Saturday, January 22, 2011

More Saturday Male Beauty

GOP Spending Goals Show Launch of New Culture War

It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the GOP and its delusional party base that the now GOP controlled House of Representatives is about to launch a new culture war to curry favor with the Christianists who ultimately control the party while trying to dress up their attack as deficit cutting. You can put a cheap whore in a fancy dress, but she's still a whore and that's what the GOP is in terms of the Christian Right. No amount of shameless prostitution to Christianist demands is too much - especially when the Tea Party crowd is factored in since once again the Christianists are deeply involved in that movement no matter what pretenses might be put forward. Job creation and reviving the economy mean nothing to the likes of Family Research Council and similar conservative hate groups that try to wrap their poison in the cloak of religion. Those who were duped into voting Republican in the hope that jobs and the economy would be the first priority are in for an unpleasant surprise even though it should have been foreseeable. Dana Milbank has a column in the Washington Post that looks at the coming assault on all things deemed liberal and/or not in keeping with Christian fundamentalists beliefs. Here are highlights:
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Mr. Speaker, 63 percent of voters said the economy was the most important issue, according to exit polls for the November election. Voters asked for jobs - and you're giving them a culture war.
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About 30 minutes after Boehner left the studio, leaders of the Republican Study Committee, a group that claims most House Republicans as members, walked into the same room to announce its new spending bill. Among the items the group proposes to eliminate or decimate: the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Title X birth control and family planning, AmeriCorps, the Energy Star program and work on fuel efficient cars, and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
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Ostensibly, their cuts were about reducing the deficit, but their list clearly had more to do with settling old scores. Many of the items - including the renewed targeting of Big Bird and the rest of PBS - were holdovers from Newt Gingrich's '95 wish list.
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Also coming in for special cuts would be labor (the bill would repeal rules requiring federal contractors to pay the prevailing wage); international relations (funds for the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development would be slashed); the poor (housing and other anti-poverty programs that fund soup kitchens and the like would take big hits); and federal workers (a halving of the federal travel budget could mean half as many food safety, mine safety and immigration inspections).
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It's going to be a long two years until the 2012 elections when one can only hope that moderates and independents wake the hell up and realize that regardless what the GOP may promise, the real GOP agenda is not that of moderates and independents - or rational thinking Americans.

Same-Sex Unions Could Be In Store for Peru

In yet could be another huge step back for the Roman Catholic Church, depending on the results of upcoming elections, Peru may join the list of South and Central American nations that have granted legal recognition to same sex couples. Once again I find it interesting - and discouraging - that nations once viewed as backward and inferior to the USA are moving toward making their constitutions' guarantees of equality real while the USA clings to fundamentalist religious backwardness and religious based discrimination and bigotry. As I have noted before, I wonder at times if I won't find myself leaving the USA in the future for some country that affords LGBT individuals full legal equality. Lezgetreal and Mombian both have coverage of this development in Peru. Here are highlights from Lezgetreal:
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A leading candidate for Peru’s president,Former President Alejandro Toledo, has said this week he will push for the legalization of gay and lesbian civil unions in if he is re-elected as that country’s chief executive.
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[The] Civil Unions proposal is included under Toledo’s the eighth point government plan titled “All Peruvians are Equal,” and calls for sending to the Peruvian Congress a bill to approve civil unions without distinction of gender. Said Toledo of his civil union proposal, “it is a question of principles, it aims to recognize the full civil rights of citizens and to be a step, among others, to achieve social inclusion of all Peruvians
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Meanwhile, the leftist Fuerza Social party has gone one better and said it would promote same-sex marriages.
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But In a country where about 80 percent of the population is Catholic, needless to say, both proposals have come under attack by the Catholic Church. The Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, has said both proposals are an “error” and added, “It is a proposal made by a political party and we will see what the population says. The Church teaches something else, but I think politicians present topics that I don’t know if the population accepts or not.”
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According to a survey published in August, over 70% of Peruvians said they are opposed to the same-sex marriage, however the latest national polls have Toledo and his party leading the field of presidential and congressional candidates for April elections.

Key West - An Amazing Get Away Spot


Taking a break from politics and LGBT issues, I wanted to give an update on our trip to Key West. That said, here's an update:
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Our trip to Key West has been very enjoyable so far and we've enjoyed soaking up the sun, visiting local restaurants, taking in the historic homes tour - we got to see the house owned by Kenny Chesney last night (pictured above - and other historical/tourism sites. We also got to see Porche (pictured at left), one of our favorite performers last night at the Bourbon Street Pub. As always, her show was hysterically funny and entertaining. An added treat has been receiving a VIP press pass from the Key West Business Guild/International Gay and Lesbian Tourism Association since I write for The Bilerico Project. The pass lets the boyfriend and me have complimentary admission to a number of sites, sailing tours, jet ski tours and other things to enhance the trip. Today is the first cooler day - highs only around 70 degrees - so we are going to visit the Audubon House, the Curry Mansion, and some other venues we have not visited on previous trips.
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One of the things I always enjoy staying at the Oasis is it's relaxed atmosphere and the fact that one meets people from all over the country and from foreign countries. An interesting guest this visit is Wilmer Vergara who owns Graphi-ko Gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida. Besides painting, photography and graphic design shirts Wilmer makes beautiful jewelery, rings, and gorgeous fused glass pendants. The boyfriend and I both bought pendants as did a number of other guests. To see some of his beautiful creations go to the new gallery link on his website.
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For those looking for a laid back get away destination, Key West is wonderful and we love the fact that we can walk or bike everywhere.

