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154 posts from September 2010

September 30, 2010

Auto Tuning your dog

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Ester Goldberg says this reveals Kanye West's secret.

There goes the gayborhood

(Photo of gay realtors Evan Johnson and Tom Bauer by Darrow Montgomery)

This week's City Paper has a story about real estate and D.C.'s gay community:

If the District no longer really has predominantly gay neighborhoods, and if gay agents are fairly common in the business these days, what makes marketing efforts like MyGayAgent.com useful?

The District, after all, is probably the most gay-friendly jurisdiction in the country. Gays and lesbians account for 8.1 percent of the population—the highest density of any state (probably because no states are comprised of just one city). While the national Fair Housing Act doesn’t prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and the National Association of Realtors is still working GLBT protections into its ethics code, the D.C. Human Rights Act has outlawed such discrimination since 1977, and the D.C. Office of Human Rights recorded only one sexual orientation-related complaint on a housing issue in 2009. (Though that doesn’t mean it’s a thing of the past—the Equal Rights Center still has cases in D.C., mostly in rental housing).

Some straight real estate agents will even get training on how to behave around diverse populations. The National Association of Realtors offers a course in serving international buyers, which requires a familiarity with different customs around housing (feng shui, for example). There’s a similar class for gay and lesbian sensitivity, which can just mean not looking at clients strangely when they use GLBT-specific vocabulary.

“We find a lot of people want to use a gay real estate agent because whether it’s a couple or not, they can say oh, ‘a his and his closet, or a her and hers closet,’” says Johnson, who last Friday afternoon wore a blinding white polo embroidered with the MyGayAgent.com logo.

Still, fear of discrimination by straight people still persists in the gay community. You probably won’t find anyone advertising MyBlackAgent.com or MyJewishAgent.com—outright racism and anti-Semitism are harder to find in the real estate business than homophobia. Johnson and Bauer, by selling their gay-friendly credentials, offer a guaranteed comfort level for buyers.

I am quoted in this story, though I told the reporter that I know nothing about real estate. Small correction: I have lived on or near 17th Street NW since 1983 (not 1984), except for a few months' sojourn in Arlington in 1985. While 17th Street's heyday as "the strip" appears to be past, there continues to be a significant gay presence on the street and in the neighborhood. In the old days, I often saw women holding onto their husbands for dear life, as if otherwise hubby would run off with one of the guys; I haven't seen much of that lately. The Dupont Circle neighborhood in my experience has always had a significant population of young professionals. This has meant frequent turnover of apartments in my building. D.C., of course, is a company town, and Dupont is a close-in neighborhood with lots of restaurants, a Metro station, and heavy taxicab traffic. There are also a lot of dogs in the 'hood, perhaps a legacy of President Truman's advice on what to do if you want a friend in Washington.

Father Figure: interview with Joseph Palacios

Palacios by Franson Today's Metro Weekly has an interview by Will O'Bryan with our friend, Georgetown University Professor Joe Palacios:

MW: Does anyone give you flak, telling you that you're not gay since you're celibate? Particularly on the right, someone might say you're "choosing" not to be gay by being celibate.

PALACIOS: Here's how I would address it: I came out before I had sexual experiences. I later had sexual experiences. I had a boyfriend for several years. When I then chose to be celibate, it didn't mean that my gayness disappeared. I look at being gay like being Latino. I see it as a mystery. I don't know if it's nature or nurture – I just know it is.

I've asked myself, why am I so motivated now to be so involved in the gay community? I could just sit back like so many other gay priests. In 1998, when I was at Berkeley in grad school, we received the news that Matthew Shepard had been murdered. Actually, first he'd been tortured. Some graduate students in my department approached me and asked me if I would help – because they knew I was a priest – at the graduate theological union, where I was living with the Jesuit community, to get word out to the religious community to help them with the vigil they wanted. I said yes.

That day when we were going to have the vigil, he actually died. So it turned into almost this wake for Matthew Shepard. Being with all these men and women, friends of mine, gay men and women, undergrads, graduate students, people from the graduate theological union, all together with candles, it was like a turning point. I said, I can't be in the closet anymore. I had submerged myself when I entered seminary and I was still there, submerged. I said I am now going to be committed. It was like a moment of clarity. Jesus would be with Matthew Shepard. And every other gay kid in small-town America, in the world. If I'm going to be a priest of authenticity, I have to be with my people. I'd been with the Latino community all along. Now it's my moment to serve the gay community in a new way – as well as the Latino community and the general Catholic community. But I can't live in the closet like this anymore, in terms of my identity.

Joe is a founding board member of the recently-launched advocacy group Catholics for Equality. Thanks to Will for a good interview.

(Photo of Joe Palacios by Todd Franson)

Tony Curtis dies at 85

Curtis I disliked Tony Curtis even before he insulted Brokeback Mountain without having seen it. In an interview years ago with Dick Cavett (though a cursory YouTube search yields only a brief blue clip), he made vicious comments about Angela Lansbury, mimicking her as Miss Marple and suggesting she was talentless. Really? That's why she won five Tonys and was nominated for multiple Oscars and Emmys? This from a man whose contribution to his most famous movie was looking uncomfortable in drag and doing a Cary Grant impression?

A reader named Persephone wrote this about Curtis's latest memoir:

Okay, Tony Curtis wasn't blessed with much insight. He was given those looks and maybe asking for more would have been greedy on his part. Granted that he had a terrible family life (it seems everyone in his family was nuts and the only one who wasn't died a grisly early death), still, he's managed to inflict misery on the families he himself created. His compulsive womanizing makes Tiger Woods look like a monk. He didn't manage to see much of his children because he was too busy skirt chasing. And boo hoo, no one gave him serious acting roles. What a pity. How blind those directors and producers were!

