Saturday, December 26, 2009

Misinformer of the Year...

Media Matters has put together this video about the Misinformer of the Year.  Glenn Beck has also earned a spot on my ten news stories of the year.

Top LGBT events of 2009

Because everyone seems to love top ten lists, whether they be about movies or books or world events, I've done some thinking about the top LGBT events of 2009.  For years I've compiled lists like these in my mind.  Now that I have the chance to actually write one of these lists out, here it is!

It was a big year for LGBT rights.  It wasn't necessarily the best of times and the worst of times, but it most definitely was a mixed bag.  But a mixed bag is certainly better than a bag filled with coal.  Here, then, are what I consider the events that most affected the LGBT community in no particular order.  I'll do five today and five tomorrow.

1. Barack Obama is sworn in as President of the United States.  Nothing seemed to epitomize the state of LGBT rights better than the inauguration.  We finally had a gay friendly president in the White House.  But opening the ceremony was Rick Warren, a minister who did not allow LGBT people into his church and who compared LGBT relationships with incest.  Then again, openly gay Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson gave the invocation to the inaugural week.  But his prayer wasn't televised.

2. Marriage equality comes to New Hampshire, Vermont,  and Iowa. Both New Hampshire and Vermont had civil union laws on the book and both states expanded LGBT rights to marriages with a modicum of opposition.   These two victories should serve as a reminder that there are many ways to get to same-sex marriage rights, and civil unions may be oneof them. Same-sex marriage in Iowa was legalized through the Supreme Court.  And let's not forget Washington, DC, which will offer same-sex marriage in 2010 unless the US Congress steps in, something they are unlikely to do.  Remember this when we are lamenting about Maine, New York, and California. And let's no forget international progress, including the passage of a same-sex marriage bill in Mexico City.

3. Ted Kennedy dies.  It would be hard to find a politician who understood the nature of oppression and the difficulty in acquiring one's civil rights than Ted Kennedy.  He will be sorely missed.

4. Sean Penn wins the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Harvey Milk.  Not only was his characterization of Harvey Milk brilliant, in his speech at the Oscars in February he explained to millions of people why proposition 8 was deeply immoral.

5. Annise Parker is elected Mayor of Houston.  When the fourth largest city in th country -- and a Southern City at that -- elects an openly gay mayor, despite vicious attacks against her because of she is a lesbian, then it is time to celebrate.

Tomorrow: five more to add to the list.  Most likely written on the New York Thruway on our trip to Toronto.  I received a mobile modum for Christmas. Will it lead to convenience or obsession?  I'm afraid I already know the answer.

Friday, December 25, 2009


The excellent blog Gay Persons of Color cites a quote from the heterosexual Matthew Morrison, the star of the very gay hit TV series Glee.

"I grew up singing and dancing, so people have been calling me gay since fifth grade. I've heard everything you could possibly hear about it. But I do love gay people, so I'm not going to act like I was insulted or angry about it."

Compare this reaction to Ron Livingston, the actor who played the lover who dumped Carrie Bradshaw on a post-it note in the also quite gay Sex and the City.  He is now suing wikipedia for libel because someone has hacked the site and reported that Livingston is gay.  For the record, Ron Livingston is married to the Rachel Getting Married actress, the wonderful Rosemary DeWitt.  What's more than a little sad is the actual definition of libel, which means, "defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures." A question for you Ron.  Instead of going to court to claim you have been defamed, why not just  explain to the public that we need to get over feeling like the "gay" label is a vicious attack?

Let's reverse this for a second.  Let's assume that someone wrote that Ellen was straight.  Let's further assume that Ellen takes this person to court to sue for "defamation of character."  Pretty absurd, isn't it?

Boy, do we have a long way to go when being labeled gay is still considered defaming character.

Dogs and Christmas

Christmas songs from one of my favorite singers....

We saw Frederica von Stade in Septembet in Toronto and she sang just as beautifully then as she does in this clip from an earlier Christmas concert.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dancing with the czars

The latest attack against Kevin Jennings is from the Augusta Chronicle in Georgia.  In addition to the many falsehoods in the editorial, the writers don't even get his name right, calling him "Keith Jennings" throughout the piece.  One accusation -- that GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) encourages underage sex -- in an insult not only to Kevin Jennings but to the many teachers (there are thousands and thousands of us) who have belonged to the organization over the years.

Calling Jennings a "czar" is an interesting word choice that feels a little like McCarthy-type accusations of communism. And Jennings isn't the only one the paper calls a "czar."  Here are a few others, taken directly from the editorial:

1. Carol Browner, Obama's energy and climate czar, (left) was a major player with a socialist group that advocated " 'global governance' and says rich countries must shrink their economies to address climate change."

