Thursday, April 16, 2009

‘No Sexual Remarks Please, We’re Lgbt and We Mean It!’ - By Mark R. Kerr

In the midst of the hypocritical hyperbole and numerous references to a graphic sexual act taken to heart by the radical right for their protests, sponsored and televised by the Fixed Noise Channel, on Wednesday, April 15, millions of Americans filed their tax forms, electronically or by postal mail on the deadline to do so by the federal Internal Revenue Service or state tax officials.

A coalition of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) organizations (Marriage Equality USA, Join the Impact and the Human Rights Campaign) held a series of events at U. S. Post Offices across the nation highlighting the ongoing moral and financial costs of denying marriage equality to same-sex couples as well as the consequences paid by all Americans as a result of these discriminatory state and federal laws.

A study produced in 2004 by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) debunks the myth that granting same-sex couples the freedom to marry would cost the government money but would save taxpayer dollars. Same-sex couples aren’t the only ones paying for marriage discrimination, all taxpayers fund this discrimination which amounts to as much as $1 billion over the next 10 years.

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Meanwhile, in the nation’s capital, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and, more important, a Bronze Star winner and the first Iraq war veteran to serve in Congress has announced that he will take the lead in advancing legislation, H.R. 1283, to overturn the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy when it's current sponsor, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), is confirmed by the Senate and moves over to the State Department to be President Obama's Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

U.S. Representative Patrick Murphy, D-PA, will be the lead sponsor on H.R. 1283, that if approved and signed into law, would repeal the 16-year-old policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” by amending title 10 of the United States Code, to enhance the readiness of the Armed Forces by replacing the current policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces, referred to as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", with a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and has 137 cosponsors.

H.R. 1283 has been assigned to the House Committee on Armed Services and its Subcommittee on Military Personnel. ...

In response to recent reports of the death and persecution of LGBT Iraqis, U.S. Reprsentative Jared Polis, D-CO, has called for an investigation into “egregious human rights violations” carried out against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Iraqis while meeting with US and Iraqi officials on a Congressional Delegation visit to Baghdad.

“The United States should not tolerate human rights violations of any kind, especially by a government that Americans spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year supporting,” said Polis in a statement. “Hopefully my trip and letters to US and Iraqi officials will help bring international attention and investigation to this terrible situation and bring an end to any such offenses.”

In Baghdad, Polis met with the Iraqi Charges D’Affairs, members of the Iraqi Parliament's Human-Rights Committee, and US State Department officials in Baghdad, and gave them a letter outlining the allegations and urging their immediate investigation.

Thus far, the Charge D'Affaires has requested more documentation and the chance to speak with witnesses and victims. "We will now wait and see whether the Iraqi government is serious about protecting the human rights of all Iraqis and what role our own State Department can play in helping to protect this minority in Iraq," said Polis. “I am most disturbed by allegations that Iraqi government itself may be involved in the persecutions. This warrants an immediate investigation from both American and Iraqi governments.”

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