Monthly Archives: January 2011

Ohio Gov. John Kasich to African American Senator: “I Don’t Need Your People”

Last week, I mentioned in passing that new Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) had appointed Ohio’s first all-white cabinet since 1962.

I let it go at that because it’s simply absurd and I presumed that Gov. Kasich (R) would correct his mistake if not because it’s right, then because it’s good politics. Unfortunately for all Ohioans, I gave the governor too much credit.

"I don't need your people."
"I don't need your people."

What Mr. Kasich (R) should have done when the lack of minority leadership was brought to his attention is recognize that diversity in leadership is just plain good business and then promptly correct himself. Instead, Ohio State Senator Nina Turner (D) of the Cleveland area reports that when she offered to assist him in finding good candidates of color, he replied with an astonishing “I don’t need your people.” (Via Plunderbund, via Ohio Capitol Blog)

Gov. Kasich’s office has confirmed this quote, by the way, but claim that he was referring to political party rather than race.

I want to believe that Gov. Kasich (R) meant that he didn’t need Democrats and not African Americans. I really do. But after his press secretary told me less than a week before that discriminating against trans people is “appropriate,” I’m not sure I can. If he finds discrimination against one group “appropriate,” why should I believe that he finds discrimination against another group inappropriate?

And even if he meant Democrats, saying “I don’t need [Democrats]” is a bizarre statement to make at the beginning of his term. More importantly, it doesn’t match his public rhetoric of bringing all Ohioans together. Does he really mean to suggest that Democrats aren’t welcome in the Ohio government? In some ways, this explanation is just as bad as the most obvious one!

So either Gov. Kasich (R) is racist or he wants to nullify the votes of many Ohioans who are more progressive and sent Democrats to Columbus.

Whichever you believe, this governor is off to a rocky start.

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“Sexual Minorities Uganda” Leader David Kato Assassinated

This is what happens when government and culture decide that one group of people is worth less than the rest. From Box Turtle Bulletin:

We have learned that Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato Kisulle was murdered today at his home in Kampala. Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) has confirmed that the David’s body was identified at a hospital.

The details surrounding his murder are unknown at this time. He was reportedly beaten in the skull with a hammer at his home. We do not yet know whether it was a single assailant or a group of people, nor do we know any other circumstances surrounding his death.

David Kato was a spokesperson for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and one of the plaintiffs (or applicants) in the successful lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication of the same name). Kato was one of three applicants who had been named by the tabloid under a headline tagged “Hang Them!”

David Kato, Assassinated January 26, 2011
David Kato, Assassinated January 26, 2011

From an AlertNet article dated January 14, 2011, after the Ugandan High Court ruled that constitutional rights of LGBTI Ugandans were violated by the tabloid publishing their names:

Giles Muhame, the editor of Rolling Stone, denied that he was using his magazine to incite violence, and said that he would continue his campaign against homosexuals. He said that the apparent increase in gay activism in the country was a sign that the days of homosexuality were coming to an end.

“You know the noise that a chicken makes when a kite has snatched its chicks? This is it,” he said. [Note from Matt: It took me 30 minutes to realize that gays were the predator in Muhame’s analogy.]

David Kato, one of the plaintiffs, said that he had been living in terror ever since he was named by the newspaper.

“Since we got exposed by Rolling Stone, we have been living like fugitives in our own country,” he said. “We have to keep shifting houses for fear of being attacked. Some of the gays have decided to leave the city and head to rural areas in order to protect themselves.

Human rights lawyers say that mob justice meted out against suspected gays is fairly common. Just before Christmas, two alleged gay men were attacked by a mob at Maekerere University in Kampala. The gay men were subsequently arrested, and they are now waiting to hear whether formal charges will be brought against them.

I hope and pray that David Kato’s assassination help the international community understand the present terror in Uganda.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich: Discrimination Against Trans Employees “Appropriate”

Before we get into the meat of this post, I want to make sure the reader understands the state of current law: In Ohio, there is no statewide non-discrimination protection for LGBT employees. (You may recall that the Ohio House of Representatives passed a statewide ENDA bill in 2009. Ohio Senate leaders refused to allow a vote, and the bill died at the end of the session last December.)

Discrimination in hiring because of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is 100% allowed by Ohio law, and no Executive Order can change that. The issue we’ll be looking at for the rest of this post is about people for whom the state of Ohio is their direct employer. Guards in Ohio prisons, office workers in the state house, construction workers on Ohio roads, etc.

