320 posts categorized "Consumers and Business"

April 07, 2014

Supreme Court won’t hear anti-gay photographer case

The Blade reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Monday it won’t take up a case in which a New Mexico photography business alleges its rights were violated when it landed in hot water for refusing to shoot a same-sex wedding ceremony.

In orders published Monday morning, the court listed the case, Elane Photography v. Willock, without comment as among the cases it won’t consider.

The case was brought to the Supreme Court by Elane Photography, which was found to have violated New Mexico’s anti-discrimination law for refusing to take a photo for the same-sex wedding ceremony for Vanessa Willock and Misti Collinsworth in 2006. (The wedding was only ceremonial because the incident took place before the state legalized same-sex marriage.)

Thank the Goddess for small favors.

April 05, 2014

Fox's Starnes denounces treatment of ex-Mozilla CEO

Fox News reporter Todd Starnes writes at Townhall.com to defend now-former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich:

Why not demand that those who oppose gay marriage relinquish the right to own property? Why not take away their right to vote? Why not take away their children? Why not just throw them in jail? Why not force them to work in chain gangs? Why not call for public floggings? Or better yet, let’s just strap them down on gurneys, stick a needle in their arm and rid the world of these intolerant anti-gay bigots once and for all.

I want to assure Mr. Starnes that I oppose those traditional conservative measures.

April 04, 2014

Signorile refutes Sullivan on forced resignation of Mozilla CEO

Michelangelo Signorile wrote a detailed response to blogger Andrew Sullivan's criticism of "left-liberal intolerance" for the downfall of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich this week.

I agree with Signorile. Eich was totally out of synch with his company's employees, for one thing. This was a case of the market working. The First Amendment's free speech provision prevents the government from silencing you. It does not prevent a company from firing you when they decide that your actions will do the company harm.

'Safe Bathrooms DC' Aims to Increase Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

The D.C. Office of Human Rights announced on April 3:

D.C. Office of Human Rights

“Safe Bathrooms DC” Aims to Increase Gender-Neutral Bathrooms

Innovative reporting method uses Twitter (#safebathroomsDC) to accept complaints

Thursday, April 3, 2014

CONTACT: Elliot Imse, Director of Policy & Communications – 202.481.3773; elliot.imse@dc.gov

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Public bathrooms can present many challenges: inevitably long lines, empty paper towel holders, and faucets that manage to spray more water onto your clothes than into your hands. Yet these challenges are trivial when compared to those some transgender and gender non-conforming people face when using gender-specific public bathrooms. Fear of harassment or violence can create a stressful experience, and many people report scouring the neighborhood until they can locate a gender-neutral bathroom. Now, the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights (OHR) is asking community members to help make it a bit easier for the transgender and gender non-conforming community, with today’s launch of its Safe Bathrooms DC campaign.

Aimed at rapidly increasing the number of single-occupancy gender-neutral public bathrooms in the District, the campaign features photos of common bathroom challenges, and aims to encourage people to report non-compliant bathrooms using Twitter or the OHR website. The District is one of the few jurisdictions in the nation that requires all single-occupancy bathrooms at restaurants, businesses or other public places to be gender-neutral, without labels such as “male” or “female.” While in the past non-compliant bathrooms could be reported to OHR through the traditional complaint submission method, now community members can quickly alert OHR by tweeting the business name and location using the hashtag #safebathroomsDC, or by submitting a short five question form on the OHR website.

Continue reading "'Safe Bathrooms DC' Aims to Increase Gender-Neutral Bathrooms" »

Honey Maid: Love

Honey Maid responds to hate letters with one of the best commercials ever. As plenty of people have already commented, let's make s'mores!

March 19, 2014

Honey Maid 'Wholesome' commercial sets righties quivering

Right Wing Watch reports:

Conservative talk show host Janet Mefferd said yesterday that she will no longer buy Honey Maid’s Graham Crackers because one of their advertisements features a same-sex couple with their child.

