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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Eliminationist rhetoric and the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords

Eliminationist rhetoric and the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords: There were plenty of precursors | Crooks and Liars David Neiwert is the best current writer on the effects of eliminationist rhetoric. Today's horror in Tuscon is not some random act of a crazy loner. It's the consequence of the increasingly violent messaging by the right wing in the U.S.

I don't want to say much more about this except that I am horrified by what happened and I hope those who survived the attack and those who survive the dead are able to find some peace.

Read Neiwert please-

This is video of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on MSNBC on March 25, 2010, after her offices were vandalized, talking about the need for civility in our democratic discourse.

There will be a lot of hand-wringing in the coming days over the shooting of Rep. Giffords this morning at a constituent event -- some of it, almost certainly, from the folks at Fox, who will wonder aloud how this kind of thing could happen.

It can happen, in fact, because conservatives so thoughtlessly and readily use violent eliminationist rhetoric when talking about "liberals" (to wit: anyone who is not a conservative). They will adamantly deny it, of course, but the cold reality is that this kind of talk creates permission for angry and violent people to act it out.


Jewish gay porn actor to entertain Israeli troops

By Tony Grew  -

“I am very proud to be going
to my home away from home
and entertain gay Israelis in a
time of war.”
It’s not quite Bob Hope being helicoptered into Siagon to entertain the boys in khaki.
An American-based porn actor has announced on his website that he will be performing for the troops during a trip to Israel later this month.
Michael Lucas, the 34-year-old owner of Lucas Entertainment, writes on his blog that he will also be making a hard-core film during his trip.
His claim to be entertaining the troops will not be sanctioned by the Israeli army. Instead he offers free entry to soldiers attending his ‘performance’ in a Tel-Aviv nightclub.
He writes: “I haven’t decided yet who will be my partner for the live sex show I’m doing there (Israel has no problem with that type of entertainment).
“I am very proud to be going to my home away from home and entertain gay Israelis in a time of war.”
Lucas also hopes his trip will bring awareness to the plight of gay people caught up in the current conflict:
“People need to see the faces of war, and I plan to shed light on the world where gay Israel exists,” he writes.
“I will expose the reality that the people of Israel face right now, especially that of gay Israelis who are targeted by the hate of Hezbollah.”


Chick-fil-A Responds, But Connections to Anti-Gay Groups Deepen

By Michael A. Jones -

It took Chick-fil-A more than two days to respond to the company's ties to an anti-gay group in Pennsylvania -- the Pennsylvania Family Institute -- but last night, the restaurant chain's corporate office finally released a lengthy statement on their Facebook page. The essence? Yes, a food donation is being made to support the Pennsylvania Family Institute's work to 'protect marriage' by a franchise as part of Chick-fil-A's community outreach efforts ... but please don't take that as anything anti-gay.
"To our Facebook community: First and foremost, thanks for your patience as we made sure we gathered the facts in regards to recent postings. We have determined that one of our independent Restaurant Operators in Pennsylvania was asked to provide sandwiches to two Art of Marriage video seminars," said the restaurant. "As our fans, you know we do our best to serve our local communities, and one of the ways we do that is by providing food to schools, colleges, civic groups, businesses, places of worship, not-for-profit groups, etc. At his discretion, the local Operator agreed to simply provide a limited amount of food. Our Chick-fil-A Operators and their employees try very hard every day to go the extra mile in serving ALL of our customers with honor, dignity and respect."
It's hard to quibble with the sentiment behind the statement, given that Chick-fil-A has a lengthy charitable track record in many communities. But if Chick-fil-A really wants to work hard every day to go the extra mile serving all customers with honor, dignity, and respect, does it gel with giving food donations to groups that want to deny LGBT people full equality? Because as others have pointed out, this isn't an isolated incident for Chick-fil-A. Next week they're sponsoring an event featuring the Focus on the Family Institute, and in the past have sponsored programs by the American Family Association and the Family Research Council -- some of the most vehemently anti-gay groups in the country.
But now the batter's getting extra crispy, because as Jeremy Hooper at Good as You uncovers, Chick-fil-A's charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, is practically joined at the hip with the entire "protect marriage" movement, from the National Organization for Marriage's Ruth Institute to "ex-gay" activists like Alan Chambers to David Blankenhorn at the Institute for American Values. Yikes.
The history of these groups practically speaks for itself. The Ruth Institute and the National Organization for Marriage have long been talking about how same-sex marriage destroys the fabric of society, and they've worked hard to pass legislation banning gay marriage or taking marriage equality rights away from same-sex couples. The Ruth Institute even made a splash last month by yelling at gays for co-opting the rainbow, saying "We are the real rainbow coalition. The gay lobby does not own the rainbow."
Chambers is the President of Exodus International, one of the leading proponents of "ex-gay therapy" in the world, and Blankenhorn was the "star witness" for proponents of Proposition 8 during the Perry v. Schwarzenegger federal case. And all of these cats, along with major players from Focus on the Family, seem to have very close ties to Chick-fil-A's WinShape Foundation.
Good as You even uncovered video from Focus on the Family -- the organization that has said same-sex marriage would be a bigger disaster than Pearl Harbor, and which believes that gay people can be cured of their sexual orientation -- thanking the leaders of Chick-fil-A, Bubba and Cindy Cathy, for bringing the "protect marriage" movement together. And then there's the President of Chick-fil-A's WinShape Foundation, Jeff Fray, thanking those who fought hard to pass Proposition 8 in California, particularly Blankenhorn.
"David did a masterful job articulating the argument (against same-sex marriage)," Fray says in the video. "I wish we had time for you to hear how he is reframing that issue and how we can get that message into the culture much more effectively."
Wait, so the President of Chick-fil-A's charitable arm wants to ingrain in the culture the idea that same-sex marriage is wrong and destructive? So much for the restaurant's promise to treat all customers with honor and dignity.
Check out Jeremy Hooper's amazing reporting over at Good as You here and here. Oh, and if you're in San Antonio this weekend? Check out the local protest happening to draw attention to Chick-fil-A's ties to the anti-gay movement, this Sunday from 4pm-7pm.

petition text -

Pull Chick-fil-A's sponsorship of February event with anti-gay group

Dear Mr. Robinson and Ms. Green,

I recently became aware that Chick-fil-A is sponsoring a February 2011 event with the Pennsylvania Family Institute on "the biblical definition of marriage." The Pennsylvania Family Institute has a lengthy track record of rhetoric that is very offensive to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, and in recent years has made fighting same-sex marriage a cornerstone of their work. Why would Chick-fil-A decide to partner with an organization promoting such values?

Indeed, the Pennsylvania Family Institute has called gay marriage a threat to civilization, suggested that same-sex couples harm children, and believes that same-sex marriage should be banned not only in Pennsylvania, but also in the U.S. Constitution. Does Chick-fil-A agree with this? And if not, why would the company choose to cosponsor an event with the Pennsylvania Family Institute on the subject of marriage?

I am very concerned about Chick-fil-A's sponsorship of this event, and will be telling friends and family about the role of the company in promoting the Pennsylvania Family Institute's anti-gay message. I urge you to pull your sponsorship from this event, and not join forces with an organization with such a lengthy track record against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans.

Thank you for your time.

[Your name here] 


’Boyfriend’ Allegedly Murders, Castrates Prominent Portuguese Gay Journalist in NYC Luxury Hotel

By David Caruso -
Carlos Castro
Carlos Castro
A celebrity Portuguese television journalist was found castrated and bludgeoned to death in a New York City hotel, and his companion, a male model who had recently been a contestant on a Portuguese reality TV show, was in police custody Saturday.

Workers at the InterContinental New York Times Square hotel discovered the mutilated body of the 65-year-old journalist, Carlos Castro, in his blood-drenched room at about 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7.

He had arrived in the U.S. in late December in the company of his young boyfriend, the model Renato Seabra, to see some Broadway shows and spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square, according to a family friend.

There had been some friction between the two men toward the end of the trip, but nothing to suggest that anything horrible was about to happen, said the friend, Luis Pires, the editor of the Portuguese language newspaper Luso-Americano.

