Chelsea Clinton Kicks Off Phone Banking for Marriage Equality in New York

From HRC:

By Kevin Nix
May 6th, 2011

Last night Chelsea Clinton joined more than 50 New Yorkers United for Marriage volunteers at 1199 SEIU Headquarters to kick off the coalition’s first week of phone-banking for marriage equality. Campaign volunteers reached out to thousands of supporters across all districts, asking them to urge their legislators to support full marriage rights for all New Yorkers this year.

On the same day that former President Bill Clinton endorsed marriage equality legislation in the Empire State, Chelsea briefly addressed the group after making patch-through calls to supporters.

“I was very grateful that my father gave me yet another reason to be proud,” Chelsea told the group. “It was the happiest day of my life to marry my best friend, and I believe every New Yorker should have that right.”

“Thank you all for being here this evening to thank your representatives. I know that we’ll get there, and hopefully before the summer,” she continued. “I couldn’t think of a better first year anniversary present.” She went on to thank the Human Rights Campaign and 1199 SEIU for organizing the phone bank.

The event kicked off what will be twice-weekly phone banks in an effort to pass marriage legislation by the end of the 2011 legislative session.

Bill Clinton Urges Approval of NYS Marriage Equality

From Gay City News:

May 5, 2011

In a written statement released May 5, former President Bill Clinton joined nearly three-dozen other prominent voices in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign.

“Our nation’s permanent mission is to form a ‘more perfect union’ –– deepening the meaning of freedom, broadening the reach of opportunity, strengthening the bonds of community,” the ex-Democratic chief executive, who now lives in Westchester County, said. “That mission has inspired and empowered us to extend rights to people previously denied them. Every time we have done that, it has strengthened our nation.”

Turning his attention directly to the effort to move an equal marriage bill through the State Senate before it adjourns at the end of June, Clinton continued, “Now we should do it again, in New York, with marriage equality. For more than a century, our Statue of Liberty has welcomed all kinds of people from all over the world yearning to be free. In the 21st century, I believe New York’s welcome must include marriage equality.”

Since last September, HRC has released brief video messages endorsing the pending equal marriage bill from a slew of celebrities, community leaders, and elected officials, including Mayors Michael Bloomberg, David Dinkins, and Ed Koch, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Barbara Bush, one of the former president’s twin daughters, former police commissioner Bill Bratton, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the widow of tennis great Arthur Ashe, and actors and singers Moby, Whoopi Goldberg, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Lucy Liu, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Meloni, Sam Waterston, Ethan Hawke, Kyra Sedgwick, and Kevin Bacon.

Clinton first voiced his support for marriage equality in September 2009, when he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he had been “wrong” about same-sex marriage. In 1996, the president signed the US Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of valid same-sex marriages and purportedly gives the right to states to do the same.

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Will the Conservative Party’s Long Arm Matter on Marriage Equality?

From Gay City News:

Friday, May 6, 2011

“All human beings ought to be protected equally,” Michael R. Long, the chairman of the New York State Conservative Party, said. “You don’t need special legislation to legitimize a lifestyle, and that’s what this is about… Once they kick the door open, they’re going to be back for gay marriages.”

Long –– for more than two decades the leader of the small, though at times influential, third party –– made those comments to the New York Sun in December 2002 after 12 State Senate Republicans joined 22 Democrats to pass the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA), New York’s gay rights law.

Eleven of those 12 Republicans had also been endorsed by Long’s Conservative Party.

On that occasion and numerous others (including in October 2002 comments to the Sun and a May 2001 statement to the New York Times), Long threatened to deny his party’s ballot line from –– and mount Republican Party primary challenges against –– GOP senators who voted for SONDA.

”It wouldn’t be the first time we have challenged candidates,” Long told the Times, according to a May 20, 2001 article.

Yet, when state senators next faced the voters, in the fall of 2004, Long’s party challenged none of the eight Republican-Conservative SONDA supporters who sought reelection and gave its endorsement to seven of them.

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As Opposition Organizes, Senators Say Gay Marriage Calls Not Yet Surging

From Gay City News:

Friday, May 6, 2011

With advocates expecting a vote on gay marriage in New York’s State Senate within the next few weeks, the opposition is emerging just as the pro side is beginning to more aggressively lobby.

