Saturday, October 24, 2009

More Saturday Male Beauty

William & Mary Students Pick Transgender Homecoming Queen

OMG - Pat Robertson and Victoria Cobb of Daddy Dobson's Family Foundation must be having fits and wetting themselves at the news that the College of William and Mary - the second oldest university in the United States - has elected a transgender Homecoming Queen. Personally, I think it's wonderful, particularly in a homophobic state like Virginia where GLBT citizens have third class status under the civil laws. Obviously, the students at W&M know more about equality than Christianists like Taliban Bob McDonnell and Ken "Kook" Cuccinelli. Here are brief highlights from the Virginian Pilot:
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Students at the College of William and Mary have elected a transgender homecoming queen. Jessee Vasold took the field Saturday at halftime of the Williamsburg school's football game against James Madison. The junior and other members of the homecoming court were introduced to the crowd and posed for pictures. Vasold identifies as "genderqueer," a term for those who don't adhere to either strictly male or strictly female gender roles.
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The student newspaper, The Flat Hat, has more details on the story and how Vasold came to be elected as homecoming queen. Here are some highlights:
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Friends suggested that Vasold run for homecoming queen. Even though Vasold thought that there was a good chance at being elected, Vasold said the win was still surprising to hear. “We figured it would be something different for the school to go through, something that hasn’t happened too often,” Vasold said. “I was kind of surprised that I won because I knew the other girls running. I know that they’re really friendly; they’re wonderful people, so I was unsure.” This year marks the return of direct voting by students.
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there is no rule against men or women running for opposite roles. Students who made nominations were simply asked to describe how the candidate exemplified Tribe pride. “In general, most descriptions were about what activities they were involved in on campus or spiritedness at sporting events or any other kind of campus activity,” Senior Class President Alyssa Wallace said. Those students nominated with a description were put on the ballot.
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“It basically came down to nominations,” Wallace said. “Jessee was nominated, Jessee’s peers voted and Jessee won. That’s really all there is to it.” Around campus, the reaction has been positive. “I’ve only had people congratulating me. I know that one of my friends was in a conversation with someone who didn’t think that it was fair that I was able to run, because I’m not female-bodied,” Vasold said. “But it generated a really good conversation, so they were able to talk about a lot of different things.”
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For Vasold, the election of the College’s first transgender homecoming queen is a significant step forward for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community on campus.
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It is encouraging that the younger generation is not clinging to the stereotypes and bigotry that are still all too prevalent here in Virginia.

Breaking Faith - The Catholic Church Again Betrays Victims

I blogged about the bankruptcy filing by the Catholic Archdiocese of Wilmington towards the first of the week - literally on the eve of the commencement of civil suits brought by the victims of predator priests. In the aftermath of the filing, many have criticized the Church's tactics, including the Philadelphia Inquirer which carried a scathing editorial basically accusing the archdiocese of continuing the cover up efforts. The editorial is on point because the bankruptcy filing by the archdiocese - the 7th diocese in the USA to file for bankruptcy protection - was clearly intended to halt the civil trials and likely had the intent of intimidating plaintiffs to settle their claims and keep the lurid details out of the media. Pope Benedict XVI can claim remorse, but until the Church faces the damage done to victims and punishes members of the hierarchy who engaged in cover ups and/or enabled predator priests, such feigned contrition will be false and yet more lies to the public and the Church laity. Here are some highlights from the editorial:
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The best way for Wilmington's Roman Catholic Bishop W. Francis Malooly to demonstrate his stated concern for "all victims of sexual abuse by priests of our diocese" would be to give those victims their day in court. Instead, Malooly's eleventh-hour decision Sunday to file for bankruptcy protection effectively halted the first of eight clergy sex-abuse trials set to start the next day. That will have the net effect to further delay or perhaps thwart many victims' long quest for justice.
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In other words, the bishop claims he doesn't want one big verdict to deplete the church coffers and leave nothing for the other victims. Puh-leeze.
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Given the real-world impact of the bankruptcy claim, there's no way around the perception that Delaware church officials have ducked for cover - in what one attorney for an abuse-case plaintiff called "scandal prevention." Indeed, the first trial in a civil damages lawsuit brought by a former altar boy, John M. Vai, 57, would have revealed chilling testimony about violent sex acts by a priest from 1966 to 1970, according to Vai's attorneys. Now, those embarrassing allegations and many others won't be aired in open court for months and months, if at all. Nor will the public hear any details of church leaders' efforts to cover for predator priests.
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In Philadelphia alone, hundreds of abuse victims have been awaiting justice since a scathing grand jury report in 2005. The report concluded that 63 archdiocesan priests had sexually abused children and that top church leaders helped cover for some. But church officials across the nation continue to fight statute moratoriums with specious claims that victims' lawsuits will lead to parish closings, and several dioceses have resorted to the dubious bankruptcy claim.
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Had Wilmington church officials allowed the civil cases to go forward, they would have avoided the perception that the cover-up continues.
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The moral bankruptcy of the Catholic Church hierarchy continues unabated. Sadly, given the Church's governance structure, there is little hope that things will change anytime soon. Lies, cover ups and tactics to further abuse victims remain the norm.