Saturday Male Beauty

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas Guilty of Ethics Breach

I have focused on the improper behavior of Justice Clarence Thomas several times. His wife brings in significant income into the Thomas household from far right groups who then have their interests reviewed in cases before the U. S. Supreme Court. Not surprisingly given Thomas' questionable ethics - remember, he likely perjured himself before Congress during his confirmation hearings - he sides with the litigants who have bestowed money either directly or indirectly on his wife. Such behavior would be shocking in any judge, but for a Supreme Court justice it is nothing less than horrifying. Now, a watchdog group has alleged that both Thomas and Antonin Scalia committed ethical breaches in not recusing themselves in the case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission. Indeed, the group, Common Cause, is asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the matter. Frankly, in my opinion, Thomas needs to be removed from the Court and Scalia needs to either cease his partisanship behavior or resign as well. The Los Angeles Times looks at the situation. Here are highlights:
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A government watchdog group alleges that two of the Supreme Court's most conservative members had a conflict of interest when they considered a controversial case last year that permitted corporate funds to be used directly in political campaigns.
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Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are the subject of an unusual letter delivered Wednesday by Common Cause asking the U.S. Justice Department to look into whether the jurists should have disqualified themselves from hearing the campaign finance case if they had attended a private meeting sponsored by Charles and David Koch, billionaire philanthropists who fund conservatives causes.
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If it believes there is a conflict, the Justice Department, as a party to the case, should ask the court to reconsider its decision, Common Cause said.
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The letter is based in part on references to Scalia and Thomas made in an invitation to an upcoming meeting this month of elite conservative leaders sponsored by the Kochs. The invitation, first obtained by the liberal blog Think Progress, names the two justices among luminaries who have attended the closed Koch meetings at unspecified dates in the past.
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Some legal scholars dismiss the complaint as unlikely to succeed. But others said raising the issue could engender useful public scrutiny and debate about judicial independence. Steven Gillers, a legal ethics specialist at New York University, said the Koch brothers' use of Scalia and Thomas' name for their upcoming meeting was "troubling."
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"I believe the nation has a right to know exactly what role if any the Justices played in the Koch gatherings, including the content of any remarks they made and whether Citizens United was a subject of any gathering they attended," Gillers said. "The answers can help determine whether they were able to sit in the case and, if not, whether the result should be overturned.
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It is common for members of the federal judiciary to attend events where legal and political issues are discussed. But the law prohibits them from taking part in cases where their impartiality might reasonable be questioned. In their letter to Holder, Common Cause executives say that such a conflict appears to exist.

MSNBC Fires Keith Olbermann

Back in early November I wrote about the fear that MSNBC might take a hard lurch to the right if Comcast's take over of NBC was approved and former Bush fundraiser Steve Burke (pictured at left) was placed at the helm of MSNBC. Sadly, such fears were apparently justified as evidenced by Keith Olbermann's departure from MSNBC which Olbermann announced last night. As I indicated in November, the boyfriend and I have been faithful in watching MSMBC, but if the management wants to kill the cutting edge and much needed investigative approach of Olbermann and Maddow - who may be next in Burke's cross hairs - then our viewing habits will change and MSNBC can kiss out loyalty goodbye. John Aravosis at America Blog is unhappy as well and here our some highlights (make sure you sign the petition backing Olbermann):
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Keith says he was told "this is going to be the last edition of your show." Here's the rather curt statement from MSNBC.
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Wow. Not a smart move by MSNBC. More than a few folks on Twitter, and elsewhere, are noting the interesting coincidence of Comcast being given approval to take over NBC just three days ago. Rather interesting timing. It's also interesting that the Republicans take over the House and suddenly Keith is gone - perhaps MSNBC has decided it wants more conservatives, or at least to lose its fiercest liberals.
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If I were CNN, I'd hire him fast. This is the kind of energy and intellect CNN needs in its evening shows (not that it doesn't have some good talent). But Olbermann knows TV. And he's no Glenn Beck, but at the same time is a perfect counterpoint to the Becks of the world.
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Again, it looks like my days of tuning into MSNBC all evening is a thing of the past. I will tune in for Rachel, but beyond that my comment to MSNBC is go f*ck yourself.

Friday, January 21, 2011

More Friday Male Beauty

Next Up for Obama: Marriage Equality for Gay Americans

As indicated in my post earlier today about the DOMA related case going forward in California, like it or not Barack Obama is going to have to stop trying to sit on the fence. You either support full equality for all citizens under the CIVIL laws or you do not. And frankly, Obama's ducking and weaving to avoid taking a categorical position in support of full equality is beginning to getting to ridiculous. You cannot be only a little bit pregnant. And the reality is that the battle for gay marriage is just beginning in the courts and in the court of public opinion, with public support growing if not yet a majority view. Moreover, the outcome of the battle for full gay equality under the civil laws will determine whether or not the U. S. Constitution's promise of equality and freedom of religion mean anything whatsoever. Kerry Eleveld has an op-ed in tomorrow's print edition of the Washington Post that looks at the inevitability of Obama having to take an all or nothing position and bear the political consequence of whatever his decision may be. . Here are some column highlights:
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Less than a month after President Obama repealed "don't ask, don't tell," his Justice Department filed its latest brief defending the so-called Defense of Marriage Act - the law that makes gay Americans second-class citizens by outlawing federal recognition of their legal marriages. This action underscores the point that the battle over gay rights is just beginning.
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As Obama was preparing to sign the repeal legislation late last month, I was granted the first ever one-on-one interview with him as president by a journalist from a news outlet for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
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Given that openly gay men and women would soon be fighting and, in some cases, dying for their country, I wondered whether the president thought it was time that those women and men be entitled to full marriage rights.
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[T]he president is facing new terrain now that some gays in the military will undoubtedly be lawfully wedded to their partners. For example, will the families of those service members have access to the same benefits and support networks that their heterosexual counterparts have? Will their spouses be the first informed if they pay the ultimate sacrifice in the course of defending their country?
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There is a serious flaw in the president's position of viewing civil unions as a path to giving same-sex couples equal relationship recognition: The federal government does not recognize civil unions for the purposes of spousal benefits. In fact, no legislation to formalize civil unions exists at the federal level.
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That means that advocates of civil unions, Obama included, are suggesting for lesbian and gay couples a status for which the federal government has no definition and no frame of reference within its codes, and one that provides no path to legal recognition.
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With equality legislation stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, one of the most significant advances Obama can make between now and his 2012 reelection campaign is to evolve fully on marriage equality. The repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" was a turning point in the marriage discussion. It poses a major challenge and an opportunity for the president.

Last Chance to Support HRBOR's Winter Wine Festival

Unfortunately, the boyfriend and I had pre-booked our annual Key West trip months before the decision was made by the HRBOR board of directors to sponsor the Winter Wine and Food Festival that will take palce tomorrow evening. But that's not to say that we are not supporting it through silent auction donations and ticket purchases (my daughter and her boyfriend are going as my firm's representatives). This is going to be a great event and I hope truly hope that local readers will make a point to attend. The food and beverages will be wonderful.



Winter Wine Festival
&
Silent Auction

Five Points Community Farm Market
2500 Church St., Norfolk, VA 23504
http://www.5ptsfarmmarket.org/
January 22, 2011 7p.m. - 11p.m.
Come and taste incredible wines, gourmet foods, desserts and coffees set in the organic Farm Market.


