Regional Director for North America @ Change.org. On the side I write some sketch comedy, and enjoy being the proud parent of the best dog on the planet.
Dan: Figure out where you're going this weekend
Revealed in this petition should be enough information to help you figure out where you're staying this weekend. How about a few facts about the place? It was founded in 1834. A few years before I was born. Nearby, of course, is the Vanderbilt Mansion, which you know because you're SOMEHOW capable of recognizing a 60 year old picture of Gloria Vanderbilt. SERIOUSLY. Don't come for me and my clues! I thought that one would stump you! Elections played a part in this town's story -- did you know Aaron Burr ran for President in 1800, and may have used this town as one of his campaign headquarters? (That's also a subliminal message for you to put a song from Hamilton on your Spotify playlist, so that you can hear me do my best Lin-Manuel Miranda impression.) Between 2007-2012 (I won't give you the exact year because that could be a an easy easy giveaway), there was a pretty notable wedding that happened here. No, it wasn't Tom Brady & Gisele Bündchen (*vomits*) Eating is going to be fun this weekend. Let's just say that on Friday, you'll be going to someplace that's pretty cool to eat (at least I hope). And at some point in time over the weekend, we'll be going to a bakery that is pretty damn cool too (not going to tell you why though, but maybe if you watched The Good Wife you'll be excited. And if you haven't watched The Good Wife, because of your RIDICULOUSLY HATRED OF CBS, then I know how we're spending the weekend...) Could there be any famous people born in this place? Yep, there are. At least one cast member of AHS. Maybe season one, maybe season two, maybe season three. Know what else? Well... I actually think there might be enough already said here to get you started. But I will say I'm super excited to spend some time with you this weekend. You know, to see if you snore, see if you're a morning person, etc. etc. :) Rawr! See you on Friday!
Get Paul to go see "Sully"
I think Paul should go see "Sully". It has an 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and Paul has said that he'll see anything that is over 75%. But it's also a bonafide future American classic. It is the Double Indemnity of 2016. Or he can watch Money Monster.
Tell Law Firm King & Spalding: Don't Defend Bigotry Against LGBT People
King & Spalding is a major international law firm, with offices in more than a dozen cities around the globe. They proudly claim on their website that diversity is a major priority at the firm, and they single out LGBT issues on their website, saying that they value the contributions of LGBT employees and LGBT clients. Yet if King & Spalding is so LGBT-friendly, why is a senior partner at the law firm working with U.S. House Speaker Rep. John Boehner to defend one of the most anti-LGBT laws in the entire country? Paul Clement, a partner with King & Spalding, has been tapped by Rep. Boehner to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) -- a law that bars LGBT people in the United States from having their relationships recognized. This discriminatory law prevents LGBT couples from sharing in more than 1,100 benefits that straight married couples are able to access, and is also responsible for tearing binational couples apart. Is this type of blatant and unjust discrimination something that King & Spalding wants their name attached to? History doesn't look kindly on law firms that defend bigoted laws. Does King & Spalding want to go down in history as the law firm that tried to keep LGBT people second class citizens in this country? Demand that King & Spalding's Diversity Committee respond to Clement's decision to defend DOMA. They should condemn this decision, and in every way try to disassociate themselves from supporting such an immoral, unjust, and discriminatory law.
Demand resignation of TX Democratic Party Chair who called LGBT people "termites" and "Nazis"
Dan Ramos, Chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party, gave an interview last week with the San Antonio Current, where he compared LGBT people to "termites," suggested that the national movement for LGBT equality was "a sinister movement," and compared a local gay rights group to the Nazi Party. And this is a chairperson for the Democratic Party? "They are all connected to the gay Democratic Party, the so-called Stonewall Democrats. Just like termites they managed to get some of their people in key positions," Ramos said of local LGBT political activists. “I liken them to the Tea Party — the Tea Party and the fucking Nazi Party — because they’re 90 percent white, blue-eyed, and Anglo, and I don’t give a fuck who knows that. Just like the blacks … they’re American, but you can’t get your way just because you’re black.” This type of rhetoric is inappropriate from anyone in politics, let alone the Democratic Party chairman. It's time to join with many voices in the local community calling for Ramos to resign. Demeaning and vulgar remarks like this are no sign of leadership, especially in a political party that's supposed to value equality as one of its core principles.
Expand Nondiscrimination Policy Within the University of Alaska System
Students, activists and faculty members have put pressure on the University of Alaska system for years to expand their anti-discrimination policies to include protections on the basis of sexual orientation. And for years, the University of Alaska Board of Regents has rejected these calls, and ignored efforts to address anti-gay discrimination. That soon may be about to change. This week the Board of Regents will meet again, and once more they'll look at whether the University of Alaska system should expand their nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation. Indeed, students, faculty, and even the President of the University of Alaska have said that the time is now for the University of Alaska system to expand their nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation. Send the Board of Regents a note that they should follow the lead of their students, employees and community members, and include sexual orientation in their official nondiscrimination policy.
