More Disappointment for the Shower-Nuts
I don't know what they were thinking.
Monday, September 29, 2008
More Disappointment for the Shower-Nuts
I don't have any official confirmation of this, but do have it on good authority that the petitions turned in last week by the Citizens for a Responsible Whatever were returned to them by the Montgomery County Board of Elections, who called the submission "untimely."
I don't know what they were thinking.
Intentional Violation of the Law: How Will the Government Respond?
CROWN POINT, Ind., Sept. 28 -- Defying a federal law that prohibits U.S. clergy from endorsing political candidates from the pulpit, an evangelical Christian minister told his congregation Sunday that voting for Sen. Barack Obama would be evidence of "severe moral schizophrenia."
What do you think the Republican administration will do in this situation? Do you think they will start making these churches pay taxes like the secular institutions they are trying to be? Somehow I don't see that happening.
To me, it makes sense to separate religion and government. It seems like every time they get mixed together something ugly happens. The people can believe what they want about where the world came from and what is right and wrong, and they can obey the laws of the land. Ought to be able to do both. But no, some of these nutty guys think you can only do one or the other -- these guys are saying that if you believe in their particular deity you don't have to obey the laws.
Sheesh, you would've known these guys would turn up in this somewhere, wouldn't you?
The campaign, organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a socially conservative legal consortium based in Arizona, has gotten the attention of the Internal Revenue Service. The agency, alerted by opponents, pledged to "monitor the situation and take action as appropriate."
I hope the ADF are as successful at this as they were at getting our nondiscrimination law thrown out.
Skipping ... this is the kind of thing, this is where they lose me:
In the modern red-brick Living Stones Church in Crown Point, a town of 28,000 residents 50 miles southeast of Chicago, Johnson explained why he thinks a minister should dispense political advice. He then laid out his view of the positions of Obama and McCain on abortion and same-sex marriage, which he called two issues "that transcend all others."
Why would those two issues, of all the things in the world, "transcend all others?" Abortion and same-sex marriage. Not torture, poverty, disease, genocide, not divorce, orphans, natural disaster. Abortion and same-sex marriage.
And tell me, what does that last sentence mean, you prick them and they bleed the word of God? First of all, I am a red-blooded American and when I bleed it will be the red blood that nature put in my natural veins. Second of all, I don't want idiots like this pricking me for any reason.
Dana On TV
Dana Beyer went on Chris Core's show this last weekend to rebut some of the things that shower-nut Michelle Turner had said on the show the week before. In case you don't know Dana, she is a retired surgeon and current County Council staffer who has run for office in our county and remains active in politics. She is also a transgender woman and a nationally known spokesperson on gender identity topics.
I don't know the whole story, but it sounds like after Michelle's interview Dana sent a letter to Chris Core. He read it at the start of the segment, and then asked Dana some questions and the two of them discussed the issues. Core kind of tried to defend the Citizens for a Responsible Whatever (he was their earliest supporter, back when they were the Citizens for a Responsible Something Else fighting the school district over sex ed), and actually did a fair job of presenting Dana with the other side's arguments, allowing her to refute a number of statements that are often made and rarely challenged.
I loved the part where Core thought he had her with the XY chromosome thing -- you do not want to argue with Dana Beyer about the medical and physiological aspects of sex and gender identity! I don't know if DC50 archives old interviews, but for now you can see the whole thing HERE. There is a box with interviews you can watch, find "Dr. Dana Beyer" -- it's only a few minutes.
The real problem here is ignorance, and the cure is knowledge. Thanks go out to Dana for providing that.
Checking in From Down Under
It appears that everyone wants to talk about politics in the comments, no matter what the post is about -- okay, there's your American democracy at work, and it's fun to hear how some people manage to justify the unjustifiable. I am typing this sitting in a conference session in Adelaide, listening to a fascinating discussion of a computer system that allows the identification of insect footprints. A bug walks through some ink onto a clean sheet of stuff where it leaves footprints. Then a scientist can gather the sheet, scan it, and analyze the footprint pattern to determine what kind of bug it was. On some of these little islands out here -- the presenter is from New Zealand -- it can be really important if a new species arrives in a shipping container or some other way, and so they do want to keep track.
Another guy just gave a great talk about a certain method of fraud detection, and another is using DNA to create encryption keys, fascinating stuff. This morning there was an interesting talk about research where they implanted an electrode in a fly's brain and monitored a neuron as the fly watched a scene to see if another fly was chasing it. A fly is buzzing along, another fly dives at it, they chase -- how does the fly know that one speck in the environment is another fly? The presentation talked about certain factors that influence that decision.
I gave the opening day keynote talk, and I think it went well. We started a little late because the shuttle that came around got lost. The driver and navigator didn't use a map or anything, they just drove around till they saw the street name they were looking for, then went one way or the other to see if the numbers got bigger or smaller. I wasn't worried, I was giving the first talk and so I knew I wouldn't miss anything. It was kind of fun, everybody on the bus was laughing and having a good time. Well, what could we do?
Internet access is iffy here, the hotel wants twenty-five bucks a day and the conference has wireless but it's not very strong. Everybody here has a kangaroo story, it's great, the people are very friendlly and funny, even the taxi driver was funny and smart. Oh, and I found out a little more about Australian "rules" football. I asked some guys and they did know a rule. Apparently you can't tackle somebody by the head. As they thought about it, it came out that you have to get rid of the ball before you hit the ground when you're tackled, and you have to do it certain ways, kick it or throw it a certain way, or the other team gets possession of the ball. So see? There are rules.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Crikey, This Springtime Sun is Bright
Wow, I am beat, but this springtime sunshine is just great. Oh, did I mention, I just flew thirty hours, stopping in Los Angeles and Sydney, finally arriving here in Adelaide. Boy, are my arms tired.
Here's a picture of the front of the last plane I flew in. They seem here not to be ashamed of Charles Darwin, they've even got his picture on their money. Lots of churches here in Adelaide, they call it the "City of Churches." The bells keep ringing every quarter hour, all around my hotel, it's a beautiful sound but I'll bet it will take a couple of nights to sleep through it.
