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September 04, 2014

R.I.P. Joan Rivers

Comedian Joan Rivers has died at age 81. Here is a 1986 appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, her trademark style on full display. May she rest in peace.

September 03, 2014

NYC St. Pat's Day parade lifts ban on gay groups

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(Photo by Damon Winter/The New York Times)

Marc Santora reports in NYT:

The organizers of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade said on Wednesday that they were lifting a ban on gay groups participating in the march, ending a policy that had prompted protests, court battles and bitter debate for decades.

The decision to allow a gay group to march under its own banner, first reported by The Irish Voice, came as Mayor Bill de Blasio threatened to once again boycott the parade and the organizers faced pressure from employees of NBC Universal, which broadcasts the festivities.

New York gays are not all happy at the decision.

Biden: ISIS destined for 'gates of hell'

Brian Brown: marriage equality 'house of cards collapsing' based on one ruling

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NOM's Brian Brown cannot let go. In response to a ruling by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman upholding Louisiana's gay marriage ban, Brown says in a press release:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) today praised federal court Judge Martin Feldman for ruling today that the US Constitution does not preclude the state of Louisiana from defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and that voters made a rational decision in doing so when they adopted the state's marriage amendment. Feldman becomes the third federal judge to have ruled that traditional marriage laws are not unconstitutional, and the first since the US Supreme Court issued their decision invalidating a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. A state judge in Tennessee has also ruled that the US constitution does not prohibit states from defining marriage a one man and one woman.

"Here we see the house of cards collapsing that supported the myth that redefining marriage is inevitable," said Brian S. Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "This decision by Judge Feldman in Louisiana is a great win for the cause of marriage, coming as it does on the heels of other pro-marriage court victories, that puts the lie to the claim that it is inevitable the US Supreme Court will redefine marriage. To the contrary, we believe they will leave this issue with the states."

Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog writes on Feldman's ruling. Click here for the ruling itself.

Michael Sam is signed to Dallas Cowboys practice squad

Sean Gregory at Time reports.

Below, AP reports.

Lysistrategy: no sex for these creeps

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Katie Halper at The Raw Story writes:

There is a rich and honorable historic tradition of sexual boycott for socio-political purposes. The practice was immortalized by Aristophanes in his comedy Lysistrata, in which the women of Greece abstain from sex to encourage their husbands and lovers to negotiate a peace and end the Peloponnesian War. “Lysistratic nonaction” has been seen more recently, in places like the Philippines, Colombia, Liberia, and Ukraine, with varying degrees of success.

Well, ladies, it’s time to take active non-action once again. There are some men in the news whose behavior really requires it. I am issuing a non-binding call for a sexual boycott. It is a crime against not only women, but, I would argue, humanity, to have any sexual relations with these men. Their behavior towards women cannot be sanctioned or condoned through sex. It must be punished through denial. Luckily as you will see from the list, abstaining won’t require too much will power.

Singer CeeLo Green tops the list for his bizarre suggestion, "People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!! If someone is passed out they’re not even WITH you consciously! so WITH Implies consent."

Regarding boycott target number 3 (Republicans), guys can show solidarity by entirely avoiding the men's room at Union Station.

(Hat tip: Pam Spaulding)

Palestinian parody about ISIS

Thanks to MEMRI for this glimpse into Middle Eastern political humor. Charlotte Alfred at HuffPo reports.

September 01, 2014

Marriage News Watch

Matt Baume of AFER gives an update on marriage equality cases.

Fischer goes for a cut, misses

AFA's Bryan Fischer rather desperately misrepresents the Rams' football-based decision to cut Michael Sam in order to make an unrelated point. Meanwhile, Breitbart in its report completely ignores Sam's strong performance in pre-season games, going back instead several months to before he was drafted.

Lucas Grindley reports at Advocate.com on Sam's situation. As Cyd Zeigler at Outsports says, the Rams' decision was based on the fact that it already has a strong defensive line. The fact that Sam was overlooked by every other NFL team, including teams like the Bengals and Patriots that needed pass rushers like him, suggest that something other than his merits was at play. Shame on the NFL.

Australian Politicians Back Out Of World Congress Of Families Event, Citing Far-Right Ties

Miranda Blue at Right Wing Watch reports:

A World Congress of Families event in Melbourne this week was supposed to feature speeches by three Australian government officials, including social services minister Kevin Andrews. Instead, all three have backed out in the face of criticism of the Illinois-based group’s promotion of harsh anti-gay and anti-choice laws around the world.

In addition, the Australian politicians had come under fire for the conference’s sponsorship by Catch the Fire ministries, a group run by far-right politician Danny Nalliah who has blamed wildfires on abortion rights and frequently lashes out against "multiculturalism." (Nalliah also happens to be an ally of bizarre birther WND columnist and RWW favorite Lord Monckton).

Andrews’ decision to back out of the WCF event is especially galling since the group had been planning to present him with its “Natural Family Man of the Year” award. In a somewhat confusing statement, Andrews criticized those asking him to back out of trying to “shut down debate” while agreeing with them that the WCF summit represented “intolerance.”

August 30, 2014

Michael Sam cut by St. Louis Rams

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(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat)

Outsports reports. Any other NFL team can pick him up in the next 24 hours. Very disappointing, but it's not over yet. Sam tweeted:

I responded:

McCain and sidekick weigh in on Obama and ISIL

NYT offers a preview of the Sunday morning political shows on its op-ed page.

As predictable as the dawn. This week the President is a hapless weakling; next week, if he issues an executive order on immigration, he'll be a tyrant. It would be nice if those interviewing McCain and his closeted and overcompensating sidekick would ask them how their hawkish approach worked under Mr. Obama's predecessor. But the media has been much more interested in the President's haberdashery.

August 29, 2014

Which marriage case will SCOTUS pick?

Richard Wolf at USA Today examines the pros and cons of various state marriage equality cases being chosen for review by the Supreme Court of the United States. My bet is on Utah.

Daily Show mocks ESPN focus on Michael Sam's showering habits

Samantha Bee normally annoys me, but this is funny. Michael Sam outclasses the people who persist in trying to marginalize him with their locker room fantasies. Rooting for you, Mike.

As for Mike's performance as a football player and his chances of making the final roster cut Saturday, more coverage here and here.

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August 28, 2014

Colbert Report: Outrage in Ferguson

Jon Stewart on #Ferguson: Race/Off

Excessive Force

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(Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

My column this week discusses the police abuses and racial injustice exposed by a recent police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. Here's an excerpt:

When civil disorder followed the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, it was fueled by police aggression that exacerbated existing community mistrust.

Ferguson police, overwhelmingly white in a community two-thirds black, offered a case study in how not to handle lawful protests. While failing to release a proper incident report and initially withholding Wilson’s name, they put out information to imply Brown deserved his fate. Never mind the double standard whereby (say) gun-waving white radicals like Cliven Bundy in Nevada are spared deadly force.

As police innovated daily escalations (infringing First Amendment freedoms, firing tear gas and rubber bullets at reporters and peaceful protesters), community leaders including Alderman Antonio French urged restraint, blocked looters, and transmitted events on social media. Capt. Ron Johnson of the state highway patrol showed maturity by replacing riot gear with respectful community engagement, though events (and some headstrong officers) outflanked him.

Live tweets and subsequent reports reveal belligerent officers with a history of abuse. While demonstrators chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot,” outsiders instigated violence that gave police an excuse to “drop the hammer,” as SiriusXM radio host Mark Thompson put it. A Missouri GOP official called on-scene voter registration efforts “disgusting.” So pointing guns at protesters is not a provocation, but registering voters is?

Read the whole thing at Metro Weekly.

Love Is Strange

This movie about an older gay couple opens Friday at Landmark E Street Cinema. Randy Shulman in Metro Weekly interviews stars Alfred Molina and John Lithgow.

August 27, 2014

Posner's most brutal audio clips grilling marriage equality opponents

Mark Joseph Stern at Slate has excerpted a string of audio clips from Tuesday's 7th Circuit hearing on the Indiana and Wisconsin gay marriage bans, in which conservative Judge Richard Posner quietly and brutally exposes the bankruptcy of the state governments' position.

Listening to the audio has a much more powerful impact than just reading Posner's words on the page. I think this is going to be a legendary moment when the history of this struggle is written. Judge Posner is devastating.