His inane 'recollections' go something like this: "X was really a nasty drunk and hard to work with but we were great buddies."

Maybe Curtis insulted Brokeback out of a need to overcompensate — not for doing drag in Some Like It Hot (whose brilliance was due to Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe), but for his character in Spartacus, Antoninus, who is a plaything of two of the leading male characters (played by Kirk Douglas and Lawrence Olivier) and has the much-mocked line, "I love you, Spartacus." In any case, Heath Ledger, whose career was tragically cut short, left us two performances more brilliant than anything Curtis managed in a long life. So rest in peace, Mr. Curtis. I like your daughter Jamie Lee a lot better.

September 29, 2010

October 2: One Nation Working Together - Lincoln Memorial

The labor activists organizing "One Nation Working Together" inform us:

On Saturday, October 2, 2010, hundreds of thousands of Americans from across the country will gather at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate our re-commitment to change.

The One Nation March will feature human and civil rights leaders, labor leaders, environmental and peace activists, faith leaders, celebrities and sports figures – all marching together to help Put America Back to Work and to Pull America Back Together. And to help reorder our national priorities so that investments in people come first.

Click here for details.

Rutgers freshman presumed suicide after roommate broadcast gay sexual encounter online

Clementi An awful story from the New Jersey Real-Time News:

A Rutgers University freshman appears to have killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate broadcast live images of the 18-year-old having a sexual encounter with another man on the internet, according to campus and law enforcement sources.

Tyler Clementi, 18, of Ridgewood, is presumed dead after his car, cell phone and computer were found near the George Washington Bridge last week, law enforcement sources said. His wallet was found on the walkway adjacent to the New York-bound lanes. In a statement released this afternoon, Clementi’s family confirmed the suicide and said his body has not been found.

Dharun Ravi, 18, of Plainsboro, and Molly Wei, 18, of Princeton, were charged with two counts each of invasion of privacy for setting up a camera in a dorm room on Sept. 19 and using it to view and transmit a live sex scene, said Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan.

Paul Mainardi of Woodbury, the Clementi family's attorney, said Ravi and Clementi were roommates at Rutgers.

This tragic story is a reminder of the gap between the technology and the judgment available to our youth, and the need for efforts like Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project; see video here and description here (scroll down).

(Facebook photo of Tyler Clementi)

Winning at home

(Photo: Martin Gill's adoptive sons at the 2010 White House Easter Egg Roll)

My column this week looks at last week's court victories for gay equality both at home and on the battlefield:

In a case brought by ACLU of Washington State, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton on Sept. 24 ordered the reinstatement of former Air Force flight nurse Major Margaret Witt, who sued for her job after being discharged under "Don’t ask, don’t tell." Witt is eager to return to duty.

By contrast, the Department of Justice on Sept. 23 filed a brief objecting to an injunction against DADT proposed by Log Cabin Republicans following their Sept. 9 victory in U.S. District Court. The question again arises of why President Obama feels he must defend a statute he opposes, when its every justification is fabricated.

In the absence of political leadership, and while Democrats mostly stay in a defense crouch, Judge Leighton’s ruling -- and the earlier one by Judge Virginia A. Phillips in the Log Cabin case -- suggest that if Congress refuses to act, the courts may resolve the issue.

On the home front, a three-judge panel of the Florida Third District Court of Appeal ruled on Sept. 22 that the state’s gay adoption ban violates the equal protection clause of the Florida Constitution. Governor Charlie Crist, now running for the U.S. Senate, immediately halted enforcement of the ban. Plaintiff Martin Gill and the ACLU of Florida, which represented him and his partner in the case, have requested that the case stop there and not be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

A blogger named Monsignor Pope at the Archdiocese of Washington reacted by accusing the Florida court of ignoring "Mother Nature" and "her plan." The Catholic Church’s invocation of Natural Law is nothing but religious doctrine in pseudoscientific drag. This authoritarian organization which has fought intellectual freedom for centuries expects its pronouncements to trump peer-reviewed scientific journals. But the scorn and junk science do not conceal the fact that Rome and its allies are losing their war against our families.

Click here for the whole thing, including a powerful bit of testimony from Florida adoptive father Martin Gill, and links to relevant court rulings.

Implementation Timeline for health care reform law

The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation provides an Implementation Timeline on the healh care reform law, with this explanation:

The implementation timeline is an interactive tool designed to explain how and when the provisions of the health reform law will be implemented over the next several years. You can show or hide all the changes occurring in a year by clicking on that year. Click on a provision to get more information about it. Customize the timeline by checking and unchecking specific topics.

(Hat tip: Ernest Hopkins)

Anti-gay industry blamed for climate leading to teen suicides


This just in from Truth Wins Out:

Sept. 29, 2009
Contact: Wayne Besen, Executive Director
Phone: 917-691-5118
e-mail: WBesen@truthwinsout.org

Anti-Gay Industry Responsible For Creating Hostile Climate That Leads To Such Tragedies, Says TWO

NEW YORK - Truth Wins Out expressed a sense of deep sorrow and loss as news of three gay teen suicides in September rocked the LGBT movement. In each case, the victim was a target of relentless harassment and bullying by school peers. Truth Wins Out blames the anti-gay industry and negligent school officials for creating a hostile climate that places lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students at risk for psychological abuse, violence and suicide.

