Community Palette

In Trump Era, We Need a Robust Human Rights Campaign

September 20, 2018

 Adam Rippon and his mother (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Adam Rippon and his mother

The Human Rights Campaign seems to always top its previous national dinners with both entertainment and a keynote speaker. But last Saturday evening they had a nearly impossible task in matching the reception Hillary Rodham Clinton got last year. In this craziness we are living one cannot help but think of what could have been had Hillary been president including the raft of administration officials who would have been at this year’s dinner.

This year’s keynote speaker was Joe Biden. Dr. Jill Biden spoke first about their foundation and she is quite a person in her own rightThen it was ‘Uncle Joe’ as so many call him who stepped to the podium and got a standing ovation with some shouts of 2020. This was reminiscent of the reception he got when he spoke at the dinner in 2015. He said all the right things and as always with passion. The speech meandered without direction and you couldn’t help but feel ‘I love this man’ and thank him for all he has done; but many in the room said they hoped like in 2015 he would eventually announce he has decided not to run. Reality sets in and he would be nearly 80 when he took office and like with so many of us Baby Boomers, age begins to show.

 

The second major speaker of the evening, former Attorney General Eric Holder, has also made some noise about wanting to run in 2020. He gave a good speech and spoke of the important work he is doing with former President Obama on the issue of redistricting. He is right we need to stop the gerrymandering of congressional districts.

 

The program also featured trailblazing Virginia Del. Danica Roem and candidate for Nevada Secretary of State, Nelson Araujo. Unfortunately those at the dinner didn’t get to hear Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia who earlier in the day had addressed HRC leaders and members from across the country. But Andrew Gillum, hopefully the next governor of Florida, was in the room.

Andrew Gillum- Democratic Candidate for Governor in Florida (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Andrew Gillum- Democratic Candidate for Governor in Florida

 

HRC’s President Chad Griffin spoke eloquently addressing the sell-out crowd of more than 3,600 people at the Walter Washington Convention Center. His words were similar to those he spoke last year when he said “It’s not enough to resist the hateful policies and attacks coming from the Trump-Pence regime — we’ve got to accelerate the pace of progress toward full equality and secure protections for LGBTQ people in states and communities across the country. That’s why we’re going on offense with the largest grassroots expansion in HRC’s 37-year history. Our grassroots army of over 3 million has proven that, even in the face of unprecedented challenges, we can make incredible progress and defeat the hateful politicians who’ve been emboldened by Donald Trump when we organize and mobilize.”

Terry Bickham, Andy Bailey, Dustin Ruffatto, Scott Moster (Photo by: Peter Rosenstein) Terry Bickham, Andy Bailey, Dustin Ruffatto, Scott Moster

He said because of our work and that of our allies we can be proud record numbers of LGBTQ+ candidates are on the ballot in November running for school board to state legislature, from governors to members of Congress. He reminded the crowd “we have 51 days of work before we can claim victory for all those candidates and that will only happen if we VOTE.”

 

Actress Anne Hathaway received HRC’s National Equality Award. One of the biggest ovations of the evening came for Adam Rippon, Olympic figure skating champion who has used his voice to speak out for the LGBTQ+ community in a way that has reached millions. Adam introduced Shea Diamond, a transgender woman of color, who sang and wowed the audience both with her voice and the words of her song. Comedian Dana Goldberg hosted the live auction which raised nearly $300,000 for the organization.

 

There is much people find to criticize about HRC. The dinner as always was attended overwhelmingly by white people of privilege. It is stunning how much money is in the room. This year, two people competed with the winning bid being $100,000 for a cruise to Antarctica. I have criticized the organization many times over many issues. But reality is the people at the national dinner and those at similar dinners across the nation (and many of their members who can’t afford to attend the dinners but donate) understand organizations like HRC need money to exist and to do their work. Make no mistake the work they do is important.

 

In today’s world we need HRC and Griffin is doing a good job leading the organization. We can argue with one or the other of the decisions the organization makes but I for one am glad they exist and continue to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community here and around the globe.

 

This column first appeared in the Washington Blade.


Click here to share your thoughts.


John McCain: A Republican, A Hero, An Enigma

August 30, 2018

John McCain is many things. He is a Republican, a hero and an enigma. I respect and honor his service to the nation during war and peace but was not sorry he lost especially in the general election when the person he lost to was Barack Obama. In his last Senate campaign he took an ultra-right wing position on immigration to satisfy his Arizona constituents. He was a rich man who once couldn’t remember how many houses he owned.

He is an enigma in so many ways. Every time he did something I agreed with friends would remind me of where he stood on so many issues. He opposed a federal minimum wage, voted for privatizing Social Security and even once voted against a more robust education bill for veterans.

