Spitzer Sputters: Republicans, it seems, account for the majority of sleazy sex scandals, but the Democrats do the illicit affair with theatrical flare. Who will ever forget presidential hopeful Gary Hart on the yacht "Monkey Business" with Donna Rice sitting in his lap or Bill Clinton taking it too far with the cigar?
New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer provided the latest Democratic doozie after it was revealed that he was "Client Number 9" in a prostitution sting. Trying to slither out of his role in the "ho-ring" he dragged his forlorn wife by the wedding ring on-stage for his press conference. This exploitation of his family was hardly a way to win sympathy and only exacerbated public disgust with a man who was once viewed as "Mr. Clean."
It is clear that Spitzer must immediately resign. What bothers me most about the incident is the extreme hypocrisy. The New York Times reports that as state attorney general, he prosecuted prostitution businesses with fervor. He grandstanded and raged that this industry was exploitative, involved in human trafficking, drug dealing and money laundering. On Staten Island, in 2004, Mr. Spitzer expressed particular indignation over 16 people arrested for upscale prostitution. There is simply no place in government for officials who badly abuse the public trust and apply a double standard to their own behavior.
Jamaica Boycott: Jamaica's anti-gay climate was "strongly condemned" this week by The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA). However, they offered a toothless response and failed to call for a much-needed boycott.
"IGLTA is in complete solidarity with Jamaica's own LGBT leadership, J-FLAG. Therefore, like J-flag, it is not our intention to provoke reprisals or political condemnation in Jamaica by supporting a global tourism boycott. We understand this step could be counter-productive to making true progress in that Caribbean nation, and instead we will focus on education, publicity and market competition to highlight and help curb these terrible abuses."
This was an abdication of leadership and the Jamaicans are likely laughing in their faces. If IGLTA hasn't noticed, reprisals are already happening on the island and political condemnation against homosexuality is frequent. Doing essentially nothing is rarely the answer. While cruising into the sunset may be good for business, it is no way to succeed at activism.
It is also disappointing that IGLTA is hiding behind J-FLAG - a Jamaican gay rights group. I do understand that JFLAG has an incredibly difficult job and I admire the courage of the group's leaders. But choosing to not place real outside pressure on Jamaican officials won't help the situation of gays on the island. Trading lasting change for the short-term illusion of peace has not traditionally worked and creates a mirage of progress.
From the civil rights movement to Stonewall to ACT-UP - conflict is often the best means of changing the social dynamics in society. I wonder if IGLTA would have scoffed at boycotting South Africa a few years ago because it would have created a tense situation?
To its credit, IGLTA announced it will "highlight the degrading situation in Jamaica, and call on all global hospitality industry leaders to unite in condemning this and any hostile and violent climate towards our community" at its upcoming 25th Anniversary Convention.
Unfortunately, this is not enough. The only way things will change in Jamaica is a full boycott that will hit Jamaica's elite in their pockets. IGLTA is basically endorsing the status quo because it is skittish about rolling up its sleeves, getting its hands dirty and engaging in real advocacy that will have a lasting impact.
Outrageous In Oklahoma: In an ominous sign for the GOP, Democrat Bill Foster won the reliably Republican seat that was previously occupied by House Speaker Dennis Hastert. The Democrats also now occupy former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's seat.
If you wonder why the GOP is collapsing, one just has to look at the bigoted comments made by Oklahoma House Rep. Sally Kern. In a speech to 50 supporters - and one person with a concealed tape recorder - Kern portrayed homosexuality as the largest threat to this nation - even more dangerous than terrorism.
Like a crazed, self-important martyr, Kern stepped-forward to defend her views. Earnest in her ignorance and defiant in her arrogance, the wild-eyed legislator appeared backwards and brainwashed. On a day when a bomber killed five U.S. soldiers in Baghdad, a week dominated by fears of recession and a month with painfully high gas prices, Kern was obsessing about gay people. This made her - and the GOP - seem freakishly out of touch with the bread and butter issues facing American families.
No matter what America's real problems are -- all the religious right seems to do is yell "ABORTION" and "HOMOSEXUALITY." The nation, including some younger Evangelicals, has grown weary of these two-note nags. If they don't change their tired tune, America may finally tune them out. At this point -- the right may finally accomplish its dream as we all scream Amen and Hallelujah!
It is disgusting and pathetic that the IGLTA is more interested in maintaining a cozy relationship with the Cruise Lines and the status quo than actually taking a stand that would ultimately benefit the gay travel industry -- and let's not forget about the lives of GLBT Jamaicans who live in fear of reprisal everyday or the GLBT tourists who've been maimed.
Imagine a safe, gay friendly tolerant Carribean that welcomes and encourages pink dollars. To characterize the IGLTA's position as short-sided is a massive under statement. How many more must suffer before the IGLTA will support a boycott until Jamaica cleans up its act?!
I'm going to take the time to write a note to each and every IGLTA Board Member to express my disgust with their inaction on the Jamaican Boycott -- and here are their emails - I hope you will too!
Matthew Skallerud,IGLTA Chairman MSkallerud@IGLTA.org