Sunday, August 31, 2008

People Who Need Palin

Barbra Streisand takes a dim view of Sarah Palin.
For months, John McCain and the Republicans went after Barack Obama for lacking the experience they felt was necessary in order to be commander in chief. Yet, on this day, an aging John McCain, who is the oldest Presidential nominee in history, chose a running mate—a person that is just a heart beat away from the Presidency—that has no foreign policy experience, no national experience and limited state government experience…. a virtual unknown who has only been Governor for a less than 2 years of a state with a population of fewer than 680,000 people…a woman who condemns a woman’s right to choose.

I believe John McCain chose Gov. Palin because he truly believes that women who supported Hillary—an experienced, brilliant, life-long public servant--would vote for him because his Vice President has two x chromosomes. McCain’s selection of Governor Palin is a transparent and irresponsible decision all in the name of trying to win this election.

John McCain has served this country. No one in this election is denying him that. But his selection of Governor Palin has demonstrated that he is willing to put his desperation to win this election above the welfare of the American people. As someone who has spent over 40 years advocating on behalf of women both politically and philanthropically, as someone who was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and as someone who cares deeply about the health and welfare of all women, hear me Senator McCain: “This calculated, cynical ploy to pull away a small percentage of Hillary's women voters from Barack Obama will not work. We are not that stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Pawpaw, can you hear her?

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Straight Pride Parade: Attendance Zero

The things I do for you people, getting up at the asscrack of the Lord's Day to trek out to Brooklyn's Crown Heights for the much-hyped Straight Pride Parade. As you can see, however, I found the corner of Flatbush and Church, the parade's supposed 10am starting point, completely deserted. Damn, and here I wanted a Straight Pride t-shirt.

I did see a good number of cars whizzing by that were festooned with flags from Jamaica and other Caribbean nations, but those were probably just folks getting ready for tomorrow's massive West Indian Day Parade. Just to make sure I hadn't missed the fun, I popped into a few shops to inquire if anybody had seen a parade this morning. The manager of Raquel Shoes told me, "I've been here since 8:30am. It's been totally quiet all morning." Curious, considering this dumbass press release I got two weeks ago:
With the straight pride parade in New York City only two weeks away, Reggae continues to defend itself against the recent boycotts of the music. The main purpose of the parade is to get rid of some of the negative stereotypes that, according to the TCOOO label, has been attributed to not only the Reggae community, but to Jamaica and Jamaicans in general.

Some Reggae artists believe that reggae music has been unfairly targeted. Stapler from the TCOOO label and the artist behind "Hit them hard," the song at the root of the straight pride parade, believes the gay community targets Reggae because 99 percent of the artists are African American. "Eminem dissed them and they protested a little, then Eminem performed on stage with Elton John and all was forgiven," said Stapler. "Beenie man went on the Ru-Paul show so why are gays still bent on destroying Reggae music?"

Massicker from the TCOOO label took it a step further, saying, "Look at the Reggae artists that they target. They go after Buju Banton and Sizzla, but they don't bother a Sean Paul or a Damian Marley. When Damian Marley said, 'Funny man get drop like a bad habit,' what do they think a funnyman is? A funnyman is a homosexual, so are they afraid to challenge a Marley, or is he not Black enough for the homosexual community to try and destroy?"
The press release directs you the website of TCOOO, the organizing reggae label, but there's no mention of the parade there today. Nothing on their MySpace page either. I at least expected to find a couple of reporters lurking around, but the only folks on the street seemed to be morning shoppers. Most of the shops were just opening, with employees placing speakers outside their doors to pump out reggae, soca, and calypso. That got me jonesing for some jerk chicken or goat stew, but it was too early so I had to settle for a delicious pastry from Ken's Jamaican Bakery.

Who knows, maybe I blinked and missed a handful of haters marching up Church Avenue wearing Buju Banton t-shirts. What a laughable non-event. And that, my tender kittens, is a very good thing.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gustav At Category 4, Mayor Orders Tourists Out, Southern Decadence Says "Business As Usual"

The mandatory evacuation of New Orleans proper is scheduled to begin at 8am Sunday, the airport has announced that the final departures will be tomorrow afternoon, and in telling the hotels to close, the Mayor just said, "Tourists, it's time to leave the city. Do not wait."

And yet the latest update (embiggen above) of the official Southern Decadence site proclaims: "Southern Decadence is still on! (It has not been canceled.)" What are these people thinking? Even if this all turns into a big close call (and let's hope it does), at this stage of the game it feels quite irresponsible of the organizers not to have made the call to end the party by now. No hotels, no flights out, a mandatory evacuation, all with 24 hours. These people are cutting things dangerously close.

UPDATE: The organizers of Southern Decadence have finally called it.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Caption This

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The Real Sarah Palin

Duncan Osbourne at Gay City News lays out the not-really-so-gay-friendly background on Sarah Palin.
Palin became governor in 2006 after serving as a councilwoman and then mayor of a small Alaskan town. She made an unsuccessful run at becoming Alaska's lieutenant governor in 2002. Palin has confronted a single piece of gay rights legislation in that time.

In 2005, Alaska's highest court ruled, in a case brought in 1999 on behalf of nine couples, that the state could not deny benefits to the domestic partners of state government employees. The court ordered the state to implement that ruling in late 2006.

The ruling was seen by right wingers as conflicting with a 1998 amendment to the Alaska Constitution, passed by voters in a ballot referendum, that defined marriage as solely between one man and one woman. The Republican-dominated State Legislature passed a bill that barred the state's administrative agency from implementing the ruling. Palin vetoed it.

"The Department of Law advised me that this bill... is unconstitutional given the recent court order... mandating same-sex benefits," Palin said in a statement. "With that in mind, signing this bill would be in direct violation of my oath of office."

The statement added, "The governor's veto does not signal any change or modification to her disagreement with the action and order by the Alaska Supreme Court. It is the governor's intention to work with the Legislature and to give the people of Alaska an opportunity to express their wishes and intentions whether these benefits should continue."

