No Military Welcome for Transgender Americans

From Metro Weekly:  http://www.metroweekly.com/feature/?ak=7758

Justin Snow
Published on September 20, 2012

The repeal of ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” ushered in a new era of acceptance in the armed forces for thousands of Americans. For almost two decades, the ban on out gay servicemembers was an issue fueling the LGBT-rights movement. With President Barack Obama’s signature – following a Pentagon working group, surveys, and approval from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense – the ban became a thing of the past.

But for some members of the military, the fight for acceptance is long from over. Although 2011’s repeal of ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” opened the door for gay, lesbian and bisexual servicemembers, transgender Americans must continue life in the closet in order to serve their country.

Despite the repeal of DADT, a medical regulatory ban remains in place for those who identity as transgender. Not only is evidence of transition therapy grounds for disqualification for potential recruits, so is openly identifying as transgender, which the Pentagon considers a psychiatric condition.

Transgender veterans who transition after leaving the armed forces face other obstacles as well. Upon discharge from the military, servicemembers receive a DD-214 form with their full name. Some transgender veterans who seek to change the name on the form, which is used to secure veteran benefits, are not always able to do so.

The Department of Veterans Affairs issued a directive in June 2011 providing health care for some transgender medical needs, such as hormone treatments, but the VA does not provide sex-reassignment surgery.

Continue reading at:  http://www.metroweekly.com/feature/?ak=7758

See Also:  The Advocate: The Silent Soldiers Who Are Still ‘Unfit to Serve’

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Intel will not fund Boy Scouts of America until ban on gay scouts and scout leaders ends

From GLAAD:  http://www.glaad.org/blog/intel-will-not-fund-boy-scouts-america-until-ban-gay-scouts-and-scout-leaders-ends

by Rich Ferraro
Friday, September 21, 2012

Less than 48 hours ago, Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, launched a campaign on Change.org supported by GLAAD and signed by more than 30,000 Americans urging Intel to pull funding from the Boy Scouts of America after an American Independent report revealed that the company gave nearly $700,000 to the Boy Scouts in 2010. According to the American Independent, the Intel Foundation has a policy that it will not fund “organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, veteran or disability status.”

Today Intel announced that it has stopped funding BSA troops that follow the discriminatory national policy.

In a statement released to Think Progress today, Intel’s Chief Diversity Officer, Rosalind Hudnell, said that the company could no longer fund the Boy Scouts of America, so long as the Scouts stand by their long-held policy barring gay troops and leaders from participating in the organization. She said:

“Intel has not provided funding to the National Boy Scouts of America organization.  The $700,000 in funding from the Intel Foundation was donated to local Boy Scout troops or councils where our employees volunteer their time, through our volunteer matching grants program . . . Due to significant growth in the number of organizations funded, earlier this year we revisited our policies associated with the program, and applied new rigor that requires any organization to confirm that it adheres to Intel’s anti-discrimination policy in order to receive funding.”

According to Think Progress, under the policy, the growing number of Boy Scout troops and councils that reject the BSA’s policy would still be eligible for Intel’s funding.

GLAAD President Herndon Graddick replied:

“Intel joins current Boy Scouts of America Board Members, President Obama, Mitt Romney and hundreds of thousands of Americans in speaking out against the BSA’s practice of unfairly kicking out gay scouts and scout leaders simply because of who they are. All of the great work that the BSA does to help young people will continue to be overshadowed by their blatant discrimination until they join other inclusive national organizations like the Girl Scouts of the USA and the 4-H Club. The time is now for the BSA to side with fairness, otherwise they will continue to see sponsors and scouting families drop their support.”

“Intel made the right decision here, in order to live up to their corporate values of diversity, equality and individual liberty,” said Zach Wahls. “Companies that support the LGBT community simply can’t be in the business of funding organizations that discriminate. Frankly, by sending this message, Intel is upholding the true spirit of Scouting better than the BSA is today.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.glaad.org/blog/intel-will-not-fund-boy-scouts-america-until-ban-gay-scouts-and-scout-leaders-ends

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Regnerus Anti-Gay Scandal: Boehner Lies In Court Document

From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/regnerus-anti-gay-scandal-boehner-lies-in-court-document/politics/2012/09/21/49301

by Scott Rose
on September 21, 2012

Reposted with Permission

On September 17, 2012 a court document filed by Congress in a federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case contained what is documented as an anti-gay lie.

Here is what is involved.

