Harold Ford Walks Into The Gay Lion's Den, Gets Mauled

Made my day to watch the loathsome, despicable Harold Ford getting his comeuppance as he tried to address the New York City Stonewall Democratic Club.

Though there is a part of me that would like to see him run so that he could be politically disemboweled, I'd just assume that he go away now and spare us the trouble. Harold Ford, Jr. is in my book simply odious, representing everything that is wrong with American politics - a man utterly devoid of principles other than his own self-aggrandizement, a political mercenary who sells out to the highest bidders, a journeyman whose path in life has been to trod on the weak and defenseless as he secures the privileges of the rich and powerful, an unthinking elitist corporatist hack of the worst kind, a lapdog that makes the most pampered poodle look like a junkyard dog, a scion of a political dynasty who treated his Memphis district as his own personal fiefdom and his avenue for self-enrichment. As a Wall Street veteran, I simply cannot imagine how Harold Ford adds to the bottom line of Merrill Lynch. He's there because of his political connections not because he possesses any financial acumen. 

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Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill Linked to US Christian Group

Peter Tachell writing in The Guardian finds the British Commonwealth of Nations is but a Commonwealth of homophobes. Indeed, apart from perhaps Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, gay men are most severely persecuted in the former British colonies now independent that make up the Commonwealth. Of the 53 current members of the Commonwealth, more than 40 still criminalize same-sex relations, mostly under anti-sodomy laws that were originally imposed by the British government in the 19th century, during the period of colonial rule. The most draconian laws are found in The Gambia, Nigeria, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh and Jamaica. But these pale in comparison to a bill now making its way through the Ugandan Parliament that makes sodomy a capital offense. That's shocking enough, but the bill has ties to a conservative US Christian group whose members includes the high and mighty of American politics of both political parties.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 is going through Uganda's Parliament after receiving its first reading last month. According to Clause 2 of the Bill, a person who is convicted of gay sex is liable to life imprisonment. But if that person is also HIV positive the penalty - under the heading "aggravated homosexuality" - is death. The mere touching of another person with the intent to have gay sex is punishable by life in prison. The bill also criminalizes advocacy of LGBT issues. Membership of LGBT organizations and funding for them, advocacy of LGBT human rights and the provision of condoms or safer sex advice to LGBT people will result in a minimum sentence of five years and a maximum of seven years for "promoting" homosexuality. Nor are gay Ugandans who flee their country safe. The bill has provisions for extra-territorial jurisdiction. The law, if passed, will also apply to Ugandans who engage in homosexual behavior while living abroad. Violators overseas will be subjected to extradition, trial and punishment in Uganda. There are estimated to be 500,000 gay people in Uganda, from a population of about 31 million, according to gay rights groups.

This weekend on the margins of the Commonwealth Conference being held in Port of Spain, Trinidad, both British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told President Museveni of Uganda that legislation was "unacceptable." They might also have a chat with Senator John Ensign, Senator Tom Coburn, Senator Charles Grassley, Governor Mark Sanford, Representative Bart Stupak and Representative Joe Pitts among others because they are all members of a radical Christian group called The Family. The group which dates back to the 1930s more recently came to our attention for the shenanigans surrounding the affair of Nevada Senator John Ensign and the Congressional boarding house on C Street, but according to Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, The Family is connected to the proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda.

The Family, also known as The Fellowship, was founded in the United States in 1935. According to its founder, Abraham Verene, God came to him one night in April 1935, and told him that Christianity has been focusing on the wrong people, the poor and the suffering, "the down and out". Instead, God commanded him to be a missionary to and for the powerful, the "up and in", who could then pass off the blessings to everybody else. The group does not maintain a website and prohibits its members from speaking about its activities. The group is now run by Doug Coe. The group is also the sponsor of the annual National Prayer Breakfast that has been attended by all Presidents since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Here's Doug Coe in action:

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Honesty Amongst Friends

The President spoke to the the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT organization, at their annual dinner. You can view the speech over at the Huffington Post. In his speech, the President noted that "it's important to be honest amongst friends." Well in that vein, I'll admit that I haven't bothered to watch the speech though I will read the transcript, otherwise I might fall prey to his bedazzling rhetoric. In any regard, I'm sure that I've heard it all before. That's Obama's problem. He's long on promises and short on delivery.

It's not that I have lost faith on LGBT issues in the President, I haven't. I'm sure he will move the ball forward on a number of LGBT issues but none of those are going to happen tomorrow. Here's more honesty for Obama from his friends.

