Saturday, December 19, 2009

Rugby Star Gareth Thomas Comes Out

The media and our enemies like to depict gay males as effeminate and unmanly. Indeed, when I was on the Cathy Lewis show earlier this month, one caller said he did not want to be associated with the "gay community" but preferred to refer to himself as homosexual because of the negative stereotype often associated with gay men. The reality, of course, for those us us deeply involved in the LGBT community know that gay males come in all shapes and sizes as do lesbians many of whom do not remotely fit the "butch dyke" stereotype. Thus, I applaud when individuals like rugby star Gareth Thomas (pictured above) come out because they definitely shatter the would be stereotype. Here are some highlights on Thomas' coming out via Sky News:
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Rugby star Gareth Thomas has said he hopes coming out publicly will "send a positive message" to the sport.The 35-year-old wants young gay people, particularly those with aspirations in sport, to be reassured after he became the first high-profile player to announce he is gay.
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The former British and Irish Lions and Wales captain, a supporter of the children's charity NSPCC, said: "If it makes one young lad pick up the phone to ChildLine, then it will have been worth it." Thomas said he became aware of his sexual orientation at the age of 16 or 17 but could not accept it and feared it would affect his playing career. He told the Daily Mail he was "anxious about people's reactions" but "just couldn't ignore it any more".
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The rugby star, Wales's most-capped player, said he realised in summer 2006 that he could no longer live a lie. He told his wife, Jemma, that he was gay and admitted cheating on her with male partners. Thomas, who plays for Cardiff Blues, said he felt like his life was "falling apart" as his four-year marriage broke down.
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The star recounted to the paper how he cried in the changing rooms of Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, after representing Wales in November 2006. He later came out to coach Scott Johnson, who advised he speak to a few of his international colleagues for support. Thomas said: "He told two of my team-mates, Stephen Jones and Martyn Williams, and as I sat in the bar waiting for them, I was absolutely terrified, wondering what they were going to say. "But they came in, patted me on the back and said: 'We don't care. Why didn't you tell us before?'
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I can commiserate with Thomas' experience in coming out after being married to a woman. I suspect he married for the best of intentions and not just to hide who he was. The pressure to conform to societal and religious expectations can be so powerful. As more people come out, one can only hope that fewer people will feel the need to try to be what they are not.

More Saturday Male Beauty

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin has an excellent compilation of posts that looks at the movement behind the "kill gays" bill under debate in Uganda - a mind set that seems to be spreading to other African nations. What's behind it all? It would seem American Christianists who are Hell bent to see gays legislated out of existence in a manner that they have not been successful in implementing in the USA. As with the Roman Catholic Church, these far right religious extremists have found fertile ground in Africa with its relatively uneducated populace. Faux "facts" and arguments that fail to be accepted in educated nations are sadly believed by a public that doesn't know any better and a leadership happily pocketing money from American Christianists.
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It is truly a toxic combination. In addition to the trio of gay haters pictured above - Don Schmierer, Scott Lively, Caleb Brundidge - other Christianists involved include Obama's BFF, Rick Warren, and the secretive organization known as "The Family." The compilation of posts begins back in February, 2009, and follows the involvement of U.S. Christianists in Uganda and the fast dancing and denials they have utilized to try to shift blame from themselves to Ugandan officials for the proposed genocide and/or "re-education" of gays. I'm sure these false Christians expect to make nice money implementing reparative therapy "ministries" in Africa even as the American Psychological Association has declared their use to be unethical as well as ineffective.
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The involvement of Scott Lively in the anti-gay movement is particularly disturbing because, in my candid opinion, Lively is stark raving insane. One of the first posts at Box Turtle Bulletin looked at this frightening circumstance and in hindsight should have been a sign of where things might lead:
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When BTB first broke this story, we couldn’t believe what we saw. Exodus International board member Don Schmierer would join Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively and ex-gay “counselor” Caleb Brundidge in a three-day anti-gay conference in Kampala, Uganda. Scott Lively already had a notorious reputation as author of The Pink Swastika, in which he claims that the Nazi movement was, at its core, a gay movement, and that violent fascism is the natural consequence of “the homosexual agenda.” “The Nazi Party was entirely controlled by militaristic male homosexuals throughout its short history,” he writes in his book, which is available online for free, and would be made available to conference attendees. He also adds that “There is no question that homosexuality figures prominently in the history of the Holocaust,” saying that German gays were eager to target Jews for extinction because of Judaism’s traditional prohibition against homosexuality. He doesn’t explain why Christianity’s traditional prohibition against homosexuality — which held a far greater moral influence throughout Europe — was ignored.
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It is this sort of rhetoric that has brought him the attention of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Watch project. There are only ten groupswith anti-gay rhetoric so violent-laden and provocative as to qualify to appear on the SPLC’s list of anti-gay hate groups. Mere opposition to homosexuality isn’t close to being enough. It’s a very easy list to avoid landing on. But Scott Lively serves in a foundational or leadership capacity with nearly one-third of those groups: Abiding Truth Ministries (his own personal platform), Watchmen On the Walls (Lively was a co-founder of th group) and the School of Christian Activism (affiliated with the Springfield, MA church he attends and where he is a regular lecturer).
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Seeing an official of Exodus International and Brundidge, a relative unknown who is a “counselor” for Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation, appearing alongside someone associated with three separate hate groups was shocking enough. To see the three of them putting on an anti-gay conference in Uganda, which already had a recent history of anti-gay vigilantism and extra-judicial torture at the hands of police, we feared the worst. The problem was, we had no idea what the worst would be.
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The compilation is lengthy, but a worthwhile read if one wants to understand just how much the U.S. Christian Right is intertwined with the exploding homophobia in Africa.

