Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bayard Rustin: The Man Homophobia Almost Erased From History

Reposted 28th, August, 2013

Rustin played a key role in advancing civil rights and economic justice. His partner, Walter Naegle, talks with BuzzFeed about that legacy on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the march Rustin made a reality.
Courtesy of Associated Press
Like so many gay New Yorkers of his era, a 27-year-old Walter Naegle went to Times Square one afternoon in 1977 and met a man. The tall man with the shock of white in his Afro introduced himself as Bayard Rustin. Black and 37 years Naegle’s senior, Rustin was — to a well-informed circle of activists, historians, and politicos — one of the giants of the 20th-century political organizing. The chance encounter was the beginning of a revolutionary love story, a decade-long relationship that, in many ways, epitomizes our country’s journey from Selma to Stonewall.
Rustin, who passed away in 1987, is best known as the chief organizer of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. His legacy has had a renaissance in the past few weeks, as the White House announced he will posthumously receive the Medal of Freedom from President Obama in November, just two months after the march celebrates its 50th anniversary. Walter Naegle will accept the honor on behalf of the love of his life.
“We were very much an ordinary couple. He was an extraordinary person, but our everyday lives were quite ordinary,” Naegle maintains.
In the 2003 documentary about Rustin, Brother Outsider, Naegle jokes that he had to come out to his mother by saying, “I’m gay, he’s black, and he’s older than you.”
But neither Rustin’s sexual openness nor his controversial political positions came without great costs. He wound up behind bars for practicing his nonviolent Quaker faith (from 1944 to 1946 in a Pennsylvania prison for conscientiously objecting to serving in World War II) and for practicing homosexuality (60 days in a California jail for “sex perversion” in 1953). And his many achievements — like pioneering one of the first Freedom Rides, refusing to give up his seat on a segregated bus in 1942, more than a dozen years before Rosa Parks did, and helping found the Southern Christian Leadership Coalition to support the efforts of a then young, largely unknown minister named Martin Luther King Jr. — often were tainted under the threat of exposure for his unpopular behavior and criminal convictions.
When Naegle learned that the White House was going to honor Rustin, he was thrilled, of course, but also a bit worried that he’d “wake up one morning to the headline, ‘Obama Gives Medal of Freedom to Communist Fag.’” But any attack Rustin could possibly face in death would likely pale compared to what he faced in life, as he battled critics as diverse as the segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond to the black Harlem Congressman Adam Clayton Powell. Both — for different reasons, obviously — tried outing Rustin to oust him from political life.
And yet, when the civil rights movement needed a man even his detractors acknowledged was the best organizer in the country — a man who turned out 200,000 people on the Capitol Mall in an orderly fashion when no one ever had before, creating the blueprint for the modern American mass political rally — they turned to Bayard Rustin. By the eve of the march in 1963, Rustin had no less a defender than MLK himself standing up for him.
Courtesy of Walter Naegle
In 1960, Rustin and MLK were preparing to lead a boycott of blacks outside the Democratic National Convention. This would have deeply embarrassed the leading elected black politician of the day, Rep. Adam Clayton Powell. Powell threatened to spread a rumor that Rustin was having a sexual relationship with King.
King canceled the protest, and Rustin resigned from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
1960 was not the first time Rustin was forced to negotiate how much sex could be a part of his life. After his 1953 arrest, in which he’d been picked up with two men in the back seat of a car in Pasadena, California, he wrote, “sex must be sublimated if I am to live in this world longer.”
Did that mean he’d ever considered living a celibate life?
“Not Bayard!” Naegle says, roaring with laughter. “Maybe for five minutes.” The Pasadena incident meant that Rustin knew “he had to be more careful.” When Naegle talks about Rustin having sex in public, he admits that it’s not that “I’ve never done that — I mean, I haven’t gotten arrested. I was just too quick for them!”
But, he adds, “At the time I did those things, I was not in a position with an organization. He made some bad choices. Now, in all fairness to him, at the time the Pasadena incident happened, straight people were having sex in cars! Having sex outside of marriage was not supposed to happen, and in some places it was illegal …[and] I am sure that straight people who were — caught having sex in cars were told to go home. Gay people were vilified and demonized.”
Naegle says that Rustin “had an extraordinarily strong sense of himself and of who he was,” but that “when you live in a society in which you’re constantly being told that you’re less than or that you’re not as good as, for being black or a Jew or gay or anything, a certain amount does get internalized. You can’t help that.”
Rustin’s sexual arrest record terrorized him again in 1963, when segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond read its entire contents into the congressional record, in an attempt to make the march lose its best organizer. It backfired. Civil rights leaders, taking an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” approach, were not supporters of Thurmond and backed Rustin.
Still, no matter how careful a homosexual was about not putting himself in a position in which he could be easily arrested again, there was nothing Rustin could do to stop rumors or new information being picked up by federal eavesdropping (JFK signed off on Rustin’s phone being tapped, Naegle says, which LBJ and Nixon continued) in the hands of someone like Adam Clayton Powell.
And yet, Rustin was not one to hold a grudge, even against Powell. “They were never at war,” Naegle says of Rustin and Powell’s relationship. Politics makes strange bedfellows, and Powell had to stay in bed with Rustin for years after blackmailing him for being gay.
“I think [Powell’s] power was threatened,” Naegle says. “He’d been the most powerful black man in the political world for a long time,” and then along came King, Ralph Abernathy, and a bunch of black Southerners encroaching on his turf.
Even still, Rustin “defended Adam when he was being censured by the House, for all that hanky-panky going on in Bimini.” Just a couple of years after he guided the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through the House of Representatives, Powell was accused of missing too much work and taking two women on vacation to the Bahamas at taxpayers’ expense. In January of 1967, the House Democratic Caucus stripped Powell of a committee chairmanship; in March, the full House voted not to seat him.
