Just Little Bits of History Repeating

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Two of HWWNBN’s* surrogates have spoken to the media about ways to implement his “extreme vetting” of some Muslim immigrants.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach first said there could be a reinstatement of a national registry of immigrants and visitors. He helped design the original program, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), while serving in George W. Bush’s Department of Justice after September 11.

NSEERS was abandoned in 2011 after much criticism by civil rights groups for unfairly targeting immigrants from Muslim majority nations but only after the Department of Homeland Security declared it redundant.

Then, Carl Higbie, a spokesman for the Great America PAC, appeared on Fox News’ “The Kelly File” said about precedents: “We’ve done it based on race, we’ve done it based on religion, we’ve done it based on region,” he said. “We’ve done it with Iran back — back a while ago. We did it during World War II with [the] Japanese.”

Seriously? A solution for anything is to bring back internment camps?

A registry is wrong. Singling out people of one religion for special scrutiny is unconstitutional and violates the 1st Amendment protections for religious liberty.

Additionally, the idea of collective guilt based on religious affiliation goes against basic legal principles. Guilt is personal and based on behavior. Surveillance and other kinds of investigations must be triggered by conduct, not religious, racial, or ethnic classifications.

Furthermore, setting apart any single group, whether it be for a crescent they must sew onto their clothes or registration in digital databases, provides a basis for the brutalization of that group.

Think I’m over exaggerating? There have been many acts of bullying and harassment across the nation since the election (149 at last count). Our leadership should be acting to reduce hate crimes, not stoking the fires that could burn us all.

Combating racism and bigotry will take action from us all. We must protest against such plans – either in the streets, working with allies like The Council on American-Islamic Relations or by contacting our elected representatives (here is a phone script with several advocacy issues).

We must intervene when we witness harassment or intimidation. Here are a couple of things you can do if you witness such attacks:

Be prepared to keep calm

In advance, think about a situation in which a person is threatened, harassed or attacked. Imagine how you would feel and what you could do to help. Think of things you can say to support the victim. Then, when you witness such a thing, concentrate on what you imagined. Don’t let fear or anger distract you.

Direct, Distract, Delegate

React quickly and don’t wait until other people help. The longer you hesitate, the more difficult it becomes. You can directly intervene (say “Hey, that’s not cool. Please stop”), distract either party by beginning a new conversation (“Want to see pictures of the world’s cutest dog?”) and/or delegate to involve other bystanders (“You there in the blue jacket, please get the manager.”).

The Southern Poverty Law Center has a useful guide on Speaking-Up to Everyday Bigotry: https://www.splcenter.org/20150126/speak-responding-everyday-bigotry

Because if we stay silent, there is one thing I know for sure: we will be next.

The title is from History Repeating by the Propellorheads featuring Shirley Bassey – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzLT6_TQmq8

*HWWNBN means He Who Will Not Be Named. It worked for those fighting Voldemort and it works here!

Not Going Any Damn Where!

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As results started to come in last night indicating that Donald Trump was on his way to becoming the next president of the United States, the Canadian immigration website crashed.

So many searches…so many, in fact, that the iconic photograph from the fall of Saigon came to mind.

I understand where those folks are coming from – the frustration at seeing that bloviating orange nightmare winning precinct after precinct churned my stomach. It was very personal and emotional to me because I live in New Orleans, an island of blue afloat in the sea of red which is the great state of Louisiana.

I have been told more times than I can count that I should just move. Some are from friends who live in more welcoming places – places where I couldn’t be fired from my job for being a lesbian or kicked out of a restaurant for public displays of affection with my girlfriend or evicted from my home because the landlord has a moral objection to someone being gender non-conforming.

Some of those who say it are just plain mean – these are the people who snarl out that I should like it or leave it.

The hell I will! Not only is this my home, they need me here.

And we need you here, too!

We need you to stay and do the work to keep this country moving forward. We need ALL of you to help make it better.

As Margaret Mead so eloquently said:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

If not you and me, then who?

Here in Louisiana 779,535 votes went for Hillary Clinton. Those voters are my natural allies. The task I choose to accept is to join up with those hundreds of thousands of other people who are also fighting for tomorrow.

I’m a progressive, lesbian, feminist, Democrat living in New Orleans. And I am not alone.

What I want from Trump supporters

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new-yorker-pres-react-to-trumpYou know that whirring noise we’ve been hearing?

It is all the dead presidents spinning in their graves. The cartoon from the New Yorker, with George Washington’s face palm nails exactly what many of us are feeling.

I mean, just consider that every single one of the still living presidents (whether Democrat or Republican) has stated that they do not support Trump.

Seriously – the very people we have elected in the past, who have served our nation, do not think he should be president.