Participating Vendors:

Holly Grove Vineyards
Angry Adams Wine and Cheese Spot
Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant
Get Fresh Cafe
Bardo Edibles & Elixirs
Still Worldly Eclectic Tapas
Lew-Lou's Sinsational Bakery
Rogue Elephant Coffee Roasting Company


Florals provided by New Leaf Florist
Linens & Tables provided by Distinctive Event Rentals

Tickets:
$40 per person !!!
$50 per person at the door, January 22, 2011

For Sponsorship Opportunities contact, Jodi Butler: 757-572-5971.

For tickets call: 757-339-1892 or Email: events@hrbor.org or flavorhamptonroads.com

U.S. District Judge Allows Another DOMA Lawsuit to Proceed

A U. S. District Court judge has ruled that California couples can proceed with a lawsuit they filed in April against the U.S. Treasury Department and the California Public Employees' Retirement System ("CalPERS") challenging the Federal Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA") and a section of the Internal Revenue Code that prohibits same-sex spouses from receiving favorable tax treatment for insurance plans. It will be interesting to see what directives our faux "fierce advocate" in the White House gives to the Department of Justice inasmuch as the Court held that DOMA was not a bar to the action against CalPERS. Unfortunately, I suspect we will witness more of Obama disingenuously speaking out of both sides of his mouth saying in one breath that he supports LGBT civil equality and then in the next defending discriminatory laws. He simply cannot have it both ways and to me, his actions in defending DOMA tells the true story. The San Jose Mercury has coverage of the case and these are highlights:
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Three married gay and lesbian couples in which one partner is a state employee have won an important step in their fight for the equal right to buy long-term care insurance from the state's pension system. In a ruling issued on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland said the couples can proceed with a lawsuit they filed in April against the U.S. Treasury Department and the California Public Employees' Retirement System, known as CalPERS.
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Wilken said that two federal laws used to deny the same-sex spouses the right to buy long-term care insurance "do not bear a rational relationship to a legitimate government interest." The two laws are the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and a section of the Internal Revenue Code that prohibits same-sex spouses from receiving favorable tax treatment for insurance plans.
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Wilken did not explicitly strike down the DOMA law, but said it could not be used as a basis for dismissing the lawsuit. She turned down a bid by the U.S. Justice Department for dismissal and said the case can go to trial.
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Claudia Center, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, called Wilken's decision "a key legal victory" and said the couples hope to use the case to make the CalPERS insurance available to all same-sex spouses and domestic partners of state workers. Center said the plaintiffs' next steps will be to seek to add two same-sex domestic partners to the case and have the lawsuit declared a class action. She said that sometime this summer, the plaintiffs will ask Wilken to issue a summary judgment in their favor without a trial.

Bilerico Project Nominated for GLAAD Media Award

As I suspect many readers know, besides writing this blog I also contribute to The Bilerico Project as one of its team of writers. I've enjoyed the experience immensely and was thrilled to hear that The Bilerico Project has been nominated for a 2011 GLAAD Media Award in the Outstanding Blog category. The other blogs up for the prize are Blabbeando, Rod2.0, Pam's House Blend, and Joe.My.God. As Bilerico editor-in-chief, Bil Browning notes, they're all excellent sites that should be on one's daily reading list (they are all on mine). All of us at Bilerico are honored to be included with such worthy contenders. A full list of nominees for all categories can be found here. This is what GLAAD said about the blog nominees:
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By recognizing and honoring media for outstanding images of the LGBT community, the GLAAD Media Awards serve as a benchmark for the media industry and complement GLAAD's work to bring LGBT images and stories to Americans. . . .
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"This year's nominees represent some of the images and stories at the root of the growing acceptance of our community and support for our equality," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "They also have created a benchmark for inclusion of our community that other media outlets should look to. As GLAAD celebrates twenty-five years of working with the media, we are proud to recognize this year's nominees and we challenge the industry to share more stories that reflect the diversity of our community and the challenges that gay and transgender people face."
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This year GLAAD introduced a new category to recognize independent blogs, in recognition of the growing role of online media in shaping today's culture. The first nominees in this category are The Bilerico Project, Blabbeando, Joe. My. God., Pam's House Blend, and Rod 2.0.
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Whatever the outcome, I want to thank all of the members of the Bilerico team for allowing me to share in the blogs journalist efforts.

Friday Male Beauty

A Gay Prime Minister for Italy?

I recently wrote about the legal problems facing Italian Prime Minister Silvio "I Can't Keep My Zipper Closed" Berlusconi who cannot keep himself away from young prostitutes. Now Berlusconi - and his allies at the Vatican - may be facing some interesting Divine justice as a confidence vote approaches. Berlusconi's principal rival for the post appears to be Nichi Vendola, the openly gay governor of the southern Italian state of Apulia. Needless to say, a victory for Vendola (pictured above) would be sweet for many reasons, not the least of which is because it would drive the bitter old queens in dresses at the Vatican berserk. And given Berlusconi's unbridled sexual escapades, Vendola would look like a pillar of sexual morality in contrast. In addition, a Vendola victory would show that Italy is sliding out of the grip of the Church as has happened in Spain and Argentina where civil marriage is now legal for same sex couples. The Washington Post looks at the story and here are some highlights:
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Many of the frustrated Italians gathering in the surrounding squares hoped this gay, Catholic, ex-communist poet whom the media has dubbed - partly in jest and partly in earnest - "the white Obama" would take the premier's place.
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Improbably, Vendola is positioned to become the next leader of Italy. His ascent from regional governor to national phenomenon has coincided with what increasingly looks like the decline of Berlusconi. The media mogul barely survived the Dec. 14 confidence vote, and in the past few weeks he has suffered the erosion of his governing coalition and the evaporation of his cherished immunity from prosecution. This week, Italian papers published wiretapped phone conversations connected to allegations that the 74-year-old paid for sex with multiple young women, including Karima El Mahroug, a teenage nightclub dancer nicknamed "Ruby Heartstealer."
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In 2005, Vendola stunned the opposition establishment and then the right-leaning power structure to win election as the governor of the socially conservative Apulia. In March, he comfortably won reelection and has since sought to raise his national profile.
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In a rare moment of understatement, Vendola said his parents reacted "not well" to his coming out. The breakthrough came, he said, decades later, when, in 2000, he addressed thousands of gay demonstrators at the World Pride march in Rome. After his speech, he received a call from his mother. " 'It's a shame we are old and couldn't come. You know, your dad was saying, maybe we should ask your forgiveness,' " Vendola recalled her saying. "I don't think I ever cried like that in my life. I think I cried for a couple of days."
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Vendola argued that, in Italy, Catholicism is more cultural than religious. When everyone is nominally Catholic, there is a lot more flexibility and acceptance. "I have a lot of nuns among my fans," he insisted. "In Italy there are parishes that distribute my discourses."
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I hope Vendola wins - if nothing else so as to turn the political establishment upside down for a much needed shake up.

