DC has been very busy the last few weeks, and LGBT folks are among those who have been the focus of some of the busy-ness. A selective overview follows.
House Republicans just can’t stop spending money to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. They aren’t representative of all Republicans, as the statement from Log Cabin Republicans reveals:
… (LCR) Interim Executive Director, Gregory T. Angelo, released a statement criticizing House Republicans for their decision to incorporate ongoing counsel to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into the new Congressional Rules.
NDAA’s “Conscience Clause”
Moving to military matters, via Think Progress:
President Obama has signed the National Defense Authorization Act, but he issued several signing statements qualifying his measured support of its various provisions. In particular, he condemned the ‘conscience clause’ included in the conference version of the bill, a watered-down version of the ‘license to discriminate’ proposed by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) last year. President Obama made it clear he will not tolerate any attempt to promote anti-gay views in the military:
‘Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members. …’
Pentagon Censorship of LGBT Web Sites
John Aravosis at AmericaBlog has lead on this story.
DOD to investigate complaints that gay blogs, news sites are censored on Pentagon computers
I … received a statement from the Pentagon … in response to our series of stories over the past day about a number of gay and progressive Web sites — including AMERICAblog, Pam’s House Blend, Towleroad, Good As You, Bilerico, The Advocate, HRC’s blog, and the blog of a co-chair of OutServe-SLDN, Josh Seefried — being censored (blocked) by some DOD computers.
The Pentagon was informed this past summer that it was incorrectly censoring gay Web sites. Nothing was done.
A statement posted earlier … on the Pentagon’s Facebook page suggested that the Pentagon does not ban LGBT sites, but rather personal sites and blogs. We noted that this was not exactly true, as the Pentagon does not censor Ann Coulter’s personal blog, nor does it censor the conservative blogs Red State and Breitbart, nor the blog of the religious right hate group Family Research Council. The Pentagon’s earlier statement gave no indication of any effort to look into the matter, or correct any sites mistakenly censored.
This new statement is better.
From that statement, via Aravosis:
In order to help maintain adequate levels of information security in support of DoD policy, some components employ commercial tools that may allow users to visit ‘news’ sites while disallowing pages categorized as ‘personal sites and blogs’.
No filter is perfect and some sites may have unnecessarily been blocked. The Department Chief Information Officer will work with relevant components to address these situations.’
Today AmericaBlog adds DOD using same Blue Coat Internet censor as Syria, Saudi Arabia and likely Burma.
Aravosis notes that it’s obviously a “good” that the Pentagon “has made clear that they’ve gotten the message,” and will investigate, though of course it remains to be seen what happens next. As Aravosis adds
It’s rather creepy that our government may be … subjecting American troops to the same censorship tools used by Assad in Syria, the Saudi royal family, and possibly even the Burmese junta.
As one of those blocked by the Pentagon’s filtering, Pam Spaulding at Houseblend writes:
I don’t have a lot of faith that a DOD led by Chuck Hagel will do a damn thing about this problem.
About Hagel, from Chris Geidner, at Buzzfeed:
OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson, in a statement provided to BuzzFeed Friday afternoon, said:
‘Senator Hagel clearly has the military credentials and experience to do the job of running our nation’s Defense Department … and we appreciate his apology for the anti-gay remarks he made in 1998 and the commitment he expressed to LGBT service members and their families. It will now be incumbent upon him during the nomination and confirmation process to lay out demonstrable actions he will take to support that commitment.’
Something related to the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, initially introduced in 1994. From Jeremy Hooper at Good As You:
The American Family Association’s most visible … pundit is mad at Rep. Paul Ryan for supporting the Employment NonDiscrimination Act. Why? Because protecting LGBT people from basic nondiscrimination is, in Bryan Fischer’s world, just like state-mandated racial segregation … .
Fischer on ENDA:
This is a horrible bill for a social conservative to support since it would mean the absolute end of religious liberty and freedom of association in the marketplace. …
If ENDA goes into effect, no Christian employer could ever make a values-based personnel decision again. If a man wearing a dress, stilettos, and dangly earrings came into his Christian bookstore looking for a job and didn’t get one, the owner would be subject to a gigantic, business-ending discrimination lawsuit. …
In fact, ENDA would represent the return of Jim Crow laws. Only now the people victimized would not be victimized based on the color of their skin but on the content of their character.
For Fischer, only people who totally agree with him have “values,” and no doubt, only they have a “conscience” (see the NDAA snippet) worthy of legislation. When even Paul Ryan disagrees with you, it’s probably time to do some thinking and praying.
Out Members of Congress
Concluding on a “making progress” front, via The Advocate:
The 113th Congress has the highest number of openly LGBT members in the body’s history, with six in the House and, for the first time, an openly gay senator.
The seven: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin); Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona); Rep. Mark Pocan (Wisconsin); Rep. Mark Takano (California); Rep. Jared Polis (Colorado); Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (New York); Rep. David Cicilline (Rhode Island).