Congressman Randy Forbes Appears with Anti-Gay Christian Nutcase

As a former Republican, I continually shake my head in disbelief at the lunacy that is becoming more and more a hallmark of today's GOP. Moreover, elected Republican officials increasingly act as if they have undergone some sort of "Stepford Wife" treatment that has turned them into robots for the nuttiest of the Christianists. A case in point is Congressman Randy Forbes (at right) from nearby Chesapeake, Virginia. I have know Randy since the days the two of us were classmates in law school. Never in my wildest dreams back then would I have ever believed that Randy would have become a Christo-fascist who has no regard for the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of religion for all. Yet, he is increasing in bed with the worse elements of the lunatic far Christian Right. I can help but wonder what the Hell happened to him. Here are some highlights from Alternet on the gather of GOP members of Congress with nutcase, Lou Engle:
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Last night's segment of the Rachel Maddow show provided footage, which first appeared at Talk To Action, of a Christian evangelist who is quite influential but also little known to secular Americans: Lou Engle, founder of TheCall. The Maddow segment highlighted an event noted a few days ago by RightWingWatch, an anti-health care reform "Prayercast," held by the Family Research Council, led by emergent, highly militant leaders of the Christian right such as Lou Engle and also by Republican senators Brownback and DeMint, and GOP Representatives Bachmann and Forbes.
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The GOP fab-four has scored a trifecta - Lou Engle is opposed to health care reform and legal abortion, and his organization TheCall played a major, if little noticed, role in passing California's Proposition 8.
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Is the GOP becoming the party of violent Christian martyrdom ? Apparently, Jim DeMint, Sam Brownback, Michelle Bachmann and Randy Forbes weren't deterred by the fact that Lou Engle has publicly made statements which resemble rhetoric deployed during the 1990's, by leaders of the anti-abortion movement, that helped incite domestic terrorism. But they weren't alone:
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Engle, who has publicly called for acts of Christian martyrdom, could be found last summer blessing and anointing Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee at a Virginia Beach megachurch. Engle represents a religious right tendency that had become so dominant that known potentates such as James Dobson and Tony Perkins travel to Engle's TheCall events
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Engle's religious movement has also played a significant role in inspiring, and even organizing, legislators who pushed the pending, draconian anti-gay legislation in Uganda that some have described as a "kill the gays" bill.

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I sincerely hope that some of Randy Forbes' constituents start to wake up and demand an explanation why Forbes is hanging out with those in favor of domestic terrorism.

Bigot Erruptions Continue in Charlotte

I previously posted about bigot and homophobe extraordinaire, Bill James of the Mecklenburg County, North Carolina County Commission. James continues to have diarrhea of the mouth and further make the case that he's an unhinged ass. A gay friend of mine in the Charlotte area called James' residence in an effort to have a discussion as one of James' constituents and James' reaction was to call the police. As an elected official, James has an obligation to speak with voters and explain his bat shit craziness and bigotry. Both Pam Spaulding and Matt Comer have more coverage on James' latest outrageous nastiness. Pam also brings up an issue that's worth noting: despite the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, North Carolina's "crimes against nature" statute remains on the books and provides a mechanism to harass LGBT North Carolinians. A similar situation exists in Virginia where the Virginia General Assembly has continued to refuse to repeal the state's sodomy statute even though it was found to be unconstitutional. Here's some of Pam's commentary:
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Bill James isn't through making headlines; he clearly has difficulty coping with his fellow Mecklenburg County Commissioners voting to extend domestic partner benefits to county employees -- and that includes same-sex couples. He not only didn't apologize to Democrat Commissioner Vilma Leake when her referred to her late son, who succumbed to AIDS, he's spewing more homophobic bullsh*t. The cretin is on a roll now; hate mail must give him a boner (Wjames@carolina.rr.com).
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You can also politely let Commission Chair Jennifer Roberts know that language in a reprimand cannot be harsh enough,as LGBT youth groups in Charlotte are outraged by James's bigotry, given he's a public servant. She's been a wonderful ally for years; I interviewed her back in 2005 when James was last in significant eruption mode. But what's more important is to thank the Commission for doing the right thing and supporting the County's gay and lesbian employees and their committed relationships.

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Here's what Matt Comer was reporting on Q-Tips late yesterday on James' view that places where gays gather need to be "de-infested." The man in my view has some serious mental problems:
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In an email to a Charlotte resident, James made the argument that homosexual behavior was still illegal, and that police are “de-infesting” areas where gays congregate. James wrote: “Homosexual conduct is illegal in NC (even after Lawrence V Texas). We arrest 250 homosexuals each year in Mecklenburg alone for either a ‘crime against nature’ or ‘solicitation of a crime against nature’. Unlike prostitution (exchanging money), even suggesting homosexual sex is a criminal offense in NC. If we were all that ‘progressive’ would we be arresting 250 homosexuals a year? Setting up sting operations to de-infest areas where they congregate? Point is, if you want to delude yourself that homosexual conduct is ‘ok’ go ahead. The law, the police and the DA however have a different view.”
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The Charlotte resident, who admits his initial email to James was a bit harsh, was shocked to see the commissioner’s response.“I know original e mail was harsh, but it was in no way threatening — I find his abusive, threatening, and ignorant,” the resident said in an email to Q-Notes. Q-Notes asked James about his use of the word “de-infest” and if he saw how it might be offensive to LGBT people. . . . James said he is a proponent of rigorous debate, but thinks LGBT rights opponents are “dancing around the subject” of the law. “When someone trots out Lawrence v. Texas, I trot out the arrest statistics,” he said. “I say if Lawrence v. Texas is the law of the land, why are there all these arrests? And that ends the discussion usually.”

Saturday Male Beauty

Former Regent Law Dean's Son Convicted on 33 Counts

It has taken years for justice to prevail, but yesterday a federal jury convicted Troy Titus (at left) - son of the founding dean of Pat Robertson's Regent Law School (Taliban Bob McDonnell's alma mater) - guilty on 33 counts of wire fraud and ponzi scheme that preyed on real estate investors that included the elderly who were seeking to make higher investment returns to support family members in nursing homes. Besides holding a Law degree from Regent Law School, Titus is a graduate of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. The case was interesting to me because behind the scenes, I have worked as an unofficial expert with the FBI and given what might be described as "Real Estate 101" instructions to both FBI investigators and one all morning session with assistant U.S. attorneys so that they would understand how legitimate transactions should have been closed and documented as opposed to the fraudulent transactions that Titus and accomplices utilized. Here are some highlights from the Virginian Pilot:
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A federal jury on Friday found Troy A. Titus guilty of 33 felony counts of mail and wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy in what prosecutors said was a $7 million real estate Ponzi scam. Titus, 43, of Virginia Beach, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison on each of the most serious mail and wire fraud charges. His total prison time could add up to hundreds of years. U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson set sentencing for April 15. After a one-month trial and four days of deliberations, the jury returned around 11:30 a.m. Friday, finding Titus guilty of 33 of the 49 counts he faced.
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U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride said in a statement that this case show s the determination among federal authorities to tackle complicated financial fraud cases: "Especially in the light of the recent economic crisis, we are even more determined to work together to aggressively fight financial fraud in this district."
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When Titus was arrested, officials pegged the losses at $2 million, but at trial, prosecutors said they had since discovered an additional $5 million in losses for victims. The most egregious allegation against Titus was that he swindled from elderly or incapacitated clients who entrusted him to pay for their basic medical and housing expenses. Some were forced out of their homes as a result.
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Titus obtained mortgages on the properties even though they were already encumbered in debt. He then obtained loans from investors based on his interest in those properties but then stopped paying the mortgages. Banks foreclosed on each property, which Riley and Hannibal did not learn about until much later.
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An honors graduate of Liberty University and Regent University Law School, Titus operated a successful law firm and real estate investment program for many years. His real estate program became so profitable that he began writing books, holding seminars and putting out DVDs showing others how to do the same.

