Saturday, March 6, 2010

Gay Super Bowl Predictions

Here are my humble predictions for the Oscars (aka The Gay Super Bowl) on Sunday night.  These are not necessarily the people or movies I would choose, but these are the ones I think will win.

BEST DIRECTOR: Katherine Bigelow, Hurt Locker
BEST ACTOR: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
BEST ACTRESS: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christopher Waltz, Inglorious Basterds
 BEST EDITING: Hurt Locker

I think Avatar will have to be content with many of the technical awards.

Frankly, I'm hoping to be wrong on some of these predictions, even though I must confess that I haven't seen all the Best Picture nominees.  Hey, there were TEN this year.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Craig Ferguson

Craig Ferguson has a field day with State Senator Roy Ashburn.  And so ends today's hypocrisy edition of the blog.  See you Monday.

Preschooler barred from school

Where are the priorities here?  It's hard to stomach this story after reading the story about the Vatican sex scandal. (H/T: Joe. My. God.)

Same old story

This shouldn't surprise anyone.   One of the movers and shakers behind Prop 8 in California, State Senator Roy Ashburn (married, four kids), was arrested this week for drunk driving after leaving Faces, a popular Sacramento gay bar, with an unidentified male passenger.  Senator Ashburn not only worked with the Traditional Values Coalition to prevent same-sex marriage, he also voted against every LGBT rights bill while in the state legislature.

I'm trying to figure out a good spin for this one.

1. I was visiting gay bars for research.  While at Faces, I decided to take a lost soul home  to help him change his wicked ways.

2. Gay bar?  I thought it was midnight mass.

3. Faces is, and always has been, a portrait museum.

4. I am not gay.  I was was supposed to have a professional meeting with former Idaho senator Larry "restless leg syndrome" Craig in the bathroom.  I am not gay.

5. I was hoping to find a tea bagger.

6.  I was just playing Truth or Dare with Mitt Romney.

7. I was taking a break from my filibuster.

8. Hey, it was a slow night.  I didn't even meet proposition #8.

9. I heard Sarah Palin was signing books inside.

10. I was researching the Public Option.

An outdated blood donation policy

The Associated Press is reporting that 18 Democratic senators have called for lifting the ban on gay men donating blood.  Stating that, 'Not a single piece of scientific evidence supports the ban,'' Senator John Kerry joined 16 other Democrats and Independent Bernie Sanders in writing the Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

Reported AP:
The lawmakers stressed that the science has changed dramatically since the ban was established in 1983 at the advent of the HIV-AIDS crisis. Today donated blood must undergo two different, highly accurate tests that make the risk of tainted blood entering the blood supply virtually zero, they said.

The senators said that while hospitals and emergency rooms are in urgent need of blood products, ''healthy blood donors are turned away every day due to an antiquated policy and our blood supply is not necessarily any safer for it.''
In 2006, the American Red Cross reported that the ban "is medically and scientifically unwarranted.''

It will be interesting how the anti-gay folks will fight this one.

When, when, when will this institution be held accountable??????

Gaynewswatch is reporting the following very disturbing story.  When will it run in the mass media?  I'd say this is beyond belief, but sadly, it isn't.

"Put on some music, swallow a Viagra, and adelante!"

That's the headline in Europe today following reports that a papal aide used an intermediary in an elite Vatican choir to solicit young male choristers and seminarians for prostitution.

Police wiretaps are expected to result in charges against Angelo Balducci, 63 (right), a Papal Gentleman, as lay attendant are called, and the former chairman of the Holy See's Public Works Department, which is itself caught up in a corruption investigation.

According to police, Balducci regularly contacted Chinedu Ehiem Thomas, a Nigerian man who sings in St. Peter's Cappella Giulia, to engage the sexual services of young male members of the choir, along with seminarians and undocumented immigrants seeking residency status.

The Cappella Giulia is the official choir of the St. Peter's Basilica and performs at many solemn Vatican functions not involving the pope, who is accompanied by the Sistine Chapel choir.

Ehiem, 40, who goes by the nickname Mike, and his assistant Lorenzo Renzi, 33, allegedly arranged for prostitutes for Balducci several times a week. The two men are said to have operated a network of aspiring young priests, choir members and sometimes recruited foreigners seeking to secure their immigration status.

The scandal now envelops Balducci, a well-known and powerful local figure who is married with two children, who despite all this is said to have taken remarkable risks in setting up sexual liaisons even in Chigi Palace, home of the Italian prime minister, or immediately after a private audience with a cardinal.

In 72 pages of transcribed wiretaps, Ehiem tells Balducci about one possible candidate:  "Angelo ... I'll say no more. Two meters (6-foot-7), 97 kilos (250 lbs.), 33 years-old and completely active (top)."

In later calls, Ehiem offered fewer details: "I have a situation in Naples."

"I have a Cuban situation."

"I have a German who just arrived from Germany."

"I have two black guys."

"I have the soccer player."

"I have the dancer from RAI," the Italian TV network.

Some of the young men were seminarians or attended ecclesiastical colleges in Rome. On one occasion, Balducci is heard saying, "He, when does he have to return to the seminary?"

In one wiretap from last December, Renzi is heard explaining the rules of engagement: "You'll get up to 2,000 euros ... Do not touch his balls. You need the money. Put on some music, take out the [inaudible], swallow the Viagra, and adelante!"

The Nigerian singer was dismissed Wednesday from the Cappella Giulia choir by Cardinal Angelo Comastri. Vatican sources denied the involvement of either priests or seminarians in the scandal.

Balducci's religious fervor and persistence in the shadow of power have proven crucial aspects of the "gelatinous system" denounced by the judge investigating the awarding of lucrative public works contracts.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Three major candidates for Rhode Island governor to support same-sex marriage

Here's a nice story from the Associated Press:
PROVIDENCE—Three major candidates running for governor of Rhode Island have promised to support and sign a bill allowing same-sex marriage if elected General Treasurer Frank Caprio and Attorney General Patrick Lynch, both Democrats, and former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who is running in November as an independent, made the pledge at a State House rally on Wednesday before more than 200 people. Proponents of same-sex marriage believe the state is closer to approving the measure because Republican Gov. Don Carcieri, a social conservative and same-sex marriage opponent, can’t run again because of term limits.
In addition, state lawmakers recently elected Rep. Gordon Fox, who is openly gay, as House speaker. The rally was organized by Marriage Equality Rhode Island.

Yes, Nancy Pelosi

Here is Speaker Nancy Pelosi's unqualified support of marriage equality in DC.  (Senator Reid?  President Obama?  We're waiting.....)

Today marks a historic chapter in the advancement toward equality, fairness and the protections that marriage affords for all families. As we welcome marriage equality to our nation’s capital, I reiterate my longstanding commitment to home rule for the District of Columbia. 
Today, the District joins other states in leading the nation in ensuring fundamental civil rights. This is a joyous moment that history will forever remember as progress.
                 (taken from The Gavel blog)

Marriage celebration with Eleanor Holmes Norton

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

It looks like the pressure from many activists may be working.  The repeal of DADT is gaining steam.

"Our mood is absolute jubilation"...Same sex marriage comes to DC

Good news....

Today (Thursday) I'm posting nothing but GOOD NEWS.  And there really is lots of good news to report!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

It's the little things

As an openly gay man, I rarely run up against open hostility in my world.  Sure, I've arranged my life that way, but most bias I encounter is unintended, like the time I bought flowers and the clerk said, "She'll be thrilled."  No malice intended, just assumptions made.

But tonight I was filling out a federal form.  The question: "Are you married?"  I was about to check "yes" when I read the fine print.  The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as between one man and one woman.  For the purposes of this form, same-sex couples are not married. 

I know it seems like a minor inconvenience, but it's little things like this that remind me that the US government treats some of its citizens as second class.

I'll be back on Thursday!  Enjoy the first day DC offers marriage licenses to same-sex couples!

Stephen Fry

This is an extraordinary speech.  It's longish for this blog (almost 20 minutes) but worth it.  Even if you don't agree with him, I think it's hard not to appreciate his facility and his grasp of history.

Good news out of DC

I must say that I took particular pleasure in citing FOX news for this breaking news:

An emergency appeal to stop a District of Columbia gay marriage law from taking effect Wednesday was denied by Chief Justice John Roberts late Tuesday afternoon.

Roberts says it is the practice of the Supreme Court to defer to the rulings of D.C. courts matters that are of local concern. He also notes that Congress with its authority to overrule D.C. laws within 30 days has refused to do so.

Roberts writes that "while these considerations are of course not determinative of the legal issues, they do weigh against granting petitioners' request for a stay..."

Marriage licenses will be issued tomorrow in DC!

Harold Ford's change of heart

When Harold Ford was a Congressman from Tennessee, he voted not once but twice to amend the United States Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.  Each time, the vote fell short, but Mr. Ford continued to take this extreme position.

Fast forward a few years.  Harold Ford is now living in New York.  He's considering a run for senate against a woman who has been a same-sex marriage supporter for quite some time.  Mr. Ford now claims to have changed his mind.  He supports same-sex marriage 100%.  Of course, a majority of New York Democrats (whose votes he will now need) share this view.

Mr. Ford has not be well received by LGBT rights groups in New York.  It's easy to see why.  Of course we must acknowledge when people change their minds to our advantage.  But the conversion must be convincing.  For many, Mr. Ford's conversion smacked of political opportunism.  Would he have changed his mind if he were still running in Tennessee?

And we must also never forget those who supported us when it was harder to do so.  To be in favor of same-sex marriage in New York right now is about as controversial with the public as supporting school lunches.  We welcome politicians whose hearts have changed. But they must remember that some politicians earned our loyalty many years ago.

How does the Harold Ford story end?  This week he announced he would not run for senator of New York.  So take some time and work with some LGBT folks, Mr. Ford.  Get to know us and listen to us.  You have been good on lots of other issues.   Let's earn each other's trust before rushing to the altar.

What's going on with Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

It seemed like a slam-dunk.  The country is overwhelmning in favor of its repeal and President Obama said that LGBT people would be welcomed into the military by the end of the year.

But no one is doing a thing to make it happen.  And if the November elections swing toward the Republican party, it never will.  In fact, some folks seem to be backtracking on the promise to repeal the policy.  Barney Frank recently said that White House message on DADT has been "muddled."

Kerry Eleveld of The Advocate has written at length about the cold feet that seems t have swept Washington.  Writes Eleveld:
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated that “the president is strongly in support” of repeal, and added that there’s “a process that’s underway,” but dutifully avoided saying whether President Obama had any sense of urgency about passing repeal this year.

Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan has been actively promoting the idea of passing legislation that would impose a moratorium on discharges under the policy—a concept that doesn't interest LGBT advocacy groups. The thinking goes that if full repeal isn’t locked in this year, the policy will be kept in place for the foreseeable future since Democrats may well lose control of one or both chambers in the 2010.
However, he (Levin)  also holds enormous power as chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and if he concludes that a moratorium is the most he can get through his committee, then that’s likely what he’ll include the Defense authorization bill he presents to his committee. And whatever passes through committee—be it a moratorium or full repeal—stands the best chance of being signed into law.
We should remember that the first President Bush enacted a moratorium during the Gulf War.  That's right.  About two decades ago, a Republican administration did what a Democratic administration may decide is the only thing it can pass.

A mass gay wedding to break the record?

Unless opponents succeed in blocking same-sex marriages (see related post), LGBT couples will be able to marry tomorrow in Washington, DC. Digital Journal is reporting that on March 20 up to 400 same-sex couples will gather to get married both to celebrate and to break the current Guinness World Record for a mass wedding.

Mike Wilkinson, Director of Wedding Services for Event Emissary and one of the planners, noted, "The GLBT community has always found strength in numbers when it comes to advocating for equality.  Now we can finally stand together to affirm our love and have it recognized legally by the District of Columbia."

According to Digital Journal:
One of the couples, Drew Parker and Dalin Holyoak, who plan to be at the event have already wed. They couldn't wait for DC to legalize marriage but are glad that now the city they reside in recognizes their union. "We signed up to be part of the mass ceremony as soon as we could. We celebrated our personal vows nearly two years ago, but we know the importance of this day to our status as fully equal citizens of the District of Columbia," Parker said. "We are so thankful for the people that sacrificed to make this day a reality, and can only hope that one day the entire nation will follow." 
Standing Proud Together will be the centerpiece of the day long event. It will be a non-denominational, contemporary service and will be led in a manner that will solidify the unions of long-term partners as well as commemorate the marriages of those who are more recently engaged.
I'll be sure to post the photos!

Yet ANOTHER attempt to block same-sex marriage in Washington, DC

Blogger Pam Spaulding (left) is reporting that opponents of same-sex marriage are trying yet again to stop marriage licenses from being issued in Washington, DC on Wednesday.  This time, they are going to the United States Supreme Court.  Court papers filed Monday with Chief Justice John Roberts argue that Washington residents should be able to vote on the matter.  Local courts have rejected the opponents' arguments. The gay marriage opponents include a Baptist minister, Walter E. Fauntroy, who was Washington's delegate in the House for nearly 20 years.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Alberta Hunter

Alberta Hunter is one of my all time favorite singers.  She led a remarkable life, doing everything from singing to being a nurse as a young and middle aged woman.  Then, at age 82, she decided she wanted to sing again.  Boy, did she ever.  I don't know a singer who makes a song seem more personal.  It's as if she wrote it herself.

Religious leaders embrace the freedom to marry

Here's the first in a series of videos that challenge the assumption that all religious faiths reject same sex marriage.

Raid fallout in Dallas

The Dallas Voice has a follow up story on last June's raid on the Rainbow Lounge, a Dallas-Forth Worth gay bar.  The raid was so outrageous that three members of the TABC (Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission) were fired and the numerous apologies -- including one from the mayor -- were offered.
So why are two patrons of the club still being charged for public intoxication?  Both men were injured during the raid.  One suffered a serious brain injury that kept him hospitalized for weeks. 

Chad Gibson and George Armstrong appeared in court this week to answer misdemeanor charges.  According to Jon Nelson, an attorney and founder of Fairness Forth Worth:

Apparently with Chad, he’s being charged with public intoxication and assaulting an officer by groping him. That’s absurd.  This is the TABC officer who, according to TABC’s own rules and regulations, had no business being in there. This is the same TABC officer who couldn’t go in the Rainbow Lounge a few days earlier because there was no officer with him so he peeked in and saw a dancer in a bathing suit and was going to write it up as lewd behavior. That shows quite a bit about his state of mind. As a TABC officer, I’m sure he’s been in a number of gentlemen’s clubs. I doubt he ever wrote up a female dancer in a bathing suit and wrote her up for lewd behavior. So why was he doing that for Rainbow Lounge? I think a jury, when they hear this case, will judge his credibility. 

The two men have stated that they will not plea bargain. 

New written arguments in gay marriage trial

The San José Mercury News is reporting that lawyers for the federal trial have submitted new written arguments to Judge Vaughn Walker (right) who will decide the case.  Walker had requested the new briefs prior to closing arguments. Opponents of same-sex marriage added a few new reasons to deny marriage rights to gay couples, claiming that gay marriage would cause irreparable harm to heterosexual marriages.  According to the newspaper, "The potential harms they cited included giving bisexuals a legal basis for pursuing group marriages and unmarried fathers an incentive to abandon their children."

I'm always intrigued that the anti-gay folks portray gay relationships as so attractive that they will upset the social order.  In this case, are hoards of unmarried fathers supposed to abandon their children to elope with their same-sex lovers?

Give'em Hell, Harry

The Associated Press is reporting that Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has filmed a public service announcement to combat homophobia.  The PSA was filmed by The Trevor Project, an organization that focuses on suicide prevention for LGBT youth.  Said Radcliffe, "I grew up knowing a lot of gay men and it was never something that I even thought twice about — that some men were gay and some weren’t.  And then I went to school and (for) the first time . . . I came across homophobia. . . . I had never encountered it before. It shocked me...Now I am in the very fortunate position where I can actually help or do something about it."

Radcliffe also made a substantial financial donation to the organization.  The announcement is scheduled to air sometime this spring.