Saturday, January 31, 2009

PhoboQuotable - Peter Hitchens

"We cringe to the new Thought Police, like the subjects of some insane, sex-obsessed Stalinist state, compelled to wave our little rainbow flags as the 'Gay Pride' parade passes by. And that's another thing. We can't even call homosexuals 'homosexuals' any more. This neutral word is not considered enthusiastic enough. We have to say 'gay'. Which is exactly why I don't, apart from in inverted commas.

"You think I exaggerate the power and fury of these forces? The totalitarian rage on this subject is quite astonishing. I have had several brushes with it, and been called rude names by its militants. Well, I can live with that. It's my job. But what about a powerless pair of grandparents in Edinburgh, their grandchildren's lives shipwrecked by the multiple horrors of our 'liberated' society?

"First, their daughter ends up as a drug abuser, like so many others in a country which permits the endless promotion of drug use by rock stars and refuses to punish the possession of narcotics, the only measure that would work. Then, when they seek to look after her children, they are first insultingly informed that they are too old, and that their minor illnesses disqualify them from the task. Heaven help any employer who dared 'discriminate' in this fashion. But the new Thought Police are oddly exempt from their own rules.

"Next, the grandparents are informed that the children are to be put into the care of a homosexual couple. And - this is the crucial moment - they are warned in the most terrifying terms that if they object to this arrangement they will never see their grandchildren again. Leave aside the rest of it. It is this demand, that they mouth approval of the new regime like the defendants at some show trial, which is the bit that ought to make your flesh creep.

"This is the action of a tyranny in operation, especially the use of children to blackmail their parents and grandparents. People who can do this can do anything. Isn't it amazing to reflect that this campaign began in the name of tolerance?" - British right wing opinionista Peter Hitchens, writing in the Daily Mail about a controversial gay adoption case in Scotland. Hitchens is the younger brother of noted atheist and author Christopher Hitchens.

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The Fading World Of Lesbian Separatists

From the NYT comes an interesting story about the fading patchwork of lesbian separatist communities across the country.

The communities, most in rural areas from Oregon to Florida, have as few as two members; Alapine is one of the largest. Many have steadily lost residents over the decades as members have moved on or died. As the impulse to withdraw from heterosexual society has lost its appeal to younger lesbians, womyn’s lands face some of the same challenges as Catholic convents that struggle to attract women to cloistered lives.

“The younger generation has not had to go through what we went through,” Ms. Greene said. She and other Alapine women described leading double lives when they were younger, playing the role of straight women in jobs and even marriages. “I came out in the middle ’60s, and we didn’t even have the word lesbian then,” Ms. Greene said.

“We are really going to have to work at how we carry this on,” she added. “In 20 to 25 years, we could be extinct.” Behind the gate at Alapine, about five miles from the nearest town in the southern Appalachian mountains near Georgia, the women live in simple houses or double-wide trailers on roads they have named after goddesses, like Diana Drive. They meet for potluck dinners, movie and game nights and “community full moon circles” during which they sing, read poems and share thoughts on topics like “Mercury in retrograde — how is it affecting our communication?”

I've often been struck by how similar the all male campgrounds I've visited are to these lesbian separatist compounds. For a week or a weekend or a summer at a time, gay men live on these campgrounds in a world completely off limits to women. However these campgrounds are merely a temporary diversion, not a way of life.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Broadway Friday

--- Equus star Daniel Radcliffe had his caricature added to the walls of Sardi's this week. The show closes on Feb. 8th.

--- Tom Wopat returns to the cast of Chicago on Feb. 16th.

--- Drag king stand-up comedian Murray Hill will host his annual Oscars party at Joe's Pub on Feb.22nd. $15 advance, $20 at the door.

--- Freebie: Spring Awakening's Duncan Sheik performs tonight at the Lincoln Center Barnes & Noble at 6pm. The Tony and Grammy-winning Sheik will be doing numbers from his new CD, Whisper House.

--- Gavin Creel (pictured right), Will Swenson, and Caissie Levy will headline the revival of Hair, which begins previews on March 6th.

--- Thriller - The Musical is headed for Broadway. The plot will follow the same lines as Michael Jackson's landmark 14-minute video and the show will include other songs from the album as well as tracks from Jackson's Off The Wall. Director John Landis is suing for 50% of all profits derived from his creation of the music video, saying that Jackson and his Broadway backer do not have the rights to the concept.

--- Rosie O'Donnell's Broadway Kids charity has opened a new headquarters just off Times Square. The Marvel Arts Center will provide musical theater training to NYC public school kids free of charge. The kids will receive professional training in dance, music, and drama.

--- VIDEO: Gavel Creel, Jenny Kanelos, Scott Duquette, and Rory O'Malley talk about Defying Inequality, Broadway's grassroots marriage equality movement.

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Survivors Gelt

Even though they got $5000 for their lost luggage and first class upgrades for the next year, some of the passengers of US Airways Flight 1459 think they should get first class upgrades for life.
"I think if you survive a plane crash, being upgraded permanently is a good gesture too," said Fred Berretta, 41, of Charlotte, NC, where the Airbus A320 was headed. Manhattanite Tess Sosa, who escaped the sinking plane with her husband and two small children, thought the airline was too focused on self-congratulations - and "they want to exonerate themselves as much as they can."

"They are happy they had such amazing results, and they applaud themselves, and then give us a small token?" she said. "That's how I take it." At La Guardia yesterday, other US Airways travelers were shocked by the airline's lowballing. "You're going to crash me into the water, and you're going to tell me all I get is an upgrade?" asked Antonio Sales, 20, who was traveling with the University of South Carolina's track team. "That's more of an 'OK, you're not dead, I'll give you something to hold on to.' It's not enough at all." Teammate Gabrielle Glenn, 20, was more blunt: "That's it. They should sue."
They were totally cheated out of those death benefits too! Personally, I'd be complaining about the lousy seven air miles added to my frequent flyer account.

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Daily Grumble

As I just Facebooked: "Joe ponders the futility of activism blogging when the top two searched items in years are 'Aretha's hat' and 'bacon explosion'."

Image via my pal Kitchenbeard.

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Virginia Marriage Ban Repeal Fails

Today Virginia lawmakers refused to allow a bill repealing that state's ban on same-sex marriage to come to a vote.
Lawmakers on the Privileges & Elections subcommittee in the Republican-controlled state House voted 7-1 to pass indefinitely on the initiative, meaning lawmakers would not take up the measure again this session. The measure, H.J. 657, would have repealed the Marshall-Newman Amendment to the Virginia state constitution, which 57 percent of Virginia voters ratified in 2006.