Rustin, he says, believed Powell “was being singled out because he was black. He wasn’t saying he was a choirboy, but there were plenty of white politicians doing the same thing, and this was racist.” Despite not being seated, Powell was re-elected to his seat in 1968 and filed suit about being kicked out of Congress. In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that Powell’s colleagues had unseated him unconstitutionally.
Naegle’s voice cracks and he tears up when he says, “Bayard was willing to stand up for people — even though they had mistreated him — if it was a matter of principle.”
Bayard Rustin at the 1963 March on Washington.
On Aug. 28, 1963, the day Rustin would be organizing one of the most important singular gatherings in 20th century American history, Naegle was a white teenager in rural New Jersey. He was one of seven children in a Roman Catholic family.
“I was a pretty serious kid,” Naegle says, “so I knew about the march.” He says he first learned who Rustin was around then, as his name was in the papers and he was on the cover of Life magazine.
The March on Washington was one of the seminal events that inspired Naegle’s increasing interest in the nonviolent movement, a passion he’d share with his future partner. By the time he graduated high school in the late ’60s, at the height of the Vietnam War, he decided he wasn’t going into the military. When he dropped out of college and joined Vista (the domestic Peace Corps, which preceded AmeriCorps), he was prepared to go to jail as a conscientious objector.
In January 1969, “I sent my draft letter back saying, ‘Thank you very much, but no thanks,’” Naegle recalls, chuckling. At the time, the peace, hippie, and queer movements were blossoming and overlapping. Many people in them — gay and straight — “acted gay” in front of their draft board to get out of serving.
“I could have avoided it if I had said I was gay,” he says when asked about this possibility. But, at “that point my life, it was about confronting what I thought was an evil, and doing it openly.”
“Gay people should be allowed to serve in the military,” Naegle believes, “if that’s what they want, which is where we are now.”
Eventually, an FBI agent showed up at Naegle’s job to question him “for about 45 minutes.” He waited with a cloud over his head for years, but nothing came of the visit. (Many years later, he found out that the military had made a technical error in not sending him a conscientious objector application. Naegle eventually obtained his FBI file under the Freedom of Information Act, which was “just about 10 pages, compared to Bayard’s, which was about 10,000.”)
During those years, when the anti-war movement was gaining a critical mass, there was notable absence from the ranks of its leaders: Bayard Rustin.
Rustin grew up in a Quaker family in rural Pennsylvania. He had been a palpable force in the anti-violence movements of the 1930s and ’40s, working with groups like the Quaker American Friends Service Committee and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. His work took him around the United States and landed him in Harlem. He made his bones as a “freelance troublemaker organizer for hire,” as Naegle describes him, honing the skills he’d perfect on the Capitol Mall by running logistics for political meetings in New York. He traveled to India to learn nonviolence from Gandhi’s disciples shortly after the Mahatma was assassinated.
Rustin went to jail for refusing to serve in World War II, as unpopular a war effort to criticize as any in American history. But during Vietnam, Rustin “didn’t become a leader in the anti-war movement, but he didn’t support the war,” Naegle says. “He maintained his personal commitment to nonviolence, much more than many of his critics.”
The March on Washington marked a unique day in civil rights history, as it may have been the only moment in which so many factions of the movement agreed with each other. The various camps — the pacifists, the politicians, labor, the ministers — were all on the same page for a minute in terms of strategy and content.
The solidarity of this moment wouldn’t last through much of the ’60s. Rustin would eventually be accused by some pacifists of not being hard on LBJ because Johnson was rolling out the Great Society’s anti-poverty programs, which Rustin found so crucial to helping black people. Meanwhile, by 1968, King was on the outs with much of the civil rights movement for being too concerned with peace and poverty. His speech at the Riverside Church decrying the Vietnam War was not well received by many black leaders (but was supported by Rustin). His fateful decision to go to Memphis to stand with the sanitation workers was derided by many movement leaders (but supported by Rustin).
But King’s plans for the Poor People’s Campaign — in which he wanted to lead a coalition of black, white, and Hispanic poor people to set up a shantytown on the Capitol Mall — were not even supported by Rustin.
“He disagreed with Dr. King at times, and people didn’t like that,” Naegle says, but it was always “on matters of tactics and political strategy, not on personal or moral issues or principles. It had more to do with practicality.” Indeed, the Poor People’s Campaign was seen by its supporters as a kind of sequel to the March on Washington. But Rustin did not think the Poor People’s Campaign was wise, “with thousands of poor people and without a concrete program or plan. Bayard’s position was, ‘It’s fine to protest, but you have to make it clear to your opposition what you’re protesting about.’”
Despite his reservations, Rustin did step in to help with organizing the Poor People’s Campaign after King died. But he stepped down after a few weeks; 1968 was not a good year for civil rights in the United States, and King’s final campaign was plagued by infighting in the wake of his death. Rustin knew — and history has proven him right — that you don’t get the kind of lasting attention of a nation that the March on Washington produced unless your organizational plan is every bit as impressive as the message you are trying to deliver.
Regardless of the varying levels of success of each, the March on Washington was the model for the Poor People’s Campaign, which itself was the model for the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. From a tactical standpoint, Naegle thinks Rustin would have had “real questions about [Occupy]. You need to give your opposition a way to get out of the situation, to lose, with dignity, or to win. It’s fine to go out and say, ‘Hey, we want peace.’ I mean, George Bush would say that! But how do you get to that? What are the practical steps?”
