Let’s Celebrate… Then Let’s Make History Again

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allyson-d-robinson/outserve-sldn_b_2101469.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


This week our LGBT community helped make history, as voters across the nation rejected homophobia practically en masse to protect our civil rights and affirm our humanity. We’ve listed our wins so often since Tuesday that they now roll like a litany off our tongues: President Obama, reelected; marriage equality’s disheartening record of defeat at the ballot box, reversed; America’s first openly gay Senator on her way to Washington and a cadre of lesbian, gay and bisexual representatives stepping up to take her place in the House. (By the way: well done, LGBT community.)

Some commentators declared that I’d made history myself just two weeks ago when I was named the first Executive Director of the new OutServe-SLDN, the nation’s advocacy organization for LGBT service members, veterans and their families. When asked how it felt, becoming the first transgender person to lead a national LGBT civil rights organization, all I could say was that it was unbelievably humbling, a little overwhelming, and that I was glad to be joining a team that has become accustomed to making history.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) emerged in 1993 to defend service members against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, with all its career- and life-shattering implications. Since then, the organization has assisted more than 12,000 LGBT troops who have had legal issues related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. SLDN’s established presence in Washington and its deep connection to so many who were hurt by DADT made it the perfect organization to lead the fight for the law’s repeal.

Then, as that fight began to heat up, OutServe came on the scene with its own brand of history-making chutzpah. What began as an underground network of enterprising LGBT service members using Facebook to connect with one another quickly grew into a driving force behind the movement to end the law, joining SLDN and other allies in the fight. OutServe lent the movement a moral power that was undeniable and helped all America to feel the shame DADT had brought upon our country.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allyson-d-robinson/outserve-sldn_b_2101469.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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‘Saving’ Trans Author Carter Sickles

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/books/2012/11/09/saving-trans-author-carter-sickles

Transgender author Carter Sickles is making waves in the literary community with his powerful storytelling that resists the temptation to make precious the hardships in rural Southern America.

BY Sunnivie Brydum
November 09 2012

Carter Sickles made an impressive entry into the world of fiction with his heartfelt debut, The Evening Hour, a compelling exploration of the wreckage wrought upon rural Appalachia and its longtime residents by a harsh type of coal mining known as mountaintop removal. The Evening Hourhas been widely praised, with many critics commending Sickles’ power to create genuine, complex characters through stark, honest language.

Sickles’ ability to create insightful, tender and profoundly human characters shines through in his short story “Saving,” featured in The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard, now available through Topside Press. The characters in “Saving,” a trans man and his cisgender girlfriend who travel to the rural south to pack away his dead grandmother’s home, are flawed and messy, both finding themselves in a setting — and relationship — that no longer feels right. “Saving” holds its own against an impressive gathering of short fiction from 28 trans authors and emerges as one of the most honest and universal stories in The Collection. We caught up with Sickles, who identifies as a gay trans man, to pick his brain on character development, queer identity, and what he would have said to his younger self.

The Advocate: Both The Evening Hour and “Saving” create powerful landscapes set in rural southern America. Is that the environment you grew up in? Where were you born and raised?
Carter Sickles: I grew up in central Ohio, actually. My grandparents and most of my family are from southeastern Ohio, not far from West Virginia, where The Evening Hour takes place. Much of the culture and the socio-economic landscape in that part of Ohio is very similar to West Virginia.

You received a good deal of praise for your earnest portrayal of rural Appalachia in The Evening Hour, some critics saying you stripped away the rural romance that often clouds these stories. What drove you to write so honestly about this locale, decimated by mountaintop removal and corporate, economic, and social exploitation?

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/books/2012/11/09/saving-trans-author-carter-sickles

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Dan Savage Takes Down Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins

Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins: If SCOTUS Legalizes Gay Marriage, It Could Lead To Revolution

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What America’s Top LGBT Leaders Think Obama Must Do Next

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-badash/what-americas-top-lgbt-leaders-think-obama-must-do-next_b_2094040.html


Barack Obama’s win of a second term was achieved not in spite of his support of the LGBT community but in part because of it. The question now is what President Obama should do next in his second term to move the civil rights of people in our community “forward.” I asked 10 of America’s top LGBT leaders what they are thinking. From GLAAD to HRC to GetEQUAL, leaders from some of the most active organizations, along with independent and grassroots activists and opinion shapers, shared with me their thoughts and plans for “Obama 2.0.”

The good news? A tremendous amount of expectations overlap, which translates into a more united LGBT front that hopefully can speak louder and work together even more effectively.

LGBT leaders want the president to sign an executive order banning employment discrimination against LGBT people working in the federal government and working for government contractors — the executive order President Obama refused to sign earlier this year. And they want ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, passed, and DOMA, the ban on federal recognition of same-sex marriages, repealed. Perhaps the biggest surprise I heard — albeit one absolutely on-target — is their repeated demand for a resolution of sequestration, the impending financial “fiscal cliff,” fears of which brought the stock market to its knees the day after Obama won reelection. And, finally, as I’ve been advocating for years, many want to build coalitions with other social justice movements.

Given the success of what our opponents, like NOM’s Maggie Gallagher, are now calling “the Obama electorate” (which is, in reality, just who America has become), coalition building seems perhaps our greatest opportunity for furthering the momentum this week’s elections created.

“The huge victories that the LGBT community achieved — on ballot initiatives, in the election of Tammy Baldwin to the Senate, in the increase of our LGBT caucus in the House, and in the reelection of a president who stands with us on marriage equality — must be seen in concert with the powerful statement that the American electorate has just made about women’s equality and women’s dignity,” Tobias Barrington Wolff, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, tells me.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-badash/what-americas-top-lgbt-leaders-think-obama-must-do-next_b_2094040.html

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Yes We Can, We Did, and Now Obama’s Second Term Is Our Responsibility

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/yes_we_can_we_did_and_now_obamas_second_term_is_our_responsibility_20121109/

By Robert Scheer
Posted on Nov 9, 2012

Yes, election night was a heck of a party and it’s great that the really bad guys lost. Karl Rove and his reactionary ilk were defeated by a new American majority that is younger, more tolerant, rainbow colored and multilingual and one in which women now trump the depressing ignorance of so many older white men. But morning in America already feels too much like a hangover. The house is still a wreck, the family is dysfunctional and there are enormous bills to pay that are not about to go away.

All of us suddenly sobered folks, who voted for Barack Obama because the alternative was so horridly wrong, have got to accept the moral implications of that choice. We won but at what cost? Fool me once, shame on Obama, but fool me twice and I’m the one responsible. That goes for his promises to right the economy by leveling the playing field as well as to end what Obama termed in his victory speech “a decade of war.”

It is now our fingers on the video game buttons that order the drones to kill innocent civilians, and we bear responsibility if the president maintains the Guantanamo gulag and continues to vilify Bradley Manning and Julian Assange for confronting America with its war crimes. Will he make good on his promise to hold the line on the incessant demands of the congressional defense contractor caucus or will he find yet another “good war”?

What about our expectation that Obama will be more vigilant than his vulture capitalist opponent in reining in the greed of the Wall Street crowd that has caused so much economic turmoil? The good news is that Obama, and his party, are far less beholden to the titans of the financial industry than they were the first time around. His own funding from top Wall Street firms that favored him in 2008 was way down, and across the country voters rejected the deregulation and lower tax on high-roller income that the finance industry thought it was buying for its more than $400 million in campaign contributions.

“Wall Street Took a Beating at the Polls,” ran the headline in The Wall Street Journal. Referring to what he bemoaned as “Tuesday’s multiple disappointments,” columnist David Weidner added, “not the least of which is the defeat of Mitt Romney, a former private-equity executive who promised to cut or at least review financial regulation while offering more tax breaks for investors. Mr. Romney was perhaps the best hope for Wall Street this fall. He was one of their own, so tantalizingly close to the biggest trading floor of all.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/yes_we_can_we_did_and_now_obamas_second_term_is_our_responsibility_20121109/

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Let’s Not Make a Deal

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/09/opinion/krugman-lets-not-make-a-deal.html

Published: November 8, 2012

To say the obvious: Democrats won an amazing victory. Not only did they hold the White House despite a still-troubled economy, in a year when their Senate majority was supposed to be doomed, they actually added seats.

Nor was that all: They scored major gains in the states. Most notably, California — long a poster child for the political dysfunction that comes when nothing can get done without a legislative supermajority — not only voted for much-needed tax increases, but elected, you guessed it, a Democratic supermajority.

But one goal eluded the victors. Even though preliminary estimates suggest that Democrats received somewhat more votes than Republicans in Congressional elections, the G.O.P. retains solid control of the House thanks to extreme gerrymandering by courts and Republican-controlled state governments. And Representative John Boehner, the speaker of the House, wasted no time in declaring that his party remains as intransigent as ever, utterly opposed to any rise in tax rates even as it whines about the size of the deficit.

So President Obama has to make a decision, almost immediately, about how to deal with continuing Republican obstruction. How far should he go in accommodating the G.O.P.’s demands?

My answer is, not far at all. Mr. Obama should hang tough, declaring himself willing, if necessary, to hold his ground even at the cost of letting his opponents inflict damage on a still-shaky economy. And this is definitely no time to negotiate a “grand bargain” on the budget that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

In saying this, I don’t mean to minimize the very real economic dangers posed by the so-called fiscal cliff that is looming at the end of this year if the two parties can’t reach a deal. Both the Bush-era tax cuts and the Obama administration’s payroll tax cut are set to expire, even as automatic spending cuts in defense and elsewhere kick in thanks to the deal struck after the 2011 confrontation over the debt ceiling. And the looming combination of tax increases and spending cuts looks easily large enough to push America back into recession.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/09/opinion/krugman-lets-not-make-a-deal.html

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