Monthly Archives: December 2009

In 2009: Translating Joseph Lowery’s Inaugural Benediction

I thought I was done with my look back at 2009 with this morning’s post, but a few minutes ago I saw something that simply demands response. Yesterday, the Boston Herald published an opinion piece from columnist Joe Fitzgerald called Looking at ’09 failures can make more perfect ’10. In this article, he scolds Rev. Joseph Lowery for his inaugural benediction in January. Fitzgerald does a fabulous job of missing the point, as you can see in this looooong post from January. (Of course, today Fitzgerald named John McCain his man of the year, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that he missed the point.)

As I was preparing my post on the inauguration, I found that there was one part that needed more room than the rest and decided to post it in the morning. But after seeing the venom being directed at Rev. Joseph Lowery for his benediction, I thought it better to put it up tonight. Here is the benediction that impressed me so much:

Now I’ve been in enough churches to know that a good preacher knows when to inject some humor, and it seemed to me that that’s all Rev. Lowery was doing when he ended the benediction with this:

…we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around [laughter] … when yellow will be mellow [laughter] … when the red man can get ahead, man [laughter] … and when white will embrace what is right.

Rev. Joseph Lowery: An American Visionary
Rev. Joseph Lowery: An American Visionary

Others didn’t see it that way.

It’s interesting to me that so many white folks found this offensive. We’ve certainly got a long enough history of being the oppressor, of not embracing what is right. We’ve demanded that someone who is black sit in back, we’ve told someone who is brown not to stick around. I mean seriously, this is recent recorded history. Is there no collective memory in this country?

But I knew it had to be more than Rev. Lowery just stringing together a few rhymes all on his own. His experience as the Dean of the Civil Rights Movement demands that I give him the benefit of that doubt, so I started digging.

The first thing I found was the song Black, Brown, and White (1951) by blues singer Big Bill Broonzy. This is verse four.

Me and a man was workin’ side by side
This is what it meant
They was paying him a dollar an hour,
and they was paying me fifty cent
They said, “If you was white, ‘t should be all right,
if you was brown, could stick around,
but as you black, hmm boy, get back, get back, get back”.

So yep, here we have a song from right before the Civil Rights movement went into full swing. But maybe there’s more still. Next I found the blog Diary of an Anxious Black Woman and her post from today. In it, she mentions the little rhyme.

For all those who did not get the cultural allusion, and believe that only white people were being chastised for failing to do what’s right, Reverend Lowery was referring to a childhood rhyme about racial hierarchy:

If you’re white, you’re all right
If you’re yellow, you’re mellow
If you’re brown, stick around
But if you’re black,
Get back!

In short, he specifically asked that, in this “new era,” we dismantle the system of white privilege and hierarchy and truly make room for a multiracial America based on racial equality. Unlike those who’ve been calling for a “Postracial” America, in the wake of President Obama, Reverend Lowery reminded us that our goal is really to move towards a “Postracist” America. I’d like to see our first African American and 44th President of the United States committed to the same goal.

YES! I knew there must be more to it! And here we have someone else who knows what it is! I love the internet!!!

(I know this post is getting long, but I think the next part’s worth it. Besides, brevity has never been my strong suit.)
But I still wanted to see more, and I found more in the book Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrel: Readings in the Interpretation of Afro-American Folklore, a collection exploring African American folklore edited by Alan Dundes and originally published in 1973.

The following is an excerpt from As Crinkly as Yours by Eldridge Cleaver. (Italics denotes commentary by the editor.)

There were deeply imbedded [sic] in the thinking and folklore of the race such adages and beliefs as: “If you’re white you’re all right; if you’re brown stick around; but if you’re black—GET BACK!” And some of these same old sayings are still current in the Negro community.*

Think on it: this was the era of the camera. Negroes saw photographs, paintings and portraits in which the beauty of the Caucasian was extolled saturatingly throughout the land. Negroes witnessed beauty contests in which Caucasian men and women were held up and proclaimed the most beautiful creatures that God had fashioned and placed upon the face of the earth (it never dawning on the Negroes that it was the Caucasians themselves who were pinning roses on their own lapels). Great numbers of Negroes were learning to read and write: and in the books which they read, the process took on a sweeping new dimension. When a Negro retired in solitude to relax and enjoy a great book, it was the Caucasian standard of beauty which was flaunted before him and held up for him to praise—and praise it he did, unable to resist or dispute, having no criterion by which to refute. In the novels, he met heroines with creamy white skin, sparkling blue eyes, and long flowing blonde tresses; and heroes with rugged Roman noses, wavy black hair and perhaps a gentle sun-tan. And then the motion-picture industry sprang into being, and with it, a constant deluge reiterating and indisputably establishing the Caucasian standard of beauty.