Discussing a Huffington Post article on the new ad, Mefferd took issue with Honey Maid’s use of the world “wholesome” to describe same-sex couples.

You can listen to Mefferd's scorn-filled voice below. Or just make a batch of S'mores with the kids and sing campfire songs.

195 Democratic lawmakers urge Obama to sign LGBT executive order

Metro Weekly reports:

Nearly every Democratic member of the Senate and 148 Democratic members of the House of Representatives urged President Barack Obama to sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from LGBT workplace discrimination in a letter sent Tuesday.

With the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) having hit a wall in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives after passage in the Senate last year, members of the House and Senate called on Obama “to act now to prevent irrational, taxpayer-funded workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans.”

Please do it, Mr. President.

March 14, 2014

Sam Adams Beer pulls out of South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade

Boston.com reports that Sam Adams Beer issued the following statement regarding the gay-exclusionary South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade:

We were hopeful that both sides of this issue would be able to come to an agreement that would allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in the parade. But given the current status of the negotiations, we realize this may not be possible. We share these sentiments with Mayor Walsh, Congressman Lynch and others and therefore we will not participate in this year’s parade.

It was said of Sam's cousin John, "He handled every kind of case — land transfers, trespass, admiralty, marine insurance, murder, adultery, rape, bastardy, buggery, assault and battery, tarring and feathering." Once again, the family name is associated with what Churchill called the traditions of the Royal Navy: rum, sodomy, and the lash. I'm just anticipating the next press statement from indignant Hibernians.

March 04, 2014

Fox news babe asks a civil rights question, doesn't like the answer

I think this is Megyn Kelly talking to Bernie Goldberg, but I confess these Fox News models all start to look alike to me. I think Margo Channing had it right when she handed Max Fabian the bicarb: "One good burp and you'll be rid of that Miss Casswell."

March 02, 2014

Tim Cook Erupts After Shareholder Asks Him To Focus Only On Profit

(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/ Getty Images)

Tell it, Mister Cook.

(The Apple CEO, in case you missed it, is openly gay.)

February 27, 2014

Tea Party Nation: Brewer's Veto Imposed 'Slavery,' Mandatory Penis Cakes For 'Homosexual Weddings'

Right Wing Watch shares the latest lunacy from the president of Tea Party Nation, in reaction to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of SB1062.

Weighing in from another moon base, Tucker Carlson said on Fox News that requiring businesses to provide equal services to gay customers is fascism.

When you've gone too far for John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Mitt Romney, you might want to take a reality check. On the other hand, blogger Andrew Sullivan worries about a backlash:

As for the case for allowing fundamentalists to discriminate against anyone associated with what they regard as sin, I’m much more sympathetic. I favor maximal liberty in these cases. The idea that you should respond to a hurtful refusal to bake a wedding cake by suing the bakers is a real stretch to me.

Yes, they may simply be homophobic, rather than attached to a coherent religious worldview. But so what? There are plenty of non-homophobic bakers in Arizona. If we decide that our only response to discrimination is a lawsuit, we gays are ratcheting up a culture war we would do better to leave alone. We run the risk of becoming just as intolerant as the anti-gay bigots, if we seek to coerce people into tolerance.

Unless one is prepared to repeal the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this is absurd. Licensed businesses are not entitled to discriminate against their customers. That is a price we pay for living in a diverse society. In any case, Andrew shows no sign of having researched the number and geographic distribution of non-homophobic Arizona bakers. What if you live in a small town with only one bakery, and it puts a "No Homos" sign in its window?

As a general rule, I don't want hostile people preparing food for me. But that should be my choice. As a participant in the local economy, I want to be treated with respect. A gay version of Jim Crow is not acceptable. When we talk about LGBT equality, we do not add an asterisk that says "unless it makes someone uncomfortable." Whatever the legal standard is for everyone else, that is what should apply to us as well. Libertarians generally think that non-discrimination laws should only apply to the government; but that is not the status quo, and their view, while intellectually coherent, is not popular and is not about to be enacted. As for a backlash, we've been fighting one since before I started my activist career in the late 1970s. We are winning the culture war that was launched against us by people who thought everyone should be forced either to believe and talk and act the same as them or to disappear. Well we did not disappear.

