Gay Rights Are Human Rights

Before I begin this post, I suggest to that you watch Hillary Clinton’s Human Rights Day speech to the United Nations in Geneva on December 6, 2011.  (Transcript here.)

The die is cast.

LGBT activists have had an often tense relationship with the Obama Administration dating back to before his inauguration.  Truth be told, there is some justification for the activists’ mistrust.  When handed a friendly Congress, the only friendly Congress this or any other Democratic Administration will have for at least another generation, the Obama Administration spent no political capital whatsoever on gay rights legislation.  Congress passed one law, the Matthew Shepard Act, and that came via the back door, attached as a rider to a National Defense Authorization Bill.  Furthermore, the Matthew Shepard Act came entirely from Congressional Democrats, and there were even rumors (unfounded rumors I hasten to add) that the White House was displeased that Congressional Democrats got the law passed.

The truth is that the Matthew Shepard Act, the first pro-LGBT legislation ever passed by the federal government, was the very least of what Congress could have done.  Far more important legislation which include the repeals of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and the Defense of Marriage Act, the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Student Non-Discrimination Act, benefits for the same-sex partners of federal employees, and immigration reform recognizing same-sex marriages were never touched upon for better part of two years.  Coupled with Obama’s disappointing public stance on same-sex marriage (not for it, a state issue, he’s “evolving”), LGBT activists began to despair, and that despair turned to rage.

Then came the 2010 elections and the understanding that no pro-LGBT legislation would make it through Congress.  There came real pressure to overturn DADT before the Republicans took over the House.  Lo and behold, after furious 11th hour maneuvering, DADT was finally overturned, consigned to the dustbin of history.  The military is now totally integrated, and there are no problems.  (There are those however, who cannot let it go.)

Since the end of DADT nothing much has happened, or that is how the narrative goes.  It is not exactly accurate, because while the Congressional statute is the strongest form of legislation there are other ways to make law.  The President is the leader of the country and the nominal head of his party, but the truth is that Representatives and Senators do not answer to him; he is not their boss.  This is especially true for Democrats who are harder to keep in line than Republicans because there is a larger ideological variety among members (that Nancy Pelosi did such a good job of it for four years is why she was such an effective leader).  The President is the boss of the Executive Branch alone.

That is not insignificant power.  The Congressional statute is far stronger because President-made law (Executive Orders, memos, etc.) can change from administration to administration depending on the man in charge, or even if the President were to change his mind.  Nevertheless, unlike a statute, which requires Congress to act– and which is becoming less and less likely to get passed as Congress falls further and further into the mire–President-made law is immediate, effective, and depends upon only one person.  And the Executive Branch, in essence the entirety of the administrative state, affects our day-to-day lives and sometimes the lives of people around the world, Presidential orders are extremely important.

It is a power that the Obama Administration has put to great effect with regard to LGBT rights.  Some of his orders have been merely symbolic, such as including same-sex families in the White House Easter Egg Roll, or recognizing June as LGBT Pride Month.  Other orders have had real significance: (1) all hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid (which is almost all if not all of them) to allow same-sex partners the same visitation and proxy rights that straight couples have; and (2) an end to the US travel ban of people infected with HIV.  And then there was one extremely momentous order, the President’s command to the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA in court because the Administration’s position is that DOMA is unconstitutional.  As a personal matter, the President has made anti-bullying a priority of his Administration; he even personally recorded an It Gets Better video.

That was just inside the United States.  Another thing which the Obama Administration did, and which did not get nearly as much credit as it deserved, was leading (and winning) the fight which led the United Nations to adopt a resolution applying human rights protections and principles to sexual orientation and gender identity.  There was some major behind-the-scenes drama to produce what at the time seemed like merely symbolically significant window dressing.

Yesterday came the double-whammy from the Obama Administration following up on its UN victory.  First the President sent a memo out instructing the federal agencies to weigh how nations treat their LGBT population in the decision on how to leverage foreign aid.  It’s not altogether clear what the Administration will do.  There are mixed messages, none of which are as clear as UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s unambiguous statement about withholding aid from nations that criminalize same-sex relationships and activity.