* This is invariably quoted as a prime example of “self-hate” folklore. Like all folklore, there is some textual variation. The version in William H. Grier and Price M. Cobbs, Black Rage (New York, 1968), p. 66, is: “If you’re white, you’re right. If you’re brown, hang around. If you’re black, get back.” The version cited in the first pages of Philip Sterling, ed., Laughing on the Outside: The Intelligent White Reader’s Guide to Negro Tales and Humor (New York, 1965), is:

If you’re white, you’re right.
If you’re yellow, you’re mellow.
If you’re brown, stick aroun’.
If you’re black, brother, get back!

Mr. Dundes goes on to reference nine other instances of this rhyme in other books about African-American folklore.

Note that (at least the way I’m reading this) this little ditty isn’t about whites, blacks, Indians, Asians, and Hispanics. This is about the hierarchy within the black community once recognized by both whites and African-Americans. I’ve heard of the paper bag test before, and this bit of oral folklore is another artifact of that sad part of our history.

I guess I have two points here, both directed at the white folks in the crowd. First, think before you cry racism. Were you really that desperate for something to be angry about that you didn’t even consider that there might be a gap in your knowledge?

Second, there is a shamefully deep chasm that separates our understanding of African-American culture. It’s our job to at least attempt to fix that. Start today. Start with Rev. Lowery. You’ll find that their cultural history is rich and powerful. We could stand to learn a thing or two from their experience.

Let all who do justice and love mercy say Amen!


James Dobson Starts New Business, Radio Show

Oh goodie. I was afraid he was going away for reals.

The Colorado Springs Gazette revealed this morning that outgoing Focus on the Family Hater In Chief James Dobson will be starting a new business with his son Ryan.

Retiring is attractive, Dobson writes, but “the institution of the family continues to be in deplorable condition, and children are growing up in a culture that often twists and warps their young minds.”

His new organization will be called James Dobson on the Family and be based in Colorado Springs. Its goal is similar to that of Focus — standing up for family values.

The venture will mark the first time that Dobson and his 39-year-old son are working closely together in the same ministry.

Ryan Dobson was never on staff at Focus, Schneeberger said, though he did have a short stint in the 1990s at the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council, which is affiliated with Focus.

Since 2003, Ryan Dobson has written several edgy faith books, such as “Be Intolerant” and “2 Die 4,” and he has spoken regularly at Christian youth events.

But in interviews, he has never expressed interest in following in his father’s footsteps. In a 2005 biography of James Dobson, Dale Buss writes that Ryan “doesn’t feel called to succeed his father as head of Focus on the Family and doubts he ever will.”

Ryan Dobson leads KOR World Ministries, designed “to build passion and identity in Christ’s followers,” according to its Web site. On the site, he hosts a daily podcast similar to his father’s radio show in that both discuss current events and religion.

Some experts speculate that James Dobson formed the new group to raise the profile of his son.

“The motivation may be he wants to set up his son in a parallel organization (to Focus),” said Randall Balmer, professor of American religious history at Barnard College in New York. “He wants to pass the mantle on to his son.”

John Green, who tracks American evangelical religious trends, said there is a long history of religious leaders, such as Oral Roberts and Billy Graham, wanting to pass their ministry on to their sons. “Ryan and Dobson working together may be a way to establish Ryan in his own right,” Green said.

Well this sounds like a great idea. How long do you think it’ll be until the attacks against LGBT teens start? With a book called Be Intolerant and a focus on youth, we know it won’t be long.

By the way, check this little nugget at the end of the piece.

Jim Daly, whom James Dobson handpicked as his Focus successor seven years ago, said Focus wishes Dobson well in his venture.

“He has a chance to share his life’s work and passion with his only son,” said Daly, Focus president and CEO.

“What man wouldn’t choose to do that?”

