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Dalai Lama, President Obama to Attend National Prayer Breakfast Sponsored by Anti-gay Group 'The Family'

The-Dalai-LamaThe Dalai Lama is scheduled to attend this year's National Prayer Breakfast on February 5 alongside President Obama - an event hosted by The Fellowship Foundation, a conservative Christian organization more widely known as "The Family." TIME reports this is the first time the two will make a joint public appearance. 

As we've reported previously, "The Family" has strong ties to anti-gay African leaders, specifically Ugandan Parliamentarian David Bahati, sponsor of the infamous so-called "kill the gays" bill.

In the past, LGBT activist group GetEQUAL has protested outside the event. No word yet on if they plan on protesting this year. 

The Dalai Lama, considered in Tibetan Buddhism to be the 14th incarnation of Avalokiteśvara, a being who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas, said last year he was okay with the idea of gay marriage

President Obama Attends National Prayer Breakfast Sponsored by Anti-Gay Group 'The Family'

President Obama and other Congressional leaders this morning attended the National Prayer Breakfast, hosted by The Fellowship Foundation, a conservative Christian organization more widely known as "The Family."

Thefamily"The Family" has strong ties to anti-gay African leaders, specifically Ugandan Parliamentarian David Bahati, sponsor of the infamous so-called "kill the gays" bill.

LGBT activist group GetEQUAL, which has protested outside the past two National Prayer Breakfasts did not do so this year because the organizer of the previous 'Breakfast Without Bigotry' protests, Michael Dixon, died last week.

They did, however, send out a statement objecting to Obama's participation.

Said Heather Cronk, managing director of GetEQUAL and a seminary graduate:

"For another year, President Obama has chosen to set aside his stated values of inclusion in order to attend the National Prayer Breakfast -- an event rooted in hatred of LGBT people and covered up by pastries and coffee. There are so many communities of faith that fully embrace LGBT people and that are rooted in social justice -- we really don't understand why President Obama continues to give his permission for 'The Family' to support killing LGBT folks abroad. If the president is looking for ways to publicly demonstrate that he's a man of faith, he needs to find ways to do so without simultaneously putting the lives of LGBT people in jeopardy. The 'Kill the Gays' bill has been moving through the Ugandan Parliament at the very same time that President Obama was speaking to the group supporting it -- this practice has got to stop, and the president needs to understand the role he is playing in supporting the execution of LGBT people around the world."

The group added, in its press release:

At a previous National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama said "We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are -- whether it's here in the United States or ... more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda."

Despite this assertion of the rights of LGBT Ugandans to live in peace, President Obama continues to attend and, therefore, support this event. Given the fact that President Obama has recently come out in favor of LGBT equality -- including references in his inaugural speech and in an interview just days ago on Super Bowl Sunday -- we are deeply saddened that the president continues to support this event.

Minor-on-Minor Sex Abuse

Picture 18The AP has an excellent feetch this weekend on minor-on-minor sex abuse in America. It's an ugly problem, and a big one: more than a third of child sex abuse cases in America involve perps who are under 18. From the article:

For many of the therapists and attorneys who deal with them, these juvenile offenders pose a profoundly complicated challenge for the child-protection and criminal justice systems. It's a diverse group that defies stereotypes, encompassing a minority of youths who represent a threat of long-term danger to others and a majority who are responsive to treatment and unlikely to reoffend.

... While some youths commit violent, premeditated acts of sexual assault and rape, others get in trouble for behavior arising from curiosity, naivete, peer pressure, momentary irresponsibility, misinterpretation of what they believed was mutual interest, and a host of other reasons.

But there's no mechanism with which to deal with this relatively inoffensive majority, and a lot of kids are unfairly penalized, or subject to traumatic experiences. The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, signed by President Bush in 2006, demands that some sex offenders as young as 14 be listed in public registries. Some states find this too lenient, and have even tougher registry laws: In the article, the AP reports that "Delaware recently had a 9-year-old on its registry." Nancy Arnolt, who works for a victim-services agency in New York called Safe Horizons, recalls investigations of seven-year-olds, and the arrest of an eight-year-old.

