Sunday, May 31, 2009

Abortion Provider Assassinated at Church by Christian Terrorist

- George Tiller, the Wichita doctor who became a national lightning rod in the debate over abortion, was shot to death this morning as he walked into church services.

Tiller, 67, was shot just after 10 a.m. at Reformation Lutheran Church at 7601 E. 13th, where he was a member of the congregation. Witnesses and a police source confirmed Tiller was the victim.

No information has been released about whether a suspect is in custody.

Homicide detectives and Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston have arrived at the church.

Members of the congregation who were inside the sanctuary at the time of the shooting were being kept inside the church by police, and those arriving were being ushered into the parking lot. Witnesses are being transported downtown for interviews and other members of the congregation are slowly being released from inside the sanctuary.

Tiller has long been a focal point of protest by abortion opponents because his clinic, Women's Health Care Services at 5701 E. Kellogg, is one of the few in the country where late-term abortions are performed.

This message was posted on the anti-abortion website armyofgod.com:

"A great day for the unborn children scheduled to be murdered by Babykilling Abortionist George Tiller. George Tiller reaped what he sowed and now has been cast alive into everlasting torment and fire for the innocent blood he has shed. Psalm 55:15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them. I pray the person who performed this deed is never known or apprehended."

These are the same people who oppose marriage equality and LGBT rights of any kind. How can anybody take them seriously or see them as anything other than domestic terrorists?

We need to show the American people just how dangerous it is to let these nut-jobs have any say in government, public policy and civil rights decisions. They will stop at nothing to achieve their goals, no matter who gets hurt or killed, all the while playing the victim. Soon enough some spokesperson will release a statement saying "this was the action of a lone, disturbed individual and we do not condone violence."

Bullshit!

When your words motivate people to commit acts of violence against anyone who disagrees with you or your religious beliefs, you are not simply practicing your faith, you are a jihadist.

Susan Boyle Comes In Second

The world came to a sudden grinding halt last night as YouTube sensation Susan Boyle placed second in Simon Cowell's UK vaudeville-style production, "Britain's Got Talent". Dance troupe Diversity took the grand prize of £100,000 and will perform for Queen Elizabeth II at the Royal Variety Show later this year.

But all is not lost for the 48-year-old cat lady from Scotland. British papers estimate that the singing spinster could rake in from £6 to £8,000,000 (about $9.7 to $12.9 million) in recording contracts, concert tours, personal appearances and merchandising deals.

In the long run, Susan Boyle's shelf-life has been extended by another six months and her financial future seems secure. On the bright side, it would have been embarrassing if Boyle had shown up to sing for Queen Liz wearing the same dress from royal couturier "Frumpy's of London". (Seriously, she looked like ten pounds of potatoes in a five pound glittery sack last night.)

The buzz is that under the pressure of unrelenting press scrutiny, the blue-collar belle let the f-bomb drop a few times and the oh-so-proper Brits turned sour on her dulcet tones. There must not have been a soccer brawl sheduled that night.

Personally, I thought her original audition performance was amazing, but it's impossible to recapture the impact of the unexpected. Regardless, she has clearly won over the British and American public and will hopefully enjoy some measure of success like other Simon Cowell second-placers Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Jennifer Hudson.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Life As We Know It Is Over: Twitter Is Down!

Garfunkel and Oates: Sex With Ducks

Riki "Garfunkel" Lindhome and Kate "Oates" Micucci sing a pro-gay marriage song in response to a Pat Robertson quote that legalizing gay marriage would lead to legalizing sex with ducks.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Unlikey Duo Take Gay Marriage Fight to U.S. Supreme Court

Bush v. Gore Foes Join to Fight Gay Marriage Ban

(From The NY Times) Eight and a half years after their epic partisan battle over the fate of the 2000 presidential election, the lawyers David Boies and Theodore B. Olson appeared on the same team on Wednesday as co-counsel in a federal lawsuit that has nothing to do with hanging chads, butterfly ballots or Electoral College votes.

Their mutual goal: overturning Proposition 8, California’s freshly affirmed ban on same-sex marriage. It is a fight that jolted many gay rights advocates — and irritated more than a few — but that Mr. Boies and Mr. Olson said was important enough to, temporarily at least, set aside their political differences.

“Ted and I, as everybody knows, have been on different sides in court on a couple of issues,” said Mr. Boies, who represented Al Gore in Bush v. Gore, the contested 2000 vote count in Florida in which Mr. Olson prevailed for George W. Bush. “But this is not something that is a partisan issue. This is something that is a civil rights issue.”

The duo’s complaint, filed last week in Federal District Court in San Francisco on behalf of two gay couples and formally announced Wednesday at a news conference in Los Angeles, argues against Proposition 8 on the basis of federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

In the end, the two lawyers suggested, the case might take them, again, to the United States Supreme Court. While neither man claimed any special connection to the gay community — they are working “partially pro-bono,” Mr. Olson said — both said they had been touched by the stories of the same-sex couples unable to marry in California.

“If you look into the eyes and hearts of people who are gay and talk to them about this issue, that reinforces in the most powerful way possible the fact that these individuals deserve to be treated equally,” Mr. Olson said at the news conference.

“I couldn’t have said it better,” said Mr. Boies, patting Mr. Olson on the back.

Not everyone in the gay rights movement, however, was thrilled by the sudden intervention of the two limelight-grabbing but otherwise untested players in the bruising battle over Proposition 8. Some expressed confusion at the men’s motives and outright annoyance at the possibility that a loss before the Supreme Court could spoil the chances of future lawsuits on behalf of same-sex marriage.

“It’s not something that didn’t occur to us,” Matt Coles, the director of the LGBT project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said of filing a federal lawsuit. “Federal court? Wow. Never thought of that.”

But Mr. Olson said that their lawsuit — which also seeks an injunction blocking the marriage ban until the matter can be resolved — fell squarely in the tradition of landmark cases like Brown v. Board of Education.

“Creating a second class of citizens is discrimination, plain and simple,” said Mr. Olson, who served as solicitor general under Mr. Bush. “The Constitution of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Abraham Lincoln does not permit it.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Prop 8 Aftermath: Timing is Everything. June is Pride Month and Wedding Season


Now that the California Supreme Court has upheld Prop 8 and the rallies and protests in the immediate aftermath are over, what's our next move?