Why John Paul II is Unfit for Sainthood

Assuming one buys into the concept of sainthood - and I admittedly do not because it is a display of incredible hubris on man's part - the Roman Catholic Church's rush to sainthood for John Paul II makes a mockery and travesty out of the concept. More and more evidence is coming out - the 1997 letter to Irish prelates being but the latest - that confirms that John Paul both aided and abetted serial molesters like Marcial Maciel, directed that bishops engage in the deliberate obstruction of justice, and cared nothing about the rape and molestation of countless children and youths. Not exactly the behavior of a saint - or even a remotely moral person for that matter. Instead, it sounds like the behavior of a Mafia Don or some other low life criminal and, therefore, the rush to sainthood for John Paul II in my mind simply further underscores the complete moral bankruptcy within the Vatican and the ranks of the Church hierarchy in general. Andrew Sullivan not surprisingly holds similar views to my own and here are highlights of his lambasting of the sainthood effort for a man who should have been criminally prosecuted for criminal conspiracy or worse:
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And let us be clear who was presiding over this disgraceful and disgusting negligence of a core moral value: the protection of children from abuse and rape. The Pope ultimately responsible, John Paul II, is on an absurdly fast track for beatification. How will history look on a church that made a saint out of a Pope who ignored, suppressed, and had underlings covering up the rape of countless vulnerable children? In Ireland, the abuse was so severe, so long-running, so protected by a vile collusion between church and state that the attempt to hush it up is damning. It seems to me a stretch to argue that the Church under John Paul II returned to a very papal hierarchical structure and simultaneously say the Pope has no responsibility for the mass rape and abuse of children he so blithely presided over.
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[T]here is also no doubt in my mind that he was a disgraceful manager of the Church with respect to the greatest crisis it has faced in generations. His relationship with and protection of the pedophile, incestuous neo-fascist, Marcial Maciel, alone makes beatification, to my mind, an appalling swipe at the children John Paul II abandoned to the wolves.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

More Thursday Male Beauty

GAO: DADT Cost Nearly $200 Million Over Last Five Years

Congressional Republicans are quick to whine over wasteful spending - except, of course when it involves pork for their own districts or pandering to the Christianists of the GOP base. Then squandering money is not a problem and no amount of waste matters. Sadly, it's typical of the GOP's hypocrisy - and of far to many blue dog Democrats. A new GAO report demonstrates a case in point: DADT, which serves no purpose other than to appease Christofascists and write religious based discrimination into the law so that religious bigots can cite the laws as confirmation of the righteousness of their bigotry, cost over $200 million over the last five years. The chart below gives a breakdown. Imagine what positive things could have been done with that amount of money. A piece at Huffington Post looks at the religious motivated waste of monies better used elsewhere. And that price tag doesn't include the human cost of ruined careers and dashed dreams. Here are some highlights:
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The military's controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which is set to be rolled back in the coming months, expelled 3,664 service members between 2004 and 2009, costing U.S. taxpayers roughly $193.3 million, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
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Of that money, $185.6 million was in replacement costs -- money spent to recruit and train replacements for the gay and lesbian service members fired under DADT -- and $7.7 million in administrative costs.
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That means the average expulsion under DADT cost taxpayers $52,800, partly because a significant number of those discharged held a "critical occupation or important language skill," the GAO reported.
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As Igor Volsky noted at The Wonk Room, these costs are just the tip of the iceberg, since DADT has been U.S. law since 1994. Although President Barack Obama signed a repeal of DADT into law on Dec. 22, gay men and women are not yet encouraged to come out or to enlist; the policy remains on the books.
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Thus, the next Republican who supports retaining DADT needs to be confronted about the cost and forced to admit that only religious bigotry justifies DADT. And that is something barred by the U. S. Constitution.

45 Years Ago: TIME Magazine: Homosexuality “A Pernicious Sickness.”

Times do change and a post at Talk About Equality looks at an article from Time Magazine published 45 years ago when I was 14 years old. Reading the original piece which can be found here, it explains why so many gays my age and older did everything possible to not be gay and bought much more easily into the religious brainwashing that the Christianists and Catholic and Mormon Churches still shamelessly disseminate caring nothing about the severe damage they do to young LGBT individuals. Thankfully, medical and mental health knowledge has moved on and the views of homosexuality being a "sickness" have died - that is outside of the money grubbing, control seeking and guilt/hate merchants of the religious right. This change in understanding of sexual orientation to me explains why so many gays and lesbians who once married and tried to be straight have come out after failing to achieve the impossible. I know, because I am one of the many. I do not actively recall reading the article, but since we subscribed to Time at home for many years, it is likely I did see it and read it. Here are highlights from the Talk About Equality piece followed by the batshitery that passed as legitimate knowledge 45 years ago:
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45 years ago this week, Time Magazine published a 2-page essay titled “The Homosexual in America.” As you would imagine, the ideas presented in the article would now be considered arcane, but in order to understand the strides we have made as individuals and as a community – we must consider our history. We cannot move forward without understanding how far we have come in a relatively very-short period of time.
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This article was written when my father was 20 years old and certainly these ideas were part of the norm opinion of Americans at that time. In reading this essay, one must do one’s best in trying to understand society’s impressions of homosexuality at the time. We were hated, but we were starting to become visible. It’s clear in the article that we had become noticed – specifically within the artistic fields.
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We are alive now, at a time when our voices are being heard, when our friends and family have become increasingly supportive and embracing of who we are. We live in a time where our actions can create more and more change. I ask you all to go read the whole article and show it to others. Tell your friends and family just how far we have come and encourage them to make change in their own communities.
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The following are highlights from the 1966 article that some may find shocking give the changed knowledge of today outside of reactionary religious and societal groups (warning: it reads like something Scott Lively or Peter LaBarbera might write):
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IT used to be "the abominable crime not to be mentioned." Today it is not only mentioned; it is freely discussed and widely analyzed. Yet the general attitude toward homosexuality is, if anything, more uncertain than before. Beset by inner conflicts, the homosexual is unsure of his position in society, ambivalent about his attitudes and identity—but he gains a certain amount of security through the fact that society is equally ambivalent about him. A vast majority of people retain a deep loathing toward him, but there is a growing mixture of tolerance, empathy or apathy.
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Homosexuals are present in every walk of life, on any social level, often anxiously camouflaged; the camouflage will sometimes even include a wife and children, and psychoanalysts are busy treating wives who have suddenly discovered a husband's homosexuality. But increasingly, deviates are out in the open, particularly in fashion and the arts.
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The notion that the arts are dominated by a kind of homosexual mafia—or "Homintern," as it has been called—is sometimes exaggerated, particularly by spiteful failures looking for scapegoats. But in the theater, dance and music world, deviates are so widespread that they sometimes seem to be running a kind of closed shop. Art Critic Harold Rosenberg reports a "banding together of homosexual painters and their nonpainting auxiliaries."
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[T]his raises the question of whether there is such a thing as a discernible homosexual type. Some authorities, notably Research Psychologist Evelyn Hooker of U.C.L.A., deny it—against what seems to be the opinion of most psychiatrists. The late Dr. Edmund Bergler found certain traits present in all homosexuals, including inner depression and guilt, irrational jealousy and a megalomaniac conviction that homosexual trends are universal. Though Bergler conceded that homosexuals are not responsible for their inner conflicts, he found that these conflicts "sap so much of their inner energy that the shell is a mixture of superciliousness, fake aggression and whimpering. Like all psychic masochists, they are subservient when confronted by a stronger person, merciless when in power, unscrupulous about trampling on a weaker person."
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The once widespread view that homosexuality is caused by heredity, or by some derangement of hormones, has been generally discarded. The consensus is that it is caused psychically, through a disabling fear of the opposite sex. The origins of this fear lie in the homosexual's parents. The mother—either domineering and contemptuous of the father, or feeling rejected by him—makes her son a substitute for her husband, with a close-binding, overprotective relationship. Thus, she unconsciously demasculinizes him.
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Who in their right mind raised in a conservative area under conservative religious influences would not have been traumatized to realize that they were gay? Needless to say, I contemplated suicide often in my teens and early 20's. Yet today this same poison continues to be peddled by self-congratulatory and false Christians.

