Thursday, June 30, 2011

South Africa: AIDS Conspiracy Theorists Less Likely To Use Condoms

It's sad that South Africa, a country ravaged by HIV/AIDS, still has these kinds of misconceptions floating around.

A recent study done suggests that people who adhere to conspiracy theories about HIV-- that it was created by scientists, for example-- are half as likely to use condoms.  Even more disturbing is a trend among young, black South Africans to believe this sort of rot.  Respondents in the 20-29 range were 8 to 10 times more likely to believe an HIV conspiracy theory than others.

From Plus News:

"Among black respondents, 20 percent believed that HIV was man-made and created by scientists as an attack on people of African descent, according to a University of Cape Town (UCT) study.

"New research by Nicoli Nattrass, director of the AIDS and Society Research Unit at UCT, also found that AIDS conspiracy believers are 50 percent less likely to report having used a condom the last time they had sex than non-believers. Respondents with traditional values, and those who had lower socio-economic status but were not religious, were more likely to believe there was a conspiracy."

Even though we here at home consider ourselves far more educated, conspiracy theories about the virus abound in America as well, propagated by hate groups and white supremacists.  The very idea that God uses HIV to punish sinners is a very popular one, and can lead to false and dangerous suppositions about the disease.  After all, if you don't believe you're a sinner, you can't get HIV, right?

The study's data seems to provide a solution, however: respondents who had heard of the Treatment Action Campaign (an HIV/AIDS issues-based lobbying group) were more educated and reported a higher rate of use of condoms.  The key here?  Education and talking about the issue.  Given the recent decline of HIV/AIDS in American political discussions, I worry that we're robbing a generation of youth (gay and straight) of the necessary tools to remain HIV-free.

Media Matters: The Worst Of Glenn Beck

Tonight is Glenn Beck's last show, and Media Matters celebrates with this reel of the shittiest of the bullshit we've had to put up with from him.

Rick Perry's Prayer Event: Christians Only, Please

This takes the cake.

Texas Governor Rick Perry and the hate extravaganza known as the American Family Association have an upcoming prayer rally called "the Response" and the event has already gotten some bad press, thanks to the jerkwads in charge.  The gathering is purportedly also organized by such religious figures such as John Hagee, who blamed Hurricane Katrina on the gays.

The event originally invited people from all faiths to attend in order to find Jesus, but their latest missive from the Governor's spokesperson has clarified: the event is for Christian prayers only.

Via Right Wing Watch:

"Recently, I was very privileged and honored to be on a conference call with national religious leaders and Governor Rick Perry. He explained his call for a national solemn assembly to repent and seek the Lord on August 6 in Houston, Texas. I believe the Lord is calling Rick Perry to lead us in a day of national repentance before the Lord. It is a solemn assembly according to Joel 2. As we are approaching the end times, it is even more important than ever for the Body of Christ to pray and seek His face. We must repent and turn from our wicked ways so that God may heal our land.

"This is an explicitly Christian event because we are going to be praying to the one true God through His son, Jesus Christ. It would be idolatry of the worst sort for Christians to gather and invite false gods like Allah and Buddha and their false prophets to be with us at that time. Because we have religious liberty in this country, they are free to have events and pray to Buddha and Allah on their own. But this is time of prayer to the One True God through His son, Jesus Christ, who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life."

How very interesting.  So a public figure, the leader of one of our largest states, believes that all non-Christians are idolaters?  If one red cent of public money is going to this rally it would be a social crime of epic proportions.  

I think this act of wingnuttery clearly indicates that Rick Perry should run for President.  He would fit right in with the rest of the GOP clown car.  

Chinese Cheerleader Brings It

I resisted reposting this but not for long.  He's so sassy!

Idiot "Law Enforcement Officer" To Parade Female Chain Gang At Basketball Game

Joe Arpaio likes to be called "America's toughest sheriff."  His latest stunt, a clear abuse of the power granted him by Arizona voters, has instead led me to dub him "Big Fat Fucking Moron."

Via the Phoenix New Times:

"Sheriff Joe Arpaio's publicity stunt of choice for All-Star weekend: a female chain gang that probably will make a stop at Chase Field to pick up garbage as the national sporting press tries to cover a baseball game.

"We spoke briefly to MCSO Lieutenant Justin Griffin this afternoon. As the former head of Arpaio's chain-gang unit, he says he can't reveal where the chain gang will go because if people knew, they could stash contraband in the area for inmates to retrieve. He says that sort of thing's been a problem in the past."

Arpaio is no stranger to bad publicity over his stunts, as he has developed a reputation as a showboat official with a fondness for outraging just about everyone for his policies against undocumented workers and women in his care, in some cases refusing to feed them enough food.  This new stunt is just one more misogynist notch in his belt.

Jezebel notes, however, that Crazy Joe's "tough" (I say cruel) policies aren't effective, as violent crime in his county has risen 69% under his watch, with a whopping 116% increase in homicides.  Stop trying to get yourself on television, Arpaio, and do your fucking job.

Marcus Bachmann: Gays Are Barbarians

As if we needed anything else to convince us that the Bachmanns are looneytunes, ThinkProgress unearthed this clip of Michele's husband Marcus, who runs a faith-based counseling center now rumored to feature anti-gay reparative "therapy."

"We have to understand: barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined. Just because someone feels it or thinks it doesn’t mean that we are supposed to go down that road. That’s what is called the sinful nature. We have a responsibility as parents and as authority figures not to encourage such thoughts and feelings from moving into the action steps…"

Right.  I like dick because I haven't been educated enough.  I guess I'm just so dumb that I have to go do some sodomy.  Also: I'm pretty sure the most barbaric thing about this whole story is his shirt/tie combo.  It kind of gives me a "Dark Lord of the Sith goes to church" impression.

Deportation Proceedings Dropped Against Binational Couple

In a piece of news that has immigration and marriage equality advocates alike cheering, immigration officials have dropped deportation proceedings against Henry Velandia, a Venezuelan man legally married to his partner, Josh Vandiver, in Connecticut in 2010.