The man who got Mahalia Jackson, John Lewis, Roy Wilkins, Andrew Young, Rabbi Uri Miller, and Dr. Martin Luther King together on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial knew the value of the practical steps.
Courtesy of Walter Naegle
In his final years, by the time he was sharing his life with Naegle, Rustin was marrying the fight for racial civil rights with the emerging gay rights movement. He challenged the terrain of contemporary prejudice in a speech in which he said, “The new ‘niggers’ are gays.”
Rustin, being so much older than Naegle, wanted to protect him legally for inheritance purposes. But “gay marriage” was almost unheard of, and any kind of legal status like domestic partnerships for legal couples was many years away.
So Rustin, ever the creative problem solver when it came to outwitting discrimination, adopted Naegle as his son.
“Bayard saw something in one of the LGBT papers,” Naegle recalls, about a couple in the Midwest who had tried to adopt each other. He had probably read about Michael McConnell and Jack Baker, who got married in Michigan in 1971. McConnell then legally adopted Baker so that he could deduct him from his taxes. (They are still together.)
Naegle says that Rustin “talked to his lawyer about it and we decided we would try it. So I got permission from my mother, and she had to sign a paper disowning me.”
Was his mother OK with that, or did she find it strange?
“Both,” he says with an expression that reads both as a grimace and an ironic smile. They did it as a legal technicality in the face of other options. The New York Times felt no need to explain this distinction. In its 1987 obituary of Rustin, it merely describes Naegle as Rustin’s “administrative assistant and adopted son.” It is strange that the Times didn’t address the terms of the adoption, considering that Naegle and Rustin were always out as a couple.
“When I was with Bayard, he was always getting invited to social events — the dinners for the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Urban League, the Frederick Douglass Foundation,” Naegle says, who would go as his date. Yet the Times’ obit ignored Naegle’s overall role in Rustin’s life. The paper also relegated Rustin’s sexual orientation to the back of the bus, waiting until the 40th paragraph in a 42-paragraph-long story to say that Rustin had recently been “quoted as saying he was homosexual,” even though he’d been out his whole adult life and had spent the final years of his public life explicitly calling for gay rights.
But it was the 1980s, and the obit is an example of how the Times, as consistently as it could get away with, avoided LGBT issues and pushed them as far from sight as possible. As the play The Normal Heart dramatizes, the ’80s began with the Times needing to be shamed into covering the nascent AIDS crisis. By the end of the decade, the paper of record still had great difficulty talking about homosexuality.
Rustin had no such difficulty. Naegle says Rustin was calmer in his final years, wandering around New York City with his walking stick as a kind of elder statesman, before he died at the age of 75. His fervor for racial civil rights grew more muted, as he relied upon institutional forces to carry out the battles he’d set in motion via street-level activism in his youth. But Rustin’s language calling for gay rights and economic rights grew increasingly militant during his final years.
In 1986, just a year before he died, Rustin gave a speech at the University of Pennsylvania in which he exhorted gay people to “recognize that we cannot fight for the rights of gays unless we are ready to fight for a new mood in the United States, unless we are ready to fight for a radicalization of this society.”
Veering into the economics of poverty, Rustin said, “You will not feed people à la the philosophy of the Reagan administration. Imagine a society that takes lunches from school children. Do you really think it’s possible for gays to get civil rights in that kind of society?”
Bayard Rustin and Dr. Eugene Reed at Freedom House. World Telegram & Sun photo by Al Ravenna / Library of Congress / Via
The last week of June of this year saw great gains and losses for the civil rights of gay, straight, black, and white Americans, as the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of both the Defense of Marriage Act but also of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
That latter was one of the most salient results of the March on Washington. In organizing the march, Rustin had spent much of his time in the background. He’d written the first-ever pamphlet that explained how to get 200,000 people to the nation’s capital on a single day, and he figured out every logistic from the speaking order to the sound system to the number of bathrooms.
But near the end of the march, Rustin took to the podium for one of its most important, most radical, and least remembered moments. Rustin read aloud the list of the march’s 10 “demands of this revolution,” right before King and Roy Wilkins hand-delivered them to President Kennedy.
With the eighth demand, Rustin called for “a national minimum wage act that will give all Americans a decent standard of living. Government surveys show that anything less than $2 an hour fails to do this.” (A 1963 wage of $2 an hour would equate to $15.27 today. In 2013, the minimum wage is only $7.25, which would have been about 95 cents when Rustin took the mic.)
With the seventh demand, Rustin called for “a massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers – Negro and white – on meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.” (In 2013, 6.6% of white Americans are unemployed, and twice as many black Americans are.)
Rustin is beautifully composed as he reads these demands aloud, his aristocratic voice betraying his rural Pennsylvania roots. He appears simultaneously on fire and calm. But when he calls, in the very first demand, for “the right to vote,” it is hard to believe, 50 years later, this right could still be so elusive.
Since the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina has enacted what Slate calls “the most restrictive voting law we’ve seen since the 1965 enactment of the VRA.” The federal government is suing Texas to stop a restrictive voter ID law. Even Rustin’s native Pennsylvania, a northern state not originally subjected to the Voting Rights Act, has been attempting to curtail the right to vote.
Rustin’s legacy lives not in the past, but in the present and future of America. His work linking sexual, racial, and economic rights was not only forward-thinking in 1963, but in 2013.
“We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers,” Rustin said in one of his most famous quotes.
When President Obama presents Rustin’s medal to Naegle, that need will be no less great.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sexual Discrimination in Panama-Implication for Belize

