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June 30, 2008

Mormons Use Pulpit To Campaign For California's Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

Last week, my partner (who was Mormon but has since resigned his membership) made me aware of a directive issued by the leadership of the Church Of Latter Day Saints that was sent to every Mormon Church throughout California. It said that it was "To be read in the sacrament meetings on June 29th, 2008."

It went on to deride the California Supreme Court's reversal of a 2000 proposition passed by voters that defined marriage as being valid only between a man and a woman. Then it informed it's followers of the proposed California Constitutional Amendment to restore that narrow definition of marriage that will appear on the November 4, 2008 ballot and told them that the Church will work for its passage.

It closed by saying:

"Local Church leaders will provide information about how you may become involved in this important cause.

We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man an a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage."

At first Peter and I were, of course, incensed at the arrogant disregard for the, until recently, time-honored concept of the separation of church and state and saw this as a clear violation of that conviction. I decided that if they want to disregard the clearly stated intentions of our forefathers then I wasn't going to sit back and let that happen without a fight. After all, it's only a matter of time before they come here to Arizona to do the same thing.

I sent the following message to my Congressman:

Dear Congressman Mitchell,

As far as I understand the restrictions of intermingling religion with politics, isn't preaching a specific political endorsement, whether for a politician or a targeted piece of legislation, from the pulpit supposed to be prohibited.

Clearly, the wisdom of our forefathers, as expressed both in the constitution they wrote and in their private letters to each other, left no doubt that they passionately believed in keeping religious beliefs and the governance of our country separate from each other. Otherwise, as they themselves pointed out, the entire nation could ultimately end up being ruled by the single most politically and monetarily powerful religious sect to the exclusion of all others.

If my understanding of this matter is accurate, then why is the Church Of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) allowed to preach, via a directive sent from the office of the First Presidency, a specific political endorsement from the pulpit of every church they own in California (and no doubt soon to be sent to every mormon church throughout Arizona). And, in so doing, outright direct (or in this church's case, "demand"), again from the pulpit, every one of their followers to "...donate their means (money) and time..." to assure passage of the church's endorsed legislation.

Wouldn't this be grounds for a full congressional investigation of this particular church's questionable practices with the possible end result of revoking their tax exempt status?

I also sent him a copy of that directive as it was sent to their followers. If you would like to see it yourself go to: sunshinepress.org. By the way, feel free to copy and paste the body of my above email into an email to your representative if you don't have time to write one out for yourself. Of course, it's always better to put something in your own words.

I'm not sure how far this will get but since Congressman Harry Mitchell has long been a supporter of GLBT rights here in Arizona it may, at least, spark an investigation by the IRS and make things a little more difficult for the Mormon Church.

If enough people did the same thing and also expressed these concerns to their congressional representatives then maybe, just maybe we could make the religious extremist think twice before getting so directly involved in politics.

June 28, 2008

A Shameful, Corrupted Vote To Send Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment To November Ballot!

Last night I watched (on live streaming video) the Arizona Senate approve a measure to send the Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment to the November ballot. It was one of the most disturbing displays of blatant homophobia and arrogant manipulation of the Senate's own rules I've ever seen.

This morning I received an email from Equality Arizona. They were there, in person, for the entire session. I checked their website and found the content of that email posted. They described, in detail, what happened when Senate Rebublicans showed their true colors of hypocrisy and mind-numbing arrogance. Their report said, in part:

"Tonight's debate was intense for everyone on the Senate floor and those of us watching in the gallery. But what happened to our openly-gay Senators by their colleagues was absolutely disgusting. Senate extremists strategically broke the rules of the Senate, which govern the processes for discussion and voting on bills. During a filibuster-like discussion on another bill during Committee of the Whole, Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor (R-22) and Majority Whip John Huppenthal (R-20), among others, devised a scheme with committee chairman Jack Harper (R-4) to outright violate the rules of the Senate and the rights of Senators Aboud and Cheuvront.

In the middle of their discussion, Senator Harper turned off the microphones of Senators Paula Aboud (D-28) and Ken Cheuvront (D-15) and called on the Majority Leader to make a motion. Then, when Senators Aboud and Cheuvront loudly called for a Point of Order several times, even walking to the front desk where Senator Harper sat, he deliberately ignored their calls. To add insult to injury, these people attempted to justify their actions, even after the Senate President and other Senators admonished them for deliberately breaking the rules. Tonight's actions of these and other Senators have forever tainted that body, and it's important that we all let the people of Arizona know how these individuals acted so unethically."

To give you an example of how breathtakingly two-faced and idiotic the extremist became - earlier they voted against a proposal by Meg Burton-Cahill (D) to make the capitol more accessible to the handicapped even after assuring her, prior to the session, that voting for the measure was "no problem." This clearly smacked of political pay-back for her strong and vocal opposition to the marriage amendment. Following this debacle, Senator Ken Cheuvront (D), who is openly gay, proposed a ban on the sale and use of plastic coverings that slip over license plates and obscure the numbers when a picture is taken of someone speeding. Breaking the law and getting away with it is the sole purpose for these coverings but the Senate Republicans (who are the majority) chose to ignore the logic of the proposal and voted it down. They obviously wanted to "put these people in their place" and couldn't have cared less about the handicapped or the lawbreakers (who, by the way, have been clocked at speeds as high as 120 mph). This is extremism run amok.

It's clearly time for every gay person in Arizona, or anywhere else for that matter, to become involved in whatever way they can. Whether it's writing letters, making phone calls, participating in on-line "Take Action" campaigns or donating as much as you can - your voice NEEDS to heard. If you don't live in Arizona, your support and encouragement, in whatever form, would be GREATLY appreciated also.

To read the rest of Equality Arizona's report, go to: equalityarizona.org

Once at their site, you can also sign up for their emails, take part in their online action programs or make donations if you can afford it.