The case has attracted a lot of attention over recent weeks as the salsa dancer and undocumented immigrant fought to remain in the country he had adopted with the husband he married.  With the current administration's no-defend policy of DOMA and relaxed immigration guidelines, the couple were hopeful that Henry could remain and those hopes have been fulfilled.

From the NYT:

"Immigration lawyers and gay rights advocates said the decision represented a significant shift in policy and could open the door to the cancellation of deportations for other immigrants in same-sex marriages.

"'This action shows that the government has not only the power but the inclination to do the right thing when it comes to protecting certain vulnerable populations from deportation,' said the couple’s lawyer, Lavi Soloway."

Congrats to Henry and Josh!  And btw-- aren't they the cutest couple ever?

Tea Party Leader: Bullying Is "Healthy Peer Pressure"

So let me get this straight: bullying is now an endorsed social tactic from the right?

Rich Swier, a Tea Party activist involved with anti-muslim group ACT! For America who previously stated America was facing a "white extinction," responded to a study released from charity group Gulf Coast Gives which states that 77% of bullying victims were tormented based on their sexual orientation, real or perceived. His take? That bullying is a healthy means for peers to dissuade youth from following an unhealthy lifestyle.

So is racism a healthy method of dissuading people from being black?

"This is not bullying. It is peer pressure and is healthy. There are many bad behaviors such as smoking, under age drinking and drug abuse that are behaviors that cannot be condoned. Homosexuality falls into this category. Homosexuality is simply bad behavior that youth see as such and rightly pressure their peers to stop it. In Sarasota County over 70% of all HIV/AIDS cases are due to male sex with males."

He then goes on to compare smoking and underage drinking to homosexuality and calls the founder of GLSEN, one of the more respected gay organizations in the country, a "radical gay activist."

Let me be clear: shielding our children from anti-gay bias is not radical. It's necessary. I doubt the victims of bullying who have killed themselves to escape their tormentors would call the emotional torture they faced "healthy peer pressure." This guy is disgusting.

UFOs Spotted Over London

I consider myself a right proper Whovian (nevah 4get the Battle of Canary Wharf!) so as soon as I saw "UFOs Spotted Over London" on Twitter I pooped a little bit.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Update: In LGBT Pride Reception, President Believes He's Fulfilled His Commitments

Supposedly the cut feed was due to some technical problems and a lack of ability on the White House's part to stream live (right.  The leader of the free world lives here and you can't fucking Skype?).  Whatever, they've now released video and a transcript, in which Barry O. states (after listing his accomplishments in office)

"So bottom line is, I’ve met my commitments to the LGBT community. I have delivered on what I promised. Now, that doesn’t mean our work is done. There are going to be times where you’re still frustrated with me. (Laughter.) I know there are going to be times where you’re still frustrated at the pace of change. I understand that. I know I can count on you to let me know. (Laughter and applause.) This is not a shy group. (Laughter.)"

He's entirely correct on a couple things: We're still frustrated and we are by no means shy about telling him so.


White House Live Stream For Pride Party Disappears

So the White House has a big ol' gay party goin' down today, and many of the gay blogs were planning on making use of the live stream announced on the White House website in order to see what Barry O had to say to LGBT Americans at the gala ("I love you guys!  But I'm going to leave your marriages up to the states.  Suck it, Kentucky queers!").

But GoodAsYou and Towleroad were disappointed.  Minutes before the stream was supposed to start, the embed code disappeared and the announcement was deleted.

Jeremy Hooper at GoodAsYou:

"Okay, so this is really weird. Earlier today, the White House proudly announced that tonight's LGBT reception would be livestreamed, just as they stream just about every other WH event:

"Which is why we embedded it here for you to watch. We were excited to bring it to you. Ready to hear the next evolutionary step.

"But then a short time before the event, without either word or apparent reason, the White House removed the above announcement from White House Live. Then, come 5:45PM: No live stream. The code we had been given (at the sharelink, above) was inactive."

This is not just weird, but extremely suspicious. 

Geek Shit Wednesday, Vol. XV

Anonymous Hacks, Releases Personal Details Of Arizona Cops

It's gotten personal with online hacktivism group Anonymous, as they have now attacked the private e-mail accounts of thousands of Arizona law enforcement officers and put out a data dump of personal information on the cops.  Why?  In order to protest the racist-- and I don't disagree with that-- policies of law enforcement in the Grand Canyon State.

Last week, they said in a statement titled "Chinga La Migra":

"Every week we plan on releasing more classified documents and embarassing [sic] personal details of military and law enforcement in an effort not just to reveal
their racist and corrupt nature but to purposefully sabotage their efforts to terrorize communities fighting an unjust 'war on drugs'.

Then, today, the dump hit the interwebz in "Chinga La Migra, Communique Dos":

"In this second bulletin, we're dumping booty pirated from a dozen Arizona police officer's personal email accounts looking specifically for humiliating dirt. This leak has names, addresses, phone numbers, passwords, social security numbers, online dating account info, voicemails, chat logs, and seductive girlfriend pictures belonging to a dozen Arizona police officers. We found more internal police reports, cops forwarding racist chain emails, k9 drug unit cops who use percocets, and a convicted sex offender who was part of FOP Maricopa Lodge Five."

I'm generally a fan of Anonymous, so I was surprised when I felt a bit icky about this.  I felt the same way when Julian Assange threatened to release personal details of intelligence operatives.  To be frank, this sort of thing places people's lives at risk.  I'll definitely be watching this story unfold.

(Thanks to Robbie at Mount Vernon Wireless for the tip)

Drug Resistant E. Coli Traced To Antibiotics Use In Chicken Farms

Bad news for chicken farmers, as cultures of E. Coli found in humans appear to have developed drug resistant genes also found in chickens given antibiotics as part of their diet in large-scale farms.  The CDC's journal Emerging Infectious Diseases published a paper with some startling similarities between the genotypes of the compared bacteria.  

"In each set of samples, they were looking at the E. coli to see whether they harbored genes for the type of resistance known as ESBL, for 'extended-spectrum beta-lactamase,' an enzyme that denatures a category of drugs used for serious infections that occur mostly in hospitals. When the extended-spectrum beta-lactams no longer work, only a few last-resort drugs are left. (Back in the 1980s, the most common genes for ESBL wereblaTEM or blaSHV, but in the past 10 or so years there has been a rapid global increase in the occurrence of a different ESBL gene, blaCTX-M.)