As Hillary Clinton said in the second debate:

You know, with prior Republican nominees for president, I disagreed with them on politics, policies, principles, but I never questioned their fitness to serve.

Donald Trump is different. I said starting back in June that he was not fit to be president and commander-in-chief. And many Republicans and independents have said the same thing. What we all saw and heard on Friday was Donald talking about women, what he thinks about women, what he does to women. And he has said that the video doesn’t represent who he is.

But I think it’s clear to anyone who heard it that it represents exactly who he is.

Not just his fitness but his mendacity is a concern for me and many others. I’m genuinely surprised by those who continue to endorse him. I have real questions for those who usually speak about family values but now flat out ignore his demonstrated misogyny and immorality. In fact, many of the warriors of the fight against marriage equality are doubling down on their support of a man who has failed to honor his own marriages or those of others.

This goes beyond politics. It is intensely personal to me. And I have to wonder about those on the other side who tweet that I shouldn’t be so emotional about this election.

How can I not?

I don’t understand those who ignore Trump’s rampant misogyny. Don’t try to deflect with the sexual misconduct of Bill Clinton (there is no denying it is a long and shameful list but it is not hers) nor is it comparable to Donald Trump’s own or his weak-ass non-apology that it is locker room talk. How on earth does her record of working for women and children around the globe matters less than what Trump has committed over his lifetime of predatory behavior against women and girls?

I don’t know how anyone who is or knows or loves someone who is LGBTQ could vote for a person who signed a pledge to reverse marriage equality and has a running mate with some serious homophobia issues. Explain to me why I shouldn’t be scared when the Republican nominee surrounds himself with those who believe discrimination against me and people like me is justified by their religion and who make using the bathroom a life or death situation?

Trump began his career fighting against one of the biggest federal housing discrimination suits brought in the 1970’s and he continues to defend disproven and unconstitutional policing practices like Stop and Frisk. If you have any interest in addressing, much less healing the racial divisions that are tearing apart our country, how can you vote for him?

While Trump used to be pro-choice, he recently advocated punishing women who get abortions (and his running mate has actively tried to restrict access, de-fund Planned Parenthood and signed legislation to force women who miscarry to pay for funerals for their fetuses). I’m flummoxed by any woman who can support them and am desperate to understand your reasoning.

I just can’t see how anyone can look at the flood ravaged parishes in Louisiana and vote for someone who denies climate change. How anyone who has driven down past Cancer Alley would be willing to vote for someone who has pledged to end environmental protection as we know it. Can you explain it to me?

Will a Trump supporter tell me how your access to military grade weaponry could possibly outweigh the lives that are lost to the senseless mass shootings? Simple steps like closing gun show loopholes and improving background checks aren’t an infringement for law-abiding gun owners (of which I am one). First though, you should maybe take a moment to review the process to repeal the 2nd amendment and see just how little power (or interest) the president has to take away your guns before answering.

Please, please give me some reasons that I can share with those I love who have disabilities on why you’re helping to empower a man so fond of mocking them (and kicking them out of his rallies). While you’re at it, tell me just how patriotic it is to support a man who has denigrated veterans (as well as dismissed POW’s and insulted Gold Star families) by a man who dodged the draft?

I ask because it seems that your hatred of Hillary Clinton is more powerful than your love for me and for the country we share.

Please tell me I’m wrong.

Please tell me that the vote you’re casting tomorrow is for a better future for us all and not the first of seven trumpets heralding the end of the world as we know it.

Nasty Women and Bad Hombres Vote!

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i-want-you-to-voteDon’t think that any post-debate/pre-election surge in the polls means you can stay home on November 8. Despite his insane statements about not conceding at the third and final debate, the number one threat to democracy in the United States is not Donald Trump.

It is apathy.

We must mobilize voters across the nation to make it abundantly clear that the will and power of the people is behind Hillary Clinton.

Frankly, it isn’t enough to just elect her President of the United States. We have to elect her with a landslide. We must send Hillary Clinton to DC with such a colossal vote margin that it will stand for all time as our condemnation of the racist, misogynistic, anti-immigration and all other alt-right prejudices that Trump’s rhetoric has advanced. Only by beating him very soundly at the polls, will we provide her with a mandate to continue the forward momentum of President Barack Obama and forge her own path.

Additionally, we have a chance to flip enough seats in the Senate and House of Representatives to turn them blue. With a Democrat led Congress, ending the deadlock on judicial seats, including those on the Supreme Court will be possible. It is a terrific opportunity to advance the course of fairness and equality for all.

Once eligible voters get out there and get counted, the loser won’t be able to claim the media or corporations rigged the election. Besides the fact that rigging the election is nigh impossible (this article outlines why), the far bigger issue is now, and has been, voter disenfranchisement, which has been part of the Republican party strategy for years. In fact, several GOP controlled states have even refused to comply with court orders to stop suppressing the vote.

