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Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Different Light gay bookstore in Castro closing

Tommi Avicolli Mecca worked at A Different Light
1991 to 2000, holding three events for authors,
the biggest for diver Greg Louganis.
By Sam Whiting -

It's the last few days for the last of its kind.
A Different Light Bookstore, the last of a once-proud family of gay literary spots and a beacon of homosexual life in the Castro, will be out of business by the end of the month.
The window displays have for-lease and half-off signs, but there isn't much to take half off of. The back shelves are bare, and the front shelves are scattered with books and porn.

"As far as we know, there are no LGBT bookstores left in the state, at least ones selling new books," says Hut Landon, executive director of the Northern California Booksellers Association.
A store manager, who declined to give her name, said the closing date will be determined by sales, but she confirmed that "we're definitely closing by the end of April." Steve Murphy, the landlord's real estate agent, said that any day could be the last.
At least once a week for 23 years, Gerard Koskovich has stopped into the bookstore on Castro Street. As a curator of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender History Museum, he is a field archivist, and this storefront has been the place to find ephemera.
"From the moment it was founded, this store became a cultural center for the emerging queer community in the late 1980s," says Koskovich, while standing out front, just down from the marquee for the Castro Theatre. "Events, exhibitions, panel discussions, basically any important gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender author you can think of who published in English gave a reading at A Different Light at some point."

Sales move online

More than the chain stores, it was online booksellers that wiped out the gay bookstores, along with all other specialty bookstores, says Landon: "Amazon lists everything, they sell it cheaper, and they don't collect sales tax."
According to Koskovich's research, 2011 marks the 45th anniversary of the opening of the first gay bookstore in America, the Adonis in the Tenderloin. Then came the Walt Whitman Bookshop, and it wasn't that long ago that there were two gay bookstores on Castro Street and one around the corner on Market. They are all gone.
Koskovich agrees with Landon on the reasons for the demise of gay bookstores. Younger readers in particular buy their books online, he says.

'Creating community'

"I find it troubling that we no longer have physical places to discover the books that matter to us and the people who share these interests," he says. "I'm not sure that online bookstores create the same opportunities for creating community and bringing about social change."
The Castro store opened in 1985, as a sister to the original A Different Light, which opened in the Silver Lake District of Los Angeles in 1979. Business partners Norman Laurila and George Leigh came down from Toronto to open the store, which was named after a gay science fiction novel by San Francisco author Elizabeth Lynn.
Laurila's life partner, Richard Labonte, took over as manager in Los Angeles when Laurila moved to New York to open the Greenwich Village store in 1983. "We preferred to call it a 'bracelet,' " says Labonte, reached by phone in British Columbia, where he now lives. "The word 'chain' sounds so Barnes and Noble."
The Castro branch opened in the location of the Obelisk, a high-end design store. Labonte became store manager there in 1986.

Center for activism

"It became a social center," Labonte says. "There were other gay-oriented stores in the Castro, but ours was a store that used books to draw people in. We had art shows and reading groups. We organized the first two Outwrite Conferences of gay writers in the country." The first one, in 1990, attracted 1,000 participants and was held at a downtown hotel.
The stores became so well known nationally that when a liberationist and aspiring author named Tommi Avicolli Mecca came out from Philadelphia in 1991, he had a job lined up at A Different Light.
"In those days the Castro was a lot more activist-oriented," says Avicolli Mecca, who worked at the store for 10 years. "ACT UP had its meetings in the backyard, and the store was very much about the community in addition to selling books."
One of the hallmarks of the place was that it would accept just about any form of work on paper, either for sale or giveaway. Another hallmark was the author events. Avicolli Mecca held three here, though the biggest crowd anyone can recall was for Olympic diver Greg Louganis, whose appearance to promote his autobiography drew a line around the block.
"The place was crammed with books, and they had an open policy on taking things on consignment," Koskovich says. "Any local author artist, or author, a person who was making a zine or self-published book or greeting cards could come in and consign a few. So it was a store where you were constantly discovering the cutting edge, the things that were being created."

