Wednesday, August 31, 2011

OneAngryClotheshorse: Lanvin's redonkulous FW 2011 ad

Hello Lovers! What you are about to see is real. Do not try to adjust your computer screens. If your brains explode, well - it was nice knowing you.
Things I learned from this video:
1: Models can't dance.
2: Pitbull and French fashion do not go together.
3: That is a really hard song to get out of your head.


Bisous,

Wesley

VICTORY: Dan Choi Update-- Amid Technical Difficulties

While I would love to give you the news today, I'm having connectivity problems and can't, I'm very sorry to say.  However, I've been able to find this on Facebook from Dan Choi's lawyer, Robert Feldman:

Near as I can tell, the judge has acknowledged that the government is unfairly prosecuting Dan Choi and targeting him for his activism.  Thank God that Judge Facciola has a sense of fairness, even if the government does not.

Yesterday, Choi was on the stand for three hours, as reported by MetroWeekly:
On the stand, Choi said the First Amendment provides for the right of people to petition the government for a redress of grievances, which also, he said, is a moral responsibility of patriotic Americans. Choi responded under questioning by Feldman that he believed his actions were a form of speech, and that the government did not have a right to censor them by arresting him.

At times, Choi raised his voice and spoke in such a tone that he almost seemed close to shouting, especially when asked about his arrest. Under cross-examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela George, he compared the various protests against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” to the 1960 sit-in by students in Greensboro, N.C., at a Woolworth’s department store and said he was “insulted” by his prosecution on federal charges. 
“The November 15th arrest is surprising in my mind,” Choi said, comparing the tactics used by police officers to remove him from the fence and transport him to the police wagon to procedures taught to soldiers in war. Choi said his left arm had been twisted and he could not feel his index finger for two weeks afterward, statements he said were reinforced by videos showing his arrest.
 I'm not a legal expert, but when I looked up "writ of mandamus" I found the following definition:
Mandamus is a judicial remedy which is in the form of an order from a superior court to any government subordinate court,corporation or public authority to do or forbear from doing some specific act which that body is obliged under law to do or refrain from doing, as the case may be, and which is in the nature of public duty and in certain cases of a statutory duty.[2] It cannot be issued to compel an authority to do something against statutory provision.
I'm not entirely certain what this means as pertains to the case but I'll take Robert Feldman's word for it:  Congrats to Dan Choi on this legal victory.

Outserve Magazine To Appear On Army Newsracks



The Army and the Air Force have authorized the sale of gay-oriented military magazine Outserve on their installations starting next month, timed with the full repeal of DADT as pertains to gay, lesbian, and bisexual servicemembers.
OutServe Magazine will hit store shelves at Army and Air Force bases on Sept. 20, the day the Pentagon plans to formally end enforcement of the “don’t ask, don'tI tell” policy that bans gays from serving openly.

The publication is published by OutServe, a group of secretly gay active duty service members that says it has hundreds of members currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The magazine, which began publishing in the spring, is currently available in limited supply at some public meeting areas and military physicians offices, the group said.
 While it will be entirely legal, I'm not sure how comfortable I would have been purchasing this magazine in the PX during my stint in the military ten years ago, even if DADT hadn't been in place.  Sign of the times, I suppose, and one I'm happy to see come about.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Today In Intimidation: The Atheist Registry

"Pastor" Mike Stahl from Florida has a great new idea to improve America!  With the parlous state of affairs in our country, we clearly need some solutions now!  So who does Pastor Mike identify as the greatest threat that we need to target? 


Atheists.  Uh-huh, that's right.  Pastor Mike, who doesn't have a physical church but instead just an online ministry, is taking to the interwebz to advocate releasing personal information about atheists in America in order to boycott their businesses and proselytize to them:
Pastor Mike compares atheists to “convicted sex offenders , ex-convicts , terrorist cells , hate groups like the KKK , skinheads , radical Islamists , etc..”  He claims that the purpose of this organization/website called, "The Christian National Registry of Atheists" is to inform the public of known atheists so that they can be proselytize to and their businesses can be boycotted.
How would a Christian proselytize to an atheist if the atheist’s physical address is not included? This author speculates that this distinction was made more for legal reasons than for practical reasons. Should an address be supplied by such a website, the organization might be held responsible for any violence that “good Christians” might perpetrate on atheists.
 What's next?  Are atheists going to have to walk around wearing armbands with the Flying Spaghetti Monster on them so that they can be easily identified?  

Groupon Not Gay Enough For You? That's Okay, Cuz There's This



I know a few discount queers who are just gonna love this.  Yet another Groupon clone, this time with a gay slant:
Before becoming a Gaypon merchant, businesses are put through a background check of sorts, where they are investigated for any bad marks, like complaints of discrimination from customers and employees, poor hiring practices, etc. Gaypon says it also uses various tools, like the Human Rights Campaign’s “Corporate Equality Index” that rates American workplaces on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality.
Gaypon plans to donate a portion of proceeds to charitable organizations, and those that support the gay community, like The Trevor Project, which focuses on crisis and suicide prevention amongst LGBTQ youth, and Affirmations, which is one of the largest LGBT community centers in the United States. The exact percentage of those donations, however, is unclear.
  All right.  It sounds like a well-meaning enough gimmick, and I'm a cheap date (being a broke blogger helps, you can fix that with the donate link to the left) so I'll check it out.


And They Accuse US Of Indoctrination

Whatever.  If the 4 year old wants to preach, he wants to preach.  However, next time someone tells me it's unnatural for a child to learn that their teacher, family friend, or relative is gay, then I'm going to point right at this video.




In the spirit of sensitivity to others' faiths, I'll say that it is okay to teach your child your religion.  However, unless his parents have broken from the commonalities of Southern Pentecostal churches, it is sad that he has a long road ahead of him battling the misogyny, homophobia, and uneducated brainwashing so rife within those communities. 

