Thread: Queer News

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  1. #261
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    Shills for the right-wing agenda are apoplectic over Dan Savage again—this time because he mocked students who walked out of his speech at a journalism conference sponsored by the Journalism Education Association.
    “We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation,” he told the National High School Journalist Conference in Seattle. “We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things.”
    Addressing some students who walked out of his talk, Savage said “You can tell the Bible guys in the hall they can come back now because I’m done beating up the Bible. It’s funny as someone who is on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible how pansy-assed people react when you push back.’
    Head capo Jimmy LaSalvia of GOProud was there to defend the defenseless:
    “Dan Savage should apologize for his comments and should apologize to the high-school students in attendance whom he called ‘pansy-asses… It is ironic that someone whose claim to fame is fighting bullying would resort to bullying tactics in attacking high school students who were offended by his outrageous remarks.
    Dan Savage’s outrageous anti-Christian tirade hurts—not helps—the fight for gay rights in this country… There is nothing incompatible between being a Christian and believing that all people should be treated equally, and Dan Savage’s attacks on Christianity only fuel those on the extremist fringe who oppose gay rights.”
    Actually Savage should be commended for illustrating how some so-called Christians want the freedom to speak against gay people but not the responsibility of hearing any reaction to their opinions. Freedom of speech is not freedom from criticism. You ain’t a victim, honey.
    Could Savage have used a little more tact in addressing those budding journos? Probably, but if they can’t handle hearing someone say not nice things about them, they might want to consider a different career path. Trust.
    P.S: See source for video

    Gay-rights activists took to the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka on Thursday to protest a bill that would allow landlords, employers and business owners to discriminate against people who violate their religious beliefs. The Wichita Eagle reports that nearly 100 protestors came to speak out against SB 142, a.k.a. the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act. “It is legislative abuse, it is legislative bullying and it is legislative dictatorship and it should not be permitted,” said Kansas Equality Coalition’s Pedro Irigonegaray.
    But bill sponsor Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe)—who previously fought to keep Kansas’ sodomy laws on the books even after Lawrence v. Texas—told the Eagle the protestors were wrong about SB 142. “We want to make sure that people of religious faith in Kansas are not subject to laws that discriminate against them based upon their exercising the right to practice their faith.”
    Translation: We want to make sure we can treat LGBT people like second-class citizens and then wrap ourselves in the First Amendment if anyone complains.
    The bill—which would ban religious discrimination based on gender, race or ethnicity but not sexual orientation or gender presentation—passed the House 91-33 and now heads to the Senate for debate and a possible vote.

    Beth Scott, a 44-year-old transgender woman from New Jersey, successfully appealed a decision by Aetna to deny her coverage for a mammogram after a doctor recommended she undergo the procedure, reports the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF). Throughout the appeals process Aetna refused to cover the mammogram, stating Scott’s policy didn’t cover treatments “related to changing sex.” But with the help of TLDEF, Scott was able to successfully argue that a mammogram has nothing to do with changing gender.
    “I was denied access to the same health care benefits that my co-workers receive,” says Scott. “While I’m hopeful that my employer will soon eliminate the transgender health exclusion altogether, I’m relieved to know that the existing exclusion can no longer be used to unfairly deny me other needed health care like a cancer screening just because I’m transgender.”
    A statement from TLDEF indicates the decision will have an impact on future trans patients:
    Aetna reversed its position and paid for Ms. Scott’s mammogram in full. It agreed that the policy exclusion for transgender health care will apply only to treatments prescribed to change an individual’s sex characteristics, and not to any other medically necessary care. Additionally, Ms. Scott secured changes to the health plan ensuring that transgender people can access all necessary sex-specific care, such as prostate exams and gynecological care, regardless of whether they are categorized as male or female in insurance records. Many transgender people have claims rejected when an insurance company asserts that the procedure is not covered because it does not match the sex listed in the policyholder’s records. The plan will also allow individuals to correct the sex on their insurance records by presenting an updated ID such as a driver’s license, passport or birth certificate.
    Most health-insurance carriers still refuse to cover costs relating to gender transitioning, such as for surgery or hormones.

    A gay sailor and marine got engaged at Camp Pendleton in San Diego this week—the first out couple to do so on a military base, reports the San Diego LGBT Weekly. On Tuesday, Navy veteran Cory Huston got down on one knee and asked Marine Avarice Guerrero to marry him—and Guerrero said yes! Unfortunately the pair will have to tie the knot outside of California if they don’t want to wait until Prop 8 finishes working its way through the courts.
    And even if they went to New York or Vermont to get hitched, they wouldn’t be eligible for military housing or spousal benefits. (Thanks DOMA!)
    Despite the bittersweet aspects of their union, Huston was ecstatic after popping the question when Guerrero returned from deployment in Afghanistan. “This is a huge step for me,’ said Huston, who was discharged from the Navy during the days of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
    After accepting the proposal, Guerrero told the paper ““I was blown away. I was shocked that after all we’d been through, he would honestly want to spend the rest of his life with someone like me.”

    David J. Sims, a board member on the Ohio River Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America, has announced his resignation in solidarity with Jennifer Tyrrell (right, with family), the Ohio mom who was terminated as a troop leader because she’s a lesbian. In a letter to council leader Bob Drury, obtained by GLAAD, Sims said the BSA’s treatment of Tyrrell “goes against my fundamental beliefs of how we should treat our fellow human beings.”
    Dear Bob:
    It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I write to you today to inform you that I am resigning as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ohio River Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
    Yesterday, after receiving the email from Paul Tucker, I first learned the story of Jennifer Tyrrell, the den leader for Pack 109′s Tiger Scouts in Bridgeport, Ohio, who was removed as leader solely due to her sexual orientation. I understand that this action was taken as a result of a standing policy of the Boy Scouts of America and that said action is legal. However, Ms. Tyrrell’s removal goes against my fundamental beliefs of how we should treat our fellow human beings and is, in my opinion, wholly discriminatory. I understand that the Boys Scouts of America is free to run its organization as it sees fit, however, I can not formally be a part of it based upon this policy.
    My grandfather was an Eagle scout, my father was an Eagle scout and I am an Eagle Scout. Other than his family and his Christian faith, the most important thing in my father’s life was the Boy Scouts. The lived and breathed scouting. That is what makes this decision so exceedingly difficult and emotional. However, I know that my father would support my decision.
    Best wishes to you, Ohio River Valley Council and the Boy Scouts of America in future endeavors. I hope that the powers that be will look into their hearts and find the wisdom and courage to re-examine the policies of the Boy Scouts of America.
    Sincerely yours,
    David J. Sims
    We don’t know if Sims has children, but if he does he’s teaching them a lesson they’d never get in the Scouts. Is there a merit badge for integrity?

    David J. Sims, a board member on the Ohio River Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America, has announced his resignation in solidarity with Jennifer Tyrrell (right, with family), the Ohio mom who was terminated as a troop leader because she’s a lesbian. In a letter to council leader Bob Drury, obtained by GLAAD, Sims said the BSA’s treatment of Tyrrell “goes against my fundamental beliefs of how we should treat our fellow human beings.”
    Dear Bob:
    It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I write to you today to inform you that I am resigning as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ohio River Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
    Yesterday, after receiving the email from Paul Tucker, I first learned the story of Jennifer Tyrrell, the den leader for Pack 109′s Tiger Scouts in Bridgeport, Ohio, who was removed as leader solely due to her sexual orientation. I understand that this action was taken as a result of a standing policy of the Boy Scouts of America and that said action is legal. However, Ms. Tyrrell’s removal goes against my fundamental beliefs of how we should treat our fellow human beings and is, in my opinion, wholly discriminatory. I understand that the Boys Scouts of America is free to run its organization as it sees fit, however, I can not formally be a part of it based upon this policy.
    My grandfather was an Eagle scout, my father was an Eagle scout and I am an Eagle Scout. Other than his family and his Christian faith, the most important thing in my father’s life was the Boy Scouts. The lived and breathed scouting. That is what makes this decision so exceedingly difficult and emotional. However, I know that my father would support my decision.
    Best wishes to you, Ohio River Valley Council and the Boy Scouts of America in future endeavors. I hope that the powers that be will look into their hearts and find the wisdom and courage to re-examine the policies of the Boy Scouts of America.
    Sincerely yours,
    David J. Sims
    We don’t know if Sims has children, but if he does he’s teaching them a lesson they’d never get in the Scouts. Is there a merit badge for integrity?

    At the White House Correspondents Dinner last night in Washington, DC, host Jimmy Kimmel took some gay-friendly potshots at former GOP presidential contenders Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
    Addressing Santorum’s opposition to marriage equality, Kimmel said, “it’s one thing to oppose gay marriage. It’s another all together to do it in a sweater vest.”
    Kimmel teased Gingrich—the infamous serial adulterer who also opposed same-sex unions—about his weight: “How can you be against gay marriage when you yourself are the son of two gay parents? The Michelin [Man] and the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man.”
    The late-night talk-show host admitted he’s stumped why anyone would be against marriage equality, saying all marriages are essentially gay. “As a man, when you get married essentially what you’re saying is, “I will never touch another woman as long as I live. Now let’s put jewelry on each other and dance.’”
    Even President Obama got in on the act when addressing his Administration’s work on repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: “In my second term, we will replace it with a policy known as ‘It’s Raining Men.’”
    P.S: See source for video
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  2. #262
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    On April 27, just a day after the Senate voted 68-31 to re-authorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) with provisions for LGBT victims, GOP Representative Sandy Adams (R-FL) and 35 Republican co-sponsors introduced an alternate version that wouldn’t include any protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The Hill reports that the House re-authorization bill would however stiffen penalties for certain violent crimes and increase funding for sexual-assault prevention.
    Adams said the goal of her version is to ensure “that taxpayer resources help victims not Washington bureaucrats.”
    Right because only Washington insiders care about LGBT people?
    “It is my hope that my colleagues in both the House and Senate can put politics aside and support this lifesaving legislation,” she said. Should Adams’ version, HR 4790, pass the House, the differing aspects of the two bills would have to be hammered out in committee.
    After the Senate passed VAWA on Thursday, New York City Anti-Violence Project director Sharon Stapel reiterated the need for funding of domestic-violence and sexual-assault services for gays and lesbians. “LGBTQ people experience violence at the same rates as any other community… [but] receive fewer supportive services—and are often actively discriminated against when seeking service.”

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    Queerty reader Bill hit the premiere of Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption—the documentary about a production of Terrance McNally’s gay-Jesus play—at San Francisco‘s Castro Theater on Sunday. He tells us the rumored protest by fundamentalist Christians never materialized but that anti-circumcision activists picked up the slack. “Since it was San Francisco, someone had to protest—if only to keep up appearances,” he says.
    On a more merry note, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (above) were also on hand to help spread God’s glory.

    Full story here:

    On Wednesday, May 2, CEOs and senior staffers at financial giants like Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and HSBC will meet in New York to discuss realizing true LGBT equality. George Stephanopoulos moderates the second annual Out on the Street Leadership Summit at Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s headquarters, where speakers include Goldman Sachs chairman Lloyd Blankfein; Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan; former GOP operative Ken Mehlman, and Lynn Utter, president of Knoll Furniture. We know we’re supposed to hate Wall Street but these folks have sooo much money—and the movement could really use the cash!
    The daylong event will focus on what role LGBT equality “can play in the retention of talent in the industry”—whether that’s providing spousal benefits, supporting LGBT employee groups or reimbursing LGBT employees to address tax inequalities.
    “People are the most valuable resource our company has, and our support for initiatives like this one matters deeply to them,” said Blankfein, who is also HRC’s corporate spokesman for marriage equality. Over 150 senior-level employees attended the invitation-only event in 2011, with more expected this year.
    Former banker Todd Sears founded OOTS to encourage gay and straight financial leaders make Wall Street more attractive to LGBT talent, and to help the career trajectories of out bankers with networking and business opportunities. Currently nearly half of employees at Wall Street firms are closeted. But Sears says his effort is paying off. “Instead of remaining in the safe zone of advocating for LGBT workplace equality which upwards of 70% of Americans support,” said Sears, “these companies have taken courageous stances in more controversial areas, marriage equality, support for which only recently passed the 50% mark in polls.”

    On Friday, Cleveland radio host Dominic Dieter told a father to “get one of your friends to screw your daughter straight,” after the caller said he saw his daughter kissing another girl. Now WMMS 100.7 FM, which employs Dieter for the Rover’s Morning Glory show, has told GLAAD it has taken disciplinary actions against the controversial shock jock. Though WMMS management wouldn’t specify what actions it was taken, they did air a prerecorded apology from Dieter this morning:
    “I just wanted to say that, I know on the show this past Friday I made some comments that people found….. considered to be offensive. And I just wanted to say, I understand why people are angry. I want to genuinely apologize to anyone who may have been offended by what I said. I regret what I did say. My comments were inappropriate. They were inexcusable, and just downright stupid. And I want to make it clear; there was absolutely no intention to promote physical or sexual violence. And I’m truly; truly sorry by my poor choice of words that led people to believe otherwise. Again, Rover… I just want to apologize for any pain I might have caused. (…) I ask people to find it in their hearts to forgive me. I am sorry for the words that I did say. “
    WMMS also agreed to GLAAD’s request that it run public service announcements about the dangers of parental rejection, “and the importance of giving LGBT young people a safe learning environment.” The station took the further step of inviting Equality Ohio to join its community advisory board.

    BosGuy is blogging that Romeo and Juliet, the two graceful swans that frequent the pond at the Boston Public Garden, are scheduled to make their seasonal debut tomorrow. The pair made headlines in 2005 when it was discovered Romeo was actually female—giving new meaning to the phrase “Boston marriage.”
    According to the zookeepers who watch over the couple in the winter months, the two swans have been nesting together for approximately 10 years so if you should find yourself in Boston, head over to the Boston Public Gardens and congratulate the city’s favorite lesbians on their longevity together.
    The traditional tenth anniversary present is tin or aluminum, but we figure the girls would probably just prefer some breadcrumbs.
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  3. #263
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    We’ve (semi-jokingly) railed about how straight people are taking over gay bars, but in Copenhagen, Denmark, one queer watering hole drew a line in the sand and asked a heterosexual couple to leave after they were caught kissing. On April 20, a group of gay and straight friends stopped into Never Mind in Pisserenden for some drinks. All was well until Mathilde Karlsen Hansen kissed her boyfriend—that’s when a bouncer quickly told her such activity wasn’t allowed.
    One of the men accompanying Hansen was Jobbe Joller, founder of the group Homosocialt Fællesskab (Gay Social Community), who tells the Danish website Homotropolis about his confrontation with the doorman:
    I told the bouncer that it had to be discrimination against heterosexuals to say that they were not allowed to kiss. [He] replied that it was unacceptable to conduct in that kind of behaviour at a gay place and that Never Mind receives a lot of emails from its gay guests concerning the high number of straight guests that visit the bar.
    I asked him if it was not the same as saying that black people are not allowed to kiss in Never Mind, but he disagreed and told me that the owner of Never Mind may decide who can kiss and who can’t kiss in the bar…
    I told him in a very serious tone that what they had going on was sick, and that LGBT people across Denmark struggled for acceptance and equal rights for all, while Never Mind fought against it. The discussion evolved into a quarrel in which I told him at one point that he was crazy and the most arrogant fool I had ever met.
    Hansen says when the doorman initially confronted her about the kiss, “I frankly thought that it was a joke.”
    The next day, Joller contacted the bar about the incident and Never Mind’s no-kissing policy for straight couples. Owner Christian Carlsen explained that the bar was one of the few gay spaces remaining in Copenhagen. “It is important to the gay community that Never Mind is kept as a gay place,” he wrote. “So it is therefore not allowed for heterosexuals to kiss and so on.”
    Carlsen said the real problem is straight guys, who are often brought out to the bar by their girlfriends and then cause problems with Never Mind’s gay clientele:
    Problems often arise when the girls, late at night, call their straight male friends and think it’s a good idea that they come by and join the party. They are often quite intoxicated, and most straight guys unfortunately have it a bit difficult with gay men. This often results in a serious situation which our security people than have to handle.
    While we blanch at the idea of discriminating against anyone at a gay bar, we can sympathize with the desire to keep a gay bar, well, gay. What do you think—is there a reasonable way to maintain the queer spirit of a venue without instituting such draconian measures? Give us your opinion in the comments section.
    Y’know, when those queens were throwing bricks at the Stonewall Riots, we doubt they imagined we’d be facing these kinds of problems one day.