They're all gone

Now, all three of the Different Lights will have disappeared.
"It's a real loss for our culture in general because GLBT stores, as with most specialty stores, curate their stock and selection," Landon says. "You knew when you went into a Different Light that you really had experts who were culling through all the GLBT stuff out there and choosing it for readers.
"If they're gone, you've lost that expertise that they brought to bookselling."

King & Spalding Faces Backlash Over Firm’s Support of DOMA

Law firm King & Spalding is facing serious backlash in the community over House Speaker John Boehner’s engagement of the firm to defend DOMA – the Defense of Marriage Act.
According to today’s article at, “Law Firm Fighting For Defense Of Marriage Act Faces Backlash From Legal Groups, Colleges”, members of the LGBT legal community are considering diassociating themselves from the firm.
Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization working for LGBT equality, was quoted as saying about King & Spalding’s decision to take the case as “Depressing,” and that “I think it’s going to hurt them in their recruiting of future lawyers.”
Interestingly, in 2006 the firm announced national sponsorship of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Davidson was also quoted as saying: “As legal director, I would take the position that we should not use them as cooperating attorneys with us — that is, people who work with us on a pro bono basis in cases. I wouldn’t want to team with them, so long as they’re actively harming our community by defending DOMA.”
Established in 1885, King & Spalding has over 800 lawyers practicing around the globe. Clients include half of the Fortune 100, as well as hundreds of clients in mid-sized companies in emerging industries and new ventures.
In 1996, Congress adopted the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman for purposes of all federal laws, and provides that states need not recognize a marriage from another state if it is between persons of the same sex.

'The gay males get upset': New York maternity store offers new mothers 10 per cent discount... but only if they're lesbians

New mothers in Brooklyn's desirable Park Slope neighbourhood will be delighted to hear they can get 10 per cent off at their local maternity store.
But there's one condition - they have to be lesbians.
The owner of Boing Boing breastfeeding and baby store is offering same-sex female couples the exclusive 'hardship' discount because she says they earn less than men.

Controversial discount: Store owner Karen Paperno says she doesn't care if the offer is politically incorrect - but some gay men have complained
Controversial discount: Store owner Karen Paperno says she doesn't care if the offer is politically incorrect - but some gay men have complained
Karen Paperno started the promotion three months ago, and said she doesn't care if people think it's politically incorrect.
She said most shoppers are 'tickled' by the offer, displayed on a gold plaque behind the till at the Brooklyn shop, but some gay men have taken offence.
Mrs Paperno - who is straight -  told the New York Daily News: 'My heart goes out to lesbian moms.
'Women still only make 77 cents on the dollar, compared to men. Financially, women have a much harder time of it.'
She opened the shop in Brooklyn's exclusive Park Slope neighbourhood 15 years ago, and said she started the discount in part as a tribute to the area's sapphic roots.
'Hardship' offer: Lesbian mothers can get 10 per cent off all stock at Boing Boing - because its owner says they earn less than men
'Hardship' offer: Lesbian mothers can get 10 per cent off all stock at Boing Boing - because its owner says they earn less than men
She told the Brokelyn blog: 'My first day here I saw a big pin on the sidewalk for the Lesbian Herstory Archives and I thought, "what a cool neighbourhood".'
Lesbian couples can enjoy the discount across the store's range of breastfeeding accessories and baby clothes.
The offer gets about one taker a day, and customers don't have to prove their sexuality - although Mrs Paperno said  little 'experimenting in college' doesn't count.
As far as she knows, no straight couples have tried to get in on the reduction yet. She said: 'This neighbourhood is way too honest.'
Cheaper for some: Lesbian mothers can get 10 per cent off the breastfeeding equipment and baby clothes on sale at Boing Boing
Cheaper for some: Lesbian mothers can get 10 per cent off the breastfeeding equipment and baby clothes on sale at Boing Boing
The overwhelming reaction has been positive, but some customers have looked at the placard 'questioningly', she said.
She told Brokelyn: 'The lesbians love it and the gay males get upset. But their disposable income is so much higher than women’s. Men just make more than women.'
As far as she is concerned, she isn't breaking any anti-discrimination laws, and says the offer is no different from the hardship discounts she has offered needy couples in the past.
She told the New York Daily News: 'It's not politically correct, but neither am I. Never have been, never will be.
'This is my store, and I can choose to do this discount for the people who need it most.'