GOP, Once Again, Holding Essential Funding Hostage

I reported a few days ago that GOP leadership was hinting at further obstructionist tactics in order to avoid raising taxes on the wealthy, and it turns out that speculation that they might use Hurricane Irene as a political tool was right.
Republicans, who control the House and have driven hard bargains on spending cuts all year, have insisted that there will be enough money for disaster relief. But they also pledged that additional spending will mean cuts in other areas. 
“Yes, we’re going to find the money,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Monday in a television interview. “We’re just going to need to make sure that there are savings elsewhere to continue to do so.”
I know where to find the money, Eric.  How about your salary?

Hint:  You're bad at your job.

The thing is, it turns out that they are making cuts to support FEMA relief programs post-Irene.  Where are the cuts?  Well, one, from energy-saving green cars (that's not a surprise, might as well score a hit for big oil), but shockingly House Republicans are insisting on cuts to... FEMA budgets?
But in doing so, Republicans shifted money from a program that lends money to auto manufacturers to build more energy-efficient cars and cut dollars from other FEMA programs. Both ideas are unacceptable to Senate Democrats. 
“Does it really make sense to pay response and reconstruction costs for past disasters by reducing our capacity to prepare for or respond to future disasters?” Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) asked in a July letter critical of the cuts the House made to replenish the disaster fund. Landrieu chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds FEMA.
This is outrageous.  These profiteering charlatans are so concerned with protecting the big business interests that fund their campaigns that they are willing to decimate future disaster relief to avoid levying  fair and appropriate taxes on the wealthiest 10% of America.  They have utterly lost touch with the purpose of representative government.  No wonder they're scared shitless at the idea of talking to their constituents.

Crossposted to FireDogLake.

Will The Obama Administration's New Stance On Deportations Save This Couple?

Brian Andersen and his Indonesian husband Anton Tanumihardja may have the singular distinction of being the first couple to test the Obama administration's "kinder, gentler" stance on deporting non-criminal immigrants.



A legally married couple that now lives in Philadelphia, Anton and Brian are anxiously awaiting word from the ICE that could spell disaster or salvation for their marriage.  Anton does not have the proper documentation to stay in the United States, and under previous direction for Immigration was a candidate for deportation.  In fact, last February, he was three hours away from boarding a plane to Jakarta when an emergency appeal from politicians and advocacy groups stayed the decision to deport him.

Now the clock is ticking once more, as unless his case is dismissed, he will be due for deportation on October 7th.

From Stop the Deportations:

Unlike the two history-making cases (Henry & Josh, Doug & Alex) in which Stop The Deportations has won “administrative closure” this year, Anton’s case is significantly further along in the legal process. Anton has exhausted all his appeals and recently received a final denial of his last appeal. Because Anton has a “final order of removal” ICE has the power to put him on a plane and deport him at any time. 
Will ICE Deportations and Removals Officers apply the prosecutorial discretion guidelines to protect this married gay couple from being torn apart? As part of the Stop The Deportations campaign, Brian and Anton will use every day that remains to ensure that Anton is granted "deferred action" and to ensure that the Obama administration's commitment to same-sex binational couples facing deportation has tangible results.
Indonesia is a fairly conservative country with no protections for LGBT citizens.  It is very likely that were he to be deported, he wouldn't just face the heartbreak of separation from his husband, but also discrimination in his daily life.

Anton is not a criminal, and this makes him a prime example of the sort of individual who should be kept in his adopted country.  I pray that his family stays together.

HIV Scare Shuts Down LA Porn Industry

LA's porn industry ground to a halt this week as news broke out that an anonymous adult film actor has tested positive for HIV. While there is no doubt that studios will once again start churning out the smut (it is, after all, one of California's more lucrative businesses), the news of the actor's infection has raised new fears, and new questions, on how to control HIV infections in one of our seedier (and one of my favorite) industries.

Done at the prompting of the Free Speech Coalition, the incident undoubtedly has triggered a fresh spate of rapid testing of porn actors in LA, but some are asking if the monthly tests are really enough to ensure that actors remain HIV-free?

What system is in place now? A database exists which notifies agents if an actor is available to work or not, protecting the individual from leaks on his or her HIV status. Many would say that this is just not enough.

AIM officials were attacked for insisting that the database could protect performers from HIV, so condoms were unnecessary. Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said this latest incident proves that condoms must be used, and those who say the database is enough show, "outrageous disregard for the health and safety of performers and the community at large."

Weinstein is right: if condoms were unnecessary to prevent the spread of HIV, LA would have kept churning out gangbang flicks yesterday instead of shutting down in a panic. As yet, it's uncertain that any magic HIV prevention pill will ever become science fact, so the best way for sexually active adults to prevent HIV transmission is to wear condoms, however much that spoils your sweaty self-love viewing pleasure. 

 

It would behoove porn actors to begin insisting on condom use. Just ask Mason Wyler. He's a perfectly healthy (and hot) dude who can't find work fucking on camera. Why? Because he contracted HIV. No-one will hire him.

So quit with the databases, guys, and just wrap it up.

Can Bryan Fischer Please Just Move To Africa?

Bryan Fischer stated again on his radio show that homosexuality should be a felony.



I wonder if he's a fan of Uganda's Kill-The-Gays Bill? Is this the kind of compassion we can expect from God's gentle people?

Dan Choi Trial Update


This fascinating tidbit has come out during FireDogLake's coverage of the Dan Choi protest trial:
There were several jaw-dropping moments from the Dan Choi trial today, but none more dramatic than the moment Lt. LaChance of the Park Police admitted he was advised by Solicitor Randolph Myers of the Department of Interior to press federal charges against the DADT protesters on November 15 — three hours before they began protesting.
How much clearer does it have to be that these are trumped up charges specifically targeting our group?  Since the beginning of the case, it was evident to us that the prosecution was exercising a grudge on behalf of the government against Dan Choi and company.  I was unable to attend my first court hearing due to a medical emergency, and the prosecutor immediately asked the judge to issue a warrant for my arrest.  He turned it down, of course.

But really, what is the government trying to prove in this case?  

Skyrim Wants You To Get Gay Married (If That's Your Thing), But Star Wars? Hates It!

Gaymers rejoice!  Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is continuing Bethesda Softworks' support of homolove by allowing players, in game, to have a gay wedding.