Do whatever you can - but please DO SOMETHING.

June 27, 2008

Arizona Anti-Gay Marriage Constitutional Amendment Up For Vote TODAY!

SCR 1042, the Arizona anti-gay marriage amendment is back and is up for a vote TODAY! (See yesterday's blog post for full details)

The sneaky little buggers just won't quit. Let's help them. GO TO Equality Arizona RIGHT NOW and take action on this hideous resolution!


June 26, 2008

HIV Drug And Heart Attack Risk

You may have already seen this story but just in case you haven't, I'm posting it here. If you're HIV+, you should be aware of this possible risk.

HIV Drug May Raise Heart Attack Risk
by The Canadian Press

Posted: June 25, 2008 - 2:30 pm ET

(Toronto, Ontario) A drug used in combination with other antiretrovirals to treat HIV infection has been linked with an increased risk of heart attack, the medication's manufacturer is warning.

GlaxoSmithKline, in conjunction with Health Canada, is advising patients taking abacavir-containing products - sold under the brand names Ziagen, Kivexa and Trizivir - of concerns raised by a recent study in The Lancet about the possible elevated heart attack risk.

Patients should not stop taking any of the abacavir-containing medications without first consulting their doctor, the company said in a release. Patients should also discuss any serious, pre-existing cardiovascular disease with their physician.

``Health-care professionals thoroughly consider the overall benefit versus the risk of a medication for each individual patient before prescribing,'' the company said. ``If patients have questions regarding their current prescription, they are asked to contact their doctor.''

Health Canada is reviewing the new safety data and will advise Canadians if further measures are considered necessary.

Until then, patients taking abacavir-containing medicinal products should consult with their health-care professional before making any change to their medication, as HIV infection can lead to complications if left untreated.

GlaxoSmithKline has sent a letter to Canadian health-care providers informing them of this new safety information.

Story Resource: 365gay.com

Arizona Anti-Gay Marriage Constitutional Amendment

Yesterday, eleven Arizona Senators voted against Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1042 effectively killing it - for now. This is the resolution that would put the anti-gay marriage amendment to Arizona's Constitution on the ballot in November.

According to Equality Arizona, SCR 1042 failed to pass by a vote of 14-11, with 5 members not voting on final read. It needed 16 yes votes to pass. Openly-gay Senators Paula Aboud (D-28) and Ken Cheuvront (D-15), along with longtime ally Senator Caroline Allen (R-8), stood strong as leaders to defeat this bill.

While the bill failed to pass yesterday, it could be brought back up for another vote because a majority of Senators on the floor at the time supported a motion to reconsider by Senator Linda Gray (R-10)

In its email announcement, Equality Arizona said that the motion to reconsider "...is one more desperate attempt to activate the extremists within these Senators' districts. This is truly divisive politics. Arizonans should be outraged at this abuse of the Legislative process by a handful of legislators who are pandering to the likes of Cathi Herrod and the Center for Arizona Policy, a subdivision of national extremist political groups."

If you live in Arizona, please take a few minutes to either email, phone or fax your state Senator and urge them to vote NO if SCR 1042 is brought back for another vote.

To find who your State Senator is for your district go to: Arizona State Legislature

June 25, 2008

Arizona Senate Can't Send Anti-Marriage Amendment To Ballot

According to an email I just got from Equality Arizona, the Arizona Senate failed, by two votes, to send the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment to November's ballot.

The email announcement said, in part:

Eleven Senators today voted against Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 1042 on the Senate floor after a desperate maneuver by Senate Republicans to force a vote on the measure. While the bill failed to pass today, it could be brought back up because a motion to reconsider was approved.

I will have more on this in the am.

Ohio Teacher Burns Cross Into Arms of Several Students

An eighth-grade science teacher at a Mount Vernon, Ohio school used a science tool known as a high frequency generator to burn images of a cross on several students' arms.

John Freshwater, who has been employed by the school district for 21 years, told investigators that he was simply trying to demonstrate the device on three to eight students and described the images as an "X," not a cross. Pictures however show the images clearly depict a cross, the report said.

Although Mr. Freshwater seems to be liked by many of the students, the cross burning incident has greatly upset the families of the student victims.

The Mount Vernon News reported that they had received a fax from attorney Jessica Philemond of the law firm Isaac, Brant, Ledman & Teetor, who issued a statement from her clients, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of their child being retaliated against.

The fax stated, “We are religious people, but we were offended when Mr. Freshwater burned a cross onto the arm of our child. This was done in science class in December 2007, where an electric shock machine was used to burn our child. The burn was severe enough that our child awoke that night with severe pain, and the cross remained there for several weeks. ... We have tried to keep this a private matter and hesitate to tell the whole story to the media for fear that we will be retaliated against.”

This is not the first incident John Freshwater has been admonished for. He has also taught the unreliability of carbon dating in support of opposition to evolution, told his classes that homosexuality is a sin, refused to remove a bible prominently displayed on his classroom desk in violation of school rules and has conducted prayers and engaged in a healing session in his capacity as as monitor for a Fellowship of Christian Athletes which is a non-school sponsored religious club that federal law prohibits school employees from actively participating in.

Late last Friday, the Mount Vernon school board voted 5-0 to move ahead on firing John Freshwater after an investigation showed he preached his Christian beliefs in class and did, in fact, burn the image of a cross on students' arms.

News Sources: Yahoo News and Mount Vernon News

June 24, 2008

A Call For Immediate Action!

I just read an article on PROUD Parenting's website that is disturbing and requires an immediate response from our community.

