Saturday, August 18, 2012

Reflections on Out in the Park 2012

I haven't seen crowd estimates yet, but my sense is that we exceeded last year's attendance figure of 17,000 people.  Although the weather was threatening at times, the rain held off and today was a truly wonderful event.  One of the things that really struck me was the fact that we had young and old, gay and straight, black, white, Asian etc. in attendance.  Indeed, the crowd was more representative of Hampton Roads' population than many of the other events that take place in Town Point Park.    Out in the Park reflected the acceptance and recognition of our common humanity that ought to be a daily reality and yet is not most of the time.  Our MC Frank Decaro from XM Radio (pictured with me above) was a delight and so much fun.  As a HR Pride board member, I am proud of what we accomplished today. 

The image below shows one of the boats from the Gay Pride Boat Parade (we have the only pride boat parade in the USA).  The energy ands sense of camaraderie was truly amazing.   I was actually choked up a couple of times at the thought that I had played a role in having this wonderful event become a reality.  Especially for the LGBT youth in attendance.   I never, ever want today's youth to experience the misery, unhappiness and self-hate that dominated my life for so many years.   If I can make a difference, then all of my past heartache has had a purpose.

My sincere thanks go out to all who played a part in putting on today's event.  Hopefully, it will serve as a message to Hampton Roads and all of Virginia that it's time to move into the 21st century and throw religious based ignorance and bigotry on the trash heap of history.  I also give special thanks to Kristine W (who is pictured below and who has a gay brother as it turns out) for her amazing performance and embrace of our community.

Saturday Morning Male Beauty

Come to Out in the Park!

Out in the Park takes place today in Norfolk's Town Point Park.  It should be a great event and the lead up events this week have gone over amazingly well.  Last night's block party at Palace Station was very well attended and all seemed to have a great time.  I had an opportunity to talk with Kristine W who is very laid back and was a genuine delight.  Among the many highlights today will be the nations only gay pride boat parade along the Norfolk waterfront.  40 rainbow flags were raised yesterday at Town Point Park along the water and this morning flags will be raised the length of Waterside Drive.

Here's a scene along the waterfront:

Here are some of last night block party attendees:

I hope local readers - both gay and straight - will come to the party.  There will truly be something for everyone.   The schedule of events can be found here.

Time to Educate the Public About the Real FRC

Tony Perkins and the folks at FRC are busy playing the victim and martyr role and claiming that the organization has been wrongly labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  I sincerely hope that this focus on the organization turns around and backfires with the public learning just how nasty Mr. Perkins and his fellow Christofascist are in reality.  Joe My God has some great information and I suspect that the information will spill over into the main stream media.  It is especially important that minorities in this country realize Mr. Perkins' long and continued ties and dealings with white supremacy groups.  Mr. Perkins and FRC do NOT stand for "family values" or "Christian values" anymore than the KKK or Nazi party represent such values.  Here are some telling quotes from Joe Jervis' blog articles here and here that include information about Perkins' involvement with the KKK which he tried to cover up:

I've mentioned this many times before, but it's certainly worth mentioning again this week. From an SPLC article I've excerpted here before:
In 1996, while managing the U.S. Senate campaign of Woody Jenkins against Mary Landrieu, Perkins paid $82,500 to use the mailing list of former Klan chieftain David Duke. The campaign was fined $3,000 (reduced from $82,500) after Perkins and Jenkins filed false disclosure forms in a bid to hide their link to Duke. Five years later, on May 17, 2001, Perkins gave a speech to the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a white supremacist group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.” Perkins claimed not to know the group’s ideology at the time, but it had been widely publicized in Louisiana and the nation, because in 1999 — two years before Perkins’ speech to the CCC — Republican House Speaker Trent Lott had been embroiled in a national scandal over his ties to the group. GOP chairman Jim Nicholson then urged Republicans to avoid the CCC because of its “racist views.” The Duke incident surfaced again in local press in 2002, when Perkins ran for the Republican nomination for the Senate, dooming his campaign to a fourth-place finish in the primaries.
From the Council Of Conservative Citizen's statement of principles:
We believe in the traditional family as the basic unit of human society and morality, and we oppose all efforts by the state and other powers to weaken the structure of the American family through toleration of sexual licentiousness, homosexuality and other perversions, mixture of the races, pornography in all forms, and subversion of the authority of parents.
The sad reality is that most of the purported "family values" groups that have garnered a hate group designation from the Southern Poverty Law Center have similar strong under currents of racism and white supremacy ideology even though they shamelessly dupe and manipulate black pastors into acting as their water carriers.  Here in Virginia, The Family Foundation ("TFF") is an affiliate of FRC and, in my opinion, subscribes to precisely the same kind of racism and bigotry espoused by Mr. Perkins.  Yet the Virginia GOP and far too many black pastors continue to do TFF's bidding like trained circus dogs.  The good news, as noted yesterday in a post about the National Organization for Marriage, is that perhaps the black community is belatedly beginning to wake up to the truce toxicity of these white evangelical groups.  Here's more on the Perkins/KKK link:

The FEC originally fined the campaign $82,600, the same amount of the payment to David Duke, but the fine was reduced after mediation. The fine, it should be noted, was for attempting to cloak the payment on federally required campaign expenditure forms. It is not against the rules to buy mailing lists from the KKK or anybody else. You just have to say you did.

How any responsible mainstream media outlet can give Perkins a platform is mind numbing.  They might just as well give a platform to the KKK or neo-Nazi groups.  Perkins and FRC need to become pariahs that no decent news outlet wants to touch.

