Thank you for checking out my blog. To submit comments, click on "COMMENTS" at the end of each post. To email a post to a friend, click the white envelope also at the end of each post. Contact Me

TO ADD YOUR BLOG HERE - Click the "Follow This Blog" on the right.

TO SUBSCRIBE - Click a subscription option on the right.

TO READ PAST POSTINGS - Scroll down to my "Blog Archives" on the right or enter a search word or phrase in the search box above.

February 27, 2009


In a debate over a bill to extend health benefits to same-sex partners of state employees, Colorado state Senator Scott Renfroe equated homosexuality with murder.

LezGetReal.com reported:

Quoting the Bible on the Senate floor, Renfroe said gays are an “abomination” and an “offense to God” … “have committed a detestable act and they shall surely be put to death,” and then went on to compare homosexuality with murder - both sins, he said, that the state has no business making “legally OK.”

His outrageous comments caught the attention of several local church leaders. Rev. Richard Craft, interim pastor at Family of Christ Presbyterian Church of Greeley, said in a statement issued by the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado:

“As a Christian, I am profoundly saddened by the hate speech uttered by Sen. Renfroe in the name of God… Such speech is not simply an expression of neutral opinion; it emboldens attitudes of exclusion and even violence against our neighbors, whom we are called upon to love. And, it feeds the growing idea that Christianity is a religion of hate.”

The Rev. Dr. Dan Geslin, pastor at Sixth Avenue United Church of Christ in Denver added…
“I am concerned that the beliefs held by Senator Renfroe continue to be the proclamation of the Christian church and that all are left with the impression that this is Christianity’s view on the matter. As an ordained Christian minister, I follow Jesus’ way of love and understand Christianity not to be an imperialistic religion, but a spirituality of service. Senator Renfroe’s remarks demonstrate a belief system that is anything but loving.”

The Alliance's statement urged legislators to enact SB 88, which the Senate passed on Monday by an almost 2 to 1 margin of 22-12. The Alliance vowed to “work with” Gov. Bill Ritter to make sure it was signed into law.

BTW - last week the bill was also attacked in an advertising campaign that was financed and produced by the equally vitriolic and hate-filled Focus on the Family.

It's really great to see the other, more humane side of Christianity standing up to the religious, right-wing thugs.

If you want to hear Senator Refroe's full comment, check out the YouTube video below...

February 26, 2009


The pioneering GLBT magazine The Advocate reported today that the organizers of the upcoming National Equality Rally lauched a video on YouTube yesterday to promote the event.

The video is absolutely awesome. It's set to the music of Five for Fighting’s "What Kind of World Do You Want?" and begins with the image of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech then segues into images of gay rights rallies and marches from the first Philadelphia demonstrations in 1965 all the way through to today's fight for marriage equality. It really is an awesome video presentation and the music is just plain dynamite. Check it out...

The Rally is scheduled for May 3rd at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. I just wish may partner and I could afford to go because it looks like its going to be one of those incredibly memorable moments that you'll take with you for the rest of your life. What better setting could there be? The site our movement's first public demonstration and the birthplace of a country that dedicated itself to equality for all of its citizens.

According to National Equality Rally's website, the rally would serve as a call on Congress and our new president for:

• Passage of trans-inclusive hate crimes legislation

• Passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

• Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

• Support for GLBT health issues

• Equal benefits for same-sex families

• Same-sex marriage Equality

If you do plan to attend, I would strongly suggest that you call one of the downtown hotels as soon as you finish reading this. I have a feeling that they're going to get booked up pretty quick.

February 25, 2009


Pam Spaulding, of Pam's House Blend, a nationally recognized online magazine, has reported that the NAACP has come out in opposition to the legality of Proposition 8 in California.

Pam, referring to the NAACP press release, said, "Perhaps this will silence some of the critics who can't let go of the zombie meme that most blacks are homophobic -- and that leadership won't step up and say something. This hits all the right notes."

Following is the Press Release as quoted by Pam:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People today announced support of measures before the California legislature challenging Proposition 8, which altered the California Constitution to deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry and equal protection under the law.
In a letter to legislative leaders, NAACP national board chair Julian Bond and President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous urged passage of House Resolution 5 and Senate Resolution 7 to put the legislature on record calling for invalidation of Prop. 8 as an improper and dangerous alteration of the California Constitution.

"The NAACP's mission is to help create a society where all Americans have equal protection and opportunity under the law," said President Jealous. "Our Mission Statement calls for the 'equality of rights of all persons.' Prop. 8 strips same-sex couples of a fundamental freedom, as defined by the California State Supreme Court. In so doing, it poses a serious threat to all Americans. Prop. 8 is a discriminatory, unprecedented change to the California Constitution that, if allowed to stand, would undermine the very purpose of a constitution and courts - assuring equal protection and opportunity for all and safeguarding minorities from the tyranny of the majority."

SR 7, sponsored by Equality California (EQCA), will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 24th and will proceed to the full Senate for a vote shortly thereafter. Its companion bill, HR 5, also sponsored by EQCA, passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Feb. 17th and is eligible for a vote before the full Assembly as early as today.

The California State Conference of the NAACP filed briefs with the California Supreme Court in the legal challenge against Prop. 8, arguing that the measure drastically alters the equal protection guarantee in California's Constitution and that the rights of a minority cannot be eliminated by a simple majority vote. Several other civil rights organizations, faith leaders, unions and leading corporations also filed briefs urging the invalidation of Prop. 8.

"The NAACP has long opposed any proposal that would alter the federal or state constitutions for the purpose of excluding any groups or individuals from guarantees of equal protection," said Chairman Bond. "We urge the legislature to declare that Proposition 8 did not follow the proper protective process and should be overturned as an invalid alteration that vitiated crucial constitutional safeguards and fundamental American values, threatening civil rights and all vulnerable minorities."

Pam finished her story with, "Needless to say, this is the message that needs to be spread throughout churches in the socially conservative black communities around the country."

Certainly, Martin Luther King's late wife, Coreta Scott King, made it abundantly clear in her numerous statements supporting GLBT rights across the board that the black community's leadership as well as many, many blacks themselves ARE NOT homophobic and DO support us. It's time we put this false, media-driven issue to bed.

February 24, 2009


So far, even though there have been several openly gay appointments to Obama's adminstration, there have been no cabinet appointments. It's certainly not because there haven't been any qualified gay candidates. There have been several. But clearly, this is a step that President Obama has chosen not to take.

I'm sure that the reasoning has been that such an appointment would seriously rile the right-wingers that Obama is trying so hard to include in his coalition of support. And this is probably true - to a point.

With more and more polls showing that even some christians and die-hard republicans are beginning to warm to the idea of openly gay people serving in high government positions, including the presidency, maybe now would be the ideal time to take that step.

Well, we have one more chance to try and persuade President Obama to make good on his promise of building a truly inclusive government.

Queers United reported yesterday on a campaign by Equalrep.com to have Fred Hochberg appointed as Commerce Secretary.

Here is what Queers United/Equal Rep said about Hochberg:

Fred Hochberg is extremely qualified to be Commerce Secretary. Although he has been tapped to become Chair of the Export-Import Bank, he is only being vetted and he hasn't been confirmed yet. We believe that Mr. Hochberg would be better utilized as Commerce Secretary.

Hochberg has more than 25 years of experience in business, government, civil rights activities, and philanthropy. From 1998 through 2000, he served as deputy then acting administrator of the Small Business Administration (SBA), an agency elevated to cabinet rank by President Bill Clinton. He also served on President Clinton's Management Council.

Hochberg is also an Agency Review team leader on President-elect Obama's transition team. He has served on the boards of Playwrights Horizon, the Wolfsonian Art Museum, and on the Democratic National Committee. And he was appointed Dean of the Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy in 2003.

From 1994 to 1998, Fred Hochberg worked as founder and president of Heyday Company, a private investment firm managing real estate, stock market investments, and venture capital projects. Prior to that, he was president and chief operating officer of the Lillian Vernon Corporation, where he led the transformation of a small family mail order company into a publicly traded direct marketing corporation.

Fred Hochberg also brings a lot to the table in terms of diversity. He would be the first EVER openly gay Cabinet member in the entire history of the United States. Mr. Hochberg is also Jewish.

Queers United is suggesting the following 3-step action plan starting tomorrow (Wednesday):

STEP 1. Call Obama 202-456-1111
STEP 2. Email Obama: comments@whitehouse.gov
STEP 3: Repeat on Thursday and Friday.

We've seen how effective our phone and email campaigns have been in the past (getting offensive TV commercials pulled, canceling right-wing propaganda TV shows, forcing offensive software programs off the market, etc., etc.). Let's try and do the same thing here.

February 23, 2009


Gene therapy and stem cell research are two of the most exciting and fastest growing sciences in the world today. Their applications are becoming more and more far-reaching with every passing day.

In fact, either or both of two different avenues of research in gene therapy alone could very well prove to have yielded the most important discoveries ever made in the seemingly endless battle against HIV/AIDS.

For decades now, scientists have known that some people who have been repeatedly exposed to the HIV virus through unprotected sex, never developed the disease. They've been baffled and frustrated by this phenomena because they weren't able to figure out why. Until now.

In a February 3rd posting at Wired.com, Aaron Rowe reported:

Most people have a gene called CCR5, which makes them vulnerable to HIV infections. The naturally resistant people have mutant CCR5 genes that inhibit HIV.

Previously, scientists found that by cutting the CCR5 gene out of white blood cells involved in the immune response known as T-cells, they could protect a tube full of human cells from the virus. The gene editing technique relies on proteins called zinc finger nucleases that can delete any gene from a living cell.

In theory, zinc finger nucleases could give that immunity to anyone.

When this story first broke, I decided not to cover it on my blog because I didn't want to, once again, get people's hopes up. I wanted to wait until there was at least a little more concrete proof that this was more than just another interesting theory.

Well, it seems that things really are "closer than they appear in your rearview mirror." In a February 18th story by Andy Coghlan in NewScientist magazine:

The story begins with a man in Germany who last week was reported to be free of HIV following a bone marrow transplant. The donor was known to have two copies of a gene that prevents HIV from invading white blood cells. For the first time, it may be possible to eliminate the virus from the body, as opposed to simply keeping it in check with antiretroviral therapies (ART).

The story went on to say:

Word first surfaced last November that a man had been "cured" of HIV through a bone marrow transplant, but this wasn't confirmed until last week, when the full results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine (vol 360, p 692). "It's now almost exactly two years ago that we treated him, and the virus is nowhere to be seen," says Gero Hütter of the Charité University of Medicine in Berlin, head of the team that treated the man.

Hütter exploited a finding a decade ago that some individuals naturally defy HIV. It turned out that they had inherited two copies of a "delta32" mutation in a gene called CCR5, one from each parent. That mutation means CD4 white blood cells can't make a protein on their surface that HIV uses as a "door handle" to invade the cells, so the virus can't get in.

Then, when a man with HIV developed leukaemia and needed a bone marrow transplant, Hütter reasoned that it might be possible to treat his cancer and also give him an HIV-resistant immune system, since his own would be destroyed by chemotherapy anyway. The hunt was on to find a donor with two delta32 mutations. From 80 potentials, he found one. After the transplant, HIV-resistant cells took over the man's immune system, "curing" him of HIV. "Every new immune cell that grew thereafter in the bone marrow had these deletions, and so was resistant," says Hütter.

Now, although these are very dramatic results, the reality of being able to find people with the CCR5 variant who would also be compatible bone marrow donors with each individual HIV/AIDS patient would be, to say the least, a challenge. That's where gene therapy, a way of mimicking the same result without a donor, comes in.

Sangamo Biosciences of Richmond, California, began the first human trial of a promising gene therapy last week. "The German patient is the definitive proof that if you replace patients' immune cells, it's sufficient to protect the patient," says Philip Gregory of Sangamo.

Sangamo makes artificial versions of natural enzymes called zinc finger nucleases (ZFNs), which zero in on and disrupt any genes you choose - in this case the CCR5 gene, so that it stops making the HIV door-handle protein.

The company plans to take blood samples from 12 patients and extract the CD4 cells. It will then add a harmless virus to the cell carrying genes that code for the ZFNs. The altered CD4 cells produce the ZFNs, which sabotage the CCR5 gene. The ZFNs and the virus are then washed away and the genetically modified cells injected back into the patient.

There are, of course, many other trials and tests that would have to be done but this whole avenue of research could finally be the real light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel we've all be waiting for and not just another fleeting reflection of our hopes.

The NewScientist article is a somewhat lengthy, in-depth piece that would be worth a few minutes of your time. If you would like to read the full report, go to: NewScientist.com

BTW - the report also talks about the possibility of using stem cells to accomplish the same result.