“We haven’t had anything organized in our district,” said Rayan Aguam, spokesman for Senator Joseph Griffo, a Republican who represents Utica.

What the office has seen is a “definitely noticeable” uptick in phone calls opposing same-sex marriage coming from within Griffo’s Senate district, Aguam said.

He could not attribute the increase to any organization or group.

Griffo is one of six senators, two Democrats and four Republicans, who have signaled they are undecided on the legislation. The state budget was completed on April 1 and a vote on gay marriage is expected before the Legislature adjourns on June 20.

There are 26 known same-sex marriage votes in the 62-member Senate. Republicans hold a narrow 32 to 30 majority, and one Democrat, Senator Ruben Diaz from the Bronx, is an ardent gay marriage opponent. Under the most favorable circumstances, marriage advocates must get at least three Republican votes.

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Gender Dysphoria

This is from the APA site:

Please find below a list of disorders that are currently proposed for the diagnostic category, Gender Dysphoria. This category contains diagnoses that were listed in DSM-IV under the chapter of Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders. The Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group has been responsible for addressing these revisions. Many of the disorders that were previously listed in the Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders chapter in DSM-IV also have been distributed throughout separate chapters on Sexual Dysfunctions and Paraphilias. For a comprehensive review of all of the disorders under the work group’s purview, please be sure to visit those chapters as well. We appreciate your review and comment on these disorders.

Now the most interesting part of all is the following…..  Representing 38,000 physician leaders in mental health.

The master’s tools will never dismantle the masters house.  Homosexuality was removed from the DSM in 1973 because of political pressure.  People who make money off of an exploitable demographic are not likely to voluntarily end their means of making money off that demographic unless that demographic becomes so angry and so politically militant as to challenge the entire premise upon which that exploitative industry is built…

If the APA were truly motivated by actual mental illness and not by the ability to exploit certain groups by creating a diagnosis they can get insurance companies to reimburse them for treating then they would be treating obsessive religiosity as the mental illness that it is.

But the religious fanatics have actual political power and many are wacko enough to kill psychiatrists the same way they kill abortion providers.

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After Citizens United, Conservative Undisclosed Donors Spent 8 Times As Much As Liberal Ones In 2010 Election

From Think Progress:

By Zaid Jilani
May 6th, 2011

Last year, in perhaps the “most consequential Supreme Court decision in decades,” the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) invalidated a sixty-three year-old ban on corporate and union money directly funding individual candidates in federal elections. The SCOTUS decision sent shockwaves throughout our democracy, with many fearing that it would lead to an overwhelming amount of corporate money flooding out the voices of ordinary people.

Now, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has put out a comprehensive analysis to assess the flood of campaign money in last year’s election. One of the most shocking results of the analysis finds that the decision appeared to have a sharply partisan and ideological result. The group found that spending by Super PACs and all outside spending strongly tilted towards conservatives, and that spending by undisclosed donors actually was eight times higher for conservatives than liberals, with conservatives spending $119.6 million to liberals’ $15.7 million:

Not only did this money help elect a more conservative Congress, but it also is having a lingering effect on our campaign system. Last week, Democratic strategists announced that they will be forming Priorities USA Action, an Independent Expenditure PAC that will be relying on a strategy of collecting unlimited funds from undiclosed donors similar to the one that conservative groups used in 2010.

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Taboo Economics

From Common Dreams:

by Mark Engler
Published on Friday, May 6, 2011 by The New Internationalist

I have a proposal: Let’s double US government funds devoted to promoting renewable energy. Let’s expand allocations for foreclosure prevention to help another million Americans keep their homes. Let’s launch a $10-billion infrastructure programme to repair crumbling roads and bridges. Let’s double the number of new maths and science teachers that President Obama hopes to train, bringing the total to 200,000. And let’s hire back all of those police officers fired by the city of Camden, New Jersey – already among the most dangerous places in the country before budget constraints compelled it to dismiss half of its police force in December.

While we’re at it, let’s reduce the deficit by about $40 billion.