It seems that the previously acclaimed FX program 30 DAYS is going to run a program tonight (June 24, 2008) at 10:00pm eastern & pacific times that is titled "Same Sex Parenting." Although this should be overall a positive examination of same-sex families, there is a section in the show that contains a highly inflammatory statement. According to Proud Parenting:

Regrettably, the episode also features a defamatory statement by Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, an anti-gay activist organization, who claims: "Homosexuality is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse, and those are all reasons for us to be concerned about placing children into that kind of setting." While there is no credible scientific research that backs Sprigg’s claim - and much that disputes it - the episode presents his assertion as if it were fact and offers no credible social science experts or child health authorities to challenge Sprigg’s assertion. Indeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the Child Welfare League of America, and many other child health and social services authorities who support parenting by qualified lesbian and gay parents dispute Sprigg’s claim.

Rather than take any more time adding to this, I ask that you take a minute to send a quick email to any or, better yet, ALL of the following FX executives:

Nick Grad
Executive Vice President of Original Programming
(310) 369-0949

Chuck Saftler
Executive Vice President of Programming
(310) 369-0949

Scott Seomin
Vice President of Public Relations
(310) 369-0938

The email I'm sending simply says:

"DON'T AIR PETER SPRIGG'S DEFAMATORY STATEMENT ON 30 DAYS TONIGHT! It's inflammatory and fuels hatred and possible violence towards the GLBT community. Is that something you want to be responsible for?"

Feel free to cut and paste this into your emails if you don't have time to write something yourself. Also, pass this on to as many of your friends as you can. There is still time for FX to edit this out of the program before they air it.

View Full Story At: proudparenting.com

June 23, 2008

Gay Bashing In Flagstaff Arizona

Equality Arizona, a GLBT advocacy group here in Arizona, announced in an email today that there was an apparent bias-motivated attack early Sunday morning on several lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. They were standing on a street corner in Flagstaff waiting for cabs following the Pride In The Pines festivities over the weekend.

According to Equality Arizona, "One of the injured, Michel Brown, was with Equality Arizona Public Affairs Director Sam Holdren, Public Affairs Intern Steven Tran and Generation Equality member David Encizo. Tran and Encizo were in the crowd when the attacks began, but were not physically injured. Holdren was steps away, returning to the scene to find Brown lying unconscious and bleeding."

Ironically, at the beginning of the event newly-elected Flagstaff Mayor Sara Presler-Hoefle had issued a proclamation, declaring that day to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Day in the city of Flagstaff calling "upon all city residents, employees and volunteers to participate in the spirit and activities of this day."

Equality Arizona Executive Director Barbara McCullough-Jones issued the following statement today:

"The news of this attack is deeply disturbing. On a day when all of Flagstaff should have been celebrating and embracing diversity, this brutal attack has reminded us all that there is still much work to be done to prevent anti-gay bias from escalating into violence.

"We are grateful for the immediate and efficient response of the Flagstaff Police Department and emergency responders. Along with the hospital staff, these professionals demonstrated great respect for the victims during this traumatic time.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. We stand with them and the Flagstaff community in calling for justice in this case. Equality Arizona will continue to partner with city leaders to create an environment where everyone who visits, lives or works in Flagstaff is safe and free from bias and discrimination, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression."

As I said in a previous post, the more our cause advances, the more frustrated the right wing zealots become - even in the more gay-tolerant cities like Flagstaff. They're losing and they know it. Of course we aren't going to go back into the closet but we still have to be aware of our surroundings and at least have a rough idea of what we'll do if confronted. I repeat what I said earlier though, there is no reason to be paranoid about it - just sensibly cautious. The likely hood of something happening to you is still pretty small.

This Is Just Fun To Read

I was born in Chicago and my brother and his family still live there so I periodically check Chicago's local news media to keep up with what's happening there. I found this article in the Chicago Tribune. It's a parody, of sorts, of the right wing evangelical's doomsday warnings about the horrible consequences of same-sex marriages.

The article is both poignant and hilarious. I particularly like Mr. Huppke's suggestion at the end.

Have fun...

Gays wed; God yawns

By Rex W. Huppke
June 22, 2008

On the West Coast, men embraced men as husband and husband, and bouquet-clutching women swapped bands of gold and vows of marriage. In the Midwest, floodwaters rose to epic levels, the dreaded, tree-gobbling ash borer crept into Chicago and the fish in Lake Michigan began dying by the thousands, hemorrhaging from an Ebola-like virus.

The contrast was striking—joy vs. pain. It raised one simple, inescapable question: What happened to God hating gay people?

If there's one thing the country's higher-profile evangelical Christian preachers have preached to us, it's that the Almighty doesn't much care for those of the non-heterosexual persuasion. He has punished America for its acceptance of gay people by, among other things, walloping sin-ravaged New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina, allowing the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, and letting Idaho Sen. Larry Craig and his wide stance inject anxiety into the whole bathroom stall experience.

But last week was enough to make us question the infallibility of unbiased holy men such as Pat Robertson, John Hagee and the one-time-meth-using, male-prostitute-visiting-but-now-TOTALLY-non-gay pastor Ted Haggard.

So after California committed the abomination of allowing people who love each other to get married, why would God lash out at the honest, hardworking, morally upright, down-home, God-fearing folks in middle America? Why wouldn't he just shove California into the ocean and let it rot, like a big, gay Alcatraz?

Perhaps, fellow Midwesterners, there's something we've been keeping from ourselves. Perhaps the rains and floods and tornadoes, the tree-eating bugs and the diseased fish and Mayor Daley's decision to relocate the Children's Museum to Grant Park are all punishment.

Perhaps we're all gay, a closeted bunch of flaming farmers and factory workers, lesbian lawyers and landscapers and man-loving butchers and bondsmen. Maybe we're gay, and the people that were already gay are even gayer!

Maybe this weekend's Crosstown Classic is just an elaborate ruse, a supposed baseball game that will turn into a stadium-size gay wedding extravaganza at Wrigley Field.

This madness must be stopped.

Quick, does anyone have the number for Robertson's 700 Club hot line? If so, let yourself be heard.