"Here’s what they found:
  • Out of 876 patients tested by rectal swab—because E. coli is a gut bacterium, carried in and spread by feces—45 (5 percent) harbored ESBL genes.
  • Out of 31 blood cultures in the hospitals’ labs, 23 (74 percent) contained ESBL genes.
  • Out of 262 meat samples, 79 (30 percent) harbored an ESBL gene. Broken down by type of meat, there was ESBL in 80 percent of the chicken samples, 5 percent of the beef, 2 percent of the pork, and 9 percent of ground or otherwise mixed meat.
The business of mass-farming animals for their meat is just kind of generally kind of gross anyway, but now we are starting to see that there is considerable risk in some farming methods.  

OMG! 50,000 Piece Lego Barad-Dur Is Too Awesome For Words

So I'm not going to say many, other than "Sweet Saruman's Socks, that's cool!"

HRC Store Vandalized, Radical Queer Group Claims Responsibility

This is about as useful as board shorts in Antarctica.

The HRC store staff in DuPont Circle arrived to work this morning to find the store vandalized, with cosmetic damage done in the form of pink paint on the window and the word "Stonewall" spray-painted on the sidewalk.  The act was claimed by a group calling themselves the "The Right Honorable Wicked Stepmothers’ Traveling, Drinking and Debating Society and Men’s Auxiliary," and urged the gay community (after referencing snorting ritalin and drinking whisky) to cease giving money to the gay rights giant.

From their press release (via the Washington Blade):

"Why, you’re asking, did we specifically target the HRC, a massive national gay rights non-profit as opposed to vomiting urine on Rick Santorum or something equally fun?

"Put simply, they suck. What do they suck? Cash. Lots of it.

"The HRC rakes in something approaching 50 million dollars a year in revenue–their executive director, Joe Salmonellamayonaisemanese pulls in a salary of several hundred grand. What have we gotten out of this bloated carcass? Not a thing worth mentioning and every now and then, they eagerly sell trans people up the river. Seriously, this is an organization that hordes money and does nothing useful. It’s a sad, sick dinosaur.

"Meanwhile, in Washington, DC violence against the LGBT community is on the rise; DC’s only LGBT center is forced to go hat in hand to real estate developers and beg for space, only to face eviction a few years down the road; We lack a homeless shelter for queer youth and services for our community are the victims of budget cuts. Can you think of something better to do with a few million dollars?"

They then suggested that money could be better used by buying glitter (cute, guys, cute).  

I've often been a critic of the HRC and other organizations falling under the tongue-in-cheek term "Gay Inc," but vandalizing property on a whim while extolling the effects of snorting ritalin is not only stupid, but completely pointless.  I hate to say it, but I agree with the HRC's Director of Communications, Michael Cole Schwartz:

"HRC’s DC Action Center and Store was vandalized last night with paint on the front windows and an LGBT group has claimed responsibility for the crime. It’s unfortunate that after a marriage win in New York that represented an unprecedented coming together of LGBT groups, some are more interested in fostering division in the community."

Do I think that the HRC alone is to thank for marriage equality in New York?  Hell no.  Do I think the HRC's efforts are ineffective?  Most times.  Do I think they are Democratic apologists?  Uh-huh.  Should we wreck their shit?  Hell no, what's the point of that?

Gov. Brown Vetoes Fair Treatment For Farm Workers

This is seriously fucked.

Farm workers in California are a vulnerable group characterized by attacks from employers on workers attempting to form unions and subverted union elections, leaving naturalized citizens and undocumented workers in fear of losing their jobs.  The California state legislature has attempted to rectify the situation by passing the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act, only to be vetoed-- three separate times!!!-- by the Governator.  The act (via Daily Kos):

"would give California’s 400,000 farm workers an alternative to traditional, on-the-job polling place elections to decide on union representation. Under the new process, farm workers would fill out state-issued ballots in privacy.

"At present, many farm workers fear participating in union elections because the secret-ballot process established in 1975 in California has been subverted. Time and again, anti-union employers fire and threaten farm workers who want union representation. And, on election days growers watch farm workers casting their ballots helping ensure a 'No Union' vote."

So when 1,000 workers delivered the newly passed (for the fourth time) Act to Governor Jerry Brown, they were hopeful for a signature and improved working conditions.

Not so.  Brown followed Schwarzenegger's lead and vetoed the bill.

United Farm Workers president Arturo Rodriguez released a statement condemning the veto:

"What never changes in politics is power. Governor Brown accepted the arguments made by the powerful agribusiness lobby and rejected the cause of powerless farm workers."

Maybe Governor Brown should look at Georgia's mistakes and recognize that being cruel to farm workers is a failing strategy for a state with large agricultural interests.  Or does he want all those employees going elsewhere?

The Newest Justification Against Marriage Equality: The Prong Has To Penetrate The Socket

Bill Donohue, that wackster over at the American Catholic League, dissolved into a meltdown of frothing outrage over the passage of same-sex marriage, burping out some nonsense about electrical sockets and prongs.

"'In order to keep the human species alive, it has to be between a man and a woman, right?' Donohue explained. 'I mean, let’s face it. If you want electricity, if you want juice, you can’t have two sockets touch each other or two prongs. The prong has to penetrate the socket.'"

Thanks, Bill. That thoughtful illustration has finally convinced me! I need to power my electronics with vagina! Or something.

NOM Outlines Four Year Plan To Waste Donor Money

Oh, will these b-holes ever learn?  

The National Organization for Marriage Hatred has published some more haterade after their announcement that they would pledge $2 million to combat the dreaded same-sex marriage in New York.  Their squawking is nothing short of a master plan (sinister music) to reverse gay rights in the Empire State.

"We're putting together a 4-year campaign strategy that will reverse same-sex marriage in New York. We'll have many more details, and ways for you to get involved, in the days ahead but the overall plan will have three phases:

Elect pro-marriage majorities next November that will approve a marriage amendment in both the Assembly and Senate during the 2013 legislative session.

