Saturday, October 31, 2009

Obama Ends 22-Year Ban on HIV-Positive Visitors

From DavdMixner.com:

Today, President Obama ended what has to be one of the most shameful laws in recent times. For years and years, it has been against the law for people with HIV/AIDS to travel to this country. Some actually have been detained at airports and forced back on planes to return to their departure point. International HIV/AIDS conferences have not been held in the United States since it has been illegal for many of the delegates to enter the United States.

Several years ago, I was with dear friends in Amsterdam. They had hosted me with a boat ride on the canals and then a splendid dinner with amazing conversation late into the night. The evening was special. As we were winding down, I offered to return the hospitality and urged them to visit me in the states. There was dead silence in the room. Finally one of my friends said in a low voice, "We won't travel to the United States as long as there is a ban on HIV people entering your nation." An overwhelming sense of shame came over me. There was simply nothing I could say in response.

With increasingly encouraging momentum, President Obama filled another one of his promises today and lifted the HIV/AIDS ban on visitors to this country. With a stroke of a pen, he ended this horrific and shameful practice. Nice going Mr. President. We can all hold our heads a little higher today.
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This Queer Little Planet: Don't mess with an Indian transwoman

From Thaindian.com:

Chennai transgenders learning karate for self-defense

Chennai, Oct. 28 (ANI): Many transgenders in Chennai are undergoing karate training to improve their self-confidence and health so that they can land a good job.
In the six-day training session apart from karate, transgenders are also undergo other kinds of physical strength exercise like yoga, meditation and a personality development session.

Under the programme, ‘The Kara’ Gender Capsule’, some 100 odd members of transgender community are being trained by Reshma Sharma, a qualified instructor.

“This is just not karate or meditation or yoga. This is a complete rehabilitation camp. Out of 100 people who have undergone training, we are getting jobs for ten people. They are going to be appointed as security officers in four five-star hotels and six corporate organisations,” Sharma said.

“The training was just part of it, preparing them to face the jobs ahead since they are not used to doing working. They are used to doing only begging and sex work. So, this is a compete rehabilitation programme. I hope it will bring in a lot of change in not only this group but a lot of transgenders,” she added.

Transgenders undergoing the training say it will help them lead a better and respectable life in society.
“We (transgenders) face a lot of problems. We are not doing any kind of jobs despite being educated. A number of transgenders are involved in sex work, driven by their circumstances. At times, we are attacked by violent and rowdy people, this karate training will help us to defend ourselves,” said Selvi, a transgender undergoing the karate training.

The training is jointly organized by Dojo Chakra and Mythri Educational and Charitable Trust with the assistance of the Tamil Nadu Aids Control Society and the G7 Group of companies. (AN)

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Cool site of the week: The Onion


If you like your news with a side of sarcasm and the Daily Show is too tame for your taste, then check out The Onion. It's kind of like what SNL's Weekend Update would be if it had fewer network constraints and better writers.

These are some of this week's Onion headlines:

"Three Escaping Legislators Shot From Senate Guard Tower", "Man Pinned Beneath Car Wondering When Adrenaline Going To Kick In" 

What I love best about the Onion is their "who cares if the facts don't fit the story " attitude. That's what really great comedy writing is all about. And if you can't find a picture to go with the story? Well, that's why God invented Photo Shop.

The Onion also features some of the funniest faux News videos on the web, if you don't count Fox News:


Fatal Staples Center Collapse Brings Merciful Early End To Clippers Game


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Another sex scandal in SC. What is with those southern breeders?

In the latest of what can only be called an epidemic of sex scandals in the -- well I'm not sure what they call South Carolina, the "Rhubarb State", the "As-long-as-the-wife-doesn't-know State", the "Do-as-I say, not-as-I-do State" -- state prosecutor Roland Corning was caught with an 18-year-old hooker in a Columbia cemetery at around 3:15 pm Wednesday , apparently looking for an after-nooner.