"I think that they were a little bit upset with each other, for jealousy reasons," Pires told The Associated Press.

The couple saw the musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," took in the movie "The Black Swan," and were supposed to meet Pires’s daughter for dinner Friday when Seabra suddenly emerged in the lobby acting strangely, he said.

"He told my daughter, ’Carlos will never leave the hotel again,’" said Pires. He said his daughter, distraught, fetched a hotel manager. Security guards opened the door to the room and found the body.

Seabra left the scene, but was detained by police hours later after he sought care at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, not far from the hotel. He was being evaluated Saturday at Bellevue Hospital Center, across town. No charges had been filed against Seabra as of Saturday afternoon, the New York Police Department said.

Seabra left the scene, but was detained by police hours later at a hospital, where he was still being evaluated Saturday. No charges had been filed against Seabra as of Saturday morning, the New York Police Department said.

Police said the victim suffered serious head trauma. The medical examiner’s office will determine the cause of death.

Seabra was a contestant last year on a Portuguese TV show called "A Procura Do Sonho," or "Pursuit of a Dream," which hunts for modeling talent.

He didn’t win the show but did get a modeling contract with an agency founded by Fatima Lopes, who developed the show and was a judge on it.

Seabra had always been interested in fashion, he told the Independente de Cantanhede newspaper in September.

"I have entered this world, and I don’t want to leave it because I see I can be successful," he said.

Castro, who also was a columnist in Portugal, was admired there for his bravery in coming out as a gay man and "revealing the feminine side of his personality," said Rui Pedro Tendinha, a film critic who knew Castro.

He was a high-profile public figure as a TV personality, Tendinha said.

"The way he died is causing a big commotion in Portugal," he said.

The organizer of Lisbon Fashion Week, Eduarda Abbondanza, said he knew Castro from his coverage of Fashion Week. Though they weren’t close, Abbondanza said that whenever he fell ill, Castro "was always there for me, calling me every time, checking up on me."

On a trip to Rome, Castro even bought Abbondanza a rosary that the pope had blessed. Abbondanza said that when he heard about Castro’s death, he took the rosary to a church to pray.

"I only wish I could have helped him the way he helped me," Abbondanza said. "He had a huge heart. Only a human being with a heart like that could have done what he did for me."

Designer Ana Salazar, considered a fashion pioneer in Portugal, recalled Castro’s role as one of the country’s first social columnists.

"I was both in his best- and worst-dressed lists in the ’80s," she said.

She said she was shocked by his death.

"It’s like something out of a horror movie," she added.

A guest at the InterContinental, Suzanne Divilly, 40, told the Daily News she heard the two men arguing in their room during the day Friday.

"There was a lot of noise, talking," she said. "You could hear them arguing in the corridor and even in our room."

Another guest, Anthony Hughes, 43, of Newcastle, Australia, told the newspaper he saw the woman who had gone to the hotel check on Castro "screaming hysterically" in the lobby.

Pires described Castro as having "kind of a Liberace style. Eccentric, but very well-known." He said he had been on Portuguese TV since he was a teenager, had written several books and was friends with the former president of Portugal, Mario Soares.

The young model and older journalist had been dating each other for a few months, he said.

"My wife and my daughter were with him for the past three or four days," he said. "My wife told me that he was a very nice kid. Very polite. I think this must have been a crime of the heart."

"This was a 21-year-old kid, looking for fame. He (Carlos) probably saw him watching girls, or something."

The death is the second recent slaying in an upscale New York hotel room.

Swimsuit designer Sylvie Cachay, 33, was found strangled and drowned in a bathtub at the trendy Soho House hotel on Dec. 9. Her boyfriend Nicholas Brooks has pleaded not guilty in her death.

Brooks, the 24-year-old son of "You Light Up My Life" writer and Oscar winner Joseph Brooks, has been held without bail since his arrest.

In 2009, Ryan Jenkins, a contestant on the VH1 show "Megan Wants a Millionaire," was charged in the gruesome slaying of his ex-model wife. After her body was found in California, he fled for his native Canada, where he hung himself in a hotel room. He left a suicide note that said he considered her the love of his life but thought she was cheating on him, police have said.


Pro-Gay Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Shot at Town Hall Meeting in Tucson

By Karen Ocamb -

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
UPDATE (3:35): Shock in California, too. Gov. Jerry Brown and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also issued statements.

Gov. Brown:
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and others in Tucson this morning. My thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and families of those impacted by this terrible tragedy.”
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:
“Today is a very sad day for all those who have devoted their lives to public service, regardless of affiliation or ideology. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is a tenacious fighter who has served the 8th District of Arizona with the same courage and strength she is demonstrating today.
My thoughts and prayers are with Congresswoman Giffords’ family and staff members and I wish her a speedy and full recovery.  My heart goes out to the families of all the victims of this senseless act of violence.”
UPDATE: (2:09) Arizona Gov. Brewer just held a news conference. She said that all of Arizona is shocked and saddened by the shootings and she said that Giffords is a personal friend from Giffords’ time in the state legislature.  While this might not have been the right time, I hope someone will ask the governor about what a columnist for a local newspaper told CNN was hate-filled environment that lead to these shootings “inevitable” in this “gun-happy state.”

Also – this statement was just released by the LGBT Congressional Staff Association:
It has been reported that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), an active Member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus was shot this morning while hosting a “Congress on your Corner” event in her Tucson district. She is currently in an intensive care unit following surgery.
Ed Espinoza, who served as the Democratic National Committee’s Western States political director, wrote on Twitter that Giffords’ district director and press secretary have also been shot.
“Congresswoman Giffords’ support for our LGBT family has never faltered. After coming off of one of the closest races in the most recent election cycle, one in which she was criticized for her support of equality issues, she didn’t hesitate for a moment to support the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’. She has stood with us unrelentingly and in this sad time we stand with her. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Congresswoman, her staff and their families,” said LGBT Congressional Staff Association President, Chris Crowe.
UPDATE: (1:53) President Obama just spoke from the White House about the shootings. He talked about the six people killed – including a 9 year old child – and 18 wounded in the shooting, including federal Judge John Roll – who the New York Times reported “had been involved in immigration cases and had previously received death threats.”
He said he has dispateched FBI Director Mueller to Arizona. “We are going to get to the bottom of this,” President Obama said.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post has identified the alleged gunman:
“Jared Lee Loughner has been identified as the man suspected of shooting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
Loughner was described by eyewitnesses at the Arizona shooting as a young white man who looked like a “fringe character,” in his mid-to-late 20s, clean-shaven with short hair and wearing dark clothing.
Loughner shot Giffords and some 12 others at a public event at a Safeway grocery store in Tucscon. He reportedly shot the congresswoman “point blank” in the head and may have come from inside the store. He attempted to flee after running out of ammunition and was tackled by one of Giffords’ staffers.
A MySpace page belonging to a “Jared Lee Loughner,” age 22, of Tucson, was taken down. A YouTube account also exists in his name.”
UPDATE (1:18): Doctors report Giffords out of surgery; they are “optimistic” about her recovery. 

UPDATE (12:32) Fox News has this statement from House Speaker John Boehner:
“I am horrified by the senseless attack on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and members of her staff. An attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society.”
UPDATE (12:18) President Obama just issued this statement:
“This morning, in an unspeakable tragedy, a number of Americans were shot in Tuscon, Arizona, at a constituent meeting with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  And while we are continuing to receive information, we know that some have passed away, and that Representative Giffords is gravely wounded.
We do not yet have all the answers.  What we do know is that such a senseless and terrible act of violence has no place in a free society.  I ask all Americans to join me and Michelle in keeping Representative Giffords, the victims of this tragedy, and their families in our prayers.”
UPDATE (11:56): Hospital spokesperson tells CNN that Gifford is in surgery. News conference in about 40 minutes.

UPDATE (11:37): CNN, which had also confirmed that Rep. Gifords was killed, is now backing off that report. Reuters is reporting that Giffords is alive and in surgery.

