Monday, February 28, 2011

Hollywood Legend Jane Russell dead at 89 (music video)

Hollywood screen legend Jane Russell, who first burst onto the screen in the 1943 Howard Hughes film "The Outlaw", has died at home, according to her son, Buck Waterfield. She was 89.

The Outlaw was Hughes' reaction to the strict moral  censorship of the Hollywood production code. Russell's career flourished during the 40's and 50's.

Perhaps her most successful role came when she was paired with Marilyn Monroe in Howard Hawks' 1953 production, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". Russell played best friend and chaperon Dorothy Shaw to Monroe's gold-digging Loralei Lee.

The musical is best remembered by most fans for Monroe's signature song, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend", but my personal favorite number from the film will always be Russell's "Ain't There Anyone Here For Love", which was written especially for her by composer Hoagy Carmichael. The song and dance number features a frisky Dorothy bemoaning the fact that she's on an ocean liner with dozens of hot, sweaty Olympic athletes, but they're all on a very strict curfew. It's probably the most homoerotic scene from the golden age of Hollywood.

2011 Oscars Best and Worst Moments

Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock and Helen Mirren at the 2011 Oscars.
I hate to admit it, but I was totally hooked on last night's Academy Awards ceremony for two reasons. First, because I kept waiting for it to get funny, which, with a few minor exceptions, it did not.

The second and main reason I watched, is because I love to see what all the Hollywood glitterati are wearing. Not so much the men, because, I don't care what anybody says, a suit is a suit. They're boring and uncomfortable and nobody likes wearing them.

As with most gay men, for me it's all about what the gals are wearing. There were some really fabulous frocks last night, including co-host Ann Hathaway's seven wardrobe changes. She never disappoints.

One of my two favorite moments of the night was when Kirk Douglas deliberately went off script during his presentation and kept the audience waiting. Just when you thought he was done, he'd say "you know..." and continue talking. He did it two or three times and the audience howled with laughter. What are you going to do? The guy is like 90, he survived a major stroke and he's a living legend. He's Sparticus, for Chirst's sake!

My other favorite moment came after Douglas announced the best Supporting Actress winner, Melissa Leo. In her acceptance speech, Leo referred to Kate Winslet's win in 2009, when she said, "When I watched Kate two years ago, it looked so f---ing easy. ..."

It was just what the snooze-fest needed.

The worst moment of the night came when I read the credits at the end of the broadcast and saw that Bruce Vilanch was on the list of writers. Bruce, what happened? You used to be the "go to" guy for funny awards shows. There were four or five other writers credited, so I prefer to think that they over-powered you, tied you up in the back room and kept your stuff from getting on air. That's the only possible explanation. 

Another huge disappointment this year was the absence of Joan Rivers on E!'s red carpet coverage. Joan is single-handedly responsible for bringing back glamor to the awards show circuit. Why E! hasn't had her on any of their pre-award shows this year is a mystery to me. Women in Hollywood live in constant fear of Joan's acid tongue and rightly so.

Even though E! has brought Joan back to the Fashion Police this year, they inexplicably sent second stringers Kelly Osborn and the lollipop-headed Giuliana Rancic. Kelly looked spectacular, Giuliana looked like she had borrowed the drapes from "Gone With the Wind".

As for this year's much ballyhooed co-hosts, Ann Hathaway gave her best "hey, gang, let's put on a show" enthusiasm, but James Franco looked like he'd been doing bong-hits in the limo on the way over. He added nothing to the show and left it up to the plucky Hathaway to carry the show, which she did admirably.

The big winners for the night were Natalie Portman, Best Actress for "Black Swan", Colin Firth, Best Actor,  for "The King's Speech", which took the trophy for Best Picture. In addition to Melissa Leo's Best Supporting Actress award for "The Fighter", Christian Bale took home Best Supporting Actor for his role in the same film.

A lot of my gay friends hate anything to do with awards ceremonies, but let's face it, The Oscars are the Gay Super Bowl. It's "Must See TV". I've been watching them since I was a little kid and even though I don't go to the movies as often as I used to, I will continue to watch them every year. So there.
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The Case for ENDA: The Other Shoe Drops in Rep. Chris Lee's Resignation, a Size 13 Pump

Photo credit:
I posted here a couple of weeks back about Rep. Chris Lee's resignation just three hours after Gawker posted a shirtless photo from his Craigslist Personals ad along with the contents of a chat session the congressman had with a woman he was trying to pick up.

The curious part for me was why he quit so fast without putting up the slightest bit of a fight. In a case like this, you just wait a little while for the other shoe to drop and everything starts to make sense.

In this case the other shoe belongs to a 34-year-old Africa-American, transsexual prostitute named Fiona, who responded to the former NY congressman's ad. She claims that she copied and e-mail the ad to herself, which is why she still had a copy of it after the ad expired and was taken down.

Apparently, like the woman who busted Lee earlier this month, she also did some checking and found out the real identity of the "Sexy Classy guy" and confronted him about it in an e-mail. That was the day the Lee told his staff that his e-mail account had been hacked.

You can read the full story at Gawker. It's all very seedy and convoluted.