According to a WIS-TV report, the 66-year-old Corning was found to have sex toys and Viagra in his possession, "just in case."

Just in case of what? In case he wanted to destroy his career and reputation by trolling for sex at a cemetery known for drug trafficking and prostitution, that had been under police surveillance for months -- something he should have known as a State Prosecutor in the first place? I guess the Appalachian Trail is too far for a pre-Happy Hour quickie. Gotta love the Halloween theme, though.

Sadly, the only release Corning got was a release from Po-Po custody without charges being filed. It helps to have connections, even if it's your last one. Corning is longer working in the Attorney General's office.

Read the full story here.
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

If You Don't Vote, It's All Your Fault!

There's another election next Tuesday. Yes, Virginia is one of those places where we have elections every year. Why? Because many years ago some clever, power hungry politicians figured out that fewer voters turn out during off-year elections and learned to manipulate the system to their benefit. So instead of voting for president, governor, mayor and school board on the same day every two to four years, Virginians have to remember to schedule some extra time every first Tuesday of November to stop at their polling place and make their voices heard.

During the presidential elections last year, The nation was dumb-founded when the commonwealth turned out for Barack Obama. Democrats proudly proclaimed that Virginia was now a blue state, or at the very least solidly purple. If you live in Virginia, or at least the 85% of it outside of Northern Virginia, you know that this is not true. Virginia remains very much a red state. The Obama victory here was driven, in large part, by first-time voters in urban areas in support of Barack Obama's historic candidacy. This is a good start, but hardly signals a trend toward a more progressive political climate here.

There is a lot at stake on Tuesday for Virginia' LGBT community. While Democrat Creigh Deeds may not be the perfect candidate for our issues, a Bob McDonnell victory would be so much worse.

The Washington Post, in it's endorsement of Deeds on October 20th, had this to say about Republican Bob McDonnell:
"...we worry that Mr. McDonnell's Virginia would be one where abortion rights would be curtailed; where homosexuals would be treated as second-class citizens; where information about birth control would be hidden; and where the line between church and state could get awfully porous. That is a prescription for yesterday's Virginia, not tomorrow's."
If you were one of those first-time voters that turned out for change last year, I beg you to do so again this year and to do what you can to help others like you to do the same. Change does not happen overnight. It is an ongoing process. Virginians, in general, don't embrace change. Change is scary. But if you believe that all Virginians should have equal protection under the law, if you believe that the Virginia Marriage Amendment -- that cemented bigotry into our constitution -- is immoral, if you believe that it's time for Virginia to join the rest of the world in the 21st century, then it is your moral obligation to go to your polling place on Tuesday and say so by casting your vote for Creigh Deeds.

Older, more conservative voters do show up every year at the polls. Driven by what they see as a greater sense of patriotism and the understanding that the old ways are going the way of the dinosaur, they show up when more progressive voters don't, to keep us 50 years behind the times.

If we wake up on the morning of Wednesday, November 4th with Bob McDonnell as our new governor and you didn't bother to vote, I will blame you personally. If you allow Virginia to backslide into the dark ages when there is so much promise of a brighter future for all of us, because you did not vote, I will blame you personally.

If you don't vote, it's all your fault.
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Poll shows greater support for domestic partnerships in Wash. State (video)

From On Top:
Proponents of a gay-inclusive domestic partnership law in Washington State have carved out a 17 point lead against an effort to repeal the law, a new poll finds.

The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (GQR) poll of 500 likely voters found 53% of respondents support the law and 36% oppose it, with the remainder undecided.

Opponents of the “everything but marriage” law approved by lawmakers in the spring collected 138,000 signatures to put the law up for a vote.

But with five days to Election Day, proponents of Referendum 71 are not taking anything for granted. They say the voter demographic of an off-year election does not favor them.

“[We know] that in an off-year election, older, more conservative voters turn out in greater numbers,” Washington Families Standing Together Chairwoman Anne Levinson said in a statement.