"Our hearts go out to the families of these young men and we feel a deep sense of sorrow and regret for these needless tragedies," said Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "We blame the anti-gay industry for fighting measures to end bullying in schools, and school officials who turn a blind eye to brutality. We are fed up with what amounts to anti-gay schoolyard muggings that are foolishly dismissed as 'boys being boys'. In reality, it is 'boys beating boys', and these bullies receive tacit approval for their violent, homophobic behavior by teachers and certain vocal segments of society."

Through their annual "Day of Truth" campaign and TrueTolerance.org web site, Focus on the Family and the "ex-gay" group Exodus International actively and continuously obstruct anti-bullying programs in schools across the country. Instead of opposing violence, both organizations remain dedicated to pretending the problem of anti-gay bullying does not exist, or downplaying the deadly results.

"The goal of Exodus International and Focus on the Family is to purge LGBT people from society, although they disingenuously frame the issue as eliminating homosexuality, which is not possible," said Truth Wins Out's Executive Director Wayne Besen. "When you target homosexuality, the result is persecution and punishment of LGBT people, and in many cases it leads to gay bashing or suicides. The anti-gay industry should dismantle these despicable programs and work towards creating solutions instead of suicides."

In September, there have been three gay teen suicides as a result of school bullying:

Continue reading "Anti-gay industry blamed for climate leading to teen suicides" »

Assistant Michigan AG attacks UM student president, calls him a "privileged pervert"

HuffPo reports:

Michigan Assistant Attorney General Andrew Shirvell has taken up an unlikely target: the student assembly president at the University of Michigan.

On a blog he started called "Chris Armstrong Watch," Shirvell attacks what he says is Armstrong's "radical homosexual agenda," posts Photoshopped pictures of Armstrong with rainbow flags and swastikas and picks apart the student's Facebook page. Armstrong is the first openly gay student assembly president at the University of Michigan.

Shirvell says the blog is "nothing personal," though he has gone to Ann Arbor to protest outside of Armstrong's house and attend student assembly meetings, over which Armstrong presides.

In an awkward interview with Anderson Cooper last night, Shirvell said his main issue with Armstrong was his push for gender-neutral housing at the University of Michigan. "What we're talking about is anybody -- any man or woman -- wanting to choose to live together," he said. "That's a radical redefinition of gender norms." ...

In a statement, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said Shirvell's opinions do not reflect those of the Michigan Department of Attorney General, and his "immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office are clear."

Anderson Cooper did a good job in that interview. I have one question: why has Shirvell not been fired? Lack of judgment is an understatement for someone who has conducted such a campaign of harassment against a student. This is one of those "wow" stories that you couldn't make up.

Update: The Victory Fund provides a form for sending your protest message directly to Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox.

"Laughing behind my back at the boy wonder"

I was about twelve years old when I first watched this scene, and was mesmerized by the voice and presence of actor William Marshall. He plays Dr. Daystrom, the brilliant scientist who created "the ultimate computer," which has taken over the Enterprise and gone on a crazy killing spree during war game exercises, While trying to "talk down" the M5 computer, he reveals how nuts he is himself. I recited this scene countless times, imitating Marshall's awesome voice and inflections as he cracks up, and then doing DeForest Kelley (my favorite cast member) as he says, "Jim, he's on the edge of a nervous breakdown!" More than four decades later, Marshall still shines, elevating this "space western" with an indelible performance.

Marshall's career ranged from the title role in Blacula to the role of Frederick Douglass. But this was the scene that caught me. I don't think I fully realized at the time the effect that the virile physicality of his performance had on me.

Powerful testimony from Eddie Long accuser Jamal Parris

The local Fox News in Atlanta reports:

Since last week, none of the four young men have talked publicly about the lawsuit-- until now. We found Jamal Parris shopping at a 24-hour store in Colorado. Initially, he was reluctant to talk.

But once he started, he told a riveting story about how as a young teen-- a 14 year old with no father in his life-- he joined New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Bishop Eddie Long came into his life. He said Long said to call him "daddy" and to trust him with spiritual guidance.

"I loved him," Parris said. "I'm always going to have love for the things that he taught me. But how he left us hurt worse than anything I ever felt in my life."

Parris claims in his lawsuit the father-like figure used scripture to justify sex. And he lavished money, cars, jewelry, trips in the Bishop's private jet, even homes on the teens, sometimes with funds from the church coffers.

"You finally have a father that you've always wanted for and always dreamed of," Parris said. "He would just walk away from you if you don't give him what he wants. So you end up turning into something you never thought you would be, which is now a slave to a man that you love."

As he claimed in his lawsuit, Jamal says the bishop began a slow sexual seduction, which became more intimate and more intense after the young boys became of legal age.

"So, while the media and the rest of the people around the city, around the country look at us like how could grown men let another man touch him, what you have to understand is this man has manipulated us since childhood," Parris explained. "This was our father and we loved him."

The two videos here leave no room for doubt as to the truth of the accusations — though I figured they were true the moment I saw the muscle pics that Long emailed to at least one of the young men. There was no other plausible explanation, plus the word on the grapevine was that Long's proclivities were an open secret. That, of course, is not actionable evidence; but Jamal's testimony is. He deserves much credit for his courage in coming forward and exposing himself to the wrath of Long's enablers.

(Hat tip: Ernest Hopkins)

September 28, 2010

Unfinished masterpiece

In this sweet and sad scene from Tim Burton's 1990 film Edward Scissorhands, Edward's creator dies before he can give him human hands. Edward wants to caress his fallen father, but his scissorhands can only cut. It's a fine example of the expressive power of fantasy. Johnny Depp was in the early part of his film career, and Vincent Price at the end of his; they are so well matched to their roles that any other casting is unthinkable.

