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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Why Atlanta Is the Perfect Place to Celebrate NOH8

By Brandon Miller  -

The NOH8 Campaign is one of my favorite gay equality endeavors. Not only does it promote acceptance and love for LGBT people, but it does so in a visually engaging and artistically beautiful way.
Photographer Adam Bouska is going to Atlanta for his next round of NOH8 subjects. On January 16th, he will host a three-hour photo shoot for local gay rights activists and the general public, too. Photos cost a small fee, but the impact is priceless.
“I see this event as part of a long term process for me and for the greater Atlanta community to heal and to transform hate into love as part of the historic 25th anniversary celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday,” says Josh Noblitt, one of the local organizers. “I am thrilled to be a part of bringing the NOH8 campaign to Atlanta.”
Noblitt is a gay social justice minister at Saint Mark United Methodist Church. He is organizing the event along with Carlton Mackey, of the Emory Center for Ethics, and Nikki Note, a member of V-Day, a group that works to end violence against women. Noblitt was robbed and assaulted in July, hosted a community picnic at the scene of the crime, and has spoken with police commanders and publicly at the re-opening of several recreation centers. He now serves on the Atlanta Police Department's LGBT Advisory Committee.
The NOH8 Campaign was launched in 2008 as a response to Proposition 8. Photographer Bouska calls it a "silent photographic protest." In each shot, models are duct-taped at the mouth. While the celebrity photographs (of which there are many) gain the most exposure, the campaign has thousands of faces. More than 6,000, actually. And that's not including celebrities or group photos.
Visit NOH8 and browse the images. I especially recommend the "Be Heard" section, which features people telling stories of why they posed. And, if possible, show up in Atlanta and join the photobook.


Melissa Etheridge - Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

...great John Lennon cover.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Miracle on 22nd Street Mysterious Letters to Santa in Apt. 7A


UK Government ministers ‘discussing’ gay marriage equality

Coalition ministers are said to be considering legal reforms to allow gay couples to marry.
According to the Daily Telegraph, a government source said that potential reforms to open up both marriage and civil partnerships to all couples were “being discussed”.
In a separate move, equality minister Lynne Featherstone is expected to announce plans in the New Year to give gay couples the right to have religious civil partnerships.
The provision was contained in the Equality Act but needs a further ruling from ministers to become law. It will not force faiths to hold ceremonies for gay couples but is still likely to meet with heavy opposition from the Catholic Church and Church of England.
Currently, gay couples can have civil partnerships and straight couples can marry. Gay couples cannot currently have a religious ceremony, although some faiths, such as Quakers and liberal Christian and Jewish groups want to hold civil partnerships.
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has been leading the campaign for full marriage equality and is to challenge the UK’s marriage laws at the European Court of Human Rights next year.
He has said that the current system leads to a situation of “sexual apartheid”.
Mr Tatchell told the Daily Telegraph: “The reforms [to allow religious civil partnerships] are welcome but they don’t go far enough.
“They do not tackle the two big issues – opening up civil partnerships to heterosexual couples and civil marriage to gay couples. That is what we are campaigning for. It is what the public supports.”
Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes has predicted that the change could be made before the next election.
Earlier this week, openly gay Liberal Democrat MP Steve Gilbert called for progress on the issue.
The UK’s largest gay rights lobbying group, Stonewall, has not called for gay marriage. After consulting its supporters in the autumn, it said it would add the issue to its charitable objectives but would not support the campaign for all couples, whether gay or straight, to have access to both institutions.
A recent poll of 800 readers found that 98 per cent wanted the right to marry. Seventy-seven per cent agreed that marriage and civil partnerships should be open to everyone, while 23 per cent said that marriage should be the only form of recognition for all couples.
A Populus opinion poll for the Times in June 2009 found that 61 per cent of the public believe that ‘gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships’. Only 33 per cent disagreed.


First Irish civil partnerships to take place in April

By Jessica Geen -

Irish justice minister Dermot Ahern has signed a commencement order to bring civil partnerships into law.
The ceremonies become legal on January 1st but as couples have to give three months’ notice, the first civil partnerships will not take place until April 1st.
Straight couples must give three months’ notice to get married.
However, some civil partnership ceremonies may be carried out before April, in cases where one partner is terminally ill.
Mr Ahern signed the commencement order at a ceremony yesterday.
He also signed orders which will automatically recognise a wide range of foreign same-sex civil marriages and civil partnerships as Irish civil partnerships.
Same-sex couples who are already married or are civil partners through these recognised foreign relationships will be deemed civil partners in Ireland from early January.
Kieran Rose, chair of gay group Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, said: “With this signing, the minister is opening up a great and wide vista of futures, opportunities, celebrations and more secure futures for lesbian and gay couples”.
In August, up to 3,000 people protested in Dublin to call for gay marriage, instead of civil partnerships.

Biden: Marriage Equality ’Inevitable’

Joe Biden
Vice President Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden says the country is evolving on the issue of gay marriage and he thinks it’s inevitable there will be national consensus.

He said on ABC’s "Good Morning America" Friday the same thing is happening with the issue of marriage that happened with gays’ service in the military.

Changes in attitudes by military leaders, those in the service and the public allowed the repeal by Congress of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy that will eventually allow gays to serve openly in the military.

Gay marriage is still not legal in most states. President Barack Obama recently said his feelings on the gay marriage issue are evolving, but he still believes in allowing strong civil unions that provide certain protections and legal rights that married couples have.


Canadian Gay Couple Firebombed

By Kilian Melloy -

A same-sex male couple in Canada has apparently been firebombed, losing their home in the ensuing blaze. The seeming hate crime unfolded against a national backdrop that saw gays excoriated by a television preacher and the work of a gay sculptor censored.

The gay family that was burned out of their home on Oct. 18 lived on Prince Edward Island, in the small town of Little Pond, according to a, Oct. 26 National Post article. The men, who were described as being "middle aged," barely escaped the conflagration that resulted after a firebomb was hurled through their window early in the morning, the article said. The home was "a total loss," an official report said. A week before the home was set alight, the men’s mailbox was burned.

Though local residents, including the Rev. Beth Johnston, spoke of the blaze as a "hate crime" that targeted the men because they are gay, the police professed not to have "gone down that road."

While locals expressed shock and dismay over the firebombing, the national picture is not entirely friendly toward gays. A Canadian televangelist, Charles McVety, had made gays the object of his wrath, telling viewers that gays wanted to teach small children in school how to have gay sex and claiming that a hate crimes law made it a crime to condemn homosexuality on religious grounds, reported a Dec. 23 National Post op-ed by Ronald I. Cohen.

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council found that McVety’s televised statements against gays were "disparaging and unacceptable," and McVety saw his program taken off their air temporarily. McVety now claims that the content of his program is subject to review.

