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Wednesday, May 1 -- On the eve of possible immigration reform, march on May Day for immigrants' and workers' rights! 2 PM rally at Union Park, Ashland Avenue and Washington Boulevard. 3 PM march to Federal Plaza (Dearborn & Adams Streets). Join the Facebook event and spread the word!
Sunday, June 30 -- March with the Gay Liberation Network in this year's Pride Parade. Mark your calendar! Details about where and when we will meet to be announced soon!
The Supreme Court & Gay Rights
Andy Thayer on Chicago Clout Honduras:
Humanitarian Crisis? Part One & Two
Andy Thayer explains the current crisis in Honduras. Andy's guests are on the front line to expose America's policies that are transforming this counrty.
Gay Rights Activists Picket Chicago's Cardinal George
Speaking Trans: A Primer on Gender Language
Free Bradley Manning vigil continues
Defending Bradley Manning
President Obama has persecuted whistleblowers with a vengeance not seen since the Nixon administration. Chief among his victims is gay, alleged wikileaker Bradley Manning. In this episode of the Gay Liberation Network on CAN TV, GLN's Bob Schwartz talks to anti-war activist Stan Smith about why, far from being villain, Bradley Manning should be regarded as a hero.
Originally broadcast June 8, 2012
Bradley Manning Exposed War Crimes & Helped End The Iraq War
"If Bradley Manning had committed war crimes, not exposed them, he would be a free man today." - Marjorie Cohn
"By exposing some of the worst atrocities committed by the U.S. Forces in Iraq, the documents prevented the Iraqi Government from agreeing to give our soldiers immunity, which is what Obama wanted, to continue the war rather than end the war, and therefore... If Bradley Manning is guilty of what he is accused of, he is also guilty of helping to end the Iraq War." - Marjorie Cohn
When the Supreme Court rules, probably in late June, on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8, there are three possible courses it can choose to take:
1) An outright rejection of any claims for same-sex couples' rights;
2) A total affirmation of the equal rights of same-sex couples;
or, most likely,
3) A mealy-mouthed affirmation of some rights for some people, while screwing many millions of LGBT people by embracing the odious concept of "state's rights."
Regardless of the outcome, we will need to be in the streets to secure our rights.
If we get option #1, a total loss, we need to be in the streets to challenge the legitimacy of an unelected, presumably 100% "straight" institution crapping all over the rights of LGBT people. In doing so, we will begin the long process of undermining that decision, much as we did with the odious 1986 Bowers vs. Hardwick decision, which ultimately led to the 2003 Lawrence vs. Texas victory.
The louder, the larger, the more vigorous our protests, the shorter will be our time in legal purgatory.
If we get option #2, a "total" victory over DOMA and Prop 8, we would be foolish and ignorant of history if we felt that our battles over these two anti-LGBT measures was over, let alone that we didn't have a lot more work to do on other fronts.
In 1954, Thurgood Marshall made a stunningly bold argument against the Supreme Court's previous "separate but equal" doctrine, and with the Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, victory, supposedly over-turned segregation in the nation's schools.
But even though the Court's 1954 decision said that segregation had to be removed "with all deliberate speed," no progress towards school desegregation was made for many years, until the Civil Rights Movement forced (partial) school desegregation in the mid-1960s and early 1970s.
Two additional cautionary tales about the 1954 victory that LGBT people should keep in mind:
A) In the decades since the large mobilizations, racial segregation in the nation's schools has crept back to being statistically on a par with that seen way back in 1954. It may be a hackneyed phrase, but it is still true: eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
B) Legal equality is not all that it's cracked up to be. As the experience of African Americans and other groups has shown, you can have plenty of formal legal, de jure equality, and mountains of de facto inequality and discrimination existing side-by-side. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his colleagues recognized this when they launched the "Poor People's Campaign" following the mid-1960s passage of sweeping civil rights legislation.
Even if we get the most brilliant, sweeping victory from the Court that we could imagine, social inequality, with its attendant LGBTQ youth homelessness, suicide rates and other dysfunctions will still be with us in abundance. And de jure discrimination will be replaced with insidious de facto discrimination.