Friday, August 17, 2012

More Friday Male Beauty

NOM's Plan to Divide Blacks and Gays May Be About to Bite It in the Ass

I've noted before how NOM had some secret documents released in the Maine litigation challenging NOM's failure to comply with Maine campaign finance disclosure laws.  One document addressed to NOM board of directions concern the plan to use gay marriage as a wedge issue to divide black voters.  LGBT rights activists jumped on the release quickly and now it appears that more and more in the black community are wising up to NOM's duplicitous ways.  Karma can be a real bitch!  Here are highlights from a piece in the Associated Baptist News that focuses on Amos Brown who pretty much rips NOM and white evangelicals a new one:

African-American Baptist leaders are working together to counter attempts by outsiders to use gay marriage as a wedge issue to divide black voters, a Baptist minister and NAACP leader said in a radio interview Aug. 11.

Amos Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco and president of the city’s local NAACP branch, said on Welton Gaddy’s State of Belief radio show that heads of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.; National Baptist Convention of America; Progressive National Baptist Convention and Lott Carey Foreign Missionary Convention are all telling their constituencies: “We as black Baptists are not single-issue persons, and we see more important things than getting stuck on this matter of whether or not there should be same-sex marriages.”

Brown said black church leaders “are working to enlighten the people” about a confidential 2008-2009 memo from the National Organization for Marriage recently made public as evidence in a lawsuit in Maine.

The memo to NOM’s board of directors described a project designed to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks -- two key Democratic constituencies.” The strategy was to “find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots….”

“We contend that this is a racist ploy,” Brown said. “It is divisive, but it was birthed, it was created by, white evangelicals who have shown themselves to be duplicitous and contradictory in their stances.”

Brown charged the strategy was behind the formation of a national campaign in May calling on African-Americans to withdraw their support from President Obama because of his stance in favor of gay marriage.

“I was a part of that movement,” Brown said. “Dr. King taught me at Morehouse, and I know pretty much who was in the vanguard of the movement. Reverend William Owens was no leader in the Civil Rights Movement, and yet this organization, the National Organization for Marriage, has anointed him through misrepresenting who he is for political gain to divide the black community.”

“All of this is happening at the behest of white evangelical fundamentalists who have brought in such persons as Harry Jackson there in Maryland, Tony Evans down in Dallas, Texas, and others who don’t understand how they are being used, how they are being duped to make sure that Mr. Barack Obama is a one-term president,” Brown said. “This is sinister, it’s evil and it is wrong.”
 This effort combined with the NAACP's endorsement of same sex marriage as a civil right isn't playing out as NOM's sleazy strategists planned.  Personally, I am thrilled that at least some black pastors are waking up to the reality that they are being cynically used by white evangelicals and white Christianists.

What the Romney-Ryan Budget Would Mean For Virginia

Click on Image to enlarge
Since Mitt Romney has stated that he and Paul Ryan are pretty much on the same page in terms of budget proposals, it is important that Virginians truly understand what the Paul Ryan budget would mean for Virginia.  The chart above lays it out (click on the image for a larger version).  It's not a pretty picture and only Tea Party crazies and Christianist extremists out to destroy public education could find it attractive.  Of course, the picture would look far different if the wealthy were required to pay a far percentage of their income (including investment income). 

Romney's "At Least 13%" - He's Utterly Out of Touch

Frankly, it is shocking that Mitt Romney just doesn't get the fact that it's a travesty that while millions of Americans are struggling to survive financially they are paying a higher percentage of the income in taxes than the multimillionaire Romney.   The man is so consumed with a sense of entitlement and arrogance that he cannot fathom how his proud pronouncement is playing with those that Ann Romney views as "you people."  The Daily Dish captures some of the commentary:

The Wire creator David Simon marvels at Romney's nerve in "declaiming proudly" that he paid at least 13% taxes every year:
Thirteen percent. The last time I paid taxes at that rate, I believe I might still have been in college.... I can’t get over the absurdity of this moment, honestly:  Hey, I never paid less than thirteen percent.  I swear.  And no, you can’t examine my tax returns in any more detail.  But I promise you all, my fellow American citizens, I never once slipped to single digits.  I’m just not that kind of guy.
Dreher piles on:
What Simon is getting at is Romney is an extremely rich man who pays significantly less of a percentage of his income in taxes than millions of people who make far less than he does, and he still seems to think he deserves a cookie. I’m sick and tired of him and his wife whining about how people are so mean to them about their taxes.

"Out in the Park" - Hampton Roads' Pride Event Is Tomorrow

I'll be candid that I am sweating bullets that the weather cooperates tomorrow for Out in the Park in Norfolk's Town Point Park on the Norfolk waterfront.  Countless hours have gone into planning and implementing the event which we at Hampton Rads Pride hope will be the largest and most successful pride event in Hampton Roads history. I hope local readers, both gay and straight, will attend.  We on the HR Pride board of directors are thrilled that Sirius Radio's Frank Decaro will be joining our own Kathy Lewis to MC the event.  Headliner entertainer Kristine W is pictured above.  The Daily Press has a good piece that gives an overview of what to expect. Here are some highlights:

Organizers of Out in the Park are optimistic that Saturday's event will draw a record crowd to Town Point Park in downtown Norfolk.  "Last year, we brought the festival to the region's premiere park, and the city estimated we had 17,000 people," says Michael Beane, co-chair of the Hampton Roads Pride Out in the Park committee. "We're hoping to get 20,000 this year."

This is actually the 24th year of Out in the Park, an annual event that celebrates the diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, their families and supporters. The festival also raises funds for educational scholarships, and this year's recipient or recipients will be announced on Saturday.
Buoyed by last year's turnout, Beame and his committee have planned an even larger festival this weekend. Kristine W and Matt Zarley, two nationally known singers on the dance club circuit, will perform, and more than 90 vendors will be selling food, art and products as well as handing out information on issues that impact the gay and lesbian community. And what might be the nation's only gay boat parade, with commentary by comedian Frank Decaro and Cathy Lewis, host of the "Hear/Say" public affairs program on WHRV-FM (89.5), will cruise by on the Elizabeth River.