Those voting in favor of tabling the subcommittee measure were Del. William Janis (R-Henrico), Del. Lacey Putney (I-Bedford), Del. Frank Hargrove (R-Hanover), Del. John Cosgrove (R-Chesapeake), Del. Jeffrey Frederick (R-Prince William), Del. Clarence Phillips (D-Russell) and Del. Kenneth Alexander (D-Norfolk). The sole vote against killing the measure was Del. Joe Morrissey (D-Henrico). Del. David Englin (D-Alexandria), the sponsor of the repeal, said “it’s unfortunate” the measure didn’t pass and noted legislators went against his proposal because “the majority on the subcommittee just really, fundamentally doesn’t believe in equal rights for all people based on sexual orientation.”

(Via - Washington Blade)

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HuffPoll: Who's The Hottest Freshman Member Of Congress?

Huffington Post is running a silly poll asking "Who's The Hottest Congressional Freshman?" Among the candidates is openly gay Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). Click the image if you'd like to vote.

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Stimulated: Liberal Media Gives GOP Twice The Airtime Of Democrats

Via Think Progress comes this graph showing who the cable news programs are going for commentary on Barack Obama's stimulus package.

In total, from 6 AM on Monday to 4 PM on Wednesday, the networks have hosted Republican lawmakers 51 times and Democratic lawmakers only 24 times. Surprisingly, Fox News came the closest to offering balance, hosting 8 Republicans and 6 Democrats. CNN had only one Democrat compared to 7 Republicans. The drastically imbalanced coverage isn’t the first time that the news networks have effectively supported attacks on the recovery plans. As ThinkProgress reported on Monday, the cable networks, the Sunday shows and the network newscasts promoted a controversial CBO non-report 81 times before the actual CBO analysis of the stimulus plan was released.

Curse our communist liberal media!

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Six Ohio Churches Join In Marriage Protest

Congregations at six Ohio churches have agreed that their clergy will not sign marriage licenses until same-sex marriage is legal there.

Clergy at Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in Cleveland no longer will sign state marriage licenses until gay unions are legal in Ohio. That means heterosexual couples exchanging wedding vows at the 461-member church in the Tremont neighborhood will need an additional civil ceremony by a justice of the peace or a judge to make their union legal. The move, approved by an overwhelming voice vote during a congregational meeting over the weekend, is a civil-rights protest, said the Rev. John Tamilio III, head pastor of Pilgrim.

The church board of directors and the congregation agreed that signing marriage licenses for straight couples and not gay couples is unfair, he said. "It treats one segment of our congregation like second-class citizens. That is an injustice," said Tamilio. "We will still perform holy unions for all couples, we just won't sign the state license." At least six United Church of Christ congregations throughout the country, including one in Akron, refuse to sign marriage licenses as part of the protest. The Rev. Robert Dreese of First Grace United Church of Christ in Akron said he wrestled with the issue but concluded that the state was restricting him from serving all members of his congregation. He announced his decision from the pulpit two years ago. "There were tears, people were so moved," he said.

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HomoQuotable - Alan Cumming

"I’d like to see Obama naked. I think great leaders, charismatic leaders and men who are so confident and who have achieved so much, usually have big penises. I think there’s a correlation between the level of confidence, the level of the way a man can hold a room and the way he conducts himself in life, with his penis size — with his comfort with his penis size. So much of male psyche is taken up with how big your cock is; it’s a huge deal in our lives, and so when you’re confident about your penis size, it shows. Well, just look at him. Just the way he’s so kind of elegant and very confident in his body and himself. Also, someone told me that they worked out with him in a gym in Chicago, and it was big." - Actor Alan Cumming, talking to New York Magazine.

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Sec. Of Commerce Pick Could Give Dems 60 Seat Supermajority In Senate

Barack Obama is reportedly leaning towards picking Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) to be Bill Richardson's replacement as Secretary of Commerce. If Gregg is selected, New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch would probably appoint a fellow Democrat to fill the empty Senate seat. Which means that IF Obama picks Gregg and IF Al Franken survives the latest recount and IF Lynch appoints a Democrat, the Dems would have a 60 seat supermajority in the Senate. Got all that?

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Kansas Tries Again

Activists in Kansas are trying to get a bill adding sexual orientation and gender identity protections out of committee.
"It’s clear that the time has come to extend the same protections from discrimination to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people that so many other Kansans already enjoy,” said Maggie Childs, of Lawrence, board chair of the Kansas Equality Coalition. The coalition had a bill introduced before the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee. A similar proposal had been heard last year by the committee, but wasn’t voted on because it lacked a majority to advance the bill. This year, backers of the measure said they think they can get a favorable committee recommendation because some of the membership of the committee has changed. “We’re very hopeful we’ll get a vote this year,” said Thomas Witt, a lobbyist for the coalition. In 2007, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius issued an executive order adding protections for gays and lesbians working at state executive agencies.

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Facebook Kills Whopper Promotion

Facebook has stepped in and deleted Burger King's Whopper promotion because it violated their rule about notifying people when you unfriend them.
While many trivial actions do prompt Facebook to post an alert to all your friends — adding a photo, changing your relationship status, using Fandango to buy tickets to “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” — striking someone off your list simply is not one of them. It is this policy that Burger King ran afoul of this month with its “Whopper Sacrifice” campaign, which offered a free hamburger to anyone who severed the sacred bonds with 10 of the friends they had accumulated on Facebook.

Facebook suspended the program because Burger King was sending notifications to the castoffs letting them know they’d been dropped for a sandwich (or, more accurately, a tenth of a sandwich).
The campaign, which boasted of ending 234,000 friendships, is history now — Burger King chose to end it rather than tweak it to fit Facebook’s policy — but the same can hardly be said of the emerging anxiety it tapped. As social networking becomes ubiquitous, people with an otherwise steady grip on social etiquette find themselves flummoxed by questions about “unfriending” people: how to do it, when to do it and how to get away with it quietly.
Facebook doesn't like the hurt feelings that come with an unfriending notice and prefer that such actions hopefully go unnoticed.

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Winners In A Losing Economy

Two companies somehow doing OK these days are Amazon..... Inc., the world’s largest Internet retailer, posted an 8.7 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit after promotions and discounts lured consumers to its Web site. Sales beat estimates, sending the shares up 13 percent. Net income climbed to $225 million, or 52 cents a share, from $207 million, or 48 cents, a year earlier, the Seattle- based company said today in a statement. Sales rose 18 percent to $6.7 billion, compared with an estimate of $6.45 billion in a Bloomberg survey of analysts.
And McDonald's:
US fast-food giant McDonald's said Monday its 2008 net profit soared 80 percent from a year, lifted by growing demand from consumers seeking low-cost meals in a deepening global recession. Net profit for the full year totaled 4.3 billion dollars, compared with 2.3 billion in 2007, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said in a statement. Excluding exceptional items, earnings per share were 3.76 dollars, widely exceeding consensus market forecasts of 3.63 dollars. The robust annual results came despite a sharp 23 percent decline in fourth-quarter net profit to 985 million dollars, from 1.273 billion in the 2007 fourth quarter. Fourth-quarter earnings per share were 87 cents, above expectations of 83 cents. "2008 was a strong year for McDonald's," chief executive Jim Skinner said in the statement.
RELATED: Much of Amazon's jump is due to the Kindle, which sold out again over the holidays.