Protect pro-marriage candidates in the 2014 elections, so that the amendment can receive final legislative approval in the 2015 legislative session.

Successfully pass the ballot measure when it goes before voters in November 2015."

Laurel at PHB makes some very good points (IE, that it's a big fucking waste of time and money):

"Recall that the Assembly passed the Marriage Equality Act by a vote of 80-63 and the Senate passed it by a vote of 33-29. To accomplish this mean-spirited plan, NOM would have to replace at least 18 pro-equality Assembly members and 3 pro-equality Senators (incumbents all) with anti-equality challengers, get a majority of both chambers to approve a proposed amendment, maintain the anti-equality majorities through another election, then get the majority of both chambers to vote anti-equality for a second time.

"Then the question would go to the voters, who already overwhelmingly support marriage equality."

They should just call it "Our Plan To Keep Getting Paid."

Barry O More Popular Than Mama Bear In Her Own State

Evidently Alaska doesn't like quitters.

You know your bid to be President is a failure when you can't even win the approval ratings in the state that you were Governor.

Arkansas Governor Claims To Have "Evolved"

Thanks, Barack Obama, for figuring out a way to make the word "evolution" a hateful word to liberals.

I've got a big hump day eyeroll for Governor Mike Beebe today, who made history last night by being the first Arkie Guv to address a gay rights group.  While he claimed to have "evolved" on gay issues, now supporting gay couples' right to foster children, the address sounds like him reiterating support for anti-gay policy.

Not only did he take a hard-line stance against same-sex marriage and civil unions ("But that’s the law. That’s the constitution and that’s the way it is."), he also defended one Little Rock newspaper's decision to not list a gay man's partner in his free obituary.

Via Igor Volsky at ThinkProgress:

"Q: Speaking in terms of strictly of government, do you think LGBT people are discriminated against in Arkansas?

"BEEBE: Well, if you measure that by whether or not you believe there should be a law that permits marriage, to other than between a man and a woman, then you’ve answered your own question. I don’t think that’s discrimination because I think that’s appropriate societal judgment. I think that’s appropriate societal…"

Um, really?  Why did he even show up, if it was just to show that he's not gonna be giving the gays any love?  

His missteps took an even bigger turn for the worse, as he incorrectly stated that it was illegal to fire someone in Arkansas for being gay, then was loudly corrected by his audience.  Dumb!

Oh, That Gal Is Just So Wacky

I would laugh more but it's frightening how serious some people are taking her campaign.

Video: DREAMers In The Republican National Committee HQ

DREAM act students have officially become my favorite activists-- they're so freaking inspiring I get goosebumps every time I see them in action.

Via Carlos In DC:

"Today I experienced history, when I saw a group of brave, highly motivated young Americans walking in the headquarters of the most hateful and divisive political party in the United States, and leaving behind a message of peace, solidarity and justice.

"A group of about 80-100 young undocumented students walked in the headquarters of the Republican National Committee this afternoon, asking to be seeing by the chairman or vice-chairman. They waited for at least 20 minutes, until an old White lady came out to talk, but she listened patiently."

I am no stranger to protests or arrests, but I have a lot less to lose than these amazing people.  Their bravery in coming out as undocumented places them not just at risk of violence and discrimination, but deportation.  Every time they participate in direct action, they gamble with their future and could possibly lose their education due to deportation.  God bless these guys.  They are truly amazing.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

GetEQUAL To Host Pride Cocktail Party Of Their Very Own

Tomorrow President Barack Obama will be hosting a Pride Party at the White House, undoubtedly to hit up the HRC and other big gay orgs for some much-needed campaign funds.  Who better to go to for some quick cash than the GayTM?

GetEQUAL, ever the ones to pressure Democratic leaders to fulfill their promises, will be holding their own cocktail party, starting out with a rally at 4pm at the White House, after which the festivities will move to the Green Lantern for some drankin' and whatnot.

"First we will gather at the White House at 4 PM.

"There we greet invitees to the White House Pride reception with a simple request -- to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans become fully equal under the law. We will distribute 'GetBOLD to GetEQUAL Scavenger Hunt' game cards to provide them an opportunity to communicate the needs of the LGBT community to the power players inside.

"The scavenger hunt will ask attendees of the reception to 'GetBOLD' by urging President Obama to be the fierce advocate he promised the community during his campaign. The game is meant to be a fun but meaningful opportunity for attendees to step up the pressure on the Obama administration for full LGBT equality.

"After we distribute the cards, we will adjourn to The Green Lantern where our reception begins at 7 PM."

So if you're in the DC area tomorrow, stop on by and chat with the GetEQUAL folks about opportunities to get involved.  Link below is to the Facebook event page.  

Herman Cain Thinks Minimum Wage Requirements Are Unnecessary

In a statement that is sure to delight big business, presidential campaign and political noob Herman Cain stated to ThinkProgress' Lee Fang that the current laws preserving the minimum wage were unnecessary.

"FANG: Do you think the current minimum wage is too high or even necessary?

"CAIN: I don’t think the current minimum wage is necessary because most companies are paying higher than the minimum wage. Now you can’t say everybody’s paying higher than the minimum wage but a lot of companies [inaudible]"

This seems to be a sticking point for the GOP/Tea Party line, with Michele Bachmann voicing support for doing away with minimum requirements and Rick Perry blabbing about how great his solutions have been for the Texan economy (they have a low unemployment rate, but the vast majority of those jobs pay peanuts).

It begs the question: would eliminating the minimum wage requirements result in more jobs for Americans? Perhaps, but several obstacles to prosperity remain if we go that route: these low-paying jobs often require employees to work odd hours, making finding a better job very difficult.  It's also somewhat difficult to get new employers to give you a significant increase in pay, with one Facebook friend noting, "I've discovered that some places actually have a policy that won't let HR managers offer more than a 10% increase of a prospective employee's current wage."

Jared Polis Expecting Baby

Rep. Jared Polis, one of the few out and open legislators in American politics, is now expecting a baby with his partner, Marlon Reis.

They didn't comment further than that, and refused to divulge whether the baby was coming to them via a surrogate mother or through adoption. All they have been willing to tell is that it will be in September.