The claim that hate crimes laws penalize Christians for their Biblically based beliefs that homosexuals are "sinful" is a common one. Proponents of such laws say such claims are factually inaccurate. Cohen called McVety’s claim that hate crimes protections criminalize Christians an "absurd accusation.... It is only genocidal advocacy or hatred incitement that are crimes, not religion-based or personally-motivated ’statements’ against the (for some) sinful nature of homosexuality or related issues such as same-sex marriage."

As for McVety’s insinuation that gays had attempted to get sexually explicit material taught in schools, "While McVety may not like homosexuality, and that is his right, to leave the totally unsubstantiated and insupportable impression that gay and lesbian adults have a predilection toward sex with young, ’underage people’ is insidious and unacceptable," argued Cohen.

An opposing view was set out in a separate op-ed in the same edition of the National Post. Jesse Kline argued that McVety was being subjected to "censorship" by the CBSC. "McVety has been trying to spin this story ever since the decision was released," Kline wrote. " ’How can the private broadcasters justify blacklisting McVety because he opposed spending tax dollars in support of the gay pride parade?’ reads a statement on the Word TV website.

"The council’s decision specifically states that it has ’no difficulty with the broadcast of a critical position regarding the funding of LGBT events,’ " Kline’s op-ed continues. "What it did have a problem with was McVety’s mischaracterization of the Pride parade as a ’sex parade’ that is rife with ’sexual perversion.’ " Despite what appeared to be willful mischaracterizations on McVety’s part, however, Kline proceeded to argue that, "McVety deserves to be criticized, but not censored."

Kline went on to argue that the code of ethics under which the CBSC made its decision to punish McVety was based on an urge by the broadcasting company to self-censor in a bid to fend off any threat of government censorship. "Yet, a censorship regime created under the threat of state coercion is not all that much better than government censorship, as the result is the same," Kline wrote. "McVety will likely be prevented from making similar remarks in the future and the decision will have the effect of chilling free speech.

"While I fundamentally disagree with McVety’s views on homosexuality, they do represent the views of many religious people," Kline added. "The Christian television station CTS, which broadcasts the show, would be wise to ignore rulings that attempt to censor opinions that are held by many of its viewers."

Kline proposed that the controversy surrounding McVety’s statements was a welcome thing--a light turned upon McVety’s distortions that served the cause of truth better than attempts to squelch the televangelist would do. "Instead of McVety’s views on homosexuality being confined to a relatively small audience of like-minded people, they are now making national headlines," Kline noted. "And as much as the politically correct crowd would like you to think that there’s such a thing as a reasonable limit on free speech, this is simply not the case."
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

Thailand bans film about transgender father

In this Oct. 31, 2009 file photo, performers appear on stage at the Miss International Queen 2009 transvestite beauty pageant in Pattaya, Thailand. Thailand’s National Film Board has rejected a movie about a transgender father struggling to raise two children, a ban that the director says highlights the conservative side of Thai society despite its freewheeling reputation

In this Oct. 31, 2009 file photo, performers appear on 
stage at the Miss International Queen 2009 transvestite 
beauty pageant in Pattaya, Thailand
 By Jocelyn Gecker -

Thailand’s film board has banned a movie about a transgender father struggling to raise two children, a move the director says highlights the conservative side of Thai society despite its freewheeling reputation.

The National Film Board ruled earlier this week that the film, "Insects in the Backyard," cannot be shown in Thailand because it contains scenes that are immoral and pornographic.

Authorities have not yet published a public explanation of the ban issued Wednesday, but culture and film officials said the board objected to several scenes, including at least one that showed an explicit depiction of two men having sex.

Director Tanwarin Sukkhapisit said the scenes were crucial to the story line and could not be cut. She plans to appeal the ban.

"The problem with my film wasn’t that it was a gay-themed movie - because there are many gay comedies allowed in Thailand," Tanwarin said in a telephone interview Friday. "My movie was banned because it was a serious movie. It showed there can be real problems when society cannot accept sexual differences."

Thailand is known to outsiders for its tolerance of a very visible transgender community, just one aspect of the country’s look-the-other-way permissiveness that sometimes runs afoul of the government’s efforts to maintain traditional Buddhist values.

Transgenders are regularly seen on TV soap operas and throughout Bangkok, working at department store cosmetics counters, popular restaurants and walking the runways in numerous transgender beauty pageants. The term describes a wide range of identities, including cross-dressers, transvestites, transsexuals and those born with the physical characteristics of both sexes.

"Our society tries to show it accepts differences - but actually it doesn’t," Tanwarin said. "Thailand is still a conservative society. This is a case of the government using its power to suppress people with different opinions."

"Insects in the Backyard" is a drama about a transvestite and single father, played by Tanwarin, whose teenage son and daughter are torn by feelings of love and shame and eventually run away from home and turn to the sex trade.

Tanwarin, 37, says the movie was loosely based on her own life. Born as a boy, Tanwarin began crossdressing as a teenager.

The film, which was screened at the Vancouver International Film Festival in October, was previously rejected by Thailand’s Censorship Board. Tanwarin was appealing the earlier decision to seek a limited theater run in Bangkok for audiences aged 20 and over.

Among the scenes deemed immoral by the film board were clips showing children in their school uniforms working in the sex industry, a dream sequence in which a son kills his father and the male sex scene that the board found too graphic, according to two officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak before the ministry’s official explanation is released.

"The movie was banned because it is deeply immoral," said one of the officials, a member of the Culture Ministry’s Film and Video Screening Office, which is under the Department of Cultural Promotion and advised the Film Board to ban the film. He said it was "unnecessary" to show child sex workers and dreams of patricide that could be copied by young viewers.

The 21-member National Film Board is chaired by the prime minister and includes members of government agencies, academics and filmmakers. A majority voted to ban the movie.

"Members of the public might take a negative view of our ban," the official said. "But if they have an opportunity to watch the movie, they would understand why it was banned."


Panyapat Piyathamsawat contributed reporting.


