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Texas GOP endorses ‘reparative therapy’ for gays

The Texas Republican Party now endorses what it calls “reparative therapy” for gay and lesbian people.

The party adopted this as part of its platform at its convention Sunday in Fort Worth after the Texas Eagle Forum tea party group urged endorsement of therapy to turn gay people straight. Thus the party now recognizes “the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle.”

Speaking for myself, I endorse reparative therapy and treatment for Texas Republicans because, after all, who would want to live that way?

As a practical matter, the willful ignorance here is staggering. The American Psychological Association and other major health organizations have condemned such counseling, especially for minors, because of the danger of serious psychological harm.

As a political matter, it’s suicide. Consider Gallup’s trend lines:

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Please note that I confine this criticism to Texas Republicans. I know there are Republicans across the nation – and perhaps particularly here in California – who read news of the Texas GOP’s whack-jobbiness, do a swift facepalm and exclaim, “What is WRONG with you people?”

It’s amazing that anyone who claims to stand for conservatism, small government, individual rights and personal responsibility would simultaneously believe a political party should say anything about whom one can be sexually attracted to and/or love. It’s hypocrisy of the highest order, piled atop a foundation of bigotry based either in fundamentalist religious dogma or plain old xenophobia.

I believe the Republican Party has a future, but I also believe the Texas Republicans who are now holed up in their ideological Alamo are standing in that future’s way.

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Swalwell: Move Super Bowl if AZ enacts LGBT law

The National Football League should commit to moving 2015’s Super Bowl out of Arizona if that state enacts a law letting businesses refuse to serve people because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, Rep. Eric Swalwell said Wednesday.

Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging him to level the threat. (Goodell’s brother, Michael, is gay and was quoted this month on NFL prospect Michael Sam’s decision to publicly disclose his sexuality.)

“In a recent statement, the NFL recognized that its policy emphasizes tolerance and inclusiveness, and I’m asking the NFL to stand by its words,” Swalwell said in a news reelase. “Arizona is fortunate to be the host of the 2015 Super Bowl, and I urge the NFL to commit to moving the 2015 Super Bowl from Arizona if the anti-gay SB 1062 is signed into law. In doing so, it would send a powerful signal that the NFL will not stand by while discriminatory laws are enacted.”

Arizona’s SB 1062 has been passed by both chambers of that state’s legislature, and Gov. Jan Brewer has until Friday to sign or veto it; news reports have said she’s leaning toward the latter, but it’s not yet clear what she’ll do.

(UPDATE @ 4:50 P.M.: It’s a moot point now; Brewer just announced she has vetoed the bill.)

Read Swalwell’s letter, after the jump…
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What they’re saying about ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Bay Area members of Congress and California elected officials reacted with joy at today’s repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy against openly gay and lesbian service members.

From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:

“Today, we celebrate the end of a discriminatory era against gay and lesbian service members in America with the official repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ For too long, this failed policy unfairly denied fundamental civil liberties to highly qualified individuals who wished to serve our country. As a Vice-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality caucus, I am pleased that the tireless work of my Congressional colleagues, the Administration, and the LGBT community resulted in the end of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’

“Although this is a remarkable step forward, we still have a long way to go to attain full equality for LGBT people. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people continue to be targets of discrimination in our policies, our laws, and our society.

“I have always said that discrimination is un-American and we, as a nation, must continue to fight for policies that bring us closer to fulfilling the principles we espouse. I encourage my constituents, my colleagues and our country to stay committed to ensuring that sexual orientation and gender-identity are no longer a cause for inequality.”

From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove:

“Embedded in American patriotism is the hope and expectation that our country’s best days are still to come. Today, as we celebrate the end of the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, I’m proud to say that America the country is one step closer to living up to America the idea.

“Since the founding of our great Republic, LGBT service members have selflessly fought and died in defense of our country. For too long, our country in return forced these brave heroes to live a lie in order to serve. This has led to thousands of dismissals and jeopardized national security by denying skilled Americans the opportunity to serve. As of today, this injustice is relegated to the dustbin of history – where it belongs.

“This is a day of celebration for gay and lesbian troops who can now serve openly, and for their families, who can now comfort their loved ones without fear. This is also a day of celebration for every American who believes that we must live up to our ideals. The leaders of the free world, the great defenders of democracy, should not promote policies that are discriminatory, harmful, and against the principles of a free and just society.

“Because of the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, somewhere a young LGBT American is coming to the realization that the discrimination and barriers to equality they’ve grown up with are eroding. For people who have been marginalized all their lives, to know that someday soon they will no longer be excluded from their American dream can make all the difference in the world.”

From U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

“Today, after nearly two decades of discrimination and injustice, the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy has officially come to an end. When this policy was put into effect, I said it was ‘just plain un-American.’ I am so grateful that equality, freedom and justice have won out over fear and prejudice. A barrier has been lifted, and our military and our nation will be stronger because of it.”

More, after the jump…
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Stark re-introduces gay adoption & foster care bill

Rep. Pete Stark re-introduced a bill today that would ban discrimination in adoption or foster care placement based on the sexual orientation, marital status or gender identity, or based on the child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

H.R. 1681, the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act,” has 33 original cosponsors. Stark, D-Fremont, issued a news release saying it addresses the critical shortage of stable, safe and loving homes now available to children in the foster care system by setting a federal baseline that ends prejudiced restrictions.

