History Lesson: Rachel Maddow Spotlights AIDS Activist Organization ACT UP

Rachel Maddow highlighted the group ACT UP (AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) on its 25th birthday- and reveals that she was part of the work.

I remember ACT UP- and I remember the malaise and apathy they remedied. When the government and elected officials didn’t act, activists and mothers and lesbians held them accountable.  A healthy reminder of where we’ve been- may we never return.

Rehberg Taking Heat For Big Spending- From A Republican

From The Montana Democrats:

Multimillionaire Congressman Dennis Rehberg’s GOP primary opponent is raising some legitimate questions about the 11-year Congressman’s history of irresponsible government spending and power grabs.

According to the Lee Newspapers, Dennis Teske is frustrated that,

“Rehberg has voted for unconstitutional expansions of government power, like the Patriot Act in 2001, and plenty of government spending.”

Mr. Teske is right — Congressman Rehberg not only supported the Patriot Act twice, he co-sponsored his own controversial bill to give Homeland Security total “operational control” over the 100 northernmost miles of Montana.  Named the number one earmarker in the Tea Party Caucus, Congressman Rehberg also voted to raise the debt ceiling 10 times.

Congressman Rehberg has been of part the problem in Washington for 11 long years,” said Ted Dick, Executive Director of the Montana Democratic Party.  “Montanans of all stripes are right to be upset with Congressman Rehberg’s support for the Patriot Act and his hypocrisy on the debt.  Unfortunately, playing games with our freedoms and tax dollars is part of the culture in Washington, and Congressman Rehberg is too out of touch to put Montana first.

Here’s more:

HOMELAND SECURITY LAND GRAB:  Congressman Rehberg is sponsoring a bill that “would give the secretary of homeland security total operational authority over all federal lands within 100 miles of the U.S. international and maritime borders” [Great Falls Tribune, 9/21/11].  Critics said the bill was “exactly the kind of big government Montanans don’t tolerate” [Missoulian, 9/28/11].

REAL ID:  In 2005 Congressman Rehberg praised a plan to force all Montanans to get government ID cards saying, “something states should have been doing all along”  [Rehberg Press Release,5/6/05].

PATRIOT ACT:  Congressman Rehberg has long supported the controversial Patriot Act, something Jon Tester has consistently opposed  [HR 2975, Vote 386, 10/12/01; HR 3162, Vote 398, 10/24/01; HR 3199, Vote 414, 07/21/05; HR 3199, Vote 627, 12/14/05; S 2271, Vote 20, 03/07/06, HR 514, House Roll Call Vote 29, 2/10/11].

TEA PARTY’S TOP EARMARKER:  According to the watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste, Congressman Rehberg  “takes the prize as the Tea Partier with his name on the most earmarks” [National Journal, 12/2/10].

10 VOTES TO RAISE THE DEBT CEILING:  

  1. [S. 627, House Roll Call Vote #677, 7/29/2011]
  2. [HR 2560, House Roll Call Vote #606, 7/19/2011]
  3. [HCR376, Vote #158, 5/18/06]
  4. [HR 4297, Vote 67, 3/16/06; CQ, 3/16/06]
  5. [CRS, The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases, 1/10; HCR95, Vote #149, 214-211, 4/28/05]
  6. [HRS 683, Vote 280, 6/22/04; CQ Today, 6/23/04; AP, 6/22/04]
  7. [SCR 95, Vote #198, 5/19/04]
  8. [S 2986, Vote 536, 11/18/04; Washington Post, 11/19/04]
  9. [CRS, The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases, 1/10; HCR95, Vote #141, 216-211,4/11/03]
  10. [Congressional Research Service; S 2578, Vote 279, 06/27/02]

Study: That Queer-bashing Bully Could Be Gay

A fascinating study, discussed in the New York Times this morning, reveals that, at least in a clinical setting, “very straight” persons often struggle with same-sex feelings:

No Homophobia logo

No Homophobia logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One theory is that homosexual urges, when repressed out of shame or fear, can be expressed as homophobia. Freud famously called this process a “reaction formation” — the angry battle against the outward symbol of feelings that are inwardly being stifled. Even Mr. Haggard seemed to endorse this idea when, apologizing after his scandal for his anti-gay rhetoric, he said, “I think I was partially so vehement because of my own war.”

