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August 9, 2008

New Proposition 8 Wording Upheld

California Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley upholds Attorney General Jerry Brown's new wording for Proposition 8.

According to Yahoo News, Prop 8 proponent Mark A. Larsson argued that the proposed new language is "extremely argumentative" and could prejudice voters against the measure.

Larson also argued that the attorney general showed prejudice by "selecting a ballot title that begins with a negative, transitive active verb." This argument apparently led to a series of rebuttals that rose to the level of absurdist entertainment.

In his ruling Judge Frawley said, "There is nothing inherently argumentative or prejudicial about transitive verbs, and the Court is not willing to fashion a rule that would require the Attorney General to engage in useless nominalization." He added, "As a general rule, the title and summary prepared by the Attorney General are presumed accurate" and that legal standards "require substantial deference to the Attorney General's actions."

The court further ruled that since the right to same-sex marriage now exists in law and has already been exercised by thousands of same-sex couples, Proposition 8 would not simply limit marriage but would, in fact, eliminate an existing legal right.

This ruling should now make it much more difficult for Proposition 8 to pass in November. Let's keep out fingers crossed.

To read the full story, go to: Yahoo News

August 7, 2008

Action Alert For California's Anti-Gay Marriage Proposition 8

Early this morning I recieved a comment to yesterday's post, "Be Careful Out There..." According to the comment by Chino Blanco, a demonstration is being planned for August 14th in Irvine California. It well be against the PR firm Schubert Flint Public Affairs which was just hired to handle the promotion for the Yes on Prop. 8/Protect Marriage campaign.

Although the comment didn't really relate directly to the article, I feel it deserves attention. From what I understand at this point, the Shubert Flint firm was one of the primary players in the public relations campaign to justify the Iraq war and has now agreed to take on Proposition 8 (for a hefty fee I'm sure).

You can read Chino's article about this demonstration at the website Pam's House Blend.

His comment is posted at "Be Careful Out There..."

If you live in California or you might be visiting there, the demonstration will be held August 14th at about 5:00 pm. The address is:

Schubert Flint Public Affairs
2020 Main Street
Irvine, CA 92614

I'll keep you posted as soon as I get more information.


First, a correction - The Schubert Flint Public Affairs firm was not, itself, involved in the selling of the Irag war BUT its senior partner, Jeff Flint, was one of the people involved in that campaign. Chino Blanco, in an excellent report posted at DailyKos.com said that at the time, Flint was with Russo Marsh & Rogers who represented the pro-Iraq War group Move America Forward which was responsible for the very public campaign to invade Iraq instead of pursuing Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan.

Just to give you a better idea of the kind of people that Jeff Flint and Jennifer Kerns (who was just hired by Schubert Flint as the Communications Director for the Pro-Prop 8 campaign) really are, consider the following statements they recently made publicly: Flint, in mimicking Barack Obama, said "I'm for change....blah blah blah...I's for bringing people together...blah blah blah...let me quote Obama some more....blah blah blah...." If that isn't a not so subtle stab at racism, what is.

And Kerns, in describing how she's going to handle the campaign, said: "One of our campaign cornerstones will be the fact that if the initiative [to ban gay marriage in California] doesn't pass that public schools will be forced to teach the difference between gay marriage and traditional marriage."

Back to the demonstration. They're still working out specifics but I am now in direct contact with Chino and will keep you posted on further details.

If you have any questions about the demo you can post a comment/question here. If you don't want your comment or question to be public you can still use my "Comment" link at the bottom of this posting. I screen ALL comments that come into my blog so I don't have to publish it if you don't want me to. Chino said that you could also go to his blog at chinoblanco.blogspot.com and post there as well. I'm not sure if he screens his comments before they're posted but I'll check with him and let you know.

One last thing - a comment left on one of Chino's postings made a very astute point. Many of the clients of Shubert Flint are, in all likelyhood, opponents of Prop 8 and probably don't know much about the firm's involvement to pass it. That's why this demonstration has an excellent chance of being very successful. Once they know just who is representing them, a lot of those clients just might start rethinking their association with Shubert Flint and very well might decide to change their representation.

August 6, 2008

Be Careful Out There...

If you've been paying attention to the news lately, you've probably already gotten the sense that gay violence is on the rise. Now, according to an article at 365gay.com, The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs reports that gay hate-crimes have, indeed, risen significantly in 2008. And we still have almost 5 months to go yet. This is not good news but, unfortunately, not wholly unexpected either.

According to the article:

Since the February murder of 15 year-old Lawrence King and the brutal beating of Duanna Johnson, there have been at least 13 brutal and violent LGBT hate crimes throughout the country. The organization added that the reported crimes only may be a small number of the total, since many LGBT people are reluctant to go to police, and many of the attacks that are reported are not listed by authorities as hate crimes.

I, personally, have no doubt that the number is a lot higher. Clearly, many gays don't report incidences either because they're not out of the closet yet and fear being outed if they do report it, especially if their injuries weren't bad enough to require medical attention, or they feel that nothing is going to be done by the local authorities anyway so why bother?

That's unfortunate because it leaves these animals out on the streets free to continue their sick, perverted behaviors. The other aspect of not reporting is that it keeps the number of incidences lower than they should be and makes it easier for politicians and fanatics (frequently the same people) to claim that it's not a big enough problem to warrant passing or adding to hate-crime legislation. Just for these two reasons alone, I strongly urge anyone who is a victim of a hate-crime to report it.

If you are out of the closet and pissed off enough and fearless enough to weather some potential backlash, you could also report the incidence to your local news media as well. The more public exposure this issue gets, the stronger our case becomes to pass national hate-crimes legislation. However, If you do decide that you want to be that public about it but you're worried about potential consequences, you could ask them beforehand not to use your name in their media report if it isn't already a part of the public police record.