There also has been a week of events leading up to the festival, including a "Take Me OUT to the Ballpark" outing last Wednesday at Norfolk's Harbor Park and an evening block party on Friday, Aug. 17, at the Palace Station Shops on Norfolk's 22nd Street.

Here's the schedule of events:
Friday, Aug. 17
Noon — Flag-raising with performer Julie Clark. Town Point Park (40 rainbow flags will be raised along the waterfront).
6 to 10 p.m. — Pride Block Party. Palace Station Shops, 22nd Street, Norfolk.

Saturday, Aug. 18
11:30 a.m. — DJ Bulldog
12:30 p.m. — Welcome by Frank Decaro
1 p.m. — Pride Boat Parade
1:30 p.m. — Lyric Opera Virginia
2 p.m. — Queen Emeritus, Diana Ross Performance & Awards
2:20 p.m. — "Ladies of Pride" show
2:40 p.m. — Mermaids in the Basement, female rock band.
3:20 p.m. — The L Project Anti-Bullying Message
3:30 p.m. — Ffelt, female rock band
4:20 p.m. — "Ladies of Pride" show
5 p.m. — Matt Zarley
5:50 p.m. — Kristine W

Friday Morning Male Beauty

Gay Salt Lake City Club Hit With Flaming Projectiles

A gay club in Salt Lake City was hit by a shower of flaming projectiles while patron were gathered in an outdoor courtyard.  The identity of the assailants and their motives remain unknown.  What is known is that the attack had to be deliberate and that it was obvious to the attackers that people were gathered in the courtyard and might have been injured.  Thankfully, no one was injured.  Both the Salt Lake Tribune and ABC 4 News have details.  First, highlights from the Tribune coverage:

Salt Lake City fire investigators Thursday were searching for people responsible for launching flaming debris at a gay nightclub.

Fire spokesman Jasen Asay said about 12:35 a.m., three or four people in their late teens or early 20s launched multiple flaming projectiles at Club JAM, 751 N. 300 West. The projectiles started the fence on fire, but club patrons acted quickly and dumped pitchers of water on the flames, Asay said.
 Others chased the culprits, who fled to a red or maroon Pontiac Grand Am sedan and drove off.

ABC 4 News has more:

A crowd at a popular Salt Lake City gay club is attacked by flaming projectiles.

Fernando Noriega explains to ABC 4 what happened early Thursday morning at Club JAM at 751 North 300 West. "So we had at least 30 to 40 people here,” said Noriega. “Everybody’s congregated to about here. All the tables were set up. It was very busy.”

Noriega says everyone was having a great time until something on fire came flying over the fence. "All the sudden we saw something bright,” said Noriega. “I thought they were fireworks on the floor."

The crowd quickly realized that wasn't the case when several more flaming projectiles went flying through the crowd.

Noriega said, "Out of a group of 30 people, all of those flares to be hitting at the same time we don't know how, everyone was very lucky."
 Both Mower and Noriega say there's no way you couldn't have known the patio was packed.

Noriega said, "Even from here you can't miss the fact there's lots of people there. You can hear the people; see the people so you know there are people in there. It was definitely malicious. They definitely knew what they were doing."
Tony Perkins may be trying to milk the shooting at FRC headquarters to claim it is Christians who are persecuted, but the reality is that it's the Christianists like Perkins, Peter Sprigg, Maggie Gallagher and others who set the stage for almost constant attacks on gays somewhere around the country any given week. 

Tax Policy Center Reaffirms Findings on Romney Tax Plan

Mitt Romney had no problem relying upon the findings of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center during the GOP primary battles and approvingly cited the center's analysis of his opponents' tax proposals.  However, when the Tax Policy Center later slammed Romney's own plan, suddenly Romney is seeking to paint the center's analysis as flawed and unreliable.  Well, the center re-reviewed everything and guess what: it stands by its conclusion that Romney would cut taxes for the wealthy while everyone else would pay more.  It's all in keeping with the Romney/Ryan reverse Robin Hood approach to society.  The hypocrisy of Romney and Ryan is only worsened by the fact that both pretend to be deeply religious yet ignore the Gospel teachings.  Indeed, their true God seems to be money and how much they can amass (Ryan recently amend his financial disclosures to include a trust from which he and his wife have received significant income claiming he had "forgotten about it").  Here are excerpts from the New York Times on the Tax Policy Center response to Romney's whining:

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, after considering conservative critiques of its recent, much-publicized analysis of Mitt Romney’s tax agenda, said on Thursday that its conclusion stands: His proposals would mean big tax cuts for the highest-income taxpayers and increases for everyone else.

“A reform proposal that meets the five goals” that Mr. Romney has outlined for overhauling the tax code “would have to raise burdens on middle-class households,” the three authors of the analysis wrote in a nine-page response to the criticism.

That is inevitable, they said, mainly as a consequence of two of Mr. Romney’s five goals: His insistence that any tax overhaul should be revenue-neutral, neither reducing nor increasing annual budget deficits, and that it should protect or even sweeten existing tax breaks for savings and investment like those for dividends and capital gains income.

If Mr. Romney were willing to either increase deficits or reduce the tax breaks for investors, the authors said, then taxes would not necessarily have to go up for lower- and middle-income Americans.

As his other three goals, Mr. Romney would cut income tax rates by 20 percent, eliminate the estate tax and end the alternative minimum tax, which was designed to ensure that the richest taxpayers did not escape liability due to various tax breaks but which increasingly threatens moderate-income households.

The authors also rebutted criticisms that their initial report did not sufficiently account for the potential benefits of Mr. Romney’s separate proposals to lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent, reduce other business taxes and cut domestic spending deeply.

The authors said they initially had assumed that Mr. Romney would offset the cost of his proposed cut in the corporate tax rate by scaling back other business tax breaks, but Romney advisers said that would not be the case. Yet that would mean “an even larger tax cut on high-income individuals, requiring even larger cuts to tax expenditures” – that is, tax breaks like those for mortgage interest – “and correspondingly larger increases in taxes on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers.”