Saturday Male Beauty

Taking to the Streets to Demand Action

I am often critical of HRC and some of the other self-anointed "leaders" of the GLBT movement for equality since they seem more worried about "access" and schmoozing with politicians than getting real equality under the law enacted (I have actually begun receiving e-mails from staffers at HRC telling me what HRC is "doing" for the cause). Is it a fear that HRC will be put out of business and its leadership will have to get real jobs if the GLBT movement ever achieves its goals? I do wonder at times. As do other like Michelangelo Signorile in a new column in The Advocate. The reality is that Congress will never grant GLBT Americans full legal equality under the civil laws out of the goodness of its heart, nor will President Obama move to deliver on his campaign promises without constant pressure to do so. And fancy dinners and soirees do not count as pressure. They are good for fund raising - which I am all for as demonstrated by my involvement in the EV Legends committee for four years running - but they are not the kind of activities that make politicians understand that they have to act, not just talk and give pretty speeches. Here are some highlights from Michelangelo's column as he calls for another national march:
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Taking to the streets — and to the World Wide Web — is the only way get this White House to move on gay issues, columnist Michelangelo Signorile says. So it could be time to plan another march on Washington.
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[W]e’ve learned a few things in this first year of Barack Obama’s presidency. First off, this administration responds to pressure, and unlike the previous Democratic administration, these White House officials cannot contain our discontent by going to groups like the Human Rights Campaign or politicians like Barney Frank (more on that and the reasons why farther down). They want to keep LGBTs at arm’s length, but we continue to make that difficult, and we force them to move — ever so reticently — each time we have applied pressure.
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The successes of the march began when the president decided to address our issues days before the march, agreeing to speak at HRC’s annual dinner. Just as he decided to commemorate Stonewall back in June, inviting gays to the White House after much public criticism of the administration’s dragging its feet, the president was responding to the marchers’ criticisms. The speech didn’t outline any new details on how the president would . . .
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The White House scrambled in other ways too, among them naming an openly gay ambassador to New Zealand. Nothing big, but evidence of a scramble and our pressure working. Even Barney Frank’s actions, coming on my radio program and declaring the march “useless” a few days before it happened, were an indication of our success.
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Senate majority leader Harry Reid, meanwhile, feeling the pressure, sent his own letters to the administration, demanding action on “don’t ask, don’t tell,” endorsed the march in a letter to organizers, and met with the organizers to talk about issues. Within days of the march, Reid confirmed that he, a Mormon, told the march organizers that it was harmful and wrong that his church backed California’s Proposition 8. That same week we got the news from the highest-ranking openly gay official, John Berry in the Office of Personnel Management, that the White House is talking to Joe Lieberman about leading the repeal of DADT .
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The reason the administration can’t contain our discontent is less about this White House than it is about dramatic change in society, certainly since the last Democratic president was in office. With blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, satellite radio, 24-7 cable news and all the other new media, it’s impossible for establishment gay groups or prominent gay politicians to contain us.
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And let’s get something out of the way: No one, including me, is questioning their commitment to LGBT rights, just disagreeing with their strategy. . . . Same with HRC, often pursing a strategy of access at all costs, including compromising on its beliefs and even going back on its word for the sake of politics. . . . It’s a strategy, but one that many of us very much disagreed with at this time. It’s a strategy that many people who have worked and still work on Capitol Hill and in Democratic politics disagree with as well, as much as HRC and its supporters try to present the criticism of them as coming from out-of-the-Beltway know-nothings.
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Only HRC seemed to think the speech [by Obama at the HRC dinner] was so “unprecedented” that it didn’t need any criticism, though the speech offered nothing new in terms of a timetable on any of the many promises the president made both before and after the election. Institutions as mainstream as Time magazine and the Washington Post editorial board agreed with many of the marchers who were quoted in the papers the next day discussing the speech, whose opinions could be summarized by the Time headline: “All Talk, No Action.”
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The radio broadcasts went on. The cable debates didn’t stop. All you had to do was tune in or sign on to any media to find out what gays really thought — and it wasn’t what HRC thought.
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In addition to criticizing HRC, Michelangelo has constructive ideas of how HRC can play a positive roll. Whether the HRC leadership gets the message will have to be seen. I am not against HRC, I just think that there needs to be a palace coup. Here are some ways in which HRC could be an asset:
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It [HRC] can start by really representing the mainstream LGBT thinking on Obama and his promises instead of heaping praise on the president and falling back on its access-at-all-costs strategy, which has never worked. And HRC should acknowledge to the White House that the grass roots is very organized, isn’t happy, and will be marching again. HRC can be a facilitator of that truth rather than apologizing for the administration. Rather than looking increasingly irrelevant, our big D.C. lobbying group could actually make itself look much stronger.
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The march in fact has only made us all stronger as a movement. We were able to organize in a few months, using new media, and got 200,000 people to D.C. without spending much on traditional advertising. David Mixner is to be lauded for his passion and putting the idea out there. Cleve Jones, for his vision and his steadfastness at doing it quickly and keeping the costs down to a mere $150,000. Robin McGehee, Kip Williams, and all the other young activists, for tirelessly organizing the event and using the Net roots so skillfully.
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We need to continue making a lot of noise — online, but also getting into the streets and protesting everywhere. And we need to march again on Washington — or at least let them know we’re prepared to do so if we don’t see some real action, real soon.