This proposition is not voodoo economics. It is taboo economics. All of these things could be accomplished by trimming US military spending by just 10 per cent. Some of these suggestions (teacher training, Camden cops) are trifling items by the standards of Pentagon budgeting, together accounting for less than the cost of a single Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet.

Last year, the New York Times website offered an interactive feature, through which readers could attempt to balance the budget by choosing between a variety of cost-saving measures. The exercise showed that runaway healthcare expenses must be controlled for the US government to remain solvent in the long term. Yet, even with the troublesome burden of our private healthcare system, covering the projected 2015 budget shortfall was easy, provided you did two things: allowed Bush-era tax cuts to expire (including estate tax cuts for the wealthy) and opted for a selection of modest rollbacks for the military.

You can learn a lot from Americans’ attitudes about the budget, which are out of whack in several notable areas. When polled, US voters consistently overestimate the amount spent on foreign aid. Most believe it’s now around a quarter of the federal budget. In a show of iron-willed (if isolationist) penny-pinching, the average survey participant proposes it should be pared down to just 10 per cent of government spending.

In contrast, Americans wildly underestimate Pentagon spending. Only 25 per cent of those in a recent Rasmussen poll thought the country should spend at least three times as much as any other nation on defence. (Some 40 per cent thought we should spend less, with the remaining 35 per cent unsure.) Yet the United States’ annual outlays on its military – around $700 billion – come to more than six times the amount paid out by arms-happy China, our nearest rival.

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Thom Hartmann: The GOP to revoke the rights for low-income rape victims

Friday Night Fun and Culture

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Poncho and Lefty

Listening to all the Bushies carrying on about how they deserve credit for Obama finally getting Osama bin Laden reminds of the Townes Van Zandt song,  “Poncho and Lefty” not that Osama deserves to be considered some sort of folk hero.

All the Bushies say they could have had him any day,
They only let him slip away
Out of kindness I suppose…

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EU Commission says it is important to support trans rights

From TGEU:

Thu, 05/05/2011

The EU Commission answered a written request from members of the European Parliament. In her responseCommissioner Reding highlights the significance to take up issues transgender people are facing.

Commissioner Reding says:

“The Commission recognises the importance of supporting the promotion of equality for transgender people. The Strategy on Equality between Women and Men 2010-2015 foresees to study the specific issues pertaining to sex discrimination in relation to gender identity.
Through the programme PROGRESS, the Commission has allocated funding for the running and operational costs of the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).  This has allowed ILGA to develop some activities in support of the rights of transgender people, and to contribute to strengthening the capacity of civil society organisations who are promoting their rights.
The Commission has also recently launched a study on “Discrimination against trans and intersex people on the grounds of sex, gender identity and gender expression”. When the results of this study are available, the Commission will look at the appropriate follow up.”
Commissioner Reding is also Vice-President of the European Union.
Dr. Julia Ehrt, TGEU co-chair, comments: “When has an EU Commissioner ever publicly recognized the importance to look into supporting equality for transgender people? This is the most concrete acknowledgement by the EU Commission we have seen in a long time.”
Earlier this year, the Commission had answered a Parliamentary question on Depathologisation of gender identity disorder ( P-2625/10). In the Commission’s opinion the ICD does not “imply any social, cultural or moral judgment about individuals, behaviours or needs”, but promised that the EU would participate in the consultation process reviewing the ICD-10. In the current review of the International Classification of Diseases, ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ is under discussion. However, in a follow-up, DG Sanco, dealing with Health and Consumer Protection in the EU, denied that it would get involved with this particular consultation. It also did not see itself to be competent in matters of forced divorce and forced sterilisation, the access to hormonal treatment and gender reassignment surgery and the depathologisation of transgender people in ICD-11. Their answer reads: “We regret having to inform you that these issues do not fall under the competences of DG Health and Consumers.”
This shows that there is still a long way to go for a coherent approach by the EU to actively protect the human rights of transgender people. But, the response from the Fundamental Rights Commissioner gives hope.
“We are very happy that the answer gives an outlook taking into account the wide spectrum of gender identity and expression. We are even more excited to meet with Mrs Reding on May 17 and will certainly follow up.” TGEU co-chair Richard Köhler adds.
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