New project: NOM Exposed

NOM Exposed is a new project of the Human Rights Campaign in collaboration with the Courage Campaign. Its subtitle is, "Truth, Lies and Connections About the So-Called National Organization for Marriage." HRC's news release about it is here.

The clickable state-by-state map on the NOM Exposed website didn't work when I checked it just now. I hope that they will be duly noting how thoroughly we've been defeating NOM here in D.C. in the legislature, in court, and at the ballot box.

"a coward using New Birth's congregation as human shields"

(New Birth members cheer Bishop Eddie Long Sunday. CNN photo)

Jonathan L. Walton, assistant professor of African-American religions at Harvard Divinity School, was not impressed by Bishop Eddie Long's performance on Sunday:

Milquetoast quotes like "I am not the man being portrayed on television," and "I'm going to fight this," are at best nondenials. Anyone familiar with these sorts of civil cases knows that such word selection is common among those trying to deflect a potential perjury charge down the line. Either Long engaged in inappropriate sexual acts with these young men or he didn't. To hide behind legal counsel, biblical metaphors and spiritualized acknowledgments of one's imperfection insults the intelligence of those who respect him and his ministry.

The question on the hearts and minds of parishioners is not whether he is a "perfect man." Nor does this story have anything to do with David and Goliath, as Long so irresponsibly alluded. The faithful just want to know whether Long used his authority (and their money) to maintain a teenage male harem under the pretense of mentoring. Is this too much to ask? ...

Eddie Long had four days leading up to Sunday morning to address these charges. But aside from a brief yet legally broad statement through lawyers saying that "the charges against me and New Birth are false," he did not counter the boys' allegations.

He did choose, however, to invite the media and the world into the house of prayer on the Christian Sabbath. By doing so, he appears to be the kind of pastor who puts his own protection and self-preservation before the community of faith. And rather than courageously defending himself, he looked like a coward using New Birth's congregation as human shields.

I would love to hear one of New Birth's congregants (or enablers) give me an alternative explanation of the muscle pics that Bishop Long sent at least one of his former "spiritual sons" by email. I doubt that one will be forthcoming. We have seen this group dynamic before. They don't think he's innocent; he himself said more than once, "I'm not perfect." They just don't care. He's charismatic, he's generous (which means he graciously spreads around some of the ten percent of his parishoners' income that they tithe him), and they like watching him strut around onstage. (Let's not pretend it's an altar. As Walton observed in another CNN story, "His image has replaced the cross."

I have some sympathy for the love of theatricality. Theater itself has sacred origins dating back to ancient Greece. But in the theater, everyone knows it's make-believe; the person playing the lead does not claim to be speaking for God — unless perhaps the character is Elmer Gantry, who is plainly made out to be a flim-flam artist.

Unlike the theater, there are real victims involved when a pastor becomes a predator. As to the notion that 17- and 18-year-olds should be able to take care of themselves, I'd love to ask the parents at New Birth how many are prepared to send their young sons without a chaperone to Eddie Long's youth ministry now.

Firing the base with enthusiasm

Pam Spaulding addresses the complaints in the past few days by President Obama and Vice President Biden against the dispirited Democratic base:

The frustrating and pathetic thing about this whining is that, at least here at the Blend, there has never been a call to stay at home, it's been the opposite -- give as generously as possible to pro-equality candidates, donate your time to canvass for them or promote them (as we do with liveblogs and interviews), and to show up to vote for them.

What we have said is no money to the Dem machine that turns around and funds the election of Blue Dogs that end up "No" votes on our issues. That gAyTM is closed.

And that does not mean zero criticism if we're looking at performance and promises. I think a person on Twitter yesterday put it quite succinctly, if tartly: "@mystic23 another thing, Dems - just cause I'm angry @ Dems doesn't mean I won't vote for Dems in Nov. FU for telling me not to be angry."

I sympathize with the President's situation, considering that he is the most productive president since Lyndon Johnson while getting little credit for it. We are an impatient and demanding lot. On the other hand, Pam has a point. I seem to remember that our friend Barack told us he expected us to hold him accountable. Well....

Archbishop of Canterbury blames the gays

Rowan-williams-25060_34597t Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams suffers a total moral collapse in his desperation to avoid schism in the Anglican Communion, which exists in any case. He essentially blames gay people and their supporters for the divide, having abandoned the more tolerant and understanding views he expressed prior to his elevation as archbishop.

This is quite shameful and pathetic. The American Episcopal Church ought to tell him to cut it out and do the right thing or they will withdraw from the Communion and he can enjoy his solidarity with right-wing prelates like Peter Akinola of Nigeria, who retired earlier this year, or his successor, Nicholas Okoh, who isn't any better.

(Photo of Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams courtesy Getty Images)

September 27, 2010

Therapy, 30 Rock style

As long as we're sharing clips from 30 Rock, here's a priceless scene featuring two of the best comic actors going. Catch the Harper Lee reference.

Colby King: D.C. Primary "racial divide" highly exaggerated

Over the weekend, Washington Post columnists Colby King refutes the recent blather about the September 14 D.C. primary having been about a "racial divide." One fact that conflicts with the racial-conflict interpretation of Adrian Fenty's loss to Vincent Gray is that At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson, who is white, won every ward of the city and received more total votes than any other candidate but Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, just as he did in 2006. Colby writes:

People pontificating about race in this city, based on parachute jumps into black neighborhoods where they conduct two or three interviews and then scoot back to file reports on what black folks are up to, don't know what they are talking about.

Check out Colby's whole column for his story about Phil Mendelson, Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes, and the "Mother's Summertime Tea" in August.