The Sims, Fable, and numerous other games already allow same-sex lovin', to include Bethesda Softworks' previous Fallout installments.  I know that this particular gayming geek is more likely to purchase a game that lets me get it on with a hot elvish sorcerer, so smart marketing on their part.

oooooooooooh yeah.

Not every geek franchise has learned the lesson on same-sex relationships, however, as the upcoming Lucas Arts game Star Wars:  The Old Republic is totally banning gay nuptials, while opposite-sex relationships are available to players.  They have promised explanations, but thus far have released nothing.
In a video interview posted on YouTube by KAEmpire, Star Wars: The Old Republic developer Corey Butler says (at ~2.30 into the video) that the game will not feature same sex relationships. The Bioware forums are afire with a fifty-one page discussion of the issue and a community poll.
That forum actually became closed due to the outrage from prospective buyers of the game.



Come on!  I know Senator Amidala would TOTALLY have refused to defend DOMA!  This is clearly a confusion tactic on the part of Chancellor Palpatine in an effort to smokescreen his true agenda.  I call for a vote of no-confidence.

G-Male: The Perfect Man?

From Comediva comes a delightful (if not creepy) video about how to get the perfect man:  Let Google make you one!




Also, I'm pretty sure this falls into the "killer robots" category.

Sinead O'Connor Wants Some Butt Love, And She Doesn't Care From Who



Sinead O'Connor wants to set the record straight:  She's looking for love, from a man or woman, and you better keep butt-secks on the menu, or no dice:
I’ve been repeatedly asked will I ‘do anal sex’. Let me make it very clear.. Any man I contemplate has to be into anal sex.. It was a family paper so they wudnt have printed it but let me now take time to make VERY clear that yes I ‘do anal’ and in fact I would be deeply unhappy if ‘doing anal’ wasn’t on the menu, amongst everything else$ So if u don’t like ‘the difficult brown’.. Don’t apply… I’ve had reasonable complaints from lesbians that they have been excluded. This was terribly remiss of me and I would now like to make it clear that women will also be very much considered. As will Brians and Nigels.. Since there were complaints there too.
I don't think I have anything to add to that.

Catholic Priest: Homosexuals Are Putrid And Depraved

The El Paso Times features this paid advertisement from local priest Fr. Michael Rodriguez.  I would otherwise ignore this, but Joe Jervis from Joe My God found his contact info.  Feel free to give Rodriguez a piece of your mind. I especially urge my Christian readers to give him a reality check.

"Engaging in depraved and unnatural sexual acts will lead directly to the ruin of both the homosexual's body and soul," [Father Michael] Rodriguez writes. "Our very anatomy cries out against the lie that homosexual acts are 'ok.'" Rodriguez closes his screed by saying we live in a "godless society" that condones homosexuality. "Reflect, first there are (a) individuals committing mortal sins of a homosexual nature; next, evil extends its tentacles to (b) society as a whole accepting homosexual and homosexual activity as 'normal"; and finally, iniquity's victory is all but sealed when (c) laws are enacted which impose the putrid homosexual ideology on everyone, while those who, rightfully resist it, are ridiculed, attacked, and persecuted," Rodriguez writes.
 

Dan Choi's Trial Begins

 At the press conference at close of business:  Jim Pietrangelo, Dan Choi, Robert Feldman, and Iana Di Bono.  Photo by Brad Crothers.

Dan Choi's trial began yesterday, continuing the legal battle begun last November when he and twelve other activists (ahem, including me) handcuffed ourselves to the White House fence in protest of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  The twelve of us plead guilty to the charge of "failure to obey," but Dan felt that he was not guilty of a crime and asked for a trial.  He faces six months in prison or a $5,000 fine.

Metro Weekly reports:

Choi’s lawyer, Robert Feldman, said he would try to move quickly tomorrow, but because the prosecution has not rested its case, and because of testimony that implicated other potential law enforcement officers who could be called as witnesses, the trial might spill over into a third day.

The prosecutor representing the government, Angela George, called six witnesses, all U.S. Park Police officers, to testify against Choi. George argued that Choi could be found guilty of failing to obey a lawful order because his conduct could be considered disorderly, or because the group he was involved with did not have a permit to demonstrate on the sidewalk in front of the White House. At the close of the day, George said she had at least one more witness to call before finishing her arguments.
What seems like an open-and-shut case for the prosecution-- after all, we were all on the fence, right?  There's video!-- was called into question by Dan's lawyer, Robert Feldman.  During cross examination, he attempted to establish several key points that seem to erode the government's position that Choi had no right to be there:

On cross-examination, Feldman questioned whether Choi was technically on the sidewalk or a ledge when he was chained to the fence, thereby not disobeying police orders. He also questioned whether Choi’s conduct posed a threat to others, obstructed traffic or prevented emergency responders from doing their job, which would be required for his conduct to be considered “disorderly.” 
 I will be speaking to Dan's assistant later, and will hopefully have more information as the trial evolves.  Feldman, after the trial ended for the day, stated that he believed the trial may last as long as three days.

Footage of the protest below:

 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Santorum: Homophobia And Anti-Islamic Sentiment In One Sentence? Yes Please!



Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum has stepped in it yet again.  Evidently not happy with the fact that Dan Savage has forever linked his name to poopy lube, Rick is continuing his ride on the Waaaaahmbulance by accusing the gay community of issuing a jihad on him.  Because, of course, we do that.

"So the gay community said, 'He's comparing gay sex to incest and polygamy, how dare he do this,' and they have gone out on a, I would argue, jihad against Rick Santorum since then," the former senator said at a campaign stop in Spartanburg, S.C., on Friday.
Okay, fine, Rick.  No, we don't like you.  Yes, we changed the definition of your name-- not once, but twice-- to mean something real icky.  We laugh at your nonsensical "towel, napkin, tree, car" arguments against marriage equality and call you an idiot.  All those things are true. But, really?  A jihad?

Hey, though, congrats on being both anti-gay AND anti-Muslim all in one sentence.  You get extra asshole points for that one.