And what if we get Option #3, a mealy-mouthed "compromise"? This is the most likely option, and perhaps the greatest danger, as it will be a ploy to buy off LGBTs in the "Blue" states that have marriage equality, or are close to it, and leave LGBTs in the majority of the country twisting in the wind for perhaps a generation to come (if not longer).
While the heady feeling of "inevitable" marriage equality has spurred many erstwhile opponents to embrace our side (the Clintons, President Obama, any number of Republicans) and depressed the vigorousness of our most ardent opponents, it has also engendered a dangerous complacency on our side.
Will we someday, many years hence, look back at the year 2013 as being the high water mark of our movement? History has shown that powerful social movements can be side-tracked and defeated, sometimes for generations, by war, economic or environmental collapse, or other factors.
It is why we must press for the most full-reaching victory now, and not trust in any mythic "inevitability" when we most likely get a tepid statement out of the Court in late June. The higher we push the "high water mark" of our advance now, the more difficult it will be for our opponents later to claw things back to "the good old days" of blatant bigotry and discrimination.
Civil rights advance has never been inevitable, simply because it seems logical and right. Human history is replete with both examples of huge advances as well as devastating setbacks. We can no more count on inevitable advance than a player in the stock or housing markets can count on things inevitably going "up."
It is our duty to future generations of LGBTQ people to not rest on our laurels of steadily advancing poll numbers, legislative and court gains, but to press our advantage now for the greatest possible gains.
It is for that reason that the Gay Liberation Network along with other activists locally and around the country will be organizing "Decision Day" marches and protests for the evening of the day that the Supreme Court announces its decisions on the Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8.
In Chicago, we haven't yet settled upon a specific time of the evening and place that the Decision Day protest will take place, but will do so soon. In the meantime, join our Facebook Page so that you can keep up with the conversations about this and other activities.
10 years after invasion of Iraq, protesters remember shutting down Lake Shore Drive
AP/File: Chicago's downtown Federal Plaza filled with people and police during an anti-war protest Friday, March 21, 2003 in Chicago. Thousands of people gathered and marched through the city in opposition to the war in Iraq.
Back on March 20, 2003 as news of the U.S. invasion of Iraq spread, one Chicago activist decided to act.
"As we said at the time, if they'll ignore our voices let them ignore our bodies," Andy Thayer said.
Thayer helped organize more than 15,000 protesters who proceeded to march onto Lake Shore Drive snarling traffic in both directions.
"People did what they could to peacefully demonstrate against this war in as forceful a way as they thought possible," Thayer said. "Which was to basically shut down a major artery in the city of Chicago."
As the protest wrapped up, more than 800 people were arrested downtown.
"On the one hand while the American public was overwhelmingly against the war, the powers that be were dead set for it including our own Daley administration," Thayer said.
All of their charges were eventually dropped, and last year the city settled with some of them for $6.2 million dollars.
Looking back 10 years later, Thayer said he thinks protesters could have been more effective.
"I think there always are things you can see in retrospect that you'd want to do better," he said. "[No one] aside from those of us who've stayed in the streets against these wars can say truthfully I told you so."
Thayer says one thing that has changed in the last 10 years is that more people realize all struggles are connected whether at home or abroad.
"I think there is a growing consciousness that all the so called separate struggles are connected and that's a good thing," he said. "This is not something that has come about due to the political leaders of either party."
Thayer said activists will commemorate the anniversary with a march on State Street Tuesday night as well as a forum on Wednesday night at Grace Place located at 637 S. Dearborn St.
"The only way we can stop these wars is by the people themselves," he said. "Not just getting out in the streets and demonstrating, but also doing resistance."
Highlights From 3/20/03 Anti War Demonstration for Broadcast
Much of what we know about war crimes committed by the U.S. military over the past decade is thanks to gay Private Bradley Manning. Thanks to his revelations, the contempt for human rights demonstrated by U.S. presidential administrations, both Republican and Democratic, was laid bare for all who bothered to open their eyes to see it.