As my colleague Bob Summersgill noted a few days ago, D.C. Councilmember Yvette Alexander tried in 2009 to add a religious exemption provision to D.C.'s marriage equality bill during its committee markup. The vote on that amendment was 4 to 1 against. The Archdiocese of Washington wanted a number of similar carve-outs added to let them violate the D.C. Human Rights Act, and then-Judiciary chairman Phil Mendelson (with our strong backing) refused.

Most Americans already think that using religion as a pretext for discrimination is wrong. They are right about that. In such a religiously diverse society, we cannot allow pharmacists or restauranteurs or automobile mechanics or hospitals or city clerks to refuse service based on their religious beliefs. If we are to avoid being at one another's throats, we simply must be more tolerant of our differences. The problem is that the ones most loudly demanding a religious exemption actually just want right-wing Christians like them to have that right. This is a ploy to preserve privilege in the guise of religious freedom. And as we see in Arizona, it is not working. As Intel and Apple and Delta Airlines pointed out, it's bad for business.

Resistance is Futile

You will be assimilated into the Google hive mind.

The internet is noting what happened to this woman in a bar in San Francisco when she wore Google Glass.  She has called this a hate crime.  As she notes the product hasn't even been released yet. But when it is released it will be irresistible.

Think of some of the possibilities. An app has been announced Where when you meet someone new in a bar you can take a photo of them and it will search a database and identify who they are. A woman could know if this person is who they say they are, if they are married or has a criminal record. Gay men could know if the guy was on the downlow and what they were packing in their pants. And you could get a review of their performance in bed from your trusted social circle. Priceless. Grindr for Glass can't be far away. And the amazing thing is that people will pay to be assimilated. A lot.

Keep in mind that this is just the start. They are already working on contact lenses that have video displays in the lens. In 50 years the technology will be light years along. Instead of having a earpiece for sound you will have implants. So while non-enhance humans are sleeping you could be learning new things. And Google could improve your mental health by assuring you that you have nothing to worry about from technology and your retirement is perfectly safe in a 401k plan invested in their company. In 50 years the non-enhanced will be at a distinct disadvantage. This woman is a visionary not a clueless Glasshole.

February 25, 2014

Apple joins outcry over AZ anti-gay bill

As a user of several Apple products, I say thank you, Tim Cook, for your company's stance.

February 13, 2014

Most D.C. mayoral hopefuls favor liquor-licensing reform

Mark Lee's business column in the Blade this week discusses mayoral candidates' responses to GLAA's question on liquor license reform. Here's a portion:

The question, one of 12, is as follows: “Will you support strengthening Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) reforms by eliminating license protests filed by citizens associations and ad hoc groups, requiring stakeholders to participate in the community process provided by the Advisory Neighborhood Commission?”

Best Answer: Mayor Vincent Gray. He’s a “YES” and demonstrates his keen understanding of the need for reform while clearly enunciating why: “Frivolous licensing protests filed with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) stand in the way of businesses operating free of special operating protocols. Protests by ad hoc groups…should not interfere with the issuance of ABC licenses to businesses.”

Great Answer: D.C. Council member Jack Evans. He’s a “YES” and provides a rationale: “I have heard from both residents and businesses that the ABC Board takes too long to make decisions. I think this needs to be a more decisive process…Dragging out some of these cases months and months really can be very unfair to everyone and unnecessarily divisive.”

February 09, 2014

Such an offer!

My inbox, like yours no doubt, is inundated by information and sales pitches. One of the nonstop updates from the Democratic National Committee is titled, "You haven't signed the petition, Richard." (If I'd known they were monitoring me so closely, I'd have dressed better.) An email from Amazon Local offers tickets to the Shakespeare Theatre Company production of "Henry IV Part Two," a visit to the Winery at Bull Run, and laser toenail fungus removal treatment. The Bard would make a moldy pun.

February 05, 2014

Howling at the moon: Dupont group decries noise


Mark Lee at the Blade takes on the latest silliness from the NIMBYs of Dupont.

January 30, 2014

Cheerios offers sequel to its interracial family ad

Simple and flawless.

Enforcing an executive order protecting LGBT employees of federal contractors

Mara Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality expresses the perplexity shared by many LGBT advocates as to why President Obama has refused to sign an executive order prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination against employees of federal contractors, as he promised during the 2008 campaign.

But as our friend Kurt Vorndran, legislative representative for the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), points out, such an order would not be enforceable in practical terms unless the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) gets sufficient staffing and budget to enforce compliance. OFCCP was created by President Johnson through executive order in 1965, and expanded under Nixon. It was decimated (not eliminated) by Reagan. In other words, Reagan kept the window dressing. Right now, according to the DOL website, OFCCP has 800 staff. That is for all their EEO and affirmative action programs related to federal contracts nationwide. Firms they go after love to drag proceedings out as long as possible and then demand dismissal because the action is not timely.

House Speaker John Boehner says we have enough regulations already, but that is a mere slogan to conceal the GOP's long and relentless efforts to cripple the government's ability to regulate everything from food and medicine safety to employment discrimination. Then they decry government ineffectiveness. That is a most cynical game. The Obama administration has worked tirelessly in federal agencies to repair and restore the government's regulatory apparatus. But there is a limit to what you can do without the resources being budgeted for it.

So we need more than an executive order. We need the staffing and budget to enforce it. The devil is in the details.

Update: Kurt Vorndran adds:

In the last year of the Clinton Administration, OFCCP had an FTE level of 786. The G.W. Bush Administration decimated the office to a level of 585. By FY2011, the Obama Administration was able to restore the office to the approximate level before Bush (755 FTEs). While the office is now back to the level of staffing from 13 years ago, it has a tremendous backlog. Director Shiu has tried to make the office more efficient, but given an increase in workload since 2001, she has a tough job.

Enforcing a sexual orientation E.O. is also going to take resources as most of OFCCP's effectiveness and work comes not from individual complaint examinations but by compliance reviews. They are going to have to develop some innovative ways to do lgbt compliance reviews.

January 26, 2014

Gay libertarians defend discrimination as freedom of expression

Valerie Richardson at The Washington Times reports that some illustrious gay and pro-gay libertarians have filed friend-of-the-court briefs in defense of the right of anti-gay photographers, florists, and bakers to refuse their services to same-sex couples:

Those filing friend-of-the-court briefs in favor of the ADF’s position [defending the anti-gay business owners] include some high-profile supporters of gay marriage, including Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute legal counsel; Eugene Volokh, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law professor; and Dale Carpenter, professor at the University of Minnesota Law School.

No. We are talking about licensed businesses. What our libertarian friends are effectively defending, as with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), is the right of businesses to refuse their services to anyone of whom they disapprove (including based on religious beliefs). By their logic, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 would have applied only to discrimination by the government -- while restaurants, shops, hotels and other places of public accommodation would have been able to continue refusing service to African Americans. No way. But do not call the libertarians sellouts: they are being true to their principles. I just think they are wrong. At some point we must check our principles against reality.

A further point: Personally, I would not want to hire someone for my wedding who disapproved of us. But that should be our choice. It should not be the right of a licensed business owner to discriminate without penalty.

Get real, Coca Cola

This update on a classic Coke commercial by Queer Nation NY is a powerful indictment of its sponsorship of the Sochi Olympics. I'm surprised that Coca Cola's lawyers haven't yet squashed it. Bravo to the folks who put this together.

