Monday, November 30, 2009

Joy Behar: Coming Out For the Holidays (Video)

Joy Behar hosted out comedians Jeffery Self, Judy Gold and Kevin Meaney, on her HLN show last week. The three shared their coming out stories with hilarious results:

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Gay Ugandans Could Face Life in Prison or Death Penalty

Legislation currently being considered in Uganda would make homosexual acts punishable by a minimum life sentence in prison and the death penalty for repeat offenders or people with AIDS accused of engaging in gay sex.

The Guardian reports:

Life imprisonment is the minimum punishment for anyone convicted of having gay sex, under an anti-homosexuality bill currently before Uganda's parliament. If the accused person is HIV positive or a serial offender, or a "person of authority" over the other partner, or if the "victim" is under 18, a conviction will result in the death penalty.

Members of the public are obliged to report any homosexual activity to police with 24 hours or risk up to three years in jail – a scenario that human rights campaigners say will result in a witchhunt.Ugandans breaking the new law abroad will be subject to extradition requests.

"The bill is haunting us," said Mugisha, 25, chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a coalition of local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex groups that will all be banned under the law. "If this passes we will have to leave the country."
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Blogger Lyndon Evans: "Get A Game Plan For LGBT Rights"

Syndicated LGBT Rights blogger, Lyndon Evans calls on our leaders for a more aggressive national game plan for achieving full equality.
From Focus on the Rainbow:

What we need in regards to the pursuit of LGBT Rights is less “feel good” and in my view “poofy footing around” politics when it comes to issues and taking on our enemies.

While politics are played in the head offices, when it comes to the playing field, race track or court, the gloves are taken off and it’s mono e mono. And that’s what we need when it comes to DADT, Same-Sex Marriage and any number of other issues.

What we need are less “poofy politicked” leaders and doers and more over-testosteroned champions, both male and female to get the troops rallied and a game plan of getting down in the mud with the opponent.
Read the full story here.
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DC City Council Set to Vote on Same Sex Marriage Tuesday

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 04:  Wesley Gann and J...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
The DC City Counsel is set to vote on the District's proposed same-sex marriage legislation tomorrow. Despite heavy opposition from city church leaders, particularly the Catholic church, which has threatened to end its Catholic Charities services over the issue, the council will move forward with the vote. The 10-2 pro-equality majority is expected to approve the legislation which will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and allow gay and lesbian couples to marry on DC, without a residency requirement.

Congress does have the power to intervene and overturn DC laws, however there has been no interest in doing so on Capital Hill.

Read more at OnTop.
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Friday, November 27, 2009

Ghosts of Holidays Past

I was really stumped this morning about what to write for today's post. There is so much going on in the LGBT world right now, but I just wasn't feeling it. The blog roll on the right shows who's talking about what. Today I'm a little too preoccupied to do any of those stories justice.

The Holiday season is here again and with it, my annual end of the year funk. I'm one of those people that has suffered for years with depression during the holidays. I spent years trying to figure out why and have gotten a pretty good handle on it.

The morning talk shows will be featuring "experts" over the next few weeks discussing the causes of this all too common phenomena and make recommendations about how to treat it. They'll talk about the anxiety associated with the preparation and overspending. They'll interview people living far away from their families for the first time who miss the tradition and closeness of family during the holidays. They'll talk about old family squabbles being rekindled in overcrowded households, as we all forget that we've grown up and regress to our younger, less secure selves for a few weeks each year.

Some TV docs will blame it all on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which can occur with the lack of sunlight during the shorter days and longer nights of winter. And they'll tell us what to do to get through it in one piece.

Over the last 25 years of dealing with depression, I've developed some coping skills of my own. The main thing is that I've come to anticipate the annual onset and to plan for it. I remind myself that it's temporary, that it will be over in a few weeks and to keep the holidays as simple and stress free as possible.

I used to use counseling and antidepressants, but have come to the conclusion that it's not unusual to get depressed during the holidays, so there's really nothing wrong with me. Why should I pay someone to tell me that? As for the meds, they just mask the problem, cause my willy to wilt and give me weird dreams. Instead, I've developed some mental exercises of my own and have been okay for the most part for the last several years.

This year things have been going so well and I've been feeling so good for the last few months, that I was caught off guard when the feelings of dread hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday. Having spent the last 24 hours reviewing the last few weeks, I can see that "the monster" has been circling the periphery and stealthily closing in while I wasn't paying attention. Now that I understand what's happening, I can deal with it more effectively.