We are not without power. It's time to turn up the heat, strike while the iron is hot and hit the ground running. This couldn't have happened at a better time. June is both Pride Month and Wedding Season. We have five days to get our shit together and and hit them where it counts: In the Wedding Chapel.

For the entire month of June queers across America will refuse to take part in any wedding-related activities. We will not help plan them, cater them, do any hair, makeup or nails or fit any gowns. We will not arrange their flowers, decorate their cakes or book their honeymoons.

I know what you're thinking. Last year's "A Day Without a Gay" went largely unnoticed. People either couldn't afford to take the day off or they were afraid of being outed at work. It's hard for a gay business owner to turn down wedding-related work during his/her most profitable time of the year. But let's face it, we're in a recession and business is down anyway. Close down for a week. It's time to take one for the team and I mean on Main Street, not Folsom Street.

As for the rest of us, we will either refuse to attend weddings or we will attend them in our most outrageous rainbow-themed attire.

We will protest weddings everywhere by having thousands of us doing the Chicken Dance and shaking our asses to YMCA in the streets outside churches and reception halls, just like they're doing inside. Just read the announcements in your local papers, tweet your friends, grab the boom box and you're there.

It's time to make a statement. Make your Pride celebrations count with flash-mob acts of civil disobedience. Crash a wedding with a few dozen queer friends and start making out on queue. Then quietly disburse.

The rallies we saw all over the country last night were so huge because of Twitter. We got the message out in seconds and queers everywhere came together to show their outrage toward a twisted judicial system that allows bigotry and second class citizenship to be written into a state's constitution. At best, Pride parades get a two second sound bite on the local news. This year we will not be ignored. Use your over-the-top outrageousness to express your outrage.

The time is now.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

CA Supremes Uphold Prop 8 and I Hate Weddings


I was at work today when the California Supreme Court announced its decision to uphold Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage a year ago. I kept dashing to the nearest computer in between customers for updates. It was so frustrating. Not only just knowing the outcome, but not being able to vent about it. Usually, I have my co-gay to commiserate with, but she was out today. I was in such a shitty mood all day.

I work for a large copy chain. They've changed names a few times over the years, so I'll just refer to them as "Schminko's". That way I won't get in trouble at work and besides, God only knows what the geniuses at corporate will come up with next. The only reason I mention it at all, is that wedding season has started and I have to deal with helping young couples put together their announcements, invitations, programs, seating charts and assorted other nauseating wedding necessities.

As I showed a young couple the various paper choices and font selections and worked up a price quote, what I really wanted to do was get online somewhere to find out what was going on in California. But instead, I had to stand there and smile while this happy young couple planned their big day, knowing I may never get to do it myself.

Then I had a revelation. As if struck by lightening, in a flash, I realized just how much I really hate weddings.

I hate going to them and being in them.

I hate hearing about them and looking at the wedding pictures.

I hate having to tell the bride how beautiful she looks in the dress that makes her already-fat ass look four times bigger. (Fat girls should never wear ruffles.)

I hate having to introduce my partner of nine years as "my partner" to people I haven't seen in twenty years.

I hate that gay people can plan the wedding, cater the wedding, make the dress, do the hair, nails, make-up and flowers, and that our music, "YMCA", is played at every wedding reception in the bible belt, but we can't have weddings of our own!

Yes, this advocate for same-sex marriage hates weddings. Give me an Elvis impersonator at "The Blue Hawaii Chapel O' Love" on the Vegas Strip any day. (Thanks, Nevada! You suck too!)

But what I hate more than weddings is hypocrisy. All men are created equal if you are a member of an approved group. I actually heard some right-wing nut-job on the radio on the way home calling today's decision "democracy in action". He also claimed that he's not a bigot, he's a person of faith. It's getting harder and harder to tell the difference these days.

As a duck owner, I can tell you that if it walks and swims and quacks like a duck, it's a mutha-fukkin' duck!

These guys don't know who their messing with. The queer community has survived thousands of years of church oppression. We survived Hitler's death camps, police brutality, gay-bashing and AIDS. We are here to stay. They can not pray us away or legislate us away.

In the history of this nation - and the world - no civil rights struggle has ever failed. It's taking a lot longer that we wanted it to, but we've made some incredible strides and ultimately, we will prevail.

So, no. I don't want a big fancy wedding and I wouldn't get married in a church for all the tea-bagging in the Vatican. I don't want a wedding.

I want the same legal recognition and status of my nine-year relationship that my six married siblings have.

I want to live in a country that values my rights as an individual over the petty concerns of a church I don't even belong to.

I want my country to live up to its constitution by granting me full citizenship.

I want to get married.

Day of Decision: California Court to Announce Ruling on Prop 8 Today

As the LGBT community awaits the California Supreme Court's decision on Pop 8, activists are poised to respond. I felt compelled to repost Friday's plan of action from www.dayofdecision.org


The California Supreme Court will announce its decision on Proposition 8 today, May 26th. If it follows past practice, the court will make its announcement at about 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM, Eastern / 12 noon Central).


Depending on what the court decides, we will either PROTEST or CELEBRATE.


We will PROTEST if:

-- The court upholds Prop 8, and invalidates the 18,000 same-sex marriage licenses that California already issued;

or,

-- The court upholds Prop 8, but upholds the 18,000 same-sex marriages already performed, which would be a cruel, but pyrrhic victory for equality.

We will CELEBRATE if:

-- The court rejects Proposition 8 and says that same-sex couples are entitled to the marriage rights that heterosexual couples already have.

So call, email, Facebook, Twitter your friends – DAY OF DECISION actions are TUESDAY NIGHT!

Robin Tyler
Andy Thayer

Co-founders, www.DayOfDecision.org

Please plan on participating in the Day of Decision action in your city Tuesday night –

Visit www.dayofdecision.com for a list of events in cities nationwide.

Obama to Announce Sotomayor as Supreme Court Justice Nominee

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama has chosen federal Judge Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, two sources told CNN on Tuesday.

Sotomayor will be the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice if confirmed

Obama plans to announce his nominee at 10:15 a.m. ET Tuesday, sources told CNN.

Obama said Saturday he wants intellectual firepower and a common touch in the next Supreme Court justice and said he doesn't "feel weighed down by having to choose ... based on demographics."

Obama's nominee will replace retiring Justice David Souter, who announced this month he would step down when the court's current session ends this summer.

There had been wide speculation that Obama would name a woman to the court, which has one female justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Obama also had been under pressure to nominate a Hispanic justice to the court, which has never had one.