    On Sunday, Brandy Martell, an African-American trans woman, was found shot to death in a car parked outside the Golden Lotus Café in Downtown Oakland, CA.
    According to SF Weekly, Martell, 37 was walking near 13th and Franklin Streets at 6am when she was shot in front of the restaurant. Local activists claim she was killed by man who had “become enraged and shot her when he realized she was trans.” Police are investigating her death as a possible hate crime.
    The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports that, until recently, Martell worked as an outreach worker at Fremont’s Tri-City Health Center.
    P.S: See source for video

    Pastor Sean Harris of the Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, is claiming he misspoke when he told parishioners to “give a good punch” to their effeminate sons during a sermon on Sunday. In his homophobic homily, Harris gave parents “a special dispensation” to “squash like a cockroach” any gay tendencies in their boys:
    “Can I make it any clearer? Dads, the second you see that son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give them a good punch. Okay? You’re not going to act like that—you were made by God to be a male and you’re going to be a male.”
    He went on to tell his flock that, if a four-year old boy, for example, starts acting “a little girlish,” his father should tell him to “man up, son, get that dress off you get outside and dig a ditch—because that’s what boys do.”
    Seriously? When we were four, most boys were playing tag and watching episodes of Sesame Street. Not a lot of ditch-digging going on.
    His advise for parents of tomboys was less violent but equally abhorrent:
    “And when your daughter starts acting too ‘butch,’ you rein her in. And you say, ‘Oh no. Oh no, sweetheart. You can play sports. Play ‘em, play ‘em to the glory of God, but sometimes you’re going to act like a girl and talk like a girl and talk like a girl, and smell like a girl, and that means you’re going to be beautiful, you’re going to be attractive, you’re going to dress yourself up’.”
    When the media jumped on Harris’ hate speech, though, he changed his tune tout suite. He told The Fayetteville Observer:
    If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt. Those weren’t planned words, but what I do stand by is that the word of God makes it clear that effeminate behavior is ungodly. I’m not going to compromise on that.”
    We understand—it’s not like it’s Harris’ job to give a well-considered speech on spirituality and morals every Sunday.
    Harris was speaking in favor of North Carolina’s Amendment One, which would ban recognition of same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships, civil unions and any relationship outside of heterosexual marriage. He told the Observer that though the Bible makes it clear homosexuality is a sin, there was “not an ounce of hate being communicated,” in his sermon. Oh, of course not.
    What we want to know is if Harris can be brought up on charges. He literally incited his listeners to inflict bodily harm on four-year-olds. If we stood on a street corner and made similar suggestions, we’d probably have to answer to the cops. Why should Harris be protected because he was standing at a (bully) pulpit?
    To make matters worse, Berean Baptist Church operates a school from kindergarten to 12th grade. Harris swears teachers at the Berean Baptist Academy never lay hands on the students, but after Sunday’s rant, we think social services or the Department of Education should start sniffing around.
    has a code of parental discipline on its website, supported by biblical references, that endorses spanking but adds that “we reject the idea that bruising is ever the objective when disciplining a child.”
    If you have the stomach for such things, Good as You has the full audio of Harris’ sermon.

    Just two weeks after Richard Grenell (right) was hired to be Mitt Romney’s foreign-policy wonk, the openly gay spokesman has announced his resignation. In a statement obtained by the Washington Post‘s Jennifer Rubin, Grenell says:
    I have decided to resign from the Romney campaign as the Foreign Policy and National Security Spokesman. While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign.
    I want to thank Governor Romney for his belief in me and my abilities and his clear message to me that being openly gay was a non-issue for him and his team.
    Almost immediately after signing on, Grenell found himself stymied in the role—kept out of the loop and away from the microphone when international issues flared up. And conservative pundits were already branding him a Benedict Arnold for being a epublican and a homosexual. (Oh, he’s a traitor all right—just not to the GOP.)
    Grenell got in hot water last week when a number of his tweets making fun of prominent Washington ladies (Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Callista Gingrich) surfaced, but it doesn’t seem like that was a factor in his leaving.
    That make sense—it would require the GOP to be concerned with how it was viewed by women.
    The Romney campaign actually tried to get Grenell to stay in his job, though to no avail. “We are disappointed that Ric decided to resign from the campaign for his own personal reasons,” Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades told Levin. “We wanted him to stay because he had superior qualifications for the position he was hired to fill.”
    Grenell already has his next gig lined up—working on Rep. Mary Bono Mack’s campaign. Apparently she doesn’t think he’s misogynistic. Republican war on women—pah!
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    Moving at the glacial pace typical of Catholic institutions, the University of Notre Dame has said it will wait until the fall to make a decision about whether or not to official recognize—and give student fees to—a gay-straight alliance.A school spokesperson was lightning-quick, however, in announcing that Notre Dame would not add sexual orientation to the school’s non-discrimination policy. “I think that it is very encouraging that the decision on official recognition will be a component of a broader review of the structures and services in place for the LGBTQ community and allies,” sophomore Alex Coccia told the South Bend Tribune.
    Um, what’s Latin for “apologist”?
    Despite resolutions from both the student and faculty senates encouraging the school to broaden protections to include LGBTs, administrators—including Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins—said “nuh-uh” on Tuesday.
    By the way, the city of South Bend, Indiana, does include orientation in its non-discrimination policies. So one of the best-known schools in the nation is a step behind the town it resides in. (And Notre Dame is the city’s top employer.)
    Ironically, in 1997 Notre Dame adopted a “statement of inclusion” that claimed in part:
    “We welcome all people, regardless of color, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social or economic class, and nationality . . . precisely because of Christ’s calling to treat others as we desire to be treated. We value gay and lesbian members of this community as we value all members of this community.
    Sorry, Charlie: if we can be fired for no other reason than who we sleep with, then we’re not really valued.
    So, in the end, gay students and faculty have no protections at Notre Dame—but there’s always the chance they might be able to get together and complain about it!
    Let us pray.
    Moving at the glacial pace typical of Catholic institutions, the University of Notre Dame has said it will wait until the fall to make a decision about whether or not to official recognize—and give student fees to—a gay-straight alliance.A school spokesperson was lightning-quick, however, in announcing that Notre Dame would not add sexual orientation to the school’s non-discrimination policy. “I think that it is very encouraging that the decision on official recognition will be a component of a broader review of the structures and services in place for the LGBTQ community and allies,” sophomore Alex Coccia told the South Bend Tribune.
    Um, what’s Latin for “apologist”?
    Despite resolutions from both the student and faculty senates encouraging the school to broaden protections to include LGBTs, administrators—including Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins—said “nuh-uh” on Tuesday.
    By the way, the city of South Bend, Indiana, does include orientation in its non-discrimination policies. So one of the best-known schools in the nation is a step behind the town it resides in. (And Notre Dame is the city’s top employer.)
    Ironically, in 1997 Notre Dame adopted a “statement of inclusion” that claimed in part:
    “We welcome all people, regardless of color, gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social or economic class, and nationality . . . precisely because of Christ’s calling to treat others as we desire to be treated. We value gay and lesbian members of this community as we value all members of this community.
    Sorry, Charlie: if we can be fired for no other reason than who we sleep with, then we’re not really valued.
    So, in the end, gay students and faculty have no protections at Notre Dame—but there’s always the chance they might be able to get together and complain about it!
    Let us pray.
    Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi—who was convicted in March of tampering with evidence, invasion of privacy and bias intimidation in connection with his secretly taping his roommate, Tyler Clementi—has appealed the court’s ruling this week. In court papers filed Tuesday, Ravi’s lawyers claim the invasion of privacy charge was not legitimate because the webcam footage he broadcasted didn’t show nudity or actual sexual activity.
    Lawyers Steven Altman and Philip Nettl claim their client was unfairly blamed for Clementi’s suicide. Refuting the bias charge, they wrote that “to criminalize a defendant for a victim’s mistaken belief about the defendant’s motive would turn the bias-intimidation statute into a mockery of itself.” Altman and Nettle are asking for either a new trial or an acquittal.
    Ravi’s sentencing hearing is May 21, when he could face 10 years in prison and/or deportation.
    Rep. Paul Ryan may have dreamy Robert Redford eyes, but the GOP budget wizard—and potential Romney running mate—has a soul as black as tar. Okay, maybe that’s overstating it. But he’s taken pretty much every anti-gay stance an elected official can: Ryan voted to constitutionally define marriage as between one man and one woman, and for an amendment banning same-sex nuptials. He also voted for banning gay and lesbians from adopting in the District of Columbia and against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation.
    He got a zero score from the HRC!
    You’d think with that kind of record Ryan’d give activist gays a wide berth. But at the end of the month, he’s packing his bags and heading to frisky San Francisco—a.k.a. homo central—to pass the hate er, hat at a breakfast fundraiser. For $2,500 you can breath in the Congressman’s essence and for $5,000 you can even sit at his table.
    Where is this nosh taking place? At Gap headquarters on Folsom Street! Prosperity Action PAC, Ryan’s little cash cow, is hosting the event at the retail giant’s “view room” on May 24 at 8am. (Too early for our tired asses.)
    We’re disappointed to think that the company we’ve always relied on for sensible basics is tied in some way to a major gay hater and the architect of the GOP’s slash-and-burn budget. It’s enough to make us want to shop at Zara.
    Kristin Hueter, who is organizing the fundraiser, told Queerty that Gap Inc. is just renting out the room and isn’t involved in sponsoring the event. “Not at all, no. I mean, we’re paying for the space like anyone else,” she said.
    We’re still not happy, but we guess this means we can continue stocking up on skinny-fit jeans. Or does it? Tell us in the comments section!
    We’re so used to hearing about educators shutting down productions of The Laramie Project, Rent, Hair and even Grease, that we were a little blown away to hear a New York City public school was staging Spring Awakening, the sexually-charged musical that rocked Broadway in 2007.
    The Beacon School, an arts and technology high school near Lincoln Center, is one of the first in the country to stage the Tony-winning show, which helped launch the careers of Glee‘s Lea Michele and out actor Jonathan Groff. Its sold-out run is ending on May 5.
    With a book by Steven Staer and music by Duncan Sheik, Spring Awakening dwells on heady matters like sexuality, masturbation, abortion, suicide and sexual abuse—and includes a gay subplot between students Hanschen and Ernst.
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    Last week, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (KCHFS) unfairly dismissed a male employee because he was gay. In 2009, Milton Stroder was terminated as an adjudicator with the KCHFS for violating policy by sending out personal emails that discussed his partner and used gay-slang terms like “princess” and “queen.”
    But as Stroder’s attorney successfully argued, a heterosexual female employee who sent out similarly personal emails was not punished so severely.
    “This is unfair and unequal treatment,” [Judge] Heyburn wrote in the nine-page ruling issued last week.
    Heyburn noted that the cabinet didn’t take action against Shannon Duncan, who also sent personal emails around the same period, as well as a chain letter to other employees titled “Pampered Chef,” which showed naked men with pots and pans “strategically placed to conceal their genitals.”
    Though Duncan and Stroder started the same day and held the same job, Stroder was fired a few days before his probationary period was over—allowing him to be terminated “without a reason or a right to a hearing,” reports the AP.
    Duncan, however, wasn’t reprimanded until several days later, by which time she had become a full-time employee and wasn’t subject to termination for such an infraction.
    Sure, you could think it was all just a coincidence and that Stroder’s bosses just didn’t like his work. But when KCHFS began enforcing its Internet policy, “friendly homosexual bantering within emails” was targeted disproportionately. Heyburn noted in his decision that, of the first five people reprimanded for violating the email ban, four were gay.
    Stroder, who now works as an AIDS/HIV case manager, has until May 15 to either file sanctions or request his job be reinstated. A spokesperson for KCHFS says the agency is considering an appeal.

    Jon Stewart Mocks Romney for Cave on Employing Gay Spokesman

    BY Lucas Grindley

    May 03 2012 1:20 PM ET


    Mitt Romney's spokesman on national security, who is gay, resigned this week after a backlash from social conservatives — a move The Daily Show mocked as the latest cave of Romney's principles.
    Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association was among the most outspoken against Richard Grenell's selection. The controversy led the Romney campaign to order Grennell not to speak during a conference call with reporters, something he'd surely have normally done as part of his job, according to the New York Times.And comedian Jon Stewart summed up Fisher's beliefs this way: "You can't appoint a gay guy. He threatens our very right to hate people for being gay, it's not right."
    Then Stewart explained why Fischer's interview on CNN looked so strange.
    "In case you are wondering why he looks so blurry, it's because his opinions are being broadcast from 50 years ago."
    Watch the entire takedown in the video below.

    P.S: See source for video

    Stories of the South

    BY Neal Broverman

    May 02 2012 6:12 PM ET


    North Carolina voters on Tuesday will take to the polls to decide on Amendment One, which would constitutionally ban any legal relationship recognition other than heterosexual marriage. The Tar Heel State will be the last state in Dixie to decide on banning marriage equality — all other states in the conservative area overwhelmingly passed prohibitions in the last decade. To get a handle on how things may go down May 8, and see what kind of odds LGBT activists are up against in North Carolina, we've compiled the margins by which each Southern state banned same-sex marriage; view them on the following pages.

    Mississippi: In 2004, 86% of voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage, with 14% voting against it.

    Alabama: In 2006, 81% of voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage, with 19% voting against it.

    Tennessee: In 2006, 81% of voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage, with 19% voting against it.

    Louisiana: In 2004, 78% of voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage, with 22% voting against it.

    South Carolina: In 2006, 78% of voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage, with 22% voting against it.

    Georgia: In 2004, 76% of voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage, with 24% voting against it.

    Texas: In 2005, 76% of voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage, with 24% voting against it.

    Arkansas: In 2004, 75% of voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage, with 25% voting against it.

    Kentucky: In 2004, 75% of voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage, with 25% voting against it.

    Florida: In 2008, 62% of voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage, with 38% voting against it.

    Virginia: In 2006, 57% of voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage, with 43% voting against it.

    Modern Family Named Best TV Show By Catholic Group

    BY Jeremy Kinser

    May 02 2012 7:41 PM ET


    Modern Family, ABC's hit sitcom which features a loving and realistic gay family among its main characters, has a 2012 award as best television program by the group Catholics in Media Associates, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
    Despite being well-received by audiences and critics alike, the series is obviously a surprising choice for the religious organization's award. Besides gay couple Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) having emerged as breakout fan favorites, an episode in January an episode of the comedy drew the ire of the Parents Television Council. In it the couple's pre-schoolage daughter Lily (Aubrey Anderson-Emmons) uttered the F-word, which caused the PTC to issue a statement saying, "It's not suitable language for a child that young in the real world, and it's not suitable language for a child that young on television, either." Ferguson quickly acknowledged the positive side of controversy. When people find anything to nit-pick about, it's a good thing I think," he said.
    CIMA president Haskell Vaughn Anderson III says the group's mission is "not to criticize what we don't like, but to praise what we do."
    Approximately 300 professionals from the entertainment industry attended the April 29 event at the Crystal Ballroom at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which followed a pre-brunch Mass.
    The non-profit was founded in 1992 by Father Tony Scannel and other Catholics working in the entertainment industry. For more information go to

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    A transgender student at Ohio’s Wilmington College was fired from her student-teaching placement at a local high school on his second day there, reports the Wilmington News Journal. Hillsboro High School officials are claiming he was dismissed because he discussed “personal matters” in the classroom.
    The student, a senior, says that he wanted to address the elephant in the room with the class, and to correct students who made “he-she comments”:
    “I was reminded teachers live in a fish bowl and they’re under constant scrutiny from parents and students alike, and that my behaviors had been outside their community policies… I would much rather say it very openly and honestly and ask if they have questions, comments or concerns, than for it to get around and be misconstrued and be like the game telephone, where things aren’t passed around accurately.”
    Hillsboro City School Superintendent Rick Earley apparently did not like this approach, saying the student-teacher (who is not named in the article) brought “personal matters” into a classroom instead of just teaching.
    The school district may be in violation of federal law, which was just changed last month to protect transgender employees in the workplace.
    Prominent evangelist Billy Graham has taken out full-page ads in support of North Carolina’s anti-gay Amendment One. The ads will run in 14 newspapers over the weekend, in advance of the vote on May 8. “At 93, I never thought we would have to debate the definition of marriage,” says the ad, allegedly written by Graham but probably penned by one of his underlings. “The Bible is clear—God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. I want to urge my fellow North Carolinians to vote FOR the marriage amendment on Tuesday, May 8.”
    For a Christian guy who’s been advisor to a number of presidents and usually not taken strong stances on political issues, this seems a bit strange for Graham. Could it be that one of his advisors is using Graham’s clout to influence a ballot initiative he’d usually not speak on?
    Details magazine got the queer blogosphere abuzz this month with a feature on “Why Gay Men Make the Best Bosses.” In my years as a professional scalawag for both queer and straight media outlets, I’ve had quite a few gay bosses, so I was interested to see where this story was going. Danielle Sacks, the straight woman who wrote the piece, makes the case that homos are great managers with anecdotes from wage slaves who got great feedback and encouragement from their bender bosses. She also plugs The G Quotient: Why Gay Executives Are Excelling as Leaders . . . and What Every Manager Needs to Know by USC professor Kirk Snyder. It’s sort of a Seven Habits of Highly Successful Homos.
    “Gay people are constantly having to dodge and weave and assess how and where they’re going as they grow up,” says Snyder. “And that manifests itself as three huge skills: adaptability, intuitive communications, and creative problem-solving.”
    In other words, your boss is cool with your leaving a little early one day a week to pick up your kid from school, or happy to offer a learning experience that helps you close a crucial deal.
    Nope, not gonna buy this one.
    Details throws these gay-interest nuggets in every month to stealthily acknowledge its queer readership while still maintaining it’s the straight-bro’s Bible. And that’s fine. But suggesting that a queer boss would be more empathetic and supportive than a straight one is ridiculous. Doesn’t Sacks watch Drag Race—or the first season of Survivor? Gay men will throw each other under the bus as soon as possible. (I’m kidding… a little.)
    Even if you could make such gross generality about gay men (and I find Sacks’ claim pretty gross), being a nurturer is hardly the chief requirement of an executive. The same stereotype that says gay men are creative and reassuring says they don’t have ambition or a backbone. You can’t have it both ways.
    While I think my various employers’ sexuality might’ve played some part in their overall personality, no two have been the same: I’ve had gay bosses that were total hard-asses—guys who didn’t respect their staff and took credit for other people’s work. I also had a gay boss who had no balls—he was so concerned with making sure everyone liked him (perhaps a holdover from being bullied as a kid) that he couldn’t call anyone on their shit.
    Even Sacks seems to doubt her claim. Or at least some of the people she interviewed did, anyway:
    “The only managers that succeed are ones that have energy and are outgoing and interested,” says Richard Laermer, the gay CEO of a New York–based PR firm and co-author of Punk Marketing: Get Off Your Ass and Join the Revolution. “If that’s a gay thing, then mazel tov, but I know the same number of straight managers who are emotional and caring.”
    And one gay vice president at a financial firm says his leadership traits come from his life history, not from anything related to his sexual orientation. “I was in the military, in a fraternity, and played a varsity sport,” he says. “I feel like I spend my life explaining that what I’m saying or doing has nothing to do with the fact that I’m gay.”
    The bottom line is management epiphanies are like fad diets—every few months someone comes along an announces that following the Kabbalah or incorporating lessons from Fat Albert will take your business to the top.
    In reality, it’s a crapshoot: Gay men can make the best bosses, but they can also make some of the worst. All I know is if I were Sacks’ boss, I’d rake her over the coals for her conclusion:
    If your new boss happens to be gay, chances are you’ll be happier and more fulfilled in your job. And even if you’re not, the consolation is that there’s still one area in which he’s likely to excel. Says Smith, “We throw the fiercest holiday parties.”
    Well sure, if that’s the yardstick your measuring by.