Map: Transgender Employment Rights Make Headway

By Gavin Aronsen -

This week, Hawaii lawmakers voted to protect transgendered people from public and private workplace discrimination, making the state the 13th (in addition to Washington, DC) to do so. Nevada's state Senate is considering similar legislation, and state committees in Connecticut and New York recently have as well. Another bill made some headway in Maryland before its Senate axed it.
The activity highlights an often neglected part of the LGBT rights struggle. On Monday, I blogged about a study with the obvious conclusion that "LGB" (lesbian, gay, and bisexual) teens were more likely to attempt suicide when they lacked support networks. That prompted a reader to ask, "…why leave out the T? Were trans kids not part of the survey? Generally, it's LGBT, not LGB."
Trans people weren’t part of the survey, and there aren’t a whole lot of statistics about discrimination against them. But a landmark survey of 6,450 trans and gender non-conforming people released in February by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force revealed some disturbing numbers:
  • Ninety percent of responders reported facing discrimination at work.
  • Unemployment rates were double the national average.
  • More than a quarter said they had been fired due to their gender identity.
  • Those who had lost their jobs were four times as likely to be homeless and 70 percent more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.
And, perhaps most remarkably (and most related to Monday's post), 41 percent of responders admitted to having attempted suicide.
In addition to DC and the 13 states that provide full employment non-discrimination protection for trans people, nine states have executive orders that mandate protection for state jobs. (It would be 10, but Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, let an executive order covering trans people expire in January.) On the federal level, the efforts of Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) to establish workplace protection rights have stalled since 2007, although President Obama has voiced his support.
Here's a look at where things stand now:

Baltimore County McDonald's beating video goes viral Gay advocacy group says attack on transgender woman a hate crime

A video of a vicious beating at a Baltimore County McDonald's restaurant went viral Friday, garnering hundreds of thousands of views on websites and prompting the fast-food giant to issue a statement condemning the incident.

The video shows two women — one of them a 14-year-old girl — repeatedly kicking and punching the 22-year-old victim in the head, as an employee of the Rosedale restaurant and a patron try to intervene. Others can be heard laughing, and men are seen standing idly by.

Toward the end of the video, one of the suspects lands a punishing blow to the victim's head, and she appears to have a seizure. A man's voice tells the women to run because police are coming.

The three-minute clip was apparently first posted on YouTube, then taken down by administrators who said it violated the site's policies. But it popped back up on other sites and was ultimately linked from the popular Drudge Report, which gave it top billing for much of the day.

By early evening, the video had received more than 500,000 views on one site alone.

County police confirmed that the attack occurred April 18 in the 6300 block of Kenwood Ave. Police said the 14-year-old girl has been charged as a juvenile, while charges were pending against an 18-year-old woman.

Equality Maryland said the victim is a transgender woman and called on state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler to step in and investigate the case as a hate crime. Police and prosecutors said they did not know whether the victim is a transgender woman.

"It does appear that the victim was a transgender woman, and she was brutalized while people stood by and watched," said Lisa Polyak, vice president of the board of directors for Equality Maryland, an advocacy organization that fought unsuccessfully in the past legislative session for greater protections for transgender individuals. "There's no excuse for that violence under any circumstances, but we would encourage police to investigate as a hate crime."

The police report does not provide a motive, but quotes one of the suspects saying that the fight was "over using a bathroom."