What this incident highlights is the plight of transsexuals who are forced into prostitution because of the rampant prejudice against them in the workplace. Often rejected by their families and unable to find legitimate work in an accepting, tolerant environment, transsexual young people have no choice but to survive any way they can, often turning to drugs and prostitution. Is this the kind of life we want to condemn our trans bothers and sisters to by not addressing their concerns?

This is why we need a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). It seems only fitting that a conservative Republican got caught in a trap of his party's own making. The Dems share the blame here as well. How long before we see one of them in a similar scandal? 

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cool Site of the Week: Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber

Photo courtesy of Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber.
Unless you’re a 12-year-old girl, when it comes to Justin Bieber, the latest in a very long line of teen heart-throbs, you’re somewhere between too old to know who he is and too old to care who he is.

As for me, if I wasn’t a blogger, I would probably be in both camps, but it is my sworn duty to know and report on all things queer and trust me, the nation’s obsession with this kid sure is queer and I have found just the right web site to prove it: “Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber”

I’ve been scolded before by readers who say I’m not sensitive enough about gender stereotyping, so I am not going to be the one to point out that the 16-year-old pop sensation looks and sounds like a girl, because I don’t have to. This week’s Cool Site does that all by itself.

LWLLJB (sorry, it’s not a great abbreviation, but the name is too damn long) is a fan site that celebrates Bieber Fever with a twist. From the look of it, the site is created by and for young lesbians with a sense of humor about themselves. There is a certain segment of the lesbian community that really goes for the boyish type and JB is that type. The tag line in the banner reads, “I mean you get it, right?”

Yes, I totally do.

Here’s how it works: Biebs-obsessed lesbian fans submit pics of themselves or friends/others that they think resemble the pop star, right down to his signature mop-top hair cut. They get posted, along with various other pics of the kid. Readers post comments. Everyone is in on the joke. It’s just that simple.

By the way, the Earth-shattering news that Justin had cut his hair this week sent shock waves through middle schools everywhere, but fear not. His new do, inspired by Ellen DeGeneres after Biebs appeared on her show recently, has only stoked the flames of passion among his lesbian legions. During the interview, JB mentioned the site by name and said he thought it was pretty cool.

As with everything in our ADHD-driven pop culture, Bieber Fever will pass, so check out Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber while you can, have a giggle or two, share it with your friends and we’ll all move on to the next obsession.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Quack of the Week: Oscar Style (2-25-11)

Visit for more Quack-toons. Posted with permission.

Maryland Senate Votes for Marriage Equality

The state of Maryland is one step closer to recognizing the legitimacy of gay and lesbian relationships as the state senate voted 25-21 Thursday to pass legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in The Free State. The legislation does not compel churches to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. A similar bill is expected to be introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates next week.

Opponents of the proposed law are already busy garnering support and raising funds to introduce a ballot measure next year to amend the state constitution to ban marriage equality. Reports are that the trolls from NOM are hard at work across the Potomac to protect opposite marriage. Here we go again folks.

Via Metro Weekly:
The Maryland State Senate took a historic step toward marriage equality on Thursday, Feb. 24, voting in favor of a bill that would grant same-sex couples in the state legal marriage recognition, while also protecting the rights of religious institutions to handle issues of marriage however they see fit.

Senate Bill 116, The Civil Marriage Protection Act, was written by Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery), the only out gay member of Maryland's Senate, and Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery).

The third and final reading of the bill picked up from recess a few minutes after 5:40 p.m. on Feb. 24, and Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Garagiola (D-Montgomery), the bill's lead sponsor, called for a vote to limit debate to 30 minutes from each side. Shortly before 6:30 p.m., the Senate voted in favor of the bill, 25-21, followed by applause on the Senate floor.

Madaleno exited the Senate chambers hugging constituents and colleagues in excitement and celebration.

And while the marriage bill has passed a major hurdle, marriage equality in Maryland is not guaranteed. A House version of the bill is expected to be introduced in committee this week, and according to the Baltimore Sun, Del. Don H. Dwyer Jr. (R- Anne Arundel County), who is notorious for supporting anti-LGBT measures in the past, has pledged to ''take the gloves off.''

Currently there are 58 Delegates sponsoring the bill, and 71 votes are needed to pass in the House.
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Viking Zombie Boyfriend, by Jeremy Rizza (2-25-11)

This week Sticky continues his obsession with cutie cub Paco. Why is it so easy for us to believe that being a slave to the gym is going to solve all our problems, when it's the inner man that needs to shape up?

Jeremy writes: "Wow, this strip was late! Sorry! It’s not usually that bad, I swear.  Real life stuff just got in the way."

"So, I think we now know why Sticky has trouble keeping a man, huh? Selfish bastard. Fun fact: his ruffled sundress in the last panel is based on one worn by Goldie Hawn!"

Visit for past strips, character back stories and cool VZB merchandise.

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

Too Little, Too Late: House and Senate Dems push for DOMA repeal

On the heals of this week's historic announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the Obama administration believes the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and will no longer defend it in court, House and Senate Democrats are scrambling to gather sponsors to reintroduce the Respect For Marriage Act.

The legislation was drafted and introduced by Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) in 2009 and 2010, but was allowed to die in committee due to lack of support while congress addressed the economic stimulus package and botched health care reform effort.

