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Four Decades Along the Rainbow Road

Friday, September 26, 2008

Dan Quayle, You're Being Outdone!

It's inconceivable to say this: Gov. Palin, you're making George W. Bush look good.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Debatable Tactic

Rep. Barney Frank said it best: "It's the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys."

John McCain's shocking announcement that he will suspend his campaign that included a desire to postpone the first of three presidential debates was seen by many as a political stunt and nothing more. He is not even on the Senate committee dealing with the financial bailout package, yet he feels it is far more important to bring presidential politics to an already dicey situation then to allow the country to hear his views, regardless how contorted they are.

The real underlying motive for this bold but cynical action besides trying to grab the headlines (again) was to blunt the momentum of Barack Obama. The financial meltdown provided wind behind Obama's back as the Palin effect on the McCain ticket ceased and started to retract. As polls are starting to open up measurable leads for Obama, McCain needed a game changer.

There was already too much discussion on how his fervent anti-deregulation stance was a significant contributor to the current mess. He was flailing around like a just-caught fish on the boat's deck in response to this crisis. He needed something unexpected and big.

But he already stunned the world with his selection of Sarah Palin. What else could he do?

McCain is probably and rightfully concerned that debating Obama on McCain's self-proclaimed strength on foreign policy issues could spell disaster for the Republican. Obama merely needs to pass the threshhold of acceptability on foreign affairs and then hold serve on economic policy to put away the election. The debates provide a denouement in the campaign, and it appears the way things have gone the past couple of weeks, McCain was facing the abyss.

The McCain campaign already knows it's in trouble. With Obama leading in Florida despite the fact he never campaigned there during the primary should be disturbing for the GOP without question.

However, the biggest warning light for McCain is in West Virginia--a state that has gone Republican the past two presidential cycles. Here Hillary Clinton thumped Obama in the primaries with the largest of all margins. It is here where Obama is said to have not connected with white, working class, non-college graduates. But guess what? McCain is ahead by only 4 points! That's telling.

And that's why McCain is flustered, confused and off message and needs to try something drastic. Doesn't that sound reassuring when that 3 a.m. call is made?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Palin's Scrutiny

Letter sent to the Baltimore Sun

That Ron Smith still wonders why the media would want to learn about Gov. Sarah Palin while, in his view, they do not scrutinize Sen. Obama is a head scratcher of epic proportions ("Media pummel Palin while Obama gets kid gloves," Sep. 17).

Sen Obama has been on the campaign trail for nearly two years, and his background and record has been thoroughly vetted by the media as well as his opponents. Gov. Palin, on the other hand, is new to most Americans living in the lower 48. Since she is potentially in line to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, it is not only wise that she be extensively vetted but it should be demanded.

The so-called "Palin effect" has diminished with revelations about her approach to governance, her record, and her lack of truth telling. Although the McCain campaign is doing everything they can to shield Gov. Palin from the media, every day the public is coming to realize that she is not the maverick she pretends to be but the type of politician most people deplore.

Sen. Palin's blatant lies about accepting earmarks, her role in the "bridge to nowhere" controversy, her alleged trip to Iraq, the false claim that her TelePrompTer malfunctioned during her acceptance speech, and her exaggerated statement regarding the proportion Alaska's oil supply to the American total output are all indicators that this hockey mom's sizzle will turn to fizzle. And Ron Smith cannot face that truth.

Steve Charing

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Praying Away the Gay?

Palin’s church may think that’s possible, but there are better things to pray for

By Steve Charing

When I first heard a representative from the anti-gay group Focus on the Family asking his flock to pray for rain of "biblical proportions" to screw up Barack Obama’s outdoor nomination acceptance speech on August 28, I rolled by eyes and scratched my head. Is THIS what people should pray for?

As one blogger aptly put it, "They didn't want Republicans to pray for rain in drought stricken areas of the world causing famine….They only wanted God to dump torrential rain to disrupt an acceptance speech of their political opponent. As ‘Christians’ they didn't want to pray for rain to ease suffering. They asked all their fellow Republicans to ask God for rain to cause misery to political opponents."

I’m not a deeply religious person, much less a theologian. But I wonder, like so many other lay persons who don’t have direct access to God the way that Dr. James Dobson and other evangelicals profess to have, does each human being on Earth receive an allocation on the number of prayers we can execute in a lifetime? Or is it an endless supply whereby some prayers can be wasted.