Obama Administration Tells LGBT Employees:F*ck You

In yet another dismaying move, the Obama administration is defying a federal court order that same sex partnership benefits be afforded to a lesbian employee of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court in California. The Advocate has some of the details on the outrageous move by the administration and Lambda Legal has issued a strong condemnation of Obama's further sell out of the LGBT community. And it's not just the LGBT community that is increasingly disgusted with Obama's failure to deliver on any campaign promises. He is proving to be a spineless wimp who caves in over and over again to Wall Street, the health insurance lobby and the pharmaceutical industry. Average Americans are being sold out over and over. First, here are some highlights from the Advocate:
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The Office of Personnel Management has concluded that it does not have the legal authority to provide benefits to the spouse of Karen Golinski, a staff attorney who works at the U.S. court of appeals for the ninth circuit in San Francisco.
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Because she is a federal employee, Golinski’s benefits are overseen by the Office of Personnel Management, which effectively serves as the human resources department for about 1.9 million federal workers nationwide. Golinski’s insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, declined to provide health benefits for her legal spouse, Amy Cunninghis, but ninth circuit chief judge Alex Kozinski said that violated the court's guarantee of equal employment opportunity and that same-sex spouses were entitled to benefits under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan.
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The OPM official said the decision was not taken lightly within the agency, which is headed by John Berry, the highest-ranking LGBT official in the Obama administration. The official added that the predicament underscored the importance of repealing the Defense of Marriage Act.
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In short, Obama's minions are offering up mealy mouthed, disingenuous excuses. Lambda Legal is not impressed and has some strong words for the weazel sell out and neither am I. Obama is doing exactly what Creig Deeds did in his disastrous campaign - ignoring his base and acting like a Republican. Here are highlights:
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“The Obama Administration is rejecting yet another chance to do the right and legally required thing” . . . “We are once again surprised and shocked that the Obama Administration is rejecting yet another chance to do the right and legally required thing, disregarding both the order, and the substantive analysis, of the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit about what federal law and the Ninth Circuit's employment rules require in this case.
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Judge Kozinski, a Reagan appointee, is widely regarded as among the brightest judges on the federal bench, an expert in issues of judicial independence, and notable for his common sense approach.
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Lambda Legal believes Judge Kozinski is clearly correct that employees of the federal Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Department of Justice do not have superior authority to interpret federal law than federal judges. Lambda Legal also finds it troubling and very disappointing that the Obama Administration has chosen to express its views of these legal questions through Friday-afternoon press statements stating that it will not comply with Judge Kozinski's direct orders, rather than by presenting its legal reasoning to Judge Kozinski in this proceeding so that we can respond on Ms. Golinski's behalf in the duly-established administrative forum in which Ms. Golinski is required to present her discrimination claim.
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Today, again, these Executive Branch officials are refusing to respect both Judge Kozinski's duly-issued order and his clear, compelling legal analysis. This is not the approach to issues of LGBT equality we had anticipated and deserve from the Obama Administration.

Friday, December 18, 2009

More Friday Male Beauty

Atheist Group and Priest Sue Brooklyn Diocese for Political Actions

One of the requirements under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code is that non-profit charities are forbidden from engaging in political action and in particular from supporting political candidates. As we have seen from its involvement in anti-gay initiatives in California and Maine and elsewhere, the Roman Catholic Church apparently believes that it is above the IRS laws and regulations and that it can do whatever it wants politically. Now a group of atheists and a priest have filed suit against the Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn due to its improper political involvement in support of political candidates. What makes the story even more sleazy is that the Diocese was working to support a politician who voted against extending the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims. Something obviously near and dear to the Church ice cold, black heart. Here are some highlights from the Brooklyn Paper:
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A major atheist group and a priest are suing the borough’s Catholic leadership, alleging that the church violated its tax-free status by making thousands of pre-recorded calls during the November election campaign that endorsed candidates favored by Assemblyman Vito Lopez.
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Nobody’s denying that the so-called “robocalls” supporting Lopez — with the voice of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio himself — were placed to voters a couple days before the Nov. 3 general election. But the lawsuit will determine whether the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn overstepped its legal boundaries when it mentioned Lopez, the county’s Democrat Party boss and a Democratic assemblyman from Bushwick, in automated calls to thousands of Brooklynites.
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The suit also accuses the Diocese of placing the calls as a favor to Lopez, who, earlier this year, supported the church by opposing legislation that would give alleged sex-abuse victims more time to file old claims.
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DiMarzio and a Diocese spokesman did not return calls in time for The Brooklyn Paper’s catholic online deadlines.
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The leadership of the Catholic Church both in the USA and around the world has become a corrupt, toxic, cesspool. A major revolt of the laity is required, yet I am not holding my breath that it will ever happen. It is far easier to simply walk away from the Catholic Church and find a new church home rather than battle the entrenched hierarchy that continues to view itself as unaccountable to rank and file Church members.

The Out 100 - Congratulations

Some of my mail is still going to my house in Norfolk - including my subscription to Out Magazine which gets read by my cute, young gay tenant before he brings it in to my office - so I am a bit behind on some things, including the Out 100 for 2009. Through blogging and activism, it's amazing that some of this year's Out 100 are people that I've met in person through the 2008 LGBT Blogger Summit or with whom I've spoken with on the phone or otherwise communicated with directly. That someone like myself who came out later in life has actual had the opportunity to interact with some of these amazing people speaks to the power of blogging. I'd like to give my personal congratulations to those of the honorees that I have had the privilege to interact with (in no particular order):
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Pam Spaulding, blog mistress of Pam's House Blend
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Gavin Creel of the Broadway show Hair and the organization Broadway Impact
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Dan Choi, decorated West Point Graduate discharged under DADT
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Cathy Renna, blogger and communications guru
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For those coming out later in life, I strongly encourage you to get involved in activism both as a way to accomplish needed change, but also as a way to build a new network of friends and colleagues to replace those who may abandon you as a result of your coming out and living honestly. I also want to say thank you to the above individuals and others named to the Out 100 for the difference they are making.

