seitz-Wald

Feb 5th, 2011

Sunday will mark the 100th anniversary of President Reagan’s birth, and all week, conservatives have been trying to outdo each others’ remembrances of the great conservative icon. Senate Republicans spent much of Thursday singing Reagan’s praise from the Senate floor, while conservative publications have been running non-stop commemorations. Meanwhile the Republican National Committee and former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich are hoping to make few bucks off the Gipper’s centennial.

But Reagan was not the man conservatives claim he was. This image of Reagan as a conservative superhero is myth, created to untie the various factions of the right behind a common leader. In reality, Reagan was no conservative ideologue or flawless commander-in-chief. Reagan regularly strayed from conservative dogma — he raised taxes eleven times as president while tripling the deficit — and he often ended up on the wrong side of history, like when he vetoed an Anti-Apartheid bill.

ThinkProgress has compiled a list of the top 10 things conservatives rarely mention when talking about President Reagan:

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/2011/02/05/reagan-centennial/

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Ronald Reagan Visits Bitburg Lays Flowers on the Graves of SS Troops

From The Jewish Virtual Library:  http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0003_0_03029.html

BITBURG CONTROVERSY


The “Bitburg Controversy” of 1985 constituted one of the most acrimonious confrontations between any U.S. administration and the American Jewish community. At stake was the planned visit by U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan in the company of West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to the Bitburg Military Cemetery, which contained the graves of 49 members of the Waffen-ss

Ostensibly, Kohl invited Reagan to accompany him to a German military cemetery during the state visit to celebrate the normalization of relations between their two countries on the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II. In fact, however, ever since coming to power in 1982, the conservative Kohl had endeavored to rehabilitate as many Germans who had served the Third Reich as possible. In 1983, for example, his government had removed the veterans’ organizations of the Waffen-SS from a list of extremist right-wing groups on which the West German Ministry of Interior was required to make annual reports to Parliament, and Kohl had repeatedly blocked demands by the opposition Social Democrats to ban the highly controversial reunions of former Waffen-SS members. Kohl’s request to have Reagan go to Bitburg was thus part of a strategy to rewrite recent German history and curry favor with the most reactionary elements of the West German electorate.

Reagan’s planned trip to Germany first drew fire because it did not include a stop at the site of a Nazi concentration camp. At a press conference on March 21, 1985, Reagan explained that “since the German people have very few alive that remember even the war, and certainly none of them who were adults and participating in any way … they have a feeling and a guilt feeling that’s been imposed upon them.” Thus, he considered a visit to a concentration camp “unnecessary.” Reagan’s comments drew a sharp response from Menachem Z. Rosensaft, the founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. Writing in The New York Times on March 30, he pointed out that all Germans who were the same age as the president certainly remembered the war, and that two years earlier he had told a gathering of thousands of Holocaust survivors that the Holocaust must never be forgotten. Rosensaft noted that while it was “politically advantageous for [Reagan] to speak about the Holocaust to Jewish audiences in the United States, he does not want to risk offending anyone – even Nazis – in Germany.”

On April 11, the White House announced that the Bitburg cemetery was on Reagan’s itinerary, and that Reagan and Kohl would lay a wreath there “in a spirit of reconciliation, in a spirit of forty years of peace, in a spirit of economic and military compatibility.” Kenneth J. Bialkin, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, called Reagan’s decision to visit Bitburg but not Dachau “deeply offensive,” and noted author and Holocaust survivor Elie *Wiesel, then chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, told The New York Times that he could not believe that the president “would visit a German military cemetery and refuse to visit Dachau or any other concentration camp.”

At a press conference on April 18, Reagan made matters worse by appearing to equate dead German soldiers with the victims of the Holocaust. “They were victims,” he said of the soldiers buried at Bitburg, “just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.” Reagan’s comments drew angry responses from American Jewish leaders. Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, described Reagan’s remarks as a “distortion of history, a perversion of language, and a callous offense to the Jewish community.”

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