All Too Predictable Christianist Lies

As expected, the wingers are going into convulsions over the passage of the Hate Crimes bill and are disseminating all types of hysterical lies about the coming persecution of Christians. As I have noted before, I never cease to be amazed by the dishonesty and intentional lies put out by these false Christians. Just as they selectively pick and choose which Bible passages to apply literally, they likewise choose to utterly ignore the Commandment against lying and bearing false witness. Piling onto the hysteria - again all too predictably - is WingNutDaily which utterly ignores the actual language of the bill which only penalize PHYSICAL VIOLENCE against GLBT citizens, NOT speech. Also, conveniently left out of the diatribe is the fact that Christians ALREADY HAVE hate crimes protections. Here's a sampling of the outright lies:
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A "hate crimes" bill opponents claim will be used to crack down on Christian speech, even the reading of the Bible, is poised to be signed by President Obama, a longtime proponent of the plan to give homosexuals and others with alternative lifestyles special protections not provided other classes of citizens.
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The bill – which creates federal protections and privileges for homosexuals and other alternative lifestyles but denies those protections to other groups of citizens – earlier was approved in the U.S. House.
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"So-called 'hate crimes' laws are really laws that criminalize thought, because they punish an individual not for what he did but for what he thought. Politically incorrect thoughts about homosexual behavior will result in enhanced criminal sanctions under this law." . . . "Such laws not only punish officially disapproved speech and thought, they create two tiers of victims. Under hate crimes laws, some victims get more protections than others, which violates the fundamental American principle of equality under the law," the alert said. "In fact, such laws actively discriminate against heterosexual Christians who are victims of crime, since they will get less legal protection than homosexual victims."
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Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, told WND the move is alarming because "this would be the very first governmental and societal disapproval of a sincerely held religious belief, held by a majority of Americans, namely that homosexual behavior is immoral. "It's the first time the federal government is writing into law a disapproval of that belief," he said. While he said he doesn't believe there will be "immediate" prosecutions of pastors and churches for teaching the biblical injunction that homosexual behavior is sin, "I think the effect on speech and religious speech is nonetheless real." He said he does expect that pastors soon will begin being called to testify in "hate crime" cases in court "as to what that pastor preaches, what the church teaches, what the Bible teaches."
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All untrue and the "godly Christians" making the untrue statements know they are untrue. Yet another example of why more of the younger generation hold organized Christianity in disregard. It is disgusting.

Saturday Morning Reflections

Well, we arrived at the beach house last evening and the remainder of the contingent will arrive shortly. So far the weather is good - especially compared to last year when we had a full blown Northeaster with 50+ knot winds -and the sunrise over the ocean was gorgeous. In fact, much like in the photo above. With the weather warm, we were able to leave the doors onto the deck open and sleep to the sound of the waves on the beach. I love the beach and the Outer Banks are a wonderful escape destination. Joining the group this year are my friends Martin and Christopher who are getting to know our lively Hampton crowd. Since Martin has never been down here, we will probably go to the top of Jockey's Ridge - the larges sand dune on the east coast of the USA - and maybe make a run down to Hatteras Island.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Outer Banks Weekend - 2009


The boyfriend and I are headed down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for the weekend to stay at the beach house of one of our friends. While I am taking the lap top with me, I am not sure what Internet access I will have. If I have access to the Internet, expect some posting over the weekend. If I don't have access, then I will post again after the weekend. :) I wanted to give readers a heads up since I know some of you worry when you don't see daily posts. We are staying right on the beach in a cottage located near the center of the photo above. There are about a dozen of us going, so It should be a fun time.

Friday Male Beauty

The GOP's Shrinking "Big Tent"

This cartoon pretty much sums up what has happened to the Republican Party. It's sad - and dangerous that the opposition party has become so delusionally unhinged that demagoguery rather than honest debate is all the party seems to offer nowadays.

Ken Cuccinelli - GOP AG Candidate is a Fanatic

Most of the attention during the run up to the November elections in Virginia has been focused on the race for governor and Bob McDonnell's Christianist road map laid out in his CBN University thesis. Unfortunately, McDonnell looks like the moderate he is pretending to be when compared to GOP candidate for Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli holds a mind set that's like a throw back to the Spanish Inquisition or the evil Catholics in Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. The guy is in short a flaming lunatic. Yet other than a recent Washington Post story, too little seems to have come out as to just what an extremist Cuccinelli is in terms of many of his views. Here are some highlights:
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Attention, Virginia voters: If the polls are correct and nothing big changes in the next 12 days, you're going to elect a state attorney general who's so ardently conservative he makes gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell sound like a mealy-mouthed moderate.
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State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II of Fairfax County, the Republican candidate to be the state's top lawyer, portrays the environmental movement as a socialist ploy and said in 2003 that homosexuality is just plain wrong. . . . His idea of a compelling issue was championing a measure last year to make it easier to deny unemployment benefits to immigrant workers fired for not speaking English. . . . Last year, he proposed to deny citizenship to children born in the United States if their parents weren't here legally.
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In short, rational voters ought to be running screaming from Cuccinelli. Sadly, too few seem to be paying attention to the AG race. Fortunately, the Virginia Democrats have made a video set out below which allows Cuccinelli himself to demonstrate just out side the mainstream he is and that the concerns of average Virginians are not his priority.

Anti-Gay Inequality Bad for Business - Even in Alabama

Interestingly enough the University of Alabama Birmingham has figured out something ignored by states like Virginia and politicians like Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell and Ken "I'm a Kook" Cuccinelli - treating LGBT employees with equality and equal employment opportunities and benefits is good for business and makes for a more competitive position in attracting top talent. Alabama, like Virginia, is abysmal in the manner in which it treats its LGBT citizens. Nonetheless,the University of Alabama Birmingham - which includes the state's flagship medical school - wants to extend extend health insurance benefits to same-sex partners beginning on January 1, 2010. Why? Because the University is losing staff and finding itself uncompetitive in the recruiting market. Would be faculty don't like the inequality faced by LGBT faculty. I have argued time and time again that states and localities that treat their LGBT citizens like second, third or fourth class citizens are ultimately condemning themselves to economic mediocrity. Unfortunately, demagogues like Bob McDonnell refuse to see that reality. Here are some highlights from Al.com:
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The University of Alabama at Birmingham will extend health insurance benefits to same-sex partners beginning Jan. 1 in a move officials said was designed in part to help it compete with top medical schools when recruiting faculty.
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Faculty and staff were able to enroll same-sex partners and their children in medical, dental and vision plans for the first time earlier this month, for coverage beginning in the new year. The move makes UAB the first of the big three universities in Alabama to offer domestic partner benefits to staff and faculty. Neither the University of Alabama nor Auburn University offer such benefits, though UA is studying the issue, spokespersons for those schools said.
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Dale Turnbough, a UAB spokeswoman, said the change was made "to create a positive, supportive and diverse work environment," and to help the school compete for new faculty with other National Institute of Health-funded medical schools. Most top medical schools, including Vanderbilt, Duke and Johns Hopkins offer such benefits, she said.
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The expansion of benefits to domestic partners comes several months after the release of a UAB film student's documentary about the impact of the lack of benefits on the university. In the film "One Closed Door After Another" UAB faculty members and employees said the school was losing top talent, or not getting the opportunity to seriously recruit top talent, because competing schools offered same-sex partners health coverage. They also discussed how the lack of coverage for their partners affected their own lives.
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Personally, I would never move back to Alabama since the state seems to have become increasingly homophobic - maybe all the rational liberals are leaving the state - and treats its LGBT residents worse than Virginia. Something that takes some real effort. Here's a clip from the documentary. Bob McDonnell, are you listening???*