Just shout out: "I do."

Rex W. Huppke is a Tribune reporter 


If you would like to see the piece as it appeared in the paper go to: Chicago Tribune

June 21, 2008

Excellent Opinion Piece In Local GLBT Magazine

I ran across the following piece by Liz Massey who writes for our premier local GLBT publication, Echo Magazine. I just wanted to share this with those of you who may not be aware of this exemplarily Phoenix magazine and may not have seen this piece. Rather than make any comments myself, I'll just let Ms Massey speak for herself - and, in a way, a lot of us. It's well worth taking a couple of minutes to read.

One of the family

When I first came out, almost 20 years ago, gay political choices were simple. You voted Democratic and pro-choice. If you were a woman, you identified as a lesbian-feminist (as if there could be any other sort of lesbian …). Liberals were good; conservatives were bad. The religious right could be counted on to tell us how nasty and unclean we were, and how we deserved all the bad things that happened to us. Gay marriage was a pipe dream.

The world has changed in the last two decades, to the point that it’s getting harder and harder to rely on the old guidelines. California has become the second state to legalize gay marriage; New York appears poised to recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state (which is the real headliner, since the “leave it to the states” argument has always presupposed that no red-blooded manly man state wanted to sanction another state’s gay marriages).

Even our old nemesis, the radical right, no longer has the stranglehold it used to on the Republican Party. I mean, they put “God’s man” in the White House, and he has brought forth an endless war, post-Katrina chaos and two economic blights. Plenty of people still think gay marriage is wrong, but it’s far harder these days to get moderate voters, worried about defaulting on their mortgages and how they’ll pay for the gas they need to drive to work, excited about banning it.

Do I think this means that our struggle for equality is almost over? No. Do I think it means the contour of the battleground is changing? Yes.

Now is a good time for us to get to know our straight neighbors better and participate openly in mainstream community life. The goal isn’t to engage in the “culture war” that we’re so often accused of waging. No, we need to do something far more subversive than that: embed our values so deeply in the national civic fabric that no one will ever think of discriminating against us again.

How can we bring our family’s values to the table?

Advocate, seriously, for “strengthening marriage” initiatives that include us, and which might actually do some good, such as programs that teach couples how to communicate better, parent effectively, and manage their money.

Support medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education. Lying or refusing to talk to one’s children about how life begins and how people relate intimately to each other — and the consequences of such — is never moral.

Go out of our way to honor GLBT citizens in the “forbidden” professions for gays: education, the military, and the ministry. Many people still risk professional sanction to teach our kids, defend our country and answer the call of Spirit. Let’s let them know we appreciate the effort.

Most importantly, let’s start talking to each other and to mainstream America about our spiritual lives. Not just the struggle to come out in the midst of a hostile church or family, but the joy and peace that our spiritual practices bring to us. Not only do many of us have faith, that’s what has sustained us when we have been abandoned by those who would call themselves God’s “chosen ones.”

The point of all this isn’t to show how we fit into the paradigm envisioned by the religious right. It’s to assert, and demonstrate, that we fit perfectly into the human paradigm.

Anthropologists tell us that numerous indigenous cultures, including some Native American tribes, found a role for every member of their community — including same-sex-oriented folks. With our help, America can do the same.

This piece can be found at: Echo Magazine

Have a great weekend everyone. I'll be back on monday.

June 20, 2008

Are You Still Eating Beef?

The New York Times ran an opinion piece this morning that talked about the tensions between South Korea and the U.S. over President Lee Myung-bak's decision, under intense pressure from this administration, to again allow imports of U.S. beef. That decision brought tens of thousands of demonstrators into the streets.

South Koreans, like most of the rest of the rational free world, are very concerned about eating beef tainted with Mad Cow Disease which is a fatal, excruciatingly painful and debilitating disease. They know that our FDA only checks about 1 in every 1000 dead and slaughtered cattle which is 1% or less of all potentially diseased cows.

What's most disturbing about this is that there is a simple and relatively quick test for MCD but our corrupted FDA won't let any private company (and there have been several who have tried) use this test! The sale of the test kits to private companies is prohibited under an obscure 1913 law that allows the FDA to prohibit veterinary products that it considers “worthless” even though that is the very same test that the FDA itself uses! Which, of course, begs the question -- if it is, in fact, worthless then why does the FDA use it in their own testing program?

To me, the answer is pretty obvious. Like oil and pharmaceuticals, the multi-billion dollar beef industry controls the FDA. And the politicians and government bureaucrats are afraid that if they found too many cattle with MCD then the public would stop buying beef. Duh!? They would rather protect their fiefdoms and treasuries than protect the health and well being of their own citizens.

It seems that in this country even discussing this issue in the broadcast news media (where most Americans get their news) has become a no-no. When it is mentioned, it's given short shrift. The emphasis is on the news events (i.e., Korean riots) and virtually nothing is discussed about this country's testing program. The interested parties have succeeding in pushing the issue out of people's minds and making it seem a little like discussing UFO's.

My partner and I gave up eating beef when the story first broke years ago precisely because we didn't trust the government's assertions that the beef supply in this country was safe. After the EPA telling New Yorkers that the air around the fallen towers was safe to breath, it's pretty hard to believe what the government tells you anymore. I'm really glad we made and stuck to that decision. But whenever I try to discuss it with friends or co-workers who are still eating steaks and burgers, the responses are always pretty much the same; "Well, you're going to die of something anyway." or "That's all way overblown." Can you say blind denial?

If you're still eating beef, you may want to reconsider. At least until this country institutes an effective and comprehensive testing program. I agree that we're all going to die of something but why chose to do something that YOU KNOW has a very high risk of killing you far sooner and far more painfully than might have been the case otherwise? It's kind of like waiting for the walk light to turn red and then crossing the street.


