Monday, January 31, 2011

Roanoke LGBT Community Center Planning Meeting, Sat. Feb. 12

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue sk...During my involvement with Roanoke Equality last year, one of the subjects that we often discussed was the idea of opening an LGBT Community Center in Roanoke. Although I'm not working with the activist group any longer, RE founder Frank House has continued to pursue the idea with his customary dogged determination.

Frank has been conducting ongoing community surveys for the last couple of years and the results show that there is a real interest in the Star City to have a centrally located facility where a variety of LGBT community events could take place.

The first survey conducted in 2009, revealed that 90% of respondents said they would like to see an LGBT Community Center in Roanoke. According to the most recent polling results, published at GLBTRoanoke.com in December, 64.3% of respondents said not only was it a good idea, but they would be interested in helping with the planning of such a center.

Well, Queer Roanoke, here's your chance to put your money, or at least your time, where you mouth is.

Recently Frank and his partner Richard took a road trip to LGBT community centers in Charlotte and Raleigh, NC on a fact finding mission to learn what it would take to make this idea a reality in Roanoke. Frank and Richard visited three different centers and have planned a Community Center Interest Meeting to share their findings with Roanoke's LGBT community.

The meeting is open to the public and is scheduled for Saturday, February 12, from 10am until 12 noon at Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge, 806 Jamison Ave., SE in Roanoke. Check out GLBTRoanoke.com for more info or the event page on FaceBook.

If you want to get an idea of what an LGBT Community Center might look like and what services might be offered, check out Charlotte's Lesbian and Gay Community Center and The LGBT Center of Raleigh.


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"The Tudors" star Henry Cavill lands new gig as next Superman

Did you know there was another Superman movie in the works? Somehow I missed that memo. After the last incarnation of the Man of Steel in the disappointing "Superman Returns" in 2006, it looked like the franchise had gone the way of the planet Krypton.

But it was announced in October that director Zack Snyder ("300" and "Watchmen") would take on the project with a reboot of the story that will hopefully resonate with a younger audience that is accustomed to darker, more brooding super heroes. According to some sources, the film is tentatively being titled, "Superman: Man of Steel".

The L.A. Times reported Sunday that Snyder has found his new lead to play the dual role of Clark Kent/Superman in the person of actor Henry Cavill.
British actor Henry Cavill, who is largely unknown to those who aren’t fans of the Showtime drama “The Tudors,” has landed the part of perhaps America’s most iconic character: Superman.

Cavill will play the red-and-blue-clad superhero, as well as his alter ego Clark Kent, in the  Zack Snyder-directed reboot of the franchise set for release in December 2012, Warner Bros. announced Sunday.

The 27-year-old actor is familiar with the role as he reportedly was very close to getting it in 2006′s “Superman Returns,” before director McG was replaced by Bryan Singer, who instead cast Brandon Routh.

He will be much better known to movie fans this November when he stars in the Greek myth drama “Immortals.”

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Marine Corps Commandant on DADT Repeal: "We will step out smartly to faithfully implement this new law." (video)

On December 3, 2010, General James Amos testified that if DADT was repealed, the Marine Corps would step out smartly to carry out the new policy. On January 28, 2011, the Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps released this video to the Corps describing the way ahead.


Pentagon Announces DADT Rollout Plan, Short on Details, No Clear Timetable

Senior military officials unveiled their planned roll out for full repeal of DADT on Friday at a press conference. I watched the event online, via the Pentagons webcast. General James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Dr. Clifford Stanley, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, outlined the plan for a staged roll out of a personnel training program and took questions from the press.

The two military leaders gave very few specifics on the content of the training and throughout the proceeding their attitude was "trust us, we know what we're doing", which never sits well with me.

The plan, as outlined by Cartwright and Stanley is very short on details and seems to be very much like any corporate training session about tolerance for diversity in the workplace, that most of us have had to sit through. Commanders will be provided with "tool kits" consisting of Power Point presentations and "vignettes". The training is expected to begin next week and continue for ninety days. In response to specific questions about potential personnel problems, the two gave no specifics on how discrimination complaints might be handled, Stanley said there are "Already behavior and conduct standards out there... the standards are still valid."

There will be no protected class status and nothing specifically protecting gays and lesbians in the DoD's personnel policy. The two kept saying throughout that they would follow all legal guidelines. When pressed about the fact that there are no legal federal protections for gays, lesbians and bisexuals, the standard response was that all military personnel will be treated with equal respect.