John Aravosis asks Where's the Beef?:

Barack Obama just promised us that if he becomes president, he's going to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell, the Defense of Marriage Act, and get ENDA passed. It was a bit surreal. I'm sitting at a fundraiser for the No on 1 effort in Maine (that Obama didn't even bother to mention), and we were all just speechless (actually, hardly speechless - and I thought yelling at the TV was long since over). Obama repeated his campaign promises. That was it.

Up in Seattle, The Stranger's Dan Savage is also a tad underwhelmed:

My reaction: a friend has been sending me ecstatic emails about the speech. I just watched it--the speech is every bit as good as the ones candidate Obama gave, as the performance candidate Obama delivered at the HRC/Logo Democratic Primary Debate, as the open letter to the LGBT community that candidate Obama released before last November's election. Imagine all the wonderful things this guy is going to accomplish if he ever actually gets elected president. In other words: sorry, folks, nothing new to see here. Pledges, promises, excuses. Lip service.

I sense a pattern developing.

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Senator Gillibrand Tirelessly Working to Repeal DADT

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again must be freshman Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's motto. Though the New York Senator failed to rally enough co-sponsors for a temporary suspension of the Don't Ask Don't Tell ban that prevents gays and lesbians from serving openly in the US Military, Senator Gillibrand has secured the commitment of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Senator Carl Levin of Michigan to hold hearings on the ban when Congress returns in the Fall. Talk about having an impact and not taking no for an answer.

From the Senator's press release:

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is announcing that the Senate Armed Services Committee is agreeing to hold a Senate hearing on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy in the Armed Forces this fall.  According to a report from the Center for American Progress released last month, since President Barack Obama took office, 265 men and women have been dismissed from the Armed Forces because of the DADT policy.

"This policy is wrong for our national security and wrong for the moral foundation upon which our country was founded,'" Senator Gillibrand said. "I thank Chairman Levin for agreeing to hold this important hearing.  Numerous military leaders are telling us that the times have changed.  `Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is an unfair, outdated measure that violates the civil rights of some of our bravest, most heroic men and women. By repealing this policy, we will increase America's strength - both militarily and morally."

Nearly 13,000 service members have been discharged for their sexual orientation since 1993, when the policy was first instituted. The Government Accountability Office estimates that the policy cost the Armed Forces approximately $95.4 million in recruiting costs and $95.1 million for training replacements for the 9,488 troops that were discharged from 1994 through 2003.  

According to a Gallup Poll from May of this year, 69 percent of Americans favor military service by openly gay men and lesbians.

More than 100 retired U.S. military leaders - including the former head of the Naval Academy -signed on to a statement last November calling for an end to DADT policy.

Last month, Senator Gillibrand met with Lt. Dan Choi, a constituent, who was dismissed from the Armed Forces because of the DADT policy.  Senator Gillibrand pledged to work with him to repair the damage that has been done to his career and spare thousands of innocent, brave men and women from the same injustice.

Senator Gillibrand is a tireless advocate of progressive causes and showing true leadership on this and other issues (did you read her call for a public option?). And she's getting results. As a measure of her success, it should be noted that these hearings will be the first official review of the DADT policy since Congress passed the law in 1993.

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Earns an Endorsement from Howard Dean

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sits down with former Governor and former DNC Chairman Dr. Howard Dean for a short conversation. Afterward, Governor Dean endorses Senator Gillibrand in her re-election bid.

Well I want to thank Kirsten for the time she gave to do the interview. I asked her to do the interview because I'm considering endorsements in the United States Senate race in New York. So I'll tell you one very quick story about Kirsten Gillibrand.

She was elected in 2006, and I spent four years in Washington - and a lot of people in Washington say a lot of things and usually don't do anything about it. She came in about two and a half year ago when she was a representative and told me when I was chairman of the DNC that she wanted to do something for women through the Women's Leadership Forum. And I thought to myself, this is really great, but I'll bet it'll never happen.

She's the only person in four years that came to me, made a promise, and then brought six of her women colleagues in the House then, to raise money for the Democratic National Committee so we could have this big majority in the House and this big majority in the Senate.

And today, she's satisfied me that she knows how to use that majority in order to get things done. So I'm pleased to endorse Kirsten Gillibrand for the United States Senate for her re-election.

It is a well-deserved endorsement. Of all freshman Senators, Senator Gillibrand is working the most visibly on issues dear to the progressive base of the Democratic Party.

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