Tell Seattle Pacific University: Recognize LGBT Group on Campus
Seattle Pacific University was founded in 1891. Looks like their policies are still stuck in the same time period, too. That's because Seattle Pacific University recently ruled that a group of LGBT students and straight allies could not meet on campus, and could not be recognized as having official group status. The group, known as The Haven, hoped to be a place where students could go to discuss issues surrounding the intersection of sexuality and religion. Seattle Pacific University, after all, is a Christian college affiliated with the Christian College Consortium. Yet instead of allowing students with The Haven the chance to discuss issues with one another and create a safe space for all Seattle Pacific University students, the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Jeff Jordan, ruled that the club was no longer allowed to be given meeting space on campus, and would not be considered an official campus group. The decision has led students with The Haven to say that college administrators are trying to define LGBT students and straight allies "out of existence." Send administrators at Seattle Pacific University a message that denying LGBT students and straight allies the chance to meet on campus, sends a damaging message about the school's priorities. Is Seattle Pacific University the type of place where speech and ideas related to sexuality and religion are censored? So much for academic freedom ... Moreover, is Seattle Pacific University a place where when it comes to discussions about creating safe spaces on campus for all students, administrators shut the conversation down? That appears to be so, and it does a huge disservice to the reputation of the school. As one student put it in the school's student newspaper, “They can define us out of existence all they want, but Haven will continue to meet on campus because there’s a need for Haven on campus."
Tell UK Home Office: No Government Health Advisors Who Believe Gay People Can Be Cured
Meet Dr. Hans-Christian Raabe, a doctor in the United Kingdom who was just named to a prominent government advisory committee. Dr. Raabe is a member of a religious movement that believes homosexuality is destructive and unhealthy, and that gay people can be cured. He's coordinator of a group known as the Council for Health and Wholeness (CHW), which believes in a host of controversial (and not terribly scientifically sound) theories about homosexuality. Among the more frightening nuggets? "The media and the gay movement portray the homosexual lifestyle as happy, healthy and fulfilled. However, the homosexual lifestyle is associated with a large number of very serious physical and emotional health consequences," says a CHW document authored by Dr. Raabe himself. And there's plenty more. In another document, Dr. Raabe notes: "A high proportion of homosexual men engage in a destructive lifestyle." And then comes the real kicker. This professional, who now sits on a prominent UK advisory board, believes that there's a tie between homosexuality and pedophilia. In a paper that Dr. Raabe co-authored, the medicine man describes gay people as having a penchant for abusing children. "It is of grave concern that there is a disproportionately greater number of homosexuals among pedophiles and an overlap between the gay movement and the movement to make pedophilia acceptable," Dr. Raabe noted in the piece. This type of "science" should simply not be honored or rewarded by the UK government. Send the Home Office and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs that you expect their health professionals to stick to science, not anti-gay dogma, in their research and work.
Tell Chris Brown and RazB: Apologize for Anti-Gay Tweets
UPDATE: After numerous emails were sent to RazB's public relations agent, he issued an apology on Twitter. Now Chris Brown has done the same, saying that he regrets using homophobic language over Twitter. Read an updated post here. During a recent Twitter-feud, artists Chris Brown and RazB got into a heated exchange with one another. What did both celebrities resort to in order to bash the other? Damaging and dehumanizing language against people who are LGBT. Here's the Twitter conversation. "@razb2k: Im just sittin here Thinking how can niggas like @ebenet & @ChrisBrown disrespect women as Intelligent as @HalleBerry11 @Rihanna" RazB tweeted. "@ChrisBrown: @razb2k nigga you want attention! Grow up nigga!!! Dick in da booty ass lil boy" Brown responded, alluding to allegations that RazB once made that a former manager sexually assaulted him. Not content with just that response, Chris Brown added another tweet, complete with the #homothug hashtag (meant to demean an LGBT person of color who dresses or acts hip hop): "Tell me this @razb2k!! Why when the money was coming in u won't complaining about getting butplugged! #homothug!!!" Welcome to Chris Brown's latest comedy routine, all jokes about male rape, all the time. Over the past few months, you only have to look as far as the death of Tyler Clementi, or the suicides of a number of LGBT youth who experienced cyber-bullying, to see the tragic consequences of the kind of storm Chris Brown and RazB are brewing here. Can the two have their feud? Sure, go at it. But as celebrities who carry at least a marginal amount of clout, they owe it to their fans and followers not to foster the type of violence that when translated into the real world, outside of the comfort of 140 characters, can have some damaging and dangerous implications. Send Chris Brown and RazB a message that anti-gay bashing has no place on their Twitter accounts. Both artists are interested in rebuilding their careers. Perhaps they should start by not alienating fans who are sick and tired of seeing homophobia given a free pass.
Ask Nashville's Metro Development and Housing Agency to Expand Non-Discrimination Statement
Nashville's Metro Development and Housing Agency works to create affordable housing opportunities for residents of Nashville, as well as build a more vibrant downtown area for the city. The Agency currently has a pretty exhaustive non-discrimination policy, which reads: "The Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency (MDHA) does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, sex, color, national origin, religion, disability or any other legally protected status in admission to, access to, or operations of its programs, services, or activities." But the Agency currently includes no discrimination protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. And that's something the Mayor of Nashville, Karl Dean, would like to see change. Send the Metro Development and Housing Agency a message that in order for Nashville to be a truly inclusive city, agencies like theirs should step up to the plate and make sure that all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, are rooted out.