Deep cuts in spending would have a similar impact, the authors added, hurting mostly low- and middle-income households because they disproportionately benefit from government programs and benefits.

I will give Romney one thing: he and his allies like the Koch brothers have done a masterful job in duping the cretins in the Tea Party crowd into supporting policies that are strongly against their own best interests.  I'm sure Romney and the Koch brothers must be laughing their asses off behind closed doors.

Romney: I Paid At Least 13% Tax Rate for Last 10 Years

Even though Ann "Marie Antoinette" Romney sullenly said that no more tax returns would be released by she and her husband, GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, the tax return issue simply refuses to go away.  Now, trying to quell the continued uproar, Mitt "Pinocchio" Romney has stated that he and Marie Antoinette have paid at least a 135 tax rate for each of the last 10 years.  Other than Romney's statement, however, there is nothing to confirm that Romney's not lying.  Given Romney's lack of honesty on when and how he left Bain Capital, taking the man at his word is a risky proposition.  And that's not even addressing the issue that Romney is paying a far lower rate than many struggling members of the middle class.  Here are highlights from a Washington Post piece:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Thursday that he has paid a federal income tax rate of at least 13 percent in each of the last 10 years, bowing to months of political pressure to disclose more information about his vast personal fortune.

“I did go back and look at my taxes, and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year,” he told reporters here Thursday.

 Romney’s disclosure Thursday came in response to a reporter’s question at a news conference Romney had hoped would focus on a white-board presentation he gave outlining his latest attack on Obama over Medicare. . .  . Romney sounded rankled by the very question, though, saying, “the fascination with taxes I’ve paid I find to be very small-minded compared to the broad issues that we face.”

If the candidate hoped his answer would put the issue to rest, he ended up only inviting more questions. Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt quickly challenged Romney to “prove it.”   “He has the ability to answer all of these questions by releasing several years of tax returns. He simply hasn’t done that,” LaBolt told reporters on a conference call. LaBolt noted that Romney’s father, George, released 12 years of income tax returns when he ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968.

In 2011, Obama paid an effective rate of 20.5 percent, according to his tax returns. Americans paid an average tax rate of 17.4 percent in 2009, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office that was released last month.

In an interview with NBC’s “Rock Center” that aired Thursday, the candidate’s wife said Democrats wants the records for “ammunition.” “The more we get attacked, the more we get questioned, the more we get pushed,” Ann Romney said, adding that the couple has been “very transparent to what’s legally required of us.”

Reid said Romney could prove his statements true by making his records public. “We’ll believe it when we see it,” said the spokesman, Adam Jentleson. “Until Mitt Romney releases his tax returns, Americans will continue to wonder what he’s hiding.”

At his news conference, Romney suggested that his charitable contributions should also be taken into account. “Every year, I’ve paid at least 13 percent, and if you add, in addition, the amount that goes to charity, why the number gets well above 20 percent,” Romney said.

As for Romney's "charitable contributions." giving millions to the Mormon Church which then spends the money on business ventures or supporting discriminatory laws and legislation isn't what I consider a true charitable contribution and illustrates why we need major changes in what is deductible under the tax laws.  We as a nation need to stop subsiding religion, especially denominations that market hate, bigotry and societal discord. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

More Thursday Male Beauty

Southern Poverty Law Center Condemns Tony Perkins and FRC

We all should have seen this coming.  Today, FRC president - and white supremacist loving - Tony Perkins tried to blame the Southern Poverty Law Center's ("SPLC") hate group designation of Family Research Council for "giving a license" to the shooter who shot a security guard at FRC's headquarters yesterday.   Thankfully, SPLC isn't standing for Perkins' lies and attempts to shift blame from FRC's own actions and history of hate filled bigotry.   If one looks at the criteria that SPLC uses to determine hate groups status, it takes a real effort on the part of the organization being designated as a hate group to earn the designation.  Among the criteria is the continued deliberate, knowing use of lies and falsehoods with a goal of inspiring hate and animus toward a group based on their innate characteristics.   Merely stating religious beliefs is far short of earning the hate group designation.  Anyone who has followed FRC's website and statements made by its mouth pieces knows that no lie is too extreme for the organization in terms of furthering the goal of denigrating and stigmatizing LGBT Americans.  Here is SPLC's response to Tony Perkins' sleazy self-serving lies:

Yesterday’s attack on the Family Research Council and the shooting of a security guard there was a tragedy. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) deplores all violence, and our thoughts are with the wounded victim, Leo Johnson, his family and others who lived through the attack.

For more than 40 years, the SPLC has battled against political extremism and political violence. We have argued consistently that violence is no answer to problems in a democratic society, and we have strongly criticized all those who endorse such violence, whether on the political left or the political right.

But this afternoon, FRC President Tony Perkins attacked the SPLC, saying it had encouraged and enabled the attack by labeling the FRC a “hate group.” The attacker, Floyd Corkins, “was given a license to shoot an unarmed man by organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center,” Perkins said. “I believe the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held accountable for their reckless use of terminology.”

Perkins’ accusation is outrageous. The SPLC has listed the FRC as a hate group since 2010 because it has knowingly spread false and denigrating propaganda about LGBT people — not, as some claim, because it opposes same-sex marriage. The FRC and its allies on the religious right are saying, in effect, that offering legitimate and fact-based criticism in a democratic society is tantamount to suggesting that the objects of criticism should be the targets of criminal violence.

As the SPLC made clear at the time and in hundreds of subsequent statements and press interviews, we criticize the FRC for claiming, in Perkins’ words, that pedophilia is “a homosexual problem” — an utter falsehood, as every relevant scientific authority has stated. An FRC official has said he wanted to “export homosexuals from the United States.” The same official advocated the criminalizing of homosexuality.