Reposted: 27th, August, 2013

Sexual discrimination in Panama continues

WHEN a Panamanian writer and university professor arrived in his home country for the International Book Fair. Immigration officials at Tocumen refused to recognize his family.
Javier Stanziola (right) receiving one of his three liteary awards.Javier Stanziola (right) receiving one of his three liteary awards.
Javier Stanziola a three times winner of the Ricardo Miró Prize, the country’s highest literature award, and former professor at the universities of Leeds in England, and the West Florida and Florida Gulf Coast in the United States, came with his partner Harris to whom he has been legally married since 2005, and a son. He hit a barrier when immigration officials prevented his entry because the official in charge felt that their marriage was not legal in Panama says a La Prensa report.
Under this argument, Harris could not enter the country as family, as in Europe and the US but as a tourist.
"When I explained that back in England I was married, the official said, “ Aha, there yes, but not here" says Stanziola . This, without knowledge of the social and political movements that occur outside the country,
On his blog the writer says: "The customs agents in Houston, United States, who are reputed to live in the nineteenth century, did not blink when my son called me Dad and we declared ourselves as a family (at the airport). But in Panama, according to the opinion of the official, I have no family,"
After, trying to explain his situation, Stanziola the official discussion only ended when Harris took his arm.
To reduce this type of discrimination, says La Prensa, the Panamanian Government, together with other 37 countries members of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), signed on Thursday of last week the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development.
Among other points, this document states that the undersigned will promote the collective rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender).
In addition the document paper also addressed other issues of vulnerable populations such as Afro-indigenous and women.
Among the points agreed, wasthat members of these groups suffer from different types of violence.
The paper describes assaults on girls, women and LGBT people as "a critical indicator of marginalization, inequality, exclusion and discrimination."
The Montevideo Consensus indicates that discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity puts the LGBT in a position of vulnerability, preventing equal access to the full exercise of citizenship.
The document states that in Latin America there is still stigma and discrimination against LGBT people living with human immunodeficiency virus HIV / AIDS.
In addition to the signing countries, the document has the signatures of representatives of 260 NGOs, 24 international organizations and sponsoring of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
Parallel to these efforts, is the promotion of human Rights through the international campaign "Free and Equal" Office of the High Commissioner of the UN.
Carmen Rosa Villa, regional representative for Central office of the organization, says "Discrimination should be punished. States should adopt rules in this regard, we are all human beings and must be treated equally.”
Asked about theMontevideo convention, Ricardo Beteta, leader of the Association of Men and Women of Panama (AHMNP), does not believe that during the present administration major changes have been made in the field of promotion of human rights of these groups .
"On July 4, at the home of U.S. Ambassador, I approached President, Ricardo Martinelli, and asked him to support our Bill 205 prohibiting discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity.He shut me down and said he was not interested in that subject.”


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Crazies Are Out-Belmopan Protests, Belcan this time

Reposted: 21st, August 2013

Menzies Marches, Stirm Stay Put

Dated: Augusted 20th, 2013
It’s been almost a month since we’ve heard from the marches organized by members of the Belize Evangelical Association of Churches. They’ve been leading what they’ve dubbed “Pro-Constitution Marches” all across the country to raise awareness on the Gender Policy, and the sections they want removed. The marches have been a joint effort between Belize Can’s Patrick Menzies, Belize Action’s Pastor Scott Stirm, and Plus TV’s Louis Wade to mobilize church leaders across the country to show just how much of the population share their sentiments. But today, Belize Can moved alone, with no support from Wade and Stirm, when he organized a march in Belmopan. 7News was there, and Daniel Ortiz found out why:
Daniel Ortiz reporting
At around 9:30 this morning, 100 members of the Spanish-speaking churches gathered to demonstrate in front of the House of Representatives.
It wasn’t the usual hundreds, and in some cases the thousands which usually mobilized for the 'Pro Constitutional Marches', but they showed their conviction all the same.
Standing up for about an hour, in the rain, umbrellas at the ready, the evangelists and their children prayed for the country, and for the withdrawal of the National Gender Policy.
And, as the downpour hammered them, instead of disheartening the members, it seemed only to bolster their spirits.
In fact, they ended up singing, 'Manda la Lluvia', meaning send the rain.
The man who organized the demonstration was Patrick Menzies, the President of Belize Can. He explained the small gathering, since it was expected that the March on Belmopan would mobilize all the members of the church from around the country, which they boasted over 8,000 participants in July.
Patrick Menzies - Organizer
"Belize Can has called the marches since the month of July and so the month of July was Constitution Awareness Month and so we had over 8,500 that marched across the country and we'd like to thank them for that. The people that are out here today are some of the same people that supported us before and the question may be - well where are the other ones? I know that was on the media last night - I was told that Pastor Scott and Pastor Louis Wade (I was told, I didn't see it) - they decided to not join this one. There's a lot of misunderstanding, I was in the US and I just came back, and so a lot of misunderstanding was circulated so some people were told that we're going to go to UB so that I can get the students to get their money that were ripped off; it has nothing to do with that. They were told that I was going to UB to get my job back - it has nothing to do with that. This is 100%to do with two basic things - the gender policy and victimization."
According to Menzies, he led the Spanish-speaking bloc because they refuse to compromise on the Gender Policy issue.
Patrick Menzies
"The church has decided, in the beginning the decision was right here in Belmopan - we asked the government to retract the policy. The PM decided 'I won't' - so then some of the leaders decided then 'modify' then the PM said 'I will look at it' - so we said ' we will submit to you the changes we would like to see' and the PM said 'okay I will look at those'. The Prime Minister never said 'I will sign off on everything you want' he wouldn't do that because that would be political suicide and in any way nobody would do something in that nature. No one knows what the PM will agree with and what he will reject - the problem is that while we are waiting for the PM to decide what he will and won't accept, during that time the policy is being implemented and if in 6 months to 18 months it's already entrenched and then it's decided that we already hired all these people and they have a five year contract - so we really can't change these things. So then the policy is in!"
And so, with that being the pillar of his argument, he decided to move forward with today’s march, despite the tough weather conditions.
Patrick Menzies
"We want a retraction of the policy - PM if you want to save face, don't retract, freeze it and fix it but don't implement any part of it and that's why we're here. We know, I have dealt with the Prime Minister (my respect to him) and everybody that has dealt with him knows that he's a very astute politician and so I respect that, that is his area of expertise and I respect that. But because I respect that and the Prime Minister did not say anything crazy - he said 'I will look at it' - we respect that he will look at it, we respect that he will make his decision but we also respect that we also can't tell the Prime Minister 'you have to accept these 99 changes."
He also discussed where he sees that the policy being put into place, by alleging that the University of Belize has started to put together a Gender Department. Here’s how he explained that:
Patrick Menzies
"Right now we're headed to UB - why? Because UB is the place that we're told from inside sources that they're creating a gender department. A few weeks ago they passed out copies of the policy to the staff members - we are marching to UB to say no to the gender department at UB, our young people do not deserve to have one class added to them to keep on ripping them off and then add another class - a gender class, that's not necessary."
Pastor Scott Stirm, one of the vocal members of the Evangelical Association of Churches, told us today that they didn’t support Menzies on this demonstration because they felt that it would be counterproductive to the ongoing negotiations with the Prime Minister to amend the gender policy. Menzies told that he doesn’t accept that interpretation.
Daniel Ortiz
"Do you accept that because you have taken this position, it seems that if though the efforts you've made so far have been weakened and splintered?"
Patrick Menzies
"No, I will not accept that, let me tell you why. The problem is that you guys were not in our meetings, this thing started out by telling the PM to retract, he said 'I won't retract', well then modify - that's not the way you negotiate. I have no doubt that the marches done have affected the UNIBAM case and are affecting this exact thing right now. What we are saying is if we are going to sit back and say 'let's wait' and if it takes 18 months for the attorneys to look at it because they are busy - how will we tell them they're taking too long? We can't tell them what to do - so what we're saying is this, freeze and fix."
And after he spoke to the media,
Menzies led the demonstrators through Belmopan to the UB Campus.
A late evening statement from Pastor Scott Stirm says, quote,
"The Constitution Marches were brilliant & we appreciate Patrick Menzies’ zeal.”
Zeal but no support – and to answer that the Stirm statement adds:

