Archive for GLBT

Pegging Those Deplorables

Hillary Clinton got it right. Let’s join her and keep it up…for the rest of our lives. Many Donald Trump supporters prove themselves in word and action to be hate mongers. They need to be called out now and regularly. That may eventually get through to them.

With bitter amusement, we see Trump, his surrogates and even the amoral among commentators have been wailing about her demonizing these hard-working loyal Americans with her observation. Instead, she has pointed to the demons and called them by name. That is as right and necessary task.

Yes, she did it. Yes, she should have done it. No, everyone’s feelings and thoughts are not of equal worth. No, bigots shouldn’t get a free ride in the public byways.

I mix rant with some personal experiences in calling out — and affecting — racists. Oh, and I’ll point out the perfection of the Talmud on this.

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It’s a Bloody World After All,

With this weekend’s Orlando horrors, let’s transcend fantasy. While that city is the nation’s dream kingdom, we have to get real.

I had to rant and am beyond impatient. Gun-rights crazies are quick to call for arming everyone with the most powerful weapons. Lefties beg Congress, please, oh pretty please, give us minimal background check laws. All is jive.

What doesn’t work are calls fantasies that because foreign armies haven’t landed here, we are safe. What doesn’t work is pretending that “the other” and “outsiders” are the threats (in reality only 9-11 and a tiny subset of mass murders here were by non-native citizens). What doesn’t work are having guards everywhere and surrendering the liberties that define our nation.

I went into a splash of the mass murders here from 1622, many by government agents and mobs. We are delusional in thinking we are unique and protected. It is our neighbor who is likely to attack us.

I propose some legislation but more mind shifts and social action. We see that gun buy-backs don’t work, that more guards don’t work, that surrendering liberties that define us won’t work. That nativism and isolationism don’t work.

Sure, we need to do the 1934 anti-Tommy gun laws for “assault rifle” weapons and such. We also need to loudly let members of Congress know that the wee donations from gun makers can no longer carry weight — calling out Senators and Reps who accept these bribes. Let’s not tremble from the slippery-slope argument and start immediately to remove semi-automatic rifles from this nation.

I’m not ready to give up my liberties to a Big Brother nor can I accept letting fellow citizens arm to kill me at whim.

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O’Connor Ives Podcast

Three-term Newburyport Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives joined us to talk about her run for the open MA Senate seat in 1st Essex. She acknowledged it’s a tough field. She wants to beat out two other Democrats in next week’s primary. There are also two unenrolled and two Republicans after the spot.

As her website details, she has staked out specific proposals across a spectrum of issues from the environment to economic redevelopment to public safety to women’s rights to campaign-finance reform. She bristled only once with us, at the mention that one of her opponents likes to portray himself as the progressive in the race. She pointed out that her positions gives her as much right.

Listen in as she speaks to her policies and planks. We covered a wide range of topics, as well as her collaborative style by which she expects to pass legislation. She also differentiated herself from her fellow Dems in the race. For example, she said they stress their executive experience, which she says is not all that useful for a job that would entail understanding policy, parsing proposed legislation and researching. As an environmental lawyer, she thinks she has a leg up here.

Listen in as she presents herself as “not a Pollyanna.” Yet she is relentlessly hopeful and has a clear sense of direction.

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Buehrens on Equality Outlook Podcast

Long-term marriage equality warrior Rev. John Buehrens does not see smooth seas for that struggle, but to torture the nautical image, he is sure the ship will arrive…and sooner that many think. He’s served nine years on the board of Freedom to Marry and joined us today.

Listen in as he talks about the five states in play this year, with legislative votes or referenda in the works. Two are defensive actions.

He speaks of the trends favoring per-state and nationwide equality. That will of course include removing the Defense of Marriage Act. He also foresees the 14th Amendment (equal protection) coming into play as more courts base decisions using it.

He paints a picture of 10 states with equal marriage and 10 more with all-but-marriage legalization. He figures that will be the tipping point. Coupled with the slight and growing national support for equality, he sees that math as undeniable.

He discusses the big parties as well. He would be very surprised if the Dems did not include an equality plank in this year’s platform, even it it phrased in mild terms. For the Republicans, despite the current POTUS candidate rhetoric, he finds many GOP pols and legislators far from monolithic in opposing marriage equality.

Listen in as he touches on state-by-state and national trends and expectations.

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Double Up Week with SSM and MA Sen. Hopeful

Compassion and ambition, humanity and candidacy up this week.

Monday, Rev. John Buehrens joins us at 2:00 to reflect and project on same-sex marriage by state and the nation. He has been on the board of Freedom to Marry for 9 years.