It’s a compelling theory — and now there is scientific reason to believe it. In this month’s issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, we and our fellow researchers provide empirical evidence that homophobia can result, at least in part, from the suppression of same-sex desire.

Well, as anybody whose been following Glee knows, the bully can often turn out to be the would-be boyfriend. I remember a few of them from my own life- who were the most vehement haters of the gays- and later turned out to be, as one of them told me later “a relieved homosexual.” The authors conclude:

It’s important to stress the obvious: Not all those who campaign against gay men and lesbians secretly feel same-sex attractions. But at least some who oppose homosexuality are likely to be individuals struggling against parts of themselves, having themselves been victims of oppression and lack of acceptance. The costs are great, not only for the targets of anti-gay efforts but also often for the perpetrators. We would do well to remember that all involved deserve our compassion.

Read the full article here.

“Top 10 GOP Attacks On Women’s Health”

Want some facts regarding women’s health issues and the GOP? The Montana  Democrats break it down:

One of the symbols of German Women's movement ...

One of the symbols of German Women's movement (from the 1970s) Deutsch: Ein Logo der deutschen Frauenbewegung (aus den 70er Jahren) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

National political observers have coined the term “War on Women” to describe Republican attacks on women’s health, ranging from plans to block access to contraception to massive cuts to cancer screening services.

But here in Montana, Republicans’ War on Women is far from a recent development.  In Congress, Dennis Rehberg has a long record irresponsible decisions on women’s health, and Republicans in the state legislature have been with him every step of the way, even going so far as to compare women to animals.  (Yesreally.)

To bring the story home, here are Montana Republicans’ Top Ten most extreme attacks on women’s health:  

10.  In Washington, Congressman Rick Hill voted multiple times to gut funding for access to contraception [Roll Call 290, HR4101, July 16, 1998 + Roll Call 493, HR4104, October 7, 1998 + Roll Call 494, HR4104, October 7, 1998].

9. Congressman Rehberg has earned the support of Foster Fries, the billionaire donor who said women use “asprin between their knees” as birth control.

8. Republican legislators pushed a bill to force women to view ultrasounds. Women’s health advocates called the measure an “offensive intrusion.”

7. Congressman Rehberg has been exposed by women’s health advocates for not understanding how funding for women’s health services works .

6.  Congressman Rehberg has voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which aims to make sure women are paid equally with men.  [Vote 768, 7/31/07; Vote 37, 1/27/09; CQ Votes]

5.  State Rep. Keith Regier compared pregnant women to “preg-tested” cattle during a discussion about family planning.

4.  In his first campaign for Congress, Hill attacked his opponent Nancy Keenan for being a single woman without children, though Keenan was unable to have children due to health reasons.

3.  Congressman Rehberg wrote two bills in the last year that would have completely ended funding for Title X, which helps women access preventative care like cancer screenings.

2.  When law student Sandra Fluke testified in opposition to plans to block access to contraception, state Rep. Krayon Kerns compared her to to a breeding dog.

1. Congressman Hill and Congressman Rehberg both want to let women pay higher health insurance premiums than men.

(For his part, Congressman Rehberg voted to overturn the law in the state legislature in the 1980s. [3r, HB 519, 2/18/87, House Final Status; and 1987 Women's Lobbyist Fund News]  Congressman Hill used to profit off insurance premiums as an insurance company executive.)

Sisters Get A Facebook Solidarity Page

You may have heard that the Vatican is investigating U.S. Sisters for being, as someone I know said, “Ridiculously outside the mission of the church- they’re the only ones getting it right”.

Now the sisters have a new Facebook page for people to express their solidarity with them in the face of this hierarchical end run.

“Support Our Catholic Sisters- shaping faith, shaping lives” is the title of this page. Its mission is described thusly:

Women religious have inspired countless lives in remarkable ways. Let’s mobilize the Catholic community in support of our Catholic sisters.
For most Catholics, our sisters are our most precious resource within the church. They’ve taught us and our children in schools. They’ve run our hospitals. They ministered to us in our parishes. They’ve encouraged us in good times and bad. Perhaps more than any other group within the church, they’ve shaped our faith.They have helped us so much over the years. Now they are in need of expressions of our support and gratitude.

The Vatican last week ordered an umbrella organization representing 80 percent of the sisters of America, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, to reform its programs to conform more closely to the official teachings of the church or face further disciplinary actions.

To oversee the reform process, the Vatican has appointed Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain and given him wide-ranging power to oversee and direct LCWR as he reviews and revises the organization’s policies.

The women say they were “stunned” by this Vatican directive and to be the objects of these directives. As sisters across the country begin to discern what these changes mean for their lives, Support our Catholic Sisters aims to harness the stories, testimonials and actions planned on behalf of the sisters and report these to you.

We want Support our Catholic Sisters to be shared widely to build support for these wonderful women.

How has one or more Catholic sisters changed your life? Use Support our Catholic Sisters to post your testimonial and those of your family members and friends. Help us tell your stories. Post short essays, photos and/or videos telling us what a particular sister has meant to your life.

Are you organizing a prayer service or vigil? Are you part of a letter writing campaign? Share with us the details here.

We want to report the actions of our Catholic communities as they express their support and affection for the women have set exemplary examples, shaping consciences and faith lives for so many years.

I’ve “liked” it- simply because bullying in any form is repugnant to me. Go here and “Like” it too.

Transgender Breakthrough

From Kris Hermanns, Executive Director, Pride Foundation:

I wasn’t sure if you heard word (Monday), but history was made once again.

For the first time ever, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has ruled that discrimination against an employee or applicant on the basis of the person’s gender identity violates the prohibition on sex discrimination contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The EEOC’s decision means that transgender employees across the country who experience workplace discrimination can now file a claim with the EEOC at any of its offices across the country.

Below is a link to a full article about the EEOC decision, the implications, and comments from some of the leading legal minds who have been working to advance transgender legal protections for decades. I encourage you to read it.

This is an incredible decision. We continue to make steady progress and are moving closer to the day when LGBTQ people and their families are fully recognized, protected, and supported.

It’s exciting to know Pride Foundation is a part of making this all happen.

Thank you.

Kris

# # #

Transgender Breakthrough

EEOC ruling that gender-identity discrimination is covered by Title VII is a ”sea change” that opens the doors to employment protection for transgender Americans

By Chris Geidner
Published on April 23, 2012, 10:38pm | Comments

An employer who discriminates against an employee or applicant on the basis of the person’s gender identity is violating the prohibition on sex discrimination contained in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to an opinion issued on April 20 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The opinion, experts say, could dramatically alter the legal landscape for transgender workers across the nation.

More at http://www.metroweekly.com/news/?ak=7288

Related articles

Religion And Sex

…it’s never simple. And when you add celibate men to the mix…. Well, you know.

An excellent analysis and commentary that everyone should read. From New Ways Ministry:

New Ways Ministry and many Catholic theologians, leaders, organizations, and individuals have long called on the church’s hierarchy to listen to the experiences of LGBT people as a way to develop doctrine and positions. The importance of consulting the scripture of experience–how God speaks through people’s lives–is nowhere more needed than in the development of doctrine about sexual relationships and expression.

The necessity of such consultation was brought home to me again when I read Jo McGowan’s article, “Simplifying Sex: What Some Priests Don’t Understand About Contraception,” in Commonweal magazine. Though writing specifically about the recent debate about insurance funding for contraception, McGowan’s piece rings true for hierarchical statements about sexuality generally.The thesis of her argument should be a mantra repeated by church leaders everywhere:

“Sex is never simple.”

McGowan’s article responds primarily to a New York Times article which contained an interview with a priest. She writes:

Icon for Wikimedia project´s LGBT portal (Port...

Icon for Wikimedia project´s LGBT portal (Portal:LGBT). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“. . .it is unsettling when men who may never have experienced sex feel qualified not just to speak about it but to pronounce on it with certainty. In an article in the New York Times (February 18), Fr. Roger Landry, a priest in my old diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts, is quoted as saying, ‘What happens in the use of contraception, rather than embracing us totally as God made the other, with the masculine capacity to become a dad, or the feminine capacity to become a mom, we reject that paternal and maternal leaning.’ ”

“Well, no, Fr. Landry, we don’t. We don’t reject it. We make a decision about it. We recognize that pregnancy is a possibility, and we decide whether this is the right time for us to have a baby. We acknowledge that we are more than just potential (or actual) parents. One of the surest signs of youth—in any profession—is an unswerving adherence to literal interpretations. New teachers cling to the curriculum, whether or not the class is getting it. Young doctors focus on the clear x-ray, unable to see the patient in front of them writhing in pain. Parish priests preach the letter of the law, while their parishioners refuse to follow rules created without reference to the reality they know. But the rules aren’t just unrealistic. They are often irrelevant, based on incorrect or incomplete information.”

McGowan’s analogy to the penchant that young doctors and young priests have for relying on outside, abstract information makes the point vividly. Sexuality is not something that can be described or discussed from an outsider’s perspective in abstract terms. Accurate information and perspectives on it must come from people’s lived experiences. I would like to add another analogy to her already excellent one: Not consulting people’s experience of sexuality in order to develop doctrine is like an atheist trying to describe and define spirituality and religion without consulting the people who practice faith. Both spirituality and sexuality are intensely personal experiences that can only be understood fully from the inside out.

McGowan illustrates this idea best when she refutes Fr. Landry’s ideas about pleasure in sex:

“Fr. Landry goes on to say, ‘Contraception…make[s] pleasure the point of the act, and any time pleasure becomes the point rather than the fruit of the act, the other person becomes the means to that end. And we’re actually going to hurt the people we love.’ At one level, this is insightful and nuanced. When he laments how frequently such objectification happens to women in sexual relationships, Fr. Landry sounds almost feminist. And he is right that a relationship that’s only about the pursuit of pleasure is demeaning and ultimately hurtful.

“He is wrong, though, to assume that using contraception automatically makes ‘pleasure the point of the act.’ This is how adolescents think. Teenagers dream of constantly available sex, uninhibited by any possibility of pregnancy. That priests would talk the same way about sex between a husband and wife who have chosen to use contraception reflects inexperience and adolescent projection.

“Adults understand that good sex, with or without contraception, goes deeper than pleasure. It is complex and demanding. And pleasure isn’t necessarily a part of it. Any human encounter requiring honesty and surrender has the potential for both revelation and pain. The communication, healing, and strengthening that good sex ensures is foundational to a marriage. Pure pleasure the point of the act? What is Fr. Landry talking about?”

McGowan shows here that an outsider’s perspective is actually a distorted perspective which focuses on one potential aspect of the sexual situation. Since sexuality is so much more than physical acts, an outsider can not understand the deeply emotional dimension that is involved in the physical activity of sex. To theorize about sexuality based only on physical acts is to look only at the evidence that is able to be seen, and not to take the perspective of faith, which St. Paul tells us involves the “evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Sexual license is not McGowan’s goal; responsible sexuality is. She makes the important observation that strict adherence to abstract rules about sexuality can actually lead to irresponsible sex:

“But every human activity has the potential to become unbalanced. Having children mindlessly, year after year, as former generations of Catholics did, is just as harmful to the social good as the refusal to connect sex with pregnancy. Visit India, Fr. Landry. Talk with the women here who are treated purely as producers of sons.

“To defend contraception within marriage is not to defend sexual license. Married couples who have pledged a lifetime of commitment to each other and their families have the right and the duty to make their own decisions about contraception. The church’s role is to help them arrive at the decision that is right for their lives. It is not to dictate one-size-fits-all rules that have no foundation in practical experience.”

I don’t think that I’ve ever read a defense of consulting sexual practitioners for their experience which was as honestly and matter-of-factly stated as McGowan’s is. Clearly, the principles that she states here can be equally and easily applied to the experience of lesbian and gay people, as they are to heterosexual people.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

ADAP Watch 4/19/12

Last week (while I was on vacation)- NASTAD released the ADAP waiting list. From NAPWA (emphasis mine):

There’s some good news on the ADAP front: the FY 2011 emergency federal ADAP funding has brought waiting list numbers down in a number of states. South Carolina has eliminated its waiting list altogether, for the time being.

The bad news is that the numbers aren’t coming down very much. Georgia and Virginia – big states with big budgets – account for almost two-thirds of the nation’s total waiting list, and it looks like they are accepting their waiting lists as the “new normal.” Other states have disguised their real unmet need by setting income eligibility ceilings artificially low, and that looks set to become the “new normal,” too.

It’s hard to understand and hard to forgive. Over five years, it will cost the states with visible waiting lists or waiting lists whisked away by lowering income ceilings more to care for PLWHA who become sick enough for Medicaid than it would have cost to give them drugs to keep them healthy. It’s already a dollars-and-cents blunder before we even think about the human cost.

Here are the latest numbers from our friends at NASTAD: