Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Florida’s Ban on Gay Adoptions Ends

Filed under: GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:07

 As a Doctoral Student in Public Affairs, one of the early research projects I decided to complete in my studies was a Cost/ Benefit Analysis on Florida’s Ban on Gay Adoptions. I was able to show, through the process of policy analysis, that the ban was costing Floridians millions of dollars in taxes and that the social science research done on the topic indicated gay men and lesbians were actually very good parents. In fact, no published studies undergoing a rigorous scientific peer-review process have ever existed to the contrary. Of course, when a federal appeals court ruled several weeks ago that the ban was unconstitutional, I was ecstatic. But when Governor Charlie Crist promised he would not appeal the decision, I immediately endorsed him for Senator.

Today, the ban has come to an end. George Sheldon, the Director for Florida’s Department of Children and Families (DCF) held a press conference to indicate that DCF will no longer ascertain the sexual orientation of prospective adoptive parents. Equality Florida applauded the move, but cautioned that discriminatory forces are still at play. Their press release stated, “The same anti-gay forces who pushed for Florida’s marriage amendment in 2008 will likely try to put a return of the adoption ban up for statewide vote in 2012.” To read my Cost/Benefit Analysis on Florida’s Ban on Gay Adoptions, click on the “Research” tab. The document is filed under “Unpublished Research Reports.”

DADT Ruled Unconstitutional

Filed under: GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 01:53

A federal judge in San Diego, hearing the case brought on behalf of the Log Cabin Republicans, issued a worldwide injunction declaring “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” unconstitutional. Judge Virginia Phillips declared “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” has a direct and deleterious effect” on the armed services by hurting recruiting during wartime and requiring the discharge of service members with critical skills and training. In addition, she ordered that any discharges under the bill must cease immediately.

While the Obama Administration has vowed to overturn the policy through Congress, this likely puts the President in the odd position of having to defend a policy he believes is discriminatory and dangerous to the United States Military. This is because the Department of Justice traditionally has to defend overturned congressional laws. The Service Members’ Legal Defense Network, while praising the ruling, cautioned gay soldiers to remain closeted, for now. Although the House voted to repeal “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” in early September, the Republicans in the Senate, led by failed 2008 Presidential nominee John McCain, effectively blocked the vote for passage, ensuring the discriminatory ban remained in place.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Republicans Block Repeal of DADT

Filed under: GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights,Politics — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 17:56

GOP blocks repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' In their usual ignorant, non-educated, and failing nature, the Republicans, led by John McCain (the sour and sore loser of the 2008 Presidential election) blocked repeal of the miltary’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which prohibits openly gay men and women soldiers from serving. No Republicans voted to advance the bill, and two Democrats from Arkansas, Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, voted no. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, voted no in a procedural move so he could bring the bill back to the floor in the future. The Republicans are well out of touch with the beliefs of the American people on this policy. The vast majority (around 75%-80%) believe the policy should be repealed and that gay and lesbian soldiers should be able to openly serve their country. The Republicans should be ashamed for using a social policy tactic to deny passage of the Bill, which included a 1.4% pay raise for the troops as well as funding for the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. This filibuster is an interesting and sad statement by Republicans, who are desperate to use divisive social issues to drum-up support from their far right-wing supporters. In November, voters should remember that the Democrats were the ones to not only support repeal of DADT, but also to give our men and women in uniform a much needed raise in pay and support our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ken Mehlman, Former Republican Party Chair, Reveals He is Gay

Filed under: GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights,Politics — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 01:10

Ken_mehlman In an ironic twist of fate, the former leader of the notoriously anti-gay Republican Party, Ken Mehlman, revealed today, he is a gay man. Mehlman was the steward of the GOP under former-President George W. Bush and spearheaded the Republican leadership while Bush pushed to pass a Federal Amendment to the US Constitution which would’ve banned legal recognition for  same-sex couples. Although the Democrats effectively stopped Bush from ever passing the Amendment, Mehlman denied any suggestion he was homosexual. At the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner, Mehlman was quoted as saying, “I’m not gay. But those stories did a number on my dating life for six months.”

By coming out, Mehlman has decided he is going to change his life and is actually working hard to reverse the damage he and his fellow Republicans inflicted on gay and lesbian Americans. He said that he “really wished” he had come to terms with his sexual orientation earlier, “so I could have worked against [the Federal Marriage Amendment]” and “reached out to the gay community.” As Kurby Dick indicated in his fantastic documentary Outrage, about gay politicians who try to hide their sexuality by voting against equality for gay men and lesbians, like most out former anti-gay policymakers, Mehlman has vowed to make his wrongs right.

He will be Co-Chairing a major fundraiser in late September that has already raised over $1 million for the organization battling Prop 8. The fundraiser is co-chaired by prominent Republican donors Paul Singer and Peter Thiel and will be held at Singer’s home. So while Mehlman no doubtfully harmed gay men and lesbians as the leader of the Republican Party, I do give him credit for admitting his sexuality and joining the fight to bring equality to every American.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Proposition 8 OVERTURNED!