Eight days before signing the veto, Palin signed another bill that called for a "statewide advisory vote" regarding the ruling from Alaska's high court, saying in a statement, "We may disagree with the rationale behind the ruling, but our responsibility is to proceed forward with the law and follow the Constitution... I disagree with the recent court decision because I feel as though Alaskans spoke on this issue with its overwhelming support for a Constitutional Amendment in 1998 which defined marriage as between a man and woman. But the Supreme Court has spoken and the state will abide."

The ACLU's Mittman framed the way the bill calling for the statewide advisory played out in the ongoing controversy about the high court's order. "Then what happened was the anti-gay forces came up with what they called an advisory vote," he said. "It was essentially a way for anti-LGBT people to try and rally public opinion to try and move their agenda forward."

In 2007, the state spent an estimated $1 million to hold that vote and Alaskans expressed their opposition to the court ruling by a narrow margin. The vote did not have the effect of making law.
The McCain campaign has very effectively spun the veto to show Palin, 44, as sympathetic toward the gay and lesbian community.
And here's Palin admitting very recently that she has no idea what the vice president actually does.

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Vice Presidents I'd Like To......
(Well, Not ME, Actually)

Isn't the Interwebs wunnerful?

(Tipped by JMG reader Alan)
(Tip update: Alan found this via Dan Savage)

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Gustav Impact Zone Tightens, Louisiana Evacuations Begin

Hurricane forecasters have tightened the probable landfall zone for Gustav and are now saying it may come ashore slightly west of New Orleans, putting the city squarely on the wrong side of the storm's worst winds and flooding. An evacuation of Louisiana's barrier islands is underway at this writing. A mandatory evacuation of Lafourche Parish begins at 8am tomorrow. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin is in a planning session with Gov. Bobby Jindal and Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff to determine when to make the call to evacuate New Orleans. Jindal says the order may come later tonight or tomorrow morning, depending on the next few hours of the storm's movement. Jindal has ordered the National Guard to prepare to move into the city to protect business areas from looting.

UPDATE: Forecasters now say that Hurricane Gustav will likely be a Category 4 storm when it reaches land. Mayor Ray Nagin says the evacuation order for New Orleans will likely come tomorrow. My contact at Southern Decadence says events will go on as planned until an official order to evacuate is issued.

UPDATE II: Voluntary evacuations have begun in New Orleans. The mandatory evacuation order for the six New Orleans parishes will be given at noon Saturday unless the storm stalls.

UPDATE IV: The latest bulletin from the Associated Press says the mandatory evacuation is on for New Orleans and six surrounding parishes. French Quarter hotels have begun shutting down.
New Orleans police with bullhorns plan to go street to street with a tough message about getting out ahead of Hurricane Gustav: This time there will be no shelter of last resort. The doors to the Superdome will be locked. Those who stay will be on their own.

Authorities issued the warning Friday as new forecasts made it increasingly clear that New Orleans will get some kind of hit — direct or indirect — as early as Monday. And those among New Orleans' 310,000 residents who ignore orders to leave accept "all responsibility for themselves and their loved ones," said the city's emergency preparedness director, Jerry Sneed.

Several parishes in the New Orleans area announced plans for mandatory evacuations beginning Saturday. Mayor Ray Nagin said it was possible thousands of people who need city help could start moving out Saturday as the first wave of a full-scale evacuation.

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Bigger Than Idol, Oscars, Olympics

Huge numbers for Obama's speech last night.
Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was seen by more than 38 million people. Nielsen Media Research said more people watched Obama speak than watched the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, the final "American Idol" or the Academy Awards this year. Obama talked before a live audience of 80,000 people in Denver. His TV audience nearly doubled the amount of people who watched John Kerry accept the Democratic nomination to run against President Bush four years ago. Kerry's speech was seen by just over 20 million people. Obama's audience might be higher, since Nielsen didn't have an estimate for how many people watched Obama on PBS or C-SPAN Thursday night.
Of course, the other shows weren't on every channel.

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Florida Marriage Ban May Fail

The haters in Florida are falling short in the polls in their campaign for a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.
The Mason-Dixon poll, taken for The Orlando Sentinel, shows that 57 percent of voters support the amendment while 36 perecent said they intend to vote against it. Florida’s constitution requires a 60 percent majority to amend the document.

With a four percent margin of error in the poll results are too close to say the amendment is likely to be defeated, but most political analysts say usually such voter initiatives start out with a large percentage which becomes whittled down as opponents make voters aware of the issues and consequences.

The issue likely will be determined by the seven percent who said they were undecided. A broad coalition of LGBT groups and their allies say they are mounting a massive campaign to defeat the amendment. The proposed amendment says, “Inasmuch as marriage is the legal union of only one man and one woman, no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.”
Same sex marriage is already banned in Florida but the Christianist group Florida4Marriage wants it extra banned.

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That Was Fast

(Via Slog)

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They Can Always Ask Larry Craig

The Virginia delegation to the Republican Convention has canceled their order of a guide to the Twin Cities because it includes, GASP, a listing of local gay bars.
The campaign for Virginia's Lt. Governor Bill Bolling ordered 150 of the guides to give to Virginia delegates as gifts when they arrived in the Twin Cities. But after reviewing the guide and finding it had a six-page section for gays and lesbians, they canceled their order, said AJ Kiefer, The Rake's advertising director. Kiefer said The Rake agreed to refund the campaign's money.
According to some bloggers, postings on the M4M section of Craigslist exploded by 80% during the Democrat convention. Wanna bet it triples or more for the Republicans?

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Log Cabin Republicans Like Sarah Palin

Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Patrick Sammon: "Alaska Governor Sarah Palin can help Sen. McCain win this election by appealing to independent and young voters. She's a mainstream Republican who will unite the Party and serve John McCain well as Vice President. Gov. Palin is an inclusive Republican who will help Sen. McCain appeal to gay and lesbian voters."

The LCR hasn't made an endorsement of McCain yet, but you can bet it's coming now.

Palin appears to be a Yankee Doodle dream. Beauty queen, enjoys hunting and fishing, working class husband, five kids, one disabled, and her oldest son is in Iraq. Oh and she just took pains to point out that he enlisted last year on September 11th.