So, I call on you, you nasty women and bad hombres! Exercise your hard fought for right to vote on November 8. Raise your voice by casting your vote.

As assistance this election, here are links to some of the organizations I support who have made endorsements or have provided guidance on the ballot measures.

Forum for Equality

Independent Women’s Organization

League of Women Voters of Louisiana

Public Affairs Research Council

If we all VOTE, we can harness our power and effect positive change.

Early voting in Louisiana begins on October 25 and runs through November 1st (excluding Sunday) from 8:30am to 6pm.

Election day is Tuesday, November 8. Polling place hours are 6am to 8pm. All voters in line at 8pm have the right to vote.

For questions, go to the Voter Portal of the Louisiana Secretary of State.

Don’t let anyone intimidate you and keep you from voting. Through the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683), Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. For more information about Election Protection, please visit: www.866ourvote.org.

Now, get out there and GEAUX VOTE!

Dastardly Deeds from the AG

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jeff-landry-speaksFrom the late Middle Ages comes a great word – dastard. Probably a combination of dazed, dotard and bastard; it means a dishonorable or despicable man.

There is a reason Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry’s picture appears next to the definition.

First, let me give a little background.

I worked for the election of John Bel Edwards to be governor of Louisiana. There were many reasons for my support of his candidacy but most notably, it was his commitment to issuing an executive order to protect LGBTQ state employees from discrimination and harassment that compelled me to canvass and make calls.

After he won the election, I was part of the coalition that came together to craft the language of the order. The Forum for Equality, along with Equality Louisiana and the Louisiana Trans Advocates helped negotiate an inclusive executive order.

We succeeded and on April 13, Governor John Bel Edwards signed the order ( JBE 2016-11) with most of the advocates there in his office.

group-pic-with-gov-jbe-after-signing-eo

I’m standing next to Governor Edwards in the wrinkled blue shirt

While Louisiana has twice before had executive orders (the first signed by Gov Edwards in February 17, 1992 – EWE 92-7 and, the second by Gov Blanco on December 4 2004 – KBB 04-54) which added sexual orientation protection, this is the first one to include gender identity. It was a first for Louisiana and first in the South!

Attorney General Jeff Landry immediately began to undermine the order. In May, he issued an opinion that the order could not be enforced legally. All of the organizations involved in getting the original executive order plus several more responded quickly with a statement: “Landry’s Opinion is based on obsolete caselaw and outdated scientific information, and demonstrates that he is out of touch with current interpretations and understanding. Landry’s political posturing cannot be allowed to harm victims of discrimination merely to advance his own mean-spirited political agenda.”

Also in May, he issued an opinion against the Department of Education and Department of Justice’s Title IX Guidance on Transgender Students, declaring the “Obama transgender mandate is unlawful federal overreach.”

In mid-August (not so coincidently right in the middle of a massive natural disaster and truly terrible flooding, when everyone else in the state was focused on recovery), he began refusing to approve contracts that contain the language of the executive order. There are at least 37 state government contracts for legal work which have been blocked.

It should be noted that the Louisiana Bar Association, an organization for attorneys, encourages the adoption of non-discrimination policies in law firms protecting both sexual orientation and gender identity. On the issue of the AG’s role, it has stated that the attorney general is only supposed to review state legal contracts with private attorneys to make sure the lawyers are qualified to do the work. Further, they say the law doesn’t give his office oversight over language such as the LGBT nondiscrimination clause.

This week, AG Landry filed a lawsuit against the executive order. He claims “Executive Overreach” and is asking a judge to prohibit enforcement of the order. One of his claims is that “enforcement of the order, affording protection from ‘discrimination’ based upon ‘gender identity,’ undermines this State’s anti-discrimination laws and hundreds of other laws in that it creates a protected class which is premised solely upon subjective and arbitrary factors unlike other recognized and legislatively established protected classes.”

Seriously? An order protecting people from discrimination undermines other people from protection of anti-discrimination laws? I call bullshit.

Instead of doing the job he was elected to do, Landry is dastardly carrying the banner for the extremists in their opposition to equal rights for LGBTQ people.

The office of the Attorney General is supposed to protect the people and resources of the state of Louisiana. Instead, it has become a partisan hack’s playground where he picks and chooses who he will protect.

Landry does not believe that gender identity should be a legally protected class. This despite the fact that the EEOC has held that discrimination against an individual because that person is transgender (also known as gender identity discrimination) is discrimination because of sex and therefore is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

He fears what he doesn’t understand and is attempting legal maneuvers to classify transgender people as second class citizens. He can’t be allowed to negate the right to equal treatment under the law for all Louisianians, including transgender people.

Transgender Americans deserve equal dignity and respect at work, in receiving an education, or when seeking respectful and appropriate healthcare. Transgender people make valuable contributions to society and, like everyone else, they should be treated fairly in all areas of life.

