Tuesday, November 24

Census worker in Kentucky killed self, officials conclude | McClatchy

By Bill Estep | Lexington Herald-Leader

A U.S. Census worker found dead in a secluded Clay County cemetery killed himself but tried to make the death look like a homicide, authorities have concluded.

Bill Sparkman, 51, of London, might have tried to cover the manner of his death to preserve payments under life-insurance polices that he had taken out. The policies wouldn’t pay off if Sparkman committed suicide, state police Capt. Lisa Rudzinski said.

“We believe it was an intentional act on his part to take his own life,” said Rudzinski, who helped lead the investigation.

Bill Sparkman, the census worker found hanged Sept. 12 in a remote patch of Daniel Boone National Forest in Clay County. An autopsy report is pending. Photo courtesy of Corbin Times-Tribune. AP - FILE - In this undated 2008 photo, Bill Sparkman speaks to a 7th grade class during a lesson about sound waves. Authorities have released Sparkman's body to his family nearly a month after he was found dead with a rope around his neck in rural eastern Kentucky. (AP Photo/The Times-Tribune, File)

Sparkman’s nude body was found Sept. 12 by people visiting the cemetery. There was a rope around his neck tied to a tree, and he had what appeared to be the word “fed” written on his chest in black marker.

His census identification card was taped to his head.

The bizarre details of the death caused a firestorm of media coverage and widespread speculation on the Internet, including that someone angry at the federal government attacked Sparkman as he went door to door, gathering census information.

There has been some anti-census sentiment in the country this year, and Sparkman apparently tried to capitalize on that with his ruse.

If there had been no writing on his chest and his identification hadn’t been taped to him, police could have concluded more quickly that Sparkman’s death was a suicide, Rudzinski said.

Instead, it took considerably more investigation to rule out homicide. Police even analyzed the ink on Sparkman’s chest to see how the letters were applied, in order to determine whether it was more likely that someone else wrote on him or he wrote on himself.

Tests indicated that the letters were applied from the bottom to the top — not the way an assailant facing Sparkman would write them. Police concluded that Sparkman wrote on himself, Rudzinski said.

Ultimately, there was no evidence to point to murder, she said.

Tests results showed that there was no DNA other than Sparkman’s on the rag in his mouth or on another rag found near his body. Those results, which police received only recently, were a pivotal development.

Other evidence also pointed to suicide as the manner of Sparkman’s death, police said.

For instance, there was no evidence that Sparkman had struggled with anyone. There were no wounds on his body, Rudzinski said.

Tests ruled out any theory that he was drugged and unconscious when he was tied to the tree, making the lack of signs of a struggle more significant. Also, Sparkman’s glasses were taped to his head. The question that raises is why a killer would care whether Sparkman, who had poor vision, could see what was going on.

On the other hand, if Sparkman was writing on his chest or preparing to kill himself, it would matter that he could see.

And although it is true that Sparkman died of asphyxiation from the rope around his neck, he was not dangling from the tree the way people commonly perceive hanging, Rudzinski said.

His legs were bent at the knee and his knees were less than six inches off the ground, Rudzinski said.

Sparkman could have stood up, taken the pressure off his neck and not died.

Sparkman’s hands were bound, but loosely, allowing him to move them shoulder-width apart, Rudzinski said.

The significance of that is that Sparkman could have created by himself all the conditions found at the scene, such as tying the rope around his neck and putting a rag in his mouth, Rudzinski said.

Sunday, November 22

Vermont Judge Awards Custody of Child to Non-Biological Lesbian Mom

I don't know if I agree with either of the partners getting sole custody, although since the biological parent refused to comply with the court's orders I can somewhat understand the judge's reasoning. I think both parents need to remain in the child's life, but putting your child's feelings and best interests first is not something that a person can be forced to do, it is something that they need to do on their own, because they want to. Unfortunately, the biological mom is putting herself and her own feelings in front of all else, and that's why she lost her daughter. I just pray there isn't a case of parental kidnap in this poor little girl's future...

11/22/09-by Paula Brooks (LezGetReal)
In a stunning decision, Rutland Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen ruled Friday that he is awarding sole custody of 7-year-old Isabella Miller to her non-biological lesbian mother, Janet Jenkins.

For six years, the case has been jumping between courts in Vermont, where Jenkins lives, and Virginia, where her former lesbian spouse, Lisa Miller, now lives.
The couple split up in 2003 after entering a civil union in Vermont, have since then been battling in the courts over custody and visitation rights to their daughter Isabelle, who was born to Miller.

However, Miller soon fled to her home state of Virginia and declared that she was no longer a lesbian. She then engaged the Conservative Christian law firm, The Liberty Council, to attempt to deny her partners the visitation right awarded to her by the Vermont Court by demanding sole custody in a Virginia court.

In 2007, Virginia’s Supreme Court sided with Jenkins and the Vermont courts.

After that ruling Miller and the Liberty Council then appealed to the US Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.

The Liberty Council returned to the Virginia Circuit Courts to halt the visitation order, but the judge in that case stated that Virginia’s Supreme Court had already ruled.
The Liberty Council then again appealed to the Virginia’s Supreme Court. A Virginia Supreme Court Justice however cited the Parental Kidnap Prevention Act, which requires courts in other states to adhere to pre-existing custody and visitation awards and is meant to prevent just this kind of “Justice Shopping” and refused to hear the case, again giving sole jurisdiction to Vermont.

On January 28th of this year, the case was returned to Vermont, where Vermont Judge William Cohen allowed Miller to retain custody, but ordered unsupervised visitation to Jenkins for four days in March, over the Memorial Day holiday and for five weeks in this summer.

In September after Miller failed to comply with the visitation order, Cohen told her and her lawyers that he was tired of Miller’s repeated disobedience to his visitation orders and warned Miller that she would lose custody if she didn’t comply with the prior orders.

Friday, Cohen said in his order that granting sole custody of Isabella to Jenkins was in the child’s best interest because Miller has consistently refused to comply with prior custody and visitation orders.

“The court concludes that it is in the best interest of (Isabella) that Ms. Jenkins exercise parental rights and responsibilities,” the judge said Friday. “This court stated that continued interference by Ms. Miller with the relationship between (Isabella) and Ms. Jenkins could lead to a change of circumstances and outweigh the disruption that would occur if a change of custody were ordered.”

Judge Cohen did note in his decision that the change in custody would cause some short-term disruption in Isabella’s life because she would need to move to a new home, school, and community. However, Cohen said, the transition wouldn’t be out of the norm for a 7-year-old.

Lisa Miller’s attorneys vowed to appeal the order, but legal experts both in Vermont and Virginia say that Miller may be running out of legal options and caution that Virginia’s court of appeals, where Miller’s lawyers say they will file an appeal to Cohen’s order, have previously upheld the Vermont judge’s decisions and may not look kindly upon another appeal.

Friday, November 20

Bay Windows - New England's largest GLBT newspaper

Bay Windows - New England's largest GLBT newspaper

Pastor Donnie McClurkin’s gay church
by Rev. Irene Monroe
Bay Windows Contributor
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009

The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is the largest African American and largest Pentecostal church in the United States. It’s also the largest denominational black church in the country and the loudest in rebuking homosexuality.

Many of the gospel music industry mega-stars can be heard at COGIC. The church’s charismatic worship style shouts to a black male queer gospel aesthetic making COGIC a church is conflicted with itself.

Black gay male mega-stars are now ex-gay or closeted. They publicly deny their sexual orientation at the church’s annual convocation.

Case in point: speaking at the COGIC’s 102nd Holy Convocation International Youth Department Worship Service on Nov. 7 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, Pastor Donnie McClurkin, the poster boy for African American ex-gay ministries, talked about his conflict.

"God did not call you to such perversions. Your only hope is Jesus Christ. Were it not for this Jesus, I would be a homosexual today. This God is a deliverer," McClurkin told his audience.

McClurkin attributed his homosexuality to being raped twice as a child, first at age eight at his brother’s funeral by his uncle, and then at age thirteen by his cousin, his uncle’s son.

Confusing same-gender sexual violence as homosexuality, McClurkin misinterpreted the molestation as the reason for his gay sexual orientation. McClurkin says that his cure was done by a deliverance from God and a restoration of his manhood by becoming the biological father of a child.

In his book Eternal Victim, Eternal Victor, McClurkin writes, "The abnormal use of my sexuality continued until I came to realize that I was broken and that homosexuality was not God’s intention...for my masculinity."