Support for the gay partner law has increased since the same firm released its last results. In September, the measure lead 51 to 44 percent.

If approved, Referendum 71 would extend a 2007 domestic partnership law for a second time, granting gay and lesbian couples all the remaining state-provided rights, benefits and responsibilities of marriage.

Opponents, however, have a steep incline to overcome; poll numbers aside, they've managed to raise only a fraction of the money proponents have amassed. Washington Families says it has raised $780,000 to keep the law, while donations to Protect Marriage, whose members favor repeal, total $60,000.

Protect Marriage says the domestic partnership law is unlawful because it violates a 1998 gay marriage ban approved by legislators and ruled constitutional by the state's Supreme Court.

Stephen Colbert also weighs in on the subject:


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Obama Signs First LGBT-inclusive Hate Crime Bill into Law!

Wow! This must be what it feels like to be an American. For the first time in the history of the U.S., the legislative process has been used to protect our rights and not take them away. Let's keep up the pressure and keep the momentum moving forward. The homophobes of the world are soon to find themselves on the trash heap of history.

Judy Shepard posted the following message on the Matthew Shepard Foundation web site:

When Dennis and I started calling 10 years ago for federal action to prevent and properly prosecute hate crimes against gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans, we never imagined it would take this long.

The legislation went through so many versions and so many votes that we had to constantly keep our hopes in check to keep from getting discouraged. But with President Obama’s support and the continually growing bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate lining up behind the bill this year, it became clear that 2009 was the year it would finally happen.

We are incredibly grateful to Congress and the president for taking this step forward on behalf of hate crime victims and their families, especially given the continuing attacks on people simply for living their lives openly and honestly. But each of us can and must do much more to ensure true equality for all Americans.

Campaigning for hate-crimes legislation may be what I am known best for, but our family and the Matthew Shepard Foundation will continue to push for true equality for every American until the work is complete. Too many people face the threat of losing their jobs or their homes due to their sexual orientation. Too many same-sex couples lack legal protections for their property, their health care decisions, and their children. Too many devoted and dedicated servicemembers are being turned away by our armed forces.

I hope, as you reflect on the success of the hate crime prevention bill, that you also take the extra step of contacting your state and federal elected officials in support of full equality for all citizens, regardless of difference.

Be open about who you are and who you love. Dispel stereotypes and assumptions. Tell your stories. And support the continued work of the Matthew Shepard Foundation to "Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion, and Acceptance."

Thanks to all who helped us achieve this success today. You are making a difference.

Sincerely,
Judy Shepard
President, Board of Directors, Matthew Shepard Foundation
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Bea Arthur left $300,000 to help LGBT homeless youth

This weeks' revelation that Golden Girl Bea Arthur remembered  the LGBT community that adored her for years has queer youth saying, "thank you for being a friend".

From the New York Daily News:

"Bea Arthur left $300,000 in her will to a New York organization that aids homeless gay youth.
The Ali Fornay Center provides services to more than 1,000 each year, and is planning to buy a building to house 12 young people - and name it in honor of the "Golden Girls" actress.

The head of the center said he is thrilled with the stage and television legend's generosity.

"We work with hundreds of young people who are rejected by their families because of who they are," said Executive Director Carl Siciliano.

"We are overwhelmed with gratitude that Bea saw that LGBT youth deserve as much love and support as any other young person, and that she placed so much value in the work we do to protect them, and to help them rebuild their lives," he said.

The Ali Forney Center offers emergency shelter and transitional housing in seven residential sites in New York.

It also operates two drop-in centers offering food, clothing, medical and mental health treatment, HIV testing, treatment and prevention services, and vocational and educational assistance."

(video) New Wave Wednesday: Frankie Goes to Hollywood, "Relax"


Arlen Specter: "The time has come to repeal DOMA"

In a piece on Tuesday's Huffiington Post, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) says he has flipped on same-sex marriage and now supports full marriage equality and the repeal of DOMA.