This lawsuit illustrates how vital it is to ensure that transgender protections are permanently codified into state law. Protection from discrimination is too foundational and important a value to leave to the discretion of the Attorney General.

Governor Edwards released a statement and said, “Discrimination, of any kind, is not a Louisiana value, and I will do everything in my power, including enforcing this order, to foster a productive and welcoming work environment in Louisiana’s state government.”

Thank you, Governor!

You can join the fight to protect LGBTQ people in Louisiana from discrimination by becoming a member of the Forum for Equality at this link here. I’m proud to be a member as they continue the fight for fairness, equality and equal treatment under the law. I encourage you to get involved, too.

The Wreath of Victory

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rio2016

I really enjoy the Olympics. There is pageantry, patriotism and performances to dazzle the senses and quicken the heart. I watch as much as I can (cursing the broadcasters decision to not televise some sports or  only televise them on cable channels I don’t get or being sexist in their coverage) and grow misty eyed at the stories of athletes overcoming much to reach the Olympics. I cheer as Team USA climbs to the top of the podium.

And climb they did!

The United States won 46 gold, 37 silver and 38 bronze medals. That puts our medal total at 121. The next highest country, China, only had 70 medals total.

And our women! My, how far we’ve come.

In 2016, almost half (44%) of the Olympic medals were awarded to women’s events. That is huge increase from the only 25% in 1984 and not even being allowed to watch, much less participate in the ancient games.

The US Olympic team was comprised of 554 members, of which 291 were women. Those women went on to earn 61 of those 121 medals – including more than half (27) of the gold medals. Sakes alive but I love Title IX!

Team LGBT had a very big presence at the 2016 games as well. A record 55 Out athletes competed. Of special note is that TEAM LGBT’s medal count beat every country that criminalizes gay sex with twenty five Out athletes winning medals.

The athletes were smart, too – there are 1,018 incoming, current and former NCAA student-athletes representing 107 countries and 223 US colleges and universities scheduled to compete.

There are certainly problems with the games – corruption in the awarding of games, financial ruin for many nations/cities who host, issues around gender defining, use of performance enhancing drugs, marketing gone amok, etc. But, to see those smiling faces of the athletes as they hold their medals and hear their nation’s anthem play is to make it all worthwhile.

Because the Olympic ideal IS worthwhile – the best and the brightest, putting their bodies and hearts on the line and achieving excellence through competition. The Olympic motto is inspiring, too – “Citius, altius, fortius” meaning “swifter, higher, stronger.”

As the crafter of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, put it: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

Exactly.

Now I just have to get through the next four years until the next Olympics.

* The title of this blog post comes from a poem by Pindar:

Who, then was given
the wreath of victory
for his speed of foot,
putting before his eyes
the game’s glory,
achieving thought in action?

They’re trying to wash us away

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The Aaron Neville performance of the Randy Newman song, Louisiana 1927, keeps playing in my mind:

Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re trying to wash us away
They’re trying to wash us away
Oh Louisiana, Louisiana
They’re trying to wash us away
They’re trying to wash us away

That song is about the great Mississippi River flood of 1927 that left 700,000 homeless in Louisiana and Mississippi.

flooding picHere are some statistics from the August 10-13 flooding that is currently devastating much of Southern Louisiana:

Over 30,000 people had to be rescued. Eight people are dead, a unknown number are still missing and 10,000 people are in shelters (Update – 11 dead)

More than 40,000 homes were damaged including 90% of the homes in Denham Springs and 75% of the home in Livingston parish which are considered damaged or destroyed

34,000 homes and businesses are still without electricity

Interstate I-12 was closed for 40 miles in both directions between Baton Rouge and Covington. I-10 was closed for 20 miles between Baton Rouge and Gonzales.

Much of area remains underwater.

20 parishes have been declared a major disaster by the federal government

Acadia
Ascension
Avoyelles
East Baton Rouge
East Feliciana
Evangeline
Iberia
Iberville
Jefferson Davis
Lafayette
Livingston
Pointe Coupee
St. Helena
St. Landry
St. Martin
St. Tammany
Tangipahoa
Vermilion
Washington
West Feliciana

It may seem like we’re whining about being ignored by the national media. Trust me, that attention really will help the Louisiana congressional delegation in getting needed assistance from the federal government during the long recovery process ahead.

Thanks to all who have contacted me to check in and make sure that I’m okay. New Orleans escaped the flooding and while we got pretty wet from the rain, we aren’t underwater like the rest of the area.

It is our turn to help all those who stepped up to help us after the levee breaks following Hurricane Katrina.

 

Here are some resources:

Resources For flood Victims:

Shelter information for Affected Parishes

The Louisiana governor’s office can be reached at (225) 342-7015. The Gov Office webpage on disaster relief can be found here.

