"We stood firm for the civil rights of every Iowan by saying loudly and clearly that any and all efforts to add discriminatory amendments to our state constitution have no place in our state constitution. Regardless of our personal views, we have a line that needs to be drawn between the executive branch and the judicial branch and I think Iowans are ready to move on and accept that unanimous decision." - Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, congratulating the state legislature for refusing to consider a constitutional amendment overturning same-sex marriage. This week is the one year anniversary of marriage equality in Iowa.JMG
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
"The folly of the SPLC’s expanding 'hate' dragnet is that it threatens to engulf all religious/moral opposition to homosexuality. Indeed, it would be revealing to query the top 25 'GLBT' activist across the nation and ask them if they would also label, as Matt Barber pokes fun HERE, the following as 'hate groups': Family Research Council, AFA, the Roman Catholic Church, Focus on the Family, the Southern Baptist Convention and ADF. Wayne Besen, Evan Hurst, Joe Jervis, Jeremy Hooper, Rea Carey: take up the challenge!" - Peter LaBarbera, in his seventh consecutive post whining about being named a hate site by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Since you asked, Petey, yes, I do consider your named groups to be hate-centered. Therefore I accept your challenge to help you expand the SPLC's list. It's clear that you want more company on that list in order to take the sting out of your having been singled-out, so let's try to make the hurt go away. In alphabetical order and just off the top of my mind, here are some asshat groups whose campaigns of oppression and hate are just as evil as yours.
The 2010 Peter LaBarbera Hate Challenge!
The following evil and hate-filled organizations devote a large amount of their time and resources to thwarting the civil rights of LGBT people in the United States. They do this through lies, slander, buying politicians, and the demonizing of LGBT Americans in the public's mind.
Alliance Defense Fund
American Family Association
Americans For Prosperity
Center For Military Readiness
Concerned Women For America
Family Policy Network
Family Research Council
Family Research Institute*
Focus On The Family
Illinois Family Institute
Maine Family Policy Council
Morality In Media
National Organization For Marriage
Parents & Friends Of Ex-Gays
Parents Television Council
Republican National Committee
Roman Catholic Church
Traditional Values Coalition*
(*Already listed by SPLC.)
I'm sure I've made a few glaring omissions for this list. Readers, feel free to suggest others.
This weekend's feature article in New York Times Magazine deals with homosexuality in the animal kingdom. Here's an excerpt:
Various forms of same-sex sexual activity have been recorded in more than 450 different species of animals by now, from flamingos to bison to beetles to guppies to warthogs. A female koala might force another female against a tree and mount her, while throwing back her head and releasing what one scientist described as “exhalated belchlike sounds.” Male Amazon River dolphins have been known to penetrate each other in the blowhole. Within most species, homosexual sex has been documented only sporadically, and there appear to be few cases of individual animals who engage in it exclusively. For more than a century, this kind of observation was usually tacked onto scientific papers as a curiosity, if it was reported at all, and not pursued as a legitimate research subject. Biologists tried to explain away what they’d seen, or dismissed it as theoretically meaningless — an isolated glitch in an otherwise elegant Darwinian universe where every facet of an animal’s behavior is geared toward reproducing. One primatologist speculated that the real reason two male orangutans were fellating each other was nutritional.Wingnut logic: Homosexual acts are not natural! Then why do so many animals do it? What are you, an ANIMAL? Well, yes.
In recent years though, more biologists have been looking objectively at same-sex sexuality in animals — approaching it as real science. For Young, the existence of so many female-female albatross pairs disproved assumptions that she didn’t even realize she’d been making and, in the process, raised a chain of progressively more complicated questions. One of the prickliest, it seemed, was how a scientist is even supposed to talk about any of this, given how eager the rest of us have been to twist the sex lives of animals into allegories of our own. “This colony is literally the largest proportion of — I don’t know what the correct term is: ‘homosexual animals’? — in the world,” Young told me. “Which I’m sure some people think is a great thing, and others might think is not.”
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
The percentage of people saying homosexuality is "never justifiable" is diving in all the countries surveyed. Including here, until starting around 2000, thanks to Karl Rove and the Bush II years. Still, I suppose we should at least by heartened by the overall change since the survey began.
(Via - Andrew Sullivan)
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- After years of keeping quiet about his personal life, pop star Ricky Martin has announced that he is gay.
"I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man," Ricky said in a message posted on his offical Web site. "I am very blessed to be who I am."
Monday, March 29, 2010
Tales Of The City Musical To Get San Francisco World Premiere
The musical version of Armistead Maupin's Tales Of The City will see its world premiere in San Francisco next summer.
"Tales of the City," a new musical adaptation of Armistead Maupin's famed stories - created with veterans of "Avenue Q" and members of the rock band Scissor Sisters - will receive its world premiere in the American Conservatory Theater's 2010-11 season. Bill Irwin, Harold Pinter, and a new take on Sartre's "No Exit" are also featured in the ambitious lineup to be announced today by Artistic Director Carey Perloff, along with the previously announced, three-theater staging of Tarell Alvin McCraney's "The Brother/Sister Plays" trilogy.Like uncountable thousands of gay men, I decided I needed to live in San Francisco once I read the first volume of Tales In The City. And in 1994 I practically tackled Armistead Maupin for an autograph in the middle of Fifth Avenue as he lead the television cast of Tales Of The City to their place in the Stonewall 25 Pride parade. He kindly introduced me around and to this day I can't even remember meeting anyone else. Laura Linney? Olympia Dukakis? Who knows? Today's bonus cool points: Both Maupin and Avenue Q's Jeff Whitty are JMG readers.JMG
"It's a wonderful valentine to the community in which we live," Perloff says of "Tales," noting that Maupin began his opus as a series of columns in The Chronicle. It's the kind of San Francisco story, like her own "The Tosca Project" this season, "that's a big part of the kind of work we want to make at ACT." Perloff acknowledges that "Tales" has Broadway aspirations, with the participation of "Avenue Q" librettist Jeff Whitty and director Jason Moore, and Scissors songwriters Jake Shears and John Garden. But the premiere "is an ACT production for ACT's audience," she says. "Clearly it's an extraordinary team, and it would be surprising if it didn't have a longer life. But that isn't the first imperative, which is to do a fantastic production for a fantastic city."
Retired Presbyterian minister Jane Spahr may face a church court trial for officiating same-sex marriages. Even though the marriages were legal at the time. This is the second time Spahr is facing church sanctions.
Spahr, who lives with her son and 6-year-old granddaughter in San Francisco, freely acknowledges the church's allegations that she married a lesbian couple in June, 2008, and 15 other same-sex couples that year. “This is what we are called to do,” Spahr said, asserting, as she did before, that she conducted the marriages as a “matter of conscience.” But there is a new twist to the case. The 16 marriages that allegedly violate Presbyterian church law were conducted during the five-month period in 2008 when same-sex marriage was legal in California. Spahr's defender in the case, Scott Clark, said the church is “trying to sanction a minister for performing legal marriages. This is unprecedented.” JoAn Blackstone, who is the prosecutor, said the distinction is immaterial. The marriages may well have been legal under state law, she said, but were “expressly prohibited” by the same ruling that acquitted Spahr in 2008. Blackstone said the case hinges on “a narrow issue of church law” and is unrelated to the public debate over same-sex marriage.Interestingly, it appears that the church's "prosecutor" in the case is also a longtime gay rights advocate, something she says is irrelevant to the issue.
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A Major Whoopsie For Oklahoma's Haters
Remember when Oklahoma lawmakers passed a bill declaring the state exempt from the Matthew Shepard Act? It turns out the asshats cited the wrong federal bill number in their legislation and Oklahoma is actually now exempt from federal laws about reporting racial and religious discrimination.
In trying to strip gays and lesbians of their rights, the Oklahoma State Senate inadvertently cited the wrong section of the U.S. code. The bill stripped protections under Title 18 U.S. Code Section 245, but protections for sexual orientation and gender identity is actually under Section 249. From the bill:JMGSection 24A.12. Except as otherwise provided by state or local law, the Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma and agency attorneys authorized by law, the office of the district attorney of any county of the state, and the office of the municipal attorney of any municipality may keep its litigation files and investigatory reports confidential, except they shall keep their litigation files and investigatory reports confidential upon request of any federal agency when such request is made for the purpose of an attempt to investigate or prosecute an individual or individuals pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 245, except for those records of any individuals convicted pursuant to Section 850 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes.Section 245 of the Code refers to race and religious protections. Therefore, Oklahoma actually passed a statute allowing state law enforcement officials to keep information about crimes motivated by race or religion out of the hands of federal authorities.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Despite months of strenuous opposition from the right, openly lesbian Chai Feldblum has been appointed to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Chris Geidner at Metro Weekly reports:
Feldblum was nominated by President Barack Obama on Sept. 14, 2009, more than six months ago. Her confirmation hearing was held two months later, on Nov. 19, and her nomination received a favorable vote from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions on Dec. 10. Earlier this month, however, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid confirmed that a hold was being placed on all of the President's EEOC nominees, keeping them from receiving a vote of the full Senate.Christianist groups like the Illinois Family Institute (former home to Peter LaBarbera) had turned opposition to "radical activist" Feldblum into a fundraising campaign.
Obama granted a recess appointment today to all the EEOC nominees, including his nominee to serve as chair of the Commission, Jacqueline A. Berrien. Berrien, according to the White House, has served as the associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund since September 2004. In announcing the move, Obama said in a statement, ''The United States Senate has the responsibility to approve or disapprove of my nominees. But if, in the interest of scoring political points, Republicans in the Senate refuse to exercise that responsibility, I must act in the interest of the American people and exercise my authority to fill these positions on an interim basis.''
Momentum appears to be building for ending the ban on gays in the military. Read more...
By James Withers, contributing editor, 365Gay Blog 03.26.2010
Secretary of Defense Gates unveils new DADT rules. Read more...
Here's the European version of the map I posted earlier in the week. Green dots mean more Catholics, blue dots mean more Protestants.
UPDATE: I'm not really getting this map either. Maybe someone can suss out the methodology at the source.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Students Protest Against Gay Teen Derrick Martin Attending His Prom
While Derrick Martin's high school has grudgingly admitted that they had no rule in place to block him from bringing his boyfriend to the prom, some of his fellow students still don't want him there. In fact, they've held an anti-Derrick rally.
The rally’s organizer, Amber Duskin, sent text messages to high school students Wednesday asking them to show up. The senior said she asked her high school to return her prom ticket money and does not plan to attend because of Martin. “I don’t believe in going up there and dancing with gay guys like that,” she said. “It’s also not just him bringing a boy. It was bringing all this attention to it.” A group of college students also stopped by the rally but not to protest. “We’re for it,” said Carly Nobles, a Middle Georgia College student. “It takes a lot for someone to come out (as gay). “This is a small town. Some of these students are sheltered, and I don’t think they can think for themselves.” Martin said talk at school Thursday was that the prom committee may do away with the traditional “walk through” when students and their dates are announced as they enter the prom. He’s also heard some students are trying to have a separate prom.Saying they are upset about all the attention, Derrick's parents have kicked him out of the house and he is staying with friends for now. Two bright moments in this story is that tonight Derrick will be the guest of honor at a concert held by the Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus. And Derrick also reports that Ellen DeGeneres has invited him to appear on her show.
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Thursday, March 25, 2010
Since the Public Policy Institute of California began tracking attitudes on same-sex marriage in the year 2000, residents in the Golden State were always more likely to express opposition. But the latest survey, released Wednesday, found that 50 percent of residents now favor it and 45 percent are against it.make the jump here to read the article
by Lisa Keen
The health care reform legislation President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday does not include any of the pro-gay provisions sought by the LGBT community, yet the measure is expected to help thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS and others obtain coverage.
Other immediate effects of the bill include putting an end to insurers' practice of placing lifetime spending caps on policies and the end of insurance company discriminatory practices against people with chronic health needs, said a statement from the National Association of People with AIDS. (read more)
"I know your values, Madame Speaker, and I know that you strongly support ENDA. Now I want these young people to know what is in your heart. With the knowledge that health care reform has been achieved and that enough votes now exist in the House today to pass ENDA, will you work with Rep. George Miller, Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, to ensure that ENDA is passed out of committee and brought to the floor of the house immediately?
"I am writing this open letter to you and sharing it with my friends in the Courage Campaign and GetEQUAL communities, thousands of whom will sign a petition to you asking that ENDA be prioritized for passage now. You can read the petition and Americans can sign on to it here. Congratulations again on your historic achievement. Along with thousands of other people reading this letter, I wish you the best." - Cleve Jones, in an open letter to Nancy Pelosi requesting she move forward on ENDA. Sign the above-linked petition, which will be hand-delivered to Pelosi.
RELATED: Yesterday Barney Frank said that ENDA may be brought to a House vote as soon as mid-April.JMG
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
This week’s passage of historic health care legislation will improve the lives of millions of Americans, including many people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. To quote President Obama, “This isn’t radical reform, but it is major reform,” and while LGBT anti-discrimination provisions were not included in the final bill (pdf), the passage of health care reform is a momentous achievement that will save lives and will improve access to much-needed health care. Once reform is fully implemented, more than 95 percent of the country will have health insurance coverage, including 32 million who are currently uninsured. This matters to LGBT people because:
1. A disproportionate number of LGBT people are poor (pdf) and/or homeless due to pervasive discrimination. Extending health care coverage to an additional 32 million economically disadvantaged people will help a critically vulnerable segment of our community gain access to basic medical care.
2. Under the new law, adult children under the age of 27 will be allowed to stay on their families’ insurance policies, even after they leave home and/or graduate from college. Between 1 million and 9 million children are being raised by LGBT parents in the United States today and poverty rates for children of same-sex couples are twice as high as poverty rates (pdf) for children of different-sex married couples.
3. According to the Williams Institute , studies show that people in same-sex couples are more likely to be uninsured than are people in married different-sex couples. A 2006 survey of national data showed that 20 percent of people in same-sex couples were uninsured, compared with only 11.5 percent of married individuals.
4. A study analyzing the National Health Interview Survey found that women in same-sex couples were statistically significantly less likely to have health insurance than women in different-sex relationships.
5. Women will no longer be subjected to “gender rating,” a practice used by insurance companies to charge women more than men for the exact same policies—and under reform, maternity care will be covered.
6. Community health centers would receive an additional $11 billion (pdf), doubling the number of patients who can be treated regardless of their insurance or ability to pay.
7. Health insurance companies will no longer be allowed (pdf) to deny people coverage because of preexisting conditions. This provision will be a tremendous benefit to transgender people, people with HIV, and people with cancer, including the disproportionate number of lesbians who suffer with breast cancer.
Given how many lives and personal economies have been ruined due to unaffordable health care, this legislation will prevent disaster for millions of people. But we recognize that this bill comes at a cost. There is no coverage of undocumented immigrants, which is shameful. There are restrictions on reproductive freedom, which are outrageous and must be remedied. And the failure to include specific anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people is unconscionable. The final package also did not include a provision which would have eliminated the tax paid on domestic partner health benefits offered by employers.
LGBT individuals are entitled to health care free of prejudice and we must continue our work to eradicate barriers faced by LGBT people in accessing health care. We must advocate for a woman’s right to choose, a physician’s right to provide the care that he or she believes is medically appropriate and necessary to his or her patients without unwarranted interference from the government, and full and equal access to health care for all people, including equal access to assisted reproduction. NCLR is working with other civil rights organizations to protect and advance these precious human rights.
While this legislation is imperfect—a product of compromise—it is a foundation upon which to build. And while there is much work to be done, including adding anti-discrimination provisions for LGBT people, this unquestionably is a historic moment. President Obama just signed one of the most significant progressive laws passed in decades. This is a tremendous, hard won victory, and we must continue our work to fill the gaps left by this bill.
There is much to be learned by the long journey to passing this legislation, which teetered on the brink of defeat on several occasions. Our nation remains deeply polarized, with opponents of health care reform resorting to familiar fear-mongering and hate-filled tactics. Members of Congress who supported health care reform were targeted in appalling ways, and Tea Party activists hurled racist and anti-gay epithets at African American and openly gay Representatives. Our community is all too familiar with these opponents, the very same who support anti-LGBT ballot measures. However, this week we rose to victory and trampled their campaign of scare tactics and lies. That victory reverberates across the nation, and we must sustain this momentum, stay true to our vision, and not fall prey to divisiveness.
In the coming weeks, we will be put to the test again. Already, the debate over the reconciliation bill rages on in the Senate. We will see similar debates as President Obama pushes for comprehensive immigration reform and as our community fights for long overdue workplace protections and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
We are in historic times and we are witnesses to and participants in groundbreaking, but still flawed, victories. We all need to engage, get active, be involved, and sacrifice like never before to make certain that the changes we seek and the gains we make include our community. This has to be our time.
According to a Pentagon spokesperson, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will soon announce modifications to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“I think he is prepared to offer a way ahead on that subject this week. So stay tuned,” said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell. “Hopefully you’ll be seeing him later this week and (he) can address the changes that he is going to be making.”
These supposed changes follow the 45 day review Gates called for after he and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified in front of of the Senate Armed Services Committee. No one really knows what Gates will suggest, but one theory is the Defense Department will cease disciplinary hearings against gay troops who are outed by others.
The change is seen as a quick fix until a complete repeal of the ban can be passed by Congress
Defense Secretary Robert Gates will insist on high-level scrutiny of dismissals under the military's ban on openly gay service.
Gates was expected to announce on Thursday that that firings of enlisted personnel who violate the ban must be approved at the one-star level.Make the jump here to read the full article
Only yesterday we were cheering the news that Derrick Martin's Georgia high school had approved his request to bring a male date to the prom. But now his parents have kicked him out of the house. Derrick is staying with a friend for now, but has been getting kind messages of support from the LGBT community.
Many gay-rights activists are now posting the story on their Facebook pages. And an Atlanta filmmaker said he hopes to document the story. “I sent flowers to his high school,” said Randi Reitan, a resident of Eden Prairie, Minn., who sent a bouquet of yellow flowers with a rainbow-colored balloon to Bleckley County High on Tuesday to show her support. “We have a gay son. I wish he could’ve danced with a young man at his prom,” Reitan said. She also has offered to buy Martin and his date, who is from Tift County, boutonnieres to wear on prom night. Drew Dowdell from Pittsburgh is setting up a link on his Web site for people to leave donations for Martin to help buy the 18-year-old a limo ride to the prom. “I want to help Derrick have the best prom he can because I worry that anti-gay people in his school will be doing their best to ruin it for him,” Dowdell said. “I’m proud that he was willing to go to the school to make an issue about it.”
Our health care system is broken. There is no perfect legislation that could ever solve all the problems we have today and make everyone happy at the same time.Read Post | Comments
We would like to share with you this open letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi from Cleve Jones, a pioneering equal rights activist featured in the film "MILK," creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and Senior Advisor to the Courage Campaign.
Dear Speaker Pelosi --
I would like to express my deep appreciation and gratitude for your relentless perseverance in the passage of health care reform. Along with President Obama, your steadfast leadership and personal commitment has fundamentally changed the lives of millions of Americans.
You and I have known each other for a long time, since we first met as political organizers in San Francisco. I was proud when you were elected Speaker and proud again on Sunday night when you gave a powerful speech on the floor of the House of Representatives about the meaning of health care reform, eloquently asserting that:
"When it comes to health care for all Americans, 'All politics is personal.' It's personal for the family that wrote to me who had to choose between buying groceries and seeing a doctor. It's personal to the family who was refused coverage because their child had a pre-existing condition..."
This profound statement about the power of politics to change the lives of everyday people touched me deeply. And it reminded me of the opportunity we have right now to transform the lives of Americans again -- the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
As shocking as it may be to believe in the year 2010, LGBT people can still legally be fired from their jobs in at least 29 states of our country simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That's why the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is so vitally important.
Once passed, ENDA would provide to all Americans basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. As my friends at Pride at Work describe it, ENDA is "based on the labor principle that every worker should be judged solely on his or her merits as a worker" and is similar in nature to other federal civil rights laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
We've seen the passion you've brought to the challenge of passing health care reform. Now more than ever, we need your passion and skill to achieve the passage of ENDA.
As you know, many Americans in the LGBT community -- especially young people -- are increasingly frustrated and cynical about the pace of progress in Washington.
We want you to show them that cynicism is not the response at this time. They need to believe in the process, Madame Speaker, and you can restore their faith in this process by moving expeditiously to bring ENDA to a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.
I know your values, Madame Speaker, and I know that you strongly support ENDA. Now I want these young people to know what is in your heart.
With the knowledge that health care reform has been achieved and that enough votes now exist in the House today to pass ENDA, will you work with Rep. George Miller, Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, to ensure that ENDA is passed out of committee and brought to the floor of the house immediately?
I am writing this open letter to you and sharing it with my friends in the Courage Campaign and GetEQUAL communities, thousands of whom will sign a petition to you asking that ENDA be prioritized for passage now. You can read the petition -- and Americans can sign on to it -- here:
Congratulations again on your historic achievement. Along with thousands of other people reading this letter, I wish you the best.
Senior Advisor, Courage Campaign