As the video spread online, McDonald's acknowledged that the attack had occurred in a Baltimore-area restaurant and said it was working with local police.

"We are shocked by the video from a Baltimore franchised restaurant showing an assault. This incident is unacceptable, disturbing and troubling," the company said in a statement posted on its website. "Nothing is more important than the safety of our customers and employees in our restaurants. We are working with the franchisee and the local authorities to investigate this matter."

The video received widespread attention part because of the racial dynamics of the attack – the attackers were black, and the victim is white. State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger, who said he was unaware of the gender-related issues, said the racial dynamics of the incident could result in hate-crime charges.

"We just received this case, and the Police Department is continuing their investigation," Shellenberger said. "If there is evidence that the crime was racially motivated, we will take a look at those charges and see if we meet those elements. We have the ability, if the facts are there, to upgrade the charges at a later date."

The victim suffered cuts to her mouth and face, and a police report said she had been taken to Franklin Square Hospital Center in fair condition. Police said Friday they had no update on her status.

The video begins with two women near a bathroom door kicking and hitting a woman who is lying on the ground.

An employee repeatedly tries to separate them, but the attackers continue to stomp and kick the victim's head. People yell, "Stop! Stop!" to no avail, though others can be heard laughing. An older woman at one point also attempts to pull the attackers away and is shoved.

About halfway through the three-minute clip, the attackers rip a wig off the victim and drag her by her hair to the front door. That is where the victim is sitting before another blow to the head causes an apparent seizure.

Throughout the attack, a man is filming and does not intervene. But when the victim appears to have a seizure, he yells, "She having a seizure, yo. … Police on their way. Y'all better get out of here."

Through a McDonald's spokesman, the owner of the Rosedale restaurant released a statement. The chain said the owner and employees would not be made available for comment, including an update on possible discipline of the employees.

"I'm as shocked and disturbed by this incident as anyone would be. The behavior displayed in the video is unfathomable and reprehensible," said the franchise owner, Mitchell McPherson. "The safety of our customers is a top priority. We know the police were called immediately, and we are thoroughly investigating this matter."

Arrest made in Miller-Jenkins custody battle

By Lisa Keen -

Undated photo of Isabella Miller-Jenkins
A man accused of helping a former lesbian sneak a child out of the country, violating a court order that the mother turn the child over to her former same-sex partner, was arrested April 18 and will be arraigned in federal court in Vermont on Monday, April 25.
According to court documents, the FBI arrested Timothy David Miller in Alexandria, Virginia, on charges that he aided in the international parental kidnapping of Isabella Miller-Jenkins by one of her two mothers, Lisa Miller.
The FBI statement says Lisa Miller took her child to Mexico in September 2009 “with the intent to obstruct the lawful exercise of parental rights by Janet Jenkins,” her former civil union partner. The statement says Timothy Miller provided assistance with Lisa Miller’s travel from the U.S. to Toronto and then to Mexico City, and provided shelter for her. The Millers then continued on to Managua, Nicaragua, later that month.
A warrant for Lisa Miller’s arrest was issued in April 2010.
Sarah Star, a Vermont attorney representing Jenkins, said Friday that, despite Timothy Miller’s arrest, “We still don’t know where they are now.”
Jenkins issued a statement saying she hopes “Isabella is safe and well” and that she is looking forward to “having my daughter home safe with me very soon.”
But Star said she was not sure what measures might be available to law enforcement officials to attempt to locate and extradite Lisa Miller back to the U.S.
The FBI indicated it has not established whether Lisa Miller is related to Timothy Miller. Timothy Miller reportedly lived in Crossville, Tennessee, and has a wife and four children. But evidence suggests he and the family were living in Nicaragua in November 2008. The Rutland Herald, a Vermont daily newspaper, said Timothy Miller worked as missionary in Nicaragua.
According to one FBI affidavit, the “Lynchburg Christian Academy Payroll Account” provided “multiple payroll checks to Lisa Miller. The Academy is an affiliate of the later Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church.
The FBI documents indicate agents believe Lisa Miller was going by the name Sarah, and that her daughter was being referred to as Lydia.
A Vermont judge transferred full custody of the daughter to Jenkins in November 2009, after Lisa Miller failed to comply with a court order that she allow Jenkins visitation with the child.
The Miller-Jenkins case took on national prominence after Lisa Miller moved from Vermont to Virginia in an effort to use Virginia’s newly enacted law banning recognition of same-sex relationships as leverage in her battle to prevent Jenkins from having visitation. But Virginia courts, including the state supreme court, ruled that the federal kidnapping law trumps Virginia’s “Marriage Affirmation Act” and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
Isabella Miller turned 9 this month.

