Friday, September 21, 2012

Know Your LGBT History - Roy Cohn

Roy Cohn is proof that not every figure in gay history is a good one. He was a powerful gay man associated with the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy. He was also one of the most powerful lawyers of his time. But if you did a poll, he would be near the top of the list of one of the most hated people by the gay community:

Roy Marcus Cohn was born in New York City on 20th February, 1927. His father, Albert Cohn, was a New York State judge and an important figure in the Democratic Party. After being educated at the best private school in Manhattan, he entered Columbia Law School. Admitted to the bar at twenty-one, he used his connections to become a Assistant U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. He played a prominent role in the trial of eleven leaders of the American Communist Party and in the prosecution of Julius Rosenberg and Ethel Rosenberg in 1951.

 In 1952 Joseph McCarthy appointed Roy Cohn as the chief counsel to the Government Committee on Operations of the Senate. Cohn had been recommended by Edgar Hoover, who had been impressed by his involvement in the prosecution of the Rosenburgs. Soon after Cohn was appointed, he recruited his best friend, David Schine, to become his chief consultant. For some time opponents of McCarthy had been accumulating evidence concerning his homosexual relationships. Rumours began to circulate that Cohn and David Schine were having a sexual relationship. Although well-known by political journalists, it did not become public until Hank Greenspun published an article in the Las Vegas Sun in 25th October, 1952. Joseph McCarthy considered a libel suit against Greenspun but decided against it when he was told by his lawyers that if the case went ahead he would have to take the witness stand and answer questions about his sexuality. In an attempt to stop the rumours circulating, McCarthy married his secretary, Jeannie Kerr. Later the couple adopted a five-week old girl from the New York Foundling Home. In October, 1953, McCarthy began investigating communist infiltration into the military.

Attempts were made by McCarthy to discredit Robert Stevens, the Secretary of the Army. The president, Dwight Eisenhower, was furious and now realised that it was time to bring an end to McCarthy's activities. The United States Army retaliated by passing information about Joseph McCarthy to journalists known to be opposed to him. This included the news that Cohn had abused congressional privilege by trying to prevent David Schine from being drafted. When that failed, it was claimed that Cohn tried to pressurize the Army to grant Schine special privileges. The well-known newspaper columnist, Drew Pearson, published the story on 15th December, 1953. The televised hearings of the Senate hearings exposed the tactics of Cohn and Joseph McCarthy. Leading politicians in both parties, had been embarrassed by McCarthy's performance and on 2nd December, 1954, a censure motion condemned his conduct by 67 votes to 22.

'Gays, African-Americans unite to fight for marriage equality' and other Friday midday news briefs

Maryland Marriage Equality Vote Brings Together LGBT, Black Civil Rights Groups - Lgbt groups, African-American civil rights groups, and Black clergy are uniting in Maryland for marriage equality. I certainly hope we win this particular fight, but regardless, you have to admit that this is a BFD (thanks Vice President Biden).  

Paris Hilton Apologizes For Homophobic Comments About Gay Men And AIDS - Since I posted about this yesterday, I should post this follow up. It's been said that when you forgive someone, sometimes it's less about not just about their sincerity, but the strength of your heart.  

E.W. Jackson: Blacks are Selling Themselves into Slavery By Supporting the Democratic Party - I feel safe in speaking for a vast majority of African-Americans when I ask, "just who is this fool?"

 On This DADT Repeal Anniversary, Let’s Not Forget The T - An excellent point about the DADT repeal. 

General Mills' Profits Rise Despite Boycott Over Gay Marriage - NOM's General Mills boycott is failing hard. 

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Family Research Council should admit lies about DADT repeal

Tony Perkins
Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the DADT repeal and I was VERY disappointed.

Don't get me wrong. I was happy about the anniversary and reading the articles about how gays and lesbians can now openly serve in the Armed Forces. And I loved the pictures that came with it.

But the bitch in me needed to be fed.

I can remember when the repeal was about to happen, many folks in the religious right were up in arms about it. The Family Research Council, in particular, were making all sorts of dire predictions. From reading what was said by Tony Perkins, Peter Sprigg, and company, one got the impression that repealing DADT would be THE THING which would cause Gabriel to blow his trumpet and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to streak across the skies.

Now that the repeal has been in place for a full year, the gay community seems to be so wrapped up in celebration that it allows Perkins, Sprigg, and company to walk away while nonchalantly whistling a tune with their hands in their pockets.

Peter Sprigg
But not so fast. Thanks to Equality Matters and the Palm Center, there is a list of the top five horror stories spun by the Family Research Council about the repeal of DADT which did not come true.

Allow me to summarize the list.