A few specifics that came out at the press conference are that there will be no change in benefits or housing policies. Due to DOMA, there will be no recognition of legally married gay and lesbian couples or those in domestic partnerships or civil unions, for the purposes of housing, transfers, insurance or other benefits typically afforded to straight married personnel.

A reporter pointed out that there had not been any dismissals under DADT in the last ninety days and asked if this meant that a moratorium is in effect. Stanley clarified that there will be no moratorium on dismissals pending final implementation of repeal.

When pressed by reporters, he admitted that DADT dismissals currently under review could still result in separation from the armed forces. Stanley said that the process is more specific now on a case by case basis. He added that he was not saying there won't be more discharges, but said "there's just an extra level of review. It takes more time." He said that discharges are still possible, but gave no details on what the circumstances might be.

The proposed time line calls for training to begin in February and to continue for about 90 days. At that time, the certification process can begin, when Gates and Mullen are expected to sign off on repeal once they are satisfied that there will be no adverse effects to military preparedness or morale. After that, the president will sign off, then there will be a 60 day waiting period until full repeal. In the best case scenario, we could see full repeal by the end of the summer, however Cartwright and Stanley would not commit to specifics.


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Scuffle Breaks Out at Funeral of Slain Gay Rights Leader After Anti-Gay Remarks

The church's anti-gay rhetoric, which stoked the anti-gay flames in Uganda and led to last year's Kill the Gays Bill ~ which was shelved, but remains pending ~ and led to the beating death of LGBT rights leader David Kato, followed him to his grave Friday, as mourners rushed the pulpit after a minister began chastising them for being gay. Reuters reports:
During the funeral -- which was attended by about 300 people, including about 100 members of the country's gay community -- the pastor lashed out at homosexuality, provoking a strong reaction from friends of Kato.

"The world has gone crazy," the pastor told the congregation through a microphone.

"People are turning away from the scriptures. They should turn back, they should abandon what they are doing. You cannot start admiring a fellow man."
Gay activists, wearing T-shirts featuring Kato's face with sleeves coloured with the gay pride flag, then stormed the pulpit and grabbed the microphone.

"It is ungodly," the pastor shouted, before being blocked from sight.

"ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE US"

An unidentified female activist then began to shout from the pulpit.

"Who are you to judge others?" she shouted. "We have not come to fight. You are not the judge of us. As long as he's gone to God his creator, who are we to judge Kato?"

Locals intervened on the side of the pastor and scuffles broke out before he was taken away to Kato's father's house to calm the situation.

Villagers then refused to bury the body at which point a group of Kato's friends, most of whom were gay, carried his coffin to the grave and buried it themselves.

Uganda's anti-gay movement first made international headlines in October 2009 when a bill was tabled in the country's parliament proposing the death penalty for homosexuals who are "repeat offenders".

The bill was quietly postponed under international pressure, but rights groups fear it may pass after a February presidential election that President Yoweri Museveni is expected to win.

"I'm very upset," Julian Pepe, gay rights activist and a friend of Kato's who attended the funeral, told Reuters, her voice breaking with emotion.

"After we had read statements from everybody, including Obama, after all the nice things friends said about David, that this man could stand up and throw dirt at someone who should be resting in peace. It's just disgusting."
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Suspect Arrested in Murder of Ugandan LGBT Rights Activist David Kato

Reuters reports that an arrest has been made in the murder of David Kato.

The Ugandan civil rights activist was found bludgeoned to death in his home Wednesday, just three weeks after a Ugandan court ordered the tabloid Rolling Stone to stop publishing the names, addresses and photos of supposedly gay and lesbian citizens and to pay damages to the civil rights leader. Kato's information was displayed on the front page in October.

The crime is being treated as a robbery related killing. Reuters reports:
Kato was attacked at home and died on the way to hospital. Police said he had been bludgeoned to death with a hammer.

Police told a news conference in the capital Kampala that one man, Arnold Senoga, had been arrested in connection with the killing and that they were looking for another man, Nsubuga Enock, who had been staying with Kato after the activist bailed him out of prison on Monday.

"His homosexuality has not come up as an issue in the preliminary investigation," police spokeswoman, Judith Nabakooba, told Reuters.

"At the moment, we think theft is the most likely motive. Nsubuga Enock, who had been staying with Kato, was well-known for committing robberies and had almost been lynched in the area before."
Activist Pepe Julian Onziema, who worked with Kato, told Reuters, "David had faced so many threats in his area that he didn't feel safe anymore," Pepe said. "I don't know if the police are aware but they should investigate that before ruling out homophobia. He was too frightened to leave his house."

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French Court Rules Against Lesbian Couple in Fight for Marriage Equality

The Motto of the French Republic Liberty, Equa...Liberté, égalité, fraternité ou la morte. (Liberty, equality, brotherhood or death) These words are the official motto of France and date back to the French Revolution. You see them engraved on public and government buildings all over Paris and throughout the nation that Americans think of as the epitome of class, sophistication and forward thinking. Not so fast.

While many Americans assume that same-sex marriage is already legal in fancy-schmancy France, it isn't. French gay and lesbian couples can have a civil union, or pacte civil de solidarité and that will have to suffice for a while. A lesbian couple lost their battle for marriage equality today when the French Constitutional Court ruled against them in the bid for the right to marry.

The UK's Pink News reports:
France’s constitutional court upheld the ban on gay marriage today after a challenge from a lesbian couple.

Corinne Cestino and Sophie Hasslauer, who have lived together for 15 years and have four children, asked for the right to marry but were turned down by the Constitutional Council.

Ms Cestino and Ms Hasslauer have a PACS (pacte civil de solidarité) but argued that they should be able to marry.

“It is not so much about getting married but about having the right to get married,” Ms Cestino, a paediatrician, told Associated Press.

“So, that is what we are asking for: just to be able, like anyone else, to choose to get married or not.”

The couple also told the AFP news agency that marriage was the only way to ensure the protection of the children, should one of them die.

But the court ruled that the ban did not breach the French constitution and said it was up to parliament whether to change the law.

France has had PACS since 1999. The civil unions are available to straight and gay couples but do not give all the rights of marriage.

A survey published today by TNS Sofres showed that 51 per cent of respondents were in favour of gay marriage and 35 per cent were against.

In 2006, the same agency found that only 45 per cent of respondents agreed with giving gay couples the right to marry.

Seven European states – Norway, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden and Iceland – allow gay couples to marry.

Others, such as the UK and Germany, allow civil partnerships or unions.

A fight is currently underway in the UK to give gay and straight couples the right to choose either marriage or civil partnerships.

The Equal Love campaign, led by Peter Tatchell, plans to go to court this year.

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New Music from P!nk: F**kin' Perfect (Music Video)




P!nk's latest music video, Fuckin' Perfect", takes on bullying and suicide prevention. Possibly not suitable for work due to language.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Statement by the President on the Killing of David Kato

President Obama released the following statement this afternoon regarding the brutal murder of Ugandan LGBT rights activist David Kato:
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato.  In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate.  He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom.  The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.
At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate.  In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered.  It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.
LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights.  My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad.  We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all."

Hillary Clinton Issues Statement Condemning Murder of Ugandan Activist David Kato

Official portrait of Secretary of State Hillar... Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a statement today in response to the brutal murder of Ugandan LGBT rights activist David Kato:

Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 27, 2011

We are profoundly saddened by the loss of Ugandan human rights defender David Kato, who was brutally murdered in his home near Kampala yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues. We urge Ugandan authorities to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act.

David Kato tirelessly devoted himself to improving the lives of others. As an advocate for the group Sexual Minorities Uganda, he worked to defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. His efforts resulted in groundbreaking recognition for Uganda's LGBT community, including the Uganda Human Rights Commission's October 2010 statement on the unconstitutionality of Uganda's draft "anti-homosexuality bill" and the Ugandan High Court's January 3 ruling safeguarding all Ugandans' right to privacy and the preservation of human dignity. His tragic death underscores how critical it is that both the government and the people of Uganda, along with the international community, speak out against the discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of Uganda's LGBT community, and work together to ensure that all individuals are accorded the same rights and dignity to which each and every person is entitled.

Everywhere I travel on behalf of our country, I make it a point to meet with young people and activists -- people like David -- who are trying to build a better, stronger future for their societies. I let them know that America stands with them, and that their ideas and commitment are indispensable to achieving the progress we all seek.

This crime is a reminder of the heroic generosity of the people who advocate for and defend human rights on behalf of the rest of us -- and the sacrifices they make. And as we reflect on his life, it is also an occasion to reaffirm that human rights apply to everyone, no exceptions, and that the human rights of LGBT individuals cannot be separated from the human rights of all persons.

Our ambassadors and diplomats around the world will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights policy, and to stand with those who, with their courage, make the world a more just place where every person can live up to his or her God-given potential. We honor David’s legacy by continuing the important work to which he devoted his life.

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Pentagon to Announce 3-Month Training Plan for DADT Repeal on Friday

CBS News is reporting that the Department of Defense will announce on Friday how it plans to train troops in preparation for the final implementation of the repeal of DADT.
Pentagon leaders will roll out a plan Friday that is expected to give the military services about three months to train their forces on the new law allowing gays to serve openly, officials said Wednesday.

The plan, they said, will outline the personnel, recruiting and other regulations that must be changed. It will describe three levels of training for the troops, their commanders and the key administrators, recruiters and other leaders who will have to help implement the changes.

Under that training schedule, full implementation of the law could begin later this summer. Once the training is complete, the president and his top military advisers must certify that lifting the ban won't hurt troops' ability to fight. Sixty days after certification, the law would take effect.

Word of the plan comes a day after President Barack Obama told the nation in his State of the Union address that the change was in sight.
Read the full story here.

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Elton's US Weekly Cover Censored by Arkansas Grocery Store

This is one of those stories that demonstrates the power of the internet and social media. By the time most bloggers and news agencies reported it, it was over.

As I reported last Tuesday, Britain's OK Magazine published the first baby pics of Elton John and David Furnish's newborn son Zachary on its cover. This week US Weekly also published the photos, using the same cover pic.

Here's how it all went down. Jennifer Huddleston, a young woman from Mountain Home, Arkansas, took this pic of the censored US cover at her local Harps grocery store and posted in on Twitter. Within minutes, the pic made its way across the Twitterverse and FaceBook, causing worldwide outrage and a major headache for the folks at Harps' corporate office.

The food chain's home office was flooded with complaints by phone and e-mail from all over the country and around the world. Harps President Kim Eskew told CNN that it is corporate policy to allow local store managers decide what magazines to cover with the Family Shield, which it provides to all its stores.

Eskew explained the decision to uncover the celebrity news magazine, "When we began receiving complaints at our corporate office, we reviewed the magazine in question, removed the shield and are selling the magazine in all our locations today without any cover. Our true intention is not to offend anyone in our stores and this incident happened at just one of our 65 locations, which, when brought to our attention, we reversed."

Eskew explained that the shield is intended for racy covers, like those regularly featured by Maxim and other more adult magazines directed toward heterosexual men. The use of the shield is left to discretion of each store manager.

By the end of the day, the Family Sheild was removed, as evidenced by Huddleston's follow up pic.

This whole thing just amazes me. First of all the the photo of a family welcoming its first child should be considered worthy of censorship in the first place. Then, that the whole issue was resolved within hours, due to the power of social media. I am blown away.


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Ugandan LGBT Rights Activist Murdered After Being Targeted by Tabloid

Ugandan LGBT Rights Activist David Kato
Sad news comes out of the African nation of Uganda, where the infamous "Kill the Gays" bill nearly became law last year and a tabloid began publishing the names of suspected gays and lesbians, turning neighbor against neighbor. Human rights activist David Kato has been beaten to death in his home because the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone published his name and address on a list of supposed gays and lesbians.

The following statement comes via press release from LGBT Rights activist Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG):
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the entire Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Community stands together to condemn the killing of David Kato and call for the Ugandan Government, Civil Society, and Local Communities to protect sexual minorities across Uganda.

David was brutally beaten to death in his home today, 26 January 2011, around 2pm. Across the entire country, straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex Ugandans mourn the loss of David, a dear friend, colleague, teacher, family member, and human rights defender.

David has been receiving death threats since his face was put on the front page of Rolling Stone Magazine, which called for his death and the death of all homosexuals. David’s death comes directly after the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity.

Sexual Minorities Uganda and the Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Community call on the Police and the Government of Uganda to seriously investigate the circumstances surrounding David’s death. We also call on religious leaders, political leaders and media houses to stop demonizing sexual minorities in Uganda since doing so creates a climate of violence against gay persons. Val Kalende, the Chair of the Board at Freedom and Roam Uganda stated that “David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S Evangelicals in 2009. The Ugandan Government and the so-called U.S Evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood!”