Newsweek's Predictions for 2010: Obama Does Nothing on Gay Rights

It's always nice to know that one is not the only person who feels that the LGBT community has been thrown totally under the bus by Barack Obama and the Congressional Democrats. Now, in addition to numerous LGBT bloggers, Newsweek likewise predicts that Obama will do "nada" on gay rights issues in 2010. Our votes and money were sought when he wanted to get elected. Now, we are an inconvenience that he wants to ignore. Hopefully, in November, 2010, the LGBT community will give back to the Democrats what we have received in 2009 - nothing of real substance that impacts us in our daily lives. Here is Newsweek's prediction:
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Patience became the 2009 mantra of the gay rights movement, which generally supports Democrats. Many activists believe that in his heart Obama supports their flagship issues: the ability to serve openly in the armed forces, to be protected from employment in the workplace, and the right to marry (even though he’s on record as favoring civil unions over marriage). But they’ve received almost nothing for their troubles. What the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community has learned this year is that the president is ultimately a pragmatist. Although his very presence in the White House is the stuff of culture wars, Obama himself is reluctant to wade into one. Moreover, if socially divisive policies have the potential to compromise his legislative agenda, Obama has proven that he simply won’t pursue them. Expect this tension to become more acute as the 2010 elections loom—and for gay rights to be shunted aside again. The last thing this pragmatist president will do is hand election-year ammunition to an already energized conservative base that’s venomously opposed to gay marriage.
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The LGBT community needs to cease all support for Democrats altogether except for specific candidates that actively and openly support our cause.

Friday Male Beauty

Monument to Isis Lifted from Cleopatra's Underwater City

The history lover in me could not pass up this story on a new artifact raised from areas of ancient Alexandria, Egypt, now beneath the harbor of modern day Alexandria as the result of earth quakes in the 4th century. The area of the ancient city involved include the palace and temple complexes of the Ptolemies who ruled Egypt for roughly 300 years - well longer than the period of time the USA has existed. The object retrieved is from the temple of Isis complex and consists of a pylon, which once stood at the entrance to a temple of Isis. In many ways, the cult of Isis with its theme of death and resurrection was a precursor to the underlying theme of Christianity - something that like would appall the Christo-fascists in the USA who seek to restrain knowledge and rewrite history to fit their own ignorant beliefs. First, some highlights from Yahoo News on the discovery, then more on Isis:
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ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – Archaeologists on Thursday hoisted a 9-ton temple pylon from the waters of the Mediterranean that was part of the palace complex of the fabled Cleopatra before it became submerged for centuries in the harbor of Alexandria.
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The pylon, which once stood at the entrance to a temple of Isis, is to be the centerpiece of an ambitious underwater museum planned by Egypt to showcase the sunken city, believed to have been toppled into the sea by earthquakes in the 4th century.
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The pylon is the first major artifact extracted from the harbor since 2002, when authorities banned further removal of major artifacts from the sea for fear it would damage them.
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"The tower is unique among Alexandria's antiquities. We believe it was part of the complex surrounding Cleopatra's palace," Hawass said, as the crane gently placed the pylon on the harbor bank. "This is an important part of Alexandria's history and it brings us closer to knowing more about the ancient city."
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Hawass has already launched another high-profile dig connected to Cleopatra. In April, he said he hopes to find the long-lost tomb of Antony and Cleopatra — and that he believes it may be inside a temple of Osiris located about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Alexandria.
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Having read "Alexander's Tomb," which recounts efforts to find the tomb of Alexander the Great but is in many ways a history of Alexandria, the find is of huge importance and may lead to other amazing finds. As for Isis, here are some details that suggest the Christian resurrection belief certainly had existing precedents:
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In later myths about Isis, she had a brother, Osiris, who became her husband, and she then was said to have conceived Horus. Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Her magical skills restored his body to life after she gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set. This myth became very important in later Egyptian religious beliefs. . . The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism in the Christian era.
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Roman perspectives on cults were syncretic, seeing in new deities, merely local aspects of a familiar one. For many Romans, Egyptian Isis was an aspect of Phrygian Cybele, whose orgiastic rites were long-naturalized at Rome, indeed, she was known as Isis of Ten Thousand Names. Among these names of Roman Isis, Queen of Heaven is outstanding for its long and continuous history. Herodotus identified Isis with the Greek and Roman goddesses of agriculture, Demeter and Ceres. In later years, Isis also had temples throughout Europe, Britain, Africa and Asia. An alabaster statue of Isis from the 3rd century BC, found in Ohrid, in the Republic of Macedonia, is depicted on the obverse of the Macedonian 10 denars banknote, issued in 1996.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More Thursday Male Beauty

Portugal Likely to Approve Same Sex Marriage

It continues to amaze me how Europe and parts of South America continue to out strip the USA in terms of equality under the civil laws and true religious freedom. Here in the USA, an intolerant, hate filled version of Christianity is enshrined in the laws and LGBT citizens face daily religious based discrimination. Now, Portugal seems poised to join other countries in affording same sex couples full marriage rights. One can only wonder when the USA - the faux land of the free - will catch up with parts of "old Europe" and progressive areas in South America. Here are some highlights from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution on the developments in Portugal:
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LISBON, Portugal — Portugal's Socialist government has drawn up a proposal that would make Portugal the sixth European country to allow gay marriage. The law is almost certain to pass, as the center-left Socialist government has the support of all left-of-center parties, who together have a majority in Parliament. Right-of-center parties oppose the measure.
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The proposal changes Portuguese law to remove references to marriage being between two people of different sexes, Cabinet Minister Pedro Silva Pereira told a news conference Thursday, adding the government will send its proposal to lawmakers for a debate, probably in January.
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If there is no presidential veto, the first gay marriage ceremonies could take place in April— a month before Pope Benedict XVI is due on a four-day official visit.
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Pedro Corte-Real, head of the Portuguese delegation of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, said the proposal was a vindication of his group's battle to end sexual discrimination. "We have been fighting for this for years," he told The AP.