2. Science czar John Holdren (right) co-authored a textbook in the 1970s that floated the ideas of forced abortion and mass sterilization.

3. Mark Lloyd, Obama's FCC diversity czar,(left) was a fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress, and has had conservative talk radio in his crosshairs for quite some time. He thinks Venezuela is a good example of media equity. You remember Venezuela -- its dictator has quashed the free reporting of news containing even a whiff of partisan dissent.

And on and on.  I doubt that even Mother Teresa would get a pass with the right wing media, as long as President Obama named her to a post.  (I can read it now: You think she was just feeding the poor? The non-American born Mother Teresa, now the Anti-Poverty Czar, has a long history of communist tactics to redistribute wealth in India.)

Thanks to The Advocate for running the story that led me to the editorial.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

I'll be blogging a little less frequently the next few days.  First there's Christmas with my husband and step daughters.  Then there's driving to our home away from home -- Toronto!  It's our favorite place on earth.  So for now, I'll leave you with a photo of our two beloved basset hounds, Shakespeare (yawner in photo) and Willa (spaced out in photo).  They are two of our three bassets (one died two summers ago) named after gay or "questioning" writers: Shakespeare, Willa (Cather) and Oscar (Wilde) RIP.

News bits

1. The Daily Monitor is reporting that Uganda’s President, Mr. Museveni, has informed the U.S. State Department that if the anit-gay legislation which includes the death penalty passes, he will veto the legislation.  Some Republican congressmen have also written a letter urging the Ugandan Parliament not to pass the law.  Let's be real here: none of this would have happened without intense pressure and great reporting by some in the media, especially Rachel Maddow (above).  Without the pressure, members of Congress and Rick Warren would have remained silent.

2. Officials from Washington, DC have filed a request that the court throw out a suit to make the recent same-sex marriage vote in the city a referendum question.  The Board of Elections and Ethics already ruled that the matter could not be put on the ballot because it involves a civil rights issue.  It's nice to see the government working on our side, for once.

3. The anti-marriage equality people in Iowa are working to take away same-sex marriage rights by trying to put the issue on the ballot.  The process is lengthy, however, and requires two legislative votes in two consecutive years before a referendum can reach the voters. Lets hope by the time a referendum is possible that enough hearts and minds will have changed to defeat it.

4. The Roman Catholic Church is petitioning the courts for a referendum in Mexico City to overturn the council's vote for same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the Vatican has not uttered one word about the death penalty law being discussed in Uganda. What does that mean?

5. Studio bosses are drinking double time over Robert Downey Jr.'s suggestion on David Letterman that Sherlock Holmes, Downey's latest role, might be gay.  Apparently, some studio executives are not too pleased with Downey's appearance on Letterman.  One publicist said that they didn't want the movie to become Brokeback Mountain 2.  It wasn't the first time Downey has hinted at his character's sexual orientation.  Earlier he had said that the movie was about "two men who happen to be room-mates, wrestle a lot and share a bed." 

6.  This has nothing to do with gay anything, but liberal icons Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have split and this makes me surprisingly sad.

More news about the conflict between the judge and the executive branch

Last week I blogged about the conflict between the Obama Administration (specifically, the Office of Personnel Management or OPM) and Judge Alex Kozinski of U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who decided that one of its employees, Karen Golinski, was eligible for spousal benefits for her partner. OPM  contacted Blue Cross Blue Shield, the provider of health insurance, and requested they not follow the judge's order.  Judge Kozinski responded by writing that the separation of powers required the administration to allow the coverage for Golinski's partner.  OPM responded with two Friday afternoon press releases stating it objections , including an assertion that the court order violated the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) a law that Candidate Obama  stated should be repealed.

Sound confusing?  It is.  But maybe a statement from Judge Kozinski released on Tuesday will help clarify.  In it, he ruled that because the Obama administration never formally appealed in court to his decision.  Friday afternoon press releases actually don't mean anything in a court of law.  So now Judge Kozinski has ruled, as Carol King once sang, it's too late, baby, it's too late.  Specifically he wrote:

The time for appeal from my orders in this matter, dated January 13, 2009 and November 19, 2009, has expired. Only the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association ("Blue Cross'') has filed a timely notice of appeal; it petitioned the Judicial Council for review of my November 19, 2009, order on December 17, 2009. My prior orders in this matter are therefore final and preclusive on al1 issuesdecided therein as to others who could have, but did not appeal, such as the Office of Personnel Management ("OPM'') and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

As the jurisdictional issues presented in Blue Cross's petition for review are separate and distinct from those concerning my now conclusively-determined jurisdiction over governmental entities such as OPM, l authorize Ms. Golinski to take what further action she deems fit against any entity other than Blue Cross, without waiting for the Judicial Council's disposition of Blue Cross's appeal.
Translation?  The Obama Administration and OPM has lost its chance to appeal.  And Ms. Golinksi is free to pursue whatever means necessary (except sue Blue Cross) to  acquire the benefits Let's see where this goes now.