Thursday Male Beauty

Parenting by Gays More Common in the South

New Census data has confirmed what would seem to be a counter intuitive result: parenting by gays is more common in the South despite the region's legal and societal hostility towards its LGBT citizens. As noted many times on this blog, states like Virginia go out of their way to make LGBT individuals second or even third class citizens. Yet we still go on with our lives even under such a hostile legal climate proving again that we have a resilience and perhaps stubbornness that cannot be repressed no matter how hard people like Delegate Bob Marshall and Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli may try. I have many LGBT friends who have children that they are raisin and I know a host of out individuals who were previously married and who have children. The New York Times has coverage on this data and here are some highlights:
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Being gay in this Southern city was once a lonely existence. Most people kept their sexuality to themselves, and they were reminded of the dangers of being openly gay when a gay church was bombed in the 1980s. These days, there are eight churches that openly welcome gay worshipers. One even caters to couples with children.
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The changes may seem surprising for a city where churches that have long condemned homosexuality remain a powerful force. But as demographers sift through recent data releases from the Census Bureau, they have found that Jacksonville is home to one of the biggest populations of gay parents in the country. In addition, the data show, child rearing among same-sex couples is more common in the South than in any other region of the country . . .
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The pattern, identified by Mr. Gates, is also notable because the families in this region defy the stereotype of a mainstream gay America that is white, affluent, urban and living in the Northeast or on the West Coast. “We’re starting to see that the gay community is very diverse,” said Bob Witeck, chief executive of Witeck-Combs Communications, which helped market the census to gay people. “We’re not all rich white guys.”
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Black or Latino gay couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising children, according to Mr. Gates, who used data from a Census Bureau sampling known as the American Community Survey. They are also more likely than their white counterparts to be struggling economically.
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Experts offer theories for the pattern. A large number of gay couples, possibly a majority, entered into their current relationship after first having children with partners in heterosexual relationships, Mr. Gates said. That seemed to be the case for many blacks and Latinos in Jacksonville, for whom church disapproval weighed heavily.
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In 2009, the Census Bureau estimated that there were 581,000 same-sex couples in the United States, Mr. Gates said; the bureau does not count gay singles. About a third of lesbians are parents, and a fifth of gay men are. Advocacy groups argue that their children are some of society’s most vulnerable, with fewer legal protections and less health insurance than children of heterosexual parents.
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Married same-sex parents face legal hurdles. Florida does not recognize same-sex marriage, and its domestic partnership recognition, while growing, is an uneven patchwork, and still leaves many spouses uninsured. Even when employers agree to cover domestic partners, those couples pay higher taxes, because without federal recognition of their status, health coverage is considered income and is taxable. Until recently, Florida was one of a handful of states that expressly prohibited adoption by gay couples.

Catholic Diocese Creates 12 Step Progran for Gays; Bishops Restrict Medical Procedures