FEMA Claims Handbook

If you are are in a parish currently included in the federal disaster declaration, you can register with FEMA at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362. If your parish is not yet included in the federal declaration, you must register by calling 1-800-621-3362.

For those who want to help:

Read this first: When Disaster Relief Brings Anything But Relief

New Orleans Moms blog on how to help

Info on preparing and shipping a cleaning bucket.

Dirty Coast is updating its famous Soul is Waterproof t-shirt, with proceeds to go to the Second Harvest Food Bank

Acknowledging all the help and support locals provided to their neighbors, $15 from each sale of the Cajun Navy t-shirt will go to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation Louisiana Flood Relief fund.

Hope this helps.

We are #OneLouisiana

 

 

Let’s Get To Work

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I wish I could say I’m surprised at the number of people who have a hate on for Hillary Clinton but, after an an almost thirty year, very well-funded campaign against her, I can’t. While the crowd’s heckling during the Republican National Convention was (unfortunately) what passes as partisan politics these days, Chris Christie’s mock witch trial was pretty low even for the new normal.

I admit I do find it surprising when the same sort of vitriol is repeated by those on the progressive side of the political spectrum. Especially by folks like Jill Stein, who has actually argued Trump and Clinton would be equally harmful to the causes she as a Green holds dear.

cartoon cave after electionFrankly, I just can’t understand those who claim there is no difference between the two presidential candidates; who assert that choosing between them is like deciding between cholera and gonorrhea.

There are miles and miles of differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Those who say otherwise are exhibiting a very selfish kind of privilege, the kind which lets them overlook mountains of evidence to the contrary because they think they would be safe from the negative repercussions of their support for Trump or a third party candidate.

Those of us lined up in the cross hairs, know we are targets. We know there are lives on the line this election.

  • We’ve heard his rhetoric against undocumented workers, refugees and asylum seekers. He has been plain as day with his talk of walls and banning Muslims even traveling to the United States. In contrast, Hillary speaks of a path to full and equal citizenship and how American has always built our economy with the efforts of immigrants.
  • The LGBTQ community has every reason to be concerned about how fairly we will be treated if Trump becomes president. Besides running on his party’s tremendously anti-LGBTQ platform, Trump has vowed to appoint judges to overturn marriage equality and has expressed support for the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) which would lead to more discrimination. Clinton vows to fight for full equality (including transgender equality) both here and abroad.
  • And it is of vital importance for the health of the nation and the lives of our African American brothers and sisters that we confront racial injustice and enact police reform. Can you even envision addressing systemic racism in a world where Trump is president? After Trump has encouraged his supporters to attack protestors of color and after he said Black Lives Matter activists instigated the recent killings of police officers? Clinton has had missteps but she has started a dialogue and stated she would seek to overhaul of drug sentencing laws, prohibit racial profiling, end private prisons and detention centers and “ban the box.”
  • Just think about those of the most vulnerable among us like those with impairments or disabilities – how many vital social programs will he work to cut? Remember, Trump openly mocked the differently abled while Clinton fights for expanding Medicare, protecting Social Security and disability rights.
  • Equal pay and reproductive justice are two of the many issues facing women and families in the upcoming election. While Trump may be wishy washy on abortion access, his running mate is clearly not. Hillary Clinton has been an advocate for women and families her entire career and makes such issues a cornerstone of her campaign.
  • Even the Pentagon recognizes that environmental issues impact national security. Trump, on the other hand, calls global warming a “hoax” and claims climate science is “bullshit,” while Clinton has a ten year plan to address climate change and advance clean energy.

I could go on but I’d rather have you seriously consider that even if you are personally protected from the consequences of a Trump presidency if you would be willing to risk the actual lives of your fellow Americans?

Hillary Clinton might not be the candidate you want, but she’s the most qualified candidate we have and is definitely the most prepared to work for best for the country.

As Senator Bernie Sanders said:

Hillary Clinton will nominate justices to the Supreme Court who are prepared to overturn Citizens United. Her Supreme Court appointments will also defend a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect the environment.

If you don’t believe this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.

Exactly.

Hillary Clinton has put forth achievable policy prescriptions for a lot of issues I care about. Check here for her statement of positions. Despite the accusations to the contrary, she has one of the most progressive voting records in her time in the Senate, putting her to the left of Obama and 93% in line with Sanders. As she said during one of the debates, “I’m a progressive, but I’m a progressive that likes to get things done.”

And we can get it done if we get out the vote.

As First Lady Michelle Obama said in her speech at the DNC:

In this election, we cannot sit back and hope that everything works out for the best, we cannot afford to be tired or frustrated or cynical. Hear me: Between now and November, we need to do what we did eight years ago and four years ago. We need to knock on every door, we need to get out every vote, we need to pour every last ounce of passion into electing Hillary Clinton as president of the United States of America. Let’s get to work.