Tuesday, Mara Dolan, almost certainly with joy and eagerness about her announced candidacy for the MA Senate comes on the show. Dem activist, cable show host, and attorney, she was on recently to praise the Emerge Massachusetts program to train and encourage women to run for office. And now…

Obviously, these are two very different shows, but each guest as a progressive activist. Both shows will stream live and then be available on demand at their streaming URLs, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes page.

Monday, March 12th, catch Rev. Buehrens live at 2:00 PM Eastern here if you can.

Tuesday, March 13th, you can listen live to Dolan at 2:30 PM Eastern here.


State of SSM, Redo

We’re on for Rev. John Buehrens on national and state-by-state prospects for marriage equality. The show will be Monday, March 12th at 2 PM Eastern.

If you can listen live, click in then to this URL. It will be available on-demand afterward, here on Left Ahead, at the show URL, or on our iTunes page. John Buehrens

While many of us have been supporting same-sex marriage, Rev. Buehrens has been in the van of the struggle. Through his work on the board of Freedom to Marry, he’s fought and lost and won, coming to the show with powerful insights from 9 years at it.

He offers some encouragement after seeing much faster advances than he had expected. He carries no delusions this battle is over. He’ll tell us what to expect.


State of Marriage Equality


Sorry, all. A call-in problem prevented our connection today. There are 13 minutes of me blathering, which I’ll erase. I’ll reschedule this and announce the updated time, date and URLs.

John Buehrens is a UU minister and former president of the UUA. For Left Ahead, we’re particularly pleased to have him on next week because he has been on the board of Freedom to Marry for nine years. He joins us to talk about the on-going civil rights struggle and where we might expect some wins short- and mid-term.

Because Super Tuesday primaries happen on our usual day and time, we bump one day to Wednesday, March 7th, at 2:30 PM Eastern. Listen live if you can then.

As usual, if you can’t click in then, you can listen on-demand or download the show at that URL, back here at Left Ahead or on our iTunes page.

Rev. Buehrens was the first heterosexual on that board. He’s been a social activist for his 40 year ministerial career, but has gained particular insights and expertise in marriage equality in the past decade. In recent comments covered over at Marry in Massachusetts, for example, he called the Maryland win.


Walsh on 2012 Races Podcast

MA Dem Party Chair John Walsh is always funny, always fun and scary smart. He joined us today to talk strategy and prospects for the 2012 elections, but he won’t ever forget early 2010.

He led the commonwealth Dems to sweeping victory in November 2012 while the rest of the nation was awash in GOP fervor. In no small part, that was because he learned from the special-election loss at the start of the year that saw Republican Scott Brown edge Dem Martha Coakley for the US Senate seat. He continues to build on the lessons he learned after that, including conversations with Dem activists and pols.

Chief among those are:

  • start early
  • put resources in the hands of the locals and listen to their judgment

For the first, he knows that it would be disastrous for some party official in Boston to show up five weeks before the election with a new, improved plan for campaigning. Instead, the found that it is at the precinct and ward level where the organizers understand the patterns and trends locally. Communication needs to be both ways bottom to top and top to bottom.

Patrick padI started with my own recurring atonement as illustrated with the attached organizer pad for the 2010 campaign to re-elect Gov. Deval Partrick and Lt. Gov. Tim Murray. When Walsh made it plain that the party strategy centered on activists playing the role of organizers for people they knew, I had no doubt that was a losing plan. As I freely admit, it was instead a winning plan, one that was the foundation for Walsh’s current strategy. While the nation wallowed in red, MA was astonishingly blue, losing only a couple of state representative seats in the reactionary tide. I keep this pad handy to remind me of my pundit fallibility.

Click below to hear John speak of the refined version of keeping and improving on his party’s position. Dems are spreading the word through training and data on possible non-voting party members and party leaners who have not voted in the past two or three Presidentials. Through these vote-builder accounts, local activists can ID those and get them to the polls.

Walsh noted that the difference in that painful special-election defeat was about 50 votes per precinct (“It seemed like much worse,” he told us). Depending on the election (POTUS or not), there can be between 300,000 and 600,000 Dems or leaning Dems among non-voters. For many of those, voting is on their list, but not as high as “brushing teeth and pushing amrs in sweaters” in the case of those with kids. Some are young voters not in the habit yet and others are older voters recently infirm. He sees some of these are candidates for absentee voting.

Others don’t understand the big and small issues in the current contests. In these latter cases, Walsh notes, “When we have voters who don’t get it, it’s our fault.” That’s where he concentrates his work — getting out the vote and making sure Dems know the importance of the issues.

Walsh added that “as much as it pains me to say it,” about 1.1 million MA residents voted for Sarah Palin, largely GOP and unenrolled ones. While 1.9 million smeared the ovals for Joe Biden, the difference per election for Dems is getting them to the polls. Listen in as he describes how the party uses the online voter lists and has gotten 300 town committees trained so far in face-to-face work with those who have not been voting.