This Is How The World Ends

So, there's this thing?  It's called a chatbot.  It's a robot that will talk to you if you're lonely.  Great, right?

 "I am not a robot, I am a unicorn." "Sure dude, whatever.  Want to go waste some humans?"

Well, some scientists hooked up a chatbot to another chatbot to see what they would say to each other.  A discussion about unicorns and God ensues (remind anyone of BSG?) and then when one suggests attaining a body (presumably to murder her human masters) the conversation closes in a hurry (so that they could email their nefarious plans to murder their human masters to each other in private).  Watch the whole creepy exchange here:


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Also In Irrelevant Posturing...

Rick Perry has joined Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and Mitt Romney in signing the anti-marriage equality NOM pledge.

He signed the pledge this weekend, affirming that if he wins the presidency, he will:


  • Push for a federal ban on same-sex marriage.
  • Nominate strictly conservative Constitutionalist judges.
  • Defend DOMA in court.
  • Investigate the "harassment" of anti-gay bigots at the hands of LGBT activists.  McCarthy what?

Well, at least we know he has at some point learned to sign his name.  Other than that, I don't really think this has much bearing on his race to obscurity.

Bachmann's Such A Kidder

Never one to let a ridiculous Republican trend pass her by, Michele Bachmann was quoted this weekend in a claim of particular stupidity:
“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”
Of course, her spokesperson, realizing what a complete and utter stupid thing this is to say, now claims that Bachmann was kidding.  Duh!  Ol' Crazy Eyes would never ever say anything insane and mean it.



In an interesting counterpoint to her theory is one actually supported by science and rational thinking: some scientists are saying Irene's intensity is a direct result of man-made climate change:
While the number of the most intense storms has clearly been rising since the 1970s, researchers have come to differing conclusions about whether that increase can be attributed to human activities. 
“On a longer time scale, I think — but not all of my colleagues agree — that the evidence for a connection between Atlantic hurricanes and global climate change is fairly compelling,” said Kerry Emanuel, an expert on the issue at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
I think it far more likely that hurricanes are intensified by greenhouse gases than evidence of God's displeasure over Obamacare.  Just sayin'.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The GOP: Only Too Happy To Use A Hurricane For Their Own Benefit

These motherfuckers are out of control.  Seriously.



The first story I ran across today related to the GOP and their cronies politicizing Irene was a ridiculous op ed published by Faux News (who else?) advocating getting rid of the National Weather Service, an ill-timed position suggesting that the NWS is a redundant government dinosaur that could easily be privatized to less cost for taxpayers
Today the NWS justifies itself on public interest grounds. It issues severe weather advisories and hijacks local radio and television stations to get the message out. It presumes that citizens do not pay attention to the weather and so it must force important, perhaps lifesaving, information upon them. A few seconds’ thought reveals how silly this is. The weather might be the subject people care most about on a daily basis. There is a very successful private TV channel dedicated to it, 24 hours a day, as well as any number of phone and PC apps. Americans need not be forced to turn over part of their earnings to support weather reporting.
Are you kidding me?  Saving people's lives with weather advisories is silly?  So their suggestion for replacing the NWS is that people buy smartphones and hope for the best?  Oh no, not just that, they continue with a great idea-- turn the whole weather prediction industry over to the insurance companies.
The NWS claims that it supports industries like aviation and shipping, but if they provide a valuable contribution to business, it stands to reason business would willingly support their services. If that is the case, the Service is just corporate welfare. If they would not, it is just a waste.
As for hurricanes, the insurance industry has a compelling interest in understanding them. In a world without a National Weather Service, the insurance industry would probably have sponsored something very like the National Hurricane Center at one or more universities. Those replacements would also not be exploited for political purposes.
Right.  Because big business would never ever sacrifice consumers' well-being in order to make a buck.  What Fox News won't tell you, of course, is that most weather reports from private news corporations actually get their data from the government.

Continuing the bullshit train, actual GOP leadership is hinting that they will be using Hurricane Irene and the resultant need for relief funds for their own political purposes.  Yes, friends, much like the debt ceiling crisis, they are willing to withhold essential services in exchange for spending cuts:
As East Coasters brace for what some say will be a historic pummel by Hurricane Irene, at least one lawmaker is fuming over a requirement by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) that any potential emergency disaster aid be offset by spending cuts.

"It is sinful to require us to cut somewhere ... in order to provide emergency disaster assistance for American citizens," Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) told The Huffington Post on Friday.
The Louisiana Democrat pointed out that this weekend is the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated his district and cost the federal government more than $100 billion. That recovery effort would have been delayed "by years" if Congress had required the same kind of spending cuts to offset aid, he said.
Republicans need to stop playing politics with people's lives and their livelihoods. The American people aren't that stupid (really.  We're not).  Withholding federal aid so that they can cut spending (and avoid charging the rich the same taxes the middle class pays) is beyond sinful.  It's disgusting.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Joe Solmonese Plans December Departure From HRC

Pam's House Blend reports intriguing news sure to interest any involved in LGBT activism:  Joe Solmonese, the long time Executive Director of the Human Rights Campaign, is due to step down in December.  While it is not yet publicized who will replace him, sources state an independent consultant with a history of working with the organization is slated to take Solmonese's place.

During his tenure, the Human Rights Campaign has become a bedrock institution that has played a role in successes -- a hate crimes law passed, the legislative repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- the extent of its leadership and success also depends on your point of view and knowledge of the back stories related to the hard work to make these gains happen.
Pam is correct in that there are mixed views on his tenure as leader of the nation's premier LGBT advocacy organization.  Solmonese has been roundly criticized by many, to include myself, as being a Democratic apologist willing to throw the B and T of LGBT under the bus in order to forward the goals of the L and G.  However, what I find more compelling are the possible changes that could come from this shakeup.