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Blago Booted

Rod Blagojevich and his hair brush were unanimously booted out of office yesterday by the Illinois senate in a 59-0 vote.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich was thrown out of office Thursday without a single lawmaker coming to his defense, brought down by a government-for-sale scandal that stretched from Chicago to Capitol Hill and turned the foul-mouthed politician into a national punchline.

Blagojevich, accused of trying to sell Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat, becomes the first U.S. governor in more than 20 years to be removed by impeachment. After a four-day trial, the Illinois Senate voted 59-0 to convict him of abuse of power, automatically ousting the second-term Democrat. In a second, identical vote, lawmakers further barred Blagojevich from ever holding public office in the state again. "He failed the test of character. He is beneath the dignity of the state of Illinois. He is no longer worthy to be our governor," said Sen. Matt Murphy, a Republican from suburban Chicago.

Democratic Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn was sworn in immediately after the senate vote. One of Quinn's first acts was to cancel Blagojevich's security protection. Blago must now face federal corruption charges.

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Court: Prop 8 Donor List To Remain Public

A federal judge has ruled that donors to Proposition 8 will continue to have their names made public.

"If there ever needs to be sunshine on a particular issue, it's a ballot measure," U.S. District Judge Morrison England said after a one-hour hearing in his Sacramento courtroom. A lawyer for the Prop. 8 campaign said it would ask an appeals court to modify or overturn the law, which requires disclosure of all contributors of $100 or more. The federal lawsuit, unrelated to the validity of Prop. 8, was filed Jan. 8 by the ballot measure's sponsoring committee, Protect Marriage. The suit said Internet disclosure of donors' names and other identifying information in state-mandated reports has led to consumer boycotts, picketing and even death threats.

By requiring disclosure, "the government is getting in the middle (of the issue) and saying, 'Here are the people to go after,' " Richard Coleson, a lawyer for the committee, told England. He argued that the $100 disclosure requirement - adopted by California voters in 1974 - should be struck down, modified to raise the dollar limits, or at least not applied to Prop. 8's contributors. As a first step, Coleson said, the campaign should be exempted from the state's post-election contribution report, due next Monday. Otherwise, he said, in future initiative campaigns "you will have donations dry up, and one side will be able to overcome another by intimidation and not be persuasion."

The supporters of Prop 8 are particularly upset by, a Google Maps mash-up with the official public records which identify individual donors by street location.

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#1 This Week In 1977

In January 1977 Rose Royce took their debut single Car Wash, the theme from the blaxploitation movie of the same name, to #1 on the pop chart for one week. The single was written and produced by Motown's legendary Norman Whitfield, who took Rose Royce with him when he jumped ship for MCA Records. Rose Royce scored three more Top 40 singles: I Wanna Get Next To You (#10 and also from Car Wash), 1977's Do Your Dance (#39 and a total rip off of Car Wash), and 1978's Love Don't Live Here Anymore (#32). The group continues to be popular in the UK, where they have scored nine Top 40 hits, including the #18 remake titled Car Wash '98.

TRIVIA: Rose Royce covers abound. The Cover Girls hit #9 in 1992 with Wishing On A Star, which was also covered by Teena Marie, Paul Weller, and Beyonce. In 1996 Madonna had small success with Love Don't Live Here Anymore (#78), which was also covered by Faith Evans, Joe Cocker, and Patti Labelle. My favorite Rose Royce track, the minor hit I'm Going Down (#70), was covered by Mary J. Blige, reaching #14 in 1995. Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliot's cover of Car Wash reached #63 in 2004.

RELATED: Antonio "Huggy Bear' Fargas' gay character in Car Wash was one of the first loud and proud queens I'd ever seen in a movie. "Honey, I'm more man than you'll ever be and more woman than you'll ever get!" Suh-NAP.

UPDATE: World famous and legendary DJ Jerry Bonham points out that S'Express' monster 1988 hit, Theme From S'Express, is mostly based on a lengthy sample of Rose Royce's 1978 song, Is It Love You're After.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama Signs Equal Pay Bill

Barack Obama signed his first bill today. The act extends the statute of limitations for workers that want to sue their employers for unequal pay.
Mr. Obama was surrounded by a group of beaming lawmakers, most but not all of them Democrats, in the East Room of the White House as he affixed his signature to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law named for an Alabama woman who at the end of a 19-year career as a supervisor in a tire factory complained that she had been paid less than men. After a Supreme Court ruling against her, Congress approved the legislation that expands workers’ rights to sue in this kind of case, relaxing the statute of limitations.

“It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness,” the president said. He said was signing the bill not only in honor of Ms. Ledbetter — who stood behind him, shaking her head and clasping her hands in seeming disbelief — but in honor of his own grandmother, “who worked in a bank all her life, and even after she hit that glass ceiling, kept getting up again” and for his daughters, “because I want them to grow up in a nation that values their contributions, where there are no limits to their dreams.”
You may recall the TV spot that Lilly Ledbetter did for Obama during the campaign.

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Sarah Palin Sets Up PAC (For 2012?)

Sarah Palin is denying that she intends to run for president in 2012, but she's just set up a political action know, just in case. Via US News' Robert Schlesinger:

Asked if her new political action committee was an early signal that she is running for president in 2012, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin replied: "No, not at all, not at all, no. It's helpful to have a PAC so that when I'm invited to things even like to speak at the Lincoln Day dinner in Fairbanks, to have a PAC pay for that instead of have the state pay for that because that could be considered quasi-political." Uh-huh. She's being something less than completely honest here, but we can forgive her.

Basically, ignore her first sentence ("No, not at all, not at all, no.") Everything else she said is true, as I blogged here yesterday. That's the reason pols form leadership PACs (and that's what she has here): So they can travel around state and country campaigning for their party colleagues. We can also expect her to use some of the PAC money for political contributions (and as I said yesterday, the clearest sign that she's running for president would be PAC contributions to state legislators in places like Iowa and New Hampshire).