    Certified hate group One Million Moms has previously led unsuccessful campaigns to get Ellen fired as JCPenney spokesperson, make Toys ‘R Us stop selling Archie comics and ban two-groom wedding cakes from Macy’s ads.
    They’ve returned to hating on JCPenney, this time for featuring lesbian moms Wendi and Maggie with their daughters Clover and Raven and Wendi’s mom Carolyn, in a super-cute Mothers’ Day ad. Here’s the text of the ad, interrupting with brief moments of sarcasm from yours truly:
    “You’ll often find Wendi, her partner, Maggie, and daughters elbow-deep in paint, cay or mosaics.”
    Mosaics? The horror!
    “Even as babies, the girls toddled around in diapers, covered in paint,” said Wendi.
    Sounds like irresponsible parenting, no? There’s all kinds of harmful chemicals in paint!!
    “They come from a long line of artists, which includes grandma Carolyn. Visiting her art studio in Granbury, Texas is a favorite outing. And like any grandma, this one loves to bake—pottery, that is.”
    OMM has a call to action on their website, but it probably won’t go very far. After all, estimates put their numbers at 40,000, nowhere near the number of people who tune in daily to watch family-ruining anti-mom lesbians like Ellen everyday.
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    The message being sent in one Indianapolis school is “we can’t help you if you’re bullied… but we’ll be all over you like a rash if you try to help yourself.” Darnell “Dynasty” Young, a 17-year-old openly gay student at Arsenal Technical High School is facing suspension for firing a stun gun in the air to ward off bullies who had cornered him, reports the Indianapolis Star.
    Young had been the target of bullying since transferring to the school last year. Classmates threw bottles at him, followed him home, and spread rumors that he performed sex acts in the school bathroom. At one point he even considered suicide but came back from the brink. “God gave me this life,” Young told the Star. “I love life. I’m trying to be strong.”
    His mother reported the harassment ten times to no avail—the school claimed it wasn’t able to help because Young wasn’t always able to identify everyone who bullied him.
    Eventually, mom did what she thought she had to do and gave her son a stun gun for protection. On April 16, a group of students blocked Young in and threatened to attack him. Young fired the gun in the air, sending his would-be assailants scurrying.
    Within minutes he was arrested by school security.
    Young was suspended almost immediately, and a meeting about his possible expulsion was held this Wednesday. An “independent arbitrator” will make the final decision—most likely in the next few days.
    Principal Larry Yarrell—you know, the one who claimed the school was trying to help with the bullying—said he told Young to”tone down” his appearance:
    “If you wear female apparel, then kids are kids and they’re going to say whatever it is that they want to say. Because you want to be different and because you choose to wear female apparel, it may happen. In the idealistic [sic] society, it shouldn’t matter. People should be able to wear what they want to wear.”
    Gee, sounds a lot like he’s blaming the victim, doesn’t it? Does Yarrell really think if Young wore Hollister t-shirts and Levi’s his attackers would’ve left him alone? It doesn’t work like that: gay kids get bullied whether they look like everyone else or stand out.
    We’re not condoning bringing weapons to school, but Young literally thought his life was at risk. And at least he had the sense to shoot the gun in the air, where it wouldn’t hurt anyone. But he could still have his future jeopardized by this expulsion.
    What’s happening to the rat shits that have been stalking and tormenting him? Are they going to be punished as well, or will they just fade into crowd?
    If you had any doubts about what kind of president Mitt Romney would be, the Ric Grenell matter will have ended them. Grenell resigned from the Romney campaign as spokesman on national security issues when campaign aides thought the way to respond to homophobic attacks was essentially to try to push Grenell back in the closet–and out of the campaign door. The upshot? The Romney campaign’s instinct is that being gay is a problem to handle and that placating the worst homophobes in the Republican base is more important than sticking up for its own officials.
    There’s no doubt that Grenell was eminently qualified for the job. He served as spokesman for four U.N. ambassadors under the George W. Bush administration and was recommended to the campaign by former ambassador John Bolton, for whom the word “warmonger” may well have been coined.
    The New York Times described Grenell as having “pristine Republican credentials.” And indeed Grenell was good at the type of back-alley knife-fighting that characterizes GOP politics. In his Twitter feed, he wondered if Newt Gingrich’s wife Callista can “snap on” her hair, suggested Hillary Clinton was begin to look like the decidedly unglamorous former secretary of state Madeline Albright, and said MSNBC host and out lesbian Rachel Maddow “should take a breath and put on a necklace.” (He didn’t offer to lend her one.) In short, Grenell is an asshole, so the irony is that, other than being gay, he’s the perfect Republican.
    Formerly, Republicans didn’t believe in “special rights” to protect gay people from being fired. But the right wing of the party now believes that the Romney campaign should actively prevent gay people from being hired, a step backward even from the conservative George W. Bush administration, which appointed severa gay men to prominent posts. Bryan Fischer, the director of issues analysis for the American Family Association who earns his living making bat-shit crazy homophobic remarks, saw in Grenell’s hiring apostasy. Fischer tweeted: “If personnel is policy, his message to the pro-family community: drop dead.” (Some of you might think, from his lips to God’s ears.)
    Of course, if personnel is policy, then hiring highly qualified people, gay and not-gay, might be a good thing.
    Soon others started piling on. In a column in the National Review Online, Matthew Franck suggested that Grenell cared more about marriage equality than anything else (which begs the question of why Grenell didn’t chuck foreign policy to work on marriage) and that he would quickly “decamp from Romney to Obama” if Obama comes out for marriage equality. Because you know that we’re all single-issue voters.
    So, now at least it’s more clear than ever: there is a heterosexuality litmus test within the Republican party, which has given up big-tent politics for revival-tent politics. There is no room for debate on gay issues, even if you’ve been a party loyalist with years of service.
    That’s bad enough. What’s worse is how Romney’s campaign handled the whole episode. According to The Times, minutes before the Romney’s campaign first big foreign policy conference call with reporters, another Romney aide told Grenell he wasn’t to speak on the call but instead “lay low for now.” (The aide didn’t add, but perhaps should have, “in the closet.”) Grenell organized the call and indeed was hired for just this sort of press outreach. You can’t blame him for concluding that the Romney campaign was hanging him out to dry.
    For Romney, this could have been the big moment when he would have shaken loose from all the nutburgers that have attached themselves to the party and that are draining its chances of success. Bill Clinton faced a similar choice in 1992, when hip-hop MC Sister Souljah was quoted as saying, ”If Black people kill Black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” Clinton criticized her, thereby signalling to moderate voters that he didn’t hold with more extreme elements in the Democratic party. This is still known among political junkies as the Sister Souljah moment.
    But instead the Romney campaign chose to treat Grenell’s sexuality as the problem. In doing so, it showed that it will kowtow to the most extreme elements of the party base. It also handed those same elements a very clear victory. They know that Romney will do what they want him to do out of cowardice.
    And that’s what a Romney White House might well look like. Well qualified people exiled solely because they are gay. The closet would regain its power.
    To her credit, Jennifer Rubin, a blogger at the Washington Post and an unabashed conservative, staunchly defended Grenell. Rubin called the whole episode for what it was: “whether the mere presence of a gay person in a Republican campaign is a bridge too far.” Of course, Rubin immediately went for false equivalence, saying that “the left” was as bad as the right’s homophobes, by wondering how a gay man could work for Republicans.
    Of course, after the Grenell affair, the only thing to wonder about is how anyone would think that’s an unfair question.
    The Colorado civil-union bill passed a critical hurdle in a House committee Thursday night, reports the Associated Press. The committee was dominated by Republicans, and the bill had failed in the same place last year. What was different this year? The change of heart by Rep. B.J. Nikkel (R-Loveland).
    According to the Denver Post, Nikkel (swarmed by reporters in the photo at right) had this to say after voting yes, making the total count 6-5: ”I think it was the right thing to do. We’re all Coloradans, right? It’s not something I’m passionate about, but I think we ought to move forward and bring it to a vote in the House.”
    Her support of the bill wasn’t exactly heartwrenching (in fact she’s downright equivocal, especially given she reps a place called Loveland), but hey: a yes vote from a Republican on gay rights is a yes vote from a Republican on gay rights.
    The bill passed the Senate in late April and has the confidence of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has said he will sign the bill.
    The capitol was proudly awash with gay activists, who wore red “One Love” shirts. Here’s an inspiring slideshow with photos from the scene.
    Remember when was Fabulis, a struggling gay social networking site that gave out t-shirts at Pride Parades and events for gay-rights orgs? And then when it tried the Daily Deal fad on for size? Well, third time’s a charm, because their latest pivot to a cutesy, quirky online design retailer, totally worked! A recent Forbes profile focuses in on how amazingly quick Fab got fabulously rich, and the numbers are absolutely stunning (if they’re indeed accurate—startups have a penchant for inflation when they’re shopping out their business to venture capitalists):
    Launched last June, Fab expects to do $100 million in sales this year but has already passed $300,000 per day. Fab has been called the fastest e-commerce company to reach 1 million users, which it did in five months. It now has 3.5 million registered customers. The company was cofounded by chief creative officer [Bradford] Shellhammer and CEO Jason Goldberg, who previously founded and sold two other startups, Jobster and Socialmedian. Fab has 155 employees in the U.S. and 250 worldwide, with plans for global expansion with the $40 million it raised in December from a group led by Andreessen Horowitz at about a $200 million valuation.
    Now that Fab’s so successful, copycats have sprung up it has to take on still competition, like longtime etailer Gilt Groupe’s new home interiors division and similar startup One Kings Lane. But they’re confident they can overcome the competitors, including big-boxers like Crate & Barrel and Pier 1, and are staffing up to make sure they’re ready. It’s good to see a gay-run business succeed, ain’t it?
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    Equality Florida tells the Miami Herald that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has extended its existing diversity policy to include LGBT outreach. Here’s the press release, in part:
    In a groundbreaking move, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has announced that every federal prison in the U.S. will appoint an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) representative to their long-standing Affirmative Employment Program. The BOP employs approximately 40,000 nationwide, and until now, the LGBT staff did not have a designated representative in the program.
    With the addition of an LGBT representative to the BOP’s Affirmative Employment Program, each of the more than 120 BOP facilities will hold at least one event each year that will serve to educate and inform the staff about LGBT diversity issues.
    The directive also requires each facility to designate one person as the LGBT Special Emphasis Program Manager, to ensure that equal opportunity issues and concerns affecting LGBT employees are adequately addressed.
    Florida Equality Managing Director Brian Winfield tells Queerty that the initiative is more about education than specifically handing jobs to gay people:
    “The LGBT representative does not need to be LGBT and frequently is not,” says Winfield. “While hiring LGBT employees is one aspect of increasing the workplace diversity within BOP, the representative will be responsible for helping to educate fellow employees. The BOP, along with 87% of the Fortune 500, believes diversity is a good for productivity—and for recruiting and retaining top quality employees.”

    A board member at a high school in Tennessee is calling for the firing—and possible arrest—of a faculty advisor who approved a gay-affirming article in the student yearbook. In a blog post, Lenoir City High School board member Van Shaver (right) called the printing of an article about gay student Zac Mitchell—in which Mitchell discussed doing drag, facing bullies and gaining acceptance from family and friends—a “despicable act.”(The text of the article is at bottom.)
    Shaver also said journalism teacher James Yoakley, who oversees the yearbook, should be dismissed immediately and charged with child abuse:
    In this twisted world we live in, some may believe It’s OK to be gay but it’s darn sure not OK for teachers to be promoting homosexuality in our high schools….
    Mr. Yoakley is also the teacher who a couple of years ago refused to allow the two students Christian based article to run in the Panther Press. So apparently, Mr. Yoakley would discourage Christian values yet promote atheism and homosexuality.
    Some might think I’m intolerant toward homosexuals but that would be wrong. If an individual wants to be a homosexual, that’s their own decision and they will have to live with the consequences of that decision. What I am intolerant of is an adult, a teacher no less, inflicting their personal beliefs and sexual orientation decisions on impressionable students.
    If in fact it was Mr. Yoakley or any other teacher who allowed this article to be published in the year book, they should be dismissed from the school immediately. If it is found or known that Mr. Yoakley or any other teacher at any time has had any conversations or discussions with this student or any other student about their sexual orientation, sexual activities or anything about their private lives prior to those students being of legal age, those teachers should be charged with child sex abuse by an authority figure and arrested.
    Shaver isn’t alone in his unique brand of Christian “love”: Petitions have been circulated demanding Mitchell not be allowed to attend graduation, and the 17-year-old student who wrote the article (and is afraid to have her name published) says she’s faced threats.
    In his rant Shaver reminds his colleagues that they have “the right and the authority to eliminate substandard employees.” Does that count for board members as well?
    So as not to leave a bad taste in your mouth, we’re going to end this post with a quote from Mr. Yoakley we found on the school’s website:
    Students often ask why we must study literature. It is really quite simple. Literature is life condensed into a pure, edifying art. It has the power to teach, inspire, transform, and enlighten. It can leave us rapt in wonder, laughing aloud, or sobbing. Life without literature would be rather boring.

    In April, Bowie State opened an LGBT Center on the third floor of the campus’ MLK building.
    Turns out they were the first historically black college to do so!
    The center offers in-person support, Monday through Friday, 1-5pm, from a staff of three: assistant professor Adrian Krishnasamy (its director) and two students.
    It also supplies your garden-variety LGBT pamphlets (safe sex and condoms!) and meeting space for gay students.
    Said Krishnasamy to the Sentinel:
    “What we’re trying to do is to get a coherent approach in identifying and spreading the awareness in dispelling myths about the (LGBT) community itself and educate individuals that come into the university so that we send our students out of this campus with the knowledge of the extreme level of diversity.”
    What historically black college will be next? We’re looking at you, Howard.

    Compete magazine and Campus Pride have released their list of the 10 most gay-friendly college athletic departments. And while some schools that made the grade are no-brainers, others are unexpected champs.
    We kind of expected to see Stanford, Columbia and NYU make the list, which rated inclusion efforts, practices and policy implementation of nominated universities. They’re located in or near major urban areas with large LGBT populations.
    And while they’ve all turned out some fine athletes, those universities aren’t really major players in the college-sports arena.
    But Indiana University? Who knew the Hoosiers partnered with the school’s LGBT group, participated in Indianapolis Pride and had a special gay-fan appreciation day?
    As Campus Pride rightly points out, IU is setting the standard for other Big Ten schools to follow.
    Another school honored for its safe and welcoming environment was Bucknell in Lewisburg, PA, where junior Taylor Harris says his coming out to teammates on the diving team was “a wonderful experience.” “I think the fact that everyone has been so accepting has really helped us behave as a cohesive team. It is so much easier to compete knowing that you have your team behind you 100 percent.”
    The list is part of Campus Pride’s Out to Play Project, which combats homophobia in sports and encourages LGBT and ally athletes to be out and proud. “LGBT students today are more out and vocal than ever before and those who are also athletes deserve to know which schools and which athletics programs will respect them for who they are,” says executive director Shane Windmeyer.
    The other schools on the Out to Play List are Bates College (Lewiston, ME), Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME), Ithaca College (Ithaca, NY), Kennesaw State University (Kennesaw, GA) and Whitman College (Walla Walla, WA).
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    Welcome to the May 1, 2012 newsletter of, the world's largest encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer culture.
    To follow on Facebook, send a friend request to Facebook member glbtq.