Mecklenburg County's Bill James Responds To "Homo" Comments

If one wanted to find a stellar example of the callous, mean spirited, and homophobic mindset of the typical Christianist who cares nothing for others and cares nothing for the religious beliefs of others, one would not need to look beyond Mecklenburg County, North Carolina County Commissioner Bill James (pictured at left). My former partner lives in the Charlotte area and sent me a link to a story about James' refusal to apologize for horrible comments he made to a fellow Commissioner, Vilma Leake, who lost her gay son to AIDS. James' comments were outrageously cruel and what's even more outrageous is that he will not apologize to a mother who has lost a child. Unfortunately, behavior like James' seems to be the norm rather than the exception among religious extremists of the far Christian Right. They are devoid of charity and devoid of even a minimal level of common decency, not to mention Christian love. Pam Spaulding has a good take down on James here. Meanwhile, here are highlights from Fox News Charlotte that show the vileness of James' comments:
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James has responded after referring to another commissioner's son as a 'homo' during Monday night's debate on domestic partner benefits. During the discussion, Commissioner Vilma Leake, a Democrat, spoke in support of providing benefits for the domestic partners of county workers in same-sex relationships.
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Shortly after Leake's speech, James could be heard (on recorded audio) saying the following:
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James: "Your son was a homo?"
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Leake responded, "Don't make me hurt you. Don't do that to me. Don't talk to me about my son."
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Following the incident, FOX Charlotte received a statement (via email) from Bill James, who says, "I can type but I can't talk." In the statement, James says:
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"Vilma is a religious hypocrite."
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"She was married to a Bishop in the AME Zion church. This church has historically opposed homosexuality."
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"In justifying her position last night in public she used her son’s ‘lifestyle’ and his death from HIV-AIDS to justify voting for benefits to allow individuals to use tax dollars to engage in the same behavior that resulted in her son’s death."
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"It is akin to someone whose son is an alcoholic and died from the disease, using his death from drinking as justification to have the taxpayers pay for more booze."
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"Her position was that her ‘faith’ demanded that she do this to support her son and his ‘lifestyle’ which she acknowledges killed him."
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"In doing so, it is legitimate to ask her what ‘lifestyle’ and in particular whether her son was a homosexual.
Her response was to threaten me with physical violence (typical for her). Of course, this isn’t the first time she has threatened elected officials. On the School Board she had a long and checkered history threatening to harm those she disagrees with."
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"Well, if she didn’t want to make her ‘son’ an issue – why did she use him, his lifestyle and his tragic self-inflicted death from AIDS as the reason for her vote?"
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Pardon me, but if anyone is a religious hypocrite, it's James, not Ms. Leake. But then again, James is all too typical of the Christianists who wrap themselves in religion yet act in the most henious and insensitive ways towards others. WWJD?

Thursday Male Beauty

Why the Senate Health Care Bill is An Abomination

Just as Barack Obama and many Congressional Democrats lied to the LGBT community during the 2008 campaign, so too they lied to average Americans who desperately wanted REAL health care reform to control costs and stop the de facto rationing of health care by insurance companies and price gouging by drug manufacturers. Now, Howard Dean - a physician himself - has an op-ed in the Washington Post that lays out just how big the betrayal of average Americans has been and why the "reform" bill in the U.S. Senate needs to be defeated and replaced by what was promised. Sadly, I increasingly believe that come November, 2010, the Democrats deserve a crushing defeat at the polls. Not because the GOP would be any better, but at least the Republicans are more honest about their contempt for most Americans. Here are some column highlights:
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If I were a senator, I would not vote for the current health-care bill. Any measure that expands private insurers' monopoly over health care and transfers millions of taxpayer dollars to private corporations is not real health-care reform. Real reform would insert competition into insurance markets, force insurers to cut unnecessary administrative expenses and spend health-care dollars caring for people. Real reform would significantly lower costs, improve the delivery of health care and give all Americans a meaningful choice of coverage. The current Senate bill accomplishes none of these.
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Real health-care reform is supposed to eliminate discrimination based on preexisting conditions. But the legislation allows insurance companies to charge older Americans up to three times as much as younger Americans, pricing them out of coverage. The bill was supposed to give Americans choices about what kind of system they wanted to enroll in. Instead, it fines Americans if they do not sign up with an insurance company, which may take up to 30 percent of your premium dollars and spend it on CEO salaries -- in the range of $20 million a year -- and on return on equity for the company's shareholders. Few Americans will see any benefit until 2014, by which time premiums are likely to have doubled. In short, the winners in this bill are insurance companies; the American taxpayer is about to be fleeced with a bailout in a situation that dwarfs even what happened at AIG.
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If lawmakers are interested in ensuring that government affordability credits are spent on health-care benefits rather than insurers' salaries, they need to require state-based exchanges, which act as prudent purchasers and select only the most efficient insurers.
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I have worked for health-care reform all my political life. In my home state of Vermont, we have accomplished universal health care for children younger than 18 and real insurance reform -- which not only bans discrimination against preexisting conditions but also prevents insurers from charging outrageous sums for policies as a way of keeping out high-risk people.
I know health reform when I see it, and there isn't much left in the Senate bill. I reluctantly conclude that, as it stands, this bill would do more harm than good to the future of America.

BBC Debate: Should Homosexuals Face Execution?

Displaying extreme callousness, the BBC News Channel hosted an online debate - "Should homosexuals face execution?" - on its website on Wednesday 16 December 2009 and provided further proof that debates that would be unheard of in terms of specific religious or ethnic groups passes as just fine when gays are involved. Can one imagine a similar debate if "homosexual" was replaced by "blacks," "Muslim," "Jew," or some other group? I think not. It is an example of how frequently gays are dehumanized by even those who may not have malice as their agenda. We become things/objects rather than living, breathing human beings. It is disgusting, in my view. And much of the blame for our dehumanization lies at the feet of the professional Christian set and religious extremists of the Christian Right. In an e-mail I received, Peter Tatchell - who is never at a loss for words - made some apt comments. Here are some highlights:
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"I think it perfectly reasonable for the BBC to host a debate about the current Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill, but not in the terms that it was framed," said Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner and spokesperson for the LGBT equality group, OutRage!
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"The BBC would not hold online debates such as: Should Jews be exterminated? Was the Rwandan genocide justified? Should the people of Darfur be massacred? Is it right to stone women to death in Somalia?" added Mr Tatchell.
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"Moreover, the BBC's commentary announcing the debate put a very weak case against the execution of lesbian and gay Ugandans. It read like an open invitation for homophobic endorsements of the state-sponsored killing of gay people.
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"It is a good thing to promote awareness and debate about this vile legislation, even if it means giving homophobes an opportunity to air their prejudice and hatred.
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"We have to acknowledge that violently homophobic views still exist in many parts of the world, even in Britain. Bringing this homophobia into the open is a wake up call. It usefully jolts liberal-minded people out of their complacency.
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If one goes to the BBC page, some of the comments are frightening - some believe that the execution of gays is not only a good idea, but should be implemented world wide. Once again, religions view reveal themselves to be the source of much evil.