Congratulations to Polis and his longtime Boulder-based partner. I have to ask, though: will having a baby light a fire underneath the politician, causing him to taking a harder stance on the President's do-nothing attitude towards marriage equality? Or will he continue to be an apologist for our "fierce advocate?" Only time will tell, but I suggest that having an LGBT-led family would be a good reason for Polis to "evolve" beyond the party line.

Pride Roundup, Plus: Did NYPD Fake Complaints Against Eagle?

Pride weekend, while jubilant in New York City, appears to have had a rash of tragic and discouraging incidents taking place across the country.

San Francisco's Pride was marred by a shooting on nearby Market St, resulting in five people wounded.  50 floats had their tires slashed before Chicago's Pride Parade (which carried on after last-minute tire replacements).  A tragic traffic accident occurred at Anchorage's Pride Parade, with the Grand Marshal's own vehicle running over and killing a bystander.  Lastly, the NYPD performed a raid at the New York Eagle, resulting in 6 different violations leveled against the Manhattan gay bar.

While none of these incidents proved enough to completely dampen spirits at individual events, this last piece of news has prompted investigations and questions on the part of the gay media: was the NYPD targeting the Eagle unfairly due to the passage of marriage equality in the Empire State?

Unicorn Booty and Vanishing New York did some sleuthing and they found something disturbing: even though the authorities allege there had been 311 complaints against the establishment, the 311 complaint map published by the city shows not a single allegation of improper behavior on behalf of the bar over the past year.

The Eagle is marked in red.  If there had been complaints, they would have been marked with a yellow circle.

Vanishing New York posits that the raid had nothing to do with Pride, but instead with changing attitudes under Mayor Bloomberg about what businesses are appropriate to run in the area:

"What’s really going on? Was the Eagle raided because it was Pride Weekend? Or because gay marriage just passed in New York?No. It was raided because the city wants to shut it down–because this block is changing fast and the Eagle boys are not what the Bloombergians want here.

"Not only has the extended High Line just opened on this block, butAvalonBay is building their massive Avalon West Chelsea directly across the street from the Eagle, taking 60,000 square feet of space to put in a 700-unit residential development with 'provisions for restaurants' and a 'parking garage for over 140 cars located in the building.' To do so, they have already bulldozed a cluster of industrial businesses long located here.

"What many of those south-facing windows look out on is the roof deck of the Eagle, where men in leather chaps and harnesses cavort. 'Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the High Line,' says Avalon’s ad copy. I don’t think this is what they mean. Do the High Line huggers really want their view to include sweaty, furry leathermen?

"The timing of this raid has nothing to do with Pride or gay marriage, and everything to do with the High Line’s recent arrival on 28th Street and every glittering thing it brings in its wake. Mark my words, the Pride Weekend raid on the Eagle is Phase One of the city’s plan to push this historic bar out of its home and put the kibosh on the Folsom Street East fair in the process."

It's going to be interesting to see how this story unfolds in coming weeks-- is there a war against "naughtier" gay businesses going on in Manhattan?  

Bryan Fischer: Fidelity In Same-Sex Relationships Virtually Unheard Of

While I've known my fair share of polyamorous gay relationships (and been involved in a couple of them) I would say that Bryan Fischer is reaching, like much of the right, for any reason whatsoever to remain relevant in the wake of NY Marriage Equality.

Ian Awesome On Hivster

For my play-by-play on the reactions from the left and right on New York Marriage equality, click on over to Hivster to read my latest.


Bachmann Fans Follow Her Lead, Attempt To Rewrite History

In a bizarre interview on GMA in which she asserted that abolishing minimum wage requirements would benefit the economy, OAQ favorite Michele Bachmann tried to back up her statements that the Founding Fathers were tireless advocates against slavery.

"'Now with respect, Congresswoman, that’s just not true,' Stephanopoulos said. 'Many of them including Jefferson and Washington were actually slave holders and slavery didn’t end until the Civil War.'

"Bachmann dodged the question, answering, 'Well, you know what’s marvelous is that in this country and under our Constitution, we have the ability when we recognize that something is wrong to change it. And that’s what we did in our country. We changed it. We no longer have slavery. That’s a good thing. And what our Constitution has done for our nation, is to give us the basis of freedom unparalleled in the rest of the world.'"

Even more amusingly, she then painted John Quincy Adams, the sixth President, as one of the Founding Fathers.  Never mind, of course, that he was a small child during the Revolutionary War.  That didn't stop Bachmann supporters from going on Wikipedia and literally attempting to rewrite history on the open-source encyclopedia, adding "a founding father" to John Quincy Adams' page:

Luckily the wiki moderators caught the rewrite, and the page has been restored.  

Portland Trailblazers, Will You Join The Crowd Of Non-Haterz?

A new petition is making its rounds on the website, asking the Portland Trailblazers to join other professional sports teams to join the ranks of athletes supporting gay youth by making an It Gets Better video.

"Within the last few months 5 MLB teams have made a video for the It Gets Better campaign to benefit the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. These 5 teams have spoken out against bullying and hatred in our society. The Giants became the first professional sports team to make a video for the campaign.

"The Blazers should set an example for the rest of the NBA by being the first team to make an 'It Gets Better' video. The It Gets Better campaign started last fall following the alarming number of gay teen suicides around the country. The 'It Gets Better Project' is a website and organization dedicated to helping 'young people who are lesbian, gay, bi or transexual see how love and happiness can be a reality in their future.'

"Portland is a city that embraces its LGBT community with open arms. We also love our Blazers! It's this organizations' responsibility to its fans to continue fostering a record of community service by taking it to a new level in the NBA. Sign this petition to let the Blazers know that you're a fan and that you want to see them make an 'It Gets Better' video."

The 'Blazers have historically been a stinker of a team, but their recent athletic successes have generated a renewed interest in Oregon's biggest professional sports team.  What with the seeming rash of anti-gay ignorance and bias in Stumptown, now might be the perfect time for the 'Blazers to show their support for queer youth.

Visit the link below to sign the petition.

David Frum Tells Us What We Already Knew

David Frum, a writer for and former special assistant to President Bush, has now had a special coming out of his very own, stating "I was wrong about same-sex marriage."