That’s a fascinating window into how leaders of the Religious Right think. It’s clear that Daly doesn’t think it would be nearly as awesome if Dobson had started an organization with his daughter, for example, or with a second son. No, this is special because Ryan is his only child with a wiener.

It’s just so typically and unsurprisingly misogynistic.

In 2009: Episcopal Church Doors Open Wide for All People

Let’s end this year in review on a positive note. We had some advances and defeats within different Christian denominations in 2009, but none compare to the Episcopal Church’s July 2009 decision to bless lesbian/gay marriages (under whatever name) and consider ordination regardless of orientation. It’s a huge victory for the Church Universal, and they’ve already followed through on the ordination bit, electing Mary Glasspool as their first lesbian bishop (pending consent from the Anglican Communion).

episcopal-shieldLast week after I posted some news coming from the Episcopal Church General Convention, I found out that there would be a whole lot more to come. For the sake of I decided to hold off until it was over rather than posting it piecemeal. Well, it’s over now and the news is just about 100% positive. Here are a few snippets from An Inch at a Time, the blog of Rev. Susan Russell:

We saw those goals realized in the adoption of the following resolutions:

D025 — Ordination
It can – and has – been said that D025 does not “repeal” B033 – and that is, of course, true. There will still be bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees who will choose to “exercise restraint” when consenting the election of a bishop whose “manner of life” would cause concern to the wider Anglican Communion. (And we all know that is code for “partnered gay or lesbian bishop.”) Nevertheless, the inclusive and expansive language of D025 states “this is where we are in 2009” – and frees bishops and standing committees to focus on the theological orientation rather than the sexual orientation of qualified candidates to the episcopate if they choose to.

Furthermore, by stating unequivocally that “God has called and may call any individual in the church to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, in accordance with the discernment process set forth in the Constitution and Canons of the church” – D025 actually states for the first time as an official resolution of the Episcopal Church that the extra-canonical requirement of celibacy of gay and lesbian candidates for ordination is not the mind of this church.

C056 — Blessings
What the Episcopal Church adopted in Resolution C056 is a broad local option for the blessings of the marriages, unions and partnerships of same sex couples and a call to the church to work together toward common liturgical expressions of those blessings.

The Rev. Sam Candler (Atlanta), chair of the committee that presented the resolution, called it “an elegant blend of theological care, ecclesiastical breadth and pastoral generosity.”

In other historic action, the General Convention adopted resolutions supporting the enactment of anti-discrimination [ENDA] and hate crimes legislation protecting transgender people at local, state and federal levels. Both houses also adopted resolutions adding “gender identity and expression” to its nondiscrimination policy for hiring lay employees and calling for the revision of church paper and electronic forms to allow a wider range of gender identifications.

It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of these decisions. The House of Deputies and House of Bishops gave the Episcopal Church access to powerful new tools that will allow the Church to reach so many people who have been outcast for so long.

And it’s already yielding results. In a later post, Rev. Russell talks about the highlights of her experience at the convention.

The woman who stopped me in the worship hall to thank Integrity for our work and then to share that she had attended the Integrity Eucharist with her 14 year old son — and that afterwards in their hotel room he had come out to her.

“I’ve known he was gay since he was about 4,” she said, her eyes welling up. “And have been waiting for him to figure it out. The fact that he came to himself in the context of a celebration of the Eucharist — that he’s never going to have to wonder if his church or his family will love and accept him as he is — I just can’t thank you enough.”

“He’s a really great kid,” she said, wiping her eyes. “And he’s going to be FABULOUS gay man! “

This is how coming out should be. No anger, no estrangement, no hatred. No fear. Only joy, love, and acceptance. What a gift.

I join this mother in thanking Rev. Russell and IntegrityUSA for their tireless efforts for the Church Universal and the LGBT community.

In 2009: A Little Boy’s Last Will and Testament

I posted quite a lot in 2009 about Jaheem Herrera and Carl Walker-Hoover, two 11-year-old-boys who committed suicide last April because of abuse at the hands of classmates who perceived them as gay. I decided to pull out this post from April 15th, the day before Jaheem’s 10-year-old sister found him hanging from a belt in his closet, because it best encapsulates the problem and the desperate need for adults to stop allowing this kind of abuse.

I hadn’t planned on saying anything more about the suicide of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, but this morning I re-read the article The Advocate did with his mom. I’d read it last night in a hurry, skimming past the first couple paragraphs. Here’s what I missed, and the reason I’m bringing it up again. Discretion is advised, though I think it’s important to face what’s happened.