A hoax study on same-sex parenting funded by anti-gay-rights extremists and carried out by Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin is being used as a weapon in Speaker John Boehner‘s court filings, perversely to argue that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is constitutional.

Officially, the House of Representatives entity making the DOMA filings is called “The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group” (BLAG).

That name is hogwash; only the Republican members want to defend DOMA.

In the most recent BLAG filing in Windsor versus the United States, the Republican gay-bashers allege this:

“Although Ms. Windsor elsewhere stresses the supposed need for expert witnesses to present scientific evidence, she attacks the published Regnerus study by relying on a blog posting, Windsor Br. 49 n.23— the lack of scientific rigor of which is apparent simply from reading it.”

Meanwhile in the documented reality of the prior Windsor court filing that BLAG/Boehner cites there, Windsor’s attorneys referenced both a post on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s website, and an amicus brief filed by 8 major professional associations including the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association.

That amicus brief filed by 8 major professional association analyzes the unsound methodology of the Regnerus study with plenty of scientific rigor, so one can see why Boehner & Co. would lie by saying that Windsor only refuted Regnerus by means of the Chronicle of Higher Education’s blog post.

Moreover, Windsor’s attorneys noted that the Chronicle’s blog post reported on various unspecified conflicts of interest with the Regnerus study’s peer reviewers.

As turned out, those conflicts of interest involve Regnerus’s chief funder sitting on the editorial board of the journal that published the Regnerus study.

The bottom line here is that the House General Counsel is using tax payer money to file court documents that contain documentable anti-gay lies.

Windsor’s attorneys did not only rely on a blog post to refute Regnerus, as BLAG claims. They also cited the American Medical Association’s brief, which analyzes the Regnerus study as scientifically unsound.

New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on Advocate.com, PoliticusUSA.com, The New York Blade, Queerty.com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

AT&T Presents: Your Congressional Representative™ Brought to You by Goldman Sachs

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ralph-nader/money-in-politics_b_1903538.html


09/21/2012

The roar of the crowd, the flashbulbs, the excitement, the spirit of competition the… corporate logo-addled uniforms?

One might be describing a NASCAR event, or perhaps even an NBA game in the near future if NBA commissioner David Stern gets his way. Or, one could be describing a political campaign rally, if Congress was as willing as the NBA and NASCAR to proudly display the logos of the big corporations that finance them.

We recently launched the Suits for Sale campaign (suitsforsale.org) to bring attention to the dominance of big money in politics. It’s no secret that in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, super PACs have flooded campaigns with more money then ever before. So what better way to inform voters of who they are really voting for then to adorn our elected officials with the very corporate logos that brought them to power?

Let’s look at Rep. John Boehner of Ohio’s 8th Congressional district, current Speaker of the House, major corporate donation sponge and model of our first Congressional jacket poster. A quick glance at Speaker Boehner’s top contributors reveals a whole slew of heavy hitters: AT&T, FirstEnergy Corp, Swisher International (maker of “America’s favorite Swisher Sweets Cigars”), and American Electric Power. Sallie Mae, Walmart and Goldman Sachs were also big time contributors in previous campaign cycles.

For the 2012 election cycle, running completely unopposed by the Democrats, Boehner has raised more than 18 million campaign dollars — nearly twice as much as he raised in 2010 when he actually had an opponent. Even considering his elevated status as Speaker, it’s still a shocking amount of money.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ralph-nader/money-in-politics_b_1903538.html

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Surprise! Another Financial Meltdown on the Horizon

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How the Mitt Romney video killed the American Dream

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/21/mitt-romney-video-killed-american-dream

Once, everyone believed they could succeed by hard work and gumption. Republicans no longer pretend to believe the myth


guardian.co.uk, Friday 21 September 2012

Mitt Romney‘s historic gaffe caught on video – published, with great timing, by the left-leaning Mother Jones magazine – in which he said that his campaign was writing off 47% of American voters since they “depended on government” handouts, was committed in an equally significant manner, as he delivered the remarks to a closed group of potential major donors in Florida. GOP stalwart and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan is calling for an intervention in the campaign, and even some fellow Republicans are scampering to distance themselves from the inflammatory remarks.

But I find the remarks fascinating and important to deconstruct because they affirm – as insider discourse captured for the public often can – the fact that a new kind of narrative for America has taken over from one of our oldest and most cherished national myths. What Romney’s comments reveal is that the American Dream is dead, killed off by skepticism from the bottom up – by the 99% of lower-income and middle-class people who no longer believe in it – and by cynicism from the top down – by the 1%, top-earning people who don’t believe in it.