"The time has come to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Enacted 13 years ago when the idea of same sex marriage was struggling for acceptance, the Act is a relic of a more tradition-bound time and culture."

Specter, who rejoined the Democratic Party this year after serving three decades in the U.S. senate as a Republican, joins five other senators in changing his opposition to same-sex marriage. Specter sites changing political trends and a greater acceptance of LGBT people as his motivation for taking a stand that is unpopular in his native Pennsylvania.
"Connecticut, Iowa, and Massachusetts have already passed laws recognizing same sex marriage and other states are moving in that direction. The states are the proper forum to address this divisive social and moral issue, not the Federal Government with a law that attempts to set one national standard for marriage."

Read the full post at The Huffington Post.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Is the Army ready to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell?

From On Top:
"Secretary of the Army John McHugh said Sunday that lifting the military's ban on open gay service would not seriously disrupt the armed services.


McHugh told the Army Times: “Anytime you have a broad-based policy change, there are challenges to that. The Army has a big history of taking on similar issues, [with] predictions of doom and gloom that did not play out.”

McHugh was tapped by Obama to become the civilian head of the Army. He is a former Republican representative from New York whose votes in Congress on gay rights most often aligned with his party. During the 110th Congress, McHugh received a low rating of 15 on the Human Rights Campaign's Congressional Scorecard, a survey that measures lawmakers support for gay and lesbian rights based on their voting history."

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Viking Zombie Boyfriend, By Jeremy Rizza 10-27-09




"Viking Zombie Halloween Party".

Aside from Pride, Halloween is the gayest time of the year. A time for party hopping, pub crawling, being as anonymous or over-the-top as you want. It's the time of year when even the straightest jock can put on a frock.

Let your secret inner self out for a night and get as creative as you want, but don't be surprised if you have to explain your outfit every five minutes.

Check out vikingzombieboyfriend.com for past strips and character backstories.

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

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Obama will sign Hate Crimes Bill on Wednesday

Measure passed as part of defense authorization bill 
From the Washington Blade:
President Obama intends to sign into law Wednesday a long-sought hate crimes protection measure as part of a major defense bill, according to an administration source.

The president plans to pen his name to the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill, which includes a provision known as the Matthew Shepard & James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The measure would make illegal hate crimes based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, among other categories, and would allow the Justice Department to assist in the prosecution of such crimes

The legislation has languished in Congress for 12 years, and with strong support this congressional session, lawmakers put the finishing touches on the bill this month.

The House on Oct. 8 voted in favor of the defense conference report with the hate crimes measure, 281-146, and the Senate on Thursday approved the same report, 68-29.

The defense bill includes a hate crimes provision because in July the Senate amended its version of the legislation to include such a measure.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Federal LGBT Adoption Bill Introduced

From The Edge
"If passed, a new bill could restrict federal funding for states with anti-LGBT adoption and foster policies.

The ’Every Child Deserves a Family Act,’ which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) on Oct. 15, would penalize states with outdated adoption policies that restrict access based on marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

"We got 25,000 kids a year maturing out of the welfare system without permanent foster care or adoptive care, and the prospects of those children having a successful adult life are diminished greatly," Stark told the Washington Blade. "These are kids who end up in the criminal justice system, or end up homeless."

Read the full story here.
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Video: Lily Tomlin tells Joy Behar she supports Gay Marriage, just not for her



Actress/comedian Lily Tomlin talks to Joy Behar, my favorite View host, about her new Vegas show, her 38 years with partner Jane Wagner, (who performed at the Barter Theater in Abingon, Va. as a young actress) and why marrige isn't in the cards to them. ("The wardrobe alone...")



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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obama's DOJ defends "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in court... AGAIN!