    NEW FEATURE OF glbtq: Blogs

    Check out the blogs on This new feature includes Congratulations on glbtq achievements; In Memoriams commemorating the deaths of prominent glbtq figures and allies; Topics in the News; and Queer Arts. Posted frequently throughout the month, the blogs provide news and commentary on issues and events important to the glbtq community.
    The most recent posts are highlighted in the right column of's home page here:

    __________________________________________________ ____
    FEATURED BLOG POST: Sponsor of Amendment One Flip-Flops

    In a remarkable example of grassroots political action, an irate North Carolina lesbian confronted her state representative who sponsored Amendment One, which would write into the state constitution a ban on any recognition of couples other than the marriage of one man and one woman. After listening to her heartfelt and eloquent denunciation of the Amendment, Representative Jim Crawford announced that he planned to vote against the discriminatory amendment.

    NEW ON glbtq

    The gay monument in Barcelona, dedicated in March 2011, commemorates the sufferings of glbtq people. In the form of a large triangle of gray granite, approximately four meters wide at the top, surrounded by a thin band of pink, it is raised and slightly inclined to point toward the viewer.

    Since coming out in 2009, actress Meredith Baxter (b. 1949), best known for her starring role in the ABC situation comedy "Family Ties" (1982-1989), has become a spokesperson for glbtq rights.

    Chris Hughes (b. 1983), one of the founders of the social networking site Facebook, also spearheaded the social networking efforts of the 2008 Obama campaign; he and his partner Sean Eldridge (b. 1986) are activists for marriage equality.

    IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Mystery Fiction

    Lesbian Mystery Fiction has its origins in the ubiquitous lesbian pulp novels of the 1950s and early 1960s. While Gay Male Mystery Fiction lacks the same roots, it has exploded in the decades since the Stonewall Riots.

    Anthony Bidulka (b. 1962) is the author of the Russell Quant detective series, mysteries that skirt the dark side of detective fiction through humor and emotional buoyancy.

    Katherine V. Forrest (b. 1939) is an acclaimed writer and editor who has played a major role in bringing lesbian fiction to the forefront of the mystery and science fiction genres.

    Andrea Goldsmith (b. 1950) is an Australian novelist who writes books that reflect her own life and dearest concerns--lesbian relationships, her hometown of Melbourne, Australian Jewish culture, and the inevitable, yet unpredictable, effect of the past upon the future.

    Richard Hall (1926-1992), a novelist, playwright, and critic, wrote a popular mystery entitled "The Butterscotch Prince" (1975), though his claim to lasting literary fame rests on his short fiction.

    Joseph Hansen (1923-2004) is best known as the author of the Dave Brandstetter mystery series, though he also published a considerable body of non-mystery fiction and poetry.

    Ellen Hart (b. 1949) is a prolific mystery author who writes "whydunits" rather than "whodunits." Her first book, "Hallowed Murder" (1989) introduced the Jane Lawless mysteries, a series which has won many awards.

    Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) is the author of one explicitly lesbian novel as well as the popular series featuring the amoral bisexual Tom Ripley, which has inspired several films including "The Talented Mr. Ripley" (1999) and "Ripley's Game" (2002).

    Mabel Maney (b. 1958) is a San Francisco artist and satirist who spins lesbian adventure tales out of perky feminine archetypes from the 1950s and 1960s.

    Val McDermid (b. 1955) is the award-winning Scottish author of three successful series of novels including one featuring lesbian investigative reporter Lindsay Gordon.

    Michael Nava (b. 1954) is a mystery writer who has increasingly been recognized as an important novelist whose mature work transcends the limited expectations of a popular and highly specialized genre.

    Dorothy Porter (1954-2008) was an Australian poet who presented a cheeky challenge to a literary establishment whose poetry has often been defined by pretension and obfuscation. Though best known for her poetry, Porter published "El Dorado," a dark and enigmatic thriller, in 2007.

    J. M. Redmann (b. 1955) is the Lambda Literary Award-winning author of six novels featuring protagonist Michele "Micky" Knight, a richly textured series focused on issues of power and family.

    Christopher Rice (b. 1978) is the author of five popular, gay-themed suspense thrillers, each of which has appeared on the New York Times best sellers list. He has also been active in supporting glbtq causes, especially those affecting glbtq youth.

    Steven Saylor (b. 1956) is best known for his highly successful mystery novels set in ancient Rome, though he began his writing career publishing erotica under the pen-name Aaron Travis.

    Sarah Schulman (b. 1958) is an author and playwright concerned with constructing a lesbian identity around and against the multicultural identities of New York City.

    Samuel Steward (1909-1993) was a college professor, tattoo artist, and author. While he published extensively under his given name, he is perhaps best remembered for the literate and explicit gay male erotica he published under the pseudonym Phil Andros.

    Gore Vidal (b. 1925) is an important contributor to the gay and lesbian literary heritage and a multifaceted writer whose works span many genres including mysteries written under the pseudonym Edgar Box.

    John Morgan Wilson (b. 1945) is best known today as the author of a gay male mystery series featuring a flawed and often exasperating amateur detective named Benjamin Justice.

    Monique Wittig (1935-2003) was a controversial lesbian author and theorist who produced some of the most challenging works of second-wave feminism including the lesbian feminist crime novel "Les Guérillères" (1969).

    Cornell Woolrich (1903-1968) was the author of popular hard-boiled fiction that reflected his homosexuality obliquely. Many of his works were adapted for radio, television, and film during his lifetime.

    NOTABLE BIRTHDAYS, May 1 through May 31

    May 1: English novelist Marie Corelli, 1855; American artist Romaine Brooks, 1874; female-to-male transsexual pioneer Michael Dillon, 1915

    May 2: Writer Edith Somerville, 1858; lyricist Lorenz Hart, 1895; cartoonist Howard Cruse, 1944; singer and songwriter Lesley Gore, 1946

    May 3: Paleontologist Baron Franz Nopcsa, 1877; American writer May Sarton, 1912; soldier-activist Miriam Ben-Shalom, 1948

    May 4: Ballet impresario Lincoln Kirstein, 1907; artist Keith Haring, 1958; pop singer Lance Bass, 1979

    May 5: Food writer James Beard, 1903; San Francisco activist Del Martin, 1921

    May 6: Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, 1856; silent screen star Rudolph Valentino, 1895; poet Olga Broumas, 1949

    May 7: Composer Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky, 1840

    May 8: Artist Tom of Finland (Touko Laaksonen), 1920; teacher and youth activist Kevin Jennings, 1963

    May 10: Olympic equestrian Blyth Tait, 1961

    May 11: Artist Filippo Tibertelli de Pisis, 1896; artist Tamara de Lempicka, 1898; New York priest Father Mychal Judge, 1933; former major league baseball player Billy Bean, 1964

    May 12: Nurse Florence Nightingale, 1820; scientist and activist Bruce Voeller, 1934; U.S. Congressman Gerry Studds, 1937; writer Joan Nestle, 1940; artist Ross Bleckner, 1949; U.S. Congressman Jared Polis, 1975

    May 13: Travel writer Bruce Chatwin, 1940; novelist Armistead Maupin, 1944; screenwriter, producer, and director Alan Ball, 1957

    May 14: Activist and sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, 1868; composer Lou Harrison, 1917; novelist Terry Andrews (George Selden Thompson), 1929

    May 15: Writer Carlo Coccioli, 1920; painter Jasper Johns, 1930; filmmaker Barbara Hammer, 1939

    May 16: Flamboyant entertainer Liberace, 1919; poet Adrienne Rich, 1929

    May 17: British writer Robin Maugham, 1916; Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston, 1956

    May 18: American artist Don Bachardy, 1934

    May 19: French activist Daniel Guérin, 1904

    May 20: French writer Honoré de Balzac, 1799

    May 21: Artist Albrecht Dürer, 1471; actor Raymond Burr, 1917; activist Frank Kameny, 1925; Italian activist Mario Mieli, 1952

    May 22: Martyred politician Harvey Milk, 1930; actor Paul Winfield, 1941; minister, educator, and author Peter Gomes, 1942; businessman, athlete, and 9/11/2001 hero Mark Bingham, 1970

    May 23: Swiss author and photojournalist Annemarie Schwarzenbach, 1908; writer Allen Barnett, 1925; actor, singer, and stand-up comic Lea DeLaria, 1958

    May 24: Italian Renaissance artist Jacopo Pontormo, 1494

    May 25: Actor Sir Ian McKellen, 1939

    May 26: Novelist Alan Hollinghurst, 1954

    May 27: Environmentalist Rachel Carson, 1907; writer John Cheever, 1912

    May 28: Australian Nobel laureate for literature Patrick White, 1912; American poet May Swenson, 1913; novelist, memoirist, and sex writer Paul Reed, 1956

    May 29: African-American playwright Lorraine Hansberry, 1930; Mexican stage director and activist Nancy Cárdenas, 1934; Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, 1947; African-American novelist Melvin Dixon, 1950; British actor Rupert Everett, 1959; rocker Melissa Etheridge, 1961

    May 30: Actress Cornelia Otis Skinner, 1901; African-American poet Countee Cullen, 1903; playwright William Inge, 1913; transsexual actress and singer Christine Jorgensen, 1926; Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoë, 1950; Irish novelist Colm Tóibín, 1955

    May 31: Poet Walt Whitman, 1819; German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1946
    Source: glbtq Newsletter
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    Once just a typical student at the University of Iowa, 20-year-old Zach Wahls became activist hero almost instantly in January 2011 when a viral video of him speaking before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee about being the son of a lesbian couple became the most watched political video on YouTube.
    Now the straight ally par excellence has written My Two Moms, a poignant memoir about growing up with his two mothers, Jackie and Terry, as well as the surprise of sudden fame and how he’s incorporated the values of the Boy Scouts into his life. (Each chapter of Moms is named after one of the Scouts’ 12 values—Obedient, Trusthworthy, Thrifty, Brave, etc).
    At 6’6″, Wahls towers over his moms and sister, Zebby. But he’s an incredibly warm, respectful and well-spoken young man with a true calling: He’s taken time off from school to tour the nation and discuss the realities and myths surrounding gay families. When he returns to school, he’ll continue his studies in environmental engineering. (He hasn’t ruled out a career in politics, though.)
    Queerty’s Evan Mulvihill chatted with Wahls about who My Two Moms is written for, whether we can count on President Obama to fight for LGBTs, and how to prevent more bullying of gay teens.
    Queerty: Who is My Two Moms aimed at?
    It’s a dual mandate. First, I want to give a voice to the other kids with LGBT parents. Kids like me answer the questions that I mention in the book all of the time. We get told so often by so many talking heads and political figures that there’s some huge flaw or some huge problem having gay parents. Even though we know that on a very fundamental level that’s not true, it’s still important to repeat.
    Secondly, when it comes to talking to somebody who’s on the fence about gay families, I think the book does a good job of laying out the values behind me, behind my family. If you look at those values they’re very much not just in the political but the clutural mainstream of America. The book is structured around the 12 values of Boy Scout law, each chapter is titled “Be Prepared,” Obedient, Trustworthy, Kind, and so on. I hope it acts as a bridge for some people who are still on the fence.
    More than 50% of Americans have said they support gay marriage in national polls for some time now. Do you think the next 20% or 30% will be hard to crack?
    If you look back at the trendline, 12 years ago in 2000, support for same-sex marriage was at about 35%. Two years ago it was 44%. Today it’s at 53%. We’re on this accelerated pathway. I don’t want to use derivatives to make a point, but if you look at the slope of the trendline, it’s extraordinarily clear where the country is headed on this issue—toward a place of more inclusion, more diversity, and more acceptance.
    You’re showing your engineering background! After we get marriage equality, what’s next for LGBT rights?

    While we’re moving forward quickly when it comes to lesbians, gays and bisexuals, but when it comes to [trans] people, there’s still a lot of work to do. Trans people are an important part of this movement, and we need a gender-identity-inclusive ENDA. In Texas, for example, the state recently tried to annul a marriage between two transgender people. We can’t just secure marriage equality, think our work is done and pack up and go home.
    Has becoming a speaker, author and public figure taken over your life, or are you going to still pursue engineering?
    It’s such an important time for LGBT rights, with the momentum we’ve picked up over the last two years. The Obama administration’s decision to consider DOMA unconstitutional is also a huge step, and I don’t think the community always understands the importance of it. I thought this was an important time to take time off from school. This is really something that, while I enjoy doing, I’m not interested in as a career. My expectation is that in 2013 or 2014, I’m going to return to my studies full-time to finish my degree in environmental engineering.
    So we’re not going to see you run for office?
    That’s something I’m considering. There are a lot of conversations that need to happen, both internally with my friends and family, and also with the community. I think talk of political office before I have a college degree is premature at best, so it’s definitely a conversation I will rethink once I have my degree.
    You talked about including the “T” in the LGBT rights. Why do you think there’s been some friction between trans people and the greater gay community?
    I think why there’s a disparity between “LGB” people and “T” people is because somebody who has a sexual orientation that is not heterosexual, they have to do some soul-searching and figure out what that means in a heteronormative society. But they don’t have to think about their gender identity. A trans person has to think about their gender identity, and the result that will have on their sexual orientation. You have to fight against heteronormativity twice as a trans person.
    Do you think President Obama is just waiting for a better political climate to endorse gay marriage?
    I can’t tell you what President Obama’s private reflections on marriage equality are. I know he’s been a Christian for his whole life, so I know there might be some religious beliefs to reconcile. However, when you look at what he did with the Defense of Marriage Act. By declaring it unconstitutional, he removed an incredible amount of legal standing in the court.

    Queerty wrote recently about Kathryn Lehman, who helped draft the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Since then, though, she’s come out as a lesbian and is fighting to get DOMA repealed. That feels like a prime example of the cultural change we’ve seen over the past 20 years.
    That actually speaks in a very real way to the central message of my book: that the sexual orientation of my parents have zero effect on the content of my character. That’s just to simply observe that a person’s sexual orientation, or race, or class, or education or what have you is a very poor indicator of what that person is like. Being told a person is gay doesn’t tell you a lot about that person’s character.
    What I think we’re observing in [Lehman's] case is… a woman who was involved in some level of self-loathing. Did that mean her sexual orientation was giving her strength or not? No, of course not, it was the content of her character. Those are two separate things.
    How would you convince a conservative talking head like Bill O’Reilly to support gay rights?
    When we have these conversations, we have to meet people where they are. We need to understand them before they can understand us. I think it’s incredibly important to understand why Bill reacts to gay people the way he does. Even though that sounds assimilationist, I think at the end of the day it comes down to whether or not you are so self-important that you simply stand for what you stand for, consequences be damned. If you want to make the world a better place you’re going to have to compromise. You’re going to have to do some things that you don’t want to do.
    Have you had an experience where you’ve told someone your parents are lesbians and they’ve had a change of heart about gay parenting?
    I’ve never had it happen in the middle of a conversation, like a light bulb going off. But I have had people come up to me after I’ve given a lecture at a college and tell me, “I came in here not knowing how I felt about the issue, and was split both ways, but walking away I just really agree with your side of the argument.” That’s always an incredible thing, and makes giving these talks worth it.
    Recently, 14-year-old teen Kenneth Weishuhn committed suicide in your home state of Iowa, a marriage-equality state. How can we can protect gay teens more effectively? It does get better, but sometimes not in the high-school environment.
    Sometimes not even college is better. The Sioux City Journal, which the biggest paper in the northwest part of Iowa where this happened, published a full-page editorial on their Sunday edition—the entire first page—with a call to action against bullying because of Kenneth’s suicide. It was totally unprecedented in the history of this newspaper. People are slowly starting to realize that we have a responsibility as human beings to say that bullying is not a rite of passage. It’s not a simple trial that everybody has to go through. It’s not how people get stronger. There’s that great Friedrich Nietzsche quote, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” But that’s not always true. Sometimes bullying will destroy you. And teachers, when they step into that classroom, have a responsibility to protect their students, no matter their sexuality, race, or creed.
    How about straight allies like yourself—how can they protect gay teens?
    Dumbledore once observed that it takes a lot of courage to stand up to your enemies, but it takes even more courage to stand up to your friends. Even though it seems a little awkward to quote Harry Potter here, it’s so true. It’s going to be the courage of young straight people who don’t necessarily have a gay brother or sister or gay parent, it’s going to be those young people calling out straight people who make a big difference.
    While gay activists are obviously important for LGBT rights, straight allies are so crucial in moving things forward.
    We still live in country where there’s an idea that homosexuality is a choice. This is an obvious departure from the women’s and black rights women, because nobody doubts that you’re [born] a woman or a black person. It’s something you can see. When it comes to something like attraction, you can’t see it. There’s a disconnect. It’s a civil-rights issue where allies are unusually important, because of the nature of heteronormative status. The fact of the matter, though, is that gay people have an incredibly important role to play, and nobody doubts that. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t be who I am without my moms.