Praying for rain to sabotage a political event would fall into the waste category. So would "praying away the gay," the theme of a Focus on the Family-sponsored conference promoted by the church that GOP vice-president contender Sarah Palin attends.

"You'll be encouraged by the power of God's love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality," reads the insert in the bulletin of the Wasilla Bible Church, where Palin has prayed for about six years.

To be fair, Sarah Palin never publicly stated that she agreed with that position. During her interview with Charlie Gibson on ABC, she said she didn’t know if homosexuality is genetic or learned and that she doesn’t want to judge anybody. Nonetheless, she opposes same-sex marriage and domestic partner recognition.

Anti-gay fundamentalists proffer that homosexuality is not innate, and it forms the core rationale of political opposition to gay rights: being gay is a choice and, therefore, not deserving of "special rights" or legal protections.

To combat this choice and still appear Christian, groups such as Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and others promote the idea that gay people, through reparative therapy can see the light and venture down the straight path to conversion. This has led to what is popularly referred to an the "ex-gay movement."

Reparative therapy, as well as sexual conversion therapy, are complex processes that involve psychological and physical treatments that have been proven to be harmful to many of those who have undergone them. The key component, however, is prayer.

Most mainstream professional psychological organizations have debunked the theory that praying away your sexual orientation would result in a conversion. Noted psychologist Jeffry G. Ford, who referred to reparative therapy as a "pseudo science," said succinctly, "Reparative therapy is neither." And those who have tried unsuccessfully to convert have exposed the ex-gay movement for the sham it is, which resulted in an ex-ex-gay movement.

But the misinformation spewed by Focus on the Family, and others seep into the school systems and finds its way to the mainstream media. This creates just enough doubt to prevent lawmakers from acting on supporting equal rights, domestic partnership and hate crimes legislation.

Recognizing there is more acceptance towards gays by society, the "praying away the gay" crowd is using the softer solution of prayer to advance their message that homosexuality is a choice that can be changed. It would not be too much of a stretch to believe that if the acceptance of gays was less advanced at this point in time, these religious organizations would be considering "incarcerating the gays" or "quarantining the gays" as their mantra.

Nobody knows with certitude the power of prayer, if any. But there are enough people in the world who believe in it, so it cannot be dismissed.

Back in the pre-Stonewall days when society looked down at homosexuals as the scum of the earth, I tried to pray away my gay. It didn’t work. I don’t feel that way now, of course, and neither do millions of other gays and lesbians. But some still do.

I’d rather use my prayer allotment to end human suffering—a far more worthy cause. But I also want to pray away those who want to pray away a key component of who I am.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Coping with 'Palinmania'

The Democrats are fretting about the phenomenon called "Palinmania" because the last two weeks have focused on this neophyte and showed that Obama's lead has vanished in the national polls. Plus McCain's support in what was at one time possible battleground states has firmed up.

Take a deep breath, folks, and put this in perspective.

McCain benefitted from a good but not overwhelming bounce from his convention and was turbo-boosted by the unlikely selection of Sarah Palin as VP contender. With all the media attention and excitement generated by this pick and its accompanying hoopla, and the fact that any bounce Obama would have received from his sterling convention was truncated by McCain's startling announcement the next day, keep in mind one thing: McCain only netted 5 points since July, according to the most recent Newsweek poll.

Here's another fact: Palin has already seen her zenith. Little by little, the truth about her experience in governance, the ethical issues, her extreme social views (e.g. inquiring about book banning, favoring the teaching of creationism in the schools, her complete unmitigated opposition to abortion whatever the circumstances, etc.), her lack of foreign policy cred, and her hair-trigger, belicose impulses towards our adversaries will chip away at the myth until reality sinks in. In short, her sizzle will likely turn to fizzle at the end of the day.

But Obama should not sit by and wait for that to happen. He should seize upon Palin's popularity and the media's obsession with her (CNN actually had cameras trained on the tarmac at Anchorage airport awaiting her arrival) and taunt McCain, perhaps during the debates, by saying Republicans prefer her--a celebrity no less-- to be at the top of the ticket rather than him. Don't fight the tide--use it to go after McCain. He'd hate that.

That's not a stretch. Even during McCain's yawn-inducing speeches, the crowd, who came mainly to see her, shouts out "Sarah"! That's why she will be at his side so often. Not only to prevent a likely gaffe on big issues and to cloister her from the media, but also to keep the crowds stoked and large.