UPDATE: NPR reporting that Rep. Giffords and six others have died from the shooting.
Police report that Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot point blank in the head during a constituent meeting at Tucson grocery store in a public mall area Saturday morning. Giffords and two of her staff were among 12 who were shot “rapid-fire” style, according to an eyewitness. Reports indicate that to people are dead. Giffords was rushed to the hospital – no word on her condition yet. The shooter was  apprehended though there is no motive reported yet.


CNN is covering the developments live.
Giffords was just re-elected to her third-term and is part of the LGBT Caucus. It was not an easy campaign.

This blogger notes that Gifford was on Sarah Palin’s political hit list for her support of healthcare reform. The blogger agrees and says: “I intend to do my part to help make her pay.”
“As those of us who follow Sarah Palin’s political activity are aware, the former Governor of Alaska has strongly recommended that We the People Take Back the 20 in the November elections. The 20 under discussion are legitimately vulnerable Democrats up for reelection to Congress this fall and who also live in voting districts that went for McCain/Palin in 2008. One of those Democrats is Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona’s District 8.
Gaby Giffords is also on my personal political hit list, primarily because Pam and I live in Cochise County, Arizona, which is part of District 8. We don’t appreciate our Representative going against our wishes and voting for Obama’s Health Care Deformed…and I intend to do my part to help make her pay.”
Update (12:14) New reports that the Sarah PalinPAC site with Gifford’s name has been scrubbed (still up on her Facebook page) and that the blogger I cited above also scrubbed that site, both screen captured below. (Please note: I deleted the word “killed” from my first headline after more reports came out saying Gifford was in surgery. I didn’t know how to do a strike-through in the headline. My apologies for any confusion.)

Halton Catholic Schools, Ontario, Ban Gay Clubs

By Brandon Miller -

Ontario's Ministry of Education promotes the idea of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) in Canadian schools. The Ministry encourages GSAs as a tool to fight homophobia. It also recognizes the impact that a GSA can have in building bridges between all students. And yet, despite this, one Catholic School Board just isn't buying it. Welcome to Halton Region!
The Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) has banned GSAs in their schools. They think they are harmful and have made it a board-wide policy not to let them formulate. According to its website, the school board serves 29,000 students in a variety of suburbs -- Milton, Halton Hills, Burlington, Oakville. And none of those students are taught tolerance.
“We don’t have Nazi groups either,” says Board Chair Alice Anne LeMay, in what might be the most offensive quote I have heard in a long while. “Gay-Straight Alliances are banned because they are not within the teachings of the Catholic Church."
I don't see elementary schools as a place where GSAs get brought up very often, so let's focus on the district's eight high schools. Like every other school board in Ontario, this one has an "Equity and Inclusive Education" policy that is meant to encourage safe spaces for all students, including those with non-heterosexual orientations. The policy encourages GSAs. The school board, however, says that the policy only promotes GSAs as one option against homophobia. What are the other options the HCDSB are offering to deal with the issue? Insert cricket noise here.
“Dialogue groups can achieve the same kinds of objectives, but that have a broader focus on inclusion generally,” says Michael Pautler, the school board's education director. “Or a celebration of diversity, as opposed to focusing on any one particular expression of diversity.”
I don't exactly know what that means. Students can celebrate diversity, but they can't form any sort of organization or club with the word gay in the title? What kind of celebration is that? There is a place for Gay-Straight Alliances in Catholic high schools. Let's let the HCDSB know.

petition text -
Lift the ban on Gay-Straight Alliances in your schools

I am writing to ask you to please consider lifting the ban on Gay-Straight Alliances in Catholic schools in the Halton Region.
As you are likely aware, the Ministry of Education promotes Gay-Straight Alliances as effective tools in eradicated homophobia and building connections between all students. The province of Ontario is committed to educating the public and supporting all youth, including those that are not heterosexual. It is a shame that you are showing your students that some are less worthy based on something that is an ingrained trait. Your policy is homophobic, offensive and un-Canadian.
I urge you to lift your school board's ban on Gay-Straight Alliance. Take a stance on anti-gay bullying and equality for all the students you serve.
Thank you,

[Your name here] 


Human Rights Watch Scorches Iran Over Anti-Gay Violence

This picture, from the 2005 Mashad hangings of Ayaz Marhoni, 18, and Mahmoud Asgari, who was either 16 or 17, ignited a fierce battle over the persecution and murder of gay men in Iran.

By Doug Ireland -

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s vicious campaign to eradicate homosexuality and render its homosexuals invisible has received a major blow with a new report from the world’s most prestigious human rights organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The 104-page report, entitled “‘We Are a Buried Generation’: Discrimination and Violence against Sexual Minorities in Iran,” was issued December 15 by HRW, which has its headquarters in New York and operates on an annual budget of some $45 million with a staff of 275 working in 40 countries.

The report, based on 125 interviews, notes that Iran “bans same-sex conduct regardless of whether it is consensual in nature. The very real threat of prosecution and the serious punishment that awaits those convicted of same-sex crimes constitute discrimination against members of Iran’s LGBT minority whose consensual sexual practices are criminalized under any and all circumstances.

“For example, Iranian law prohibits sodomy, defined to include both consensual and coerced sexual intercourse between two men. The punishment for same-sex intercourse between two men (lavat) is death and for sexual relations between two women (mosaheqeh) is 100 lashes for the first three offenses and the death penalty for the fourth. Evidence indicates that the punishment has been enforced -- the threat of execution is real for Iran’s vulnerable LGBT community.”

Iran is one of only seven countries worldwide that retains the death penalty for consensual same-sex acts (the others are Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, and some parts of Somalia and Nigeria).

Many supposedly gay-friendly governments, like the UK and Sweden, as well as some immigration judges in the US, have refused asylum demands from queer Iranians on the grounds that they would be in no danger if they are “discreet” on being returned to Iran. But the report finds that danger of official persecution, including torture and imprisonment, is so dire for Iranian same-sexers that HRW demands other governments” prohibit refoulement [forcible return] (actual or threatened) of LGBT refugees or asylum seekers to Iran based on the notion that there is no systematic persecution of sexual minorities in Iran, or that LGBT persons can live comfortably in Iran as long as they conceal their sexual orientation or identity.”

The report finds that torture and other forms of coercion are regularly used by the government to extract so-called “confessions” -- not only to sexual crimes, but to other crimes as well -- from those suspected of engaging in same-sex conduct. The HRW report underscores how “Iran’s sexual minorities are also affected by criminal laws that do not specifically address same-sex conduct, but are applied to individuals who do not conform to socially acceptable norms on gender and morality. In fact, sexual minorities targeted by security forces in both public and private spaces often face charges related to offenses against public morals or chastity instead of sexual crimes.” Same-sexers are “disproportionately” charged with such crimes, according to the report.

Morover, HRW “uncovered evidence suggesting that prosecutors will charge human rights defenders working on issues affecting sexual minorities, or anyone seen by the government as publicizing or promoting LGBT culture, with violating national security laws. These crimes may include ‘propaganda against the regime,’ ‘disturbing the public order,” ‘participation in an illegal gathering,’ and ‘propaganda against the system.’ These individuals may also be subject to two other hadd crimes (crimes against God): moharebeh , or ‘enmity against God,’ and efsad-e fel arz, or ‘sowing corruption on earth.’ Both these crimes are punishable by death.”

Publication of the HRW report on persecution of Iranian queers had been promised by the organization’s former director of LGBT affairs, Scott Long, as long as four years ago, during his five-year long campaign of attacks on the UK’s iconic gay and human rights activist, Peter Tatchell, who had spearheaded global protests against the 2005 execution of two presumably gay Iranian teenagers on concocted charges of “rape.”

But in July of last year, HRW made a stunning public apology to Tatchell for attacks heaped on him by Long, mostly over Iran. Long made numerous public statements about Tatchell that were “inappropriate... disparaging... inaccurate... condemnatory... intemperate personal attacks,” HRW acknowledged. The HRW apology included an admission from Long that he’d made false statements about Tatchell, and shortly after it was issued Long resigned from HRW. (For a full account of this episode, see this reporter’s July 14, 2010 article, “An Overdue Apology”).