He has been, in the past, a vociferous opponent of marriage equality, notably debating the issue at length with Andrew Sullivan fourteen years ago. Now, he joins the growing number of social conservatives throwing in the towel and saying, "what's the big deal?" The lie that marriage opponents have used to justify their war against gay Americans being given equal standing under the law-- the erosion of the family unit-- has clearly, to him, been proven wrong.

"By the numbers, in fact, the 2000s were the least bad decade for American family stability since the fabled 1950s. And when you take a closer look at the American family, the facts have become even tougher for the anti-gay marriage position.

"Middle-class families have become somewhat more stable than they used to be. For example: College-educated women who got married in the 1990s were much less likely to get divorced than equally educated women who got married in the 1970s."

Congrats, David Frum. Welcome to the 21st century!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Administration Eases Up On DREAM Eligible Students

The White House quietly issued a memo from Barack Obama's immigration chief instructing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to prioritize deportations of undocumented immigrants to make it easier for students to stay in the country to complete their educations.

From Mother Jones:

"Has President Barack Obama found a way to enact the principles of the DREAM Act—the bill that would prevent the deportation of young undocumented immigrants who are students or military veterans—without passing the measure itself? Unable to move this legislation through the Republican-controlled Congress, the Obama administration has used its executive authority to shape immigration policy in line with the DREAM Act. This month, in a little-noticed move, Obama's immigration chief advised Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to use discretion when considering whether to deport certain undocumented immigrants who are particularly vulnerable or have strong community ties to the country. That is, go easy on the sort of undocumented immigrants that the DREAM Act could benefit, among others."

Hmmm.  This reminds me, a bit, of his refusal to defend DOMA.  Instead of making bold decisions, issuing executive orders, and actively pushing for legislation to right social wrongs in our country, he seems to be attempting to make things better for marginalized populations through quieter, hard-to-notice means.  Is this going to benefit him in the long run?

There are some who are certainly not that happy about the memo, with some ICE officials calling it a "law enforcement nightmare" and the Daily Caller saying, "President Barack Obama’s administration is quietly offering a quasi-amnesty for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants."

Either way, I hope this does indeed make the struggle to stay in America easier for immigrant students.

Inmate Claims He Was Denied Access To HIV Care

This is beyond disturbing.

This South Shore resident claims that during his week-long stay in a county jail in Princeton he was denied his HIV medication on the basis that it was too expensive for the facility to obtain.

Arick Buckles is now the subject of a letter written from the ACLU to his jailers, alleging that the assertion that he couldn't receive his meds in jail are both "inappropriate and unconstitutional."

Buckles, who was jailed under an outstanding warrant for forgery, told every jailer he came into contact with that he needed his medication, but was rebuffed by each and every one of them.  His stay in jail was marked with increasing anxiety, as he was uncertain what the effects of being without his medication would be.

And indeed, he should have been anxious.  Any doctor of infectious medicine can tell you that the risks associated with interruption of Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) are legion.  He runs the risk of his virus developing a mutation resistant to his medicine, removing vital treatment options from his future medical profile.  While studies tend to focus on long-term interruptions, one question in my mind stands out: how the hell is cost any kind of justification for denying someone the medication that prolongs their life?

"Buckles, who said he experienced severe diarrhea after his release, described his time behind bars as terrifying, because 'I didn’t know what the offset of my not having those medications would be.'

"'I often wonder, if I had been a diabetic, would I have been denied medication,' he said."

The corrections department has had a weak response, essentially saying "we're looking into it."

As well they should.  The above linked article notes that both the ACLU of Illinois and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago have received complaints of HIV-positive inmates lacking access to medication for years, to include an inmate that says his CD4 (T-Cell) count worsened after his stay in jail.

There are so many things wrong with this incident:

1.  First, why are HIV meds prices so stinkin' high?  Big Pharm's interests are being protected to the point that government institutions are opting out of providing life-saving medications to their wards on the basis of cost, and that's gross.

2.  It's the responsibility for corrections facilities to provide the care that each inmate needs.  PERIOD.  

3.  Why is it acceptable to deny someone with HIV their meds?  Would, indeed, someone who needed daily injections of insulin be denied their medication, and what's the difference between the two?  NOTHING.  My HIV meds keep me alive, and I hope I am never denied access to them.  

Fast-Moving Bus-Sized Asteroid Buzzes Earth

A 10 meter-long asteroid whizzed by Earth today at a mere 12,000 km, giving the Faulkes Telescope Project the opportunity to grab some snazzy photos of the fast-moving object (click here to see).

There was no chance the rock was going to hit Earth, as Tweeted by Nasa:

However, there is a slight chance that it will impact Earth in 2022, as the asteroid has an Earth-like orbit and passed close enough to have that orbit affected by our gravity.  Never fear, though.  Objects under 25 meters are too small to escape breaking up in our atmosphere.

Events like these always remind me of the movie-within-a-movie, "Asteroid," from "Girls Will Be Girls." If you look closely at the poster tagline in the background, it is "EARTH MIGHT GET CRUSHED!"  Watch it, it's a gross and hilarious movie.

Newt Loves Marriage SOOOOO Much!

The advent of marriage equality has brought a round of doom-saying and condemnation from the usual crowd of jokers, but none tickles me so much as thrice-married serial adulterer Newt Gingrich rising up to protect traditional marriage from homosexual interlopers.

Gingrich seems to want clear divisions on marriage, stating that it rightfully belongs to "one man and one woman" and the rise of same-sex marriage in New York showed the nation "drifting toward a terrible muddle."

"He said he thinks the nation should be defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.

"In February, the Obama administration decided it would no longer defend the 15-year-old law.

"'I think the president should be, frankly, enforcing that act, and I think we are drifting toward a terrible muddle which I think is going to be very, very difficult and painful to work our way out of,' he said."

It almost seems like all the people who defend marriage from us turrible gayz are the ones who want to abuse marriage the most by trickin' it up and getting divorces.  Hmmm.  Would you say that conservatives hate fidelity?

Do Liberals Hate God? Rep. Tod Akin Thinks So.

