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October 3, 2008


David Popescu was invited to participate in a federal candidates' discussion at Sudbury Secondary School of Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. The school is well known for its performing arts classes and takes great pride in its inclusive, open atmosphere.

According to the Toronto Sun, during the question and answer period following the 2 hour discussion a young man asked Popescu what he thought of homosexual marriages and he said "I think homosexuals should be executed. My whole reason for running is the Bible and the Bible couldn't be more clear on that point."

Candidates and teachers looked on in stunned silence as students starting calling for him to be "cut off." Despite their outrage, the discussion moved to other topics.

Principal Paul Camillo emphasized the school's inclusiveness in his closing remarks but did not condemn the statement.

In an interview he said, "We're here today to hear what the candidates have to say. As an inclusive school, we respect all other opinion although we may not agree with them -- and I know there were definitely some things said today that we don't agree with."

Gary Kinsman, an advocate for the Sudbury Gay and Lesbian community said while Popescu's extreme views are well known, he has never said something "so extreme."

"He's not simply saying that lesbians or gay men are mentally ill or somehow deviant or criminals. He's saying we should be subject to the death penalty. I think sometimes violence and hatred towards gays and lesbians gets dressed up in sort of a religious guise and is somehow tolerated. I just don't think it should be tolerated at all."

Within hours deputy police chief Frank Elsner said that the Greater Sudbury Police Service were "...actively conducting a criminal investigation in this matter." They plan to share their evidence with the provincial Attorney General's office, who will then decide if a hate crime was committed by Popescu and whether or not a criminal charge would be warranted.

If you think that this kind of thing wouldn't happen here, please read my June 6th posting, "Religious" Right Advocates Murdering Gays!"

October 2, 2008


Brian Prowel is, by nature, an effeminate man. He crosses his legs, swings his foot, files his nails if one has a snag and has a high-pitched voice. He is also openly gay.

After years of being harassed at work with taunts, innuendo, scribblings on the bathroom walls and a myriad of other degradations, he filed a federal lawsuit on Feb. 23, 2006. He claimed sex discrimination by management and co-workers at Wise Business Forms Inc. in Butler, Pa. because he did not live up to their stereotypes of how a man should look and act.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, U.S. District Judge Terrence F. McVerry said that the behavior Mr. Prowel was subjected to was "reprehensible" but dismissed his claim, saying that he was discriminated against not because of his sex but because of his sexual preference -- something that is not covered by federal law.

In 1989 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gender stereotyping is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964. That ruling said, in essence, that employers "can't make women act feminine, and they can't make men act masculine."

This is the basis of Brian's appeal. His attorney, Timothy P. O'Brien, said that making fun of Mr. Prowel for being effeminate, calling him "Princess," and giving him a tiara all "smack" of gender stereotyping. Mr. O'Brian believes that whether the harassment was based on gender stereotyping or sexual preference, it is still a decision to be made by the jury and not a judge.

Susan Frietsche, senior staff attorney with the Women's Law Project in Pittsburgh, wrote a lengthy friend-of-the-court brief on Mr. Prowel's behalf saying that women continue to be subjected to horrific harassment when they work in positions that don't conform to gender stereotypes.

Ms. Frietsche also wrote:

"If the reasoning of the district court in this case is upheld, however, employers who seek to lock women out of these well-paying fields could evade Title VII liability through the simple expedient of lacing their gender discrimination with enough anti-lesbian slurs."

This situation is one more compelling reason why the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) MUST be passed!

October 1, 2008


The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently proposed expanding protections for health care workers' religious beliefs by enacting new "provider conscience" regulations.

Under the new proposal, ‘‘no individual shall be required to perform or assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity funded in whole or in part under a program administered by the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare [Secretary of Health and Human Services] if his performance or assistance in the performance of such part of such program or activity would be contrary to his religious beliefs or moral convictions.’’

Under the original HHS regulations, most of which were adopted in the 70's, the concern was to protect health care workers from being forced to participate in abortions or risk being fired. This new proposal doesn't keep such a narrow focus.

Because of its very broad scope it would, instead, allow any health care worker (from doctors and nurses to assistants and janitors) or health care institution (from mega hospitals to community free clinics) to refuse medical help and/or proceedures to anyone if that worker/institution deems that person to be "contrary to his (their) religious beliefs or moral convictions.’’