FRC: Repeal Will Increase The Rate of Sexual Assault

Palm Center Report: Experts “All Concur That Repeal Has Not Led To Any Increase In Assaults.” According to the Palm Center’s report:

[A] comparison of pre- and post-repeal Military Times surveys suggests that the rate of male-male sexual assault did not increase after DADT repeal went into effect. In response to a July/August 2011 pre-repeal Military Times survey, 1.4% of male respondents said that they had been a victim of sexual assault while in the military, compared to 1.1% of male service members who indicated on a January 2012 post-repeal survey that they had been victimized. The pre-repeal percent of men who reported having been sexually assaulted during their military service, in other words, was roughly equivalent to the post-repeal rate. These data call into question any assertion that repeal has led to an increase in assaults.

FRC: Repeal Will Undermine Servicemember Morale

Palm Center Report: No Apparent “Measurable Consequences” As A Result Of Morale Change. According to the Palm Center’s report:
The new policy of open service produced a decrease in morale for a small minority of service members, and enhanced the morale of an even smaller minority. Yet few of those troops who experienced a decline in morale appear to have suffered any measurable consequences. This should come as no surprise, as the extensive scholarly literature on the determinants of military morale does not mention the presence or absence of LGB colleagues. [Palm Center, “One Year Out,” September 2012]
FRC: Repeal Will Undermine Recruitment And Retention

Palm Center Report: “DADT Repeal Has Not Had Any Measurable Impact On Recruitment Or Retention.” According to the Palm Center’s report:
As discussed, a minority of service members reports that DADT repeal has influenced their likelihood of remaining in the military, with some indicating that repeal has made them less likely to re-enlist and others suggesting that they are more likely to remain. What the preponderance of evidence shows, however, is that DADT repeal has not had any measurable impact on recruitment or retention, even among chaplains.  It is certainly true that the weak domestic economy and disengagement from two wars have made recruitment and retention easier. But in an era when enlistment standards have tightened, service members were just as likely to say that they plan to re-enlist  after DADT repeal  as  was the case pre-repeal. [Palm Center, “One Year Out,” September 2012, emphasis added]
FRC: Repeal Will Undermine Unit Cohesion

 Palm Center Report: “Cohesion Did Not Decline” After DADT Repeal. According to the Palm Center’s report:
Even in those units that included openly LGB service members, and that consequently should have been the most likely to experience a drop in cohesion as a result of repeal, cohesion did not decline after the new policy of open service was put into place. In fact, greater openness and honesty resulting from repeal seem to have promoted increased understanding, respect and acceptance. [Palm Center, “One Year Out,” September 2012]
FRC: Repeal Will Undermine Religious Freedom For Military Chaplains

Palm Center Report: DADT Repeal Has Had “No Measurable Impact” On Chaplain Retention. According to the Palm Center’s report:
Even among chaplains, the evidence suggests that DADT repeal has had no measurable impact on retention. Chaplains were thought to be among those most likely to leave the military after DADT repeal, in part because  contracts allow them to resign more quickly than other military members, and many threatened to resign if LGB troops were allowed to serve openly. Such concerns, however, have proven to be unwarranted. Lieutenant Colonel Lisa H. Tice, a chaplain who serves in the personnel, budget and readiness division of the Air Force Office of the Chief of Chaplains, told us that no Air Force chaplains left the military as a result of DADT repeal. Navy Chaplain Capt. John H. Lea III reported that one Navy chaplain separated because of repeal. Lieutenant Colonel Carleton Birch, a spokesman for the Army Chief of Chaplains, said that in March 2011, one Army chaplain left the military over the pending repeal of DADT. But when we called the Army Chief of Chaplains office in June 2012, a spokesperson told us that, “We’ve had nobody else leave for that stated reason in the Army out of the 3,000 or so full-time and part-time chaplains” and that no endorsing denominations had withdrawn their endorsements as a result of DADT repeal. [Palm Center, “One Year Out,” September 2012]

Claiming that gay equality will lead to chaos is a hallmark of religious right deception. You will remember that FRC and other religious right groups claimed that lgbt-inclusive hate crimes legislation would lead to pastors being arrested for simply saying that homosexuality is a sin.

That claim has yet to become reality.

So the way I see it, the religious right is 0 for 2 in claiming that the passage of gay rights initiatives will cause harm.

Unfortunately, the gay community is also 0 for 2 in pushing the issue. While we celebrate our steps to full equality - however tiny they may be - there is nothing wrong with noting that the groups and people who are against us attaining full equality are wrong when they claim that we are somehow the doorways to destruction of American society.

In cases like hate crimes legislation and the DADT repeal, rubbing the religious right's collective face in the fact that they were wrong is not a sign of bad manners, but something which should be embraced as a necessary tactic.

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