The Huffington Post reports:
The idea is to take advantage of the headwind created by the Department of Justice's Wednesday announcement and push for a permanent solution over the legality of laws that prohibit gay marriage. Until Congress acts, or the Supreme Court issues a ruling, DOMA -- which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages performed in states -- continues to be enforced.

"The president's move is another step in the increasing realization that there is no conceivable justification for DOMA, that it is motivated, was motivated, purely by irrational considerations and fear and that there is no rational basis that will stand up to a constitutional challenge," said Nadler. "Hopefully, that will make it somewhat easier to pass legislation in Congress."

But the climb remains steep. House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) criticized the administration's decision not to defend DOMA in a statement shortly after the announcement was made, calling it "irresponsible." And as chair of the committee, Smith has wide latitude over what bills get a hearing.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), whose district includes San Francisco, announced that she will introduce a senate version of the bill, telling HuffPo, "As a Member of the Judiciary Committee, it is my intention to introduce legislation that will once and for all repeal the Defense of Marriage Act," Feinstein said in a prepared statement. "My own belief is that when two people love each other and enter the contract of marriage, the Federal government should honor that. I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. It was the wrong law then; it is the wrong law now; and it should be repealed."

Is anyone else angry that this didn't happen last year or the year before, when DOMA repeal actually had a snowball's chance in Hell of passing? The White House acknowledges that they put this off until after the elections, so it wouldn't be a campaign issue.

Feinstein, who served on the San Francisco board of Supervisors with Harvey Milk is all over this now that it's politically safe and the Republican-controlled House will see to it that repeal doesn't happen.

I hate to be Debbie Downer, but our best chance of getting rid of DOMA is still through the courts.

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Server not found: Fred Phelps' Website Has Been Hacked

Shirley Roper-Phelps, a prominent member of th...Image via WikipediaThe Washington post has confirmed that the website of the homophobic Westboro Baptists Church ( was shut down by the hacktivist group ANONYMOUS on Thursday.

I checked it out myself yesterday and the site is indeed down. What comes up on Google is the site name with the message, "Site of anti-homosexual propagandist Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas." When I clicked the link, I got the error message "Server not found".

It's been a bizarre week of back and forth accusations between the two groups after a post appeared on the ANONYMOUS website saying they'd had enough of Westboro's hate speech and picketing the funerals of children and would take out their website if they did not cease and desist their hateful activities this year. 

The official response from the Phelps klan was "Bring it!"

ANONYMOUS denied posting the threat on their message board and accused Westboro of planting the post in order to gain publicity.

The Post reports:
However, just days later, Anonymous did, in fact, attack the site. During a live radio interview, a member of Anonymous challenged Westboro spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of Pastor Fred Waldron Phelps, on the origins of the first press release. Anonymous then said the group had tired of the Westboro Baptist Church's antics and broken into the site.

"Take this defacement as a simple warning: go away. The world (including Anonymous) disagrees with your hateful messages," a letter posted to the Westboro Baptist Church's Web site read.

Phelps-Roper shrugged off the attack, "You cannot shut us up."
Well, boys and girls, it seems you can shut them up, at least temporarily. However, it's a safe bet that we haven't heard the last of these unAmerican homo-haters, not by a long shot.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

WATCH: Rachel Maddow Discusses Obama's Decision Not to Defend DOMA (video)

Whenever big news breaks about LGBT rights, I turn to Rachel Maddow, the definitive political junkie to sort it all out for me. It's kind of like when all the scared and confused people in the Emerald City went running to the Wizard for guidance when the witch wrote "Surrender Dorothy" across the sky in Oz.

I do, however take exception to the title "Death Knell for DOMA". This ain't over by a long shot.

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Hawaii Governor Signs Civil Unions Bill, more on Obama's DOMA Decision

Wednesday was certainly an historic day for our community. Not only has the Obama administration decided to no longer defend DOMA in court, but Hawaii's Governor Jim Abercrombie signed legislation legalizing civil unions for all couples, regardless of the sex of the participants. The law goes into effect January 1, 2012.

Under the new law, couples in civil unions will have all the same rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities of traditional marriage. It clarifies that although the federal government does not recognize civil unions, certain aspects of the Internal Revenue Code that apply to husbands and wives, will also apply equally to couples in civil unions.

When it comes to ending a civil union, the family courts will have the same jurisdiction as they do over the separations, annulments and divorces of married couples.

Gov. Abercrombie told the Honolulu Star Advertizer, "For me, this bill represents equal rights for everyone in Hawaii -- everyone who comes here. This is, to me, the essence of the aloha spirit."

As I write about this, I have very mixed emotions. Yes this is a major step forward for the LGBT community. Hawaii will become the seventh state to legalize civil unions. For gay and lesbian couples in Hawaii, this is more legal recognition than they have ever had. Hawaii was the first state to attempt to legalize same-sex marriage in the 90's, which kicked off the whole marriage equality fight. This is a very real victory for queer Hawaiians and their families.

However, as I've said before, I'm not a supporter of civil unions. For me, a civil union is like coming in second in the Olympics. It's a a great moment that is worthy of recognition and should be celebrated, but it's the silver medal, not the gold. Nobody ever remembers who came in second. Nobody is ever satisfied with coming in second. We should not be either.