“In consulting with leaders all over the nation, there was not a resounding AMEN on Menzies’ UB demonstration. Nothing personal, just different theme & no AMEN." End Quote.

Menzies Looking For A Fight With UB

As you heard in our interview with Menzies, he intended to protest against UB for this alleged Gender Department which is supposedly being established at the national University. That was the second part of his demonstration, and which goes hand in hand with his anti-victimization campaign. Viewers may remember that Menzies also insists that UB terminated him without just cause. We followed him to UB, where he staged a mini sermon at the front gate of the campus. Daniel Ortiz challenged him on his latest allegation against the University, and on his victimization issues. Here’s how that went:…
Daniel Ortiz reporting
About 45 minutes after Patrick Menzies and members of the Spanish Speaking Churches left Independence Hill, they arrived in front of the UB Campus.
Fresh from their march through the rain, the crowd gathered to listen to his stinging remarks aimed at the University on loudspeaker.
Patrick Menzies - Belize Can (on loud Speaker)
"You have some University Professors that are lying to you, they are talking to you about separating of church and state - tell them this is not America! We don't believe in Obama, our truth is not in the White House."
Menzies insists that the University is in the process of instituting a Gender Department which would use the controversial Gender Policy. The University’s Director of the Office of Public Information told us that Menzies is very mistaken:

Selywn King - Office of Public Information, UB
"I am not aware of any establishment of any gender policy department, I don't know where or what he has done but in terms of any gender policy document circulating to our members of staff - Have you read the gender policy document? If he has read it then it means he should protest against himself because I think anybody is at liberty to read the gender policy document, I read it on the internet. I haven't received any on my desk so I don't know what Mr. Menzies is referring to, but there hasn't ever been a gender department at UB. We have been looking at the whole issue at gender when we had a director of research in terms of dropout rates among young males, once you've passed high school into the tertiary system. So the whole issue has been floating around in terms of the dropout rates among young males but we have never established any gender policy department but we have never even had the policy circulated among faculty of staff either - so I don't know where Mr. Menzies is getting his information from."
Daniel Ortiz
"Would UB be in any discussion about gender as an equality issue here at the University?"
Selywn King
"Well I have not been briefed so I really can't make any comment, interesting question but I can't comment. Once I have been briefed then I can answer your question."
Patrick Menzies - Belize Can
"I respond to the refusal of my claims with Thank You Jesus - that's all I will respond. Let me share this with you - you see just as the government back pedal and if you download a copy of the gender policy there's no such thing as legalize prostitution, page31 and there's no such thing on page 10 where you find that your religious and cultural rights are subject to the rights of equality which means - of gays. It's not there because they quickly back pedaled and took it out so if they changed their minds and decided to change - that's fine - we have inside sources here at UB and dealing with the lady that is in charge telling us what was going on. According to the actual gender policy, it states that they will be teaching this at every level of the education system. This is our highest seat of education for our nation so therefore even if they're not going to do that - thank God - I'm telling them to not even try to think about it."
With his central allegation dismissed as baseless, we asked Menzies to tell us more about his organization, for which he is the only member who’s stepped forward.
He told us that he would not release names of members of Belize Can, because while he doesn’t fear victimization, his organization’s membership is not as durable.
Patrick Menzies
"I like the question and because of what we do, I will never and I will not answer that. I can tell you that there are people that are in this government, senior folks that support us. We have people inside the government, we have these people here - everyone that's out here - all those pastors are a part of the alliance of leaders and ministers, they are a part of us. So I will not release a list, you see Belizeans aren't stupid, you yourself, everybody out here knows that people have been victimized. I will not release a list of members, I am not ludicrous, I don't smoke oregano - I know what's going on. We are here because we know what's going - we are saying no more victimization, we're not going to take it. So I don't care what anybody else says, counterproductive? Let me tell you this, Scott Stirm, Belize Action nor the Evangelical Association never called a march - every march in Belize was called by Belize Can and these pastors. The one in Toledo, all respect to Pastor Vic that said that they would do it themselves and they did in Toledo and we worked with the guys also in Dangriga. You guys interviewed Scott Stirm at every one of our rallies and none of you spoke with me - I'm fine with that - did I go around and asked you to please talk to me? I never did, it's fine - it's not about me, it's about these pastors that have been left behind that whenever they make decisions, they don't count the Spanish pastors. They are pastors, they are leaders, they have members and they have voters - they count. The day that the Spanish folks are being left behind - is over. We are going to be translating left, right and center things that are affecting them so when they want to play their games they won't play games anymore with the Spanish speaking community."
The Belize Evangelical Association of Churches is in the process of finishing up their proposal to Prime Minister Dean Barrow on what areas of the National Gender Policy they would like to see changed. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