Gov. Kasich, when is discrimination "appropriate"?
Gov. Kasich, when is discrimination "appropriate"?

New Republican Governor John Kasich began his term under fire when Gay People’s Chronicle reported that Kasich had failed to issue an Executive Order protecting state employees from workplace discrimination. Outgoing governor Ted Strickland’s Executive Order 2007-10S, which protected LGBT workers, expired when he left office.

On Friday, Governor Kasich (R) finally issued an order protecting LGB state employees with Executive Order 2011-05K, which unexpectedly and unnecessarily removed gender expression and gender identity from the list of protected qualities.

Frustrated at this ridiculous change in law, I decided to do the civic-minded thing and contact my governor. I actually ended up emailing Robert Nichols, press secretary for Gov. Kasich (R), and copied Felicia Godbolt and Melinda Carter of Ohio’s Equal Employment Opportunity office and Dan Kaman of the Department of Administrative Services. (Because hey, why not.)

Here’s my email to Mr. Nichols:

Mr. Nichols,

Regarding Governor Kasich’s Executive Order 2011-05K, there is some question as to missing content. This order, which replaced former Governor Strickland’s non-discrimination order, notably fails to protect employees from gender identity or expression discrimination, as Mr. Strickland’s did.

Please clarify: Has Gov. Kasich decided to roll back protection of transgender state workers? Should they fear for their livelihoods? If this is, as I hope, a simple oversight, will Gov. Strickland rectify the error in the next week?

Thank you.

Matthew D. Algren
Kettering, Ohio

Minutes later, I received this reply:

Hi, Matt…

The governor is opposed to discrimination in state employment and has made that clear in this executive order in the way that he feels is most appropriate.

Rob

I sent an email back seeking further clarification that Gov. Kasich (R) thinks discrimination against trans people is “appropriate,” but I don’t expect to hear back. My question was clear enough, and Mr. Nichols’ answer was clear as well.

So that’s where we stand tonight. For the first time in four years and with the stroke of a pen, one Republican has endangered the livelihoods of any of our Trans sisters and brothers who currently or potentially work for the State of Ohio, and he did it because . . . Well, because he could.

(He also appointed the state’s first ALL WHITE cabinet since 1962, but I’m sure that’s not at all relevant and I digress…)

The only question I have is this: As lesbian, bi, and gay people, do we stand with the trans members of our family, or are we just thankful that we made the cut this time?

I know my answer. We cannot allow Gov. Kasich (R) to treat us like this. We are one family, one community. In Christian terms, we are one body. I’m not sure what standing with them on this looks like yet, but the choice is clear.

Will you join me?

Debating Scripture on Gays: Don’t Waste Your Time

Pastor and author Candace Chellew-Hodge has a fantastic post over at Huffington Post about the pointlessness of arguing with those christians who oppose us about whether being gay is okay. Rev. Chellew-Hodge has much more to say, so go over and read it when you’re done here. I’m only focusing on the first of Rev. Chellew-Hodge’s four reasons, though her third rule is directly applicable as well.

There are several reasons that gays and lesbians should never argue scripture. First, it’s pointless and nobody wins. Those who are anti-gay have their authorities and scriptural interpretations and so do pro-gay people. No one wins a “they said, they said” argument because no one will believe the scholars from either side no matter what argument anyone makes.

Case in point: The following exchange took place on the facebook in November 2010, not too long after this person found out I was Teh Ghey. I’ll call her “Diane,” and just say that she is a somewhat-distant relative of mine in her early 20s. Diane is a member of a fairly conservative sect of Christianity. (I’m protecting her identity because of Rule Number One.)

Keep in mind that the first message below is the beginning of this exchange, though it reads as a response.

ex-gay-me-1

You know, I had this conversation more than a few times before I swore them off, and it’s always –ALWAYS– the same. Without being mean-spirited, it’s almost as if they have a script to read from. If I had spent hours giving her doctrinal dissertations, linguistic analyses, and Biblical commentaries, Diane still would have come back with a condescending nod to a verse that, assuming she isn’t out there stoning homos as I type, she doesn’t even completely follow.

So as Rev. Chellew-Hodge said in her article, don’t argue scripture. You’ll thank yourself later.