That being said and at the risk of sounding somewhat contradictory, I also caution everyone to be careful out there. As I've said in some of my past posts, the right-wing, religious fanatics are losing ground fast and they know it. They're desperate and the more desperate they become, the more violent their rhetoric and their actions become as well. However, the likelihood of something happening to you personally is still very, very low so don't let yourself become overly paranoid and fearsome about it either.

As practically every New Yorker knows instinctively, it's always smart to be aware of your surroundings and the people around you whenever you're out and about. That's a good idea for anyone - straight or gay.

To read the full story go to: 365gay.com

August 5, 2008

Hate Crime Will Not Be Charged In Gay Bashing

On July 17th at about 1:00 am 42-year-old Jimmy Lee Dean was severely beaten in Dallas, Texas. According to witnesses, Bobby Singleton, 29, and Jonathan Gunter, 31, both of Garland, started kicking and beating Dean with a handgun and inflicting injuries that required hospitalization. Witnesses also claim to have heard Singleton and Gunter yelling anti-gay epithets at Dean while they were beating him. Both were arrested and are about to go to trial.

As if the beating wasn't bad enough, according to a report in the Dallas Morning News last Friday the prosecutors said that they weren't going to charge the pair with a hate crime because both face the maximum penalty if found guilty, making the additional hate crime categorization unnecessary. Each suspect now faces a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a first-degree felony that, with a conviction, will put them in prison for up to 99 years.

What really bothers me about the prosecutors' decision is that the whole purpose of a hate crime charge is not only to enhance sentences but, even more importantly, to send a strong and clear message that these types of crimes are not tolerated by a civilized society. And what if they aren't given the "maximum penalty?" Does that mean that they could be paroled and put back out onto the streets to beat other gays or blacks or latinos or asians in just a matter of months? Clearly, the prosecutors' logic is flawed at best.

Fortunately, the Dallas police have said that they will categorize the attack as a hate crime for statistical purposes.

Singleton and Gunter, while awaiting indictment, are being held in lieu of more than $300,000 bail each, according to Dallas County Jail records.

August 4, 2008

HIV Cases Undercounted By At Least 40%!

According to a Sunday New York Times article the CDC (Centers For Disease Control) figures released last Saturday show that the annual HIV infection rates have been underreported by at least 40%.

Dr. Kevin A. Fenton, who directs H.I.V. prevention efforts at the agency, said, “C.D.C.’s new incidence estimates reveal that the H.I.V. epidemic is and has been worse than previously known.”

This is a very important discrepancy because accurate and timely data about HIV transmission rates are used for planning and evaluating basic prevention efforts and the monies that are spent on those efforts. The study found that 56,300 people became newly infected with H.I.V in 2006. For the last 15 plus years, the estimated figure of 40,000 new annual infections has been used by the government in determining funding for HIV/AIDS programs here in the United States.

Dr. Philip Alcabes, an epidemiologist at Hunter College in Manhattan said that if this new report is accurate that means that new HIV infection rates have been undercounted by about 15,000 per year for 15 years. "Therefore," Dr Alcabes said "there are roughly 225,000 more people living with H.I.V. in the U.S. than previously suspected.”

This administration has been severely criticized worldwide for not allocating sufficient funds to fight HIV in this country and many professionals are very upset that the CDC didn't release this study much sooner.

This is obviously another case of this administration attempting to withhold scientific research studies it deemed uncomfortable or unprofitable for them and/or their friends. Knowing that this is one study that they couldn't keep under-wraps indefinitely and that Bush is only months away from leaving the White House and that the congress has adjourned for this session, making any kind of funding increases for this year impossible, they apparently felt that now would be a good time for them to release it.

This has been the sleaziest, most dishonest and most corrupt administration in the history of this country. I hope that someone will pursue legal actions against as many of them as possible after they're out of office.

To read the full NY Times article go to: New York Times


Speaking at an AIDS conference in Mexico city, former President Bill Clinton said that the just released report by the CDC (above), has spurred him into action. He said that “For Americans, this should be a wake up call. Even as we keep working globally, we need to do much more to fight AIDS at home, and I intend to do so with my foundation.”

Imagine what might have been done already had the CDC released that report in a much more timely manner.

Thank you Bill Clinton and shame on the CDC for putting politics ahead of people's health and well being.

August 3, 2008

Openly Gay Olympic Diver Could Take Home Gold

20 year old Matthew Mitcham is Australia's top tanked Olympic diver who came out in an interview for The Sydney Morning Herald last May. And now he is determined to take home a gold metal from the Beijing Olympics.

It looks like Matthew has a very good chance of doing that too. According to a featured Cover Story to run in the August 26th edition of The Advocate:

He did just that May 11 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at the AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix, one of the major annual meets put on by FINA, the international governing body for swimming, diving, and water polo. There, at an outdoor pool in windy conditions, Mitcham won the 10-meter platform, his specialty, defeating both 2004 Olympic gold medalist Hu Jia of China and fellow Australian and 2004 silver medalist Matthew Helm. Mitcham, currently ranked third in the world, also beat world number 1 Sascha Klein of Germany.

Matthew didn't necessarily intend to come out to the world, he was just giving an interview. But then the reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald asked him who he lived with. Matthew said:

“I hadn’t planned to do it at all. It was just a question” -- which he answered by saying he lived with his partner of two years, Lachlan -- “and it went from there. I just want to be known as the Australian diver who did really well at the Olympics. It’s everybody else who thinks it’s special when homosexuality and elite sport go together.”

Pick up The Advocate for the full story. The shorter, online version is at: Advocate.com