This law - and every civil union law - says that because I am gay, I am not worthy of marriage. It says that I am not equal to my six brothers and sisters, all of whom are married. It says that my married neighbors are better than me. It says that my government is trying pacify me by giving me something less than than I deserve as a tax paying American citizen.

Civil unions, which are a separate and unequal legal status for gays and lesbians, only prolong our fight. Once Prop 8 and DOMA are overturned - and they will be -  we will have to start all over again from scratch. We will find ourselves waging legal battles not just in states that ban marriage equality and anything similar to it, but also in civil union states, in order to achieve true equality.

You think things are ugly now? Wait until some "liberal" governor tells you to shut up and sit down and just be happy with what you have.

The state that grants civil unions is like a mother giving chewing gum to her hungry child. It may take his mind off his hunger pangs for a little while, but it's not good enough and it's just not right.

It is unclear whether we can look to the White House or the Justice Dept for any more help on this. AG Holder says the DOJ will stay involved in the pending cases, but will most likely want to remain neutral.

In essence, by deciding to no longer defend legal challenges to DOMA, the president, like Pontius Pilot, has washed his hands of us and taken himself out of the fight. The man who promised to be our "fierce advocate" has not just thrown us under the bus, he may well have thrown us to the wolves.

Talking Points Memo reported last night that our fight for marriage equality has just entered uncharted territory. Even the lawyers on the front lines don't know how this will play out.
The big question following the Obama administration's announcement that it would not argue in support of the Defense of Marriage Act is whether Congress (or individual members of the House or Senate) would step in to defend the law themselves.

Lee Swislow, executive director of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, thinks a member of Congress will get involved somehow.

"We expect there will be a defense coming from Congress," Swislow told TPM in a phone interview.
Swislow added, "We don't totally understand -- it's a process which isn't used very often. We do know that a defense can come from either or both chambers -- that's pretty much the limit of my knowledge."

We can expect our opponents in Washington to fight even dirtier. We can expect to see a more prominent role for homo haters like Maggie Gallagher, Matt Barber and Tony Perkins.

In a related story, now that the elections are over and the balance of power has shifted, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has decided that it is now safe to introduce a bill to repeal DOMA. This bill has no chance of passing in the current Republican-dominated congress. Where was she last year and the year before? Where were any of the democrats when they could have made a difference?

This fight is far from over and the gloves are off.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Breaking: Obama DOJ Declares DOMA Unconstitutional, Won't Defend it in Court

This just in from U.S. Attorney General Eric holder informed congress in a letter this afternoon that the US government will not defend DOMA in two pending lawsuits (Pedersen v. OPM and Windsor v. United States) because the Department of Justice and the president believe that section 3 of the law is unconstitutional.

This is major!

AG Holder acknowledges that based of prior lower rulings in several other cases, it is the administration's belief that section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman for federal purposes, violates the 5th amendment of the US Constitution. Holder explains:
While the Department has previously defended DOMA against legal challenges involving legally married same-sex couples, recent lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of DOMA Section 3 have caused the President and the Department to conduct a new examination of the defense of this provision.   In particular, in November 2010, plaintiffs filed two new lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of DOMA in jurisdictions without precedent on whether sexual-orientation classifications are subject to rational basis review or whether they must satisfy some form of heightened scrutiny.
These new lawsuits, by contrast, will require the Department to take an affirmative position on the level of scrutiny that should be applied to DOMA Section 3 in a circuit without binding precedent on the issue.   As described more fully below, the President and I have concluded that classifications based on sexual orientation warrant heightened scrutiny and that, as applied to same-sex couples legally married under state law, Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional.
In other words, just as in the Prop 8 case last year, laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians must meet a higher level of scrutiny. It comes down to recognizing us as a suspect class that has been singled out for discrimination without any rational basis. Holder elaborates on this point:
After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the President has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a heightened standard of scrutiny.   The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard and is therefore unconstitutional.   Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in Windsor and Pedersen, now pending in the Southern District of New York and the District of Connecticut.   I concur in this determination.
Holder says that although the government will not appeal these two cases, the executive branch will continue to abide by section 3 until DOMA is overturned legislatively:
 ...the President has informed me that Section 3 will continue to be enforced by the Executive Branch.   To that end, the President has instructed Executive agencies to continue to comply with Section 3 of DOMA, consistent with the Executive’s obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, unless and until Congress repeals Section 3 or the judicial branch renders a definitive verdict against the law’s constitutionality.   This course of action respects the actions of the prior Congress that enacted DOMA, and it recognizes the judiciary as the final arbiter of the constitutional claims raised. 
So this is another of Obama's classic moves. He once again agrees that DOMA is wrong, he takes it a step further, saying he believes the law violates the constitution,but exempts the executive branch from having to comply with his own findings until/unless the Republican congress votes to overturn it. 

How this all will play out remains to be seen. My head is still spinning from this.  

Homophobic Marriage Amendment Filed in NC Senate. Equality NC has no comment.

Sen. Jim Forrester (R-Gaston County)
When Paul and I decided to move to North Carolina to be closer to his folks (still a few months away), we knew that as far as our rights were concerned, this was going to be lateral move. The South is, after all, the South.

The one advantage that North Carolina has over Virginia is that there is no constitutional amendment banning marriage equality... yet.