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hypocrisy in Catholic Outreach to Anglicans and New U.S. Statement on Marriage

I'm not the only one that has observed the Vatican's move to welcome gay-hating Anglicans and form a church within the Church with cynicism and a measure of disgust. The move allows married Anglican priests to become Catholic priests and thus shows the sham nature of the celibacy rule and the hypocrisy of Benedict XVI and others who just recently said that any discussion of throwing the celibacy rule on the trash heap of history was off limits. Unless, I guess, it brings new members - and money, the real God of the Vatican - to the Church.
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Meanwhile, in another cynical move, the USA the Conference of Catholic Bishops has leaked a new statement on marriage which condemns same sex relationships and conveniently coincides with elections and anti-gay marriage initiatives next month. Phillip at Unite the Fight sent me an e-mail and link to his take on the U.S. Church's actions. He correctly notes that many U.S. Catholics are more tolerant of gay relationships than other Christian denominations even as the Vatican and morally bankrupt Church hierarchy are obsessed with an anti-gay jihad. Here are a few of Phillip's thoughts:
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Catholics are the most supportive of marriage equality out of all Christian denominations. So why am I saying this? I'm saying this because I think it's important to separate those who attend church, who practice out of their convictions an organized religion, and the leaders of their church who dove into the social and political arena. Many times, these leaders say they speak for their congregants when in fact, many of these congregants don't agree.
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I don't think I need to repeat the argument that, though the church has every right to believe what they do and should practice that freedom, civil marriage "intrinsically" is not the same as religious marriage, and therefore renders this statement moot when it comes to the issue of civil justice. But I'd like to quote a Catholic priest who commented on Unite the Fight about this statement, which obviously was leaked early because of the marriage equality initiative facing Maine now and the power the church wields there.
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Fr. Marty Kurylowicz: Being a priest and psychologist, I know the kind of serious harm that is caused to children who grow up gay by those who oppose Marriage Equality. “Kids are being hurt!!!” There is plenty of research data that makes that [sic] supports this statement. I have been an advocate for children who grow up gay for their protection from antigay statements. Benedict XVI's continual ordering the hierarchy in a united effort to oppose Marriage Equality is proof that they have not even considered the harm to children and have ignored the overabundance amount of research data. The harm that is done to children is tremendous. It cuts deeply at the very core of child's ability to bond/attach to another or other human beings for life. However, in the meantime how many millions of innocent children will continue to be abused in this way because of their criminal neglect of their responsibility.
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Like Phillip I hold no animus to regular Catholics. The Vatican and the rest of the Church hierachy - now, that's an entirely different matter. They are nothing short of evil hypocrites. Something that an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun noted in the context of the move to accept anti-gay and anti-woman Anglicans. Here are some highlights from that column:
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The Vatican's just-announced effort to recruit unhappy Anglicans away from a church that has embraced female priests and elected an openly gay bishop provides the Catholic Church with a way to deal with its shortage of priests - without allowing Catholic women to be ordained and without ending the celibacy rule.
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So those of us who are Catholic and who for years have been calling for an end to celibacy (or leaving it only as an option) get to question a brewing hypocrisy in the Vatican's "Apostolic Constitution," revealed in Rome on Tuesday: Converts are allowed to be married, but those already ordained - or the minuscule number in the seminaries - aren't.
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Reaching out to pull in those who oppose female priests, or openly gay prelates or same-sex marriage: This is Vatican marketing at its best. Disgruntled, conservative Anglicans represent a potentially rich customer base for the Roman Catholic Church.
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It is ironic that celibacy, injected into the priesthood in the 11th century to protect the Catholic Church from financial and property claims by the offspring of priests, has cost it so much in the 21st century. Celibacy is one of the reasons for the widespread sexual abuse. Through the years, the requirement took its toll, sending thousands of priests out of the vocation and into less repressive lifestyles, and leaving a diminished population of celibate priests available for parish duty. As bishops faced shortages, they were forced to recycle their problem priests, to shuffle them from assignment to assignment. That's why some of the priests in these tragic cases appear to have been serial offenders. Celibacy is the elephant in the room when Catholics discuss the sex abuse scandal and the shortage of priests.
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Change is desperately needed in the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, given the Church's monarchical power structure, not ready mechanism exists to affect that change. Personally, leaving the Catholic Church was one of the wisest things I did after coming out. Why remain in a church that tells one that they are "disordered" and "immoral" on virtually a daily basis.

More Thursday Male Beauty - November GQ features Four Norfolk Sailors

The U. S. Navy does bring some beautiful guys to the area and now GQ Magazine will be featuring four of our local sailors in its November issue. Pictured above is Petty Officer 3rd Class Tommy Doerflinger who so far local online Virginian Pilot readers vote as the hottest. Yes, he's cute alright and one does want to support our men in uniform. Here are some highlights of how the modeling session came to be:
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When a couple people asked Petty Officer 3rd Class Tommy Doerflinger if he wanted to model for GQ during his ship’s Fleet Week visit to New York City, he thought it was a joke – until a magazine scout approached him at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square.
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Now he and three other Norfolk-based sailors are on newsstands across the country in the magazine’s November issue. In all, seven sailors modeled for a six-page photo spread on the Navy peacoat.
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Doerflinger, a native of Sterling Heights, Mich., has been in the Navy for almost four years. He spent eight months last year serving as a medic with a Marine unit in Iraq. The photo shoot was an altogether different experience, he said.
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The model sailors said they couldn’t keep the clothes they were pictured in, which, off the rack, would require multiple months’ pay. That’s okay with Doerflinger, who said the outfit he wore (price: $3,533) would be fine on certain days, but his personal style tends more toward beachwear: sandals, tee-shirts, board shorts or holey jeans.
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Check out the story to see the other navy boys.