For this November, he is well aware that following the Citizens United decision, a disheartening amount of winger ads and other expenditures will target both President Obama and the MA Dem candidate for US Senate. He’s a firm believer that “the only thing that can beat big money” is face-to-face contact, real citizens v. Citizens United. He said that money only “simulates the relationships.”

Beyond the election, he indulged us on the questions at least one US Senate candidate, Marisa DeFranco, raised earlier this month about the process of getting on the ballot. Listen in as he agrees that it can seem arduous to get 10,000 signatures, the 15% of party delegates (around 750) at the June convention to get on the primary ballot. He has the luxury of inheriting the state law and party rules, but added that he’s open to refinements.

This go in November, Walsh is working toward getting an additional 20% to 30% more Dems and leaning Dems to the polls.


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Robyn Ochs on Sexuality Podcast

The spectrum or range or continuity of human sexuality was today’s show topic with Robyn Ochs. She is a workshop leader, sometimes professor and prolific author on gender identity and sexuality. Her website is here, replete with a link to her most noted book, Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World.

We ran a little overtime. So anyone listening who missed the last eight minutes can hear them here.

We got into the messy, politically related aspects as well as the intended topic. Those are inevitably linked.

She started by describing a workshop exercise she says she has led over 1,000 times. Do listen in to how she gets the participants to define how they have identified their sexuality over time, and then gets everyone to place themselves in relation to the others in the room. There are many I-never-thought-about-that moments and often the surprises of people who define themselves as straight, bi, pansexual, homosexual, asexual and on and on, overlap in how they fit along a continuum of identity. She said the labels thus become less different from each other as they move along the range of descriptions.

To the tricky questions related to the binary concept of straight/gay, she said that both people of all ages are changing perceptions, broadening them, and that those who fear or are confused about the concepts are in for more change. She noted that older people are changing perceptions too. She had little patience for those who use code phrase like lifestyle to imply that a bisexual or homosexual chooses gender identity arbitrarily. She finds it odd that they seem to think that heterosexual-identified people have lives and other people have lifestyles. Instead, everyone has a life, including sexual identity, which may change over time.

Ochs was also plain in saying that the concept of choice here is absurd. She said, “I’ve never met a single person who has decided whom to fall in love with.”

She’s seen terrific improvement in support for the range of sexuality, as well as such overt effect as same-sex marriage legalization. Even in her own family and friends, she’s found a marked shift toward acceptance. Part of this is awareness of people identified as gay, bi and more. This trend is linked to three factors:

  • People are going public with their sexual identify at an earlier age
  • The marriage-equality movement is making more people aware of overt discrimination
  • The media coverage and such shows as Glee and The Ellen DeGeneres Show are showing more types of people as likable

Click below to hear her describe the workshop and her insights on that spectrum of sexuality.

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Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz Podcast

The ever-intense MA Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz joined us today, centering on redistricting, transgender rights, and education. Not only is she a progressive leader in LGBT issues, she chairs the Joint Committee on education and is vice-chair of the Special Joint Committee on Redistricting.

With yesterday’s announcement that U.S. Rep. Barney Frank will not run for reelection next year, of course, we immediately jumped to the just completed redistricting effort. MA had to go from 10 US House seats to 9, and Frank cited the resulting map as a catalyst for his decision. His new district loses several liberal strongholds, such as New Bedford.

She said “there are things that are not difficult to know when you look at the map.” Yet, the redistricting body, she added, neither protected nor punished anyone and “did not put politics first and did not put incumbents first.” Listen in as she describes the committee’s mandate and very high bar for balancing districts down to identical numbers of voters, while keeping “communities of interest” together. Those were such as areas with residents of color that share concerns, or coast areas with interest in fishing, or agricultural communities. She noted that the resulting map successfully increased majority minority communities by 50% in the House and 100% (from 10 to 20) in the Senate.

For the transgender-rights bill, she described its passage as one of the things she was “truly, truly thankful for” last week. She noted that advocates had worked for up to eight years to gain the anti-discrimination protections for employment, credit and housing among other areas. The bill finally passed without a public-accommodations provision, which would include hotels, restaurants, locker rooms and even restroom access by gender identification. Listen in as she describes how the effort to include those areas will continue, but she can’t project a schedule.

Personally too, including as a former public-school teacher, she is very strong on her dropout bill (S.185). She wants to prevent the 8,000 MA students a year who “walk out the front door of their school and don’t come back.” They often end up in the penal system or on public assistance instead of contributing to the economy and larger life. Listen in as she speaks of one-on-one coaching for students identified as at risk, about aiding parental involvement, about early warning indicators, and the role of discipline.

icon for podpress  Sonia Chang-Diaz [32:41m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download