What, after all, is the narrative of “the American Dream”? It was a discourse formulated between the 1880s and the 1920s in the United States during the great waves of migration and expansion and reforms of the Progressive Era. Slogans, often used by political leaders who wished to court the aspirational, immigrant vote, invoked a promise that America was “the land of opportunity”, where hard work, gumption and a bit of luck could make any poor kid a millionaire.

This mythology, embodied over those decades in the Horatio Alger stories consumed particularly by upwardly mobile young men and in the phrase “to pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps”, consistently held out that American promise by equating hard work (along with other good Puritan values such as delayed gratification, temperance, saving and self-reliance) with economic success. As new waves of immigrants reached our shores after the second world war, the implicit pledge was elaborated into the idea for immigrants that even if their own hard work did not lift them into a new social class, it would elevate their children into the ever-growing ranks of the middle class.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/21/mitt-romney-video-killed-american-dream

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Every State Taxes Its 1 Percent At A Lower Rate Than Low-Income Households

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/09/21/887581/state-taxes-1-percent-low/

By Pat Garofalo
on Sep 21, 2012

As ThinkProgress has noted, the “47 percent” that Mitt Romney derided for paying no federal income tax, and thus taking no “personal responsibility and care for their lives,” actually pay a slew of other taxes at rates higher than Romney himself pays. The lion’s share of the tax breaks handed out by the U.S. don’t go to low-income households or the middle class, but to the rich.

And according to a new report from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, things are even worse at the state and local level level. In fact, all 50 states impose higher tax rates on low-income households than their richest 1 percent, when state and local taxes are taken into account:

The fact is that nearly every state and local tax system takes a much greater share of income from middle- and low-income families than from the wealthy. This “tax the poor” strategy is problematic because hiking taxes on low-income families pushes them further into poverty and increases the likelihood that they will need to rely on safety net programs. From a state budgeting perspective, this “soak the poor” strategy also doesn’t yield much revenue compared to modest taxes on the rich. It’s no wonder that so many states with regressive tax structures are facing long-term structural budget deficits. They‘re continually imposing higher taxes on people without much money.

Complete article at:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/09/21/887581/state-taxes-1-percent-low/

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Paul Ryan AARP

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Life Spans Shrink for Least-Educated Whites in the U.S.

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/us/life-expectancy-for-less-educated-whites-in-us-is-shrinking.html

By
Published: September 20, 2012

For generations of Americans, it was a given that children would live longer than their parents. But there is now mounting evidence that this enduring trend has reversed itself for the country’s least-educated whites, an increasingly troubled group whose life expectancy has fallen by four years since 1990.

Researchers have long documented that the most educated Americans were making the biggest gains in life expectancy, but now they say mortality data show that life spans for some of the least educated Americans are actually contracting. Four studies in recent years identified modest declines, but a new one that looks separately at Americans lacking a high school diploma found disturbingly sharp drops in life expectancy for whites in this group. Experts not involved in the new research said its findings were persuasive.

The reasons for the decline remain unclear, but researchers offered possible explanations, including a spike in prescription drug overdoses among young whites, higher rates of smoking among less educated white women, rising obesity, and a steady increase in the number of the least educated Americans who lack health insurance.

The steepest declines were for white women without a high school diploma, who lost five years of life between 1990 and 2008, said S. Jay Olshansky, a public health professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the lead investigator on the study, published last month in Health Affairs. By 2008, life expectancy for black women without a high school diploma had surpassed that of white women of the same education level, the study found.

White men lacking a high school diploma lost three years of life. Life expectancy for both blacks and Hispanics of the same education level rose, the data showed. But blacks over all do not live as long as whites, while Hispanics live longer than both whites and blacks.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/us/life-expectancy-for-less-educated-whites-in-us-is-shrinking.html

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Just Asking – Does Mitt Romney Think he’s Jesus – Who’ll Save America?

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Romney’s Class Warfare

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/romneys_class_warfare_20120921/

By Eugene Robinson
Posted on Sep 20, 2012

WASHINGTON—Now, at least, there can be no doubt about who is waging class warfare in this presidential campaign. Mitt Romney would pit the winners against the “victims,” the smug-and-rich against the down-on-their-luck, the wealthy tax avoiders against those too poor to owe income tax. He sees nearly half of all Americans as chumps who sit around waiting for a handout.

When Romney disclosed those views at a $50,000-a-plate fundraiser in Boca Raton, Fla., earlier this year, he and his audience had no idea they were being surreptitiously recorded. Romney obviously believed he was among friends who shared his worldview, which I would translate as: “We must stop coddling the servants.”