U.S. Supreme Court building.Image via Wikipedia
Can our community’s “fiercest advocate” please make up his fucking mind? In a move consistent with previously contradictory behavior vis a vis LGBT issues, the Obama administration has directed its Justice Department to file an extraordinary motion to get a Log Cabin Republicans’ lawsuit against the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law thrown out of court, despite a Federal judge’s ruling that it can proceed.
The 11th-hour move for interlocutory appeal, which seeks to stay proceedings and block discovery, was formulated at the same time President Obama was reassuring LGBT champagne queers that he firmly opposes ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual dinner just two weeks ago in Washington, DC.
According to Terry W. Hamilton, national Chairman of the Log Cabin Republicans:
"After President Obama clearly stated that his highest priority for the LGBT community was to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, it is quite troubling to see this ‘about face.’ This aggressive move by President Obama’s Justice Department seriously undermines not only his commitment to our community and to the defense of our nation, but it also casts doubt on the motives of those at the highest levels of LGBT leadership in Washington who refuse to criticize the President over this double speak.”
The case in question, Log Cabin Republicans vs. the United States of America, is the first direct challenge to the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas. It is also the only contemporary legal challenge to this law to succeed at the district court level. One of the injured parties named in the case, Alexander Nicholson, is a former U.S. Army Human Intelligence Collector who speaks multiple languages, including Arabic, and who was fired because of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ just six months after 9/11. Another injured party in the case, listed simply as ‘John Doe’ currently serves in the Armed Forces and would face a discharge if his identity were revealed.
Log Cabin Republicans spokesman Charles T. Moran remarked:
“These continued obstructions launched by the Obama Justice Department are as insulting to the LGBT community as they are a serious threat to our military readiness. The constant delay tactics and attempts to have this case hurriedly dismissed without any discovery or argument would be a disservice to all those who have been involuntarily and abruptly fired under this law.”
District Court Judge Virginia Phillips of the Central District Court of California will consider the defendant’s motion on November 16th, 2009.

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College of William & Mary elects transgender homcoming queen

Associated Press
Saturday, October 24, 2009; 4:28 PM
"Students at the College of William and Mary have elected a transgender homecoming queen.
 Jessee Vasold took the field Saturday at halftime of the Williamsburg school's football game against James Madison. The junior and other members of the homecoming court were introduced to the crowd and posed for pictures.

Vasold identifies as "genderqueer," a term for those who don't adhere to either strictly male or strictly female gender roles.

Students nominated and elected Vasold, who will represent the Class of 2011. An e-mail message left for Vasold on Saturday wasn't immediately returned.

"William and Mary is a diverse and inclusive community, and student selections to this year's Homecoming Court reflect that," school spokesman Brian Whitson said in an e-mail."

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Bishop John Shelby Spong -- A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

After this week's Equality Across the Commonwealth demonstration, I was asked in an interview by Stonewall Society founder, Len Rogers what I thought the greatest obstacle to the GLBT community achieving  equality is. My response was:
"We need to forget about the Religious objections. Get it off the table and don't try to argue the point any more. There is nothing we can say or do to convince conservative Christians that the bible is wrong. It's what their whole belief system is based on. There are plenty of churches that accept us just as we are, we don't need the rest of them. We've been spinning our wheels for 40 years by engaging in arguments we can't win.This is a civil rights movement and needs to be presented that way. It's about justice and fairness and equal protection under the law."
(Len is still working on the article. He contributes stories to several blogs and as soon as it it posted, I'll post the link.)

Today I saw the following article posted on FaceBook and wanted to share it here. It says, so much more eloquently, what I was trying to express. It's been making its way around the web for the last few days. It's a bit long, but I encourage you to read it through.

Bishop John Shelby Spong -- A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!


I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is "an abomination to God," about how homosexuality is a "chosen lifestyle," or about how through prayer and "spiritual counseling" homosexual persons can be "cured." Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate "reparative therapy," as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality "deviant."


I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.

I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is "high-sounding, pious rhetoric." The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves.

I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn't. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to "Roll on over or we'll roll on over you!" Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a "new church," claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude.

I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world's population.

I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be.
  • Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us.
  • Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church.
  • "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces.
We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women?