Last Sunday, NBC aired a telecast of Rory McIlroy becoming the youngest US Open champion in history at the age of 24.  The pre-taped introduction of the broadcast, however, included a version of the Pledge of Allegiance that omitted the phrase "under God," and that has some conservatives foaming at the mouth.  NBC has, of course, since issued an apology, claiming that they didn't want to offend anyone.  That's not enough for some.

Meet Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican from Missouri.  He thinks the omission is a symptom of something more sinister: nothing less than liberals' deep-seated hatred for God.

"AKIN: This was something that was done systematically, it was done intentionally, and is tremendously corrosive in terms of all of the values and everything that’s made America unique and such a special nation.

"PERKINS: Why would NBC do this?

"AKIN: Well, I think NBC has a long record of being very liberal and at the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God and a belief that government should replace God. And so they’ve had a long history of not being at all favorable toward many of things that have been such a blessing to our country…This is a systematic effort to try to separate our faith and God, which is a source in our belief in individual liberties, from our country. And when you do that you tear the heart out of our country."

His spokesperson has since refused to apologize for the remarks, stating that while Akin wasn't attempting to editorialize on any individuals beliefs, he was demonstrating that conservatives believe that individual rights come from God, while liberals believe that rights come from the government.

And to that I say: BULLSHIT.

You don't use the phraseology "hatred of God" without meaning something very plain and specific.  IE: that liberals hate God.  You're not outlining a difference in the meaning of "human rights," you're quite simply accusing the progressive movement of having an intrinsic hatred of religious belief.  

I consider myself a spiritual (if not religious) liberal, and there are many others that see through the bullshit of his non-apology and take umbrage with the idea themselves.  Several liberal religious leaders issued statements to that effect:

"Faith Aloud, a counseling and advocacy group for reproductive health and rights, launched an online petition calling on Akin to apologize, and called the comment 'an outrageous insult to all who follow their faith toward policies of compassion and justice, and is not befitting a member of Congress.'

"Rev. Krista Taves of the Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel, said Akin must 'know very little about liberals,' and suggested conservative policies hurt vulnerable individuals.

"Vicky Trippe, a retired teacher and ProVote Activist from southwest Missouri, has heard this from political opponents before. In 2005, she launched a bumper and coined the phrase, 'Because of my faith, I vote for Democrats.'"

So I'd like to introduce you, Todd Akin, to the religious components of the liberal movement.  We feel, just as you do, that our various and (ahem, more) diverse faiths lead us to vote and believe the way we do, to include the separation of church and state.  So keep your platitudes about "rights from the government," blah blah blah bullshit.

Three More Servicemembers Discharged Under DADT

The Pentagon confirms that three more airmen have been discharged from the military under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.

"On April 29th, 2011, the Secretary of the Air Force approved the discharge of an Airman under the provisions of 10 USC 654. On May 31st, 2011, the Secretary of the Air Force approved discharges of two Airmen under the provisions of 10 USC 654. On June 23, 2011, the Secretary of the Air Force accepted the resignation of an Airman who asked to be separated under the provisions of 10 USC 654.

"Each case was approved after coordination with the DoD General Counsel and the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. The officials evaluated these cases carefully and concluded that separation was appropriate.

"Each Airman made a statement identifying themselves as gay. Each Airman asked to be separated expeditiously after being informed of the current status of the repeal of 'Don't ask Don't Tell.' Until repeal occurs, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' remains the law."

So does this mean the only discharges that are taking place until certification of repeal are voluntary discharges?  Hmmm.

Today Is National HIV Testing Day

Perhaps the best tool that we have in fighting the HIV epidemic is knowledge of one's status.  So why not go get tested, on National HIV Testing Day?  From the CDC:

"The majority of the estimated 56,000 new HIV infections that occur each year are transmitted by those who are unaware of their infection. Effective HIV treatments now allow people living with HIV to live long, productive lives, yet nearly 17,000 people with AIDS still die every year in the United States. Despite these troubling statistics, the majority of Americans have still never taken an HIV test. Many people don’t recognize that they’re at risk for HIV infection, even if they engage in behaviors that put them at risk. Others may fear what a positive diagnosis could mean for them, despite the effective treatments now available. And many people don’t yet realize that testing today is quick, easy and confidential. On this National HIV Testing Day, don’t let fear or misinformation stop you from getting tested. I strongly encourage all Americans to get tested for HIV, and to text and tweet to your friends and family to encourage them to do the same. HIV testing is the critical first step to protect yourself and your loved ones from HIV, and to help end the HIV epidemic in the United States."

I took the liberty of compiling a list of testing centers in the American cities (sorry Warsaw, I don't read Polish) that read OAQ the most.  Check them out and go get tested, because there's nothing more important than your health.  I know my status.  Do you?

Seattle: Gay City
Tuesday – Friday from 3:00pm – 8:00pm

Saturdays from 12:30pm – 5:00pm

Gay City Health Project
511 E. Pike
[between Belmont & Summit]

Portland:  Cascade AIDS Project
Rapid HIV testing -- open to all
Suggested donation of $50
Monday - Friday, 10am - 4pm
208 SW 5th Ave., 8th floor
Walk-in or appointment

At HIV Alliance, 1966 Garden Ave, Eugene, OR 97403: 5-7pm (rapid and 2-week testing)
At HIV Alliance: 5-7 pm (rapid and 2-week testing)
At Needle Exchange, dead end of Blair St.: 6-7:30 pm (2-week testing only)
At Needle Exchange, under the bridge across from Island Park in Glenwood: 6-7:30 pm (2-week testing only)
At HIV Alliance: 6-8 pm (rapid and 2-week testing)
At New Roads (open to current New Roads clients only): 5:30-6:45 pm (rapid and 2-week testing)
At Needle Exchange, HIV Alliance: 3-5pm (rapid and 2-week testing)

Monday, June 27, 2011 - National HIV Testing Day. Free, anonymous, oral or finger prick HIV testing at all centers. Results in 20 minutes. NO APPOINTMENT NEEDED:
Mt. Vernon Center - 9 to 7
Randallstown Center - 9 to 4
Columbia Center - 9 to 4
Easton Center - 9 to 4

Washington, DC: Whitman Walker 
(check out their website, they have both their clinic offices and mobile testing sites)

New York City: HAF 
(they have locations in everyfuckin' place, check out their website)

There.  I did half the work for you.  Now you just need to click.