She cannot peak any higher. Revelations about her will surface that will chip away at the pedestal. Eventually, if played right, she will fall.
Don't fret Democrats.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Log Cabins' Cave-in

In endorsing McCain-Palin, the Log Cabin Republicans blew an opportunity

By Steve Charing

In 2004 the Log Cabin Republicans—the largest Republican LGBT political organization—did not endorse President George W. Bush, citing his active promotion of the Federal Marriage Amendment and his using gays as a wedge to win re-election as the main reasons. That amendment, which died in Congress after two futile attempts, would have forever banned the marriage of same-sex couples.

During the floor debates, Senator John McCain opposed the FMA not because he believed that same-sex couples are deserving of equality, but that such an action was "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans." McCain argued that the U.S. Constitution should not be used to codify laws that would normally be left to the states.

It was on that basis and the misguided belief that John McCain is "inclusive," that the Log Cabin Republicans endorsed the GOP ticket on the night the Republican National Convention kicked off its anti-Obama snark-fest.

The Log Cabins caved in perhaps to the fear of irrelevancy within the Republican Party, but in doing so, it pushed them off to the outer boundaries of the LGBT community. While the decision not to endorse Bush in 2004 was a welcome but easy one, the decision to endorse McCain-Palin was absurd.

"Sen. McCain has always shown a willingness to reach out and engage in dialogue with Log Cabin, while considering all sides of an issue," said Patrick Sammon, the organization’s leader in a statement. "We know that will continue when he is President." Of course he will, and if Sammon truly believes that, I have some mountains in Florida I’d like to sell him.

How can a prominent gay organization vote against the interests of its own constituency?

Although John McCain bucked his party to oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment when it was a given it would fail anyway, the 2008 version of John McCain did not "stand up" to the Republicans as they inserted the FMA plank into the 2008 GOP platform.

Moreover, McCain fully supports statewide constitutional amendments, including his own state of Arizona where he appeared on television to express his views. And he is a clear proponent of Proposition 8, which is on the ballot in November to undo the California Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized same-sex marriage.

John McCain, for all his alleged inclusiveness, opposes Federal employment non-discrimination legislation and opposes a comprehensive hate crimes bill that would include sexual orientation.

Furthermore, McCain sees gays and lesbians as unfit for military service. He intends to continue the Pentagon’s "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" policy by noting the commanders on the ground will decide if a change in policy is needed. (Memo to McCain: it is the duty of the Commander-in-Chief to map out policy for the commanders to follow.)

His new celebrity running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin, offers precious little hope for LGBT equality and justice. She opposed domestic partner benefits for Alaska’s state employees. Her church promotes reparative therapy for gays, which has been proven to be harmful both physically and mentally.

"You'll be encouraged by the power of God's love and His desire to transform the lives of those impacted by homosexuality," according to the insert in the bulletin of the Wasilla Bible Church, where Palin has prayed since she was a child.

"I think gay Republicans are going to run away" if Palin supports the "pray away the gay" movement, said Wayne Besen, founder of the New York-based Truth Wins Out, a gay rights advocacy group. Now that she’s a candidate for vice-president, it is important to flush out her views.

Knowing all this, the Log Cabin Republicans board of directors remarkably voted 12-2 to endorse John McCain and Sarah Palin. In the press release announcing the endorsement Sammons defended the vote by pointing out that "gay rights issues are a critical part of the equation, but so are many other issues impacting our daily lives—foreign policy, the economy, jobs, energy policy, health care reform, and taxes."

The Log Cabin Republicans acknowledge their differences with McCain but are assuming the gay rights issues take a back seat to the GOP’s spectacular results over the past eight years. They can point to the record-breaking deficits and unimaginable debt, the boondoggle in Iraq, the faltering economy and loss of jobs, the energy and housing crunch and our diminished standing in the world as reasons to overlook that pesky anti-gay thinking and vote Republican. McCain was in lockstep with Bush over 90 percent of the time.

This was a missed opportunity for the Log Cabin folks to make a courageous stand and let the McCain forces know that they would withhold the endorsement unless the party changes its attitudes towards the nation’s LGBT citizens. But instead they apparently caved, and if McCain does get elected, you can be sure all the "conversations" the LCR promises to have with the new president will result in more of the same.