Q-Notes, the LGBT newspaper and website of the Carolinas is reporting that NC Senator James Forrester from Gaston County (where we'll be living) filed the text of a proposed constitutional amendment on Tuesday that he wants on the ballot in 2012.
The text of the proposed amendment, which has not yet been filed in the House, would ban any recognition of any “domestic legal union” other than a marriage between an opposite-sex couple. If approved by the legislature, the amendment would appear on the November 2012 ballot. Three-fifths of both the House and Senate must approve the amendment before it can appear on the ballot; the governor has no veto authority on amendments.
Forrester, a Republican who has been the primary lead on the amendment for the past seven years, was joined in sponsoring the legislation by Jerry W. Tillman (R-Montgomery, Randolph) and Dan Soucek (R-Alexander, Ashe, Watauga, Wilkes). Twenty other senators, all Republican, are co-sponsoring the bill. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Guilford, Rockingham) did not sponsor the amendment.
Palmquist said a companion bill was expected in the House, though he had no definitive timeline.
Incredibly, when I checked out the website for Equality NC, there was no mention of Tuesday's development, except for the post they did last Wednesday saying that the measure was circulating and expected to be filed this week. As of this morning, however, there is no update, no reaction, no comment, no press release. Nothing. There is, however,the same call to action that was there last week, but nothing since then.

Shouldn't they have gotten something prepared ahead of time to get out to the press ASAP?

I worked in the non-profit field for 15 years, monitored the news media for relevant stories and wrote press releases. Maybe they're still working on it. Maybe they overslept. Maybe their dog ate it.

Hello, Equality NC? What part of activism and advocacy do you not understand?


If you're looking for someone to handle your media contacts, press releases, outreach and education, I'm on my way to NC anyway. I can be reached at

Marines Aren't Fleeing The Military

If Chicken Little was a marine, he'd probably look a lot like this guy. General James Amos was staunchly opposed to ending DADT a couple of months ago, predictong doom and gloom and marines getting their legs blown off if they had to serve with the gays. That is until he got his marching orders, which said, essentially, "Dude, this is happening. Get over it."

As Yoda would say, "Get over it, he has."

Queerty reports:
When the Senate was debating the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, Sen. John McCain promised us that if the military started letting openly gay men and women serve, then there would be a mass exodus from the armed services, because how can anyone expect retention to remain stable when there are KNOWN HOMOSEXUALS WALKING AROUND THE BASE! Except just like predictions of a mass exit with military chaplains, there doesn't appear to be anyone running for civilian life.
"I haven't had any indication yet at all, not at all," Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos tells reporters. Huh. Isn't this the same guy who was certain out homosexuals would lead to his Marines getting their legs blown off? And the same guy who, just weeks ago, was pleading to keep DADT in place.

New Wave Wednesday: "Here Comes the Rain Again", by Eurythmics

Annie Lennox has one of the most distinctive and gorgeous voices in pop music history. As part of the duo Euthrythmics, she and band mate Dave Stewart created some of the most memorable music of the 80's. "Here Comes the Rain Again" was the first single released from the 1983 album "Touch". The song peaked at #4 on the US Billboard charts.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Are Gay-Only Guesthouses Discriminating Against Straights?

London's newspaper The Telegraph is reporting that the Equality and Human Rights Commission is investigating whether or not guest houses that cater exclusively to gays and lesbians are discriminating against heterosexuals.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is examining whether "gay-only" guesthouses breach new laws designed to prevent people being treated unfairly in the provision of goods or services.
Last month, Christian owners of a guesthouse in Cornwall became the first to be found guilty of discrimination under equality laws after they refused to let a homosexual couple stay in a double room, in a legal action supported by the EHRC.
Now, the watchdog says it must establish an "objective balance" by considering if gays-only accommodation also defies the legislation.
Its lawyers are now investigating the issue and the EHRC says it has not ruled out taking legal action against "gay-only" hotels if they are deemed to be discriminating against heterosexuals.
However, it admits that it has not received a single complaint from the public about such establishments.
In the decades since Stonewall, gays and lesbians have created an industry built upon the idea that we deserved safe spaces of our own where we can get some R&R without being discriminated against by business owners or judged by other vacationers. What started with a few hard to find small businesses scattered around the globe has become a billion dollar a year industry that includes gay and lesbian ocean cruises, Gay Days at Disney and companies like Orbitz aggressively marketing to the queer market.

As we become more mainstreamed, are the safe havens we've created becoming archaic?

While the European countries are decades ahead of us yanks on the equality front, it's going to be decades before we're faced with those legal questions here.

I've never vacationed in an exclusively gay resort or guesthouse. The closest Paul and I got to that was on a trip to Florida several years back when we stopped into the Club Orlando, a gay-owned gym with an outdoor pool. It was our last couple of days in town, but it turned out to be the beginning of Bear Week. It was probably the most relaxing environment I have ever been in. Not only could I leave my body image issues at the door, but we could hold hands and be affectionate without thinking about it.

I would hate to see the day come when gay-only businesses become a thing of the past. You might as well ask if Curves discriminates against men for providing a safe space for women to work out without being self-conscious or getting hit on by hetero men.

Besides, as the article points out, there hasn't been a single complaint yet. You don't see crowds of heterosexuals trying to get into our businesses, with the possible exception of our bars and nightclubs.