Grindr security glitch?

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John Aravosis at AMERICAblog reports:

The wildly popular gay dating app “Grindr” is facing accusations that a glitch in its system is giving away the actual location of its users to anyone with a Web connection.

The charge, first reported by NDTV – which I tested and found to be accurate — is that someone not even signed in to the phone/tablet application can find the location of any Grindr user to within about 100 feet.

Among the locales in which gays were detected by my test of the security breach: Turkey, Jordan, the British House of Commons, and the DC headquarters of the Republican National Committee.

(Update: Using the Grindr security glitch, I just found three gays in Kampala, Uganda; and a colleage found two inside the Russian state Duma (parliament), and one inside the Kremlin itself.)

Grindr claims it's not a bug, it's a feature.

Pat Robertson says gay teen needs male role model

My advice is to stop seeking advice from Pat Robertson.

7th Circuit judges grill state lawyers over Indiana and Wisconsin gay marriage bans

Richard-Posner

The Daily Mail reports on Tuesday's hearing before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on the Indiana and Wisconsin gay marriage bans:

Richard Posner, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, hit the backers of the ban the hardest. He balked when Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Timothy Samuelson repeatedly pointed to "tradition" as the underlying justification for barring gay marriage.

"It was tradition to not allow blacks and whites to marry — a tradition that got swept away," the 75-year-old judge said. Prohibition of same-sex marriage, Posner said, derives from "a tradition of hate ... and savage discrimination" of homosexuals....

Posner, who has a reputation for making lawyers before him squirm, cut off Indiana Solicitor General Thomas Fisher just moments into his presentation and frequently chided him to answer his questions.

At one point, Posner ran through a list of psychological strains the children of unmarried same-sex couples suffered, including having to struggle to grasp why their schoolmates' parents were married and theirs weren't.

"What horrible stuff," Posner said. What benefit to society in barring gay marriage, he asked, outweighs that kind of harm to children? ...

At one point, a visibly uncomfortable Samuelson struggled to offer a specific reason for how gay marriage bans benefit society. He then noted a yellow courtroom light was on signaling his allotted time was nearly up.

"It won't save you," Judge Ann Claire Williams, a Bill Clinton appointee, told him, prompting laughter in court.

(Photo of Judge Richard Posner courtesy University of Chicago Law School)

Commission charts path for open transgender military service

Justin Snow reports at Metro Weekly:

More than three months after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the White House voiced support for a review of the military’s ban on transgender service, a new report finds the Pentagon could immediately open the armed services to transgender Americans in a way that is consistent with military readiness and core values.

Michael Sam survives first round of roster cuts

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(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat)

Outsports reports that Rams defensive end Michael Sam survived the first round of roster cuts on Tuesday. He will get a chance to make a further case for himself in the fourth pre-season game on August 28. This week we've been watching Sam's sack against Johnny Manziel from last Saturday. Below is his sack that clinched the win for Mizzou eight months ago in the Cotton Bowl.

August 26, 2014

Rams teammate disses ESPN for shower obsession over Michael Sam

Michael Sam's Rams teammate Chris Long offered the above succinct comment to ESPN for its ridiculous dwelling on Sam's showering habits.

Story at Yahoo Sports.

August 25, 2014

Michael Brown's funeral service

Video of Michael Brown's funeral service, held Monday at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. May he rest in peace.

New Yorker cover: Ferguson, MO

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Beautiful New Yorker cover this week, by Eric Drooker. Hands up, don't shoot.

August 24, 2014

I'd call that a drive-by fruiting

In addition to being spot-on, this commentary by Aussie comedian Adam Hills is a beautiful tribute to Robin Williams. Helloooooo!

In what may spell the end times for the deranged Phelps family, they have accepted the offer by Hills to pay their first-class fare to Iraq (and pay the carbon offset) to protest anti-Christian persecution by the radical Islamic group ISIS. And just as a sweet reminder, a scene that illustrates why the late actor and comedian reviled by the Phelps loons is so beloved.

Sacking Johnny Football

Michael Sam enhanced his chances of making the Rams roster with two sacks against Johnny Manziel. This guy plays his heart out, and he has a feel for the theater of it.