D.C. Gay Marriage

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Decade of Progress on LGBT Rights

As hard as it is at times to accept still being a second or third class citizen in the majority of states in the USA, many of us - myself included - tend to forget that progress has been made over the last decade. In Virginia (and 12 other states), until the Supreme Court ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, same sex physical relations could lead to felony charges and imprisonment. Even if the sexual relations occurred in the privacy of one's home between consenting adults. Obviously, the fact that progress has been made is no reason to give up on the struggle for full equality under all aspects of the civil laws - include the civil marriage laws. However, it can be useful when feels beaten down and pessimistic on where things are headed to stop and look at what improvements now exist as compared to a decade ago. The Movement Advancement Project has a new study that documents how life has in fact gotten better than it was even if the journey is far from over. The report can be found here. Here are some highlights:
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This brief report, prepared jointly by MAP and the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr., Fund, tracks 36 indicators of legal and social progress since the year 2000. The metrics are organized in eight topical areas affecting the lives of LGBT people:
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The report concisely shows how the past 10 years have been a period of dramatic gains in equality for LGBT people in America. Two-thirds of the 36 benchmarks show significant advances, including sharp increases in the number of LGBT Americans protected by nondiscrimination and family recognition legislation at the state level. Less than one quarter of the indicators are negative, and four metrics show little change (either positive or negative).
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•Protection from discrimination
•Recognition of LGBT families
•Protection from hate violence
•Safe and accepting school climate
•Relief from HIV and AIDS
•Service to country – military
•Service to country – public office
•Societal acceptance of LGBT people
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Some of the positive changes are as follows.
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States outlawing discrimination based on sexual orientation: from 12 up to 22, - Up 83%
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Fortune 500 companies that protect workers based on sexual orientation: from 51% up to 88% - Up 73%
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States extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples: from 0 up to 5 - Up from 0
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States with broad relationship recognition laws short of marriage: from 1 up to 6 - Up 500%
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States with safe school laws citing sexual orientation and gender identity/expression for protection: from 1 up to 13 - Up 1200%
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Portion of the public who favor allowing openly-homosexual military members to serve openly: from 62% up to 75% - Up 21%
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Yes, there have been set backs too. Still, the net change is positive. Not surprisingly, Virginia is generally NOT included among states showing improvement. Obviously, if that continues, Virginia will become increasingly non-competitive in attracting progressive businesses and the "creative class."

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Today's Pre-Trial Evidentiary Hearing in Olsen-Boies Proposition 8 Challenge

As I have said numerous times before, I believe that under a fair and proper application of the U.S. Constitution (i.e., one that is free from religious based prejudice), California's Proposition 8 is unconstitutional for a number of reasons - as are the anti-gay marriage amendments passed in other states. In a hearing today, Ted Olsen and David Boies laid out the frame work of their case as to why Proposition 8 needs to be struck down by the federal courts. Karen Ocamb at LGBT Pov has a god review of the Olsen/Boies presentation. Also Law Dork reports the news that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is likely to have an en banc - i.e., the full Court as opposed to a small panel of judges - reconsideration of the issue of whether the proponents of Proposition 8 must turn over internal memoranda and communications which could document the anti-gay animus behind Proposition 8 and the goal of affording same sex couples to unequal treatment under the CIVIL laws. I firmly believe that when the religious belief basis for Proposition 8 is stripped away, its proponents have no justification to support it other than bigotry and animus towards LGBT Americans. Here are some highlights:
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The pre-trial evidentiary hearing starts at 10:00am in the San Francisco courtroom of District Court Judge Judge Vaughn R. Walker. Olson and Boies will argue that the case should go to trial. Walker has already set a trial date of Jan. 11 and some reporters and bloggers, such as Patrick Range McDonald at the LA Weekly, want the trial to be televised. Walker will consider that issue today, as well as others such as scheduling motions on evidence and witnesses.
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[American Foundation for Equal Rights] AFER posted the
Olson/Boies brief on their website. Earlier, I posted the brief and the witness list they submitted. It is imperative that the legal team submit as many names of people they may expect to call, whether they intend to call them or not, at this stage in the hearing. AFER also noted:
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At the last hearing in the case, Chief Judge Walker rejected the defendants’ motion arguing that Prop. 8 was constitutional and that the case should be dismissed. That hearing was marked by a critical statement from the defendants, who have the burden of demonstrating that Prop. 8 is narrowly drawn to serve a “compelling government interest.” When asked by Chief Judge Walker to identify any harm to opposite-sex marriage that would result from marriage equality, the defendants’ attorney answered, “I don’t know.”
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Olson/Boies countered with: “This unequal treatment of gays and lesbians denies them the basic liberties and equal protection under the law that are guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.” The US Supreme Court recognized more than 30 years ago in the interracial marriage case Loving v. Virginia that marriage is one of the basic rights of human beings.
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Prop 8, they say:
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**Violates the Due Process Clause by impinging on fundamental liberties
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**Violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
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**Singles out gays and lesbians for a disfavored legal status, thereby creating a category of “second-class citizens.”
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**Discriminates on the basis of gender.
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**Discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.

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It should be remembered that in its decision earlier this year, the Iowa Supreme Court rejected religious based argument for the prohibition against same sex marriage stating that the State of Iowa must be neutral and could not uphold one set of religious beliefs to the detriment of other beliefs. The same should hold true under the U. S. Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion and bars the establishment of one set of religious beliefs.

Join Us Wednesday Night On Gay Agenda BlogTalkRadio

UPDATE: We had an enjoyable hour and a half wide ranging conversation on Blog Radio. If anyone has an interest in hearing the show, you can do so by going here and clicking "play" on tonights episode. Thanks James for hosting.
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This blogger and host, James Hipps of Gay Agenda, as well as Lyndon Evans of Focus on the Rainbow, and others bloggers will be talking about gay issues and the community Wednesday night, December 16 between 8 PM and 9 PM (ET). Lyndon is one of my first blogosphere friends and James was also an attendee at the LGBT Blogger Summit last December in Washington, D.C.
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NOTE – Because there may be some other LGBT bloggers joining tonight’s open forum, the show will be extended to 9:30 PM.
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It will be an open forum of any topics that come to mind. You can listen, call-in to talk or join the chat at Gay Agenda on BlogTalkRadio.