Matthew Shepard Act to Become Law

In a case of better late than never, the U.S. Senate passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr., Hate Crimes Act which now goes to President Obama for signature into law. There are those who object to hate crimes legislation in general, but if hate crimes are going to specifically protect citizens based on other motives for discrimination, then the LGBT community deserves the same enhanced protections. I am sure the homo-hating extremists of the Christian Right will be wetting themselves while in a crazed frenzy over the Act's passage, but it speak volumes that they have never suggested that they not receive the "special rights" that they would deprive from others. Now, Congress needs to get its ass in gear and take on ENDA and the repeal of DOMA and DADT. Here are some highlights from the Washington Post:
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The Senate cleared a historic hate crimes bill for President Obama's signature Thursday, approving new federal penalties for attacks on gays and lesbians. The legislation, which was attached to the conference report for the bill outlining the Pentagon's budget, marks the culmination of a years-long fight by civil-rights groups to codify the expanded protections.
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The law broadens the current definition of federal hate crimes -- which covers attacks motivated by race, color, religion or national origin -- to include those based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It would also create a new federal crime to cover attacks against U.S. military personnel because of their service. The measure was approved, 68 to 29, with a majority of Republicans voting against it. The House passed the same bill Oct. 8, also with most Republicans opposed. Gay rights groups praised the Senate's action.
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The hate crimes measure is named for Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was murdered in 1998, and James Byrd Jr., a black man who was dragged to death behind a pickup truck in Texas in 1998. Shepard's family founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation, which helped lobby for the measure that is now set to become law. Offered repeatedly by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the bill had stalled previously in the Senate, and President George W. Bush vowed to veto it if it ever reached his desk.
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Social conservatives argued that the hate crimes bill was in violation of the First Amendment, and a step toward a larger gay-rights agenda they strongly oppose. "Expanding hate crimes puts America in lock step with the stated agenda of homosexual activists who will turn next to the so-called Employment Non-discrimination Act, followed by the repeal of the ban on homosexuality in the military and then the Defense of Marriage Act.," the Family Research Council warned on its Web site.
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My, my - feel the hate emanating from the false Christians at FRC and the Klan loving Tony Perkins.

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden Says Yes to Gay Marriage

With some far right members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America already having vapors and conniption fits over the Churchwide Assembly vote this past August to allow partnered gay clergy, this move to allow same sex church weddings - which I support completely - by the ELCA's sister Church of Sweden ought to put the Neanderthals into utter aneurysm territory. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a trend where modern knowledge of the immutability of one's sexual orientation will trump ignorance and bigotry. Here are some highlights from The Local, a Swedish English publication:
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The Synod of the Lutheran Church of Sweden has come down in favour of church weddings for homosexuals in a vote held on Thursday morning. The decision, which is based on a proposal from the church’s governing board, means that the Church of Sweden will conduct wedding ceremonies for both heterosexual and homosexual couples. The proposal was approved by 176 of 249 voting members.
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“The Synod’s decision takes a stance in favour of an inclusive view of people. Regardless of whether one is religious or not, this affects the entire social climate and the view of people’s equal value,” Åsa Regnér, head of the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) - the country's largest gay rights group, said in a statement. In June, the church board took the first step towards permitting same-sex marriages by submitting a petition to the Church of Sweden Synod – the church's highest decision-making body.
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The board proposed the church continue to perform wedding ceremonies following new legislation which came into force on May 1st and grants same-sex couples in Sweden the same legal marriage status as heterosexuals.
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Current church regulations will likely continue to apply in practice, with some alterations, such as replacing “man and wife” with “lawfully wedded spouses” when a homosexual couple is married. Individual pastors would also still be able to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.
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The ruling by the Synod, which has 251 delegates - two of which were absent from Thursday's vote, puts Sweden among the first countries in the world to allow gays to marry in a major church.
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Not surprisingly, homophobes in other denominations - which in my opinion have forgotten the real Gospel message - have gone off the deep end as further reported by The Local:
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Representatives from the Catholic and Orthodox churches in Sweden, however, were disappointed by Thursday’s decision.“It is with great sorry that we receive news that the Church of Sweden’s Synod has today decided to wed same-sex couples that it will be referred to as marriage.
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Church of England spokesperson Steve Jenkins confirmed that relations between the two churches may be headed for a turbulent phase in the wake of the decision.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Navy to Oust Chief Involved in Bahrain Hazing Scandal - Update