Below is the trailer for Queer Nation NY's short film, The Road to Sochi. As you watch it, remember that there are people who are more offended by this kind of film than by the world's participation in Putin's Olympics. I mean, we cannot abide rudeness! Back in the 1960s, many Americans were outraged by singer Eartha Kitt's use of an appearance at the White House to protest the murderous, colonialist, and futile Vietnam War in front of President Johnson. She was blackballed for it. At this very moment, all around us are people who consider it obvious that following protocol trumps impolitic truth-telling. Otherwise, advocates for social justice would not have to work so hard. It's not that people cannot hear. They don't want to listen. That makes them much worse than sheep.

January 25, 2014

Deaf fullback Derrick Coleman responds to child's letter

Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman, who has been deaf since the age of 3 (and shown above in a Duracell commercial), responds to a deaf girl's letter. Beautiful and inspiring.

January 19, 2014

Trans Woman Commits Suicide Amid Fear of Outing by Sports Blog

Jezebel reports a tragic story in which a couple of ethical issues arise, including journalistic ethics. Bottom line: Dr. V's credentials fraud was separate from her gender identity and did not require disclosure of it.

January 08, 2014

Mark Lee: GLAA to score candidates on liquor protest reform

(Washington Blade file photo by Pete Exis)

Blade business columnist Mark Lee agrees with GLAA on liquor protest reform. (To be clear: this issue is one of 12 questions on our candidate questionnaire. You can find the full questionnaires for Mayor and D.C. Council at GLAA's Election Project page.) Lee writes:

No segment of D.C. residents is more familiar with the long-dysfunctional manner by which the District government conducts licensing procedures for alcohol-serving establishments than the LGBT community. Gay residents have witnessed firsthand and over many years a lengthy litany of renegade objections to the bar, restaurant, lounge and nightclub businesses serving our community and the neighborhoods we populate and patronize.

For that reason, it comes as no surprise that the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) has included in the organization’s mayoral and D.C. Council candidate rating questionnaire an inquiry whether the vote-seeker supports strengthening “reform of alcohol licensing to eliminate standing for non-representative groups.” ...

The ability of “Gang of 5” ad hoc groups – referencing the minimum number of objectors required – and special interest “citizens groups” to directly intervene in opposing licensing applications or renewals allows a vocal minority to exercise a power greater than the community as a whole. Such protests delay licensing and cost local small businesses tens of thousands of dollars – all in an attempt to deny or delay approvals in the hope of extracting operating restrictions.

Fairness advocates, gay and lesbian business owners, and an overwhelming majority of residents support requiring “stakeholders to participate in an equitable community process, as best provided by means of the ‘great weight’ accorded” the elected Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC), as GLAA specifies in its policy summary.

Click here for the write-up on this issue in GLAA's 2014 policy brief, "Building on Victory."

January 03, 2014

GLAA releases candidate questionnaires, LGBT policy brief

Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC
P.O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013

For Release:
Friday, January 3, 2014
Contact: Rick Rosendall

GLAA releases candidate questionnaires, LGBT policy brief

The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C., today launches its 2014 Election Project and releases its questionnaires for Mayoral and D.C. Council candidates plus its LGBT policy brief, "Building on Victory."

GLAA President Rick Rosendall stated, "GLAA gathered input from a wide range of local LGBT advocates including the DC Center, DC Trans Coalition (DCTC), Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV) and others. The result is 'Building on Victory,' the most comprehensive single document advancing LGBT issues in D.C."

On January 3, 2014, GLAA will email its questionnaires and policy brief to candidates in the April 1 D.C. primary election. The deadline for receipt of candidate responses is February 6, after which GLAA will assign ratings to the primary candidates (on a scale of -10 to +10) based on their questionnaire responses and their records on LGBT issues. GLAA does not endorse candidates in partisan elections.

Continue reading "GLAA releases candidate questionnaires, LGBT policy brief" »

November 09, 2013

Maher: Cheap of Faith

Bill Maher's latest salvo against un-Christlike Christians.

November 07, 2013

ENDA passes Senate

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act passes the U.S. Senate today on a vote of 64-32. Think Progress reports.

It now goes to the House, where Speaker Boehner has stated his opposition. But today is a big milestone. Congrats to all who worked over many years to bring us to this moment.