    Cancer affects everyone, but prejudice and lack of understanding can mean members of the gay community don’t receive the preventative and curative care they need. Thankfully, the National LGBT Cancer Network has expanded its directory of LGBT-friendly cancer screening facilities to cover additional facilities in more than 40 states and the District of Columbia.Said Cancer Network director Liz Margolies:
    “We have selected each facility for inclusion based on its commitment to offering safe, affordable, welcoming care to all LGBT people. Each has demonstrated proven cultural competence in respecting the bodies, histories, and families of LGBT patients. We will research additional facilities and expand the list until every LGBT person in the country is within driving range of a safe and welcoming facility where they will be respected.”
    In addition to making gays and lesbians feel welcome, healthcare providers should be aware of certain unique risk factors and circumstances. For example:
    * Gay men have rates of HPV, the virus that can lead to anal cancer, that are 40 times higher than the general population.
    * Long-term HIV survivors are known to be at much greater risk for lung and renal cancer
    * Lesbians tend to drink more, smoke more and are less likely to have a biological child before age 30, all risk factors for several kinds of cancer.
    The directory is particularly essential to trans patients, who frequently face discrimination in medical services. (One out of five transgender patients has been turned away by a healthcare provider.) Even compassionate doctors may not be aware of relevant data or necessary tests. For example, estrogen therapy and breast implants may affect incidents of breast cancer in trans woman, while trans men may be hesitant to undergo mammograms or breast-cancer screenings in the first place.
    Acknowledging that LGBT patients are disproportionately likely to be uninsured, the directory also includes information on facilities that do not require health insurance.
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    That is scary realizing the fact that i could be killed my dad, mostly like he would try to force me into going to a ex gay minstry place, but i am not sure. He was pretty annoyed when he found out i was a communist.
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    Y’know, we’ve been seeing so much positive change happening for gay people across America that when something really crappy happens it feels like a slap across the face. And our cheek is still red from hearing that North Carolina’s Amendment One—which would codify marriage as between one man and one woman—is likely to win at the voting booth on Tuesday. Proponents of the measure—which would negate civil unions and domestic partnerships of any stripe, gay or straight—are leading by 16 points according to a poll released this weekend by the nonpartisan Public Policy Polling.
    Our final marriage amendment poll finds it leading by a 55-39 margin, little change from a week ago when it was ahead 55-41. The final yes percentage will likely be somewhere in the 57-59% range depending on how the undecideds break. Opponents of the amendment had an uphill battle in convincing voters that it was anything other than a referendum on gay marriage, even though it does go a lot further than that. 57% of voters in the state think gay marriage should be illegal (to only 34% who think it should be legal) and it’s not a coincidence that number correlates so closely with the 55% planning to support the amendment.
    …Just 24 hours until election day only 46% of voters realize the proposal bans both gay marriage and civil unions. Those informed voters oppose the amendment by a 61-37 margin, but there may not be enough time left to get the rest of the electorate up to speed.
    Record turnout is expect at the polling stations tomorrow.
    Officials in various cities have been expressing frustration and concern regarding the future of existing protections:
    “We are the first county in North Carolina that offered health benefits to domestic partners,” says Orange County Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier. “If Amendment One [passes], we would be obliged to cease providing that benefit.”
    Chapel Hill Town Council member Penny Rich believes Tuesday will be a “tense” day for the college town: “In Chapel Hill we are liberally minded… We all have one thing in common and that’s to beat the amendment.”
    Good luck, folks. If we believed in a higher power you’d be in our prayers.

    Sorry fair-minded Nebraskans: You can add whatever protections for LGBT you want to your town charters, but they have no weight. That was the message in an recent opinion issued by Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning. “Nebraska statutes do not authorize political subdivisions in Nebraska, including municipalities, to expand protected classifications beyond the scope of the civil rights classifications created in state statute.”
    Bruning, who is running for Senate, was weighing in on a bill proposed by state Sen. Beau McCoy (R-Omaha) that would have barred municipalities from adopting anti-discrimination ordinances that are beyond what the state covers. McCoy’s bill—aimed at Omaha’s recent gay-rights law—never made it out of committee. But the Senator is tickled pink by Bruning’s support:
    “t not only backs up and supports what I have said for almost eight months now, but it probably goes further in outlining why civil rights and discrimination measures are state issues.”
    Paul Kratz—the city attorney for Omaha, which recently banned discrimination against gay people by employers, public accommodations and businesses that contract with the city—says Bruning’s ruling won’t change anything.
    “If somebody sues us, we’ll deal with it in court.”

    Rich Dewberry was ticked off he had to get his faulty cellphone replaced at a Best Buy in Colorado. But the hetero Green Valley Ranch felt “humiliated” when he realized an employee changed his Facebook status to announce he was coming out of the closet. Less than half-an-hour after getting a replacement Android, Dewberry noticed a Facebook post from his old phone that read “I am gay. I’m coming out.”
    He admits he forgot to log out of his Facebook and other accounts when he handed in the old phone, but says he he never imagined he’d be the victim of this kind of identity theft: “It’s totally not a joke,” Dewberry tells ABC 7 in Denver. “I feel like I’ve been humiliated.”
    He says friends, family members and even his ex-wife started calling almost immediately. Dewberry claims the employee who posted the false item was subsequently fired from the store.
    It’s understandable that this guy would be annoyed someone was futzing with his status—we can’t imagine having to explain to our entire circle of friends that we were actually not straight. But ultimately we’d probably laugh the whole thing off. Dewberry seems particularly peeved that he was mistakenly represented as—gasp!—gay. (Where’s the requisite p.s.: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that”?)
    He says the whole incident “put a bad taste in my mouth.”
    Nah, too easy.

    University of Nebraska-Lincoln football coach Ron Brown didn’t hold his tongue when the Omaha City Council debated adding sexual orientation and gender presentation to the town’s anti-discrimination ordinance. But the 22-year UNL veteran has said he won’t speak out in regards to a similar measure being considered in Lincoln. “Everything inside of me said, ‘I don’t want the media to stop me from going,’” Brown told the Lincoln Journal-Star on Sunday. “Then I realized it was going to be a circus, and everybody already knows how I think. My views stand the same. As I prayed about it, I thought it was not in the Lord’s will for me to testify.”
    And on behalf of God, we say “Thanks, pal!”
    When Omaha was considering an ordinance (since passed) that would add LGBT protections, Brown addressed the Legislature, saying it would have to answer “to a higher authority” if it didn’t embrace the biblical view of homosexuality as sinful.
    But in an open letter to the Journal-Star Brown denies his beliefs on homosexuality led him to discriminate against gays Corn Huskers:
    I wholeheartedly agree with UNL’s Non-Discrimination Policy. As a UNL employee for 22 years, I haven’t, nor will I violate this policy…
    Not all of my players have agreed with the Bible’s views. One example, of many, would be those choosing heterosexual sex outside of marriage. Though the Bible teaches this as sin, I haven’t penalized them with playing time or discrimination of any sort. Because I love them, I’ve invested in them even outside of football and gently asked them to consider God’s view on it… I
    have and will embrace every player I coach, gay or straight… but I won’t embrace a legal policy that supports a lifestyle that God calls sin.
    So you don’t discriminate against gays—and you support the school’s policy that forbids discriminating against gays. But everyone else should be free to discriminate against gays? That doesn’t make much sense.
    On the CBS Sports website, Reaction to Brown’s latest comments were mixed—some attacked his views, others embrace them, and still others defending his right to his opinion.
    Bama75201: Thank God for closet cases that speak hate against gays and lesbians. It’s God’s will to judge others. I read that somewhere in the Bible. “Judge thy neighbor lest thee be judged by others.”
    CUJAYS87: Ron Brown is exercising his freedom of speech. If he was a Muslim I bet the hypocritcial libs and PC police would have no problem with anything he said.
    OneWay2Go: The anger expressed over this issue is because you know Ron Brown is correct. Hence, you spin all kinds of reasons he should be fired. You do not see this anger when immoral activities are promoted. This anger towards Ron is because the Bible is clear–people hate righteousness. If there is truly a rightness then you know you will be judged by it.
    brainfood: Brown does not represent the views of correct-thinking Nebraskans. He is an embarrassment to the state. He should resign or be fired immediately. Maybe he can get a job at Falwell U.
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    After her partner left the country with their daughter, Colorado lesbian Wendy Alfredsen became the first woman to file a paternity suit in the Mile High State. In 2006 Wendy and her ex, Lena, adopted two sisters they had been foster parenting, with each woman the legal parent of one girl. (Colorado law currently only allows one gay parent to file adoption paperwork.)
    But when the couple split in 2009, Lena took her daughter and moved to Norway. “She didn’t get to say goodbye to her parent or sister,” a tearful Wendy told ABC News 7. “How can that not damage a kid?”
    But her attorney, Ann Gushurst, discovered a unique way to fight for her client’s parental rights: A recent decision in the state allowed a non-biological father to file for paternity. “Last summer a case came down that said you can hold yourself out as a parent under Title 19 and not be the biological parent. I thought, well if a man can do it, surely a woman can do it.”
    Lena’s lawyer tried to get the motion dismissed, says Gushurst, “but it was constitutional.”
    A ruling is expected in June. Until then, Wendy says she’s bolstered by visits to her daughter in Norway: “She always screams and jumps in my arms and says, ‘Mommy I missed you and Mommy I love you. It doesn’t matter the amount of time that’s passed.”

    Basketball great Charles Barkley has been a longtime ally of the LGBT community, which is why this story of him using a homophobic slur to describe Flava Flav’s outfit smelled fishy to us before we even watched the video. He’s even gone on record to remind his black brothers and sisters that civil rights include the gays:
    “People try to make it about black and white. [Martin Luther King, Jr.] talked about equality for every man, every woman. We have a thing going on now, people discriminating against homosexuality in this country. I love the homosexual people. God bless the gay people. They are great people.”
    And he said that during a Lakers-Celtics game on MLK Day! He’s also said it’s fine to be a gay athlete… as long as you don’t suck (on the the field, ha).
    So, yeah, we don’t think Sir Charles said Flava Flav was “dressed like a fag” while commentating on the Sunday Celtics-Hawks game, but erroneous reports of it are popping up around the internet. Here’s a transcription of what we heard:
    “Please don’t have no kids, man,” says Barkley of Flav’s ridonkuloid outfit. “You a damned idiot dressed like that. Please don’t have no kids.” (Too late.)
    “Celtics fan baby,” says someone else.
    And a third voice, which sounds like Barkley’s, says: “He’s dressed like a [fan/fag].”
    More credible reports believe that it was actually fellow commentator Kenny Smith responding to Barkley’s criticism of Flava Flav’s ridiculous outfit, saying he’s just showing some team spirit. We’re in that camp! Smith does sound a lot like Barkley, though.
    This clip from HuffPost Politics cuts out the possible homophobic slur but has Barkley slamming Romney: “You goin’ down, bro.”
    P.S: See source for videos

    Eight Months in Solitary

    BY Andrew Harmon

    May 07 2012 8:42 AM ET

    Dulce, a transgender detainee held until recently at Rappahannock Regional Jail in Virginia. Photos by John Nelson.

    Is a government turf war over immigration detention putting transgender lives at risk?

    A FEW DAYS AFTER CHRISTMAS LAST YEAR, Ruby Corado, a longtime transgender activist in Washington, D.C., received a telephone call while watching late-night TV. The number on her iPhone was from Rappahannock Regional Jail, about an hour’s drive south of the nation’s capital in Stafford, Va. Rappahannock is one of more than 200 facilities nationwide that contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house those awaiting a judge's decision on whether they can remain in the United States or will be deported back to their home country. On any given day, about 32,000 people are held in detention, many for violating immigration law — a civil, not criminal, offense.
    Weak and distraught, the transgender woman calling Corado at 11 p.m from Rappahannock was one of them. Her name was Kripcia, and she had been held for eight months in what ICE calls "administrative segregation" — solitary confinement, in non-bureaucratic terms. A native of El Salvador, she was arrested in early 2011 for failure to pay a cab.
    Kripcia had spent a minimum 22 hours per day in a tiny cell with little access to recreation or other people. This was not because she had defied any jail rules: It was for her own good, for her safety, she was told by officers. Kripcia’s cell was located in a special unit of the jail usually reserved for male sex offenders. She was told that it would be easier for guards to watch over her in this smaller area.
    Corado had taken these calls before from the jail. A relentless activist with a reassuring voice, she's the sort of person you'd speed dial in the heat of any emergency. With Kripcia deteriorating in isolation, Corado had hired an immigration lawyer to take on the case, a luxury in a system where 84% of detainees have no legal representation. As a result, Kripcia was supposed to be out of detention by Christmas. But the holiday came and went, and she was still at Rappahannock.
    Ruby, I just want to die. I'm going crazy, Kripcia told Corado on the phone that evening. But if I have to die, I want to go back to my country. I can't die in here.
    Promise me you’re not going to think those thoughts, Corado replied. Come on, work with me on this. Promise me. Just give it one more day.
    "It's hard, you know? What do I really tell these people in detention?" Corado said through tears during a recent conversation at Casa Ruby, her soon-to-open Latino LGBT community center near Howard University. "Segregation is inhuman. And how they're treated, how they're abused? It's inexcusable. Even if they've done something wrong, you want the best for these people. But I've never seen a case of a transgender detainee who was actually treated like a human being."

    Immigration detention is not supposed to be a form of punishment. While ICE, a division within the sprawling Department of Homeland Security, detains murderers, drug dealers, and other felons who pose significant security risks, they also hold asylum seekers fleeing desperate conditions in their home countries, as well as the elderly, people who are in failing health, and family members of U.S. citizens. (Another group, unaccompanied minors who enter the U.S. without an adult relative, fall under the authority of a separate federal agency, the Department of Health and Human Services.)
    Even as the Obama administration has dramatically expanded the use of detention as it pursues a record number of deportations, it also has sought to overhaul the facilities that house detainees, and in doing so, to change public perception — all of this in the absence of promised, comprehensive immigration reform. For instance, ICE recently unveiled a new, privately-run, civil detention facility in Karnes County, Texas, southeast of San Antonio, that has less of a penitentiary feel. It boasts better access to medical care and, as the White House touted this spring, provides detainees "more access to services, recreation, and natural light." Republicans in turn derided the administration’s attempt to improve conditions in a House Judiciary Committee meeting officially titled "Holiday on ICE."
    ICE officials stressed that this initiative is no mere public relations stunt and issued an overhaul of detention standards in March. All detainees deserve dignity, the agency maintains, and that includes transgender detainees, who are among the most vulnerable individuals in the system. The latest ICE standards specifically address issues affecting trans detainees, calling for greater access to hormone therapy, a reduction in the use of administrative segregation, and perhaps most crucial, zero tolerance of sexual assault. Hundreds of sexual abuse allegations have been leveled by detainees in the past several years, according to documents obtained last year by the American Civil Liberties Union.
    The problem, Corado and immigration advocates say, is that ICE detention standards aren’t legally binding. Homeland Security, bluntly described by one advocate as “a paramilitary organization,” has insisted on this.
    The law that Homeland Security has resisted is known as the Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA. Faced with an inexcusable epidemic of rape in the U.S. prison system, Congress passed the bill on a bipartisan basis in 2003, and President George W. Bush signed it into law. PREA mandates consistent standards throughout the nation's prisons and jails for addressing sexual assault, and provides for anonymous reporting of complaints as well as outside investigations to ensure they are appropriately addressed. A lack of transparency is fertile soil for sexual abuse behind bars, on the part of both inmates and the staff who watch over them, lawmakers concluded.
    Nearly a decade later, the Justice Department is still finalizing regulations for PREA, and in informal legal opinions, it has advised that immigration detention facilities should be subject to the law. But to the ire of some administration officials, Homeland Security has been recalcitrant, insisting that its own internal standards and oversight on immigration detention facilities should be the final word.
    To address the jurisdictional impasse, the White House called a high-level meeting in early March between officials under Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, multiple sources told The Advocate. This was the latest in a series of meetings DHS requested to assert its authority over detention standards. One administration official with knowledge of the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the White House official who called the meeting, Cass Sunstein of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, discarded Justice's legal opinion, and indicated that the administration would allow DHS to issue its own standards.
    This didn't go over well with several in attendance. The Justice Department representatives were "blindsided by the lengths to which DHS went to oppose DOJ's interpretation of PREA" as applied to immigration detention facilities, the official said. What's more, "We were surprised that the White House even went along with DHS," the official said. "To think that they are going to issue internal standards that are in any way comparable to what DOJ has promulgated is highly unlikely. … These [detainees] need and deserve the highest protections that we can offer them. And I have no reason to believe they are being protected to the extent that they could be.”
    The Justice Department is expected to release its final PREA rules in the coming weeks, to be published in the Federal Register. "Of course, they won't be 'final,' because thereafter DHS will have to issue its own," the official said. "Note that DOJ is already two years late in issuing standards. So what's another year or two for [DHS], right?"
    A White House spokesman declined comment on the PREA rules as they have yet to be released.