Many thanks to Lambda Legal for providing this information on its website Tuesday.

A pretty joyous video

It all started when Shorecrest High posted a music video that was shot in one take -- no editing whatsoever.  A rival school, Shorewood High, decided to one up the school with their own music video of Hall and Oates' song, You Make My Dreams Come True.  It was also shot in one take.  And also shot backwards.  The "singers" learned the song backwards, and mouthed their lips accordingly -- mouthing the words after learning them phonetically in reverse.  I've watched this video about five times over the last couple of days, and my mouth still drops when the paper airplanes fly into the hands of the kids.  It's all pretty amazing.  And pretty joyous. 

Eric McCormack and Julia Louis-Dreyfus on same-sex marriage

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Video clip: Same-sex marriage in Mexico City

Wooing the Right Wing

Alvin McEwen, the excellent blogger at Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, provides yet another example of how politicians go from doing the right thing to wooing the right wing.  Today's example?  Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (left).  Back in 1993 he voted to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in housing, public accommodations, and employment.  Now Governor Pawlenty is seriously considering a run for the Republican nomination for President.  Do I even have to finish this entry to tell you what he says about that law now?

It's become all too familiar.  Governor Pawlenty, of course, has pulled a Mitt Romney (right).  Says Pawlenty:
I regretted the vote later because it included things like cross-dressing, and a variety of other people involved in behaviors that weren't based on sexual orientation, just a preference for the way they dressed and behaved. So it was overly broad. So if you are a third-grade teacher and you are a man and you show up on Monday as Mr. Johnson and you show up on Tuesday as Mrs. Johnson, that is a little confusing to the kids. So I don't like that.
Thank goodness someone is saving third graders from cross-dressing teachers!  Of course, Pawlenty is playing on fear of transgendered people in a very ugly way.  And Freud might have something to say about him choosing the name "Mr. Johnson"-- but I won't go there.

When history is finally written about the LGBT fight for equal rights, there will be a special chapter on cowards like Pawlenty who backtracked after doing the right thing for their own political gain.

Why I no longer give to the Salvation Army

Don't get me wrong.  I believe the Salvation Army does some wonderful things.  It's on the front lines of helping the poor.  And what would Christmas be without the ringing of the Salvation Army bells?  It's part of the holiday landscape.  And my grandmother was a member of the Salvation Army.  Members of the group were the major speakers at her funeral.

But I haven't given to the Salvation Army for many years now.  Why?  Not only is their money spent on the completely laudable endeavor of helping the poor; it is also spent to lobby against a group of Americans.  Guess who they are?  LGBT people.

The Salvation Army is a religious group.   Let's for the sake of argument state that they have the right to discriminate against LGBT people and not allow them to participate in their outreach.  (Religious groups are exempt from many non-discrimination laws.) It doesn't mean I have to give money to them, especially when my contribution can be used against me since the group will spend at least some of these funds trying to convince my government that I am a sinner not worthy of basic rights.

There are so many other organizations I can contribute to that do the same thing.  I don't have to cut back on my charitable giving in order to give to an organization that respects me as a human being.  And that doesn't then use my money to make sure I'm not treated like everyone else.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Same-sex marriage makes it to Mexico City!

This just in from the LA Times (as edited by Pam's House Blend):

The bill calls for changing the definition of marriage in the city's civil code. Marriage is currently defined as the union of a man and a woman. The new definition will be "the free uniting of two people. 
The change would allow same-sex couples to adopt children, apply for bank loans together, inherit wealth and be included in the insurance policies of their spouse, rights they were denied under civil unions allowed in the city. ..
Argentina's capital became the first Latin American city to legalize same-sex civil unions in 2002 for gay and lesbian couples. Four other Argentine cities later did the same, and as did Mexico City in 2007 and some Mexican and Brazilian states. Uruguay alone has legalized civil unions nationwide.

Buenos Aires lawmakers introduced a bill for legalizing gay marriage in the national Congress in October but it has stalled without a vote, and officials in the South American city have blocked same-sex wedding because of conflicting judicial rulings. ...
City lawmaker Victor Romo, a member of the mayor's leftist party, called it a historic day. "For centuries unjust laws banned marriage between blacks and whites or Indians and Europeans," he said. "Today all barriers have disappeared."

On this blog, dogs are never off topic

Such courage in Uganda

The blog GayUganda ran an extraordinary story of courage yesterday.  As is by now well known, there is a bill before the government that would make homosexuality punishable by death.  Anyone who knows of a gay person and does not report that person within 24 hours is subject to three years in prison.  Whether or not this bill passes, it's pretty clear that some bill will pass and that homosexuality will be criminalized. In this environment, it's hard to believe anyone would publicly self identify as LGBT.  But not only did one gay couple do just that, they had a commitment ceremony in the country.

The writer of the blog, a gay man invited to the wedding, describes the ceremony at length.  Here are a few of his observations.  The police described did not know that a same-sex ceremony was going on inside the compound.

An enclosed compound, which was secured. Two armed policemen at the gate. Well, we can hire the police, like all other Ugandans. The details of the ceremony is our damned business. As long as they keep out inquisitive others. And, they did try to.

Music, talking, ritualized counseling. They happened, the kuchus now happy that the secret was out. They were delirious with joy. Two of their number were actually coming out and making their partnership official. In the traditional way. Such gossip has wings. Crowd at the gate grew big. They wanted to know what was happening inside, in the compound. The rumours were too tantalizing. The music, the atmosphere of gaiety too tempting. They wanted to know.
And these final words, which say everything:

        They were stupid. They were human. I love their stupidity and humanity.

        Err, the punishment for this ‘gay marriage’ in the Bahati/Benson Anti-Homosexuality Bill in parliament now?

        Life imprisonment for the Happy Couple. For us the celebrants, 3 years in prison if we  fail to reveal the marriage to police within 24 hours.  If we are not lynched by the       enraged crowd 

        Sadly, now we have to deal with the backlash.

        It was an exceedingly stupid, incredibly foolish thing to do.

        It was, and is, human. Poignantly, absolutely, completely human.

Even in Canada....

Even in Canada, where same-sex marriage in law of the land and where, at least in the metropolitan areas, LGBT life is seemingly accepted, hatred is simmering.  It's hard to believe when you walk down the streets of Toronto, where all couples -- gay and straight -- feel comfortable holding hands.  Of course, Canada is a huge country.

Here's the story.  The Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, ran a story on a photograph/holiday card sent from a Canadian politician, Scott Brison, who is a member of parliament from Nova Scotia.  Scott is with his husband of two years, Maxime St. Pierre, and their golden retriever, Simba.  Although Mr. Brison has stated that there is no "Brokeback Mountain" homage intended, as has been claimed by some.  (One has to wonder: So what if it was?)

In any case, The Globe and Mail ran a story on the Christmas card.  The result?  The newspaper posted this statement not long after the story ran on-line, with room for comments:

Comments have been disabled

Editor's Note: Comments have been closed due to an overwhelming number of hateful and homophobic remarks. We appreciate that readers want to discuss this issue, but we can't allow our site to become a platform for intolerance.
 Here's one more example why some of us call some of the opposition hateful. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A very short....and very outrageous video clip from the Family Research Council

The dancing traffic cop

Okay.  This a little off topic for this blog but try not to smile as you watch it.

Holiday cheer from the Boston Gay Men's Chorus

The BBC makes a weak attempt at an apology

A few days ago I wrote about the on-line BBC discussion entitled, "Should Homosexuals Face Execution?" Well, the BBC has apologized. But according to the Associated Press, it was the title of the debate, not the substance, that the BBC management agreed was offensive:
BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks wrote in a blog posted on the broadcaster's Web site: "We apologize for any offense it caused." He said the headline was too stark in hindsight. Editors had changed it to "Should Uganda debate gay execution?" after they closed down the debate.
In its apology, the BBC defended their decision to debate the Ugandan bill.  I'm all for freedom of speech and won't question the station's right to debate whatever it wants. But can anyone think of a time in recent history when a British news organization posed the question of whether a class of people should actually be put to death? 

Unfortunately, the ensuing debate brought out the worst in people.  It was clear that the very question gave some people who commented on the BBC website a chance to spew their hate.  What were the folks at the BBC thinking?  How could you possible have a reasoned argument for killing a group of people for no other reason than who they are?

Washington, DC Snowstorm: Take that, says God

About the only thing that surprises me in this story (that was reported in the excellent blog MediaMatters) is that DC Mayor Fendy's signature on the gay marriage bill wasn't thrown into the mix of reasons why God would bring down his wrath on the city.

Redstate Editor Erik Erikson is reporting that "God hates the Democrats' health care deform. With funding death panels and abortions, of course the Almighty would send a snow storm or.... a snowpocalypse to shut down Washington."

The Lord works in mysterious ways, I guess. This whole heath care passage has brought out quite a few, shall we say, "fringe voices."  Chuck Norris said the other day that under this health plan, The Virgin  Mary might have had an abortion and therefore God never would have been born.  I won't address the fact that under this present health care bill, abortion is severely restricted.  Nor will I suggest that Blue Cross Blue Shield really hadn't taken down roots back then.  I'll just say Who are these people and what planet are they from?