Here's the latest on the Don't Ask, Don't Tell vote, per Servicemembers United Executive Director Alex Nicholson (a former Columbia resident):
Tomorrow [Tuesday, September 21] the Senate will vote at 2:15 p.m. on cloture for the motion to proceed to debate on NDAA. All that means is that we need 60 votes tomorrow to move forward. The good news is that we had the 60 votes lined up (a few more than 60, in fact) and we were ready to move forward as NDAA normally does. The bad news is that Senator Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, just changed the terms of the debate to slight even the moderate Republicans who were lined up to vote with us to break the filibuster.
So now, this is where we are... either Senator Reid needs to change his mind and let at least some Republicans have an amendment or two of their own, or one or two Republicans need to vote to break the filibuster without the ability to offer any of their own amendments to other areas of NDAA.
So there are two things you can do:
1. You can call Senator Reid's office and tell him to return to the original terms of amendments and debate for NDAA (the original terms that had us the 60 votes locked down).
2. You can call the 5 Republicans who were either going to or likely to vote to break the filibuster under the original terms of debate for NDAA (Susan Collins, Dick Lugar, George Voinovich, Olympia Snowe, and Scott Brown) and ask them to vote to break the filibuster anyway.
My suggestion is that we all do BOTH! No one can be let off the hook here. Please call these senate offices today and tomorrow.
The Blade (of Washington) has provided contact information for the legislators mentioned:
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) Senate Majority Leader (202) 224-3542
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) (202) 224-2523
Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) (202) 224-4814
Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH) (202) 224-3353
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) (202) 224-5344
Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) (202) 224-4543
My fall resolution (who says they have to come just once a year?) is to post more here at the Gay Charleston blog. First up, a post I should have made a month ago. August's issue of Out magazine included a columnist's Lowcountry visit to Patti LuPone's Edisto Island home.
The Broadway legend famous for her turn as Evita and the recent revival of Gypsy moved to Edisto a few years ago. The profile fittingly begins with a trip to a local karaoke bar. Though LuPone doesn't get up on stage, she did stop by Jimmy Fallon's show last week. Here's the clip:
The pastor and parishioners of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., are getting a lot of attention this week with plans to burn copies of the Quran on Sept. 11. And it has pissed off the former go-to Christian fundamentalist church.
"We did it a long time before this guy," Shirley Phelps-Roper said in an interview with The Kansas City Star, referring to her family's Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church and a Washington, D.C., event two years ago where they burned the Quran with little fanfare.
Led by her father, Fred Phelps, the church is known more for condemning all of society than converting non-believers. The church's website, godhatesfags.com, says the nation will burn for accepting gays and lesbians and calls on Jews to repent. The group protests gay events, Jewish centers, and military funerals while linking disasters and death to the growing acceptance of gays and lesbians. Earlier this year, the church came to Charleston to protest a military conference, as well as local bases, public schools, and Jewish centers.
The small church is made up largely of Fred Phelps' children and grandchildren, but some have been able to escape. Nate Phelps, who left home at 18, will speak to Alliance for Full Acceptance, a local gay advocacy group, at 5:45 tonight at the Charleston Marriot on Lockwood Boulevard.
In 1976, Nate Phelps thought he'd left behind his father's hateful rhetoric and the narrow belief that none will be spared except for the Westboro congregation. But the church's growing prominence in the public debate over hate-filled messages and free speech led to phone calls from reporters and fostered his own ongoing struggle internally.
"I was still so steeped in what I was taught, I felt my leaving was traitorous." In the big picture sense, he was taught it was a ticket to hell. But Nate Phelps says his father also preached that anything bad that happened to those who left the church was God's punishment for their abandonment. That reasoning has brought some back to the flock when they've struggled on their own, Nate Phelps says.
His father often preached against gays as incapable of redemption, so he says it's not surprising that the church would focus its anger on the LGBT community.
"This was just a perfect fit for him," Nate Phelps says of his father.
As the reports of the protests grew, his first concern was that it would enable the church.
"I was worried that people were going to embrace him," Nate Phelps says of his father. While it has become increasingly obvious that the nation won't ascribe to Westboro's values, Nate Phelps has heard from individuals who came to believe they were condemned to hell because of his father's message.
"People are hearing this stuff and they aren't just in metaphorical pain, they are physically suffering," he says. "I have this unique perspective — do I just ignore it or do I do something with it."
He's doing something with it, speaking in front of groups like AFFA on escaping Christian fundamentalism and gay rights. For more info, visit natephelps.com.