Now, Tatchell has hailed HRW for its new report on Iran. He told Gay City News by email that he considered it “a vindication of Iranian LGBT campaigners, and all of us around the world, who have criticised the frequent unfair trials of Iranians accused of sodomy. It also corroborates our anxiety that some people executed for homosexuality may not have been gay and that some of those executed for rape may have been engaged in consenting same-sex relations.”

Indeed the new HRW report specifically states, “Because trials on moral charges in Iran are usually held in camera” -- that is, outside of the public eye -- it is difficult to determine what proportion of those charged and executed for same-sex conduct are LGBT and in what proportion the alleged offense was consensual. Because of the lack of transparency, Human Rights Watch said, it cannot be ruled out that Iran is sentencing sexual minorities who engage in consensual same-sex relations to death under the guise that they have committed forcible sodomy or rape.

The report also documents “serious abuses, including due-process violations that occurred during the prosecution of sexual minorities charged with crimes. Those charged with engaging in consensual same-sex offenses stand little chance of receiving a fair trial. Judges ignore penal code evidentiary guidelines in sodomy cases and often rely instead on confessions extracted through physical torture and extreme psychological pressure.”

Referring back to the position he consistently took in his long-running battle with Long, Tatchell said, “According to HRW, our doubts and skepticism are justified. The report offers an implicit rebuke to apologists for the Tehran dictatorship who uncritically accepted official Iranian court and media reports that young men executed for sodomy were invariably kidnappers and rapists. It offers strong evidence of the widespread, systematic persecution of LGBT Iranians. Congratulations to HRW for this comprehensive, ground-breaking research in defense of our LGBT brothers and sisters in Iran.”

Others, while also welcoming the report, offered criticism of its carefully modulated tone and of certain omissions.

Dan Littauer, executive editor of the London-based grassroots media and advocacy site, which has correspondents in most Arab and Middle Eastern countries, told Gay City News, “The HRW report is welcomed, much needed, and ground-breaking. It is unprecedented in its scope and importance, highlighting the plight of LGBT Iranians. It explored well the social and legal situation for LGBT Iranians.”

However, Littauer added, “Much more attention should have been paid to the immense amount of the so-called honor killings of LGBT Iranians, an issue that was hardly covered by the report. From our sources, it seems that the majority of abuse, harm, and death is derived from such practices, while the state-sanctioned violence is only the tip of the iceberg.”

Explaining the context out of which such murders arise, Littauer said, “Even if no honor killings occur, many LGBT people remain virtually imprisoned by their families. Even if they manage to leave their family and live independently (usually only gay men have that option), they always are under threat of being discovered and need to hide, lie, and be constantly on their guard. In order to escape such difficulties, some gay men marry women and lead a difficult life ridden with guilt, which also leads many to suicide.

“For lesbians the situation is even more complicated, as they are completely forced to be dependent on male authority, be it of their father or forced-choice husband. Many LGBT people in Iran are thus killed by their own families or driven to suicide; life remains intolerable for those who try and survive.”

Finally, Littauer questioned the language HRW employed in its reporting on sex-reassignment surgery, which he said is forced on some gay men and lesbians to avoid persecution.

“The gender reassignment operations ‘offered’ by the Iranian authorities may be a choice to some who genuinely want gender reassignment, but to most this is a horrible choice -- either one undergoes the operation (against his/ her will) or face state violence or attempt at exile,” Littauer said. “Such a choice is no ‘choice’ at all -- rather it is a mere extension of the violent heterosexist ideology of forcing sexual orientation into the binary advocated by Iranian authorities’ rigid version of Shari’a law.”

Or, as the title of a documentary by France 2 public television on Iranians forced into sex-change surgery put it, “Change Sex or Die.”

Littauer also underscored how “further research and documentation is also urgently needed on how the Basiji [the parapolice which enforce morality laws and operate under the orders of the state security apparatus] and Sepha [Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, which has direct ties to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] entrap, blackmail, sexually molest, and exploit Iran’s sexual minorities. In effect, the Iranian state is now making citizens and militias be the hand of law and do its dirty work, and this is much more difficult to research and document.”

Noted Iranian scholar-in-exile Professor Janet Afary, a former president of the International Society of Iranian Scholars who teaches Iranian history and gender studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, also acknowledged the overly cautious tone of the HRW report. Afary -- whose most recent book, the 2007 “Sexual Politics in Modern Iran” (see this reporter’s February 20, 2009 review, “Iran’s Hidden History”) documents the 1,000-year recorded history of homosexuality in that country -- told Gay City News that the HRW report “reminded me of an academic paper, with a lot of qualifiers.”

But, Afary noted, “all in all, for an official published document, it’s still one of the best I’ve seen.” She said the HRW report “will have an impact on diaspora Iranians,” among whom homophobia is nearly as widespread as it is in Iran, even among the educated.

“There have been half a dozen new books on human rights in Iran, and not one even mentions persecution of gays or gay rights. We need more reports like HRW’s and need to publicize them among diaspora Iranians,” Afary said.

The complete text of the HRW report “‘We Are a Buried Generation’: Discrimination and Violence against Sexual Minorities in Iran,” is available online at The website Gay Middle East is at Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at

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Kidnapped, Raped, and Beaten
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Kidnapped: Torture in Iran
Save Us, Gay Iranian Pleads
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IGLHRC’s Failure to Stand Up to Anti-Gay Iran
Iran and the Death of Gay Activism
Iran’s Anti-Gay Purge Grows
Two More Executions Planned in Iran
Iranian Sources Question Rape Charges in Teen Executions
Hangings Awaken Long-Overdue Outrage

Joy Behar - Cheryl Kilodavis "My Princess Boy"

Cheryl Kilodavis's 5-year-old son Dyson loves to wear dresses.


Gay marriage isn't revolutionary. It's just the next step in marriage's evolution.

