State Senator Mark Leno has introduced a resolution urging California’s largest pension funds to ban future investments in Russia. At issue are new Russian laws that Leno says “promote the ongoing persecution of LGBT people in that country.” Local activists are also calling on companies like Coca-Cola to pull their sponsorship of the Winter Olympic games in Russia — and recent San Francisco protests have targeted the Russian consulate and the Russian Orthodox Church, which is backing the new laws.

Mark Leno, California state senator (D) representing District 3
Andranik Migranyan, director of the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation, a Russian-funded think tank in New York
Julie Dorf, senior adviser at the Council for Global Equality

  • thucy

    “State Senator Mark Leno has introduced a resolution urging California’s largest pension funds to ban future investments in Russia.”

    I wonder if Russian politicians ever considered introducing a resolution urging Russia’s largest pension funds to ban future investments in the US, given the grotesque human rights abuses enacted against (mostly) African-Americans in our for-profit prison system. We have the largest per-capita prison population in the world, made up of the poor, who cannot afford US justice. Who are we to point the finger at Russia? They terrorize gays, we keep on terrorizing blacks.

    • microlith

      Who are we to point the finger at Russia?

      Oh, oh, I love tu quoque arguments, they’re such wonderful fallacies! While I agree that the prison system is a complete disaster, it in no way defends Russia’s scapegoating of homosexuals- particularly those who have committed no crimes.

    • geraldfnord

      If every nation waited to be perfect before pointing-out another nation’s flaws, it would never happen, and I think we’d be worse for it.

      For example, the criticism of Jim Crow by agents of Stalin’s Russia did help to spur us to improve, though we still have far to go; truth is truth no matter how flawed the teller.

    • Rango


      American blacks are known for their homophobia. Is that the reason for your statement?

      • thucy

        That presumes I’m black, which I’m not.
        Further, pointing out that the US commits worse human rights abuses does not, in any manner, constitute homophobia. Nor does it attempt, in any manner, to justify homophobia here or in Russia. It merely points to a certain solipsism within the US LGBT movement.

        • Rango

          So if one restaurant has sexist cooks who grab waitresses’ buttocks, but their pantry is clean, you’re saying they can’t tell a restaurant with a rat-filled pantry to clean up its act.

          Learn about tu quoque:

  • disqus_CDllhSCc6z

    Many are not aware of it, but gay men cannot donate organs or tissues after death in the US. A family member who was an organ donor and had multiple organs and tissues which were eligible for donation, was barred from donating those organs solely because the family knew that he had had sexual relations with a man. This does not mean we do not address what happens in other countries, but we still have a long way to go in the US as well.

    • geraldfnord

      Agreed: the problem is one of C.Y.A., as anyone who transmitted AIDS via an infected organ could easily be impoverished or suffer criminal penalty thereby…but no├Âne gets fired for a patient’s dying for lack of an organ that a healthy gay donor might have provided.

  • geraldfnord

    0.) Democracy is one technology of freedom, but human rights that are protected irrespective of what the majority may want is another.
    1.) It is disingenuous to say that being gay were tolerable, but appearing to be gay and saying you feel good about it were ‘propaganda’ and a criminal offence.
    2.) …and doubly so disingenuous to encourage or to turn a blind eye to armed thugs’ violence toward gays…or the tradition of hazing in the Russian military that has always included rape.
    3.) Consider it a compliment: you are an advanced-enough nation that we expect more of you.
    4.) See what happens when you lose too many Jews? You have to use other groups as your scape-goats, and you don’t have as much experience doing it.

  • Rango

    I grew up around homophobes and I can tell you, most of them are latent homosexuals who were taught by their culture and religion that it is OK to take their sexual frustrations out on uncloseted homosexuals.
    The argument that homophobia is a valuable part of any culture is completely bogus. And don’t get me started on religion, which is 100% fraudulent and founded on lies.

  • No_Slack_Jack

    This is a philosophical matter that gravity seems to be taking control of. Let’s just remember that thankfully, the USA is finally making dramatic forward progress on this same topic and only in the last few months. Americans largely agree that sexual orientation is NOT grounds for any kind of discrimination, and it has taken our 230 year-old nation that much time to come to this understanding.

    Up until less than 100 years ago, Russia was a feudal nation that within just a few weeks in 1917 became a modernized democratic state. There wasn’t a lengthy maturation to this process and it’s safe to say Russians are still developing a democratic national psyche, and it’s probably not fair to expect Russia to see things the same as Westerners do. Impatience may not be helpful; remember, the goal should be for Russians to become virtuous by their own hands, not by ours — positive reinforcement is proven to be far more effective than negative reinforcement.

    That said, it is very reasonable to expect every nation in the world that wants to be engaged and respected on the global stage to play by the rules and accept criticism. In this case, if the other global players demand improvements on a given topic in order to “play ball,” then the Russians can either accede or accept the consequences. Discrimination is morally wrong anywhere, any time, and is all too often at the core of much bigger wrongs.

    • thucy

      If Americans even had a clear understanding of the sacrifices Russians (and the rest of the USSR) made during WWII, we might see things differently.

      Most Americans can’t tell you the disparity in US casualties vs. Soviet casualties, and the enormous toll that losing 27 million to defeat Hitler took on Russian and Soviet family structure. You can’t lose 27 million and not have it impact a country’s psyche.

  • roo02

    For the past three years, the Legislature has IGNORED the UCLA/RAND
    report (Gary Blasi, co-author) on the STATEWIDE FAILURE to enforce the
    HOUSING ACT(FEHA), the first comprehensive review of the
    anti-discrimination employment statutes in the 50 years since its

    separate and unequal administrative and legal systems… provide little
    protection for employees in low-wage occupations, racial minorities,
    and women, with substantial disparities in access, outcome, and

    Senators Mark Leno, Ellen Corbett, and Bill Monning
    attended that 2/23/10 hearing as members of the Judiciary but have DONE NOTHING since then.

    Why isn’t Forum discussing this?

  • MattCA12

    Andranik Migranyan is such an odious individual that I had to turn off the program. The Russian government is the most corrupt, venal, and decadent amongst all those in the world purporting to be a democracy. Our athletes should go to Moscow, and all wave rainbow flags on TV. We must show them where we stand.

    • thucy

      Surely Russia is all those things you claim, but the MOST decadent? the MOST corrupt? I think you might want to look more closely at our own serious problems with corruption, our decadently deadly military force, our human rights abuses in prisons right here in the Bay Area…
      Why, Matt, do we have more per capita prisoners than Russia? Why are blacks disproportionately prosecuted for the same crimes as whites in the US?

      • MattCA12

        Yes, without question. The US isn’t even in the same league, and the fact that you make this kind of comparison illustrates just how little you have to say on the subject.

        • thucy

          That’s an interesting claim, Matt. But you utterly failed to answer the two questions I posed:
          “Why, Matt, do we have more per capita prisoners than Russia? Why are blacks disproportionately prosecuted for the same crimes as whites in the US?”

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