Actress Gloria Stuart dies at 100

(Gloria Stuart with Claude Rains in 1933 film The Invisible Man)

WaPo reports on the death of Gloria Stuart, who went from stardom in horror movies like The Invisible Man opposite Claude Rains in the 1930s to a cameo appearance in My Favorite Year with Peter O'Toole in the 1980s and an Oscar-nominated role in Titanic in the 1990s.

Julian Bond: Eddie Long is a "raving homophobe"

Civil rights veteran Julian Bond tells the truth.

(Hat tip: Rod 2.0)

A defiant Eddie Long puts on a show

The cynicism of this man's performance at his megachurch on Sunday is matched only by the pathology of the capacity crowd in his 10,000-seat sanctuary. They plainly don't care what he did; they will back him to the hilt regardless. The show he puts on every Sunday (and you can find other YouTube videos from before the scandal) appears to be more about stirring up a mob than provoking serious reflection. This is far from my own religious background; but a black gay friend last night pointed out that it is also far from his experience and that of many other black folks, despite impressions to the contrary created by the media. In any case, the way this predatory, egotistical hypocrite manipulates large crowds of people — and the readiness with which so many let themselves be manipulated — is disturbing indeed.


(Hat tip: Rod 2.0. Photo courtesy Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Eddie Long makes noise at press conference about being silent

Bishop Eddie Long takes the opportunity to say he doesn't have anything to say.

Buju Banton jury deliberating his fate

Rod 2.0 posted an update the other day about the drug trial of notorious Jamaican murder-music singer Buju Banton having gone to the jury. Deliberations were to resume this week after a weekend break. Banton was arrested in December in a sting operation, and faces a life sentence if convicted. Someone may make a battyman out of him yet.

Another NOM Sponsored Bus Tour

Brian BrownThe Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, the Susan B. Anthony List and the National Organization for Marriage are joining together to sponsor a bus tour in California to promote Carly Fiorina in the Latino community.  The Vote Your Values (Vota Tus Valores) campaign seeks to sway Latino voters to support Fiorina because
For too long, Latinos have supported candidates who do not represent their core values. Candidates like Barbara Boxer, who is an outspoken advocate for abortion, opposes protection of traditional marriage, hampers job creation and a stronger economy with big government policies, and hasn’t worked to stop the water shortage or promote sensible immigration reform.

NOM spent quite a bit of money (over $220,000) in DC trying to influence what they considered a minority community to little effect.  In fact, their chosen candidate scored higher in the Ward 5 Straw Poll than he did in the general election after NOM sent two mailers and did robocalling to provide support.  Selling Carly Fiorina to the Latino population will be tough since  incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer holds a 38-point lead over Republican Fiorina among registered Latino voters, five times the lead she held among white voters.

Here is a suggestion for them however.  If you want to do another mailer of a white guy sneering down his nose at the voters, just use a picture of Brian Brown.  You will save a little money.

September 26, 2010

REALLY?!? With Seth and Amy

Amy Poehler was the guest host on the Saturday Night Live season opener last night. During the weekend update she brought back REALLY?!? with Seth and Amy where they skewered Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the talk of having a third concurrent war in Iran, and Don't Ask, Don't Tell. DADT sounds gay. Really!

No campaign ads in the LGBT press?

Can this be right? I picked up the Blade to see the political ads just before the election. Not a single candidate ran an ad. Stein and GLAA had their endorsement and ratings ads, but not one politician. I keep flipping through, but no ads.

Metro Weekly has the Stein and GLAA ads as well, and also a full page ad for Jim Graham--touting Stein and GLAA's support, but no other campaign ads.

Both publications have good coverage of the primary election, Stein's endorsements, and GLAA's ratings. Neither paper made their own endorsements.

A lot of money was raised in this election. $5 million for Fenty and nearly $2 million for Gray. Both ran numerous and expensive TV ads attacking each other. Kwame Brown and Vincent Orange kept sending mail to me. In the At-Large race there was much less money, but Phil Mendelson sent a few mailers' Michael D. Brown sent one, and I am told Clarke Ray had one. It didn't get sent to me. In the Ward races there were numerous mailing and campaign expenditures. I received a fair amount from Mary Cheh who ran unopposed.

Down ticket races aren't nearly as flush as the mayoral and council chair races, but print ads are relatively inexpensive. The City Paper, the Informer, and the Northwest Current did not miss out on campaign ad revenue.

Battle lines were drawn in the mayoral race, but clearly neither Fenty nor Gray thought that the LGBT community was a battle ground group; or at least not significantly movable for targeting in advertisements. Neither campaign looked at the LGBT community wondering how to impact our turnout on election day.

Often candidates that feel safe in their re-elections may throw a bone to the gay press to help them with ad revenue. This may have been the case with Jim Graham. Graham was unlikely to have influenced a significant number of Ward 1 readers of Metro Weekly that hadn't already made up their minds on his re-election.

This may be an issue of our friends running against each other, although I'd like to see more of our friends fighting over our support. This may also be a perceived lack of value to placing an ad in the gay press. The few campaign organizers that I talked to seemed to think that there were better places to spend the campaign ad budget.

September 25, 2010

Daddy Bear

September 24, 2010

Colbert and Lofgren on migrant farm workers

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Fallback Position - Migrant Worker - Zoe Lofgren
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

Stephen Colbert talks with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren on migrant farm workers. He doesn't faze her in the least.