The wikileaks revelations that Manning boldly owned up to last week challenge even the most deluded believers in the righteousness of American military and economic control over other peoples around the world. Those who persist in believing that there is a noble purpose in U.S. foreign policy, that it is not driven by a base scramble for wealth and power, are like over-grown children who still believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, despite all evidence to the contrary.
But the forces that support the American imperial project are still doing their best to strike back. The Obama administration, in its attempt to suppress Bradley Manning's message, has prevented him from conducting any media interviews. In a country with a supposedly transparent court system, it has even prevented transcripts of his trial proceedings from being made public.
Fortunately, some have evaded Obama's suppression of information by secretly recording and posting an audio recording of Manning's landmark statement to the court.
You've heard about Bradley Manning, and much commentary by mostly hostile media outlets.
Now hear Manning speak for himself, and judge for yourself the value of his message:
CLEVELAND Last Friday a federal jury here returned what is probably the largest-ever civil rights verdict for this court -- $13.21 million for the wrongful prosecution and imprisonment of David Ayers. It was also probably the biggest-ever award in the history of the LGBT rights movement.
David Ayers, 56, is an African American gay man and native of Cleveland who at the time of his 1999 arrest had been employed for over eight years as a security officer with the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. He had no prior arrests and had no physical evidence linking him to the crime, but was charged and eventually sentenced to life in prison for the 1999 murder of an elderly CMHA resident, Dorothy Brown.
Ms. Brown's body was found in a pool of blood, naked from the waist down, with pubic hairs in her mouth. One of the pubic hairs was later DNA tested and found to not match Ayers, leading to his exoneration and release in 2011.
An example of the apparent anti-gay bias of Ayers' prosecution includes a February 9, 2000 police report written by defendant Cleveland Police Department Officer Denise Kovach, which repeatedly refers to friends of Ayers, and Ayers himself, as gay: "This male appeared very 'gay' like, but when we asked him if he was gay, he laughed and stated no.... But this male acted very 'gay like', also had candles lit up around his house and religious statues and holy water in cups... KEN SMITH is also a hairdresser and dressed and sat like a gay male. Note: DAVID AYRES [sic] gives quite an impression of also being gay."
As the lawsuit noted, the investigating officers "had no reason to suspect Mr. Ayers of having murdered Ms. Brown. Mr. Ayers was innocent and had nothing to do with the crime. Moreover, as a gay man, Mr. Ayers did not fit the profile of the killer in the case, given the obvious sexual nature in which the victim had been attacked. Nevertheless, [the officers] ... became resolved to prove that Mr. Ayers committed the crime."
During the week-long trial, Kovach attempted to explain away the pubic hairs found in Ms. Brown's mouth as being because "pubic hairs are everywhere," and so the presence of a male pubic hair in the victim's mouth had no evidentiary significance.
Ayers' initial involvement in the case stemmed from his being the last person to see Ms. Brown alive before the attack on her several hours later. He told investigators that late the preceding evening, the elderly Ms. Brown had called him to her apartment because she had fallen down and couldn't get up. He said he had gotten the key to her unit from a lock box which was under video surveillance. But Kovach and fellow defendant officer Michael Cipo falsely claimed that the video footage never showed Ayers going to the lock box for the key, and falsely accused Ayers of lying about that so as to further implicate him.
Knowing that their "evidence" was too weak to convict Ayers, Kovach and Cipo enlisted a jail-house snitch, Donald Hutchinson, who had been housed with Ayers at Cuyahoga County Jail, to falsely claim that Ayers confessed to him. Kovach and Cipo also falsely claimed that Ayers implicated himself to them shortly after his arrest.
Denise Kovach worked as a homicide detective for 13 years and retired with full benefits from the Cleveland Police Department in 2005. Michael Cipo, who joined the CPD in 1973, retired with full benefits in 2003. During his 11-1/2 year imprisonment on a life sentence, David Ayers lost both his father and his mother and was unable to attend their funerals.
