Friday, April 16, 2010

Good News Friday

Today I'm posting nothing but uplifting news to get the weekend off on the right foot!

And if a basset hound singing with Billie Holiday doesn't cheer you up, you'd better find another blog to follow....

A certain reader has requested an encore presentation of the basset hound who sings Billie Holliday...

They must have been recruited....

I love this story from The London Telegraph about same-sex swanage.

Two male swans have ruffled feathers at the world's only swannery in Dorset after they set up a love nest together: Gay swans set up nest at world's only swannery in Dorset
The pair show no interest in their female companions and only have eyes for each other.

The happy couple at Abbotsbury Swannery are the only homosexual swans among more than 1,000 birds at the reserve.

They are believed to be only the second male pair ever to hook up at the reserve.

The pair show no interest in their female companions and only have eyes for each other.

Dave Wheeler, from the swannery, said: "The two birds both hatched in 2002 and are sort of together.

"They have been together for several nesting seasons and basically keep territory as if they are a nesting pair."

The twosome flock together at the start of the nesting season in March and perform rituals associated with a breeding couple.

Manager of Abbotsbury Swannery, John Houston, said: "The swans have been nesting together like this for several years and they get together every nesting season and form a nest together.

"They sit on the nest and act in every way as if they were a pair expecting to lay eggs.

"It is quite sweet."

Like most couples, the swans are known for the occasional lover's tiff, but are quick to sort out their differences.

"They just always stay together and I hear that they have some spectacular fights with each other, but they always make up and get back together," said Mr Houston.

"We have more than a thousand swans here in the reserve and they are the only two doing this. We don't know of any others acting in this way in the area.

"We realised they were together because the swan herds can obviously tell the difference between the males and females as the cobs have a much larger bump on their nose.

"They are sexed and tagged at birth so we know from their rings that they are both male."

Records for the swannery date back to 1393 and it is believed that they are the only pair of homosexual swans currently nesting at the reserve.

Homosexual behaviour is universal across the animal kingdom, from whales to snails and even nematode worms.
 Wow.  Even nematode worms?  I'm not sure I knew worms even had a gender.

Obama orders LGBT visitation rights

CNN is reporting that President Barack Obama has told the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a rule that would not allow hospitals to deny visitation privileges to gay and lesbian partners.  According to the report:
President Obama signed a memo on Thursday that would require hospitals to allow gays and lesbians to have non-family visitors.  In the memo the president noted that gay and lesbian Americans are "uniquely affected" by the relatives-only policy at hospitals.

In the memo scheduled to be released to the public on Friday morning, the president continues: "There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital. ... Yet every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindnesses and caring of a loved one at their sides."

The new rule will affect any hospital receiving Medicare or Medicaid funding.

For years gay-rights advocates have argued against the family-only policy of hospitals that unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples.
This is good news for LGBT couples.

Gainsville, Florida elects gay mayor

 Equality Florida is reporting that Craig Lowe was elected Mayor of Gainesville and became the first ever gay mayor of a North Florida city.

As we saw in the Houston mayoral race, anti-gay wingnuts pulled out all the stops to try to keep a gay candidate from winning. A local church even posted a "No Homo Mayor" billboard on their front lawn.

It didn't work in Houston and it didn't work in Gainesville.

Craig Lowe sent a special thanks to the entire Equality Team for helping make this victory possible:
"I would like to thank Equality Florida Action PAC for their tremendous help in my race. Not only did they endorse my candidacy early on, they also served as a watchdog against the lies about my campaign and put people on the ground to help get our message out to voters."
 This is good news.

Patty Larkin celebrates 25 years in music

Hannah Clay Wareham of Bay Windows is reporting that out musician Patty Larkin's new album, "25," is now on sale.  The 25 refers to the 25 musician friends she collaborated with on the album, including  Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Suzanne Vega, Rosanne Cash, Cheryl Wheeler, Janis Ian, David Wilcox Martin Sexton and Catie Curtis.  There are 25 songs on the album, each a love song.

This spring and summer Larkin will be touring New England with various artists who appear on the album.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pretty cool video

The Gothamist posted this video of every single painting in the Museum of Modern Art on April 10 of this year-- in only two minutes.  Instant culture.

Countering the Tea Party

 Sarah Palin and the tea baggers met in Boston today.  A group of Unitarian Universalists also met to counter their message.  Click below for  gorgeous slide show of this counter rally.

Counter rally at the tea party

A great way to start the day....

 Here's kd lang paying tribute to Tony Bennett at the Kennedy Honors in 2005.  Just gorgeous.  (With thanks -- again -- to Paul.)

Mixed messages

I know I'm in the minority in the gay blog world, but I am not thrilled about the much publicized effort of the Obama Administration to get gay couples to check off "married" on the US Census form.

First of all, I am tired of gay people being told we should lie.  The federal government does not recognize our marriages, yet the federal government wants us to check off "yes" under marital status, then sign a form that states we swear that the info we provided is true.

It's a new version of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, another policy the requires us to lie. I call it Tell, but Don't Ask.

That the filling out of the census occurs at the same time we filled out tax forms is, to say the least, ironic.  On one sheet of paper, I'm asked to acknowledge our marriage.  Yet my husband and I cannot fill out a joint tax return.  In the process of doing our taxes, we were also reminded that unlike folks in straight marriages, if one of us should die, the other would have to pay a heavy tax on anything left to us.  Pensions, house, life insurance -- all of this would be taxed heavily.  To make matters worse, we also discovered that any stock options -- just options, mind you -- that are left to me if my husband should die would also be taxed.  The result?  I will actually be in significant debt to the federal government if my husband should predecease me.

And I'm supposed to be grateful about the census?

The federal government wants to count me, but it doesn't want to count me in.  If this isn't the very definition of tokenism, I don't know what is.

No surprise here

As I suggested on Tuesday, the anti-equality folks are using the failure to get the Prop 8 repeal on the ballot in California to their advantage.  Without noting that most LGBT groups opposed putting the issue on the ballot before 2012, and ignoring recent polls that show a majority of Californians in favor of marriage equality, the Brian Brown (left) of the National Organization for Marriage said, “Even the minority of Californians who voted against Prop. 8 have accepted that the majority rules and moved on to other issues."

This is certainly not surprising.

Oh, and by the way, two more examples of the inequity in marriage laws.  Elizabeth Taylor is supposedly ready to marry for a 9th time.  And Larry King has filed for divorce for the 8th time.  Same-sex couples, however, can't even get married once.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Great trailer for a new documentary on Stonewall

Here's the trailer for Stonewall Uprising, a new documentary on that seminal moment in LGBT history.

H/T: Joe. My. God.

Misleading women in vulnerable situations

 We all know that the political divide over abortion rights runs deep.  Political disagreement is one thing.  Outright lying and exploitation of women in vulnerable situations is quite another. ran a story yesterday that everyone should read.  Here's the gist of it:

 ..a new investigative video reveals a disturbing trend of fake family planning clinics around the country, called Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which advertise themselves as providing "abortion services" only to give false medical information to women in order to pressure them not to have an abortion.

This deception was initially documented in a Congressional report which found that 87 percent of the 3,500 Crisis Pregnancy Centers nationwide misinform women about birth control and reproductive rights. This includes telling women that abortion will dramatically increase their risk of breast cancer, could impact their future fertility, and may cause them severe mental health problems — all statements that have been discredited by major medical and scientific bodies.

There is also documentation of the use of an alarming tactic of telling pregnant women considering an abortion that they're not actually pregnant, hoping that by the time these women realize they are, it will be too late for them to access an abortion.
Some communities like Austin, Texas have responded by voting into law a measure that will require Crisis Pregnancy Centers to post signs stating that they do not provide information on abortion or comprehensive birth control. And other cities are passing similar truth-in-advertising measures.

This is a hopeful sign.  But many of these fake clinics still receive millions of dollars from the government for providing family planning services.   A movement Congress to withhold these funds is gaining momentum.  Write to your legislators and tell them to keep this momentum moving.

Straight Pride at the Tea Party?

The Tea Party Movement continues to welcome some rather questionable groups into its fold.  The latest is a "Straight Pride" group.  Writes the staff of the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News:
At a Tea Party Express rally on Saturday in Lansing, Mich., someone wearing an “official sponsor” button was selling “Straight Pride” T-shirts. The Tea Party gets a portion of sales proceeds from official sponsors.

Gay rights supporters expressed concern and outrage over the T-shirts, noting that the “Straight Pride” message is similar to the “White Pride” slogan embraced by racist groups who oppose equality for many in the rainbow community, such as blacks, Asians, Latinos and LGBT people.

“It’s like white supremacy,” Penny Gardner, president of the Lansing Association for Human Rights, told The Michigan Messenger. “It’s as if they are saying the idea of supremacy is somehow the American way. The American way is about equality, and equality is all we’re looking for.”