June 19, 2008

Immoral Presidential Medal of Freedom Award

I just read a brief article on The Advocate's website that announced that President Bush will be awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Gen. Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

For those of you who don't remember, General Pace said in a March 2007 interview with the Chicago Tribune that he thought that gays and lesbians were immoral. In the article he is quoted as saying "I believe homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral and that we should not condone immoral acts."

I totally agree with the comment made in a press release by Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network; “Honoring General Pace with the country’s highest civilian award is outrageous, insensitive, and disrespectful to the 65,000 lesbian and gay troops currently serving on active duty in the armed forces. Our men and women in uniform are making tremendous sacrifices for our country and are looking for the president to recognize leaders who offer them praise and vision, not condemnation and scorn.”

Being a veteran of the United States Air Force myself, I personally find this award to be wholly repugnant and is, in my opinion, disgustingly immoral itself! To say that this president is incompetent, inhumane and immoral doesn't even begin to express my feelings. Fortunately, he will finally be out of office permanently in five and a half months.

If you would like to check out The Advocate's story, go to advocate.com.

Fascinating Cross Gender Brain Study

This is basically an addendum to my posting yesterday. This morning I found (through Yahoo's News Headlines) a fascinating blog posting from, ironically, Zoe Brain in Australia who, by her own account, has had a very confusing gender identity situation since childhood. The article is a pretty detailed account of the results of a bran scan study carried out by the Stockholm Brain Institute in Sweden. The study shows pretty conclusively that gender-typical behavior patterns, sexual orientation and gender identity are set in neurology.

According to the study, gay men and straight women have striking similarities in their neurological makeup as do lesbians and straight men. This study offers even more evidence that sexual orientation is hardwired into our neural circuitry.

And the beat goes on...

If you would like to read Zoe's detailed account of the study, you can find it at: aebrain.blogspot.com.

I stongly recommend that you take a look at it. It is fascinating.

June 18, 2008

Changing Sexual Orientation In The Womb

More and more lately, science is discovering concrete, demonstrable, physical differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals. These discoveries are rapidly validating what we have known all along. We were born to be gay. It never was a "choice" and isn't a "lifestyle". It's a biologic reality.

The problem with these ever increasing discoveries is that the religious fanatics are beginning to realize that all their arguments against homosexuality are being proven wrong. Logically, you would think that this would be a good thing. If we're not an abomination against God and we're not the evil sinners they've preached about, that we are, indeed, born this way then devout christians should begin to embrace our community as another of God's natural creations and rejoice in the incredible and wonderful diversity that is life itself. Well, think again.

Last year, the Rev. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, wrote: "If a biological basis is found, and if a prenatal test is then developed, and if a successful treatment to reverse the sexual orientation to heterosexual is ever developed, we would support its use." Mohler told the Associated Press that morally, this would be no different from curing fetal blindness or any other "medical problem." The Rev. Joseph Fessio, editor of the press that publishes the pope's work, agreed: "Same-sex activity is considered disordered. If there are ways of detecting diseases or disorders of children in the womb … that respected the dignity of the child and mother, it would be a wonderful advancement of science."

It's obvious that no matter what the cause, these fanatics would rather manipulate the natural make up of the fetus in the womb to make it just like them rather than embrace the wisdom of, in their own words, "God's Supreme Plan." This is about as hypocritical as it gets. But then again, we've all known that the biggest, most glaring attribute of these fanatics is the astounding hypocrisy and outright non-truths of their assertions across the board.

I took the above quotes from an excellent and very disturbing article written by William Saletan and posted at Slate.com this morning. This is something your really NEED TO READ in its entirety.

Clearly, the next battlefield the gay civil rights movement, hell - the HUMAN civil rights movement, is going to find itself pushed to is the scientific, biological battlefield.

Full story at Slate.com.

June 17, 2008

Congratulations California!

I just wanted to add a quick post to congratulate California's new newlyweds. There has probably been more national and international coverage of this story than almost any other news story of late so I only want to thank the California Supreme Court (a majority of which are republican appointees) for their fairness, foresight and wisdom in declaring the ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional in California.

AND MOST OF ALL, I want to congratulate all those who have gotten married. CONGRATULATIONS!! to all of you. And to all those who intend to do the same in the days, weeks and months ahead. As a good friend from GAA in New York, Chuck Solomon, told Vito Russo and I in 1970 when we told him that we had decided to make ourselves a couple --- "MOZEL TOV!! May your lives be filled with love, joy and purpose."

June 16, 2008

Upcoming Biography of Vito Russo

Sorry I haven't posted anything since last week. Recently, I've spent most of my time researching info for interviews I've been having with Michael Schiavi in New York. Michael is putting together a biography of Vito Russo who wrote the groundbreaking book "The Celluloid Closet" which chronicled how gays and lesbians have been treated by hollywood through the years. The book was turned into a movie in 1995 and starred Lily Tomlin as the narrator. Ms Tomlin was also a very good, personal friend of Vito's. Vito and I were partners and fellow activist in the Gay Activist Alliance in New York City in the early seventies and he was one of the most unique, gregarious and loving people I've ever known.

Vito's concern over how LGBT people were presented in the popular media also led him to co-found the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), a watchdog group that monitors LGBT representation in the mainstream media and presents the annual GLAAD Media Awards. The Vito Russo Award is named in his memory and is presented to an openly gay or lesbian member of the media community for their outstanding contribution in combating homophobia.

When Michael initially contacted me, I didn't know who he was or what his ultimate intentions were and I wanted to be sure that whatever information I gave him about Vito would be used positively so I asked him a few questions. In response, he said:

"I've been fascinated by Vito for 20 years. In 1987, as a closted and terrified college freshman, I accidentally discovered THE CELLULOID CLOSET. I can't tell you how much comfort I received from knowing that someone was out there writing about both homosexuality and film (my other major passion, then and now).