Example of a police report used to convict David Ayers:
Freedom to Marry Day protest in front of Holy Name Cathedral
Thank you to all who came out in the rain and cold!! And thank you for standing your ground despite harassment from the police.
Just before the protest began, the cops said that we had to move it across the street from the Cathedral, rather than right in front. They said we needed a permit to have a demonstration, in essence threatening to arrest us if we didn't do as they demanded.
We insisted that we didn't need a permit, and that we would stay in front of the Cathedral -- and everyone stayed there.
Later they got their revenge by ticketing our vehicle for "expired meter" even though we paid $6.25 for the privilege of parking legally (see the 2nd last pic). The last frame shows an unmarked cop car parked illegally in a tow zone in front of us.
One law for us, another for them. Serve & protect!
This week marks the 10-year anniversary of the second U.S.-Iraq War. It was a war that, for the baldness of the lies used to justify it, came to symbolize the arrogance of American assertion of power over the other peoples who inhabit the globe.
For all the Bush administration cant about "smart bombs" and other "targeted" attacks designed to avoid killing the "non-guilty," a recent Brown University study found that 70% of the 190,000 people who died due to direct violence in the war were civilians.
As for the 57,000 "military" deaths in the war, most of those were Iraqi soldiers, who died defending their country -- certainly a more "heroic" exercise than the U.S. invaders and their propagandists could claim. Like Roman legions of old, the U.S. soldiers were in engaged in nothing more noble than service to empire, and when they were no longer useful, cast aside into homelessness and untreated disability.
But the widely reported 190,000 deaths were just the tip of the iceberg, according to the Brown study, and did not "account for indirect deaths due to increased vulnerability to disease or injury as a result of war-degraded conditions. That number is estimated to be several times higher." The environmental devastation, including use of depleted uranium shells, has led to burgeoning cancer, birth defect and respiratory disease rates, particularly in southern Iraq where the bulk of the fighting occurred.
As Britain's Independent newspaper reported, "The latest study found that in Fallujah, more than half of all babies surveyed were born with a birth defect between 2007 and 2010. Before the siege, this figure was more like one in 10. Prior to the turn of the millennium, fewer than 2 percent of babies were born with a defect. More than 45 percent of all pregnancies surveyed ended in miscarriage in the two years after 2004, up from only 10 percent before the bombing."
The 10th anniversary of the Iraq War has already given way to a round of self-congratulation by what might be termed the Coalition Against Wars Led By Republican Presidents. But this wasn't just "Bush's War," as many liberals falsely tagged it. Bush got the political cover he needed to launch the war when Democrats provided the crucial margin of victory for the Iraq War resolution in both houses of congress. If ever there was a measure richly deserving of a filibuster in the Senate, requiring just one Senator of courage, this war resolution was it, but of course, every Democratic Senator was found wanting.
On October 2, 2002 then-state Senator Obama denounced what he called the "dumb" Iraq War in a speech at Chicago's Federal Plaza. I was at that "anti-war" rally, and with others, wanted to vomit as the liberals organizing the rally had no problem with their featured speaker endorsing the then-raging Afghanistan war.
But then, for five years, Obama went silent on the Iraq War. He only resurrected his "opposition" to it during the 2008 Democratic primaries, after an overwhelming majority of the country (let alone Democratic primary voters) had turned against it. In the meantime, of course, he had routinely voted for Iraq War funding along with most of his liberal and conservative colleagues. The war wasn't so "dumb" that it was undeserving of billions of dollars.
The singular contribution of Bradley Manning's WikiLeaks revelations is not that they told us anything radically new about the U.S. government's nefarious role in the world, it was that they demonstrated that this was a thoroughly bipartisan project, and did so using unimpeachable sources -- the U.S. government itself. Thus we saw U.S. support for dictators (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, etc.), war crimes (Iraq and Afghanistan) and military coups (Honduras). In doing so, WikiLeaks laid the emperor bare for all those who still childishly clung to the belief that he had clothes of morality, liberty and justice.
Shattered were the myths about Obama's and Bush's foreign policy (intentionally referred to here in the singular) having anything to do with freedom -- raw power and wealth were the only things that these presidents care about. Their policies had different branding, and yet here was this young man, Bradley Manning, unimpeachably showing that both were vile, violent, and immoral to the core.