August 22, 2014

Fischer: God Will Use ISIS To Punish America For Gay Rights

Kyle Mantyla reports at Right Wing Watch on the latest lunacy from Bryan Fischer of AFA.

News outlets misgender Detroit shooting victims

Raw Story reports.

Oh dear lord.

Don't say David Horowitz can't get any crazier

Brian Tashman at Right Wing Watch has the latest craziness from David Horowitz. Here's a sample:

Obama is an anti-American radical and I'm actually sure he's a Muslim, he certainly isn't a Christian. He's a pretend Christian in the same way he's a pretend American. It really is disgraceful. He's inviting the terrorists to behead more Americans when he should be attacking them with our military. His whole agenda in office has been to defeat America, he lost the war in Iraq deliberately, he created a vacuum which ISIS has filled.

Click on the link above for audio clips.

Eugene Delgaudio's latest

Anti-gay crackpot Eugene Delgaudio's latest cry against gay people taking away his religious liberty.

Federal Judge Rules Florida Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

TPM reports.

Read the ruling here.

Meanwhile, Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog reads the high court's signals on same-sex marriage.

August 21, 2014

Fayetteville mayor successfully urges passage of non-discrimination ordinance

Fayetteville, Arkansas mayor Lioneld Jordan strongly advocated an anti-discrimination ordinance in the early hours of August 20. It was then passed by the city council. Congrats to the people of Fayetteville and their elected leaders.

Rhee steps down from Students First

Conor P. Williams at TPM writes about the departure of former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michele Rhee from the group Students First.

Williams notes that education reform is extremely difficult, and that Rhee had her strengths. I grant that. But I confess that I disliked Rhee from the moment she took over DCPS. Her imperious manner, her contempt for large numbers of stakeholders (such as parents in the eastern half of the District), her undemocratic approach, and her demonization of teachers all worked against the cooperation essential to sustaining reforms. The people who cheered her and her tone-deaf boss Fenty should be ashamed of themselves; instead, they dug in and focused on getting revenge on his successor.

Reforming public institutions is hard. But efforts to bypass the hard slog of political give and take in favor of imposing top-down solutions, as demonstrated by the recent experience in Newark, NJ, are bound to have harsh encounters with reality down the road.

Smithsonian adds LGBT history to collection

AP reports some good news on the museum front.

This has been in the works for some time. Eight years ago, for example, the Smithsonian acquired about a dozen picket signs from the first gay rights picket at the White House, which was led by Frank Kameny in 1965. That acquisition was thanks to the Kameny Papers Project and the efforts of Charles Francis and Bob Witeck.

Congrats to our friend, photographer Patsy Lynch, for her contributions to the museum's collection. She commented on Facebook, "I am very honored and humble and excited to know that some of my work is now in a vaulted museum and will soon be available for more people to see."

Grievance mongers find what they're looking for

A curious article appeared in the online version of the Blade on August 15, written by Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez and Heather Cronk and titled, "LGBT success comes from diverse communities." In it they take objection to a quote by Robert Raben of The Raben Group in a previous article. He was remarking on the power of white privilege, but Sousa-Rodriquez and Cronk managed to turn this into a claim "that only white men can secure progress," as they put it. They took great issue with this. The trouble with this is that it is simply not what Raben said.

I posted the following reply:

The authors should re-read the article. They have seriously misconstrued Robert Raben’s remarks. He did not say that only white men can secure progress. He was noting the power of white privilege, not (to say the very least!) endorsing white supremacy. He is known as someone who continually spends his privilege to empower all. During our community’s preparations for passage of marriage equality in DC, which we won five years ago, Robert was as clear as anyone about how crucial it was for our city’s effort and its public voice to reflect the diversity of our community. He must have gasped at being so badly misunderstood by these writers, whose interpretation is approximately the opposite of what he and his firm uphold.

As Barney Frank used to say, some of us are working to create change; but some people just want to complain.

August 19, 2014

Pat Robertson: some people 'enjoy their sickness'

Pam Bondi on gay marriage, pot and doing her job

Florida AG Pam Bondi says y'all can just stay in limbo until SCOTUS rules.