Today's Virginian Pilot has an updated and more detailed story on the Navy's long overdue decision to oust Senior Chief Michael Toussaint (pictured at left) for his reign of sadism while in charge of a canine unit in Bahrain in 2006-2007. Unfortunately, the story does not identify the more senior officer who gave Toussaint when this matter was first investigated. That officer, as well as Toussaint, needs to be ousted from the Navy. Under DADT, honorable LGBT service members are routinely forced from the military yet bastards like Toussaint all too frequently face no consequences and even get promoted. This speaks volumes about the sick mindset among many of the top military brass. One can only hope that Toussaint will ultimately be court martialed and spend some time in prison. Kudos to those who would not let the story die and to Youth Radio which first broke the story on its website. Here are some additional highlights:
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The announcement Wednesday came in response to news reports about an investigation into abusive behavior in the military working dog unit in Bahrain in 2005 and 2006. Sailors told an investigator of being force-fed dog treats, hog-tied to chairs, instructed to act like dogs, and ordered to simulate homosexual oral sex in training videos. Toussaint has returned to the United States from deployment and is on leave, according to a spokesman for the Navy's special warfare command. Toussaint does not wish to comment, the spokesman said.
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Petty Officer 1st Class Shaun Hogan submitted detailed notes about Toussaint's abuse during more than two years under his command. Hogan told the Navy lawyer who originally handled the case that Toussaint routinely made inappropriate comments about and inquiries into sailors' sex lives, and threatened to revoke sailors' dog-handling credentials if they crossed him. Hogan also described Toussaint's directing the filming of training videos that required some sailors to act out lesbian love scenes, others to simulate gay male sex and one to have rubber balls thrown at his crotch, all in a guise of running the dogs - trained to sniff out explosives - through various "real life" scenarios.
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An unnamed commanding officer decided to handle the matter through nonjudicial punishment, and issued Toussaint a nonpunitive letter of reprimand. The other sailor implicated in the inquiry - Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Valdivia, who took over for Toussaint - killed herself in Bahrain shortly after learning she would be implicated in the hazing. There, the story seemed to end.
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Two things kept it alive. Hogan returned to New England, entered the Naval Reserve and couldn't stop thinking about what had happened in Bahrain. He requested a copy of the investigation through the Freedom of Information Act and came to believe that he should have done more to stop the abuse as it was happening. Separately, Rocha was on track to become an officer. He finished officer candidate school and enrolled in a Navy prep school to prepare him to enter the Naval Academy. But the abuse he suffered in Bahrain resulted in post-traumatic stress disorder, and Rocha, who is gay, realized that he wasn't ready to be commissioned in a Navy that wouldn't allow him to openly serve. He acknowledged being gay, left the Navy, and enrolled at the University of San Diego. At a gay rights march this year, Rocha told a journalist with Youth Radio, a non-profit journalism organization in California, about what he had endured in Bahrain. He told the student journalists to call Hogan, who had the documents to back up the story.
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A few weeks later, U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, a retired two-star admiral from Pennsylvania, got wind of the case and asked the Navy to investigate. On Wednesday, Sestak said he's glad Roughead has also asked the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to look into the "command climate" in Bahrain at the time. It's possible those findings could implicate higher-ranking sailors. Sestak, a Democrat, said the Navy's new actions against Toussaint were appropriate but that he still wants to know why the chief petty officer was not prosecuted. "There was criminal behavior that occurred," Sestak said. "Hitting sailors, dragging them through feces, locking them up in kennels, breaking regulations and asking if they were gay. It's outrageous."
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Because of the censure, Toussaint's record will be evaluated by an administrative board that recommends a retirement pay grade for sailors leaving the service under questionable conditions. He could argue to the board that he deserves to retire as a senior chief, Smith said, or waive his right to challenge the board's recommendation. In any case, she said, the Navy will expedite his retirement.
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Gays discharged under DADT lose their retirement. Why is this bastard going to be allowed to retire and draw retirement? The situation is seriously f*cked up.

Norfolk, Virginia, Medical School Professor Signs Anti-Gay Letter to Congress

It is bad enough when one hears the constant anti-gay propaganda from the professional Christian set, but it is even more shocking when one hears such animus from medical professionalsl. Particularly when they are members of a publicly funded medical school faculty where their homophobia could well be imparted to medical students and other doctors. Thus, I was shocked to discover that Judith V. Williams (pictured at left), one of the professors at Eastern Virginia Medical School who also is on staff at the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia, had joined with other pediatricians in a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi urging passage of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Equally troubling is that Dr. Williams signed the letter in a manner so as to perhaps use the medical school's name to strengthen the credibility of her anti-gay views. The text of the letter which can be found here at G-A-Y-US sounds as if it were written by Peter LaBarbera or one of the other professional gay haters. Indeed, one has to wonder if Dr. Williams believes in voodoo and witchcraft too. Here are some highlights from the letter signed by Dr. Williams and other homophobes (NOTE: the American College of Peditricians should not be confused with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) which does not put religious belief before children):
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The Board of Directors of the American College of Pediatricians, an organization dedicated to the health and well-being of the youngest of our citizens, its members and supporters strongly urge you to press forward with vigor and amend the Constitution to guarantee that marriage in the United States will forever be defined as the union of one man and one woman.
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We support this amendment because it will prevent the continuing erosion of the safety, nurturance, and protection afforded to children by this time honored marital partnership. Anything less than a Constitutional amendment would allow continued discrimination against those children, few in number now, who are being used by social engineers to support what a small number of selfish adults want, over the needs of potentially hundreds, perhaps eventually thousands, of children.
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Adult wants overwhelmed the needs and best interests of children, and we are continuing to see the dire consequences of that defeat in our medical offices, clinics, and hospitals. What does that have to do with the issue of homosexual parenting? Everything! Again, social scientists, the Media, and a small number of misinformed Pediatricians are disregarding the real needs of children and asking that again in this country there is conducted an uncontrolled, unscientific, social experiment on our children by encouraging their rearing by same-sex parents.
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We, the undersigned, are distressed that some professional medical organizations have ignored both science and tradition in helping to promote this misguided social experiment. Our children deserve better than this and the best science demonstrates that now, as always, children do best when reared by a man and woman, mother and father, married and committed to them.
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Please pass the Federal Marriage Amendment to assure that present and future generations of children will not, once again, fall victim to the triumph of selfish adult wants over their real needs.
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Apparently Dr. Williams thinks it is better for children of LGBT couples - who will continue to exist despite the efforts of bigots like Dr. Williams - be deprived of the legal rights and benefits that would flow from their parents being able to legally marry such as health care insurance, survivor benefits, etc. It's another case of punishing the children while pretending to punish the parents. Her claims that she cares for the best interests of children are obviously disingenuous. It's all too typical of the as backwards thinking of these zealots. Be assured, I DO intend to call EVMS's top leadership and inquire as to whether they (1) agree with Dr. Williams and/or (2) condone her using the medical school's name in signing such a bigoted letter. For anyone desiring to contact Dr. Williams, here is her information:
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Judith V. Williams, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Dermatology
Eastern Virginia Medical School
Norfolk, Virginia
Phone: (757) 668-7546 (SKIN)
Fax Number: (757) 668-8795
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Here is the information for the medical school's president:
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Harry T. Lester, President
President's Office
Andrews Hall
P.O. Box 1980Norfolk, VA 23501
(757) 446-5200