We are witnessing more anti-modernity by the Catholic hierarchy in the USA as the Diocese of Colorado Springs launches a 12 step program for gays - treating sexual orientation akin the alcoholism - and elsewhere bishop endeavoring to restrict procedures provided at Catholic controlled hospitals even when do so goes against sound medical care. In one case in Montgomery County, Maryland, such behavior will hopefully result in the state's denial of a certificate of need for a new hospital. Frankly, if Catholic controlled hospitals will not offer needed services and procedures, the state should not give such approvals and the public would be better served with other institutions getting the needed state approvals. Medical and societal backwardness arising from religious extremism needs to carry a cost. It's far past time when the corrupt Catholic hierarchy should be allowed to trump the judgment of medical experts, First these highlights from Colorado Springs Gazette on the anti-gay 12 step program idiocy:
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The Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs is borrowing a page from Alcoholics Anonymous by launching a 12-step program that offers pastoral care and support for homosexuals.
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Over the years, many organizations have appropriated AA’s 12 steps to reach out to people with addictive behavior, such as shopaholics and workaholics. The Catholic Church’s Twelve Steps of Courage is another version of AA’s steps. Participants admit they are powerless in overcoming same-sex attraction, ask God for help, and make amends to those they’ve hurt, among other steps.
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The program has 110 chapters worldwide, including one in Denver, according to its website. The website offers a few testimonials of success but no statistics or studies regarding the program’s effectiveness. Courage International officials weren’t available Tuesday to comment on its effectiveness.
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No surprise that these jerks will not talk about statistics and "effectiveness." None of these "ex-gay" programs work and participants might just as well hire an African witch doctor as join such a program that will only inflict additional psychological and emotion harm beyond what the Church's anti-gay agenda has already done. Again, this kind of ignorant bullshit needs to be stopped and as the Washington Post reports, the bishops may be killing Catholic hospitals in the longer term by refusing to accept modern medical practices. Here are some highlights:
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[D]isputes between hospitals and church authorities appear to be arising because of a confluence of factors: Economic pressures are spurring greater consolidation in the hospital industry, prompting religiously affiliated institutions to take over or merge with secular ones, imposing church directives on them. At the same time, the drive to remain competitive has led some medical centers to evade the directives. Alongside those economic forces, changes in the church hierarchy have led increasingly conservative bishops to exert more influence over Catholic hospitals.
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The clashes have focused attention on the limitations on care available at Catholic hospitals. In Montgomery County, concern about those constraints has emerged as an issue in the battle over whether Holy Cross Hospital, a Catholic institution in Silver Spring, or Adventist HealthCare in Rockville should be authorized to build a new hospital in the county.
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A coalition of advocacy groups Wednesday urged the state to reject Holy Cross, citing concerns about access to reproductive health care, especially for poor women and teenagers. A decision in that case is expected Thursday.
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"Physicians are being told they must refuse to provide certain services even when they believe their refusal would harm their patient and violate established medical standards of care," said Lois Uttley, who heads MergerWatch, a New York-based group that fights the takeover of secular medical centers by religiously affiliated hospitals.
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In addition to barring abortions, the directives prohibit tubal ligations, the surgical sterilization of women and the second leading form of contraception in the United States. . . Several doctors interviewed across the country, particularly in rural areas, described frustration over being barred from taking a few extra minutes during a Caesarean delivery to tie the tubes of women who no longer want children or face complications if they become pregnant again.
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Of even greater concern to many doctors and advocates are conflicts over treatments for women who have miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. Standard care for ectopic pregnancies, which are life-threatening, is to inject the drug methotrexate or to remove the embryo surgically while leaving the fallopian tube intact, both procedures that are intended to preserve fertility. But some Catholic hospitals refuse to perform either and will extract the embryo only by taking out the fallopian tube.
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For centuries the bitter, corrupt old men who head the Catholic Church have been anti-woman and the above described issues are simply more of that backward and uncaring mindset. The bishops need to be removed from decisions on health care and if they refuse to do so, I hope that Catholic hospitals will be increasingly denied certificates of need. In the case of my LGBT clients, I advise them to avoid the Catholic hospitals in the Hampton Roads area since they are likely to inflict anti-gay attitudes on patients and their partners.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Iowa House Republicans Introduce Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

With the USA in my view literally sliding towards second class status with a deteriorating infrastructure and an increasingly dumbed down public education system it makes me crazy that all the GOP wants to do at the state level is cut taxes and bash gays. Now the political whores in the Iowa GOP have passed a proposed amendment to the Iowa constitution that would nullify the decision of the Iowa Supreme Court invalidating that state's anti-gay marriage statutes.
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While the Democrats still hold control of the Iowa Senate, I hope gay activists and investigative journalists will up the ante and diligently scrutinize the closets and skeletons of the any gay Republicans and "out" them when applicable and expose their political dirty laundry as a quid pro quo for the party's cynical pandering to Christofascists and willingness to trash the state constitution's (and U. S. Constitution's) guarantee of freedom of religion - and freedom from legislative religious based bigotry. That's right, I advocate for a scorched earth policy against these assholes and want it to be come so dangerous to indulge in such religious based discrimination that even the sleaziest member of the GOP will think twice before signing onto such horse shit. Further, each time I see such politicized religious based bigotry, it makes me truly contemplate leaving this country and taking my assets to a more gay friendly country from which I can watch the USA slide towards a backward quasi-theocracy. Here are highlights from the Iowa Independent that looks at this prostitute like behavior of the Iowa GOP:
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A constitutional amendment that would mandate that marriage between one man and one woman is the only legal union that is valid or recognized in the state was introduced Wednesday in the Iowa House, marking the beginning of what promises to be one of the most contentious debates of the 2011 legislative session.
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Fifty-six of the GOP’s 60-member majority signed on as co-sponsors to House Joint Resolution 6. Four Republican lawmakers — Peter Cownie, Steven Lukan, Scott Raecker and David Tjepkes — and all 40 Democrats refused to sign on as co-sponsors. The legislation goes beyond just banning same-sex marriage. It would also ban civil unions, domestic partnerships and any other legal recognition of same-sex couples.
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However, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal has vowed to never allow such an amendment to come up for debate. Democrats still have a 26-24 majority in the Senate.
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“Amending the Iowa Constitution to exclude gay couples will harm thousands of Iowa families,” said Carolyn Jenison, executive director of One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBT-rights organization. “Marriage says ‘we’re a family’ like nothing else and is an important way we care for those we love. Writing discrimination into the Constitution will only divide us at a time when we need to work together to tackle common concerns. Iowans expect their elected officials to focus on issues that matter to everyone, like creating jobs, providing educational opportunities, and improving healthcare. Going backward on equal rights sends the wrong message.”

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Alabama Governor Elect - Only "Saved" Christians Are His "Brothers and Sisters"

The batshitery of the Republicans seems to be growing by leaps and bounds as unabashed bigotry - be it racial, religious, or anti-gay - isn't even remotely hidden. A case in point is Alabama governor-elect Robert Bentley (shown at right) who has basically announced that he discriminates against non-Christians. I've said it before and I'll say it again, WTF has happened to Alabama? It was more liberal in relative terms and the populace seemed for the most part to elect more sane individuals to public office than is the case today. No doubt economic development officials are wincing across the state at the prospects that luring new businesses to relocate to Alabama to help improve the state's mostly backwards economy just got a bit harder thanks to Bentley's verbal diarrhea. In my view, the man ought to resign from office even before being sworn in. The Birmingham News has coverage and here are some highlights of Bentley's open religious bigotry against those of other faiths:
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MONTGOMERY -- Gov.-elect Robert Bentley in a speech at a Baptist church this afternoon said he plans to be the governor of all Alabamians and be color-blind, but he also said people who aren't ''saved" Christians aren't his brothers and sisters.
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"There may be some people here today who do not have living within them the Holy Spirit," Bentley said. ''But if you have been adopted in God's family like I have, and like you have if you're a Christian and if you're saved, and the Holy Spirit lives within you just like the Holy Spirit lives within me, then you know what that makes? It makes you and me brothers. And it makes you and me brother and sister."
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Bentley added, ''Now I will have to say that, if we don't have the same daddy, we're not brothers and sisters. So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I'm telling you, you're not my brother and you're not my sister, and I want to be your brother."
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Might I suggest that Bentley read the Bible passages on the parable of the Good Samaritan? He does not seem to have gotten that message.