The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a "mobocracy," which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.

I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture's various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union.

I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: "New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth." I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

- John Shelby Spong
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NY Gov. Paterson Expects to sign Marriage Equality Bill in the Coming Weeks

This just in from Equality Across America:

"ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – New York Gov. David Paterson said Thursday that he expects to sign a same-sex marriage bill into law in the coming weeks.

Paterson said he expects the state Senate to give the measure final legislative approval in weeks ahead and then he will sign it, making New York the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage. Paterson can’t force the Senate to take up the bill and admitted to reporters he can’t guarantee its approval, but he says he’s now confident it will pass, as advocates and sponsors of the bill in Albany have been quietly working to build support.

The bill was blocked by a summer coup in the Senate in the final days of the regular session in June. The Democrat-led Assembly has already passed the measure.

Paterson’s statements Thursday came at the fall dinner in Manhattan of the influential gay rights group Empire State Pride Agenda. He said New York will have marriage equality “as a result of a law we will pass in the New York Senate, already passed in the Assembly, and will be signed by the governor, just in the next few weeks.”

The 1,200 people at the dinner cheered Paterson’s remarks.

“No longer in New York” will same-sex couples have to worry about insurance coverage, being allowed to visit each other hospitals, or whether they will be guaranteed the same rights as other married couples under law, he said.

Paterson said he’s spoken to advocates lobbying senators and “they believe if I put the bill on the calendar, it will pass. … I believe it will pass.”

In the spring, advocates had sought to withdraw the bill from the Senate agenda when it appeared it would be defeated.

More than a year ago, Paterson had framed the debate as a civil right long denied. But divisions among Senate Democrats earlier this year made approval unlikely after a few Democrats in the 32-30 majority objected to the bill on religious grounds.

Now, however, Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos of Nassau County says GOP senators won’t be asked to vote against the measure in a bloc and are free to vote for the bill.

A leading advocate and bill sponsor, Sen. Thomas Duane of Manhattan, who is gay, has declined to comment on the issue this week. Senate Democratic majority spokesman Austin Shafran said there has been no head count of votes on the issue.

To the crowd, Paterson joked that if anyone in a same-sex relationship had put off conversations about marriage because it wasn’t legal, “you’d better leave now because marriage equality is coming to New York City.”

Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont, and will start in New Hampshire in January. A referendum in Maine on Nov. 3 will determine the fate of a same-sex marriage bill passed by the Legislature in May.

Several other states offer civil unions, domestic partnerships or other arrangements that provide marriage-like rights to same-sex couples, including California, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado and Wisconsin."

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Kate Clinton's Vlog: The Pope invites Anglicans to come home


Comedian/activist Kate Clinton talks about this week's Vatican message to the Anglican Communion inviting pissed-off Episcopalians to come back into the fold. Let's see, trade equal status for women and gays in the clergy for a life of faux celibacy and misogyny and a culture that ignores rampant pedophilia. Hmm. Tough choice. 



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Friday, October 23, 2009

Cool Site of the Week: BettyBowers.com

This week's Cool Site is one of my all time favorites. BettyBowers.com takes the over the top Christian right and makes it even more over the top with original videos, a blog and a variety of merchandise that you'll wish you thought of first. I've featured Mrs. Bowers' videos, like "Betty Bowers Explains Traditional Marriage to Everyone Else" on the Cyber-Pulpit in previous posts, but there is so much more to "America's Best Christian and Most Saved Baptist".

I personal favorite part of the site is "Christian Crack Whore Ministry" which Mrs. Bowers explains like this:

"By humanely easing these industrious tramps off of crack cocaine with compassionate fistfuls of OxyContins, Darvons, Demerols and Percocets mixed with Chivas Regal, I am showing these tawdry harlots how they can embrace respectable Republican values without any discernible sacrifice of the buzz for which they are so eagerly debased. And without having to pay retail crack prices, these working girls suddenly find that they have more disposable income for the one thing that leads to salvation: tithing! Praise the Lord!"
  Visit BettyBowers.com and check out her advice column, "What Would Betty Do?", her many ministries like BASH: Baptists Are Saving Homosexuals, or find out if you're going to Hell by taking her New TESTament.
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About the Google Ads...