David Holtz, executive director of Progress Michigan, expressed his dismay to the Messenger.

“It sends a message that this is a cause for a certain group of people,” Holtz said. “That group is older white people, straight apparently. It sends the message that if you are not in the group, you really aren’t welcome.

“What’s troubling is the idea they are getting support and clearly making money off a vendor who is making money off discrimination against gay and lesbian people,” Holtz said. “And they think that’s OK. That’s what’s troubling.”

In recent weeks, the Tea Party has made headlines for protests that have turned ugly. One protest at the Capitol became notorious for hate speech against blacks and gays. The Tea Party has also embraced organizations such as the Family Research Council, which raises millions of dollars each year by demonizing abortion rights and gay marriage.

Next stop: Iceland

It looks like the same-sex marriage march will be stopping in Iceland within the next few months, according the the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News:

The isolated island of Iceland is putting the finishing touches on a bill supporting marriage equality. 
The liberal nation, which has a population of about 320,000, is already one of the most progressive in the world toward LGBT equal rights. 
Iceland is the first nation in the world to have an LGBT person as head of state. Openly lesbian politician Johanna Sigurdardóttir (right)  became prime minister last year when voters supporting the Social Democrats and their partners, the Left-Greens, ousted the conservative Independent Party that had ruled for 18 years.
The Sigurdardóttir administration presented the bill to Parliament on March 23. The bill’s passage is expected soon, and same-sex marriage could become legal as early as June 27.

Sigurdardóttir and writer/playwright Jonina Leosdotttir entered into a registered partnership in 2002. The prime minister has two adult sons from an earlier marriage. 
Iceland is in the northern Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and the Nordic countries of Norway and Sweden.
In other news, same-sex marriage is also being discussed in Portugal. Neighboring Spain already has marriage equality.

Prop 8 reversal movement fails

I can already imagine the headlines from the anti-equality folks: Supporters of Same Sex Marriage Can't Even Get Enough Signatures to Repeal Prop 8.

That's the simple version.  The real version is a little more complicated.  In fact, the major LGBT groups were not in favor of putting the issue on the ballot this fall, believing that waiting until 2012 was a better strategy for bringing marriage equality back to California.  They did not even participate in the signature drive.

That many LGBT groups opposed a fall referendum will no doubt be omitted in the reporting of this story.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What kind of planet are we on?

Thanks to Lizzie for sending me this little movie with a message.

Tina Fey

Tina Fey hosted Saturday Night Live over the weekend and gave us another wonderful Sarah Palin skit.

LGBT Community Loses Ally in Polish Air Crash

 The plane crash that killed the President of Poland over the weekend claimed the life of an ally of the LGBT community.  And it wasn't the President, who repeatedly showed intolerance toward LGBT people, refusing at one point to allow a Gay Pride Parade in Warsaw.

The ally was Jaruga-Nowacka who served as Poland's deputy prime minister between 2004 and 2005 and was a vocal critic of the homophobic policies and pronouncements of the country's late president.
 "We are for democracy," she once told a crowd. "We are for protection of all human rights, not only for some groups who are in the majority in Poland. All citizens have the right to choose their own way of life...I am here to show my respect for the Polish tradition of tolerance."

She regularly spoke at other gay rights rallies where she suffered verbal abuse from extremist nationalists and Christian groups.

(Thanks to Pink News for information in this post.)

Same Sex Marriage in Iowa

As Iowa celebrates a year of same-sex marriage, Republican candidates for governor of the state are making marriage equality a campaign issue.  One candidate even went so far as to sa he would issue an executive order stopping all marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  (I don't know the Iowa constitution, but this sounds like it might be easier said than done.)  I hope this isn't a sign of things to come as the Republicans try to gain seats in the House and the Senate this fall.  This hateful strategy worked in 2004.  I was hoping that we'd seen the last of it.

The Iowa City Press Citizen Herald recently ran a story on the topic.  They report that LGBT groups are not taking anything for granted.  "We take our freedoms very seriously.  We are committed to going across the state and providing information," said Caroyl Jenison, Executive Director of One Iowa.  "There are people dedicated to removing those rights, and we need to balance our voices with theirs."

We obviously need to keep telling our stories over and over again.

Designing Women

Dixie Carter of Designing Women died over the weekend.  This clip from the show(sorry about the quality) seems incredibly dated now, but in the 1980's, when the Regan administration couldn't even say the word "AIDS," this scene was quite daring.  Dixie Carter was married for many years to actor Hal Holbrook.