I'm feeling a lot better today and am ready with my action plan:

1. Get plenty of sleep. When I'm tired I get cranky. When I'm cranky, I get bitchy, which makes me feel guilty afterward, which only makes things worse.

2. Don't get caught up in other people's holiday drama. Everyone has their own stresses at this time of year. It may sound cold, but getting involved in their BS only makes my own depression worse. It's stressful enough dealing with my own stuff, I don't need to get involved in theirs.

3. Keep it simple. Getting stressed out about trying to have the perfect holiday is something I just don't do any more. I'm no longer willing to travel hundreds of miles, or spend hundreds of dollars, just to spend time with people I don't want to see. I no longer obsess over how to please people who can't be pleased and whose opinion doesn't matter any more.

4. Live in the moment. I've always tried to do this and I have to remind myself to do it every now and then. It helps me to enjoy what's happening in the now and to not think too much about the family holiday horrors of the past. The future will get here in its own time anyway, so why worry about it now?

I'd add something about not partying to excess, but I don't drink any more, which has also helped a lot over the years. I wouldn't recommend overdoing it if you're trying to overcome your own personal holiday funk. It's just easier to deal with it all when you're not hung over.

So, armed with my tried and true arsenal of skills, I will make it through my least favorite time of year and look forward to the new year ahead. I have one favor to ask. If you see me around town or want to leave a comment, please don't feel sorry for me or say "I hope you feel better". It sort of makes it worse. It's not that I don't appreciate that people care, because I do. I wrote about this to get it out of my head and maybe to help someone else cope a little better.

Enjoy the next few weeks. Have a great holiday season!
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thousands March in San Juan for Murdered Gay Teen

From The Associated Press:
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Thousands of people marched through Puerto Rico's capital on Wednesday, celebrating the life of a gay teenager whose dismembered, burned body was found dumped along a road in a small mountain town.
The crowd, many of them carrying candles as a breezy dusk settled over San Juan, were also demanding that authorities invoke a law for the first time covering crimes based on sexual orientation in the U.S. territory.
"We're gay people, straight people, young people, old people. It is Puerto Rico that's walking tonight," Pedro Julio Serrano, a spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said among the marchers gathered outside the island's Department of Justice.
The mutilated body of 19-year-old college student Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was discovered Nov. 13 along a road in the town of Cayey. He was a volunteer for organizations advocating HIV prevention and gay rights, and Serrano said there have been vigils for him in a dozen cities, including Los Angeles and New York.

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December 1st is World AIDS Day

In the June of 1981 I went to New York for the weekend with a group of friends to celebrate Pride. I read a story in The Village Voice about a rare cancer, kaposi sarcoma, afflicting gay men in the city. These vibrant young men soon developed pneumocystis pneumonia and wasted away. Life expectancy in the early days of what was then called the "gay plague" was 18 - 24 months from diagnosis, but many didn't last that long.

There was no name for it then and no one knew what caused it. Today we call it HIV/AIDS and although medications have saved lives and made the disease manageable, there is still no cure.

"Each year, we mark World AIDS Day on December 1st. World AIDS Day is an opportunity to remember those we have lost to the pandemic and to resolve anew our battle against this deadly killer.
The World Health Organization announced recently that HIV/AIDS is the number one cause of disease and death among women ages 18-49 worldwide. AIDS has already taken the lives of 25 million people and 33 million more are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS around the world today."
The Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge will be holding a special candle light service on Tuesday, December 1st at 6:30 pm in memory of those we have lost and to help raise awareness that there is so much more to be done. MCC is located at 806 Jamison Ave., SE in Roanoke.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, Roanoke!

I am especially thankful this year for all of the support that I have gotten from readers and members of the Roanoke LGBT community since I started this blog back in March. I started this as a way to express my creative side. It was easy to fall into the typical blogger trap of just sitting back and saying everything sucks. Then I realized how lame that is.

I decided that if I really wanted to have an impact, I had to get more involved in the Roanoke LGBT community, talk to people, ask questions and write about things that matter not just to me, but to all of you as well. Blogging can be a lot like putting a message in a bottle and throwing it into the ocean. You don't really know if it's going to be found or if it has any meaning to the reader.