At the Convocation, McClurkin espoused his ex-gay rhetoric by castigating former gospel industry worker Tonéx (Anthony Charles Williams II) who unapologetically stated that he "didn’t struggle with his sexual attraction to men."

A talented singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, rapper, dancer, producer, and preacher, Tonéx has won six Stellar Awards, a GMA Award, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Soul Gospel Album for his 2004 gold album "Out The Box."

Known for his outlandish multi-colored hairstyles and flamboyant garbs with feather boas and fur coats, Tonéx’s image caused consternation in the black gospel and contemporary Christian music communities.

"It wasn’t me trying to make a statement; I’ve always been different," he told George Varga of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "And it really worked. Out of church, people are always asking me what my tattoos mean."

According to McClurkin, black males like Tonéx are gay because of sexual molestation, an absentee father, or because they didn’t have strong male images around them. Tonéx is the son of the revered late Dr. Anthony Williams, Senior Pastor and District Elder in the Truth Apostolic Community Church in suburban Spring Valley.

In an open letter to the Convocation about McClurkin’s homophobia, Bishop Yvette Flunder, an out lesbian who is a third generation preacher with roots in the Church of God in Christ, licensed in the COGIC, and who is now the Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship and Senior Pastor, City of Refuge United Church of Christ, wrote the following:

"I watched a clip of Pastor Donnie McClurkin at the COGIC Convocation Nov. 11, 2009 where he used the words perversion and vampirism in reference to feminine young men and ’evil’ butch young ladies. He suggested that the church had failed them and not been active enough in helping these young people find deliverance. He ranted against gospel artist and pastor Tonéx with regard to Tonéx’s recent affirmation of his own same gender orientation."

Pastor Donnie knows, just as I know, that Tonéx is more the ’rule’ than the exception to the rule. What makes Tonéx unique is not that he is a gay gospel music artist and Pastor, but that he told the truth about his sexuality while not claiming to be delivered.

Gay males continue to find ways of being supported in the COGIC.

For example, "blaquebigayministers" is a Yahoo gay ministers group, boasting 787 members since July 2000 and was founded by COGIC Elder Ronald Kimbrew. Kimbrew served in the Arkansas 1st Jurisdiction as the Assistant Secretary of the Pastors & Elders Council of COGIC from December 1996 to March 19, 2005, and is now the Public Relations Director at Greater Trinity, a COGIC congregation in Arkansas.

The "blaquebigayministers" website states the following:

"Welcome. This fellowship is for support and encouragement especially of black Christian ministers and friends who are ’family’ (bi or same-gender loving) and need a place of refuge. Enjoy the ’fellowship.’"

Kimbrew organized meetings of bisexual and same-gender loving COGIC ministers for most of the national meetings like Memphis Holy Convocation that McClurkin used to take part in, but now denounces.

A reporter following the Convocation asked, "Is COGIC going to be silent while an organized culture of homosexual ministers and bishops populate its pulpits?"

And the answer is yes.

COGIC reaps the benefits of soul, spirit, and sound of black male queer gospel performers each and every Sunday. No one knows this better than McClurkin himself. Imagine the bounty if the church accepted the truth before them.

Tuesday, August 18

Trans Woman Sues Over Photo Request

They asked for a photo? There shouldn't be any problems about rest rooms and locker rooms if Manpower doesn't give anyone that impression; Manpower was either telling companies that she was transgender, or there really was no problem and that woman was just being nosey!

In 2007, Kate Lynn Blatt, was employed by Manpower Inc., a staffing services agency that placed Blatt at an aluminum products manufacturer for $10 per hour as a temporary factory worker. However, she was let go by the plant after a supervisor said she was not healthy enough to complete her job.

Shortly following her dismissal, Blatt returned to the Manpower office to regain employment. It was at this time that Irene Kudziela, a Manpower branch manager, said she needed to turn in a letter from her surgeon that documented her sex-reassignment surgery along with a photograph of her genitalia, which Kudziela said would solve problems related to appropriate use of restrooms and locker rooms.

Blatt, 28, told the Philadelphia Gay News that she found the request “disgusting,” refused to comply, and promptly filed a bias complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, saying she was dismissed wrongfully due to her gender identity and her disability -- she identified her disability as sexual dysphoria.

“I was trying to work there in a dignified and private manner, but my dignity and privacy were constantly being violated,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Manpower Inc. told the Philadelphia Gay News that she could not comment on the specifics of the case, but said the company works to ensure a safe and nonexploitative work environment.

Now Blatt is looking to prevent similar situations. Currently unemployed, she said she’d be interested in advocating on behalf of the transgender community, assisting companies through tolerance training.

Sunday, July 26

Health Care in Our Country

I don't normally do this, but I feel this is an important issue going on, especially with what's happening with Obama and the Health Care Plan. This is a picture of my friend Francine, or "Frankie" as she's called. Frankie is on dialysis, as you can see; she's been on it since October of 2008, and unfortunately she's not on a transplant list yet. Why? Because she's 5'9, and weighs 447 lbs. The doctors have said that until she gets down to less than 200 lbs she will not be put on the list. (Which to me is ridiculous, but that's my opinion and another story.) In order to lose that much weight, she needs to have gastric bypass surgery. Now, she does have Medicare, which will pay for the surgery; however, and this is the crazy part, there is $500.00 in administrative costs which Medicare WILL NOT PAY!! She is on SSI, which is very limited, and has rent, utilities, and transportation to pay out of that, so where is she supposed to get $500.00? Why does her insurance not pay for that too? They're paying thousands of dollars for not just the bypass surgery but also for the surgeries she will need afterward to move the excess skin, so why not pay a measly $500.00 administrative costs? Grrrr, it makes me so angry....

Anyway; $200.00 of the $500.00 has already been paid, and an organization has already pledged to pay at least $100.00 of the remaining $300.00. That just leaves $200.00 to be raised by August 20, 2009. I want so much to help Frankie; she's a very good friend of mine who right now can't work, or swim, or do any of the physical things she loves to do. She wants to work with homeless addicts helping them to recover and get jobs and permanent housing, and there's a place willing to give her a job, but with her going for dialysis 3 times a week and then the fact that she can't walk very far or stay on her feet long is really going to get in her way. Please, I'm asking for help. Anything that you can do will be appreciated; even if it's only a dollar, every penny helps. Frankie has PayPal; please send it to her at Frankielm@yahoo.com on PayPal. Please, I'm asking for a friend, but I'm also asking for a human being; a citizen of this country who needs help, and who, if this country had the Health Care Plan it should have, would not have to be online asking for help. Please, help her get her surgery, get off dialysis, and back to doing what she's always done, being a productive member of society.


Monday, July 20

Anger over 'transphobic' columnist

By Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk • July 14, 2009 - 14:38

Dozens of members of the Queer Youth Network have written to complain about Sun columnist Jon Gaunt, who described gender reassignment as "misguided" and "slightly sick".

The LGBT youth organization has also lodged a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission.

The article in question focused on Kim Petras, the German 16-year-old trans singer. She underwent gender reassignment a year ago, having fought to have the law changed. Usually, only those over the age of 18 are permitted to undergo the surgery.

Columnist and radio presenter Jon Gaunt described her as "sad and slightly sick". He went on to describe her gender reassignment surgery as "drastic body mutilation" and compared her with Michael Jackson.

In a subsequent SunTalk radio show, Gaunt spoke to Erica Davies, the Sun journalist who first interviewed Kim.

Davies explained that Kim had felt she was "trapped in the wrong body" since the age of two, adding that the "bright" teenager was accepted by her family.

Gaunt said he had no problem with those over the age of 18 undergoing gender reassignment but was "not comfortable" with a child having the procedure, saying it could set "a dangerous precedent".

He added: "I'd love to get Kim on the show but after what I've just said, she probably won't come in."

David Henry, of the Queer Youth Network, has said Gaunt should apologise.

He said: "We accept The Sun is a tabloid newspaper and celebrity gossip mixed with sensationalism is part of what it does best, however demeaning and dehumanising young people in this manner is absolutely unacceptable and potentially damaging to thousands of people, many of whom have strikingly similar experiences to those of Kim Petras.

“Transgender people and those who do not conform to gender norms experience more than their fair share of ridicule and social torment in their every days lives as it is - we do not need this continued abusive onslaught from the mainstream media.

"We accept many people will not be surprised by this offensive and inaccurate comments made by Jon Gaunt in this article, but as Britain's most read-newspaper we would like to hear at least an acknowledgment from the editor of the upset this has caused our community by printing one of the many letters sent in by our members, if not a full apology from Jon Gaunt himself.”