Bachmann Flubs Fact-Checking Once Again, Compares Self To John Wayne Gacy

Her run for president is really really super official now, as Michele Bachmann kicked off her presidential campaign in Waterloo, Iowa with a comparison between herself and a famous Waterloo resident, John Wayne.

Er.  Except John Wayne was from three hours away, in nearby Winterset, Iowa.  The only John Wayne that lived in Waterloo was John Wayne Gacy, mass murderer and killer clown.

Her campaign has already released a statement clarifying Bachmann's remarks.  Wayne's parents met in Waterloo.  That doesn't really change much, since it's unknown if John Wayne himself ever set foot in the town.

Anyways, she announced her presidency today and is a big clown.  That is all.

Because Stories Are Always Better When Told By The Taiwanese

I would say that yes, activists WILL breathe rainbow colored fire on Barack Obama if he doesn't evolve already.  Plus!  Where can I get these rainbow spewing Super Soakers?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dear Portland 'Phobes: Enough Already!

The City of Roses' reputation as a progressive, forward-thinking city was once again marred on Saturday as another anti-gay attack struck the downtown area, with two men beaten in Old Town and another two men in custody facing charges of assault and intimidation.

Shawn Siefke and Christian Sanchez-Villavencio were walking on NW Flanders when they stopped and asked a man for directions.  Reports are unclear what his response was, but the incident somehow escalated into Siefke and Sanchez-Villavencio physically attacking the man (who is gay) and shouting ant-gay epithets.

Andrew Smith, a man visiting from Newport, happened by and decided to intervene.  Smith, 24, reasoned "I stepped in to help the man because I thought to myself, what if that was my little brother?"  He was repaid for his efforts with being thrown to the ground himself and being reportedly kicked in the head.  The suspects then fled, with the first victim calling the police, who arrested the attackers when they returned to the scene of the crime (WTF, dudes!).

Neither victim was, happily, critically injured.

This attack comes just weeks after another anti-gay attack which resulted in a hand-holding rally across the Hawthorne Bridge and citizen patrols in order to maintain the safety of the waterfront.  With city commissioners showing blatant ignorance of HIV-related issues and wasting taxpayer money in a fearful attempt to keep icky AIDSy urine out of the water, I have to ask: What the hell is going on in Portland?

Are these incidents isolated, or are they evidence of growing anti-gay (and related populations) sentiment in Stumptown?  I hope not, and the hand-holding rally's attendance (in the many hundreds) tend to belie that notion.  However, I now know that I'm a bit more fearful of Old Town after dark, and I don't like that.  My home state of Oregon is supposed to be an example of liberal ideals, with MarioJohn of stating:

"Seattlites sometimes look South with envy. From Oregon’s free-speech protections that enable a thriving sex-positive industry to Portland’s public transportation system, Portland makes 'progressive' Seattle seem a bit milquetoast in comparison."

So why have these incidents taken place?  Is it backlash from a blue-collar workforce that is just tired of teh gayz?  Or are these truly random incidents?  

Only time will tell, but I know this: these attacks and ignorant politicians have no place in my home state, and I hope that this are merely isolated instances of individual assholes doing shitty things.  

OneAngryAlly: Keep Your Laws Off My Ovaries!

Today, everyone's favorite appallingly conservative Midwest governor Scott Walker is set to approve Wisconsin's new budget, which contains $1 million in cuts to Planned Parenthood. With this action, Wisconsin will join Indiana (also led by a favorite appallingly conservative Midwest governor), Kansas, and North Carolina in entirely ending state funding of the organization.

Despite the fact that anywhere from less than one percent to three percent of said funding is used for abortions, pro-life supporters rejoiced at the news, just one more blow to working-class Wisconsin. Less than one percent. Yup, all those baby-killin' liberals over at Planned Parenthood do is provide abortions. 100% of the time.

As a resident of a rural Midwestern state, one of the most heartbreaking parts about this story involves the clinics which stand to lose the most. The more metropolitan clinics (in Madison, the capital, for instance) will still be able to provide many services, as they receive funding from federal sources and elsewhere. No, the clinics receiving the primary impact of the state cuts are in small communities like Shawano and Wisconsin Rapids. If these outposts are anything like the Planned Parenthood clinic in my small community, they already have little to offer the low-income residents of the area. Now, these women will have nowhere to go for basic health care.

I recently needed to visit my local Planned Parenthood, in rural Ohio, another state where such funding is in limbo. When I called, early on a Monday morning, to make an appointment, I was told that the next available slot was the following Monday afternoon. And why? Was this because the clinic was absolutely jam-packed over the upcoming week? Oh, no. They only have the ability to have the doctor in one day a week, and in fact were closing five hours early on the day I spoke to the receptionist. There is no other option in my community, and I was forced to wait a week. Fortunately, my life was not in danger, but it was still not the most pleasant week of my life. Hey, Scott Walker, and pro-life douchebags! These clinics are already barely hanging on by a thread, and womens' health is at stake! What I do with my ladyparts is none of your business!

Now, I know that many of you faithful readers do not have to worry about parenthood or planning for it, but this is an issue that affects everyone. I can spend all day telling you guys about the services Planned Parenthood does provide - annual exams, contraception, education, a safe place, just for starters - and I'm sure that we all at some point have benefited from these.

Instead, I will leave you with another example that outrages me beyond all belief; I guess we can be grateful that this practice does not still exist. North Carolina legislators are currently debating paying a settlement to women who endured forced sterilization at the hands of the state as recently as the 1970s. The justification given? The woman interviewed, a 14-year-old rape victim, was "promiscuous." Fortunately, the state is considering a payment (a paltry $20,000); however, North Carolina's heavily conservative, hateful legislature will probably vote it down.

This sort of garbage absolutely turns my stomach. How advanced are we as a society when we still have to debate womens' basic rights? Womens' health affects everybody, everybody.

Read more about North Carolina's eugenics program.