In the last few months, I have met some really incredible and dedicated people who are also passionate about getting our community more involved and motivated to stand up for our rights. I've made some new friends and built on the friendships I already had. At those times when I felt like I was wasting my time and no one was interested in what I had to say, out of the blue, someone would send an e-mail or tell me in person, "Thank you for doing what you do."

For these and so many other reasons, I am truly thankful.

Thank you for all your support. I promise to continue working to make this blog better and to helping our community feel more connected to the larger LGBT community and to the ongoing fight for full equality.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Rev. Steve
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Out Christian Singer, Ray Boltz to Perform at MCC of the Blue Ridge

You may remember a story from last year that made the rounds on the net about a Christian singer coming out of the closet and leaving his Christian Contemporary music career behind. That was Ray Bolts. The singer has come to represent the ongoing struggle, faced by many in our community, between expressing their faith and accepting our sexual orientation.

The Washington Blade reported in September, '08:

"Boltz said he came out to his family and some close friends in December 2004, but only now decided to go public with the news. "I'd denied it ever since I was a kid. I became a Christian, I thought that was the way to deal with this and I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years and then at the end, I was just going, 'I'm still gay. I know I am.' And I just got to the place where I couldn't take it anymore — when I was going through all this darkness, I thought, 'Just end this.'" 

Rev. Joe Cobb of Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge sent word this week that Boltz will be performing songs from his latest CD here in Roanoke at MCC on Saturday, December 5th at 7pm and again on Sunday the 6th at 11 am. 

Ray Boltz, well known for songs "Thank You" and "Watch the Lamb", will be singing from his new cd, "True", which includes songs reflecting his journey in coming out. The concert is free and open to the public.  A love offering will be received. 

Visit Ray's blog here, where you can read up on his latest ventures and download his music. 

Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge is located at 806 Jamison Ave SE in  Roanoke. Visit their site at or call 540-344-4444 for more information.

New Wave Wednesday: "Everybody Wants to Rule The World", Tears For Fears (music video)

Songs from the Big Chair album coverImage via Wikipedia
By the November 1984 the New Wave sound was becoming main stream. Over-the-top acts like Culture Club, Cindy Lauper, Peter Gabiel and Madonna were taking over the charts and MJ's Thriller was just months away.

Greed was good and Ronald Ray Gun was in the White House, turning a blind eye and a deaf ear as AIDS decimated our community. Cold War tensions were coming to a head, as the threat of global nuclear war hung thick in the air.

The band Tears For Fears was born out of the British New Wave music scene in 1981 and had limited success there until they refined their sound with the release of the album, Songs from the Big Chair, which earned them international success. 1985's "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" reflected the cynical tone of a very dark time, mixed with a catchy pop vibe and pretty much sums up the 80's for me.

What's not to love about cute guys with mullets? Yes, I had one too, although we didn't call them mullets back then, we just wanted to look like Daryl Hall.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Goofiness Reigns Supreme as Sarah Palin Hits the Star City (video)

In a surreal demonstration of devotion to the the latest savior of the Republican Party, hundreds of Roanokers camped out overnight last weekend to meet Sarah Palin at the Valley View Mall's Barnes and Noble. Star City Harbinger's Andrew Williams was on hand to capture it all on video. Here's an interview with Palin Man, who traveled from Ohio, where he also had a book signed by the wolf-huntin', moose burger-eatin', abstinence-only baby-granny.

Now that Mini Graceland is no longer the place to be seen in the Roanoke Valley, there's just not much else to do around these parts. People like this are what keeps Virginia living in the Dark Ages.You Betcha!

Read the full story at Star City Harbinger.

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Viking Zombie Boyfriend, by Jeremy Rizza 11-24-09

"Rorik gets a job" or "One man's trash is another man's treasure".

Want more VZB? go to for past strips, character back stories and cool merchandise.

Posted with the permission of the artist. Click the image to embiggen.

Woman kept from dying wife gets apology from nurses

When you have no rights, people, the government and very large corporations can do anything they want to you and get away with it. But people of good conscience do exist. Thank God some of them are nurses.