SMUG Pleased with course of Legal Case Against Scott Lively

Uganda LGBTI thrilled as US Court Allows Case Against US Anti-Gay Religious Leader to Proceed

August 19, 2013 Kampala, Uganda 

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) happily welcomes the court ruling by US Federal judge on Wednesday August 14, 2013. In the historic ruling the judge rejected a motion to dismiss a crimes against humanity case brought by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) against evangelical Pastor Scott Lively of Massachusetts. The judge ruled that persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is indeed a crime against humanity and that the fundamental human rights of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex [LGBTI] people are protected under international law.
“Widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms,” said Judge Michael Ponsor. “The history and current existence of discrimination against LGBTI people is precisely what qualifies them as a distinct targeted group eligible for protection under international law. The fact that a group continues to be vulnerable to widespread, systematic persecution in some parts of the world simply cannot shield one who commits a crime against humanity from liability.”
The ruling means that the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), who brought the case on behalf of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG), can move forward over defendant Scott Lively’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.
The lawsuit alleges that Lively’s actions over the past decade, in collaboration with key Ugandan government officials and religious leaders, are responsible for depriving Ugandan Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex people of their fundamental human rights based merely on their identity, which is the definition of persecution under international law and is deemed a crime against humanity. This effort bore fruit most notably in the introduction of the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill commonly known as “the Kill the Gays bill”, which Lively abetted.
Frank Mugisha, the Executive Director of SMUG said, “This ruling should be a clear signal to extreme religious groups all over the world, and especially those that spread hate here in Uganda, that their hatred will not go unpunished by the arm of the law.”  
Lively has also been active in countries like Russia where a new law criminalizing gay rights advocacy was recently passed. In 2007, Lively toured 50 cities in Russia recommending some of the measures that are now law.
“We are gratified that the court recognized the persecution and the gravity of the danger faced by our clients as a result of Scott Lively’s actions. Lively’s single-minded campaign has worked to criminalize their very existence, strip away their fundamental rights and threaten their physical safety.” Said CCR Attorney Pam Spees
U.S. law allows foreign citizens to sue for violations of international law in U.S. federal courts under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The case, Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively, was originally filed in federal court in Springfield, MA, in March 2012. Today’s ruling is here. For more information, visit CCR’s case page.

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) is an advocacy network comprised of 18 member organizations committed to advancing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Uganda. SMUG was founded in 2004 as a non-profit organization. Follow @SMUG2004; Like us at
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit; follow @theCCR.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Positive Words of PM Stuart

 Posted August, 13th, 2013

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart told the Christian church today, it cannot judge homosexuality until it can determine “with pontifical certainty” if the lifestyle was based on perversion or on a person’s physiological makeup.
“And the argument becomes even more troublesome, because it is not within the competence of any of us in this room, to resolve the basic issue related to homosexual behaviour,” the Prime Minister Stuart said while addressing the opening of the Anglican Church Province of the West Indies Provincial Congress 2013, at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus on the theme “Challenges Facing Caribbean Families — the Church’s Response”.
“We do not know, whether it is based on nature, or whether it is based on nurture. And until we can speak with pontifical certainty … whether homosexual behaviour derived from nature or from nuture, it does not lie within our competence to sit in seats of judgement and to condemn those who pursue that practice,” he argued.
The Government leader advised that the church would therefore have to wrestle with this issue and solve it like Jesus would have done.
“You are going to have to ask a question: What would Christ have said, what would Christ have done? And in a case, not too, too dissimilar, His response was, ‘he that is without sin, cast the first stone’,” added the political leader of the ruling Democratic Labour Party to some shouts of “Amen!”.
Senior members of the Anglican clergy at today’s Congress.
Senior members of the Anglican clergy at today’s Congress.
Stuart said though, he got the feeling that when this subject is debated, it is done so in the context of the family to be formed by “these consenting same sex partners”. “And we lose sight of the fact that the people we are talking about, are themselves already members of families. They are the sons and daughters of people like us and people of whom we approve. And we can only guess at the challenge, the anguish and the sense of angony, that many of our families go through, when one of their members, male or female, declares, or manifests that kind of orientation,” added the Prime Minister.
Stuart reasoned that a matter such as this seemed “all right when it doesn’t touch us”. He recalled growing up in a village where people took homosexuals for granted and laughed at them, but that he lived to see some of those who mocked become affected by a relative who declared or manifested homosexuality. “So we have to approach all of this, in a very Christian way. It is not easy, but I have a sneaking suspicion, that the Christian church, when all is said and done, is not going to want to find itself on an end opposite to the recognition of human rights,” he added.
Stuart quickly asserted that he was not suggesting the church compromise the principles on which it was built.
“Those principles,” Stuart continued, “are really not up for sale or negotiation. But, as I said, until we can resolve the issue of nature and nurture, until we can clearly put ourselves in a position where we can say people who pursue that orientation, do it out of perverseness, rather than out of the fact that their own physiological make up, makes it very difficult for them to go in any other direction — until we can resolve that, we have a challenge on our hands.”
Prime Minister Stuart however told the church it can win the argument against homosexuality and same sex unions on moral and ethical grounds, but not on a human rights basis. (EJ)