Okay, let me get out and have a look at the city. I haven't checked the news yet, did McCain show up, or did he send Sarah Palin in to duke it out for him?
Funny to be here, I can't even find an American newspaper at the airport. There is some news about the economy, but mainly they're concerned about something they call Aussie "rules" football. Well, I'll find out about that while I'm here, I'm sure. Maybe there are actually rules, and it just doesn't look like it. Like, one rule: jump on the guy with the ball. Another rule: if a bunch of guys are going to jump on you, get rid of the ball any way you can.
I know we have some Aussies who comment on the blog, well hey I'm on your turf now, and loving it so far. This is going to be cool.
[Update: I went for a walk around town (translation: I left the hotel and got lost). The shopping district is not like the US, this is much more like a European city. There is a great variety of little stores, the only big corporate place I saw was Woolworth's. Yes, Woolworth's. These stores have lots of cool clothes, there are junky little beads-n-bangles places, computers and cameras and opals and more cool clothes, lots of people hanging out and socializing, drinking coffee at cafes, playing and laughing.
I had a burrito at some kind of place that had kebab and burritos. I specifically asked the guy not to put humus on my burrito but I think he did anyway. Hard to imagine a burrito without humus, I guess.
There was a TV on without the sound and I watched Australian "rules" football with some guys. Okay, I'm figuring it out -- there are rules. You can't go out of bounds, for one. Another rule, I think, I saw a guy grab another guy by the throat and throw him on the ground when he didn't have the ball or anything, and it appeared the referee called for a penalty kick of some sort. So I think Leaving the Scene and Attempted Homicide When the Victim Does Not Have the Ball might be illegal in this game. And let me tell you, this is a lot better game that American football, in which most of the time nothing happens. American football is nothing but rules. Everybody talks about the rules and then the two teams "line up" like schoolchildren and then when it's allowed they move forward against one another in ways that are allowed by the rules, being careful not to hit somebody from behind or appear to be going out for a pass if you're not "eligible" or to move a muscle before the ref says you're allowed to, or throw the ball laterally or to heaven forbid throw it after you've crossed the line of scrimmage. There is activity until a
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Times Get Tough: McCain Stops Campaigning
I'm not taking sides here, but there's something in the news today that just made my jaw drop
I see that John McCain is suspending his campaign and wants to cancel this week's debate, because the economy is collapsing. What is he going to do, take some time off and fix it?
Does anybody think this might be a good time for the American people to hear what their candidates for the office of President of the United States think about this financial crisis and how they would deal with it? Is this a time to display leadership, or a time to give up?
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain announced Wednesday that he is suspending his campaign to return to Washington and focus on the "historic" crisis facing the U.S. economy.
I'm going to make a weird comparison here, but this is where I'm coming from. I used to play music for a living, and you don't always play in the nicest places. You play in bars, and people drink, and crazy stuff happens.
There are few things you learn in that environment. Like, you learn to predict which drunk is going to fall on the stage and knock your microphone into your teeth. Then when he comes teetering toward the bandstand you stand back and preserve your dentist's craftsmanship. These are tricks of the trade, things you learn after a while, every job has them.
Another thing you learn playing music in bars is what to do when a fight starts. First of all, usually from the bandstand you can see it coming, you play a couple of mellow songs, you try to settle people down. But if the fight has already started, you get the bouncer's attention visually, point to the trouble, and you play something that will get everybody on the dance floor so they don't notice the fight. You manage the crowd to minimize the impact of the problem, so the professionals can take care of it and you won't lose your crowd.
I have seen amateur bands before, playing in a bar, and when a fight breaks out they stop playing and whine into the microphones, "Come on you guys, be cool, stop that." The result, inevitably, is that the fight gets worse, the whole crowd leaves, and the band plays the rest of the night to tables and chairs.
No, when there's trouble you have to manage it, you don't stop everything.
I can't believe he's quitting because there's a problem.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. Drudge is quoting David Letterman:
"You don't suspend your campaign. This doesn't smell right. This isn't the way a tested hero behaves." And he joked: "I think someone's putting something in his metamucil."
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Somebody sent me this little story, it seemed perfect for a day like this:
A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found himself in the women's locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
What the Shower-Nuts Think Can Happen
We have been wondering why there were shower-nuts outside the Giant last weekend collecting signatures to relegalize discrimination against transgender people. The court had already ruled that there would be no referendum, all the deadlines were long past, it just didn't make any sense.
Here we can see what kind of thinking had them standing out in the hot sun lying to Giant customers and trying to get signatures. DC50TV invited Michelle Turner, one of the leaders of the Citizens for a Responsible Whatever, to appear on Chris Core's show.
Most of the interview is about Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter and what her condition says about abstinence education, but around the 4:40 mark we have this exchange.
CC: ... your group has been behind trying to overturn or eliminate the transgender discrimination law in Montgomery County. The Supreme Court of Maryland said okay, you can't put that up for referendum, you didn't meet the criteria, is that issue dead now?
Let me point out, the court did not rule that they needed additional signatures. The circuit court ruled that they did not have enough signatures, and the appeals court ruled that there would be no referendum. Nobody said there would be a referendum if only they had more signatures, this is pure wishful thinking.
Thanks to Cynthia for linking to this in the comments.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Okay, this is not our usual topic, but I just picked up the morning paper, and we have to say something about this. I'll just use the first paragraph of the top story on page A1.
The Bush administration yesterday proposed a historic $500 billion bailout of financial firms that would let the government rather than the cold judgment of the marketplace decide the winners and losers from the crisis that has shaken the U.S. economy for the past year. Historic Market Bailout Set in Motion
We have had eight years of letting the rich have their way, giving the corporations and the profit-seekers everything they wanted. The rhetorical theme is that "the market" will find equilibrium and everybody will prosper. No, that doesn't happen. The rich get richer and the poor get screwed, that's what happens. That's why we need a government in the first place, not so we can drown it in the bathtub but so that somebody will protect the freedom, the rights, and the dreams of the ordinary person. Nobody has been minding the store, the greedy ones have been able to do whatever they want, and guess who's going to pay for it.
Five. Hundred. Billion. Dollars.
