Hearse Carrying Rep. John Lewis Pauses At Rainbow Intersection

The hearse carrying the late Rep. John Lewis pauses at Rainbow Intersection

As the motorcade for the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) made its way through the streets of Atlanta on Wednesday heading to the Georgia State Capitol, the hearse carrying his body paused in tribute to his support for the LGBTQ community at an intersection marked by rainbow-painted crosswalks.

Supporters were already waiting at Piedmont and 10th Street where the scheduled stop had been previously announced.

When the hearse paused in the intersection, supporters clapped and cheered the memory of the civil rights legend. And as the motorcade resumed its journey, Terrence James, a downtown Atlanta resident, began singing “We Shall Overcome.”

In addition to his lifelong commitment to equal rights for Black Americans, Lewis was an early ally to the LGBTQ community

In 1996, long before gay rights were widely embraced by mainstream America, Lewis took to the floor of the House of Representatives to denounce the heinous anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a “mean” and “cruel” bill.

“This bill seeks to divide our nation, turn Americans against Americans, to seed fear, hatred, and intolerance,” declared Lewis. “Marriage is a basic human right. You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love.”

A few years later, he penned an op-ed for the Boston Globe urging equal rights for LGBTQ Americans.

“This discrimination is wrong,” he wrote in 2003. “We cannot keep turning our backs on gay and lesbian Americans. I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation.”

“I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred, and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.”

And in 2017, he compared the struggles by the LGBTQ community to those of other marginalized Americans.

“It doesn’t matter whether they are black or white, Latino, Asian American or Native American, whether they are straight or gay, Muslim, Christian or Jews,” Lewis said during a Congressional hearing. “We all live in the same house. The American house.”

Rest in power, Rep. John Lewis.

Obama: “There’s Nothing Weak About Being Honorable”

President Barack Obama speaks at tribute to Rep. Elijah Cummings (screen capture)

Seeing President Obama speak at the memorial tribute for recently deceased Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) was a stark reminder of the power of eloquence and dignity.

“There’s nothing weak about being honorable. You’re not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect.”

(sigh)

Watch the clip below. Rest in power, Elijah Cummings.

Donald Trump Finally Issues Statement Honoring Sen. John McCain

Donald Trump

Donald Trump finally issued a statement honoring recently deceased Sen. John McCain.

From the White House press office:

Despite our differences on policy and politics, I respect Senator John McCain’s service to our country and, in his honor, have signed a proclamation to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff until the day of his interment. I have asked Vice President Mike Pence to offer an address at the ceremony honoring Senator McCain at the United States Capitol this Friday.

At the request of the McCain family, I have also authorized military transportation of Senator McCain’s remains from Arizona to Washington, D.C., military pallbearers and band support, and a horse and caisson transport during the service at the United States Naval Academy. Finally, I have asked General John Kelly, Secretary James Mattis, and Ambassador John Bolton to represent my Administration at his services.

Trump was famously not invited to attend McCain’s funeral.

Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in runs for the White House, have been invited to speak at McCain’s funeral.

Much was made of the fact that the American flag at the White House, after flying at half-mast for only a day, returned to full staff today.

Trump issued a proclamation late today ordering the flag to be “flown at half‑staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.”

Some believe the change of heart came after the American Legion issued a statement asking Trump to return to a decades-long tradition of flying the flag at half-staff upon the passing of a sitting U.S. senator.

After almost 60 years, an honorable discharge at last

US Marine Hal Faulkner receives his new Marine papers after almost 60 years

Seventy-nine year old Hal Faulkner, dying of terminal cancer, had one last wish.

Having entered the US Marines in 1953, he was given a dishonorable discharge in 1956.  The discharge papers read “homosexual.”  He avoided sharing that unearned shame with most for decades.

Although Faulkner had only come out to his family in 2005, with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Faulkner asked his family for help with one last wish as his health waned.

He wanted his military record upgraded to clear his name. Time, however, was growing short. A correction of military records usually takes at least six months, as well as a lawyer.

