Tuesday, December 30

Police: 'Jena Six' teen shoots self, is treated

AP – In this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007 picture, Mychal Bell, one of the Jena Six, appears at a news conference …

I wonder what happened to this young man between the time of the whole Jena Six event and now; he was involved in one of the most highly publicized cases of the year, and he went from that to a foster home. Where are his parents? Why was he in a foster home, and what happened to him there that would have him out shoplifting? Shooting himself in the chest with a .22 caliber pistol sounds more like a cry for help to me than a serious suicide attempt, since everyone and his momma knows now that the most sure way of shooting yourself is to put the pistol in your mouth, especially with one so small.

MONROE, La. – A teen convicted in the "Jena Six" beating case shot himself in the chest and was taken to the hospital Monday, days after his arrest on a shoplifting charge, police said.

Mychal Bell's wound isn't life threatening, said Monroe Police Sgt. Cassandra Wooten. The 18-year-old used a .22-caliber firearm in the shooting around 7:40 p.m., she said.

Wooten believes Bell was upset over media coverage of the arrest last week.

"I think he was upset over the incident ... and didn't want to be in the news again," she said.

Bell was one of a group of black teenagers who once faced attempted murder charges in the 2006 beating of a white classmate at Jena High School. The charges for all of the defendants were reduced.

The severity of the original charges brought widespread criticism and eventually led to more than 20,000 people converging in September 2007 on the tiny central Louisiana town of Jena for the largest civil rights march in decades.

Bell was in the news again after he was arrested on Dec. 24 and booked on charges of shoplifting, resisting arrest and simple assault, police said.

Police said Bell tried to steal several shirts and a pair of jeans from a department store and fled when a security guard and off-duty police officer tried to detain him. After they found him hiding under a car, Bell "swung his arms wildly" and one of his elbows struck the security guard with a glancing blow, according to a police report. He was freed on $1,300 bond.

Wooten said Bell was taken to a hospital in Monroe, where a nursing supervisor wouldn't release his condition. Wooten didn't have further details on the shooting.

One of Bell's attorneys in the assault case didn't immediately return a call Monday seeking comment on the shoplifting case.

In the Jena case, Bell eventually pleaded guilty to a juvenile charge of second-degree battery.

Bell, the only one of the six who has been tried, has been living in a foster home in Monroe and attending school.

Wednesday, December 17

3-year-old Hitler can't get name on cake

Heath Campbell, left, and his wife Deborah, were told that a store in Greenwich, N.J. would not inscribe their three-year-old son's full name, Adolf Hitler Campbell, center, on a birthday cake.

While I believe that the parents are stupid for the future suffering they are causing for their children, I think the store is totally wrong. If I, as a gay, black, Rastafari, am going to ask for tolerance, what right do I have to be intolerant? By the same token, if we as a society are going to ask for "equal rights" and "equal treatment", who is ShopRite not to give it?

What do you think?

updated 1:16 a.m. ET, Wed., Dec. 17, 2008
EASTON, Pa. - The father of 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell, denied a birthday cake with the child's full name on it by one New Jersey supermarket, is asking for a little tolerance. Heath Campbell and his wife, Deborah, are upset not only with the decision made by the Greenwich ShopRite, but with an outpouring of angry Internet postings in response to a local newspaper article over the weekend on their flare-up over frosting.

"I think people need to take their heads out of the cloud they've been in and start focusing on the future and not on the past," Heath Campbell said Tuesday in an interview conducted in Easton, on the other side of the Delaware River from where the family lives in Hunterdon County, N.J.

"There's a new president and he says it's time for a change; well, then it's time for a change," the 35-year-old continued. "They need to accept a name. A name's a name. The kid isn't going to grow up and do what (Hitler) did."

Deborah Campbell, 25, said she phoned in her order last week to the ShopRite. When she told the bakery department she wanted her son's name spelled out, she was told to talk to a supervisor, who denied the request.

Karen Meleta, a spokeswoman for ShopRite, said the Campbells had similar requests denied at the same store the last two years and said Heath Campbell previously had asked for a swastika to be included in the decoration.

"We reserve the right not to print anything on the cake that we deem to be inappropriate," Meleta said. "We considered this inappropriate."

The Campbells ultimately got their cake decorated at a Wal-Mart in Pennsylvania, Deborah Campbell said. About 12 people attended the birthday party on Sunday, including several children who were of mixed race, according to Heath Campbell.

"If we're so racist, then why would I have them come into my home?" he asked.

The Campbells' other two children also have unusual names: JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell turns 2 in a few months and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell will be 1 in April.

Heath Campbell said he named his son after Adolf Hitler because he liked the name and because "no one else in the world would have that name." He sounded surprised by all the controversy the dispute had generated.

Campbell said his ancestors are German and that he has lived his entire life in Hunterdon County. On Tuesday he wore a pair of black boots he said were worn by a German soldier during World War II.

He said he was raised not to avoid people of other races but not to mix with them socially or romantically. But he said he would try to raise his children differently.

"Say he grows up and hangs out with black people. That's fine, I don't really care," he said. "That's his choice."

Saturday, December 13

Don't want the other partner/parent to see the children? Run to a state with an anti-gay marriage law!

We're going to see more and more of this kind of thing, and it's ridiculous; what happened to thinking of what's best for the children? It's great that Jenkins won the right to see her daughter, but more and more people are going to be doing the same thing, running to states with anti-gay marriage laws, and trying to use the courts to punish their ex-partners. It's sad...


Virginia court lets stand ruling on child-visitation rights for lesbian mom


The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a ruling that Virginia must enforce a Vermont court order awarding child-visitation rights to a lesbian mom.

The decision let stand a victory for Janet Jenkins [pictured], who has been fighting for visitation rights since the dissolution of the civil union she and her partner obtained in Vermont in 2000. Jenkin's partner gave birth to the daughter, Isabella, in 2002, and the child was at the center of a legal battle.

Jenkins married Lisa Miller in a Vermont civil union, and Miller became pregnant with their daughter via IVF. Miller then left Jenkins and fled to Virginia with the baby - refusing to let Jenkins visit their daughter. A Vermont judge dissolved the civil union and granted visitation rights to Jenkins, although she did not adopt Isabella - now 5-years-old.

When the Vermont court ordered visitation for Jenkins, Miller filed a new lawsuit in a Virginia court, using that state's antigay marriage law to have herself declared the child's sole legal parent.

Wednesday, December 3

Day Without A Gay is in one week!


Day Without A Gay seeks to shift our strong feelings about injustice toward service!

Our community contributes $700 billion a year to this economy, yet we are not given equal protections under the law that every citizen deserves. As such, it is time we make a stand. We are calling for a nationwide strike and economic boycott by all members of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community AND OUR STRAIGHT ALLIES on December 10th, 2008, International Human Rights Day.

Call in "gay" on December 10th and instead volunteer for your local LGBT and/or human rights organizations.

Read the whole story at Lezgetreal.com

Wednesday, November 26

Remembering Duanna Johnson


This whole story makes me sick; and then it makes me want to cry. For those who don't know, Duanna Johnson was a transgender MTF who was beaten by two 'officers' in a police station where she was being processed after a prostitution arrest. That was in February; in June she went public about her treatment. The beating was caught on videotape, and was leaked, so that backed up her story. (Probably leaked by someone who couldn't stand seeing another human being treated that way, thank God!)This month, Duanna Johnson, of Memphis, Tennessee, was shot "execution-style" and killed. To date no one has been charged with her murder; does anyone really believe that anyone will be? I don't....

No one deserves to be treated that way, especially because of their gender. This is the kind of world we live in, where not only do our rights get taken away, our lives get taken at the drop of a hat, and the general public doesn't care because it's just some "cross-dressing faggot".... God how it makes me want to cry, matter of fact it DOES make me cry. Despite her size, she probably had never hurt anyone, and all she wanted was to be able to live her life the way she wanted. We have Thomas Beaties in the world getting all kinds of publicity, but the Duanna Johnsons get a couple of mentions and that's it. What do we have to do to get not only equal treatment, but HUMANE treatment? How do we stop the Matthew Shepherds, and the Duanna Johnsons from losing their lives? How do we get the society as a whole to see that we are no different from them, no matter what we do in the bedroom or with who? How do we do it?

Tuesday, November 18

Are Civil Unions Enough?

So Obama/Biden came out with their agenda today; while I love the fact that he wants to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act, and voted against the Federal Amendment Act, and that he's all for the expansion of adoption rights to everyone regardless of sexual orientation, part of his Civil Rights Agenda sticks in my craw. When it gets to where it says "Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples." something just doesn't jibe. If you believe that we are 'equal', why are you in favor of something else that equals marriage? Why are we not getting marriage? Doesn't that still make us "separate but equal"? I should tell my grandson "Your grandmother and I got civil unioned back in 2007"? I understand that he's got a very delicate line to walk, balancing between the gay and anti-gay camps, but sooner or later it's got to be one or the other, you either make us equal or you don't. Stop throwing us a bone! If you told heterosexual people that no union of two people would be called 'marriage' anymore, that they would all be called 'civil union' or 'domestic partnership', they would go ballistic, so what makes them think that gays are any different? All we want is the same thing everyone else wants, to love the person of our choice, to commit to them, to be able to adopt their name if we choose, have and raise a family, have a home, take care of our loved one if they get sick, and if they die, have the right to take care of them as they wish. Why is that so wrong that states would change their constitution to avoid it? Why is it so wrong that people are now fighting each other over who voted which way?

President-elect Obama, I appreciate what you're trying to do, but I'm sorry, to me it's just not enough. I want what you and Michelle and every other married heterosexual couple have. I want to marry the person I love. I want to be able to take my license down to the DMV the next day and say "I want to change my name on my drivers' license." I do not want to have to go to court and file for a name change, and pay for it, and pay to post ads in the newspaper, and then have a judge tell me six months down the road that yes, I can legally change my name. I want to be able to move to another state if we choose, and buy a home that we can own jointly. I do not want them to tell us, "Oh no, we don't recognize your union here, so you can't jointly buy a home, you have to be separate owners with each owning half." If I get terminally ill in another state, I want my loved one to be able to take me out of the hospital and bring me home. I do not want her to be told "Oh no, we don't recognize your union in this state, so you have no rights here, we have to call her family." Can you imagine President-elect Obama how Michelle would feel if she were told that she wasn't able to take you home, that she was not your family? Especially after you two have been together for years and been through all you've been through? She would go absolutely postal, and so would you!

Sir, if you are going to give us "all the federal rights" of marriage, why can't you just give us marriage? Why can't you make us equal? Separate but equal doesn't cut it, just like it didn't cut it when the blacks had to sit at their own end of the lunch counter, or use their own bathroom, or their own water fountain. We are human beings, and we want to be treated the same as everyone else. Civil Unions are just not enough.

Wednesday, November 12

PLEASE REPOST: Nation Wide Protests November 15, 2008


Fight the H8 in California!!!

Over the last several days, tens of thousands of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and their Supporters have taken to the streets of California to show their outrage with the passage of CA Proposition 8. Prop 8 provides for a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage rights. Similar amendments and propositions have been passed in AZ and FL. The passage of these propositions has angered the gay community and their supporters. Many feel as if they are now second-class citizens in a country that has seen that change can happen with this historical election. They do not feel that a majority should be able to vote on minorities’ rights or vote to take anyone’s rights away.

On Saturday, November 15, 2008 this community will again take to the streets in what could be the largest organized Protest / Movement since the Civil Rights Movement. To date, more than 250,000 individuals have pledged to take part in the nationwide event, in which they will descend upon the City Halls, State Capitols and the Nation’s Capitol to make their voice heard. Signs, posters and numerous websites have already been created and the word is spreading quickly throughout the nation. Jointheimpact.com lists protest locations in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.

The message is simple, yet loud; Equal Rights for All. Signs seen at the many protests that have already taken place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago and Salt Lake City read: “No More Mr. Nice Gay – Equal rights for all people”, “Fight the H8”, “Teach Acceptance – Not Hate”, “I am now a 2nd class citizen”, “I am a victim of H8” to name a few. The organizers of this nationwide event have stressed that it, like the protests that have taken place over the last week; will also be peaceful demonstrations. “The time has come here in America for all people to be afforded equal rights, and we will not stop until everyone receives Equal Rights.” The Protest / Movement is scheduled to take place across the nation at the same time: 1:30 PM Eastern, 12:30 PM Central, 11:30 AM Mountain and 10:30 AM Pacific on Saturday, November 15th, 2008. Those interested in attending this historical event may find their local protest location by visiting: http://jointheimpact.wetpaint.com

Tuesday, November 11

Are you rude? Maybe you should think again


I'm not a big fan of Oprah, but this article happened to catch my eye. After reading it I just felt I had to comment on it; I'm one of those people who can't stand rudeness. I hate rude drivers, I hate people who are rude to service workers; I just can't stand unnecessary rudeness of any kind. It's kind of a long article, but it's pretty interesting.I definitely don't believe the How Rude Are You quiz is valid though, I just can't believe those answers. I'm sure some people were honest, (I know I was) but I've seen too much of some of those behaviors for those numbers to be accurate. See what you think though!

(OPRAH.com) -- Fed up with the rude behavior you experience day in and day out? Is it aggressive driving, co-workers who don't wash their hands or smokers who use the sidewalk as their personal ashtrays?
Oprah says she can't stand people who are rude to service workers.

Oprah says she can't stand people who are rude to service workers.

What about the sales clerks who ignore you -- then act like they own the store when you finally get their attention?

It's time for a return to civility! In "O, The Oprah Magazine," Oprah asked Jerry Seinfeld about his biggest pet peeve. Turns out, it's a lack of civility.

"Nobody's ever said that as an answer in all the years I've asked that question," Oprah says. Jerry's top three? Cutting people off on the road, BlackBerry or cell phone abuse and interrupting while someone is talking.

Oprah agrees with Jerry about offensive cell phone behavior -- and she has a few rude behaviors to add to the list. "Mine are people who are chewing gum with their mouth open. I don't want to see it," Oprah says. "I also can't stand it when people are rude to service workers because I think you show who you are by how you treat people who are serving you." Oprah.com: How rude are you really? Take this quiz

Audience member Nancy says she got a rude awakening in the last place any woman would expect -- at the gynecologist. "I was at my gynecologist's office and I put my legs in the stirrups, totally exposed," she says. "His cell phone went off and he answered it. It was not an urgent conversation, and it went on for seven to 10 minutes."

Nancy says she was so shocked she couldn't even say anything! "I never went back," she says.

As a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent, audience member Stephanie sees about 2 million people every day -- and plenty of bad behavior. "We call them 'special,'" she says.

Stephanie says rude travelers take their anger out on TSA agents, sometimes even calling them names, simply because they're there. One time, Stephanie says a customer hurled a bottle of cologne at her head. "This is after I told him that he couldn't take the bottle of cologne onto the plane because it was after the liquids restriction," she says. "He was just so incensed that it surprised me."

One tip Stephanie has for travelers looking to get to their gates faster is to put away those cell phones! "[When] you're waiting to get a person's I.D. and check their tickets and they walk up to you on the phone and they're ignoring you like you don't even exist," she says, "you don't want to be rude and interrupt their conversation, but they're also being inconsiderate for the other passengers in line."

Eighty percent of Americans think rudeness is a serious national problem, but 99 percent of the same people say that they themselves are not rude.

Oprah takes the quiz with members of the audience. The first question is: Are you chronically late? Oprah has to admit, "My answer would be sorta kinda," she says.

Oprah says her friend and trainer Bob Greene once taught her an important lesson about being on time. "When I first started working out with him, I was late. I was chronically late," she says. "And I was late one day, and he said, 'If this ever happens again, I will never work out with you, because my time means as much to me as yours means to you. So you either get here on time or find yourself another trainer.' And I went, 'Okay.'"

How many times have you run in and out of the gas station? Ever think about what it's like to be on the other side? Oprah.com: How to be the best customer you can be

Shannon is the mother of three and works as a clerk at a gas station. "I think people are rude when they're having a bad day, and they don't expect to ever have to see you again, so they say what they want," she says. "I used to be a rude customer. I would talk on the cell phone while someone was trying to help me. I don't do that anymore because now I'm on the other side of the counter."

She's nicknamed some of her rudest customers "the tossers." "What they do is instead of handing me their cash, they toss it at me," she says. "I've had people toss it so hard it's actually flown off my side of the counter."

There are also "the messers." "They come, they get what they want, they leave their mess, and then I have to clean it up," she says. "I wonder if they do that at home."

But by far, Shannon says the rudest thing that's happened to her at work was getting cussed out by a woman whose credit card was declined. "I ended up having to flag down a police officer to have her escorted out," she says. "Sometimes I feel like a human punching bag because customers take things out on me that are not my fault."

According to Dr. P.M. Forni, everyone can improve the quality of their relationships and lives by choosing to be more considerate, courteous and polite.

For the past decade, Dr. Forni -- a professor at Johns Hopkins University and author of "Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct" and "The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude" -- has been on a mission to promote gracious behavior.

"The quality of our lives is about treating each other well in every situation. We are all the trustees of one another's happiness and well-being in life," he says.

Dr. Forni says modern society is structured in a way that actually amplifies and encourages incivility. "We are stressed, we are fatigued and we are in an anonymous environment. Stress and anonymity are two very, very common causes of rudeness," he says. "Especially when they are together, like in traffic."

In "Choosing Civility," Dr. Forni uses a quote from motivational speaker Peggy Tabor Millin -- "We never touch people so lightly that we do not leave a trace" -- to illustrate the idea of "respectful persons."

"The principle of respectful persons is the principle upon which all ethical systems have been based from the beginning of humanity, since certainly the last 2,000 years," he says. "[The principle] says that we ought to treat others as ends in themselves rather than as beings for the satisfaction of our own immediate needs and desires."

Dr. Forni says choosing to act in a civil manner has proven more beneficial than self-satisfaction. "I'm not a physician, but any doctor will say that when we are involved in a rude encounter, there are hormones -- like catecholamines, for instance, cortisol -- that are cascading into our system and they are making our immune system weaker," he says. "If you have a boss that you perceive to be unfair, you're much more likely to have cardiovascular disease."

The bottom line? Going through life rude and angry can make you sick.

If you want to see rudeness in action, one of the best places to look is in the restaurants of America. Kara says she knows one of those rude customers personally -- her sister Jeni is one of them!

"Anywhere we go out to eat, she refuses to sit at tables and she has to sit at a booth. And if they're really busy and she has to wait to sit at a booth, then she complains about having to wait to sit at the booth," Kara says. "If her water glass gets empty ... and they're not immediately there to refill her water, she gets really upset or won't leave a tip because they're not doing their job. And she orders iced tea a lot and she puts sweetener in her tea, and so it gets a certain amount of sweetener. And lots of times the waitress or waiter will come and top off the glass and she gets upset because now her sweetener-to-tea ratio is messed."

Jeni says she doesn't intend to be mean but isn't afraid to tell waiters when something is wrong. "Most of the time, I find something that's not correct," she says.

For nine years, Steven Dublanica was a waiter who experienced his share of difficult customers like Jeni. He recounts those experiences and more in the hugely popular blog Waiter Rant, which he's turned into the best-selling book "Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip -- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter."

Steven says customers certainly have a right to expect good service at a restaurant, but it's not their right to be rude. "When you get to the point where you're picking on everything, that becomes a control issue because you're really trying to control everything around you," he says. "And it's not going to work."

Steven says he thinks some people feel license to be rude to waiters because of the nature of the interaction. "It's a servant job. You know, we're bringing food to a table and we're getting tips in return. That's fine. I don't have a problem with that," he says. "But when people start thinking that we're not human, that we're slaves, that we don't have feelings? Sometimes when people treat us that way it hurts."

When you hurt your waiter's feelings, Steven says you might find yourself on the receiving end of a bit of revenge ... but it may not be quite as bad as you think. "I think the one everyone is scared of is spitting in the food. I think very few waiters do that in actuality," Steven says. "I had a rule when I was waiting. My rule was, 'If I couldn't give it to my mother, I didn't give it to my customer.'"

Steven says there are three things you can do to stay on your waiter's good side.

1. Don't talk on a cell phone at the table.

"I would be coming up to a table and saying, 'Here are the specials we have today.' And the phone would ring and they'd go, 'Wait." And then I would [say], 'Can I come back in a minute?' 'Wait,'" he says. "That's very rude behavior."

2. Don't demand a different table on a busy night.

"On a busy night, the hostess has set up the seating plan in a way that it's like the logistics for the Normandy invasion," he says. "If you change one table, everything gets thrown off."

Steven says everyone -- even celebrities -- has to understand what happens in a restaurant during weekends.

"Alec Baldwin ate at my restaurant one time. He came in unannounced. The only table I had was literally by the printer and the two bathrooms," Steven says. "He walked up and I said, 'Mr. Baldwin, this is the only table I have.' And he said, 'No problem.' And he sat down and he took it. ... If Brad Pitt and Angelina came in and it was the only table I had, that would be where I would put them."

3. Don't tip less than 15 percent.

Waiters are paid wages well below the minimum wage -- as little as $2.15 an hour in some states -- with the expectation that they will earn the majority of their income through tips. In addition, some restaurants require waiters to pay around 20 to 30 percent of their tips to food runners, hostesses and bartenders.

"If you don't tip, then that person doesn't get paid," Steven says. "Literally."

From "The Oprah Winfrey Show"
TM & © 2008 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 7

Third suspect arrested in Tuba Man's beating death


"Tuba Man" Ed McMichael

While everyone is ooh'ing and aah'ing over President-elect Obama's little girls getting a puppy, and tut-tutting about Sarah Palin spending too much money on clothes, it seems like a lot of people have forgotten that we still live in a world that's going to hell in a hand basket, and it's our youth that are carrying it there...

SEATTLE -- A third suspect has been arrested in the beating death of a local icon.

Seattle police say they arrested at 15-year-old boy on Wednesday for investigation of the murder of 53-year-old Ed McMichael, aka "The Tuba Man". The boy was booked into the Youth Services Center for Investigation of Homicide.

McMichael was walking home near a bus stop on Seattle's Mercer Street on Oct. 25 when five teens attacked him. Police said the five kicked and beat him and tried to rob him.

A police officer drove up to the scene and saw McMichael in the fetal position trying to protect himself. The officer was able to capture two of the alleged attackers, but three others got away.

McMichael was treated at Harborview Medical Center and sent home. He was recovering at the Vermont Inn where he lived when he died Monday.

The Tuba Man's throaty notes were unmistakable presence in the city.

Since the early 1990s, McMichael had been a fixture outside Seattle sporting events and Seattle Opera performances, wearing funny hats and playing songs on his tuba he called "his baby."

His brother, Kelsey McMichael, never expected the beloved to musician to become a city icon.

"But for some reason the city picked on Ed as their symbol," he said.

After the Tuba Man was beaten, Kelsey, who lives in Florida, came to Seattle to help him recover. Kelsey said Ed was simply not the same after the attack.

"He was definitely traumatized. The first thing he said to me when I knocked on his door was, 'I can't leave this room,'" he said.

Kelsey can't understand how five teens could be so cruel to such a kind man.

"I asked the medical examiner what was the cause of death. And he simply said it was trauma as a result of the attack," he said.

As police look for the two remaining suspects in the attack, Seattle is looking for something to heal its heart.

"He was just the kind of person you'd warm up to real easily -- just a big heart," said friend Ronny Chesvick. "We're just crushed."

Wednesday, November 5

From Box Turtle Bulletin: Prop 8 Exit Polling

Despite the enormity of Barack Obama's historic win to become the 44th President of these United States, I have never been more depressed about the "state of the union" than I am now. (Except maybe when Bush started sending troops to Iraq and most of America agreed with him.)The 4 initiatives that concerned my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters all passed. I cannot believe that the same country that would elect a black man President will not allow same-sex couples to enjoy the same rights everyone else has.

I saw this article on Box Turtle Bulletin this morning, and read the comments afterward...I ended up posting a comment myself. I've copied the article and my comment below (if you'd like to read the rest of the comments, please click here);

Jim Burroway
November 5th, 2008

CNN also has some interesting exit polling on California’s Prop 8:

As in Arizona, women are more supporting of same-sex marriage than men:
Men: Yes: 51%; No: 49%
Women: Yes: 50%; No: 50%

We have done a very poor job in reaching out to the African-American community:
White: Yes: 47%; No: 53%
African-American: Yes: 70% No: 30%
Latino: Yes: 51% No: 49%
Asian: Yes: 47%; No: 53%

The youth are our future:
18-24: Yes: 34%; No: 66%
25-29: Yes: 40%; No: 60%
30-39: Yes: 50%; No: 50%
40-49: Yes: 58%; No: 42%
50-64: Yes: 50%; No: 50%
65 or Over: Yes: 59% No: 41%

There’s a reason our opponents distrust education:
H.S. Graduate: Yes: 54%; No: 46%
Some College: Yes: 56%; No: 44%
College Graduate: Yes: 48%; No: 52%
Postgraduate: Yes: 39%; No: 61%

Marriage Amendments are a GOP thing:
Democrat: Yes: 35%; No: 65%
Republican: Yes: 81%; No: 19%
Independent: Yes: 44%; No: 56%


As a black lesbian, I am subjected to many of the criticisms leveled against these 3 groups; "my race" did not vote against Prop 8 and doesn't care about anyone's civil rights but our own; "my sexual orientation" has civil unions and domestic partnerships, isn't that enough; "my gender" is always out there trying to stir up something when we should be home in the kitchen. Instead of trying to find someone to blame for anything that's considered a "failure", why can't we look at these things as just another hurdle to be jumped; another pothole to avoid; another mountain to climb, a river to cross, a valley to climb out of. We are ALL going to need each other to get where we want/need, no, DESERVE to be, and that's on an equal footing with everyone else. United we stand and divided we fall; an old cliche to be sure, but a true one nonetheless. We can only get to the Promised Land if we stand together, side by side, and that means ALL OF US who experience inequality. I am a black woman who loves another woman, but more than that I am a PERSON who is no different from anyone else. We are all what God made us to be; His children, made in His image, and NO ONE, not California, not Arizona, not Arkansas or Florida; not the State Courts or the Federal, not the Mormons or the Jehovah Witness', not even the President himself is gonna tell me otherwise.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that ALL men [including the gay ones] are created equal." (Thanks Michael R)

It's 'self-evident' to me, and I'm going to keep on fighting until it's 'self-evident' to everyone else!!