Liberal Democrats who peddled myths about Obama's foreign policy being an improvement over Bush's were shown to be foolish stooges for American propaganda. Which is why, with a few honorable exceptions, they have been absent from Manning's defense. They had departed the anti-war movement en masse in the run up to 2008 elections, and haven't been seen in the streets since. What remains of the "hard left" has largely tailed them, making perceptive comments about Obama and the Democrats in the pages of their journals, but boycotting any direct protests against them and refusing to initiate their own. In doing so, they have reinforced the Democrats' smothering stranglehold on the Left, rather than help enlarge the promising break from the Democrats that Occupy once heralded.
The New Normal
So in the war to have movements that have the political independence from the Democrats that is necessary to force real change, we are starting over from scratch once again. In the meantime, the Obama administration has solidified the much worse "new normal" initiated by Bush II.
With military bases in over 130 countries around the world, the Bush/Obama years saw U.S. military spending grow to equal that of the rest of the world's nations combined. In an economy of generally moderate growth, "security" spending doubled over the course of the decade following 9/11. Heretofore dormant (because they were too outrageous) provisions of Clinton's 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty bill were rolled out to quash every major Muslim charity in the United States, with the PATRIOT Act tacked on for good measure.
Obama broke his pledge to repeal the PATRIOT Act, voting instead to reauthorize it. Gone now is habeas corpus, the quaint notion from the Magna Carta of 1215 that the King could not arbitrarily arrest and imprison someone without charges and a trial. Whereas Bush secretly implemented this, Obama openly embraced its erasure with his signing of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. And while we're on the subject of habeas corpus, Obama's first pledge upon taking office was to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison -- five years later, over 100 prisoners, many of them never charged, let alone tried, are currently part of a growing hunger strike there.
Whereas President Nixon found his undoing in the launching of secret wars on the nations of Laos and Cambodia, and secret wars against political opponents at home, President Obama has openly pursued such wars with drone attacks in a half dozen countries we're supposedly not at war with, and at home, with surveillance programs conducted without even the fig leaf of FISA court orders and an assault on whistleblowers unprecedented in U.S. history.
The increasing use of military force and domestic repression to shore up declining empires is a theme noted by political commentators from Kevin Phillips to Vladimir Lenin. There is no morality in it. There is no "freedom" or "liberty" in it. It is force, and to those who object, domestically or abroad, they can go to hell (or be imprisoned or killed).
If there's any silver lining in the inevitable round of austerity soon to be lapping up on America's shores, it's that the Democrats will be forced by their position of power in the federal government to be the leading salespeople for it.
Willy-nilly, they will defend cuts in "entitlements," while preserving funding for empire. In so doing, they will discredit themselves further with the majority of Americans who already see neither party as worthy of voting for. Sooner or later, this majority will be forced by circumstances to forge their own new organizations, join with slightly greyer, now-disconnected Occupiers who've stayed true to the principle of political independence, and build a new movement.
When this new movement arises, it will again be a target for co-optation and control by those who have diverted previous movements. Victory is not inevitable, but sooner or later, a push-back by the 99 Percent is.
"The Bible says:
Available in sizes small to triple-X large.
$15 per shirt plus $4.50 flat-rate postage, no matter how many shirts you order.
Make your check payable to "GLN" and mail it to:
GLN BIBLE T-SHIRT OFFER 4404 N Magnolia, Ste 420
Chicago, IL 60640
"Formed in response to three September '98 anti-gay bashings in the "Boy's Town" neighborhood... [we] respond to all serious hate crimes, no matter which scapegoated group is targeted. We will actively seek out and work with individuals and organizations in other communities to assist them in responding to hate crimes that target them. Only by the active involvement of grass roots people from all communities can we isolate the bigots and thus lessen hate crimes."
-- from the GLN/CABN founding statement
Gay Liberation Network
(formerly Chicago Anti-Bashing Network)
a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Direct Action Group
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