Never mind the hundreds of billions going to Our Wonderful War against the country of Iraq, which depending on the November election results might go on for another hundred years.
There is a picture here on the front page of The Post of Our President boldly striding back into the White House with Our Other Leaders in suits behind him after telling the cameras that America is an economic disaster and that conservative principles have resulted in devastation and the failure of our economy. Why did this happen?
Update from Politico -- as you'd expect, the price is going up:
Congressional leaders said after meeting Thursday evening with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that as much as $1 trillion could be needed to avoid an imminent meltdown of the U.S. financial system. Paulson plan could cost $1 trillion
A Big Transgender Victory
This is a major win for American civil rights, and if it stands it will affect the legal interpretation of gender-identity discrimination everywhere in the country. From the New York Times:
A former Army Special Forces commander passed over for a job as a terrorism analyst at the Library of Congress because he was changing genders won a discrimination lawsuit. Judge James Robinson of Federal District Court ruled that the Library of Congress had engaged in sex discrimination against Diane Schroer of Alexandria, Va., formerly known as David Schroer. The library was initially enthusiastic about the hire, Judge Robinson said in his decision, adding, “The library revoked the offer when it learned that a man named David intended to become, legally, culturally and physically, a woman named Diane.” Ms. Schroer sued in 2005 alleging sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act. Judge Robinson will decide on the penalties in the case later. The Justice Department is reviewing the judge’s ruling, a spokesman said. Victory for Transgender Woman
This woman applied for a job at the Library of Congress as a guy, and was hired enthusiastically. Then she told the boss she that when she started work she was going to be a woman. Suddenly the Library decided they didn't want to hire her after all, her qualifications that had seemed so great really weren't.
There are a couple of really good things in the judge's ruling, which you can read at Pam's House Blend.
Here's what does it:
The evidence establishes that the Library was enthusiastic about hiring David Schroer -– until she disclosed her transsexuality. The Library revoked the offer when it learned that a man named David intended to become, legally, culturally, and physically, a woman named Diane. This was discrimination “because of . . . sex.”
Interestingly, this wasn't a "gender identity" or "transgender" case, because there is no federal law protecting transgender people. This lawsuit argued that she was un-hired because of her gender, because she was female, not because she changed sex. Listen to what this judge said, I love this:
Imagine that an employee is fired because she converts from Christianity to Judaism. Imagine too that her employer testifies that he harbors no bias toward either Christians or Jews but only “converts.” That would be a clear case of discrimination “because of religion.” No court would take seriously the notion that “converts” are not covered by the statute. Discrimination “because of religion” easily encompasses discrimination because of a change of religion. But in cases where the plaintiff has changed her sex, and faces discrimination because of the decision to stop presenting as a man and to start appearing as a woman, courts have traditionally carved such persons out of the statute by concluding that “transsexuality” is unprotected by Title VII. In other words, courts have allowed their focus on the label “transsexual” to blind them to the statutory language itself.
Well, yes, that's pretty hard to argue with, isn't it.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Two Lives, One Thought
A black lady, about my age but with the gray dyed out. She was dressed for an office job, going to work in the morning, same as me. She sat across the aisle from me on the Metro, and when we stood up at the same time our bags got tangled together. The backpack I was carrying was crammed fat with papers and books and devices that I would need during the day, and her handbag was overstuffed, too, with papers sticking out the top.
We apologized to each other for the collision and disentangled. I said, "I used to travel light."
She said, "I keep telling myself I'm going to get back to it, but I never do."
She left through the middle door, I walked to the end of the car and merged into the river of people flowing toward the Union Station escalator.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Californians Prefer Marriage Equality
We've got our nuts here in our little suburban county, who'd be surprised to find out that California has them, too? The ones in that state managed to put an initiative on the November ballot to prohibit marriage between people of the same sex. But a recent poll is suggesting that the idea doesn't have a lot of support. There is an interesting twist to this article from a local paper out there, the Press-Enterprise.
A ballot initiative that would end same-sex marriage in California continues to face significant opposition among likely voters, a new poll indicates.
Yes, isn't that great? Americans do not like the idea of eliminating anybody's rights. I'll bet the nuts went crazy when that wording got changed.
Tell me, why should it be the government's job to tell people who they can and can't marry? And I'm scratching my head here, thinking about people who call themselves conservatives. They like small government, don't they? I mean, they've got to be loving the success we had running our financial institutions without regulation, letting the free market prove itself. The conservatives in power have stopped enforcing food-quality laws, environmental protection laws, they've learned to ignore scraps of paper like the Bill of Rights, Congressional subpoenas, and the Geneva Conventions -- but these very same people think it is necessary for the government to choose who somebody can marry. Can somebody explain that to me?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I use Gmail, which is a Google thing. The way they stay in business is that they read your email and present ads to you that are related to the content of your messages. I know some people who couldn't stand that, they feel their privacy is being violated somehow. Whatever, I don't have anything to hide from some Google-bots.
Sometimes I get surprising ads, and it takes me a minute to figure out why they have decided to show these particular ones to me.
This morning was a good one, took me a minute. Google's artificial intelligence machinery decided I would be interested in a water purification system.
Ah, now I get it: "Ionic Japanese Showerheads."
CRW Newsletter: No Explanation for Signature-Gathering
We're wondering why the Citizens for a Responsible Whatever are still trying to collect petition signatures. Maybe there's a clue in the newsletter they sent out a couple of days ago.
At the top, a big box with a brown background says:
Maryland High Court rules that dead voters should be counted - Appeal Planned
That last sentence is in yellow. Huge fonts, all.
The "dead voter" thing again, we've seen that. In case you forgot, the Board of Elections keeps records of "active" and "inactive" voters. Inactive ones haven't voted in the last two general elections and didn't return a letter asking if they still live here. There are thousands and thousands of them. Some may be dead. Most aren't. The law says you need five percent of registered voters, which includes both active and inactive. They didn't have that. More than two hundred "dead voters" signed the CRW's petitions, which didn't seem to bother them.
We note that the headline says "Appeal planned." I hope they tell us who they're going to appeal to, since the appeals court has already ruled against them.