Agreed. Let’s get to work because Election Day is Tuesday, November 8th – just 100 days away!

RNC to the World: “We are the Mendacious, My Friends”

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cnsbuxgwgaagzovThe first day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was a doozy. There was plenty of fodder for a myriad of blog posts, especially when they blasted “We are the Champions” by Queen as Donald Trump brought his plagiarizing wife to the stage.

On Monday, the Republican party adopted a platform which has been called one of the most extreme and anti-LGBT in recent history. It includes planks against marriage equality (three separate statements) and bathroom access and planks supporting businesses that seek to discriminate against LGBT customers and conversion therapy for LGBT kids. Later on the same day, they played an anthem that was written and performed by the proudly out musician Freddy Mercury, who died in 1991 of bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS.

What did we learn from this?

That the GOP will capitalize on the creations and efforts of LGBT people while they unequivocally stand against recognizing the humanity of their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters. To that end, they’ll wrap themselves in religion to justify ignoring the parts of the Constitution they disagree with and while supporting a candidate who makes a mockery of the Christian values they espouse. This same candidate who chose as his running mate a man whose signing of an extreme anti-LGBT law seriously damaged Indiana’s reputation and economy (in the aftermath, the state lost 12 large conventions and one study estimated that the total economic cost of Pence’s RFRA has been $250 million).

In this election, being a lesbian is going to make voting quite easy. There is a party actively trying to strip from me my dignity as a human being and there is another that isn’t. Even if I could have agreed with other parts of their platform, how can I possibly vote against my own status as an American citizen deserving of equal rights and equal protection under the law?

For most Republicans, I realize that it doesn’t matter what LGBT people think of the platform, their presumptive nominee or his running mate. They know we’re not going to vote for Trump anyway.

But anyone who understands how elections are won, knows it does matter what moderate Republicans and Independents think. For many of them, using religion as a pretext for discrimination is a bridge too far.

Just look at the response over the extremist RFRA’s (Georgia, Indiana, Arizona, Louisiana, etc) that were specifically designed to protect businesses which discriminate. Or the negative reaction against North Carolina’s HB2 or the backlash to Mississippi’s HB 1523. Residents and tourists alike realize being unwelcoming is a bad idea (check out Forum for Equality’s Louisiana’s Equality Means Business page for plenty of reasons why diversity and equality is good for businesses).

This election, you need look no further than the platforms of the parties (Democrat vs Republican) when making your decision. I urge you to read them. And I urge you to vote in November.

It is about more than just the presidency. There are a number of down ballot candidates who are seeking to win on a platform of “Take America Backward Again.” (ht to HRC)

We can’t let them.


GCLS 12th Annual Goldie Awards

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It was a lovely evening in Washington, DC for the Golden Crown Literary Society 12th Annual Awards Ceremony. Here are this year’s winners:

Debut Author
Threads of the Heart – Jeannie Levig, Bold Strokes Books
The Diplomat – Sophia French, Bella Books
The Revelation of Beatrice Darby – Jean Copeland, Bold Strokes Books

Creative Non-Fiction
Girl Sex 101 – Allison Moon, Lunatic Ink
The Ghosts Who Travel with Me: A Literary Pilgrimage Through Brautigan’s America – Allison Green, Ooligan Press

Romantic Suspense/Intrigue/Adventure
One Last Thing – Kim Baldwin & Xenia Alexiou, Bold Strokes Books
T-Minus Two – KG MacGregor, Bella Books
Reasonable Doubt – Carsen Taite, Bold Strokes Books

Poetry
I Carry My Mother – Lesléa Newman, Headmistress Press
Furs Not Mine – Andrea Cohen, Four Way Books

Mystery/Thriller
Tarnished Gold – Ann Aptaker, Bold Strokes Books
The Red Files – Lee Winter, Ylva Publishing
Cold to the Touch – Cari Hunter, Bold Strokes Books

Young Adult
Missing Mary – Cricket Watson, Sapphire Books Publisher
The Coming of the Mojo – Barbara Treat Williams, Spinsters Ink
Finding Home – Shelia Powell and Liz McMullen, Sapphire Books Publisher

Anthology/Collections (Creative Non-Fiction)
Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships & Identity – Carter Sickels (ed), Ooligan Press

Paranormal/Horror
The Deadening: Book 3 of the Sisters of Spirits Triology – Yvonne Heidt, Bold Strokes Books
Good Enough to Eat – Alison Grey & Jae, Ylva Publishing
Twisted whispers – Sheri Lewis Wohl, Bold Strokes Books