Obama's nomination will have to be confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate.

The nominee is not expected to have difficulty being confirmed in the Democratic-controlled Senate in time for the new court session in October.

The president has said he hopes to have hearings in July, with the confirmation completed before Congress leaves for the summer.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Susan Boyle in Semi-Finals on "Britain's Got Talent"


After weeks of anticipation, the world got to hear made-over singing sensation Susan Boyle vie for the semi-finals of "Britain's Got Talent" with a shaky rendition of "Memory" from the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical "Cats" last night.

Her voice cracking in the opening notes, the 47-year-old spinster was understandably nervous as she started, the performance sounding rushed as though she just wanted it to be over. But as she continued, Boyle gradually relaxed and found her footing, hitting all of the high notes, ending in a standing ovation.

After wowing the judges and the world last month with her moving rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables", much was made of her dowdy appearance and predictably some stylista got ahold of Boyle. I was relieved to see that although the grey is gone, there are now two eyebrows and the moustache is now clinging to a piece of waxy tape in a land fill somewhere, the Internet's favorite cat lady hasn't gone Hollywood just yet.

But now that the novelty has worn off, does the frumpy YouTube singing sensation have what it takes to go all the way?

What made Susan Boyle so great in her debut last month was her humble back story and universally lowered expectations, as people judged her on her appearance. But as they say in show biz, you're only as good as your last review. While her future may be secure, with recording contracts being thrown at her from every angle, if this week's performance is any indication, taking the grand prize and performing for the queen is by no means guaranteed.

The first thing that came to mind as I listened to Boyle last night was that she really needs some vocal coaching to fine tune her natural talent. (As someone whose high school boyfriend was a singer, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on these things.) Singing well is all about breath control and a really great singer can overcome the worst stage fright by focusing on the basics of her vocal training. Boyle has had some training in the past, but with so much on the line, working with a good coach would do her some good now that expectations are so much higher.

See for yourself in this clip:


Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Dallas Principles: The Time for Full Equality is Now.


(From thedallasprinciples.org) On May 15-17, 2009 in Dallas, Texas twenty-four thinkers, activists, and donors gathered to discuss the immediate need for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender people in the United States.

President Obama and Congress pledged to lead America in a new direction that included civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. We now sit at a great moment in our history that inspires the nation to return to its highest ideals and greatest promise. We face a historic opportunity to obtain our full civil rights; this is the moment for change. No delay. No excuses.

Nearly forty years ago, a diverse group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people stood up to injustice at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. In doing so, they submitted themselves to bodily harm and criminal prosecution. Their demand was simple -- equal protection under the law.

Still today, full civil rights have eluded the same community that rioted forty years ago. Instead, untold sums of resources have been spent to divide our nation and turn our lives into a political football.

At several junctures in American history, the stars have aligned to deliver the promise of equal protection under the law to those previously denied. At this unique time in history, our nation must once again exercise the great tradition of making its people equal. Justice has too long been delayed. A clear path toward full civil equality for the LGBT community is overdue and must come now.

Using fear and misunderstanding to justify discrimination is no longer acceptable in this nation. Those content with the way things are will be judged harshly by history. Those who do not actively advance these ideals or offer excuses will be judged just as harshly. Those who attempt to divide our community or to delay and deny action on civil equality, waiting for the right moment to arrive, will be held accountable.

We reject the idea that honoring the founding principles of our country is controversial. We believe in the inherent human dignity of all people. No longer will we submit our children, our family, our friends and ourselves as a political tool for any Party or ideology. A new day has arrived.


PRINCIPLES

The following eight guiding principles underlie our call to action. In order to
achieve full civil rights now, we avow:

1. Full civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals must be
enacted now. Delay and excuses are no longer acceptable.

2. We will not leave any part of our community behind.

3. Separate is never equal.

4. Religious beliefs are not a basis upon which to affirm or deny civil rights.

5. The establishment and guardianship of full civil rights is a non-partisan issue.

6. Individual involvement and grassroots action are paramount to success and must
be encouraged.

7. Success is measured by the civil rights we all achieve, not by words, access or
money raised.

8. Those who seek our support are expected to commit to these principles.


FULL CIVIL RIGHTS GOALS

Being united by common principles and engaging in united action, we will achieve the following goals:

1. DIGNITY AND EQUALITY. Every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person has inherent dignity and worth, and has the right to live free of discrimination and harassment.

2. FAMILY. Every LGBT person has the right to a family without legal barriers to immigration, civil marriage or raising children.

3. ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY. Every LGBT person has the right to economic opportunity free from discrimination in employment, public housing, accommodation, public facilities, credit, and federally funded programs and activities.

4. EDUCATION. Every LGBT child and youth has the right to an education that is affirming, inclusive and free from bullying.

5. NATIONAL SECURITY. Every LGBT person should have the opportunity to serve our country openly and equally in our military and foreign service.

6. CRIME. Every LGBT person should enjoy life protected against bias crimes.

7. HEALTH CARE. Every person should have access to affordable, high quality, and culturally competent health care without discrimination.

For more information, go to www.thedallasprinciples.org

Will Maryland Get On Board With Gay Marriage?

(From The Baltimore Sun)

As same-sex marriage movement builds national momentum, an opportunity may exist for Maryland to recognize all out-of-state unions.

With legislators voting to approve same-sex marriage in Maine and New Hampshire last week, the momentum for change in marriage laws is building. Soon, Rhode Island may be the only New England state that does not recognize gay marriages.

Iowa already permits them. California did briefly. Last week, members of the City Council in Washington, D.C. voted overwhelmingly to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Maryland, where the law requires marriage to be between a man and a woman and where attempts to overturn that requirement have been bottled up in legislative committees, could yet join the national trend. But it will require Gov. Martin O'Malley to demonstrate more than the casual interest he has shown in legalizing civil unions, let alone gay marriage, in the past.

What Mr. O'Malley must do is this: Ask Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler for a legal opinion determining whether Maryland law permits the state to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. And if Mr. Gansler finds that it does, the governor should immediately sign an executive order directing state agencies to adjust their rules and regulations to do so.
Read the full story here.

Mullen: Military to comply if gay ban law changes


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's top military adviser said Sunday the Pentagon would comply if Congress repeals the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military, but added the U.S. armed forces are already stretched thin fighting two wars.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he is working on an assessment of what — if any — impact overturning "don't ask, don't tell" policies would mean for the military. In the meantime, the Pentagon plans to follow the existing rules, which say gays and lesbians can serve in the military if they do not disclose their sexuality or engage in homosexual behavior.