The apologies might be nearly two years late, and never remedy what happened, but Janice Langbehn — who was refused hospital visitation with her dying partner — has received apologies from nurses at the Florida hospital where Lisa Pond died after suffering a brain aneurysm in February 2007.
At a town hall meeting at a Miami church, Washington State's Langbehn was addressed by nurse Martha Baker: "We certainly are sorry for the pain and suffering she felt." And Norberto Molina: "I can't imagine what you went through." And a handful of others, sorry their employer kept the two loved ones apart.
A nice gesture. But Langbehn wants the management of Jackson Memorial Hospital — who successfully had a discrimination lawsuit dismissed — to apologize after a social worker kept her from Pond's death bed. So far, it's an unanswered request.
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Lady GaGa, "Bad Romance" (music video)

Okay, I don't usually go all pop music on your asses, but I love me some Lady GaGa. To a lot of folks, she may be just the latest Madonna wanna-be, but Madge's bloom has been off the rose for years. It's time for her to move into the Old Cougars Home and let the next generation take the spotlight (and I don't mean Twitny Spears).

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Comedy and Drama in Southwestern Va.: Going green can be a bitch

Not much time for today's post. Have to head out to the airport to rescue my stranded cousin, comic Mike Trainor. Mike was on his way to a gig at Roanoke College, when his Prius broke down in Christiansburg, about 20 miles short of his destination. He was rescued by a crack team of college students with valid driver's licenses, who got him to his gig. The show must go on.

The problem is that his car sat for the remainder of the weekend at a dealership.

Mike and his traveling companion, another comic (yet to be identified) rented a car to head to Charlotte, NC for another gig on Sunday. He's now headed back to the Roanoke airport, where he'll return the rental and we'll take him back to C'burg to check on his car. Depending on the stauts of the hybrid, we may have a house guest tonight. We don't mind. It forced us to clean the house up a bit, which really needed it.

Visit Mikes web page here for his comedy tour schedule and video highlights from his regular appearances on TruTV's "Smoking Gun Presents: World's Dumbest".

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mrs. Betty Bowers: "Less is Mormon" (Video)

"America's Best Christian" and "Most Saved Baptist", Mrs. Betty Bowers takes on Mormons and other lesser religions. (If you subscribe via e-mail, you gotta stop by to see this one.)

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Rising From the Ashes of the Washington Blade: DC Agenda

Last week's unexpected closing of the LGBT institution the Washington Blade took everyone by surprise, especially its staff, many of whom have been with the Blade for most, if not all, of the paper's 40-year history. Undaunted, they have rallied and regrouped as DC Agenda.

DC Agenda editor, Ken Naff, posted this message on their new website on Wednesday:

"Don’t judge us too harshly — the edition of DC Agenda you’re holding is a modest, early iteration of what we  hope to achieve in the wake of Washington Blade’s sudden closing this week.

The news that parent company Window Media was shuttering and liquidating its newspapers came as a shock to the staff, some of whom devoted their careers to the paper that became an institution. We were ushered out the doors of our offices with no severance, canceled paychecks and more questions than answers about why this was allowed to happen.

The former staff of the Washington Blade remains united and DC Agenda represents our effort at continuing the important mission and work of the Blade. It will grow and evolve to include a much larger and more diverse group of voices. But the core of the Washington Blade’s work remains unchanged. We will cover Congress, the White House, the LGBT rights movement, the D.C. marriage fight, local hate crimes and other political issues important to the LGBT residents of the city.

It’s been a tough week for us, but we are buoyed by the outpouring of support from people all over the city and beyond. We welcome and need your help and will respond to each offer as soon as possible. Thank you to all who have pledged to stick with us, especially our advertisers. Please visit for updated information on DC Agenda or to make a gift to support the new venture.
The strength of the Washington Blade did not lie in its brand name — it came from the spirit of those who worked passionately to serve and inform our community. Those people are still here. Our work continues."

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Counter-protesters Outnumber the Klan at LSU Hate Fest

Yes, these folks are still very much alive and well and living among us. Where is the church when it comes to standing up to raw, unadulterated hate? You won't see them in this video. Counter-Protesters -- just ordinary Americans -- outnumbered the KKK at yesterday's Hate Fest at Ole Miss.

At least the Klan is more honest about their hate than the Christian Clan. No flowery "God is Love" speeches from these evolutionary throwbacks. They just want us all dead.

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Church Nazi to Rep. Patrick Kennedy: "No cookie for you!"