By Stephanie Coontz -

Opponents of same-sex marriage worry that allowing two men or two women to wed would radically transform a time-honored institution. But they're way too late on that front. Marriage has already been radically transformed - in a way that makes gay marriage not only inevitable, as Vice President Biden described it in an interview late last year, but also quite logical.
We are near the end of a two-stage revolution in the social understanding and legal definition of marriage. This revolution has overturned the most traditional functions of the institution: to reinforce differences in wealth and power and to establish distinct and unequal roles for men and women under the law.
For millennia, marriage was about property and power rather than love. Parents arranged their children's unions to expand the family labor force, gain well-connected in-laws and seal business deals. Sometimes, to consolidate inheritances, parents prevented their younger children from marrying at all. For many people, marriage was an unavoidable duty. For others, it was a privilege, not a right. Often, servants, slaves and paupers were forbidden to wed.
But a little more than two centuries ago, people began to believe that they had a right to choose their partners on the basis of love rather than having their marriages arranged to suit the interests of parents or the state.
Love, not money, became the main reason for getting married, and more liberal divorce laws logically followed. After all, people reasoned, if love is gone, why persist in the marriage? Divorce rates rose steadily from the 1850s through the 1950s, long before the surge that initially accompanied the broad entry of women into the workforce.
Adopting love as the basis for marriage meant other changes, too, especially greater acceptance of the idea that men and women had a fundamental right to marry, even to people of whom their parents - and society - disapproved. By the 1940s and 1950s, many state courts were repealing laws that prevented particular classes of people from marrying. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for states to prohibit interracial marriage. In 1978, that court struck down a Wisconsin law prohibiting marriage by parents who had not met prior child-support obligations. In 1987, it upheld the right of prison inmates to marry.
But huge as the repercussions of the love revolution were, they did not make same-sex marriage inevitable, because marriage continued to be based on differing roles and rights for husbands and wives: Wives were legally dependent on their husbands and performed specific wifely duties. This was part of what marriage cemented in society, and the reason marriage was between men and women. Only when distinct gender roles ceased to be the organizing principle of marriage - in just the past 40 years - did we start down the road to legalizing unions between two men or two women.
Over the ages, marriage enforced an unequal division of labor, wealth and power between men and women. Traditional English and American law gave the husband sole control over all property that his wife brought to their marriage and any income she earned during it. Husbands had the legal right - and the duty - to impose their will by force. A husband couldn't cede any rights to his wife, said the courts, "because that would presuppose her separate existence," according to Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws.
By the early 19th century, the old ideas that women needed to be under male authority because they were more prone to sexual passion and religious error than men, and that husbands ruled the home just as monarchs ruled their kingdoms, had given way to a gentler but equally rigid gender ideology. Men were recast as benevolent breadwinners who exercised authority not because they were the patriarchal bosses of the family labor force, but because they were women's natural providers and protectors. Women were frail dependents whose nurturing nature and innate sexual purity predisposed them to sweet submission.
This redefinition of gender allowed 19th-century Americans to reconcile the new ideal of married love with a continued claim that husbands and wives had completely different rights and duties. And in the 20th century, even as the right of individuals to choose their partner became the cultural norm and legal reality, the insistence that marriage united two distinct gender stereotypes became increasingly shrill.
During the 1940s, '50s and '60s, sociologists and psychiatrists remained adamant that marriage required strict adherence to traditional feminine and masculine roles. In 1964, a year after Betty Friedan published "The Feminine Mystique," an article in a journal of the American Medical Association described beating as a "more or less" satisfactory way for an "aggressive, efficient, masculine" wife to "be punished for her castrating activity" and for a husband to "re-establish his masculine identity."
Well into the 1970s, marriage was still legally defined as a union that assigned differing marital rights and obligations according to gender. The husband was responsible for supporting the family financially, but he also got to decide what constituted an adequate level of support, how to dispose of certain kinds of property and where the family would live.
The wife, in turn, was legally responsible for providing services in and around the home, but she had no comparable rights to such services. That is why a husband could sue for loss of consortium if his spouse were killed or incapacitated, but a wife in the same situation could not. And because sex was one of the services expected of a wife, she could not charge her husband with rape.
In 1970, inspired by the Supreme Court decision that interracial couples had the right to marry, two Minnesota men applied for a marriage license. Asked by a reporter which one would be the wife, their reply was: "We don't play those kinds of roles." The incident received little serious attention. Most Americans could not imagine a marriage in which one partner did not assume the dominant role of husband and one the subordinate role of wife.
During the 1970s and 1980s, however, a new revolution in marriage rolled across North America and Europe. As feminists pressed for the repeal of "head and master" laws enshrining male authority in the household, legal codes were rewritten so that they no longer assigned different rights and duties by gender. Over time, people came to view marriage as a relationship between two individuals who were free to organize their partnership and their parenting on the basis of their personal inclinations rather than pre-assigned gender roles. Today, as Judge Vaughn Walker noted in his decision striking down California's Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, "gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals."
Gender neutrality has made many marriages fairer and more fulfilling than ever before, which has in turn been a big factor in the falling divorce rates and steep decline in marital domestic violence over the past 30 years. And spouses who share an egalitarian viewpoint report above-average levels of marital happiness, according to researchers.
The spread of gender-neutral attitudes about heterosexual marriage has also undercut support for limiting marriage to a man and a woman. Although well-financed campaigns against same-sex marriage still generate victories on Election Day, hard-core opposition has steadily eroded. In October, the Pew Research Center reported that for the first time in its 15 years of polling, less than half the public opposed same-sex marriage. That poll also found that 42 percent actively supported it - still less than a majority, but a new high. Two other national polls have found that a small majority of Americans endorse same-sex marriage.
Support for same-sex marriage is already higher than support for interracial marriage was in 1970, three years after the Supreme Court struck down anti-miscegenation laws. And since young adults ages 18 to 29 are the group most supportive of same-sex marriage, it is largely a matter of when, rather than if, a majority of Americans will endorse this extension of marriage rights.
Opponents of gay marriage argue that this trend will lead to the destruction of traditional marriage. But, for better and for worse, traditional marriage has already been destroyed, and the process began long before anyone even dreamed of legalizing same-sex marriage.
People now decide for themselves who and when - and whether - to marry. When they do wed, they decide for themselves whether to have children and how to divide household tasks. If they cannot agree, they are free to leave the marriage.
If gay marriage is legally recognized in this country, it will have little impact on the institution of marriage. In fact, the growing acceptance of same-sex marriage - an indication that it's not just the president's views that are "evolving" - is a symptom, rather than a cause, of the profound revolutions in marriage that have already taken place.

Stephanie Coontz teaches family history at the Evergreen State College and is the author of "A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s."


Lesbians’ children ‘not hurt by meeting sperm donors’

The study looked at sperm donors & their children
There is no evidence that lesbians’ children are hurt or damaged by meeting their sperm donor fathers, a small study says.

The study, by researchers at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, used data from the US National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study.

Seventy-eight teenagers were studied, Reuters reports.
A third of the donors knew their offspring, just over a third were permanently anonymous and 18 could be contacted once the child turned 18.

Using questionnaires and interviews, the researchers found no difference in the mental health of teenagers who knew their fathers or did not.

Another study, by the University of Cambridge, interviewed 23 sperm and egg donors who all said they had positive experiences with meeting their offspring and most saw them regularly.

Both pieces of research were published in the journal Human Reproduction.


Tickets for Elton John’s Private LA Concert to Benefit AFER Available

By Karen Ocamb -

Host Committee and guests include JJ Abrams and Kaity McGrath, Steve Bing, David Geffen, Ron Burkle, Norman Lear, Barbra Streisand, Rob and Michele Reiner, Ken Mehlman, Dustin Lance Black, Barbara Bush, Chad Griffin and Yeardley Smith.
AFER Attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, along with plaintiffs Kris Perry & Sandy Stier and Paul Katami & Jeff Zarrillo will also be there.

Ticket prices for the concert start at $1,000 and are available on AFER’s website, AFER is a 501(c)3 organization, and contributions are tax deductible.
Last August, District Court Judge Vaughn Walker found that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional – that it violates both the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution.  The case is now before 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Eventually the case could reach the US Supreme Court. But even if the 9th Circuit panel dismisses the case based on the technicality that Protect Marriage lacks standing to defend Prop 8 in the federal appeals court, AFER founder Chad Griffin has vowed that the organization will find another legal case to take to the Supreme Court so that marriage equality will become the law of the nation.

From the AFER press release:
David Boies with plaintiffs Jeff Zarrillo (left) & Paul Katami.
Elton John’s performance on behalf of AFER comes off the heels of an art auction in New York that raised $600,000 for the Foundation. The event drew support from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Barbara Bush (daughter of President George W. Bush), and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. The auction included works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Diane Arbus. In September 2010, AFER garnered more than $1.3 million in support from an event [hosted by new out GOP honcho Ken Mehlman] that drew together an impressive array of GOP and Wall Street leaders.
AFER launched the Perry case in May 2009, and is committed to achieving full federal marriage equality for all Americans by linking the movement to the nation’s founding constitutional principles, including the right of all Americans to equal protection under the law.  Its broad and bipartisan coalition of support has grown to include a diverse and unprecedented array of leaders including Julian Bond (past Chairman of the NAACP), Dolores Huerta (co-founder with Cesar Chavez of the UFW), the California NAACP, MALDEF, Ken Mehlman (former Chairman of the Republican National Committee and top adviser to President George W. Bush), major LGBT civil rights and legal organizations, and thousands of grassroots supporters across the nation. Its advisory board is co-chaired by John Podesta (White House Chief of Staff in the Clinton Administration and head of the Center for American Progress) and Robert Levy (head of the Cato Institute).
For more information, please visit the AFER website:


DADT repeal process marches on

By Nan Hunter -

According to Defense Secretary Gates, training troops for the end of DADT and its related policies will begin "in a very few weeks." Gates told a press conference yesterday that he had a three-step plan to implement DADT repeal:
  1. Finalize changes in related regulations and policies, and get clearer definitions on benefits;
  2. Prepare training materials for chaplains, lawyers, commanders and troops; and 
  3. Conduct the training of servicemembers worldwide.
 From Stars and Stripes:
“We’re trying to get the first two phases of that process done as quickly as possible,” Gates said, adding he has instructed Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley to accelerate his efforts. “My hope is that it can be done within a matter of a very few weeks so that we can then move on to what is the real challenge, which is providing training to 2.2 million people. And we will do that as expeditiously as we can.”
Many people may imagine that this training will consist of snarling drill sergeants conducting sensitivity sessions. I predict lots of jokes on late night TV as this goes forward. For me, thinking about which policies will change and how is far more interesting.
It's difficult for us civilians to wrap our minds around the kind of hyper-intrusive technicalities that comprise military regulations affecting service members' lives. Consider the following news report from Afghanistan, also in Stars and Stripes. It will be fascinating to watch how practices like this no-sex order will be affected when the institution has to admit - in a way that it never has, despite the bogus "don't ask" part of DADT - that gay people are in the military.
A new order signed by Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-101, has lifted a ban on sexual relations between unmarried men and women in the combat zone.
General Order No. 1 outlines a number of prohibited activities and standards of conduct for U.S. troops and civilians working for the military in Afghanistan. Previously, under the regulation, sexual relations and "intimate behavior" between men and women not married to each other were a strict no-no. The regulation also barred members of the opposite sex from going into each other’s living quarters unless they were married to each other.
The new regulation warns that sex in a combat zone "can have an adverse impact on unit cohesion, morale, good order and discipline." But sexual relations and physical intimacy between men and women not married to each other are no longer banned outright. They’re only "highly discouraged," and that’s as long as they’re "not otherwise prohibited" by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, according to the new order.
Single men and women can now also visit each other’s living quarters, as long as everyone else who lives there agrees, and as long as visitors of the opposite sex remain in the open "and not behind closed doors, partitions or other isolated or segregated areas," according to the new regulation. Unmarried men and women who are alone together in living quarters must leave the door open, according to the new policy.
Men and women "will not cohabit with, reside or sleep with members of the opposite gender in living spaces of any kind," unless they are married or if it’s necessary for military reasons, the new policy states.
A cursory reading of the order would seem to suggest that unmarried men and women could have sex in their living quarters, as long as all other persons who live there agree, or if they left the door open, if they were otherwise alone. But that’s not the case, said Lt. Col. Rumi Nielson-Green, a spokeswoman for Regional Command East and Combined Joint Task Force-101.
"Sex in both scenarios … would be a chargeable offense under the UCMJ," Nielson-Green said, referring to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.
Nielson-Green said the policy change was "not significant on a practical level" since it simply aligns General Order No. 1 in Afghanistan with similar policies in the region. Neither U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor Multi-National Forces-Iraq bar sexual relations between unmarried men and women in their version of the order, she said.
"The expectation is that troops should behave professionally and responsibly at all times," Nielson-Green said, adding that while the new regulation does not condone sex, it "does recognize that such behaviors happen, and if they result in any chargeable offenses, then appropriate actions will be pursued."
"The bottom line is that the troops are responsible for their own behavior," Nielson-Green said. She declined to "speculate" on the conditions under which soldiers could engage in legal sexual behavior.
The UCMJ contains several provisions under which sexual relations are prohibited between men and women. For instance, married persons cannot engage legally in sex with anyone other than their spouse, or they can be prosecuted for adultery. Sexual relations between subordinates and higher-ranking personnel are prohibited within the same chain of command. Sexual relations between officers and enlisted personnel are generally prohibited as well. Homosexual relations are completely prohibited under the code.
[Note - The last sentence is incorrect.  The UCMJ criminalizes sodomy, which consists of certain sexual practices, i.e., oral and anal sex. Those practices are prohibited for any two persons who engage in them, including heterosexual partners.]
Nielson-Green said the new policy does allow commanders to make the provision on sex more restrictive, as long as they have approval from the CJTF-101 commander.
In eastern Afghanistan, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which is nearing the end of its 15-month deployment, won approval to stick with the old policy that bans sexual relations between unmarried soldiers. According to [the Judge Advocate’s] staff, 28 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade have been punished for having sex in Afghanistan or for violating the no-entry rule in the past year. Those punishments ranged from letters of reprimand to field-grade Article 15s.

for more from Nan visit Hunter for Justice.


Chris Geidner: What the LGBT Community Should Expect in 2011

By David Mixner -

Cgjuly2010_normal Chris Geidner is one of the new breed of tough investigative journalists residing in Washington, DC. His reporting for "Metro Weekly" has become must reading for those interested in the LGBT legislative agenda and politics. While I have not always agreed with Chris, I have respected his journalism and always looked forward to reading him.

In his latest column, "Marching On" he outlines what to expect in the coming year given the changing political situation. Read this important piece by clicking here but to give you a taste here is an excerpt or two.

"The change in the control of the House – while not entirely characterized by the sort of polarization separating Boehner and Pelosi – nonetheless puts a likely end to consideration of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act over the next two years. HRC, on Jan. 5, released a document asserting that 225 members of the House – a majority – have an anti-LGBT record.
Other legislation, though, remains front and center. Among one of the pieces mentioned late in 2010 by Log Cabin Republican officials was the Tax Equity for Health Plan Beneficiaries Act, which was introduced in the House in 2009 with bipartisan support. GOProud is looking to other initiatives – including personal savings accounts under Social Security and a permanent repeal to the estate tax – both of which would offset the discrimination faced by same-sex couples because of DOMA". 
Regarding the Obama White House:

"Down Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House – and across the river at the Pentagon – the first LGBT question of the new year was how quickly the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama on Dec. 22, would result in open military service. Before 2010 had even come to a close, the government filed a motion in the ongoing appeal of LCR's challenge to DADT asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to put the case on hold until the repeal implementation can be completed.
The government is scheduled to submit its opening brief in the appeal of U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips's ruling striking down DADT by Jan. 24. In the December filing, though, Justice Department lawyers ask for the case to be held to conserve the court system's resources, and out of ''respect for determination by the political branches that the orderly process mandated by the Repeal Act is necessary and appropriate to ensure that military effectiveness is preserved.''
Repeal of 10 U.SC. 654, the DADT law, will occur under the Repeal Act 60 days after the president, defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify to Congress that the changes needed to implement repeal are ''consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.'

for more from David visit Live from Hell's Kitchen.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Gareth Thomas talks with Outsports, models his underwear

Rugby star Gareth Thomas answers questions from readers, he also shows his tattoo and new underwear.


My God is a God of Love!

My name is Maggie, I’m a straight 15 year old girl, I was raised to love everything and to except everyone. From the beginning my mother has shown me every type of person there can be. Gay, straight, bi, pink, purple, and green. When I got older, my mom explained to me the difference of everybody. Why a gay man is gay. Why a straight man is straight. And I grew up around a lot of gay men. I’ve always been in that lifestyle. I never realized the absolute hate some one could have for a type of person until I went to church.
I had no idea that a people who say they believe in love and all men created equal could be so cruel. My opinions are very strong about the support of homosexual people, and I can take anyone on in an argument if they start bashing the way they live their lives. This one time I had a 40 something year old woman tell me it was a lifestyle choice! “A lifestyle choice” I said, “smoking is a lifestyle choice.”

Some people have no idea what they are talking about. Growing up around so many people, I’ve heard their stories. One of my gay uncles told he used to have stones thrown at him and called horrible words every day… now please tell me why someone would pick that? Why would someone want to go through all that pain?? Please someone tell me why they would chose that? After I explained this to the woman she told me to pray for this person to become straight so they can be happy in heaven… this angered me once again.
This person I told the story about has never missed a day of church. He is the most amazing man I have ever met and I promise you gay or straight, pink or purple he is going to heaven. He is going to like men all the way until he reaches those pearly gates. Someone once told me that god hates gays. I don’t know about them… but my god is a god of love and would never hate one of his creations. End of story. God is perfect. God doesn’t make mistakes. Being gay is not a mistake. God has a plan for everyone. Some people say Satan made them gay. Well you know what, why would Satan want someone to love someone even if they are straight or gay??
Someday I want to start a movement or a company or clothing line called “somewhere over the rainbow” when we try to over come the road blocks stopping us for gay marriage and get to that place over the rainbow when everyone can be happy.
Love is love, no matter what side of the rainbow!
Thank you for reading my story,


Boston hails gay sports scribe

By Jessica Heslam -

Herald columnist Steve Buckley came out
to readers in yesterday’s paper.
Veteran Herald sports scribe Steve Buckley’s courageous coming out was hailed by prominent Hub sports figures yesterday even as he faces warnings that he could have trouble in the locker room.
Buckley said it’s no big deal. “I’m not going to guess other people’s emotions,” he said. “I’m just going to show up and do my job.”
Buckley’s revelation — in a moving column in yesterday’s Herald — dominated all four hours of Glenn Ordway’s “Big Show” on WEEI-AM (850).
Afterward, Ordway told the Herald he didn’t think Buckley’s announcement would affect his show, during which guests and listeners often trade anti-gay jabs. Ordway described himself as “an equal-opportunity basher.”
“I don’t think it changes it at all,” Ordway said last night. “We were still busting his chops during the course of his show. Big deal — he’s gay.”
But the “Big Show” host said the locker room could be a different story.
“My gut feeling is, you’re probably going to get some immature, young player somewhere down the line who’s going to get (angry) because Buck criticizes him,” Ordway said. “And he’s going to reach for the easiest way that he can get back at Buckley and call him a name or something like that.”
During the show, Ordway asked Buckley — a longtime WEEI regular — whether he’d ever felt uncomfortable on his program. Buckley paused and said, “Yeah — a few times.”
Buckley told the Herald last night that he wants sports talk radio to continue to be fun and edgy, but if he finds something offensive he’ll speak up and talk to Ordway.
“I’ll take Glenn aside after the show and I’ll say that’s something we might work on right there,” Buckley said.
Buckley said it’s going to take him a month to respond to the hundreds of supportive e-mails he’s received from around the country. “The reaction has been overwhelming positive,” said Buckley, calling it “one of the greatest days of my life.”
A legion of local sports celebrities — from Patriots [team stats] owner Robert Kraft to Red Sox [team stats] honchos Terry Francona and Theo Epstein — reached out to Buckley.
The veteran Herald columnist said he’s always looked on the bright side, and if the likes of Kevin Youkilis [stats] and Dustin Pedroia [stats] are taking the time to text him their support, that “certainly points me in the direction of optimism.”

Gates orders DOD to accelerate DADT repeal

By Kevin Baron -

ARLINGTON, Va. — Defense Secretary Robert Gates has instructed the Defense Department to accelerate a plan to end the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay military personnel and start rolling out its training within a “very few weeks.”
President Barack Obama signed the repeal of the 17-year old law on Dec. 22 with a promise not to “drag our feet.” But the repeal language passed by Congress states that the president, defense secretary and Joint Chiefs chairman must certify the military is ready to lift the ban and then wait 60 days before gay troops are safe to speak openly of their sexual orientation.
Until Thursday, Pentagon officials refused to provide any details on the department’s plan as it was being developed.
Gates in a Pentagon press conference revealed a three-step plan: finalize changes in related regulations and policies, and get clearer definitions on benefits; prepare training materials for chaplains, lawyers, commanders and troops; and then begin to train servicemembers worldwide.
“We’re trying to get the first two phases of that process done as quickly as possible,” Gates said, adding he has instructed Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley to accelerate his efforts. “My hope is that it can be done within a matter of a very few weeks so that we can then move on to what is the real challenge, which is providing training to 2.2 million people. And we will do that as expeditiously as we can.”
In the previous two months, the Pentagon’s working group studying policy repeal and the joint chiefs recommended training to prepare troops for serving alongside openly gay servicemembers. Advocates for repeal have insisted no such training is required, and have warned the Pentagon against slow-rolling final certification to end “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Still, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, advised gay servicemembers to exercise just a bit more patience.
“Now is not the time to come out,” Mullen said. “We certainly are focused on this and we won’t dawdle.”


Miss New York takes risk with gay rights platform in Miss America pageant, wants to see 'change'.

BY Gina Salamone -

Miss New York Claire Buffie, 24, will compete in
Miss America pageant in Las Vegas on Jan. 15.
Leave it to a New Yorker to shake things up at the Miss America Pageant.
Instead of sticking to something safe, Miss New York Claire Buffie will be championing gay rights as part of her campaign to become the next Miss America.
Never in the 90-year history of the pageant has a contestant gone to bat for gays. And the 24-year-old brunette knows she's taking a risk with her "Straight for Equality: Let's Talk" platform.
But this, she says, is the civil rights struggle of her generation.
"Miss America is looking for a woman who is intelligent, has a vision and is compassionate about making change," she told the Daily News.
Born and raised in Indiana, Buffie was second runnerup in the Miss Indiana 2008 contest before she pulled up stakes and moved to lower Manhattan - and set her sights on becoming Miss New York.
In doing so, Buffie found her cause.
"The reason I am such a vocal straight ally is because my older sister, Sarah, is gay, and I have a lot of gay friends and a gay roommate," she said.
They, she said, are "people that I care about so much and that I never want to see treated as second-class citizens."
High-profile suicides of some gay teens last year also fueled her cause.
"That proves to me that this is not something that we can brush under the rug anymore," Buffie said.
To give the beauty pageant more heft, Miss America organizers began requiring contestants in 1989 to come up with a social platform.
Most opt for causes that are worthy - and noncontroversial.
This year, for example, Miss New Jersey is running on "Read to Succeed" and Miss Connecticut is going with "One World: Global Awareness for Global Prosperity."
Not Buffie. When the show airs live from Las Vegas on Jan. 15, she's going for broke.
"It's groundbreaking in a way since it's the first in the Miss America organization," she said. "But also it's just so current."
Mindful that she also has to do well in the swimsuit part of the competition, Buffie said she gets in shape the way many New Yorkers do.
"I run the Brooklyn Bridge all the time," she said.


Report on GLBT Youth Suicide Seeks Answers, Action

By Killian Melloy -

A new report on suicides among GLBT youth suggests that the phenomenon--which has taken on the appearance of a national crisis in recent months--be given corresponding resources in order to gain an understanding of exactly why teens who self-identify as sexual minorities are more likely to kill themselves.

The report was published on Jan. 5, a day before New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill to implement what activists called "America’s toughest anti-bullying law."

The report is the work of an "expert panel of 26 leading researchers, clinicians, educators and policy experts," according to an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention press release. The report was published in "a special edition of the Journal of Homosexuality" online, the release noted.

Suicide and Suicide Risk in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Populations: Review and Recommendations notes that according to multiple surveys, about 3% of students in America’s school system are GLBT. The report cites earlier research that demonstrates that GLBT youth are at increased risk of suicide compared with heterosexual youth, and also notes the discovery that lower suicide rates prevail even among youths who engage in same-gender sexual contact, but nonetheless describe themselves as straight.

"Despite four decades of research pointing to elevated rates of suicide attempts among LGBT people, national suicide prevention initiatives, including the 2001 U.S. National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, have given scant attention to suicide risk in sexual minority persons," the release says.

"With this report and recommendations, we hope to move LGBT suicide prevention squarely onto the national agenda and provide a framework for actions aimed at reducing suicidal behavior in these populations," lead author Dr. Ann Haas said. Haas is the Director of Prevention Projects for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the release noted.

"It’s time for the federal government, suicide prevention agencies, mental health professionals, policy makers and LGBT organizations to join together to bring this problem out of the closet and work toward effective solutions," added Haas.

Other research has shown that GLBTs are more prone to substance abuse, depression, and anxiety. Those trends are especially acute in places and at times when populations of sexual minorities find themselves under legal or social attack, such as when gays are demonized and made the subject of ballot initiatives or other political actions. Other forms of stigma, along with social, religious, and familial rejection are thought to contribute to higher rates of depression and anxiety among gays; that, in turn, is suspected of accounting for higher rates of substance abuse, which can then translate into behavior that elevates risk for contracting STIs, including HIV.

While acknowledging the higher rates of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse among LGBTs, "the panel found that these problems, by themselves, do not account for the higher rates of suicide attempts that have been reported by LGBT people," the press release noted. "Thus, the consensus report identified stigma and discrimination as playing a key role especially acts such as rejection or abuse by family members or peers, bullying and harassment, denunciation from religious communities and individual discrimination.

"The report also highlighted evidence that discriminatory laws and public policies have a profound negative impact on the mental health of gay adults." The report called for efforts at suicide prevention to take those factors into account.

In addition to data relating to sexual orientation, the report also included information on gender identity. Transgendered individuals are separate and distinct from gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, though there can be overlap between the groups.

Although homosexuality has not been regarded as a mental health disorder in America since 1973, the same is not true of transgendered individuals, with the result that transgendered people might still be stigmatized with the label of being mentally disordered. "The consensus panel called for revision of diagnoses pertaining to transgender people in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (due out in 2013) to affirm that gender identity, expression and behavior that differ from birth sex is not indicative of a mental disorder," the release noted.

The report observes a disparity between LGBT suicide attempts and actual suicides, a gap that exists in part because records kept on individuals who die by suicide do not indicate what their sexual orientation or gender identity might have been.

"Suicidal Behavior" More Prevalent Among LGBT Youth

However, the report noted, a strong correlation has been demonstrated between sexual orientation and "suicidal behavior." The report says, "Since the early 1990s, population-based surveys of U.S. adolescents that have included questions about sexual orientation have consistently found rates of reported suicide attempts to be two to seven times higher in high school students who identify as LGB, compared to those who describe themselves as heterosexual."

The risk of suicide among young gays, lesbians, and bisexuals seems to taper off with age. The study cited a report that "found that the risk for suicide attempts in young men who reported same-sex romantic attractions was largely confined to the adolescent years. Another study cited by the report found "that elevated suicidal behavior among LGB members was associated with depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders, and that the associations were more marked in males than females."

However, LGB adults were still more prone to mental health problems and related behavior, the report noted, referencing a study that "confirmed a higher prevalence of lifetime mood and anxiety disorders among participants who identified as LGB, compared to those who identified as heterosexual." Once again, there appeared to be correlations between the mental health of sexual minorities and the legal and social attacks they suffer.

"There is ample evidence that across the lifespan, LGB people commonly experience discrimination in the form of personal rejection, hostility, harassment, bullying, and physical violence," the report said. "One especially powerful stressor for LGB youth is rejection by parents and other family members. Several nonrandom studies have found an association between parental rejection because of sexual orientation and higher risk of suicide attempts among LGB youth

--Other recommendations focus on improving information about LGBT people by measuring sexual orientation and gender identity in all national health surveys in which respondents’ privacy can be adequately protected, and encouraging researchers to include such measures in general population studies related to suicide and mental health."

Moreover, "institutional discrimination" also takes a heavy toll, the report noted. "Institutional discrimination results from laws and public policies that create inequities or fail to provide protections against sexual orientation-based discrimination," the report explained, going on to cite a study that "found that LGB adults who lived in one of 19 states that lacked specific protections against sexual orientation-based hate crimes or employment discrimination had significantly higher prevalence of mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders, compared to heterosexual adults living in those states and LGB adults living in states that extended protection in at least one of these areas.

"LGB respondents in states without protective policies were almost five times more likely than those in other states to have two or more mental disorders," the report added.

Another study cited by the report focused on "the effects of state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage on the mental health of LGB adults." The report noted that in "16 states that enacted constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage during 2004 and 2005, the researchers found significant increases in mental disorders among self-identified LGB respondents in these states between wave 1 (2001-2002) and wave 2 (2004-2005) of the survey. Specifically, mood disorders increased by more than one-third, from 23 to 31% of LGB respondents. Increases were also found in generalized anxiety disorder, from 3 to 9%, and alcohol use disorder, from 22 to 31%.

"By contrast, no comparable increases in mental disorders between the two waves of the survey were observed in heterosexual respondents living in these 16 states," the report said. "Among LGB respondents living in the 34 states where constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage were not enacted during the period examined, increases in generalized anxiety disorder and substance use disorders were also found between the two waves of the survey, possibly related to extensive national media coverage of the amendment campaigns and the associated anti-gay rhetoric. Again, comparable increases in mental disorders were not found in heterosexual respondents living in the same states."

The report also cited a study that indicated that, "Among some urban men who have sex with men, elevated risk of HIV/AIDS has been found to be associated with depression, substance abuse, and elevated risk of suicidal behavior."

Suicide attempts among transgendered individuals were even higher than among LGBs--up to 25%, according to one study. As with younger LGBs, suicidal behavior seemed to taper off with time: "Suicide attempts appear to occur more frequently among transgender adolescents and young adults than among older age groups," the report noted.

The report noted that little in the way of resources has historically been committed to studying suicide and suicidal behavior among sexual minorities, leading to significant knowledge gaps. Moreover, "what is already known has not yet been applied to practices aimed at reducing suicidal behavior and suicide risk in LGBT people," the report noted. The report called for increased practical applications for what is known now about the elevated risk of suicide among sexual minorities, as well as efforts to close those gaps in understanding.

One major resource for improved public health in the LGBT sector, the report suggested, would be efforts to reduce or eliminate social, political, and religious stigma and rejection aimed at sexual minorities. "Among the most salient findings to emerge from recent research are those linking public policies that discriminate against sexual minorities to elevated rates of mental disorders in LGB people," the report noted. "The well-established association between mental disorders and suicide attempts in at least some LGBT subgroups points to the need to include advocacy for policy change as a component of a comprehensive plan for LGBT suicide prevention."

To combat the injurious effects of anti-gay laws and gaps in legal parity for sexual minorities, the report recommended an end to legal inequities affecting gay and lesbian families, stronger laws to combat anti-gay bullying in public schools, and efforts to include LGBTs in public surveys designed to measure the need or, and find solutions to address, public health concerns.

"Although many questions are as yet unanswered, there appears to be little doubt that a broad national effort will be needed to encourage and fund the needed research, raise awareness of the problem among LGBT and suicide prevention leaders, and develop the interventions, prevention strategies, and policy changes through which suicidal behavior and suicide risk in LGBT populations can be reduced," the report concluded.

A newly signed bill in New Jersey stands to address at least one point for improvement set out in the report. Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill on Jan. 6 to mandate "specific anti-bullying procedures for schools across the state," a press release sent that same day by GLBT advocacy group Garden State Equality said.

"Garden State Equality spearheaded the campaign for the new law," the release noted. " Since the organization’s founding in 2004, New Jersey has enacted 212 laws at the state, county and local levels advancing LGBT civil rights. That is a national record.

"Garden State Equality now initiates its new Anti-Bullying Partnership--comprised of legal experts, educational experts, corporate leaders, bullied students and parents--to partner with schools, student organizations and parent-teacher organizations to make sure the new law is enforced," the release added.

"The overwhelmingly bipartisan support for this landmark legislation will give impetus to other states across America, whether they are blue or red, to adopt anti-bullying laws just like ours," said Garden State Equality chair Steven Goldstein. The bill’s specific, mandatory requirements mean "The era of vagueness and loopholes in anti-bullying laws is over, and hope for our children has begun," Goldstein added.

"Under the new law, teachers and other school personnel must report incidents of bullying to principals on the same day as a bullying incident," the release said. "An investigation of the bullying must begin within one school day. A school must complete its investigation of bullying within 10 school days, after which there must be a resolution of the situation."

The release went on to note that the new law "provide[s] training to teachers in suicide prevention specifically with regard to students from communities at high risk for suicide." The law also extends to bullying that takes place on school buses, and covers incidents of cyber-bullying. Moreover, the law applies to public universities.

"The law applies to all bullied students," the release says. "In addition to protecting students based on the categories of actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression, the law has clear language protecting students bullied for any other reason."

Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.