Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns' Impassioned Speech on LGBT-Bullying-Related Teen Suicides

     Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns spoke last night about the recent string of LGBT-bullying related suicides.  He makes an impassioned plea to children considering suicide to not give up on life and then to parents and adults to make a difference and end the hate and the bullying.

     His impassioned speech is worth watching in whole.  (It brought me to tears.)  

     Just hold on. It really does get better.
     That's the message Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns shared in an emotional speech during Tuesday night's council meeting, saying his goal was to reach out to youths everywhere who are struggling with being gay.
     During a moving speech, Burns said it tears him up each time he hears about youths taking their own lives somewhere in America after being bullied because of their sexuality or simply struggling with it.
     Burns, who is gay, said he'd like to give his 13-year-old self -- who also struggled with being gay -- glimpses into the future.
     His younger version would see him meeting his partner, being loved by his parents, winning a City Council election, Burns said.
     "High school was difficult, coming out was painful," he said. "I want to tell any teen who is watching this, life will get better. ... Life will get so, so, so much better."

Our Fierce but Toothless Advocate; White House Appeals DOMA Ruling, What Will Obama Do with Don't Ask Don't Tell?

     President Obama just can't stop being a good Christian (and a hypocrite who breaks his political promises to LGBT persons).

     Yesterday, there was good news and bad news in federal-court-land.

     The good news:  on the Don't Ask Don't Tell front, Judge Virginia Phillips, who ruled in last month that DADT is unconstitutional, issued a worldwide injunction against the policy ordering the immediate end to investigations and discharges of gay and lesbian military personnel.  The bad news is that the Department of Justice has sixty days to appeal the decision.  Will the Obama administration appeal?  Will the president continue to be our self-proclaimed "fierce advocate" while letting this unconstitutional policy stand?

    For an indication of what might happen, we turn to the really bad news.  

     Yesterday, the Obama administration filed an appeal in federal court, challenging the ruling out of Massachusetts that the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the marriages of same-sex couples from being recognized across state lines and bars these married couples from all federal civil marriage benefits, is unconstitutional.  

     U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro had ruled on July 8 in the cases, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management and Massachusetts v. Department of Health and Human Services, that Section 3 of DOMA was unconstitutional on several grounds, finding that the marriage definition violated the equal protection and due process guarantees, as well as the Spending Clause and Tenth Amendment.
     The Obama administration is appealing a federal judge's ruling holding unconstitutional a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that bars health and retirement benefits for the same-sex spouses of federal employees.
     In July, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro ruled that the 1996 law violates the rights of states to set their own marriage policies and the rights of same-sex couples married in the states that permit such marriages.
     President Barack Obama has called for repealing DOMA, but the Justice Department defended the law in the trial court, citing a general policy of defending all statutes unless there is no plausible legal basis on which to do so...
    Facing a deadline in the state's case on Tuesday, the Justice Department filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit. The bare-bones notice, linked here, is fairly typical of such filings. It includes no argument nor any disclaimer about Obama disagreeing with the law.
     Where's Obama's fierce advocacy now?  Where are his teeth?  Where have they been?

     It's supposedly "standard procedure" for the White House to appeal federal decisions.  So, be fierce, President Obama.  Break the standard.  Or at the very least, include your arguments against the policy in the appeal.  You are, after all, the Commander in Chief elected by mandate who promised change we could believe it.  

     Help us to believe again.  Because, I don't.  I believe the stinging toothmarks in my ass.