"The president has made his strategic intent very clear, that it's his intent at some point in time to ask Congress to change this law," Mullen said. "I think it's important to also know that this is the law, this isn't a policy. And for the rules to change, a law has to be changed."

During his presidential campaign, Obama pledged to overturn the Clinton-era policy and pledged that gays and lesbians could serve openly in uniform. But he has made no specific move to do so since taking office in January. He has not set a deadline for repeal, has given the Pentagon no direct orders and has kept Capitol Hill guessing about when he might ask for a change in the law.

Mullen said the military would not start on a timeline until Congress acts.

Obama's go-it-slow approach has drawn criticism from gay rights groups, including activists and fundraisers who met in Dallas to organize a grassroots lobbying effort to force Obama's hand.

Last week, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs stood at the White House podium and reiterated the president's eventual goal, although he said the administration was fine with Congress taking the lead on the potentially divisive subject.

"Try as one may, a president can't simply whisk away standing law of the United States of America," Gibbs said. "But if you're going to change the policy, if it is the law of the land, you have to do it through an act of Congress."

Gibbs' counterpart at the Pentagon issued a similar statement.

Obama's top advisers — in uniform and in politics — have urged restraint despite the issue's resonance among the president's left-flank base. They want Obama to move with a deliberate plan that accounts for all potential consequences during wartime.

Retired Marine Gen. James Jones, the White House's national security adviser, said this month he wasn't sure the policy would be overturned.

"We have a lot on our plate right now," he said.

There is concern that reopening the socially and politically divisive question of gays and lesbians in the ranks could place an additional burden on a military stretching to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Buying time serves both the Pentagon's desire for caution and Obama's desire not to pick an unnecessary fight. Former President Bill Clinton never fully recovered from his miscues over the gays in the military issue.

Mullen appeared Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gay State Dept. Employees To Get Benefits "Similar" to Straight Counterparts

(From The Huffington Post)

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will soon announce that gay American diplomats will be given benefits similar to those that their heterosexual counterparts enjoy, U.S. officials said Saturday.

In a notice to be sent soon to State Department employees, Clinton says regulations that denied same-sex couples and their families the same rights and privileges that straight diplomats enjoyed are "unfair and must end," as they harm U.S. diplomacy.

"Providing training, medical care and other benefits to domestic partners promote the cohesiveness, safety and effectiveness of our posts abroad," she says in the message, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

"It will also help the department attract and retain personnel in a competitive environment where domestic partner benefits and allowances are increasingly the norm for world-class employers," she says.

"At bottom, the department will provide these benefits for both opposite-sex and same-sex domestic partners because it is the right thing to do," Clinton says.

Among the benefits that will now be granted gay diplomats: the right of domestic partners to hold diplomatic passports, government-paid travel for their partners and families to and from foreign posts, and the use of U.S. medical facilities abroad.

In addition, gay diplomats' families will now be eligible for U.S. government emergency evacuations and training courses at the Foreign Service Institute, the message says.

The announcement, expected this week, was provided to the AP by a State Department official who is a member of the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies organization. Two department officials not affiliated with the organization confirmed its accuracy.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the changes.

Previously, the State Department had withheld some benefits from the families of gay diplomats, citing the Defense of Marriage Law, which had restricted federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

One former ambassador, Michael Guest, resigned from the foreign service in 2007 to protest the restrictions. Guest was a part of the Obama administration's State Department transition team and played a major role in lobbying for the changes.

Clinton told members of Congress last week that she would soon announce the revisions.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Prop 8 "Day of Decision" Video Promo

California Court To Announce Decision on Prop 8 on Tuesday


(From dayofdecision.com)

We have just learned that the California Supreme Court will announce its decision on Proposition 8 Tuesday, May 26th. If it follows past practice, the court will make its announcement at about 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM, Eastern / 12 noon Central).


Depending on what the court decides, we will either PROTEST or CELEBRATE.


We will PROTEST if:

-- The court upholds Prop 8, and invalidates the 18,000 same-sex marriage licenses that California already issued;

or,

-- The court upholds Prop 8, but upholds the 18,000 same-sex marriages already performed, which would be a cruel, but pyrrhic victory for equality.

We will CELEBRATE if:

-- The court rejects Proposition 8 and says that same-sex couples are entitled to the marriage rights that heterosexual couples already have.

So call, email, Facebook, Twitter your friends – DAY OF DECISION actions are TUESDAY NIGHT!

Robin Tyler
Andy Thayer

Co-founders, www.DayOfDecision.org

Please plan on participating in the Day of Decision action in your city Tuesday night –

Visit www.dayofdecision.com for a list of events in cities nationwide.

Ricky Gervais Wrote to Obama: "Take Paris Hilton Back"

Faux-Tanned, Rested and Ready For Love, Lindsey Lohan is Back on the Market.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mixner Calls For LGBT March On Washington

"My plea is for our LGBT leaders to call a March on Washington for Marriage Equality this November and if they won't do it, I appeal to our young to come together and provide the leadership." David Mixner
Political Adviser/Writer/Activist David Mixner has had enough of waiting around for a convenient time for the LGBT community to be granted full and equal status. In his recent blog posting, Bill Clinton's former adviser called for a National Grassroots LGBT March on Washington to demand Marriage Equality and for the Obama administration to make good on it's promise to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

In recent years a lot has been said by critics within the queer community about our leaders not doing enough to move the fight for equality forward. Mixner calls on young LGBT activists to lead the way if established leaders like the Human Rights Campaign are not prepared to. Mixner and others have noted the complacency that has taken hold of our community over the last decade as we've waited out the Republicans, hoping for a more gay-friendly political climate.

As Barack Obama stood before cheering crowds on Inauguration Day, it seemed that time had come. In the months following the election, the White House has said over and over that the president stands by his campaign promises, but has been too busy with the failing economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to do anything for his queer supporters. Mixner writes,

"Our freedom can't be negotiated in the political offices of the White House and in the halls of Congress. Our goal is not to make their path easier but to ensure that young LGBT citizens will not be beaten, denied the right to serve, have their love demeaned in some sort of separate but equal system or excluded from giving their gifts and talents freely to this nation. At this moment, there is very little movement on any of these issues in the White House and it appears that some even believe we should be happy with just hate crimes legislation being passed this year.