The ads that appear on this site are selected by Google Analytics based on subject matter and content on the site. Occasionally, a political ad will appear in the ad box that in no way represents my views. This usually happens if I've been on a rant about the haters out there. Such is the case with the McDonnell ad that came up tonight. I've tried to get rid of it, but no dice.

Let me make it clear, that I am not endorsing the republican candidate. As I said at this week's Equality Across the Commonwealth demonstration, I and Roanoke Equality, endorse Creigh Deeds for Governor of Virginia. I have been critical of Deeds on LGBT issues and believe he has a long way to go, but the other guy is such a flaming homophobe that I find myself, again, choosing the lesser of two evils.

We'll see if Google Analytics picks up on this and changes the ad.
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PRESTIGIOUS MILITARY LAW COMMISSION RECOMMENDS SCRAPPING SODOMY BAN

SANTA BARBARA, CA, October 20, 2009 - The military’s prohibition of consensual sodomy invites arbitrary enforcement and may be unconstitutional according to a report released by the Commission on Military Justice today. The Commission recommends repealing the ban.

The report was sponsored by the National Institute of Military Justice and a committee of the American Bar Association, and was authored by a distinguished panel of judges, scholars and military personnel. It noted that military laws already provide an "adequate basis to prosecute any criminal sexual misconduct," rendering the sodomy ban unnecessary.

Proponents of "don't ask, don't tell" often point to the sodomy ban as justification for excluding gay and lesbian service members. But scholars dispute the soundness of that rationale. According to Dr. Nathaniel Frank, “public opinion about private, consensual sexual conduct has shifted dramatically since the military sodomy ban was written into law almost a hundred years ago. To say that gays should be banned from the military for this outdated reason makes no sense." Frank is Senior Research Fellow at the Palm Center and author of Unfriendly Fire, a history of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

In 2003, the late Professor Charles Moskos signed an amicus brief which stated that the military’s ban on sodomy is not necessary for preserving unit cohesion or military readiness. Moskos was widely credited as the author of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Form more, visit PalmCenter.org.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Senate Passes Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act!

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate passed groundbreaking legislation Thursday that would make it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

The expanded federal hate crimes law now goes to President Obama's desk. Obama has pledged to sign the measure, which was added to a $680 billion defense authorization bill.

President George W. Bush had threatened to veto a similar measure.

The bill is named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998, and James Byrd Jr., an African-American man dragged to death in Texas the same year.

"Knowing that the president will sign it, unlike his predecessor, has made all the hard work this year to pass it worthwhile," said Judy Shepard, board president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation named for her son. "Hate crimes continue to affect far too many Americans who are simply trying to live their lives honestly, and they need to know that their government will protect them from violence, and provide appropriate justice for victims and their families."

Several religious groups have expressed concern that a hate-crimes law could be used to criminalize conservative speech relating to subjects such as abortion or homosexuality.

Attorney General Eric Holder has asserted that any federal hate-crimes law would be used only to prosecute violent acts based on bias, as opposed to the prosecution of speech based on controversial racial or religious beliefs.

Holder called Thursday's 68-29 Senate vote to approve the defense spending bill that included the hate crimes measure "a milestone in helping protect Americans from the most heinous bias-motivated violence."

"The passage of this legislation will give the Justice Department and our state and local law enforcement partners the tools we need to deter and prosecute these acts of violence," he said in a statement.

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the measure "our nation's first major piece of civil rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."

"Too many in our community have been devastated by hate violence," Solmonese said in a statement. "We now can begin the important steps to erasing hate in our country."

This month, Obama told the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest gay rights group, that the nation still needs to make significant changes to ensure equal rights for gays and lesbians.