Wednesday Male Beauty

Kill the Senate Health Reform Bill

Like pretty much everything else Obama and the Congressional Democrats have touched over the last 11 months, the health care reform bill in the U.S. Senate bears no resemblance to what was promised during the 2008 campaign season. Average Americans have been thrown under the bus and the bill is an abomination. The true winners: health insurers and drug companies. As a result many are calling for the bill to be killed for the simple reason that no bill is better than a thoroughly bad bill. But for his insane inclusion of Sarah Palin on the ticket, I am beginning to believe that a McCain administration would have done as much or more than Obama and the clowns comprising the current crop of Congressional Democrats. Howard Dean - a physician himself - is leading the charge to make sure this bill is still born. Here are some of Dean's thoughts via Towleroad:
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Howard Dean seems to be the only person making any sense in the health care bill debate right now, as the holidays approach, and Lieberman's selfish ego digs in, and it looks like Democrats will compromise any bit of actual reform out of the bill just to see it pass.
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Says Dean: "No, absolutely not. You can't vote for a bill like this in good conscience. It costs too much money. It isn't health care reform. It's not even insurance reform."
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Said Dean on
NPR earlier: “This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate. Honestly the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill
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The Plum Line has more about the bill and none of it good:
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Dean had previously endorsed the Medicare buy-in compromise without a public option, saying that the key question should be whether the bill contains enough “real reform” to be worthy of progressives’ support. Dean has apparently concluded that the “real reform” has been removed at Lieberman’s behest — which won’t make it easier for liberals to swallow the emerging compromise.

Five Guidelines for LGBT Contributions In The Political Process

Speaking of donations, David Mixner has five guide lines on his blog today that make perfect sense. As the button on the right column of this blog indicates, I do not believe that the LGBT community should continue to allow itself to be used as an ATM machine by Democrats that talk a good game but then do nothing whatsoever to pass gay friendly legislation. Back during the 2008 campaign, I hear Obama in person make pro-gay statements that made some of in the crowd almost have tears in our eyes. He sounded SO convincing and sincere. The problem is that he apparently meant absolutely none of it. He is slick alright - as other too many of the other Democrat elected officials. Here are David's suggested guidelines which I endorse:
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So what is a major or minor donor to do? We must refuse to contribute to anyone that has not proven their loyalty to the LGBT community. . . . there are places that we can effectively place our money and still be good citizens. Plus, in the process send a powerful message. Here are my guidelines five guidelines to giving:
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1. Do not contribute to Democratic party committees like the DNC, DSCC and DCCC. They will use the funds to not only elect our allies but also Blue Dog Democrats. Even if they set up a 'special committee' for us that will enable them to loosen funds for candidates who are opposed to our freedom.
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2. Contribute directly to only those candidates who have proven by either by vote or sponsorships of legislation their commitment to our issues.
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3. Contribute to LGBT candidates who most often know how to fight like hell for us. The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund is one of the most effective groups in Washington,DC.
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4. Contribute to our own community and its battles for freedom especially as our young resort to more traditional civil rights tactics.
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5. Contribute to defeating our enemies at the local level which is a very powerful message to send those that oppose us.

Finally, do not be charmed by fancy appeals, hot parties, invites to special places and personal attention. Hold strong and let them know your five guidelines for giving. For nearly two decades we have poured money into the political process only to be ignored or betrayed time and time again.

The Salvation Army-Gay Dilemma: To Give or Not?

A New York Times column looks at the issue of donating to homophobic charities and the Salvation Army in particular. Personally, I ceased giving money to charities that include anti-gay efforts in their agenda and in the increasingly rare instances where I see the yule time collection kettles, I make a point of telling their personnel why I have ceased to donate money, clothing or anything else to the organization. In my view, religious based bigotry needs to entail a cost. People can believe what they want, just do not expect me to underwrite their bigotry. There are other worthwhile charities who perform similar services without the anti-gay bigotry. Locally, it seems a number of locations that formerly allowed Salvation Army collection efforts have ceased doing so - perhaps in the hope of avoiding controversy with LGBT customers and their allies. Here are a few highlights:
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With their red buckets and ringing bells out among the shoppers, the Salvation Army reminds people of other worthy uses for their money. The religious organization also has positions on many issues, including homosexuality, which the charity views with disapproval.
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In The San Francisco Chronicle’s Op-ed pages, Phil Bronstein, the paper’s executive vice-president and editor-at-large, jumps into the debate over whether the organization’s position on homosexuality outweighs the good it does.
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Is the Salvation Army one of those organizations that is worth supporting for its overall good even if you disagree with some of its policies? Mr. Bronstein says he will drop some money in the bucket. Shea O’Neill at SF Appeal says if “you can stomach the fact that your money has to pass through potentially gay-bashing hands before reaching a family in need (because it will indeed reach them), then by all means drop a quarter in the bucket.” Tim Redmond at the SF Bay Guardian says Don’t Give.
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It might be remembered in this context that General William Booth, the Englihshman who founded the organization in the mid-19th century, had a view on a related question: accepting money from people you disapprove of (in his case, burlesque dancers).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Buju Banton Remains in a Federal Lockup