On April 6, Sirdeaner Walker came home, walked up the stairs to the second floor of her home, and saw her son suspended from a support beam in the stairwell, swaying slightly in the air, an extension cord wrapped around his neck, according to police. He apologized in a suicide note, told his mother that he loved her, and left his video games to his brother.

And that’s where I lose it. That’s where I lose patience with groups like the National Organization for Marriage, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and Exodus International. That’s where I lose my temper with demagogues like James Dobson, Rick Warren, Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher, and John McCain.

To steal a line from Jon Stewart: IT’S NOT A FUCKING GAME.

And that’s been a big part of the problem for a long time. They treat this like some grand chess match, a diversion from the mundane everyday life. They have nothing to lose, a complete lack of integrity, they tell lie after lie after lie, and they collect MILLIONS of dollars from their supporters.

Meanwhile, we have people making wild assumptions about “lifestyles”. We have people being beaten and killed. We have families being split up because one spouse isn’t a citizen and the other can’t sponsor her. We have adopted children being taken from their families. We have an eleven-year-old writing his will before taking his own life.

And why? Because the boy was bullied by other kids who were influenced by their parents who are influenced by James Dobson and the relentless stream of horseshit coming from the Religious Right.

Walker said her son had been the victim of bullying since the beginning of the school year, and that she had been calling the school since September, complaining that her son was mercilessly teased. He played football, baseball, and was a boy scout, but a group of classmates called him gay and teased him about the way he dressed. They ridiculed him for going to church with his mother and for volunteering locally.

“It’s not just a gay issue,” Walker said. “It’s bigger. He was 11 years old, and he wasn’t aware of his sexuality. These homophobic people attach derogatory terms to a child who’s 11 years old, who goes to church, school, and the library, and he becomes confused. He thinks, Maybe I’m like this. Maybe I’m not. What do I do?”

Ms. Walker is right. This isn’t about being gay. It’s about a culture that permits and even encourages people to look down on others, a systemic problem that school officials, in many cases, aren’t willing to fight. According to Ms. Walker, who is captain of the school’s PTO, she contacted the school over and over and over, and they did nothing.

I just wonder what would happen if people stopped calling it “bullying” and started calling it what it really is: ABUSE. Would that change the way people react to it? Would that loosen the hold of the “boys will be boys” mentality?

The 13th Annual National Day of Silence is this Friday, which coincidentally would have been Carl’s 12th birthday. I hope that this year, the participants and everyone else in the class remember who they’re being silent for.

In 2009: I feel bad for Pat Buchanan

I’m reposting a few of this year’s important posts during the holiday limbo. This one from July 17, 2009 came during now Justice Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings in one of the most stunningly unambiguous displays of racism I’ve seen on national television. These clips were filmed just before Birther/Teabagger madness took hold. I guess Republican leaders thought Buchanan had a good idea.

I feel bad for Pat Buchanan. I really do. I feel bad for Pat Buchanan because so many others in his generation have died and left him to defend bigotry on his own. That must be frustrating.

Buchanan appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show last night to talk about the confirmation hearings of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. It’s one of the most uncomfortable and revealing thirteen minutes of television I’ve seen in a long time. Others have chopped it into bits for easier consumption, but here’s the entire segment:

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Buchanan appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews the previous night. The last couple minutes have been making the rounds, but I find the preceding ten minutes far more edifying. Throughout the segment, Buchanan actively ignores facts and points of law brought to the show by John Payton, President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

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Some time ago I read a quote from Martin Luther King about a conversation he had with an older segregationist who said that he knew segregation was coming to an end, but that he hoped it happened after he died. Pat Buchanan is in the same place, stuck in a time when calling an African American “boy” was not just commonplace, but expected, when a Latina woman was good for washing clothes and not much else.

He’s honestly thunderstruck, with no purposeful malice intended. The thought that a recalibration of the scales of opportunity positively benefits society is beyond him, proof and reason be damned. He seriously believes that Sotomayor’s studying and improving her second-language English in college means that she was illiterate.

In fifty years, I wonder who will carry on for Maggie Gallagher. I wonder who will take to the airwaves and spew long-discarded nonsense when Sally Kern is gone. I wonder whose abject bigotry our children’s children will be surprised by when James Dobson has long since passed away.