UPDATE: The Human Rights Campaign hates her. HRC head Joe Solmonese: "America may not know much about Sarah Palin, but based on what our community has seen of her, we know enough. Sarah Palin not only supported the 1998 Alaska constitutional amendment banning marriage equality but, in her less than two years as Governor, even expressed the extreme position of supporting stripping away domestic partner benefits for state workers. When you can't even support giving our community the rights to health insurance and pension benefits, it's a frightening window into where she stands on equality."

UPDATE II: The Palins are quite the photogenic couple.UPDATE III: Palin's daughters are named Willow and Piper, after the witches in Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. Maybe she really does have gay friends.

UPDATE IV: It was too funny to be true. Willow is a town in Alaska and Piper was named for the local aircraft company. Rats. That could have been fun.

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LPGA: Learn English Or No Golf For You!

The Ladies Professional Golf Association has given their players two years to learn English or they will not be allowed to play.
Concerned about its appeal to sponsors, the women’s professional golf tour, which in recent years has been dominated by foreign-born players, has warned its members that they must become conversant in English by 2009 or face suspension.

“We live in a sports-entertainment environment,” said Libba Galloway, the deputy commissioner of the tour, the Ladies Professional Golf Association. “For an athlete to be successful today in the sports entertainment world we live in, they need to be great performers on and off the course, and being able to communicate effectively with sponsors and fans is a big part of this.

“Being a U.S.-based tour, and with the majority of our fan base, pro-am contestants, sponsors and participants being English speaking, we think it is important for our players to effectively communicate in English.” The L.P.G.A. and the other professional golf tours, unlike professional team sports, are dependent on their relationships with corporate sponsors for their financial survival.
The LPGA is frustrated because an increasing number of tour stars are Koreans who cannot conduct post-play interviews or shill for advertisers. No other major sports league has such a rule, but in fairness, the all-male leagues do not suffer from lack of sponsorship. The LPGA's new rule is likely to run afoul of "nation of origin" discrimination laws in some states where their tournaments take place.

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McCain Picks Female Running Mate,
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

John McCain has picked 44 year-old Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. It's a stunning decision and one that will be greatly controversial. Here come the Hillerites! A mother of five, Palin is a former beauty queen who was runner-up in Miss Alaska 1984. Palin has been governor for two years, before that she was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska from 1996-2002, then was Ethics Commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from 2003-2006.

Palin is currently under investigation by the Alaska legislature for firing that state's Commissioner of Public Safety, Walter Monegan, after he allegedly refused to fire a state trooper who had been married to Palin's sister. After the trooper's marriage to Palin's sister ended in great acrimony, he was briefly suspended for threatening to kill Palin's father. Palin asserts that she only fired Monegan because he "was not a team player" on budget issues.

I'll have more on this after McCain's noon speech.

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Christianists At The Gay Journo Convention

Some Christian outfit called the Culture and Media Institute infiltrated attended the NLGJA Convention in DC last weekend. Here's their recap.
It’s spelled NLGJA, but they pronounce it “Negligee.” [JMG: Never heard this, but it IS funny.] The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) just held its annual convention here in Washington D.C., attracting hundreds of journalists – and ringing endorsements – from virtually every major publication and broadcaster in the news media.

In a full-page ad in the convention program, NBC Universal declared it is “proud to support NLGJA,” under the bold headline: “YOUR VICTORIES ARE OUR VICTORIES.”

After listening to speaker after speaker express hatred and contempt for political and religious conservatives while plotting how to advance the homosexual activist agenda through journalism, I’m left wondering whether Americans know the extent of the media’s bias on homosexual issues. Do they know that the news media have thrown themselves fully behind the gay rights movement? Every major news organization sponsored the convention, bought space in the program or had recruiting booths.
[snip]
On a partisan level, the conferees clearly leaned toward the Democrats. One speaker frankly admitted that the homosexual activist community generally expects most gays to be Democrats. [JMG: This might have been me] Two panels touched on a partisan controversy raging in the homosexual community: James Kirchick, Assistant Editor of The New Republic, said gays are “shocked” and “up in arms” because the owner of “Manhunt,” a very popular same-sex “dating” site, contributes money to presumptive GOP presidential candidate John McCain. [JMG: But this turkey fails to note that Kerchick strongly disagreed, so much for HIS objectivity.]
[snip]
NLGJA members generally view themselves as members of an oppressed minority group, which suggests they’re likely to bring a political agenda to their journalism. The NLGJA convention doesn’t seem to be a likely place to find objective reporters. Nevertheless, most of the top organizations in journalism sent recruiters: The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, AP, NPR, Bloomberg, even conservative-leaning Fox. The poor Fox recruiter seemed lonely.

The political and ideological bias so readily apparent at the NLGJA convention reflects a glaring problem in the news industry as a whole. Reporting the news objectively is still a matter of professional pride to most journalists, but many also have bigger fish to fry.
The Culture and Media Institute's tagline: Advancing Truth and Virtue in the Public Square.

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CA: Gay Prisoners Can Marry

Gay prison inmates in California will be able to marry their non-imprisoned partners.
Gay inmates in state prisons and county jails will soon be able to marry their partners, as long as their spouse is not also incarcerated, prison and jail operators said Thursday. State prison and county jail overseers were putting finishing touches on the new policy to follow the state Supreme Court ruling in May legalizing gay marriage. Gay inmates would have the same marriage rights as their straight counterparts, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman said.

"Inmates can marry noninmates; there is no requirements based on gender, as long as they're outside the prison walls," Michele Kane said. "But we're not changing our inmate-to-inmate policy. ... Safety and security, those are the top priorities right now."

Neither gay nor straight inmates will be able to marry other prisoners, even if they're in different facilities, Kane said. Prison operators worry that allowing fellow inmates to marry could lead to safety issues, Kane said. "One of our main safety concerns are if prisoners found out how much money or assets another prisoner may have; if they are a powerful inmate, they may force the other inmate to marry them and lay claim to their property," she said. Contra Costa jails are watching the state prison system's policy and the November election. Proposition 8, a constitutional initiative that would invalidate same-sex marriages could render any policy decision moot.
Whether prisoners in the same prison will be able to marry has not yet been determined.

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Morning View - Woolworth Building

Almost 100 years after its 1913 construction, the neo-Gothic 57-story Woolworth Building is still among the 50 tallest buildings in the US and is the 15th tallest building in NYC. The lobby of the Woolworth is unbelievably ornate, but since 9/11 has been closed to all but those who work in the tower. Today you know the former Woolworth Corporation as Foot Locker. I did a Morning View of the Woolworth Building some time last year, but this photo came out better. It's one of my favorite buildings in the world.

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Obama's Complete Speech


I'll have more thoughts tomorrow, I'm beat.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

"We Have Our Differences"

In the waning minutes of his address, Barack Obama made an acknowledgment of gay rights that seemed meant to both encourage LGBT followers and reassure others that he isn't in our evil clutches: "I know we have our differences on same sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination." The audience roared in the affirmative as the camera cut to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who applauded without expression. I'm not entirely disappointed with Obama's mention, but I think an unequivocal message of support was called for.

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McCain's Post-Obama Speech Ad


John McCain will air this kind acknowledgment of Obama's achievement on this "historic day" immediately after the conclusion of Obama's speech tonight. If nothing else, McCain is very, very good at playing the nice guy, all while his Rovian minions wreak behind-the-scenes bullshit.

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Southern Decadence Update

I got an email from someone affiliated with Southern Decadence who suggests keeping an eye on their official site regarding updates on the status of the events. At this writing, no events have been canceled, but numerous JMG readers have reported that their hotels are telling them that an evacuation of New Orleans may begin long before Gustav's landfall is known. You can still get there, but you may end up getting evacuated far from the city and out of reach of your return flight. Things look slightly more dire than they did yesterday.

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Good News: Prop 8 Losing In Latest Poll

According to the latest poll, the ballot referendum to ban gay marriage in California is in serious trouble.
A majority of likely voters, 54 percent, oppose ending gay marriage, compared with 40 percent who support it, the poll said. The result is similar to the findings of a Field Poll in July, which found that 51 percent of likely California voters opposed ending gay marriage, while 42 percent said they supported it. But when it comes to general attitudes about gay marriage, voters in the Public Policy Institute poll are evenly split, at 47 percent for and against — as they have been for the past three years. "It's early in the campaign season, and in the end the vote on this measure ... could be hard to predict," Baldassare said. "Overall views on gay marriage have not budged."
Ballot referendums that start out behind in the polls have rarely been approved.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: A person working inside the No On 8 campaign (who prefers to be unnamed) reports that their internal polling does NOT reveal as rosy a picture as the above-linked poll. The source strongly cautioned against complacency even if published reports seem to indicate we are ahead. There are numerous sites accepting donations for their fight for marriage equality. Go to Equality For All which is a massive coalition of LGBT and progressive groups working on your behalf.

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On Melissa Etheridge And The Boy Scouts

JMG reader Andy in Fort Lauderdale writes:
Last night at the democratic national convention, Melissa Etheridge sang a medley which included Irving Berlin's "God Bless America". All royalties from performances of "God Bless America" are assigned to the Boys and Girls Scouts of America. The Boy Scouts are an avowedly anti-gay discriminatory organization. Etheridge could have easily chosen "America the Beautiful", "This Land is Your Land", or "Power and Glory" for a suitably patriotic song. I'm not really that pissed, but I think it shows a lack of knowledge and/or sensitivity on the part of Etheridge or whoever told her to sing that song. It's sort of like giving money to McCain.
Andy raises an interesting point. Perhaps Etheridge should have gone with America The Beautiful, which, as JMG reader Michael pointed out in an email, was written by presumed lesbian Katherine Lee Bates. A little Sapphic nod would have been nice, yes? I generally like Irving Berlin, but God Bless America should have been retired when Kate Smith died.

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Can Lightning Strike Twice?

On the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream speech at the 1963 March On Washington, many are hoping that tonight Barack Obama can somehow recapture the excitement and optimism of that day.
Many veterans of the march will gather at televisions in their living rooms Thursday night, or sit with friends and old comrades and watch an event they would have considered impossible not just in 1963, but perhaps in 1983, or 1993. Theirs is often a cautious optimism; time has left them with a sense of the provisional nature of progress.

David R. Jones, now president of the Community Service Society in New York, recalled milling about in Washington in 1963, a 15-year-old there with classmates from a lefty school in Manhattan. Then Dr. King began to speak, and they fell quiet. “I never saw that kind of a speech,” Mr. Jones said.
Some of you have written to ask that I make sure to mention today that the March On Washington would not have happened without Bayard Rustin, the openly gay advisor to MLK and the chief organizer of the march. In 1986, the year before he died, Rustin said, "The barometer of where one is on human rights questions is no longer the black community, it's the gay community. Because it is the community which is most easily mistreated." Tonight Barack Obama should honor Bayard Rustin and make a strong and unwavering statement of support for the LGBT community during what will surely be the most watched speech of his life. I have a dream.

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McCain Wants To Upstage Obama Tonight

Barack Obama will be making the most important speech of his life tonight when he accepts the Democratic nomination and John McCain is planning to steal the show. According to the Drudge Report, McCain's camp plans to leak his VP pick at 6pm and then give some sort of confirmation at 8pm. Classy all the way. So much for the tradition of the opposing camp laying low during the other side's convention. Really, really a slimeball move.

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Daily Grumble

The shelves of the Walgreens on the UES are already groaning under the weight of Halloween crapola. Reindeer blow-pops and singing Santas are probably already in the stockroom.

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O' Hail The Messiah Lord Obama


This clip was created by wacko conservative radio star Glenn Beck. It's to the tune of the national anthem of the former USSR and while Beck means it as a rip on Obama, you gotta admit it's damn funny. "Hope for the change of the hope for the change."

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Kerry, Clinton, Biden, Biden


The best line of the night came from Clinton: "People around the world have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power." But man, did John Kerry ever hit it out of the park. If only he spoke like this at his own convention.

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NYC's HIV Rate 3X That Of Nation

NYC's rate of new HIV infections is three times that of the rest of the country.
Based on a new model for tracking recent infections developed by the Centers for Disease Control, city health officials estimated that 72 out of every 100,000 New Yorkers contracted the virus that causes AIDS in 2006, compared with 23 out of every 100,000 individuals in America. Overall, 4,800 New Yorkers became infected with HIV that year, including 3,863 New York City residents.

According to the department's calculations, 50% of the new infections — about 2,372 cases — occurred among men who had sex with other men, while 8%, or 372, came from intravenous drug use. The vast majority of cases occurred among men, who accounted for 76% of infections in 2006. Nearly half of the new infections, 46%, occurred among black New Yorkers, while those between the ages of 30 and 39 accounted for 29% of the new infections.
The city distributed 38 million free condoms last year and expects to exceed that number in 2008, despite the complaints of people like the Catholic League's Bill Donohue, who says, "When you promiscuously distribute it on the street corners, as if it were a lollipop, you're sending a message, however unwittingly, that this is kind of casual." See how he worked "promiscuous" into a sentence about condom distribution?

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This Is My Body, Eat Me

Holy ham slice, you can't make it up. Speaking of burning pictures onto food, a commenter on the below-linked source reminded me about the much more fun Hello Kitty toaster. If I recall correctly, my SF friend Ggreg Taylor had his Hello Kitty toaster stolen during a party. The thief then taunted him by holding it for ransom and posting photos on the internet of its imminent destruction. "This is your Hello Kitty toaster...in TRAFFIC!"

(Via - By The Bayou)

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Obama's Surprise Appearance At DNC


After Joe Biden's acceptance speech, Barack Obama made a surprise appearance at the convention. Obama was not expected to show until his acceptance speech tonight.

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94% Of Fortune 500 Protect Gays

The Equality Forum reports that 471 of the nation's 500 biggest companies now include sexual orientation in their employment discrimination protections. That number represents a massive improvement from 2003 when only 323 companies did so. Almost half of the remaining non-compliant companies are headquartered in Texas. Those companies are on the chart to the left, ranked by annual revenue. It should go without saying that the passage of ENDA would obviate lists such as this.

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Gay Families Chose Outer Boroughs

An interesting survey from the Williams Institute shows that while 38% of NYC's gay couples live in Manhattan, almost all couples with children live in the outer boroughs.
While Manhattan's gay couples are hitting the city's hot nightclubs, their counterparts in The Bronx are more likely to be reading kids bedtime stories, a new survey has found. Despite being home to barely 11 percent of the city's gay couples, The Bronx accounts for 32 percent of all children in the Big Apple being raised by such partners, the city's highest rate.

In contrast, Manhattan's gay couples are much less likely to have kids. Just 8.5 percent of children in the city's same-sex households live in Manhattan, despite the borough having 38 percent of New York City's gay homes, according to a report from UCLA's Williams Institute.

Nearly half of The Bronx's gay households are raising kids - a rate that nearly matches the 55 percent of married straight couples in the borough who have children. "I've never seen any jurisdiction [in the United States] where those figures are that close," said Gary Gates, senior research fellow at the Williams Institute. Gates added that same-sex couples of ethnic minorities "are much more likely" than their white counterparts to have children, a factor that could explain The Bronx's higher rate of gay-household kids. Another factor is that in areas like The Bronx that have relatively low numbers of gay couples, such couples are much more likely to have children, he said.
You coulda fooled me, what with all those gay daddies pushing strollers through the Village.

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Morning View - Bridge Over Troubled Water

Some folks are pissed off because the salty spray from Olafur Eliasson's forgettable Waterfalls installation is killing the trees near Brooklyn Bridge Park. (Note the brownness on the right.) The Parks Department has sent in tree experts to work on the problem. On the upside, this photo embiggens nicely.

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Open Thread Thursday

Dave Freeman, the co-author of the massive bestseller 100 Things To Do Before You Die, died this week at age 47 from a fall in his home. Freeman's premature death brings to mind the equally ironic death of The Art Of Jogging author Jim Fixx, who died while jogging. But Freeman's demise does give rise to this week's Open Thread.

What do you want to do before you die?

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Please Not Again!

My buddy Little Tom just canceled his trip to Southern Decadence as Tropical Storm Gustav appears like it may be heading for New Orleans.
On the eve of Hurricane Katrina's third anniversary, a nervous New Orleans watched Wednesday as another storm threatened to test what the city has rebuilt. Forecasters warned that Hurricane Gustav could hit on Labor Day somewhere along a swath of the Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle to Texas -- with New Orleans smack in the middle. Taking no chances, city officials began planning to evacuate and lock down the city in hopes of avoiding the catastrophe that followed Katrina in 2005. Mayor Ray Nagin left the Democratic National Convention in Denver to return home for the preparations.
Forecasters are predicting that Gustav may reach Category 3 as it churns over the warm waters of the Gulf this weekend. You never want to hope that a hurricane hits any particular area, but lets cross our fingers that New Orleans is spared.

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Obama Nominated By Acclamation


As planned, when the nomination roll call got to New York, Sen. Clinton stopped the proceedings and asked that Barack Obama be nominated by general voice acclamation. It's official and it's history.

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LGBT Activism Pioneer Del Martin
Has Died At Age 87

Del Martin (at right above in a photo from 2004) has died at age 87 in San Francisco. Phyllis Lyon, her wife of 55 years, was by her side. The co-founder of the world's first lesbian rights organization and with Lyon the first gay person to legally marry in California, Del Martin lived a long, proud, beautiful life of service to LGBT people worldwide.

Via the National Center For Lesbian Rights:
Martin was one of the nation’s first and most visible lesbian rights activists who dedicated her life to combating homophobia, sexism, violence, and racism. Martin’s many contributions to the LGBT movement will resonate for decades to come.

“Today the LGBT movement lost a real hero,” said Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “For all of Del’s life, she was an activist and organizer even before we knew what those terms meant. Her last act of public activism was her most personal—marrying the love of her life after 55 years. In the wake of losing her, we recognize with heightened clarity the most poignant and responsible way to honor her legacy is to preserve the right of marriage for same-sex couples, thereby providing the dignity and respect that Del and Phyllis’ love deserved.”
Del Martin never stopped fighting for you and for me and her legacy will live on in the hearts of LGBT people everywhere. It's a sad day for all of us, but that sadness is tempered by Del Martin's example that people on the side of good will, ultimately, triumph.

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San Diego Hyatt CFO: Gay Boycott Could Cost Millions

As LGBT and labor groups continue their boycott of Doug Manchester's hotel properties in San Diego, the CFO of the company has warned executives that the losses may be in the millions. Several large groups have canceled conventions at the hotel since the boycott launched.
Officials at the Manchester Financial Group have argued for weeks that a boycott by gay rights and union groups hasn't hurt business at its two San Diego hotels, the Manchester Grand Hyatt and The Grand Del Mar. But a top company official, in an e-mail obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune, painted a different picture, saying the boycott could have dire consequences for hotel owner Doug Manchester that could cost him millions of dollars in lost business.

In a July 29 e-mail to Manchester, Paul Wilkins, chief financial officer for the group, said he believed “this boycott effort will cost you millions of dollars of lost revenue and possibly tens of millions of dollars in lost value for both the Manchester Grand Hyatt and The Grand Del Mar.”

Wilkins, who did not return several phone calls seeking comment, also warned about the dangers of alienating the gay community, which he called a “large and very affluent market segment.” Further, he said The Grand Del Mar “is still struggling financially” 10 months after opening and the “absolute last thing The Grand needs right now is a boycott.”
Wilkins warned that the boycott could extend to the entire Hyatt chain, earning the San Diego franchise the wrath of the parent company. The boycott was launched when it was learned that franchise owner Doug Manchester had donated $125K to organizers of the anti-gay marriage referendum.

At the NLGJA convention in DC last weekend, I met Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate, a pro-gay marriage group that organized in response to Doug Manchester's donation. Go to their site for the latest updates on the boycott and for news on the status of Proposition 8.

[Photo Credit: Peter Tatchell at the Manchester Hyatt by Rex Wockner]

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"It's Time To Stop Doing Tina!"

Leave it to Broadway and Pushing Daisies star Kristin Chenoweth to make crystal meth addiction hilarious. Funniest thing I've seen in weeks. So many great lines and totally totally totally NSFW.

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Iraqi Gays: Things Were Better Under Saddam Hussein

Under Saddam Hussein, gay life in Iraq existed relatively peacefully in a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" sort of vein. Since the US invasion and the rise of sharia law, gays have been routinely rounded up, raped and murdered. Most gay men in Iraq now live hidden and terrified. Iraqi officials generally refuse to even discuss the situation and those that do say that gays are getting what's coming to them.

Via Newsweek:
Even relatively liberal people in Iraq seem to have harsh attitudes toward this subject. "These people are not welcome in the society because they are against the social, natural and religious rules," said one well-educated Iraqi who did not want to be identified more closely. A Baghdad executive said religion and tradition have made the overwhelming majority of Iraqis hostile to homosexuals. "Nobody is interested in talking about this at all," he says with a grim chuckle. A handful of gay men told NEWSWEEK harrowing stories about being cast out of their homes or savagely attacked by the storm troopers of virtue: Shia extremists among Badr Corps operatives (many of whom are now in the Iraqi Security Forces) or groups like the Mahdi Army, and sometimes both. But when told of such atrocities one Iraqi acquaintance blamed the victims, calling them "the lowest humans."

Persecution of gays will stop only if Iraqis can abandon centuries-old prejudices. They would have to acknowledge that human rights don't cover only the humans they like. Insisting that gays are just a few undesirable perverts who "should be killed"--as one Iraqi who works in journalism put it--encourages an atmosphere of impunity no matter the offense. Killing gays becomes "honorable." And raping them is OK because it isn't considered a homosexual act--only being penetrated or providing oral sex is.
A small underground network of safe houses helps to shield Iraqi gays from violence. The UK-based organization Iraqi LGBT raises money for this operation and works to help gays with asylum claims if they are able to flee the country. The group has a PayPal page set up to accept donations.

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Michelle Obama Speaks To LGBT Caucus


Yesterday Michelle Obama made a surprise unannounced appearance at the Democratic convention's LGBT caucus.

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NYC Tabs Split On Hillary Speech

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San Diego Police: Killed Cruise Dancer Had Meth, Ketamine In His System

According to autopsy results released yesterday, methamphetamine and ketamine were found in the system of Steven Paul Hirschfield, the go-go dancer shot and killed by San Diego Harbor Police last month after he mysteriously jumped overboard during the gay pride cruise where he had performed. The report also shows that Hirschfield was shot in the back with a police-issued hollow-point bullet which exited his chest near his heart. The death has been ruled a homicide and the two involved officers are back on administrative-only duty.

It remains unknown why Hirschfield jumped overboard or why he allegedly attacked the police attempting to rescue him. If the police are to be believed, some may draw conclusions from the reported presence of drugs in his system. Hirschfield's parents have filed a federal lawsuit demanding $20M from the police department and the firing officer, claiming the police acted out of anti-gay bias, with their lawyer saying that Hirschfield was "executed." Earlier this month Hirshfield's sister told reporters, "He is not violent. I have not seen him hit anybody in my life. It doesn’t make any sense.”

PERSONAL NOTE: Hirschfield dated a female friend of my best friend in Orlando. My friend entertained Hirschfield and his girlfriend in his home many times and reports that he appeared to be straight. While Hirschfield primarily performed at gay events, his sexual orientation remains unclear.

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Lesbian.com T-Shirt Gets Woman Bounced From CA Social Security Office

Homophobic rent-a-cops strike again. A 31 year-old California woman was booted from the Van Nuys Social Security office because of her Lesbian.com t-shirt.
A routine trip to the Social Security office Monday turned into 30 minutes of shock, disbelief and irritation for Lapriss Gilbert, who was forced to leave the federal building by a guard who objected to her "lesbian.com" T-shirt.

As she headed for a line to pick up a Social Security card for her son, Gilbert was stopped by a guard who said her T-shirt, naming an educational and resource Web site for gay women, was offensive. She said the guard, who works for a private company hired by the Department of Homeland Security, demanded that she leave the building or face arrest.

"As an African-American and a lesbian, I haven't been through one day without facing some sort of discrimination ... but this is just shocking," said Gilbert, 31. Lori Haley, a federal spokeswoman for the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement - which is under the Homeland Security umbrella - said the guard was out of line.

"We believe that the actions of the contract security guard were inappropriate and unacceptable - we have notified his company, Paragon, of our position in the matter," Haley said. A security guard identified by Lapriss Gilbert as the one who told her to leave declined to comment. The guard cited the document, The Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property, as proof of his jurisdiction over Gilbert's attire, she said. The document does not specifically address what type of clothing is allowed in federal buildings.
After her ejection, Gilbert put her mother, who just happens to be a lesbian activist, on the case.
Tanya Gilbert said she plans to contact her attorney today to file a lawsuit against the Paragon Security Company. "In 30 years as an activist, this is one of the most unsettling things I have seen. When she called me I told her to wait right there," said Tanya Gilbert, who recently moved to the Van Nuys area from Chicago.

When the mother arrived, she called the LAPD to protest her daughter's removal. But before four Los Angeles police officers arrived with at least one federal agent, Lapriss was told she could come back into the building and was escorted to the front of the line by another Paragon security guard.
Mama to the rescue!

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Gay Mayor Of Paris To Run For President Of France In 2012

Wildly popular Paris mayor Betrand Delanoe has announced that he will seek the leadership of his Socialist Party and afterwards will seek the presidency of France.
Delanoe’s declaration in an interview with Le Monde newspaper puts to rest months of speculation. “Yes, I will put all my energy at the service of my beliefs,” the mayor told Le Monde newspaper when asked if he would run.

In March Delanoe romped to an easy re-election as Paris mayor, fueling speculation his Socialist Party would tap him to run against President Sarkozy in 2012. If he were to win the presidency it would make Delanoe the first openly gay man in modern times to lead a major power.

In 1998, while he was a relatively obscure city councilor, Delanoe came out in a television interview, breaking an unwritten French law that a politician’s private life should remain private. He later said that friends urged him not to go public, but that he overruled them because of the good he felt it would do to advance gay rights. “Would not my intervention help even if only in a small way to lighten the burden of secrecy borne by so many people,” he wrote in his 2004 biography.

In 2001 Delanoe was elected the capital’s first ever Socialist mayor and the first gay person to head a city government in a major city.
You may recall that shortly after he was elected, Delanoe was brutally stabbed by a homophobe and spent weeks in the hospital. As horrible as that was, I can't imagine that a viable openly gay presidential candidate in the United States would survive much longer than his nomination. Interestingly, Delanoe's greatest support comes from France's poor and working classes.

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Morning View - Worldwide Plaza

Built in 1989 in Hell's Kitchen, Worldwide Plaza comprises three buildings between 49th and 50th streets on Eighth Avenue. One Worldwide, the tallest at 41 stories, is an office building where major ad agencies live. Ugh, the meetings I've had there. The shorter similar building to its left is all condos. A business acquaintance of mine works on the 21st floor of One and lives on the 21st floor of Two. For real. Three Worldwide is a low-rise mixed use building not visible here. The builders got a height waiver for One by putting a large plaza between the buildings, a common zoning evasion here in NYC.

Underneath that plaza is the fabulous New World Stages, a five theater complex that used to be cinemas, but now hosts some pretty great Off-Broadway productions. That's where I saw Die Mommy Die, Evil Dead: The Musical, and the heinous Mimi Le Duck (whose only saving grace was the too-brief presence of Eartha Kitt.) Eternal gay favorites Naked Boys Singing and Altar Boyz have been playing at the New World for years. Most of my friends have disagreed, but I rather like Worldwide Plaza.

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The Idiocy Of Anne Price-Mills

It killed me that very fucking first person CNN interviewed after Hillary's speech, before they even allowed the commentators to speak, was ultra diehard PUMA and Hillary delegate Anne Price-Mills, who says that she will still vote for Hillary for the nomination and that she may sit out the general election. DID SHE NOT HEAR THE SPEECH? Watch her sob through her disappointment and anger. "You know that was presidential. You know it!"

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Hillary Hits A Home Run At DNC

Quite simply one of the best political speeches I've ever seen. Strident when appropriate, soft when needed, but ultimately a complete home run. Let's hope she turned around a lot of those McCain Democrats. The complete speech is below in three parts.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hillary Clinton: "Equality From Women's Rights To Gay Rights"

Hillary gave us a shout out in the first few minutes of her speech. Fantastic. Taking pictures off my TV doesn't always work well, but man, her new face looks great. She looks ten years younger. Just now: "No way. No how. No McCain." The speech is starting great, I'll have the video here as soon as possible.

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The McSame Ol' Tune


One of Obama's tougher attack ads. Without the advent of YouTube, we wouldn't have a new campaign ad every.single.day. Good thing?

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HomoQuotable - James Kirchick

"The hue and cry over [Manhunt founder] Crutchley's politics is all too familiar. Why can't gay activists countenance the idea of a "Massachusetts Republican"? Liberal intolerance. In the minds of too many on the left, gay people (like women and ethnic minorities) have to be liberal and support Democratic candidates. To do otherwise -- that is, to have opinions on issues (even issues utterly unrelated to gay rights) that don't follow the left-wing line -- is to be a traitor to the gay "community."

"For too long, many gay-rights activists have acted as if throwing temper tantrums will magically bring about their political agenda. But labeling everyone with whom they don't agree a "bigot" does not help the worthy cause of gay equality.

"The truth of the matter is that civil rights for gays can't come about without the help of Republicans. And this means that gay people -- and straight supporters of gay equality -- need to stand with, not silence, people like Crutchley who are working to change the GOP from within.

"Gays need only look to California, where a state Supreme Court loaded with Republican appointees legalized gay marriage and the Republican governor is one of the most powerful pro-gay publicly elected officials in the country, to understand the importance of making gay rights a bipartisan cause.

"Gayness is a sexual orientation, not a political one. Aside from their sexuality, gay people are no different from heterosexuals. There are gay people of all races, income levels, occupations, body types and, yes, political beliefs. Gay liberals are always crowing about the importance of "diversity" and lauding its importance on matters of race and gender. Too bad diversity doesn't count when it comes to politics." - New Republic assistant editor and neocon James Kerchick, in an Op-Ed piece published in today's Los Angeles Times.

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McCain On Leno


John McCain appeared on The Tonight Show last night, walking out to a standing ovation from the audience. Leno had opened with a monologue litany of old man jokes and McCain continued with jokes of his own. "My security number is 8." As always, McCain is smooth and charming and gets some deserved laughs when he offers his VP slot to Leno. In Part 2, McCain predictably launches into the tired "Noun, verb, POW" theme. What worries me the most about McCain is how damned likeable he can seem. The majority of American voters probably only have a faint idea of what McCain's party stands for, they only see the smiling soft-spoken nice guy.

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Free Yard Sign Offer

In response to yesterday's post about the anti-gay marriage yard sign campaign in California, I got an email from the folks at Austin-based Build A Sign who are giving away 100,000 self-customized yard signs to people who want to get involved in this year's voter issues.
"This is a historic election year for our country and, as a sign company, we're really excited about having an opportunity to get involved in a meaningful way. I've read articles about people who have already donated cash to their candidate's campaign and are frustrated about having to also pay for a yard sign. To us, this giveaway is a great way to make sure that those people still stay involved in the national dialogue in a visible way, but now their sign can be unique and it's free! "
The signs come on 18"x 24" corrugated plastic. One free per customer, shipping is $5, extra signs are $5. You can also make your own bumpers stickers at 10 for $2.50. And if like me, you don't have a yard, you can putz around on their sign generator as I did below.

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Lunching On Broadway

Would you take your lunch in the middle of Broadway? The surprise remodel that I told you about last month is already finished and the Times is reporting that it's a huge hit, even though office workers are predicting imminent death and gore.
"It’s a death trap,” Mr. Sachinis, a network administrator for a garment company, said with a laugh. “It’ll be up for a month and then somebody’ll get hit and they’ll take it down.”

“I like it, though,” said Ms. Ong, an administrative assistant, who observed that a pedestrian would be no safer on the sidewalk than on the esplanade if a car lost control. Besides, she said, the esplanade was a good spot for people watching. “That’s why you live in New York,” she said, “to watch everything go by.”
The city swears that the "barrier" of planters is safe and that they are spaced so that a vehicle couldn't get through. Seems dicey to me.

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Michelle Obama At The DNC


Here's Michelle Obama's historic speech at the Democratic Convention last night. I pulled the C-SPAN version so you don't have to endure the ridiculous CNN crap that I complained about last night.

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HomoQuotable - Andrew Tobias

"About the only guy who seems to have done really well these last eight years is a guy with a private jet and so many homes that he loses count. In just the last eight years, the Republicans have cut the value of the U.S. dollar almost in half and added $4 trillion to our children's debt. They've done this in just eight years. And now they want four more?

"As an investor, I yearn for a president who looks to financial heroes, not corporate lobbyists, for economic advice. As a gay man, I yearn for a president who believes in equal rights for all Americans. But most of all, as an American, I yearn for a president that the world can root for and be inspired by. Because having much of the world on our side again would not only be good for our national security, it would be good for business. Vote Obama, my fellow Democrats. Because, boy, do we ever need a change" - Democratic National Committee treasurer and openly gay man Andrew Tobias, speaking from the podium of the convention last night.

Tobias is the author of numerous best-selling books on finance and investing, but you may also know him by his pre-out pen name John Reid, the name he used for his 1973 memoir The Best Little Boy In The World. That book had a great impact on me as a young queer.

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Arkansas: Christianists Get Anti-Gay Adoption Bill On November Ballot

Christian activists in Arkansas have secured the required signatures to have a ban on gays adopting or fostering children put on the November ballot. The new law would also forbid straight unmarried couples from adopting.
Secretary of State Charlie Daniels certified the proposed initiated act for the Nov. 4 ballot after verifying that the Arkansas Family Council Action Committee had submitted 85,389 valid signatures of registered voters. Supporters needed to turn in at least 61,974 valid signatures.

"Arkansas needs to affirm the importance of married mothers and fathers," Family Council President Jerry Cox said. "We need to publicly affirm the gold standard of rearing children whenever we can. The state standard should be as close to that gold standard of married mom and dad homes as possible."

The Family Council campaign is a response to a 2006 Arkansas Supreme Court decision striking down a state policy that specifically banned gays and lesbians from becoming foster parents.

The ballot measure would take the place of a state policy that currently bars unmarried couples living together from serving as foster parents. The measure faces the threat of a lawsuit from groups who say that it unfairly discriminates against unmarried couples and limits the number of foster and adoptive homes available for children.
The Arkansas Family Council is affiliated with James Dobson's Focus On The Family. Gay rights activists are planning a lawsuit, saying they have found many fraudulent signatures on the petition and that the ballot amendment is unconstitutional.

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RNC Platform Calls For Gay Marriage Ban

A revised and much shorter draft of the Republican National Convention platform calls for a constitutional ban on gay marriage. But the Log Cabin Republicans' Scott Tucker is unconcerned.
Despite the stylistic change, familiar divisions are back as Republicans debate the principles over two days and strive for a united front behind McCain. That means bridging some differences, detouring around others. The platform draft calls for constitutional bans on abortion and gay marriage, two steps McCain does not support.

Sharp divisions still exist in the party on social issues, but there appeared to be little taste for complicating McCain's chances by mounting a symbolic platform fight as the document is hashed out in Minneapolis.

"This isn't a hill we're going to die on," said Scott Tucker, a spokesman for the gay rights group Log Cabin Republicans. Tucker said his group is "more interested in substance than symbolism" and believes McCain to be an "inclusive candidate who understands that our party needs to reach out to all Americans to win this election."
Bwa ha ha ha.

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