Three years later, out and proud--due in no small measure to the self-respect I got from THE CELLULOID CLOSET--I learned that Vito had died. I remember standing in my dorm room, reading the obituary in tears, feeling that I'd lost a cherished uncle. It's one of my biggest regrets that I never got to tell Vito what he and his work meant to me.

Ever since, I've been curious to know more about him. It astonishes me that there is no full-length biography of this pioneer in the GLBT movement and in film studies. During the past year, I discovered Vito's papers at New York Public Library, where it's been a joy to learn of his life. I've also been interviewing dozens of people who knew or worked with him. I have to say, after 10 years of being a professor, I've never so enjoyed, or felt more personally connected to, my research."

Since then Michael has conducted over a hundred interviews for the biography and I have gotten to know him a lot better. There is no doubt in my mind that I can trust his honesty, integrity and intentions and I've come to personally respect him a great deal. Michael is taking a sabbatical from his teaching duties to concentrate solely on Vito's biography.

I'll keep you posted when more information is available.

June 14, 2008

New Poll Shows Support For Gay Marriage Growing

The latest Poll by the Pew Research Center shows that support for gay marriage is increasing across the board.

Since I'm always leery of polls unless I know who the pollster is, I should tell you that the Pew Research center is a non-partisan, Washington based organization and is often cited by policy-makers, journalists, academics and advocates from across the political spectrum.

The poll results were released last Tuesday (6/10/08) and show dramatic changes in attitudes towards gay marriage between 2004 and 2008.

According to the poll, there has been a marked decline in opposition toward gay marriage among women, college graduates, and senior citizens. Opposition among women has dropped from 56% in 2004 to 46% in 2008. While 46% of college graduates opposed gay marriage in 2004, only 38% oppose it now. Opposition among senior citizens (ages 65 and up) has dropped 10% since 2004, from 68% to 58%.

BUT --- according to the study, civil unions still prove to be much more popular than gay marriage. 38% of Americans support full marriage equality but a majority of 51% favor civil unions. Although that's not exactly what we want since civil unions only give us
some of the rights of heterosexual couples, it does show that a majority of Americans now favor some sort of legal union between same-sex couples.

What is clear is the fact that people's attitudes are changing and seem to be changing at a faster pace than at any other time in our history. This bodes well for the eventual acceptance of fully protected, same-sex marriages.

Full story at  Advocate.com.

Full Poll results at Pew Research Center.

June 13, 2008


There have been several articles lately zeroing in on the democrat's failure to do anything about the infamous Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy now that they control congress. Many activist want them to take action NOW. But I'm not so sure that would be the smartest thing to do while "the bush" is still in the oval office and would certainly veto whatever congress might pass. And, there are still enough homophobic republicans left in office to block a veto override.

''We know this is an issue that would not be met with a lot of enthusiasm on the part of the administration. That's a big reality,'' said Rep. Susan Davis, D-Calif., chairwoman of the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee. ''You want to spend time on the things you can move.''

Although that's a somewhat insensitive way of saying it, I do agree with Rep. Davis' comment. It would be much more politically astute to wait until after the November elections. I strongly feel that by then there will not only be a sane, rational and intelligent person in the White House but there will also be a substantial change in the senate and congressional make-up. If by some fluke or political underhandedness that doesn't happen then, yes, of course, we comeback at them in full force and with every political and activist trick we have.

One thing I learned from being one of the radical gay activists of the 70's is that the most effective approach to achieving our goals is a balanced combination of in-your-face radicalism and well thought out political strategy. At this point, I feel that between now and November it would be much wiser to put our considerable talents, energy and know how into getting ALL of those people who support us into office. Including local level offices!

If you disagree with me, post a comment or send me an email. I'll make sure your voice is heard here as well. Unless, of course, you start spouting religious fanaticism. In that case, you won't make it onto this blog. Ever.

The above quote was from a AP story posted on 365gay.com.

June 11, 2008

Brazilian President calls homophobia a "perverse disease"

I hope that Obama is as vigorous in his support for our community after he becomes President as Brazilian President Lula da Silva is being. It would be nice to have support from the White House instead of the incessant gay bashing we've been experiencing for the last seven and a half long years.

Brazilian President calls homophobia a "perverse disease"

From PinkNews
By Sophie Picheta • June 11, 2008 - 16:57

The president of Brazil has become the first nation leader to launch a conference with the sole purpose of promoting gay equality.

The First National Conference of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transsexuals was inaugurated by president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who called for a "time of reparation" in Brazil.

At last week's conference President Lula announced his support for gay rights, and stated he will "do all that is possible so that the criminalisation of homophobia and the civil union may be approved."

He also called homophobia "the most perverse disease impregnated in the human head."

Like all countries, homophobia still exists in Brazil but at least their President is trying to do something about it.

Read the full story at: PinkNews.

June 10, 2008

Once Again Republicans Protect Oil Companies!

In an attempt to confront the obscene profits the oil companies are making, the Senate proposed legislation that would tax any "unreasonable" profits made by the five largest U.S. oil companies. The legislation would also give the federal government more power to address oil market speculation that many experts believe has added to the crude oil price surge.

"Americans are furious about what's going on," declared Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and want Congress to do something about oil company profits and "an orgy of speculation" on oil markets.

Sounds like a much needed, fair (to you and I) and reasonable response to the blatant greed and astounding arrogance of those oil companies and speculators doesn't it? Well, guess what -- the senate republicans have blocked that effort!

According to Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., "If taxes are increased on the oil companies they (the sponsors of the proposal) will get exactly what they don't want. The bill will raise taxes and increase imports."

How incredibly idiotic is that!? Of course it will raise taxes -- ON THE OIL COMPANIES!! Increase imports? Isn't that the very foundation of the so-called market philosophy of supply and demand that the republicans are so fond of preaching? Wouldn't more oil available bring prices down? I'm certainly no expert on the world economy but even I can see the absurd hypocrisy and disturbing illogic of Senator Domenici's comments. According to him, we should just leave the oil companies and speculators alone or - heaven forbid - they'll punish us. As if paying well over $4.00 a gallon for gas isn't punishment already! Gimme a break!!

Whoever said that most republicans aren't in the pockets of big oil and pharmaceutical companies either isn't paying attention or are secretly in those pockets themselves!

I just hope that voters will remember this ON ELECTION DAY in November.

Click here for the full AP story

June 9, 2008


Mesa is right next door to Tempe where I live and beside its conservative Christian population mentioned in the article below, it also has a very sizable Mormon community and you don't get much more conservative than that. My partner, Peter, is Mormon - or rather ex-mormon since he resigned from the church and had his name taken off their membership roster so they couldn't claim him as a member. Their very homophobic teachings and policies just became too frustrating for both of us. We've been partnered for 7 years and have been friends for over 10.

The following is from Box Turtle Bulletin and I include it here in its entirety.

Jim Burroway
June 9th, 2008
Eighteen-year-old Kyle Hutchinson accomplished something that no one at Red Mountain High School in Mesa, Arizona, has ever done before. He was crowned king of the high school prom as an openly gay man.

Kyle’s parents were present when he was crowned king Saturday night amid cheers and boos:

“He kept telling me he was going to win, and he had convinced me,” said his mother, Doreen Hutchinson. “When they called his name, we heard the cheering, but then we immediately heard the boos,” she said. “My heart went into my stomach. It was so awful. My husband said he was expecting it, but I wasn’t prepared. It was so sad.”

Hutchinson said he felt bad that his parents had to hear his classmates who weren’t supporting him. But he also said their reaction is something he has known his whole life, and he wasn’t about to let it ruin his moment.

Kyle said he had always been picked on for not fitting in with the other boys in school. He came out to his parents on his sixteenth birthday, and he moved from his former high school to Red Mountain the following year, he started his first day of class being open about his sexuality. And while Mesa is known for having a large conservative Christian population, Kyle found that he had very few problems until his prom night.

Kyle was crowned king after winning the contest in a landslide, which is perhaps indicative of the changing attitudes among the younger generation — even among young conservative Christians, 80% of whom thought the church was “too anti-homosexual” in one recent survey.

By the way, there is a very good Gay Mormon support group called "Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons" and if you're Morman and are having trouble coping with being gay and reconciling the contradictions between that and your church's teachings, I suggest you check them out. They have chapters all over the country and their website is www.affirmation.org. You are definitely NOT ALONE.

June 6, 2008

"Religious" Right Advocates Murdering Gays!

The so called "religious" right is clearly getting very desperate. So desperate that one of their leaders would publicly suggest shooting gays. This guy not only SHOULD have lost his rediculous lawsuit but, in my mind, should be in jail for attempting to incite violence. The following is the article posted on 365gay.com but The Advocate also ran the story. You can get their take on it by clicking the link at the bottom.

Wisc. Supreme Court Calls Lawsuit Against Gay Rights Group Frivolous
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: June 5, 2008 - 5:00 pm ET

(Madison, Wisconsin) The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ordered a conservative pastor to pay $87,000 in legal fees to a gay rights group he accused of defaming him.

Grant Storms of the Reformer Ministries in Marrero, La., claimed in the lawsuit that Action Wisconsin defamed him by saying remarks he made at a 2003 anti-gay conference in Milwaukee advocated the murder of gays.

Storms was one of several speakers at the "International Conference on Homo-Fascism," a gathering of people who railed against gays.

Action Wisconsin obtained an audio recording of the conference and publicized remarks that the group said incited violence and hatred.

In his speech, Storms said gay rights' opponents should
"start taking it to the streets." He mimicked gun fire: "Boom, boom, boom, boom. There's twenty! Ca-ching," according to a transcript.

After Action Wisconsin widely distributed the tape Storms sued the group claiming it had defamed him by suggesting he was advocating murdering gays.

In 2006 Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Patricia McMahon said the group's interpretation of the remarks was reasonable and the lawsuit lacked merit from the day it was filed. McMahon awarded Action Wisconsin $87,000 in legal fees.

Following the verdict called the judge "liberal" and "insane," and filed an immediate appeal.

The appeals court reversed the ruling and Action Wisconsin took the case to the state Supreme Court.

In a 4-3 ruling the high court overturned the appellate ruling, allowing the original decision to stand.

In the majority decision the court said that Storms should have known the lawsuit was frivolous.

What's even more disturbing to me is that the Wisconsin Appeals Court actually overturned the original ruling even after hearing the taped comments. Not only that but the State Supreme Court, in ruling to overturn the Appellate Court's ruling, did so by JUST ONE SINGLE VOTE!

If you're gay and you think your vote, especially in local elections, doesn't matter --- WAKE UP!!!!

The Advocate also ran this story. Click their name to read their take.

June 5, 2008

Poll Shows 63% Say Gay Marriage Is "A Strickly Private Decision"

From a post on Advocate.com
June 05, 2008

"A USA Today/Gallup Poll found that 63% of adults say same-sex marriage is "strictly a private decision" between two people; 33% believe the government has the right "to prohibit or allow" such marriages, while 4% had no opinion.

The greatest support for no government intervention regarding same-sex marriages was in the East (71%), followed by the West (64%), Midwest (63%), and South (56%).

The percentage of participants who believe that same-sex marriage is “strictly a private” matter decreased as the age of the respondents increased: 79% of 18- to 29-year-olds, 65% of 30- to 49-year-olds, 62% of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 44% of those 65 and older.

The strongest support for government regulation of same-sex marriage came from people who say they attend religious services weekly (56%), are Republicans (56%), or are politically conservative (54%)."