 

As he did during his last Senate campaign he often took positions to try to get elected and then backed away from them. One example was during a presidential primary campaign, when McCain sharply criticized leaders of the religious right as “agents of intolerance” allied to his rival, Gov. George W. Bush, and denounced what he said were the tactics of “division and slander.” McCain even singled out Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as corrupting influences on religion and politics and said parts of the religious right were divisive.” Then in an interview in March 2007, David Brody for CBN news asked McCain about these comments, “Do you regret saying it? Do you feel like you need to apologize for it at all? To which McCain responded, “I was angry. And sometimes you say things in anger that you don’t mean. But I have put that behind me. It’s over.”

 

McCain often mixed religion with politics forgetting the Constitution regarding the separation of church and state.When interviewed in 2007 by Beliefnet, a website that covers religious affairs, McCain was asked if he thought a non-Christian should be president of the United States. He answered, “I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who has a grounding in my faith.” Later he said, “I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values.” But later added his belief that “America is a Judeo-Christian nation.”

 

McCain voted against federal funding of birth control and sex education and against spending $100 million to reduce teen pregnancy by education and contraceptives. He also voted more than once against legislation requiring insurance plans that cover prescription drugs to also cover birth control. Yet he voted yes on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

 

In 2017, his vote saved the Affordable Care Act when he voted against abolishing it making a strong statement on the floor of the Senate about not passing legislation that hadn’t gone through proper order, which included all the committees and hearings. But even before the applause for that speech died down he apparently reversed himself by voting for the Trump tax bill even though it included significant last minute changes made behind closed doors.

 

In 1983, McCain opposed creating a federal holiday in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and only reversed his position when Arizona rescinded a King State holiday and there was an economic boycott and image problems for the state. Then in April 2008, McCain said, “We can be slow as well to give greatness its due, a mistake I made myself long ago when I voted against a federal holiday in memory of Dr. King. I was wrong.”

 

When it came to LGBTQ rights he was against a federal right to gay marriage wanting it left to the states and he voted no on a bill that would have extended the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation. He also voted no on giving the LGBTQ community job protections. Yet he was a strong supporter of Eric Fanning, an openly gay man, speaking out and fighting for his confirmation on the Senate floor when he was nominated as Secretary of the Army.

 

You can understand how much McCain will be missed when looking at the acquiescence and sycophantic behavior of the current Republican Congress to the despot in the White House. Agree or disagree with him his voice and wisdom will be missed.

There are millions of Americans of all races, genders, nationalities and political persuasions who honor him and thank him for his service to our nation.

 

This article first appeared in the Washington Blade.


Click here to share your thoughts.


Two Talented Artists at Gallery 50 Rehoboth Beach

August 16, 2018

Gary Fisher (Photo by: Gary Fisher) Gary Fisher

Two talented artists will be exhibiting their work in Rehoboth Beach. Their art will line the walls of Gallery 50, at 50 Wilmington Avenue. The Gallery first opened its doors in 2007 and regularly offers a variety of artworks from renowned, established and emerging artists in a variety of mediums. In addition to being a gallery they have a master framer who can frame anything from your important works of art to your children's masterpieces.  

 

The first show opens Friday evening, August 17th and features the work of  Gary has had a long-time career as an environmental enforcement attorney with the US Justice Department. He began painting almost 30 years ago. During that time he has developed a wide following and says about his art, “It is an expression of the beauty I see around me and my optimistic outlook on life.” He added “My paintings reflect my highly individual vision of the scenery or subject matter that surrounds me. Color dominates my vibrant surfaces as the play of light is expressed in applications of intense, and sometimes surprising hues. Paint strokes are infused with an exuberant energy. The results are dream-like canvases that evoke a sense of playfulness and spontaneity.” 

(Photo by: Jason Wright)

It isn’t always easy to get one of his pieces as much of his work is now on a commission basis. Over the years Gary has been featured in special exhibits at the Children’s National Medical Center, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, U.S. Government buildings, and U.S. embassies around the world as part of the State Department’s ‘Art in Embassies Program’. 

 

The second show begins Friday, August 31st and features the work of Jason Wright. Jason makes his home in Hawaii. He studied painting and graphic design at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC. While there he began his career illustrating and designing graphics for the surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding industry.  That makes sense as aside from being a talented and accomplished artist Jason is a medaled athlete and skydiving instructor. I think he just likes the freedom of being in the water and up in the sky and the challenges the sports he participates in represent.

Jason Wright (Photo by: Jason Wright) Jason Wright

 

About his work Jason said “This show continues my study on the beauty of isolation. I wanted to evoke the mystery and magic one feels during first light on a cold winter day. That special moment when the golden hues of the sun collide with the cool tones of the water which often reminds me of childhood. It’s a feeling I've always wanted to capture. These paintings are inspired by my time spent on the eastern shore over the years chasing winter swells and my love of the small towns and rural areas that surround the beach towns.”  Jason’s paintings are created with a palette knife and are a mixture of oil and acrylic paint. His studio is located on The Big Island of Hawaii and he said, “My love for nature has never faded. I still catch the surf on my way to the studio every day.”

For more information feel free to contact Gallery 50.  


Click here to share your thoughts.