UPDATED: As might be expected, I've received some nasty anonymous comments from some of Banton delusional fans. I guess they can't accept the reality that their idol has feet of clay. In keeping with my policy on anonymous personal attack comments, none will be published.
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As gay hater Buju Banton (real name is Mark Anthony Myrie) cools his heels in a federal lock up, his delusional fans grasp for any explanation for his arrest - e.g., it was a set up, etc. - rather than admit that the guy is a nasty piece of work and an all in all dirt bag. Given the facts available to date, it appears that Banton - besides being a gay hater - is a arrogant, pompous ass who believed he was above the rules for everyone else. Personally, nothing would make me happier than seeing him spend 20 years in a federal penitentiary. It would certainly give him plenty of time to rethink his homophobia. Here are some highlights from today's Miami Herald:
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As news of the drug arrest of Jamaican artist Buju Banton rocked the reggae world and burned up U.S. urban blogs, one word described the reaction in Miami and his Caribbean homeland: Shock. ``Everybody's surprised, everybody's saying it's got to be a set-up,'' said dancehall reggae artist Red Rat, who collaborated with Banton on the 1997 reggae hit Love Dem Bad. ``We don't know Buju as that type of person,'' Rat, who splits his time between Miami and Jamaica, told The Miami Herald.
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Boom Bye Bye is viewed by gay-rights advocates as an anti-gay anthem because of its lyrics advocating shooting gays in the head and setting them on fire. It made and continues to make Buju Banton a target of protests by gays and lesbians who as recently as this month ratched up their protests against the artist after the Grammy announced his latest album, Rasta Got Soul, was nominated for Best Reggae Album.
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On Monday, in South Florida and Jamaica, callers burned up radio airwaves, calling the arrest a ``conspiracy'' to get him after his recent controversy that included protests by local gay-rights advocates over a Halloween concert in downtown Miami. . . . In Jamaica, people clamored for details of the arrest, decrying it on radio and on street corners.
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Banton was arrested at his home in Tamarac on Thursday, three days after he allegedly spoke with a confidential source about traveling to Sarasota to obtain ``kilogram amounts of cocaine,'' according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court.
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The complaint said that at about 12:45 p.m. Dec. 8, Banton and a woman entered La Tropicana de Havana restaurant to meet with a confidential source. He was later joined by Ian Thomas, also arrested and charged. The negotiations was taped.
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Later at a police-controlled warehouse, Banton was handed a knife and ``instantly wiped the blade of the knife with his finger and placed that finger into his mouth in what appeared to be an attempt to taste the cocaine. After viewing the cocaine, Myrie and Thomas continue to negotiate with the [confidential source] for them to obtain multiple kilograms of cocaine.''
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Two days later, Thomas was arrested along with James Mack, aka Spencer Clarke, at the same warehouse after they arrived with money to purchase seven kilograms of cocaine.
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``Conservatively speaking, we're looking in the 20- to 30-year range,'' said David P. Rowe, a criminal defense lawyer in Broward, who has been contacted about representing Banton. ``I think a plea bargain, if he has information, might be a good course of action.
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Would that we gays had the power to orchestrate a set up that flawless. Sorry folks, but that doesn't sound like a set up to me. With luck, Banton will do some prison time and perhaps even get to be some one's bitch. Now, that would be karma biting him in the ass big time. Oh, and I wonder what the jerks at the Grammy Awards are think of their brilliant nomination of Banton now. Will one of next years nominees sing about killing blacks and/or Jews?

More Tuesday Male Beauty

D.C. Council Approves Bill Legalizing Gay Marriage

As many outlets and blogs are reporting, the Washington, D.C., city council by a vote of 11 to 2 voted to approve same sex marriage in the District of Columbia. The action must survive a 30 day period in which Congress and the White House could vote to disapprove the measure. Meanwhile the Christo-fascists are going berserk and nasty, self-enriching, fraud Maggie Gallagher - faux Christian crusader married to a Hindu - is declaring that the National Organization for Marriage - the organization she uses to enrich herself - will launch an effort to force a referendum. The further irony, of course, is that a number of black pastors are carrying water on the referendum effort at the bidding of the descendants of white Christianists who first wanted to maintain slavery and then later segregation (these pastors truly need to study their history and educate themselves as to who they are allowing to dupe them). Here are some highlights from the Washington Post (my further comments follow below):
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The D.C. Council gave final approval Tuesday to a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, setting off a wave of excitement in the gay community even as opponents vow to continue the fight on Capitol Hill.
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The bill, approved by a vote of 11 to 2, will now go to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), who is expected to sign it before Christmas. The bill will become law in the spring if it survives a 30-day legislative review period.
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To block the legislation, the Democratic-controlled House and Senate and President Obama would all have to sign off on a disapproval resolution within 30 legislative days, which advocates say is not likely.
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The Rev. Anthony Evans, associate minister of Mount Zion Baptist Church, said he and other ministers will not relent in their efforts to block the legislation. Led by Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church, opponents of the bill have sued in Superior Court to try to force a referendum to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.
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"This is a moment in history that I think all gay people have been waiting for," Erika Zommer, 27, of Northeast Washington, said in an interview at the rally. "But I think with my generation, I knew this day would come."

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What will be interesting to see is whether or not the Roman Catholic Church now makes good on its threat to shut down services to homeless shelters, food programs for needy families, and health services rather than provide equal benefits for employees in same-sex CIVIL marriages. When given the opportunities, the Church hierarchy seems to always choose to act like modern day Pharisees rather than move forward with proper Christian behavior. For those who want to write to the Catholic Archdiocese and ask that true Christian principles prevail, you can do so here.

LGBT Activist Walter Trochez Assassinated in Honduras

The war against gay rights sometimes becomes violent as is the case in Honduras where Doug Ireland is reporting that Walter Trochez (pictured at right) was assassinated. Speculation has it that those behind the killing were those who Trochez had described as behind the civil-religious-military coup d'├ętat in Honduras earlier this year. A month ago, Trochez had written about the growing violence against the LGBT community in Honduras. His letter can be viewed here. Needless to say, a brutal killing like this sickens me. Perhaps I am even more sensitive on the issue because my mother was born in Honduras (Puerto Castilla, to be exact) and lived there through the equivalent of elementary school before moving to Panama and ultimately to the USA. Not surprisingly, Trochez believed that the Roman Catholic Church was involved in the coup that over threw the elected president:
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the Catholic and Christian Evangelical churches that promoted the coup. As evidence we can point to the explicit support given by Honduras' religious hierarchy to the civil-military coup that on June 28, 2009 prevented the implementation of a plebiscite organized by the legitimate constitutional government, and placed the dictator Roberto Micheletti in the executive branch.
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A press release issued by the Honduras Episcopal Conference and signed by the Catholic church's eleven Honduran bishops, justifies upon supposedly constitutional grounds the kidnapping, disappearance and expulsion from the country of the constitutional President: "the institutions of the Honduran democratic State are valid and in force, and its juridical resolutions have abided by the law..." It additionally defines the current situation as "a new starting point for dialogue, consensus and reconciliation..
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But getting back to Trochez's murder, here are some highlights from DIRELAND:
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Walter Trochez, 25 years old, a well-known LGBT activist in Honduras who was an active member of the National Resistance Front against the coup d'etat there, was assassinated on the evening of December 13, shot dead by drive-by killers. Trochez, who had already been arrested and beaten for his sexual orientation after participating in a march against the coup, had been very active recently in documenting and publicizing homophobic killings and crimes committed by the forces behind the coup, which is believed to have been the motive for his murder.
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Amnesty International has issued a statement calling for an investigation of the murder, which you can read
here.
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One need only look to instances like this one and the push in Uganda - and now Rwanda - to kill gay citizens because of their failure to conform to the corrupt, intolerant and un-Christian views of the Catholic hierarchy and evangelical Christian groups. Religious fundamentalism of every stripe is a clear and present danger to religious freedom for all and constitutional government which would protect minority rights.