Erotica
Don’t be Shy- Astrid Ohletz and Jae (eds), Ylva Publishing
The Muse – Meghan O’Brien, Bold Strokes Books
Summer Passion – MJ Williamsz, Bold Strokes Books

Dramatic General Fiction
A Small Country About to Vanish – Victoria Avilan, Shaggy Dog Stories
Wishbone – Elaine Burnes, Bedazzled Ink Publishing
Heyday – Marnie Woodrow, Tightrope Books

Anthology/Collections (Fiction)
Through the Hourglass: Lesbian Historical Romance – Sacchi Green and Patty G Henderson, The Liz McMullen Show Publications
Snake Memories and Other Stories – Diana Rivers, Hadra Books
Lesbians on the Loose: Crime Writers on the Lam – Lori Lake and Jessie Chandler (eds)

Historical Fiction
Golddigger – Hilary McCollum, Bella Books
The Witch of Stalingrad – Justine Saracen, Bold Strokes Books
In the Company of Women – Kate Christie, Bella Books

Traditional Contemporary Romance
The Right Time – Susan X Meager, Brisk Press
Locked Inside – Annette Mori, Affinity Ebook Press
Making a Comeback – Julie Blair, Bold Strokes Books

Science Fiction/Fantasy
Without a Front: The Warrior’s Challenge – Fletcher DeLancy, Ylva Publishing
Dragon War Horse – D. Jackson Leigh, Bold Strokes Books
Lady Dragon – D. Jordan Redhawk, Bella Books

Tee Corinne Award for Outstanding Cover Design
Cast Me Gently – artist Glendon Haddix, Ylva Publishing
All We Lack – artist Ann McMan, Treehouse Studio

Ann Bannon Popular Choice
All We Lack – Sandra Moran, Bedazzled Ink Publishing

Director’s Award – Mary Hettel

Lee Lynch Classic Award
Presented to Curious Wine by Katherine V. Forrest

Marie Castle, Katherine V Forrest and I

Marie Castle, Katherine V Forrest and I

Trailblazer Award
Presented to Jewelle Gomez

Congratulations to all the finalists and winners! If you want to know more about the Golden Crown Literary Society or next year’s annual conference in Chicago, click HERE.

We also celebrated the lives of those from the lesbian literary community who have passed since our last conference:

Lost Sisters
Nikki Rashan
Sheila Connolly
Denise Marshall
Honey Lee Cottrell
Nene Adams
Sandra Moran
Inez Rieder
Jeanne Cordova
Jen Wright

Golden Crown Literary Conference in DC!

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I’m very excited that I will be hopping on a train at the end of next week to take me to Washington, DC and the 2016 Golden Crown Literary Society Annual Conference.

While there, I will be catching the 4th of July fireworks, seeing the White House and getting a tour of the Library of Congress. However, I’m most looking forward to the horde of literary lesbians who will be descending on our nation’s capital.

I’ve waxed lyrical before on what the GCLS means to me; suffice to say I can’t wait to catch up with all those readers and authors and publishers whom I’m honored to call friends. And buying books. Lots and lots of books!

If you want to catch me at the conference, I’ll be doing the following:

I will be moderating a panel discussion on Sci-fi and Social Justice on Thursday, July 7th from 9:30am to 10:20am. My panelists include: Jewelle Gomez, Elizabeth Hodge, Lise MacTague, MB Panichi, and Tiffany Shamaly. Since speculative fiction allows a reimagining of the universe, we’ll be looking at just what is the writer’s responsibility for creating diverse, inclusive, and just worlds as well as discussing how we as readers and writers use science fiction to organize for social change.

I will be moderating the Author Spotlight on Thursday from 4:40 to 5:30pm with the following authors: Julie Blair, Jessie Chandler, Bev Prescott, MJ Williamz, and Sheryl Wright

On Friday morning at 8:30am, I will on the panel titled Blood and Gore I. The moderator is Justine Saracen and my fellow panelists are Ann Aptaker, JD Glass, Elizabeth Parmer and Allison Solomon. This panel will focus on violence in the setting of the lesbian novel.

At 9:30am, I will be participating in the Author Spotlight alongside these great authors: Lynn Ames, Marie Castle, Fay Jacobs, Susan X Meagher and moderated by the marvelous Melissa Brayden. I will be reading from my latest novel, Bitter Heart.

I will be signing my books (and anything else a person could want signed) during the author autograph session at 4:30 on Friday afternoon. This session is open to the public so come on down!

Rise early and join me at 8:30 on Saturday morning for Blood and Gore II. Moderated by Alison Solomon, my fellow panelists are: J.L. Gaynor, Laydin Michaels and Justine Saracen. This panel will focus on violence with the protagonist or in the relationship of the lesbian novel.