Then they link to a number of articles about the gender identity nondiscrimination controversy, including, oddly enough, the Washington Blade and Equality Maryland's web site, then they accuse The Gazette of "factually inaccurate reporting."
Well, whatever, what we want to know is why they were out in front of the Giant Sunday, gathering signatures for a referendum that's not going to happen.
Okay, maybe this what we're looking for. Read this and see if you can explain to me the sense of it:
It sounds like they think they just need more signatures and they can still get the referendum on the November ballot. But the deadline for submitting petitions is long past, the Court of Appeals has said there won't be a referendum, the law has gone into effect already, the election is in something like six weeks.
I'm looking down the page ... here's this ...
Watch out for FINES
First, it doesn't matter what Washington DC's law says. Our law doesn't say anything about pronouns.
Let me comment on the "wrong pronoun" thing. Some transgender people are very comfortable and convincing in their current identity, some are less so. Sometimes when you're talking about a transgender person, if you're human and speak the English language fluently you might say "he" instead of "she" or vice versa. I don't know how transgender people feel about this, but it's a fact that our language bifurcates by gender, and sometimes you'll make a mistake, I'd figure it's something they learn to put up with. It's a subtle thing, sometimes you get talking fast and the wrong word slips out.
On the other hand, we have witnessed at least one occasion where Ruth Jacobs, one of CRW's leaders, intentionally referred to a transgender woman, a friend of ours, as "he." They go out of their way to do this sometimes, to insult the person, it's like in the CRW's affidavit to the appeals court where they said someone "claimed to be transgender," when the person has changed their gender by any measure you can think of, social, medical, or legal. This is rude and reveals the CRW's true feelings, which is just to express negative attitudes about a group of people they are prejudiced against
They link to a Baltimore lawyer's web site, but he doesn't say anything about pronouns. Anyway, nobody's going to pay a half-million dollar fine for saying "he" instead of "she," that's just dumb.
I think something is obvious here. Those people in the parking lot are not collecting signatures for a referendum. The highest court in the state has said there will be no referendum. They're out there to scare people, to make people shopping at Giant associate transgender citizens with sexual predators and pedophiles. They stop you and talk to you and tell you how dangerous this new law is, when all it does is to prohibit discrimination. They tell you that you can sign to have a referendum, but that isn't going to happen, this is just an excuse to stand out in public and say ugly things about people based on their gender identity. Let's see how long Giant continues to allow their property to be used to promote bigotry.
Monday, September 15, 2008
This Is What It Was About
The Post has a really nice article this morning, with a good picture of Dana at the victory celebration. You fight the fight so hard sometimes, you forget what you're fighting for. Here it is:
To Allyson Robinson, it means accompanying her young children to public restrooms in Montgomery County without worrying that someone will call the police.
It shouldn't be necessary. You shouldn't have to pass a law to tell people to play fair. But you do, you have to. Transgender people get hassled and harassed more than anybody, it seems to me, just their presence on the street can upset people. Idiotic people roll down their windows and yell things, physical violence is a constant concern, this is a small community but one that is victimized by prejudice.
"So I can walk into the office, wear a skirt and not be quite so afraid," said Fay, a transgender woman who lives in Prince George's County. "The little tiny things in life that most of the rest of humanity take for granted, we look at and say, 'That could be a hurdle as tall as the Empire State Building.' "
Generally in our county people are cool. The majority of people here don't want to discriminate, they don't want to be unfair, but we do have a few jerks. I think there are two things, there is out-and-out bigotry, as we see in our hard-core shower-nuts who want to discriminate even though they know better, and there is ignorance. I personally think that most of the people who went out with petitions were just ignorant, people who heard at church that there was going to be a law that let predators go into the ladies room and so they went out to make the world a better place. I don't think ignorance is much of an excuse, but maybe with some knowledge, some educating, those people can change their views.
Montgomery followed 13 states, the District and more than 100 other local jurisdictions in passing protections for transgender individuals. Based on clinical and surgical reports, advocacy groups say that as many as 2,000 transgender people live in Montgomery.
Yes, well put: an unthinking way. To me, that's what this whole battle is about, getting people to think.
Once again, congratulations to all those who fought so hard to get the law passed in the first place, to those who defended it so bravely. The good guys were geared up for a huge campaign if this went to referendum, luckily that wasn't necessary.
One last thing. This article is a perfect example. The media have been wonderful through all of this. All the newspapers, most of the TV channels -- they were offered a low-hanging fruit, they could easily have played up the dangers of perverted men using the ladies room, and only one of them took the bait. There is an honest news story to cover here, and they have covered it, they mentioned what the shower-nuts concerns were -- as this story does -- but didn't pretend that was the story. Accurate reporting throughout has made this accomplishment possible.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Standing With the Good Samaritan
It's been a crazy week, a big week, with the appeals court throwing out the referendum, a lovely victory celebration, and then the shower-nuts insanely trying to get more signatures. Some Sundays I ramble here, figuring not too many people will read it, but today I've got things to do, and I'll let somebody else make a point for me. This was written by Ian Welsh and posted at FireDog Lake. Rather than just linking, I'm going to copy and paste the entire piece here, because I like it:
Standing With the Good Samaritan Against So Many “Christians”
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The Shower-Nuts Are Still At It
Heard outside the Giant at Neelsville Village Center today, September 13, 2008: "Would you like to sign a petition to keep men out of women's bathrooms?"
Yes, the shower-nuts are still at it. We had a comment here on the blog from someone who described an encounter with petition signature gatherers in Germantown this afternoon, so I went out there.
Let me explain. The Citizens for a Responsible Whatever wanted to have a referendum to relegalize gender identity discrimination. The highest court in the state said no, there will be no referendum. The law went into effect immediately this week. It's in effect now, you can't discriminate against someone on the basis of their gender identity. The deadline for filing for a referendum has passed.
So why are they still getting signatures? I hopped in my car and drove out there to find out. I live in Rockville, it took about a half hour to get there.
I came across a woman in the parking lot with a clipboard and some yellow papers, and walked up to her, camera in hand.
"What's going on here?" I asked
"Don't you already know?" she said.
"No." I guess that was an honest answer, I know who they are and what they want, but I did not know why they were still looking for signatures.
This lady clocked me. "You're Jim Kennedy, aren't you?" she said (I thought I detected the quiver of awe in her voice, maybe not).
"Yes. What's your name?"
"Why do you need to know that?"
"Well, you know mine."
I told her the deadline was past, and asked why they were out there. "We need more signatures," she said. She did not want to talk to me.
"So you hope they'll extend the deadline?" That was the end, she clammed up.
I wandered up toward the Giant store. And actually, I wonder, given some of the wording in the bill, if Giant can't be in some jeopardy for allowing this kind of unwelcoming language at their place of business. It was one thing in February, but now ... I'd think twice about this. The law is in effect, this is no time to be saying that trangender people are sexual predators. For some reason, Giant stores have been the favorite location for the shower-nuts. I wonder if Giant's lawyers have studied the new law.
There was another lady there. As I walked up she stopped somebody and said, "Would you like to sign a petition to keep men out of women's bathrooms?"
The second lady tried to hide her face when I pointed the camera at her, but I got her before he raised her clipboard. "Too late," I said.
She wants to gather signatures to retain the right to discriminate against a group of people but she doesn't want you to see her face. May I suggest the white robe with matching hood?
"Is that what you're telling them?" I asked. She didn't answer. I guess it was obvious, of course that's what they're telling people, I heard it with my own ears.
The first lady came back with a video camera to make what may be the most boring video in history. I stood there waiting to see if somebody else would come up, and it's all on tape. She taped me writing some notes on a piece of paper against a wall. They were flustered. The camera was aimed at me, she kept it rolling. I felt so bad, my shirt-tail was out, my hair was a mess, I am going to look terrible on YouTube. Oh, and this old shirt even has a hole in the pocket, I will be so embarrassed when millions of people watch this video online.
I took some pictures of their table.
The first one pulled the second one off to the side for a conference. I'd be pretty sure she was telling her not to talk to me. Him bad, very bad person, no talky that one.
They looked like nice enough ladies, you wonder what motivates them to stand out there on a hot Saturday afternoon and lie to people.
I got a picture of the sign they had up, too:
It's all about the showers.
These people are committed, or should be, and we have to stay vigilant against them. You can't rest, they live to promote their bigotry and they won't let up.
Last night we had the nicest victory celebration over in Silver Spring, several County Council members showed up, a state Senator, luminaries and heroes and hard-working volunteers, and we drank a toast and they made speeches, and it was really nice. The fight is over. It's time for the shower-nuts to move on to something else.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
This One Might Take the Cake
Alvin down in South Carolina tipped us off to this one, writing on his site Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters. He tracked the mistruths down to their source, and I recommend that you go read his account -- he is a tireless detective and strong-jawed bulldog when it comes to fighting the bigots.
He points us to a site called Culture Campaign which has a post with this headline:
Sexual Deviants Given Green Light in Maryland
Come on, let's see who can outdo that one!
In case you missed it, there were 26,813 valid petition signatures, which is somewhat less than 900,000. As a reality check, according to Wikipedia, as of the 2000 census, there were 873,341 people in the entire county. You might also be interested to know that the population of the state of Alaska is 683,478.
Oh, and the shower thing. A man can use the women's shower legally now without any excuse, if he obeys other laws regulating sexual behavior. He doesn't have to claim he feels like a woman, he can just walk in, at least there's no law against it. There's nothing in this new law about showers or bathrooms, it doesn't change anything.
But this is going to get good. Who's going to top this? A million -- do I hear a million petition signers? One point one million ...
Not Sour Grapes At All
The World Net Daily is so far over the edge you sometimes wonder if it isn't a bunch of lefties trying to make fun of conservatives, something like The Onion. Nobody really thinks that way, do they? Just when you start laughing out loud, though, you realize that yes, there are people who think it's for real.
It will not surprise you to learn that WND is not enthusiastic about the court's ruling yesterday.
See, the judges threw out the referendum because there weren't enough petition signatures. They needed five percent of registered voters. There were enough if you only counted active voters in the denominator of the percentage, but not if you counted all registered voters, as required by law. Here's how you become inactive: you don't vote in the last two general elections, and then they send you a letter to see if you're still here, and if you don't respond to that they call you inactive. You're still registered, you can walk in and vote during an election, but administratively I think it makes it easier for the Board to focus their attention on active voters.
More than two hundred inactive voters signed the petitions to relegalize gender identity discrimination. The World Net Daily has a great idea for spinning this, they would like you to believe all of them were dead.
Maryland's highest court has endorsed Montgomery County's plans for coed restrooms and showers, concluding that a challenge to the new law had to fail because there were not enough signatures on the referendum petitions to represent dead voters.
An interesting fact came out in one of the Circuit Court hearings over the summer. Montgomery County might have an unusually high number of inactive voters because voting status is affected only by participation in general and not primary elections. This county is so Blue that whoever wins the Democratic primary election automatically wins the general election, too -- there are zero Republicans in elected positions in Montgomery County now. None. So lots of people don't even bother with the general elections, they only vote in the primaries.
Here's what the CRW's Ruth Jacobs told the WND:
"Amazingly, Equality Maryland demanded that inactive voters who have likely died or moved out of state be considered in the calculation to determine the number of valid signatures needed. This simply demonstrates that they will go to any lengths to prevent living, breathing county residents from determining public policy," Jacobs said.
Equality Maryland sued to have the Board of Elections follow the law -- the law of the land says you need five percent of registered voters, including active and inactive. This has already all been fought out in court cases, there is no question, the lawyers on both sides cited all kinds of precedents that had nothing to do with Equality Maryland. The law says registered voters, and inactive voters are registered. Maybe some have moved away or died, I don't know, the Citizens for a Responsible Whatever didn't complain when the county counted inactive voters' signatures on their petitions, they just didn't think it was fair to include them in figuring out how many signatures they needed.
Unless, do you think? Maybe two-hundred-something dead people signed the petitions. Maybe this explains it, the heartlessness, the brainlessness -- the shower-nuts are zombies! Aaaaa, run for your life, everybody!!!
Oddly, this article includes the famous eight-second videotape of Dana Beyer informing some signature-getters that they were going to be asked to leave the Giant store where they were set up, it says she was "apparently trying to intimidate" them. In the video the petition people don't seem to notice her.
This WND article amounts to a caricature of a caricature. Look at that first sentence: this Maryland's highest court has endorsed Montgomery County's plans for coed restrooms and showers ... You tell me that isn't some dirty hippies making fun of the conservatives. How could anybody be like that for real?
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The Ruling in the News, With Quotes
The Post added a few details to the story this morning. I'll skip the body of their article, which rehashes the gender-identity nondiscrimination controversy.
Yesterday, the Court of Appeals issued a brief order reversing a lower court ruling that had sided with the law's opponents. The high court said it would explain the basis for its ruling in a later opinion.
It will be interesting to read the judges' opinions, to see what part of the arguments made them decide as they did. My guess, having watched the proceedings, is that they came to realize that there was no humanly way to obey the law as it's written, it was impossible to file a complaint before the deadline. You get ten days to complain, but nobody announces when the ten days start. Well, we'll see what they said, but I'm guessing that's it. Shurberg is right, this ruling will help make it possible for ordinary citizens to participate in the democratic process.
Jacobs' comment, though, well, I agree with half of it. They were disenfranchised. Yes, they lied to people, they faked signatures, all of that, but the Board of Elections was going to support them anyway. In the end what sank them was the Board's incompetence. When the Citizens for a Responsible Whatever asked how many signatures they needed, the county Board of Elections told them the wrong number. They celebrated when they met that threshold, but it was not enough, they didn't really have five percent of registered voters. The Board even tried to certify forged signatures and lines with squiggles, but in the end it didn't work.
The second half of her statement is not so easy to agree with. Maybe every single signature was a wish to vote, but not every single signature was actually written by the person whose name it was. Most importantly, though, most of the signatures were people who wished to have an opportunity to vote on whether male sexual predators should be allowed to lurk in women's locker-rooms. As far as I know, none of the signature-gatherers actually said, "Would you like to sign a petition to keep discrimination legal?" People signed on the basis of a misrepresentation.
The Gazette has a story today, too, with some more juicy quotes.
"We think it's a big loss for democracy, for Montgomery County and for privacy and safety for women," said Ruth M. Jacobs, president of Maryland CRG, which collected thousands of signatures seeking to put the question on the ballot. "We feel like Equality Maryland tried to hijack Montgomery County politics, like Equality Maryland tried to push their way to the front of the line and didn't care about anybody else. And they did it."
Interesting to accuse Equality Maryland of "hijacking" the county's politics. Really, Equality Maryland was participating in the county's politics, this is how the game is played. You want to win, you fight. Everything was above board, the battle was fought in a court of law, there's not much you can say there about hijacking. If the shower-nuts think that gay and transgender people should shut up and take what's handed to them, I think they will be sadly disappointed. There is a movement for equality in this country -- not just our county, but across the country -- and people are going to fight for their rights in a sophisticated and powerful way. And don't forget, lots of us who are not gay or transgender but believe in fairness and treating people with respect are fighting alongside them. It's not a hijack, this is the way democracy is supposed to work.
Another good tidbit from The Gazette:
Maryland CRG planned to meet Tuesday to discuss its next steps. That could include a lawsuit against the county elections board, Smith said.
If I was them, I would consider suing the Board of Elections for giving them bad information. I bet they spent a lot of money trying to keep gender-identity discrimination legal, and they would want that back. Plus, they have a history of taking thousands of dollars of taxpayers' money in lawsuits in our county, and this would be another way for them to undermine our system of government.
Did the County Council alienate people? As our Spankish-speaking friends sometimes say: jijiji. Maybe they alienated the eleven or twelve hard-core bigots who wanted to maintain the right to discriminate. The rest of us, the majority who elected the Council in the first place, are proud of them for standing up to these minor league bullies.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Referendum Killed: Huge Victory for County Civil Rights
Here's the whole document, so far -- it says "opinion later to be filed:"
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND
With these few words the appeals court threw out a referendum to relegalize gender identity discrimination in Montgomery County, Maryland, after the County Council unanimously passed the law, the County Executive happily signed it, and a small gang of bigots used lies and misrepresentation to get people to sign petitions against it.
The court will issue an opinion at some point, explaining which judges supported and opposed the decision and why. We'll get that to you when it happens. For now: celebration time.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Appeals Court Hears Referendum Arguments
Some of us went to Annapolis this morning to watch the hearing in the state Court of Appeals about whether a referendum challenging the gender identity law should be put before the voters in November. The hearing was actually quite short, about an hour and a half between the first statements and the last. First, the seven-judge panel listened to Jonathan Shurberg argue for the petitioners, explaining why the court should stop the referendum. He presented three points:
The big mess is this. The Citizens for a Responsible Whatever were told by the county Board of Elections that they needed 25,001 signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot to relegalize discrimination on the basis of gender identity in Montgomery County. They got that many and a few extra, submitted them on time, and did their victory dance. Opponents of the referendum went through the signatures, found a lot of problems, and sued the Board for not correctly verifying petition signatures. In the process of arguing back and forth in court, it came out that the Board of Elections had given the CRW the wrong number, and now they didn't have enough. The Board had counted only active voters, ignoring the considerable number of voters who are registered but have not voted in a general election recently. Today, even the Board's attorney, Kevin Karpinski, said, "The sponsors didn't get enough signatures." But -- the Circuit Court judge said that the complaint had been filed too late, and so it didn't matter that there weren't enough signatures.
So the court might need to require the Board to enforce the law, if they rule that because the CRW failed to produce 27,615 valid signatures -- the actual target number based on all registered voters -- the referendum should not be on the ballot. The second argument is about whether a deadline is appropriate for a situation like this where a mistake has been made and the public has no reasonable way of knowing. You do have to trust that a government agency knows what they're doing, Shurberg argued, you don't double-check all the numbers they give you. Besides, he said, he had repeatedly requested explanation from the Board at an early date about how the number was derived, and got "I'll get back to you" -- so even if you tried to find out, you couldn't. Shurberg told the court it wasn't until June 11th that Karpinski admitted in court that only active voters were included in the denominator, and that there were 52,000 inactive voters. The Board of Elections screwed up, and once the error was discovered it was too late to complain about it -- what sense does that make?
And finally, there was complicated legal argument about exactly when the determination was made that enough signatures had been collected -- was it when the Board notified that CRW on February 20th that they had enough valid signatures in the first batch? That's what the Circuit Court judge said, and that's how the Board of Elections likes it. At that time, one person was notified, Ruth Jacobs of the Citizens for a Responsible Whatever, and the public had no way of knowing that the timer had started ticking on a ten-day deadline. Or was the determination made on March 6th, when the Board sent the County Executive a formal letter announcing that a sufficient number of signatures had been verified? If that was the case, the March 14th complain was filed in time. But then, to make it worse, the question of whether the calculations included inactive voters didn't come up until a June hearing, which would have been after any ten-day deadline but was considered by the first judge to be just another theory that could be included with the other complaints.
Several of the judges asked the Board's lawyer why the Board didn't post their determination on a web site where everybody could see it. He said that in hindsight, a notice on a web site sounds like a good idea.
The way this works is that the lawyer for the petitioners starts talking, and after a few minutes he gets interrupted by a judge. He starts to answer them and another judge asks him something, and so on, it's pretty wild, sometimes the judges are interrupting each other. Today they had a lot of good questions. Most of them seemed to understand that there needed to be a way for the Board to notify the public when it had made a decision. They had a lot of questions that worked on that problem from different sides. After the first lawyer has bantered with the court for a while, the other lawyer stands up and the routine repeats -- he talks, they interrupt. Finally, the first lawyer gets the final word, interrupted, as before, by judges. It's a fascinating process to watch, as one lawyer tries to stay on track while he's being cut off by seven different people, each one cogitating on his or her own track. As we have seen in previous hearings, both lawyers were knowledgeable, articulate, and fast on their feet.
Talk on the street is that a ruling could come as soon as tomorrow morning.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
Hearing Tomorrow on Nondiscrimination Referendum Appeal
The Blade has an update on the lawsuit to stop the referendum to relegalize gender identity discrimination. Monday will be the hearing where both sides give their oral arguments to an appeals court.
The Maryland Court of Appeals will consider Sept. 8 whether Montgomery County’s transgender discrimination measure will go to a public vote.
They could also have noted that Judge Greenberg ruled that the Citizens for a Responsible Whatever did not have enough signatures to get a referendum on the ballot, but again, the complaint was filed, according to him, too soon.
Dana Beyer, an Equality Maryland board member who is transgender, said next week’s hearing will not consider the “content of this law,” but rather “the process by which the referendum was certified.”
This is tough. They've got to fight two fights, one to kill this ridiculous referendum so it doesn't appear on the ballot, and another to win with Yes on C if it does appear. Lawyers aren't cheap, but educating the public on an issue like gender identity civil rights is very much more expensive. So they're hoping to stop it in court, but in the meantime they have to prepare a campaign to make voters aware of what the real issues are. Not bathrooms. Discrimination.
“We have people who are qualified here and we will be ready,” she said. “But the bottom line is that I know the voters of Montgomery County are decent people who do not give into bigotry and will support the law as they supported the Council members who voted unanimously for it.”
There is more to this article, it is a pretty thorough accounting of the situation as it stands now, I recommend clicking on the link above and seeing the rest of it.
This matter of gender identity discrimination should not be something the general public decides, but if it comes to a vote, I'm sure that Montgomery County citizens will oppose discrimination if they understand what the issue really is. The other side has an eye-catching story about predators in the ladies room, and if they can make people think that's what the bill is about then they can win. Educating the people, countering the red-herring bathroom story, will be terribly expensive and difficult, but a powerful, highly visible campaign will be necessary if only because most people aren't paying much attention to this controversy.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Saturday Hanna Update
[Update 6 PM. Yep, that's sunshine. Those are shadows, people are out walking, kids on bikes, traffic is back to normal. There's still a breeze and you can hear the wind howling in the tall trees, but it looks like things are back to normal. Hope your electricity stayed on and your trees stayed upright.]
[Update 4:30 Saturday. Here in Rockville it's pretty quiet. I just walked the dog and there is a little drizzle but you can't tell if it's blowing off the trees or raining. I'm across the street from some woods along Rock Creek, and I see the tops of the bigger trees are still whipping around pretty violently, but generally the storm seems to be dying down. We might even get a sunbeam soon if things keep going like this.]
[Update 3:00 PM Saturday. Man, it's raining pretty good out there now, just a minute ago it wasn't so bad. We haven't seen any really strong gusts of wind but I see debris lying on the ground here and there. Mainly it is just a whole lot of water coming from the sky.
[Update: 11:30 It sounds like Hanna might be moving faster than expected, and NOAA's warning seem less frightening than earlier ones. From their 9:27 report:
I will update the reports during the day as Tropical Storm Hanna moves through our area.
I looked out this morning and saw people walking down the street without umbrellas, not what I'd expected. Ah, I see, if you look at THE RADAR you see we're in a little gap between the bands right now.
Actually, that's a cool radar link, you can watch the storm roll up from the Caribbean, over Florida and up the coast. It looks to me like it has gotten bigger.
NOAA's report has gotten too long to post here. I'll paste some excerpts.
AT 500 AM EDT...THE CENTER OF TROPICAL STORM HANNA WAS LOCATED NEAR LATITUDE 34.4 NORTH...LONGITUDE 78.3 WEST. THIS IS ABOUT 150 MILES NORTHEAST OF CHARLESTON SOUTH CAROLINA...OR ABOUT 320 MILES SOUTH OF WASHINGTON DC.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Here Comes Hanna
[Update Friday 10:39PM
[Update Friday 6:43 PM Looking at the RADAR in motion, it looks to me like the rain is going to start in an hour or two. Cloud cover began thickening around 5:00 this afternoon (Friday).
[Update 2:22 PM - The Metro
[Update from WTOP 6:51am: WASHINGTON - Tropical Storm Hanna could dump 2 to 5 inches of rain on the D.C. area Saturday, forecasters say.
I remember a few years ago a hurricane came tearing through here, it was pretty impressive. I don't remember which one it was, and it had pretty much run down, as I recall, when we got it; I stood on the front porch listening to the trees pop in the woods across the street, enormous branches snapping like toothpicks. That's some powerful force in one of those storms.
Hanna's headed right for us, but The Post makes it sound like it might not be too terribly bad for our county. Of course you never can tell.
Dry air and moderate wind shear have prevented Tropical Storm Hanna from strengthening, and in fact as of 11 a.m. she is slightly weaker than earlier this morning, with maximum sustained winds near 65 mph. Still, a more favorable environment for strengthening could allow Hanna to reach hurricane strength before making landfall on the Southeast coast, probably late Friday night or early Saturday morning. Meanwhile, Ike is a Category 4 hurricane with winds near 140 mph, but is several days away from being a threat to the U.S.
By the time I post this the information will be obsolete, as the storm changes direction and everything else. I'll try to update this post through the day as news comes in.
All computer models forecast it will track east of the metro area, somewhere between Annapolis, Md. and offshore the Maryland/Delaware beaches, and the National Hurricane Center forecast track has remained mostly unchanged during the past 24 hours. A track too far offshore could mean we experience little or no impact from Hanna. But if Hanna's track is east of the District but west of the coast, the metro area would be meaningfully impacted.
Let's keep an eye on this one -- there's a crab feast I don't want to miss on Saturday!
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Changes at BRM
Basic Rights Montgomery is the organization charged with pulling together the campaign to get people to vote Yes on C -- to support the Montgomery County nondiscrimination law that was passed unanimously by the County Council last November, but will be on the ballot as a referendum this November unless an appeals court says otherwise. The campaign has been led by campaign manager Opel Simmons and assistant campaign manager Eric Anthony. Today Opel Simmons left the organization.
Dan Furmansky, Executive Director of Equality Maryland and a member of the BRM steering committee, had this to say in an email this afternoon:
Basic Rights Montgomery's campaign manager, Opel Simmons, has left the campaign for personal reasons. Our deputy manager, Eric Anthony, who has been involved in the campaign from the beginning, will step up as campaign manager, and we will be fleshing out an additional campaign support structure in the next week.
I had a congenial meeting with Opel and Eric last week, productive and positive, and I wish Opel the very best. The organization is in capable hands with Eric Anthony, who has successfully managed a number of campaigns.
Straight Americans Favor Equality for Transgender People
You knew this was true, but it's nice to see some data.
According to a recent national survey, seven out of ten heterosexual adults (71%) agree that how an employee performs at their job should be the standard for judging an employee, not whether or not they are transgender. The new survey also showed that nearly eight out of ten (79%) heterosexual adults strongly or somewhat agree that how an employee does his or her job should be the standard for judging an employee, not their sexual orientation.
That isn't just Blue Montgomery County, the Harris Interactive survey covered the entire United States. You can be sure those percentages will be significantly higher where we live.
Some more results:
-- Three out of four (75%) heterosexuals feel that spouses of married heterosexual employees and committed partners of gay and lesbian employees both should receive leave when they lose a spouse/partner or close family member.
The survey was commissioned by Out & Equal and Witeck-Combs Communications.
[Out & Equal Executive Director Selisse] Berry added, "It is clear that the next frontier when it comes to diversity in the workplace will be protecting gender identity and expression. Recent media visibility has helped to bring this issue into the light and helped put a human face to this complex and sensitive topic. For the first time in U.S. history, Congress held a hearing on the discrimination that transgender people face in today's workplace." She noted that today more than 300 companies prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and/or expression as well as 90 U.S. cities and counties.
This matter may come up on a referendum in our county this November. It's ridiculous that people have to be bothered to vote on it, our elected officials passed a gender identity nondiscrimination bill unanimously, our County Executive signed it, this should be the law of the land already. A few nutty people are fighting it, though, so unless the appeals court will act decisively, we will be asking people to vote Yes on C in November.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I don't care much about politics and don't have any idea why John McCain chose Sarah Palin to run for vice president. It seems like a weird decision to me, but what do I know? Besides that, there is something in it that I found interesting in today's paper.
Sarah Palin has described herself as "pro-life as any candidate can be." According to THIS STORY from yesterday, her anti-abortion position has made Evangelicals comfortable with the Republican ticket -- they weren't that happy with McCain, but McCain-Palin works for them, because of her record of pro-life advocacy, her support for teaching creationism, you know the pattern.
Here's a quote from that article:
In her private life, her religious background -- a spokeswoman for Palin said she regularly attends many nondenominational churches -- and particularly the decision she said she made to have her fifth baby despite being told he had Down syndrome, are powerful testaments for many Christian activists.
And here's a quote from the front page of this morning's Post:
"Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned," Palin said in a statement issued Monday by McCain's campaign.. "We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support." Hurricane, Palin Roil the Start of GOP Convention
Look, the debate over abortion isn't between those who favor it and those who oppose it. Everybody would prefer that abortion was unnecessary, everybody wishes nobody ever needed one. The debate is between those who think a woman ought to be able to decide for herself when she needs an abortion and those who think the government should make the decision for her.
When my wife was pregnant with one of our kids, we got back an amnio test that suggested the baby might have had Down syndrome, and we discussed it and decided we could love a child with that condition. We decided to have the baby even if further testing showed the presence of the syndrome, which it didn't -- the fact is, it was a discussion we had and a choice that we were empowered to make.
Here the "Christian activists" consider Palin's choice to keep the baby as a testament to her faith.
In the second quote, the same thing, she is proud of her daughter's choice to have her baby at the age of seventeen.
I think it's wonderful that these women chose to have their babies, and I think it's excellent that the choice was theirs to make. Call it a testament to faith, whatever, a woman is pregnant and she has a choice in the matter. She has circumstances to consider, and whether you and I agree with the way she handles the situation, it's hers to handle.
What if Sarah Palin or her daughter had been forced by law to have their babies? Wouldn't that have robbed her of the opportunity to testify to her faith? How proud would they be of their daughter, who was only obeying the law?
We take the freedom to choose for granted.
Sarah Palin opposes the right of women to make these decisions. Can she imagine what it would be like if she got her way?