Saturday, August 8, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Today in Gay History

Happy 166th Birthday

Charles Warren Stoddard (August 7, 1843-1909)

Poet, Novelist

Credit all the following to glbtq:

A pioneering California writer, Charles Warren Stoddard is best known for his homoerotic tales collected as South-Sea Idyls and The Island of Tranquil Delights.. . .

During the 1860s, after he had quit school and dedicated himself to a literary career, Stoddard joined San Francisco's journalistic and Bohemian circles, and he established enduring relationships with Ambrose Bierce, Ina Coolbrith, Bret Harte, and Samuel Clemens.

Beloved for his wit and amiability, Stoddard had a genius for friendship; his large literary acquaintance ultimately included both contemporary and younger writers. . .

Raised a Protestant, Stoddard converted to Roman Catholicism soon after the appearance of his Poems in 1867. Stoddard remained devout in his faith--among his most popular books was a spiritual autobiography, A Troubled Heart (1885)--and he cherished the companionship of priests, including Father Damien, missionary to the lepers of Molokai. He is listed in the Catholic Encyclopedia, but of course, no mention of his "gayness" there.

As a respected man of letters, Stoddard was recruited to academic positions at prominent Catholic institutions: Notre Dame, where he clashed with colleagues over his attentions to the students and resigned after three semesters; and the Catholic University of America, where he taught from 1889 to 1901.

Inspired to sexual self-awareness by reading Whitman's "Calamus" poems, Stoddard gained his first experience with the natives of Hawaii and Tahiti, about whom he wrote his best stories, those collected in South-Sea Idyls (1874, 1892) and The Island of Tranquil Delights (1904) . . .

Stoddard fell in love with the painter Frank Millet during the 1870s and lived with him in Venice. But he usually favored youthful companions. Of his several "kids," as he called them, the most important was Kenneth O'Connor, aged fifteen in 1895, when Stoddard unofficially adopted him and took him home to his Washington "Bungalow."

In 1903, his health failing and his relationship with the younger Kenneth deteriorating, Stoddard returned to California. After a triumphal visit to San Francisco, where he was feted as a pioneering California writer, he settled in Monterey, where he died of a heart attack on April 23, 1909.

Stoddard's modest literary reputation had already faded before his collected Poems appeared posthumously in 1917. The gayest of the island stories have been collected in Cruising the South Seas (1987).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Congratulations Justice Sotomayor!

Meanwhile, Democrats are calling the hand of the Repulicons:


Today in Gay History

Happy 61st Birthday
Steve Endean
(August 6, 1948- August 4, 1993)

Gay Rights Activist; Founder of HRC

From glbtq we learn:

Steve Endean was one of the most important glbtq activists of the post-Stonewall era. Termed "visionary" by all who knew him, heG also stirred controversy within and outside gay politics in his conviction that "mainstreaming" the movement was the way for glbtq Americans to achieve equality. To that end, he became the nation's first gay rights lobbyist in 1978 and two years later founded the Human Rights Campaign Fund, now the Human Rights Campaign, America's largest glbtq political organization.

Stephen Robert Endean was born on August 6, 1948, in Davenport, Iowa. He grew up in the Midwest and attended the University of Minnesota (1968-1972) as a political science major. Putting theory into practice, he soon became involved in local and state politics but feared that his sexuality was incompatible with a public life. Initially thinking, in his words, that he must "stop being gay" in order to pursue a political career, he "discovered being gay isn't specific acts but a state of mind."

From then on he devoted his life to the gay rights movement (the term then in use) and to legislative action, founding Minnesota's first gay and lesbian political group (Gay Rights Legislative Committee) in 1971. He became the state's first gay and lesbian rights lobbyist, working on such landmark measures as the Twin Cities' gay rights ordinances (passed in the mid-1970s) and Minnesota's state-wide non-discrimination bill (finally passed only a few months before Endean's death in 1993).

To complement his small income as a lobbyist, he worked at the coat check counter at Sutton's, a popular Minneapolis gay bar, advertising "Well-Hung Coats by Wee-Bee [his nickname]," and used that as another opportunity for politicking.

The backlash against gay rights and other progressive causes in the late 1970s solidified Endean's view that nationwide action, especially a national gay and lesbian rights bill, was essential. He was an early Co-Chair of the National Gay Task Force Board of Directors, and was among those who fought--bravely, but unsuccessfully--repeals of gay rights measures in Dade County, Florida (1977) and St. Paul, Minnesota (1978). By late 1978, when the murders of Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone in San Francisco sparked a renewed wave of protest, Endean had moved to Washington, D. C., to become Director of the fledgling Gay Rights National Lobby.

Gay Rights National Lobby was but the first of Endean's three-pronged plan for a fully mature political movement, which, in his view, demanded lobbying, raising money for gay-friendly candidates, and creating grassroots pressure. Thus, while leading GRNL, he launched the Human Rights Campaign (Fund) in 1980, the first national gay rights political action committee, and became its first Executive Director.