Filed under: GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 18:05

Olson_boies Federal Judge Vaughn Walker (appointed by President George H.W. Bush) has OVERTURNED California’s discriminatory ban on same-sex marriage. Walker’s decision is exquisitely authored and is EXACTLY what was hoped for by the 2 lead Attorneys who worked together to represent the gay plaintiffs in the case (David Boies, a liberal Democratic attorney and Theodore Olson, a conservative Republican attorney both of whom actually squared-off against each other at the United States Supreme Court during the Bush vs. Gore Trial). As Judge Walker indicated: “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite- sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”  California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger whole-heartedly agreed with the Judge’s ruling, stating:  “Judge Walker had the great responsibility of deciding whether Proposition 8 violates the Constitution of the United States. He heard in-depth arguments from both sides on fundamental questions of due process, equal protection and freedom from discrimination. There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, and I am glad that all viewpoints were respected throughout the proceedings. We should also recognize that there will continue to be different points of view in the wake of this decision.  For the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives, this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for all Californians to consider our history of leading the way to the future, and our growing reputation of treating all people and their relationships with equal respect and dignity.  Today’s decision is by no means California’s first milestone, nor our last, on America’s road to equality and freedom for all people.” While the case is certainly headed to the United State Supreme Court within the next few years, GLBT Americans are at least one step closer to the equality we have fought so very hard for!

DNC Chairman Address GLBT Issues

Filed under: GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights,Politics — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:21

On the heels of a very significant ruling coming from a federal court in California seeking to overturn Proposition 8 outlawing marriage between same-sex couples in the state, the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Governor Tim Kaine released an update on GLBT civil rights issues and provided details on how the DNC is working to help end discrimination. Take a look:

Monday, May 24, 2010

President Obama, Congress Moving on DADT

Filed under: GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 18:29

Leonard Matlovich Rainbow Flag American Flag  by RYANISLAND. 

Despite the criticisms that President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled House and Senate have failed to deliver on promises to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy which prohibits open gay men and lesbians from serving in the United States military (and discharges those who “come out” during service), there is movement today that the White House and lawmakers are ready to move forward. 70% of Americans believe gay and lesbian soldiers should be permitted military service (even if they are open about their sexuality) and both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Adm. Mike Mullen fully support repeal of the ban. Currently, the Pentagon is working on a study to be completed in December outlining how the ban should be lifted and a new policy be implemented. The new proposal would stipulate the change in the upcoming defense authorization spending bill while also permitting completion of the study prior to implementation. In comparison, the process of racial integration of troops took 5 years to complete.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Soldiers Ridicule DADT in Funny Video

Filed under: Comedic Relief,GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights,Politics — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 23:25

Created by Codey Wilson and other members of his Army Battalion currently serving in Iraq, “volunteers” created the following hilarious video of Ke$ha’s single “Blah, Blah, Blah” which is a parody of what would happen if the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy were lifted and gays were allowed to serve openly in the military. Apparently, the soldiers find the assumptions that gay men and lesbians being out in the military would create some type of sexually-enhanced atmosphere as laughable as the rest of us! Take a look:

Monday, April 19, 2010

President Obama Issues Historic Memorandum

Filed under: GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights,Politics — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 15:08

On Thursday, April 15, 2010, President Barack Obama issued a memorandum to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) directing relevant agencies to take steps to ensure that individuals are not discriminated against in hospital settings on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The memorandum requests agencies to develop rules to protect gay and lesbian patients and their families and address issues of hospital visitation, medical decision making, or other healthcare issues. Specifically, any healthcare agency that receives federal dollars for medical service reimbursement (for example, Medicare and/or Medicaid) must allow partners of gay and lesbian patients full visitation rights and allow them to serve as the decision-maker for their plan of care (placing them in-control of execution of advanced directives, do not resuscitate protocols, living wills, durable power of attorneys, etc.). Check out THIS LINK for the complete memorandum. The measure serves as another sign of President Obama’s intelligence and understanding of the importance of commited relationships among gay and lesbian persons.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

“Teabaggers” Show New Level of Hatred while “Stonewall” Uprises

Filed under: GLBT Social Issues and Civil Rights,Movie and Entertainment,Politics — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 00:36

Straightpride2 Just when you thought the ignorant and complete lack of IQ “teabaggers” couldn’t get any more stupid, they showed a new level of hatred towards gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons on their “Teabag Express” tour stop in Lansing, Michigan on April 10th. A vendor at the event was selling “Straight Pride” t-shirts highly reminiscent of the “White Power” hate speech associated with the Ku Klux Klan and Skinhead/ White Supremacist movements. Reaction to the t-shirts in the gay community has been overwhelmingly negative although many are defending the rights of the “teabaggers” to wear such hate garbage. Ironically, the “teabagger” pictured appears to also be ashamed of his or her hateful display as he/she covered his/her face during the photograph. And perhaps as a very appropriate and unintended reaction, the trailer for the documentary Stonewall Uprising released today. The documentary details the “Rosa Parks” moment of the gay liberation movement in the United States, where patrons of the Stonewall Inn bar refused to acquiesce to police brutality and homophobia and fought-back against the physical violence and abuse inflicted upon them. On a personal, note, I discussed the importance of the Stonewall Riots in my Doctoral Dissertation in the context of the GLBT civil rights movement. Watch the trailer below. Stonewall Uprising, from First Run Features, released in select markets beginning on April 8th and will hit the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival on April 27th, 2010.

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