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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