Archdiocese of Washington cites junk science against Florida adoption ruling

Adw-seal1 Msgr. Charles Pope of the Archiocese of Washington reacts to the recent ruling by a Florida court in favor of gay adoptions, and pretends to be an expert on "Mother Nature":

when it comes to human sexuality and also the raising of kids, apparently, nature has to go. Many women take unhealthy and artificial pills to drastically alter their hormonal system and become chemically sterile. Or artificial barriers are used to unnaturally hinder the sexual act for its natural end. Perfectly healthy babies are aborted from wombs. And many today advocate homosexual acts as normal even though any study of the design of the human body will indicate that man is not for man, or woman for woman. Rather, man is for woman, and woman for man. In Romans 1:27 St. Paul calls homosexual acts παρὰ φύσιν (para physin), “contrary to nature.”

The latest rejection of nature is the declaration of Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal that “gay people and heterosexuals make equally good parents.” It is odd that Mother Nature never got the memo from the Florida Court for she apparently thinks it is best for a child to have a (female) mother and (male) father. In her plan, Mother Nature never made the two daddies, or two mommies option equally available through something like parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction). Mother Nature in her backward and primitive notions only allows for natural conception to occur between heterosexuals. But the Florida Court of Appeals has now rescued us from the backward notions of Mother Nature.

Msgr. Pope here is simply imposing his narrow view of nature in conformance with Catholic Church doctrine. He is evidently unaware that homosexual behavior has been observed in hundreds of animal species. Now, to be sure, there are plenty of things that happen in nature that one might legitimately disapprove of people doing to one another; but the Monsignor is the one who raised "Mother Nature" as a standard. Excuse me, Padre, but I and other gay people exist. A great deal of evidence suggests that we were born this way. But we are entitled to equal protection of the law whether you approve of us or not, and quite regardless of what St. Paul may have thought about it. The peer-reviewed scientific literature is against you.

As to gay sex being unable to result in reproduction, yeah, we all realized that. Guess what? Aside from artificial insemination and surrogacy, of which I am sure the Monsignor disapproves, there are many thousands of children who were created by straight people but were either abandoned by them or were taken away from them for their own safety and welfare. These children need loving homes, and many gay couples have provided them. As for Pope's suggestion that "Mother Nature" has a plan that does not include gay people, plain observation shows that we are part of actually existing nature whether he acknowledges it or not. Anthropomorphizing the natural world and inventing the notion of a "plan" is simply a way of sneaking religious dogma in by the back door. The fact is, Monisgnor, that we have been beating you in the science journals, in court, and (here in D.C.) at the ballot box. Here in D.C., we also have the support of hundreds of clergy from many denominations. Your serial violations of the Commandment against bearing false witness will avail you nothing.

The ADW's blog page on same-sex marriage includes this statement:

You will note that the Archdiocese in setting forth its objections has done so on the basis of Natural Law. Scripture is not quoted in the document. This is done in speaking to a secular world to make it clear that our objections are not on religious grounds only. They are also based on psychological, sociological and biological grounds.

"Natural Law" is nothing but religious doctrine in pseudoscientific drag. Anyone who is prepared to accept the word of an authoritarian organization on scientific matters over the established consensus of the scientific community is setting aside the entire scientific revolution, which was stoutly resisted by Mother Church every time it turned up anything Rome didn't like. Eppur si muove, Monsignor.

(Hat tip: Mitch Wood)

DADT Remix - I Don't Care What You Say

(Hat tip: Meghan Stabler)

The President's insulting scheduling priorities

Dan Savage writes:

Where was the President when the Senate was debating DADT on Tuesday? AWOL. He made no public statements, he couldn't be bothered to pick up the phone and call a single wavering Senator to ask for their vote. But he did have time to make at least one call on Tuesday [to congratulate the Seattle Storm for winning the WNBA Finals].

This is simply not acceptable. A win on DADT repeal this week could have begun to turn around Obama's relationship with the gay community; instead, he appears not to have lifted a finger to fight for us. I am a political pragmatist, and I have defended this President against more impatient and protest-oriented people. But my own patience has finally run out. The loss on DADT repeal this week, even with Majority Leader Reid's terrible handling of the National Defense Authorization Act, would have been easier to take had the President fought for us. Who is advising him on this? An activist friend in Illinois told me two years ago not to trust Axelrod or Emanuel. It doesn't really matter, because the buck stops at the President's desk, and he has shown by his statements and legislative voting record that he knows better. If he were clueless or did not have a record as an ally, this would be easier to take.

Even HRC appealed this week for Attorney General Holder not to appeal the U.S. District Court ruling against DADT. Well, that appeal fell on deaf ears. So Joe, I hate to echo GetEQUAL, but what has your White House access gotten you? Nice suit, by the way.

The final straw? DOJ responds to Log Cabin in DADT case

Joe Sudbay at AMERICAblog Gay writes:

[A] quick read shows that DOJ wants to limit the injunction to the "Plaintiff and Its Members." It actually sounds like DOJ wants to out gay servicemembers, "without the names of LCR’s members, defendants would have no way of knowing whether a particular servicemember who is subject to the actions set forth is in fact a bona fide LCR member."

The DOJ also objects because "Plaintiff’s Proposed Injunction Would Foreclose the United States from Litigating the Constitutionality of DADT in Other Courts." Yes, DOJ wants to keep arguing that DADT is constitutional. And, DOJ wants to be able to move for a stay.

Finally, the DOJ seems awfully concerned that if LCR wins this case, then the Obama administration will no longer be able to find that gay servicemembers hurt morale and cohesion. Why is the Obama administration so concerned about losing the "right" to discriminate against gay and lesbian servicemembers? ...

This is not the brief of a party that wants to find a way out of this mess. The Obama administration is aggressively defending DADT when the Obama administration doesn't have to do this.

The DOJ submission is here. For a walk down memory lane, see here, here, and here.

I took issue with Andrew Sullivan after he wrote on Wednesday that President Obama's "betrayal of and contempt for his gay supporters is now beyond dispute. If I had wanted an administration reeking of fear and cowardice, I would have backed Clinton in the primaries." I told Andrew that our justifiable anger and frustration do not necessarily translate into presidential betrayal and contempt. But I don't know what to say after reading the latest DOJ brief. Its arguments seem reasonable in a bloodless way, but why is this "fierce advocate" of gay equality letting his Justice Department make them? Why is this necessary? He and the DOJ lawyers can say a hundred times that they have to defend every law on the books whether it's right or wrong, but no they damn well don't. It is possible for them not to. What calamity will occur if they stop defending the indefensible military gay ban, every one of whose justifications is a fabrication? We read on page 2 of DOJ's brief:

Continue reading "The final straw? DOJ responds to Log Cabin in DADT case" »

Eddie Fisher dead at 82

Singer and actor Eddie Fisher, former husband of Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, and Connie Stevens, died yesterday in California. His song recordings included this one, which was a #1 hit in 1954.

(Hat tip: Joe.My.God)

September 23, 2010

The stakes

Pardon me for quoting the Human Rights Campaign in the midst of a campaign of vilification and mockery by Andrew Sullivan and GetEQUAL (talk about a marriage from hell), but HRC quite helpfully lays out some information to show what is at stake in the coming election:

Under a Republican Congress, key positions that control the fate of pro-LGBT legislation would be held by notorious anti-equality legislators. In such a world, for example:
  • The House and Senate could both be led by a group of legislators who, at best, rated a 20 on HRC’s Congressional Scorecard for the 110th Congress. In fact, potential House leaders Reps. John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mike Pence have consistently scored a perfect zero since they came to Congress. The highest any potential Senate leaders – including Senators McConnell, Kyl, Thune and Cornyn – could muster on our Scorecard is a 20.
  • Arizona Senator John McCain, the notorious opponent of repealing the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, could become Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee could be led not by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, a supporter of marriage equality, but by Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who attacked then-Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan for opposing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as Dean of Harvard Law, arguing that in doing so she “punished the military, and demeaned our soldiers as they were courageously fighting for our country in two wars overseas”
  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), a champion of the hate crimes law, could be replaced by Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, who said expanding hate crimes protections “undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system -- 'equal justice for all.'”
  • The House Education and Labor Committee, where the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is considered, could be led by Rep. John Kline of Minnesota, who called ENDA "a significant departure from longstanding civil rights law" that could "lead to an explosion in litigation "
  • Instead of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), a longstanding leader on LGBT issues and HIV/AIDS as Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we could have Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, who recently opposed a bill that would collect health data on LGBT people in an effort to address health disparities, saying, “for the life of me I do not see any reason at all to do this bill.”

To those whose anger and frustration are prompting them to pull the house down upon themselves with the excuse that it makes no difference: yes it damn well does.

Photoshopped Sirina goes viral


Sir Ian McKellen (who said at the gay march on Washington in 1993, "My name is Sir Ian McKellen, but you can call me Sirina") did indeed participate in a protest of the Pope in England last weekend. He did not, however, wear a shirt saying, "I'm Galdalf and Magneto. Get Over It!" Geekosystem tells the story of how writer and illustrator Greg Stekelman tweeted his Photoshopped version of the picture, which quickly went viral. The fakery should have been fairly obvious, given how the letters go straight across in the Photoshopped version despite the curve of McKellen's body. But it had me going for a minute, until I checked.

Log Cabin, selling itself cheap

Official-pete-sessions-1-200x300 When Rep. Pete Sessions pulled out of last evening's Log Cabin Republicans dinner at the last minute, citing a House GOP caucus meeting, The Dallas Voice wrote:

Well isn’t that a convenient excuse? We’re sure Sessions’ no-show has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he and Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, also slated to appear at the Log Cabin dinner, are being villified on right-wing websites for accepting the invitation. As we reported, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins sent Cornyn a letter last week demanding that he skip the dinner. And FRC said on its blog Tuesday that Cornyn shouldn’t have accepted the invitation in part because Log Cabin derives its name from the idea that President Abraham Lincoln was gay, a theory FRC seems hell-bent on dismissing. Meanwhile, American Family Association President Tom Wildmon told CSN News that by attending the fundraiser Cornyn is actively promoting “men having sex with men.”

We called Sessions’ D.C. office to get further explanation about his decision to back out — such as whether the Republican caucus meeting was scheduled before or after the Log Cabin dinner, whether they are in fact at the same time, and if they are, whether he can’t afford to miss a few minutes of the caucus meeting to make a cameo at the LCR dinner. But not surprisingly, Sessions spokeswoman Emily Davis mysteriously became unavailable after we identified ourselves as being from the gay paper, and she hasn’t gotten back to us.

We’re sure some gay Republicans will defend Sessions’ decision, pointing to his appearance at the annual dinner of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin two years ago. But we’d like to point out that the 2008 dinner came immediately AFTER the November elections, not six weeks before them. Let’s face it, folks, Republicans like Sessions are scared shitless of the Tea Party right now. And while tea-baggers like to say they’re concerned primarily with fiscal issues, many of us recognize them as the same right-wing nutjobs who were peddling social issues five years ago.

