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Would Jesus save the railways?

Friday, December 5th, 2014

A train tagged with the word 'Jesus' in graffitiLast week a survey by UK polling agency won the prize for the most stupid question in an opinion poll:

Do you think Jesus would support or oppose renationalising the railways, so they are run in the public sector rather than by private companies?

It’s unlikely Jesus would have held a view, given that public transport had not been invented. But as one wit pointed out on Twitter: ‘He arrived by Virgin‘! Click to continue »

LGBT Organizations Should Not Criticize President Obama’s Immigration Move

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

President Barack ObamaDear LGBTI Activists, Advocates and Organizations,

Now that the dust is settling I want to again applaud President Barack Obama for his push toward immigration reform with the Executive Order (EO) he spoke of last night.

The President could not feasibly do much more than he did – because of the current political climate, which necessitated the EO in the first place. Hence I do not believe LGBT organizations should criticize President Obama for not doing more at this time, and should instead support this move as a courageous and imperative tool toward full comprehensive immigration reform for all.

The speech and resulting EO is clearly orchestrated to provide as little ammunition to the Republican Party as possible. The President kept it to an enforcement order only, issuing a challenge for the Republicans to get to work on the immigration legislation they are pretending is not there. Remember Comprehensive Immigration reform already passed the Senate and has been at Speaker Boehner’s feet for how long?

President Obama cannot legislate in place of Congress; that is their job. This EO serves as a push-and-shove challenge to the Republicans to now get off their obstructive butts to finally govern on the issue of immigration.

It really is a political tool to challenge the Republicans to do something or choose death in 2016. That is clearly why the President could ONLY give ‘so little,’ as some may see it, at this time – and yet to so many parents and children he has given so much! Almost 5 million will be impacted in a life changing way.

As LGBT activists we should applaud helping the millions consisting of families with children, including many in our community too. Some LGBTI people may be left out – as are many heterosexual people and others in our LGBT community may be excluded simply because our families do not have equal rights – to that I say – where is our Full Equality Bill? Therein lies the real fight for us as a LGBT community. And of course we all support Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) for all; and we all ought to support the President in urging the newly elected majority Republican Congress to legislate appropriately on this issue of a broken immigration system. The EO goes mere inches in this direction as it only is enforcement related and does not provide a path to citizenship.

As LGBTI activists our job is not to criticize the President for his immigration EO when he is so clearly faced with the limitations he has – he can only issue an enforcement related EO – as the safest way to tackle these Republicans and do the much needed push.

This has still taken courageous leadership and for that we should be grateful. As an LGBT community with a very supportive President, why would we want to participate in setting him up for EO’s that could be challenged successfully by his enemies? It is bad enough as it is – they will challenge him on this EO and do anything than can to find a way to impeach. They were talking impeachment in their speculative rhetoric before they even knew what he was going to propose. Instead they got an in the face challenge; a call to do their job. Now let us see if they are able to govern or not or will this be yet another excuse to continue to obstruct? However this time the ball lands squarely in their court and they can chose to hit it back or let it drop to the ground and trail off into a distant corner of the court.

We cannot forget that the President has all the guns of the Republicans pointed at him, fingers on the triggers, ready to shoot him down. And so he cleverly crafted this move in a way that points a canon right back at them. He could not do much more.

He said: We will refrain from deporting families and we will deport felons!” He said: “Stronger borders!” He basically said – ‘Now you, Mr. Speaker, its time to legislate on immigration and you Republican Party it is in your hand to fix this broken immigration system.’ All he could offer is something concrete and meaningful to spark this critical challenge.

We must now align with the President and so as a unified community we should focus on the Republicans and demand that they introduce the comprehensive immigration reform that will include all, as well as LGBTI people, as soon as possible.

The President gave us this EO as a tool, a mere tool, for just that – and any LGBTI activist or organization who cries foul, saying the EO is not enough is shooting this process in the foot, derogating from the Congress’s responsibility, and turning their back on the President in his hour of need.