Friday, August 9, 2013

Lesbain Lovers War on Isla Bonita

Headline — 09 August 2013 — by Albert J. Ciego
Lesbian lovers war on Isla Bonita!
A woman has been released from police custody and will not face any charges for the attempted murder of her lesbian lover, whom she attempted to drown by holding her head down under water. The incident occurred at about 4:30 Saturday evening while the lovers were swimming in the sea in front of San Pedro Town.
The victim was rescued by a man who saw what was happening and rushed into the sea to save her from certain death. She was rushed to the San Pedro Polyclinic, where she was resuscitated, treated and later released.
Police said that the women were swimming in the sea in front of Cholos Resort in San Pedro Ambergris Caye when they became involved in an argument which escalated into a physical fight, during which one of the lovers held down the head of the other under the water and sat on her back to drown her.
A witness who saw what was happening became concerned because the victim was being held under the water for a prolonged period. He told police that he rushed into the water and pulled the victim out the water. He then took her to the shore, where CPR was performed.
Police said that the victim’s lesbian lover was taken to the San Pedro Police Station by a sailor of the Belize Coast Guard and a traffic officer. The woman was detained pending charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault, and would have been charged if the victim, after being discharged from the polyclinic, had pressed charges against her.
Police said, however, that when they went to the polyclinic, the victim had already been discharged. She was found and brought to the station, but after the women spoke briefly in the station, the victim announced that she would not press charges against her lover who had tried to murder her.
Police said that they had no choice but to release the woman from custody.
The women told police that they are both 21, and Belize City residents. They went to San Pedro to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their affair. They told the cops they were intoxicated when they began to quarrel and fight.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

ASA Response to Stirm in the Star

Posted August 6th, 2013
I carefully read Scott Stirm’s insulting reply to my letter appearing in your Sunday, July 21, 2013 edition.

Stirm attempts to insult me personally by saying that I am a homosexual. I am, and I have no more of an apology for that than I do for being right-handed, bald, or having blue eyes. He attempts to insult me by stating that I am married to a man. I was, indeed, legally married to Thomas J. Brady, M.D. five years ago, after having made a life together for the prior 33 years. Our marriage is legal under the laws of California and the United States Government. I have no apology for my married status. It offers us the legal protections, health care rights, tax benefits, financial obligations to one another, and the protection of our estate that traditionally married couples have without asking for it. We have no issue with our marriage not being recognized by various churches, synagogues, and mosques (although it is by some); ours is a civil marriage, not holy matrimony governed by the church. And Stirm attempts to insult me and my home town of San Francisco (the city where the United Nations got its start) by calling it the “epitome of debauchery” and ascribing to me excitement over a fringe festival I never attend.

I have offered Pastor Stirm several opportunities to get to know me as a person through dialogue and correspondence, but he refused any communication with me other than that which would convert me to his cause because he only has “the time for someone who is asking questions and wanting to change.” He would prefer to hold onto his straw man image of me in favor of the person I am. While I have been subjected to much worse treatment in my own country, such treatment occurred in the 1970s when the Dominionist agenda was first being pushed in the U.S., the same agenda Pastor Stirm is, using in his word, “weaseling” into Belizean society. Fortunately, U.S. citizens of all faiths soon saw both the mendacity and the danger of that movement, and it has been losing adherents consistently since that time. That U.S. failure is why this hidden agenda is now being sold overseas in places like the Caribbean, Africa, and Latin America.

The danger here is not directly from Scott Stirm, who I believe is quite sincere in his beliefs of what is right and necessary for Belize. The danger lurks in the Dominionist agenda that informs his beliefs and actions.

Dominionism, also known as “Seven Mountains” or “Seven Pillars” theology, or Christian Reconstructionism, seeks to establish control and domination by a particular fundamentalist Christianity over seven broad areas of society: (1) media, (2) arts and entertainment, (3) business, (4) education, (5) government, (6) family life, and (7) religion in all the nations. It is not that Pastor Stirm seeks to lead people to a Christian path that is dangerous; it is that he sees his particular path as the only way of being a “true” Christian. I have found that when one person or one group thinks that they possess the only truth in the world, danger and violence too often follow. Think of Jim Jones in Guyana, David Koresh in Stirm’s Waco Texas, Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church, or even the Spanish Inquisition. People get hurt in these environments. People get killed.

But even that picture is not what gives me fear for Belize. Back in the 1970s in San Francisco (and at the beginnings of the Dominionist movement in the U.S.) the situation was similar to that today in Belize. The LGBT community were openly advocating for justice and equality before the law, and the anti-homosexual religious community openly resisted with the exact same slanders and libels currently used by Scott Stirm and the other Belize Action leaders: they’re after our kids, they will ruin the country, they can’t reproduce so must recruit, they are the camel’s nose under the tent of moral decay, they are sick deviants, and so on and so on. The city was divided into warring camps of for and against.