Conflicts with other activists, including Advocate publisher David Goodstein, led to Endean's removal from both GRNL and HRC(F) in 1983, but he returned to GRNL in 1985; after the two organizations merged later that year, Endean's Fairness Fund, a grassroots program to generate constituent mail, became HRC(F)'s Field Division, later renamed Speak Out.

By this time AIDS was a personal as well as national issue: diagnosed HIV-positive in 1985, Endean devoted increasing energy to AIDS issues through Speak Out, while also advocating coalition-building, especially with feminists and African Americans, and continuing the fight for national legislation.

Although Endean's declining health forced his retirement on disability in 1991, he initiated the National Endorsement Campaign, to persuade political and media opinion leaders publicly to support gay and lesbian rights, and began writing his movement memoir, Into the Mainstream. The same year he saw the National Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights Act reintroduced in Congress with over 100 co-sponsors. No such bill has yet been passed, but many of its goals--in employment, health care, and domestic partnership rights--have been accomplished by other means. These gains stand as legacies of his energy and vision.

A self-described "Midwestern Catholic boy" who loved sports and sex, Steve Endean became a devoted member of the Metropolitan Community Church, writing that "my quest for civil rights, equal justice and human dignity was a part of God's calling for me." In a letter to a friend he added, "when I think about 'my family' I not only think of family (which is mostly in Minneapolis) and friends but in terms of the broader gay and lesbian community."

Steve Endean died of AIDS-related complications on August 4, 1993.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Monday, August 3, 2009

Keep Single Payer Health Care Option Viable

Excerpts from a plea Published in AfterDowningStreet by davidswanson on Sat, 2009-08-01 03:15. See more at where Swanson is major contributor

Single Payer Summer:
We Demand National Single-Payer
Or At Least the Right for States to Do It

The U.S. House of Representatives has committed to bringing single-payer healthcare to a vote following summer recess. Stranger things have happened, greater obstacles have been overcome, than what would be involved in winning that vote, winning in the Senate, and compelling the president to sign the bill. We have a moral responsibility to put everything we have into trying; and even a near-victory will advance the cause.

. . .
So, here's the truth. Congress is not voting on single-payer healthcare purely because we forced it to, or because the bill is (prior to our shaking the country up this summer) even remotely likely to pass. Our advocacy for single-payer has had an impact. We're a big reason why some congress members are fighting for a public option. Whether or not you consider any of the current versions of public option worth the paper they're written on, the fact is they'd be weaker without the public demand for single-payer, and were that demand stronger so would the public option be. Our work has also led to passage in the House Education and Labor Committee of an amendment that would make it easier for states to create single-payer systems. And our advocacy led to the promise of a floor vote on single payer in the fall.

. . .
But the floor vote was negotiated as an alternative to a vote in the Energy and Commerce Committee. We lost the opportunity to have a vote there. And the Democratic Party leadership, which largely takes its orders from the White House on this, was not so much afraid that single-payer would win on the merits, as that it would pass because Republicans voted for it purely out of spite. The Democratic "leaders" badly wanted to get a bill out of that committee before August, a bill that would at least vaguely resemble the bills passed by two other House committees. Rather than risk failing in that goal, they preferred to allow a floor vote later that would not interfere with the bill they want to pass, and which itself -- at least in their minds -- would be extremely unlikely to succeed.
. . .

Allowing such a vote would have another positive side-effect from the point of view of those in charge: it would overwhelmingly distract attention from the state single-payer language passed by the Education and Labor Committee. From their point of view, national single-payer will not pass on the floor this year, not with them whipping hard against it and the Republicans opposing it. But if the language on allowing states to do state-level single-payer is left in the bill that they whip for and pass, it's unlikely to cost them any Blue Dog votes, and it's likely to result in a number of states fairly quickly taking actions that accelerate public awareness of the shortcomings of the federal reforms.

From the point of view of people who really want to get our population better healthcare and who have not been purchased by insurance, drug, and hospital companies, lobbying for Yes votes on single-payer AND lobbying to leave the states language in the non-single-payer bill (or at least allow a vote on it) seems to make a lot of sense. We're saying that we want single-payer nationally, but that if they won't give it to us right away, we at least want states to be left free to lead the way. Canada arrived at its system after a province led the way, and the first state likely to create single-payer, California, is about the same size as Canada. If Canada's system does so much good, why would we deny the same to California?

For those lobbying directly for a public option, it also makes perfect sense to demand freedom for states to do better faster. If the goal is providing more people with better healthcare, if the goal is not to avoid making the federal government look second best, if the goal is not to achieve a perverse hyper-simplicity of "messaging," then including the state single-payer language in August demands is the way to go.

Does mentioning allowing states to do single-payer subtract from demanding that the nation do it? I can't see how.

Does avoiding the topic risk tossing aside our best chance at advancing the cause? Absolutely.

Here's the message we should have: We demand national single-payer or at least the right for states to do it.

Read more of David Swanson's advocacy on Single Payer HERE


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Stand Out Story of the Week