Renewed fight for gay marriage in NY hits suburbs

ALBANY, N.Y. – Lady Gaga on stage on Long Island this weekend, actors Kevin Bacon, Julianne Moore and Kyra Sedgwick on video, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Albany are headliners in New York's growing push to legalize gay marriage, a fight that may already be won thanks to shifting voter sentiment and a concerted, disciplined campaign.
New Yorkers opposed to gay marriage are being swamped by younger people who support it, while polls seem to show a new tact by advocates is working in the suburbs and upstate, the more conservative region where the issue will be won or lost.
Five states, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa and Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia have approved gay marriage laws. New York has always been a goal of advocates because of its size, high-profile, and unparalleled media presence.
"A win in New York will provide significant momentum for the movement nationally and, quite frankly, internationally," said Brian Ellner of the Human Rights Campaign, working for same-sex marriage. "New York is very significant."
The organized effort under Cuomo is a turnaround from the surprising 2009 defeat in the state Senate, which fell eight votes short of passage in the 62-seat chamber after strong approval in the Assembly. Back then, advocacy groups operated more independently, sometimes alienating as many lawmakers and their constituents as they won over.
But those votes were just a prologue to today, said Bruce Gyory, a political science professor at the University at Albany who analyzes voter trends.
Despite failing in 2009, the debate demonstrated some of the Legislature's greatest displays of eloquence — personal stories of sons and daughters denied the joys and rights of marriage — and did what is rare in Albany: It changed votes.
"In my view, that wasn't an isolated phenomenon," Gyory said. "That debate has been replicated hundreds and thousands of times over the Internet, emails and coffee klatches and over glasses of wine in New York's suburbs that has rapidly changed — at an accelerated pace — public opinion."
Advocates for gay marriage learned the power of personal persuasion over in-your-face parades long ago. Fred and Heidi Perkins held a letter-writing open house at their Plainview home in Nassau County, a key area for the issue and where their gay son wants to be married. They said 70 neighbors showed up.
"My son getting married isn't really affecting anyone else's marriage," said Heidi Perkins, 50, a market researcher. "It's sad."
"We want to dance at our son's wedding," said Iris Blumenthal, 68, of Syosset, Nassau County, and another longtime advocate. "I would love if these senators where in my shoes. What if their child came out as gay and said they wanted to get married?"
A year ago, Gyory's analysis showed support for gay marriage was rising 1 to 2 percent a year nationally, as opposition declined by the same amount. But, he said, national polls now show support climbing at 2 to 4 percent a year, led by coastal states including New York.
Even white Catholics — another major element of New York's suburban and upstate vote — reported rising acceptance in Pew and Gallup polls.
In New York, the Siena College poll this month found a new high for support — 58 percent. The poll showed reliable voters 55 years old and older were divided on the issue, not strongly opposed; and that the influential independent vote favored same-sex marriage. On April 14, a Quinnipiac University poll found opposition continued to fall toward 30 percent.
"I think at the point you cross 60 percent and approach 2:1 levels of support, the opposition loses its critical mass," said Gyory, a former aide to three New York governors.
And politicians poll such issues extensively within election districts, something public polls haven't yet done.
"You clearly don't want to be behind it," Gyory said. "This is a runaway freight train in the suburbs."
Upstate and suburban Republicans in the Senate also might prefer to dispatch the difficult issue this year, rather than in 2012 when they will be up for re-election, especially with a popular governor taking a lead role.
"This is an important issue for the administration, and the governor is committed to working with New Yorkers to get the marriage equality legislation passed," said Cuomo spokesman Richard Bamberger.
That drew some rare public criticism of the powerful Democrat. Democratic Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., a Bronx minister, said the new effort made its first mistake.
"I am deeply offended that during this Holy Week, which is a most sacred time to millions of New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo is working hard to mobilize elected officials to legalize homosexual marriage," Diaz said of the announcement made in The New York Times between Passover and Easter to promote "a radical agenda."
Republican Sen. Thomas Libous, the deputy majority leader, has represented his district of Broome, Chenango and Tioga counties for 23 years. It's whiter, older, slightly less wealthy and more church-going than statewide averages, making it prime turf. He opposes gay marriage.
"I know there are some polls that show things are changing," Libous said, emphasizing that he's not speaking for the conference. "I know my constituency, particularly my base, is very much against it. At the end of the day, if a measure like this comes to the floor, it really is up to each individual member."
But for state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long, whose endorsement is important to Republicans, same-sex marriage is "a line in the sand." Long notes one finding lost in much of the public debate: Just 6 percent of New Yorkers in this month's Quinnipiac poll said same-sex marriage should be the top issue in Albany.
"This is nothing but a political issue," Long said. He said gays are part of a "very well-heeled community" that can achieve its rights under existing laws through the courts and contracts.
"No one in the Conservative Party wants to take away any rights away from anybody," Long said. "But nobody wants to see the institution of marriage destroyed to give more rights to some people."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cenk Uygur - John Boehner Appoints High-Priced Lawyer To Defend DOMA

DOMA defense lawyer Paul Clement and King & Spalding to be paid $520 an hour. Cenk Uygur talks with Richard Socarides (Equality Matters).

In the Life - Growing Up Gay in America's Hearland: Revisiting Emily

Why be out?

--by Robyn

During the troubles of last weekend, a few people asked why I identified as a transwoman (or trans woman or transsexual woman) and not simply a woman. Well, the truth is that I do identify as a woman. Trans is simply a modifier, transsexual is an adjective. The noun is "woman".

Then I guess the question becomes, "Why do I add the modifier?" The question strikes me in a couple of ways. I wonder if the person is implying that everyone would be so much more comfortable if all the transpeople would just disappear into the closet after transitioning.

The truth is that many do...maybe even most.

But the serious question is,

How are we ever going to gain equal rights if none of us are out?

ABC's "What Would You Do" - Gay Bullying

This is a segment from an episode of ABC's "What Would You Do". It aired on October 29th, 2010 and focuses on gay bullying. Upon watching, you'll see that I am in fact one of the actors involved. I am portraying one of the 'bullies'. This video is in no way owned by me. The only work I contributed to it was that of being an actor. It is owned by ABC. The clip of the episode itself was posted by YouTube user 'Sharing = Caring'. I hope you enjoy it! Also, remember to watch "What Would You Do", Friday nights at 9pm, only on ABC.

Tennessee 'Don't Say Gay' Bill Advances In State Senate

Sponsored by state Sen. Stacey Campfield (R), who unsuccessfully pushed the same measure for six years while serving in the House, the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill would make it illegal for educators to discuss any sexual behavior apart from heterosexuality with students in kindergarten up through the eighth grade.

A change of heart for former coach leads to advocacy for the LGBT community

Denny Smith
By Tom Cherveny -

MONTEVIDEO — Denny Smith was a table-pounding teacher and coach in the mode of Vince Lombardi while with the Montevideo Schools from 1973 to 1978.
“Those who know me from my coaching days say I wasn’t always pleasant to be around,’’ said Smith, laughing.
He still likes to emphasize a point with a fist on the table, but Smith was back in Montevideo this week with a spirited presentation on a topic he would never have raised back in the 1970s. He advocates marriage equality for same-sex couples.
“It’s a civil rights issue,’’ said Smith in a presentation Monday to a small gathering.
Smith is the founder, director and sole employee of Winning Marriage Equality, based in St. Cloud. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Smith said he had his own change of heart over LGBT issues and believes the country is moving in that direction too.
His change of heart came at home, when the oldest of his three sons was home from college and told him and his wife that he was gay and in a relationship. The Thanksgiving-time announcement in the mid-1990s came with both tears and joy. Smith said he and his wife welcomed their son’s partner into their lives as family.
“We were OK until the legal shoe fell,’’ said Smith.
Their son’s partner was a student from the Philippines, and had to leave the country after graduation since he was not a U.S. citizen. Were the two able to marry, his son’s partner would have become a U.S. citizen and the two would be living happily together today, Smith said.
Instead, they maintain a long-distance relationship. Smith said he and his wife are essentially denied the opportunity to have the entire family together.
He describes his son’s ordeal in civil rights terms. He pointed out that many states banned interracial marriages in the United States until a black and white couple brought their plight to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967. Had they not prevailed, the Virginia couple faced a year’s sentence in prison, he noted.
Women didn’t win the right to vote until 1920, and, of course, the black civil rights struggle has spanned many decades. James Meredith was the first black man to enroll at the University of Mississippi, but it required an armed escort of National Guardsmen to make it possible in 1967.
Gay couples face many of the same challenges today, according to Smith. He pointed to political rallies against same-sex marriages and the “defense of marriage act’’ laws that define marriage as between a man and woman.
“The right of the minority should never be put to a vote of the majority,’’ he said.
Despite these challenges, Smith said he is optimistic. More and more Americans are supporting equality for same-sex couples. “I’m convinced that support for same-sex marriages is growing by leaps and bounds,’’ he said.
It’s especially true amongst younger people, he said. “Young people today aren’t really as hung up on this as us older folks.’’
Smith is retired from a career that saw him as a teacher, and professional speaker, trainer and seminar leader. He returned to the classroom at age 55 and served as a math teacher and basketball coach at Tech High School in St. Cloud for 11 years before retiring in 2010.

He welcomes the opportunity to present seminars on LGBT equality, and hosts a website:

Starting HIV Drugs Earlier May Delay AIDS But Not Death

Findings suggest that debate on when to begin treatment is still ongoing

However, starting treatment earlier, compared to waiting, didn't affect dying from AIDS.
"There wasn't a clear benefit in terms of preventing death" by prescribing the drugs before some guidelines suggest, said Dr. Keith Henry, director of HIV clinical research at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and co-author of a commentary accompanying the study, published in the April 19 edition of Annals of Internal Medicine.
The issue of when to begin drug treatment is a hot topic in the field of AIDS/HIV medicine. If physicians wait to begin treatment, patients can delay the expense -- not to mention the side effects -- of pricey anti-HIV drugs. But such delays may also give the virus a chance to become more powerful and better able to fend off medications.
If they're not treated with drugs, HIV-infected people almost always go on to develop AIDS.
So when should doctors turn to the drugs? In the U.S., guidelines suggest that HIV-infected patients take them when the level of CD4 cells -- an important part of the immune system -- dips below 0.500 X 109 cells per liter (cells/L). In Europe, the guideline number is frequently lower -- meaning a weaker immune system -- at under 0.350 X 109 cells/L.
In the new study, researchers examined how patients did when they began drug therapy with their CD4 cells at a variety of levels.
The study authors examined the medical records of almost 21,000 HIV-infected patients who sought treatment in HIV clinics in Europe and through the Veterans Health Administration system in the United States. The researchers found that the death rate was about the same regardless of whether patients began treatment when their CD4 levels dipped under 0.500 X 109 cells/L or if they waited until their immune systems deteriorated more and reached below the level of 0.350 X 109 cells/L.
However, the risk of death did rise when patients weren't treated until their CD4 cells fell to an even lower level: 0.200 X 109 cells/L.
Patients were better able to stave off AIDS itself when they began treatment when their immune systems were stronger -- when they dipped below 0.500 X 109 cells/L.
In other words, starting treatment early -- when levels dip below 0.500 X 109 cells/L -- didn't seem to help patients live longer compared to starting it a bit later. But it did appear to keep AIDS from developing as quickly.
What to do?
"To fully benefit from early initiation, patients must present for medical care while their CD4 cell counts are still above 500 cells," said study lead author Lauren Cain, a research fellow at Harvard School of Public Health.
There are other issues to consider, added Henry, the commentary co-author. When it comes to available money for HIV/AIDS treatment, "the U.S. is actually a resource-poor country," Henry said, which makes it difficult to say that patients should always get the HIV drugs early. "You have to make some decisions about who you treat. In a perfect world maybe everybody should be treated. But guess what? It's not a perfect world," he added.
And in far too many cases, he said, "the decision is already made" -- patients don't go to get treated until it's too late to begin early therapy, anyway. That's because the levels of immune cells in their bodies have already dwindled too far.

10 US Cities With the Most Same-Sex Couples

By Danielle Kurtzleben -

The 2010 census marked the first time that same-sex married couples will be counted as such in the decennial population count. During the 2000 census, even when no state recognized same-sex marriages, many gay couples listed themselves as spouses; now that five states, plus the District of Columbia, issue licenses to same-sex couples, the bureau will be able to count them more accurately, and that data will be released for the first time ever this November. Detailed census data from recent years shows more specifically where high concentrations of same-sex couples are living. The data suggests that a large proportion of same-sex couples in a city, state, or region is a factor that sets the stage for legislation granting marriage rights to non-heterosexual couples.
Click here to find out more!
[See a slide show of the 10 cities with the most same-sex couples.]
All of the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest proportions of same-sex unmarried partnerships, according to data from the Census Bureau's 2005-2009 American Community Survey, are in states that currently grant either same-sex marriage or domestic partnerships. But only two of those states--Massachusetts and Maine--issued any type of legal same-sex partnerships for that entire period. Four of the 10 metropolitan areas with the greatest proportion of unmarried same-sex partners by household were in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2004. This suggests that many Massachusetts cities may have far more gay couples who simply cannot be counted with this data. Maine, home to Portland which is at No. 4 on the list, also issued domestic partnerships starting in 2004. But the other states represented among the top 10--Vermont, California, Oregon, and New Hampshire--began issuing same-sex marriage licenses or partnerships much later, in some cases after the data-gathering period.
According to Michael Cole-Schwartz, press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy organization, this is because government is a "lagging indicator" of public sentiment. "It is more likely, if you have an organized and active LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] community, that you're going to see relationship recognition happen. This climate would have to come together before the political process."
Schwartz says that large gay communities often form in cities not because of the presence of gay-friendly legislation but because of the impression that they will be accepted. "One of the largest factors is really about perception, and how a place is perceived to be welcoming or not." Factors that can play into perception can be a city's political climate and the practices of its major employers, which may provide benefits to domestic partners.
According to Census Bureau data gathered from 2005 through 2009, below are the 10 cities with the highest proportion of unmarried partners of the same sex, as measured by household.
Metropolitan Area Percentage of Households Occupied by Unmarried Partners of Same Sex
1. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif. 1.36%
2. Burlington-South Burlington, Vt. 1.12
3. Barnstable Town, Mass. 1.10
4. Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, Maine 1.09
5. Santa Rosa-Petaluma, Calif. 1.03
6. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, Ore.-Wash. 1.00
7. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, