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May 31, 2009


This has to be one of the most bizarre and disgusting attempts by a college president to take back a GLBT student non-discrimination protection - ever.

It all started when Andrew Doherty, a gay employee of Westmoreland County Community College in Youngwood, PA who was legally married in Massachusetts, was denied health insurance for his spouse. His union filed a grievance on his behalf referring to the schools own non-discrimination policy that has been published on the school's website as well as in its catalog and student handbook. The statements published in all of the school's materials clearly say that the school will not discriminate against individuals based on their “sexual orientation” and “union membership.”

Well, in response to that grievance, newly appointed President Daniel J. Obara (pictured above) decided that the only way to handle the situation was to declare that the policy was an "accident" and shouldn't have included sexual orientation as a protected class.

The only problem with this absurd claim is that the policy has been used as a recruitment tool and touted as an incentive to join the college staff since it was adopted in 2000 - NINE YEARS AGO!

Obara at first tried to claim that the original policy wasn't supposed to include "sexual orientation" and then accused "the one who is not here anymore" of slipping it in without his "informed approval." But, of course, there's a real problem with those claims as well.

LezGetReal.com has reported that "the one who is not here anymore," who turned out to be the schools now-retired affirmative action officer, Mary Stubbs said that she was not happy about being rolled under the bus and has publicly stated that any revisions to the catalog and website she proposed would have been forwarded for review to the public relations staff and others, including the then vice president for academic affairs and student services - the one, the only - Dr. Daniel Obara.

“I would never take it upon myself to change a statement in the college, and anyone who told you that ought to know better,” Ms Stubbs said. “Of course not — not without having it approved.”

Asked about Stubbs' statement, Obara was forced to admit that the proposed wording change might have crossed his desk and that he may have signed off on it without noticing it.

Give me a break! He's either grossly incompetent or a pathological liar.

Doherty, who has been an employee for nearly five years, said it doesn’t make sense, “why now after nine years? How many institutions do you know that are taking people out of a non-discrimination policy?”

None of this seems to bother Obara though. He's clearly a member of the infamous Reagan/Bush/Cheney/Rove cabal - if history doesn't suit your purposes, well then - just ignore it or rewrite it.

Obara chose to rewrite it and has ordered the IT Department to remove all references to sexual orientation from the college's non-discrimination language, including the college’s Web site and all printed materials. No small undertaking - not a cheap one either. When all is said and done and court costs and legal fees are paid (because he WILL LOSE his case) and all of the materials are rounded up and disposed of and then reprinted and redistributed, it will probably cost the college in the neighborhood of tens of thousands of dollars - at least. This at a time when virtually all educational institutions are already desperately strapped for cash.

Obviously Obara believes that personal ideology is far more important than sound, intelligent and compassionate academic leadership.

I totally agree with Zemanta of LGR:

"You know if I were Mr. Doherty or any other gay facility member or student at Westmoreland County Community College, I’d be telling my attorney... to look into suing the school for false representation… because the original non-discrimination policy was the only reason I came to WCCC in the first place."

This joker has to be one of the biggest bozos in the entire country!

May 30, 2009


If you've been following my last two posts, you know that the California Supreme Court let Prop 8 stand but still allowed marriages already performed to be valid and legal. Confusing? Of course. Contradictory? You bet. But because of the way the ruling was worded, the path to future gay marriages in California is still wide open.

On one hand, they made it clear that they were forced to rule only on the legality of Prop 8 being on the ballot but, on the other, they also made it clear that some gay marriages can remain legal which immediately sets up the dichotomous conflict of the same basic citizen right being both legal and illegal in the same state. That kind of legal conundrum can only be finally decided in the U.S. Supreme Court. Which is exactly what's about to happen.

If you saw my article yesterday, you already know that two of the nation's top legal minds who have both argued before the Supreme Court have agreed to act as co-councils in the lawsuit filed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

Ted Olson and David Boies argued against each other in the now infamous 2000 Bush v. Gore presidential election Supreme Court case that was watched and scrutinized by virtually the entire world. Earlier this week they appeared on Larry King to discuss their reasons for taking on this historic case. Below is the video of that interview:

The only thing I'm very concerned about with this action is the make-up of our current Supreme Court. Even with the addition of Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor who will replace Justice David Souter, the court will still have the same ideological make-up.

However, even given that, I am still very hopeful that at least one or two of the other justices will vote in favor of this simple and very clear-cut case of civil rights.

Who knows, maybe we'll luck out and Obama will be able to appoint another justice before this case reaches the court. Stranger things have happened.

May 28, 2009


As expected, Tuesday's decision allowing California's Proposition 8 to stand is now, officially, headed to the United States Supreme Court.

