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December 5, 2008


The first ever, Arizona Statewide GLBT & Allies Town Hall meeting will be held tomorrow on the ASU campus in Tempe.

According to organizers, there will be large group sessions, break-out workshop sessions, activism and organizing training sessions and a lot more.

Equality Arizona reported today that over 400 people have already signed up so if you're interested in attending, reserve a seat by registering at: http://eqfed.org/ahrf/events/townhall08/register.tcl?

Judging from the response so far, this looks like it's going to be an exciting, groundbreaking event. And, considering that Governor Napolitano is going to Washington and republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer is taking over, giving us a TOTALLY REPUBLICAN CONTROLLED GOVERNMENT, it's even more important for us to get organized and get active!

Here are the details:

Arizona State University - Life Science Building A, Room 191, Tempe, AZ

SPECIAL NOTE: Tempe Art festival is also this weekend so DO NOT attempt to drive down Mill, you'll only be redirected into the middle of nowhere.

The best place to park would be in the Fulton Bldg. garage on College Avenue. The entrance is on the east side of College Ave., north of University and just past the first bus stops. After you park, just walk south to University. ASU's entrance is right across the street and the Life Sciences Lecture Hall is behind the "Old Main" landmark bldg. See ASU map.

Below is a much more dtailed updated listing of the events schedule that I just got from Equality AZ:

Town Hall Schedule

Keynote Address: (10:00-11:00 Main Lecture Hall)
Peri Jude Radecic, Executive Director, Arizona Center for Disability Law

Brainstorm Session: Marriage, Civil Unions, Domestic Partnerships (11:00-12:30 Main Hall)
Panelists: Barbara McCullough-Jones, Jason Cianciotto, Frankie Reynolds, Ken Jacobs, Cynthia Leigh Lewis; Facilitator: Elizabeth Burden
Join in a dialogue with community leaders from across the state with opportunities for questions and answers. This is time for healing and looking forward, a time to address and voice concerns from the past election, and a time to turn our eyes to the future.

Brainstorm Session: Campaign Strategies (1:30-3:00 Main Lecture Hall)
Facilitators: Barbara McCullough-Jones Equality Arizona, Ken Jacobs Pima County Democratic Party
How do national campaigns affect local issues? Are national issues like "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and ENDA affecting our state political structure? Join this discussion to discuss the ramifications of national political issues and how they affect Arizona.

Brainstorm Session: Politics and Religion (1:30-3:00 Classroom 1)
Facilitators: Julie Roberts, Equality Arizona, Steve Wayles, First Congregational UCC
Opening level planning session designed to organize a statewide interfaith coalition to openly approach Equality through communities of faith. We will look at what has happened in the past, both successes and failures and look to the future in Arizona. We want to create an effective and unified campaign to activate our allies and engage in productive discussions to change the hearts and minds of the more conservative and less inclusive communities of Faith in Arizona.

Workshop Session: Being a Citizen Lobbyist (1:30-3:00 OR 3:30-5:00 Classroom 2)
Presenter: Sam Holdren, Equality Arizona
A workshop designed to lead a personal activist through the twists and turns of the Legislature. Discover effective methods to influence legislative ideas and actions. Learn how one person can make a difference.

Workshop Session: Families You Know (1:30-3:00 Classroom 3)
Presenter: Jason Cianciotto, Wingspan
The Families You Know? campaign profiles families in which one or more members is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Families where children, siblings, parents, grandparents and friends are loved, respected, cared for and nurtured. By utilizing social media, this campaign is community-focused and community-driven. Its goal is to raise awareness, confront prejudice, and begin a conversation where all families are respected, valued, and not exploited for short-term political gain.

Brainstorm Session: Hate Crimes (1:30-3:00 Classroom 4)
Facilitators: Nathan Treanor, HRC, Mikho Jenamie, Wingspan, Tambra Williams, City of Phoenix Police Department
Hate Crimes affect not only the victim but the community as a whole. Do you have ideas about effective responses to hate crimes? What measures for prevention do you think are important? Is the answer legislation, prevention or enhanced community response?

Brainstorm Session: Engaging Our Allies (1:30-3:00 Classroom 5)
Facilitator: Nora Ranney, ACLU
Do you have ideas for building bridges into the Allied community? Are you a straight ally looking for opportunities to get involved? Join this conversation to help identify new partnerships or ways to think outside the box.

Brainstorm/Workshop Session: Legal Protections for Partners and Families (Main Hall 3:30-5:00)
Presenter/Facilitator: Kathie Gummere, Esq.
A discussion regarding current alternatives to marriage, with an eye towards short term or existing family protections such as second parent adoption, hospital visitation and medical power of attorney. Workshop portion is a Q&A with Kathie.

Brainstorm Session: Transgender Inclusiveness-(3:30-5:00 Classroom 1)
Facilitators: Abigail Jensen, Attorney and Transgender activist, Steven Tran, Equality Arizona
Join a discussion about current issues affecting the transgender community, how those issues are different from and similar to the issues affecting the larger LGBT community, and how and where to focus our efforts to achieve change in Arizona.

Workshop Session: Engaging Youth (3:30-5:00 Classroom 3)
Presenters: Matthew Heil , GLSEN, Micheal Weakley , 1N10
We will come from the two perspectives of youth and youth activism to educate the participants on how to best interact with LGBTQ youth and youth leaders, their rights and abilities within GSA's in schools, how faculty and non-faculty can get involved with LGBTQ youth leaders and the progress and needs of LGBTQ youth leaders from our community.

Brainstorm Session: Equality Through the Arts (3:30-5:00 Classroom 4)
Facilitators: Julie Roberts, Equality Arizona, Aaron Wilder, Sandra McCullough-Jones
Got a song to sing? A dance to dance or a poem to be read? Turn your talent toward Equality and bring together all the arts for a sharing and collaborative planning session to see what path we are on, the paths we want to continue down and what new paths we can forge together to create new ground.

Bring your guitars and your dancing shoes, creative & collaborative ideas, and your willingness to learn, share and grow together as an artistic community for Equality!

Brainstorm: Health Issues (3:30-5:00 Classroom 5)
Facilitator: Hilllary Pinney, Planned Parenthood
Which LGBT health issues are currently under-addressed or underserved? How are LGBT people being excluded? Do you have ideas about engaging the health care community to create better policies or practices for the community?

The event is being hosted by Equality Arizona, 1n10, the Amancio Project, ACLU of Arizona, GLSEN Phoenix, Human Rights Campaign, Northern Arizona Pride Association, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona, Prescott Pride Center, and Wingspan.

This is your chance to have a voice in shaping the future of Arizona's equality movement so come on over and help us make a difference.

December 4, 2008


According to PageOneQ.com, long-time labor activist Mary Beth Maxwell is in the running for Barack Obama's Secretary of Labor.

Maxwell is the founding Executive Director of American Rights at Work. Its mission is to modernize and reform the United States’ labor laws to better meet the needs of 21st century employers and workers.

Mary Beth's work has garnered national news coverage in the pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and countless other news outlets. She is credited with dramatically altering the public debate about the need for employers and workers to have access to a fair collective bargaining process. She is also widely acknowledged as the leading voice for improving the effectiveness of the National Labor Relations Board.

Her previous positions have included National Field Director for Jobs with Justice and Deputy Field Director for NARAL Pro-Choice America. She also sits on the Board of Directors for American Families United and The Discount Foundation.

If appointed and confirmed, Mary Beth would be the first openly gay cabinet secretary ever to serve in the history of our government.

A Great Star-studded Video...

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

December 3, 2008


This has got to be one the most twisted and disturbing things the Catholic Church has ever done!

According to an article posted at Lez Get Real, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations said the Holy See would oppose a resolution that would protect gays from being killed just because they are gay.

Their extraordinarily twisted reasoning is that the resolution would "add new categories of those protected from discrimination" and could lead to reverse discrimination against traditional heterosexual marriage.

This is far beyond any conceivable concept of a religion that is supposedly founded on the benevolence, compassion and unconditional love of a God they purport to believe in. A God that, according to their own bible, commanded, "Thou shalt not kill."

The resolution, to be proposed this week by the French delegation and introduced to the UN on behalf of the European Union, recommends protecting Gays and Lesbians from being jailed or killed for no other reason than their sexual orientation.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore said that if the resolution were adopted, it would create “new and implacable discriminations" and that states which do not recognize same-sex unions as 'matrimony' will be pilloried and made objects of pressure.

However, the fact is that the French resolution, supported by all 27 members of the European Union, says absolutely nothing about gay marriage. It is about ending jail and death penalty sentences that gays face in more than 85 countries including Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen where you can still be legally murdered just for being gay.

An editorial in Italy's mainstream La Stampa newspaper said the Vatican's reasoning was "grotesque." Another editorial in Rome's La Repubblica newspaper said the Vatican's position "leaves one dumbstruck."

Gay rights activist’s in Italy and in other European Union countries said that the Vatican’s reasoning smacked of "total idiocy and madness" and what the Vatican really feared was a "chain reaction in favor of legally recognized homosexual unions in countries, like Italy, where there is currently no legislation."

How can anyone in their right mind support and even contribute money to a church that advocates the murder and torture of any human being? Especially when that advocacy is based solely on bigotry and/or, at best, gross misunderstandings that would unquestionably lead to death?

This time the Catholic Church has gone way over the edge and they should be taken to task for that inhumane and psychotic decision.

December 2, 2008


President-Elect Barack Obama has pledged to change and expand domestic and international HIV/AIDS programs.

In a video address to the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health, Obama said, "We must also recommit ourselves to addressing the AIDS crisis here in the United States, with a strong national strategy of education, prevention, and treatment, focusing on those communities at greatest risk. This strategy must be based on the best available science, and built on the foundation of a strong health care system."

Promising to rely on "the best available science" is already a welcome departure from the politically blinded policies of the Bush disaster that withdrew funding from organizations that did not teach abstinence-only education.

During the entire eight years of the Bush fiasco, there was never a specific and/or coherent domestic, national approach for combating HIV/AIDS in this country. In contrast, Obama's plan would implement national strategies to decrease the rate of HIV transmission, establish a universal health care system, begin a more aggressive targeting of minority communities, begin comprehensive, age-appropriate sexual education and fully support the Ryan White CARE Act..

On an international scale, Obama also pledged to provide at least $50 billion by 2013 to fight AIDS around the world which could at least double the number of people who are treated for the virus. In addition, he promised to push for distribution of less-expensive generic drugs and invest in other nations' infrastructure problems that have increased the rate of transmissions such as poor water conditions and debt reduction.

I have to say that, so far, Obama is clearly trying to live up to the promises he made in his campaign. His picks for cabinet and other top-level positions certainly demonstrates his pledge to fill the government with the most qualified people available regardless of party affiliations or ideological differences.

The stark contrasts between the political approaches and levels of intelligence of Obama and Bush is a more than welcome change. Now I'm hoping that the democrat-controlled congress and senate will be able to find a way of working together instead of repeating the disastrous bickering and inertia during the first four years of Clinton's presidency when they also had control the presidency, congress and senate. They would do well to remember that the ineptitude shown by that congress led to the embarrassing hand-over of power to the Republicans in 1996 - just four short years after acquiring it.

Let's keep our fingers crossed and our eyes open. We all have a stake in and responsibility for what happens next.

December 1, 2008


Matthew Mitcham Named Sports Performer Of The Year...

Olympic gold medalist Matthew Mitcham caps off his stunning victory in Beijing by winning Australia's coveted athletics award as Sports Performer Of The Year.

20 year old Matthew was up against 8 other outstanding Australian athletes but when his dramatic final dive on the 10m platform scored a world-record-breaking 4 perfect tens, beating out the overwhelming Chinese favorites, he forever became a major part of the Olympic's illustrious athletic history.

The great, and now immortal Olympian, Michael Phelps was also honored as the International Performer of the Year.

For those of you who may not know, Matthew came out as a gay man in a Sydney Morning Herald interview prior to gong to Beijing, making him the first and only openly gay Olympic Medalist to ever compete.

There is, unfortunately, an aspect of all of this that the Australian, and even the international, business and advertising industries should be very embarrassed about. Although most of the multinational, mega-corporations have gone out of their way to proudly tout their corporate policies of supporting diversity in an effort to attract GLBT employees and GLBT dollars, the fact is that while Michael Phelps has been deservedly inundated with national and international sponsorship deals, none of those supposedly diverse companies have knocked on Matthew Mitcham's door.

What's wrong with this picture?

Proposition 8 is becoming a PR fiasco for Mormons...

According to a story in the Salt Lake Tribune, the backlash from the Mormon's extensive involvement in the Yes On 8 campaign is beginning to look like a major fiasco for the church.

LDS Church members Gregory and JaLynn Prince, of Washington, D.C., thousands of miles away from California, have felt the sting of their church's actions.

Their daughter, a student at Boston University, has lost friends over the issue and their son, who is doing LDS missionary recruiting work in San Bernardino, Calif., has had a disproportionate number of potential converts cancel appointments.

At a first-ever class on Mormonism at Wesley Theological Seminary, where the Princes have been trying to build bridges for years, students pointedly asked them: "What was your church thinking?"

JaLynn Prince said,
"We are not taking sides on the issue, but the way this was done has hurt our people and the church's image. It reminds me of the naive public relations strategy we had regarding the Equal Rights Amendment."

According to the Tribune:
Just 10 months after the death of LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley, who spent nearly 70 years burnishing his church's public image, goodwill toward Mormonism that culminated during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games seems to have faded in a haze of misunderstanding and outright hostility.

All of this has come on the heals of Mitt Romney's unsuccessful presidential campaign and persistent news-media reports linking the Church of Latter-day Saints to the FLDS polygamous sect raided by Texas authorities.

Add to that the almost continuous demonstrations outside Mormon churches throughout the country accusing them of bigotry, lies and stripping gay American citizens of their civil rights. Civil rights that not only had already been granted to us but, according to the CA Supreme Court decision, should have always been ours to begin with.

In the words of Sarah Barringer Gordon of the University of Pennsylvania, who studies LDS history and culture...
"The Olympics had this nice afterglow for Mormons and, boy, is that gone."

British Rugby League Fights Homophobia...

According to the blog Lez Get Real the British Rugby League is taking bold, very visible steps to combat homophobia in sports.
Inspired by former Australian rugby league player and actor, Ian Roberts, who came out in 1995, the Rugby Football League of Britain is hoping to promote LGBT equality in sport.

League officials say posters and logos carrying the message, "Some people are gay. Get over it!" will be displayed at rugby league grounds, in programs and fan areas, as a bid to promote LGBT integration in the sport.

Forums will also be set up for gay, lesbian and bisexual players and staff.

This will make the RFL the first national governing body of a major sport to sign up and support an anti-homophobia campaign.

Now if some of our major league sports organizations did the same thing here, imagine what kind of long-term effect that would have on sports in our country.

Yes, of course, in the beginning there would be strong resistance to that kind of effort. But, as has been shown over and over again, the more people are exposed to the GLBT community the more they learn about who we are and the less threatened and more accepting they become. It's all about visibility and education.

Finally - Lest We Lump All Catholics Together...

I found this uplifting story at Box Turtle Bulletin. It reminds us not to always automatically think that all Catholics are against us.

Roman Catholic Bishops in the United Kingdom have issued the following instructions to priests and worshippers alike:
Roman Catholic priests have been banned from using ‘heterosexist’ language in their churches in case they offend gay worshipers. They have been told by their bishops not to assume that every churchgoer is a heterosexual and to reflect this ‘in language and conversation’. ‘Remember that homophobic jokes and asides can be cruel and hurtful - a careless word can mean another experience of rejection and pain,’ say the bishops in a leaflet advising priests and worshippers how to be more welcoming to gay people.

As a popular Bob Dylan song says, "The Times They Are a-Changin'"