Perkins and his allies, seeing an opportunity to score points, are using the attack on their offices to pose a false equivalency between the SPLC’s criticisms of the FRC and the FRC’s criticisms of LGBT people. The FRC routinely pushes out demonizing claims that gay people are child molesters and worse — claims that are provably false. It should stop the demonization and affirm the dignity of all people.

Frankly, Tony Perkins and Christianists of his ilk - Victoria Cobb at The Family Foundation and Matt Staver at Liberty University are Virginia based equivalents - are the quintessential examples of why when the lips of  "godly Christians" are moving, the best and safest approach is to assume that they are lying. 

Quote of the Day: Joe Jervis on Brian Brown's Call for "Civility"

In the wake of yesterday's shooting at FRC headquarters, the far right is busy spinning the tragedy to depict gays as would be terrorists and the ones guilty of incivility in discourse.  Joining the disingenuous chorus is Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage which has been exposed as engaging in all kinds of anti-gay lies and propaganda that has nothing to do with stating religious beliefs "protecting the sanctity of marriage."  Joe Jervis sums up Brown's hypocrisy well:

The man who heads an organization that routinely characterizes LGBT people as hellbound sinners and inherently mentally ill child molesters is calling for gay people to show "civility" towards groups that advocate for our imprisonment and brainwashing. HUGE props to the CNN host for demanding that Brown acknowledge the hateful history of the Family Research Council.

The video clip Joe references is set out above.  Meanwhile, Jeremy Hooper has a post with links that lay out the far less than civil statements made by FRC's mouth pieces against gays:

These links, from GLAAD's Commentator Accountability Project, detail just a few of the words that Peter Sprigg and Tony Perkins, FRC's top two voices, have directed at LGBT people. These words include suggestions that gays should be criminalized and exported, that gay kids try suicide because they know they are "abnormal," that liken LGBT advocacy to terrorism, and much, much more. See links here:

To save readers some time, here's a sampling of FRC's version of "civility":

- Says about gay people: “They are intolerant. They are hateful. They are vile. They are spiteful...pawns of the enemy.” (See 0:43 mark.)

- Says many gays have an "emptiness within them" (:55) because they are "operating outside of nature" (1:09)

- Says that gay young people “have a higher propensity to depression or suicide because of that internal conflict; homosexuals may recognize intuitively that their same-sex attractions are abnormal.

- Despite what health experts have said, insists that pedophilia is “a homosexual problem.”

- The Family Research Council has distributed a pamphlet that erroneously depicts gay men and lesbians as physically and mentally ill pedophiles who can be cured.

- The Family Research Council has distributed a pamphlet that begins by likening the logic behind same-sex marriage to the logic behind man-horse marriage (complete with horse graphic)

- “I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States, because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society.” (See 0:11 mark here.) [*NOTE: A week later, Peter rolled back his statements, saying he "used language that trivialized the seriousness of the issue and did not communicate respect for the essential dignity of every human being as a person created in the image of God"]

- Says he wants to see being gay punished by law: “I think that the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the sodomy laws in this country, was wrongly decided. I think there would be a place for criminal sanctions against homosexual behavior.
- Sits on the board of and serves as a key spokesperson for an “ex-gay” advocacy group that tells gay people to “change."  Routinely claims no one is born gay.

- Instructs those engaged in marraige conversation to always bring it back to gays "choosing" their behavior

More on GOP Donor Paul Singer's Pro-Gay Super PAC

I've noted before the pro-gay donations and advocacy of billionaire Paul Singer who has established a super PAC to push for marriage equality.  Singer played a large role in pressuring Republicans in New York State to vote for marriage equality in 2011.  Now, Singer is going to use PAC funds to push some GOP congressional members to get on the pro-gay bandwagon.  Unlike many in the GOP, Singer sees the Party's anti-gay positions to be long term suicide.  Thus, he wants to push back against the Christofascist elements in the GOP.  Here are highlights from Politico:

The super PAC created by one of the Republican Party’s most prominent donors to move candidates toward backing gay marriage is about to invest in its first three House races, POLITICO has learned.
American Unity PAC, launched by Elliott Associates hedge fund executive Paul Singer earlier this summer with a $1 million donation, is poised to advertise in the races being fought by Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Judy Biggert (R-Ill.). While none of the three candidates has stated a clear position on gay marriage — only one GOP House member supports it — the group hopes to move the people it backs toward support of it.

A source familiar with the effort said that the group’s aim is to ensure “a counterbalance on the right,” adding that for “the long-term success of the [Republican] party, it must be able to reach gay and lesbian Americans and “the millions of Americans who are related to them.”
The PAC initially decided to enter these three races, the source said, because the incumbents are rank-and-file Republicans with a mixture of economic and tax records the group considers strong, but who also have been solid on specific gay rights issues.

The goal is for the group to spend money to benefit three to seven candidates overall, and this is the initial round. Super PAC support traditionally takes the form of ads.

The major contributors to the PAC, aside from Singer, are financier Cliff Asness, who gave$100,000, Dan Loeb, who gave $250,000, and Seth Klarman, who also gave $250,000. Asness and Loeb played a role in Singer’s efforts to fund the push for New York’s successful gay marriage legislation in 2011.

For Singer, this is a major undertaking for a donor who has become one of the single biggest givers in recent years. The Manhattan Institute chairman’s goal is to move the GOP toward support for same-sex marriage, beginning with his statewide efforts in New York.
This is first move Singer has made at the federal level. Among the goals of American Unity PAC, in terms of how it spends its money, is to offer financial support for candidates who could face a backlash if they speak out for gay marriage.

Singer is also involved in an effort with Loeb, Asness and former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman to help fund the pro-gay marriage efforts that are part of state-based ballot initiatives this year.