GaGa Deal Requires Target to Give $500K to LGBT Causes

She's got me again. Just when I think I've have enough of Lady GaGa over-the-top antics (Three days in a big plastic egg? Seriously?), she wins me back by doing something so awesome that I have to renew my fan club membership. The pop diva has been in negotiations with retailer Target about sales of her album.

With her latest hit Born This Way selling one million downloads worldwide on iTunes in just five days, Gaga was sitting firmly in the driver's seat when she met with the controversial retailer over distribution of her upcoming album of the same name.

As you remember, last year Target donated $150k to the failed gubernatorial campaign of Minnesota's anti-gay Tom Emmer. Target apologized, but that was about all they did. The retail giant and its sister company Best Buy (who gave $100k to anti-gay campaigns) have been the target of an LGBT boycott for the last several months. Now it seems that the bisexual singer has Target by the balls and is squeezing half a millions dollars in donations to LGBT causes.

Billboard reports:
Gaga spoke to the issue for the first time in this interview, telling Billboard that she wasn't comfortable with the Target partnership when it first came up as a possibility, and that she met with "the entire executive staff" at Target, along with her manager Troy Carter.
"That discussion was one of the most intense conversations I've ever had in a business meeting," Gaga says. "Part of my deal with Target is that they have to start affiliating themselves with LGBT charity groups and begin to reform and make amends for the mistakes they've made in the past...our relationship is hinged upon their reform in the company to support the gay community and to redeem the mistakes they've made supporting those groups."
Billboard also reports that Target spends over $3 million per week in charitable contributions. The half a mill earmarked for LGBT causes constitutes about 2% of that total.

For their part, Target says that although they are excited to be partnering with Lady Gaga and they respect her passion for LGBT equality, they already had planned on making the donations anyway.

As for the donations the company made to the anti-gays, Target spokeswoman Dustee Jenkins says the company will be more thoughtful in how it allocates it's charitable giving in the future.

My guess is that the LGBT boycott, which hurt the retailer during the Christmas season by costing them about 2% in sales by some estimates, had a lot to do with their change of heart. We owe a big thanks to Lady Gaga  for adding her voice to ours and making the point loud and clear that corporate actions have consequences.

Monday, February 21, 2011

UPDATE: "Anonymous" Threat to WBC is a Hoax

Wow, just when you thought somebody had balls enough to stand up to the Phelps klan, you find out some nutless wonder has been having a little fun on the interwebs.

As I reported this morning, a post appeared last week on the website of the radical hackers, Anonymous threatening to take out the websites of the Westboro Baptist Church as a means of teaching them a lesson about the consequences of hate speech.

The Phelpses issued a defiant statement on their website with a very simple message,"Bring it on!"

Today Anonymous fired back, denying they had anything to do with the threat that appeared on their site and accusing WBC of planting it on the open-forum site in order to manufacture a feud, which might lead to a lawsuit, which is how WBC makes a lot of its money.

What most likely happened is that a fan of the Anonymous site posted the threat as a hoax and neither of the two principal parties had anything to do with it.

Well, this would have been a good story if there had been anything to it. Even MSM like CBS News ran with it, so I don't feel like so much of an idiot for falling for it. Better luck next time.

Hackers Warn Westboro, "Stop now, or else." Phelps clan says, "Bring it!"

Westboro Baptist Church member Benjamin Phelps...Image via WikipediaThe infamous direct action group of hackers known only as Anonymous, has set its sites on the Westboro Baptist Church, threatening to shut down all of the church's websites unless they cease and desist their hateful ways. Anonymous made news last year when it hacked into the computers of security firms and posted thousands of documents detailing plans by various parties to spy on Wikileaks, Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Anonymous, who calls itself "the Voice of Free Speech & the Advocate of the People", posted an open letter to to Westboro, saying they "have long heard you issue your venomous statements of hatred, and we have witnessed your flagrant and absurd displays of inimitable bigotry and intolerant fanaticism. We have always regarded you and your ilk as an assembly of graceless sociopaths and maniacal chauvinists & religious zealots, however benign, who act out for the sake of attention & in the name of religion."

Members of Westboro Baptist Church, founded by Rev. Fred Phelps and currently under the leadership of his grown children, have conducted anti-gay protests at the funerals of children, people with AIDS, the victims of hate-crimes and fallen US soldiers. The hacktivists explained that they have tolerated Westboro's activities as protected speech, but can no longer sit idly by and do nothing:
Your demonstrations and your unrelenting cascade of disparaging slurs, unfounded judgments, and prejudicial innuendos, which apparently apply to every individual numbered amongst the race of Man - except for yourselves - has frequently crossed the line which separates Freedom of Speech from deliberately utilizing the same tactics and methods of intimidation and mental & emotional abuse that have been previously exploited and employed by tyrants and dictators, fascists and terrorist organizations throughout history.
Anonymous issued this warning:
ANONYMOUS cannot abide this behavior any longer. The time for us to be idle spectators in your inhumane treatment of fellow Man has reached its apex, and we shall now be moved to action. Thus, we give you a warning: Cease & desist your protest campaign in the year 2011, return to your homes in Kansas, & close your public Web sites.