In its latest effort to achieve global domination, the Catholic Church is no longer content to threaten homeless and abused women and children and is resorting to spiritual extortion of Catholic politicians to manipulate the political process. Happy Sunday, everyone!
From Yahoo News: PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin has banned Rep. Patrick Kennedy from receiving Communion, the central sacrament of the church, in Rhode Island because of the congressman's support for abortion rights, Kennedy said in a newspaper interview published Sunday.
The decision by the outspoken prelate, reported on The Providence Journal's Web site, significantly escalates a bitter dispute between Tobin, an ultra orthodox bishop, and Kennedy, a son of the nation's most famous Roman Catholic family.
"The bishop instructed me not to take Communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me Communion," Kennedy told the paper in an interview conducted Friday.
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Rihanna tells her story with "Russian Roullette" (music video)

In this chillingly beautiful music video, "Russian Roulette", R&B singer Rihanna pours her heart out about living with domestic abuse.

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Federal Judge orders Obama to stop fighting partner benefits

From SF Gate:
SAN FRANCISCO -- The chief federal appeals court judge in San Francisco bluntly ordered the Obama administration Thursday to stop resisting his finding that the wife of a lesbian court employee was entitled to government insurance coverage.

The federal agency that oversees benefits for government employees "shall cease at once its interference with the jurisdiction of this tribunal," Judge Alex Kozinski said in response to the Office of Personnel Management's rejection of his earlier ruling in the case.

He told the agency to let Karen Golinski, a staff attorney at the court's headquarters in San Francisco, enroll her wife, Amy Cunninghis, in the family health plan that already covers their 6-year-old son. Read the full story here.
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Chaz Bono: "Gender is between your ears, not between your legs." (video)

This week, LGBT activist Chaz Bono talked publicly for the first time about his very private journey. It's amazing how much he sounds like his dad, now that his voice is deepening.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

TGIF Extra: "It's Friday, I'm in Love" by the Cure (video)

Cool Site of the Week:

I grew up in a large Irish-Catholic family. As any gay kid in that situation will tell you, when you're the senative type with no apparent interest in girls, there's a lot of pressure -- sometimes overt, sometimes subtle -- to persue a life in the church.

When I was a kid, every Catholic mother dreamed of having a priest in the family. Some still do. My own grandmother could claim a son who was a priest and a daughter who was a nun and because of that, she knew she had a front row seat reserved in Heaven. My grandmother's sitting room had three portraits on the wall, hung vertically. From top to bottom they were, Jesus, John F. Kennedy and the Pope. (Popes come and go, but you only get the first Catholic president once.)

My grandmother even had a spare bedroom converted into a chapel, where I had to sit through mass, performed by my uncle, every morning before breakfast when I spent two weeks there as a kid. My uncle's ability to rattle off a full mass (which usually takes about 45 minutes on a good day) in just 15 minutes (motivated by his grumbling belly) was, in part, what motivated me to start questioning everything I'd been taught about being a "good Catholic". His express lane to salvation sounded to me like a used car salesman trying to close the deal before you had time to think too much about the details.

For these reasons, my choice for Cool Site this week has a particular significance. It's not the latest site featuring funny videos or political satire that everyone is talking about around the water cooler. is a site with a purpose. Political Activist/Blogger Phil Attey has taken on the Catholic Church's rabidly anti-gay views and political interference with the purpose of exposing its hypocrisy.

On his new site, Attey, who in his younger days considered a life in the priesthood, answers the question, Why Church Outing?":

"It is shameful that in many Catholic churches, this abuse is being supported by men,  who are gay themselves, leading  closeted lives of self-persecution and quiet desperation.

Even more shameful, is that many of these priests, while remaining silent, actually lead duplicitous lives rich with romantic and sexual relationships -- both homosexual and heterosexual.

This hypocrisy must end." is not just a blog that uses outing for shock value and ruining political careers. Attey launched the site in response to the Pope's recent pastoral letter directing every parish priest to over-step our constitutional separation of church and state by working aggressively to oppose same-sex marriage and to over-turn it where it has been approved. The Catholic church was a major financial contributor in anti-gay  marriage vote in Maine.

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Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Shows Narrow Majority Support Gay Marriage in NJ

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Supporters of gay marriage may find New Jersey more hospitable than many other states, according to a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Thursday. By a 46 percent to 42 percent margin, adults in New Jersey favor legalizing same-sex nuptials, with 12 percent unsure.

The survey also shows that if the state Legislature passes a bill legalizing gay marriage, 52 percent would accept the decision, while 40 percent would support a constitutional amendment banning the practice.

The poll of 903 New Jersey adults was fielded November 6-10 and has a margin of error of +/-3.3 percentage points. Half the respondents also had been interviewed before the Nov. 3 elections. The gay marriage questions were asked only after Election Day.

“New Jerseyans are more supportive of gay marriage than opposed to it, and more importantly, a majority would accept a legislative decision legalizing same-sex marriages,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “While this tests opinion outside the intensity of a campaign to ban gay marriage, as occurred in California, there is more of a ‘live and let live’ attitude in New Jersey than in many other states that have dealt with this issue.” 

Support for Gay Marriage in New Jersey
Women are more likely than men to support gay marriage here, 51 percent to 42 percent, and younger residents (under 40) are more supportive than their older counterparts, by 53 percent to 43 percent. About half the Latino (52 percent) and white (49 percent) respondents favor same-sex marriage, but only 29 percent of blacks feel the same way. The results mirror national trends, Redlawsk said. 

Gay Marriage Not an Important Issue for Most New Jerseyans
Clearly, residents don’t give gay marriage a high priority among issues facing the state:  only 2 percent say it is the most important issue, while 15 percent say it is one of a few very important issues. Another 37 percent call the issue “somewhat important,” while 44 percent say it is “not at all important.”

“This holds across the board,” said Redlawsk. “Even African-Americans, who are strongly opposed, do not consider gay marriage an important issue; 53 percent say it is not at all important.” Supporters of gay marriage, however, are much more likely to call the issue “very important,” with 22 percent of supporters feeling strongly, while only 24 percent think the issue is not important. In comparison, 61 percent of those who oppose gay marriage say the issue is not important. 

Responding to a Bill Legalizing Gay Marriage
In response to hypothetical legislative approval of gay marriage, residents were asked to choose from three options: support a state constitutional amendment to ban both gay marriages and civil unions; support an amendment to ban gay marriages only; accept gay marriages. A majority (52 percent) would accept legalization, three times as many who would favor banning both practices and more than twice the number who would ban gay marriages only.

“If the Legislature passes a bill on gay marriage, results suggest that most New Jersey residents will accept the decision,” said Redlawsk. “There will be a strong reaction from opponents, but for the most part, opponents actually see this as a less important issue than do supporters. And interestingly, about half the undecided respondents would accept legalizing gay marriage, while only 18 percent would support some kind of ban, suggesting that they are not a potential source of opposition to a gay marriage bill.” 

Knowing Someone Who is Gay or Lesbian Increases Support
Many New Jerseyans have gay or lesbian friends (56 percent), family (32 percent), or co-workers (30 percent). Those with a gay co-worker are nine points more likely to support gay marriage than those without, while those with a gay family member are 19 points more supportive and those with a gay close friend are 17 points more supportive of gay marriage. Those who know gays or lesbians are also more likely to consider the issue of gay marriage to be important than those who do not.

“Social scientists hypothesize that having contact with people who are different from ourselves can result in greater sympathy for and understanding of others,” said Redlawsk. “This is clearly the case in New Jersey. Knowing a gay person results in much greater support for gay marriage, probably because having such contact results in seeing past whatever differences we imagine there are between people.”

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

This Queer Little Planet: Texas Gay Marriage Ban Puts All Marriages in Legal Limbo

Karma: it's not just for Hindus any more. 

Texas candidate for attorney general, Barbara Ann Radnofsky, has revealed that the 2006 amendment to the Texas state constitution banning same-sex marriage may have put all marriages performed in the Lone Star State at risk due to a poorly worded phrase in the discriminatory law.

The Star-Telegram Reports:

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for attorney general, says that a 22-word clause in a 2005 constitutional amendment designed to ban gay marriages erroneously endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state.

The amendment, approved by the Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." But the troublemaking phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Architects of the amendment included the clause to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships. But Radnofsky, who was a member of the powerhouse Vinson & Elkins law firm in Houston for 27 years until retiring in 2006, says the wording of Subsection B effectively "eliminates marriage in Texas," including common-law marriages.
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The Rev.'s niece is featured on today's MTV Teen Cribs

UPDATE: This just in via the Family Grapevine. MTV Teen Cribs has bumped the episode featuring my niece to next Tuesday, Nov. 24th.

I got the word a few days ago, that my beautiful niece, Carlie will be the subject of this afternoon's MTV Teen Cribs, the show that tours the cool homes where all the cool kids love to hang. (Check local listings.)

My gorgeous Interior Designer/Event Planner sister, Betsy and her Landscape Architect husband, Chuck designed and built the Mediterranean-style manse from scratch. Formal French gardens with fountains, reflecting pools and statuary surround their Northern Virginia home, where they often host weddings, fundraisers and other events. The interior features authentic antique collectibles and artwork from the south of France, but still maintains a very comfortable, homey feel. I hope you'll check it out, if you get the chance.

Congratulations, Carlie! You rock!

My sister and brother-in-law have a website for their business, which features a video tour of some of the work they've done. Some of the footage includes shots of their own gardens. It will give you an idea of their style.

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Stonewall Society posts interview with the Rev.

File this one under "Shameless Self-Promotion".

Stonewall Society founder, Len Rogers, a recent immigrant to the Roanoke Valley, was an invaluable source of help in getting the word out about Roanoke Equality's "Equality Across the Commonwealth" demonstration at the gubernatorial debates at Roanoke College last month.He put together our press release and sent it out to all his contacts. He also had some great advice in helping us to focus our message. There was a catch, though. Len asked for an interview, which, being the publicity whore that I am, I could not refuse.

When I got home that night after the protest, I found Len's 18 interview questions waiting in my in box. Len told me that he didn't have a particular deadline, but I wanted to get it done while everything was still fresh. The interview has been posted on the Stonewall Society web site, which you can read here under the heading "Equality Alert!!!".

I have to warn you first, that it was after 1am when I finished typing up my answers, so there are a few grammatical gaffs here and there. But if you want to get a better idea of who I am and what I'm about, this is where you'll find it.

One more thing. It's best viewed with Internet Explorer. When I viewed it using Firefox and Google Chrome, there were some issues with the text going all wonky.

Thanks, Len!
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

DC Marriage Equality Foes Lose Bid to put Civil Rights to Popular Vote

From On Top:
Opponents of gay marriage in the District of Columbia have suffered another setback in their ongoing effort to prevent a gay marriage law from being approved.

In a unanimous opinion released Tuesday, the city's Board of Elections and Ethics denied the group from putting a gay marriage question on the ballot. The proposed one-sentence initiative says, “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in the District of Columbia.”

“We have considered all of the testimony presented to the Board and understand the desire to place this question on the ballot,” Board Chairman Errol R. Arthur said in a statement.

“However, the laws of the District of Columbia preclude us from this initiative to move forward,” he added.

The board's ruling said the initiative “would authorize discrimination prohibited under the [District's] Human Rights Act (HRA).”
Read the full story here.

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New Wave Wednesday: Der Kommissar, by After the Fire (video)

The Washington Blade shuts down after 40 years

Collage of historical covers of the Washington...Image via Wikipedia
I'm sad to report that the nation's oldest LGBT newspaper, The Washington Blade and its sister paper, The Southern Voice, have gone out of business this week. Newspapers in general have been seeing a decline in readership over the last ten years as more and more readers turn to web-based news media. It's been even worse for what's considered a niche-market news outlet. The Blade web site has also been shut down.

According to the Blade's parent company Windows Media, they had been in negotiations with Falls Church News-Press owner Benton Media to purchase Windows Media. Hopes of a seamless transition of ownership fell through Monday when Benton's financing fell through.

OutQ News Blog reports:
"Small Business Administration spokesperson Mike Stamler acknowledged the SBA did receive “offers” to buy the two papers from Window Media and its business ally Unite Media. But, Stamler said, the decision to decline those offers was entirely left to Window Media and Unite, not the SBA.

The Small Business Administration has loaned 39 million dollars to the Avalon Equity Fund – an investment firm—and Avalon turned around and spent $7 million to buy a majority interest in Window Media and Unite Media to obtain an interest in those publishing companies.

The SBA did put Avalon into receivership when Avalon’s own assets dropped below a required level for its SBA loan, but it was Window and Unite that made the decision to cease publishing on November 15."
On a personal note, I will miss the Blade terribly. It was an important part of my coming out. Every Friday night, Charles and I would head out to LGBT book seller Lambda Rising at Dupont Circle to pick up a Blade to see what was going on around town at the bars, laugh at the personal ads and catch up on the latest LGBT news from around the country.

Back in September, 1992, I was the subject of a small Blade story when I called in to the Don & Mike Show on radio station WJFK for a brief comment that turned into a 20-minute interview. I wrote about it back in July, in a piece I called "The Accidental Activist".
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