Obama: What Promises?

May 28, 2009

lgbt obama protestObama just spent two days in California raising $4 million dollars for the Democratic National Committee.

Outside the Beverly Hills location of last night’s event, groups waving pride flags protested the California Supreme Court’s recent Prop. 8 decision (above). Obama apparently made eye contact with one of them as he entered the building, as he referenced them in his remarks:

“One of them said, ‘Obama keep your promise,’ ” the president said. “I thought that’s fair. I don’t know which promise he was talking about.”

Not funny, Obama. Not. Funny.


So It’s Not Torture If We Blame It On ‘A Few Bad Apples’, Right?

May 28, 2009
Prison guards secure the main gate of the newly named Baghdad Central Prison in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib February 21, 2009. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen/Files

Prison guards secure the main gate of the newly named Baghdad Central Prison in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib February 21, 2009. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen/Files

Not good:

Photographs of Iraqi prisoner abuse which U.S. President Barack Obama does not want released include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Thursday. […]

“These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency,” [U.S. Major General Antonio] Taguba, who retired in January 2007, was quoted as saying in the paper. […]

Based on what he’s seen, Taguba supports Obama’s decision not to release the photos: “The mere depiction of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”

More specifically:

The newspaper said at least one picture showed an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Others are said to depict sexual assaults with objects including a truncheon [aka baton], wire and a phosphorescent tube.

There are 400 cases alleging abuse.

I understand the distinction between so-called enhanced interrogation (or methods that may be considered torture) and abuse: one is sanctioned through the chain of command and the other is not.

However, as the details and the breadth of this abuse becomes more known, one has to wonder the validity of the ‘a few bad apples’ defense applied to Private Lynndie England et al.

If the military runs a prison and establishes a culture in that prison – obviously shaped and sanctioned by commanding officers –  such that abuse is disturbingly heinous and increasingly common, does the sanctioning and perpetuation of that culture by superior officers not push those acts from abuse to torture?

On an LGBT note, that instance of male/male rape is not going to be good for efforts to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Jon Stewart: Moral Kombat (Updated)

May 15, 2009

I was happy I caught the beginning of “The Daily Show” last night because Jon, as he does better than anyone in media, highlighted the ridiculous juxtaposition of the torture debate/prisoner abuse photo ‘scandal’ with the administration’s lack of action on DADT, specifically in regards to Dan Choi.

The quote Towleroad pulled sums it up: “So it was okay to waterboard a guy over 80 times, but God forbid the guy who could understand what that prick was saying….has a boyfriend.”

Yep, pretty much.

Required viewing:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Update 3:44 PM: Apparently taking the lead from the above, a reporter challenged Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today on the logic of not releasing torture photos because they would endanger the troops but allowing the firing of Arabic linguists, like Dan Choi, who would presumably protect the troops.


Cases of gay Arabic linguists being dismissed from Iraq have been around forever but I’m glad the mainstream media is really biting into it this time.

Via JMG.

White House Reiterates Committment to *Repeal* DADT

May 4, 2009

presidential-seal-pride-flagAs I reported earlier, the language on the White House civil rights page recently went from “repeal don’t ask, don’t tell” to “sensibly change don’t ask, don’t tell.” (GAG).

It obviously caused some alarm among the blogospher and even the Service Members Legal Defense Network took notice.

Thankfully, AmericaBlog has some good news to report:

There was some concern that the Obama administration was backing off the President’s repeated promise to lift the ban after the White House Web site yesterday changed its commitment to “repeal” DADT to a promise to only “change” the policy in a “sensible way.” This led many observers, including the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, to worry whether the White House was backing off of its repeated commitment to, as President Obama himself promised, “fully repeal” the DADT policy.

The White House Web site has now been updated, again, and the “repeal” language is back. And while it’s couched in the same terms about being done in a “sensible way,” I would assume that all administration policy is implemented in a “sensible way,” so this should have no bearing on whether President Obama will keep his promise to fully repeal the ban.


Obama Retracts Promises To LGBT Population (Updated)

April 30, 2009

presidential-seal-pride-flagRemember when WhiteHouse.gov was updated, like, 0.52 seconds after President Obama’s inauguration on January 20?

At the time, the White House pledged the following goals, with detailed explanations for each heading:

– Expand Hate Crimes Statutes
– Fight Workplace Discrimination
– Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples
– Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage
– Repeal Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell
– Expand Adoption Rights
– Promote AIDS Prevention
– Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS

(Read the complete contents of the original web page in my Jan. 20 post.)

Nice list, huh? I remember how amazing it was to almost feel like a full and equal citizen.

Well, now that Obama’s been elected it seems like we’re not quite as necessary anymore. The ENTIRE Civil Rights page on the White House website has now been reduced to only:

Strengthen Anti-Discrimination Laws
On January 29, 2009, President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act to ensure that all Americans receive equal pay for equal work. The President is committed to expanding funding for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to ensure that voting rights are protected and Americans do not suffer from increased discrimination during a time of economic distress. President Obama also continues to support the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He supports full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples and opposes a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Lead Criminal Justice Reform
The President will lead the fight to build a more fair and equitable criminal justice system. He will seek to strengthen federal hate crime legislation and will work to ensure that federal law enforcement agencies do not resort to racial profiling. He supports funding for drug courts, giving first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, if appropriate, in drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than prison terms in changing behavior. President Obama will also improve ex-offender employment and job retention strategies, substance abuse treatment, and mental health counseling so ex-offenders can successfully re-join society.

Yeah. That’s the entire page. Um, WHAT THE FUCK ‘BAMA?!

And can we note the semantic difference between the original “expand hate crimes statues,” which implies current laws are inferior and need to be replaced by superior legislation, and the current “strengthen anti-discrimination laws,” which implies the current laws just need a little Band-Aid?!


The White House can be e-mailed here.

(This post owes everything to Joe.My.God.)

UPDATE: JMG sent a letter to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and received this response:

Hi Joe,

I wanted to let you know that Rea Carey contacted the White House directly about the issue today after you alerted us to your post. Rea was told that they are changing the White House Web site to turn it into a more governance-focused site to reflect progress, as opposed to a campaign and transition site. They said they have taken out many such points throughout the site (not just on LGBT policy issues) as part of this changeover, and are apparently modifying the site over the next few weeks. We will be keeping an eye on it, but if you see changes before we do (or a lack thereof), please let us know. And thank you for calling this to our attention.

Warm regards,

Inga Sarda-Sorensen
Director of Communications
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

Hmm… I don’t think I’m satisfied…

UPDATE #2: The White House’s Civil Rights page has now been updated to include:

He supports changing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell in a sensible way that strengthens our armed forces and our national security, and also believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Changing?  Sigh. What happened to repealing? AmericaBlog is reporting that the White House is assuring them that this language doesn’t reflect a change in policy but I think that’s pretty hard to swallow complete bullshit.

JMG also continues his coverage.