Utah College Paper: Gays Should Be Allowed to Marry

I suspect that the theocrats in the Mormon Church will not be pleased with an op-ed in the Dixie State College in Utah which equates opposition to same sex marriage with the mindset that supported bans on interracial marriage. Like the bigots who refuse civil marriage equality to gays, the proponents of anti-miscegenation laws likewise used the Bible and religion as their last resort argument for justifying bans on interracial marriage which were ultimately struck down by the U. S. Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia. The author of the op-ed in the Dixie Sun does an excellent job of taking apart the arguments for banning gay marriage and demonstrates that there is no legitimate reason for DOMA and similar laws except for religious based discrimination. Something that under the U. S. Constitution ought to be illegal if the First Amendment and the concept of separation of church and state are to have any real meaning. Here are highlights from the op-ed column:
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With all the contention that has happened in the state of California regarding the marriage of same sex couples, I couldn't help but wonder why this group of people were being singled out and told they could not marry while the rest of the country could marry whomever they wanted. I was reminded of Loving v. Virginia in 1967.
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The trial judge, Leon M. Bazile, voiced the opinion of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach and said: "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents.
And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."
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America has made a lot of huge decisions concerning the citizen's freedom. The sooner same sex marriage is allowed, the more time we have to become accustomed to it. I believe every person has the right to be happy. I know the things that make me happy are going to be different from anyone else I will ever meet. But that is the beauty of living in this fine country. The varieties of people who make up our society make our culture so unique. Judging the people who live here because they are different is hypocritical.
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If a black lady could marry a white man in a time where African Americans were segregated, then the people of the United States should let a man marry another man without persecuting them. If we can't do that, we are no better than our ancestors who spit on blacks because they were different.
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Would that our elected officials and more judges had the common sense and respect for equality under the law as the author of the student newspaper piece.

Wednesday Male Beauty

1997 Vatican Letter Directed Irish Bishops to Cover Up Sex-Abuse

I have always held former Pope John Paul II to be anything but saintly and have viewed the rush to make him a saint as yet another cynical Vatican ploy to distract the ignorant, those fearful of independent thought, and the downright stupid/intellectually lazy from the reality of what a festering cesspool the Catholic Church hierarchy has been for decades if not centuries. Now, a newly released letter from 1997 to the bishops of Ireland (a copy of the letter is here) demonstrates that John Paul II and his minions were up to their eyeballs in orchestrating the cover up of the world wide sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children and youth. Rather than being beatified, John Paul II should likely have been criminally prosecuted for obstruction of justice. And only time will tell whether Benedict XVI shouldn't be under indictment. The larger question, of course is when rank and file Catholics will stop sticking their heads in the sand and realize that they are subsidizing and underwriting the criminal deeds of the Church hierarchy and walk away. The Globe and Mail has coverage on the 1997 letter and it's proof of Vatican involvement in the cover up of crimes against children. Here are highlights:
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A newly revealed 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland's Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police – a disclosure that victims groups described as “the smoking gun” needed to show that the Vatican enforced a worldwide culture of coverup.
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The letter, obtained by Irish broadcasters RTE and provided to The Associated Press, documents the Vatican's rejection of a 1996 Irish church initiative to begin helping police identify pedophile priests following Ireland's first wave of publicly disclosed lawsuits.
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The letter undermines persistent Vatican claims, particularly when seeking to defend itself in U.S. lawsuits, that the church in Rome never instructed local bishops to withhold evidence or suspicion of crimes from police. It instead emphasizes the church's right to handle all child-abuse allegations, and determine punishments, in house rather than hand that power to civil authorities.
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Mr. Storero [Archbishop Luciano Storero, Pope John Paul II's diplomat to Ireland] wrote that canon law – which required abuse allegations and punishments to be handled within the church – “must be meticulously followed.” He warned that any bishops who tried to impose punishments outside the confines of canon law would face the “highly embarrassing” position of having their actions overturned on appeal in Rome.
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“The letter is of huge international significance, because it shows that the Vatican's intention is to prevent reporting of abuse to criminal authorities. And if that instruction applied here, it applied everywhere,” said Colm O'Gorman, director of the Irish chapter of human rights watchdog Amnesty International. Joelle Casteix, a director of U.S. advocacy group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, described the letter as “the smoking gun we've been looking for.”
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“We now have evidence that the Vatican deliberately intervened to order bishops not to turn pedophile priests over to law enforcement,” she said. “And for civil lawsuits, this letter shows what victims have been saying for dozens and dozens of years: What happened to them involved a concerted coverup that went all the way to the top.”
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Irish church leaders didn't begin telling police about suspected pedophile priests until the mid-1990s after the first major scandal – of a priest, Brendan Smyth, who had raped dozens of children while the church transferred him to parishes in Dublin, Belfast, Rhode Island and North Dakota – triggered the collapse of the entire Irish government. That national shock, in turn, inspired the first victims to begin suing the church publicly.
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I hope this letter energizes a new round of lawsuits aimed directly at the Vatican. These horrid men need to be behind bars.

Another Gay Teen Suicide and Still the Christianists Oppose Anti-Bullying Laws

In some ways with each passing day I find myself wanting less and less to have anything to do with being Christian - at least the type of Christians who spew nothing but ignorant, self-congratulatory Bible based hatred. And few things generate fury in me more than seeing these modern day Pharisee bastards oppose laws that would bar bullying in our schools, particularly anti-gay bullying. Minnesota has been a hotbed of Christianist opposition to such laws and now it appears that their handiwork has claimed the life of another gay teen who felt that death was preferable to the Hell he experienced at the hands of anti-gay bigots. Eighteen year old Lance Lundsten(pictured in this post) took his own life this past Saturday and news reports indicate that bullying is what drove him to take such action. Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins, Benedict XVI, and the other haters who pretend to be followers of Christ have yet more blood on their hands. Indeed, if anyone deserves to die (not that I'm advocating murder) it's these merchants of hate and intolerance rather than the victims of the bigotry that they promote. KSAX-TV has updated coverage and here are highlights:
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According to his Facebook page, Lundsten was openly gay. On a Facebook memorial page in Lundsten's honor, friends said that Lundsten had been bullied at school for his sexual orientation. Some students who knew Lundsten believed the bullying may have led to his death.
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“Bullying is a huge issue, particularly with the youth in our country now,” Facilitator of the Diversity Resource Action Alliance Shari Maloney said. “I think because we’re in central Minnesota, and we aren’t as diverse as some of the larger Metropolitan areas are, someone who is different maybe draws more attention and it’s not always positive.”
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Another Jefferson High School student started a Facebook group following Lundsten's death called the Jefferson Anti-Bully Coalition. Senator Al Franken discusses legislation to protect students from being bullied in the classroom because of their sexual orientation.
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Whether or not bullying played a role in Lundsten's death, the license given to Christianists to spew hatred and the place religious based bigotry has been afforded in this nation's laws - e.g., DOMA - needs to cease.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Key West - Lunch at Latitudes on Sunset Key

One of the boyfriend's clients gave us a gift certificate for lunch at Latitudes, a resaurant at the Westin Resort on Sunset Key - a short ride by motor launch from the Key West wharf - so we went there for lunch today. As the photos indicate, the weather was absolutely gorgeous and we (two friends joined us) had a wonderful time. The view above is from our table under the palm trees.
Having my own solo practice law firm, I never truly get away and today was no different. I talked by phone with the office a number of times and had to draft a purchsae and sale agreement, write some letters to clients and prepare a few other documents for clients and then e-mail them out. Nevertheless, being here in Key West with friends is a welcome relief. This evening before dinner with friends from New York we chatted with a couple from Vancouver, British Columbia who are staying at the guesthouse. I truly love this place.

Italy's Anti-Gay Berlusconi Had Many Prostitutes

One can only assume that Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has been taking notes from Louisiana's prostitute loving U. S. Senator David Vitter in that Berlusconi is virulently anti-gay, apparently finds it impossible to keep his zipper up around women who are not his wife, and claims to be the champion of religious values and friend of the Vatican's anti-gay jihad. The hypocrisy is stunning - especially as reports are coming out that Berlusconi frequented many prostitutes, including one reportedly who was still a minor. If the later charge proves true, it would be Divine justice to see Berlusconi prosecuted and convicted. Time magazine looks at the bigoted Berlusconi's legal problems which I for one hope intensify. Here are some highlights:
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Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi had sex with a significant number of prostitutes, Milan prosecutors alleged Monday in documents seeking authorization to search some of his properties.
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The prosecutors are leading a probe aimed at determining if the 74-year-old media mogul paid for sex with a 17-year-old Moroccan girl nicknamed Ruby who attended parties at one of his villas last year. Prostitution isn't a crime in Italy, but exploiting or aiding prostitution with minors is.
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The scandal, which exploded Friday with word that Berlusconi was under investigation, gained momentum Monday with the arrival in parliament of a nearly 400-page dossier from prosecutors on the case.
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The teen, now 18, has said she was among a bevy of young women invited to parties at Berlusconi's Arcore villa near Milan. She has said in a TV interview that the premier last year gave her euro 7,000 ($9,000) to help her financially.
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Prosecutors want police to search an apartment complex in Segrate, near Milan, which includes the offices they alleged could contain documentation that young women were given money and rent-free apartments — in another residential complex — by Berlusconi in compensation for prostitution.
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Among those associates prosecutors alleged helped procure the prostitutes are a young woman who is now a provincial government official from Berlusconi's party; a longtime executive in the premier's private TV empire, and a talent agent for entertainment programs.

The Arab Gdansk - An Autocracy Falls

Roger Cohen has a column in the New York Times that conjectures on where the popular overthrow of the despotic government of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali (pictured at right) in Tunis might lead in the rest of the Arab world. A world, except for the dominance of Islam rather than Christianity, that mirrors the type of government the extreme Christianists in the USA favor with centralized dictatorial power and at least outward strict religious fundamentalism. If one wants to know what a theocracy in this country would look like if the Tony Perkins and James Dobsons had their way, Saudi Arabia is perhaps the best model, although I'm not sure who the Christianists would want to take the throne. My money would be on Dobson since he surely has a large enough ego and plenty of groveling sheep like followers. Getting back to the Arab world, dictators and religious fundamentalism have retarded progress and modernity for years. The question now is whether a desire for freedom and opportunity will cause other populations to mirror the events in Tunisia and demand an overthrow of the fossilized regimes that benefit few but the ruling class. Here are highlights from Cohen's column:
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Now, the Tunisian dictator of 23 years, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, has fled to the mother lode of regional absolutism, Saudi Arabia, driven out by new social media and old-fashioned rage. Protesters communicating on Facebook and irked by what WikiLeaks had revealed of the Ben Ali family’s Caligula-like indulgence were roused to shatter the security state of yet another Arab despot.

The unseating through popular revolt of an Arab strongman is something new: It has already caused ripples from Amman to Cairo, from the Gulf to Tripoli — and it will cause more.
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This signal event, of still uncertain outcome, is long overdue. Arab regimes, many of them U.S. allies, have lost touch with young populations. Their ossified, repressive, nepotistic, corrupt systems have proved blind to the awakening stirred by satellite TV networks, Facebook posts, tweets, Web videos and bloggers.
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They have proved skilled only at provoking guffaws at their regular “elections” and fostering the rise of extreme Islamism among populations left with no refuge but religion. Their “stability” has been sustained at the price of paralysis. It has depended on a readiness to terrorize and torture. These Arab holdovers, moribund as the waxworks at Madame Tussauds, are ripe for transformation, the anciens rĂ©gimes of 2011.
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The U.S. responsibility for this Arab failure has been significant: America has preferred the stable despot to the Islamist risk of democracy (despite the fact that the only likely remedy to the seductive illusion of political Islamism is the responsibility of government). It is now imperative that the Obama administration and the European Union stand behind Tunisia’s democratic forces.
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Last month, after a visit to Beirut, I wrote a column called “The captive Arab mind” about the psychological cost of repression in the region: the reflex of blaming others, the perception of conspiracies everywhere and the paralyzing fear of acting or thinking for oneself. Tunis can be Act One in the liberation of the Arab mind.
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Western double-standards in the supposed interest of Arab stability have proved a recipe for radicalization. The West should honor Tunisian bravery with some of its own. Dynasties rusting on their thrones are not the answer to Arab disquiet.
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Dictators, corrupt monarchs, Popes, and religious extremists of all faith have a common denominator - they all seek to crush out independent thought and logic. I hope logic and independent thinking win the day in Tunisia.