Friday, April 23, 2010

Oh, no! Eating chickens will make you bald and gay!

I couldn't pass this story up from the Los Angeles Times about the recent claims by the President of Bolivia.  The author of this piece is Daniel Hernandez:

If you don't want to end up bald or gay, don't eat chicken, says Bolivian President Evo Morales. Speaking at an environmental conference this week in Cochabamba, Bolivia, (officially titled the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth) Morales told attendees in an inaugural address that chicken producers inject female hormones into the fowl, "and because of that, men who consume them have problems being men."

Thousands at the conference reportedly laughed -- perhaps nervously -- when Morales made the statements. He also said hormone-injected chicken causes young girls' breasts to grow prematurely, according to Noticias 24.

The Associated Press notes that most Western countries ban hormone injections in chicken, but Morales, Bolivia's first indigenous president, also went on to diagnose the practice as the cause of male baldness. "Baldness, which seems normal, is a sickness in Europe," he said. "Almost everyone is bald. And that's because of what they eat."

The Bolivian president pointed to his own shock of thick black hair as proof. No sign of baldness on his head, Morales said.

A gay-rights advocacy group in Spain sent a letter of protest in response to Morales' statements to Bolivia's embassy in Madrid, but otherwise, reaction on the international level has been somewhat muted.

The Cochabamba conference ended Thursday with accords calling for industrialized nations to "change the system of capitalism that is imposed upon us."

Papers, please

A bill that would stiffen immigration laws in Arizona is now on Governor Brewers desk.  She has until Saturday at midnight to veto or sign it into law.  If she does nothing, the bill will also become law.  She has yet to reveal what she will do.

This bill is scary.  Having lived in Spain shortly after the Franco regime ended but during a coup attempt by the national police force, I was stopped twice for no reason, and was demanded my "papers." I was interrogated for 30 minutes one time, about 45 the next.  It was an awful experience, not helped by the fact that I had seen Midnight Express the night before my first detention.

It's very possible that people living in Arizona will now have to produce their papers on demand.  The immigration bill would, among other provisions, require police to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally.  It also would make it a crime to fail to "complete or carry an alien registration document."

Guess who's going to be  detained and questioned.  Not John McCain, that's for sure.  In his latest embarrassing dance to appease the right wing, he is supporting the bill.  During the election in 2008, he was a much kinder, gentler politician, pushing for immigration reform with at least a modicum of compassion.

I'll paraphrase Molly Ivans' famous words about the speeches at the 1992 Republican Convention.  This bill probably sounded better in the original German.

Archie keeps up with the times

Kilian Melloy of Edge Publications is reporting some fun news.  It's looks as though the Archie comic strip has taken a decidedly gay turn.  This ought to get the right wing up in arms.

According to Melloy:
The fictional city of Riverdale, home to Archie, Jughead, Veronica, and Betty, is about to welcome its first openly gay character, Kevin. The gay high schooler’s introduction is all part and parcel of Riverdale’s wholesome character, the comic’s producers say.

Kevin Kelleher is slated to be introduced to Riverdale in September, in Archie Comics title Veronica, issue #202, reported on April 22.

"We’re trying to show that Riverdale is an accepting community, that everyone is welcome in Riverdale," writer-illustrator Dan Parent said. "We’re trying to show that Riverdale is that ideal town that everybody wants to be a part of."

Added Parent, "My daughter has openly gay kids in her high school and it’s accepted. Obviously this isn’t the case everywhere in the country. There are struggles that gay people have. But gay kids in high schools isn’t the big deal it used to be, and we want to reflect the way being gay is accepted in today’s society."
The times…they are a changin'

Jon Stewart on recent gay events...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Friendly Fire - Gaywatch Edition

(H/T: Jeff)
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Mike Huckabee: prejudice with a smile

Jennifer Chrisler of the Huffington Post has an interesting story regarding children of gay parents and Mike Huckabee's recent dismissal of gay families.  He recently told a student newspaper earlier this month that the country shouldn't "experiment" by allowing gay couples to adopt children. "Children are not puppies," he said. "This is not a time to see if we can experiment and find out, how does this work?"

As Chrisler points out, LGBT parenting is already working and has been for years. According to UCLA's Williams Institute, there are one million LGBT parents raising approximately two million kids. And those children are doing just fine.

She cites Dan Savage's argument that the crux of the debate is  between the 500,000 foster kids in the U.S. having parents or not having parents. Period.

To quote Chrisler:
President Obama told Family Equality Council in 2008 that more needs to be done, "to support and strengthen LGBT families. Because equality in relationship, family, and adoption rights is not some abstract principle; it's about whether millions of LGBT Americans can finally live lives marked by dignity and freedom... That's why we have to extend equal treatment in our family and adoption laws."