I'm sure Maggie Gallagher and Tony Perkins will be acting as if someone peed in their Cheerios once they get wind of this.  Especially since Singer and his allies have LOTS of money.  And with a gay son, this is personal for Singer, so these developments bode well for the pro-gay forces.

Thursday Morning Male Beauty

Nutcase Linda Harvey Accuses Lady Gaga of "Turning Kids Gay"

Linda Harvey and I first crossed swords a number of years ago when she was - as always seems to be the case with her - pontificating on sexual orientation and sociological issues.   I challenged her as to what her credentials were that qualified her as an authority on such matters.  Surprisingly, she responded by e-mail and set out her background credentials: marketing.  No psychological or mental health background or anything else that remotely made her remotely qualified was offered up.  Yet the woman continues to run her mouth and peddle anti-gay hate as part of her cottage industry hate group that seeks to malign and stigmatize LGBT individuals.  Apparently, she failed in her chosen career path and decided to peddle lies and snake oil instead.  Now, she has attacked Lady Gaga and accused her of "turning kids gay."   Gay Star News has details.  Here are excerpts:

Pop icon Lady Gaga is being accused of turning kids gay again after a US pundit ranted on her radio show.  Right Wing Watch reports Mission America’s Linda Harvey said the entertainer’s Born This Way Foundation is leading children to a ‘self-destructive path’ by ‘embracing homosexuality’ as part of its anti-bullying efforts.

Harvey began by attacking the 2011 song Born This Way, calling the video’s alien birth scenes as a ‘complete and utter perversion and really a demonic caricature, frankly, of God’s creation.’

She said: ‘Of course she has the usual distortion, including that homosexuality and gender confusion that they’re similar to race or ethnicity, and that’s another big lie, the thing is just full of lies.’   Harvey described Gaga’s anti-bullying campaign, which aims to build a ‘kinder, braver world that celebrates individuality and empowers young people’, as depraved.

She said: ‘That’s part of this whole incredible anti-bullying campaign that the homosexual community is putting out there, trying to make it seem as if traditional values leads people to harm kids who are behaving homosexually or gender confused and so on and that traditional values causes this, it doesn’t. Traditional values is a help and not a harm.

If anyone is depraved (and insane, in my opinion), it is Ms. Harvey shown at right and her fellow hate merchants.   She distorts the Bible and clings to ignorance even as more and more scientific evidence demonstrates that sexual orientation is not a "choice" or "behavior" but an inherent characteristic.  Harvey strikes me as someone unhappy and bitter in her own life who wants everyone else - gays in particular - to be as miserable as she is.  She's pathetic yet dangerous because of the lies she disseminates daily.

Mississippi on the Brink of Total Shut Down - But GOP Denies Climate Change

One only need look around at the weather this summer to realize that something is happening: record heat and record drought, rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.  Yet the far right and its political whores in the Republican Party continue to deny that global warming is happening.  Calling such folk as ignorant cretins is perhaps being kind since their denial goes beyond merely being inherently ignorant.  They are choosing ignorance.  Some due to religious based insanity and others - especially in the GOP - due to shameless pandering with no concern for the consequences.  What's happening to the Mississippi River - which is in some places 20 feet below normal - is but another example of objective reality being rejected in favor of ideology and partisanship.  Here are some highlights:

America’s record-breaking drought is drying up the Mississippi River, which is vital for commercial travel. If the country’s largest river system continues to rapidly shrink, all river traffic could get shut down and cost the US $300 million a day.

The Mississippi, which has become thin and narrow, is used for cargo vessels to transport goods. In the US, 60 percent of grain, 22 percent of oil and natural gas and 20 percent of coal travels down the river.  But its reduced size and now-shallow waters are forcing barges to either stop running or reduce the weight of the goods they carry – leading to longer waits for those products in grocery stores. Some areas of the river have dropped 20 feet below normal – and the drop is expected to continue.

“A lot of those barges have had to lighten their loads, and even doing that, they are still running aground. There is a real fear that there could be a possibility of closing the Mississippi River,” said CNN correspondent Martin Savidge. “If that happens, well, all that product that used to be carried cheaply by barge is now going to be carried more expensively by truck or train. And guess who is going to pay for all that.

If the Mississippi River is closed to all water traffic, goods like grain, oil, natural gas and coal will need to be transported by truck or train – costing the US an additional $300 million a day.

[M]illions of fish are dying as the bottom of the river transforms into an exposed desert. The river flows into lakes and streams across the US, carrying the devastation to all corners of the Midwest. About 40,000 shovelnose sturgeon fish were killed in Iowa in one week as water temperatures reached 97 degrees. In Illinois, fish carcasses clogged an intake screen near a power plant, causing it to shut down one of its generators.

Frankly, I am waiting for Pat Robertson and the other lunatics of the Christofascist crowd to blame all of this on gays and gay marriage - oh, and abortion and a rejection of Jesus, even though they themselves make a mockery of the Gospel message.

Romney Decries the Tactics He and GOP Use All the Time

Since the GOP primary season began, Mitt Romney has been perhaps the most challenged candidate of either party when it comes to truth and veracity.  Enter Paul Ryan who seems similarly challenged - e.g., his claims that Ayn Rand isn't/wasn't his heroine when vast amounts of evidence prove otherwise.  Now, the Democrats are belatedly calling out Romney, Ryan and others in the GOP for the liars that they are and like school yard bullies, they can't take what they regularly dish out.  Hence Romney's whining that Obama has turned the campaign into one of hate, division and discord.  I'm sorry, but is far past time that the Republicans' disingenuous lies be exposed so that the lazy media doesn't merely regurgitate GOP lies.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the GOP whining and latest round of lies.  Oh, and as for "reuniting America," Romney's idea of that consists of robing the working class and middle class to benefit the already very wealthy.  That's not my idea of unifying the country.  Here are highlights:

The umbrage industry is working overtime this week.  Mitt Romney, the Republicans’ presidential standard-bearer, is so outraged by President Obama’s attacks that he called the president a hater: “Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America.”