"Despite the progress we've made, there are still laws to change and hearts to open," he said during his address at the dinner for the Human Rights Campaign. "This fight continues now, and I'm here with the simple message: I'm here with you in that fight."

Among other things, Obama has called for the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military, the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. He also has urged Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and pass the Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act.

The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage, for federal purposes, as a legal union between a man and a woman. It allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. The Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act would extend family benefits now available to heterosexual federal employees to gay and lesbian federal workers.

More than 77,000 hate-crime incidents were reported by the FBI between 1998 and 2007, or "nearly one hate crime for every hour of every day over the span of a decade," Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee in June.

The FBI, Holder added, reported 7,624 hate-crime incidents in 2007, the most current year with complete data.
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October is GLBT History Month (video)

From EqualityForum.com

Launched in 2006, GLBT History Month in October honors 31 Icons—one each day—with a video, bio, bibliography, downloadable images and educational resources, and special features for students. The videos are broadcast on cable TV channels and are available as a free download to organizations and the public.
GLBT History Month is free and all 124 Icons (2006-2009) are archived on the site.
www.glbtHistoryMonth.com

                   

Nut-job Pat Robertson says gays want to destroy marriage

Sometimes it can be so embarrassing to live in Virginia. Pat Robertson, the head homophobe from Hampton Roads, who believes he can pray away the gay, not to mention hurricanes, continues to spread lies in the name of Christian love. Isn't there something in the 10 C's about not bearing false witness against thy neighbor? Evolve, already, Pat! Oh yeah, you don't believe in evolution. That explains a lot.
From OnTop:
As Maine prepares to vote on a gay marriage law, Pat Robertson said gay marriage advocates want to “destroy” marriage.

Maine, the first state to approve gay marriage legislatively, is also the first state to put the question up for a vote. Question 1 asks Maine voters to affirm the gay marriage law approved by lawmakers in the spring.

“I don't really believe homosexuals want to get married,” Robertson said on Tuesday's broadcast of the 700 Club. “What they want to do is destroy marriage and some of the other things we have in our society.”

“They don't want any – any – hindrance to their particular lifestyle or their particular way of having sex. That's what it amounts to. Whether or not this is going to be something that will, you know, change the country … the country has voted overwhelmingly in favor of traditional marriage – they don't want homosexual marriage.”

Listing Maine, Massachusetts and Iowa, Robertson said several states have approved gay marriage. “Yet [when] the people have their say, the people say no way,” he added.

This is not the first time Robertson has discussed Maine's ongoing gay marriage debate.

On the day after Maine legalized gay marriage, Robertson called allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry “the beginning in a long downward slide” to legalized child molestation.

“We haven't taken this to its ultimate conclusion,” Robertson told viewers.

“How can we rule that polygamy is illegal when you say that homosexual marriage is legal. … And what about bestiality and ultimately what about child molestation and pedophilia? … You mark my words, this is just the beginning in a long downward slide in relation to all the things that we consider to be abhorrent.”

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This Queer Little Planet: Swedish Gay Couples Can Marry in Church

From PinkNews

The Lutheran Church of Sweden has decided to allow gay couples to marry in church.

Gay marriage became legal in the country on May 1st, allowing couples to wed in religious or civil ceremonies.

Until now, the church had not decided whether to allow them to marry in church.

In June, the church board submitted a petition to the Church of Sweden synod. The synod announced the decision this morning.

According to The Local, some small changes will be made to current church regulations, such as replacing “man and wife” with “lawfully wedded spouses” when gay couples marry.

In January 2007 the church, which was disestablished in 2000, began offering religious blessings to gay unions and actively welcomed LGBT clergy.

Six of the seven political parties in Swedish parliament backed the proposal to introduce a gender-neutral marriage law.

The proposal passed with a 261 to 22 vote and 16 abstentions.

The only party to oppose the ruling were the Christian Democrats, who said they wanted to maintain "a several hundred-year-old concept" of marriage.

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