Jennifer C. Pizer, Lambda Legal senior counsel said in a statement, "Existing law already protects workers against religious discrimination. The law requires 'reasonable accommodation' of religious beliefs -- and that's a fair approach because religious freedom matters a lot. But the changes that HHS proposes are so broad, vague, and confusing that they risk inviting health workers with antigay beliefs to refuse treatment and otherwise to discriminate against very vulnerable patients."

This proposal would not only open the door for blanket discrimination against gays, it would also, according to 13 state attorney generals, limit access to abortion and birth control for victims of sexual assault. In spite of these concerns, HHS secretary Michael O. Leavitt is intent on putting this new expansion into effect.

It seems that the Bush administration's bureaucrats are trying to rush through a multitude of damaging administrative changes across the board before they're all kicked out of office.

Resources for this article were: The Advocate and Health Industry Washington Watch

September 30, 2008


In my posting on August 12th I reported that a group of rightwing churches were planning to challenge the IRS tax law restrictions on mixing politics with religion.

On Sunday, they did just that. According to a story in yesterday's Washington Post, Rev. Ron Johnson Jr. told his flock in Crown Point, Ind. that voting for Sen. Barack Obama would be evidence of "severe moral schizophrenia." He told his worshipers that the Democratic presidential nominee's positions on abortion and gay partnerships exist "in direct opposition to God's truth as He has revealed it in the Scriptures." Johnson went on to present a detailed, slide show enhanced presentation comparing John McCain to Barack Obama.

He was joined by 32 others across the country who did the same thing from their pulpits during Sunday morning's services. Their intention is to force a court case that they hope will end up in the Supreme Court. Once there, they feel certain that the right-leaning court will overturn the 54 year old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.

The Arizona based Alliance Defense Fund, a socially conservative group of lawyers dedicated to realizing the Dominionist goal of marrying church and state, are the architects of this challenge. They, of course, have gotten the attention of the IRS. The agency has pledged to "monitor the situation and take action as appropriate."

This concerted effort by the religious right is not supported by the religious community as a whole. In an open letter Saturday, a United Church of Christ minister, the Rev. Eric Williams, warned that many members of the clergy are "exchanging their historic religious authority for a fleeting promise of political power," to the detriment of their churches.

"The role of the church -- of congregation, synagogue, temple and mosque -- and of its religious leaders is to stand apart from government, to prophetically speak truth to power," Williams wrote, "and to encourage a national dialogue that transcends the divisiveness of electoral politics and preserves for every citizen our 'first liberty.' "

The ball is now in the IRS's court. It will be interesting to see just how they handle this.

To read the full story, go to: Washington Post

September 29, 2008


How many of you remember the totally incoherent answer the South Carolina Miss Teen USA Pageant Contestant gave to a simple question?

In case you forgot or didn't even get to see it, take a look at this:

This is probably one of the funniest and, at the same time, saddest beauty pageant moments caught on video. Most of the time I was watching this, my mouth just hung open in disbelief. Yes, it was funny but when she finished I was totally relieved that the poor girl could finally leave the spotlight. I really felt sorry for her. She was a young, naive, inexperienced teenager caught in an embarrassing moment that she didn't know how to handle.

Well, the following video could be just as funny if it weren't so scary? Pay particular attention to the question Katie Couric asks Sarah Palin. Then listen closely to the answer Palin gives.

Now listen to Palin's answer when Couric asks her about her comment that Russia's geographic proximity to Alaska automatically gives her foreign policy experience.

Both of these answers would be hilarious if they weren't made by the person who wants to Vice President of the United States. And, as we are all painfully aware, possibly the President by default.

Not only is her grasp of national and international politics completely non-existent, she clearly doesn't even have the ability to think on her feet when she doesn't have prepared answers. This is not someone who should be even close to a position of power of that magnitude.

Her selection should also send up huge red flags about John McCain's ability to make the wise decisions that will surely be necessary over the next immediately crucial years for this country.

What really scares me is the number of people who still consider both of them to be competent, world-level leaders.

On so many levels, this would be so wrong.