    Beyond this interagency squabble lie serious concerns for detainees from a range of officials and advocacy groups. In January, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), one of four openly gay members of Congress, joined Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) in calling for an investigation of abuse claims in ICE detention facilities (Polis believes that PREA should apply to immigration detention facilities, a spokesman said). Last summer, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez charged that ICE had violated provisions of the UN's Convention Against Torture regarding the alleged abuse of more than a dozen gay and transgender detainees held in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, and other states, as detailed by a 2011 complaint from the advocacy group National Immigrant Justice Center.
    Among the more chilling details in the complaint is the story of a transgender woman, referred to in redacted documents only as "B," who was held at the Santa Ana City Jail in Orange County, Calif. “B” was violently forced to perform oral sex on a male detainee while riding in a van en route to an immigration court hearing in 2010. The detention guards detailed in the complaint were often ignorant to the needs of transgender detainees — or simply showed contempt for their very existence. Following the UN pressure, ICE responded in a statement that a Homeland Security civil rights office would investigate, though officials declined to discuss the ongoing inquiry. "This is a widespread problem," said Jane Zurnamer, National Immigrant Justice Center's director of policy. "If ICE can't protect these vulnerable people, they shouldn't be allowed to detain them."
    But Andrew Lorenzen-Strait is convinced that ICE can do so, both safely and humanely. An attorney with a background in immigration and child advocacy issues, Lorenzen-Strait joined ICE in 2008 as a senior adviser on detention issues. He was tapped in February to become the agency's first public advocate in a newly created office with 30 staffers nationwide. Lorenzen-Strait is gay and married.
    Some critics derided his new office as another example of PR masquerading as actual reform, but Lorenzen-Strait strongly contested this. "The public advocate office is not window-dressing. It's a legitimate position that has teeth," he said during a recent interview in his office at ICE headquarters, a few blocks from the National Mall. "We want to make sure that detention is only used to make sure individuals comply with immigration proceedings and to mitigate flight risk. When you're in detention, there should be no degradation. We do have effective oversight to make sure that people don't languish, because they shouldn't."
    LGBT issues became a key concern for ICE as President Obama took office. Nearly everyone with expertise on the matter agrees that the current administration better understands the needs of transgender detainees compared to its predecessors. Under George W. Bush, detention conditions for transgender individuals were severely inadequate in terms of protection and medical care. At least one, and possibly two, transgender women died in detention during that time.
    In formulating the new detention standards, ICE worked with stakeholder groups including the National Immigrant Justice Center, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Immigration Equality. Over two years, the groups made progress on several key issues. One was a commitment to better hormone therapy access. Despite conservative backlash against ICE, that recommended policy is a no-brainer, Lorenzen-Strait said. "If a transgender individual was taking hormone therapy before they were in custody, it's a medical need, and that's what should be driving the decision, not anything else,” he said. “Prudent minds can and should agree here."
    Meanwhile, administrative segregation shouldn’t be considered the default option for transgender detainees who have done nothing to warrant solitary confinement. "Because there's a tendency to believe that a transgender detainee may feel further victimization, there's been a presumption of segregation," Lorenzen-Strait said. "We put out a policy that says 'no' to that presumption. We look at a totality of circumstances, and ask whether a detainee could be housed in the general population with effective monitoring."
    Following the National Immigrant Justice Center complaint, ICE created a dedicated protective custody unit for transgender and gay detainees in the Santa Ana City Jail. Lorenzen-Strait dispatched a team member last month to review the facility, and reported that detainees “feel more welcome, and there's a greater understanding of their needs," he said.
    Talia Inlender, an immigration attorney who works often with detainees at the jail, had a more mixed review. “Although there have been important improvements for gay and transgender immigration detainees in Santa Ana, problems persist,” she said. “Delays in medical care and complaints of mistreatment remain. Having robust and enforceable detention standards for medical care and legal rights would be a big step forward, and detaining fewer gay and transgender people in these facilities would be an even bigger step.”
    Lorenzen-Strait declined to discuss specific policy decisions regarding PREA, but was adamant that his office had laid the groundwork for effective response to sexual assaults. "We believe that there's no daylight between PREA and our sexual assault standard, which had robust input from the NGO [non-governmental organization] community. We have a strong, layered approach to compliance, and we're going to take sexual assault seriously."
    The timeline for implementing such standards in the nation's detention facilities is an ambitious one. Lorenzen-Strait said that the detention centers operated by ICE will adopt the regulations by June. Privately-run facilities, such as the new Karnes County center near San Antonio, are expected to implement the standards by July, he said, with a goal of all facilities holding detainees becoming compliant by year's end.
    Advocates, as well as some administration officials, are dubious of ICE's ability to do so. This is not to say that Lorenzen-Strait isn’t well regarded among advocates interviewed for this article. His office’s commitment to the well being of LGBT detainees wasn’t questioned in multiple interviews. But the new standards will require extensive contract renegotiations with large, private contractors, such as Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group, which runs Karnes County. "There's no obligation for any of the contract facilities to modify these contracts," said Chris Daley, deputy executive director of Just Detention International. "And it's not at all clear that facilities, particularly county jails, are going to do this at the request of DHS."
    Even if they did so, local jails would be burdened with implementing two sets of standards: those mandated by the Justice Department for inmates, and those put forth by DHS for immigration detainees.
    "The standards seem like pie in the sky at this point," said Rosalba Davis, a former staff attorney for Immigration Equality who is now in private practice. "Each detention center operates like its own fiefdom and doesn't feel bound by the national standards. I hope this changes, though. I hope the detention centers start realizing that treating detainees humanely and with dignity is not difficult."

    At Immigration Equality, Rosalba Davis had navigated many of those fiefdoms, including Rappahannock. Last year, she worked with a transgender woman named Dulce from Guanajuato, Mexico, who originally fled to the U.S. in the 1990s following a sexual assault. Dulce has the effervescence of an Almodóvar film actress, yet is shy when speaking about her time in detention. She had been transferred to Rappahannock following an arrest for shoplifting shoes at a local K-Mart. Upon arrival, Dulce was put into an isolation cell (el hoyo, or "the hole") for six days with nothing but a pair of sheets and a thin, wet mattress thrown onto the floor. “I remember asking a female sergeant, ‘Why did you put me here, in the hole? It’s the place for punishment. What did I do?’” Dulce recalled. “She told me they didn’t know where else they could put me.”
    Dulce was transferred to the same area that Kripcia had been held, the one designated for male sex offenders. She waited four months before her first court appearance and eventually spent eight months at the facility. CAIR Coalition, a local immigrant advocacy group, found out about Dulce’s case, which was soon taken up by Davis. "When I found out that Dulce was being held with sex offenders, I was not sure what to do about it," she said. "It all seemed so backwards to me."
    Dulce had little interaction with her fellow detainees, but some conversations she did have scared her, as she recounted to the court last year. “I have not felt safe here and several detainees have made harassing comments,” she wrote. “When New York State passed gay marriage in July [2011], we were watching the TV coverage and one of the detainees said that he wanted to be like Franco and make them all ‘disappear.’ He was telling me he wanted to kill all the gay people, including me. I try to ignore these comments and keep the peace but sometimes I feel unsafe and scared here.”
    The officer handling Dulce's case seemed perpetually confused about her particular circumstances, according to Davis. "Over the course of my representation, he had very little patience,” Davis said of the ICE officer and his handling of Dulce’s requests, which included hormone therapy and a chaplain visit after Dulce learned that her mother had died (both were denied). "He even hung up on me once when I challenged his decision to continue to detain her after the immigration court granted her relief.”
    The legal relief that eventually got Dulce out of ICE detention is known as "withholding of removal," and allows an individual to remain in the country, to obtain a work permit, and to pursue an education, which Dulce is now doing. But Ruby Corado, who has helped Dulce find a place to live in Washington since she was released, likens the impermanent legal classification to "life support."
    "It can be taken away very easily," Corado said. "Immigration can just pull the plug on you and deport you anytime they want to. There's really no protection."
    Absent safe facilities for transgender individuals, advocates have called for alternatives to detention in appropriate cases. Research shows that putting trans detainees on ankle bracelet monitoring results in significant savings for the government — $14 per day compared to $100 or more a day for the cost of detention, according to Homeland Security's own figures.
    "Nobody should be subjected to these kinds of abuses, and people need to hear these stories," said Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality. "I think there has been an increasing meanness in our country toward people who are undocumented. Unfortunately, that's certainly had an effect on the progress we have and haven't made in securing better treatment in detention."
    Because of Corado’s efforts, Kripcia has since been released but has not yet been granted withholding of removal. She now volunteers with Corado’s organization and awaits a court decision on whether she can remain in the country.
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    Dan Savage v. NOM

    BY Editors

    May 06 2012 9:17 AM ET


    "I will name the time and the place, per your offer, as soon as possible. Looking forward to it, NOMnuts," Savage replied to a debate offer from National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown.

    It’s on.
    Soon after National Organization for Marriage president Brian Brown challenged Dan Savage to a debate on all things religion (this following the It Gets Better founder and sex columnist’s dismantling of Biblical prohibitions against homosexuality during a high school journalism conference), Savage has accepted the offer.
    On Friday, this was Brown’s opening salvo, via NOM:
    Let me lay down a public challenge to Dan Savage right here and now: You want to savage the Bible? Christian morality? Traditional marriage? Pope Benedict? I'm here, you name the time and the place and let's see what a big man you are in a debate with someone who can talk back. It's easy to make high-school girls cry by picking on them. Let's pick on someone our own size!
    Savage’s response, Per the Stranger:
    I will name the time and the place, per your offer, as soon as possible. Looking forward to it, NOMnuts.
    No word yet on when said epic throwdown may occur.

    Former Iowa Supreme Court Justice: Anti-Marriage Equality Groups' M.O. is Bigotry

    BY Editors

    May 06 2012 6:54 PM ET


    “If these organizations are really worried about marriage, rather than being motivated by bigotry and hatred, then they would be going after the divorce laws," former Chief Justice Marsha Ternus told the NYT's Frank Bruni.
    A former Iowa Supreme Court chief justice ousted from the bench after she joined a unanimous 2009 opinion striking down laws against same-sex marriage is dubious of those who so stridently sought to replace her on the court.
    Justice Marsha Ternus, one of three justices who lost their retention votes in 2010 following the decision — this after significant resources flowed into the state from anti-marriage equality groups — told the New York Times’ Frank Bruni, “If these organizations are really worried about marriage, rather than being motivated by bigotry and hatred, then they would be going after the divorce laws. But they’re not.”
    Ternus and her two colleagues will receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in Boston on Monday.
    Read Bruni’s op-ed here.


    Education Secretary Arne Duncan Supports Marriage Equality

    BY Julie Bolcer

    May 07 2012 9:49 AM ET

    Education Secretary Arne Duncan joins Vice President Joe Biden and Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan as Obama cabinet members that support marriage equality.
    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that he supported marriage equality on Monday, one day after Vice President Joe Biden said he was “absolutely comfortable” with the right of same-sex couples to marry on NBC’s Meet The Press.
    Duncan stated his position in response to a question on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, according to Politico.
    “Mark Halperin kicked off the Monday interview by asking Duncan, ‘Do you believe that same sex men and women should be able to get legally married in the United States?’”
    Duncan responded, “Yes, I do.”
    Freedom to Marry president and founder Evan Wolfson issued the following statement in response to the Duncan interview.
    “Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s announcement this morning adds him to the drumbeat of Obama Administration members coming out in support of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples,” he said. “Like Vice President Biden, former Presidents Clinton and Carter, former Vice Presidents Gore and Cheney, Laura Bush, and the majority of Americans, Secretary Duncan knows that loving and committed gay couples seek the freedom to marry for the same mix of reasons as other couples: to make a vow to one another, to share life with the person they love, and to protect their families. Standing up for the freedom to marry is not just the right thing to do, it's the right thing politically, and it's time for the President to stand on the right side of history.”
    Duncan is the third member of the Obama administration cabinet to voice support for same-sex marriage. In addition to Biden, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan became the first sitting cabinet secretary to publicly support marriage equality in November.
    According to Politico, Duncan told his Morning Joe hosts that he had never been asked his position on the issue. Vice President Biden had previously said in interviews that he supported civil unions, which made his statements on Sunday a marked advance.
    Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod quickly tweeted after the interview that the vice president’s position was the same as the president’s.
    "What VP said-that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights-is precisely POTUS's position,” said Axelrod.
    A Biden aide said that he, like Obama, “was expressing that he too is evolving on the issue.”
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    Book Excerpt: Runaway By Anne Laughlin

    By: Anne Laughlin
    Mon, 2012-05-07 13:34


    As part of our effort to profile more authors within the LGBT community, we present Anne Laughlin.
    Anne is the author of Veritas, which won a 2010 Goldie award in the Mystery category. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies from Cleis Press, Alyson Books, Bold Strokes Books and others. Runaway, published in March by Bold Strokes Books, is her most recent novel.
    In 2008 Anne was named an Emerging Writer Fellow by the Lambda Literary Foundation. She has been accepted into writing residencies at the Ragdale Foundation (2009) and Vermont Studio Center for the Arts (2010).
    Anne lives in Chicago with her partner, Linda.
    About Runaway:
    With her life as a private investigator in Chicago firmly established, Jan Roberts can often forget where she came from—a backwoods survivalist camp run by her paranoid, dictatorial father. After risking her life at sixteen to escape the camp, she finds it hard to understand the runaway teenager she's been hired to find. With each step on the trail to find her, Jan realizes the girl is running to the same part of Idaho she fled, a digital age version of her father's way of life.
    Complicating her mission is the new owner of the security firm she works for, a former British agent who has her own secrets to hide. When the sparks fly between them, Jan finds Catherine wanting to share not only her bed, but also her quest to find the missing teen. The journey to the deep woods of Idaho is a voyage to the heart of darkness for Jan, where the reality of her past can no longer be contained, nor her feelings for Catherine denied.
    Here is an excerpt from Chapter One of Runaway. Find out more about Anne on her website, and visit Bold Strokes Books Online Bookstore to purchase Runaway and other titles.
    Chapter One
    Jan Roberts stood in front of her bedroom mirror and smoothed the front of her high-collared, button-down shirt, tucking it into her charcoal trousers and zipping up. She knew she looked sharp. When she felt this good, the glow seemed to transfer out; her black hair was shinier, her cheekbones rosier, her athletic frame fluid and stronger. Behind her, the woman lying in her bed was up on one elbow, watching her every move. Jan returned to the bedside to kiss the soft curls springing every which way from the top of Gwen’s head.
    “I’ll need to leave in a minute to make it to work on time,” Jan said. “You can relax and just lock the door behind you when you leave. Take as much time as you want.” Gwen didn’t respond.
    Jan gathered her keys and wallet from the top of her dresser and then stepped to her closet. She removed her weapons and put her Glock and its holster onto her belt.
    She turned toward the bed as she pulled her suit jacket on.
    Gwen was now on her back, her hands laced together on her stomach. A stream of western light from the late afternoon sun fell across her naked body.
    “Why don’t you just leave the money by my purse?” she said to the ceiling.
    Jan stood still. “What?”
    “That’s how people generally pay for a sex date, isn’t it?”
    “This is not a sex date,” Jan said, trying not to sound defensive. “What are you talking about?”
    “Let’s see. You called me at noon to ask whether I could come by before you left for work. I arrived at 3:00 and by 3:05 I was naked in your bed. It’s now 4:00 and you’re running out the door. What would you call it?”
    Jan sighed and leaned over, pulling her pants leg up and strapping her backup gun to her ankle. She thought about shooting her way out of the room, so uncomfortable did the conversation feel. She looked at Gwen: her long body was lovely, her intelligent, pretty face marked only by the furrow in her brow.
    “You could have said no,” Jan said.
    Gwen closed her eyes for a moment. “Excellent suggestion. This was hardly worth the cab ride over. In fact, I could have had the cabbie wait for me on the street.”
    Jan felt the familiar pressure start to build in her chest. Her body was sounding alarm bells, warning her of another impending loss.
    “Tell me what you want me to do. Please.”
    Gwen sat up and put her feet to the floor, staring at them for a moment before looking at Jan. “I don’t think so.”
    “Does that mean we’re not going to see each other anymore?”
    “If I thought you really cared one way or the other, I’d say I’m sorry.”
    “But I do care.” Jan knelt in front of Gwen and tried to take her hands. Gwen pulled them away.
    “That’s the first I’ve heard of it. You’re a complete mystery to me.”
    “I thought you liked a little mystery,” Jan said, trying out a smile. It didn’t seem to do any good.
    “I like mystery in books. Not in lovers. I’m not interested in tweezing out everything I need to know to have a real relationship with you.”
    Jan stood and turned away, fighting off the shame now crowding out the panicky feeling. She couldn’t seem to hold on to a woman for more than a month. It felt like holding a moth in her cupped hands.
    “Just lock the door handle on the way out,” she said.
    She quickly left the apartment, feeling a little sick, like she did every time women broke things off with her because she wasn’t who they wanted her to be. They didn’t know she wasn’t even who she said she was.
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    Ryan Nash, 15, Death by Suicide

    Let's put this on the table first and foremost: by all accounts, from people close to the family, Ryan was not bullied. As has become the norm as soon as word hits the social media "grapevine" of yet another teen suicide, bullying is automatically assumed to be the culprit. That is simply not always the case. What matters most at the end of the day is that yet another youth has taken his or her life, that another family has been devastated, that friends who were close to the deceased are left to wonder "why?".
    What IS known at this point is that yesterday, May 6th, 15-year-old Ryan Nash ended his young life. What is known, also, is that he was a freshman baseball player at Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Illinois. And, sadly, what is known is that Ryan's family, friends, and, indeed, entire community are in a deep state of shock and mourning. Everything else, at this point, is pure speculation.

    What is important to realize, and reinforce, to all teens - whether you think they're struggling or not! - is that there are resources available for them at all times. There are people for them to talk to. Let's face it: being a teenager is tough. It was tough when I was a teen. It's even moreso today with the prevalence of the social media medium in our culture. Today, more than ever, having resourses readily available, and visible!!, for teens can be a difference of life and death. Literally.

    The deeper I delve into this whole issue of teen suicide, the more I learn. Obviously. And, one of the common threads has been the deadly silence. That needs to be addressed. We need to find a way to get the point across to all teens that if they're struggling with something - bullying, relationship issues, depression, whatever! - they need to talk to someone. Find an adult to talk to. If not their parents, maybe the parents of a close and trusted friend. Maybe an aunt or uncle. SOMEBODY!! The biggest key is to let them know that they don't have to suffer in silence. Silence is deadly.

    In the case of Ryan Nash, by all accounts, he was a very popular young man, very well-liked, a baseball player. His friends have been speaking up, via twitter, since Sunday's tragic event. They speak of him with nothing but love, respect, and sadness.
    [FONT=Helvetica Neue]Conor [/FONT]
    [FONT=Helvetica Neue]Still in pain and shock ill miss you friend #RN20 never forgotten we have this eagles![/FONT]
    [FONT=Helvetica Neue]Nick[/FONT]
    [FONT=Helvetica Neue]Knowing my best friend, he would be doing the same thing if anyone else were in this position [/FONT]#RN20
    His sister has even chimed in:
    [FONT=Helvetica Neue]niki nash[/FONT]
    [FONT=Helvetica Neue]My brother can see how loved he was #RN20 thank you all so much for all of your support today[/FONT]
    The bottom line is that, for all the effort that so many people are putting in, in an effort to stem the tide of teen suicides, we're obviously not doing enough. That means that, collectively, we all have to work harder, and faster!!, to find a solution. It can, and must, be done. The world is losing far, far, far too many young people to suicide.

    To the family and friends of Ryan Nash, I send my deepest sympathy and condolences. Rest in peace, Ryan.
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    With the passage of legislation containing anti-discrimination protections for transgender people through the New York State Assembly last week, it’s not up to the state Senate to finally get the law passed. It’s passed the House five times but never been taken up in the Senate. As the legislative session dies down, Empire State Pride Agenda has made the bill’s passage the main cry behind their annual rally today.
    Said its chief sponsor, Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Manhattan) to the AP: “I believe the votes are there. The challenge is getting a vote in the Senate. Folks are going to support expanded equal rights if they’re forced to be on the record. It seems to be a core civil rights issue.”
    Let’s hope Democrats finally push this matter, and that Republicans cross the aisle—New York was the sixth state to legalize gay marriage but already 16 states have legalized trans-protecting measures similar to this.

    Yes, it’s true: gay men are actually impregnating more Australian women than ever. Just not, in the, er, missionary position. The Casey Weekly reports that, after a recruitment drive to get more gay men to become sperm donors (there was apparently a shortage), women looking to get pregnant via the turkey-baster method are experiencing shorter wait times.
    The Weekly tracked down gay advertising representative Scott McKeown, and got him on the record about why gay guys are willing to father children for women they don’t know:
    “The difference between gay guys and straight men in wanting to be a sperm donor is, we are not going to create a complication for ourselves or a future partner and kids, more often than not. We’re not going to have to deal with a future wife or husband, and those kids, and then someone knocking on the door or making a phone call years later, because it’s less likely that we’re going to have that kind of lifestyle.
    “It would kind of be nice as you get older to actually see someone, possibly see yourself in their face and actually say, well the surname may not pass on but maybe my genes will live on. It’s the basic human driver for both men and women—why we live, and how we came about anyway. What a nice thing to leave.”
    But this all begs the question: will there be an explosion of Aussie gaybies in the coming years? I, for one, will not visit Bondi Beach in 18 years, as the gaybies come of age. They will be sexier, blonder, and skinnier than me, an American tourist longing for my glory days.

    Joe Biden gave a rousing shout-out to Will & Grace when coming out on TV in support of marriage equality this Sunday morning. The big announcement has set the tone for political commentary this week, with some commentators cynically saying it was a “calculated” political move to buy Obama some more time to evolve while throwing LGBT advocates a bone.
    But while one of the creators of Will & Grace, Max Mutchnick (right), is happy with Biden’s endorsement, he has strong words for the President.
    Mutchnick told Variety:
    “[President Obama] needs to catch up with his vice president in terms of his views… I have always thought that his language, where he has stated that his views are ‘evolving,’ I personally find that wholly offensive. I can’t imagine what it would be like to say that about other minorities in the United States. I couldn’t speak that way about other people.”
    Mutchnick is going a little hard on Obama here—he has said his views on same-sex marriage are evolving, not that his views on homosexual people as a group are evolving. What with the DADT repeal and his consistent personal support and hiring of gay people, Obama has always esteemed LGBTs with the same amount of respect he’s given to black people, Latino people, and, yes, good ol’ white people. Let’s not pretend the good sir has maligned our people. Far from it.
    But, yes, we get Mutchnick’s point, and his impatience is mirrored in many prominent gay figures, including gay journalist Joe Sudbay, who got Obama on record as saying he was “evolving” on the marriage issue some 500 days ago, and radio host Michelangelo Signorile.
    Mutchnick continued with a bit more nuance: “The reason I feel most offended by this is because I don’t believe the President believes this,” meaning that Obama actually does believe in gay marriage and actually doesn’t have to hesitate to reconcile it with his faith. “I don’t believe he is evolving. I believe he is a man seeking reelection, and he all but breaks it down into Morse code. The President should take a page from his friend Oprah Winfrey who takes a page from her friend Maya Angelou. ‘We do better when we know better.’ I believe the President knows better.”
    The President may know better, but can we just let him know better in the first few days after his re-inauguration? Why make more of a wedge issue out of this in the lead-up to an election where the choice between a pro-gay president, one who should and almost unfailingly will push for federally recognized gay marriage within the next four years, and an anti-gay president couldn’t be more clear?

    On Friday’s episode of What Would You Do, ABC’s hidden cameras silently recorded as a waitress in a New Jersey got a hard time from a customer who couldn’t handle the fact that she was a trans woman.
    “What the hell is the matter with you? Look at yourself! You’re a freak!”
    The incident was a set-up, of course, to see how bystanders would react. The “customer” was played by an actor and the waitress was played by RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 3 finalist Carmen Carrera, who used the show as a opportunity to announce publicly that she is indeed transgender.
    “I am now in the long process of transitioning from male to female.” says Carrera, who famously appeared in a photo shoot for W magazine. “Transitioning is a life-changing decision. It’s empowering. I plan on finishing the long and risky hormone-replacement therapy process, while continuing my work in television and movies. I look forward to being a positive role model for the transgender community.”

    John Travolta is denying allegations he tried to sexually assault a masseur in Beverly Hills earlier this year. An anonymous masseur filed a $2 million sexual-assault lawsuit claiming that back on January 16, the Face/Off star picked him up for a massage appointment and drove them both to the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel, where Travolta groped him and masturbated openly, reports TMZ.
    According to legal docs, Travolta began rubbing the masseur’s leg, touched his scrotum and the shaft of his penis.
    The masseur claims he told Travolta he did not have sex with his clients, but Travolta was undeterred, offering to do a “reverse massage,” adding, “Come on dude, I’ll jerk you off!”
    A rep for Travolta, 58, claims the star wasn’t even in California on January 16, stating “it can be proved that he was on the East Coast.” The spokesman said they might consider a counter-suit for “malicious prosecution.”
    But Okorie Okorocha, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit on behalf of an unnamed client, told the Daily News “We approached them two months ago and never heard the defense [that] he wasn’t in town.” Photos have surfaced of Travolta from the G’Day USA gala in L.A. on January 14, just two days prior. (Of course, with the advent of airplanes it is possible for people to go from coast to coast in under two days. Or so we hear.)
    “If [Travolta] has evidence to prove he wasn’t in town, great, then he has nothing to worry about,” says Okorocha. “But we believe we have enough of a story of when and where things happened that we can procure hotel and cell tower records. And I think there will be witnesses who saw things. This absolutely happened.”
    This is hardly the first time Travolta has dealt with queer rumors: Way back in the 1980s porn star Paul Barresi blabbed about an alleged affair. There’s that weird photo of him kissing a guy a plane, that supposed tell-all book coming out and countless stories of bathhouse hookups. Even Carrie Fisher said “we know [he's gay] and we don’t care.”
    At this point, she’s right. But playing with yourself in front of someone who hasn’t given you the green light is gross. Almost as gross as thinking about what Travolta’s penis looks like.
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    If it seems like we’re a little obsessed with homophobic sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card, its because we are—and with good reason. Card has been a legend in the genre since the release of 1985 Ender’s Game and, when the film version of the book comes to theaters in 2013, it could spark Twilight or Hunger Games-level fandom. With Card, 60, poised to be the next Suzanne Collins, his personal opinions on gay people are worth harping on. Especially since so much of his work has a creepy, pedophile quality to it. (Try reading his bizarre version of Hamlet, where the Danish prince’s father molests all the young male characters. )
    This isn’t a situation where an artist or creator just belongs to a faith that condemns homosexuality, a la Twlight‘s Mormon author Stephanie Meyer: Card, also a Mormon, has advocated overthrowing the government if it tries to redefine marriage. He’s written that “the dark secret of homosexual society… is how many homosexuals first entered into that world through a disturbing seduction or rape or molestation or abuse.”
    And now, in an op-ed column in Greensboro, NC’s Rhinoceros Times, he’s written in support of North Carolina’s Amendment One, which would define marriage as being between a man and a woman:
    “Same-sex attraction is not a strait jacket; people’s desires change over time; gay people still have choices; a reproductive dysfunction like same-sex attraction is not a death sentence for your DNA or for your desire to have a family in which children grow up with male and female parents to model appropriate gender roles.”
    The New York Daily News posted some other things Card says he can’t abide. It’s a rather odd list, frankly:
    College professors: “The American intellectual elite has been almost completely overwhelmed by a revolution that requires our smartest people to turn off their brains, accept the received opinions, and do nothing to disturb the ruling class.”
    Larry David: “A comedian that I have never found even slightly amusing.”
    Magnolia trees: “I hate magnolia trees.”
    Charlotte, NC:“I hate the traffic and simply don’t have any wish to repeat the experience. What does Charlotte have that isn’t everywhere else?”Pet turtles: “Turtles need a lot more care and special handling than I’m willing to give them.”
    Liberals: “I’ve been to your little soirees where you sip your wine and cheese and smoke your weed and mock the hideous monstrous people who shop at Wal-Mart and eat at McDonald’s”
    Martin Scorsese: “Absolutely awful with human beings on the screen. His characters are all buffoons.”
    Parking meters: “A meaningless imposition on the public.”
    Woody Allen: “An absolutely terrible director.”
    Seriously, this guy comes off like a White Supremacist Dave Barry.
    Oddly, Card reserves his praise for Think Like a Man, the latest cinematic minstrel show from Tyler Perry, who’s got his own unresolved issues about sexuality. “[Like a Man] is funny without being gross [and] sexy without being pornographic,” writes Card, “and it makes you think about relationships between men and women.”
    Right, just like Madea’s Family Reunion.
    Of course, Card’s gift for fiction doesn’t just extend to his novels. In his column, he claims gays have finally liberated themselves from all forms of legal oppression:
    There’s no need to legalize gay marriage. I have plenty of gay friends who are committed couples; some of them call themselves married, some don’t, but their friends treat them as married. Anybody who doesn’t like it just doesn’t hang out with them…
    There are no laws left standing that discriminate against gay couples. They can visit each other in the hospital. They can benefit from each other’s insurance.
    So what’s the bigger lie: that there are no laws that discriminate against LGBT people or that Card has gay friends?
    Peoples orientation change over time? lol... sounds like the attitude on Rev-Left!

    Vote Uncertain on Colorado Civil Unions Bill

    BY Editors

    May 08 2012 10:54 AM ET

    There's momentum in Colorado to pass a civil unions bill after similar legislation failed last year. But whether the bill will be brought up for a vote remains in question.
    Via Denver Post:
    At least five House Republicans have said they would support the measure, but the question is whether they will get the chance.
    Speaker Frank McNulty said the GOP leadership has no obligation to bring the bill up for debate, and he questioned why Senate Democrats sat on the bill for more than three months before sending it his way.
    The session ends Wednesday. In order to survive, the bill must be heard today by the House Appropriations Committee and then debated by the entire House. (Read the full story here.)
    Last week, the state's Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee approved the bill, days after the state Senate moved forward on the legislation extending rights to unmarried couples.
    In a bipartisan 6-5 vote, the committee voted to send the bill to the Finance Committee before a House floor vote. Outgoing representative B.J. Nikkel, a Republican, cast the deciding vote in favor of the legislation, which died along a party-line vote in the same committee last year.
    Nikkel voted against last year’s civil union legislation but said Thursday's hearing changed her mind.
    “I’ve thought about it a lot, and I think it’s the right thing to do,” Nikkel said after the vote. “I simply believe in going with the legal rights that I think these folks ought to have. As I’ve said in the past, we’re all Coloradans — they’re Coloradans too — and I believe that they deserve to have some of the legal rights that the rest of us have.”
    Senate Bill 2 would afford all unmarried couples many of the same legal rights and benefits of marriage, including second-parent adoption, inheritance rights, and end-of-life and medical decision-making rights. All told, SB-2 would offer 27 rights at the state level. The bill does not allow for same-sex marriage, which Coloradans voted to constitutionally prohibit in 2006.


    NEW YORK – On Monday, May 14, 2012, President Barack Obama will deliver the Commencement Address at Barnard College’s graduation ceremony and receive the Barnard Medal of Distinction, the school’s highest honor, also being presented to Freedom to Marry’s Founder and President Evan Wolfson.

    "I am deeply moved to join with President Obama to celebrate the next generation of leaders coming up among Barnard women, and to share the Barnard Medal of Distinction with the President,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry. “And when I get the chance to whisper in the President's ear, I will thank him for the important steps he has already taken in support of the freedom to marry, applaud him for speaking in such personal terms about the journey he and so many Americans have made to understand who gay families are and why marriage matters, and encourage him to complete that journey and join the national majority for marriage.”

    The ceremony will take place on Monday, May 14, at 12:30 p.m. on Columbia University’s South Lawn, where the President will address approximately 600 members of the Class of 2012 in a speech to be broadcast live on Others being honored include Helene D. Gayle, the President and CEO of CARE USA, and Barnard professor of chemistry Sally Chapman.

    Previous recipients of the Barnard Medal of Distinction include U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Arthur Ashe, Walter Cronkite, Mario, Cuomo, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and legendary actress Meryl Streep – and also former New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Judith Kaye, who will present the Medal of Distinction to Wolfson.

    Wolfson, dubbed the “Godfather of Gay Marriage” by Newsweek, is the Founder and President of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage nationwide, and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry. After getting a BA in History from Yale, Wolfson served in the Peace Corps in West Africa and then earned his JD from Harvard Law School. In 2004, TIME magazine named Wolfson one of the "100 most influential people in the world."

    Prior to founding Freedom to Marry in 2003, Wolfson launched the ongoing global marriage movement as co-counsel in the landmark Hawaii marriage case, Baehr v. Miike. He also contributed to the legal teams in the Vermont case that led to the creation of "civil unions" and Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, which led to marriage in Massachusetts. In 1976, he was a Senate intern for Vice President Joe Biden, who this past Sunday came out in support of the freedom to marry. Wolfson argued before the Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale and has taught as an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School. Wolfson married his longtime partner, Dr. Cheng He, this past October after winning the freedom to marry in New York.

    Will Josh Dixon Be the First Openly Gay Gymnast at the Olympics?

    BY Neal Broverman

    May 07 2012 7:46 PM ET


    On Saturday, out gymnast Josh Dixon finished second out of 72 competitors at a qualifier for the 2012 Olympics.
    If Dixon continues to advance he could become the first openly gay male gymnast competing in the Olympic games. Outsports spoke to the young athlete, who graduated from Stanford University. His gymnastic team at the university won national championships in 2009 and 2011; Dixon himself is a seven-time all-American athlete. Dixon, a San Jose native, tore his Achilles tendon last spring, which almost derailed his gymnastics career. But he's in the midst of an amazing turnaround and is practicing at an Olympics training center.
    Dixon says he's received no negative feedback from teammates after he told them he was dating a fellow male athlete. He does admit that he's had to face down his own internalized homophobia. Read more here.

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    Pro wrestler CM Punk has found that fiery rhetoric might win over fans at WrestleMania, but it doesn’t fly in the political arena. The straight ally tweeted his opposition to North Carolina’s Amendment One yesterday, saying “Same sex marriage should be legal. The fact that it’s illegal is embarrassing.”
    The ballot initiative is being voted on today, and apparently (unfortunately?) is the number one reason why people are turning out to the polls—which means that NC voters want to shut the door on civil unions and domestic partnerships more than they want to elect local and state politicians.
    After a British fan of CM Punk’s said “Man was meant for woman, and even the thought of homo’s make me sick,” the wrestler tweeted back: “Kill yourself.”
    Later, he backed down and said to the British homophobe: “I apologize. I don’t want you to kill yourself. I want you to better yourself. Just as I want to better myself.”
    We’re glad to have the Punk’s support (he does have almost 900,000 followers) and it’s great that he is trying to influence a fairly conservative demographic (wrestling fans), but he would be well advised not to tell people to kill themselves on such a public forum.
    As for whether Amendment One will pass, we’ve combed the feeds and so far found no predictions about the measure today, though polls in the last few days have given supporters of its passage a double-digit lead. Stay tuned for election results later this evening.

    The New Normal, megastar producer Ryan Murphy’s new series about gay couple and the surrogate they hire to carry their baby, has been given the green light by NBC, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Queerty first reported on the sitcom back in February, when Justin Bartha (The Hangover) and Andrew Rannells, (Book of Mormon) were announced as the stars. (If you’ve been watching HBO’s Girls, then you saw Rannells cameo as Hannah’s gay ex-beau Elijah.)
    Rounding out the cast are Georgia King as the surrogate, Goldie, and Ellen Barkin as her wisecracking racist grandma. (Is this going to be another Raising Hope?) Also rumored to have a recurring role is Real Housewives star NeNe Leakes, who’s already appeared on Glee.
    The New Normal is expected to launch in August to capitalize on NBC’s Olympics coverage, making it a big season for Murphy, with Glee returning and American Horror Story relaunching with a new premise.

    The body of Erick Martinez, a Honduran journalist and gay-rights campaigner, was found in a ditch in Guasculile today after he went missing two days ago, according to the BBC. Honduras has the highest murder rate per capita in the entire world, so to say that this is not surprising is not to say it isn’t tragic.
    Since dictator Manuel Zelaya was ousted three years ago, over 20 journalists and at least 20, possibly as many as 70, LGBT people have been killed in the country.
    Hopefully this will put the fire under the UN’s butt to get into action and get things right in Honduras. The U.S. State Department is supposed to have started on it, as Hillary Clinton promised.

    The Equality Forum ruffled the feathers of anti-pinkwashing activists when it announced Israel would be the “featured nation” at its annual Global LGBT Summit, held last weekend in Philadelphia. But what was missed by many was that the event’s keynote speaker, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, has also been booked as a speaker at a homophobic summit later this summer. At the Forum’s International Equality Dinner on Saturday, Oren spoke of Israel’s commitment to LGBT rights—deflecting comments from a protestor and even inviting participant to Israel for Pride on June 8.
    Sounds like the usual hard-court press but Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., will be talking out of the other side of his mouth on July 16, when he takes the stage at the Christians United for Israel Summit, run by nutjob minister John Hagee.
    As Mondo Weiss’ Phan Nguyen reminds us, Hagee has a long history of attacking gays, Jews, women, Muslims and any number of other groups:
    * Hagee said Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans because the city was planning a Pride parade: “New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God…There was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that the Katrina came. And the promise of that parade was that it was going to reach a level of sexuality never demonstrated before in any of the other gay pride parades… I believe that the Hurricane Katrina was in fact the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans.”
    * Hagee stated that the Antichrist would materialize as a “a blasphemer and a homosexual,” as well as “be partially Jewish, as was Adolf Hitler.”
    * Hagee’s 2004 book, What Every Man Wants in a Woman, warns that: “Homosexuality means the death of society because homosexuals can recruit, but they cannot reproduce. Once homosexuality gets out of the closet, it becomes aggressive…[Homosexuals] do not want mere acceptance; they want to be in charge.”
    * What Every Man Wants also explains that “the word abomination in Hebrew means ‘something disgusting, abhorrent,’ the strongest Bible word for the denunciation of sin. It is impossible to call yourself a Christian and defend homosexuality. There is no justification or acceptance of homosexuality. How many ways can you say ‘abomination’ in Hebrew?”
    If you’ll recall, Hagee is so toxic that then-GOP presidential nominee John McCain refuted the pastor’s endorsement in 2008 after a recording surfaced of Hagee claiming that God made Hitler order the Holocaust in order to force Jews to move to Israel. Lest you think Oren is just ignorant of his host’s views, this is the fourth time he’s spoken at a CUFI summit.
    It’s clear Israel is making some strange bedfellows in order to improve its p.r. image on the international front, but it seems to us like Oren is sleeping with the enemy.

    Anderson Cooper has taken a shot at the Obama administration in the wake of some backtracking on Joe Biden’s strong pro-marriage comments by campaign officials like Jay Carney and David Axelrod. Carney and Axelrod have advanced the proposition that Biden’s position is “precisely” the same as President Obama’s, and that they both support “full legal rights” for LGBT individuals—without naming the m-word, of course.
    “Keeping him honest, though, the president’s position on marriage is anything but precise,” counters Anderson Cooper in his “Keeping Them Honest” segment. “But that’s not currently the case, even in states where same-sex marriage is allowed, and it’s certainly not President Obama’s position. There’s no federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Therefore, same-sex couples don’t share all the rights heterosexual couples do.”
    Interesting criticism from a news anchor and talk-show host whose stated position on his own sexuality is “anything but precise.” Just “keepin’ ya honest,” Andy. But thanks for defending our community. Perhaps one day you shall decide to join the family!
    The White House isn’t just getting nailed by the mainstream media, either—some very wealthy power gays and their allies are withholding donations from Obama because they’re so miffed by the administration’s lack of action on an executive order that would support gays in the workplace.
    Reports the Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent:
    Some leading gay and progressive donors are so angry over President Obama’s refusal to sign an executive order barring same sex discrimination by federal contractors that they are refusing to give any more money to the pro-Obama super PAC, a top gay fundraiser’s office tells me. In some cases, I’m told, big donations are being withheld.
    While it’s doubtful Obama will endorse gay marriage on the federal level before the election, perhaps these power plays will force him to at least acknowledge publicly how far along, precisely, his evolution has come.
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    While Obama’s views on marriage equality were already under attack, criticism of them is now reaching a fever pitch after North Carolina voters passed an amendment banning same-sex unions last night. The President has been in an awkward position since Joe Biden came out in support of gay marriage on Sunday. Now he’s doing some national clarity action (read: damage control) and sitting for an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts today at 1:30pm.
    Reports the very reliable New York Times: ”He is likely to be questioned about his ‘evolving’ views on the issue, according to people familiar with the matter,”
    Perhaps this is the moment he’ll come out and endorse gay marriage, though it could be a risky decision in an election year. But being questioned on the matter doesn’t mean he’ll answer in clear terms, though he is a straightforward and honest speaker.
    We’re pretty sure he will at least express his disappointment with North Carolina’s aforementioned Amendment One. He’s already done so through Cameron French, North Carolina press secretary for the Obama campaign, who commented to the Washington Blade:
    “The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same sex couples. He believes the North Carolina measure singles out and discriminates against committed gay and lesbian couples, which is why he did not support it. President Obama has long believed that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights and legal protections as straight couples and is disappointed in the passage of this amendment. On a federal level, he has ended the legal defense of the Defense of Marriage Act and extended key benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.”
    The only comment from ABC on their Obama get? It’s a “wide-ranging interview.” We’ll definitely be watching to see if he answers candidly about his “evolution,” and will live-tweet his statements on Queerty’s Twitter. Stay tuned!
    Sexually active people, including at-risk gay men, may soon be able to easily get their doctors to prescribe them a pill that prevents the contraction of AIDS.
    In what ABC News hails as a major blow against the AIDS epidemic, the FDA has cleared the way for preventative uses of Truvada, a drug already prescribed to make AIDS manageable in HIV-positive patients:
    The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that Gilead Sciences’ Truvada appears to be safe and effective for HIV prevention. It concluded that taking the pill daily could spare patients “infection with a serious and life-threatening illness that requires lifelong treatment.”
    On Thursday a panel of FDA advisers will consider the review when it votes on whether Truvada should be approved as a preventative treatment for people who are at high risk of contracting HIV through sexual intercourse. The FDA is not required to follow the advice of its panels, but it usually does…
    Researchers first reported that Truvada could prevent people from contracting HIV in 2010. A three-year study found that daily doses cut the risk of infection in healthy gay and bisexual men by 44 percent, when accompanied by condoms and counseling. Another study found that Truvada reduced infection by 75 percent in heterosexual couples in which one partner was infected with HIV and the other was not.
    Is a reduction of 44 percent that impressive though, given that condoms were still being used? Condoms are 99.9 percent effective, unless used sloppily or in the oft chance they break, right?
    We’d like to know what the risk reduction factor is when only condoms are used, in order to compare that to the Truvada-added study as a control. This is especially important given that the drug is very expensive as compared to condoms: about $12,000 a year (you have to take it daily for it to work, say doctors), which would cost the government $500 billion over 20 years to cover all gay men.
    A 75 percent decrease in a couple where one is infected and the other not, well, that’s truly remarkable. Could the most promising use for Truvada be to alleviate the fears of HIV-positive people in relationships with negative partners?
    Perhaps this would cause more infected partners to disclose their statuses to one-night stands and long-term lovers, too. We’ve heard around that a fair amount of positive gay men still take people home from bars and don’t tell them their status.
    It’s a sad day in North Carolina. Actually make that in the entire U.S.: Amendment One—which defines marriage between one man and one woman as the only union the state will recognize—has passed.
    With 35% of precincts reporting, the unofficial results show North Carolinians voting in favor of the measure 58% to 42%. Opponents concede at this point there’s no way they can make up the difference.
    Supporters of the amendment were in the majority from the start, but saw their lead waver as marriage-equality activists got the word out. Though it’s hardly the first gay-marriage ban in the nation (it’s not even the first in North Carolina) we can’t remember such a passionate fight in a long time.
    Even pro wrestler CM Punk got worked up enough to tell an Amendment One supporter to kill himself. (He later apologized.)
    Ignorance played a factor in the final tally: 53% of those asked by Public Policy Polling said they supported gay marriage or civil unions, but less than half understood Amendment One would outlaw both.
    The concern now is how the ban will affect spousal and family benefits for unmarried couples of all orientations, as well as protections for domestic-violence victims.
    Sure, it’s easy to be disheartened—but let’s remember that the trend has always been toward equality. Young people in North Carolina voted overwhelmingly against Amendment One. We’ll leave you with a particularly touching comment posted today on the Vote No on Amendment One Facebook page:
    I’m KEEPING my Vote Against One yard sign. And when I’m 80 (now 32), I will be proud to show MY grandkids what I fought for! They will likely laugh and say, “Grandma, people were against gays and equality back in your day?”
    Amid jeers of “shame on you” from LGBT advocates in the Colorado capitol, Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty (right) delivered the news last night that a civil unions bill would not reach a vote. “We have reached an impasse,” McNulty told the AP. “It is unfortunate that there will be items that will not receive consideration by the House tonight because of this impasse.”
    The bill had already cleared key Republican hurdles… Wherefore this “impasse”?
    A good ol’ GOP stall-’em-so-they-can’t-vote filibuster, reports the AP:
    Tuesday night’s announcement that the bill wouldn’t get a vote came hours after Democrats sought to block a GOP filibuster on civil unions. Republicans control the House on a 33-32 margin but enough members of their party supported the legislation to pass it.
    Democrats used a procedural move to try to stop debate on other bills when it became clear Republicans were talking at length about other measures, delaying any action on civil unions.
    Republicans responded by abruptly stopping floor work.
    The bill needed to have an initial vote of the full House before midnight Tuesday or else the proposal would die. That’s because the Legislature adjourns Wednesday, so there wouldn’t be time for a final vote.
    We can thank certain Republicans, like B.J. Nikkel, who changed her vote to allow the bill to get out of committee when it failed there so many times before.
    But a few Republicans wasn’t enough to overcome the ones who apparently listened to the Biblical gay-bashers, and when it came time for GOP leadership to enact a stall on it, the sheep followed. Do they realize that their political game shattered the hopes and dreams for gay couples for some minor shred of recognition?
    Maybe next year.
    The California state legislature is considering a bill that would ban “ex-gay reparative therapy” for those under 18. In addition, adults who willingly choose the therapy would have to sign a form admitting that conversion therapy doesn’t work and is possibly harmful. The bill’s writer and sponsor, state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), tells the AP that conversion ”dangerous,” adding that it can “cause extreme depression and guilt.”
    Doesn’t it always take a politician to state the obvious? We’d say the whole damned basis of conversion therapy is self-hate. Cement it over with a coat of self-loathing, then finish with a nice gloss of hetero-supremacy, and you’ve up and prayed the gay away!
    But, of course, an article on such a ban would not be complete with an idiotic quote from a psychiatrist who stopped reading the DSM IV in 1969. Enter David Pickup!
    “Any therapist worth his salt knows that homosexual feelings commonly occur in victims as a result of abuses,” says Pickup. “I ought to know because I was one of those boys.”
    Whether Pickup has been successfully converted to straight feelings is unclear, or if he’s just a little bi sometimes (but only because of abuse). In all seriousness, sure, child molestation can severely damage a child. But it doesn’t always make them gay, and there are plenty of people who are gay without any childhood trauma (and are happy to stay that way).
    And let us be reminded of the dangers of conversion therapy:
    Peter Drake, 55, testified Tuesday that he sought out conversion therapy in an effort to save his 20-year marriage, and the years of trying to change himself nearly drove him to suicide.
    “I am left-handed and I am gay,” he said. “I could learn to write with my other hand, but that is not who I am.”
    The alternative is clear: self-acceptance, and maybe just a healthy dose of Pride. We’ve seen plenty of very healthy (almost too healthy) dudes at those Parades.
    Jackie Green, an 18-year-old transgender teen, has made it to the semi-finals of the Miss England national competition. She’s the first transgender person to ever do so! Jackie transitioned just two years ago, the Mirror reports:
    Born Jack, she had the seven-hour gender reassignment operation—which is not performed on under-18s in the UK—in Thailand on her 16th birthday.
    Her mum Susie remortgaged her house to pay £28,000 for treatment and flights after her daughter attempted suicide five times.
    Susie, 43, said: “I’m really proud of her. She’s been through an awful lot but she has chosen to put herself out there and at risk.
    “There is a lot of prejudice out there but she is trying to make people understand this isn’t a choice and it can be OK.”
    Jackie, for her part, says she’s “ecstastic” to have made it this far, telling the Mirror: “Lots of people have been in touch and it makes me blush to think I have inspired others. I never thought I would be able to inspire anyone.”
    Best of luck to Jackie. She and Canada’s Jenna Talackova are certainly blazing trails as transgender beauty-pageant pioneers.
    Unicorn Booty turns our eye toward the strange and lurid tale of Rev. Robert C. Christian, a 61-year-old senior pastor who decided on a whim to (a) wear a skirt over a 72-year-old parishioner’s house, (b) go to the bathroom to jerk off while she made him coffee, and (c) expose himself and his erect penis to our faithful old lady.
    It is unclear how much of this Spokane, Wash. scene was premeditated, but good lord Baby Jesus is it weird. (A dramatic recreation of the incident, at right.)
    Reports the Spokane Spokesman-Review:
    The woman, who lives alone, said Christian said he’d lost a bet and had to wear a skirt for the day, according to court documents. The woman invited Christian in and he asked to use the bathroom. He emerged from the room after an extended period and sat down at the dining room table for coffee. It was then the woman saw Christian’s erect penis sticking out the front of the button-up skirt, police allege.
    The victim said her cultural beliefs prevent her from making allegations against people in positions of authority, so she said nothing to Christian. He stayed at the home until two real estate agents arrived for a previously arranged showing of the home. Christian told the victim “don’t tell them I’m a pastor” and left after explaining to the real estate agents he “had lost a bet which was why he was wearing the skirt,” police say.
    Sketchy. Kooky. Creepy. And not so right. And Christian has a wife. Who’s defending him!
    Christian’s wife told detectives that she and her husband are “out of the box thinkers” who like to do fun things to get attention for the church, such as wearing sandwich boards and walking up and down the street.
    “Out of the box thinkers” should be used to describe people who develop new iPhone features that the world instantly becomes addicted to. It should not be used to describe people who adopt the embarrassing methods of midtown delis or homeless people.
    Christian: proving that being a pastor does not necessarily make you such a good Christian after all.
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