Tuesday, November 4

“I want to hold it cause I voted for Obama!”

Many stories are going to come out of today; a lot of things are going to happen at the polls. Some stories will make the 6:00 news, be splashed all over the newspapers, and be blogged about for days. Some stories will make a big brouhaha and then be forgotten about tomorrow. There are some stories though that no one will hear about, other than those who were there when it happened. Those are the stories though that later on, a couple of generations down the road, there's going to be an old person sitting with a young person at their knee, telling them about the first time they were able to vote for REAL change. I saw one of those stories happen today.

A little girl of about 3 or 4 came out of the polling place with her mother while I was in line. Her mother had two stickers in her hand, the little girl was almost crying because she wanted her sticker. Her mother said hold on, I’ll put it on for you. The little girl said no! I want to hold it! Her mother asked her why; she said “I want to hold it cause I voted for Obama!”

Of course it doesn’t sound as cute when reading it as it did when I heard it, but it just goes to show, EVERYONE is getting involved. Little children who are too young to know what all this means will be able to grow up and tell their children and grandchildren that they were there the day there was a black man to vote for as President of these United States; whether he wins or not (although I pray he does!) history was made today!

Make sure you get out and vote! You can't complain if you don't try to change things.

Friday, October 24

TROY DAVIS UPDATE!!!


UPDATE - STAY of execution issued on 10-24!
The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued the stay. More information to come shortly.


The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for Troy Anthony Davis shortly before 5 p.m. on Friday, September 12. They did so despite overwhelming doubts of Davis' guilt - and after stating last year that they would "not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused." On September 23, The U.S. Supreme Court stayed Troy Davis' execution "pending the disposition of [his] petition for a writ of certiorari." On October 14, the Court decided not to accept his petition.

Background

Restrictions on Federal appeals have prevented Troy Anthony Davis from having a hearing in federal court on the reliability of the witness testimony used against him, despite the fact that most of the witnesses have since recanted, many alleging they were pressured or coerced by police. Troy Davis remains on Georgia death row, and may be scheduled for execution in the near future.

Troy Davis was sentenced to death for the murder of Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail at a Burger King in Savannah, Georgia; a murder he maintains he did not commit. There was no physical evidence against him and the weapon used in the crime was never found. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state's non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis.

One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester "Red" Coles – the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.

Thursday, October 23

I have seen it all now!




This is really the limit!! How much further are we going to with these juvenile, no, INFANTILE photos and jokes? This is serious, we're making history here, and people have nothing better to do with their time but come up with stuff like this??? "McCain in KKK sheets chasing Obama"...come on, give me a break! There are so many more important subjects out there, (not to say the election isn't important) than what color someone's skin is! When are we ever going to get past that? ARE we ever going to get past it?

Wednesday, October 22

Police Torturer Arrested On Federal Charges


Nicole Colson reports on the long-awaited arrest of the man who oversaw torture in Chicago police stations.

October 22, 2008

Former Chicago Police Commander Jon BurgeFormer Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge

THERE MAY finally be some long-overdue justice for the victims of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, after he was arrested October 21 at his Florida home on federal charges of perjury and obstruction of justice related to his role in the systematic abuse of prisoners.

The name "Burge" is synonymous with torture in the city of Chicago. As an officer in the Chicago Police Department, Burge oversaw the beatings and torture of dozens of suspects, all of them Black men, at Area 2 and 3 police headquarters during the 1970s and '80s. Most were railroaded into prison, and even onto death row, as a result of confessions extracted from them through abuse, suffocations and electroshock.

A $7 million special prosecutor's inquiry released in 2006 found credible evidence of torture in more than 70 cases, though activists say the real number is much higher--certainly in the hundreds.

"While not all the officers named by all the claimants were guilty of prisoner abuse, it is our judgment that the commander of the Violent Crimes section of Detective Areas 2 and 3, Jon Burge, was guilty of such abuse," read the report's conclusion. "It necessarily follows that a number of those serving under his command recognized that, if their commander could abuse persons with impunity, so could they."

Dozens of Burge's victims remain in prison today. Despite repeated calls by activists, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has not pressed for new trials.

In 2002, Madigan took over prosecution of many of the torture cases when a Cook County judge declared that State's Attorney Dick Devine had a conflict of interest because he had represented Burge in a civil suit related to torture allegations. When she ran for office that year, Madigan claimed she "would never stand in the way of justice." But in more than five years on the job, she hasn't initiated even one evidentiary hearing.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

BURGE WAS fired in 1993 after the Chicago Police Review Board ruled that he tortured Andrew Wilson into giving a confession. Despite this, Burge had remained free, collecting a city pension of more than $3,500 a month and receiving taxpayer-funded legal representation while living a comfortable retirement in Florida (where he keeps a boat named the "Vigilante").

Prosecutors in Chicago had claimed that Burge and his men were untouchable, because the statute of limitations governing their crimes had run out.

But federal investigators believe there is evidence to make a case against Burge on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury. According to prosecutors, Burge lied when he claimed he never witnessed and did not have any knowledge of physical abuse and torture on the part of Chicago police officers during a deposition in lawsuit filed against him on behalf of former death row prisoner Madison Hobley.

Hobley was convicted of setting a January 1987 fire that killed his wife, infant son and five others. In a pattern of abuse that would become familiar as more cases came to light, Hobley was suffocated by Burge with a plastic typewriter cover. Police then falsified his confession. Hobley was convicted and sentenced to death in 1990. He spent more than 12 years on death row before he was exonerated and pardoned, along with three other men, by former Illinois Gov. George Ryan.

"If Al Capone went down for taxes, it's better than him going down for nothing," federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said in a press conference announcing the arrest. As he concluded, "For his lies about this torture and abuse, we intend to hold him accountable."

Darrell Cannon, a Burge torture victim, told the Chicago Tribune, "I'm thankful to be an American today because...the man that has been skating for so long, riding in his boat, catching fish and everything else--well, now he's in jail, killing roaches. And that's exactly where he belongs."

After his arrest, Burge appeared before a federal magistrate, who set bond at $250,000 and released him. Burge is expected to be arraigned in federal court in Chicago October 27.

Federal prosecutors are hinting that other charges may be forthcoming, with Fitzgerald warning that other police involved in torture should not pin their hopes on police refusing to talk about their colleagues. "If their lifeline is to hang onto a perceived wall of silence, they may be hanging on air," Fitzgerald told reporters.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

FOR NOW, the charges are against Burge, but many others are implicated in this scandal and should be brought to justice. That includes Burge's fellow officers who participated in the torture and other law enforcement officials who knew what was taking place--among them, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, who was Cook County State's Attorney when Andrew Wilson was tortured in 1982.

At the time, then-police Superintendent Richard Brzeczek sent a letter to Daley, with a letter from the director of Cermak Prison Health Services, detailing Wilson's injuries and Wilson's claims that he was electro-shocked. Brzeczek requested "direction as to how the Department should proceed in the investigation of these allegations."

According to special prosecutors who oversaw the investigation, the letter "was probably discussed" with both Daley and his then-First Assistant (and the current State's Attorney) Richard Devine--but Daley "has no current memory of how the letter was processed."

Now, with Burge's arrest, Daley is once again claiming he had no knowledge or responsibility for the systematic abuse that took place in Chicago police stations. "I was very proud of my role as prosecutor," he told the Tribune when Burge was arrested. "I was not the mayor, I was not the police chief. I did not promote this man in the 80s, so let's put everything into perspective."