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

More Anti-gay Lunacy From Pat Robertson

With Pat Robertson's boy, Bob "Taliban Bob" McDonnell currently ahead in the polls, it is useful to look at the demagoguery that Robertson continues to disseminate in an effort to stigmatize and marginalize LGBT citizens. Anyone who believes that Robertson doesn't openly say what far right GOP candidates like McDonnell and the even scarier Ken Cuccinelli think is deluding themselves. LGBT Virginians should be terrified at the prospect of McDonnell and/or Cuccinelli getting elected next month. Here's a tape of Robertson from the October 20 edition of Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club via Media Matters engaging in another episode of diarrhea of the mouth - which discloses just how extreme a nut job and homophobe he has become.




Oh, and Pat, the boyfriend and I WOULD like to get married - not that it would be recognized in anti-gay Virginia. The decision is still out, but we may yet go to a state or country that allows gay marriage in order to get married. Unlike many of your evangelical listeners who have had multiple marriages (despite the Gospel prohibition against divorce), it would truly mean something to us. And in terms of "destroying marriage," I would note that there would be far fewer failed marriages if you and fellow demagogues stopped telling gays to marry and "change." In case you haven't noticed, your "ex-gay" ministries are bogus and do not work and these "mixed" marriages end in divorce.

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Jody Wagner for Virginia Lieutenant Governor

As the campaigns in Virginia move into the home stretch, I attended a fundraiser this evening for Jody Wagner, the Democrat candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. I have known Jody for many years, first from working as opposing counsel on some legal matters years ago when she was in private law practice. Later, when I served on the Virginia College Building Authority - the authority that issues all bonds for Virginia's public colleges and universities and certain qualifying 501(c)(3) tax-exempt universities - from 2000 to 2004, I again had the opportunity to work with Jody. She is smart, competent, dedicated and shows up on the job when required. Her GOP opponent, Bill Bolling, happily accepts his government salary, yet showed up for only 6% of the meetings of the boards and commissions of which the Lieutenant Governor is a member. Worse yet, Bolling speaks out of both sides of his mouth depending upon whether his past positions and voting record are convenient or not.
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I am not the only one to recognize Jody as the far better choice for Lieutenant Governor. The Washington Post endorsed her in its October 19, 2009 editorial. Bolling has been a do nothing Lieutenant Governor and worse yet, he lacks principles and will do whatever bidding the lunatic Republican Party of Virginia base dictates. Like the rest of the GOP statewide ticket, Bolling has no understanding of the concept of separation of church and state - something that should frighten every voter other than hard core Christianists. Here are some highlights from the Post's endorsement:
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JODY WAGNER, Virginia's former secretary of finance, is the sort of Democrat that helped cement the Old Dominion's status as among the cleanest, best managed and most business-friendly states in the country. She is easily the better choice as Virginia's next lieutenant governor and would represent a sharp improvement over the incumbent Republican seeking reelection, Bill Bolling.
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Smart, tough-minded and capable, Ms. Wagner would be among the best-prepared public officials to assume the job. A former corporate lawyer, she started a successful family business (making kettle corn) before going to work for then-Gov. Mark R. Warner (D). Then, as Mr. Kaine's finance secretary -- she resigned this year to launch her campaign -- she developed an authoritative command of state government, spending and income, critical knowledge for the challenges posed by the recession.
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Unlike the usual run of officeholders in Richmond, she is more pragmatist and problem-solver than partisan political warrior. As the only one of the six statewide candidates to have had hands-on experience with the state's budget, she would be uniquely well placed to serve as a resource for whichever candidate is elected governor.
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Of particular interest to Northern Virginia, his [Bolling's] ideas on transportation funding are patently unworkable. He proposes raiding already bare-bones core state services to pay for transportation but bobs, weaves and ducks when pressed to say which ones -- education? public safety? human services? health? -- he would target.
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For LGBT voters, Jody Wagner is also the far better choice. Unlike Bolling, she is not a tool of the Christianists like Pat Robertson, The Family Foundation, and other mouth pieces for the anti-gay far right GOP base. I know first hand that Jody supports equality under the civil laws for ALL Virginians, not just those who toe the line with Christianist religious beliefs. I urge all Virginia readers to get out and vote on November 3, 2009. If you don't live in Virginia but have relatives and friends that do, PLEASE urge them to get out and vote for Jody Wagner.