For instance, the end of Solmonese's stint at HRC is spelling a larger shakeup in the staffing of the organization.  Pam asks, and I would love to know myself, the answers to a few key points:


  • What will this mean for bisexual and trans community members? The L and G in LGBT have had much more visibility not only in its leadership composition, but in prioritization of political priorities. Some of this is a result of political expediency, but no doubt influenced by the composition of its leadership, board and donor base. This leads to...
  • Will more bisexual and trans staff be added with the staff shake-up? Unknown. Until Joe's successor announces for lack of a better word, "battle plan" we won't know if this means putting people who know bi and trans issues best in positions of influence.
  • With DADT at bay, and DOMA on the ropes in court, will HRC put additional to attend to matters of equity in the trans community and speak openly about them? The new executive director will have to address this head on, particularly since Joe Solmonese was seen by many in the trans community as a political obstacle at the minimum, or an outright man not to be trusted. Representing HRC, Solmonese last spoke in public on transgender issues to a trans-specific public audience at the 2007 Southern Comfort conference. He was adamently 100% in support of a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but later changed his position on the 2007/2008 version of the legislation -- effectively leaving trans rights behind.
  • Will this shift signal a change to include more people of color in positions of influence? Like bi and trans issues, a stronger HRC will come from actually honoring the influence that a socio-economically diverse leadership team brings to the table. Will a change at the top move the organization in this direction?
  • What kind of relationship will the HRC build with the LGBT media (including bloggers) and grassroots activists (like GetEqual) under new leadership? To be kind, there has been a tense and guarded relationship with activists and new media that work outside of the comfort zone of the HRC. The fact that these entities cannot be "controlled" or managed like a press release is old news - it's how the game of politics works now; any person who succeeds Joe Solmonese has to grasp this reality and find out how to work nimbly with not only the Hill and the White House, but to engage with these entities. 
These are excellent questions.  Activists like Autumn Sandeen, a colleague of Pam's and a co-arrestee of mine, will certainly want to know if more trans people are involved, while I surmise Dan Choi will be very interested to see if more people of color will be taking leadership positions in our largest organization.

I'm neither trans nor a POC, but I would like to see improvements in those areas for sure.  Above all, however, I hope that HRC chooses to take a different path.  I hope that path is less about keeping allies-in-name-only happy and more about holding "progressive" politicians accountable for failures in our progress to full equality. 


Ever Asked The GOP A Tough Question? You Might Now Be On Their "Watch" List

Here's a quick test, kiddies:  Are we in 2011, or 1984?  One can see why you'd be confused, as ThinkProgress has a shocking story of intimidation coming from GOP Congresspeople who don't like being asked tough questions during town halls.

Rep. Webster’s Winter Garden, Florida district office gave out a “Watch List” of six Floridians who had asked questions at Webster’s previous town halls. The list, with the header “For the Media,” included names, photographs, and questions that members of the media should ask them.
The Watch List itself doesn’t contain any information on who wrote it or where it comes from. The memos surfaced in Arkansas in connection to the office of Rep. Tim Griffin, and were traced back to Rep. Webster’s office.
With black and white photos that resemble police surveillance, some of them pulled from the individuals’ Facebook profiles, the memo is clearly meant to intimidate these six people and anyone else who might stand up and ask a question of their elected representative. At a Griffin town hall, staffers were handing out the Watch List to attendees, calling it their “homework.” Griffin staffers were also spotted taking photos and shooting video of attendees, creating an extra layer of intimidation.
So let me get this straight: people are asking Congresspeople to explain their policies and they are being photographed and intimidated for their troubles?  This is beyond disturbing.

This comes hot on the heels of the news that Paul Ryan, along with other Republican members of Congress, are holding town hall meetings during their recess that charge $15 to enter.  Think less town hall and more Kenny Loggins concert (cuz that's the most I'd pay for a Kenny Loggins concert, and it better be front row).  I mean, $15?  What, do they let you throw fruit at him? 

 Kenny Loggins is better than Paul Ryan.  Kenny Loggins can READ YOUR MIND.

Ryan's spokesperson claims it was the venue's decision to charge for access to the Representative, but keep this in mind:  Ryan and Friends are under heavy fire right now for their part in the debt ceiling crisis and the resultant S&P credit downgrade.  The people who care most about the economy right now?  Poor people.  People with no jobs.  That $15?  That would buy people like this several days' worth of food at a discount grocery store. 

Do you really think those poor people, the ones with the most to lose, can now go and address their problems with Ryan?

These recent tactics on the part of the GOP to avoid tough questions from their constituents are disturbing, not least because we have a representative government.  Once those representatives refuse to even learn their constituents' concerns (you know, in order to represent them?) that government is in a rapid spiral of failure.

Hey Rick, What Are You Comparing Gay Marriage To This Week?

Rick Santorum thus far has compared gay marriage to water and beer, napkins and paper towels, and now says in an interview with the Iowa Independent that gays can't get married because a tree is not a car.  Or something.

Because it changes the definition of an intrinsic element of society in a way that minimizes what that bond means to society.

Marriage is what marriage is. Marriage was around before government said what it was.
It’s like going out and saying, ‘That tree is a car.’ Well, the tree’s not a car. A tree’s a tree.
Marriage is marriage.
You can say that tree is something other than it is. It can redefine it. But it doesn’t change the essential nature of what marriage is.
So which is this?  A beer?  Or a tree?  Or a paper towel?!  Hmmmm...
Marriage is a union between a man and a woman for the purposes of the benefit of both the man and the woman, a natural unitive according to nature, unitive, that is for the purposes of having and rearing children and for the benefit of both the man and the woman involved in that relationship.
His arguments are getting even more nonsensical and only seems to highlight how irrelevant he actually is.  His entire argument, of course, is that same-sex marriage will lead to a slew of social disasters such as interspecies nuptials:

And for the benefit of society because we need to have stable families of men and woman bonded together to raise children. That’s what marriage is. You can say two people who love each other is marriage. But then why limit it to just two people? Why not three people? Why not 10 people?
If it’s just about love and everybody needs to be treated equally, then why not 10? Why not allowing nieces and aunts to marry? Why not? If marriage means anyone who is in love, well, then, let everybody who is in love get married. But it’s not what marriage is.
 
Yawn.  That old thing?  That argument is about as old as I am.  No, Rick, I don't think the advent of marriage equality will lead to the FLDS suddenly being in the clear for polygamy.

His finishes off, of course, with stating that his position is an attempt to preserve the religious right's ability to discriminate against people they judge to be sinful:


Anybody who does not recognize what the state says is good and right is a bigot. We don’t give licenses for adoptions to organizations that won’t do gay adoptions because they’re bigots. And a lot of those are faith-based organizations.
Will we go into pulpits and tell preachers they can’t preach that gay marriage is wrong? Well maybe not right away but maybe tax-exempt status is next.
There’s a conflict here because we’ve created something that is not what it is.
 Rick Santorum is, by this time, the laughingstock of the GOP in his insistence on running for President.  He can't raise money and is a shoe-in for "worst GOP candidate for 2012."  Basically the only thing he's getting for his pains is yet another Google bomb from Dan Savage



Then There's This

Watch this.  "Cold Star" is supposedly a short film about acceptance of one's sexual identity, but I really just liked it for the drag queen rescue-inspired snogfest.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Nick Espinosa Does It Again

Everyone's favorite barbarian returned to Marcus Bachmann's reparative therapy clinic earlier today in Lake Elmo, Minnesota.

Nick Espinosa and 100 of his closest barbarians (to include a young man that can't be any more than 11) stormed Marcus' clinic parking lot, leading to the staff locking the doors.  They then glitter-baptized a "Marcus" impersonator and did a big Gaga routine.  It's pretty cute.  Like Nick.  Did I say that?


"It's Nerd Day, Not Cross-dress Day"

One 17 year old in Douglas, Georgia, may not be able to graduate from high school on time due to an arrest and suspension for disrupting the learning environment. What disruption was so severe that he got carted off from school to a jail cell? Wearing a skirt.



Coffee High School told Eric Bivens that he could not wear his skirt during Spirit Week-- even being told it was "Nerd Day, not Cross-dress Day"-- but Bivens stood up for his right to wear whatever the hell he wants and now may face serious consequences for his continued education.

"He was all like come with me sir and I am like what did I do wrong, I am in dress code, I checked and he is all like we need to make sure you can wear this because it is nerd day not cross dress day," says Bivens.
Bivens did change his clothes and went to the principal to explain why he felt his rights as a student were being violated. Female students, he argued, dress like boys all the time. When he didn't receive what he felt was a satisfactory answer from administration, he changed back into his skirt and was arrested.

But Bivens put the skirt back on later in the day, and that got him in trouble.
Principal Greg Tanner says Bivens was being defiant and that's why he was suspended.
"From freshman year to senior year they pulled all my referrals and apparently I had 24," says Bivens.
Due to Bivens's discipline history and being insubordinate to administrators and faculty, he was arrested and charged.
"Cost me my education, my future," says Bivens.
Bivens says he just wants to get back in school so he can graduate on time and if he could do it over again he would stick to wearing pants.
Regardless of whatever disciplinary problems Bivens has had in the past at Coffee High, I find it sad that the principal of that school was able to do what he set out to do: Stifle one student's chosen mode of expression.

Thanks to reader Gini B. for the tip.

Turns Out Welfare Recipients Aren't Actually All Junkies

Perennial douchebag Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, raised eyebrows when he instituted a policy of forcing welfare recipients to submit to drug tests before collecting their benefits.  Even more controversial, the test has to be paid for by the person applying for benefits.  If the test is negative, the state reimburses the individual, but I can definitely see the cost of the test discouraging some people from applying. 



Anyway, the law went into effect and some surprising numbers have popped up:  only two percent of the people seeking welfare benefits have tested positive for illegal drug use.

Having begun the drug testing in mid-July, the state Department of Children and Families is still tabulating the results. But at least 1,000 welfare applicants took the drug tests through mid-August, according to the department, which expects at least 1,500 applicants to take the tests monthly.
So far, they say, about 2 percent of applicants are failing the test; another 2 percent are not completing the application process, for reasons unspecified.
I wonder how many poor people (to include people stricken with the disease of addiction) haven't even attempted to collect needed benefits because of this policy?

Boy Scouts Remove Troop Leader Cuz She's A Big Lesbian

The Boy Scouts of America have come under a lot of fire over the years for their anti-gay policies, but this is one of the more sad instances of discrimination I've seen from the organization.


One Potomac Falls mother, Denise Steele, wanted to give her son all the benefits of a happy and healthy childhood, and decided that she could best bond with him by participating in his life with the Boy Scouts. She, her partner, and their two children had lived in the Loudun County area for a decade, yet when her son became involved with BSA, they did not find out she had a partner of nearly 20 years until recently, when her female spouse picked her up after a campout. This was observed by an administrator of the troop, and actions were taken. Steele was removed from her post as assistant troop leader:

The issue of Steele being a lesbian didn’t arise until one weekend in June during a camping trip to Assateague Island. The camping trip was from a Saturday to a Monday, and Steele needed to work Monday so she asked Funk to pick her up from the campsite.
After both departed, one of the other assistant scout masters, Skip Inabinett, started questioning who the woman was who had picked up Steele.
After discovering that Steele’s partner had picked her up, Inabinett felt that she should be removed as an assistant scout master. In an email that Inabinett sent to a close personal friend of Steele’s and whose son was also in the troop, he stated, “If what you said about Denise Steele being an active [homo]sexual is true, do you feel comfortable talking with her about stepping down/resigning as an ASM … as her friend, this may be an opportunity for you to share with her about Christ’s love and the need to believe that as sinners we cannot get to heaven on our own and that we need a savior.”
This is pretty sad. Steele reports that she wanted to be involved in BSA so she could bond with her son. Now she is no longer allowed to go on Scout camping trips and the like.

I was in the Cub Scouts as a young boy, and I recall very clearly an instance where one of my fellow Scouts approached me and said "My dad says you're a fag." When we moved to a different area of town I just didn't have the same enthusiasm for the organization and we never joined another troop.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Spider-Man Writer: "Glenn Beck Is An Idiot"

A couple GSWs ago, I mentioned briefly that Glenn Beck became outraged at Marvel's newest iteration of Spider-Man, blaming the biracial superhero's ethnicity on Michelle Obama.



One writer for Marvel, Brian Michael Bendis, who is writing the book, was overjoyed.  He responded that Glenn Beck was an idiot:
"We pissed off Glenn Beck, and that was amazing. I don't think Glenn Beck is an idiot because he's a conservative. I literally think he's just an idiot. Regardless of his belief system, he's just a lunatic. So that was hilarious. Not that I'm going out of my way to find ways to piss people like that off, but boy is it so nice when you do it by accident. I told my wife that she doesn't have to get me anything for my birthday because nothing will make me happier than this made me. I was happy all day.
*sigh* I dream of the day Glenn Beck blames me on Michelle Obama.

Another Rich Guy Thinks He Isn't Paying Enough Taxes

Warren Buffett created a stir when he wrote a piece denouncing Washington's efforts to keep tax loopholes available for the mega-rich last week, in which he wrote:
OUR leaders have asked for “shared sacrifice.” But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.
Another super rich guy has now joined the debate, and he supports Buffett's position.  What's more surprising is that he's a Republican.


Another multi-millionaire says the rich should be paying more taxes. Registered Republican and co-founder of H&R Block, Henry Bloch knows his opinion is not popular with many in his party. 
Like Warren Buffet, Bloch believes current tax code gives too many breaks to the rich.
He also has strong opinions about how much these tax breaks really contribute to job creation.

"That's so baloney," Bloch said. "Rich people don't create jobs. Companies create jobs."
This is another blow to the Reaganomically-minded Tea Party and the GOP at large, with "moderate" Republican candidate Mitt Romney scoffing at Buffett's remarks earlier:
Republican presidential nomination front-runner Mitt Romney, a multimillionaire ex-businessman, said Buffett had failed to take into account corporate taxes paid by his conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway. 
"The problem with rich people is that many of them are smart," Romney said in the key primary state of New Hampshire. 
"High taxes on entrepreneurs and investors dissuade them from putting Americans to work," he said. 
It's time these knuckleheads gave up the ghost on this "trickle down theory" bullcrap they are trying to shove down our throats to line their own pockets.

This Guy Is Totally Straight!

Watch this video.


Welcome To Confessions of An Ex-Gay Superstar from Randy Thomas on Vimeo.

Right.  You're an ex-gay.  Totally not gay at all anymore.

Lesbian Binational Couple Gets A Break

In a step that could mean reprieve for hundreds of binational same-sex couples across the nation, a judge has halted the deportation process for Sujey Pando, a Mexican national who was brought to the US at the age of 16 and then disowned by her family because she is a lesbian.  She is married to her longtime partner Violeta, having taken advantage of marriage equality in the state of Iowa.



She was due to be deported back to Mexico, an issue her siblings avoided because her parents obtained citizenship for them.  Due to her sexuality, the same steps were not taken to keep Sujey in the US.

The judge was acting on a directive published by the Obama administration last week in an attempt to prioritize deportations to keep non-threatening nationals from being kicked out of their adopted country.  Immigration has pledged to review the 300,000 deportation cases currently pending to ensure that the individuals being deported are a threat to the security and well-being of Americans.
In a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) today, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano explains that the case-by-case approach was first detailed in March 2010 and recently reiterated in a memorandum from June, 2011. She argues that the process will enhance public safety and allow immigration judges “to more swiftly adjudicate high priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons.” “This process will also allow additional federal enforcement resources to be focused on border security and the removal of public safety threats,” she argues. 
The new process is a result of a long-standing administration policy to ensure that the nation is “not clogging the system with folks who are not maximum priorities,” a senior administration official explained. Lower-priority deportation cases “are being set aside so we can focus more on our more serious cases of convicted criminals and other high priority categories.”
Pando's attorney, Levi Soloway, explains from his blog Stop the Deportations:
"Today Denver Immigration Judge Mimi Tsankov halted the deportation of Sujey Pando and scheduled a new hearing to consider an application based on her marriage to her U.S. citizen wife, Violeta Pando. Because today's hearing was intended to be a final decision day on Sujey's deportation, the judge's action was unusual; she spent 45 minutes methodically considering the procedural posture of the case. In the end, the Judge set aside the intended purpose of the hearing, citing developments including the Attorney General's intervention in a similar case in May (Matter of Dorman) and noted that the issues involved in this case existed in a context that was "fluid" and "in a state of flux." The Judge referred to events that occurred as recent as yesterday as having an impact on how to proceed. Yesterday, the DHS Secretary Napolitano ordered a review of all pending deportation cases for possible closure, including those involving LGBT families."
 So basically, the administration has set a precedent that confuses the issue enough that it is no longer crystal-clear that these undocumented immigrants require deportation.  Whatever the reason, Sujey and Violeta have much to celebrate.  Congratulations to them.


NH Wastes Taxpayer Money Voting On Minimum Wage



In an exercise in futility, the Tea Party-led state legislature abolished New Hampshire's minimum wage law on Sunday, overriding the governor's veto and stripping rules regulating wage from the books.  Why was it futile?  Because New Hampshire's minimum wage was set at the federal minimum, meaning employees working at minimum wage-level jobs are in no danger of having pay cuts.
During the fight over the removing the state law from the books, Republicans insisted the wage law not only makes it harder to create jobs, it kills them. 
"With this veto, the governor is sending the wrong message to employers that New Hampshire is going to make it harder to create jobs," Republican House Speaker William O'Brien said in June. Voters, he said, have sent "a clear message that they wanted more jobs, not job-killing regulations, like the minimum wage." 
House Republicans also killed a Democratically sponsored bill that would have raised the wage. Democrats argued the 75 cent proposed hourly increase would put $30 more each week in the pockets of the state's 4,000 lowest-paid workers, money that would be spent boosting the economy.
Give me a break.  Why waste the state's money voting on this nonsense?  It's clear that this action-- which would have gotten them Rick Perry's grades were they taking Economics 101-- was merely intended to spit in the eye of Democratic lawmakers in this state.  Because now is the perfect time for meaningless gestures.

The Pope Said Some Stuff Or Whatever



The Pope had a big Catholic party in Madrid this past weekend, with over 1.5 million faithful gathered to hear his words on pressing issues facing Catholics today. Instead of taking the opportunity to urge his followers to, oh, I don't know, END WORLD HUNGER, Il Papa addressed what is clearly the largest problem facing Christians in the modern world: gay marriage!!!11!!!

The 84-year-old head of the Roman Catholic Church had to cut short the speech, when powerful winds and sheets of rain struck at a vast air base, whipping off his skullcap, shaking the stage and knocking over at least one tent. 
Though he was unable to complete the homily, Vatican officials said on Sunday that the content of his entire speech the previous evening was still valid and could be published. 
In the address, he attempted to give at the airbase of Cuatro Vientos Spanish for Four Winds the pope struck at the heart of social reforms in countries like Spain. 
"The Lord calls many people to marriage, in which a man and a woman, in becoming one flesh, find fulfilment in a profound life of communion," he told the young pilgrims. 
Thanks, Pope, for your words of wisdom.

It's clear the continued anti-gay rhetoric from Vatican leadership has inspired some locals, as a scheduled kiss-in staged by LGBT activists was prevented from even approaching the event by police.  Even more disturbingly, a volunteer for the event posted an insane death threat in La Voz Libre, urging the faithful to bring deadly chemicals with which to attack queers:
“I have hydrochloric acid and 50 bottles of benzyl bromide, with that we can make a good asphyxiating mixture. We have less than eight days to get organised, to kill queers and in the name of God. Come on mates, we need some fertilizer, I repeat we do not need money, just bring fertilizer, naptha, gunpowder or matches or a lighter will do. The only aim is to kill these dirty queers. On their anti-pope march is a good time to get them together and impale them and then burn them as queers.”
 Of course, the nutjob didn't have the acid or any of that other crap and is now claiming the statement to be a joke.

Ha.  Ha.  Ha.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

OneAngryAlly: Justice in the Heartland . . .



The family of a Missouri seventh-grader continue their legal battle against the girl's school district this week, the latest development in an ongoing traumatic saga for the young teen, a rape victim and special education student. Yes. You read that right. Not only does this youth face an inherent uphill battle in school and life, but she also was raped, and it is around this incident that the lawsuit is centered. Where was she raped? At school.

The girl was first raped at Republic Middle School in the spring of 2009, according to the lawsuit. After the mother notified the school, the girl described the rape and "multiple sexual assaults" she'd experienced at school that year to Duncan, Mithelavage and Ragain [school officials who are named in the lawsuit]. They then told the mother that they thought that her daughter made it all up.

Even after the girl provided details about her attack and named the attacker, the school officials, who ought to have been her protectors, dismissed her allegations as false; not only that, but they forced her to apologize to her accuser, and then punished her for filing a false allegation.

Following instructions from the school, the girl wrote an apology to the boy she accused of raping her and had to personally give it to him, according to the lawsuit. She was then expelled for the remainder of the 2008-09 school year. The school also told "juvenile authorities" that she filed a false report.



After she came back the following school year? Guess what happened next. The same boy raped her again. Now her family is suing the southwestern Missouri school district, Republic School District.

Pretty much everything about this story is appalling. The thought of any sexual assault happening at school is chilling. Public school is the only safe haven that some children have. And to see behavior like that in a middle school is all the more unsettling. Speaking from experience, a thirteen-year old girl may be one of the most vulnerable beings on the planet, and to see her violated physically breaks my heart. To have that violation compounded by trusted educators is offensive beyond all imagining. I only hope that the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri agrees.

For the record, a physical confirmed that she was indeed raped, but the school district refuses to budge. How can there be any sense of justice when things like this can happen in our country?

Coughlan Comments On Phil Hinkle

I reported on Phil Hinkle, the anti-gay Indiana politician soliciting some hot piece of man-action on Craigslist, a little over a week ago.  One of my YouTube favorites, Dick Coughlan, has some things to say on the subject of bigoted closet queers and straight pride parades:




Plus he's really hot.  That is all.

Friday, August 19, 2011

OneAngryClotheshorse: Wesley Darling is mad at Zara - you should be too.

Hello lovers! Since Ian Awesome is in transition (and no, he's not becoming a woman) I thought I'd bring some serious fashion news to your attention. Spanish fast-fashion* chain Zara, makers of some of the most consistently cute (and relatively inexpensive) clothing known to bargain-hunters anywhere, have broken my heart a little bit.


According to Brazilian newspaper Reoporter Brasil, Zara has recently come under investigation for using a third-party supplier who contracts slave-like child labor to make their garments. Among their findings were reports of children as young as 14 and 15 working in unsanitary conditions for periods of 16 hours at a time, and being paid as little as 274-460 Brazilian Real a year (Between 175 and 285 USD).

This hearkens back to the dark days of the '90s, when everyone from Kathie Lee Gifford to The Gap was under investigation for using child labor. It was THE hot-button topic for some time, and while the media has not focused on this subject recently, clearly it is still a major problem. The rhetoric from retailers has always been "We had no idea our garments were produced this way," but isn't it the brand's responsibility to find out where their clothes are coming from?

The presence of suppliers like the one found in Brazil also bring up a serious question for the consumer - is that $12 top really too good to be true? Maybe doing a bit more research about where your super el-cheapo fashion finds were constructed would be helpful in discouraging further human rights violations. As yours truly puts it, "Perhaps my jeans WERE exorbitantly expensive, but they weren't made in a sweaty windowless box by children."

*Fast-fashion is a generic term for the inexpensively produced, trendy garments that are inspired by the most current runway looks. Usually shopping in these stores requires lots of screaming, grabbing, and occasionally fist-fighting with other savvy fashionistas, in order to secure the perfect outfit.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

An Interruption

I'm moving to Seattle this weekend, and for the next week or so, posting might be sporadic to nonexistent.  It's at a most inopportune time, but I will try to drop in on the blog as often as possible to update it.

Love, peace, all that rot.

xoxo

PS: Here's a picture of me with some Vikings.  That is all.