If the Republicans were smart and wanted to save their 2016 chances of anything, they would have a CIR bill on the President’s desk in the first week they govern with their majority in both houses. Alas I think their anti-immigrant stance will prevail and will deliver something unacceptable or not at all. With that said we have to see this as a strategy so we can use the immigration issue toward taking over the Congress and Presidency in 2016. I am on board – how about you?

Best,

Mel

This post originally appeared on O Blog Dee O Blog Da

Hiding Bigotry Behind Specious Arguments

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

You know what I admire about bigots? And I’m not referring to the merely prejudiced, mutter-out-of-the-corner-of-their-mouth bigots, but the real wackos, the warped, scary, neo-Nazi, open Klansman, proudly sign-their-name haters.

You know what’s kinda great about them?

At least they’re candid. No pussyfooting around for them. They state their hate boldly, cast their slurs loudly and only then try to back it up with whatever false theories they believe support their irrational hatreds.

For everyone else, it’s the other way around. They timidly roll out their specious argument first, as if that were the important part, the crucial logic that made up their impartial minds, and led to their subsequent negative opinion, an unfortunate by-product.

Authored By Neil Steinberg – See the Full Story at the Chicago Sun Times

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Shocking revelation at briefing as the U.S.A. furthers the persecution LGBT Asylum seekers

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Shocking revelation at briefing as we in the U.S.A. further the persecution LGBT Asylum seekers through systematic recriminalization of those seeking to escape unjust criminalization!

By Melanie Nathan, January 08, 2013.

Screen Shot 2014-01-08 at 10.49.30 PM

Briefing on Capitol Hill

Seventy Six countries criminalize homosexuality. Most recently we have focused on, amongst others, Russia, India, Uganda, Gambia, Cameroon, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Belize and Nigerian. We are not talking about equality and LGBTI rights here, but rather about a basic right to live according to one’s sexuality, in peace and privacy, with community support for those facing confusion and asking questions when they come out. These 76 countries not only deny this basic human right, but also, through criminalization, participate in the resulting trauma which includes rejection and often physical harm.

In the U.S.A., although we fail our own LGBTI with the lack of full equality, at least we do not criminalize homosexuality and though our President and State Department have condemned those who do criminalize homosexuality, we still fail potential LGBT asylees who seek our shores for refuge.

We fail them at the outset, when they need special visas to escape their unjust criminalization to come to the U.S.A. Those special considerations and much needed remedies for entry simply do not exist and no one is advocating for change, except at PCI Justice.

And we in the United States fail them further, once they reach our shores, because we do not do much more than re-criminalize the asylum seekers, the already unjustly persecuted. Indeed we re-criminalize those who have been persecuted through unjust criminalizing laws back in their home countries.

Today a briefing was held on Capitol Hill, by LGBT-FAN, the Faith Network, co-sponsored by PCI-Justice and other groups.* One of the speakers at the event included Rochelle Fortier Nwadibia, the Legal Director of PCI-Justice, (Private Courts International.) The focus of Nwadibia’s talk was the continued criminalization of LGBT asylees in the United States. And the message screams for human compassion to include the imperative call for a dramatic change in how we treat LGBT asylum seekers.

Nwadibia, a prominent immigration and international human rights attorney, renowned for litigating Mohamed v. Gonzales re: Female Genital Mutilation, reported today at the briefing as follows:

Good afternoon,

Thank you to each and everyone of you for attending this important briefing.

Our focus today on LGBT asylum highlights the increased criminalization of asylum seekers within our immigration system, and explains why we must focus on providing a true safe harbor for LGBT asylum seekers.

As Americans, we are reminded of the historical journey of many that have sought refuge in the United States for generations. We are all aware that it is THIS country that has served as the beacon of hope for many fleeing persecution abroad. Unfortunately, today our arms are not open wide for the modern day asylum seeker. Instead, we find the creeping criminalization of asylum seekers through the BED MANDATE and DETENTION, and NOT the safe harbor that we would expect.

In this process today, we detain them, subject them to criminal prosecution and imprisonment, and we force many of them to begin their “fresh start” in the United States with a criminal conviction.