November 05, 2013

On religious exemptions in ENDA

Last night, Melanie Nathan of O-blog-dee-o-blog-da tweeted a link to a piece explaining that she, Heather Cronk, and others oppose ENDA for what they see as its over-broad religious exemptions:

Melanie Nathan ‏@MelanieNathan1
Why its important to write things that are sometimes not so popular to write... My Stats show that a few people... http://fb.me/12rJaCJZ2

140 characters were insufficient for my response, so I posted ten tweets:

Richard Rosendall ‏@RickRosendall
@MelanieNathan1 The religious exemptions are over-broad, but I say pass best achievable bill then push for more. 1 victory leads 2 another.

But our stds for equality may differ. I support right of homophobes to bar us from their marches, & our right to bar them.

You and Cronk seem to make your view of the perfect the enemy of the good, leaving us w/ nothing but preserving grievance.

In DC in 2009 we opposed broader religious exemptions in marriage equality bill & won. We had prepared for that fight.

In DC we stressed religious freedom, but blocked over-broad conscious clause that would erase our civil rights protections.

We are not yet able at national level to block over-broad religious clause. Answer is not to oppose bill but keep working.

Taking an all-or-nothing stance leaves us with nothing. I say continue to persuade and organize, include incremental gains.

Do you really believe that passing an imperfect ENDA would be end of LGBT mvmt, that the dissatisfied would all just quit?

It appears when you say we have no benchmark, what you mean is we don't all agree w/ you. Is that respectful? We disagree.

Having said all that, I'm glad you're criticizing over-broad exemptions. Opponents keep demanding more; push-back is needed.

November 04, 2013

Senate votes cloture to advance ENDA, 61-30

Chris Geidner reports. So far so good.

Thanks to all the bill's supporters, including the seven GOP "aye" votes: Ayotte, Collins, Hatch, Heller, Kirk, Portman, Toomey.

Anti-Gay Groups Rev Up Anti-ENDA Rhetoric As Senate Vote Nears

Right Wing Watch reports, just in time for today's cloture vote in the Senate:

As RWW has been documenting, anti-gay groups have been getting wildly over the top in their denunciations of the federal Employment Non Discrimination Act, which would add to federal anti-discrimination law protections against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. With a procedural vote in the Senate scheduled as early as Monday evening, anti-LGBT groups are getting increasingly shrill.

On Friday night, the Family Research Council blasted out a breathtakingly dishonest alert charging that under ENDA “employers would be forced to reward workers based on their sexual preferences.” FRC’s Tony Perkins called ENDA a “republic-altering piece of legislation that has the power to fundamentally destroy Americans' First Amendment rights.” ...

Also on Friday, the National Organization for Marriage blasted ENDA, calling it “a Trojan horse built to attack the foundational institution of marriage between a man and a woman.”

These Chicken Littles just don't quit.

October 31, 2013

ENDA secures support of all Democratic senators

Metro Weekly reports. With Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) coming on board in support, and today's swearing-in of pro-gay Sen. Cory Booker, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is one vote shy of the 60 votes it needs for a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate.

ENDA has no chance of passing in the GOP-controlled House, however.

October 26, 2013

More Women Are Literally Chopping Off Their Pinky Toes to Fit Into High Heels

(Image via rockey/Shutterstock)

Jezebel reports.

That's it. I will not marry any woman who does this to herself. Oh, wait.

October 24, 2013

Klingenschmitt: Gay Couples Demand To Have Sex In Your House

Right Wing Watch reports:

In an email alert attacking the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), “Dr. Chaps” Gordon Klingenschmitt warned that ENDA will “jail the Christians who refuse to celebrate gay weddings” and “bankrupt Christian employers.”

Klingenschmitt cited a case of a British bed and breakfast owner who lost a lawsuit after discriminating against a gay couple, warning: “the militant gays essentially demand ‘let us have sex in your house, or we will kick you out of your house.’”