Whoever it is, I don’t envy them.

Homosexuals Destroy Karl Rove’s Marriage

Sad news from Texas today as former GWB Chief of Staff Karl Rove’s divorce is official.

Dana Perino *, [family spokesperson and former GWB press secretary], said: “Karl Rove and his wife, Darby, were granted a divorce last week. The couple came to the decision mutually and amicably, and they maintain a close relationship and a strong friendship. There will be no further comment and the family requests that its privacy be respected.”

The Roves were married in January 1986.

It’s a sad day, and one we should have seen coming. After all, Karl Rove was the “mastermind” behind 2004’s eleven state gay marriage amendments, the man who set the terms of debate, and one who was keenly aware of the danger to straight marriage. He even took to the airwaves shortly after the 2004 election saying that the 2005 Congress needed to pass a federal gay marriage amendment to protect marriage.

ROVE: Well, marriage is a very important part of our culture and our society. If we want to have a hopeful and decent society, we ought to aim for the ideal. And the ideal is that marriage ought to be and should be a union of a man and a woman.

And we cannot allow activist judges to overturn that. We cannot allow activist local elected officials to thumb their nose at 5,000 years of human history and determine that marriage is something else.

Since that amendment hasn’t passed, I’d say that the Roves’ marriage was destroyed by us, the Militant HomoSEXual Activists. Because we insisted on thumbing our noses at 5,000 years of human history, Mr. and Mrs. Rove thumbed their noses at 4,965 years of human history by getting a no-fault divorce, at 4,800 years of human history by allowing Mrs. Rove to own property, and at 3,100 years of human history by allowing Darby to work rather than taking care of their home.

Here, I’ll let Dan Savage briefly explain about some of the ways Mr. and Mrs. Karl Rove have thumbed their noses.

So on behalf of Militant HomoSEXual Activists everywhere, I apologize, Karl. I apologize, Darby.

To get you back on track, may I inquire when you’re going back to the church you were married in to finalize your divorce?


* I don’t want to go too far afield, but last month Perino made news with the shocking revelation that 9/11 didn’t happen under GWB. Neither host Sean Hannity nor guest Stuart Varney questioned her assertion and no correction has aired, so she must be right. ⇧

In 2009: Editor Censors Gay Man’s Obituary

I’m reposting a few of this year’s important posts during the holiday limbo. This post from January 29, 2009 still affects me nearly a year later, probably because it’s so literally close to home in this town of around 6,000. The New Carlisle News (edited by Dale Grimm) is now a paid weekly newspaper and has opened an office in town.

I picked up a copy of the new freebie community newspaper last night at the laundromat. They’ve decided to print the headlines in Arial Rounded MT Bold for some reason, but it was otherwise unobjectionable. Unobjectionable, that is, until I got to the obituaries.

The first one on the page had a picture of a relatively young guy. Turns out he was 50. As I read the family roll call I realized that he must’ve been gay. The list of survivors began with the sentence Jeffrey is survived by his friend, Ronald S. Ronald was followed by a listing of Jeffrey’s living brothers and sisters, who were followed by a listing of Ronald’s living family.

I thought that was sweet. Sweet that the obituary had been written to include both of their families, just as you see in many obituaries of straight married people. Sweet that Jeff and Ronald were comfortable enough with their homosexuality to do that so publicly in rural Ohio. It’s a real sign of progress. But something bothered me about it, and as my clothes hit the final spin cycle I figured out what it was.

Friend. Ronald was identified as Jeff’s friend. That’s not typical use even in a small town like this one, especially when you make it clear in the same paragraph that you consider each other’s family your family. An out and proud person generally doesn’t willingly downgrade his apparently long-term, committed relationship to friendship.

Later, I checked the funeral home’s website for the original version. It didn’t say friend. It said Jeff is survived by his partner, Ronald S.

I checked the websites of two other newspapers, one in the nearest city and one where Jeff had lived. Both used the word partner. Clearly someone at this little community newspaper made the change on his/her own. I sent an email requesting clarification on the change this morning, but I don’t expect to hear anything. 1

This is one more reason that civil marriage equality needs to happen. We need to be permitted to marry just like straight folks do and finally use the terms that they do.