But politicians—especially rising star pols like Palin—don't raise money and make national appearances out of the goodness of their hearts; they don't do it because of unselfish dedication to party; and they don't do it because they want to raise their state's profile. She may not be running for president yet (though the FEC seems to think she is), but she's positioning herself to run in a couple of years. Like I said, we can forgive her for being less than honest here: No pol smart enough to run for president (admittedly not a high bar) would openly declare such interest this far out.

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Only Homos Don't Eat Meat

A straight and married Wall Street trader is suing his former employers, saying that they tormented him for his vegetarianism and told him that only homosexuals don't eat meat.
Ryan Pacifico is suing Calyon in the Americas, charging that his one-time boss at the French financial firm presided over a testosterone-fueled trading desk, where he was mocked for avoiding meat and wearing snug-fitting shorts during triathlons. "A trading floor is certainly a manly man's world," Pacifico said. "I just never expected someone to think it's gay to be a vegetarian or to constantly poke fun at me." The 28-year-old Long Island man worked as a junior foreign-exchange trader in Manhattan for the firm from 2005 until he was fired last March. Pacifico's discrimination lawsuit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, contends the firm cooked up lies about his job performance to fire him - when the real factors were that he was a vegetarian who was perceived to be gay by boss Robert Catalanello. "They associated being a vegetarian with being gay," said Rick Ostrove, a lawyer for Pacifico. "It's a ridiculous male stereotype that only real men eat meat."
Pacifico says at one time his boss taunted him with "You don't even eat steak, dude. At what point in time did you realize you were gay?"

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Melissa Etheridge Defends Standing Up For Rick Warren

Yesterday Melissa Etheridge appeared on Michelangelo Signorile's SiriusXM radio show to speak about her defense of Rick Warren. Etheridge responded to her critics by saying, "I am sorry if they felt like in any way I undermined them. I truly believe everyone has their perspective and position on this. I’m glad for the activists who say this is not right to include someone who has spoke very poorly about a community that got this man elected...I also know I had this experience that I had to speak about...I think the best thing I can do for the gay community is speak my truth and say this is what happened to me."

Listen to the full interview here
. Etheridge appears genuinely clueless to some of the things Rick Warren has said about gay people.

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Lesbian PM Takes Reins In Iceland

The world's first openly gay leader takes power in Iceland today.
Johanna Sigurdardottir, 66, is to become interim leader until new elections are held in May following the fall of the administration of Geir Haarde amid huge public protests about the country's economic crisis. The country's social affairs minister, Ms Sigurdardottir has been installed as head of an interim centre-left coalition featuring her Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green movement.

"Now we need a strong government that works with the people," she told reporters, adding that her new administration was likely to be sworn in on Saturday. Doubts remain, however, as to whether Ms Sigurdardottir can retain power after May's elections as her Alliance party trails the Left-Green movement in the polls. However, her appointment marks a historic milestone for the gay and lesbian community worldwide. She lives with a journalist, Jonina Leosdottir, with whom she was joined in a 2002 civil partnership, and has two sons from a previous marriage.
Sigurdardottir is a former flight attendant.

RELATED: Since I first mentioned this story, I've gotten a number of emails disputing the claim that Sigurdardottir is the world's first gay leader. Some have mentioned U.S. president James Buchanan and others have cited various kings and popes. The key word here, of course, is "openly". And while centuries ago certain kings and popes may have made no secret of their same-sex desires, the concept of gayness is certainly a relatively modern invention.

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Gays Advance Again In Colombia

Yesterday Colombia's Constitutional Court granted sweeping equal "civil, political, social and economic rights" to gay couples.
The high court ordered complete equality in criminal and civil court cases and disciplinary investigations. The latest ruling means that the gay partner can claim pension from the military if his or her same sex partner dies and are allowed to refuse to testify against their partner in a criminal investigation. Until now these rights were reserved for straight couples only.

Furthermore, members of the LGBT community are allowed to claim alimony payments after a separation from their partner. Representatives of the gay community in Colombia responded positively to the ruling, calling the ruling "historic". Marcela Sanchez Buitrago, director of gay rights group Colombia Diversa, the struggle for human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples benefit soiety as a whole.
Wow. Alimony, pensions, the full deal. Same-sex couples now have the same rights as straight couples after cohabitating for two years. Last year Colombia nearly approved gay marriage, but the bill was defeated at the last minute.

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Zero GOP Support For Stimulus Plan

Not a single House Republican voted for Barack Obama's stimulus plan yesterday, but it passed anyway.
A nearly $820 billion stimulus package passed the House of Representatives Wednesday without a single Republican vote. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it stands a better chance of picking up at least a modicum of bipartisan support. Approval of the bill is a victory for President Barack Obama and comes only eight days after his inauguration -- the swiftest passage of such a massive package in American history. The vote was 244-188, with 11 Democrats crossing party lines and opposing the measure.

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GLAAD's Neil Giuliano Is Quitting

GLAAD president Neil Giuliano is stepping down at the end of the summer to pursue "personal interests". Kind of interesting, as last fall he renewed his contract for another three years.
"It's a balance of a lot of fun, but the fun is also work," Giuliano said. "You have to attend a lot of events, and yes you get to be around high-profile and famous people. But sometimes that means having to tell some of our friends that we think they are wrong." Before taking the top post at GLAAD, Giuliano spent a decade from 1994 to 2004 as the Republican mayor of Tempe, Ariz. He came out as gay in 1996 and in 2001 survived a recall election that grew out of his advocating against an employee fundraising drive that benefited the Boy Scouts.

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Haggards On Oprah

Ted Haggard and his wife Gayle appeared on Oprah yesterday and what a festival of nonsense and doubletalk it was. Haggard isn't straight, he isn't gay, he isn't bi, he's just "got issues". God made him this way, but God wants him to resist. Oh, and a monogamous heterosexual relationship is still the only way to go. For her part, Gayle trots out the old "desire vs. behavior" theme - if ol' Teddy is only thinking about mansex, not doing it, then he's straight. I'll have to say that Oprah called them on their bullshit at least twice.

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CA Readies For Prop 8 Hearing

All the parties have submitted their briefs in advance of the March hearing by the California Supreme Court as to whether to overturn Proposition 8. The marriage equality side contends that Prop 8 is invalid for three reasons:

-- It had such a drastic impact on individual rights that it amounted to a revision of the Constitution, not merely an amendment. A revision can be placed on the ballot only by a two-thirds legislative vote or by delegates to a constitutional convention.

-- It violated the constitutional separation of powers by stripping the courts of their authority to protect a minority group from discrimination.

-- It eliminated "inalienable rights," those protected by the Declaration of Rights in the opening clause of the state Constitution, without a compelling reason. That argument comes from Attorney General Jerry Brown, who reversed course after defending the previous marriage law before the court.

A ruling is expected with 90 days of the hearing. It will be the final word on marriage equality in California until one of the opposing camps puts it back on the ballot again.

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This Charming Man

Dick Armey pissed off a lot of feminists yesterday.
In a heated debate over the state of politics and the economy on Wednesday night, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey almost certainly crossed the line of acceptable banter, telling his fellow panelist Joan Walsh that he was glad she could never be his wife because of her "prattle."

Appearing on Hardball, the two guests went back and forth over the contours of the current debate on the stimulus package being passed through Congress. Towards the end, however, the conversation devolved into gender-infused insults.

"I'm so damn glad you can never be my wife because I surely wouldn't have to listen to that prattle from you every day," Armey told Walsh, editor-in-chief of "That's what I'm talking about -- she's making a political malarkey here."

"Boy...that makes two of us sir," Walsh replied. "That was really an outstanding comment."

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USPS May Cut Schedule

The post office is considering cutting its delivery schedule.
Massive deficits could force the post office to cut out one day of mail delivery, the postmaster general told Congress on Wednesday, in asking lawmakers to lift the requirement that the agency deliver mail six days a week. If the change happens, that doesn't necessarily mean an end to Saturday mail delivery. Previous post office studies have looked at the possibility of skipping some other day when mail flow is light, such as Tuesday.

Faced with dwindling mail volume and rising costs, the post office was $2.8 billion in the red last year. "If current trends continue, we could experience a net loss of $6 billion or more this fiscal year," Postmaster General John E. Potter said in testimony for a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee. Total mail volume was 202 billion items last year, over 9 billion less than the year before, the largest single volume drop in history. And, despite annual rate increases, Potter said 2009 could be the first year since 1946 that the actual amount of money collected by the post office declines. "It is possible that the cost of six-day delivery may simply prove to be unaffordable," Potter said. "I reluctantly request that Congress remove the annual appropriation bill rider, first added in 1983, that requires the Postal Service to deliver mail six days each week."

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Open Thread Thursday

What are you reading?

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# This Week In 1974

Ringo Starr's cover of Johnny Burnette's 1960 #8 hit, You're Sixteen, hit #1 for one week in January 1974. It was Starr's second of two #1's as a solo artist, the other being 1973's Photograph. Paul McCartney plays the kazoo, making You're Sixteen the only #1 record in history to feature a kazoo solo. You should be able to identify the now world famous 16 year-old in this video, although I'm thinking that these days people would take a dim view of a scruffy-looking 33 year-old rock star singing about his 16 year-old lover.

TRIVIA: As a solo artist, Ringo Starr scored ten Top 40 hits, his last in 1981. In addition to the two #1's listed above, his biggest hits were 1971's It Don't Come Easy (#4), 1972's Back Off Boogaloo (#9), 1974's Oh My My (#5), 1974's Only You (And You Alone) (#6), and 1975's No No Song (#3).

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pepsi's Gay Ad

The latest ad from Pepsi plays on the old "Surprise! He's a HOMO!" schtick. Meh. Not too funny, but not really offensive - except maybe the expressions on the faces of the male friends. Of course, this ad (which is only running in the UK) is just more fuel for the doomed-to-fail-anyway boycott of Pepsi by the American Family Association.

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The Lone Deer Theory

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The Bacon Explosion

The hottest Super Bowl recipe on the internet: the Bacon Explosion.
For a nation seeking unity, a recipe has swept the Internet that seems to unite conservatives and liberals, gun owners and foodies, carnivores and ... well, not vegetarians and health fanatics. Certainly not the vegetarians and health fanatics. This recipe is the Bacon Explosion, modestly called by its inventors “the BBQ Sausage Recipe of all Recipes.” The instructions for constructing this massive torpedo-shaped amalgamation of two pounds of bacon woven through and around two pounds of sausage and slathered in barbecue sauce first appeared last month on the Web site of a team of Kansas City competition barbecuers. They say a diverse collection of well over 16,000 Web sites have linked to the recipe, celebrating, or sometimes scolding, its excessiveness. A fresh audience could be ready to discover it on Super Bowl Sunday.
Do I post too much about bacon, the perfect food? Remember Baconnaise?

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Mad Magazine On Obama

Pretty much says it all. In related news, Mad is cutting back to publishing quarterly after being a monthly since 1955.

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Andrea Mitchell, Gay Icon?

The NY Observer thinks so.
Sure, there’s Rachel Maddow and that wry smile, there’s Anderson Cooper and his silver foxiness, but Andrea … she’s got something else. But what was it? We were pretty sure it had something to do with her performance at the very end of last year’s Republican convention, when she appeared completely unfazed by the avalanche of red, white and blue balloons pouring over her as she reported from the floor. Endearing, tenacious, resilient!

We decided to take a sample of some of our friends. We sent them an IM that went something along the lines of: “Andrea Mitchell: Secretly a gay icon?”

“I do love her! She’s so sassy,” said our friend Chris. “I’ve always been more of an Eleanor Clift man myself,” said Adam, referring to the Newsweek writer and weekly McLaughlin Groupie. “There’s something to be said for gays and Sunday morning political talk shows, though.” “I like her,” said Rick of Andrea. “She’s the Golden Girls rolled into one: the body of Sophia, the sassiness of Dorothy and probably a sex kitten like Blanche, and most likely from the Midwest, like Rose.” Well, for the record, she’s from New York, but sex kitten? We’re betting yes. In an interview with Time in 2005, she was asked, “What’s your pet name for [hubby Alan Greenspan]?” She responded: “I can tell you it’s not Mr. Chairman.”
I'm not seeing it. Kids today.

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Daily Grumble

It really annoys me that there's a misspelled word in the Rachael Ray Diet banner ad on this here website thingy. Can't do a thing about it. Grrr.

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Washington State Goes For
"Everything But Marriage"

Lawmakers in Washington state are submitting a bill that will offer same-sex couples all the rights and responsibilities of marriage - but not the name.
Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, who sponsored the state's domestic partnership law in 2007, is sponsoring the expansion bill in the Senate this year; Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D-Seattle, is sponsoring the measure in the House. A news conference to announce the bill was planned Wednesday on the Capitol campus. "This is everything but marriage," Pedersen said Tuesday night.

The 110-page bill makes changes to all remaining areas of state law where currently only married couples are addressed. The bill would add same-sex domestic partners to state statutes ranging from labor and employment to pensions and other public employee benefits. "Although we view this as an improvement that provides real and concrete protections to same-sex partners, it's an inadequate substitute for marriage," Pedersen said. "Our hope is that the continuing success of this legislation helps people understand what marriage is, and that it gets them more comfortable with treating all families with equality dignity and respect." Pedersen and Murray said that a same-sex marriage measure, also introduced Tuesday, is unlikely to go anywhere this year, but is meant to spark further discussion. "It's entirely possible that next year, enough things might have changed that we feel like it's time to make a run at the marriage bill," Pedersen said. "We're not there now. But it's not out of the question."
Because of budget difficulties, if approved the bill will not offer any financial benefits until 2012. To be eligible, a couple must share a home, be over 18, and cannot be in a married or domestic relationship with anybody else. Straight senior couples with at least one party over the age of 62 will also be eligible.

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The results are in.

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The Bonus Conundrum

As much as everybody complains about Wall Street's bonuses, their decline is one of the leading causes of tax woes for the city and state.
New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says the state will lose nearly $1 billion in revenues because cash bonuses to Wall Street employees declined 44% last year. Mr. DiNapoli estimates in a report released Wednesday that the securities industry paid its New York City employees roughly $18 billion in bonuses for 2008, compared with nearly $33 billion in 2007. He evaluated personal income tax collections and other factors, including industry revenue and expense trends. The decline is the largest on record in dollars and the largest percentage decline in more than 30 years. Before the financial crisis, business and personal income tax collections from Wall Street accounted for up to 20% of state tax revenues and 12% of city tax revenues.

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Adams Spokesman Quits

Although his boss returned to work on Monday, Sam Adams' spokesman quit the next day.

Wade Nkrumah, the spokesman for Mayor Sam Adams, resigned his post Monday evening, the same day that Adams returned to work after admitting he lied about a 2005 relationship. Nkrumah, 48, declined to comment on his reasons but said his departure was voluntary. He said he spoke with the mayor and submitted a short resignation letter. Adams, he said, was "disappointed." Nkrumah, a former reporter for The Oregonian, said he has no new job lined up. He accepted the post in November, with Adams set to take over as mayor in January. Nkrumah said he does not believe anyone else on Adams' staff has resigned in the wake of Adams' admission that he lied about a 2005 relationship with Beau Breedlove.

Adams says he is staying in his position, but the police investigation is apparently continuing.

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Morning View - Sleety Mess

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Memo To Gayle Haggard:
He's Just Not That Into You

Gayle Haggard will appear with her totally gay husband on Oprah today, where she says that she's known since the early days of their 30-year marriage that Ted had nasty thoughts about mansex. Gayle: "I felt it was the thing that could destroy Ted if he gave in to it. So I prayed for him and I felt as though he was winning the battle."

Yet she was shocked when the Mike Jones thingy happened. SHOCKED! Meanwhile she'd lived the typically lavish lifestyle of the wife of a wealthy evangelical. No sympathy here for Mrs. Haggard. She knew what she was getting into and as long as the big bucks kept rolling in, she was happy to roll around on giant piles of money sent in by the idiots her husband had terrified with his anti-gay sermons. Gayle, he's just not that into you. He never was. And you knew it. Drop the fucking victim act, nobody's buying it.

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The Gay Alphabet

Everbody who thought "M" would be for "Madonna", raise your hands.

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Scottish Catholics: Gays Shouldn't Be Allowed To Adopt Because They Die Early

Here's another lovely message from the Catholic Church, this one from Scotland.
"There is an overwhelming body of evidence showing that same-sex relationships are inherently unstable and reduce the life expectancy of those involved," claimed church spokesman Peter Kearney. He was commenting on the case of two children who have been adopted by a gay couple. Their grandparents wanted to adopt but were informed by Edinburgh City Council they are too old to do so.

Mr Kearney told the Daily Mail: "This is a devastating decision which will have a serious impact on the welfare of the children involved. With this in mind, the social work department has deliberately ignored evidence which undermines their decision and opted for politically correct posturing rather than providing stability and protection. It is impossible to see how this decision is in the best interests of the children."

In October the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland's Bishop’s Conference attacked the right of gay couples to adopt. "Catholic adoption agencies are now to be indifferent as to whether a child is to be placed with a married couple of a homosexual cohabiting couple; this is gravely wrong," the bishops said. Policies must help encourage family stability." The Bishop of Motherwell, Jim Devine, has been more outspoken. Last year he claimed that the "gay lobby" attends Holocaust memorials "to create for themselves the image of a group of people under persecution." The bishop said there is a "giant conspiracy" going on and claimed he is taking on the forces of secularism.
In the case in question, two gay men were allowed to adopt a young brother and sister over the objections of the children's biological grandparents, who were told by the court that at ages 46 and 59, they were too old to look after small children.

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Eat Dirt

Everybody knows that humanity's relatively newfound obsession with cleanliness and germ eradication has spawned a host of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. An interesting story in the NYT says that there's a reason kids will eat dirt if you let them - it's an instinctive behavior that provides an evolutionary advantage.
In studies of what is called the hygiene hypothesis, researchers are concluding that organisms like the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with “dirt” spur the development of a healthy immune system. Several continuing studies suggest that worms may help to redirect an immune system that has gone awry and resulted in autoimmune disorders, allergies and asthma. These studies, along with epidemiological observations, seem to explain why immune system disorders like multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and allergies have risen significantly in the United States and other developed countries.
One scientist says: “Children should be allowed to go barefoot in the dirt, play in the dirt, and not have to wash their hands when they come in to eat." He also says kids should have dogs and cats so they can pick up the animals' intestinal worms.

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CA Court: Religious Schools Can Expel Gays

A disappointing ruling from California in the case of the Christian school whose teacher spied on students' MySpace pages and had two girls expelled for being gay.
After a Lutheran school expelled two 16-year-old girls for having "a bond of intimacy" that was "characteristic of a lesbian relationship," the girls sued, contending the school had violated a state anti-discrimination law. In response to that suit, an appeals court decided this week that the private religious school was not a business and therefore did not have to comply with a state law that prohibits businesses from discriminating. A lawyer for the girls said Tuesday that he would ask the California Supreme Court to overturn the unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal.

The appeals court called its decision "narrow," but lawyers on both sides of the case said it would protect private religious schools across California from such discrimination suits. Kirk D. Hanson, who represented the girls, said the "very troubling" ruling would permit private schools to discriminate against anyone, as long as the schools used their religious beliefs as justification. "It is almost like it could roll back 20 to 30 years of progress we have made in this area," said the San Diego attorney. "Basically, this decision gives private schools the license to discriminate." John McKay, who represented the Riverside County-based California Lutheran High School, said the ruling correctly acknowledged that the school's purpose was to "teach Christian values in a Christian setting pursuant to a Christian code of conduct."
The appeals court judge cited the precedent of the Boy Scouts having been ruled a private organization, not a business, and therefore exempt from discrimination laws. The students are now in college and decline to identify their sexual orientation.

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#1 This Week In 1982

In January 1982, Wordy Rappinghood and Genius Of Love, two tracks from the debut album of the Talking Heads' side project, Tom Tom Club, shared the #1 slot on Billboard's dance chart for one week. Comprised of Talking Heads bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Franz, Tom Tom Club has released six albums to date, the most recent a live set in 2003. These two tracks, Genius Of Love in particular, have become among the most influential and heavily sampled records in dance history. Genius Of Love only reached #34 on the pop singles chart, but Mariah Carey's take on the song, Fantasy, topped the pop charts in 1995 for eight weeks and the remix hit #1 on the dance chart as well. Of the two however, Wordy Rappinghood is my favorite. It's OK, I've overstood.

TRIVIA: Among the zillion rap acts that have sampled Genius Of Love are Tupac Shakur, Cam'Ron, Redman, and P.M. Dawn. My favorite is Genius Rap by Dr. Jeckyll And Mr. Hyde. In 2004, Chicks On Speed put out a decent version of Wordy Rappinghood.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Ex-Gay" Richard Cohen Is Back!

Ex-Gay Watch just posted the above clip of uber-crazy "former" homosexual Richard Cohen with his Moonie wife. Oh, the strange hilarity.
The video above is from the upcoming movie Chasing the Devil: Inside the Ex-Gay Movement by Bill Hussung and Mishara Canino-Hussing. Ex-Gay guru and all around bizarre guy Richard Cohen seems only too happy to participate, bringing back memories of pillows and tennis rackets. Listen carefully, there are some interesting comments. One that I didn’t quite get is in the beginning, he’s says he has been married for “2300 23,000 years”? Is that just a joke or is it a Moonie thing? (I honestly don’t know)

Dr. Jack Drescher brings us a brief period of sanity, perhaps laced with bemusement at what he is seeing — yet again. Meanwhile,Cohen has a new web site and is training “coaches” or whatever, having apparently mended fences with Exodus International. One has to wonder, when will someone on that side of the aisle deal with Cohen in a public way? Or is this Prop 8 where the ends justify the means and keeping ex-gay pseudo-science going — even this most bizarre of chapters — is justifiable? Think about that as they put on happy faces and spin, spin, spin at the ongoing Exodus Leadership conference.

Anybody remember the immortal clip of Cohen "beating out" his homosexual tendencies with a tennis racket and a pillow? Ex-Gay Watch linked it above, in case you need a laugh. Yesterday Pam Spaulding posted Cohen's typically twisted condemnation of Prayers For Bobby, to which Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out responded:

Like a cheap infomercial, Cohen goes on to promote his silly products and continues to use his family - including his Moonie wife - in photos, as if they are mere props. Talk about moral turpitude and disrespect for the family! ...But, somehow the health of GLBT youths and modern science is irrelevant if it conflicts with Cohen’s religious dogma and bizarre, fringe psychological theories. Indeed, Cohen’s answer is having Bobby, if he were alive, pay him good money to bang a tennis racket against a pillow. Um, yeah, that would have saved him. In my view, Cohen is a greedy, opportunistic shyster who will capitalize on any tragedy to make a quick buck. Has this man no shame?

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HRC's "State To State" Report

The Human Rights Campaign has published their "State To State" report, a comprehensive listing of what legislation may be coming regarding LGBT rights in every state in 2009 as well as what happened in 2008. Their summary for the coming year:
· Marriage equality: Maine, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont are expected to take up legislation. In addition, Iowa’s state Supreme Court is set to decide a case that could provide marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples in that state, and California’s state Supreme Court could rule on a case seeking to invalidate the Proposition 8 vote on the grounds that it improperly eliminated the fundamental right to marry by a simple majority vote on election day.

· Relationship recognition legislation: New Mexico and Hawaii appear ready to consider broad relationship recognition legislation, domestic partnership and civil unions, respectively. In Utah, advocates will seek action on a slate of pro-equality legislation dubbed the “Common Ground Initiative” and aimed at delivering specific protections, including domestic partner rights and anti-discrimination protections, to LGBT people and their families.

· Anti-discrimination legislation: Delaware and Ohio, are poised to consider legislation that would apply to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Three other states, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, may look to add prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity to existing laws already prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in those states.

· Adoption: In the wake of an anti-adoption vote on election day in Arkansas that will prohibit adoption or foster parenting by unmarried couples, there are concerns that several state legislatures may take up anti-adoption legislation this year similarly aimed at preventing gay and lesbian couples from adopting.

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Rejected: PETA's Super Bowl Ad

PETA's "vegetarians have better sex" Super Bowl ad was rejected by NBC because it "depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards." What, models in lingerie rubbing asparagus on their vah-jay-jay is too far?

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McCain Discovers Twitter

Anthony Hecht at Slog writes: "A fascinating mix of exactly what you'd expect McCain to Twitter ('I am working in my office on Capitol Hill today.", "I'm traveling today with Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Joe Lieberman.", "GET OFF MY LAWN!"), and bizarre use of internet acronyms that no one over 25 uses (ICYMI)."

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Lesbian Prime Minister For Iceland?

Icelandic pol Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir is poised to become the world's first openly gay prime minister.
The current Minister for Social Affairs, Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir of the Social Democrats, said she is prepared to assume the position of prime minister as long as she senses that her position is backed by sufficient trust. Foreign Minister and chairwoman of the Social Democrats Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir proposed that Sigurdardóttir replace Geir H. Haarde, chairman of the Independence Party, as prime minister yesterday, Fréttabladid reports.

Sigurdardóttir said the idea had only been discussed with her yesterday morning. Her first choice of a coalition is a minority government with the Left-Greens and backing from the Progressive Party. “Another option is a minority government with the Social Democrats and passivity of the Left-Greens and Progressive Party.”

On whether she had discussed the matter with the Left-Greens, Sigurdardóttir replied, “I’m always talking with the Left-Greens.” According to an opinion poll undertaken by Capacent Gallup in December 2008, Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir is the most popular minister—73 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with her work. Sigurdardóttir is also the only minister whose popularity had increased compared to a similar poll undertaken in December 2007. If Sigurdardóttir does become prime minister, she will be the first woman to serve as prime minister in the country’s history and also the first openly gay prime minister in the world.
Andrew Sullivan suggests that prime minister of Iceland is the "second worst job in the world" due to the country's bankrupt status. Last week's riots there may be the springboard to Sigurdardóttir taking over.
Last week, riots erupted in bankrupt Iceland over rising costs and an ineffective government response to the economic crisis. 8,000 Icelanders turned out for a protest, calling for Prime Minister Geir Haarde's immediate resignation, the dissolution of Parliament, a new constitution, and an investigation into any wrongdoing that might underlie bankrupt Iceland's economic woes. Last week's protest, the largest in Iceland's history, prompted the Prime Minister to set the election for May 9 and promise not to run for re-election. But disgruntled Icelanders were unhappy with the May date and called for the Prime Minister's immediate ouster. Iceland's Commerce Minister Bjorgvin Sigurdsson resigned two days before Haarde announced his plans to resign.
Whatever the reason, it's LGBT history in the making.

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Wingnuts Losing It Over White House LGBT Rights Agenda

Matt Staver of the Liberty Counsel appeared on Mike Huckabee's show to complain about the LGBT rights agenda posted on the White House's site "just FIVE minutes!!" after Obama was sworn in. Staver uses all the same old tired examples (Ocean Grove pavilion, New Mexico wedding photographer) to predict the stifling of religious dissent.

(Via - Good As You)

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Flatiron To Become Luxury Hotel

NYC's iconic Flatiron Building is going to be converted to a luxury hotel.
New Yorkers are happy to hear the iconic Flatiron Building may open as a world-class hotel, even if it is 10 years down the line. "This sounds like one development project that actually makes sense," said Johnanna Acevedo, 36, who lives in the neighborhood and works in real estate. "I only see winners in this deal, I don't see any downside."

The Daily News exclusively reported Monday that Italian real estate conglomerate The Sorgente Group bought a majority stake in the landmark. It plans to gradually take over the rest and transform the office space into a hotel. Despite the economic downturn, experts say there is demand for more hotel rooms in New York City, where occupancy rates are still way above the national average. "Now is the perfect time to think about building a hotel because of the long construction time involved," said John Fox, a hotel industry expert in Manhattan. "Up until this fall, city hotels had been on a steady upward climb since the months after 9/11, and that will more than likely continue in years to come."

Fox said city hotels have been at about 85% occupancy since 2006. While levels may stay lower than usual in the coming months, there is still a shortage of hotel rooms in the city. He thinks the Flatiron Building is an ideal spot to add more. "It's a landmark structure and it's immediately recognizable," he said. "Because of the way it's situated, the views from the rooms will be good, and that's a neighborhood with a diverse group of businesses and restaurants."
The views may be great, but those are going to be some funkily shaped hotel rooms.

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Wheel Of Fortune Contestant:
"That's My Fiance, Chuck"

Andy Towle points out this clip from Wheel Of Fortune in which a contestant point out his male fiance' in the audience. His winning answer was "mixed signals", but if there's a joke in there, I can't think of it.

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Digital TV Transition Delayed

After months and months of nonstop annoying ads warning us about the switch to digital television, the Senate yesterday approved a bill to delay the transition until June. Because they're out of money to pay for the converter boxes.
The Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday to postpone the digital television transition until June 12. The deadline for all broadcasters to switch from analog to digital signals was originally set to take place Feb. 17. Concern for the 6.5 million television viewers that the Nielsen Co. says are technically unprepared for the transition to take place in February prompted both legislators and President Barack Obama to support extending the deadline.

"Delaying the upcoming DTV switch is the right thing to do," Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va. and author of the Senate bill, said in a statement. "I firmly believe that our nation is not yet ready to make this transition at this time." The four-month delay would give the Federal Communications Commission time to address its overextended coupon program. Earlier this month, the $1.34 billion program to subsidize the cost of digital converter boxes ran out of money and $40 coupons with some 2.5 million people still on the waiting list. Digital converter boxes, which cost between $40 and $80 and translate digital signals back to analog, are necessary for some viewers' older television sets to continue working after the transition.

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Gays Petition State Dept For Benefits

It will be very interesting to see how Hillary responds to this.
Nearly 2,200 government employees involved in foreign policy issues signed a letter delivered to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday calling on the government to give equal benefits to same-sex partners. The Bush administration had eased some rules, opening up some training to same-sex partners, but had resisted efforts to treat homosexual partners the same as married couples. But Clinton, during her confirmation hearings, indicated a greater willingness to explore the issue.

"I think that we should take a hard look at the existing policy," Clinton said in response to a question from Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.). "My understanding is other nations have moved to extend that partnership benefit." The issue achieved prominence in 2007 when a respected ambassador, Michael Guest, resigned after 26 years in the Foreign Service to protest the rules and regulations that he argued gave same-sex partners fewer benefits than family pets. Guest said he was forced to choose "between obligations to my partner, who is my family, and service to my country," which he called "a shame for this institution and our country.
As referenced in the above excerpt, the State Department will reimburse an employee for the cost of moving a pet to a new assignment location, but provides nothing for a same-sex partner.

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2009 GLAAD Media Award Nominees

GLAAD has announced the 2009 Media Award Nominees. Here's a few of the categories.

Brideshead Revisited (Miramax Films)
Milk (Focus Features)
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Columbia Pictures)
RocknRolla (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (The Weinstein Company)

The Edge of Heaven (Strand Releasing)
Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom (New Open Door Productions)
Save Me (First Run Features)
Shelter (Regent Releasing)
XXY (Film Movement)

Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
The L Word (Showtime)
South of Nowhere (The N)
Torchwood (BBC America)
True Blood (HBO)

Desperate Housewives (ABC)
Greek (ABC Family)
Reaper (The CW)
Skins (BBC America)
Ugly Betty (ABC)

See the rest of the nominees here

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New Masturbation/Prostate Cancer Study

According to a new study, frequent masturbation after the age of 50 is good for your prostate. Before 50, not so much.
Masturbation may be good for you – or bad, depending on your age. The solitary sexual activity that is widely practised but little discussed, is linked with an increased risk of prostate cancer when practised frequently by young men in their twenties and thirties, doctors say. But by the time men reach their fifties, it may protect against the disease because it helps remove toxins that have built up over a lifetime.

Prostate cancer is known to be driven by the male hormone testosterone, and men with high levels of testosterone tend to have a higher sex drive and a higher risk of the cancer. But most research has examined older men because prostate cancer is unusual under 50. Researchers at the University of Nottingham studied the link between sexual activity in younger men and the disease to see if it affected their long-term risk. More than 400 men with prostate cancer diagnosed before the age of 60 were questioned about their sexual habits over the preceding decades and the results compared with 400 controls.

The findings showed that those who had been most sexually active in their twenties – having sexual intercourse or masturbating more than 20 times a month – were more likely to have the cancer. Frequent masturbation, but not sexual intercourse, in the twenties and thirties was significantly linked with the later development of prostate cancer. In their 50s men who were most sexually active (more than 10 times a month for sexual intercourse and masturbation combined) enjoyed a small protective effect. The effect was greater when masturbation was assessed on its own.

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