Then something terrible happened. Dan White, who was a county supervisor, resigned his office, decrying the moral and cultural decline of his city. One day, in a fit of anger and with a loaded revolver in his pocket, he crawled through an open window in city hall to avoid the metal detector. He proceeded up to the office of Mayor George Moscone, and emptied the gun into Moscone’s head and chest. Then he reloaded his gun and walked into the office of Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first gay public official in San Francisco, and proceeded to assassinate him as well. With a “friendly” prosecution by the district attorney, White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter rather than premeditated first degree murder and sentenced to a seven year prison term. The day that sentence was announced was followed by a night of rioting.

The first was by a hurt and outraged LGBT community, who stormed city hall screaming “he got away with murder” while breaking every ground floor window the building, overturning and burning several police cars, and attacking the police with rocks and bottles. The second was later that night when several hundred police marched on the gay neighborhood in a phalanx with their billy clubs at the ready. They surrounded the two blocks of the neighborhood so that no one could get away, and started beating people over the head. Several people were seriously injured. Then they broke all the shop windows and went into one gay bar and restaurant and tore it to pieces.

That was the turning point. All of the various communities of San Francisco—LGBT, people of faith, Asian, African-American, Hispanic, non-believers—seemed to ask themselves, “Is this the kind of community, of city, of society that we want to live in, that we want for ourselves and our children?” And all residents started to leave their particular ideological corners and talk to one another and ask how we could find a way to accommodate all the citizens of San Francisco, not just those we agree with.

I fear for Belize because I see it heading in the same direction I saw in San Francisco. I fear that people will not wake up to the real danger, not of LGBT and their mythical agenda, but of tragedy and violence fomented by people who think they know the only right way for other people to live.

It took the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King to awaken American to the danger of vile injustice of Jim Crow laws in the south. It took the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church and the death of four little black girls to awaken Alabama to the danger of the injustice of a completely segregated society. And it took the assassination of Moscone and Milk and the subsequent riots to change us in San Francisco. What will it take for the citizens of Belize, who have a long and well established tradition of “live and let live,” to wake up to the danger of the discord and strife used by Dominionists like Scott Stirm to advance their control over how all Belizeans must believe and live?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Exploiting Children in marches and taking a stand in Support of the Gender Policy

Posted August 3rd, 2013

Belize Action does not speak much about the exploitation of children in its campaign against section 53 or the gender policy. The media has not made it an issue. The United Belize Advocacy Movement, as it documents the make up of the so called "Pro constitutional Marches" We have to ask the question. If Belize action is about love, why are children being taught prejudice and participating in marches where legally they cannot give consent. We have seen women praying on their knees and holding their six month babies in support of an issue that only a person over 18 can give informed consent.

 The marches in Belize City and the prayer against section 53 just before the May 7th-10th, 2013 substantive hearing revealed the slow intensification of prejudice through the next generation. Can we afford to intensify prejudice and complaint about the rampant crime and violence that have occurred over 2010-2012 where 300 murders have occurred and counting? Is the next generation being given permission to apply prejudice to violate L.G.B.T Citizens rights? Are some to be respected while other are not? While these are questions to be answered by Belize Action, the rest of society, remains with the challenge of responding to parents who promote homophobia and prejudice under the guise of parental rights and family values.

With the present position of the PM not to capitulate to the churches, and the churches making suggestions to the PM around the gender policy. The work of rights protection and enforcement seems to have become collateral damage in the conflation and deliberate confusion of the public regarding what the gender policy actually speaks to, in regards to all citizens. When women themselves volunteer to support their own oppression of their children and other women, it speaks volume of the lack of independent critical thinking. It is my position that most of these people did not read the gender policy and did not form an independent opinion about its content. They supported the withdrawal because their Pastors said so. Systematic reflections hold that our current debate is now to get the far right in Belize to understand that it exists in a secular state and that all religions and citizens functions within a frame work of recognized fundamental rights and freedoms.Until then, the lines are drawn, the question is, should it be uncompromising.

The Stand in Orange Walk in support of the gender policy organized by Tikkun Olam on August 3rd, 2013 was a symbolic statement that there were opposing views that supported the gender policy. It showed that rights protection and rights enforcement matter in a country where the invisible and the marginalized individual are citizens. It was small, but the message was simply,"read the gender policy." The stand did not exploit children, it was full of consenting adults who read the policy, it had folks from Corozal, Orange Walk, Belize City and Cayo. The stand was led by a woman, but supported by L.G.B.T persons and showed the importance of visibility and how it can be amplified by the media. It was a historic first, for it was deliberate and it had the rainbow flag deliberately visible for the first time.

The next move is building on the symbolism of the stand, with concrete actions that gives life to the substantive concerns. Tikkun Olam join WIN Belize membership in supporting the gender policy publicly. Its press release on July 16th, 2013 said:

...Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men.  Equality between women and men is seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for and an indicator of sustainable, people-centred development. The five priority areas are Health, Education & Skills Training, Wealth and Employment Generation, Violence Producing Conditions, and Power and Decision Making.  Belize is not a homogeneous society; therefore, the policy speaks to the access and provision of services to all this country’s citizens.

Women’s Issues Network of Belize (WIN-Belize) has contacted its member organizations and has reached consensus on the full acceptance of the Revised National Gender Policy 2013. As practitioners working on the ground with the most at-risk and vulnerable populations, WIN-Belize members work in the five priority areas in conjunction with the Government of Belize to ensure that persons are able to access the services provided and receive relevant information.  WIN-Belize continues in its commitment to be an agent of change working with the community, as well as with Member and Partner agencies, for social transformation needed to create a Belizean society free of discrimination against women, men and children.

We shall see what movement is made around the gender policy, but what remains clear is that the balance between secular and biblical centered thinking will continue to be the order of the day.