Domestic violence: ‘keep it quiet’

The mayor of Mulberry, Fla., was attacked by his partner in the early morning hours of Friday, June 19.

According to news station WTSP Channel 10, 29-year-old Eugene Ornelas came home at 5 a.m. in the morning with someone he met at a local bar. Ornelas is Mayor Julian Mullis’ partner. The couple has two children.

From the story:

The attack allegedly happened on a peaceful street in Mulberry early Friday morning inside the home of Mayor Julian Mullis. It’s a home he shares with his two kids and 29-year-old Eugene Ornelas.

Mullis told police that he and Ornelas are in a relationship and live together as a family unit.

Things got heated, though, when Ornelas brought a stranger home from a club at five in the morning. Steve Peacock is the Interim Chief of Police in Mulberry and says, “It was Mr. Ornelas, who I guess lost his cool somehow, and began throwing articles inside the residence and attempted to strike Mr. Mullis at one point but missed.”

Mullis told police that Ornelas swung at him and has Jeckel and Hyde type episodes.

Ornelas was arrested and charged with domestic violence. It’s not the first time he’s been in trouble with the law. He’s faced a DUI, possession of a controlled substance and battery charge in the past.

Some nitwit, probably slightly anti-gay, told the news station that Mullis should have “kept it quiet.”

Reaction from people who live in Mulberry is mixed. Nancy Ladner says, “I don’t have a problem with homosexuality. I don’t. Everybody has their thing they have to do. But, he is a public image in our town and he needs to keep it quiet.”

Yeah… domestic violence should be kept quiet. My god, where do these people come from?

At least some level of sanity was collected by reporters:

Heidi Strickland says, “They need to concentrate on the problems of Mulberry, not the problem of Mr. Mullis and his family, okay? They’re going to have to deal with that. Just like you have to deal with your family and I have to deal with my family. But, as long as he’s performing his job to the means that he’s supposed to be doing which, so far I haven’t seen any disagreements, then that should be the issue.”

It is quite saddening that their mayor becomes the victim of a domestic violence situation and all folks care to look at or talk about is their mayor’s sexual orientation. Sad, sad, indeed.

Double-whammy: WTSP Channel 10 wasted no time playing on the public’s anti-gay, anti-transgender emotions. Their headline for the story: “Mulberry mayor attacked by live-in cross-dresser.” Shouldn’t the headline have been, “Mulberry mayor victim of domestic violence,” or something?

The U.S. Senate will debated a resolution, Senate Concurrent Resolution 26, apologizing for slavery and “Jim Crow” today

The resolution reads that the Senate…

Acknowledges the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery and Jim Crow laws;

Apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States, for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws; and

Expresses its recommitment to the principle that all people are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and calls on all people of the United States to work toward eliminating racial prejudices, injustices and discrimination from our society.

A better ending would be something that, oh, I don’t know, extends upon the that “principle that all people are created equal” thing they just talked about.

My recommended language: “…calls on all people the United State to work toward eliminating from our society the prejudices, injustices and discrimination against all people where ever and however it appears.”

Oh well… I guess the queers will get an apology of some sort in 2150 (that is, if we are even treated as full citizens by then).

The National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s largest anti-choice organization, will hold its annual convention in Charlotte June 18-20 (Charlotte Observer story here).

The group’s annual convention, being held at the Blake Hotel in Uptown Charlotte, will feature dozens of speakers, including anti-choice and anti-gay activists and leaders.

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It has become one of my biggest pet peeves (and, I do have many) since beginning work at a “real world” day job. When people offer complaint, they should also offer a suggestion for improvement or a solution. Criticism is fine by me, but it should be constructive.

1979_marchVeteran activist Cleve Jones has called for a march on Washington. He says it’ll be different from what most people think of as a “march on Washington.” None of the big flashy staging. None of the celebrity and fanfare. None of the circuit parties.

“This is a march – a demonstration – not Lollapalooza,” Jones told the Washington Blade. “It’s not a national political convention. We are trying to unite around a single, all uniting, all encompassing goal of equality.”

For the record: I think a march on Washington, in this day and time, is a bad idea. Jones is planning his march for October. Veteran gay activist David Mixner has called for one in November. Marriage advocate Robin Tyler says hold off to 2010. Whatever the date, whatever the time, there are several reasons why a march remains a bad idea: the money isn’t there, the time to plan and organize isn’t there and, even if the time and money suddenly appeared, national marches don’t accomplish squat.

In the days since Jone’s call for a march has become public discussion, we’ve seen plenty of similar reasons not to plan the event. An L.A.-based LGBT journalist put together a list of five reasons not to march. An Indiana-based blogger put together a similar but more comprehensive list of 10. In a thread of 80 comments (and likely more by the time you read this), citizens of the LGBT blogosphere weighed in on the topic at Pam’s House Blend.