The detention of asylum seekers results from the Congressional bed mandate is increasingly the door through which many asylum seekers must enter before having access to our asylum process.

In reality, we are the ones contributing to the criminalization of LGBT asylum seekers by offering a jail bed as the first place for them to lay their head.

These asylum seekers arrive at our doorstep traumatized by the fear of persecution perpetuated by family, friends, and members of their own community.

They are completely alone.

They are Fleeing family shame, societal rejection, and socially sanctioned:
* physical assault
* forced marriage
* rape
* fear of arrest and prosecution according to laws criminalizing LGBT identity, and
* death

They are completely alone.

As an attorney, I have watched asylum seekers enter court rooms shackled to convicted criminals, while escorted from place to place by law enforcement. They are housed in isolated facilities with convicted criminals where attorneys that wish to represent them have difficulty obtaining access and law enforcement authorities seldom return calls to attorneys and the criminalization process moves forward.

These practices create structural barriers to legal access and deny immediate protection of these asylum seekers.

I have observed a judge, sitting on the bench, who did not even raise his head and look at the detainees in front of him, neither as a group, or when calling their names individually. Instead he chose to focus on reading from documents throughout the entire hearing, and in the process thereby denying their dignity and never acknowledging their humanity.

What we are witnessing is a situation where the asylum seeker finds that the experience in the United States may not be too different from the criminalization that they are fleeing.

We must do better. We must provide the social supports that facilitate a pathway to freedom.

It is for these reasons, that the efforts championed by LGBT-FAN member organizations aimed at supporting LGBT asylum seekers once they land on our soil is crucial and can not be understated.

It is important the we open not only our doors, but our hearts and minds and create a safety net for asylum seekers that enable them to thrive independently in the United States.

I am suggesting that In order to accomplish this, we:
* must remove the one year rule to allow asylum seekers the time to adjust to freedom, in order to prepare and properly advance their claims,
* must provide for the immediate availability of employment authorization so that they can support themselves while seeking this relief,
* must remove the bed mandate that leads to the detention and halt the criminalization of asylum seekers by removing them from the detention process, and

By doing so, we will restore the dignity to and respect the humanity LGBT asylum seekers as they follow their quest for a life of freedom.

Melanie Nathan, nathan@privatecourts.com
#LGBTasylHELP #LGBTASYLUM @rafinlaw @pcijustice @melanienathan1

CALL TO ACTION
IF you care and this article has impacted you, shocked you, concerned you… please sign the LGBT-FAN petition at

http://www.change.org/petitions/honor-the-human-rights-of-lgbt-asylum-seekers-in-the-u-s

*Co-Sponsors: Center Global, a program of the DC Center for the LGBT Community, Daylight Consulting Group, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Integrity USA, LGBT Asylum Support Task Force, Metropolitan Community Churches, Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation, PCI Justice, St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns, Unitarian Universalist Association United Nations Office, and Unitarian Universalist Association

 

USA: Binational Same Sex Couples Can Now Get Green Cards

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

DOMA OverNow that the US Supreme Court has struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, American citizens can sponsor their same-sex partners from other countries for a green card and eventually for citizenship. Joe.My.God reports:

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling striking down a core provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), lesbian and gay Americans will now be eligible to apply for green cards on behalf of their foreign national spouses, the organization Immigration Equality announced today. The court ruled today, in United States v. Windsor, that Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibited the federal government from conferring benefits to married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. That provision of the law made it impossible for lesbian and gay couples to receive immigration benefits, including green cards.

While this is certain to be a relief for many couples, it doesn’t undo the damage the policy has done in the past to so many binational couples.

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New Video Hilights Heartbreaking Story of Binational Gay Couple Separated by DOMA

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Tim & JamieThousands of binational gay and lesbian couples are either living apart or in danger of being separated because of Defense of Marriage Act. Towleroad.com has the heartbreaking story of one such couple:

Meet Tim and Jamie. They’ve been together since August 2006. They got married in June 2012. But in June 2009 they had their first inkling that their international love would be tested: Jamie, a native of Scotland, was detained at SeaTac Airport due to visa problems and was denied the right to call Tim. Now, Jamie and Tim’s marriage in Canada cannot be recognized legally in the United States because of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act.