I adore President Obama but not enough to allow his team to delay my freedom for political convenience or comfort. It is unacceptable."

You can read the full text of David Mixner's call to arms at www.davidmixner.com .

New Hampshire Marriage Legislation Goes Back to Committee


MANCHESTER, N.H., May 20 (Reuters) - New Hampshire lawmakers unexpectedly rejected a bill on Wednesday that would have made the state the sixth in the United States to authorize gay marriage.

The state's Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted down the bill in a 188-186 vote, hours after its Senate approved the legislation 14-10 along party lines. An earlier version of the bill passed the lower chamber on March 26.

The legislature had been asked to approve language that would give legal protections, including the right to decline to marry same-sex couples, to clergy and others affiliated with religious organizations.

That wording was added by Governor John Lynch, a Democrat who promised to sign the bill if those changes were made.

The House vote against the governor's amendment means the bill will be sent to a committee that will try to resolve the differences between the two chambers. It remains unclear how the governor would respond to any changes to his wording.

Lynch has said he would veto gay marriage if his wording is not adopted.

State Representative Steve Vaillancourt, a gay Republican from Manchester, was a leading voice against the amendment securing religious liberties, saying that the House should not be "bullied" by the governor.

Vaillancourt said an earlier bill that did not provide protections to clerics or religious groups was the one that should have been passed, adding that the amended bill would allow discrimination to be written into state law.

The earlier bill passed both chambers.

Other House Republicans said they voted against the current bill because the process did not fairly give a voice to every citizen who wanted to speak on the issue.

The debate comes five years after the nation's first same-sex marriages took place in neighboring Massachusetts.

Connecticut last year became the second state to legalize gay marriage. In April, Iowa and Vermont followed suit. This month, Maine's governor signed a gay-marriage bill and the New York State Assembly passed similar legislation.

If the bill had passed in New Hampshire, five out of six New England states would have authorized legislation authorizing gay marriage, making tiny Rhode Island, with its large Roman Catholic population, the region's only hold-out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Larry Kramer Takes on "Homo Sex in Colonial America"


In a piece posted on yesterday's Huffington Post, activist/author/play write Larry Kramer asserts that the absence of gays and lesbians in American history can be blamed on a lack of vocabulary to describe homosexuality in pre-twentieth century America.

Although a plethora of personal letters from the earliest colonial days, through the civil war and into the pre-Stonewall era describe deeply passionate yearnings between same-sex "friends", and the practice of two men or two women sharing a very small bed for years was widespread during more "innocent" times , historians are hesitant to ascribe the label "homosexual" to those relationships for fear of being called revisionists.

Kramer takes issue with historical accounts of such relationships, using historians' own vocabulary. When a preponderance of evidence exists in the historical record to back up a theory, but there is no declarative statement from the subject in question and no smoking gun can be found, academics use the phrase "it seems reasonable to assume" to support their claims that one thing or another is likely to have occurred. Over time, those theories are often accepted as historical fact. Except when it comes to LGBT history. Kramer writes:

"Jamestown was initially an all-male settlement. ...in subsequent years...male colonists outnumbered women by roughly six to one in the 1620's and four to one in later decades... It is difficult to believe that a group of young and notoriously unbridled men remained celibate for an extended period of time. It seems likely that some male settlers deprived of female companionship would have turned to each other instead.


"Settlers in the seventeenth-century Chesapeake often paired off to form all-male households, living and working together. ...it would be truly remarkable if all the male-only partnerships lacked a sexual ingredient... IT SEEMS REASONABLE TO ASSUME,... that much of the sex that took place... was sodomitical."


Kramer says it's time for America to grow up and accept the fact that although LGBT people in history may not have known what to call themselves, and that sodomy was often punishable by death, when the need arose, colonial queers knew what they wanted and what to do behind closed doors.

Read the full article at The Huffington Post.

In CNN Interview, Elton John Compares Unsafe Sex Practices to Addiction


CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta sat down with AIDS activist/singer/song writer Elton John Tuesday for an interview that aired this morning. The music legend gave a speech at the Bio International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia where he talked abut the current rise in HIV infection in the US. John explained his frustration:

"I find this disease very cyclical. Every 10 years or so, after we spend a lot of money trying to educate people -- a new generation of people -- and we tell them to have safe sex and to abstain sometimes but have safe sex, wear condoms, we find that after 10 years another whole group of people come along. And we have to start all over again, which is really, really frustrating because it takes money for education. And we find that if we could get into the schools at a grass-roots levels, which we do in places like Africa where we get to kids at a young age and we tell them about preventive measures for not getting HIV, we find the success rate is tremendous."
Dr. Gupta asked the singer to comment on the relationship between new HIV medications and the rise in risky behavior:

Gupta: "Sometimes in medicine, you can actually be a victim of your own success. When the medications are pretty good, you see a resurgence of high-risk behavior. How do you affect that?"
John: "I'm a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. I know that when I used to use and drink, that my mind situation was altered completely. Your caution goes out the window and you think, "Oh, well, we'll gamble, we'll have..." and luckily, I was so lucky enough to not be HIV infected.

Once you have that drink and that drug, your mind-set goes out the window and a lot of people think, "Oh yeah, because there's medicine available now," as you say, "We're going to be OK, and we have to take now one pill a day maybe," which is incredible, because initially people had to take God knows how many pills a day, various cocktails to get them through this disease.

Now, people are going back into the work force, they're becoming alive again, they live for a much longer time, which is great. But, this is incredibly toxic medicine you're taking, and it doesn't work for everybody, and you're really playing... Russian roulette with your life. And it's sad -- you think that after all this time, and all of this education that has gone down, and with all the statistics and deaths that people have seen, and the Ryan White situation going down, that people would be a little bit more careful. But we're finding they're not."
The Elton John Aids Foundation has raised over $150 million for HIV/AIDS prevention, education, research and patient care.

Visit the Elton John Aids Foundation website for more information about the work being done to address the pandemic.

Prop 8 Court Decision Likely Thursday


The buzz on the street is that the California Supreme Court may announce its decision on whether to overturn Proposition 8, on Thursday.

While the court has until June 3, when its current session ends, to make its announcement, San Francisco police have been staging barricades around the Castro in anticipation of either victory celebrations or protests should the 2008 voter initiative be upheld.

If the court decision is to be reached tomorrow, an announcement will be made at 10:00 a.m. PST today.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is Obama Taking a Back Door Approach to Ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell?


Obama's decision to not fight what could be a landmark case for the Supreme Court makes me wonder if this is a change in strategy for the new president. Some gay activists and critics have accused the administration of dragging its' feet on gay rights issues.

Obama said during the 2008 presidential campaign, and continues to assert, that he wants to end "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", the Clinton-era ban on Gays and Lesbians serving openly in the military, legislatively in order to "do it right". But a case that began 2006 could indicate that the president is reacting to the pressure to to do something for LGBT community by doing nothing.

(From The Wall Street Journal) WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration has decided to accept an appeals-court ruling that could undermine the military's ban on service members found to be gay.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco last year ruled that the government must justify the expulsion of a decorated officer solely because she is a lesbian. The court rejected government arguments that the law banning gays in the military should have a blanket application, and that officials shouldn't be required to argue the merits in her individual case.

The administration let pass a May 3 deadline to appeal to the Supreme Court. That means the case will be returned to the district court, and administration officials said they will continue to defend the law there.

(From The Rev.)

Perhaps the administration is trying to buy time before the case of Air Force Maj. Margaret Witt goes to the Supreme Court until after he chooses a replacement for retiring Justice David Souter. The current court is stocked with conservative Bush and Reagan appointees who are less likely to overturn the 16-year-old policy. A more progressive justice could tip the scales in our favor.

In another twist, if the case were to go forward to the Supreme Court while the president is mulling his replacement for Souter, the process would be over-shadowed by controversy, especially with two out lesbians, Kathleen Sullivan and Pam Karlan in consideration. Whoever the nominee turns out to be, they are likely to be grilled about DADT and same-sex marriage during the confirmation process, especially by Republicans who have been screaming about "activist judges" for years.

Maybe this is just a delaying tactic that will allow the administration to come up with a legislative solution, which could take years. The White House has said that with the economy in the tank and two wars to fight, ending DADT is not a priority.

Still another possiblity is that the administration doesn't want Witt's case decided by the Supreme Court at all. If the case is decided in a lower court, the administration could choose not to appeal. The lower court ruling would stand and Obama would have achieved the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell by doing nothing.

It's difficult to read just where Obama is these days in his alleged commitment to the gay community. He's been virtually silent on our issues since the election. In recent weeks gay rights activists and the White House press corps have stepped up pressure on the administration to live up to the president's promise to make LGBT rights a priority. In a recent White House press briefing, Press Secretary, Robert Gobbs, stumbled though his answer to a reporters questions about ending DADT, while towing the party line.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Earthquake Hits Los Angeles Sunday Night

I was checking my tweets on Twitter, Sunday night, when suddenly there was a change in the conversation as tweeple (Twitter people) began tweeting "did anyone else feel that?" and "was that an earthquake?"

Before CNN or any of the 24/7 news agencies could report the details, the twitterverse confirmed via the U.S. Geological Survey's web site that a 5.0 magnitude quake had struck at 8:39 p.m. PST. The USGA has since updated their data, reporting the quake registered 4.7 on the Richter Scale.

In a related story, tremors were also reported over the weekend along the Blue Ridge and Alleghany mountain ranges from Virginia to New England. A 3.0 quake centered in southwestern Roanoke County, Virginia was felt at about 4:20 a.m. EST on Saturday morning, about 20 miles from my home.

There were no reports of damage or injuries resulting from either event. (Click the image to embiggen.)

Actress Cynthia Nixon Announces Engagement at New York Marriage Rally

(From 365 Gay) Film, TV, and theater star Cynthia Nixon announced to the crowd of thousands gathered at Broadway Impact’s Equality rally in New York City on Sunday, May 17, that she is engaged to be married to her partner since 2003, Christine Marinoni.

“I have a secret to tell you,” she told the cheering crowd. “Last month, my girlfriend Christine and I got engaged. And I have a beautiful ring to prove it.”

Nixon went on to call for the right for same-sex couples to get married in New York State, and talked about how Christine is a stay-at-home mom to their children, but has no legal right to them if Nixon dies (the children’s father and Nixon’s former husband, Danny Mozes, is also very involved in parenting them).

Taking it to the Streets: A Day of Marriage Rallies in NYC


With only six weeks left to the 2009 legislative session, the New York State same-sex marriage battle heats up. Opposing sides gathered in the Big Apple to express their views on marriage equality on Sunday.

Opponents gathered early in the day to protest Gov. David Paterson's legislation aimed at granting marriage to gay and lesbian couples. According to the New York Times,

The New York Hispanic Clergy Organization, led by Senator Rubén Díaz Sr., a Pentecostal minister, organized the event. In a speech delivered in Spanish, Mr. Díaz warned the governor that there would be political consequences for supporting same-sex marriage.“We’re here to say to the governor: Mr. Governor, look at the people that are here, these are the people who say we don’t believe in marriage between a man and a man and a woman and a woman,” Mr. Díaz said.

Later in the day, at a pro-marriage equality rally held at Rockefeller Center, Gov. Paterson and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed the crowd with a sense of urgency as they called for supporters to urge their state legislators to back the measure and work together to get uncommitted state representatives on board.

“We’re in a race right now in New York,” the governor told a crowd of several hundred people who gathered along Avenue of the Americas. “The time for justice, the time for equality, the time for equal rights can never be any more urgent than right now.”

The Times also reports,

At a gathering of gay rights advocates in Rochester on Saturday night, Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said he believed that there were some politicians who felt that voting for the bill would be the right thing to do, but that they would not, for fear of the political ramifications.

“Because they’re either lazy or complacent or cowards, they do not act. And history will never forget them. They will not be forgiven,” Mr. Van Capelle said.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Same-sex Marriage Replaces Abortion as Right Wing Rally Cry

(From The Washington Post) As President Obama prepares to name his first Supreme Court justice, conservatives in Washington are making clear that his nominee will face plenty of questions during the confirmation process on the legal underpinnings of same-sex marriage. Full story here.

Memos Reveal Conservative Contingencies For Potential Court Nominees

(From The New York Times) WASHINGTON — If President Obama nominates Judge Diane P. Wood to the Supreme Court, conservatives plan to attack her as an “outspoken” supporter of “abortion, including partial-birth abortion.

If he nominates Judge Sonia Sotomayor, they plan to accuse her of being “willing to expand constitutional rights beyond the text of the Constitution.”

And if he nominates Kathleen M. Sullivan, a law professor at Stanford, they plan to denounce her as a “prominent supporter of homosexual marriage.”

Preparing to oppose the confirmation of Mr. Obama’s eventual choice to succeed Justice David H. Souter, who is retiring, conservative groups are working together to stockpile ammunition. Ten memorandums summarizing their research, obtained by The New York Times, provide a window onto how they hope to frame the coming debate. Read the full story here.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia

RuPaul to Headline at Capital Pride

(From The Washington Blade) The Capital Pride committee announced this week that drag queen RuPaul, of the TV show, "RuPaul’s Drag Race," will be the headliner at this year's event.

“This year we wanted to find an entertainer that embodied our theme, Generations of Pride: Celebrate and Remember – Stonewall at 40,” Dyana Mason, executive director of Capital Pride, said in a statement. “We believe RuPaul is the perfect entertainer to help us celebrate the 40th anniversary of Stonewall. Drag queens and transgender people helped lead the events of Stonewall, and through RuPaul’s appearance we are honoring that tradition. She’s also simply fabulous.”

RuPaul will close out the main stage entertainment on Sunday, June 14, at the street festival on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Chelsea Handler of the E! show, "Chelsea Lately," will be the Grand Marshall for the parade on Saturday, June 13, along with Guy Branum and Valerie Harper.

For more information on Pride entertainment, visit www.capitalpride.org.

Russian Police Violently Break Up Moscow Gay Pride Parade

At least 20 people who attempted to hold the annual Gay Pride parade in Moscow have been arrested by police, who ripped the shirt and bra off one female protester, identified as Ksenia Prilebskaya, and roughly pushed her into a police bus. Her glasses fell and she shrieked in apparent pain.

The parade was scheduled to coincide with the EuroVision talent competition, hosted by Moscow. Organizers say they plan to hold another march later in the day.

Although Russia decriminalized homosexuality in 1993, the government has persisted in harassing gays and lesbians, claiming that homosexuality destroys the moral foundations of society. What a coincidence, that's what the right wing says here in the states.

Hmmm. Homosexuality = bad. Bigotry, intolerance and violence = good. I must have been sick the day they covered that in Sunday School.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Daily Show's John Stewart takes on Don't Ask, Don't Tell

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En Vogue Kicks Off Reunion Tour on The View

The Chunky Funky Divas are back! After a long hiatus, En Vogue reunites for a 20th anniversary tour, which they kicked off with an appearance on "The View" this week. Though they haven't performed together in many years, their gig on the daytime yenta-fest proved they've still got it.


Merv Griffin: A Life in the Closet


A new biography of the late TV mogul, "Merv Griffin: A Life in the Closet", by Darwin Porter, explores the entertainer/producer's hidden gay life, which can best be described as the best kept, open secret in Hollywood since Rock Hudson. In the following clip, Red Moon Productions president, Danforth Prince discusses the new tell-all.


New From Pet Shop Boys - Did You See Me Coming


A New Book Claims to be "The Catholic Kama Sutra". WTF?

Ever since my catholic priest uncle, at my parents' request, clumsily attempted to explain the birds and bees to me at age 12 during my 2-week stay at my grandmother's house, I've been fascinated and immensely amused by the church's obsession with sex.

The idea that a bunch of celibates can try to pass themselves off as experts on all things sexual, and to do it with a straight face, reminds me of the fat, beer-swilling armchair quarterbacks across America shouting game strategies at their TV screens during football season. Forever on the sidelines, the Catholic church persists in proving the age old axiom, "those who can't do, teach", or at least they attempt to.

There is a new best seller flying off book shelves across Poland called, "Seks: For married couples who love God". The book has the blessing of the Polish Catholic Church and follows orthodoxy to the letter. The first edition has already sold out and the publisher is feverishly pounding away at round two. Plans are in the works for Slovakian, Italian and English translations.

Author, Father Ksawery Knotz, a Franciscan from a monastery outside Krakow, who calls his work the Catholic Kama Sutra, says that in the marriage bed, "Every act – a type of caress, a sexual position – with the goal of arousal is permitted and pleases God. During sexual intercourse, married couples can show their love in every way, can offer one another the most sought-after caresses. They can employ manual and oral stimulation."

In other words, as long as you're hitched and not using birth control, it's okay to get your freak on. I think Beyonce says it best, "if you like it, then you should'a put a ring on it".

And since you asked, no, the book says nothing about how to get an alter boy to genuflect in your Tabernacle.

In 1989, when Madonna combined religious and sexual imagery in her "Like a Prayer" video, she was crucified in the press by the holy rollers who called her heretical, and sacrilegious. While the Material Girl was not trying to pass herself off as a religious expert, she was raised Catholic and it was from that perspective that she created her racy commentary on religion and sex.

But when the church attempts to instruct the rest of us on how to conduct ourselves in sexual matters, there are no torch-wielding villagers or outrage, just a collective shaking of the head that says, "here we go again".

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Prehisoric Porn Discovered in German Cave


(Huffington Post) BERLIN — A 35,000-year-old ivory carving of a busty woman found in a German cave was unveiled Wednesday by archaeologists who believe it is the oldest known sculpture of the human form. The carving found in six fragments in Germany's Hohle Fels cave depicts a woman with a swollen belly, wide-set thighs and large, protruding breasts.

"It's very sexually charged," said University of Tuebingen archaeologist Nicholas Conard, whose team discovered the figure in September.

Carbon dating suggests it was carved at least 35,000 years ago, according to the researchers' findings, which are being published Thursday in the scientific journal Nature.

"It's the oldest known piece of figurative sculpture in the world," said Jill Cook, a curator of Paleolithic and Mesolithic material at the British Museum in London.

Graham Norton is Following Me!


Imagine my surprise when I checked my Twitter page last night to find that Irish comedian Graham Norton is following me. Woo Hoo! My first celebrity stalker!
(I always thought a celebrity stalker was an average person who stalked celebrities. Oh, well. Live and learn.)

For those of you who are not familiar with the BBC star, have you been living under a bridge? The openly gay, Irish-born Norton has been delivering his own brand of bawdy, naughty humor for years on The Graham Norton Show on British TV. On our side of the pond, you can catch Norton on Saturday nights on BBC America at 10 pm.

How do you describe this one of a kind talent? Imagine that Cher and Elton John had a kid, then shipped him off to a British boarding school where he was bullied for years, resulting in an over the top personality with a biting whit, a penchant for practical jokes and a fondness for shiny suits.

Guests on Norton's show have included Cher, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervaise, Dustin Hoffman and a galaxy of A-List Hollywood stars.

British celebrities are also frequent guests on the comic chat/variety show, which provides an interesting glimpse at the celebrity mindset. It always makes me laugh to see someone in celeb mode put on their fake modesty act. Especially when I have no idea who they are.

But my favorite bits are the hidden camera practical jokes. Here is a clip with Sharon Gless and Tyne Daily:


Opponants to NY Same-Sex Marriage More Civil Than Expected

(Newsday) ALBANY, N.Y. - Opponents of a New York bill to legalize same-sex marriage say that while they're having trouble getting their nuanced position heard, their concerns are reflected in splits among legislators and New Yorkers.

They also say the all-or-nothing effort to pass a marriage equality law is blocking a compromise to guarantee full rights for gay couples through civil unions.

The Assembly passed the bill Tuesday night 89 to 52, which includes the backing of five Republicans. If passed by the Senate, New York would become the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

But in this best chance yet for proponents to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, there are few rallies and little vitriol from either side. Read the full story at Newsday.com

Craigs List Undergoes Sex Change

(NY Times) Craigslist, the Web’s largest classified advertising site, said on Wednesday that it would close its erotic services category, which critics have said is a forum that fosters prostitution and other illegal activities.

To replace it, the company has created a category called adult services, in which postings will be reviewed by employees who will look for indications of activity that is illegal or violates the site’s guidelines. The erotic services category would be deleted next Wednesday, Craigslist said.

Craigslist has been under increasing pressure from officials in several states, as violent crimes involving people who had made contact through the site made national headlines. But the changes did not appear to go far enough to satisfy everyone in the growing ranks of Craigslist’s detractors.

Andrew M. Cuomo, New York’s attorney general, said his office had recently notified Craigslist about an impending prostitution case that involved the erotic services category.

“Rather than work with this office to prevent further abuses, in the middle of the night, Craigslist took unilateral action which we suspect will prove to be half-baked," Mr. Cuomo said in a statement.

Jim Buckmaster, chief executive of Craigslist, said the move was not made under any legal pressure.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wanda Sykes Confirms Birth of Twins



Olivia and Lucas Have Two Mommies

Comedian Wanda Sykes hid it well at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, but she just became a mother. Sykes' spokeswoman, Danica Smith confirmed that Wanda's wife Alex gave birth to daughter, Olivia Lou and son, Lucas Claude on April 27 . "All are happy and healthy and at home," Smith said.

Confessions of a Middle-Aged Ex-Drunk


In the 9 1/2 years since I quit drinking, I've had a lot of time to reflect on my life as a drunk. Sometimes during those nights when I can't sleep for some reason, I've wondered how and why I spent over twenty years and several thousands of dollars living a lifestyle that was slowly killing me. Looking back, with my patented 20/20 hindsight, I ask myself, "what was I thinking?"

Like most people, my drinking started during my teens. Back in 1978, you could buy beer and wine at age 18 in the DC-Maryland-Northern Virginia region where I grew up. Having reached legal age in the middle of my senior year in high school, I became the guy my younger brother and our neighborhood buddies came to to buy beer for the weekend. As an awkward kid who was never popular, I was suddenly in demand and I liked it. Overnight I went from being nerdy Richie Cunningham to The Fonz.

It was so simple, why hadn't I seen it before? Beer = Popularity. That simple equation set the tone for the next twenty-one years of my life.

Beer became my god and I prayed in bars, taverns and night clubs five or six nights a week. (Sunday was my day of rest). When I was drunk, I felt born again. I could be funny, smart, uninhibited and free. I could forget all about the childhood of daily beatings from my overwhelmed single mother of six or the father who walked out of my life, who I wouldn't see again for ten years. My nightly Baptism-by-Beer made all the pain go away, if only for a few hours.

Fast forward to August 1999, Roanoke, Va. and a trip to the doctor's office for a burning sensation in my gut. Having had a serious bout of hepatitis-B at the age of twenty-two, I knew what liver pain felt like. After a series of tests and an ultra sound, my doctor informed me that I had Fatty Liver Syndrome (FLS), a build up of fatty deposits in my liver.

He explained that what was wrong with me had nothing to do with the amount of fat in my diet. In his matter of fact, clinical way he revealed that there are only two known causes of FLS, diabetes and alcohol abuse. He then added, "You don't have diabetes."

As the doctor described the likely progression of cirrhosis, liver cancer, transplantation and/or death, my life on a bar stool flashed before my eyes. I was somewhat comforted when he advised me that the liver is the only organ that will repair itself, if the damage isn't too severe and if caught in time.

On the drive home, in my stunned, deer-in-the-headlights frame of mind, I knew what I had to do. I got back to my apartment and immediately collected up all the beer, vodka, tequila and all the other toxic ambrosia I had stockpiled and poured it down the kitchen sink, thinking all the while, "you don't have to tell me twice, Doc."

But it wasn't as simple as just cleaning my apartment. Over the years, my drinking had gotten expensive. I was making a decent salary, but never had quite enough money to pay my bills. My solution was to take a part-time job -- as a bartender.

I've never been a big fan of 12-step programs, so I never went to an AA meeting. I just couldn't accept the notion that I was powerless over my addiction. I couldn't bring myself to quit my job, because I needed the money. I decided to use it to my advantage. Every night as I mixed drinks and drew beers from the tap, I focused on the sad lives of my fellow drunks and said to myself over and over, "that's not gonna be me."

These people that I had called friends for years were now serving as my own worst-case scenario:

The successful business man who would rather spend his life in a dark, smoke-filled bar then with his beautiful wife and children, who drank from the moment he woke up hung over, until the second he passed out at night, was my constant red flag.

My 40-something friend who bemoaned that fact that she couldn't get pregnant, oblivious to the jar of pickled eggs staring at her from two feet away, was a reminder to me of what I had done to my own health.

Gradually, my life started coming together. I met my partner of nine years a few months later and gave up my bar tending gig and bar life altogether. My liver has healed and my health continues to be fine.

As for my bar-fly friends, I never hear from them any more, but that's okay. They unwittingly did more for me then they will ever know, and I love them for it. They helped me through my loneliness and gave me something to do to keep my mind off my problems. Without knowing it, they taught me a valuable lesson: If you want to know who your friends are, quit drinking.
 
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