And while there have been ideas for better uses of time and energy, what we haven’t seen as much are constructive alternatives to the march: ideas to turn whatever passion there is for a national march into real, change-inspiring, on-the-ground, long-lasting action. My five suggestions aren’t anywhere near exhaustive, complete or perfect, but, at the least, it is a start.

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Retiring “Matt Hill Comer”

I got a call today from a friend in Washington, D.C. He asked me, “Are you going by Matt Hill Comer or Matt Comer, because you’re using both.”

And, he would be right.

When I changed my last name in college (long story, read it here), I went by “Matt Hill Comer” as many of my friends, family and colleagues adapted to the new me. Over the past two years, I’ve slowly begun using “Matt Comer” in a variety of spaces; among them, my blog and on my bylines at Q-Notes.

“Matt Hill Comer” seemed like a great way to transition easily from “Matt Hill” to “Matt Comer.” I knew there’d always come a day when I’d vow to only ever use “Matt Comer.”

(Note to those thinking about changing names: It is an utter pain in the ass, but definitely worth it if you’re changing it for some deeper emotional or spiritual meaning.)

It is time for “Matt Hill Comer” to find its way into history. Today I bought up MattComer.net for my personal site, which lists my press clippings and short bio. It will replace the old url, MattHillComer.com.

So, goodbye Matt Hill Comer. Hello Matt Comer. ‘Tis the new me, all over again — sort of.

In a column for the conservative Townhall.com, anti-gay pastor Biship Harry Jackson, Jr., laments over the psychological and biological harms of children living outside of families headed up by one dad and one mom.

Among his facts:

Consider these statistics. Over half of Americans studied in a survey in 2001 by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government believe that the high number of single-parent families is a major cause of poverty. Studies also reveal that most Americans believe that welfare programs encourage single-parent families and teenage pregnancy.

Malcolm D. Williams in 1997, used a sample of 1,610 10-13 year-olds in a study. He found that children who learn to share significant ideas with their fathers had fewer behavior problems and developed stronger cognitive abilities than their peers.

Similar results were found in a 1995 study of 254 black adolescents living with both of their biological parents. Ninety-six percent of these boys said their fathers were their role models. In this study, only 44 percent of black adolescents who were not living with their fathers said their fathers were their role models.

The Journal of Family Psychology in 2000 reported a study of 116 African American students ages 10-13. The boys with married parents were found to have much higher levels of self esteem and a better sense of personal power and self-control compared to single-mother homes.

Repeatedly, scholarly studies focused on adolescence show that early onset of puberty in girls is a major problem. It is associated with negative psychological, social, and health problems. Depression, alcohol consumption, and higher teenage pregnancy rates are some of the results. An eight year study of girls and their families showed that a father’s presence in the home, with appropriate involvement in his children’s lives, contributed to later pubertal timing of the daughters in the seventh grade.

These studies and scores of others suggest what most Americans have always known: that both boys and girls, are deeply affected in both biological and psychological ways by the presence of their fathers. We have emphasized the father half of the biblical duo called “parents,” assuming the mother is intact within the family setting.

Sounds like some damn perfect arguments for divorce and requiring forced marriages, wouldn’t you say?

If he is so adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage because having two-parent, mom-dad homes are just so absolutely important and crucial, then I’m sure Jackson wouldn’t mind me signing him up to support two bills that would immediately fix his “nuclear family degradation” problem — two bills that would impact more children’s lives than all of the anti-gay marriage amendments put together:

1. The Sanctity of Marriage Act (SOMA) (a.k.a., the divorce ban). SOMA would ban divorce nationwide, thereby keeping healthy heterosexual, mom-dad parenting intact for all of our nation’s children
2. For the Future of our Children Act (FFCA). The FFCA would instantly change the plight of motherless and fatherless children across the country, by forcing young parents with unplanned pregnancies to immediately wed as soon as the female in the couple tested positive for a pregnancy. This bill would be historic, forever ridding our country of single parents everywhere!

Together with all of the “pro-family” advocates in the nation, Bishop Jackson could unveil the “Restoring America’s Marriages Relief and Aid Package,” including SOMA, FFCA and tax credits and stimulus checks for all parents who immediately disown their homo-sex-sinning children who fail to successfully complete the U.S. National Love Conquers Sexual Sin Trainings (disowned children will be deported to San Francisco, which will be involuntarily seceded from the Union and will become known as Degenerateland).

Yup, all that should do the trick. America would be on to a healthy, free and just existence for all!

Lemme hear a brother say, “Amen! Praise Jesus! Damn the queers!”

Good news from my childhood hometown and school system: The North Carolina Senate passed a “local bill” on Monday, changing current Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education elections from partisan to non-partisan. Already passed by the House and not in need of the governor’s approval, the bill is now law. The Winston-Salem Journal has the full report.