It’s time for DOMA to go. Let’s hope the Supreme Court sees things the same way.

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California, USA: Bi-National Couple Fights to Stay Together

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

you tube bigA binational gay couple who married in California in 2008 is fighting to stay together. Towleroad.com reports:

In his video Op-Ed “Eric and Juan,” Jens Erik Gould introduces us to a same-sex couple who got married in 2008, during the brief time when gay marriage was legal in California. Though Eric and Juan have built a life together here, DOMA prevents Juan from applying for a green card through marriage. It is among the many federal benefits the two are denied. “Juan has had so much adversity in his life,” Gould says. “Someone tried to kill him in Mexico because he was gay. Now, not only does he still experience discrimination for being gay in the U.S., he’s also living undocumented here. Many people in this situation hide in the shadows. But despite all the adversity and risk, he’s publicly fighting for what he believes in because he wants to be an example for his community.”

Too many gay and lesbian couples are in these straits… will the immigration bill and/or the Supreme Court bring them relief?

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California, USA: Federal Judge Clears Way For Binational Couple To Sue Over DOMA

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

California MapA federal judge in Los Angeles clear the way for a lawsuit brought by a binational lesbian couple against the Defense of Marriage Act. LGBTQ Nation reports:

A lesbian couple facing immigration troubles has the standing to challenge the federal Defense of Marriage Act because it violates the constitutional rights of immigrants in same-sex marriages, a federal judge in California has ruled. U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall also ordered Friday that the lawsuit, filed last year on behalf of Philippines citizen Jane DeLeon and her spouse Irma Rodriguez, can proceed as a class-action case. DeLeon claimed in the lawsuit that she was eligible to obtain a green card, but wasn’t able to get a waiver she needs to obtain residency here because the U.S. government doesn’t recognize her same-sex marriage to an American.

This case could prove important for the many binational same-sex couples here in the US, especially if the proposed immigration reform in Congress either fails or does not include these couples. The US Supreme Court’s pending decision on DOMA may also offer some relief, but it never hurts to have a backup plan.

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When We Focus on Marriage Equality, Who Do We Leave Behind?

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Last month at rallies outside of the Supreme Court, the Human Rights Campaign asked protesters to move their trans pride flag from behind the podium and censored a speech given by the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP) so as not to reveal the immigration status of the speaker.

Later, HRC, GetEQUAL and United for Marriage issued public apologies for “offending” those groups, and reminded them that they are committed to their issues. But this is more than a matter of unintentional “offensive” incidents. These are people being told that they must conform or get out of the way. These are people being told that their needs and experiences aren’t relevant to those making decisions in their communities. Yet this is nothing new for the mainstream gay rights movement.

Our most effective arguments for marriage equality have been ones that mirror the values of those who are in a position to give us access to the rights we seek. We seem overjoyed to explain time and time again that, just like them, we too believe in the supreme value of marriage and the nuclear family. In order to support this argument and present ourselves as a non-threatening community of good citizens, we’ve actively excluded and suppressed those of us who depart from the values of the heterosexual majority, leaving our most marginalized brothers and sisters behind.

Authored By Drew Ambrogi – See the Full Story at The Washington Blade

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USA: Same Sex Immigration Bill to Be Reintroduced Tuesday

Monday, February 4th, 2013

US House Rep. Jerrold NadlerRep. Jerrold Nadler will reintroduce immigration legislation to allow gay and lesbian spouses to sponsor their partners for a green card. LGBTQ Nation reports:

The legislation, known as the Uniting American Families Act, is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House but not the Senate, according to two sources familiar with the bill. Although information on co-sponsors wasn’t immediately available, the bill is expected to have bipartisan support. Last year, the bill found support from Reps. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) in the lame duck session of Congress in addition to the 145 Democrats who supported the bill.

With Harry Reid announcing his support yesterday, maybe this has a chance?