Note to Mr. Klingenschmitt:

  1. A bed and breakfast is a business, not a private home.
  2. America is not governed by British law.
  3. Your lurid legal fantasies have likely caused lots of innocent people to wonder whether anyone, including your own spouse, wants to have sex in your house.
  4. "My eyes! My eyes!"

October 04, 2013

Summersgill comments on proposed "Body Art Establishment Regulations"

Our colleague Bob Summersgill has submitted the following comments on the above-referenced proposed regulations. (For more on this issue, see Mark Lee's commentary in the Blade.)

October 3, 2013

Angli Black
Office of the General Counsel
Department of Health
899 North Capitol Street, NE, Room 547
Washington, DC 20002
Via email: Angli.Black@dc.gov

Dear Mr. Black:

The proposed regulations, Subtitle G of Title 25, "Body Art Establishment Regulations," http://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Gateway/NoticeHome.aspx?noticeid=4534573 have two problems that should be removed. The two issues fail to advance the stated goal of the regulations and may be illegal.

101.1 The purpose of these regulations is to protect the public's health by keeping the District’s body art industry safe and sanitary.

Prohibiting customers suspected of having a communicable disease, Section 303.2 and elsewhere; and the waiting period, Section 204, are not related to this stated goal and should be removed. Further, there is nothing in the authorizing legislation, the "Regulation of Body Artists and Body Art Establishments Act of 2012," now Law 19-0193 http://dcclims1.dccouncil.us/images/00001/20120808161333.pdf, that allows for a waiting period or a ban on people with HIV or other communicable diseases—let alone suspected of having a disease—from getting tattoos or piercings. The proposed regulations are written to make this a lifetime ban.

Continue reading "Summersgill comments on proposed "Body Art Establishment Regulations"" »

August 06, 2013

Donald Graham on the Bezos purchase of WaPo

An interview with Donald Graham, chief exec at the Washington Post Company, on how the deal with Jeff Bezos developed.

August 05, 2013

Hand wringers and tit wringers


There has been much hand-wringing in the past several hours over the sale of The Washington Post for $250 million to Amazon's Jeff Bezos. There is little reason for such fretting other than silly romanticism regarding the history of newspaper ownership in this country. News is a business, and a fast-changing one. There are different sorts of owners, some braver and smarter and more committed to the enterprise than others. You cannot tell in advance who will thrive and who won't. With Mr. Bezos we'll just have to wait and see; but he was pitch perfect in his message to Post employees:

"I would highlight two kinds of courage the Grahams have shown as owners that I hope to channel. The first is the courage to say wait, be sure, slow down, get another source. Real people and their reputations, livelihoods and families are at stake. The second is the courage to say follow the story, no matter the cost. While I hope no one ever threatens to put one of my body parts through a wringer, if they do, thanks to Mrs. Graham’s example, I’ll be ready."

For those whose knowledge of the Watergate scandal of four decades ago is spotty, Bezos refers to the notorious threat by Richard Nixon's campaign manager and former attorney general, John Mitchell, against then Post publisher Katherine Graham via reporter Carl Bernstein, warning of the consequences if the paper did not stop its reporting on Nixon's crimes:

"All that crap you're putting in the paper, it's all been denied. Katie Graham's going to get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that's published. Good Christ, that's the most sickening thing I ever heard."

After the Post emerged from the Watergate scandal with its reporting vindicated and its reputation enhanced, Bernstein and Bob Woodward presented Mrs. Graham with an antique laundry wringer to thank her for standing up to the powerful in defense of her paper's mission. For Bezos to invoke the glory days of the paper he has purchased may turn out to have been merely a nice gesture. Time will tell. On the other hand, he just might mean it, which would be a very fine thing.