According the transcript of a press conference held yesterday and posted at Box Turtle Bulletin, Chad Griffin, board chairman of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, announced that they have filed a lawsuit in the federal courts against the state of California. In addressing the press conference crowd, Griffin said:

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court issued a ruling that had a profound effect on California gays and lesbians. We saw thousands of people take to the streets last night to express their sadness, grief and dismay at the court’s failure to protect their fundamental rights. But yesterday’s ruling had an even more profound impact. It signaled to gay Americans across this nation that we are not viewed as equal in the eyes of the law. To every American whose rights are being denied, we’re here to say this fight is not over and we will win.

We’re taking this fight to the federal courts in order to protect the equal rights guaranteed to every American by the United States Constitution. Our courts exist to protect our rights when they are violated, and we are prepared to go all the way to the United States Supreme Court to find justice.

We are acting now because as Dr. King said, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” For even one couple to live through one more day of state-sanctioned second-class citizenship is one day too many.

The seriousness of this effort is underscored by the stature and reputation of the two attorneys who have agreed to act as co-councils for this action.

Both are seasoned professionals who have argued before the Supreme Court in what is probably the highest profile and most contentious political battle in the history of our country.

Ted Olson and David Boies are the two attorneys who argued against each other in the now infamous Bush v. Gore Supreme Court case that was watched and scrutinized by virtually the entire world. According to Griffin, these two outstanding attorneys are working together to fight this historic civil rights battle because "they share an abiding belief that all Americans are guaranteed equal protection under the law, and are guaranteed the right to marry the person they love."

Ted Olson said at the press conference;

The case we filed on behalf of the individuals that you see before you today is not about liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. We’re here, in part, to symbolize that. This case is about the equal rights guaranteed to every American under the United States constitution.

David Boies followed by saying;

Our constitution guarantees every American the right to be treated equally under the law. There is no right more fundamental than the right to marry the person that you love and to raise a family.

The courts exist to reverse injustices. The purpose of our constitution and the purpose of our court system is to make sure that the promise of our constitution is extended to every American. That’s what this lawsuit is about.

I just hope that when this case does reach the Supreme Court there are enough justices seated at that time who will agree that this is, indeed, a case of equal justice and equal treatment under the law. Hopefully, Obama will be able to replace at least one of the extreme rightist with someone more attuned to the true intents of our founding fathers.

Since Sotomayor's appointment would keep the balance the same, it does seem that my hope is a pie-in-the-sky dream because at least one of those extremists would have to die or resign before then. Would it be wrong to say I'm keeping my fingers crossed?

May 26, 2009


A couple of hours ago the California Supreme Court announced it's rulings on Proposition 8 and the validity of the marriages already performed.

The bad news is that they ruled in favor of upholding the infamous Proposition 8. A News Release from the court stated:

The 136-page majority opinion notes at the outset that the court’s role is not to determine whether Proposition 8 “is wise or sound as a matter of policy or whether we, as individuals believe it should be a part of the California Constitution,” but rather “is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values.”

The court ruled that Prop 8 didn't constitute a "revision" of the state's constitution because it only addressed a narrow definition of the term "marriage" but didn't prohibit legally established same-sex relationships...

Instead, it carves out a limited exception to these constitutional rights by reserving the official designation of the term “marriage” for the union of opposite-sex couples, but leaves undisturbed all of the other aspects of a same-sex couple’s constitutional right to establish an officially recognized and protected family relationship and to the equal protection of the laws.

On one hand it sounds like they're saying that their ruling doesn't preclude legal, same-sex relationships as long as the word "marriage" isn't used. And that the ruling doesn't necessarily represent their own, personal feelings about the amendment itself.

It's almost as if their words embody a strongly implied encouragement for us to pursue the legalization of our relationships under any other name than "marriage." Unfortunately, that brings us right back to the "separate but equal" conundrum. And that, to me, is a totally unacceptable option. We've seen how easily legal "civil unions" can be dismissed by homophobic medical and legal professionals and scores of businesses simply by the phrase "well, you're not really married" so they feel they're legally free to ignore our relationships. After all, the laws and regulations do say "married couples" this and "married couples" that.

The good news in this debacle is that the court did uphold the legality of the 18,000+ marriages already performed before Prop 8 passed. The elephant-in-the-room on that one though is the question of how difficult is it going to be for these couples to convince those same homophobes that their marriages are legal when the only thing all these people are going to remember in their tiny little minds is that the court upheld Prop 8.

That aside however, I DO CONGRATULATE those who were "married" and wish each and everyone of them the happy and fulfilling lives they seek.

Obviously, the battle is far from over in California.

If you would like to read the press release or the opinions themselves, go to:
They can be downloaded in either PDF or WORD formats.

As I reported yesterday, there are going to be demonstrations in cities around the country tonight.

Rally at 6pm on 7th Avenue at Camelback in the lot next to Charlie's.

Rally at 6:30pm in Catalina Park (1st St. & 4th Ave.)

Go to: DayOfDecision.com

May 22, 2009


Today is Harvey Milk's birthday. He would have been 79. There are candlelight vigils planned for this evening from Sacramento all the way down to San Diego to commemorate this day. Queers United has posted the specifics for where and when each of these vigils will take place.

So how appropriate is it then that the California Supreme Court also published a notice today that their decisions on the three cases challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8 will be filed at 10:00am (pacific time) next Tuesday, May 26th?

After a long 3 month wait, we're finally going to find out whether we're going to have celebrations or demonstrations. This has been one of the most closely guarded decisions the court has ever issued. No one on the court or in their offices has leaked any information that might give a clue about those decisions so no one, outside of the court, is really sure which way they'll go.

Here in Phoenix (as well as across the country) a Day Of Decision action is planned for Tuesday evening. John Allard, who works with Marriage Equality and Day Of Decision, said this morning:

I'm thrilled that the California Supreme Court gave us an entire three day weekend to spread the word that DAY OF DECISION will be TUESDAY, MAY 26. In PHOENIX we will rally at 6pm Tuesday evening on 7th Avenue at Camelback, next to Charlie's. Please spread the word about this over the holiday weekend. It is important that we mobilize a large number of people in response to this decision.
See you TUESDAY!

If you would like to know where and when an action is planned in your area, go to: DayOfDecision.com

Looks like this is going to be a very long weekend.

May 21, 2009


Michael Steele, the current Chairman of the Republican Party, made another incredibly lame but valiant attempt to redefine his party's opposition to gay marriage without resorting to hateful, homophobic bigotry. Unfortunately, his argument made absolutely no sense.

According to a Box Turtle Bulletin report, while speaking at the National Rifle Association's 138th Annual Meetings & Exhibits last Friday (May 15th), Steele said:

Republicans can reach a broader base by recasting gay marriage as an issue that could dent pocketbooks as small businesses spend more on health care and other benefits, GOP Chairman Michael Steele said Saturday.

Steele said that was just an example of how the party can retool its message to appeal to young voters and minorities without sacrificing core conservative principles. Steele said he used the argument weeks ago while chatting on a flight with a college student who described herself as fiscally conservative but socially liberal on issues like gay marriage.

“Now all of a sudden I’ve got someone who wasn’t a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for,” Steele told Republicans at the state convention in traditionally conservative Georgia. “So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money.”

Now I could go into all the reasons why this is such a stupid argument but, as usual, Keith Olbermann did it in a far more entertaining way. Here's what Keith had to say:

I love this guy!

May 20, 2009


Several of my posts lately have addressed relatively heavy subject matters. Just to remind us that there are a lot of really good people out there who aren't trying to put us back in our closets or reindoctrinate our youth to believe that violence can sometimes be an acceptable answer, here's something on the much brighter side.

In accepting the Capitol Champions Award, Iowa State Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal made it very clear why the Iowa Supreme Court decided the way it did and who was really responsible for that great victory.

Here's the video of the Senator's comments...

Of course, the Senator himself was the key person who shepherded the legislation that officially made the court's decision a reality through the State Senate.

Thanks to the Stonewall Democrats for sending me the email with this video.

I've posted several stories about Iowa's gay marriage ruling and background. The first was on April 3rd just after the ruling was handed down.

The others can be found at the links below:

May 18, 2009


This picture appeared above a New York Times article titled "Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More" which ran last Wednesday.

My first reaction to just the image alone was how startling reminiscent it was of the numerous pictures I've seen of the infamous Hitler Youth. However, as disturbing as this picture and others are, the article is even more so.

When I was a scout, the emphasis was always on doing your best and contributing to the good of the community primarily through public service projects and learning how to live within the natural world without harming it.

Now, however, according to the article:

The Explorer Scouts, which is a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

The training, which leaders say is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out “active shooters,” like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.

“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”

These are not the altruistic goals I remember being taught as a scout. This is clearly an attempt to turn the scouts into a militarily trained adjunct group ready to do the bidding of whatever military-oriented group that wishes to use them.

Membership in the Explorers has been overseen since 1998 by an affiliate of the Boy Scouts called Learning for Life, which offers 12 career-related programs, including those focused on aviation, medicine and the sciences.

But the more than 2,000 law enforcement posts across the country are the Explorers’ most popular, accounting for 35,000 of the group’s 145,000 members, said John Anthony, national director of Learning for Life. Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many posts have taken on an emphasis of fighting terrorism and other less conventional threats.

“Before it was more about the basics,” said Johnny Longoria, a Border Patrol agent here. “But now our emphasis is on terrorism, illegal entry, drugs and human smuggling.”

These are children! Children who aren't experienced enough yet to know when they're being used by someone or some entity that has other motives in mind.

The leaders claim that a child must be at least 14 to participate but obviously, they're willing to overlook that requirement if any one of them personally decides they want someone younger.

A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy in Imperial County, CA, said: "This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl. It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

“I will take them at 13 and a half,” Lowenthal went on to say. “I would rather take a kid than possibly lose a kid.”

Something like this, depending on it's pitched, could easily attract many children for all the wrong reasons.

16 year old Cathy Noriega said she was attracted by the guns. The group uses compressed-air guns that fire tiny plastic pellets but they also shoot real guns on a closed range.

“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”

BTW - if this isn't scary enough, consider who is currently the largest financial backer of the Boy Scouts and all of its programs and who has many of their own members on the scout boards. Yep. It's the Mormons. One of the biggest (next to the Catholic Church) and most virulently homophobic groups in the world.

I only touched the surface of this brilliantly articulate article. It's WELL WORTH taking a few minutes to read the whole thing. I guarantee that you'll sit there with your mouth hanging open at the end.

Go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/us/14explorers.html?_r=4&th&emc=th

May 15, 2009


In my March 23rd posting, I did a story (with video) on the very public coming out of Lt. Dan Choi on the Rachel Maddow Show.

Lt. Choi is a graduate of West Point, a NY National Guard platoon leader, an Iraq war veteran and an Arabic linguist expert. He and 38 other West Point graduates risked their careers by coming out publicly and forming an organization called Knights Out, which they intended to be a support group that would offer help to their alma mater in educating future Army leaders on the need to accept and honor the sacrifices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.

At the time of his Maddow interview, Lt. Choi was still an active duty officer in good standing. Unfortunately, even after very personal, heartfelt and reasoned pleas from Choi not to be discharged under DADT, the Army went ahead and fired him anyway. Totally disregarding, as they had 53 times before, the inestimable value an Arabic linguist has to the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Below is a video segment of The Daily Show's Jon Stewart skewering Barack Obama and the military for the insane firing of Lt. Choi and others in the middle of two wars in two Arabic/Muslim countries.

According to LezGetReal.com, as a lead-in to the video segment with John Oliver, Stewart cautioned us to always check the fine print as the camera focused in on an Obama banner that was altered to read below the “Yes We Can” slogan the words “But That Doesn’t Necessarily Mean We Are Going To.”

Here's that video:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Dan Choi Is Gay
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

To date, the United States Military has fired over 12,000 service men and women for no other reason than the fact that they are gay. Many of the them were highly decorated war veterans.

If you would like to express your concerns directly to President Obama, you can send an email using the contact form at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

May 14, 2009


In my last two blog postings, I talked about the failure to see any substantive progress by the Obama administration to make good on his often repeated campaign promises to the LGBT community.

Although there are still many issues that have yet to see any kind of movement, I focused on two of the top priorities that I believe should already have been addressed with strong, doable actions.

The repeal of DOMA and the repeal of DADT are both policies that an overwhelming majority of democrats, including Obama, have already said they were against and pledged to repeal. More importantly, these are policies that not only mock and severely limit the thousands of legal, gay marriages already performed but also jeopardize the readiness and ability of our ground troops to perform at their best in two wars being fought in the middle of two Arabic/Muslim cultures that have a language that virtually none of our troops are able to even understand let alone speak.

Yet, everyday that these policies stay in effect, more and more highly qualified American troops who do speak the languages and understand the cultures are being discharged. And legally recognized gay families are being discriminated against and denied rights and privileges that straight families take for granted on the flimsy excuse that it's against DOMA. In both cases, the lives of thousands of law-abiding, patriotic and emotionally committed individuals are having their lives disrupted and their dreams crushed because those who were elected to correct these injustices are dragging their feet - for no defendable reason.

Yesterday, renowned writer Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic magazine added his voice to the growing number of openly gay Obama supporters who are beginning to question the veracity of the democrats and, in particular, of Obama himself when they loudly proclaimed their support for GLBT issues. In his article, Sullivan said:

Here we are, in the summer of 2009, with gay servicemembers still being fired for the fact of their orientation. Here we are, with marriage rights spreading through the country and world and a president who cannot bring himself even to acknowledge these breakthroughs in civil rights, and having no plan in any distant future to do anything about it at a federal level. Here I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all).

And what is Obama doing about any of these things? What is he even intending at some point to do about these things? So far as I can read the administration, the answer is: nada. We're firing Arab linguists? So sorry. We won't recognize in any way a tiny minority of legally married couples in several states because they're, ugh, gay? We had no idea. There's a ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants? Really? Thanks for letting us know. Would you like to join Joe Solmonese and John Berry for cocktails? The inside of the White House is fabulous these days.

Sullivan wrote an emotional and powerful piece that I highly recommend to everyone. To read his article go to The Atlantic at: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/05/the-fierce-urgency-of-whenever.html

Hopefully, President Obama's Deputy Director of the White House office of Public Liaison, LGBT activist Brian Bond, is keeping track of all of these articles and postings and is keeping the President and, in turn, the democratic leadership aware of the growing dissatisfaction within our community.

If they continue to treat us as the unwanted stepchildren, they're going to have a hell of time getting themselves reelected. Lest they forget, there were millions of us and our supporters who got them elected to begin with.

May 12, 2009


In my posting yesterday, I said that President Obama could end, or at least suspend, the DADT policy himself.

Well, imagine my delight this morning when I saw a new study published by the Palm Center, a think tank at the University of California, Santa Barbara, that said the President does, indeed, have the authority to end DADT on his own authority.

In fact, according to the study, the President actually has several options available to him. Here is what the study itself said:

There are three legal bases to the president’s authority, the report says. First, Congress has already granted to the Commander in Chief the statutory authority to halt military separations under 10 U.S.C. § 12305, a law which Congress titled, “Authority of President to suspend certain laws relating to promotion, retirement, and separation” Under the law “the President may suspend any provision of law relating to promotion, retirement, or separation applicable to any member of the armed forces who the President determines is essential to the national security of the United States” during a “period of national emergency.” The statute specifically defines a “national emergency” as a time when “members of a reserve component are serving involuntarily on active duty.”

The second and third bases of presidential authority are contained within the “don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation itself. The law grants to the Defense Department authority to determine the process by which discharges will be carried out, saying they will proceed “under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Defense… in accordance with procedures set forth in such regulation." Finally, the law calls for the discharge of service members “if” a finding of homosexuality is made, but it does not require that such a finding ever be made. According to the study, these provisions mean that the Pentagon, not Congress, has the “authority to devise and implement the procedures under which those findings may be made.”

Diane H. Mazur, Professor of Law at the University of Florida College of Law and another study co-author, said the presidential authority to stop firing gay troops, known as “stop-loss,” is different from the highly unpopular stop-loss policy that the Army recently announced it would phase out. “That use of stop-loss forcibly extends service by those who wish to leave the military,” she said, “whereas suspending discharges for homosexuality would do the opposite: allow ongoing service by those who wish to remain in uniform.” The study says the provisions of the stop-loss law, which are granted by Congress, are “sensible because they give the President authority to suspend laws relating to separation when a national emergency has strained personnel requirements.”

Mr. President, many of us who were, and still are, among your strongest supporters have been saying since the inauguration that we needed to be patient, that you needed time to settle-in. Well, now that we know, without a doubt, that you CAN do this, even our patience is beginning to wear very thin.

I'm sure you're aware that a healthy majority of your constituents, including military personnel themselves, from generals down to privates, have consistently said in numerous polls and public statements that they support the repeal of DADT. With those polls, the release of this study and the current disarray and even impotence of the right wing republican party, we're finding it more and more difficult to understand why this hasn't happened already. The overriding question we all have in our minds just became -- WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Mr. President -- NOW IS THE TIME to stand up and BE the "fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans" that you unambiguously promised you would be.

May 10, 2009


President Barack Obama's exhilarating victory last November seemed to almost instantly inflate a sense of overwhelming pride and indomitable optimism throughout most of this country - and, indeed, the world.

Finally, after eight abysmal years of rampant arrogance, secrecy and stunning disregard for the very constitution that is the heart and soul of this nation, we could see light piercing through the darkness.

For the LGBT community, it was a particularly heady time of real hope for our future. Here we had a man elected President of the United States who had strongly and unabashedly voiced support for our community - for us.

He spoke openly, frequently and eloquently throughout the long, drawn-out campaign about the necessity for fair and equal treatment under the law. And not just for some amorphous group of rights but for GAY rights - specifically! He even went so far as to pledge to be a "fierce advocate of equality for gay and lesbian Americans."

It is true, Mr. President, that you have done more than any other sitting president to appoint qualified, openly gay professionals as heads of many important departments, agencies and pivotal positions within your administration. Although it is still disappointing that there were no cabinet level appointments even though there were several highly qualified, openly gay candidates.

It is also true that you did issue a strong public statement urging Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Act. And I'm sure that your comments had a lot to do with swaying some of the undecideds to join the majority when they passed this legislation on April 29th.

It is however, very disappointing that two of the most important actions you vowed to vigorously pursue have yet to show any real progress.

Everyday there are more and more legally married and legally "partnered" gay couples and families establishing their relationships in cities and rural communities throughout this country. And even though this is a very positive trend, everyone of those couples continue to face a myriad of challenges and very real hardships caused by the so-called Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA).

This is something you vowed to "vigorously" work toward the repeal of. So far, there seems to have been no visible effort on your part to help bring about this promised action. Granted, this is something that must be done by Congress but now, with your new, formidable position as President of the most powerful nation on earth, you could certainly push, prod and cajole enough members of both houses to bring this issue to a resolution instead of allowing them to sidestep and doublespeak their way around it.

Also, as you well know, there are still highly patriotic, skilled and exhaustively trained members of the armed services being discharged for no other reason than their status as gay Americans. When this happens, not only is the country itself harmed but good people like West Point graduate, Iraq war veteran, and Arab linguist, Lt. Choi or Second Lieutenant Sandy Tsao (who you wrote to personally) and thousands like them have their lives totally disrupted and their dreams of serving their country honorably and with dignity crushed by this illogical and harmful policy.

This is, to me, probably the most disturbing of all of the gay civil rights issues because this is something that you, as Commander and Chief, have the immediate power to stop. Right now. Today.

Granted, it may take some time to workout the implementation of ending the DADT policy altogether. But, in the meantime, a simple order from the President/Commander & Chief to "temporarily" stop these callous discharges until the details and legalities of ending this policy can be worked out would put an immediate end to the indiscriminate "punishment" of the distinguished, dedicated men and women now serving our country.

This can easily be justified under the auspices of protecting and maintaining military readiness in the midst of two wars being fought in Arabic/Muslim nations. How many missions were botched and how many lives were lost for no other reason than the fact that our forces simply didn't understand the languages and/or cultures within the fields of battle.

This IS something you can do right now, Mr President.

Yes. You can.

May 7, 2009


The tenth annual National Women’s Health Week will kick off on Mother's Day Sunday, May 10th and will run through Saturday, May 16th.

It's a nationwide undertaking coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health (OWH). During this week communities, businesses, government, health organizations, and other groups work together to educate women about steps they can take to improve their physical and mental health and lower their risks of certain diseases.

Here in Arizona, Planned Parenthood is contributing through a variety of activities including breast cancer screenings on May 16 and a public outreach about prevention on May 13 in conjunction with President Obama’s visit to deliver the ASU commencement address.

They were also scheduled to present health information at the Women’s Health Expo & Conference being organized by the Governor’s Office for Children, Youth, and Families. Unfortunately, Governor Jan Brewer has decided to exclude the preventive health information provided by Planned Parenthood Arizona.

In response to Brewer's ban, Planned Parenthood Arizona issued the following statement:

As a result, Planned Parenthood Arizona, an organization that thousands of Arizona women and families trust, will not be offering information about sexually transmitted infection prevention and treatment, early cancer detection, and the benefits of regular well-women exams.

It is alarming and potentially dangerous that information offered to help women take control of their reproductive lives is not being included at a women’s health event! This flies in the face of the goals of National Women’s Health Week.

Planned Parenthood Arizona is disheartened and concerned by the Governor's actions. We asked to meet with Governor Brewer to explain Planned Parenthood Arizona’s focus on prevention. Since then we’ve written to describe in detail the health threats confronting Arizona women. The Governor has not responded to these repeated requests, and the ban on the health information for which Planned Parenthood Arizona is respected, remains in place!

We are left wondering what priority is more important to Governor Brewer than promoting and protecting the health of Arizona women, young people and families.

What's so disheartening about Brewer's decision is that she would introduce right-wing, ideologue politics into an event that should transcend politics all together. Certainly, as a woman, Brewer has to be aware of the obstacles and challenges women face in trying to get accurate, unbiased health information that specifically addresses their problems.

Given that, how can she, in good conscience, take an action that would block health information that could potentially save lives for no other reason than tired, worn-out, ideological arguments that have long-since been discredited. She should be ashamed of herself. Certainly, her actions bring shame on the beautiful state of Arizona.

If you would like to express how you feel you can contact the Governor by phone - 602-542-4331 (or
Toll Free at 1-800-253-0883) - by fax at 602-542-1381 or by filling out the online email form.

May 6, 2009


As I reported briefly yesterday, Maine's House of Representatives passed gay marriage legislation (LD 1020) by a vote of 89 to 58.

This follows last week's Senate approval and earlier this morning Governor John Baldacci enthusiastically signed the bill despite much speculation that he might not sign it because of his previously stated beliefs about marriage and his expressed support for Civil Unions instead.

Prior to the vote, Balducci took the unusual step of personally calling two married, straight constituents who suported gay marriage. They had emailed him expressing their concern that he might be planning to abdicate his responsibilities by not signing the bill and simply letting it go to a voter referendum this fall.

During the unexpected and lengthy phone conversation Balducci, in referring to the an open forum community discussion, said:

I was extremely impressed by the arguments for both sides, but especially by the proponents.

They were very respectful- I liked that they turned their backs when they disagreed.

I was truly impressed by the people who spoke for the bill.

I was opposed to this for a long time, but people evolve, people change as time goes by.

According to a report by LezGetReal.com, at the bill's signing, Balducci said “In the past, I opposed gay marriage while supporting the idea of civil unions. I have come to believe that this is a question of fairness and of equal protection under the law, and that a civil union is not equal to civil marriage.”

Main now becomes the 5th state to legalize gay marriages following Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont. It's also the second state to do this by legislative action and the first state to it without having to override a governor's veto.

California has to announce their decision on the legality of Prop 8 by June 6th so we could be hearing about that any day now.

Box Turtle Bulletin reports the current state-by-state status as follows:

Colorado – The legislature passed a Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, which has been signed by the Governor.

Illinois – a bill has been introduced to enact Civil Unions. The bill is currently waiting for a House vote.

Nevada – The Senate passed a bill to provide Domestic Partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage. It will go before the Assembly Judiciary on Friday. The Governor has promised to veto the bill but some sources say that there will be a compromise crafted before the legislature disbands in a month.

New Hampshire – The House and Senate have both passed a marriage bill. The Senate version had specific religious protections that were not in the House bill. The House Judiciary has approved the changes and they will go before a House vote tomorrow. The Governor has stated that he is opposed to gay marriage in the past but has not addresses this specific bill.

Hopefully, Governor Balducci's signature on Maine's legislation will put enough pressure on New Hampshire's Governor John Lynch to follow suit.

New York – A marriage bill has been introduced in the house. Log Cabin Republicans announced that they have found additional Republican support in the House for marriage. Senate Majority Leader Smith will not bring marriage to a vote in the Senate until adequate votes will assure its passage, which probably means that four to six Republicans will need to be convinced. Empire State Pride is doing polling in Republican districts and seeking to give them assurance that a vote for equality will not result in an election defeat.

Washington - a bill to upgrade the state’s Domestic Partnerships to provide all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed the Senate and House with large margins and will be signed by the Governor. A petition has been filed to put it to the voters.

District of Columbia – the Council voted to recognize out of state marriages. This bill will be signed by the Mayor and then Congress has 30 days to review and possibly overturn it by a majority vote in both houses and the signature of the President. A same-sex marriage bill is expected later this year.

Rhode Island is now the only New England state that doesn't have either same-sex marriage or civil unions. There are however, several bills before that state's legislature that could legalize one or the other of those two options.

As euphoric as all this is - and it is - it's likely that the momentum will begin to slow a bit as we come down to the more diehard conservative states.

Unless, of course, we get a couple of new Supreme Court Justices who will swing the balance away from hardcore ideology and back to fair and balanced equality. Then it could happen countrywide in one, quick swoop of the pen.

Wouldn't that be incredible!

May 5, 2009

Maine's House of Representatives just passed legislation that legalizes gay marriage in the State of Maine.

The vote was 89 to 58 in favor of passage. The State Senate approved the measure last week so now the bill goes directly to Governor John Baldacci for his signature.

I'll have more on this in tomorrow's posting.


Howard Stern has mesmerized and confounded his listeners and critics alike for years now. You never know what he's going to say from one second to the next and from all appearances, neither does he.

Aside from his trademark, point-blank, raunchy realism there's one thing that has remained a constant and recurring topic of countless discussions. Us.

He clearly believes that the gay community has an indisputable right to equal treatment - not just under the law but within the general society as a whole. He has been a staunch, unabashed and defiantly outspoken champion of our causes for many years now and his ability to reach millions of people everyday (mostly straight) makes him one of the most powerful voices we could ever have on our side.

Last week, Jenny Stewart posted a segment of a discussion on the April 29th broadcast under Hot Topics on Gay.com. I want to share this with you now because I think it deserves to be heard by as many people as possible.

According to Jenny, who is apparently a long-time listener, Stern frequently inserts insightful, positive opinions on gays - completely out of nowhere. On the April 29th show, while reading his fan feedback emails, he started talking about someone complaining to him that the show had become "too gay." Following is the exchange that took place between Howard and his co-hosts Robin Quivers and Artie Lange:

Howard: I was talking to someone recently and they said, 'Oh you have so many gay guests lately, the show is getting too gay.'

OK -- first of all, we don't have that many gay guests. And my feeling about gay people is that we have a responsibility not only to make gay marriage acceptable and to make gays feel as accepted as heterosexuals, but that we have to hold gay people above all others.

Robin: What the hell does that mean?

Howard: In other words, gay people are downtrodden. They're beaten and abused for their sexuality. And it goes across race – it's in the white community and the black community. Gay people are the bastards of the world. And in order for things to change – because anyone of you could have gay children, gay relatives or gay friends –

Robin: And in some countries, you can be put to death for being gay.

Howard: Yes. You know, it reminds [me] almost of the Jews in Europe. In Poland, Warsaw was one of the great cities of Europe. They had Jews and the Jews were very important to the culture of Poland, and elevated the society. And then when the Nazis came and cleaned them out, Poland became what is today – nothing. It's really…not much.

Now, gay people in our society are responsible for some of the most creative arts, and creative science Рand not just the Arts, because I don't want this to sound like a clich̩. What I'm saying is that they're contributors, they are people who want to thrive and they're artistic and they're free thinkers.

So I think we have a responsibility to make [gays] acceptable. We have to get past all this bullshit, so that some gay kid going to high school doesn’t get the shit beat out of him just because he's gay. And like, what is this hang up with gay marriage, you know? Who cares?!

I mean, we aired a clip yesterday where this guy was carrying on – he's petitioning, and he's devoting his whole life to making sure that gay marriage doesn't happen in his state. And I'm thinking, 'Geez, this man must have the most empty fucking life.' It's just such bullshit.

If you want to believe in God, that's great. But don’t buy into these religions that were created by man that have all these cockamamie rules that were created by some uptight douche bag.

Artie Lange: And God created gay people, so I don’t know what these religious nuts are even talking about. Look, you can become a Nazi and you could be mad at them for doing that. But you're not born a Nazi. Every type of person was created by God, so you love them and accept them. Some people think it’s a choice, being gay, but I really don’t think so. I mean, why would you choose to be downtrodden?

Robin: Why would you choose to get the shit kicked out of you?

Howard: Right.

When Stern was just beginning to make a major name for himself, I just couldn't get into his style of commentary and comedy. Over the years however, after hearing over and over again about the extraordinary level of humanity and compassion that make up the core of his persona, I've done a compete 180.

I don't think there's anyone anywhere who deserves our respect and especially our gratitude more than Howard Stern.

Thank you Howard for continuing to stand by us.

May 4, 2009


Orson Scott Card is a best-selling science fiction writer, english professor and public speaker.

He is also an extreme homophobe who is calling for the criminalization of homosexuality and the overthrow of the American government if he and his cohorts don't get their way.

As an official representative of the Mormon church, he was recently installed as the newest and most prominent board member of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Which, by the way, is the group that brought you the infamous and much ridiculed "Gathering Storm" TV commercial.

Michael Keegan, President of People For the American Way issued the following statement in a recent press release:

“If the National Organization for Marriage wants to make the comments of a gossip columnist and a beauty queen the subject of a national debate, then it should answer for the bizarre and troubling remarks of its most prominent board member – best-selling science fiction writer Orson Scott Card.

The NOM has argued that it is not a homophobic organization, but Card’s remarks suggest otherwise. Card, who represents the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the board and received an effusive welcome last week from NOM president Maggie Gallagher, supports criminalizing sex between same-sex adults.

Keegan goes on to quote Card directly from his own writings:

Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books…to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens.

Keegan also cites Card's own words in advocating the overthrow of the government if same-sex marriage is permitted:

How long before married people answer the dictators thus: Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage, and help me raise my children in a society where they will expect to marry in their turn.

Biological imperatives trump laws. American government cannot fight against marriage and hope to endure. If the Constitution is defined in such a way as to destroy the privileged position of marriage, it is that insane Constitution, not marriage, that will die.

Now, of course, Card has a right to say whatever he wants about gays, homosexuality and overthrowing the government no matter how disgusting or alarming. But when a national, politically oriented organization like NOM endorses those views by giving him such a prominent position on its board, that is, to me, dancing very close to the edge of outright treason.

I totally agree with Michael Keegan in challenging NOM to categorically reject Card’s radical statements.

May 1, 2009


Caught in her own web of lies, Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx of North Carolina is now trying to portray herself as a "victim" by claiming that she's receiving death threats because of the disgusting Matthew Shepard murder comments she made in front of congress, the world and Matthew's own mother.

Her comments were so off-base and reprehensible that it prompted Keith Olbermann to label her the "World's Worst Person" during his Wednesday broadcast. That video is at the end of yesterday's posting and can be found at the link above.

The problem with Foxx's death threat claims is that they're apparently another total lie. According to a Washington Post story by Mary Ann Akers (aka the Sleuth) that was published yesterday;

The Capitol Police are unaware of any death threats against the congresswoman. Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, tells the Sleuth there is "no ongoing investigation" of the matter, which means the police have received no information about death threats from Foxx's office.

Foxx somewhat retracted her comments about Shepard later yesterday, after gay-rights groups and Democratic lawmakers denounced her revisionist history. (The two men who killed Shepard were convicted after multiple witnesses testified the killers were motivated by anti-gay bias.)

This is apparently the tactic du jour for corrupt politicians. Remember Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern who said that homosexuality is a bigger threat to this country than terrorists? In the maelstrom that ensued, she too tried to claim death threats to gain public sympathy.

Here in Arizona, we're all too familiar with this kind of sympathy play. Every time the corrupt and moralless Sheriff Joe Arpaio is caught in a lie, his first line of defense is to claim "death threats."

In case you don't know who Arpaio is (referred to by many here as "Joke Arpaio"), consider that his modus operandi has been repeatedly challenged by no less than Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Arizona Ecumenical Council, the American Jewish Committee, and the Arizona chapter of the Anti-Defamation League.

He is also currently under federal investigation for racial profiling in connection with a series of headline grabbing and questionably legal/illegal raids and community "sweeps" supposedly looking for criminals but targeting hispanic communities and businesses that employ hispanics. These operations usually resulted in hundreds of blanket arrests of almost exclusively hispanic individuals who were deemed "illegal immigrants" on the spot and taken to jail even though many were able to prove citizenship or legal status.

In Arizona, illegal immigration is, as I'm sure you can imagine, a very divisive and heated issue that Arpaio has been able to use to his advantage over and over again. Hopefully, this time the feds investigation will be able to come up with enough evidence to not only put a stop to these shameless practices but put an end to Arpaio's career as well.

Why these people keep getting reelected when they're so obviously corrupt and completely devoid of any kind of compassion or morality is a very disturbing reality of politics.

I'm hoping that the new direction and new sense of positive community activism that's taking hold in this country continues to grow. It's really the only thing that can stop the downward spiral we find ourselves in now.

I personally think it will.