Forgive me, but I’m not prepared to join this walk down Great Umbrage Street just yet. Yes, it’s ugly out there. But is this worse than four years ago, when Obama was accused by the GOP vice presidential nominee of “palling around with terrorists”? Or eight years ago, when Democratic nominee John Kerry was accused of falsifying his Vietnam War record?

What’s different this time is that the Democrats are employing the same harsh tactics that have been used against them for so long, with so much success. They have ceased their traditional response of assuming the fetal position when attacked, and Obama’s campaign is giving as good as it gets — and then some. 

Romney is in a weak position to be complaining that the other side has been mean and nasty. He won the nomination by eviscerating his rivals with negative ads and accusations, and an ad his team aired last week that falsely claimed Obama was gutting welfare-to-work requirements injected racial politics into the campaign. 

Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager .   .   .   .  derided the Romney side’s “faux outrage” and called the Republicans “hypocritical.”  Eight years ago, Cutter was a staffer on the Kerry campaign when the candidate was undone by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attacks on his war record. Cutter, like other Democrats, learned a hard truth back then: Umbrage doesn’t win elections. Ruthlessness does. 

In terms of Romney, the faux outrage may be partly true - he and Ann "Marie Antoinette" Romney seem to truly believe that they are entitled to occupy the White House and feel rage that anyone questions their entitlement, not to mention calls out their lies.  Worse yet, they continue to ask what the Romneys are hiding in the tax returns.  One doesn't act like they are hiding something typically unless they ARE hiding something.  Hence, we can only conclude that there is something devastating in those tax returns.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Is There a Pattern: Chick Fil-A Locations and Past Bigotryeas

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I found the image above - watch it for a few moments - at The Immoral Minority, a blog that in my view makes the case for the proposition that morality is not determined by the church you attend or the faith you purport to embrace. Rather, it is determined by the quality of your character and the positive impact you have on those you meet along your journey.

As the rotating images indicate, Chick Fil-A is mostly concentrated in the South - a region notorious for past discrimination and bigotry against blacks, women voting rights, interracial couples and, of course gays.  Oh, and did I mention the very same region coincides with the Bible Belt, the home of countless modern day Pharisees who trash the Gospel message they purport to base their lives upon. 

Romney Campaign’s Attempts to Deny Paul Ryan’s Insider Trading Don't Add Up

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We already know that Mitt Romney will resort to almost any tactic to make a buck and avoid paying taxes to the fullest extent possible - hence the Swiss bank accounts and accounts in offshore tax havens.  But it seems that Paul Ryan may also have a similar devotion to making a buck.  In fact, some continue to believe that Ryan may have used insider trading tips to benefit in his investment decisions.  Yep, the same sort of thing that landed Martha Stewart in prison.  A story broke over a weekend about Ryan's investment possible insider investment advantage and the Romney campaign sought to explain it away.  However, a piece at AlterNet makes the case that the purported explanation doesn't add up.  The piece clearly implies that Ryan lied on his disclosure statements or he's lying now.  You decide for yourself.  Here are story excerpts:

Over the weekend, the Richmonder blog broke what looked like a whopper of a story: that Republican vice-presidential hopeful Paul Ryan had lined his pockets from information he had obtained from a now-legendary meeting that took place on September 18, 2008. On that day, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson broke the news to congressional leaders that they would have to approve a bailout to avert a complete meltdown of the financial system.

America was lurching toward catastrophe. But some folks were apparently thinking about their stock portfolios. 

Checking through Ryan’s financial disclosure reports, the Richmonder discovered that Ryan had sold the stocks of several major banks that day, while purchasing – surprise! – stock in Paulson’s old firm Goldman Sachs. The story quickly circulated through the media.

The Romney campaign rapidly issued denials, based on three separate -- and clearly false -- claims: 1) the trades were not individual stock trades, but trades made as part of an index that trades big blocs of stocks according to preset formulas; 2) the meeting took place in the evening, after markets were closed, so the meeting could not have played a role in Ryan’s trading decisions; and 3) the stocks traded within a trust over which Ryan had no direct authority.

First of all, the Romney campaign’s claim that the transactions were index trades is not consistent with what’s in the original disclosure reports. AlterNet discussed the controversy with money and politics expert Thomas Ferguson, who has written extensively on the bailout. He explained, “Ryan did own some index-based securities, but they stand out in the summaries. They are different from the many trades Ryan was making in individual stocks. It is perfectly obvious that he sold shares in Wachovia, Citigroup and J. P. Morgan on September 18 and he bought shares in Paulson’s old firm, Goldman Sachs, on the same day. If these were index trades, what’s on the form is nonsense.”

While it’s not possible to pinpoint exactly what Ryan knew and when he knew it, the whole episode becomes more disturbing the deeper you look into it.  .   .   .   .  Since Ryan is a Republican, he may well have gotten word from the [Bush] White House about the gravity of the situation even earlier. If you knew that Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke were coming to brief you as stock markets fell around the world, that’s really all you needed to know to do the trades in Ryan’s portfolio.

If  you swallow the idea that Ryan just happened to buy Goldman stock that day -- a day he just happened to have a meeting with Hank Paulson, the firm’s former CEO, well, then I have some unicorns I’d like to introduce you to. 

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But if you’re a member of Congress, the odds are curiously in your favor. As I reported on AlterNet several months ago , in-depth research undertaken in 2004 considered to be the baseline work in the field revealed that from 1993-1998, US senators were beating the market by 12 percentage points a year on average. Corporate insiders only beat the market by a measly 5 percent. Typical households, in contrast, underperformed by 1.4 percent. 

And as to the Romney campaign’s claim that Ryan was not legally in control of his investments, let’s just say that this idea gives the notion of the “Invisible Hand” new meaning.

What’s most disturbing is the notion of a man like Paul Ryan focusing so heavily on his portfolio while his country was in peril. Ryan’s surely a guy who would answer the phone at 3am – provided it's his stockbroker calling. 

As has been the case with Romney, the more I discover about Ryan, the less I dislike him, both as a politician and a person.

Family Research Council Guard Shot in Washington, D.C.

For the record, I never condone violence against one's political and/or social foes.  Therefore, I condemn the violence at the offices of Family Research Council ("FRC") earlier today.  That said, there is no small degree of irony in FRC, which daily fans the flames of anti-gay hatred through the dissemination of knowingly false and derogatory information against LGBT individuals, today found itself on the receiving end of the type of hate and violence that it seeks to generate as its main stock in trade.   It's unfortunate that a lone shooter shot a security guard - thankfully, the wounds were minor - as he sought to access the FRC offices.  The shooter's motive and intended actions remain unknown.  And may never be fully known.  

Even more unfortunate is the fact that the shooter was a volunteer at a local Washington, D.C., LGBT center - a fact that will give the Christofascist a reason to blame "gay extremists" for the shooting.  Never mind that we never hear a peep of condemnation out of FRC and its fellow registered hate groups when LGBT citizens are beaten or killed by homophobic perpetrators.  

Disturbingly, and as has been the case in other recent shooting incidents, the gun used in today's attack was purchased legally five days ago in Virginia.  Of course, in Virginia under the newly passed laws this past session by the GOP controlled Virginia General Assembly, a chimpanzee could purchase a gun so long as it had no criminal record (assuming a background check is even done).  Here are highlights from The Advocate on today's unfortunate events:

A security guard at the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group that promotes antigay positions, was shot Wednesday morning as a gunman who reportedly expressed disagreement with the organization's views tried to enter the building.

The shooter walked into the lobby in the 800 block of G Street in the Chinatown neighborhood around 10:45 a.m., and was confronted by the guard, who was shot in the arm, the Washington Post reports. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier provided the information to the Post, saying the guard and others wrestled the man to the ground and waited for police to arrive.

[T]he suspect, identified by the Associated Press as 28-year-old Floyd Corkins, has been taken into FBI custody, where Fox News reports that a source said the shooter "made statements regarding their policies, and then opened fire.” Authorities are treating the incident as a “case of domestic terrorism,” the conservative news network reported, but according to the Associated Press, charges have not yet been filed.

The Associated Press reports that Corkins was a volunteer at The DC Center for the LGBT Community and was described by surprised coworkers as "gentle" and "kind." David Mariner, the center's executive director, expressed dismay at the news in a statement.

Fox News linked the incident to the Chick-fil-A controversy, reporting that "sources also said the gunman may have been carrying a bag from Chick-fil-A." The Georgia-based fast food restaurant has been criticized for statements and financial contributions owner Dan Cathy has made against marriage equality. FRC president Tony Perkins has been a staunch defender of Cathy.

Gay advocacy organizations quickly denounced the violence and expressed support for the victim in a joint statement from more than 20 national and state organizations.  "We were saddened to hear news of the shooting this morning at the offices of the Family Research Council," they said. "Our hearts go out to the shooting victim, his family, and his co-workers.

Take Part in Hampton Roads Pride Week

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As a member of the Board of Directors of Hampton Roads Pride I will be a nervous wreck until 7:00PM on Saturday, August 18, 2012, when the 2012 Out in the Park Comes to a close.  So far the weather forecast appears to be cooperating, but I'm still holding my breath.  The image above lays out some details.  Full details of the day's events can be found here.

But this year, there are more events that provide a kick off/lead into Saturday's main Out in the Park event.  Here are some of these events:

HRBOR 3rd Thursday - Featured non-profit is HR Pride:
 When: 16 Aug 2012
  • 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • :  Night of the Iguana Hampton Blvd + 37th Street, Norfolk
Pride 22nd St. Block Party:
When:  17 Aug 2012
  • 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
  • Palace Station Shops at 22nd Street in Norfolk
    NOTE:  Kristine W and Matt Zarley, the featured entertainers for Out In The Park, will be at this event!
Out In the Park - 2012:
   When:  18 Aug 2012  
  • 12:00 PM - 7:00 PM
  • Town Point Park, downtown Norfolk
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Last year roughly 17,000 individuals attended.  This year, with great entertainment, over 90 vendors, beer, wine and vodka company sponsors, and the nation's only gay pride boat parade, we hope even more will attend.  I will be wearing multiple hats for my law firm, HR Pride, HRBOR and the ODU Gay Cultural Studies initiative, but I hope readers who attend will make a point of saying hello.

Out in the Line-Up - A documentary about Gays and Surfing

As a surfer and a gay man, I joined Gay back when it first launched two years ago.  While based in Australia, members include surfers from literally all around the globe.  Now, the group is working on a documentary called "Out in the Line Up," that hopefully dispels inaccurate stereotypes.   Here are details from a release issued today:

Out in the line-up A documentary that challenges the taboos around homosexuality in surfing The world of surfing is more diverse than portrayed in the media – and the acknowledgment of a gay presence in surfing is long overdue. Follow the founder of the world’s first website for gay surfers through Australia, the USA and Brazil – to meet ex pro-surfers, surfing groups, up-and-coming surfers, sports psychologists, journalists and sponsors. Their stories tell of the hope for diversity and acceptance, both in and out of the water.

The documentary is currently in production, with shooting in USA scheduled for October, 2012, followed by filming in Australia in February, 2013 and Brazil in July, 2013.  The plan is for a release in December, 2013.  The news release also includes this call for those who would like to participate:

We are currently looking for professional crew members in Australia and Brazil. We are also looking for talented surfers and interesting protagonists who are prepared to tell their stories on camera. We are committed to giving these stories a voice, and are looking for avenues of funding, sales and distribution to bring this film to a global audience. If you are interested in being part of this journey please contact us over