Should you ignore this warning, you will meet with the vicious retaliatory arm of ANONYMOUS: We will target your public Websites, and the propaganda & detestable doctrine that you promote will be eradicated; the damage incurred will be irreversible, and neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover. It is in your best interest to comply now, while the option to do so is still being offered, because we will not relent until you cease the conduction & promotion of all your bigoted operations & doctrines.
Anonymous closes it message saying, "The warning has been given. What happens from here shall be determined by you."

The Phelps klan issued a response on Sunday with a barely coherent flier telling the hackers, "Bring it!"

The message ends, "Nothing will shut up these words - ever."

This oughtta be good. 
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Unaccompanied Minors Go GaGa with "Born This Way" Flash Mob (Music Video)

I'm so worried about the influence of pop music on today's youth...NOT!

I couldn't come up with a Cool Site of the Week selection this week, but I promise to search harder for sites I think you all might enjoy. Instead what I found was this awesome viral video of yet another Lady GaGa-inspired flash mob on the campus of the University of Waterloo, where the youngsters did a spontaneous rendition of Madonna's GaGa's Express Yourself Born This Way.

I love flash mobs! If college had been like this when I was young, I might not have dropped out.

After GaGa's bizarre "three days in an egg" Grammy shtick, I think she should just stick to writing the music (her own next time) and let the kids perform it. Who's with me?

Don't be a drag, just be a Queen!

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Maryland's Marriage Equality Bill Passes Senate Committee, Passage Expected

The difference between my home state of Maryland and my adopted home state of Virginia could not be more clear this week. The two neighbors are separated not just by the Potomac River, but by decades of civil rights progress and social evolution.

Legislation that would make Maryland the fifth state - plus DC - to approve same-sex marriage cleared its first hurdle Thursday by winning approval in a crucial senate committee. The Washington Post reports:
The 7-to-4 vote by the Judicial Proceedings Committee sends the bill the Senate floor, where a lengthy and emotional debate is expected next week on the most high-profile social issue facing lawmakers during their 90-day session.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) predicted Thursday that the bill narrowly would pass in his chamber. The legislation next would move to the House of Delegates, traditionally the more liberal chamber on social policy.

Maryland would join the District and five other states in allowing marriages between same-sex couples.

The vote on the bill is expected to be very close in the Senate. A Post tally published this week showed 24 senators having said they would support the bill -- the bare minimum needed for passage.

The tally includes Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D-Baltimore), who said in an interview last week that she would vote for the bill if she were the deciding vote. Conway has been more equivocal in interviews with other publications, saying she was "still praying" over what to do.

In a brief interview Thursday, Conway told The Post that she was "going to do the right thing" but would not elaborate on what that was.

Two other members who remain undeclared -- Sens. John C. Astle (D-Anne
Arundel) and James C. Rosapepe (D-Prince George's) -- brushed off questions from reporters Thursday.

"You'll see it on the board," Astle said of his vote.

Rosapepe repeated his pledge to announce his intentions by the end of this week.

Miller, who opposes the legislation, predicted that it would pass on a vote of 24 to 23 or 25 to 22.

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Bilerico Project Wants to Out Closeted Anti-Gay Indiana Legislators

Bil Browning, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Bilerico Project, one of the nation's leading LGBT blogs, is calling on his legions of readers to help him out closeted gay Indiana state legislators who voted in favor of an amendment to his home state's constitution banning same-sex marriage.

Browning, a seasoned veteran activist, issued the call to action in a column this week, where he wrote, "I'm sick and tired of hypocritical Hoosier legislators who think that our personal lives are any of their business. Do I intrude on who they're sleeping with? I didn't, but I'm going to start now. We need to show them that unnecessary intrusion into other people's relationships is not only unwelcome but unwarranted. We need to burn their hand so they won't touch the stove again."

Browning is asking his readers to send him any information at all about anti-gay legislators with skeletons in their own closets:
"Consider this a call to gossip. I want to know the scoop. Tell me the stories that will embarrass those conservative bigots - Democrats and Republican - that are backing a constitutional ban on our formalized relationships. Send me gossip about who's a philanderer, a kink fiend, a drug addict, a porn addict, or had a divorce, an abortion or even a stay in rehab. Ask your friends and family for the dirt. Look it up on the internet. Sniff out a lead and send it my way."
Bil has done this type of thing before, when the marriage amendment bill was introduced in previous years. He exposed an anti-abortion politician who forced his own wife to have an abortion just two weeks before dumping her.

I think this is a great idea. I don't know what financial or legal resources Bil has to protect himself against potential legal action, but I say "go for it". It's about time we started fighting fire with fire. You can read the full story here

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VA House Panel Kills Employment Protection for Gay State Workers

The state seal of Virginia. A bill that would have granted employment protection to gay and lesbian state workers died in a Republican-lead Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee this week after GOP leaders decided there was no evidence of employment discrimination against state workers based on sexual orientation. The Washington Post reports:
The same GOP-led panel killed similar legislation last year. Democrats had pushed the bill hard this year, in part in response to a letter that Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) delivered to colleges and universities last year instructing them that, in the absence of a decision by the General Assembly to write protections for gays into law, they could not include language dealing with sexual orientation in their campus non-discrimination policies.

After Cuccinelli's letter sparked a firestorm, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) issued an executive directive outlining that the state does not discriminate, including on the grounds of sexual orientation, and that employees who violate the policy can be disciplined.