 

I’m also looking forward to the always funny and insightful Fay Jacobs who will be delivering the Keynote Address at 10:40 on Saturday morning. Later that night, we’ll all get dressed in our finery for the GCLS Awards Ceremony.

I can’t wait to see y’all there!

 

 

JBE Moves Louisiana Forward

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Today was a historic day in Louisiana. Our newly elected Democratic governor signed an inclusive Executive Order providing employment protections for state employees and employees of state contractors to include sexual orientation and gender identity. He also rescinded former Governor Bobby Jindal’s executive order extending the provisions included in Mike Johnson’s Marriage and Conscience Act after it failed to pass out of committee last year.

These are things we’ve been working hard on for a while and I was so pleased to be able to watch him sign it.

Gov JBE signs LGBT EO

LGBT org and allies before signing

Here are the major LGBT organizations standing shoulder to shoulder with the governor – Equality Louisiana, Forum for Equality, Louisiana Trans Advocates and PACE.

Group pic with Gov JBE after signing EO

Here is the press release from the Governor’s office. Here is a copy of the Executive Order.

Here is the Forum for Equality eblast.

Please take a moment to thank Governor John Bel Edwards for signing this inclusive Executive Order. Follow this link for an action page to send your letter.

No Hate in My State

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Ten hours.

That is all it took for the extremists in the North Carolina legislator to craft HB2 to overturn the city of Charlotte’s LGBT non-discrimination law and include an anti-trans bathroom measure to up the awful quotient.

Here is what the law does:

what nc law does

Despite businesses and corporations like Red Hat, Biogen, Dow Chemical, and others coming out in opposition, the bill passed the NC House by 83 to 25 (the yes votes include 11 Democrats) and 32-0 in the Senate after all the Democrats walked out. At around 10pm that same night, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory signed it into law.

The special session cost North Carolina around $42,000 and that is before costly legal challenges begin (it is likely the bill violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Sex Discrimination in Education).

I’ve already had someone respond to a post I made asking why don’t I just move. They wanted to know what’s keeping me from leaving the South to her backward thinking and hateful laws.

Not only is this my home but the ones who would gladly use their bible and their bigotry to discriminate need me here.

As a mature Caucasian woman of progressive beliefs, living in an island of blue in the sea of red which is the great state of Louisiana, it is vital that my voice be raised to say #NoHateInMyStateno hate in my state hrc

Those who care about the future we’re creating need to stay and work on making things better. Get involved if you don’t like what you are seeing/hearing. Fight for what we know is right.

And, even more importantly, we must vote! Our vote is our voice. Vote in all elections and not just in Presidential ones.

Because in the final analysis, the only questions that matter are the ones asked by John Lewis:

If not us, then who?
If not now, then when?

Trailer for Women in Sports!

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Check out this cool trailer for the Women in Sports Anthology:

Stories by Lee LynchJeanine Hoffman, Pat Cronin, Jessie Chandler, Mb Panichi, Erica Lawson, Verda Foster, Tonie Chacon, Sharon G Clark, Nann Dunne, AL Duncan, and Kate McLachlan and me!

Women in Sports is published by Regal Press and is scheduled to be released in April.

Saints and Sinners 2016

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saints and sinners cover

The 2016 Saints and Sinners Festival is scheduled for Friday, April 1 through Sunday, April 3 in New Orleans.

The Festival was founded in 2003 as an innovative way to disseminate HIV/AIDS prevention messages via the writers, thinkers and spokes-people of the LGBT community as well as to bring the LGBT literary community together in celebration.

I will be giving a reading from my new book, Bitter Heart, and will be on a panel. Info for my appearances is below:

Saturday, April 2 @11:30 AM
SAINTS AND SINNERS READING SERIES: WRITERS READ
Authors Rich Barnett, Jameson Currier, Jewelle Gomez, Mary Griggs, J.D. Horn, and Gregg Shapiro share their latest works in our annual reading series. Enjoy a mix of Festival favorites and promising new voices.
Hotel Monteleone, Cabildo Room
Sponsored by The John Burton Harter Charitable Trust.

Saturday, April 2 @1 PM
CREATURES OF THE NIGHT
If writers are supposed to “write what you know”—how do you create supernatural beings like vampires and werewolves and witches, oh my? Can you make up your own rules, or do you have to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before? Join us as we talk about redefining the field of paranormal fiction, and the difficulties LGBTQ writers face as they work to get their voices heard.
Panelists: N.S. Beranek, ‘Nathan Burgoine, Mary Griggs,
Jerry Rabushka, and Jeffrey Ricker.
Moderator: Candice Huber.
Hotel Monteleone, Royal Salon C

The book fair for both Saints and Sinners and the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival is located on the mezzanine level of the Hotel Monteleone. Tubby & Coo’s Book Shop is the 2016 Saints and Sinners book seller.

I hope to see you there!