It was easy for some small town editor to cross off the word partner and substitute it with friend. Would it be as simple or as accepted to cross off the word husband from a man’s life?

As a final insult, the reality of Jeff’s life was whitewashed even after he died. Presumably it was done for the comfort of people reading the obituary. But Ronald didn’t bury a friend last week. He buried his long-time companion, his lover, his partner.

His husband.


1 Less than an hour after publishing this post, I received the following response from the editor of the New Carlisle (Ohio) News:


Thank you for contacting the New Carlisle News.

The editing of Jeffrey [redacted]’s obituary was an editorial decision.

Dale Grimm
New Carlisle News

(Here’s a screencap of the email.)

Just so everybody’s clear, Mr. Grimm censored an obituary to hide the fact that the person who died was gay. Unbelievable. I find more than a little pathetic that Jeff’s pride and honesty in life was trampled immediately upon his death.

Dale Grimm, who also owns ISP, can be contacted at 1-877-652-2638 or (937) 284-2715. Or if you prefer email, contact him through this contact form at or this one at his hosting business, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see that disappear again (like it did a few minutes ago). ⇧

Note: A commenter to the original post had further communication with editor Dale Grimm. Below is his statement to her.

The idea that a man can consider another man his “spouse” is ludcrious (sic). Had the obituary come in identifying his daughter as his “spouse”, should I have printed it that way? What if it had identified his dog as his “spouse”?

If you had cared so much about this individual as you imply in your e-mail, why did you not encourage him to seek help for his problem? Homosexuality is a demon that thousands of people have escaped.

We are not in the business of promoting sexual activity or political agendas. We are a small town newspaper informing our community of events that they will want to know about. We have the right to print what we wish and to edit anything that we find objectionable.

You Gotta See This

I was so glad to catch The Rachel Maddow Show last night, when she talked about a video battle between two rival Washington high schools. Here’s the clip from her show, but I’ve embedded the full videos below that.

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The challenge came from Shorecrest High School‘s video department to arch rival Shorewood High. Mr. Mitchell’s class produced a four-minute, one-shot, apparently all-hands video for OutKast’s Hey Ya.

Not to be outdone, Shorewood High School’s video production class turned in Hall & Oates’s You Make My Dreams Come True. Student Javier Cáceres taught himself and other students to lip sync the song backward, then taped (assisted by teacher Mr. Ballew) the entire four minutes in one shot, then ran the backward-lip syncing, backward-walking, backward-everything-ing tape backward and set it to Hall & Oates singing forward.

Trust me, it’s a whole kettle of awesome.

We’re still waiting for Shorecrest’s response, but as Rachel points out, other schools around the country are preparing to jump into the fray.

So what does this have to do with anything gay? I would have posted this anyway just because I like the videos, but on a hunch I checked out the two schools’ websites this morning. Both Shorecrest and Shorewood have GLSEN-registered Gay/Straight Alliances (Washington’s GLSEN Chapter, region 4).

I’m not sure exactly why, but that didn’t surprise me.

Good on ya, Shorewood and Shorecrest, for all of it. Now let’s see some more videos!

Is President Obama fighting against DOMA by fighting for it?

Well, it happened again. The Obama administration dropped more horrible news last Friday afternoon once the news cycle ended for the week. It’s another administration challenge to health care benefits for lesbian and gay partners of federal employees.

The administration has previously vigorously argued in defense of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), saying that the Department of Justice is responsible for upholding current statute even as they announce that they will actively ignore other federal statutes like the medical marijuana prohibition. The Advocate and AMERICAblog have more, but you know the drill.

Before his election, Barack Obama was clearly and convincingly on our side, even when he wasn’t speaking on LGBT issues directly. He had this to say five days before his election:

I mean, the— the right to marry who you please isn’t in the Constitution. But I think all of us assume that if a state— decided to pass a law saying, “Brian, you can’t marry the woman you love,” that you’d think that was unconstitutional. Well, where does that come from? I think it comes from a right to privacy— that may not be listed in the Constitution but is implied by the structure of the Constitution.

How do we reconcile that with what President Obama’s administration has enthusiastically supported during his first year in office? There must be something going on besides mere post-election forgetfulness. I mean, even GWB’s administration defended DOMA less stridently than Obama’s has.