Friday, July 17

Light Sentence for Suspect in Gay Murder

This is truly disgusting; I'm even thinking curse words it makes me so angry! If some man grabs my butt when I'm walking down the street, I'm allowed to beat him to death and get away with it??? What kind of world is this??
By Julie Bolcer

A man suspected of murdering a gay man in a street attack in Washington, D.C., last year pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and avoided substantial jail time, reports WLJA-TV.

Robert Hannah (pictured) pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge on Thursday in the death of Tony Randolph Hunter, who was 37. Invoking a "gay panic" defense, Hannah’s lawyer had argued that Hunter had touched his client inappropriately.

Hunter and two other gay men were attacked while on their way to a gay bar formerly known as BeBar on September 7. Left lying unconscious in the street after the attack, Hunter was taken to Howard University Hospital and died of severe head trauma 10 days later.

Although the murder was at first investigated as a hate crime, it was never characterized as one in court. Under the plea deal, the maximum possible sentence that Hannah, 18, could receive is 180 days in jail. Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese called that prospect “outrageous” in a statement issued by the group on Thursday.

Wednesday, July 15

With Help, Conductor and Wife Ended Lives

Why can't they just allow people the dignity and respect they deserve, and let them choose when and how they want to die? Why make them go through the uncertainty and perhaps pain of waiting around for whatever is going to take them to do so? Let them go when they're ready, in a nice, peaceful, painfree way. That's my opinion anyway...


Published: July 14, 2009

LONDON — The controversy over the ethical and legal issues surrounding assisted suicide for the terminally ill was thrown into stark relief on Tuesday with the announcement that one of Britain’s most distinguished orchestra conductors, Sir Edward Downes, had flown to Switzerland last week with his wife and joined her in drinking a lethal cocktail of barbiturates provided by an assisted-suicide clinic.

Although friends who spoke to the British news media said Sir Edward was not known to have been terminally ill, they said he wanted to die with his ailing wife, who had been his partner for more than half a century.

The couple’s children said in an interview with The London Evening Standard that on Tuesday of last week they accompanied their father, 85, and their mother, Joan, 74, on the flight to Zurich, where the Swiss group Dignitas helped arrange the suicides. On Friday, the children said, they watched, weeping, as their parents drank “a small quantity of clear liquid” before lying down on adjacent beds, holding hands.

“Within a couple of minutes they were asleep, and died within 10 minutes,” Caractacus Downes, the couple’s 41-year-old son, said in the interview after his return to Britain. “They wanted to be next to each other when they died.” He added, “It is a very civilized way to end your life, and I don’t understand why the legal position in this country doesn’t allow it.”

Sir Edward, who was described in a statement issued earlier on Tuesday by Mr. Downes and his sister, Boudicca, 39, as “almost blind and increasingly deaf,” was principal conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra from 1980 to 1991. He was also a conductor of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden in London, where he led 950 performances over more than 50 years.

Lady Downes, who British newspapers said was in the final stages of terminal cancer, was a former ballet dancer, choreographer and television producer who devoted her later years to working as her husband’s assistant.

“After 54 happy years together, they decided to end their own lives rather than continue to struggle with serious health problems,” the Downes children said in their statement.

British families who have used the Zurich clinic in the past have said that Dignitas charges about $6,570 for each assisted suicide.

Scotland Yard said in a statement on Tuesday that it had been informed on Monday “that a man and a woman” from London had died in Switzerland, and that it was “looking into the circumstances.” The information that prompted the police inquiry appeared to have been given voluntarily by the Downes family, which, Caractacus Downes said, “didn’t want to be untruthful about what had happened.”

“Even if they arrest us and send us to prison, it would have made no difference because it is what our parents wanted,” he said.

Attempting suicide has not been a criminal offense in Britain since 1961, but assisting others to kill themselves is. But since the Zurich clinic run by Dignitas was established in 1998 under Swiss laws that allow clinics to provide lethal drugs, British authorities have effectively turned a blind eye to Britons who go there to die.

None of the family members and friends who have accompanied the 117 people living in Britain who have traveled to the Zurich clinic for help in ending their lives have been charged with an offense. Legal experts said it was unlikely that that would change in the Downes case.

But British news reports about the Downeses’ suicides noted one factor that appeared to set the case apart from others involving the Dignitas clinic: Sir Edward appeared not to have been terminally ill. There have been at least three other cases similar to the Downeses’, in which a spouse who was not terminally ill chose to die with the other.

Sir Edward was known for his support for British composers and his passion for Prokofiev and Verdi. After studying at the Royal College of Music in London, he joined the Royal Opera House in 1952. His first assignment was prompting the soprano Maria Callas. He traveled widely as a conductor and became music director of the Australian Opera in the 1970s.

Friends of Sir Edward said that his decision to die with his wife did not surprise them. “Ted was completely rational,” said Richard Wigley, the general manager of the BBC Philharmonic. “So I can well imagine him, being so rational, saying, ‘It’s been great, so let’s end our lives together.’ ”

Jonathan Groves, Sir Edward’s manager, called their decision “typically brave and courageous.”

But even among those who support decriminalizing assisted suicide, Sir Edward’s death raised troubling questions. Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying, said in a BBC interview that the growing numbers of Britons going abroad to die, and the manner of their deaths, made it more urgent to amend Britain’s laws. There are “no safeguards, no brakes on the process at all,” she said.

The British Medical Association voted this month against legalizing assisted suicide, or lifting the threat of prosecution from “friends and relatives who accompany loved ones to die abroad.” Last week, the House of Lords defeated a bill that would have allowed people, subject to safeguards, to travel abroad to help people choosing to die.

Friday, July 10

House Dems Reverse Obama, Remove Ban On Needle Exchange Funding (VIDEO)

I knew that eventually he was going to start flat-out breaking his promises....

by Ryan Grim
Posted in The Huffington Post

House Democrats have reversed a decision by President Obama and removed a ban on federal funding for needle-exchange programs that he included in the 2010 budget. Including the ban broke a campaign pledge and the flip-flop set off outrage in the gay community and among HIV/AIDS activists. Twenty-six activists were arrested Thursday in the Capitol protesting the policy.

"For us this is a major positive development," said Allan Clear of the Harm Reduction Coalition. "We're optimistic it will stay out. We don't think Democrats would do this unless they thought they could keep it out."

"The fact that Democrats took it out in subcommittee means they're willing to take it all the way," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Syringe exchange programs have been demonstrated to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS but opponents charge that they encourage drug use.

The needle-exchange question goes to the heart of a seemingly never-ending debate in Washington: Should policy be made based on sound science or used to drive a wedge between the electorate? Obama has placed himself squarely in the sound science camp, which is why his decision touched off such anger.

It is also, quite literally, a life or death question. "Thirty-thousand people a year get HIV or Hepatitis C directly or indirectly from intravenous drug use," said Piper. "That's 300,000 people that could be saved over the next decade."

Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D-Wisc.) highlighted the reversal Of Obama's decision when releasing the budget Friday. Obey is also the chairman of the subcommittee that removed the ban.

"One key exception that I want to mention concerns needle exchange programs. This bill deletes the prohibition on the use of funds for needle exchange programs," he said. "Scientific studies have documented that needle exchange programs, when implemented as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy, are an effective public health intervention for reducing AIDS/HIV infections and do not promote drug use. The judgment we make in this bill is that it is time to lift this ban and let State and local jurisdictions determine if they want to pursue this approach."

At the time of Obama's reversal, spokesman Ben LaBolt said that the president left the ban in because he wanted Congress to take the lead and that the president didn't want to fight policy battles in the budget language.

"We have not removed the ban in our budget proposal because we want to work with Congress and the American public to build support for this change," he said. "We are committed to doing this as part of a National HIV/AIDS strategy and are confident that we can build support for these scientifically-based programs."

He added, "In recent years, Washington has used the budget process to litigate divisive issues and score political points. This practice, which both sides have engaged in, has limited our ability to tackle our major economic challenges. President Obama decided not to play politics as usual with this budget and while he remains committed to supporting the program he wants to address that through the normal legislative process."

That commitment, however, was called into question by the White House decision to remove its support of needle exchange programs from its website. See the before and after here.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) represents San Francisco, which runs a non-federally funded and successful needle exchange program. She was elected to Congress in the midst of the AIDS crisis and has long been a supporter of ending the ban on federal funding of syringe exchange.

"The CDC, NIH, WHO and former Surgeon General David Satcher have all confirmed the scientific evidence in support of needle exchange, which clearly shows these programs are an effective public health intervention that reduces the number of new HIV infections without increasing the use of illegal drugs," said Pelosi in a statement reacting to the removal of the ban. "By lifting the ban on federal funding for needle exchange, the language in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill reflects this sound science. As this bill moves forward, we must ensure science comes first in our public health policy."