NYPD Arresting Gays on Charges Ruled Unconstitutional 26 Years Ago

I have said many times on this blog that after 32+ years as an attorney, I have little or no faith in the justice system in the USA - especially when the targeted individuals are LGBT citizens. I suspect other minorities are likewise failed by the legal and judicial system regularly. A story out of New York City reported by Slate demonstrates just how screwed up the system is where police charge individuals under a statute stuck down as unconstitutional over a quarter of a century ago. Insult is added to injury by the incompetent/homophobic judges who do not throw out the charges unless and until confronted by defense counsel. Unfortunately, the situation in New york is not uncommon - after laws are struck down by appellate courts, it is rare that the legislative body goes back and repeals the law. A case in point is Virginia's sodomy statute that was struck down by the U. S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas. The statute is STILL set out in the Code of Virginia even though it was ruled unconstitutional six (6) years ago. Here are some highlights from the Slate story:
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In 1983, New York's high court struck down as unconstitutional a 1960s-era provision that made it illegal to cruise—that is, to hit on someone in a public place. And yet in the 26 years since, on thousands of occasions, the New York Police Department has continued to enforce the defunct law, historically used to target gay people.
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Whatever one may think of cruising and whether it should be prohibited, the court's ruling should have killed off the statute. Instead, in the 26 years of this law's odd posthumous career, district attorneys brought 4,750 prosecutions and judges convicted 2,550 defendants. For violating an imaginary law, these defendants paid a decidedly non-imaginary $70,000 in bail and $190,000 in court fees and fines. In the last 10 years, NYPD officers also issued 9,693 citations, forcing citizens to pay $71,000 in fees. The criminal records of these victims have never been expunged and the fees and fines have not been refunded.
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In March 2008, civil rights lawyers brought a class action in federal court on behalf of the thousands of people unconstitutionally arrested, cited, and prosecuted under the defunct anti-cruising law. In May, Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered the City of New York to send letters to the police, district attorneys, and trial judges to remind them that the anti-cruising law was void and should no longer be enforced. NYPD brass sent out a bulletin to officers stating that in each officer's personal copy of the penal code, the law should be "stricken by drawing a line through it in black ink." (After 26 years, the law was still on the books because the legislature had never repealed it.)
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Obviously, there needs to be an investigation of NYPD and how this injustice was allowed to go on for decades. Was there no one in an oversight position to notice the statute was invalid? Unfortunately, I doubt that the situation in New York is the least bit unique. Moreover, given the homophobia exhibited by far too many police officers, some citations were probably written just to jerk the gay victims around. As for the judges reviewing these charges, most probably were too incompetent to know the statute had been struck down, while the rest were more than happy to convict the faggots. Our judicial and legal system is seriously screwed up and most politicians could care less.

Navy to Oust Chief Petty Officer Involved in Bahrain Hazing Scandal

While there seriously needs to be an investigation into why Senior Chief Michael Toussaint was ever promoted as opposed to being discharged long before now, at least the media and blog coverage of this outrageous case has forced the Navy's hand to take this initial step. Not that it will bring back Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Valdivia or undo the anti-gay hazing endured by Joseph Rocha (pictured at left) who was forced from the military. Meanwhile, somebody needs to explain (1) why more senior officers allowed this disaster to go on for an extended period and (2) why more senior officers are not being held accountable. I would also note that it is outrageous is that gays discharged from the military lose their retirement, yet it sounds like Toussaint will not receive equally harsh treatment. Also, did he receive a re-enlistment bonus? If so, that should be returned. Here are highlights from the preliminary story in today's Virginian Pilot (more details may be available tomorrow):
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The senior chief petty officer at the center of a scandal over sexually provocative hazing and abuse of junior sailors in Bahrain will be forced to retire in January, a Navy official said today. Senior Chief Michael Toussaint, a dog handler assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group 2 in Virginia Beach, has also received a letter of censure from the Secretary of the Navy.
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Smith said Adm. Gary Roughead, the chief of naval operations, canceled Toussaint’s enlistment extension, which will force him to leave active duty and retire in January. He won’t necessarily be able to retire as a senior chief: Navy officials ordered that he be subject to “retirement pay grade determination,” in which the secretary of the Navy will decide at what pay grade he may retire.
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A command investigation completed in January 2007 substantiated more than 90 instances of abuse, including sailors being forcing to simulate homosexual oral sex in training videos, being force-fed dog treats and being locked in a kennel. Toussaint, who sailors said ordered many of the actions, had already transferred to another job and subsequently was promoted. The woman who took his place, Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Valdivia, took her own life in Bahrain after she was notified that she had been implicated in the investigation.
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Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Rocha, one of the sailors subjected to the abuse, later left the Navy after suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder related to the hazing. Rocha said he was often singled out for being gay after refusing to hire prostitutes. He eventually acknowledged being gay and left the Navy. He is now using his story to advocate for the repeal of the so-called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy that prohibits openly gay men and women from serving in the military.

Wednesday Male Beauty

Documentary Exposes Mormon Church Role in Proposition 8 Effort

A new documentary is coming out that will focus on the role the Mormon Church played in stripping same sex couples of marriage rights in California - something that I continue to believe is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution both under the 14th Amendment and as an illegal discrimination based on religious belief. The civil laws should NEVER be allowed to enshrine one particular religious belief system and impose it on all citizens, yet that is exactly what was done with Proposition 8. In addition, it set a very dangerous precedent of allowing a slim majority to strip other citizens of civil legal rights - much like what was done to Jews in Nazi Germany. No doubt we will hear whining of prejudice coming from the Mormon Church, but it is very important that the bright light of day shine on what was done - and is still being done - to harm LGBT Americans and pervert religious freedom for all citizens. Here are a few highlights about the film by Fred Karger at Huffington Post:
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This could well be the movie of the year. Take a look at the web site, read all about the movie and see who is behind it. You will be even more impressed.
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8: The Mormon Proposition will explain once and for all just how the Mormon Church operates, and how they have led the fight against marriage equality all across the United States since Utah became the first state to ban same-sex marriage in 1995. 29 states have followed Utah's lead, and the Mormon Church has made sure of that.
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The film also goes into great depth about how the Mormon Church has destroyed so many lives and families in its desire to impose its will on others. Please tell the world about this incredible documentary. It is a film for all to see
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I encourage readers to go to the website and read the synopsis here. The narrator of the film is Dustin Lance Black of Milk fame who I was lucky enough to meet at the National Equality march. Here is a trailer from the movie: