Sunday, December 07, 2008

At The LGBT Blogger Convention

I'm spending the weekend in Washington DC attending the National LGBT Bloggers Summit, where many gay activism bloggers have gathered to discuss the future of the movement and the role of bloggers in shaping the direction we take. The event is the brainchild of (in)famous outer Mike Rogers (BlogActive, PageOneQ).

Several major LGBT activism groups are taking part in the summit (HRC, Task Force, Victory Fund) and it's been quite fascinating so far. And yesterday I had the pleasure of finally meeting in person some of my personal blog heroes such as Pam Spaulding. I'll provide a fuller recap of the convention tomorrow, but for now below is a slideshow of the first two days. You should recognize quite a few of your favorite bloggers and LGBT activists. Check out recaps already up from Pam Spaulding, Andres Duque, and Father Tony (who is here as part of the Bilerico Project team.)

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Huckabee: Yeah, Gay People Get Beaten - But What About The Stryofoam Cross Lady?

Last month former Arkansas governor and failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee appeared on The View to say that gays had not been beaten up enough to deserve the comparison between the gay rights movement and the black civil rights movement.

At a book signing in Lansing, Michigan on Wednesday, Huckabee acknowledged to Todd Heywood of the Michigan Messenger that there is violence against LGBT people, but immediately brought up the Stryofoam Cross Lady and that bizarre church service disruption committed by "anarchists" in the name of marriage equality as examples of "violence" perpetrated by gays against Christians.

Via Think Progress:

Q: Are you saying the LGBT community does not suffer violence?

HUCKABEE: No, I think they do. And so do the Christians. It was in Michigan that people barged into a church and were rather violent —

Q: Have you seen the video of that incident?


Q: It wasn’t actually particularly violent.

HUCKABEE: Well, it was certainly disruptive. In California, when some peaceful protesters, including a 79-year-old lady by the name of Phyllis, was out holding a cross, it was violently taken from her and stomped. I don’t think there’s justice in that.

Q: What about the 50-year-old gay man who was beaten yesterday in Salt Lake City?

HUCKABEE: Nobody justifies any violence on anyone.

Huckabee went on to explain his opposition to all hate crimes legislation. The video below is audio-only from the book signing.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Facebook Oops Of The Week

That's Barack Obama's head speechwriter on the left, groping a standee of Hillary Clinton, his new co-worker. Via WaPo:
Question No. 58 in the transition team vetting document for the Obama White House asks that applicants: "Please provide the URL address of any websites that feature you in either a personal or professional capacity (e.g. Facebook, My Space, etc.)" Question No. 63 asks that applicants "please provide any other information ... that could ... be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect."

For a while there this afternoon, President-elect Barack Obama's immensely talented chief speechwriter, 27-year-old Jon Favreau, might have been pondering how to address that question. That's when some interesting photos of a recent party he attended -- including one where he's dancing with a life-sized cardboard cut-out of secretary of state-designate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and another where he's placed his hand on the cardboard former first lady's chest while a friend is offering her lips a beer -- popped up on Facebook for about two hours. The photos were quickly taken down -- along with every other photo Favreau had of himself on the popular social networking site, save for one profile headshot.

Asked about the photos, Favreau, who was recently appointed director of speechwriting for the White House, declined comment. A transition official said that Favreau had "reached out to Senator Clinton to offer an apology."
And here the only Facebook photos I've had to take down are the ones in which I magically look hammered.

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HRC Responds To Beckett Fund Ad

The Human Rights Campaign has posted a response to today's ad by the Beckett Fund in the New York Times. It reads in part:
Today, members of the Human Rights Campaign's Religion Council responded forcefully to a full-page ad in the New York Times that implies there is an organized attempt to foment mob intimidation and violence toward the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints due to its actions dehumanizing lesbian and gay people in the recent election campaign, particularly in California around passage of Proposition 8, which stripped gay families of the right to a civil marriage. The ad was sponsored by, a project of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

When did the LDS Church become the victim? It’s hard to believe, but that is exactly what it is trying to convince the public of. It is continuing to spend an excess of dollars in an attempt to mislead the public and transform its image. But the truth is that this is the same church that conducted a national broadcast to every temple, calling on members to organize and write checks to the Prop 8 campaign. The same church that donated more than half of the $40 million behind Prop 8, even though California Mormons represent just 2 percent of the state's population. Yes, it’s the same church.

Don’t allow them to replace the truth with their own version of the truth. Use our Religion Council’s message today to take action and demand the truth:

Click here to write a letter to the New York Times
Click here to send an email to the Becket Fund, the organization that paid for the misleading New York Times ad
Click here to share your personal story with and let them know how the passage of Prop 8 affected your life
The response goes on to list several quotes from members of their Religious Council. My favorite (emphasis mine):
"Several signatories to the ad are generals in the culture wars," said Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Church (Epsicopal), Pasadena, Calif. "They lied about gay people in the campaign, and now they are lying again when they say we are in favor of mob intimidation and violence. I personally talked legitimately angry demonstrators in California out of such action and every credible LGBT organization called for peaceful resistance to the Prop 8 travesty. Many of the leaders cited in this ad preach hate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, then look the other way when LGBT people are the victims of hate crimes. This ad is an act of individual and corporate hypocrisy."

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Ssion - Warm Glove

My pal A.J. Fox has begun music blogging for the NY Press, and this is his first entry.
Kansas City's dance punk collective Ssion, hitting Webster Hall Dec. 17 & 18—has released an unusual new video in support of the single "Warm Glove" off of the album Fool's Gold. Before the song even starts, the group makes you—or, depending on your viewpoint, lets you—sit through a full ninety seconds of a bloated leather daddy guzzling God-knows-what from a gas can. (The lyrics suggest it is most likely attitude that the fellow is drowning himself in.) Like any daddy worth his boot polish, the band makes all the foreplay worth your while; when it finally arrives, the song is a sleazy stomper and the rest of the video a playful hoot. While the performance scenes are a little reminiscent of the only-in-the-movies Christmas drag show in Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, the whole thing is a remarkably realistic depiction of the time an acid-infused individual-who-is-totally-not-me got cock-blocked by someone in a fur suit at long-gone East Village filth fest The Hole. (Which is now East Village filth fest The Cock)
Delightfully freaky.

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Full Page Ad From Beckett Fund In NYT Decries "Bigotry" Of Marriage Protests

As I reported here on Tuesday, today the Beckett Fund published a full page ad in the New York Times decrying the recent protests against the Mormon Church (and others) for their support of Proposition 8.

You'll have to embiggen the image above to read it, but the main quote is: "The violence and intimidation directed at the LDS or 'Mormon' church, and other religious organizations - and even against individual believers - simply because they supported Proposition 8 is an outrage that must stop." The message is cosigned by individuals heading numerous religious groups including the Orthodox Jewish Federation and the Catholic League, as well as Martin Luther King's niece, Alveda King.

The ad directs readers to, which asks for signatures supporting a campaign to "expose and publicly shame anyone who resorts to the rhetoric of anti-religious bigotry — against any faith, on any side of any cause, for any reason."

HILARIOUS! They are asking for support to do EXACTLY what WE have been doing: exposing and publicly shaming anyone who resorts to anti-gay bigotry. So it's HATE when we do it, but OK when they do. How fucking typical.

You'll note that they decry the "violence" of the anti-Prop 8 protests, but remain as silent as always about the uncountable brutal attacks against LGBT people which are committed EVERY DAY of EVERY YEAR by people trained by THEM to hate gay people from the moment they know what the word means.

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Christians Demand Apology For
Prop 8 - The Musical

The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission wants an apology from actor Jack Black and the other participants in Prop 8 - The Musical, which I posted here on Wednesday.
In a short video posted on entitled, "Prop 8 The Musical," an all star cast of Hollywood celebrities perform a low budget musical farce that defames Christ, mocks Christians and distorts the teaching of the Bible.

"Jack Black should remember from his days at Hebrew School that homosexual acts aren't funny and are roundly condemned in the Bible," said Dr. Gary Cass, of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission. "Appearing as a sarcastic, rotund Christ, Black distorts the Bible and condones shameful, homosexual acts. Associating Christ with perverse activity is an affront to all people of faith, especially Christians. Apparently Black and company find it hilarious to falsely accuse Christians while they intentionally distort the Bible. Black ought to apologize."
The irony, it burns. Asking for an apology while simultaneously calling the other side shameful and perverse? Classic Christianist bullshit. (Not to mention the dig at Black's weight.) If you'd like to call "Dr." Gary Cass on his shit over at the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, his number is 760-630-2232.

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Mount Assmore

Copyranter emailed to tip us to this image he found on a gay German travel site. From his guest post on Coilhouse:
Mount Assmore! This is truly one of the funniest ads (click here for closer look) I’ve seen in my 20 years in this fucked-up business. It’s for German website, who for over 12 years, have made “gay and lesbian travel dreams come true…” according to the highly reliable Google translate function. This week, the Epica Awards, “Europe’s Premier Creative Awards,” announced that this cheeky execution had a won a silver in the press and poster category. I’m sorry, but it totally smokes the gold winner. I usually poo-poo this hackneyed ad visual technique of manipulating well-known landmarks (Rushmore has been abused many times), but this one is just so wonderfully bizarre, and apropos! So, to the Presidential asses! Teddy (second from right) has the roundest rump, but Abraham’s (far right) is the tightest tushy. Poor George (left) has the flattest … I wonder what the open-minded, DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act)-supporting South Dakotans (and the equable Bill O’Reilly!) would think of this sullying of their state treasure?
Note the signage in the photo: "The other side of America."

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Sen. Caroline Kennedy?

According to ABC News, NY Gov. David Paterson is talking to Caroline Kennedy about filling Hillary Clinton's seat in the Senate.

Another Senator Kennedy? The crazy speculation about Hillary Clinton's Senate seat may not be so crazy after all. A Democrat who would know tells ABC News that New York governor David Paterson has talked to Caroline Kennedy about taking the seat, which was once held by her uncle, Robert F. Kennedy. It’s not exactly shocking that Paterson would reach out to one of the most highly respected public figures in New York, but this is: Sources say Kennedy is considering it, and has not ruled out coming to Washington to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate.

A few years ago, the famously private Caroline Kennedy would be the last Kennedy expected to serve in Congress, but of course, she took on a much more high-profile role during the presidential campaign and, if she does it, would be more than New York’s junior Senator; she’d have closer ties to the Obama White House than any of her colleagues, a direct line to the East Wing. When Robert Kennedy, Jr. took himself out of the running for the seat earlier this week, he told Jonathan Hicks of the New York Times, “Caroline Kennedy would be the perfect choice if she would agree to it.” And one more thing: We hear that President-elect Obama has made it clear that he thinks Caroline Kennedy would be a great choice.

For non-American readers: Caroline is the only surviving child of JFK and Jackie O.

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The Queen Of The Ring

Via the Sun UK :
He's a gay Lucha Libre wrestler who enters the ring wearing pantyhose and a woman’s bathing suit.Yet grappling fans everywhere, from his home country of Mexico to right here in the UK, can’t get enough of Cassandro. The self-proclaimed ‘Queen of the ring’ is back in Britain as one of 16 stars who will be performing on Lucha Libre London at the Roundhouse from December 6-9. And he says that while some in the venue may boo him to begin with they will all be begging for kisses by the end.

In an exclusive interview, Cassandro told The Sun: "I am what’s known in Mexico as an Exotico – a gay man who wrestles in drag. Exoticos have been in Mexican wrestling for a long time, since the 1950s, but I gave them a new touch.I brought the pantyhose, the bathing suits, the feathers, the rhinestones and the glitter - all the glamour. I made it more fun for the people and they responded by taking me into their arms and under their wings.The fans love it!"

The 20-year veteran added: "I get both cheers and boos from crowds. When I first walk down the aisle, to go to the ring, people start whistling at me, calling me names and saying: ‘What is that?’ But once they see me doing my Lucha Libre, they forget about the gay thing. In fact after the match they bow at me and even ask for kisses and hugs! It proves that you should never judge before you actually meet somebody."
Anybody remember Gorgeous George? Even my Marine dad loved him.

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Air Force Loses DADT Appeal

The case for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" moved forward yesterday when a federal court refused an appeal from the Air Force.
A federal appeals court refused Thursday to reconsider a ruling that raised doubts about the constitutionality of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays in the military, a decision that could give President-elect Barack Obama a chance to act quickly on his promise to repeal the policy.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denied the Air Force's request for a rehearing of a May 21 decision reviving a suit by a female officer in Washington state who was discharged because she had a relationship with another woman.

The three-judge panel in that decision said the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 ruling overturning state laws against gay sex established a new level of constitutional protection for gays and lesbians. Under that standard, the appeals court said, the military can't automatically discharge all openly gay soldiers, but must prove in each case that dismissal would promote troop readiness or unit cohesion.
Barack Obama will need the approval of Congress to order the repeal of DADT, but this development will help his case.

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The Architect Of Stonewall 2.0

Veteran gay reporter Rex Wockner gives us a glimpse into Amy Balliett, whom he calls the "architect of Stonewall 2.0."
Yes, she practices what she preaches. JoinTheImpact co-founder and co-coordinator Amy Balliett, right, and wife Jessica Trejo were legally married in Los Angeles on Oct. 18 following their Aug. 9 wedding in Seattle. It took me a while to get the photos out of her. Keep your eye on Amy. In a matter of days, she came out of essentially nowhere to become one of the most successful gay activists in the nation, co-coordinating huge anti-Prop 8 demos Nov. 15 in some 300 cities in every U.S. state, simultaneously no less, at 10:30 a.m. California time.
Amy Balliett, a new gay superhero.

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Dream Lover

First & 68th, Thursday, 8PM

Girl 1: So last night I dreamed I was on Deal Or No Deal.
Girl 2: Did you win?
Girl 1: No! And when they opened my suitcase, there was a pickle in it.
Girl 2: Oh my God, you really miss him.
Girl 1: Tell me about it.

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Radar Love

From the Department of Bizarre Gadgets comes the Erectile Quality Monitor:
Once you obtain an erection via your stimuli of choice, simply place the head of the penis against the pressure sensor of the device and apply pressure towards the body for a count of 5 seconds or until the penis inflects (bends). At this point a reading will flash on one of the LED indicator lights, reflecting the quality of that erection. Use this same method each time you test to help ensure accurate results.

Each device comes with a comprehensive usage guide and a measurement record chart so that you can share your results with your physician, or simply keep track of your erection quality over time. Take measurements monthly to monitor your sexual health, or track your progress while using any of the Fastsize enhancement products, or from another vendor. Whether you just want to satisfy your own curiosity, or want to measure your erection quality in the privacy of your own home without having to deal with a physician, the FastSize EQM is a vital part of keeping track of your sexual health, whether you are 18 or 80 years old!

Benefits of using the EQM...
+ Measuring the rigidity (hardness) of your erections
+ Monitoring and/or preventing the onset of Erectile Dysfunction (E.D.)
+ Tracking the effectiveness of various E.D. or libido enhancing drugs/supplements
+ Tracking the effectiveness of penile enhancement devices such as the Fastsize Extender
+ Early detection of serious health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, & heart disease.

The "stimulus of your choice." 8th grade snicker. It looks like a radar detector to me, but keep in mind this thing comes from a company that sells "proven enlargement products." The EQM sells for $80.

(Via - Gizmodo)

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Boy George Found Guilty

Boy George was found guilty in his false imprisonment trial in the UK and may go to jail.
Boy George faces jail next month for falsely imprisoning a rent boy at his flat. The openly gay 80s singer was told in court today that custody was 'the most likely option' after a jury convicted him of handcuffing Norwegian male escort Audun Carlsen to a wall at his flat in Shoreditch.The 46-year-old singer, whose real name is George O'Dowd, also beat Carlsen, 29, with a metal chain as he tried to escape from his flat in east London after a kinky photographic session, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard. 'Dowd looked ashen-faced as the female foreman of the jury delivered the verdict.

He licked his lips nervously and spoke only to confirm that he understood the new condition of his bail, that he should live and sleep at an address which was handed on a piece of paper to the court. Judge David Radford told O'Dowd: 'The fact that your bail is being continued does not imply that this will be dealt with by a non-custodial sentence. I don't want any false expectations created.' The case was adjourned for sentence on January 16.

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NY Senate: Backroom Deal To Install Anti-Gay Sen. Espada As Majority Leader, Gay Marriage Will Not Happen In 2009

In a backroom deal that Democrats are somehow hailing as a breakthrough, anti-gay Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. will become Majority Leader of the New York Senate. One of the "Gang Of Three" dissident Democrats that had threatened to hand the leadership over to the GOP, Espada opposes same-sex marriage and wants to the issue put to voters in a referendum.

Under the GOP, marriage equality was not allowed to come to a vote in the Senate. With Espada at the helm, even with the Democrats running the show, it is now definite that we will not see a vote on marriage equality in the next session.
A bill to legalize same-sex marriage will not be brought to the floor of the Senate for a vote this year. Malcolm Smith will announce that he does not believe the measure has sufficient votes to pass - a statement that is at this point undoubtedly true, [JMG: Not all agree.] although it's unclear how long that will last if, as Democrats are hoping, the prospect of being in the minority leads to mass GOP retirements.
Under the power-sharing terms of the deal, a planned change in the Senate rules will allow formerly presumptive majority leader Malcolm Smith (D) to be the Senate's president pro tempore, with Espada becoming Majority Leader and the most powerful Latino politician in the state. Under the GOP, both positions were held by the now-retired Sen. Joe Bruno. Reportedly, Espada will also become vice chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, the last stop for a bill before it is presented to the full Senate for a vote.

And it doesn't stop there. Anti-gay Sen. Carl Kruger, another of the "Gang", will get the plum position of chair of the Senate Finance Committee, a job the GOP had offered Kruger as enticement for him to switch parties. Kruger will get his own multimillion dollar budget and "increased autonomy" in the job. Yes, that's how we do things here in New York - you fuck us over and WE give a high profile job and a few million dollars to play with.

And thus ends our hope for marriage equality in New York in the near future. In 2010 there will be a redistricting in New York state, a process that the Democrats will at least now be able to control. Therein may lie our hope for marriage equality in 2011.

UPDATE: The Empire State Pride Agenda responds to the news:
This afternoon, additional rumors began circulating in the press regarding discussions about a timeline for marriage equality legislation during the State Senate leadership negotiations. We have been told several times by the Democratic Senate Leadership that marriage equality legislation will come to the Senate floor for a vote once we have enough votes to pass the bill. We have no reason to believe that this has changed.

In response to these recent rumors, we have released the statement below. We will continue to update you on this issue.

Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle in Response to Rumors About Marriage Equality and the Senate Leadership Deal

December 4, 2008 - “We are still awaiting the final details of the announced State Senate leadership deal. We would expect that any rumors that marriage equality was somehow a part of this deal are just that—rumors. Civil rights should never be a bargaining chip in any political leadership battle, and we would be outraged if the issue of marriage equality was even part of the discussions.”

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Wisconsin: Furor Over Gay Questionnaire

Over at World Net Daily and on Free Republic the wingnuts are going crazy over the claim that a rural high school teacher in Wisconsin gave high school seniors a questionnaire that asked these questions:
  • What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
  • When and how did you decide you were a heterosexual?
  • Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?
  • Is it possible that your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?
  • Do your parents know that you are straight? Do your friends and/or roommate(s) know? How did they react?
  • Why do you insist on flaunting your heterosexuality? Can't you just be who you are and keep it quiet?
  • Why do heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into their lifestyles?
  • A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexual. So you consider it safe to expose children to heterosexual teachers?
  • With all the societal support marriage receives, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?
  • Statistics show that lesbians have the lowest incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. Is it really safe for a woman to maintain a heterosexual lifestyle and run the risk of disease and pregnancy?
  • Considering the menace of overpopulation, how could the human race survive if everyone were heterosexual?
  • Would you want your child to be heterosexual, knowing the problems that s/he would face?
World Net Daily talked to the school's principal:

Principal Dave McSherry told WND that the discussion was part of a comprehensive curriculum in critical thinking skills, preparing the students to make decisions on their own in college and beyond.

"Our English department does excellent work in writing language arts, getting kids to be able to discuss and debate issues, and engage in critical thinking," McSherry said. "The critical thinking part is the biggest part we're trying to get these kids to learn. As they move on to college, we want them to be able to think for themselves, be able to weigh issues and hopefully make smart decisions down the road."

McSherry told WND the questionnaire was presented as a prompt to discussion and debate and that to simply react to the list of questions is to take the issue out of context. "We're not promoting homosexuality," McSherry said. "We never have, never will."

I think the questionnaire is kind of fabulous and totally appropriate for high school seniors. It challenges students on their preconceived notions on sexuality and would provoke some of the most thoughtful writing they'd probably ever produce.

Expect, however, that this story will become yet another talking point in the "they're shoving it down our throats" litany of accusations against the LGBT movement. We ain't heard the last on this questionnaire, not by a LONG shot.

UPDATE: Jeremy at Good As You notes the history of the questionnaire.
"The Heterosexual Questionnaire" was created by Dr. Martin Rochlin back in the '70s as a way of engaging folks in conversation about LGBT issues. Its 200812041620questions all turn the tables on the sorts of queries that are usually posed to gay folks, asking heterosexuals to consider if maybe, just maybe, their own sexuality was, among other things, a curable choice. The hope is that these provocative questions will spark a rational discussion about gay folks and their role in society, and many institutions have employed the questionnaire as a valid learning tool.
Jeremy adds: "Leave it to the reliably rabid WorldNetDaily to turn one specific usage of the questionnaire into an example of "the radical gay agenda™."

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SCOTUS: Clarence Thomas Asks Court To Consider Obama's Citizenship

In a highly unusual move, U.S. Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has asked his colleagues on the court to consider the request of an East Brunswick, N.J. attorney who has filed a lawsuit challenging President-elect Barack Obama’s status as a United States citizen.

Thomas’s action took place after Justice David Souter had rejected a petition known as an application for a stay of writ of certiorari that asked the court to prevent the meeting of the Electoral College on Dec. 15, which will certify Obama as the 44th president of the United States and its first African-American president.
The court has scheduled a conference on the issue tomorrow - ten days before the Electoral College meets. One expert quoted in the above-linked story speculates that Thomas may be bringing the case before the court merely so it can be denied and therefore unable to be presented at a later date.

I suppose we can expert another couple of hundred wingnut commenters on this post as happened when I last mentioned Obama's citizenship

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$3.75M Awarded To Victim Of Anti-Gay NYC Firehouse Brawl

A case which dominated the NYC tabloids in early 2004 has finally been settled as a firefighter who was left with permanent injuries after being smashed in the face with a metal chair has agreed to accept $3.75M from the city. The firefighter claimed that the brawl was the culmination of the two years of anti-gay slurs he'd suffered as firehouse supervisors laughed.
Firehouse banter isnt cheap anymore. The city today reached a settlement with Robert Walsh, the former Annadale firefighter who was smashed in the face with a metal chair during a New Year's Eve fight with fellow firefighter Michael Silvestri that exploded after nearly two years of what Walsh described as being on the receiving end of anti-gay slurs.

Walsh will receive $3.75 million in damages as part of the agreement that brought an end to the former firefighters lawsuit against the city at Manhattan Federal Court in front of U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet. "We are pleased that the matter has been resolved amicably," said city spokeswoman Kate Ahlers, who declined further comment "out of respect for the parties." Walsh could not be reached for comment.
"Firehouse banter"? A metal chair to the face is "firehouse banter"? The Staten Island Today shouldn't have let that shitty line be published. The suit originally asked for $100M.

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She Hung Up On Obama, Twice

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) hung up on Barack Obama twice yesterday, believing him to be a radio station prankster.
When a man sounding remarkably like President-elect Barack Obama called a Florida congresswoman Wednesday, she assumed it was a crank call. So Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen hung up. But, the Miami Herald reports, this was no prank.

"I thought it was one of the radio stations in South Florida playing an incredible, elaborate, terrific prank on me," Ros-Lehtinen told the newspaper. "They got Fidel Castro to go along. They've gotten Hugo Chavez and others to fall for their tricks. I said, 'Oh, no, I won't be punked.'"

The call came about 1 p.m. Obama congratulated her on her re-election, saying he was looking forward to working with her as the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, Ros-Lehtinen told the newspaper. The conversation lasted about a minute when she cut Obama off, telling him she wasn't falling for the hoax and that he was a better impersonator than the guy on Saturday Night Live, she said.

Then Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, called the congresswoman to tell her it wasn't a joke. But she hung up on him, too. It took a call from Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, to persuade Ros-Lehtinen that Obama really did want to talk to her.
When Ros-Lehtinen finally did speak to Obama, he told her he didn't blame her for being skeptical.

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Via StrangeMaps

StrangeMaps tips us to this 1983 graphic from the Dallas Morning News which shows the relative size and populations of some major cities. Obviously, the populations have increased for some of these cities, but like the StrangeMaps dude, I'm more fascinated by their relative sizes and densities.
What remains striking about this map, even though we’re talking about populations and surfaces of 25 years ago, are the relative population densities of the cities. Dallas and Houston are comparable to each other in population and both are in the same category, surface-wise, as London and New York. But the population of the latter two cities is roughly 6 to 8 times higher than either Houston or Dallas, indicating that these have a much lower population density. A possible explanation: the automobile (and the flat prairie they were built upon) has allowed both Texan metropolises to sprawl in ways unimaginable just over a century ago, and impossible even today in more constrained surroundings.

The two other European cities depicted here (apart from London, i.e. Amsterdam and Rome) have city centres that are smaller and more densely populated than their American cousins. About equal in size to Rome (and to each other) are Toronto, Montreal and Boston, but they are much less packed with people (2.6 million for Rome, between half a million and 1.2 million for the other cities). Chicago’s sprawl and density puts it somewhere between Dallas and London. DC and San Francisco are special, in that they are very constrained surface-wise (legally in DC’s case, physically by the Bay and the Ocean in San Francisco’s case). This ‘pressure cooker’ circumstance causes their populations to be much denser than in either of the sprawling Texan cities.

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Family Of Trampled Man Sues Wal-Mart Over Marketing Practices

In a case that may have far-reaching implications regarding the practice of "doorbuster" sales, the family of the Wal-Mart employee killed in the Black Friday stampede on Long Island is suing the company over its marketing tactics.
Security should have been better, but advertising also helped kill a temporary worker at Wal-Mart, according to a lawsuit filed by the estate and relatives of the 34-year-old man trampled by a pre-dawn Black Friday crowd at a Valley Stream, N.Y., store. At least one local police official and one retail marketing consultant also argue that Black Friday marketing and merchandising practices need to change in the wake of the incident.

A complaint filed today in New York State Supreme Court in the Bronx on behalf of survivors of the fallen worker, Jdimytai Damour, claims that besides failing to provide adequate security, Wal-Mart "engaged in specific marketing and advertising techniques to specifically attract a large crowd and create an environment of frenzy and mayhem," according to published reports. Also named as defendants in the lawsuit were the Green Acres Mall, its owner Vornado Retail Trust, and a security company required to patrol the property.
It appears to be unlikely that charges will be filed against any of the customers involved in the incident. Two weeks before the stampede, local police had warned that security and crowd control during holiday sales was the sole responsibility of retailers.

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Episcopal Church Splits Over Gays

Conservatives within the Episcopal Church have announced they are forming a new denomination specifically to separate themselves from those willing to accept gays.
Conservatives alienated from the Episcopal Church announced on Wednesday that they were founding their own rival denomination, the biggest challenge yet to the authority of the Episcopal Church since it ordained an openly gay bishop five years ago. The move threatens the fragile unity of the Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest Christian body, made up of 38 provinces around the world that trace their roots to the Church of England and its spiritual leader, the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The conservatives intend to seek the approval of leaders in the global Anglican Communion for the province they plan to form. If they should receive broad approval, their effort could lead to new defections from the Episcopal Church, the American branch of Anglicanism. In the last few years, Episcopalians who wanted to leave the church but remain in the Anglican Communion put themselves under the authority of bishops in Africa and Latin America. A new American province would give them a homegrown alternative.
The new church says it will begin with 100,000 members, compared to the 2.3M in the main Episcopal Church. One liberal official with the Episcopal Church predicts the new denomination will not grow much larger: “I think this organization does not have much of a future because there are already a lot of churches in the United States for people who don’t want to worship with gays and lesbians. That’s not a market niche that is underserved.”

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Latest Analysis: Education And Income Strong Factors In Prop 8 Vote

The latest poll of California voters reveals that education and income were the strongest factors in the Prop 8 vote.
The new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California of 2,003 Californians who voted Nov. 4 found significantly less support for Prop. 8 among blacks than had been indicated by exit polls. Election Day exit polls triggered recriminations between gay rights advocates and black leaders. And now the new data indicates that 61 percent of Latinos voted for the ban, an even higher percentage than exit polls indicated on Election Day.

But while a majority of non-white voters backed a ban on gay marriage, the key finding in the new survey was that voters' position on Prop. 8 was determined more by their level of education and income than their race or ethnicity, said PPIC president Mark Baldassare. Among Californians with a high school diploma or less, 69 percent voted for Prop. 8. Among college graduates, 57 percent voted against it.

"Both among whites and non-whites, among college graduates and among upper-income voters, Prop. 8 lost," Baldassare said. "Among both whites and non-whites, among non-college graduates and lower income voters, Prop. 8 won. It seems to me that some of what we attributed to race and ethnic differences really had to do with a socioeconomic divide in regard to same-sex marriage." Because African-Americans and Latinos tend to have lower incomes and a lower share of college graduates than whites, Baldassare said the racial voting pattern on same-sex marriage was really a reflection of education and income.
The survey takers conclude that these results may not bode well for future votes on same-sex marriage if California continues to see population growth among the less educated and poor.

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SF Archbishop Defends Role Of Catholic Church In Prop 8 Battle

San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer, who is slowly being revealed as the chief architect of organized religion's opposition to same-sex marriage in California, has issued his first statement since the vote.
"Religious leaders in America have the constitutional right to speak out on issues of public policy," Niederauer wrote in a statement posted on the archdiocese's Web site. "Catholic bishops, specifically, also have a responsibility to teach the faith, and our beliefs about marriage and family are part of this faith."

Niederauer, who has declined interview requests, wrote that "to insist that citizens be silent about their religious beliefs" would have had a detrimental effect on history, gagging the voices of important abolitionists and people in the civil rights movement. Niederauer's statement, coming more than a month after the vote to ban same-sex marriage in the nation's most populous state, underscored the complex role he plays. As archbishop of San Francisco, Niederauer is the ultimate teacher of Catholic doctrine in a region at the forefront of gay and lesbian rights.

During the campaign, Niederauer issued statements, sent flyers and gave a videotaped interview posted at But Niederauer's most prominent action was drawing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members responded with intensive grassroots organizing and an estimated $20 million in campaign contributions from individuals that accounted for half of the Yes on 8 campaign's total.
Niederauer also called for end to the name calling: "Tolerance, respect and trust are always two-way streets and tolerance, respect and trust often do not include agreement, or even approval. We need to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. ... We need to stop hurling names like 'bigot' and 'pervert' at each other. And we need to stop it now."

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Moscow Mayor Promises More Hate

Speaking at an AIDS conference of all things, the mayor of Moscow promised that he will continue to oppress Russian homosexuals.
Speaking at an international conference on HIV/AIDS, Mayor Luzhkov said: "So-called democrats consider that sexual minorities can be the main indicator and main symbol of democracy, but we will in future continue to ban propaganda of the views of sexual minorities. Of course, we will be criticised by all democrats in the world but in each society there are own views on that."

The Mayor implied gays are behind the spread of AIDS in Moscow and said condoms should not be advertised as 100% safe as "contemporary science" proved they are not. Moscow Pride organisers have been denied the right to hold an event in May for three years running by the Mayor, who previously referred to gay rights marches as "Satanic." Activists have tried to have the Mayor prosecuted under Article 149 of the Russian Criminal Code for using his political power to prevent legal public events for the LGBT community in the city. Pride organisers are planning to hold the event in Moscow next May to coincide with the city's hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest.
Moscow's Pride/Eurovision weekend promises to be interesting.

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Grammy Nom For Sam Sparro

Openly gay Australian singer Sam Sparro received a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording last night for his single Black And Gold (above), which was released at the start of the year. Even though the single has had 8 million views on YouTube, somehow I'd never heard of Sparro until the Out 100 Awards last month where he was a performer. And I missed his show because I was backstage at the time, dammit.

More nominations:

Dance recording

Harder Better Faster Stronger Daft Punk
Ready For The Floor, Hot Chip
Just Dance, Lady Gaga & Colby O'Donis
Give It 2 Me, Madonna
Disturbia, Rihanna
Black & Gold, Sam Sparro

Album of the year

Coldplay, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends
Ne-Yo, Year of the Gentleman
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand
Radiohead, In Rainbows
Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III

Song of the year

American Boy by William Adams, Keith Harris, Josh Lopez, Caleb Speir, John Stephens Estelle Swaray & Kanye West, songwriters (Estelle Featuring Kanye West)
Chasing Pavements by Adele Adkins & Eg White, songwriters (Adele)
I'm Yours by Jason Mraz, songwriter (Jason Mraz)
Love Song by Sara Bareilles, songwriter (Sara Bareilles)
Viva La Vida by Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, & Chris Martin, songwriters (Coldplay)

Best new artist
Jazmine Sullivan
Jonas Brothers
Duffy<--JMG pick! Lady Antebellum

UGH: Kate Perry received a Best Female Vocal nomination for her ode to fake lesbians, I Kissed A Girl.

UPDATE: The Best Dance Album category wasn't covered in the above-linked story, so I missed Cyndi Lauper's nomination.
- New York City, Brazilian Girls
- Alive 2007, Daft Punk
- Bring Ya To The Brink, Cyndi Lauper
- X, Kylie Minogue
- Last Night, Moby
- Robyn, Robyn

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Open Thread Thursday

A certain noted member of my blogroll confided to me yesterday that he had become obsessed with sudoku, so much so that he found himself doing the puzzles at work and even dreaming about it.

What's your current obsession?

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Magical: New World Waking!

At Davies Symphony Hall on Monday night, I attended the sold-out world premiere of Steve Schalchlin's New World Waking!, performed by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus on their 30th anniversary, with Jennifer Holliday appearing as their guest vocalist.

I was there because I've been a huge fan of Steve's work for years, but also (as I semi-bragged here) because the third song in the work was Joe's Song: Dead Inside. I'm going to bet that this is only time you'll find the words "Inspired by the writings of blogger Joe.My.God" in a symphony program.

The evening began with a cocktail reception featuring a performance by the Lollipop Guild (a small ensemble of chorus members), then the start of the show had to be delayed because of the long lines at the box office. "My" song was amazing and I managed to hold it together even though I could feel people looking at me during its performance. (You really should read Steve's excellent recap of the evening.)

But like many in the audience, I lost it during the two songs dedicated to two mothers, Gabi Clayton and Carolyn Wagner, whose sons were the victims of anti-gay violence. Together they founded Families Against Hate and were in the audience and recognized from the stage, to many tears. Here's Steve's backstage video of the women meeting the chorus members. There's a few laughs in the clip, but you should get a hanky.

Via Bev Syke's Funny The World, here's a short montage of the world premiere of New World Waking!

Here's a short slideshow of the evening. Full-screen versions plus captions are here.

It was an amazing evening, a total triumph for Steve Schlachlin and the chorus. I was deeply honored to have been a small part of it.

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University Official Canned For Anti-Gay Column Is Now Suing The School

Back in May, the University of Toledo's head of human resources, Crystal Dixon, was fired from her job after she penned an anti-gay column in the Toledo Free Press which read in part:
As a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo's Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are "civil rights victims." Here's why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. I am genetically and biologically a Black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended. Daily, thousands of homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle evidenced by the growing population of PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex Gays) and Exodus International just to name a few. Frequently, the individuals report that the impetus to their change of heart and lifestyle was a transformative experience with God; a realization that their choice of same-sex practices wreaked havoc in their psychological and physical lives.
Dixon is now suing the University of Toledo with the help of a Christianist law firm.
In response to the column, hundreds of people wrote letters calling her views disturbing while others were outraged Dixon was punished for speaking her mind. Conservative talk show hosts and members of her church rallied around Dixon after she was fired. "It comes down to whether you're speaking as an employee of the university or as a private citizen," said Brian Rooney, a spokesman for Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., which is representing Dixon. "If you're speaking as a private citizen, your speech is protected."

The university would have been within its rights to discipline her if she had stated she was a school administrator, Rooney said. The nonprofit Christian law firm says its mission includes "defending the traditional family and challenging special rights for homosexuals."

"Where is the so-called free expression of ideas and tolerance that universities so adamantly defend?" said Richard Thompson, president of the law center. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are University of Toledo President Lloyd Jacobs and William Logie, vice president for human resources. Jacobs responded to the column by writing his own piece in the weekly newspaper, saying that "her comments do not accord with the values of the University of Toledo."
In her column, Dixon did not identify herself as an employee of the university, but she did reference the school's policies. Her story is being widely circulated on the Christianist blogosphere as a prime example of the coming suppression of the free speech of Christians.

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Rolling Stone Rips No On 8

Rolling Stone has published a lengthy piece by Tim Dickinson about the campaign to fight Prop 8. A small excerpt:
"This was political malpractice," says a Democratic consultant who operates at the highest level of California politics. "They fucked this up, and it was painful to watch. They shouldn't be allowed to pawn this off on the Mormons or anyone else. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and now hundreds of thousands of gay couples are going to pay the price."
And more:
The No on Prop 8 campaign, meanwhile, was oblivious to the formidable field operation that the other side was mounting. Worse, its executive committee refused to include leaders of top gay and lesbian grass-roots organizations, which deprived them of an army of willing foot soldiers. "We didn't have people going door to door," admits Yvette Martinez, the campaign's political director. The field operation consisted of volunteers phone-banking from 135 call centers across the state, an effort that didn't begin ramping up until mid-October. "They had no ground game," says a leading Democratic consultant. "They thought they could win this thing by slapping some ads together. It was the height of naiveté."

National Center For Lesbian Rights head Kate Kendall responds in the story's comments:
"When Dickinson called to interview me about the No on Prop 8 campaign it became obvious he wasn't interested in the facts about the campaign, he wanted only information that supported this hit piece. When he didn't like my answers, he just asked more leading questions. We lost. Yes, as in any campaign, mistakes were made, but to quote from unnamed sources and anonymous gay leaders running for cover in the wake of this devastating loss while ignoring all facts that don't support your assasination attempt against those who worked tirelessly for months is not jouralism, it's just trash. Dickinson should ply his "blaming the victim" tactics with the National Enquirer."

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The 12 Gays Of Christmas

The gay Rockettes? The gay Riverdancers? As a commenter on Dan Savage's post just said, "I think I gained a Kinsey point just watching this."

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AIDS Link Goes Back Millions Of Years

New research suggests that an ancestor to HIV may have existed millions of years ago.
An ancient predecessor to the virus that causes Aids evolved in wild primates many millions of years earlier than previously believed, according to research published yesterday by the Stanford University School of Medicine. The findings open a critical new avenue in the quest to understand the origins of the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, which unleashed a pandemic that since 1981 has claimed more than 25 million lives worldwide, and threatens millions more.

The discovery also bolsters scientific hunches that HIV-like viruses may be more broadly distributed among primates and other wildlife than previously thought, posing a potential risk for humans in close contact with these animals. Primates in Africa passed on the two strains of HIV circulating among humans, scientists are convinced.

"It points to the direction for future research, that we need to establish how widespread these viruses are," said Robert Gifford, an infectious disease researcher with Stanford, and lead author of the study. Gifford and his colleagues studied gray mouse lemurs, squirrel-sized, saucer-eyed primates found in Madagascar. They found that the lemur genomes they studied carried lentiviruses, which are among a family of viruses that include HIV. Lentiviruses have been intensely studied since the emergence of Aids. While the discovery of lentiviruses in lemurs surprised the researchers, what especially stunned them was the realisation that lemurs must have carried the virus for at least 14m years.
Scientists hope this discovery may help prevent other animal viruses from entering the human population. Further research may also discover "fixed features" of the ancient virus that could be the target of new AIDS drugs.

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Stealing The Empire State Building

The NY Daily News demonstrated how easy it is to commit property fraud by falsely transferring the ownership of the Empire State Building to themselves.
In one of the biggest heists in American history, the Daily News "stole" the $2 billion Empire State Building. And it wasn't that hard.

The News swiped the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper by drawing up a batch of bogus documents, making a fake notary stamp and filing paperwork with the city to transfer the deed to the property. Some of the information was laughable: Original "King Kong" star Fay Wray is listed as a witness and the notary shared a name with bank robber Willie Sutton.

The massive ripoff illustrates a gaping loophole in the city's system for recording deeds, mortgages and other transactions. The loophole: The system - run by the office of the city register - doesn't require clerks to verify the information. Less than 90 minutes after the bogus documents were submitted on Monday, the agency rubber-stamped the transfer from Empire State Land Associates to Nelots Properties LLC. Nelots is "stolen" spelled backward. (The News returned the property Tuesday.)

"Crooks go where the money is. That's why Willie Sutton robbed banks, and this is the new bank robbery," said Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, who is prosecuting several deed fraud cases.
NYC has experienced a rash of cases in which con artists transferred property deeds to sham corporations and then took out big mortgages before disappearing.

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Richardson To Get Commerce Post

Bill Richardson has been tapped as Obama's Secretary of Commerce.
President-elect Barack Obama will name New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to head the Commerce Department at a news conference today in Chicago, according to transition sources. Richardson will appear alongside Obama at 11:40 a.m. Eastern time, and his nomination will mark the latest in a series of moves by the president-elect to put his Cabinet in place well before he takes office Jan. 20.
The GOP is predictably complaining: "The Clinton band is getting back together. Nothing says change like picking the Clinton administration's energy secretary and U.N. representative to be commerce secretary."

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Hotter = Safer?

A study from the University of Toronto concludes that gay men considered sexually undesirable tend to have riskier sex.
Gay men who are not considered sexually desirable are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour, according to new research out of the University of Toronto. They may also develop psychological problems as a consequence of feeling undesirable.

Professor Adam Isaiah Green of sociology interviewed dozens of gay men in Toronto to determine what qualities made some men more sexually desirable than others and what the consequences of being undesirable might be on mental and physical health.

"I found that young, white, middle-class men are considered much more sexually desirable than men who are racial minorities, over 40 and poor," Green said. "I also learned that for gay men, being considered sexually undesirable can have serious health consequences ranging from psychological issues to risky sexual behaviour."

The study - among the first to examine the link between sex and mental health - found that undesirable gay men face stigmatization, avoidance and outright rejection, which can lead to depression, anxiety and alcohol abuse. It also highlighted cases whereby undesirable gay men will forego safe-sex discussion and, in some cases, condom use, in the context of sex with a more attractive partner.

"We tend to devalue sexual life as something that is extracurricular and frivolous but this research shows a significant link between sexual desirability and health," Green said. "Men with low levels of 'erotic capital' are systematically marginalized, which can take a real toll both physically and psychologically." The study is published in the current issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior .
I suppose this makes sense, even if it's a bit startling. People with low self-esteem do dumb things all the time.

(Via - Good As You)

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Openly Lesbian Mary Beth Maxwell Up for Secretary Of Labor

Labor activist Mary Beth Maxwell, who is openly lesbian, is reportedly being considered for Secretary of Labor in Obama's cabinet.
For the rainbow cabinet of the nation’s first African American president, Mary Beth Maxwell is the perfect labor secretary you’ve probably never heard of: a gay woman, community organizer and labor leader with an adopted African American son. And this founding executive director of American Rights at Work is about to get the full-court press.

Maxwell already had the strong backing of former Rep. David Bonior, who despite repeated attempts to get his name removed from consideration continues to be on the short list of potential labor secretaries. Bonior, 63 years old, says it is time for his generation to turn over power to a new generation, and Maxwell, whose labor-backed organization pushes for expanded collective bargaining rights, is his pick.

Some labor leaders from both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win, a splinter union group led by the Service Employees International Union, back her as a consensus choice, citing her efforts on behalf of legislation to allow unionization at workplaces with the signing of cards, not secret balloting.
Maxwell has been endorsed by the HRC, who also endorsed Linda Sanchez for the same position last week.

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Jeb Bush In The Senate?

Dubya's brother Jeb is considering running for the U.S. Senate, but he may have to contend with the current Florida governor for that job.
Two sources close to Jeb Bush, including one who has spoken to the former Florida governor within the past few hours, say he is seriously considering a run for Senate now that incumbent Republican Mel Martinez has retired.

"He is receiving a lot of encouragement from both in and out of the state," an longtime Bush adviser said tonight. "He is going to take his time and approach this very methodically." Bush will weigh, according to this adviser, how a run would impact his family, his business, and whether the Senate would be the best platform for the causes he'd advocate -- education, immigration, GOP solutions to health care and energy.

Bush did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. If he decides to run, Republicans expect the field to clear for him. Maybe. Gov. Charlie Crist, with whom Bush has not had the warmest of relations, is said to be interested in moving to the Senate. Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum is weighing a bid, as is former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, Orange County executive Richard Crotty, and U.S. Rep. Connie Mack.
Jeb or Crist? Talk about being between a rock and a closet close.

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Prop 8 - The Musical

An all-star cast performs Proposition 8 - The Musical.

UPDATE: Towleroad has the breakdown on the cast.
Hairspray composer Marc Shaiman (whose boycott lead to the resignation of Sacramento's California Musical Theatre creative director Scott Eckern following his donation to Prop 8) wrote and conceived this hysterical short piece (presented with a wink and a nod by the 'Sacramento Community College Players'), which was directed and staged by Hairspray director and choreographer Adam Shankman and features plenty of folks you will recognize.

Shaiman plays the piano. Jordan Ballard, Margaret Cho, Barrett Foa, J.B. Ghuman, John Hill, Andy Richter, Maya Rudolph, Rashad Naylor, Nicole Parker star as 'California Gays and The People That Love Them'. John C Reilly as a Prop 8 leader, and Alison Janney as his wife. Kathy Najimy as his second wife. Jenifer Lewis as a riffing Prop 8'er. Craig Robinson as a preacher. Rashida Jones, Lake Bell, Sarah Chalke as Scary Catholic School Girls from Hell. Katharine "Kooks" Leonard, Seth Morris, Denise "Esi!" Piane, Lucian Piane, Richard Read, Seth Redford, Quinton Strack, and Tate Taylor as The Frightened Villagers. Jack Black stars as Jesus Christ, and Neil Patrick Harris is billed as 'A Very Smart Fellow'.

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The Princess Diana Bible

The wingnuts are already losing their shit over this bit of silliness:
A gay version of the Bible, in which God says it is better to be gay than straight, is to be published by an American film producer. New Mexico-based Revision Studios will publish The Princess Diana Bible – so named because of Diana's "many good works", it says – online at in spring 2009. A preview of Genesis is already available, in which instead of creating Adam and Eve, God creates Aida and Eve.

"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Aida, and she slept: and he took one of her ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from woman, made he another woman, and brought her unto the first. And Aida said, 'This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of me. Therefore shall a woman leave her mother, and shall cleave unto her wife: and they shall be one flesh.' And they were both naked, the woman and her wife, and were not ashamed."

The film studio said it would also adapt and direct the revised Bible as a two-part mini-series, The Gay Old Testament and The Gay New Testament, once it is completed.

"There are many different versions of the Bible; I don't see why we can't have one," said Max Mitchell, who directed the science fiction comedy Horror in the Wind, in which an airborne formula invented by two biogeneticists reverses the world's sexual orientation.
You can sample Genesis here.

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Bringing Saxby Back

Saxby Chambliss has been called as the winner of his Senate runoff race in Georgia, ending the possibility of a Democratic super-majority.
On the heels of a concession by Democrat Jim Martin, Republican Saxby Chambliss took the stage to claim his second term in the U.S. Senate. But Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan, who faces a tough slog to re-election in January, grabbed valuable, 10 p.m. television time from the re-elected senator.

Chambliss thanked the RNC head for valuable resources sent to the state. But WAGA (Fox5), the only TV station broadcasting the event live, ended up cutting away from Chambliss in mid-victory statement. In front of a crowd numbering 300, Chambliss thanked supporters and the volunteers from 43 states he said worked on his campaign. “You’re the reason this happened,” the Republican said. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

“You have sent a strong message to the world that conservative Georgia values matter,” Chambliss said.
And we still don't know what's up in Minnesota with Al Franken.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Shallowest Post Of The Week

Katie Couric has a new look.

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Prisoner Abuse Charges Dismissed For Cheney, Gonzales

A judge dismissed indictments against Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Monday and told the southern Texas prosecutor who brought the case to exercise caution as his term in office ends. Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra had accused Cheney and the other defendants of responsibility for prisoner abuse. The judge's order ended two weeks of sometimes-bizarre court proceedings. Guerra is leaving office at the end of the month after soundly losing in his March primary election.

"I suggest on behalf of the law that you not present any cases to the grand jury involving these defendants," Administrative Judge Manuel Banales said in court while ruling that eight indictments against Cheney, Gonzales and others were invalid. He also set a Dec. 10 hearing on whether to disqualify Guerra from those cases. Even in defeat, Guerra saw the outcome as confirmation of the very conspiracy he had pursued. "I expected it," he said. "The system is going to protect itself."

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SCOTUS Speculations

Over at AmericaBlog, John Aravosis notes the ages of the members of the Supreme Court.
John Paul Stevens, 88 (Ford)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 75 (Clinton)
Antonin Scalia, 72 (Reagan)
Anthony Kennedy, 72 (Reagan)
Stephen Breyer, 70 (Clinton)
David Souter, 69 (GHW Bush)
Clarence Thomas, 60 (GHW Bush)
Samuel Alito, 58 (GW Bush)
John Roberts, 53 (GW Bush)

Only 2 of the 9 were chosen by a Democrat.
The Austin Statesman speculates:
Currently, the nine-member Supreme Court is stacked almost evenly ideologically. Four justices - Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts - tend to stand together as conservatives. Four others - John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer - are liberal. The tie-breaking vote often belongs to Anthony Kennedy, who is considered a centrist, although he more often votes with the conservatives on the court.

The speculation has centered mostly on the aging liberals and whether the 88-year-old Stevens, the 75-year-old Ginsburg, the 70-year-old Breyer and the 69-year-old Souter are ready to retire.

Kennedy, who has twice had minor heart procedures, is 72, as is Scalia. But the other conservatives are relatively young - Roberts is 53, Alito 58 and Thomas 60 - and could remain on the court for decades to come. As a result, liberals say the appointments Obama could make to the court are crucial. "Over the next four years - President-elect Obama -can restore fairness and respect for core constitutional values to our nation's courts," said Nan Aron, president of the liberal Alliance for Justice, a Washington group that tries to influence legal and public policies.
Barring unforeseen health issues, three out of the four conservatives on the Court are here to stay, possibly for decades. And three of the four liberals may be ready to go. Obama has his work cut out for him.

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The Empire State Pride Agenda Responds To Criticism On Marriage Equality

After my Saturday post about the New York Times' claim that the Empire State Pride Agenda was in a "quiet period" during the most exciting time for gay activism in decades, the ESPA contacted me to dispute the story. I offered a chance to make a correction to the Times report and below is their response. The author is Josh Melzter, their Director of Communications. I've bolded a few lines which I think are important to the piece.
To set the record straight (so to speak), the Pride Agenda is not in a “quiet period” as was reported over the weekend by the New York Times. As evidenced by articles in Gay City News, EDGE New York, Reuters and Gotham Gazette, we are not shy or quiet when it comes to talking about the work that needs to be done to pass a marriage equality bill in New York State.

Working together, the Pride Agenda and our community did the hard and not-so-glamorous education and lobbying work that needed to be done across the state in Assembly districts before that chamber passed the marriage bill in 2007. We started that year with 35 “yes” votes and, in less than six months, moved that number to 85 (76 were needed) when the bill was brought to the Assembly floor for a vote. We’ve been doing the same thing this year—and will be doing it next year—in targeted State Senate districts across the state so that we can pass the marriage bill in that chamber too.

We will not, however, be drawn into a public conversation with a reporter that seeks to use the issue of marriage and our equality for political gamesmanship. The article in Saturday’s New York Times that described the Pride Agenda as being in a “quiet period” sought only to talk about a timeline for passing a marriage bill and pitted groups and elected officials against each other, all while a fractious leadership race is taking place within the State Senate.

We told the reporter what our priority is, which is doing the actual work it will take to win the votes we need to pass a marriage bill—the education and organizing work it will take in key Senate districts and the work with allies in the faith, labor and business communities. Unfortunately, the reporter wasn’t interested in that. He was more interested in political speculation and, in the words of Gotham Gazette, he “tried to stir the pot.”

The Pride Agenda doesn’t see any gain in speculating about what a legislative chamber or an elected official might do, and we don’t promise they’ll do something before they do it. That’s a surefire way to disappoint our community because at the end of the day we don’t control what either will do.

What we’re responsible for is having an understanding of the political environment in New York and then letting our community know what is possible within that environment if we all do our work. And if the political environment needs to change before certain things can happen (like passing a marriage bill through the State Senate) we work to make that happen.

We did that on November 4. The Pride Agenda and our community spent an enormous amount of time and energy ousting enough anti-LGBT State Senators so that a new pro-LGBT Senate leadership could emerge. And in the Assembly we supported our friends who voted with us on marriage in their re-election efforts and not a single one lost on November 4. This sent a loud message to elected officials across New York that there is no political downside to supporting our community on this issue.

Having done this doesn’t mean the Pride Agenda or LGBT people can now sit back and wait for a marriage equality bill to pass. That’s not how it works. There is no predetermined timeline, although some reporters would like us to say there is. New leadership in the State Senate simply means we’ve removed the block that existed on marriage equality legislation in that chamber. It’s now up to us to get the votes we need to pass the bill.

We work as a partner with our community here in New York. We don’t over-promise, but we do say what’s possible and we try to inspire, focus and motivate the many thousands of New Yorkers to keep working so that the possible becomes the reality. The twenty-five employees of the Pride Agenda can’t do it by themselves. And LGBT New Yorkers unversed in the political process and busy with their lives can’t do it either, but together we can.

We showed it could be done in the Assembly in 2007, even though political pundits and quite a few Assemblymembers said it couldn’t. We’ll do it too in the State Senate by working with our community and our allies to build a strong base of support for marriage equality in targeted Senate districts across the state.

As New York’s statewide LGBT civil rights organization, the Pride Agenda is incredibly excited to see the renewed passion that LGBT and straight people are showing in the wake of the passage of Prop 8 in California. We hope this energy for change will make New Yorkers who are not yet with us realize that marriage equality is an issue that has broad public support. We also hope this energy for change can also be channeled into real strategic action in New York—action that will help us pass a marriage bill into law so that our families can once and for all be treated like all other families in New York.

It takes all of us doing different things to win and we don’t always have to be doing all of them together. We have a strong, diverse and smart community in New York and there’s more than enough work for everyone—and there’s room for many to lead.

This week we’re going to start sending out regular action alerts between now and the end of the year that will let New Yorkers know what they can be doing to move the needle on marriage. There are other groups across New York doing similar things, as well. For us, the ultimate action will be going to Albany on April 28, 2009 to lobby our elected officials and rally in front of the state capitol building. Seeing well over a thousand of us and our allies in Albany when the legislature is in session has a huge impact on legislators. It’s a necessary part of keeping the pressure up on legislators to pass marriage and our other big bills.

There is no one waiting to give us marriage equality. We’ve always had to work hard to win every important piece of legislation that’s passed here in New York. We can make it happen in New York by working together and with our allies (and working separately when need be) in a strategic and smart fashion.

Being strategic and smart includes knowing when not to comment on stories that clearly do not help our progress. But I can promise you one thing: the Pride Agenda is never “quiet” when it comes to winning our equality.

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