Hours after the memo was released, Secretary Clinton gave what may well be the most important speech in LGBT history, which I included at the top of this post.  “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”  While admitting that the US is far from perfect when it comes to LGBT equality, Clinton made clear that she and the Obama Administration as a whole are strong allies of LGBT populations around the world, especially in places like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana–places where LGBT people are imprisoned, tortured, and even executed for the crime of existing.  (The State Department has been very vocal of late about its LGBT concerns, going so far as to condemn a severely draconian anti-gay law proposed in St. Petersburg.  This was before the recent election showed up Russia to be the Potemkin democracy we all knew it to be.)  Secretary Clinton described affirmative (non-punitive) steps that the US will take to help.  Her speech was greeted by a standing ovation.  Those at whom her remarks were aimed left.  The message was clear; the United States considers LGBT discrimination as bad as any other kind of discrimination.

No doubt President Obama and Secretary Clinton offer a sincere if somewhat nebulous vision.  Secretary Clinton detailed a 3 million dollars global fund to help LGBT populations around the world.  Frankly, that is not a lot of money.  But it is something. Symbolically it is very important, and one suspects (hopes?) that this is just the beginning.  It’s easy enough to accuse the US and the UK of imperialist behavior, which no doubt the guilty nations are doing, but all money comes with strings.  If those nations don’t want the money, no one is forcing them to accept it.  If you want to hear the song, you have to pay the piper.

Immediately afterwards, the usual suspects ranted and raved about the Obama’s memo and Clinton’s speech.  And the loudest criticism came from the Republican candidates for President.  (As though the US had never intervened with another country’s internal politics before.)  Rick Perry and Rick Santorum in particular have taken great pains to voice their displeasure, or in reality pander to the evangelical right.  Santorum–who only seems to be noticed by an LGBT press that despises him–accused Obama of “promoting special rights for gays” as though the right to not be tortured, imprisoned, or executed is a special right.

It’s easy enough to dismiss Santorum, Perry, and the rest as bigots, which they no doubt are (Santorum in particular although he seems not to understand why gay people hate him so much), but it is important to understand that they are trying to appeal to an audience of conservative, evangelical Christians who hate gay people, want to roll back the clock to the 1950’s, and have been a formidable voting bloc.  The same evangelical groups that oppose LGBT rights have also invested heavily in poor African nations such as Uganda, and have put forward a vociferous anti-gay agenda.  It is the ideal that these Christian groups want for the United States, but are prevented by law.  Now these same groups are seeing that work opposed by their government that has largely ignored them and in some cases abetted them.  Being unable to inflict their pernicious vision of society in this country or in any other is what these groups, the Republican base, and Fox News really mean when they talk about anti-Christianity or a war on religion.

But mark your calendars.   Hillary Clinton’s speech marks an important turning point in LGBT history, the day when the fight against worldwide homophobia began in earnest.  In 50 years time, December 6, 2011 will be as important as the anniversary of the Stonewall riots are now.

The First Amendment

I’ve mentioned this before, but once again an idiotic ignoramus does not know what the First Amendment actually says.  According to Towleroad, the rapper T.I. has a lot to say about gay people and the First Amendment.  Specifically:

While T.I. makes clear that he supports anyone’s sexual preference, he then connects, in his opinion, a current oversensitivity among gay people with a consequential and ironic offense of the First Amendment. “They’re like,‘If you have an opinion against us, we’re gonna shut you down.’ … That’s not American. If you’re gay you should have the right to be gay in peace, and if you’re against it you should have the right to be against it in peace.’

In other words, gay people should just accept homophobic rhetoric because it’s protected speech.  One wonders what he thinks about the noxious racist speech emitted by such groups as the Neo-Nazis or the Ku Klux Klan.  I am also tempted to ask why gay people should not criticize offensive speech?  Isn’t that also protected under his conception of the First Amendment?
Debating the stupidity of T.I.’s homophobia is shooting ducks in a barrel, and I will let others deal with it.  (A homophobic rapper.  What a shock!)  However, his political ignorance should not be allowed to pass unnoticed.  Deliberately misinterpreting the First Amendment is a very serious flaw, especially when you use it as a defense.
Here is the text of the First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The First Amendment guarantees five freedoms: (1) freedom of speech; (2) freedom of and from religion; (3) freedom of the press: (4) freedom to peaceably assemble; and (5) freedom to complain to the government when you have a problem.
Yet the First Amendment is also very clear that the all these freedoms are limitations on the power of the government.  Congress shall make no law.  Although this was expanded by the Supreme Court to include all government at the federal, state, and local level, the First Amendment does not apply to private citizens.  This is quite deliberate.  Ergo, as private citizens, we say or do whatever we want (so long as it is legal) in response to the malicious comments of others.  Ergo, boycotts, rallies, newspaper editorials, public shamings, and loud, vociferous, criticism–none of this is prevented by the First Amendment.  Conversely, the First Amendment was written so that all of these methods would be used because ideally, the antidote to hate speech is more speech.  (One can debate whether that is true or not.)
The First Amendment is the last refuge of the hypocrite.  The real problem is that the haters, the homophobes, and the bullies know they are losing the larger cultural war.  Like many bullies, they are actually very weak and they cower when their victims fight back.  (NOM and Maggie Gallagher are the biggest offenders.)  What are they are actually saying when they garb themselves in this “we are the real oppressed” deception is that in the market of ideas they going out of business.
So, T.I.  stop infringing on my right to criticize.  It is every bit as protected as Tracy Morgan’s right (or yours) to say hateful, idiotic things.  The First Amendment protects me too when I say that you are a homophobic ignoramus with no conception of what America actually is.
[Update:  Tracy Morgan is very unhappy about TI’s comments, and who can blame him?  Morgan has done much public penance because of his routine, and now he is being dragged back into the spotlight when he clearly wants to just let the controversy die away.]

An Appreciation

Tonight the Republican leadership was unable to pass its own debt-ceiling bill.  This was a bill that was hated by every Democrat in Washington, and still the Republican leadership could not convince the lunatics in their asylum.  The United States economy (and therefore the world economy) is perilously close to collapse come August 2.  This is acknowledged by sane people across the political spectrum even if the Congressional Republicans and the Tea Party refuse to see it.  But the Republican leadership could not pass the bill.  Speaker of the House John Boehner looks very weak right now as he failed to pass a bill that was too conservative even for a weak-willed Democratic Senate and President Barack Obama.

But that’s not what I want to focus on.  The Republican spectrum in the current House runs the gamut from very conservative to Know-Nothing conservative.  In other words, there is very little in the way of ideological difference, just degree.  When the Democrats had control of Congress from 2007-2010, the ideological spectrum of the Democratic Representatives was much more vast, ranging from extremely conservative to extremely liberal.  Yet, among the bills the House leadership got passed (even if the Senate did not follow) were the stimulus bill, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a Child Nutrition Act, a law that lets the FDA regulate tobacco, a major reform of health care (with a public option), a major reform of Wall Street, a jobs bill, stronger hate crimes legislation, a health and compensation bill for Ground Zero workers, the DREAM Act, a restructuring of student loans, the Waxman-Markey energy/emissions bill, and SCHIP.

This is not a comprehensive list by any stretch.  Every one of those bill came about between the beginning of 2009 and the end of 2010.

The point is that despite the large and often contentious ideological spectrum that the Democratic leadership had to contend with, they still managed to pass monumental, potentially nation-changing legislation.  This is why, despite only being in office for four years, many of us consider Nancy Pelosi to be one of the most effective Speakers of the House ever, up there with Sam Rayburn.  Unfortunately, while Rayburn had Lyndon Johnson as the Senate Majority Leader, Pelosi had Harry Reid.

Nevertheless, as evidenced by Boehner, being Speaker does not guarantee that you can keep your party in line.  That Pelosi was able to it over and over again for such major bill deserves major appreciation (and also credit to Steny Hoyer, her once bitter rival, turned effective partner.)  Here’s to Nancy Pelosi, the once and hopefully future Speaker of the House.

Same-Sex Marriage In Washington DC

In December 2009, the Washington DC city government legalized same-sex marriage.  Naturally, this attracted a lot of controversy because oh my God, gays can marry each other!!!!

Congress, to the chagrin of DC residents, can overturn any DC law that it does not like so long as it acts within a 30 day review period.  Being controlled by Democrats (and Nancy Pelosi in particular in the House) Congress did absolutely nothing, so the law stood.  In March 2010, the city began issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

Spearheaded by Bishop Harry Jackson, a group of clergy tried to get a the DC marriage law on a ballot for a city-wide referendum.  The DC Board of Elections refused to authorize the referendum claiming that it would violate the city’s Human Rights Law.  Jackson and his fellow clergymen appealed to the DC Superior Court which affirmed the Board.  The DC Court of Appeals did the same.   Jackson filed a petition for certiorari* to the United States Supreme Court.

On January 18, 2011 the Supreme Court issued a denial of cert, effectively ending Jackson’s farce.  There is no further recourse; same-sex marriage is staying in the District.

Having said that, I was surprised that it was big news that the Supreme Court denied cert.  I was positive there was no way the Court would take this case.**  While I have no doubt that (1) certain members of the Court are hostile to the idea of same-sex marriage, and (2) the Justices are very well aware that same-sex marriage cases are on the horizon, this was not a case that the Supreme Court was going to touch.  DC passed a law, and it has its own internal system for referenda.  DC laws are created by its own internal political structure, reviewable by Congress, and overseen by DC’s court system.  This issue was so DC-specific that nothing about it would affect the rest of the nation.  Supreme Court intervention would have been treading on the toes of DC’s government and Congress–something that the Court tries to avoid whenever possible.  And for what?  Even if the Court took the case, nothing about it would have applied outside of this one instance.  Such specificity is anathema to the Court (except for Bush v. Gore.)

So, it is completely not shocking that the Supreme Court denied cert even though all the major newspapers wrote about it, and all the LGBT bloggers blogged about it.  But do not read too much into what the Supreme Court did.  When the DOMA cases that are currently working their way through the Circuit Courts of Appeals finally reach the Court, well that’s when the battle really starts.

Footnotes:

* For those who don’t know what that means, here is an explanation.  Everyone has the automatic right to appeal a trial court decision to an appellate court.  However, in the federal system (and many of the states) you do not have the right to a second appeal–a second appeal usually being to the Supreme Court.  To get a case to the Supreme Court a petitioner has to file what is called a writ of certiorari (cert), which explains to the Supreme Court why that particular case is worthy of being heard.  The vast majority of these petitions are denied.  In legal jargon this is referred to as a denial of cert.

** Trying to figure out which cases the Supreme Court will or will not take is a fun parlor game, but it is not advisable for the lay person to gamble over.  The Justices will often refuse to hear cases that seem to require their input and take cases that no one expects them to.  I had a law professor, a former Supreme Court clerk, who, at her family’s Thanksgiving dinner in 2000, swore to anyone who would listen that there was no way the Supreme Court would hear the case that eventually became Bush v. Gore.

Asian Cup Group Stage Roundup (And Other News)

I was mostly correct about my Asian Cup predictions.  I was right about all eight quarterfinalists, although I did get wrong the seedings of South Korea and Australia.  Because Sunil Chhetri of India scored a goal against South Korea, and the score was 4-1 instead of 4-0, Australia sported a better goal differential and the Group C top seed.  So take what I said in this post, change Australia and South Korea around, and that is the quarterfinals.  I’d pat myself on the back, but figuring this out after two rounds were completed was not the most difficult thing in the world.

I predict that the semifinals are going to be: Jordan v. Australia and Japan v. South Korea.  Now I put myself out on a limb.

What will be lost in the shuffle of quarterfinalists is how well India did at this tournament.  Which is not to say that they were good; they weren’t.  They lost their matches by scores of 4-0, 5-2, and 4-1.  Nevertheless, everyone expected India to bomb in a major way, and the fact that they scored three goals (against some decent opponents) shows tremendous improvement and potential in the distant future.  I am sure that everyone will overlook India’s three goals, but keep in mind that despite being the whipping boys of the Group of Death, Sunil Chhetri alone scored more goals than Saudi Arabia, North Korea, the UAE, or Kuwait.  In fact Chhetri’s goal total equalled all four of those nations’ combined goals.  So no, India did not humiliate itself.

Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, did humiliate itself.  In fact, all other underachievers (North Korea, UAE, Kuwait, Syria, Bahrain) can thank the Saudis for making them look good.  It wasn’t just that the Saudis lost all three matches, nor was it that Japan (their perennial Asian Cup rival) drubbed them 5-0 in the worst rout of the tournament thus far.  It was that the Saudi FA fired not one, but two coaches in the course of this tournament.  And there were only three matches.  Do you remember when the Saudis used to make World Cups?  There is a top-to-bottom rot in that federation that needs to be cleared out before they will make another World Cup.  Otherwise, it’s just entertaining.

Random question: after a campaign that was only slightly less disappointing than the World Cup, do you think North Korea will even have a football squad anymore?

Iran was the only squad to take 9 points out of 9 in the group stages.  It is hard to bet against them, but their next opponent is South Korea.  The East Asian powerhouses, Japan, South Korea, and Australia(?), have been steadily dominating the AFC.  Therefore, despite Iran’s perfect group record, South Korea still has an edge.  I believe we should all hope for a Japan/South Korea semifinal because that will be an intense match full of animosity and decades-long grudges.  That, my friends, is the true spirit of football.

*~*~*~*~*

In South America, the U-20 South American Championship (i.e. the Neymar Tournament) has begun.  All eyes, especially those of the European superclubs, are on Brazil’s newest wunderkind Neymar.  He knows it, we know he knows it, he knows we know he knows it.  All his opponents know it.  All his teammates know it.  Neymar’s club (Santos) know it.  And Pelé knows it too, which means he most likely has already made a Neymar voodoo doll to stick pins into.

Neymar scored all 4 goals in Brazil’s 4-2 victory over Paraguay, which is definitely a good start.  I’ll recommend you to a comments discussion I have been having with Tyler of Tyler’s World Football for both our takes on the pros and cons of Neymar.

*~*~*~*~*

Do you like football and schadenfreude?  (My guess is yes–the two seem to go hand-in-hand.)  If so, you will love this reading from the Book of Kopites–unless of course you are a Liverpool FC fan.  I heard Steven and Kenny reading it on World Football Daily today.  Brilliant stuff.  Seriously folks, when did Liverpool becomes Newcastle United?

*~*~*~*~*

And finally in non-sports related news, Joe Lieberman officially recognized the obvious today.  Everyone hates him, and he wasn’t going to win reelection.  So, he did the quasi-honorable thing (this time) and dropped out of the race before he could screw everything up.

While his stand of climate change was admirable if ultimately futile, and his leadership on the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and other LGBT rights issues was worthy of applause, a majority of Connecticut voters, most Democrats, and all liberals around the country–including me–will never forgive the Senator from Aetna for the way he drew out and then neutered health care reform.  His baffling and self-centered opposition to a public option (or any kind of government-sponsored alternative) helped turn the debate into a tortuously long process which in turn severely harmed the Democrats (and the country) in November 2010.  Lieberman’s actions were the classic example of “cut your nose to spite your face.”  He was angry at Democrats and liberals for turning away from him first in 2004 in his aborted Presidential campaign and then in 2006 in his ultimately successful Senate race.  This was his way of getting back at them–sabotaging that which they held most dear (this being after campaigning for John McCain in 2008 and still being allowed to keep his committee chair.)

The repercussions were more than Lieberman bargained for though.  He severely underestimated exactly how much he was loathed and how important health care reform was.  Nothing he could do would ever get him back into good graces with the voters, and quitting now is the only way to avoid humiliation in 2012.

So goodbye, Joe.  Thanks for DADT repeal, but don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Music I listened to while writing this post: The Barry Sisters “Zug Es Meir Noch Amool”; Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley “Sisters”, “Ohio”.

More Homophobia From the Right

When Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed last month, any rational person would have thought that was the end of it.  Almost two-thirds of the Senate voted for repeal (one of the few bipartisan-ish bills to pass the Senate in the last two years.)  The vast majority of Americans wanted DADT dead.  Service members, by and large either wanted DADT repealed or did not care.  The intransigence of the GOP made them look petty and homophobic.  John McCain became an object of national ridicule, and he will never recover from it the new image he created for himself: a vengeful bigot.

Democrats still have a majority of the Senate and the Presidency.  If no pro-equality bill has a chance of passing this Congress, at least no anti-LGBT bill has any chance of passing either.  And as I have pointed out before, DADT is relatively small potatoes.  Trying to reinstate DADT looks petty and vindictive, not to mention severely homophobic.  Gay and lesbian soldiers get wounded in combat.  They die in battle.  DADT did not not prevent them from joining the military, it just prevented them from being open about who they are.  It was a humiliation to people who volunteered their lives for their country and deserve better.

Given all that, one would think that the DADT battle is over.  And one would be wrong.  Duncan Hunter, a homophobe in the House, is planning to introduce a bill to impede the repeal of DADT.  Apparently about 15-20 more homophobes have signed on to the bill.  Yet another homophobe in the House, this time one with actual power–Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee–is going to try and reinstate the ban.  It is Joe Wilson, the idiot of “You Lie” infamy.  And the homophobic former Governor of Minnesota (Tim Pawlenty) who is running for President also supports reinstating the ban.  Coincidentally, one of the searches that brought some perspective reader to this blog today (much to his/her chagrin, I am sure) was “undo the dadt repeal.”

I am in the process of writing a much larger post about homophobia and how at its root is the desire to both deny and suppress the existence of homosexuality and homosexuals.  It is a post that will require a lot more time, because it has thus far been very hard to write.  (Keep watching this space.)  The attempts to reinstate DADT, futile attempts given the way government works, are nothing more than manifest anti-gay bigotry and hatred.

This is only coming from one side of the political aisle.  GOProud, a group of gay conservatives (or as Dan Savage calls them “quislings and useful idiots”), defends these people even though the conservative raison d’être has mutated into the elimination of people like GOProud members.  GOProud’s only pro-gay initiative has been a repeal of DADT, and their “allies” will not support that (nor even give up after the battle is decidedly over.)  GOProud should be ashamed of itself–although I suspect the organization has no shame.  The head of GOProud repeatedly says to any cable news program that will talk to him, that it is easier to be gay in conservative circles than conservative in gay circles.  Damn right!  My homosexuality does not destroy conservatives’s day-to-day lives, no matter what they may say.  Conservatives are not fighting for their existence, their visibility, and their right to lead a normal life.  LGBT people are, and we are doing it every day.  When conservatives run governments, they make it so that LGBT people can lose their jobs, their housing, their families, and even their right to form intimate relationships.  On a national level only the courts have protected gay people from the worst of the conservative attacks.  Is it any surprise that we have no tolerance for people who want to destroy us or those poseurs and lackeys who aid them?

Trying to reinstate DADT is a losing battle.  Every single politicians who is participating in this charade knows it is a losing battle.  Yet they are still doing it.  Why?  Because they are appealing to the ugliest spirit of American conservatism.  The politicians want to propagate homophobia just for the sake of making the lives of gay people miserable.  It will endear them to their base even if the nation as a whole is repelled.  This is not about the military.  Never forget, this is about hate.

Weekend Roundup

Marriage Equality Train: Next stops–Maryland and Rhode Island?

That both states are very close is not much of a surprise.  Maryland has been a blue state for quite some time, and its proximity to DC–where same-sex marriage is already a reality–had put added pressure on the state to legalize same-sex marriage.  All the more so after the Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler released an opinion recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages (and after Governor Martin O’Malley won his reelection bid last November and pledged to sign the bill.)  If the bill passes, there could be a referendum.  The good news is that getting a referendum to overturn an LGBT rights law in Maryland has not been successful in the past.  The bad news is that equal rights supporters have a very poor track record in state-wide referenda.

Rhode Island is, quite frankly, just a matter of time.  If not now, then soon.  Before this week, Rhode Island had a very homophobic governor in office.  Now Lincoln Chafee is governor.  Governor Chafee is undoubtedly a (to quote a now-infamous remark) “fierce advocate” of LGBT rights.  He was when he was in the Senate, the lone Republican one could say that about.  Lincoln Chafee’s ouster in 2006 was a tragedy.  Had he turned independent, Rhode Island would still have a great Senator rather than a future great Governor.  However, he was loyal to the GOP in a year when the country was sick of Republicans.  Despite an approval rating of over 60%, he lost his seat.  When I heard he was running for Governor, I told anyone who would listen that I hoped he would win.  After his election he refused to meet with the anti-gay bigots from NOM, and then he called for a marriage equality bill in his inauguration address.  That, my friends, is fierce advocacy.

Perhaps if marriage equality is successful in Maryland and Rhode Island, the LGBT rights movement can recapture the momentum that it lost after the failures in New York, New Jersey, Maine, and California.

Future Heartbreak? This Sunday Showtime will air the episode of its new series Shameless, which is an American version of a British series of the same name.  One of the characters is a gay teen named Ian Gallagher.  I have not seen the British show, and I had never heard about either the original or the American version  until today (I don’t have Showtime, but I will watch Shameless the next time I visit my parents.)  Having said that, I am excited and terrified at the thought of this show.  I am excited because British shows are usually very good at creating gay characters (Beautiful People, the British Queer as Folk).  It seems like people really enjoyed the British version, which is now on my Netflix queue.  I am terrified because American shows by and large make gay characters horribly one-dimesnional.  While I have not watched Showtime lately, their track record with gay shows has been appalling (The L Word, the American Queer as Folk).  On the other hand, this is not a gay show, it is a show where one of the central characters is gay.  That’s an important difference, and every once in a while, in that paradigm American television does do a gay character well.  Maybe Ian Gallagher will be among the lucky few.  (Although can we talk about this Ian Gallagher as the anti-Kurt Hummel thing that Vanity Fair and Towleroad are pushing?  Gay people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors; to define a gay character as an antithesis of another gay character is to denigrate the entire community, because there is an implied superiority.  Kurt and all effeminate/fey gay men around the world are just fine the way they are; the same is true of not-effeminate/fey gay men.)

I’m a little hesitant to watch this show because I am afraid of what would happen if I like it and then Showtime cancels the show?  My heart was broken by Beautiful People, and I’m still a little gun shy about new relationships with television characters.

edit:  I have been watching the British version on YouTube.  It’s funny, but this whole Ian Gallagher as the anti-Kurt Hummel is complete bollocks (as the British say.)

Turkish Orders Another LGBT To Close: Dear Turkey, do you really expect to join the EU?  And given that you pull this kind of thing all the time, do you really want to join?

Johnny Weir Comes Out: No, really.  I know you’re shocked.  And (what incredible timing!) he’s just about to start selling his autobiography/memoirs.  But it really was because gay kids are killing themselves.  I don’t want to hate on Johnny Weir; I liked his personality, and I liked his skating.  But his desire to play the victim now (Big Bad Gay Media made me stay in the closet!) rings hollow given his constant need for the spotlight–including television shows and a movie about his “outrageous” personality.  Additionally, after all of his complaining about the constant probing into his sexuality he outed his rival/enemy Evan Lysacek on Chelsea’s Hendler’s show.  Dear Johnny, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, even you really do hate Evan Lysacek.

Politics: President Obama selected William Daley as his new Chief of Staff, and progressives are up in arms.  I share their disappointment that the President appointed someone who believes the Democrats went too far to the left, but we need to be rational about this for a second.  No progressive legislation is going to be passed in the next two years, Daley or no.  As of this past Wednesday, the Administration is unofficially at war with Congress.  In the face of inevitable investigations, government shut-downs, and the 2012 election cycle, nothing progressive was going to get done anyway.  The White House needs a general right now and one who is not afraid to fight.  (But it would be nice if the Obama White House branched out and employed someone from outside of Chicago.  The rest of us are not incompetent.)

League Football: Tomorrow Barcelona plays Deportivo La Coruña in A Coruña.  Depor has not had a great season thus far, but they are still dangerous, especially at the Riazor.  Barcelona barely got past Athletic Bilbao at the Copa del Rey this week, and squeaked by Levante last week, so there is clearly some rust.  That needs to be fixed ASAP given that Real Madrid is always lurking.

For weeks I have been hearing non-stop bashing of La Liga.  The whiner complain that it is boring because only one of two teams is going to win, and that’s only because the rest of the league is so weak.  It denigrates an entire league, whose overall quality is just as good as any other (and team-by-team there is better technical quality in La Liga than anywhere else in the world.)  The bashing is usually from the English (of course), and all they talk about is how only two teams exist in La Liga.  Let’s examine why the detractors are hypocrites.  Every major league in the world has its big two, three, or four.  Spain has Barcelona and Read Madrid; Italy has Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter; England has Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea (and previously Liverpool–sometimes); and Germany has Bayern Munich and occasionally a team that is not Bayern (this year it is Borussia Dortmund.)  Ligue 1 has been more competitive of late, but almost no one pays attention to Ligue 1 because the quality is just not there.  And we won’t even go into the problems with the leagues in Portugal, Scotland, Holland, and the rest of Europe.

Here are some facts.  Since the 1992-93 season, the beginning of the English Premier League, there have been 5 different winners in Spain.  There have been 5 different winners in Serie A.  There have been 6 different winners in the Bundesliga.  There have been only 4 winners in the Premier League.

From the 2000-2001 season to the 2009-2010 season there have been 3 different winners in La Liga, 4 in Serie A, 5 in the Bundesliga, and 3 in the Premier League.

From the 2005-2006 season to the 2009-2010 season there have been 2 different winners in La Liga, 1 winner in Serie A, 3 different winners in the Bundesliga, and 2 different winners in the Premier League.

In the 18 completed seasons since the formation of the Premier League, the top winner of La Liga (Barcelona) has won 8 titles; Serie A has a three tie for the spot as Juventus, Milan, and Inter each have 5 titles (but a lot of suspicion because of the Calciopoli scandal); the top winner of the Bundesliga (Bayern) has won 10 titles; the top winner of the Premier League (Manchester United) has won 11 titles.

This season as it stands, Barcelona leads La Liga by 2 points;  AC Milan leads Serie A by 5 points; Borussia Dortmund leads the Bundesliga by 10 points; and the most thoroughly mediocre Manchester United in recent history leads the Premier League by 4 points with two games in hand.

Meanwhile there actually a race in La Liga with two stellar teams (one possibly among the greatest of all time.)  In the other three major leagues, there is a lot of mediocrity at the top, which is why the league leaders lose and draw so many matches.

Can we please give lie to this canard that La Liga is boring?

World Football: Chile is probably out of a national coach.  The election for head of the Chilean Football Association head was held again, and this time Sergio Jadue won.  Bielsa has said he would resign if Harold Mayne-Nicholls (who did not run in the recontested election) was voted out.  There is a new head.  According to local media, Jadue will try to convince Bielsa to stay, but that probably will not happen.

And FIFA head Sepp Blatter, to the surprise of no one, is now calling for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to be held in the winter.  When will Sepp Blatter go already?

The Asian Cup has started in Qatar.  Qatar lost 2-0 to the powerhouse that is Uzbekistan.

Women’s Football: Kristine Lilly finally retired, and it is a sad day for American soccer, men’s or women’s.  Lilly participated in five World Cups, and was on the winning side in two of them.  She is the most capped player of all time, men or women, and the second highest scorer in women’s history.  She saved the US in the final match against China in the 1999 World Cup.  It is truly the end of an era, and the US team is all the better for her having played on it.

Music I listened to: Well none, but I did listen to a World Football Daily podcast.