I am not exaggerating. Thanks to whoever leaked the recording to Mother Jones magazine, we know what Romney really thinks about the nation he seeks to lead:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right? There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that—that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they’re entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. But that’s—it’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.”

This analysis is not only grossly offensive but astonishingly ignorant. Romney suggests that nearly half of Americans are layabouts who only leave the house when they need to cash a government check—or when it’s time to vote for President Obama. Greetings, lazy bums, I’m Mitt Romney. Vote for me!

The truth is that Romney is mixing apples, oranges and bananas. The three groups he mentions—those who support the president, those who receive payments from entitlement programs and those who are not required to pay federal income tax—are not the same people. Quite a few senior citizens who receive Social Security and Medicare are Republicans. Quite a few working-class voters are not charter members of Team Obama.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/romneys_class_warfare_20120921/

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Plain Talk: Is GE part of Romney’s 47 percent?

From The Capitol Times:   http://host.madison.com/ct/news/opinion/column/dave_zweifel/plain-talk-is-ge-part-of-romney-s-percent/article_8ef27d02-0345-11e2-ba5d-0019bb2963f4.html

DAVE ZWEIFEL
Sept. 21, 2012

I found myself asking earlier this week exactly who Mitt Romney is including in that 47 percent of Americans he says aren’t paying any income taxes and are expecting the government to take care of them.

Is he including, for instance, the General Electric Corp., which routinely finds a way to weasel out of paying any taxes yet basks in a ton of government services that help support it, and all-too-much of the rest of corporate America, which likes to complain about high taxes but seldom pays any?

Or does he include our own Wisconsin Congressman Tom Petri, who figured out a way to write off a bad investment to free himself of paying any state income taxes for four years? Or any of the other multimillionaires who creatively avoid taxes the middle class cannot?

It’s always interesting to watch these anti-government politicians decry the less fortunate among us for becoming “dependent” on government, while taking every opportunity to milk government for all it’s worth — even if it means causing some pain for the little guy. How many families on food stamps, for example, could be helped if highly profitable GE paid even just a small percentage of taxes?

But the hypocrisy of the wealthy in this country has no bounds. It was only four years ago in Wisconsin, for instance, that the governor and Legislature transferred some $200 million out of the state’s bloated patient compensation fund and into the state’s general fund to help balance the books as the economy started to tank.

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Joseph Stiglitz Calls to Abolish the Capitalist Church of Self-Interest

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/joseph-stiglitz-calls-abolish-capitalist-church-self-interest

Can the ideology of capitalism bend to a stronger ideology of justice and love?

By Lynn Parramore
September 20, 2012

Cash payment is not the sole nexus between man and man. ~Thomas Carlyle

Even after a terrible financial crisis exposed their folly, the High Priests of Old Time Economics still speak the cold, barren language of self-interest. Acting solely in your own interest, they preach, is the key to efficiency and human well-being.

Not Joseph Stiglitz. Wednesday night, the Nobel Prize-winner spoke to a packed chapel at New York City’s Union Theological Seminary, which, along with the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), a New York-based think tank, hosted the first conversation in a brand-new series meant to change the way we understand economic issues.  Union Theological Seminary president Dr. Serene Jones, INET Executive Director Robert Johnson, Professor Gary Dorrien of Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University, and Betty Sue Flowers, Director of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, joined Stiglitz to talk about the topic at hand: “Economics & Theology.”

Sound like a strange combination? In today’s atmosphere of fundamentalist religious fervor, it’s easy to forget the great traditions of progressive Christianity that have made economic justice a central focus. I was raised in the bosom of North Carolina’s Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, where the legendary liberal firebrand W.W. Finlator carried the message emphasized by Dr. Martin Luther King – namely that it was the duty of Christians to fight on behalf of the poor, to protect the workers, and to end discrimination in all forms.

“Every society grapples with moral issues,” said Johnson as he introduced Stiglitz. “And Joe might be our ‘Grappler-in-Chief.’”

The Grappler-in-Chief got interested in economics not because he was dazzled by mathematical equations, but because he wanted to find a way to solve the sociological problems he saw growing up in Gary, Indiana, where he noticed that discrimination stood in the way of America’s ideal of equal opportunity for all. His parents told him that the two most important things in life were to use your mind and see what you could do to serve others. And so he did both.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/joseph-stiglitz-calls-abolish-capitalist-church-self-interest

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