Tell Mecklenburg County Board: Censure Anti-Gay Politician Who Called LGBT People "Sexual Predators"
North Carolina had some shining moments this month, at least when it came to LGBT politics. Several members of its congressional delegation in the U.S. House, and both U.S. Senators from the state, voted in favor of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the military's ban on openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual troops. The success of that vote prompted Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts to circulate a letter to her Republican and Democratic colleagues, asking them to sign on to a bipartisan 'thank you' note to these officials, for standing up for the principle of equality. Only one Mecklenburg Commissioner didn't want to hear it. And he was all too pleased to let his colleagues know it. "Homosexuals are sexual predators," Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James (pictured above, all the way to the right) wrote in an email to his colleagues, which was submitted to qnotes, an LGBT publication in North Carolina. "Allowing homosexuals to serve in the U.S. military with the endorsement of the Mecklenburg County Commission ignores a host of serious problems related to maintaining U.S. military readiness and effectiveness not the least of which is the current Democrat plan to allow homosexuals (male and female) to share showers with those they are attracted to.” It's only the latest outburst from James, who previously made fun of a colleague whose son died of complications from AIDS, who once said all LGBT shove gerbils and hamsters up their rectums, and who said that people of color "live in a moral sewer." Is this really a politician that the rest of Mecklenburg County wants representing them? Urge the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners to officially censure James for his latest outburst. This can't be the national reputation that official in Mecklenburg County want to build for their community.
Dear NCAA: My Mom Is a Rape Survivor and You Can Help
My mother and I are asking the NCAA to ban violent athletes. Please read my letter and sign our petition. Let the NCAA know that sports are NOT more important than human lives! Dear NCAA, My name is Darius Adams. I’m the son of Brenda Tracy who is a public rape survivor. It was 2010 when my mom first told me that she was raped. I was 17. We were sitting in our car in our driveway. I remember it because it was a life-changing moment for me. She didn’t tell me because she wanted to. She told me because she had to. She was trying to save my life. I was out of control at the time. I was angry and broken and I didn’t care if I lived or not. I remember her crying and struggling to get the words out “I was raped.” She apologized to me over and over and asked me not to hate her. “Please don’t be ashamed of me. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” I still can’t understand why she was apologizing to me, but after that talk, I started to see her as a different person. I saw her as someone who had been hurt, and she was just doing the best she could as a single mother with two kids. It was then that I began to turn my life around — mostly for myself, but also for my mom. I wanted her to be proud of me. I wanted to make sure that what she went through and all the sacrifices she made for me and my brother were not in vain. It was 2014 when my mother went public with her story. I wasn’t prepared. She hadn’t told me the details in 2010, but now every ugly detail was on the internet in an article by John Canzano at the Oregonian. To this day, I haven’t read it all. I can’t. I just can’t. What I do know is that my mom was drugged and gang-raped by four football players in 1998. I know that Oregon State University gave two of them 25 hours community service and Coach Mike Riley gave them a one-game suspension. I know that the police threw away her rape kit and the DA lied to her about her case. I know that Oregon State cared more about football and money than my mom. I know that my mom wanted to kill herself, and I know that she almost did. And all because other people decided that football, money and reputation was more important than me and my brother having a mother. I was scared when the article first came out. I didn’t know how people would react to us. Would they attack my mom? Would they say terrible things about her? Would I have to defend her? And what would I say? But a great thing happened. People reached out to us and they supported us. They expressed their love and gratitude for my mom coming forward and being brave enough to tell her story. I was proud of her. It was the first time I saw her happy. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off of her. I’ve heard her say more than one time, “I walked out of my prison of shame and silence that day,” and she did. I could see it. Ever since then my mom has worked hard to help others. She’s passed five laws in Oregon. She’s won numerous awards. We just went to Washington, DC where she received the National Service Courage Award from the United States Attorney General. She also changed a Pac 12 rule so that athletes with serious misconduct issues can’t transfer into our conference. She’s my hero. And that’s why I’m writing to you. I’m a college athlete, and I watch ESPN religiously. There’s a serious problem in sports. We don’t take sexual violence seriously enough. Seventeen years ago Coach Mike Riley suspended the men that hurt my mom for one game and just yesterday I saw the story about Baylor. Nothing has changed. Schools are still more worried about money and football than people’s lives. I’m a grown man now. I would never hurt a woman that way and I know that most men wouldn’t. Why are we protecting this small group of men? Why are we allowing them to destroy people’s lives? All of these victims have families and they get hurt too. I’m still dealing with what happened to my mom. We need to do something right now, and I think it starts with the NCAA creating a policy that bans violent athletes. Enough is enough. It’s been 17 years and nothing has changed. How many more years do we have to wait for something to happen? As the NCAA you have authority over many schools. YOU can change this. These schools have proven that they are not going to do the right thing. I believe it is your responsibility to step in. And please don’t do it for me or my mom. Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Sincerely, Darius Adams