In 2000, Pelosi called for a scientific review of the effectiveness of needle exchange. Surgeon General Satcher produced a report that concluded: "The senior scientists of the Department and I have unanimously agreed that there is conclusive scientific evidence that syringe exchange programs, as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy, are an effective public health intervention that reduces transmission of HIV and does not encourage the illegal use of drugs."

On Thursday, AIDS activists chained themselves inside the Capitol to protest Obama's inclusion of the ban in the budget. An Obama spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wednesday, July 8

Hamas tries to detain woman walking with man

Hamas security officers patrol the beach in Gaza City last month.

Attempt raises fears of strict enforcement of Islamic law

JERUSALEM - An attempt by Hamas police to detain a young woman walking with a man along the Gaza beach has raised alarms that the Islamic militant group is seeking to match its political control of the coastal territory with a strict enforcement of Islamic law.

The incident was the first time Hamas has openly tried to punish a woman for behaving in a way it views as un-Islamic since seizing power two years ago. But it follows months of quiet pressure on Gaza's overwhelmingly conservative 1.4 million residents to abide by its strict religious mores.

Hamas officials in Gaza have publicly urged shopkeepers to take down foreign advertisements showing the shape of women's bodies and to stash away lingerie often displayed in windows. Officials search electronic shops to check if they are selling pornography on tiny flash drives.

'Public morals'

"There's an open, public program to preserve public morals in Gaza," said local rights activist Isam Younis. "In reality that means trying to restrict freedoms."

Hamas denies any crackdown is under way. Since taking power, it has said it would only try to lead by example and not impose its views on anyone.

However, the group has taken no public action against small, shadowy groups that have attacked perceived hotbeds of Western immorality, such as the hairdressers and Internet cafes, fueling criticism that it has not been tough enough on hardline Muslim groups.

Freelance journalist Asma al-Ghoul says a group of Hamas police sent a clear message that certain behavior would not be tolerated when she went to the beach one evening in late June.

Al-Ghoul, 26, said she was spending time with a group of friends —two women and three men — on the northern Gaza shore.

'Provocative' outfit

Al-Ghoul is fairly exceptional in Gaza because she does not wear a Muslim headscarf. On that evening she wore jeans and a T-shirt — dress that is considered fairly provocative in Gaza's conservative society and which could have easily attracted the attention of the plain-clothed Hamas vice police who patrol the beaches.

Al-Ghoul swam, fully dressed, with a girlfriend, and then asked a male friend to walk her over to a nearby beach house rented by another couple she knew to shower and change.

Three policemen showed up and waited for al-Ghoul in the beach house garden, said an eyewitness who asked to remain anonymous because of security concerns. They took her identity card and demanded she accompany them to a nearby station — an order she refused.

The eyewitness said the police did not say why they wanted to detain al-Ghoul, but were insinuating that her behavior was unbecoming. Under Hamas' strict interpretation of Islamic law, a woman should not go out in public with men who are not related to her.

Police violence
However, al-Ghoul said her male friends were subsequently beaten by Hamas police, detained for several hours and asked to sign statements saying they would not "violate public moral standards again," she said.

Al-Ghoul said she mostly felt angry that the police made her feel like she had done something wrong.

"I'm not provocative and my dress isn't provocative, and I'm not scandalous either," she said.

Her story only became public after rights groups published excerpts on their Web sites. Her version of events was confirmed by two other witnesses, including Adham Khalil, one of the men who was detained. Khalil said he was beaten.

Hamas police spokesman Islam Shahwan denied the incident took place but said Gaza residents "must preserve our customs and Islamic traditions.

Monday, July 6

Path To Gay Marriage In D.C. Begins Tuesday

Sometimes I am truly ashamed to be a member of the black race. This is totally ridiculous that these black ministers do not realize what an irony this is. Blacks were called "nonhuman" by the white race for hundreds of years; we were apes, we were cattle, we were disgusting animals that did not deserve rights, and yet here they are calling their brothers and sisters the same thing that we were called by the white man! Only now, it's not only blacks you are saying are not human, it is members of every race on this earth because believe me, every race, no matter how homophobic, has some gay members. How can you fight for freedom from oppression of blacks and then turn around and oppress the same people you fought for? Are you saying that because I'm a lesbian that I am not human? God forgive me, I hate to say it, but this man disgusts me; him and all the other hypocrites like him. How can you say that you believe in God, and preach His Word, and then say that gay people are not human? How can you cheer for Obama to be President with his platform of Change, and not be willing to change yourself? How can you say that you preach the Word of God, and not love thy neighbor?

Well, regardless of his viewpoint, or the viewpoint of others like him, DC has spoken, and has joined the ranks of states that have decided to stop persecuting us, and denying us our rights. Thanks DC!!

By Carlos Santoscoy
Published: July 06, 2009

The path to legalizing gay marriage in the District of Columbia begins Tuesday as the city's new gay marriage recognition law takes effect. The law recognizes the marriages of gay and lesbian couples performed elsewhere.

City Council members approved the new ordinance in a 12 to 1 vote in May, with former Mayor Marion Barry the lone dissenter, and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, signed the bill.

Council leaders openly acknowledge their next move is to legalize gay marriage in the District, an idea that has not sat well with Bishop Harry Jackson, the pastor leading the fight against gay marriage in the city.

Jackson quickly rallied opposition, forming the Stand 4 Marriage D.C. Coalition, a group of mostly black ministers. Days after the council acted, the ministers gathered to protest the council's actions and announced they would repeal the measure with a referendum.

“It's a declaration of war,” he said. “We are sending a clear message that this is going to be fought every step of the way.”

A referendum in the District cannot violate the city's Human Rights Act of 1977 that prohibits discrimination based on race, gender and sexual orientation. Whether the referendum would proceed depends on the city's Board of Election and Ethics.

At a packed meeting in early June, the board heard four hours of testimony from gay marriage backers and foes.

“All we are asking for is a public debate,” said the Rev. Dale Wafer, a minister with the Harvest, a religious community in Northeast Washington.

But other opponents didn't mince words, and unleashed a fury of anti-gay sentiment.

Wearing a t-shirt for the anti-gay website thirdgender666.com that read “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Morals are Worse than Animals,” Minister Leroy Swailes, who most likely owns the anonymously registered website, railed against being gay.

Swailes testified that discrimination against gay men and lesbians is “positive discrimination.”

“Me as a black man, when they discriminated against me, I came out of my mother's womb, like I didn't have a choice, that was a negative discrimination. If you discriminate against a homosexual, that's a positive,” Swailes, who went on to call children's books like King and King that explain gay and lesbian relationships pedophile books, said.

He also argued that gay men and lesbians are inhuman and therefore not eligible for human rights: “Everybody should have human rights, but you have to be human. Human means you deal with the opposite sex.”

Gay rights activists Philip E. Pannell accused opponents of “advocating for a popular vote that will give vent to public homophobia.”

“Unfortunately, in our society, it is still acceptable in many polite circles to vilify and victimize gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,” he testified. “Hopefully, we in the District of Columbia will not have to be subjected to a campaign of misunderstanding, intolerance, fear, bigotry and hatred towards a minority group.”

The board voted to block the referendum the next week, saying it would violate the law and discriminate against gay men and lesbians. Determined opponents sought relief from the courts.

Last Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin upheld the panel's decision. Her 15-page ruling chided opponents: “At bottom, the harm about which petitioners complain is not based on a denial of the right to referendum. Rather, they simply disagree with legislation enacted by our duly-elected [city] council. A citizen's disagreement with constitutionally sound legislation, whether based on political, religious or moral views, does not rise to the level of an actionable harm.”

Retchin also denied petitioner's request to stay the July 7 start of the law, leaving opponents out of legal venues. Except to attempt to amend the law.

“We will definitely fight it – if that's the case – yes,” Jackson told gay weekly the Washington Blade.

Six mostly New England states have legalized gay marriage: Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine and Iowa.

District of Columbia lawmakers would like to add their city to that list. How quickly that happens depends not only on Bishop Jackson's resolve, but also on whether Congress is willing to fight city officials.

Because laws passed by the District are subject to a 30-day review period by Congress, before committing to gay marriage, the marriage recognition law was set afloat as a trial balloon. Several Republican congressmen, led by Ohio Representative Jim Jordan, objected to the law, but Democrats refused to join the chorus.

Tuesday's start of the law then is a symbolic nod from Congress, a gay marriage approval, no matter how tenuous.

Wednesday, July 1

Gay News Blog: DOJ Will Not Appeal Veteran’s VictoryIn Transgender Discrimination Case

Slowly but surely it appears that we're getting there; it's just a little too slowly for my taste.

From The Gay News blog:

July 01, 2009

Signals Commitment By Obama Administration To Protect Transgender Workers From Discrimination

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Justice decided not to appeal a federal court ruling awarding transgender veteran Diane Schroer the maximum compensation for the discrimination she suffered after being refused a job with the Library of Congress. The deadline for seeking an appeal was June 30. The American Civil Liberties Union has represented Schroer in her case.

The Obama administration's decision whether to appeal the final ruling in the case has been closely watched in part because the Bush administration defended the case so vigorously, arguing that transgender Americans are not protected by any existing federal laws. The decision not to appeal the verdict is consistent with the Obama administration's campaign promises to protect transgender workers against discrimination and his administration's recent order taking steps to bar gender identity discrimination in federal employment.

"I am grateful that the court took the time to examine the case in detail and come to a fair and unbiased decision. In that same light, I am gratified that the current administration saw this for what it was, a case of sex discrimination focused against transgender people, and recognized that it must end in this country," said Schroer, an Army Special Forces veteran with 25 years service. "The important signal that the administration's decision sends to all LGBT individuals gives me renewed hope and restores some of my shaken faith in what our country stands for."

On April 29, 2009, a federal court awarded Schroer maximum damages of $491,190 for back pay, other financial losses and emotional pain and suffering after finding the Library illegally discriminated against Schroer because of her sex. At trial, Schroer testified that she had applied for a position with the Library of Congress as the senior terrorism research analyst and was offered the job. Prior to starting work, she took her future boss to lunch to explain that she was in the process of transitioning and wished to start work presenting as female. The following day, Schroer received a call from her future boss rescinding the offer, telling her that she wasn't a "good fit" for the Library of Congress.

"We are pleased and relieved that the Obama administration has decided to bring an end not only to years of hard-fought litigation but also to a painful chapter of Ms. Schroer's extraordinary life," said Sharon McGowan, a staff attorney with the ACLU LGBT Project. "The administration's decision not to challenge this important civil rights ruling is a welcome sign that it intends to live up to its commitment to help end transgender discrimination in the workplace."

The ACLU filed the lawsuit against the Library of Congress on June 2, 2005, charging that the library unlawfully refused to hire Schroer in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace. In an earlier ruling in this case, the court issued a groundbreaking opinion that discriminating against someone who transitions from living as one gender to another is sex discrimination under federal law. In reaching this decision, the court compared the discrimination faced by Schroer to religious-based discrimination, saying, "Imagine that an employee is fired because she converts from Christianity to Judaism. Imagine too that her employer testified that he harbors no bias toward either Christians or Jews but only 'converts.' That would be a clear case of discrimination 'because of religion.' No court would take seriously the notion that 'converts' are not covered by the statute." The court also ruled that the library was guilty of sex stereotyping against Schroer because of its view that she failed to live up to traditional notions of what is male or female.

"This case put employers on notice that discrimination against transgender individuals is like any other form of discrimination – counterproductive and against our principles as a nation," added Schroer. "But this case alone won't end the rampant discrimination that transgender people face throughout the country. That's why we need Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that was introduced last week."

In addition to McGowan, the legal team consisted of Ken Choe, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU LGBT Project, James Esseks, Litigation Director for the ACLU LGBT Project and Arthur Spitzer, Legal Director of the ACLU of the Nation's Capital.

A copy of the decision, the complaint, a video, a bio and photographs of Diane Schroer are available at:

Tuesday, June 30

From Bangtown; Love and Lust in the Queen City

I absolutely love this! I came across it while Twittering, and sounds so much like me that I had to post it!! Women, we have to stop letting anybody and everybody sample the goodies at the drop of a hat! The last person I met (that I thought I might be interested in) I told that I have a "90 day rule"; no sex for the first 90 days. If you stick around and wait 90 days, then I know 1. you're not just out for the goodies, and 2. that our relationship is going to be based on more than just sex. What was her reaction? At first it "Aw hell no!" Then it was "Well, I can understand that." And after the 90 days was over? "Damn, I'm glad you made me wait. I really appreciate you and it a lot more this way." (Yes, she actually made that statement! LOL)Make em wait girls, and be picky about who you let in your store....

The bakery is closed
June 30th, 2009 by Shameika René in Mingling in the Queen City

“When you gonna let me sample the goodies?”

You’re familiar with the saying “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” — that’s Shakespeare for you non-reading folks.

The Goodies, peach cobbler, cookies, cream puffs or whatever you call the female genitalia — it’s still the same — but stepping to a female uttering a sentence is above and beyond disrespectful. ESPECIALLY in the 25 and up crowd.

My response: The bakery is closed.

Whatever happened to the days of getting to know someone and letting things progress naturally until you decide the man is worthy of the peach cobbler? Maybe there’s a permanent full moon that’s out in 2009 that allows these fools to utter the words—“when you gonna let me hit that, cause I can do this and I’m working with that.”

Blink. Blink.

Are you kidding me?

I’m sorry, but I think the women are going to have to take a hit on this one. It’s a vicious cycle:

I blame those chicks out there that find this bullshit cute and see nothing wrong with keeping the bakery open 24/7 letting folks sample the pastries.

Then in turn, those same men think the next chick they meet will have the same philosophy and allow him to come right on in and put his finger and other unmentionables in the pudding.

So no wonder diseases run rampant these days.

I’m trying to wrap my brain around the women that turn these fools down that get the response “oh you must not like sex” or “you must be a lesbian.”

Say what?

Just because some of us have self-esteem and value our bakeries then we have the issues?

I’d rather have my sweets in tact and be able to look myself in the mirror the next day in all my prettiness, rather than have to deal with the ish that comes with jumping in the sack with someone I know nothing about.

So excuse us for having standards and not willing to just leave the door unlocked for you to stick the doughnut and leave your glaze all over it only to turn around and do it to someone else tomorrow.

Lesson Learned: Fellas, it’s 2009, you’ve got to do better. Many of you wonder why you can’t find a good woman. Take a step back, look at how you approach us and think to yourself: would you want your mother, sister, cousin, or even daughter to drop the panties for lame lines like that? No, I think not. You’d want them to keep the bakery locked up tight with the key in a safe until the time is right.

Ladies, we as women deserve to be celebrated rather than treated like an old stale lemon cake. If these men want to satisfy their sweet tooth without handling their biz the correct way, then politely remind them: They have two good hands, use them.

Friday, June 19

TransPeople are Not Deceptive - Like This Ad From LACarGuy Implies We Are

by: Autumn Sandeen
Fri Jun 19, 2009 at 04:00:00 AM EDT
From Pam's House Blend

Y'know, the trans panic strategy used in the Angie Zapata Hate Crime Murder Trial is way to fresh in my mind, where the defense implied (as defense attorneys always do when the trans panic defense is used) that the victim was deceptive in their presentation (usually male-bodied trans women presenting as women), and therefore is a mitigating factor in the commission of a violent "crime of passion."

There is a commercial from a Los Angeles group of auto dealerships that is literally showing a trans gender woman as being incredibly deceptive -- not telling her husband that she was male-bodied, and he discovering the surprise on a desert road to what we're left presuming would have been the honeymoon. (Really!)

There is an uncut version of the commercial here, and there is no question what the driver is seeing in his mirror before he drives off, leaving the bride alone in the desert without anyway to get home.

No violence there, eh?

The slogan that ends the commercial is:

Getting what you want isn't always easy. Finding the car you want should be.

So trans people are unwanted people, in LA Car Guy's eyes. Swell! And add that commentary to the lyrics of the song playing in the commercial's background, which begin:

Not for better,
Feeling tired,
looking wetter.

Like a promise...

No commentary saying trans people are horrible, deceptive people there, whose transitions are "not for better," eh?


I get tired of constantly having to defend my humanity to people who don't perceive me as fully human. Well guess what? I am fully human, and this commercial angers me.

If you, like me, want to comment to the LA Car Guy dealerships about their commercial, the contact information for these nine dealerships are below the fold.
Autumn Sandeen :: Trans People Are Not Deceptive -- Like This Ad From LA Car Guy Implies We Are
LA Car Guy Dealerships:

• Lexus Santa Monica
Contact page
1501 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90404
Sales: Sales 800-859-4081

• Volkswagen Santa Monica
Contact page
2440 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404
New Car Sales: (888) 394-4903

• Pacific Audi
Contact page
20550 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503
New Car Sales: (888) 212-1009

• Pacific Volkswagen
Contact page
14900 Hindry Ave., Hawthorne, CA 90250
New Car Sales: (888) 267-0056

• Pacific Porsche
Contact page
2900 Pacific Coast Highway, Torrance, CA 90505
New Car Sales: (888) 214-7874

• Toyota Santa Monica
Contact page
801 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401
New Car Sales: (888) 565-1166

• Scion Santa Monica
Contact page
888 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401
Contact Telephone: (888) 873-0431

• Toyota of Hollywood
Contact page
6000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028
New Car Sales: (888) 245-2815

• Scion of Hollywood
Contact page
6000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, California 90028
New Car Sales: (888) 627-3449

The Contact page links are to pages where you can send the dealerships' emails.

Monday, June 8

Kung Fu Sect May Have Killed Carradine: Lawyer

While looking for the latest info on Troy Davis, (which I couldn't find anything new on, BTW) I found this article about David Carradine. I find it so strange (and funny) that people can be so sexually close minded as to prefer to NOT have closure, and to waste the taxpayers' money and the police department's time running around looking for a perpetrator of "foul play" rather than just except the fact that despite his age and how famous and well-to-do he was, the man had a sexual proclivity that a lot of folks don't find "normal". So what if he liked to have a noose around his neck and around his whang! There's an innocent (IMO) man on death row about to be executed; there are rapes being committed on a daily basis in places like Darfur and Kuwait; there are children dying of AIDS every day in Africa; in the grand scheme of things, WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE if David Carradine had a kink?

Newser) – A secret kung fu sect may have killed actor David Carradine for uncovering its secrets, his family's lawyer says. "If there was some foul play, that that may be the first area where" authorities "should look," Hollywood lawyer Mark Geragos said on Larry King Live. He added that the Carradine clan refuses to believe the actor died in a sex stunt gone wrong, the New York Post reports.

Geragos' suggestion echoes an earlier conspiracy theory that Triads, or Chinese mafia, killed martial arts actor Bruce Lee in 1973. Ironically, Lee had lost out to Carradine for the lead in the 1970s TV series Kung Fu. If Carradine "was involved in secret societies, it was a secret that even I didn't know about," says ex-wife Marina Anderson. "But he did have some big secrets."
Source: New York Post

Wednesday, June 3

Update on Troy Davis

Since the day I came here to Bikini Bottom this case is one that I have kept up with. There are a lot of things that disturb me about this country, so much so that if I were physically and financially able, I would leave it and go elsewhere. Nothing bothers me more than cases like this though, cases that emphasize not only the disparities in our justice system, but the downright insanity and injustice of a system that is supposed to keep us safe, and if we're innocent, keep us free. I'm not usually one of those "if it was a white man" people, but in this case I wonder. If the cop had been black and the suspect white, or if the suspect had been white period, with no evidence against him save the word of 9 people, one of whom wasn't sure and one of whom was also a suspect, would he have been sentenced to death for murder? If he had been, would he have gotten a new trial when the 7 witnesses recanted? Unfortunately, with the climate in this country the way it is, (despite now having a black president) I wonder....

Troy Davis' case is before the US Supreme Court. If it's turned down here, which most people seem to think it will be, then it goes back to Savannah, GA, and it will be up to the new District Attorney whether or not to reopen the case. Please, go to this link, read about Troy Davis, and send a letter to the new District Attorney. There are a lot of Troy Davises out there that need our help, but we can't help all of them. Perhaps we CAN help this one.

Reopen the Troy Davis Case

Shared via AddThis

Thursday, May 28

Is the GLBT Community Splitting up over the Marriage issue?

Lately I've been meeting a lot of folks on Twitter, some of whom (a lot of whom!! LOL) are really good bloggers/writers. One of them is a lesbian duo called Hersband and Wife. (Yes, I said HERSBAND)They are really awesome; activists in the LGBT community and the fight for equal rights, while also being advice columnists, which is an arena where we are sadly trailing the hetero world in representation. This article is from their blog at www.hersbandandwife.com

Is the GLBT Community Splitting up over the Marriage issue?
May 28th, 2009 by hersbandandwife


In case you missed all the discussions last night about the push to take the prop 8 fight to the national stage we decided to re-post them today for all to see.

The statements by the attorneys that are taking this to the supreme court are great and will help you understand their arguments.

Larry King hosts Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, George Takei and Husband Brad Altman to discuss the ramifications and legalities of the recent decision by the California’s Supreme court on Prop 8 as well as the push to take the fight to the United States Supreme Court.

We are very encouraged after listening to their arguments. We are only hopeful that the GLBT groups that have spoken against them will decide to work with them on a unified front.

A statement released by the group Freedom to Marry states the following ;

May 27, 2009, New York, NY

Evan Wolfson
Executive Director, Freedom to Marry
Tel: 212-851-8418; Mobile: 646-263-5552
Email: evan@freedomtomarry.org

New York, May 27, 2009 — In response to the California Supreme Court decision allowing Prop 8 to stand, four LGBT legal organizations and five other leading national LGBT groups are reminding the LGBT community that ill-timed lawsuits could set the fight for marriage back. The groups released a new publication, “Why the ballot box and not the courts should be the next step on marriage in California.” This publication discourages people from bringing premature lawsuits based on the federal Constitution because, without more groundwork, the U.S. Supreme Court likely is not yet ready to rule that same-sex couples cannot be barred from marriage. The groups also revised “Make Change, Not Lawsuits,” which was released after the California Supreme Court decision ending the ban on marriage for same-sex couples in California. This publication encourages couples who have legally married to ask friends, neighbors and institutions to honor their marriages, but discourages people from bringing lawsuits.

The groups working together with this statement are:

Equality Federation
Freedom to Marry
Human Rights Campaign
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force

These are the groups against the federal lawsuit for marriage equality.

Our question to these groups is what if these two lawyers win?

Do you all think you will loose your GLBT community support because you all came out against what apears to many of us as progress? Wouldn’t it be easier to work with the lawyers to help them in their fight rather than against them?

Sometimes the perfect case never comes and you have to just step out on a limb and try to go “all in” and pray that the legal argument is sound and will stand.

With what is being said and done with these groups right now is making it apear that exactly what the prop 8 supporters wanted has happened. We have gone in one 24 hour period from being compleetly unified on this issue to a smattering of different opinions. These groups were all formed to unify our community but in fact what they are doing now is dividing us.

Yes on this issue we are standing on the opposite side of these groups, We have always stood with them on issues but in true H&W style we are not followers but we are learned writers who delve deep into an issue and form our own opinion. We may anger some by coming out against such high regarded GLBT rights organizations but we believe that they are playing it safe and the die has already been cast with the fileing of this lawsuit so why come out against something that was filed on May 22, 2009 prior to that of the prop 8 decision being made public? Why not unify with the lawyers and help them get this issue not only heard but a favorable decision.

This is too importand an issue to be devided on!

Our community has waited too long (since 1974) to be heard on this issue on the federal level, so we say You Go Boys and take it to the feds. The justices may not be ready but our President, Congress and House are. So we may just have enough pressure on the justices on this issue for them to not only hear this case but rule in true rainbow favorability.

It is about time someone had the guts and the knowledge to be able to push this issue.


*This may be political suiside for us but this is what everyone loves about us we dont follow we lead, and we are real not a watered down version of something else. So no appologies, only real opinion’s from a couple with a civil union who are tired of being treated like seccond class citizens.

Tuesday, May 19

Partner and Children Denied Visitation of Dying Woman

Aggrieved Janice Langbehn, with her children, Danielle, 15; David, 13; and Katie, 12 (back to camera), has sued the hospital that treated her partner.

When a loved one is in the hospital, you naturally want to be at the bedside. But what if the staff won’t allow it? That’s what Janice Langbehn, a social worker in Lacey, Wash., says she experienced when her partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, collapsed with an aneurysm during a Florida vacation and was taken to a Miami trauma center. She died there, at age 39, as Ms. Langbehn tried in vain to persuade hospital officials to let her visit, along with the couple’s adopted children. “I have this deep sense of failure for not being at Lisa’s bedside when she died,” Ms. Langbehn said. “How I get over that I don’t know, or if I ever do.” The case, now the subject of a federal lawsuit in Florida, is being watched by gay rights groups, which say same-sex partners often report being excluded from a patient’s room because they aren’t “real” family members.

To read the whole story… Kept From a Dying Partner's Bedside

Vigilante who filmed men cottaging is spared jail

If he'd been in there filming straight couples having sex, they would have called him a pervert and thrown him in jail quicker than he could blink; they were homosexual so now he's a vigilante trying to protect his neighborhood, and he gets a suspended sentence and community service. What's wrong with this picture?

A self-styled 'protector of morals' who filmed gay men having sex in a woodland was spared jail yesterday.

Colin Haw, 47, led a group of men who dressed in balaclavas and combat kit to patrol a wood near Sleaford in Lincolnshire.

They would film men meeting and post the footage on a local website, often accompanied with music such as YMCA by the Village People and the nursery rhyme Teddy Bear's Picnic.

Haw was caught after he confronted a motorcyclist in a lay-by on the A17 in June last year. The rider said he had been going to the toilet and it was none of Haw's business. Two days later, he found footage of himself on Haw's website and called the police.

Liz Harte, defending, described Haw's actions as a 'misguided enterprise'.

She added: "Mr Haw thought he was doing the right thing. The thinking was that he was a protector of morals and a guardian of children."

Prosecutor Stephen Hill said: "It's very clear that the behaviour of this group is homophobic and at times it's quite aggressive."

Pat Walsh, chairman of the bench, told Haw: "Your actions were premeditated and quite deliberate in targeting a group of people we would describe as vulnerable. Our thoughts were to send you to custody but we are not going to do that today."

Haw was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for a year and a half. He was also ordered to do 200 hours community service work but escaped an anti-social behaviour order requested by Lincolnshire Police.

He was ordered to pay the motorcyclist he had filmed £400 and costs of £120.

Speaking outside court, Haw, a father of two, said: "We didn't go in there to cause people harm. We reported it on several occasions to the police. We tried to name and shame them but we didn't have any intention of causing them distress. We didn't put up any pornographic material.

"In our videos in Boston we have also brought attention to all the rubbish and the drug users who have thrown their syringes on the floor.

"We were not out to cause any trouble. The police wanted it covered up.

"I've got nothing against homosexual people but what gives them the authority to do it in public?"

Saturday, May 16

10 Council members back same-sex marriage bill

Stances contradict Washington Times report

May 15, 2009
By: Lou Chibbaro Jr.

One week after D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty signed a bill authorizing the city to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions, at least 10 of the City Council’s 13 members indicated they would vote for a separate bill allowing same-sex marriages to be performed in the District.

A Washington Blade survey of Council members this week found that 10 members were prepared to vote for full legalization of same-sex marriage in the city if a marriage equality bill were to come before the Council later this year.

The Blade’s survey contradicts a Washington Times article last week that reported five Council members were undecided on a full same-sex marriage bill and that Council Chair Vincent Gray (D-At Large) was “likely” to vote for such a measure.

Gray spokesperson Doxie McCoy told the Blade on Tuesday that Gray would vote “yes” on a full same-sex marriage bill if it were to reach the Council floor.

Gay D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At Large) has said he would introduce such a bill if the current Council-approved measure allowing the city to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries clears its required review by Congress.

The Council passed that bill 12-1 on May 5 and Fenty signed the bill the following day. The Council’s legislative clerk sent the measure to Capitol Hill on Monday, when the clock began for its congressional review of 30 legislative days. The bill automatically becomes enacted into law if Congress takes no action to overturn it.

At Blade deadline, the offices of three of the 13 Council members — Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5), Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) — had not responded to the Blade survey on their plans for a full marriage rights bill.

Alexander, who voted for the same-sex marriage recognition measure last week, said during the debate that she was undecided on whether to vote for a full, same-sex marriage rights bill if such a measure would come before the Council.

Barry was the only Council member to vote against the marriage recognition measure. He told a rally last month organized by ministers opposed to same-sex marriage that he would vote against any same-sex marriage bill introduced into the Council, citing his religious beliefs. Barry said he supports civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

Thomas, who also voted for the same-sex marriage recognition legislation last week, could not be reached for comment before deadline on whether he planned to vote for a full, same-sex marriage equality bill. During his Council election campaign two years ago, Thomas told the Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance in a questionnaire that he supported full, same-sex marriage equality in the District.

The Washington Times story, published May 6, reported that Council members Kwame Brown (D-At Large), Michael Brown (I-At Large), Thomas, Alexander and Barry indicated through staff members that they were each undecided on whether to vote for the full, same-sex marriage measure expected to be introduced by Catania later this year.

Michael Brown told the Blade on Tuesday that he reserves the right to read the full text of Catania’s marriage bill but, barring any unexpected provisions, he plans to vote for it.

“I don’t know where that came from,” Brown said of the Washington Times report. “They never talked to me. I’ve been pretty much on the record in support of this for quite a while.”

Michael Price, press secretary for Council member Kwame Brown, said he, too, was surprised by the Washington Times story, and noted he doesn’t believe the Times contacted Kwame Brown or Brown’s office.

“He supports it and he will vote for it,” Price said in discussing Kwame Brown’s position on a same-sex marriage bill for D.C.

Other Council members said through spokespersons that they remain firmly in support of Catania’s planned legislation on same-sex marriage later this year.

“We’ve heard from a few constituents who are opposed to this,” said Charles Allen, chief of staff for Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). “But we’ve heard from 10 times more Ward 6 constituents who support it.”

“I don’t think anyone would be surprised to know that I will support it and vote for it,” said gay Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1). “But I want to hear what people say and I’ll devote a lot to the hearing and hear people out,” Graham said, in referring to an expected Council committee hearing on the bill before it’s brought up for a vote.

As of Wednesday, gay rights advocates said they were pleasantly surprised that more opposition from a wider range of clergy had yet to surface in D.C. Activists and political observers noted that a large majority of black churches and ministers have not participated in two rallies called so far by Rev. Harry Jackson, the Prince George’s County, Md., minister who is leading efforts to oppose the D.C. same-sex marriage recognition measure approved by the Council last week.

Other developments that have surfaced since the Council passed the marriage recognition measure last week included:

• The D.C. Democratic State Committee, the governing body of the city’s Democratic Party, voted May 7 to endorse legislation legalizing same-sex marriage in D.C.

• As of Wednesday, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was the only member of Congress to issue an official statement in opposition to the D.C. same-sex marriage recognition bill. His press secretary, Alisia Essig, told the Blade that he had yet to decide whether he would introduce a resolution to overturn the D.C. marriage bill.

Friday, May 8

"God hates fags" preacher joins calls to block gay Scottish minister

Fred Phelps, the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church which picket dead soldiers' funerals with chants of 'God hates fags', has said the ordination of openly gay minister Scot Rennie to a Scottish church would be an "abomination".

Phelps and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper were banned from entering the UK this week by home secretary Jacqui Smith for their extremist views.

Phelps weighed in on the row over Rennie's ordination after a prankster added his name to a petition calling for the Kirk's decision to be overturned.

Eight thousand people, including a fifth of Church of Scotland ministers, have signed the petition.

Rennie was elected to Queen's Cross Church in Aberdeen by more than 80 per cent of his congregation but 12 members of the Aberdeen Presbytery complained over his lifestyle as an openly gay man. The Church's General Assembly will debate the appointment on May 23rd.

Speaking on her behalf of her father, Phelps-Roper said he was relaxed about his name being added to the list as he agreed that Rennie should not be appointed.

“God has set a standard for who can be a preacher in a church of the Lord Jesus Christ and they would be kicked to the kerb if this man, Scott Rennie, is appointed.

“We don’t need a petition to say this is an act of disobedience and rebellion against the standards of God," she said.

Phelps and his daughter are on a list of 16 individuals banned from entering the country since October due to their extremist views.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith said she had decided to make the list public in order to make clear what behaviour would not be tolerated in the UK.

Tuesday, May 5

California Supreme Court backs private school in bias case

By declining to review the case, the high court lets stand a lower court ruling that California Lutheran High School in Riverside County did not have to comply with a state anti-discrimination law.

By Jessica Garrison
May 2, 2009

The California Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling that allowed a private religious school to expel two 16-year-old girls for having a "bond of intimacy" that was "characteristic of a lesbian relationship."

The girls had sued California Lutheran High School, contending that the Riverside County school had violated a state anti-discrimination law.

An appeals court ruled in January that the private religious school was not a business, and therefore did not have to comply with a state law that prohibits businesses from discriminating.

The California Supreme Court this week declined a request from the girls' attorney to review the case; one justice, Kathryn M. Werdegar, disagreed.

Casey Mattox, litigation counsel for the Virginia-based Center for Law and Religious Freedom, called it "the correct decision."

"We think it preserves religious freedom," he said.

But the girls' attorney, Mike Grace of the San Diego firm GraceHollis, said it was "particularly disappointing . . . on a lot of levels."

He said he feared the decision would give a "green light" for private schools to discriminate not just against gay students, but against children in other legally protected classes, such as race, as long as religious beliefs were offered as a justification.

In ruling in favor of the school, the appeals court cited a 1998 California Supreme Court decision that said the Boy Scouts of America was a social organization, not a business establishment, and therefore did not have to comply with the Unruh Civil Rights Act.


Monday, May 4

Jury reaches verdict in Colo. transgender slaying

Apr 22, 2009

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — Jurors have reached a verdict in the trial of a Colorado man charged with beating a transgender woman to death with a fire extinguisher.

The verdict was expected to be read Wednesday afternoon in Greeley. Jurors deliberated for only about two hours.

Thirty-two-year-old Allen Andrade is charged with murder and a bias-motivated crime in the death of 18-year-old Angie Zapata.

Prosecutors say Andrade knew for 36 hours that Zapata was biologically male and killed her out of his dislike for homosexuals. Andrade's attorneys argue Zapata deceived him, and that he snapped when he discovered Zapata was biologically male.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) — The case of a Colorado man charged with beating a transgender woman to death with a fire extinguisher has gone to the jury.

Prosecutors and the defense made their closing arguments Wednesday in the trial of Allen Andrade, who is charged with murder and a bias-motivated crime in the death of 18-year-old Angie Zapata.

Attorneys for the 32-year-old Greeley man say Zapata deceived him, and that Andrade snapped when he discovered that Zapata was biologically male. But prosecutors say Andrade had known for 36 hours that Zapata was biologically male before he killed her out of a dislike for homosexuals.

The trial is believed to be the first under Colorado's bias-motivated crime law involving a transgender person.

Friday, May 1

NC rep calls gay student slaying case a 'hoax'


RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina congresswoman said Thursday she chose her words poorly when she called claims that a Wyoming college student was murdered because he was gay a "hoax." Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx said during debate in the House that Matthew Shepard's 1998 death wasn't a hate crime and shouldn't be invoked by supporters of a bill to expand the definition of such crimes to include violence motivated by sexual orientation.

"We know that young man was killed in the commitment of a robbery. It wasn't because he was gay," Foxx said during debate. "The bill was named for him, the hate-crimes bill was named for him, but it's really a hoax that continues to be used as an excuse for passing these bills."

Shepard died several days after he was found tied to a remote fence in Wyoming, severely beaten and robbed of $20. Prosecutors said he was lured from a bar by two men, including one whose defense attorney said reacted violently after Shepard made a sexual advance.

The House approved the bill Wednesday despite Foxx's comments. On Thursday, after Foxx drew heated reaction from several gay rights groups and others upset by her comments, she said her words didn't convey what she meant to say.

"The term 'hoax' was a poor choice of words used in the discussion of the hate crimes bill," Foxx said in a statement. "Mr. Shepard's death was nothing less than a tragedy, and those responsible for his death certainly deserved the punishment they received."

Still, it wasn't enough to quell the firestorm.

"I haven't ever heard anyone say before that Matthew Shepard's death wasn't a hate crime," said Becky Dansky, federal legislative director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

She said her organization was surprised by the comments and noted the House version of the bill doesn't even reference Shepard's case. The Senate bill carries Shepard's name.

Foxx spokesman Aaron Groen said the congresswoman relied on articles that she later realized were faulty and especially regrets upsetting the Shepard family. He said she declined further comment.

"Calls to her office have been mostly from outside North Carolina," Groen said. "We've gotten our share of death threats and the like but that's to be expected on such an emotional issue."

The University of Wyoming student's slaying became a rallying point for the gay rights movement.

The two men who killed him are serving life in prison. Prosecutors' cases included evidence with elements of robbery, drugs and hatred against gays. The court found the men guilty of murder, but did not determine their motivation.

Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said Foxx's comments might help encourage discussions favorable to equality.

"She should know better," Giuliano said Thursday. "Her research is a little shoddy. The good thing is it has exposed yet another very anti-equality, anti-gay elected official at a time when public opinion is moving more and more toward equality."

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 28

Westboro Bapist went to school… and almost got their butts kicked

In all honesty, how much of a protest can it be if there are only fourteen people protesting against homosexuality? It was a case of a flood against a puddle.

Westboro Baptist Church members believe that God is punishing America for tolerating homosexuality and have drawn severe criticism across the nation for picketing at funerals of servicemen and servicewomen.

But when the controversial church protested outside Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kansas on Thursday afternoon, word of the Phelps family protest spread through the school like wildfire and soon counter protesters outnumbered them by the hundreds. Students held signs reading, “God is love,” “God does not hate” and “No hate in P.V.”

The Phelps klan was at the school because an openly-gay former student, Matt Pope, was elected prom king last year…

In fact, the police estimate that the number of protesters against Phelps’ group numbered almost forty times the number that the Phelps family could muster. Pope, who is attending college in Oklahoma, even drove back to his high school Thursday to be at the protest.

Among the church protesters against homosexuality were two small children, both looked to be under the age of ten. One of the children was holding up a sign saying how President Obama is the devil.

Police were out in force to keep traffic moving smoothly and to keep the two groups separate and at least a dozen police officers stood by during the protest to make sure it remained peaceful.

The Shanwee Mission School District is historic. This school district is famous, or maybe infamous because in 1949 it was the Webb v. School District 90 desegregation case in this district paved the way for Brown v. Topeka Board of Education five years later.

Written by: Sei Sei is a trans-lesbian who lives in Vermont and has a strong passion for LGBTI rights. She has a BA in History and her hobbies include sci-fi, anime, fantasy, action movies, video games, and more.

Monday, April 27

Federal court rejects Troy Davis’ appeal

Killer gets 30-day stay of execution to pursue appeals
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm sure anyone reading my blog remembers this story, I've been following Troy Davis for quite a while. It truly amazes me how they can still be rejecting his appeals...

The federal appeals court in Atlanta on Thursday rejected death-row inmate Troy Anthony Davis’ bid for a new trial on claims he did not kill a Savannah police officer in 1989.

In a 2-1 opinion, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Davis could not establish by clear and convincing evidence a jury would not have found him guilty.

Davis’ innocence claims have attracted international attention. They rely largely on the recantations of key prosecution witnesses who testified at trial and on statements by others who say another man told them he was the actual killer.

In October, the 11th Circuit granted Davis a stay three days before he was to be put to death by lethal injection. It marked the third time Davis’ life was spared before his scheduled execution.

On Thursday, the two-judge majority noted that state courts and the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles had exhaustively reviewed Davis’ claims and rejected them.

Judges Joel Dubina and Stanley Marcus said they agreed with those conclusions. “Davis has not presented us with a showing of innocence so compelling that we would be obligated to act today,” they wrote.

The judges said they view the recantations with skepticism and, after reviewing Davis’ claims, “remain unpersuaded.”

Judge Rosemary Barkett dissented. “To execute Davis, in the face of a significant amount of proferred evidence that may establish his actual innocence, is unconscionable and unconstitutional,” she wrote.

The 11th Circuit kept in place its stay of execution for another 30 days so Davis can pursue his final appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court in October declined to consider a previous appeal.

Davis, 40, stands convicted of killing off-duty Savannah Police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail. The 27-year-old former Army Ranger was shot three times before he could draw his weapon.

Russ Willard, spokesman for state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, said the 11th Circuit made the “correct decision.”

Tom Dunn, one of Davis’ lawyers, said he was disappointed, but would fight on. “Troy is innocent and this struggle is far from over.”

Thursday, April 23

Lesbian mom saved from deportation by private bill introduced by California Senator Dianne Feinstein

Shirley Tan, who had received a temporary reprieve and was scheduled to be deported and separated from her partner of 23 years, Jay Mercado, and their two children on April 22, was saved at the last minute by a private bill introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein [pictured], according to a message sent out by the family's rep. Melanie Nathan:

Today Senator Feinstein introduced a very rare private bill on behalf of Shirley Tan; Shirley will not have to leave the USA for now and hopefully never. The essence of its introduction is that Tan does not have to leave the USA on May 10th, in terms of the voluntary order issued by DHS. This enables her to stay in the USA, legally, until the private bill passes (a rare occurrence)- and if it does not come up for a vote then she can stay for the duration of this Congress’s session, which has approximately a year and nine months left. However Shirley's ultimate saviour will be UAFA [Uniting American Families Act] and nothing else!