Keeping all of that in mind, and with the knowledge that lasting civil rights progress always begins in the courts, and understanding that some will call me an Obama apologist for it, I ask this question:

Could it be that the Obama administration is so violently pushing DOMA to its furthest extent so the Supreme Court will have no choice but to rule once and for all that DOMA targets gays as a protected class, violates the suspect classification doctrine, and is unconstitutional?

He’s Bill James, Bitch: “Your son was a homo?”

(Is that reference too old?)

I wish I were accustomed to outright bigots in government by now. It’s common enough, after all. But every once in a while, someone repeats a slur so openly that it surprises even me.

The Mecklenburg County (North Carolina) Commission held their regular meeting Tuesday night. On the agenda was a proposal to provide same-sex domestic partner benefits to county employees. The issue ultimately passed by a vote of 6-3 along party lines, but it’s what came during debate that has caused a stir. Here’s video from local News 14.

“To think about the son that I birthed, that died of AIDS, and I did not know that in 2010 I would be sitting here to defend that process, and his lifestyle,” said Commissioner Vilma Leake. “So I stand gloriously to vote for this issue.”

While some in the crowd applauded, [Commissioner Bill James] can be heard saying to Leake: “Your son was a homo? Really?”

To which Leake responded: “You’re going to make me hurt you. Don’t do that to me. Don’t talk about my son.”

Bill James was later pressed for comment by the Charlotte, NC Fox affiliate. Here’s their report with additional comments from Mr. James on a sympathetic radio program. It was there that he claimed he was interrupted in the middle of the word “homosexual”. After hearing the clip proving he was lying, he changed his defense and said that “homo” isn’t a slur.

Obviously Mr. James is allowed to use the word “homo” all he wants. I actually disagree with those (with the exception of Ms. Leake) who are calling for an apology. I’d rather get this man on the record and reveal him for who he is. Forced apologies and fake contrition are meaningless.

But there’s no need to worry about an apology anytime soon. Mr. James released this statement today via email. (He still won’t go on camera. That could be troublesome come campaign season.)

Vilma is a religious hypocrite.

She was married to a Bishop in the AME Zion church. A church that has historically opposed homosexuality.

She used her son’s ‘lifestyle’ and his death from HIV-AIDS to justify in public voting for benefits to allow more individuals to use tax dollars to engage in the very behavior that resulted in her son’s death.

It is akin to someone whose son is an alcoholic and died from the disease, using his death from drinking as justification to have the taxpayers pay for more booze.

Her position was that her ‘faith’ demanded that she do this to support her son and his ‘lifestyle’ which she acknowledges killed him.

Since she didn’t define what ‘lifestyle’ she was referring to I asked her. Asking the question is completely legitimate since she used him as the basis for explaining her public vote.

Her response to me was threaten violence. This is also nothing new for Vilma as she did that on the School Board as well.

Leake: “Don’t make me hurt you. Don’t do that to me. Don’t talk to me about my son.”

Well, with all due respect to Ms. Leake – if she didn’t want to talk about her son then why did she use his death from his ‘lifestyle’ contracting HIV/AIDS as the public justification for spending tax dollars to support the very behavior that killed her son. (sic)

I can type but I have lost my voice. Feel free to use this in your story.

Helpful ordered list of responses:

  1. He fools no one by trying to change the subject. The problem wasn’t his question, it was the use of a slur in doing so. It’s the same as if he’d asked her if her son was a n**ger. Obviously.
  2. You can’t contract HIV/AIDS from being gay. You can contract HIV/AIDS from having sex. Tuesday’s vote was about the former, not the latter.
  3. The issue wasn’t to “allow more individuals to use tax dollars to engage in the very behavior”. It was to provide health insurance to domestic partners. Just like is done near-universally for straight couples.
  4. Ms. Leake wasn’t “justifying” her vote, she was explaining why this is more personal for her.
  5. Ms. Leake should be applauded for understanding both the separation of her religious beliefs from her civic duty and the words of Jesus the Christ.
  6. Drop the victim routine. When you use a slur like that against someone’s dead child, you deserve what’s coming.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time Mr. James’ bigotry has been in the news. While he’s focused on the “homos” for quite some time (see Pam’s House Blend), he’s also been in hot water for calling the urban black community “a moral sewer”.

Ms. Leake, my sympathies on your son’s death, and my thanks for standing gloriously beside us in the fight for equality.