So let's get to it. We urge the President to make opening more homes to kids waiting in foster care a priority by speaking out -- perhaps during Foster Care Awareness next month -- on the need to end restrictions on the literally hundreds of thousands of LGBT couples who are ready, willing, and able to provide loving, permanent homes. With the President's leadership, we can pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (HR 4806) sponsored by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), legislation that requires every state to look at the best interest of the children when making placement decisions as opposed to focusing on the sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status of the prospective parents.
There are many important issues on the docket right now in Washington; there always are. But in the midst of a fledging economy and two wars, we must not lose sight of what really matters: the health and welfare of America's children and making families, gay and straight, stronger and healthier.

Sounds right to me.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

British Prime Minister honors US gay rights leader

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent their greetings US gay rights leader David Mixner at the Point Foundation dinner last night.  The Prime Minister is known throughout the world as a passionate defender of LGBT rigts.  Vicki Kennedy, widow of Ted Kennedy, also sent her best wishes.

Hats off to

The Lambda Literary Foundation has announced that it has received $25,000 from  Lambda Literary, the leading national nonprofit organization for the LGBT literary community, will use the grant to support the Writers' Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices, to be held August 8th through August 15th, 2010 at the American Jewish University in Los Angeles.
The Writer;s Retreat is the first of its kind offered to LGBT writers.  It is a one-week intensive immersion in fiction, nonfiction or poetry taught by some of the gay community's most talented and celebrated authors and instructors.  Students of the Writers' Retreat spend the week working on their manuscripts and attending lectures by publishing industry professionals. 

"'s support of Lambda Literary reflects its ongoing commitment to the development of emerging voices in the LGBT community, and beyond," said Tony Valenzuela, LLF's Executive Director.  "The mission of the Writers' Retreat is to foster the continued vitality of LGBT writers whose work fully explores the LGBT experience, and's grant helps ensure the success of our efforts." 

" shares Lambda Literary's commitment to developing great new authorial talent," said Jon Fine, director of Author & Publisher Relations for  "We are proud to be able to support the Writers' Retreat as it nurtures the next generation of LGBT literature and writers."

Hats off,

What? I actually agree with Justice Alito and no one else on the court?

Sometimes the liberals can be wrong and the conservative can be right.

That was certainly the case yesterday when the US Supreme Court struck down a law designed to stop the sale and marketing of videos showing dogfights and other acts of animal cruelty that I will spare from you.

"The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the government outweigh its costs," said Chief Justice John Roberts. He concluded Congress had not sufficiently shown "depictions" of dogfighting were enough to justify a special category of exclusion from free speech protection.

Free speech?  You mean it's illegal to stage a dogfight (ask Michael Vick) but it's okay to video it?

Only Justice Alito -- one of the most conservative justices on the court -- had the decency to uphold the law.  "The animals used in ...(these) videos are living creatures that experience excruciating pain. Our society has long banned such cruelty," he said. The courts, he said, have "erred in second-guessing the legislative judgment about the importance of preventing cruelty to animals."

Amen to that.  And shame on the court for not protecting defenseless living beings.  

Civil Rights Pioneer Dorothy Height dies

Dorothy Height, one of the great civil rights leaders in our history, died this week at 98.  She was an ally of everyone struggling for equality.

On her first day of college at Bard, she was told she couldn’t enroll because the college already allowed two African Americans in, and that was their quota.  Undaunted, she went on to study educational psychology at New York University.

She was honored by the LGBT community at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) national dinner in 1997. At the time, Height said that while we've come far as a civil rights movement, we haven't yet reached our goal.

"Civil rights are civil rights. There are no persons who are not entitled to their civil rights," Height said. "So many of the gains that we thought we had made seem more tentative than they ought to be. But it only means we have to recognize that we have a long way to go, and that we have to go that way together."

Several LGBT groups took a moment to honor height's work. Darlene Nipper, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force's Deputy Director, said that "a huge part of Dorothy Height's legacy will be the grace with which she directed her power for the good of all people." And Donna Payne, HRC's Deputy Director for Diversity, said that Height "taught us to reach out to others, and to get the conversations going."

(Thanks to for much of this information.)

LGBT Profiles in Courage

Yesterday Dan Choi led  a protest against Don't Ask Don't Tell in front of the White House.  This video reminds me of the great words from Bayard Rustin: When an individual is protesting society's refusal to acknowledge his dignity as a human being, his very act of protest confers dignity upon him.

Watch CBS News Videos Online 

Monday, April 19, 2010


Steve Williams of has posted a truly heartbreaking story that highlights the importance of President Obama's memo requiring that LGBT couples have hospital visitation rights.  This story took place in Sonoma, California -- a progressive place that overwhelmingly supported gay marriage in the Prop 8 battle.  So if it could happen here, it could happen anywhere. The summary as reported by Williams is from the National Center for Lesbian Rights.  (I've actually summarized some of the the summaries.)
Clay [Greene] and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place—wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health. 

One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital.

While Harold was hospitalized, Deputy Public Guardians went to the men’s home, took photographs, and commented on the desirability and quality of the furnishings, artwork, and collectibles that the men had collected over their lifetimes.

Ignoring Clay entirely, the County focused on Harold, going so far as to petition the Court for conservatorship of his estate. Outrageously referring to Clay only as a “roommate” and failing to disclose their true relationship, the County continued to treat Harold as if he had no family. The County sought immediate temporary authority to revoke Harold’s powers of attorney, to act without further notice, and to liquidate an investment account to pay for his care.

Then, despite being granted only limited powers and with undue haste, the County arranged for the sale of the men’s personal property, cleaned out their home, terminated their lease, confiscated their truck, and eventually disposed of all of the men’s worldly possessions, including family heirlooms, at a fraction of their value and without any proper inventory or determination of whose property was being sold.

Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from their home and confined him to a nursing home against his will—a different placement from his partner. Clay was kept from seeing Harold during this time, and his telephone calls were limited.
Three months later, Harold died in the nursing home he had been placed in, and Clay, because of the  County's actions, could not be at his partner's bedside during those final  months. With the exception of  but one photo album that Harold had painstakingly put together for Clay during his declining weeks of  life, Clay has been left without any  of his personal possessions to remind him of the 20-year  relationship he shared with  Harold as, to date, he has not been able to recover any of the items that were auctioned off.
Only the truly heartless could oppose Obama's memorandum after reading this story.

The Slippery Slope of Compassion

According to CNN, Americans support President Obama's memorandum allowing gay and lesbian couples to visit each other in the hospital by a margin of 9-1.  This law was all about compassion, inspired by heartbreaking stories like Janice Langbehn, who was denied access to her dying partner in a Miami hospital, or Sharon Reed, who was removed from her dying partner's hospital room by a homophobic "nurse from hell."

Compassion? That didn't stop a right wing hissy fit over the move.  Obama's memorandum wasn't at all about compassion or decency. It was a step toward same-sex marriage, and therefore should never have happened.

Remember that thousands of gay men were denied access to their loved ones when the AIDS crisis began in the 1980's.

Tom Head of  points out that "Obama is receiving the wrath of several right-wing groups and bloggers who think that hospital visitation rights = homosexual orgies and forced gay weddings."

The Family Research Council is one such group.  Earlier this year, they suggested that homosexuality should be criminalized in the United States. Now they're arguing that LGBT hospital patients deserve to die alone.  They are caliling Obama's memorandum pandering to a radical special interest group; undermining the definition of marriage; and furthering a big-government federal takeover of even the smallest details of the nation's health care system."

Another right wing leader said that  President Obama created a "homosexual Roe v. Wade" in issuing the hospital visitation rights memorandum. Martin is planning on taking this memorandum and using it as a springboard to get GOP candidates elected this November.

I can't wait to see the TV ads on this subject.

(Thanks to for much of the info in this post.)

It's Not Just About Gay Marriage

Charlie Baker  swamped opponent Christy Mihos at the Republican Convention in Massachusetts Saturday.  Mihos won't even be on the ballot in the fall. 

On the surface, this looks like good news for LGBT people.  Baker supports same-sex marriage.  His running mate, Richard Tisei, is openly gay. We should be excited, shouldn't we?

Not so fast.  Full disclosure here: a relative who is very close to me is transgendered.  I have seen first hand the agony of someone living in a world that is hostile toward a trangendered identity.  So I was completely turned off by Baker's answer to a question about transgendered rights.

According to a number of news sources, Baker faced a revolt among the right wing of the party because of his running mate's support of a transgender rights bill.  These social conservatives passed out a flyer that contended that the bill would allow men to enter women’s bathrooms.  They demanded to know whether Baker supported the bill. The Baker campaign immediately circulated a leaflet saying he would veto the “bathroom bill’’ if he were elected.  The "bathroom bill." Could the Baker team have been any more dismissive or even mean spirited? 

The issue could have hurt Baker since right before the vote, political opportunist Christy Mihos told the crowd (to great applause) that he would veto "the bathroom bill."

At a press conference after Baker won the convention’s endorsement, he told the press (with his running mate by his side) that he opposed the legislation and was not concerned about labeling it “the bathroom bill’’ — a term used by opponents of gay rights.
WHen asked if he was trying to court conservatives, Baker said, “I think a guy who supports gay marriage and is prochoice and has been pretty clear on those and picked a gay fella as his running mate is pretty much not pandering to much of anybody,’’ Baker said, putting a hand on Tisei’s shoulder.

Sorry Charlie.  I don't agree.  Supporting same-sex marriage in Massachusetts is about as courageous as supporting speed limits.  Even Scott Brown, one of the loudest anti-marriage equality voices in the Massachusetts senate, abandoned his opposition in order to win his senate seat.

We can't be content with progress for gays and lesbians if our transgendered brothers and sisters are being left behind.