Log Cabin took exception to this, insisting that Sessions had a legitimate excuse. Then this:

Asked whether Log Cabin has any qualms about hosting Cornyn after he supported Tuesday’s filibuster of the bill containing language to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell,” [Log Cabin spokeswoman Melissa] Kennedy said absolutely not. Kennedy said Log Cabin supported Senate Republicans’ decision to filibuster the bill based on Majority Leader Harry Reid’s refusal to allow them to propose amendments.

“We’re not saying they’ve been our best buds and we’re going to have sleepovers, but we’re working on it and we appreciate the fact that they said yes,” Kennedy said of Cornyn and Sessions and their decision to accept the group’s invitation to the dinner.

LCR deserves credit for their successful lawsuit against DADT. But they chose to give awards to these anti-gay politicians. That is pathetic and underscores the corrupting pressure of trying to work within a party whose leading operatives have used scaremongering about gay families to increase turnout by their base in multiple elections, and which has tried to write gay families out of the Constitution. Guys, I know it's a well-worn expression, but you're in bed with the enemy. Granted, power is sexy. The Human Rights Campaign gets a lot of heat for being in bed with the Democrats, but Democrats have a vastly better gay-related voting record. Log Cabin, just to justify its existence, has to set the bar awfully low.

(Photo of Dallas Congressman Pete Sessions)

September 22, 2010

But don't call him gay

Eddielongmirror1 The Daily Voice has posted some rather surprising photos of Atlanta megachurch pastor and outspoken homophobe Eddie Long, which were released Wednesday evening by ABC News. Here's The Daily Voice:

New photos purportedly show Atlanta megachurch pastor Eddie Long posing in a bathroom mirror with muscle shirts. The photos were allegedly sent to at least one of the three young men who have filed lawsuits against Long in recent days for sexual harassment.

In one photo, Long is shown wearing a sleeveless black muscle shirt and tight black shorts. In the other, he is wearing a short-sleeve red muscle shirt with jeans.

The photos themselves do not prove the plaintiffs' allegations, but they do raise questions about the minister's conduct and his relationship with the young men at the heart of the case.

Long, a married father of four, is known as a fierce opponent of gay rights and same-sex marriage and led a march against marriage equality rights from the site of Dr. Martin Luther King's gravesite years ago.

Eddielongmirror2 These bathroom pics of Eddie Long are so hot, I'm thinking of dumping Bishop Harry Jackson. Just kidding, Harry; when I'm looking for a night of degradation, I'll definitely call you first. [Note to the innocent: I have no evidence that Harry Jackson is gay; I am just fantasizing because he is so nice to me and he has that whole Papa Bear thing going on.]

Update: My Facebook comment is, "I've been such a bad boy, which hot anti-gay pastor should I ask to spank me?" Hey, I wonder if we can expose enough of these guys to make a calendar?

To the GOP, consent of the governed means erasing 9 million votes

An advance draft of the GOP's "Pledge to America," to be release officially on Thursday, Sept. 23, blathers on about America being founded on the consent of the governed, a fine phrase from the Declaration of Independence. But the GOP claims that the Obama administration lacks such consent. Let's review a few facts, shall we? Barack Obama received 53 percent of the popular vote in 2008, and 9 million more votes than John McCain. That's an awful lot of consent. But of course, the only elections that can be allowed to matter, in the view of the Republican Party, is elections that are won by Republicans. Their nonstop, over-the-top vilification of the 44th President, and their routine use of filibusters, represent the most aggressive and cynical effort to thwart the will of voters in living memory.

Still, this is a fairly timid document. Oh, sure, they talk about embracing "traditional marriage" and "life," but social conservatives (and the term "conservative" is a misnomer for those radicals) will hardly be impressed by such tepid rhetoric, considering that we are constantly told these days that gays will destroy society and that rape victims should be forced to carry their rapists' babies to term.

The Republicans have already made it clear that they will use a regained majority to file an endless series of subpoenas for White House documents in a blindly partisan fishing expedition — henceforth, presumably every Democratic president with a Republican congress can expect impeachment — and are drooling at the idea of shutting down the government, not to mention a growing list of constitutional amendments.

What is needed is for those who know better to fight back.

Crist halts enforcement of Florida gay adoption ban

(Martin Gill holds his sons John and James in 2009. Photo by Lynne Sladky, AP)

HuffPo reports:

Florida will immediately stop enforcing its ban on adoptions by gay people following a decision by a state appeals court that the three-decade-old law is unconstitutional, Gov. Charlie Crist said Wednesday.

Crist announced the decision after the 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld a 2008 ruling by a Miami-Dade judge, who found "no rational basis" for the ban when she approved the adoption of two young brothers by Martin Gill and his male partner.

"I'm very pleased with the ruling on behalf of the Gills," Crist told reporters in Tallahassee. "It's a great day for children. Children deserve a loving home."

The appeals court decision is not the final word on the law. Gill and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented him and his partner, want the state to take the case to the Florida Supreme Court to obtain a final statewide determination on the law.

"If that continues to be their desire, we would support that, and I think given the makeup of the current Supreme Court they would have a very good chance to get a very good ruling," said Crist, a former Republican running for the U.S. Senate as an independent.

Earlier this month, Crist's campaign issued a position paper supporting several gay rights issues he'd once opposed, including adoption rights.

If you are so busy being angry at Washington politics that you cannot pause to celebrate this joyous moment, call your cardiologist immediately because your heart is missing. Congratulations to the Gill family, which will now remain whole, and to those including our friends in the ACLU who have fought for them and so many other families. Bravo. And thanks to Governor Crist. I don't much care why he changed his mind, I'm just happy for those boys and their daddies, and countless other families not seen.

The courts are looking better and better as an option at this point, eh?