Clearly, acceptance of same-sex marriage is now mostly a matter of attrition. And, since many of the most virulent anti-gay religious leaders have either died or been discredited by their own, personal sex scandals, and since there is a whole new, younger, more tolerant generation set to grab the reins from their cold, dead or severely emasculated hands, I'm sure that things will begin to change at a much more accelerated rate. BUT --- because the faster things change in our favor, the more frustrated and violent our remaining opponents actions will become. So, of course, still be visible, but also be vigilant and be careful!! Always know where you are, who's around you and what you'll do should a situation become threatening. You don't need to be paranoid because the odds are strongly against anything happening to you. You just need to be aware.

As a supportive addendum to this change is a recent statement by aging, former senator Sam Nunn. He now believes that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that he so cold-heartedly helped create and ram through the congress and senate should now be reexamined. Maybe even the older demagogs are beginning to see the writing on the wall. They were wrong. Period.

Both Stories At: Advocate.com.

June 3, 2008

Quick Update

A few hours ago the Clinton campaign said that the AP story about her conceding tonight was wrong.

If you check out the third paragraph of my previous post, I point out that she wasn't giving up her campaign until she negotiated a few things with Obama. I stand by that earlier post. Besides, it's more than a little obvious that that IS the eventual inevitability.

I hope they can work things out quickly.


According to a Associated Press Story by Beth Fouhy, Barack Obama will be THE FIRST BLACK CANDIDATE IN HISTORY to run for the presidency of the United States of America! He only needs to garner 30% of the vote in South Dakota and Montana today. And that looks very likely.

On NBC's "Today Show," Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe said that once Obama gets the majority of convention delegates, "I think Hillary Clinton will congratulate him and call him the nominee."

Other Clinton campaign advisers, speaking anonymously because they weren't authorized to divulge her plans, said Clinton has made a strategic decision to not formally end her campaign, giving her leverage to negotiate with Obama on various matters including a possible vice presidential nomination for her. She also wants to press him on issues he should focus on in the fall, such as health care.

Clinton is enormously popular and has succeeded in getting millions (approximately 17 to 18 million) of votes from demographics that Obama wasn't quite able to attract. And, given the fact that she is eminently qualified and would bring a level of experience to the administration that Barack lacks, I believe that she would be THE BEST POSSIBLE CANDIDATE FOR VICE PRESIDENT.

I voted for Barack in the Arizona primaries even though I had some serious misgivings about his lack of experience. Even given those misgivings I am very excited about his potential to bring very real and very lasting change to a country that desperately needs it. I would be even more excited if he chooses Hillary as his running mate. I think the two of them together would be able to defeat ANY republican candidate and could very likely bring (on their proverbial coat tails) a substantial and also very much needed change to the congressional make up as well. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. And "we the people" are hoping that the democrats can come together long enough to make that happen!

Full AP Story On Yahoos News

June 2, 2008

New Hampshire Reverses Position on CA Marriage Decision

The following is a news item from BoxTurtleBulletin.com. I love it! The Attorney General had to be told of her own state's law!!

One State Reverses Position on CA Marriage Decision Stay
Timothy Kincaid
June 2nd, 2008
Last week the Attorneys General of ten states united to request that the Supreme Court of California stay its decision to treat all citizens equal under the law until November: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah. They claimed that if California allowed gay couples to marry that this would create havoc and confusion for the court systems in their own states.
Immediately one state stood out from the others.
Although not all of these states have anti-gay marriage clauses in their constitution, only one state, New Hampshire, has taken efforts to offer recognition to same-sex relationships. And New Hampshire already had taken legislative steps to direct how out-of-state gay marriages would be treated - as civil unions.
Now it seems that the havoc and confusion caused by gay marriage in New Hampsire has been cleared up. Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, has now been appraised of the law in her state.
The Boston Globe reports
[O]n Saturday, Attorney General Kelly Ayotte announced that New Hampshire was withdrawing from the request because the state addresses the recognition issue in its civil union law.
She said under the law, New Hampshire will recognize a legal gay marriage from California as a civil union.

It's great when the bigoted homophobes get tangled up in their own webs!

June 1, 2008

You have to read this...

Following is a partial post from Seacoastonline.com. The author is a straight, married man which is made clear in the last paragraph in the full opinion. I couldn't have said it better myself. His published opinion is one of the main reasons that his prediction will come true. People are taking another look at the religious extremist rhetoric and are beginning to see it for what it is - an attempt to turn the laws of our land and the very constitution itself into specific religious doctrines. Can you say Taliban? This is well worth reading by everyone so, please, pass it along to a friend or two or more.

By D. Allan Kerr
June 01, 2008 6:00 AM


A great advantage to being as open-minded as I claim to be is that I can usually understand the rationale behind opposing arguments — even the side with which I disagree.

I recognize the desire of some to save the polar bears and preserve the environment, but also sympathize with others who see these efforts as an impediment to progress. I appreciate the reluctance of some individuals to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil exploration, but know why there are those who see this as a way to counter high oil prices and foreign dependence.

I salute the people who want to divert some of the billions spent on national defense for the benefit of citizens struggling here at home, but also support the people who want to keep our military strong. I have a hard time, however, understanding why there's a segment of the population obsessed with preventing homosexuals from enjoying equal treatment here in the land of the free.

I hadn't thought about the issue for a while until the recent California court decision legalizing gay marriage. Now, apparently, there may be a push for a referendum in November banning such unions — echoing the push by some for a constitutional amendment to achieve the same goal. Think about that for a moment — there are people who want an amendment to the U.S. Constitution ensuring that other people will not be allowed the same privileges most Americans enjoy. Why doesn't this concept absolutely creep out every fair-minded citizen of this great land?

Full Opinion At: Seacoastonline.com