As United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently declared, “I understand that sexual orientation and gender identity raise sensitive cultural issues. But cultural practices cannot justify any violation of human rights. . . . When our fellow humans are persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we must speak out. . . . States bear the primary responsibility to protect human rights advocates. I call on all States to ensure the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly that make their work possible. When the lives of human rights advocates are endangered, we are all less secure. When the voices of human rights advocates are silenced, justice itself is drowned out.”

David’s life was cut short in a brutal manner. David will be deeply missed by his family and friends, his students, and Human Rights organizations throughout Uganda and around the world. Speaking about what the death of David means in the struggle for equality, Frank Mugisha, the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda said, “No form of intimidation will stop our cause. The death of David will only be honored when the struggle for justice and equality is won. David is gone and many of us will follow, but the struggle will be won. David wanted to see a Uganda where all people will be treated equally despite their sexual orientation.”
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of the Union: Obama throws us a bone. Can we stop the groveling already?

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via WikipediaApparently, I am one of the few gay bloggers that deliberately missed Obama's State of the Union speech last night. It was a tough choice, but I couldn't miss the WE premier of "Joan and Melissa: Joan knows best". It won't last, so I figured I'd have a look, while I had the chance.

The fact is, anyone who has been paying attention since the last SOTU (I hate pretentious anagrams) speech knows that the economy is having a hard time recovering, the troops are being pulled from Afghanistan in July and the president will be signing the repeal of DADT as soon as the certification process is done. None of this is news.

Yes, I missed the speech and opted instead to surf around this morning for highlights and I'm glad I did. Don't get me wrong, some people are inspired by the president's words and never miss a speech. All due respect to them, but I'm not so easily swayed by charismatic speechifyin'.

As everyone knows by now, the president is a talented orator and and knows how to rally his base and set a positive tone for the next year. By all accounts he was once again successful and gave a rousing speech that lasted for over an hour. Woo-freakin'-hoo!

What every queer blogger and his/her dog is all fired up about in the aftermath, is that the president threw us a bone last night by mentioning us at all. I think Pam Spaulding actually peed a little upon hearing the following words:
Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they have served us – by giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the care and benefits they have earned; and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation. Our troops come from every corner of this country – they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay.

Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.
Yep, the president called on colleges and universities to once again allow the ROTC and military recruiters back onto their campuses, now that they're not hatin' on the gays any more. It's now okay to talk about the gays as long as you include our military, because it makes you a patriotic American, not a bleeding heart, queer-lovin', pinko, commie liberal. 

Look, we were lucky to get what we got last year with the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, DADT repeal, hospital visitation rights and an assortment of other rule changes that help queer federal workers. Props to The Big O for getting that much done. We knew going into the last election cycle that a Republican takeover of the House would mean our momentum would come to a grinding halt and so it has.

But haven't we gotten past the point where we grovel at the feet of our leaders for even mentioning us? Is this what we have been reduced to once again? I am reminded of the 1960's when African American families would gather around the TV any time there was a black actor on screen. Yes, it was significant at the time, but we've all been able to build on those moments as a nation and move forward. How sad and pathetic that the LGBT blogosphere has dived head first into a cultural backslide.

Pam's House Blend featured this prognosticating headline yesterday, "President to say open military service to begin this year". He did in fact say just that. Wow! I wish I had her crystal ball.

Joe Jervis over at Joe.My.God takes it a step further with DADT Mention At SOTU and providing video proof. Way to earn those awards that you nominate yourself for every year, Joe.

David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement picks apart the president's speech and highlights things Obama should have said, but didn't. Dare to dream, Dave.

Like all of the rest of the gay blogosphere, each of these sites also features videos of the Republican and Tea Party response to the speech, so they could point out that these folks disagree with the president (shocking!) and can show how smart they are by spotlighting every mistake made by the speakers.

To be honest, Congresswoman Michelle Bachman, who gave the Tea Bagger reaction, never once looked at the camera, instead preferring to look off to the right at a camera that wasn't on. She even mispronounce Iwo Jima as "Iwo Jamma" during a forced show of gratuitous patriotism. But seriously, folks. That is sooo high school.

To borrow from Bill Clinton, what the president said last night was, in essence, "It's the economy, stupid!" And he was saying it to everybody, including us.

The bottom line is that the president wanted to let us know that he was still thinking about us, that we should celebrate our victories and accept the fact that there won't be any forward motion for LGBT equality coming from the legislative and executive branches until/unless the Democrats retake control of the House and keep the senate in the next election cycle. We already knew this, but it was nice of him to say so.

Our focus for the next few years has to be on the court cases, like the ongoing Prop 8 challenge and the constitutional challenges to DOMA that we hope we'll win at the Supreme Court level. With any luck, Obama will be able to replace another conservative justice with a more liberal one before our cases get there. That would be something to really celebrate.

We have made some significant gains over the last few years, especially in the court of public opinion. It's time to move up to the next level. Can we stop phoning the neighbors, waking the kids and creating something out of nothing every time the president glances in our general direction? I realize that as bloggers we have space to fill every day and our readers look forward to our perspective on the important issues. But that doesn't mean we have to invent issues where they don't exist or make mountains out of mole hills.

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New Wave Wednesday: "Dancing With Myself", by Billy Idol

Dancing with MyselfImage via Wikipedia

Billy Idol took the music scene by storm in the early 80's after making a name for himself as lead singer for the British punk band Generation X (also known as Gen X), which was formed in 1976. Idol's music straddled the musical styles of Punk and New Wave to create an edgy pop sound that produced such hit as White Wedding, Rebel Yell, Eyes Without a Face and Mony Mony.

Dancing With Myself was first released by Gen X in 1980 and had modest success in the U.K. Idol recorded and released his own version in '81 and it was an instant hit, enjoying constant airplay on MTV.Gotta love the zombie bimbos climbing up the side of the building.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Becoming Chaz" Premiers at Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival is in full swing out in Park Vally, Utah and the biggest buzz seems to be surrounding the documentary "Becoming Chaz", which follows Chaz Bono's FTM (female to male) transition.

According to reports, the film is brutally honest and includes footage of Chaz's breast removal surgery.

Momma Cher also appears in the film, which captures her reaction throughout the transition. The diva admits that she was "terrified" to see Chaz after the surgery and asked if she could keep a recorded answering machine message, which was made by Chaz before hormone therapy changed his voice. She says in the film, "It's hard ... I heard her voice as a girl on [the] answering machine and asked if I could save it. I will never hear that voice again. I mourned never hearing that voice again ... At some point I'm going to have to start calling her him."

From the film makers:
Chaz Bono was a male trapped in a female shell for as long as he can remember. Growing up as Sonny and Cher’s adorable golden-haired daughter in a body he felt wasn’t his own was a crucible it took years to transcend. Now, as he undertakes gender reassignment, he’s bravely decided to share the process on camera. Becoming Chaz invites us along on Chaz’s remarkable journey of transformation. As hormone shots give way to top surgery, down-to-earth, unflappable Chaz beams with a sense of liberation and goes public with his story to put a face on a misunderstood issue. Meanwhile, his gregarious girlfriend grapples with the realities of suddenly living with a man, and it’s clear sex change isn’t solely a physical transition.

Intimate and nakedly honest, the film reveals the humanity and courage it takes for Chaz to ultimately embrace his true self. His moving struggle will reverberate profoundly for anyone to whom authenticity matters.
 The film will air on Oprah's OWN network this Spring, thanks to the efforts of Rosie O'Donnell, who has been hand picked by the Queen of Everything to be the curator of non-fiction films for her new TV venture.

Chaz told reporters, "I wanted to do this because I wanted to help people," Chaz said. "And I knew that...I could put a face on this issue that people just don't understand because it's a hard one to understand. I wanted to be able to change people's hearts and minds on this."

Film makers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato say a sequel is already in the works.

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Viking Zombie Boyfriend, by Jeremy Rizza (1-25-11)


Some people will always see the glass as half full. They're so annoying.

Jeremy writes: No, I don’t know what Kagami sees in Fuyo, either. But then, Kagami is the type who can see the good in everybody... even when it’s not really there!

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

Visit VikingZombieBoyfriend.com for past strips and character back stories. Check out the VZB page on FaceBook and nothing says "be my Valentine" to that special bear in your life like a Viking Zombie Boyfriend trucker hat, mug or t-shirt from Cafe Press. 

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Physical Fitness Pioneer Jack LaLanne Dies at 96 (Video)

One of my earliest TV memories is of watching Jack LaLanne's daily exercise show while my mother did her housework. She never actually did any of the exercises he demonstrated. I think that she just enjoyed a little eye candy in the morning, although her Catholic upbringing would never let her admit it.

LaLanne died of pneumonia in his home Sunday at the age of 96.

The veteran body builder started his career posing for beefcake photos in the 1940's and 50's. LaLanne and his wife Elaine (yes, Elaine LaLanne) were the first to use TV to promote physical fitness to the masses.

After achieving fame for his TV show, LaLanne went on to open a chain of successful gyms and marketed a line of juicers and other health food products.

LaLanne had been known for his feats of strength in his later years. In 1984, handcuffed, shackled and fighting strong winds and currents, LaLanne towed 70 rowboats, one with several guests, from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, a distance of 1 mile.

Here's a look at what took the edge off the drudgery of daily housework for housewives of the 50's and 60's.

 
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GAO: DADT Discharges Cost Nearly $200 Million Over Five Years

Now that DADT is on the verge of becoming history, the Government Accountability Office (GOA) has released a audit revealing that between fiscal years 2004 and 2009, the anti-gay military policy cost U.S. taxpayers $192.3 million to discharge and replace the 3,660 service men and women booted out during that period.

The Washington Post reported on Friday:
For those years, it cost about $185 million to recruit and train replacement troops and $7.7 million in administrative costs. Each separation cost $52,800 on average, according to Government Accountability Office estimates published Thursday.

The findings come almost a month after President Obama signed legislation beginning process of repealing the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in uniform. The Defense Department is expected within the next week to announce plans to train senior commanders, chaplains, and the rank and file about changes to its personnel policy before officially ending "don't ask, don't tell," senior Pentagon officials said Thursday.

The report was requested by Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), who last year chaired a House Armed Services panel on military personnel and supported ending the ban. "Clearly this was the right thing to do," she said in a statement Thursday. "No longer will American taxpayers continue to pay to throw out patriotic servicemembers who want only to serve their country."
 
Some Republicans are still extremely unhappy about last month's DADT repeal and haven't given up on the hate. WaPo continues:
But House Republicans this week introduced a bill that would require the chiefs of all four military branches to join Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in signing off on the Pentagon's plans for repeal before the policy ends. The bill Obama signed requires that he, Gates and Mullen certify the repeal. Even if the GOP bill passes the Republican-led House, it will face stiff resistance in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

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Pols and Hate Groups Decline CPAC Invite Over GOProud Inclusion... Again!

Jim DeMint speaking at CPAC.Image via Wikipedia
Senator Jim DeMint  (R-SC)
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), The Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America have all declined their invitations to attend this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) over its inclusion of the conservative gay group GOProud for the second year in a row. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has also declined his invite to the annual event. HuffPo reports:
One invitation has been followed by a lot of rejection for the Conservative Political Action Conference.

After event organizers decided to allow GOProud, a gay Republican group, to be a "participating organization" for a second straight year, social conservative organizations like the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America decided they wouldn't be coming out. Ditto for the Heritage Foundation and the American Family Association. Now, two more leading conservatives have announced they're going to skip March's festivities.

"With leading conservatives organizations not participating this year, Senator [Jim] DeMint will not be attending. He hopes to attend a unified CPAC next year," a spokesman for the South Carolina Republican told CNN.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also declined an invite, but his spokesman wouldn't elaborate. "I can only tell you that the governor receives hundreds of speaking and appearance invitations every month, many of which are declined for a number of reasons," Michael Drewniak told The Star-Ledger via e-mail.

DeMint was listed as an invited speaker on the CPAC website, which currently has confirmations from Haley Barbour, Newt Gingrich, Andrew Breitbart, Ann Coulter, Liz Cheney, Mitch McConnell, and a number of other Governors, Senators and U.S. Representatives.
The Family Research Council, American Family Association and Concerned Women for America are among 18 anti-gay organizations designated as hate groups last month by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC website states, Generally, the SPLC’s listings of these groups is based on their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling. Viewing homosexuality as unbiblical does not qualify organizations for listing as hate groups.
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Saturday, January 22, 2011

And now for the big announcement...

I week or so ago I hinted at some fairly big changes that would be coming up for us here at Morning Wood Acres. I've been trying to come up with the right words and the right time to write something about it. So without further ado, here goes. Paul and I (Paul and me?) are going to be moving to Gastonia, NC (next to  Charlotte) in the next few months to be closer to his folks. I know, I'm a little shocked myself to be writing these words.

Here's the deal. Several factors that I can't get into here have come into play over the last few years that have made this move necessary. In addition, Paul's folks are getting on in years and since he is an only child, we both feel that we should be closer to them in their sunset years. The house next door to them has become available at a fraction of what it's worth, due to foreclosure. The closing is next month.

We still have to work out several details, like fixing up and selling our current home, finding a caring home for our five ducks and getting my transfer approved at work. The actual move is still months away. We're very excited about this new chapter in our lives, but will miss it here at Morning Wood Acres. We will not miss getting snowed in without power for days on end, but it is very beautiful in the Spring and Summer months when the trees are full and the gardens are in bloom. In time the new place will be just as gorgeous, courtesy of Paul's green thumb. It's a trait he shares with his mom and being able to putter in the garden together will do them both a world of good.

As for this here blog thingy, it will continue, so this is not really goodbye. I may tweak the site a bit here and there, but the content will still be essentially the same or, hopefully, better.

I'm looking forward to becoming part to the Charlotte LGBT community. I have made some great connections there already via FaceBook and looking forward to meeting some of those people in person. There is so much activism going on there, even though North Carolina is not any better than Virginia  from a political standpoint, for its queer citizens.

I have lived in the Roanoke area for almost seventeen years and have made some great friends. Over the last couple of years, I've become more involved in the LGBT community as an activist and blogger and have gotten to take part in some really great activities. I'm going to miss you all, but I know we'll stay in touch here through your comments and via FaceBook. More news as things progress.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Another Frothy Mix of Santorum's Racist and Homophobic Fecal Matter (Video)

Many of you have heard of right wing nut-job, Rick Santorum as the inspiration for the term "Santorum", meaning "the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex".

Eight years after columnist and "It Gets Better" founder Dan Savage helped coin the term with a contest, his site SpreadingSantorum.com still comes up in the top three Google searches for Santorum.

But you may have forgotten that this homophobic douchebag from Penisvania was actually elected to the U.S. Senate, where he served from 1994 to 2007 before was was soundly defeated by Democrat Bob Casey.

Not to be denied his mad quest for power, Santorum is now a Fox "News" contributor (big surprise), where he continues to rant about the evil liberals and and the immoral homosexuals.

Santorum finds himself in a little hot water today over his remarks on a Christianist interview program where he talked about aborion as a civil rights issue. He criticized President Obama's pro-choice position, saying, "I find it almost remarkable for a -- for a -- for a black man to say, No, we are going to decide who are people and who are not people."

Santorum defended his remarks to Fox's Greta Van Susteren, last night, maintaining that his remarks were taken out of context. He said with a straight face, "I don't think there's anything to apologize for!"

Santorum also clarified his opposition to LGBT adoption rights, saying, “This is common sense. This is nature. And what we're trying to do is defy nature because a certain group of people want to be affirmed by society. And I just don't think that's to the benefit of society or to the child.”

This is the best that the GOP has to offer folks. Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin are the current Republican presidential front runners for 2012. I do have to agree with them on one thing. This country is in a severe moral and intellectual nose dive, but not for the reasons these tools would have you believe. There are actually people out there that support these idiots with their hard earned money and really think they have what it takes to be president. That is the real shame of this country.
 
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HUD Announces LGBT Housing Discrimination Study, Proposes New Rules

Seal of the United States Department of Housin... The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on Thursday that it will be undertaking a study to determine the level of housing discrimination against LGBT Americans. This is big.

Every ten years HUD conducts a study of housing discrimination in rental and mortgage lending practices where race, ethnicity, sex, religion and national origin are the primary factors. This is the first time ever that the federal government has included sexual orientation and gender identity in its study.

The agency has also proposed a new rule that would make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Thursday's announcement included the following statement:
As the Nation’s housing agency, HUD administers programs designed to meet the goal of ensuring decent housing and suitable living environment for all.  In pursuit of this goal, it is HUD’s responsibility to ensure that all who are otherwise eligible to participate in HUD’s programs have equal access to these programs and have the opportunity to compete fairly for HUD funds without being subject to arbitrary exclusion.

There is evidence, however, that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and families are being arbitrarily excluded from some housing opportunities in the private sector. Through this proposed rule, HUD strives to ensure that its core programs are open to all eligible individuals and families regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
In a statement announcing the study and the rule change, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said, "This is a fundamental issue of fairness. We have a responsibility to make certain that public programs are open to all Americans. With this proposed rule, we will make clear that a person’s eligibility for federal housing programs is, and should be, based on their need and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”


HUD provides financing through grants and loans to create quality, affordable rental housing for low income families as well as assisting first time home buyers with HUD backed loans. I was a HUD housing counselor in a previous career and taught seminars that helped first-time home buyers qualify for their first mortgages. This is great news!

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