The activist group OutServe-SLDN helped Faulkner get a pro-bono lawyer from the New York firm Winston & Strawn.

When lawyer Anne Brooksher-Yen saw the case and the time frame, she was worried, even when the military agreed to expedite the case.

“I didn’t know whether expedited was going to mean six weeks or six months,” Anne Brooksher-Yen says. “So I did have a conversation with him that we might not be able to get this done before he died.”

The Marines acted on his dying request in just two weeks. Last Friday in Florida, a small group presented Faulkner with his honorable discharge.

For Faulkner, it was never about the benefits, says his lawyer Anne Brooksher-Yen.

“It was really overwhelming seeing Hal finally have this wrong righted,” she says. “He is such a wonderful loving man, and he served with honor in the military and it was so important to him.”

“I don’t have much longer to live,” Faulkner said, “I will always be a Marine. Thank you. Semper fi.”

The young marines answered him back with the Marines battle cry: “Oorah.”

Fred Sainz of the HRC says many discharged as gay don’t know they could file for possible “honorable discharge” status. Such a change in paper work could lead to many well-deserved benefits like access to VA loans and health care.

Listen to the story from NPR:

(h/t TRR reader Candi)

K-9 Police farewell salute goes viral

A K-9 police dog in Massachusetts was honored by officers Friday as he was walked to the animal hospital where he would be put down, CBS Boston reports:

Plymouth Police gathered Friday to say goodbye to their friend and K-9 partner German Shepherd Kaiser.

On Wednesday, the Plymouth Police Working Dog Foundation announced that Kaiser was suffering from kidney failure and would be laid to rest on Friday.

“Kaiser battled this disease with vigor and toughness like I have never seen before. Although, as of late, the disease has taken the upper hand forcing him out of his craft and ultimately out of this world,” Officer Jamie Lebretton wrote on the foundation’s Facebook page.

Kaiser, who worked with Officer Lebretton, was laid to rest in the Angel View Pet Cemetery in Middleboro. The photo above, for obvious reasons, has gone viral on social media.

Wrote Lebretton on Facebook:

RIP my boy. I could not have asked for a better partner or friend. May you rest easy and wait for me at that sacred bridge. I will be there my friend. I will be there. I will never forget you or our accomplishments. You made me a better person, a better handler, and a better cop. Till we meet again kai. I love you and will miss you daily.

And to my boys and blue. Never in my career have i ever been so proud. You out did yourselves today. I could not have asked for a better send off. Kaiser truly was part of the department and loved being a police dog. My fellow K-9 handlers, you are a cut above and showed everyone what being a handler is all about…our pups. I thank each of you and you have my respect forever.

Kenny Ballinger and Marc Higgins, thank you for being there for my family and i as we weathered the storm. It was difficult, but i gained strength through you.

Lastly, to all of you who sent your regards over the past few days…I thank you. I read every single post and listened to every message. Kaiser served you well and the streets of Plymouth were safer when he was on patrol. The compassion was overwhelming and i am humbled at the support from perfect strangers.

God Bless you all.

(from source)

Harvey Milk commemorative stamp on it’s way?

Since 2009, there have been ongoing efforts to get the U.S. Postal Service to issue a Harvey Milk stamp.

Could it be on the horizon?

From The Bay Area Reporter:

Linn’s Stamp News, a weekly publication that covers the mail service, is reporting in its May 27 issue that Milk was among the special stamps chosen for next year by the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee during its closed door meetings earlier this year.

An anonymous source sent Linn’s a copy of the panel’s January 31 and February 1 meeting minutes where 2014 stamps were debated and chosen. It included a notation that the minutes regarding the Milk stamp, along with a number of other choices, had been approved at an April 13 meeting.

Reporter Bill McAllister, who provided the Bay Area Reporter with a copy of the article posted to the website of the subscription-only publication May 13, cautioned in the story that “there is no certainty” that the Milk or other listed stamps would be issued in 2014. The documents McAllister was provided, nonetheless, list the Milk stamp for release in May next year.

(source)