Friday, September 05, 2008

PFLAG Launches "Someone You Love is Gay" Campaign

For the first time in its history, the Columbia-Howard County chapter of PFLAG—Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays—launched a multimedia ad campaign to increase awareness about the organization’s support services to the community. The two-pronged approach features ads on the back panels of Howard County transit buses as well as a 30-second commercial to run on the Bravo cable network carried by Comcast in Howard County.

The bus ad features the message, “Someone You Love is Gay” and the chapter’s website address. The ad will run for several months on five large green transit buses throughout the county.

Using the same theme, “Someone You Love is Gay,” the commercial is airing on Bravo throughout September. The ad explains the likelihood that a family member, a co-worker, a friend or a neighbor is gay, and that PFLAG is available for support. It also includes testimonials from parents of a gay child, a gay couple and a member of the chapter’s Rainbow Youth Alliance. [See the ad below.]

“Our chapter has existed for 16 years in this county and there are still so many people who do not know what PFLAG is or how we contribute to the community,” noted Colette Roberts, the chapter’s co-founder and chairperson.

“Through this ad campaign we want to ensure that anyone who is a parent or family member of a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered (GLBT) child understands that PFLAG, with its Parents’ Forum, is a place where support is offered by other parents. Our Rainbow Youth Alliance provides a safe space for GLBT youth and their allies to meet and discuss issues that are important to them under adult supervision. We also want to emphasize that all members of the GLBT community are welcome to enjoy our monthly programs and to meet new friends,” Roberts said.

The bus ad was designed and produced by members of the chapter, and the chapter acknowledges the cooperation provided by staff from the Corridor Transportation Corporation. The commercial was also developed and produced in-house. Bumper stickers and tee-shirts with the same theme are in production.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The GOP's Fake Sexism Cries

Just as the Republicans have fenced off John McCain by demanding he be free from political attack because of his POW experience 40 years ago, they are trying to do the same thing with their rookie VP contender Sarah Palin using "sexism" as the shield.
Any opposition to Palen's extreme right wing policies or lack of experience on the national scene is being tied to sexism--especially by the media.

All the vetting concerns are being pushed back by the sexism card. Some of it has validity in that questions about raising a family and occupying the White House would normally not be directed to men. Others are a part of a clever strategy to demonize the media to intimidate reporters from asking the tough questions.

However, Governor Palin makes every effort to promote her "Mom" credentials and her yearning to attract women voters. She's a self-described "Hockey Mom" who is like a pitbull with lipstick. And she was a beauty queen in her earlier life. How sexist is that?

But here's the rub. As the Republican conventioners noisily cheered any reference to sexism thought to be originated by the media or their Democratic opponents, one can see plenty of buttons displayed on the chests of the overwhelming white male gathering. And these buttons read "Hot Governor," "Hot VP" and "Hot Chick." Were these conventioners escorted from the arena? Were they condemned by those who truly oppose sexism?

Not at all. It simply exposes the duplicity of the GOP and the phoniness of the argument.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Bristol Stomp

The prevailing mood concerning the pregnancy of Bristol Palin is that this is a private matter and should not be politicized. Senator Barack Obama said as much. Moreover, the McCain camp wants no further inquiries into the background of Sarah Palin. That's realistic! Someone needs to; his staff sure didn't.

What should be called into question regarding Bristol is her mother, Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. She vehemently opposes sex education in the schools and promotes abstinance programs instead. You can see how that strategy paid off.

Besides the obvious hypocrisy lies the fact that two teenagers are forced to marry because of political necessity. Yet there are tens of thousands of same-sex couples--many involved in extensive long-term, committed relationships that exceed the combined ages of Bristol Palin and father-to-be Levi Johnston--who cannot legally marry outside of California and Massachussets. But because of a mistake and the fact they are heterosexual, Levi and Bristol can.

Levi seems to be brainwashed about this fallout. He blames Obama, who was his "hero" on his MySpace page prior to Palin's being tapped as VP candidate. He blames the media as well. Nevermind that the revelation about Bristol's situation originated with her parents. And he once indicated on his page that he didn't want children. Oops!

Adapting to his newly found celebrity, Levi lashed out at his detractors by writing the following on his MySpace blog:

"I wont be run out of myspace just because of some fuckin newspaper people working for obama. What my future mother-in-law is doing has nothing to do with me or Bristol, but I want everyone who reads this to know, every time they attack us for being human, they show why America needs leaders like Sarah Palin."

So Levi cleverly turns his own personal failings, lack of self-control, maturity and judgement into an attack on the media and Obama. For the GOP--Mission Accomplished!