Senate Finally Confirms Chai Feldblum

By Karen Ocamb -

Nan Hunter and Chai Feldblum
Former Georgetown University Law Center professor Chai Feldblum was finally confirmed on Wednesday by the US Senate to a full term as a Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  President Obama gave Feldblum, a longtime legal LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS advocate, a recess appointment last March after Republican Senators blocked her nomination. The recess appointment would have expired at the end of 2011 but now Feldblum will serve as a Commissioner through July 2013.
“We commend the Senate for finally setting aside pointless partisanship and confirming this highly qualified candidate for a full term on the EEOC,” Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a press release announcing her confirmation.  “Chai Feldblum has spent decades working to protect those most ignored and maligned by our society.  The civil rights of all Americans will be in good hands with Chai Feldblum’s continued service on the EEOC.”
HRC notes that “Feldblum’s confirmation marks the first time an openly LGBT person has served on the EEOC.”
Feldblum is highly regarded among LGBT and AIDS activists, having served as legislative counsel for the AIDS Project of the ACLU during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s – a time when religious leaders such as Jerry Falwell and politicians Orange Country antigay conservative Rep. William Dannemeyer used their positions of power to publicly damage gays and people with AIDS. Falwell: “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals, it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.” Dannemeyer in 1985: “[People with AIDS] emit spores that have been known to cause birth defects.”
Feldblum helped secure legal protections for PWAs and was a leader in drafting and negotiating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and while at Georgetown, helped draft the ADA Amendments Act of 2008.  Feldblum has also counseled on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act – which should be invaluable in her contribution as Commissioner. The EEOC, established as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, has as its mission the promotion of equality of opportunity in the workplace and enforce Federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.
In its press release announcing her confirmation, the White House also noted that Feldblum clerked for Judge Frank Coffin of the First Circuit Court of Appeals and for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun after receiving a law degree from Harvard.  She is a graduate of Barnard College
For more on Chai Feldblum, please check out the EEOC’s website and the Washington Post’s “Who Runs Government” section on “Why She Matters,” which includes links to the bloviations of antigay right-wingers think she hates America.
Feldblum’s partner is another LGBT legal eagle, Nan Hunter, law professor at Georgetown University Law Center who is currently working at the Williams Institute in Los Angeles. Hunter also blogs at Hunter of Justice.


Mixner's Year in Review: The Arts

By David Mixner -

The year 2010 was not a dull year in the arts. We saw controversies and censorship in our national art institutions. At the same time we have seen some of the best books, performances, music and poetry in years. This was a good year for the arts and take a look at my best of 2010!
41xTZEOWt%2BL__BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_ Best Novel: Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
Without a doubt one of the best novels every written about being in war.
Best Non-Fiction: Game Change by John Heileman and Mark Halperin
The best book about America's 2010 Presidential campaign and maybe the best since "The Making of a President" in 1960 by Theodore White.
Best Biography/History: Freedom Summer by Bruce Watson
Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964 captured like in vivid detail with stories of courage in the face of fear.
Best Book of Poetry: What the Right Hand Knows by Tom Healy A haunting book of beautiful poetry about people about loneliness and being different.
Best Broadway Play: Angels in America by Tony Kushner
This revival has as much impact as if it just opened for the first time. Brilliant!
Best Broadway Musical: Promises, Promises with book by Neil Simon and music by Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Sean Hayes and Kirstin Chenoweth and Molly Shannon made this a pure delight
220px-Judith_Light_headshot Best Actress on Broadway: Judith Light  in Lombardi
In her Broadway debut Judith Light is a tour de force playing Marie Lombardi. She was simply amazing to watch.
Best Actor on Broadway: Levi Kreis in Million Dollar Quartet
If you believe in channeling another person you can find no better example than Kreis playing Jerry Lee Lewis.
Best Supporting Actor on Broadway: Keith Nobbs in Lombardi
What a year for the young actor from being in HBO's The Pacific to his perfect performance as the young reporter in Lombardi.
Best Supporting Actress on Broadway: Molly Shannon in Promises, Promises
When this actress appears in the second act the stage comes totally alive.
JohnArthurGreene Best New Talent in 2010:  John Arthur Greene
Playing Riff in West Side Story the young actor captivated us all with his voice and charisma. As a solo performer he is the bright new talent that we will be hearing about in the future.
Best Art of 2010: "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture," at the National Portrait Gallery
Finally our history comes alive through art in our nation's Capitol. Despite the censorship, it is the most exciting and profound breakthrough show of the year.
Best Music Album of the Year: The Promise by Bruce Springsteen
Classic Springsteen at his very best and you must listen to it over and over again.
Davekoz Best Jazz Album of the Year: Hello Tomorrow by Dave Koz
Koz bravely goes into new places and his best album in years.
Best Female Singer of the Year: Lady Gaga
She had the entire nation coming together to sing her music, dance their asses off and write their Congress members. Doesn't get any better than that.
Best Male Singer of the Year: Alan Jackson
The country crooner just keeps getting better and better. One of the best of all time.

For more visit Live from Hell's Kitchen.


LeAnn Rimes & GMCLA - The Rose

LeAnn Rimes joined the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles to pay tribute to LGBT youth everywhere, honoring the memory of those who have taken their lives in desperation, those who struggle with anti-gay bullying and discrimination - and reminding everyone that It Gets Better!


The Turtle Creek Chorale's The First Noel and the Hallelujah Chorus Nuns.

The Turtle Creek Chorale in Dallas sings The First Noel at last years Christmas concert and entertains with their version of Handle's Hallelujah Chorus.


London Gay Mens Chorus - Coming Out at Christmas

Performed at The Barbican Hall, London. December 2006.


Chely Wright PSA for GLSEN's Safe Space Campaign


In The Life Media - Producing Change


In The Life Media is a national organization whose mission is to provide information about the LGBT community, document the ongoing LGBT civil rights movement, and produce diverse images of the LGBT community to create better understanding and acceptance.

Dear Friends,
As we approach the holidays, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for your loyal and ongoing commitment to the fight for LGBT equality and social justice.
Because of your support the past year was was an especially productive and exciting one for In The Life Media, featuring another dynamic season of our award-winning public television program and vastly increased production and promotion of our web exclusive videos.
As we tell the heartbreaking story of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover in Bullycides, examine legislation that condones LGBT discrimination (Democracy or Theocracy) or investigate how anti-gay faith leaders with ties to Capitol Hill are targeting LGBT people internationally, (Exporting Hate), we use the power of media to expose and challenge injustice.
Media has the potential to divide and conquer the detractors of LGBT equality. But the reality is we are financially outgunned by our opponents. We count on you, our members, supporters and viewers to join with us as we work to inform the dialogue on issues of critical importance to the LGBT and allied communities.
Join me today, by making a gift that suits your means, to help me meet (or exceed) my year-end goal to raise $5,000! Your gift of any amount has significant impact in helping In The Life Media to bring compelling, relevant programs to public television and the Internet.
Also, help us achieve our goal to have as many viewers online as we do on public television. Enjoy In The Life Media programming and when you see a video that inspires you, share it simply by using the link on our video player. By posting it to your Facebook page or emailing it to your contact list, or even by putting a link to the website in your auto signature you increase the power of In The Life Media exponentially.
However you choose to join us, the time to do so is now. Together we have the power to produce change!
Yours in the fight,
Michelle Kristel
Executive Director


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pastor and advocate detained for implicating Kayanja in sodomy case

By Ephraim Kasozi -

City advocate Henry Ddungu and pastor Moses Solomon Male were yesterday detained over alleged conspiracy to injure the reputation of Pastor Robert Kayanja of Rubaga Miracle Centre Cathedral, Kampala.
Six others were also charged. They are pastors Bob Robert Kayiira, Michael Kyazze and Martin Sempa, advocate David Kaggwa, Ms Deborah Kyomuhendo and Mr David Mukalazi.
Pastor Male and Mr Ddungu, who were slated to appear before Buganda Road Magistrate Court for plea, were taken back to police custody but were later released on police bond.
“We have been released but asked to go back to the Special Investigations unit (today),” said Pator Male. Pastors Kayiira and Kyazze of Omega Healing Ministries are facing charges of alleged criminal trespass and conspiracy to commit a misdemeanour before Mwanga II Magistrates Court.
Meanwhile, Pastor Sempa is accused of hiring Robson Matovu to blackmail Pastor Kayanja. Court heard that Pastor Male reportedly gave Mr Matovu a signed and stamped affidavit implicating Pastor Kayanja while Samson Mukisa was reportedly promised necessities on condition that he would speak publicly on how Pastor Kayanja had sodomised him.
A police report indicates that complaints of sodomy against Pastor Kayanja did not reveal any evidence the offences. “In retracting their statements, the complainants said they had been mobilised to make false accusations against Pastor Kayanja in order to tarnish his name,” reads a report.


New HIV treatment found

German scientists have discovered a new way to treat HIV-AIDS by stopping the virus attaching itself to a human cell, which reduces side effects and the chance of viral resistance.

Researchers at Hannover Medical School and Ulm University have demonstrated that a peptide – similar to a protein but shorter – called VIR-576 stops the human immunodeficiency virus “docking” with a human cell.

“It is a completely new, effective therapy approach, from which we expect fewer side-effects,” said Professor Reinhold Schmidt from the Hannover Medical School.

Schmidt and his colleagues tested VIR-576 on 18 HIV-infected patients, in the first clinical study of the peptide. Their results were published the latest issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The principle they have discovers also offers hope in the battles against viruses such as measles, hepatitis and Ebola.

A virus works by docking with a cell, hijacking its internal machinery and using it to make copies of itself. Usually, though not always, this makes the host sick, as is the case with HIV, which causes AIDS.

Medications already exist that block the attachment of HIV to human cells but these work either on or inside the cell.

“Because our peptide works directly on the virus rather than on the cell, certain side effects do not occur,” Schmidt said.

Furthermore, the emergence of viral resistance was less likely than with existing medications because the peptide binds to a part of the virus that never changes.

Highly effective drugs have existed since the mid-1990s that prevent the HIV virus from multiplying. As a result, people infected with HIV in wealthy countries such as Germany have an almost normal life-expectancy, although serious complications can arise, such as strokes and liver damage.

At present the new therapy must be given by transfusion, making it impractical as a treatment for wide use.

“Our goal is to develop a molecule that can be given as a tablet,” Schmidt said.


Federal inquiry into US gay teenager’s suicide

By Jessica Geen  -

Seth Walsh died in October
Federal education officials are investigating the suicide of a 13-year-old California boy who killed himself after suffering homophobic bullying.
Seth Walsh died nine days after hanging himself in his garden on September 28th. His family said he had endured years of harassment and abuse at school for being gay.
Last week, his mother Wendy accused the Tehachapi school district of ignoring her pleas to tackle the bullying.
She said his grades had fallen and that some teachers had even joined in the harassment.
Yesterday, a spokesman for Education Secretary Arne Duncan confirmed that federal education officials were investigating how the school district dealt with the issue.
Mrs Walsh said she contacted Department of Education investigators while her son lay in hospital in a coma before he died.
She said they spent two days in Tehachapi last week, interviewing teachers, administrators and students.
In October, the Education Department’s civil rights division told school districts that they must take steps to stamp out anti-gay bullying.
According to Associated Press, the department has the power to investigate school districts where bullying is said to be so severe, it has resulted in a “hostile environment” for students who are, or are thought to be, LGBT.
Mrs Walsh is being supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, which last week sent a letter to the school district on her behalf asking it to prevent another tragedy.
The ACLU says that at least 11 US LGBT teenagers have killed themselves after suffering bullying in the last few months.


Blacks, women, now gays: Military to adjust again

By David Crary -

Cadet Karyn Powell stands during 
a midday formation at the US Military 
Academy at West Point, N.Y.
Two decades after integration of the U.S. military, race riots flared on Navy warships in the Vietnam era. Long after servicewomen were officially placed on an equal footing with men, sexual harassment is still pervasive.

Now the military has a new social challenge: Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the ranks. It is expected that commanders will dutifully implement the policy, and overall it will likely be judged a success, but recent history provides some cautionary lessons.

On one hand, the military has earned a deserved reputation as a meritocracy in which minorities and women can flourish. On the other hand, sexual assault remains a rampant problem, and racism was minimized only after years of friction within the ranks.

Perhaps the impending repeal of the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy will unfold more easily, but some female veterans say that will be the case only if commanders are vigilant and aggressive in quashing anti-gay harassment.

"When women come forward to report sexual harassment, that’s when a commander’s courage is tested," said Anuradha Bhagwati, a former Marine captain who heads the Service Women’s Action Network. "Even though we have fairly decent policies on paper, enforcement of basic harassment policies is very shoddy."

Bhagwati’s network is a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed Dec. 13 seeking access to Pentagon records on the thousands of sexual assault and harassment cases reported in the past decade. In fiscal year 2009 alone, the Defense Department said there were 3,230 reports of sexual assault involving service members.

As with sexual assault, there will soon be explicit regulations on how commanders should deal with anti-gay harassment, but Bhagwati said some officers may shy away from enforcing them so as not to publicize problems within their units.

Several military-policy scholars suggested that the armed forces had done better in regard to racial equality than it has in curtailing harassment of women.

"With race, the military led the way," said David Segal, a University of Maryland sociologist who has studied military personnel policies. "It was not that way with gender - lots of other workplaces were ahead, and I’m surprised it has taken us this long to get to where we are now."

But Steven Schlossman, a Carnegie Mellon University history professor who has written about the racial integration of the military, said that process was slow-moving and contentious, with the Army taking more than three years after President Harry Truman’s 1948 desegregation order to comply.

"There’s a tendency to understate the levels of resistance that still existed following Truman’s order," Schlossman said.

Indeed, some the worst racial conflicts ever in the U.S. military occurred during the Vietnam War, including a 1972 race riot on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. Even now, with racial violence largely in the past, blacks hold only about 6 percent of senior command positions while comprising about 17 percent of overall active duty forces.

The adjustment to repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell" might be quicker and smoother, since the change appears to have broader support within today’s military than there was for desegregation 60 years ago. In one 1947 study, four of five enlisted men told the Army they would oppose blacks serving in their units, while a recent Pentagon survey found that two-thirds of the overall force predicted minimal problems if gays were allowed to serve openly.

Marcus S. Cox, a professor who teaches black military history to cadets at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., believes generational factors are at work,

"My students say they’d have no problem serving with someone gay as long as they’re able to do their jobs," he said. "For young people, raised with MTV and same-sex marriage, it’s not as unsettling as for some older people."

Segal said incidents of gay-bashing had occurred on a regular basis under "don’t ask, don’t tell" and would likely continue, but not increase, after repeal enabled gays and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation.

He noted that many members of the military already knew they had gays in their units, despite "don’t ask, don’t tell," and suggested this could make the upcoming transition smoother than the changes involving blacks and women.

"When we put African-Americans in all-white units in 1950 and abolished the Women’s Army Corps in the 1970s, we were putting people in units they hadn’t been in before - blacks in white units, women in male units," he said.

Sue Fulton, of North Plainfield, N.J., has seen military prejudice from two directions - as a lesbian and as a woman who was in the first coed class at the U.S. Military Academy in 1976.

"At the academy, it was all about leadership," she said. "Many of the problems we had came from instructors and staff who would make derogatory comments about women in front of cadets."

Those staffers were a minority, she said, and most officers were supportive.

Now, with gays soon able to serve openly, Fulton says officers will face similar choices on how to exercise leadership.

"There is a chasm of difference between saying, ’We got our orders’ and saying, ’This is a good. This will make us stronger, and here’s how we’ll go about it."

Fulton, 51, served in the Army’s Signal Corps, becoming a company commander. She left the service in 1986, wearying of suspicion and threatened investigations related to her sexual orientation, and she has recently served as a spokeswoman for gay and lesbian West Point graduates.

Pat Foote, a retired brigadier general, has been monitoring the role of servicewomen since she joined the Army in 1960.

"It remains a work in progress," she said, contrasting the ascension of women to high command positions with the persisting problem of sexual assault and harassment.

"When we start court-martialing and discharging the people guilty of that, we’ll get their attention," she said. "We haven’t gotten to that point. The words are out there - ’zero tolerance.’ But then it happens and happens and happens."

She’s more optimistic about the prospects for gays. Will their ability to serve openly cause disruption within their units?

Her answer: "Hogwash."


Gays ousted from military now hoping to return

By David Crary -

In this Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007 
file picture, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 
3rd Class Joseph Rocha, of Riverside, 
CA., sits with Reno, an explosives 
detection and attack dog, on duty in 
Mina Salman, Bahrain during the 
unloading of the USS Gladiator
Joseph Rocha reported being cruelly hazed by Navy colleagues. Katherine Miller resigned from West Point halfway through, weary of concealing her sexual orientation. David Hall was outed by a fellow Air Force cadet and booted from the career he loved.

The exits from military service were wrenching consequences of "don’t ask, don’t tell," the policy prohibiting gay and lesbian personnel from being open about their sexuality. Yet Hall, Rocha and Miller savored military duty and now - with "don’t ask, don’t tell" heading toward oblivion - they want to return.

Rocha, 24, was in Washington on Wednesday, watching euphorically as President Barack Obama signed the bill clearing the way for repeal of the 17-year-old policy. Obama encouraged those who were discharged to re-enlist, and Rocha said he hopes to do just that by enrolling in the Marine Corps’ Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Va.

"I had a rough childhood, and the only father figure I had was a godfather who was a Marine," Rocha said in a telephone interview after the ceremony. "To me the Marine Corps exemplified honor, integrity, a sense of family - things that were drastically the opposite of what I experienced as a child."

Rocha’s eagerness to serve is remarkable, given his experience in Bahrain in 2005 with a Navy bomb-sniffer dog unit. He reported being tied to a chair and left in a dog kennel, hosed down while in uniform and forced to simulate oral sex on another sailor - part of series of hazing incidents that prompted a high-level Navy review earlier this year.

After Bahrain, Rocha attended the U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory School in Rhode Island but decided to leave the Navy in 2007 by telling his commander he’s gay. He’s scheduled to graduate in May from the University of San Diego.

A recent Pentagon survey found that the Marine Corps, among all the service branches, had the highest portion of members worried that repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell" would cause problems. But that hasn’t deterred Rocha from aspiring to a Marine career.

"Marines are very loyal to their leadership, and unfortunately they have leaders who’ve been insubordinate to the president," he said. "But I know the Marines appreciate to a great degree how a person’s qualifications - if they’re willing to die for their country - is far more important than a person’s sexuality."

More than 13,500 people were discharged under "don’t ask, don’t tell." The question of reinstatement was addressed earlier this year in a Pentagon study. It recommended that ousted gays and lesbians "be considered for re-entry, assuming they qualify in all other respects."

The study said the fact that they violated "don’t ask, don’t tell" should not be held against them but added that if they received an "other than honorable" discharge for accompanying reasons, those reasons should be considered.

Miller, a 21-year-old from Findlay, Ohio, wasn’t discharged, but "don’t ask, don’t tell" was the reason she left the U.S. Military Academy despite impressive achievements there.

She ranked ninth in her class of more than 1,150 and relished most aspects of academy life. But lying about her sexual orientation - in conflict with West Point’s honor code - took its toll.

"Every day was a compromise - portraying myself as something I was not," she said.

She said she also felt anguished over her reluctance to speak up when some members of her military ethics class used anti-gay slurs and suggested that sexually active gays were going to hell.

She resigned from the academy in August and is now halfway through her junior year at Yale University. But with "don’t ask, don’t tell" soon ending, she has already reapplied to West Point and hopes to return there this summer to complete her final two years.

Why go back?

"Retrospectively, now that I’ve been to Yale, everything at West Point is more of a team effort," she said. "You get a feeling of cohesion, camaraderie. I like that."

If she does pursue an Army career, it’s not a desk job she wants. First choice, if combat units are opened to women, would be duty with an armored unit. If not, flying helicopters.

Hall is a former staff sergeant with the Air Force, which he joined in 1996, following in the footsteps of a father and stepfather who each served more than 20 years.

After basic training, Hall served with fighter squadrons at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia and Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. He was honorably discharged as an enlisted man in 2001 to enroll in the Air Force ROTC program with hopes of becoming an officer, but he was discharged the next year after a female cadet told his commanders that he’s gay.

"You can’t even imagine how that feels," Hall wrote in a letter to Obama in May. "Almost 8 years later, I still remember wearing my flight suit for the last time and handing my ID card to the NCO who was trying not to cry."

Hall subsequently got a job as fundraiser and information technology manager with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which campaigned against "don’t ask, don’t tell." On Wednesday, Hall was on hand as Obama signed the repeal bill.

Now, at age 36, he’s pondering whether to return to the Air Force.

"I definitely do want to look into it," he said. "If the Air force does want me, what do they want me to do? Do I go back an enlisted man or to officer candidates school?"

He said he enjoyed the structured schedule and the team spirit of the Air Force.

"You make a lot of close friends," he said. "And you know everyone’s going to do their job."

Another potential re-enlistee is Jeremy Johnson, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sociology at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.

Johnson, 33, served 10 years in the Navy, specializing in public affairs and journalism while traveling to far-flung posts and advancing to chief petty officer first class. But he eventually tired of "don’t ask, don’t tell" hypocrisy and told his commanding officer in 2007 that he’s gay.

"I basically just had that moment where you choose integrity over career," he said.

Now Johnson wants to talk with recruiters about options for serving again - perhaps in the Navy Reserves, perhaps trying to become an officer.

"Professionally, the military was a great experience," he said. "When it came to personal life, it was very difficult."


DADT Signing: A Perfect Day

By David Mixner -

History was in the air on Wednesday. From the moment you arrived at the Department of Interior Building at 6:30AM in the morning, you could see the line of hundreds stretching down the block in the frigid, dark morning air. Seems after seventeen years the folks didn't mind waiting in the cold for 45 minutes. You could cut the anticipation and excitement with a knife. This day was our day and we were not disappointed.
White House Staffer Brian Bond couldn't have handled this day more perfectly. They moved the signing ceremony from the White House to the Department of Interior so more members of the LGBT community could witness this special moment. Embracing a policy of inclusion, they invited the leadership of GetEqual, the pioneers who initially opposed the policy in 1993 and current leaders from around the country. This generosity of spirit was just sublime and set the tone for the event. They made sure the day was for the those who had suffered under DADT and our veterans. Brian deserves high praise for his decisions that made this day perfect.
The crowd was filled with people of courage. Tracy Thorne the fighter pilot who came out in 1993. Grethe Cammermeyer who led us in the Pledge of Allegiance, former Marine Justin Elize who was carried away from the White House fence and so many others who filled the room. As the National Anthem played, it was just music but then suddenly the entire crowd started loudly singing it and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Everywhere you turned you saw the heroes and heroines of this struggle to repeal. Watching people was like watching 17 years of history unfold in one room.
Then the moment had arrived.
President Obama rose to the occasion. Understanding what this meant not only to those in the room but every single person who loves justice in this nation, he spoke, as always, with elegance saying:

"So this morning, I am proud to sign a law that will bring an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It is a law -- this law I’m about to sign will strengthen our national security and uphold the ideals that our fighting men and women risk their lives to defend.
No longer will our country be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans who were forced to leave the military -– regardless of their skills, no matter their bravery or their zeal, no matter their years of exemplary performance -– because they happen to be gay. No longer will tens of thousands of Americans in uniform be asked to live a lie, or look over their shoulder, in order to serve the country that they love.
As Admiral Mike Mullen has said, “Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.” 
The President ended his speech by saying:

For we are not a nation that says, “don’t ask, don’t tell.” We are a nation that says, “Out of many, we are one. We are a nation that welcomes the service of every patriot. We are a nation that believes that all men and women are created equal. Those are the ideals that generations have fought for. Those are the ideals that we uphold today. And now, it is my honor to sign this bill into law." 
The President then sat at the table and signed the beginning of the end of DADT. When finished he leaned back and almost in disbelief looked at us and said:

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D.C. files Supreme Court brief defending marriage

By Lou Chibbaro Jr. -

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles and other city attorneys have urged the U.S. Supreme Court not to take a case filed by a local minister seeking to overturn the city’s same-sex marriage law.
In a 35-page legal brief filed Dec. 17, the city attorneys argue that the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled correctly earlier this year that the District has authority to prohibit a voter initiative or referendum seeking to overturn the Religious Freedom and Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009.
“This case is not important enough to merit review” by the Supreme Court because it “lacks national importance as it is confined in effect to the District,” Nickles and the other attorneys said in their brief.
The case, known as Jackson v. the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics, was initiated by Bishop Harry Jackson and other local opponents of same-sex marriage earlier this year.
The city filed its brief on the last day such a brief could be filed under Supreme Court rules.
Jackson and his allies are seeking to overturn separate rulings by the city’s election board and the D.C. Superior Court and Court of Appeals that the District’s initiative and referendum law doesn’t allow ballot measures that would have the effect of violating the city’s Human Rights Act. The act, among other things, bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Most legal observers say the Supreme Court traditionally defers to state appeals courts –- including the D.C. Court of Appeals — in matters that don’t have national implications. The observers, including local gay rights attorney Mark Levine, have said the high court would be violating its own precedent and possibly showing a sign of bias against same-sex marriage should it rule in favor of Jackson’s petition.
The city’s brief also seeks to refute a claim by Jackson’s attorneys that the Supreme Court can take on a case without national significance if the lower court ruling is reached through an “egregious error.”
“In fact, the appeals court decision is correct” and the “egregious error” argument doesn’t apply, Nickles and his team of city lawyers argue in the brief.
Jackson’s petition to the high court, known as a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari,” calls for the court to take on the case and involves a decision by the nine justices to accept or reject that request. Should they accept the case, the justices would then review it on its merits through oral and written arguments and issue a separate ruling.
Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU’s D.C. area office, said the Supreme Court is likely to decide whether to accept or reject the Jackson case in January.


Alberta drops homosexuality as mental disorder from diagnostic guide

 Alberta has finally scrubbed homosexuality from its diagnostic guide to mental disorders, more than 35 years after the psychiatric profession made the same move.
Alberta Health and Wellness spokesman Andy Weiler says the move was made Tuesday after the matter was brought to the department's attention by a reporter.
Homosexuality has been listed in the province's official diagnostic guide under sexual deviations and disorders.
Mr. Weiler said Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky ordered that section of the document removed immediately.
The American Psychiatric Association stopped considering homosexuality a disorder in 1973.
Mr. Weiler could offer no explanation as to why it remained on Alberta's list.


Gay Philanthropist Offers to Buy Boy Scouts’ Philly HQ

By Kilian Melloy -

Mel Heifetz
Mel Heifetz
A philanthropist and HRC Humanitarian of the Year Award recipient has offered to purchase the building that has served as the headquarters for the Philadelphia Boy Scouts for the last 80 years.

The building, which the Boy Scouts rents for a token $1 per year, is at the center of a settlement between the city and the Cradle of Liberty chapter of the Boy Scouts of America. Philadelphia had sought to compel the local Scouts chapter to abide by the city’s anti-discrimination policy and set aside a BSA policy that excludes gays, or else face a choice between eviction from the city-owned property or paying the $200,000 per year market value in rental fees.

The Cradle of Liberty chapter of the BSA responded with a lawsuit in federal court. The jury found last June that the city could not make that demand without violating the Scouts’ Constitutionally guaranteed freedom of association, and ruled against the city. The decision followed a 2000 Supreme Court ruling that affirmed that as a private organization, the Boy Scouts of America may discriminate against gays, atheists, and agnostics. Friction between the group and communities has continued in the ten years since that ruling, however, because the Boy Scouts often uses publicly funded buildings such as schools.

A subsequent deal between the city of Philadelphia and the Cradle of Liberty chapter of the BSA was struck to sell the building to the Scouts for $500,000--about half its estimated value. As part of the agreement, the Scouts would provide space for community events, including programs offered by GLBT organizations and diversity training, during the two years that the Scouts would have to pay the $500,000 fee for the building. In return, the Scouts would forego payment of nearly $1 million from the city to cover legal costs incurred by the federal suit.

The plan, which has been described by both sides as a "win-win," has attracted criticism, however. "Anything that rewards discrimination is just plain wrong. So to give the Boy Scouts the building for $500,000 is giving them a prize piece of Philadelphia property for a pittance," said the head of Equality Forum, Malcolm Lazin, who added his signature to a letter from a group of prominent citizens to the city mayor urging that the sale not proceed.

Now a prominent gay community leader and philanthropist has stepped in to offer to buy the building for $1.5 million, the Associated Press reported on Dec. 22.

Mel Heifetz, who made his fortune in real estate and who has been a leader and benefactor to Philadelphia’s GLBT community, said that he would donate the building to some other organization--one without discriminatory policies.

Heifetz--who himself was an Eagle Scout--has long been active in the city’s GLBT community, supporting a local AIDS charity and paying off the mortgage of the William Way Community Center, as well as establishing the city’s first gay hotel, The Alexander Inn. Heifetz was given the Human Rights Campaign’s Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2008.

It is likely that the city would be unable to accept Heifetz’s offer. A Dec. 22 Philadelphia Inquirer article said that with the deal in place, the city cannot back out now even if it might be inclined to do so.

"In light of the proposed settlement, the property is under agreement and is not available to buy," City Solicitor Shelley Smith announced.

The gesture serves to reinforce the message behind the offer. "I’m sure there are thousands and thousands of kids around this country that have been discriminated and thrown out of the Boy Scouts because they have been called gay," Heifetz told the press.

A proposed ordinance to complete the sale--under certain conditions, including a promise by the Scouts not to re-sell the building for at least 10 years--is now before the city council.
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

President Obama: I Struggle With Gay Marriage

From today's year end press conference, a reporter asked President Obama "Is it intellectually consistent to say that gay and lesbians should be able to fight and die for this country but they should not be able to marry the people they love?"


Obama 'proud' to end 'don't ask, don't tell'

President Obama says ending the ban on gays will strengthen the country's military.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


COLAGE: Family Time

Media artist Jen Gilomen collaborated with COLAGE to create Family Time, a short film tracing the evolution of family for people with LGBTQ parents.


Amsterdam, possibly the gay-friendliest city in the world, is a monument to tolerance — of all kinds

By Mark Lowry -

Rainbow flags are peppered throughout
the streets of Amsterdam.
Amsterdam, the capital and largest city in the Netherlands, is often called the most liberal city in the world. Holland was the first country to legalize gay marriage (in 2001), and cannabis and prostitution are not only legal, but there’s a live-and-let-live vibe about them (as well as other vices). This idea of acceptance is not new: Amsterdam was a safe haven for religious refugees going back five centuries.
But perhaps nothing speaks to the city’s passion for tolerance as much as a small area near the city’s Jordaan District, in the Western Canal Ring. Across the street from the Anne Frank House, now a museum and one of the world’s greatest symbols of intolerance, sits the Homomonument: Three large pink granite triangles that form a larger triangle, on the same small patch of land where one of the city’s oldest churches, the Westerkerk, sits.
The Homomonument, designed by Dutch artist Karin Daan, opened in 1987 as a tribute to persecuted gays and lesbians around the globe. Tying it more closely with the Anne Frank House, the pink triangles represent the emblem that homosexuals wore in Nazi concentration camps.
Both are stirring tributes to horrors of a war from the not-so-distant past, from a country that shares a border with the Netherlands. But despite the Nazi occupation and a history of warring rulers wanting to claim Amsterdam as their own, the city is remarkably well-preserved. The signature row houses from the 17th and 18th centuries still hold up beautifully. Some of the older structures, with the neck gables atop four or five stories, even display the date of construction proudly. It’s not uncommon to see “1627” or such on one of these buildings … and that’s not referring to the address.
That’s all part of the storied history. But what’s interesting about Amsterdam is that it’s completely feasible to hang out here for a good week (or longer) without even visiting the museums and historical sites, and still get a strong sense of this world-class city.
Everyday life — people bustling on their way to work, most of them riding bicycles and ringing bells on their handlebars to warn pedestrians — intermingles seamlessly with the tourism industry. Travelers from all over Europe and the world arrive on trains and leave from the Central Station and throughout the Old City Center and Canal Rings, hanging out at one of the many outdoor cafes by the edge of one of the city’s famous waterways. (There’s actually more canal mileage here than in Venice, reflected in Amsterdam’s nickname “the Venice of the North.” Doing a canal tour is a must.)
They also populate the coffee shops, where you’ll find the younger generation, as that’s where marijuana is legally sold, even to foreigners. It can be purchased in joint form, smoked in pipes, or in baked goods, such as hash banana bread (yes, there are brownies, too). In fact, walking through the tourist-heavy Old City Center, it’s impossible not to get a bit of a contact high — pot smoke wafts from everywhere.
Perhaps that’s why the Dutch seem so laid-back. There’s a word they often use, gezelligheid, that refers to the sense of leaving all your cares behind and chilling.

Where to stay

We have nothing but raves for the gay-owned bed-and-breakfast in the Jordaan District, Mae’s Bed and Breakfast. American Ken Harrison and his Russian partner Vladimir Melnikov have run this spot for more than 15 years, and even have a newer property down the street. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, and the breakfast goes far beyond the typical continental fare found at European hotels. Mae’s is a few blocks’ walk to the Anne Frankhuis.
Amsterdam’s extensive canals earned it
the name ‘Venice of the North.
They can also guide you to some of the city’s gay-owned restaurants and establishments. We especially recommend the bar Prik. Gay bars are all over the city and not necessarily clustered in any one neighborhood, another sign of Amsterdam’s acceptance of all walks of life. If you need further help, find the Pink Point tourist kiosk, which caters to gay travelers. It’s easy to find: Just a few feet from the Homomonument.

Getting around
It’s not a huge city, so walking to many of the attractions is feasible. But there’s also an easy bus and tram system, and you can take bicycle tours, too. At the Centraal Station, pick up an “I Amsterdam” card, which gets you free transportation for one, two or three days, and free entrance into many attractions, plus discounts to restaurants.

What to do

Here a few tips for places to visit on your trip to Amsterdam. If you don’t get to them all, don’t worry — this is one of those cities that beckons you to come back for more.
Rembrandt’s House. Holland was home to a number of well-known artists, including Van Gogh and Vermeer, and you can visit museums that tribute them in Amsterdam. But the one not to miss is the house where Rembrandt lived and worked. The multistory house is a fantastic history of 17th century Dutch life, and is filled with Rembrandt’s paintings. If you’re walking through as an etching demonstration is going on, don’t miss it.
Kiosks catering to the gay community
are common in the city.
The Red Light District. The most famous Red Light District in the world is on streets that spoke out from the city’s oldest church, the Oude Kerk, which began construction in the 14th century. You’ll see red lights denoting spots where the prostitutes are, posing in full windows for willing customers. The industry is regulated by the government, so it’s closely watched and the workers are kept safe. (You’ll notice that when they’re not working, they often file their nails or talk on cell phones, as bored as most other people at the daily grind.)
The Red Light District is not only a great place to people-watch, it’s filled with some of the area’s best restaurants. Their Chinatown, one of the best in Europe, is nearby. And considering that Amsterdam has one of the largest international populations of any city in the world, there are plenty of choices, including Spanish, Russian, Argentinean, Mexican and even Tibetan. Indonesian is especially popular, considering that the Southeast Asian island nation was once a Dutch colony.
Another popular food in Holland is pancakes, slightly thicker than French crepes and large in diameter. You can get them with sweet toppings, but also with savory ones, such as Thai red curry. (We have a theory as to why pancakes are so popular in Amsterdam: Munchies.)
The Anne Frankhuis (Anne Frank House) is the most popular museum in Amsterdam (aside from the famous tulips, which bloom in April), and if you plan to go, get there early, because the line gets long quickly.
It’s a fascinating tour. The building next to the apartment where Frank and seven others hid out from the Nazis for nearly two years is a museum. From there, you walk up winding, steep stairs and enter, through the bookcase that was used to mask the hiding spot, the area where the Frank family and their friends stayed. In Anne’s room, her pictures from movie magazines are still there, preserved by her father Otto, who was the only one of the eight hideaways who survived the concentration camps after they were discovered. It’s truly an awe-inspiring tour.


Glee star Jane Lynch in TV network’s Christmas clip

Her marriage was a publicity stunt, she’s having a heterosexual affair and she hates the cast of Glee so much she’s giving them sick kittens for Christmas.
Jane Lynch shows off her Sue Sylvester side in a jokey Christmas video for 20th Century Fox.


UN Votes to Reinstate Resolution Condemning Execution of Gays

The United Nations General Assembly has voted to restore a reference to sexual orientation in a resolution opposing the unjustified killings of minority groups.
Last month, a UN panel deleted a reference to gays and lesbians in resolution introduced by Morocco and Mali. The vast majority of countries in support were African or Arabic.

Many of the supporting countries criminalise homosexuality and five treat it as a capital offence.
But today, the UN General Assembly voted 93 in favour of the United States’ proposal to restore the reference to sexual orientation, 55 countries voted against and 27 abstained. The assembly then approved the amended resolution with 122 in favour, none against and 59 abstentions.
The amendment passed last month called for the words “sexual orientation” to be replaced with “discriminatory reasons on any basis”. The resolution made explicit reference to a large number of groups, including human rights defenders, religious and ethnic minorities and street children.
It narrowly passed 79-70 and was then approved by the UN General Assembly committee with 165 in favour and ten abstentions. The motion condemns extra-judicial, summary and arbitrary executions and other killings, is voted on by the UN General Assembly every two years. For the past ten years, it contained references to sexual orientation.


Target Apologized for Anti-Gay Donations, But Failed to Stop the Hateful Giving

By Michael A. Jones -

There's that old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."
LGBT shoppers at Target should probably say that proverb a few times this afternoon. Earlier this summer, Target was blasted by gay rights advocates for giving $150,000 to a group working to elect Tom Emmer the governor of Minnesota. Emmer, for his part, thought gays were immoral, did not have the right to raise children, and shouldn't be allowed to get married. Emmer even made a personal contribution to a religious ministry that advocated death for LGBT people. Yikes.
In the wake of that dust up, Target issued a statement in early August apologizing to LGBT customers and LGBT employees for any offense their donation in support of Emmer may have caused.
"The intent of our political contribution ... was to support economic growth and job creation. While I firmly believe that a business climate conducive to growth is critical to our future, I realize our decision affected many of you in a way I did not anticipate, and for that I am genuinely sorry," said Target's CEO, Gregg Steinhafel. He even pledged that Target would revamp its process for giving political donations to quell some of the LGBT anger toward the company.
Nice sentiments, but apparently Steinhafel's 'genuinely sorry' was nothing more than window dressing. Because as Abe Sauer at The Awl spells out this afternoon, months after Steinhafel apologized for Target's anti-gay donations, Target continued to distribute a ton of cash to anti-gay politicians.
Among the donations that Target made to anti-gay candidates post-apology include:
  • Recently elected New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte. Ayotte, for her part, was the Attorney General of New Hampshire, and a steadfast opponent of marriage equality. And in September 2010, the same month that Target gave her a chunk of change, Ayotte was asked this question; "Should same-sex couples, in your opinion, have the same adoption rights as everyone else?" Her answer? "No."
  • Recently elected Ohio Senator Rob Portman. Portman received money from Target in October 2010. His past positions have included calling for a federal Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and barring gay people from adopting. His Congressional voting record on civil rights, according to the ACLU? A whopping 7 percent.
  • U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen from Minnesota. Paulsen is a good buddy of Rev. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, and an ardent opponent of gay marriage. Paulsen also recently voted against repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and has argued that anti-gay violence should not connote a hate crime.
  • And U.S. Rep. John Kline from Minnesota. Target gave the maximum amount allowable under law to Rep. Kline in September. Rep. Kline, for his part, has tried to take away the rights of gays and lesbians to marry in the District of Columbia, joining with Pat Robertson to call on a war against gay marriage.
Thanks, Target!
To this day, there are tens of thousands of LGBT people and straight allies who won't set foot into a Target. And folks continue to track money that they would have spent at Target, but decided to take elsewhere because the company gives money to people who would eliminate many, if not all, rights for LGBT Americans.
But what hurts the most, as Rascall Flatts might say, is that Target outright lied to LGBT customers this time around. "We're genuinely sorry," their CEO said. And then they continued to give tens of thousands of dollars to candidates with vehemently anti-gay positions. (And this isn't even including money that the company gave to PACs supporting anti-gay politicians like Rep. Michele Bachmann.)
Should this serve as a wake up call to every LGBT customer Target has? Shame on the company for giving bags full of cash to anti-gay politicians. But shame on all of us if there's no accountability for the company this time around.

petition text -
Please stop funding anti-gay politicians

Dear Target,
In recent weeks it was disclosed that Target Corporation had given $150,000 to a Minnesota political action committee that is funding candidates with ties to extremely anti-gay groups. The group in question that Target is funding, Minnesota Forward, has used that money to support a candidate named Tom Emmer.
Mr. Emmer has close ties to a group in Minnesota, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, that advocates violence toward gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. Indeed, the leader of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, Bradlee Dean, has said that it would be moral and righteous for religious people to commit violence against gay people. And Tom Emmer has consistently supported this group, welcoming them at GOP events, and going on record as calling them "nice."
Does Target agree with this?
I kindly ask you to not only denounce the Minnesota-based group, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, but to also explain how money from Target -- long considered a friend to the gay and lesbian community -- could make its way to a politician that supports a group with such violent and hateful positions.
Thanks for your time.
[Your name here]