While the arrest of Jon Burge is welcome, federal prosecutors are not condemning the system, but attempting to preserve it--by pointing to Burge and his men as "bad apples.

"According to these charges, Jon Burge shamed his uniform and his badge," Fitzgerald said. "The last time he wore that uniform and that badge was more than 15 years ago. It is important that the public respect that, when we bring these charges, they should not judge the people who walk the streets in a uniform and badge today to try and serve and protect."

But Chicago police have been involved in a number of recent incidents that should give pause to anyone who thinks abuse is a thing of the past. In a two-week span in June, for example, Chicago police were involved in eight shootings--five of them fatal--including Devon Young, a 26-year-old Black man who was shot by police in the back of the head.

A Justice Department report released in July detailed ongoing human rights abuses against prisoners at Chicago's Cook County jail. The report detailed inadequate health care leading to prisoner deaths and a culture of abuse among prison guards.

Such incidents aren't "exceptions to the rule," but part of a culture in which police consider themselves to be above the law. The arrest of Jon Burge is a welcome development--but only the tip of the iceberg in terms of getting real justice for all of the victims of the Chicago police.

Tuesday, October 21

Maybe I Can't Vote, but.....

Whatever happens in California on Election Day with Proposition 8 will have a long-term effect on what happens in the rest of this United States. If we let Proposition 8 go through, I may never be the wife I want to be, I may always be the "domestic partner"; and so might you.

Whether you believe that being gay is a choice or not, whether you believe that it's right or wrong, this United States was founded on what? The premise that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL. Black slaves got the right to be free, and women got the right to vote, now please give EVERYONE the right to marry the one they love. If you're in California, VOTE NO ON PROPOSITION 8. If you're not, please donate, even if it's just a dollar; help us keep America the land of equality!



Now is the time to donate. Let your support be known.

Do Gays Really Have It So Bad Here?


Reading this article made me realize that while it may seem horribly unfair to a lot of us, not being able to marry the partner of our choice, not being able to take another's last name, having to worry about possibly being harassed or 'outed' before we're ready, relatively speaking we don't have it bad at all. We don't have to worry about being marched through the streets naked to the police station, where we'll be arrested and jailed with the possibility of a life sentence. We don't have to worry about being deported from a country that we've fled to for asylum, only to be sent back into the same homophobic atmosphere we fled from, because "bans on homosexuality in asylum seekers’ home countries are not reason enough to allow them to stay." Now, I'm not saying that we should be happy with what we have, or that it's not unfair. We shouldn't, and it definitely is. What I'm saying is that when you get all depressed and upset because you can't get married where and in the manner that you want to, think about people like Prossy Kakooza and what she went through. We should never, ever stop fighting injustice of any kind, bigotry in any shape, prejudice of any form, and racism of any color. It's not just us that are fighting though, that's what I want you all to think about. We are not the only ones fighting, and as long as countries like Uganda are allowed to continue doing horrific things like this, there will always be people here saying "you don't have it so bad, be happy with what you've got." We've got to stand up and fight for everyone's right to be with who they want, love who they want, marry who they want, and by god, HAVE SEX WITH WHO THEY WANT.

Whew, I had no intention of going into this rant today, but the more I think about what they did to that poor young girl, the angrier I get. There has to be something that people can do to help people like her and others who have been humiliated, beaten, raped, and killed in the name of the "Christian Right" or the "Moral Majority" or whatever they're calling themselves these days.

Ugandan lesbian granted asylum in UK

By Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk • October 20, 2008 - 14:10


A judge has ruled that a lesbian woman from Uganda may remain in the UK.

Prossy Kakooza, 26, fled her homeland after her family found her in bed with her partner and marched both women naked to the police station where Ms Kakooza was raped and tortured by police officers.

She escaped to the UK after her family bribed the guards to release her so they could have her killed. They believed this would ‘take away the curse from the family.’

The Home Office’s initial decision to deny Ms Kakooza asylum did not take into account the fact that she had been mistreated by the state and would probably face the same treatment again if she returned.

It believed that she was raped and tortured, because of the medical evidence, but dismissed her attack as the ‘random acts of individuals’ and suggested that she could move to another town in Uganda.

The Home Office will not appeal against the ruling that she can now remain in the UK, it emerged on Friday.

Ms Kakooza said that she is still in shock at the decision.

"You have held me together, you have held me upright when all I wanted to do was roll up in a heap and give up," she said in an email to supporters.

"You gave me the motivation to go on and fight! Going with me to places to collect signatures, encouraging people to sign online, coming to meetings, writing statements, going to court with me, and most importantly - all the prayers.

"And I don't think you have any idea how the phone calls, texts and emails help. They kept me sane.

"There are no appropriate words I can use to say thank you. All I can do is pray to my God to bless you all.

"You have changed my life and for that I will forever be grateful."

More than 5,000 people from across the world had signed a petition to the Home Office to grant her asylum and hundreds more wrote to immigration ministers.

The MCC Manchester, a church that welcomes LGBT people, gave her financial and spiritual support.

Last month a gay man was removed from the UK and deported back to his native Uganda in what his supporters called an illegal act.

John "Bosco" Nyombi, 38, fears he will be persecuted on the grounds of his sexuality.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, and gays caught by the police can face a life sentence in prison.

Mr Nyombi, who has been employed in the UK as a mental health worker since 2002, was taken to Heathrow Airport for deportation.

The Ugandan President spoke of his country's "rejection" of homosexuality during a speech he gave at the wedding of a former MP's daughter earlier this year.

Mr Museveni said the purpose of life was to create children and that homosexuality was a "negative foreign culture."

During his time in office LGBT Ugandans have been repeatedly threatened, harassed or attacked. Many have fled the country.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said:

"In the past five years, the government has arrested LGBT people on sodomy charges, harassed LGBT human rights defenders, and fined a private radio station that broadcast programming on HIV prevention and men who have sex with men.

"In July 2005, Uganda's Parliament passed an amendment to the constitution making Uganda only the second country in the world to use its constitution to outlaw marriage between people of the same sex.

"A coalition of religious leaders has marched through the streets of Kampala demanding the arrests of LGBT people with one cleric even calling for the "starving to death" of homosexuals.

"Inspired by the official homophobia of the state, the Ugandan media has published lists of gay men and lesbians, leading to physical violence, loss of employment and educational opportunities by LGBT people."

Last week Lin Homer, chief executive of the Borders and Immigration Agency (BIA), said that bans on homosexuality in asylum seekers’ home countries are not reason enough to allow them to stay in Britain.

"What the court takes into account is the practical consequences for the individuals concerned," she told The Scotsman.

"The simple presence of either a law or a culture that frowns upon homosexuality is not of itself a reason [to grant asylum].

"I think these decisions are made carefully and thoughtfully."

Ms Homer insisted that the information used by the BIA when deciding whether to deport gay asylum seekers is thorough and accurate.

Friday, October 17

Finality Over Fairness - Death Warrant Issued for Troy Davis


From Amnesty International....




UPDATE - Death Warrant Issued!
Execution date has been set for October 27.
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles denied clemency for Troy Anthony Davis shortly before 5 p.m. on Friday, September 12. They did so despite overwhelming doubts of Davis' guilt - and after stating last year that they would "not allow an execution to proceed in this State unless and until its members are convinced that there is no doubt as to the guilt of the accused." On September 23, The U.S. Supreme Court stayed Troy Davis' execution "pending the disposition of [his] petition for a writ of certiorari." On October 14, the Court decided not to accept his petition.

* Listen to Troy tell his story
* Visit Troy Davis' website
* Send a solidarity message to Troy on his E-Book through AI-France

STAND FIRM FOR JUSTICE!

Global Day of Action for Troy Davis
October 23, 2008
Rally in Atlanta! Download the flyer.
Organize a solidarity event in your hometown! Go here for more information.
Download a photo of Troy Davis to hold at your rally.
Download a fact sheet to provide passersby with more information.

The Georgia Board has the power to step in at any point, so we encourage you to continue to collect letters and petitions asking them to issue clemency.

» TAKE ACTION! Write a letter to the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles

* To see what activists are doing in Georgia, please visit GFADP.
* Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. It's quick and easy using the ACLU's website.
* Text "TROY" to 90999 to help spread the word with your cell phone.

School Bus Driver Charged In Anti-Gay Assault

How much farther does it have to go before society realizes it's gone too far? An adult being fired from his job and criminally charged for taunting a 10 year old boy with the word "gay"...I feel like crying, not only when I think of what that poor child must have gone through, but when I think that I live in a world where something like this could happen to a child. No, happen to children, because the boy that got chased isn't the only one who has been scarred by this. The children that were encouraged by the driver (yes, he was a SCHOOL BUS DRIVER!) to chase the boy; can you imagine what this has done to their minds? At 10 years old, most kids have not yet learned that adults make mistakes; that not all adults should be listened to. They are still at the age of "Well, a grown up said it so it must be right." How confusing it must be for them now, knowing that a grown up told them to do this, but now that grown up is going to jail (hopefully) for it.

Society needs to stop equating the word "gay" with something terrible. The dictionary meaning for the word "gay" is:
gay /geɪ/ adjective, -er, -est, noun, adverb –adjective
1. having or showing a merry, lively mood: gay spirits; gay music.
2. bright or showy: gay colors; gay ornaments.
3. given to or abounding in social or other pleasures: a gay social season.
from gay. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved October 17, 2008, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gay

There is no definition in there for "something horrible to be destroyed", at least not the last time I looked. (although there is now one I didn't know about:
5. homosexual.
6. of, indicating, or supporting homosexual interests or issues: a gay organization.
–noun
7. a homosexual person, esp. a male.
Number 7 leads me to question why is it "especially a male", but that opens a whole nother can of worms that I'm not going to go into right now, that's for another post)

The word gay has always represented something happy; how did we end up in a world where an adult male is so threatened by it that he would attack a 10 year old child over it, and use other children to do his dirty work?

Tuesday, October 14

Supreme Court allows Troy Davis execution


This is outrageous.
What would it have cost them to listen?
To hear the appeal?
That's all he asked for.

By BILL RANKIN, RHONDA COOK

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for Troy Anthony Davis’ execution, declining to enter a contentious debate as to whether the condemned inmate was the real killer of a Savannah police officer in 1989.

The court, without explanation, refused to hear his appeal even though seven of nine key prosecution witnesses have recanted their testimony since the 1991 trial. Just three weeks ago, the high court had halted Davis’ execution with less than two hours to spare.

Davis should find out soon when he will be put to death. It is the third time he’s faced the prospect of execution in little more than a year.

The next step is for a Chatham County judge to set a time frame during which Davis’ execution can be scheduled by the Department of Corrections.

Davis’ innocence claims attracted international attention, with Pope Benedict XVI and former President Jimmy Carter among those challenging the fairness of his execution.

Davis was condemned to die for the Aug. 19, 1989, killing of Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. The 27-year-old father of two, working off duty, was shot dead after he responded to the cries of a homeless man being pistol whipped in a Burger King parking lot.

The officer’s mother, Anneliese MacPhail, expressed relief at the high court’s decision.

“Especially for my grandson and my granddaughter,” she said, referring to the slain officer’s two children, now adults. “We can now settle down.”

MacPhail, 75, does not expect “closure” if Davis is executed.

“There is no such thing,” she said. “We will always be thinking about Mark. At least we won’t have to go to court. We will have some peace.”

She does not plan to attend the execution, although two of her four remaining children want to witness it.

“It doesn’t give me any satisfaction to watch that,” she said. “I still have anger in me and I’m afraid I would say something.”

Davis’ sister, Martina Correia, was furious .

“I’m truly disgusted by these people,” Correia said. “I don’t even know what to say. I wonder why I’m still a U.S. citizen sometimes.”

Correia told her brother of the high court’s decision.

“He said, ‘It doesn’t make any sense. What do I have to do?’ to convince a court that he is innocent,” Correia said.

“I haven’t given up hope,” Correia said. “We’re going to fight until we can’t fight any more.”

Davis’ mother, Virginia Davis, 63, said police charged the wrong man.

“The real killer is walking around Savannah, bragging about what he’s done,” she said. “If they kill Troy, they have God to answer to. They don’t have the Davis family to answer to.”

Larry Cox, executive director of Amnesty International, which has supported Davis’ appeals, condemned the high decision.

“It is disgraceful that the highest court in the land could sink so low when doubts surrounding Davis’ guilt are so high,” Cox said. “Faulty eyewitness identification is the leading cause of wrongful convictions and the hallmark of Davis’ case.”

Stephen Bright of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta said the case was riddled with errors.

“The trial of this case has all the integrity of a professional wrestling match,” he said. “It was deeply flawed, yet there’s no way to correct it.”

Since Davis’ trial, seven key witnesses recanted their testimony. Others also have come forward implicating another man who was with Davis at the scene.

Eyewitness testimony formed the backbone of the prosecution’s case. The murder weapon was never found and there was no DNA evidence or a confession.

But Chatham County prosecutors have long expressed confidence that Davis is a cop killer.

On Tuesday, District Attorney Spencer Lawton accused Davis’ supporters of manipulating the legal process, using the news media and waging a public relations campaign to undermine confidence in the court system, all at the expense of MacPhail’s family.

“While an 80 percent recantation rate…may seem to some as overwhelmingly persuasive, to others of us it invites a suggestion of manipulation, making it very difficult to believe,” Lawton said in a lengthy statement.

He noted that each of the recanting witnesses was vigorously cross-examined at trial as to whether they were pressured by police to point the finger at Davis. “All denied it,” Lawton said.

The justice system, Lawton added, has been “painstakingly indulgent” of Davis’ claims, not dismissive as his advocates contend.

In the meantime, MacPhail’s family has endured “a seemingly endless succession of new technical and substantive legal threats to their faith and hope,” he said. “It should be obvious that the PR campaign intensifies the agony of the victim’s family.”

Davis’ lawyers had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare that the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment bars the execution of the innocent and requires at least a court hearing to assess the recantation testimony.

The Rev. Al Sharpton announced the court’s decision at a get-out-the-vote rally Tuesday at Morris Brown College. The crowd let out a collective groan.

Sharpton contended Davis’ case is another example of the of the unfair treatment that African-Americans experience. “You don’t have to go back in the day,” he said. “We’re still in the day.”

Davis had been scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection on Sept. 23. But, with less than two hours to spare, the high court halted the execution to give the justices time to consider whether to hear his appeal.

In July 2007, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles had halted Davis’ execution less than 24 hours before it was to be carried out. Last month, after meeting again, the parole board denied Davis’ request for clemency.

Staff writer Mary Lou Pickle contributed to this article.

TIMELINE

* Aug. 30, 1991: Troy Davis is sentenced to death by a Chatham County jury for the 1989 murder of Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail.
* July 16, 2007: After a 10-hour hearing, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles stays Davis' execution, set for the next day.
* March 17, 2008: By a 4-3 vote, the Georgia Supreme Court upholds Davis' death sentence, rejecting his request for a hearing that recantation testimony be presented in court.
* Sept. 3, 2008: Davis' execution is set for Sept. 23 at 7 p.m.
* Sept. 12, 2008: The state parole board, after hearing more testimony, declines to grant clemency to Davis.
* Sept. 22, 2008: The Georgia Supreme Court rejects Davis' bid for a stay of execution.
* Sept. 23, 2008: The U.S. Supreme Court issues a stay of execution for Davis less than two hours before he was to die by lethal injection. Davis is asking the court to order a judge to grant him a hearing.
* Oct. 14, 2008: The U.S. Supreme Court says in an order that it will not consider Davis's appeal.

Sunday, October 12

Thousands of voter registration forms faked, officials say

So now that links to former "terrorists" hasn't worked, and "he's running a dirty campaign" was seen for the trash-talk it was, here they come with another one; Obama is working with ACORN to file fraudulent voter registrations. Now I admit, that's not exactly what was saidin the article, but it might as well have been! ACORN has been investigated before for doing the same thing, long before Obama ever thought about running for President, so why is it now being made to appear as if all their fraudulent practices are being done strictly at Obama's bidding? It seems like this campaign is getting worse and worse, there's more mud and s**t being slung than in a barnyard. Has there ever been a time when politicians acted honorably? When they actually did base their campaigns on "the issues" and not on how many skeletons they could unearth from their opponent's closet? It's gotten ridiculous, it's no wonder so many people are either undecided or totally apathetic about voting; it's so difficult to get through all the b.s. to see what's really going on...

Friday, October 10

Conn. high court rules same-sex couples can marry

THEY DID IT!!! Another state did it, finally wised up and realized that they needed to face inevitable: we are here to STAY!!

I guess this one makes me so happy because although I was born in New Jersey, my mom moved us to Connecticut when I was about 3 years old, so that's actually where I consider "home". Now I'm actually thinking about going there and "doing the deed", if the law says we can. Have to find out more about it...I'm surprised there isn't more news about it though, I found out on Twitter!! LOL Anyway, here's the story.

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Connecticut's Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry, making that state the third behind Massachusetts and California to legalize such unions.

The court ruled 4-3 that gay and lesbian couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry under the state constitution, and Connecticut's civil unions law does not provide those couples with the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Justices overturned a lower court ruling and found in favor of the plaintiffs, who said the state's marriage law discriminates against them because it applies only to heterosexual couples, therefore denying gay couples the financial, social and emotional benefits of marriage.

Eight same-sex couples sued in 2004, saying their constitutional rights to equal protection and due process were violated when they were denied marriage licenses.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy.

Friday, October 3

One "Sicko" responds to the bailout


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Barney Frank discuss the bailout plan


There were several things I wanted to blog about today, and I may still do something about the others; they're all such great topics. For now though, it's this one. This is the best example of what's wrong with the bailout plan for Wall Street that I've found so far(IMO). It asks the question, what does that plan have to do with me? What is it going to do FOR me? Unfortunately, I don't hear an answer.....

From SocialistWorker.org:

One "Sicko" responds to the bailout

October 1, 2008

Donna Smith is a victim of the U.S. health care system who was featured in Michael Moore's documentary Sicko. Donna is national coordinator of American Patients United and has toured the country, speaking about her experiences and the struggle for health care rights for all.

She wrote the following in response to an open letter from Michael Moore that asked people to contact Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and their congressional representatives to urge them to vote "no" on the $700 billion bailout plan for Wall Street.

OKAY, MICHAEL, I did it. I called--just like you asked me to. I called my senators and told them I am fed up with the mess on Wall Street, fed up with the bailout of the big boys, fed up with the wealthy ruling the rest of us. I am so angry today I can hardly contain it. Enough is enough doesn't touch my rage.

Sen. Barack Obama's office politely logged my comments and took down my address. Sen. Dick Durbin's office did not. They argued with me about the benefits for me of the bailout. They argued with me--asked me if I wanted to see more people suffer if there was no bailout. Oh my God. They argued with me.

Four years ago, my husband Larry and I declared bankruptcy because even with health and disability insurance and a health care savings account, we went belly up when our bills and expenses surged well past our ability to cover them. Larry has chronic health issues; I had cancer. There was no way for us to hang on despite our efforts to borrow and plead to stay afloat. We lost our house and most of our furniture and most everything we worked to achieve.

As punishment for going bankrupt in America, we will never again--never again--own a home or have a credit card that isn't savings-backed or have any of the nods of acceptance the "good" credit bearers have in this nation. People will look at that bankruptcy and judge us unfit--look down their noses at us and decide we are losers from now until forever. We got sick, and we went broke, and we are no longer among the valued folks in this nation.

But today, my U.S. senator's office argued with me about how Wall Street needs this bailout to protect me. Bullshit. There is nothing in this for me. I have lost everything. I will never have it back, no matter if I work 100 hours a week, or try 1,000 times harder than I did before. Nothing I can do will erase my failure in getting sick.

Next week, though, armed with my money from the bailout, the Wall Street leaders and the government leaders who now judge me unfit will sit fat and happy, sipping fine wine and eating paté and giggling about the next trip to Europe or an evening at the club. Their lives will remain soft and pure and without the nasty judgments I have to endure every day. My bailout will have funded their greed and smug disdain for people like me.

It stinks to high heaven in America today. I understand damn well that they've mismanaged this into a point of collapse, and that without a fix from somewhere, there are dire things waiting to unfold worldwide.

But by God, no one was there to lift me up or put me back on my feet. And I will die without a home. I will die without ever regaining what I lost. And I will die with the bastards who I am bailing out today looking down their noses at me like I am a piece of garbage because I cannot shop at Neiman Marcus for my clothes or carry a Fendi bag.

I am sick to my stomach after talking with Durbin's office. I can only hope that the polite and respectful response from Obama's staff will reflect how I will be treated under a President Obama. Else, I am not sure staying alive under this sort of domestic and economic terrorist assault on my humble position in life is worth enduring.

This bailout reflects a much deeper and more difficult problem--a very fundamental disdain for democracy. You see, anyone in government who believes this is the way to treat the vast majority of your citizens certainly does not believe in the common good or the value of individuals within a democratic system.

We are just depositors in their bank accounts--they need us to foot the bill for their party. And we're not invited to any table at all. We can pick up the trash.

Tuesday, September 30

"My Gaydar is Broken!"

I found this article while "slogging" (my word for surfing through blogs) this morning. It's from http://lezgetreal.blogspot.com/, and it's interesting; it made me wonder, IS there such a thing as "gaydar"? I've always thought so; I've always felt that I have excellent gaydar, and I always tell people "of course I can tell, it takes one to know one." Not always true.... Of course with the "dykes" it's usually easy, but what about the "femmes"? (God I hate these labels!) If you see two women walking down the street holding hands, both in skirts and wearing makeup and jewelry, are they gay or just close friends? How do you tell? Anyway, read the article, and then tell me what you think about gaydar. IS there such a thing? How does it work? And does YOURS work?



Sunday, September 28, 2008

If you don’t know what ‘Gaydar’ is, it’s the ability to determine whether someone is gay or not.

Apparently, I lack that ability because I am a lesbian and I didn’t even know it! My Gaydar is definitely broken. And it’s not like there weren’t signs either… the first time I ever had that ‘funny feeling’ about somebody was in 5th grade. There was a talent show at the junior high school across the street from my elementary school. For some reason, when this really cute guy was on the stage singing, I got a feeling in my body that I had never had before. Imagine my shock, when after the song he took a bow, dropped his cap, and turned out to be a she. OMG. And you would think that I knew at that point that I had an affinity to boi girls. Nope. Not me. I still chased the boy boys on the playground. I still sang the K-I-S-S-I-N-G song to the boys like all the other girls did. And I still checked “yes” in the box when a boy asked me to ‘go around’.


I didn’t pay any attention to the fact that the ‘funny feeling’ wasn’t there.

I didn’t know it was supposed to be there in these situations. I just did what all the other girls did. What a follower I was, sheesh. (*LOL) Hey I didn’t know any better – what did I know in the 5th grade?? Then in the 6th grade I went into middle school, and oh boy was my Gaydar WAY off that year! I had a girl in my class (who shall remain nameless) approach me with a letter. In the letter she told me how she never felt this way with anyone before and wanted to be my best friend. (hmmm…) Well, right around the same time a boy in my class wrote me a letter to the same effect, just not as poetically and he was asking to be my boyfriend. Well I didn’t see anything wrong with having a best friend and a boyfriend so I said yes to both. I didn’t understand it at the time, but this caused conflict and jealous feelings between the two of them. Our school was having a fair which included a ‘marriage booth’. My best friend wanted to take a picture with me, my boyfriend wanted to marry me. So what did I do? I avoided the conflict and married the next guy that came along of course! Hahaha Remember, I was in the 6th grade. In retrospect, I can see just how off the mark I was with my feelings and attractions, and I wonder how I could have been so blind?

It’s not like it ended there either.

I was completely unaware of the fact that I had an affinity for girls, even though I did in fact have an affinity for girls. As the years went on, I pretty much said yes to any boy that wanted to be my boyfriend. Part of this was out of pure curiosity, but I mostly said yes just to be polite. Mama was big on manners. But the ‘funny feeling’, well, it was mostly only there when I would see an attractive girl. I told myself I was just looking at her hair, her clothes, her style – and I was. I was just in denial that I was looking at those things because of anything other than physical attraction. Checking girls out was for research purposes; purely fashion related of course.

How could I have been so off base?

It just didn’t click in my head that “Hey stupid, you like girls.” It just didn’t occur as a possibility to me that two women could have a relationship the same as a man and woman do. I guess it didn’t help that my parents never presented the option. They mostly instilled the idea of going to school, getting married, and having kids. I guess because the gay community is at a loss when it comes to natural reproduction, the thought never occurred to my parents that becoming a lesbian might possibly be an option for me. Well let me tell you my friends, they missed a BIG component when they overlooked the gay possibility, and I learned to look for love with a man.

So I did as my parents expected and eventually got married and had a couple of kids.

But for some reason, things just weren’t working out. We couldn’t see eye to eye. Here I was a grown woman with two children of my own and I didn’t realize that the reason I wasn’t happy with my husband was because I really wanted a wife. Things got really nutty here and I thought I could solve the problem and fix my marriage by pro-claiming myself ‘bi’. I was a married woman who had girlfriends. My parents were happy that I was keeping up with their charade, and my husband was happy that I was keeping up with his. But there was one thing I forgot to factor in, and that was my kids. By not staying true to myself and compromising I had brought them into a totally chaotic situation and there was only one way to make things right – I stood up for myself. I showed them that it doesn’t matter who you love, as long as you legitimately love them; and that you can’t love another until you find a way to love yourself.

I left the marriage as gracefully as I could given the circumstances, and moved on with my life.

Now I’ve found my true life partner, another ‘daddy’ for my kids, and one helluva human being in my ‘wife’. I totally scored and so did my kids! We’ve grown a lot together and she’s really made the difference in how I perceive myself. I am finally able to tell the world I am gay and not wince, LOL. It’s been a journey from the straight side to the life of a lesbian, yet I’ve found my Rainbow Pride and joined the Same Sex Marriage band-wagon.

But wouldn’t you know… my Gaydar is still broken.

I know this because I recently made the mistake of thinking another mom at the kids’ school was a lesbian. I asked her “Are you from a two-mommy family?” She said very matter-of-factly that her mom was as close to a second mom her son was going to get. Whoops. Now I just keep my mouth shut and smile. Having lived the straight life and the lesbian life, I have felt the change in perception that people have had about me. Plus, most people assume that I am straight, and when they find out I am a lesbian they usually say, “Oh”, like “Oh I’m sorry” Or “Oh that’s too bad”. It’s like being able to tell someone’s race over the phone, or tell what religion they are by what clothes they are wearing. Does it change the content of the person? Will you treat them differently once you’ve discovered their orientation?

I would never want to make someone feel judged like this and so I am finding that I am okay with the fact that my Gaydar doesn’t work.

I don’t know who is gay any more than I know who is straight, and I decided that I really don’t care! We weren’t all made to be clones, the fact that we are unique is a given. So rather than judging differences we need to celebrate them instead. If your Gaydar doesn’t work, its okay, you’ll get along just fine without it as long as you avoid being naïve and judgmental. If you’ve got working Gaydar, you don’t know how lucky you are to have it, especially if you are gay, but I beg you to please use it for good and not evil! There are a lot of young gay men and lesbians out there who need an open mind to accept them so that they can accept themselves - enough said.

Thank you for reading all about my Broken Gaydar and I really hope that you enjoyed this post.

Posted by ~Julie Phineas~ at 9:56 PM

Wednesday, September 24

U.S. Supreme Court Stays Georgia Execution


Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a police officer on the basis of 'eyewitness' testimony. There was no gun, no fingerprints, no DNA, no hairs, no shoe impressions, nothing to physically connect him to the commission of this crime except for the word of a group of people. All but two of those people have recanted their testimony. Sylvester "Red" Coles, one of the people who testified against Davis, has been identified by 9 people in sworn affidavits as the shooter. Some are willing to swear that after the shooting, Coles had a weapon. He was the alternative suspect in the case, and yet he was not the one convicted, Davis was; not only convicted, but sentenced to death, and has been refused a new trial time and time again.

What is happening in this country? Last night Troy Davis received yet another reprieve; he was two hours away from dying when he was granted a stay by the Supreme Court, which is going to decide whether or not to hear his appeal. From the Washington Post:
Davis wants the high court to order a judge to hear from the witnesses who recanted their testimony and from others who say another man confessed to the crime.
Let's hope that this time they do decide to hear the case. To continue to keep this man on death row and perhaps execute him because the prosecutor calls the witnesses recanting "suspicious" is ridiculous. What is suspicious (imo) is their refusal to even consider that they could possibly be wrong, and their obvious eagerness to put a man to death.

Sunday, September 21

The Eye of Big Brother is Always Upon Us

There's a pretty interesting blog that I've dropped in on once in awhile; it's one of those that you have to 'register' to read, which I've never minded doing. I've never left a comment on the blog, merely read it every now and again when my Google Reader showed something I thought might be interesting. As a matter of fact, I haven't even been there to read anything in probably two weeks or more, so I was quite amazed to get an email from them this past week. I was even more shocked to find that it was telling me (not asking) that if I wanted to keep reading it, I had to verify that my name and picture (if I'd posted one) were authentic!! What's happening here? We can't go and read blogs without having Big Brother looming over our shoulders asking who we are? The site gave some excuse about writers knowing who each other are, which I guess I can kind of understand; if you're really serious about being a writer, and someone posts something telling you that your writing is crap and you should quit, I guess you'd want to know that the person has enough faith in them selves and what they're saying to back it up at least. In my case though, I'm just someone whose stopped by on a few occasions and read some blog posts! Why do they need to verify who I am?

The funny thing is, after getting this email and getting all riled up about it, I go to the site to see what's going on, and there's absolutely nothing about it anywhere. I went in and read some of the blog posts, and no messages popped up, no one interrupted me to ask for my web credintial or anything! I just can't understand it, what was the point of them alerting (upsetting) people like that only to do absolutely nothing when they get to the site? I'm really upset about this, Big Brother is stretching his tentacles out to spy on people and invade their very thoughts! Whether he was going to and changed his mind or he got talked out of it or he realized the futility of it all, let's hope that the fact that I didn't have to do it means that for today at least, another small section of our world still belongs to us.

Tuesday, September 16

"BLOG BLAST FOR PEACE" Just had to share this!

This is such a great idea, and something I never even knew existed! I definitely intend to take part; first of course I have to find the time to decorate a globe, but I'm going to make a point of it. Come on guys, make your voices heard! Blog Blast for Peace, November 6th!

(Thanks to Mimi, from Mimi Writes)

Wednesday, September 10

Who is Roland Martin?

No, I didn't say Rowan and Martin, I said R-O-L-A-N-D M-A-R-T-I-N. He's a political commentator that I've seen on CNN, as well as listened to in the morning on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. (I started out listening to that radio station for his "Win $1000 on the Morning Show Cash Call", and have just gotten into the habit; Tavis Smiley used to do a commentary on it as well.)

Now, I wasn't what one might call "into" politics until the Bush administration. The only good thing that I feel came out of the Bush administration was to make a lot more people aware of what is going on in our government in general, and in the Republican Party in particular. A lot of people, including myself, have followed Bush's 2 terms in office with a feeling of disillusionment and growing horror at just what's happened to our country while we were sitting back, complacent in the knowledge that we didn't need to get all upset, the government would take care of us. We didn't see any reason why we had to get upset, or go running to the polls; who was going to miss our little vote? Besides, there were enough people in the country who were getting upset and voting to make sure that things went the 'right' way. How wrong we were.

Back to the subject at hand though. There are a lot of people, (and as much as I hate to say it, a lot of them are POC) who will vote in this election based on one (or more) of three things: age, race, gender. They will vote for Obama/Biden because they're young, McCain is too old, and/or Obama is black. They will vote for McCain/Palin because Obama is too young, Obama is black, and/or Palin is a woman. I've noticed that in a lot of cases, you know who a person is going to vote for based on their age/race/gender, especially women and POC, and being both, it makes me sick to see it. Roland Martin is a young black man, the kind one would expect to see spouting the "Vote for the brother cause he's black" nonsense, but fortunately he's not. He's actually making sense, at least to me, and I've come to enjoy listening to him. I think if more people came to think like him, and voted on the issues rather than on the emotions, we might actually have a chance at improving things around in this country, rather than suffering through another 4 years of Bushonomics.

Saturday, September 6

Subway Fires Former Gay Porn Star

Queers United: Subway Fires Former Gay Porn Star


I've been reading all these comments on this story, and they seem to range from the usual gay-bashing, (Good,the fag should have been fired!) to concentrating on the gloves, (As long as he had gloves on when he made my sandwich, I wouldn't care what he used to do for a living; like he couldn't do something gross with the gloves on!) to the reputation of the customer (how did the customer recognize the FACE of someone in a gay porn movie?"). Although employers are entitled to fire anyone for any reason in an "at will" state (that's what it's called in MD) they can't discriminate against anyone, and I'm sorry, it seems to me that this man was fired because the customer outted him. If an employer found out that a straight man was in a porn film, there would be back-slapping and high-fiving all around; lots of laughing and probably requests for the phone numbers of his co-stars. It's a GAY man though, omg, how horrible; not only is he gay, he actually made movies!! Firing him because one customer came in and said he recognized him points more to the phobia of the supervisor than it does to any kind of disruption or threat to Subway's business. I have never heard of any business taking the word of one customer and taking away an employee's livliehood over it. That's like a woman walking into a business and telling the boss "The woman working the cash register, I recognize her, she's the person who had an affair with my husband! I'm going to boycott your store unless you fire her!" Do you really think any rational boss would do that? Would it make sense if he did? They may be in a state that can fire an employee at will, but still an employer has to have a reason that is not discriminatory, and has to prove it's not discriminatory. If I were this guy, I would try to sue, because I really don't think that supervisor had the right to do that, and I don't think Subway is going to stand for a lawsuit over it.