Opponents of the bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Don McEachin (D-Richmond), argue that there is little evidence gay state workers face discrimination and that the governor's executive directive provides sufficient protections. Proponents note that without a change in law, employees cannot sue if they have faced discrimination.

"I can't pretend it's a surprise," McEachin said of the vote. "It's still a disappointment."

The same subcommittee also killed a bill that would have allowed public colleges and universities to offer employees the ability to extend their health coverage to their unmarried partners, including gay partners.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quack of the Week (2-17-11)

Another dose of quackiness from Buckminster Duck at


The Three Stooges Meet Cher... as a NUN?? Seriously?

Film makers Peter and Bobby Farrelly have managed to come up with a movie scenario that combines two of my favorite things in the universe, Cher and The Three Stooges. I know, right? I'm thinking "WTF?" too.

The word in Tinsel Town is that the Farrelly Brothers ("Dumb and Dumber", Stuck on You"), have been developing a big screen Three Stooges movie. There's something about this that is both intriguing and blasphemous. I grew up watching The Stooges on TV and I'm a huge fan. I even like Shemp. I've seen comics attempt to do The Stooges many times over the years and it always comes off bad. Those guys were unique and their comic timing was impeccable. Even the made for TV bio film about them sucked.

I'm not sure that adding Cher into the mix as the trio's comic foil will help. The LA Times reports:
Larry, Curly, Moe and...Cher?

Even as they continue to seek the three leads for their big-screen version of "The Three Stooges," Peter and Bobby Farrelly say they have an unusual idea for one of the lead female roles: The brothers are aiming to put Cher in the movie.

The goal is for the singer-actress to play Mother Superior, the nun whom the Stooges terrorize.

Cher had a cameo in the Farrellys' Siamese-twin comedy "Stuck on You" back in 2003. At the time, the writer-directors spoke to the diva about a part in the "Stooges" film, which they'd hoped to shoot next. (They've been developing it for a long time.) She agreed, they said.

"Cher is just the coolest chick ever," Peter Farrelly told 24 Frames. "It's hard to describe. You meet a lot of celebrities in our business. We're not cowed by many of them. But Cher is bawdy, she's fun, she's cool, she's lived a life, she's got experience, she's humble. It's the humility that struck me the most. She's not really a diva."  A representative for Cher did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Casting for the Fox film -- which aims to shoot, after years of development holdups, this spring -- is entering the homestretch.
The plan is to update The Stooges and place them in modern day America. Call me a purist, but these guys were the sons of Eastern European immigrants, who started out in Vaudeville and began their Hollywood career during the 30's. That's what shaped their humor. Most often, their stories revolved around looking for food or work. By our standards, they would be considered homeless and the only possible interaction they might have with Cher is that she would trip over them on the street while texting her plastic surgeon that she's running late for her Botox appointment.

Don't get me wrong, I love me some Cher, but this sounds like a bad vehicle for her. There hasn't been a confirmation that she'll do the film. I hope that she'll decide on a better project than this for her follow up to "Burlesque".

Read the full article here .
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CA Supreme Court Decides to Decide if Prop 8 Poponents Have Standing

Pro and anti-Proposition 8 protesters rally in...Image via WikipediaThe California Supreme Court decided Monday to hear arguments from the proponents of Prop 8, who assert that they have legal standing to appeal Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling that the 2008 voter initiative banning same-sex marriage violates the U.S. constitution.

Although the parties from both sides may begin filing their respective briefs in March, the court has scheduled it's ruling for September.

So let me boil this down for you. When Judge Walker ruled the prop 8 was unconstitutional, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Attorney General (now governor) Jerry Brown, who were named as defendants in the case, decided not to appeal the ruling, allowing the ruling to stand.

The folks at and a bunch of other homo haters decided that they would appeal the ruling, even though they were not named in the case and do not work for or represent the state of California. What the CA Supremes decided yesterday was that they would hear the case and decide whether or not and the rest have legal standing to pursue appeal Walker's ruling. Our side contends that they do not.

The Courage Campaign has been keeping score and posting all the latest updates on the case at The organization's founder Rick Jacobs issued a press release yesterday in response to this latest development:
“Today’s California Supreme Court ruling does not change the fact that a federal court has ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional, but it does mean that thousands of loving LGBT families remain in legal limbo—unable to exercise their constitutional right to access the security and recognition that only comes with marriage.

It is unfortunate that while many California families are able to marry at a time and place of their choosing, equally loving LGBT families must endure months and years of legal uncertainty.  They have waited long enough.

That is why we are asking the California Supreme Court to move expeditiously to resolve the standing question once and for all.  And we are confident that no matter what their decision, Judge Walker’s ruling will ultimately be upheld and the days of second class citizenship for thousands of California families will be relegated to the dustbin of history.”
I can't help but notice a certain whiny tone to this statement. Nobody expected this to be resolved quickly or easily, especially someone who is the self-appointed expert in the case. Seriously Rick, can we maintain a little dignity here? Okay, September is 6 1/2 months away, but it's not the end of the world. We're grownups and we understand that these things take time. Stop asking "Are we there yet?" Quit your whining or I'm pulling this blog over and coming back there! If I hear one more word, no dessert!

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