This welcome change from partisan to non-partisan elections is a longtime coming. Starting in 2010, non-partisan elections will benefit Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school children and open the door to electing more fair-minded and LGBT-friendly candidates like Sandra Mikush, who ran unsuccessfully on a non-partisan ballot in 2006.

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education has long been dominated by conservative, anti-gay Republicans. Among the most outspoken have been Buddy Collins, Donny Lambeth and Jeannie Metcalf.

In a Feb. 4, 2003 Journal article, Metcalf was quoted saying, “I think homosexuality is a sin. If they want to make fun of them, I don’t have a problem with it.”

By their very essence, non-partisan elections create an atmosphere in which more people untainted by the gotcha games of party politics have a better chance of being elected and serving their communities. If left to partisan politics, the Winston-Salem board would have surely remained as anti-gay and conservative as it has always been.

It remains to be seen whether the change to non-partisanship will bring about the much more needed change for the area’s LGBT students, who remain without fully-inclusive anti-bullying and non-discrimination protections. My guess is that non-partisan elections will bring those students closer to safety than ever before — if the General Assembly, by passing the School Violence Prevention Act, doesn’t do it for them first.


Obama: Defender of Discrimination?

Throughout the campaign and through his first few months in office, we’ve heard Obama and his assistants say that the president is still committed to repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Except, Obama’s administration isn’t fighting to repeal the ban. Instead, they’re fighting to defend it. The Associated Press reports (emphasis added):

The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a challenge to the Pentagon policy forbidding gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, granting an Obama administration request to maintain the Clinton-era “don’t ask, don’t tell” directive.

The court said it will not hear an appeal from former Army Capt. James Pietrangelo II, who was dismissed under the military’s policy.


In court papers, the administration said the appeals court ruled correctly in this case when it found that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is “rationally related to the government’s legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion.”


During last year’s campaign, President Barack Obama indicated he supported the eventual repeal of the policy, but he has made no specific move to do so since taking office in January. Meanwhile, the White House has said it won’t stop gays and lesbians from being dismissed from the military.

South Carolina’s Greenville News has a report on U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and his vision for the Republican Party.

Raju Chebium reports:

Since Democrats took control of Congress and the White House in January, the South Carolina Republican has sharpened his message of economic fundamentalism and is trying to get more Republicans to oppose what he calls the big-spending, big-government Democratic agenda.

But in the process he’s irked the moderate faction of the GOP, which accuses him of putting his ideology ahead of practicality and argues that the conservative wing has hijacked the party and tarnished its image.

“I see my role as reminding the American people of the principles that work, that made our country prosperous and successful — the principles of limited government, free markets and individual freedom,” DeMint told Gannett Washington Bureau in a recent interview.

Nothing about DeMint’s cute little soundbite is true. Time for a reality check, yes?

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Freedom of the Press? Not in Charlotte

The Charlotte Observer reports:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have launched an internal investigation into a confrontation between an officer and a WBTV (Channel 3) photographer in which a camera was damaged and the photographer detained.

The incident occurred near midnight Friday. Travis Washington, a photographer with Channel 3 for about three years, was sent to the scene of a fatal accident on Interstate 485 near Beatties Ford Road.

Washington and a photographer for WSOC (Channel 9) were shooting video of the scene from an embankment overhead, next to the Beatties Ford Road bridge, said Dennis Milligan, news director of Channel 3.

“A couple CMPD officers started shouting orders at him to stop shooting. And they approached and continued to shout orders to take his camera down.

“He felt like he was doing his job. He asked them why. A female officer stepped up and started to grab the camera out of his hands, and it fell to the ground. She told him, ‘Because you’re not showing proper respect to people in the accident.’”

Washington was then handcuffed and put into a cruiser, where he was held for about an hour before being released without charges. He was treated afterward at an emergency room for a minor back injury related to the confrontation, said Milligan, who went to the scene after the station’s assignment desk alerted him.

Police took no action against the Channel 9 photographer.

The incident was recorded. That video hasn’t been released because it hasn’t yet been made available to investigators.

Dennis Milligan, WBTV news director said, “We have a difficult situation here because it’s not up to the Police Department or any police officer to decide what a newspaper or television station or radio station gathers at the scene of an accident.

“I’m hoping this is a limited situation with a police officer who, for whatever reason, had a lapse of judgment. We’re concerned about our First Amendment rights being compromised in this situation.”

Robin Whitmeyer, news director for Channel 9 said she’d never heard of police officers ordering reporters to shut off their cameras. “We control the content, and they control the scene,” she told The Observer. “It’s not their choice to tell us what to shoot or not to shoot.”

Read the whole article here.