Pete Stark“We now spend more than $7 billion per year on a flawed foster care system that doesn’t serve all the children who are in it, and permits discrimination against capable, loving potential parents and children,” Stark said. “It’s time for a federal fix to this critical child welfare and civil rights issue. Every child deserves the lifelong benefits that come from growing up in a stable home.”

Stark offered a similar bill in October 2009, but it never even got a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee. Stark’s office says states including Virginia, Arizona and Illinois recently have tried to further restrict who can adopt, making this re-introduction particularly timely. A handful of states affirmatively allow gay men and lesbians to adopt jointly, while most states are silent on the issue.

California legalized single-parent adoptions by lesbians and gay men in 1978. A state law that took effect in 2002 let domestic partners adopt a child of his or her partner as a stepparent. And the California Supreme Court in 2003 affirmed the validity of second-parent adoption, a process that allows unmarried couples, including lesbian and gay couples, to establish a legal relationship with the couples’ children.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, has announced she’ll introduce the bill in the Senate.

“Far too many children in foster care have little hope for a permanent family and end up being parented by the government,” said Linda Spears, Vice President of Policy and Public Affairs for the Child Welfare League of America. “We must support all qualified adults who are interested in providing a nurturing, adoptive home—regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation. Having a real live, caring parent is incredibly important for ensuring a child’s success. Rep. Stark’s bill represents progress for these children whose goal is to simply be loved.”

Family Equality Council Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler said the bill addresses “an undisputed child welfare crisis in this country, with more than 500,000 children in foster care and 120,000 of them available for adoption.”

“One in four children in this country is being raised by a single parent, two million children are being raised in LGBT households,” she said. “We all recognize there is no single type of family in America anymore.We must not allow anyone to use politically motivated and specious arguments about safeguarding traditional family structures to deny families to children in need.”

PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) National Executive Director Jody Huckabee says having youth in loving homes with supportive families reduces risk factors such as poverty, homelessness, incarceration, mental illness, and pregnancy. “Our organization has been supporting parents, families and children all over the country for over 35 years, and we know from our experience that it is in the best interest of every child – and, in fact, the right of every child – to have the loving care and support of a family.”

Bill Gram-Reefer, editor and publisher of the Halfway to Concord blog, gave voice to some conservatives’ concerns about such legislation soon after Stark introduced the earlier bill in 2009:

Like a finger looking for any eye to poke this measure would effectively ban government partnerships with any public or private agency that chooses not to place children with same-sex couples. It also raises the very dangerous possiblities of organizations being banned from receiving state certification whether or not they receive government funding, based on over reaching discrimination rules proposed by Stark and others as the new liberal trump card.

The clear irony of Stark’s willingness to cut off the nose to spite the face is that while claiming to advance tolerance, his bigoted legislation works to marginalize groups because of their sincerely-held convictions.

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Speaker John Perez says ‘It Gets Better’

California Assembly Speaker John Pérez, D-Los Angeles, released a pair of YouTube videos today as part of the “It Gets Better” series created to counter a spate of LGBT teenage suicides due to bullying and harassment by their peers.

Here’s the short version:

And here’s the long version, where in he discusses his experience coming out over the Thanksgiving holiday when he was in college:

“The rash of suicides we’ve seen in the past year have been nothing short of heartbreaking in every sense of the word. The particulars are the same in every case, where the kid felt so lonely and isolated and had no hope for the future to the point where they felt the only answer was taking their own life,” Pérez said in a news release. “The It Gets Better series is a way for each of us who struggled with the same issues to reach out to the kids and let them know how wonderful and special and not alone they are. I chose to do this video now because with the holiday season approaching it’s more critical than any other time of the year to send the kids a message of hope.”

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Stark’s LGBT adoption/foster care bill returns

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, will hold a panel discussion Thursday on Capitol Hill to mark the re-introduction of his “Every Child Deserves a Family Act,” a bill his office says would “open more homes to foster children by working with states to end discrimination against adoptive and foster parents based on sexual orientation and marital status.”

The panelists will include:

  • Jason Hoffmaster, an adoptive parent and foster care alumnus who lives in Seattle with his partner and their four adopted sons; he’s also a board member for Amara Parenting, a private foster care and adoption agency in Seattle.
  • Martin Gill, who with his partner of more than eight years has been raising two foster children since 2004; they’re now involved in a lawsuit against Florida’s policy that automatically denies adoption by gays and lesbians.
  • Leslie Cooper, an American Civil Liberties Union senior staff attorney who is the lead attorney in Gill’s case.
  • Uma Ahluwalia, director of the Department of Health and Human Services for Montgomery County, Maryland; she previously served as principal deputy director and interim director for the Child and Family Services Agency in the District of Columbia.
  • Charlotte J. Patterson, a University of Virginia psychology professor who is among the nation’s foremost researchers on the psychology of sexual orientation; her particular research emphasis is on child development in the context of lesbian- and gay-parented families.
  • Gary J. Gates, a senior research fellow at the Williams Institute in the UCLA School of Law and co-author of The Gay and Lesbian Atlas; he’s known as a leading expert on the demography and geography of the gay and lesbian population.