Update: BTW, Bezos gave $2.5 million to the successful fight for marriage equality in Washington state. That earns him some good will from me. He is a libertarian. He has given money to both Democrats and Republicans, but mostly to Democrats like Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

August 03, 2013

The misguided, self-indulgent, really not smart Stoli boycott

(Bar owners and city officials dump Stoli on Thursday in West Hollywood. AP photo)

Here are links to some stories and commentary on the attempt to respond to Russia's anti-gay repression by boycotting vodka made in Latvia by a gay-supportive Luxembourg-based company owned by a Russian who's been fighting with Vladimir Putin for years:

The last two on the above list, John Aravosis and Dan Savage, support the boycott. Savage launched it. I agree with the critic who said this is all tactics and no strategy. This is a poorly targeted effort that is more about making ourselves feel good than about actually helping LGBT Russians. But I suspect that Stoli would be happy to sell you all the bottles you need for your ceremonial dumping in the street.

July 25, 2013

DC United stadium deal threatens DC Center relocation


The land-swap deal to allow for the building of a new DC United soccer stadium at Buzzard Point was announced on Thursday morning by Mayor Vincent Gray.

Metro Weekly reports:

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray (D) and the owners of Major League Soccer's D.C. United soccer team Thursday morning announced the signing of a public-private partnership to build a soccer stadium in the city's Buzzard Point neighborhood of Southwest D.C. As announced, the deal includes a land swap that would end the planned relocation – already underway – of The DC Center, the city's LGBT community center, into the city-owned Frank D. Reeves Center at 2000 14th St. NW.

Under the terms of the deal, the city would assume the estimated $150 million for acquiring tracts of land bounded by 2nd, T, Half and R Streets SW, adjacent Fort McNair. D.C. United would then construct the stadium, expected to cost another $150 million, and related facilities at that site. District officials see the new stadium as a major component of a planned sports-and-retail district encompassing the neighborhoods along the Anacostia River, according to a statement from the mayor's office.

In return for the stadium land – currently owned by Akridge Development Corporation, Pepco and Mark Ein, owner of the Washington Kastles tennis franchise – the city would turn over rights to other District-owned properties, including the Reeves Center.

I went to the announcement in SW Thursday morning so I could back up David Mariner and the DC Center. Several of us in GLAA are DC United fans, and it's past time for the city to put a deal together to get us a soccer stadium. But the DC Center launched into a major effort in recent months and weeks in good faith after signing a long-term lease, and the city needs to do more than compensate the Center fairly--it needs to find the Center a permanent home that enables it to meet the community needs that it is serving, and not just find another make-do temporary space. David spoke with a few officials who said supportive things, and we will have to see how things go moving forward. GLAA VP for Political Affairs Charles Butler and I are conveying our concerns to District officials and will help our friends at the DC Center in any way we can as they navigate this challenging situation.

The Blade also reports. Another gay-related entity that may be affected by the stadium deal is gay nightclub Ziegfeld’s/Secrets, which is located on Half Street SW. While not under the footprint of the proposed stadium, the nightclub could be affected by related development.

Annie Kaylor dies at 85


Annie Kaylor, namesake of Annie's Paramount Steakhouse on 17th Street NW, died on July 24 at age 85. Metro Weekly reports:

To allow patrons and friends to pay their respects and honor Kaylor's long life and the mark she has left on this neighborhood that is home to so much of the city's LGBT history – as underscored by Frank Kameny Way, the specially named stretch of 17th Street on which Annie's sits – DeGuzman says the restaurant will hold a memorial event at the restaurant Tuesday, Aug. 20, what would have been Kaylor's 86th birthday, from 6 to 10 p.m., as a celebration of Kaylor's life.

The Blade also reports.

Annie was working behind the bar when I first went into Annie's (at its previous location down the street) in 1979. She helped set the tone for the restaurant's friendly, welcoming atmosphere that made it a gathering place for the gay community. I last saw her there a few months ago, having lunch with a friend in a booth by the bar. As always she had a warm greeting. May she rest in peace.

(Photo by Todd Franson, Metro Weekly)

July 19, 2013

Your patriotic duty

Why anyone would consult this clown on faith, the economy, or their patriotic duty is beyond me.

June 21, 2013

Paula Deen's apology: cheese and crackers