This overzealousness has caused much misery. Jay Deppeler, who runs a treatment center for offending male youths in Pennsylvania, has been in the field long enough to witness it firsthand:

Deppeler recalled one autistic young man who came through Edison Court as an outpatient. He had committed a sex offense as a 14-year-old and later - after turning 18 - committed a property-related offense that sent him to the adult criminal justice system. As a result, the young man became obligated to apprise prospective employers of his full record, including the juvenile sex offense - making him "virtually unemployable."

"Long term, I fear his prospects are quite bleak," Deppeler said. "What do we end up doing with a guy like that?"

Ugandan President: Don't Tie Our Aid Money To LGBT Rights

President-Museveni4In Uganda, where legislators have spent much of the last two years wondering whether to execute gay people, President Yoweri Museveni is worried about money.

At a speech on Friday, President Museveni sent a message to the Western, pro-gay nations who've historically given Uganda monetary aid, warning them that any economic sanctions against Uganda would backfire on their beloved LGBTs. "Before anyone gives me a lecture on homosexual rights," he said, according to News24, "first talk about railways ... Homosexuals also need electricity. Homosexuals also need roads. Homosexuals also need railways." These remarks were greeted with applause.

It appears Museveni is speaking out in response to recent high profile utterances from Hillary Clinton and British PM David Cameron both of whom asserted that "LGBT rights are human rights," and pledged to work to ensure the legal protection of LGBTs around the world. It's worth noting that Museveni quietly supported proposed legislation in 2009 that would guarantee the death penalty for "serial" sodomites, and has deep ties to The Fellowship -- the United States organization of Protestant fundamentalists who attempt to export Christian morality to developing nations.

Meet The Castro-Martinez Family

Castro-MartinezThis weekend, Texan LGBT paper The Dallas Voice introduces readers to the Castro-Martinez family. They're not a gay family, but oh well.

Writes the Voice:

A little more than a year ago, Avigail was expecting her and Joel’s third child. Their daughter, who would be named Genesis, was going to be born any minute. About 2 a.m. on Nov. 21, 2010, in need of some last-minute supplies, Joel and Avigail put their sons into the family’s Chrysler Sebring, and the family headed to the store.

But as they passed through an intersection on McCart Avenue, on Fort Worth’s south side, a drunk driver in an SUV ran a red light and slammed broadside into the family’s car. The drunk driver then fled the scene, but a Fort Worth Police officer who saw the accident was able to give his fellow officers enough information about the SUV that they were able to track down the driver while the first officer stayed at the scene of the accident with the gravely injured family of four.

... The two young boys suffered serious injuries. Joel had fractured ribs and several lacerations. Eliel suffered a laceration to his liver. Their father Joel was so severely injured that he was unable to work for six months after the accident.

But Avigail was the surviving family member with the most serious injuries. Not only did she lose her unborn daughter, she suffered bleeding in her brain and in her lungs, and spent six months on life support — unresponsive and unaware of anything going on around her. Now, Avigail remains confined to a wheelchair, and she will be for the rest of her life, unable to care for herself or her family.

The Voice is calling for readers to help the Tarrant County DA's office, which has officially "adopted" the Castro-Martinez family for the holidays. They're looking for donations of "in-kind" items, such as a wheelchair for Avigail, a shower chair, and toys for the kids. Deets on how to help may be found at The Voice, along with this heartening, thoroughly pro-family message:

I know that we have plenty of people here in our own LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities that need our help this holiday season. I am not saying we should ignore them. But I just think we should remember that we don’t have to restrict ourselves to just helping our own. When you get right down to it, we’re all in this together.

[Photo: Courtesy of The Dallas Voice]

Tonight, Queer Rising Will Occupy Times Square

TimesSquareWhere do queer homeless kids go on Xmas? That's what the ginormous billboard above Times Square's Forever 21 will ask passersby beginning at 6 p.m., as Queer Rising stages a demonstration below. The billboard will also offer the curious a phone number to call, if they really want to know about the unlucky kids' holiday plans: "Cuomo: 518-474-8390."

The homeless youth population is disproportionately made up of LGBT folk. And what scant resources are availible to them are chronically under-funded and under-licensed.


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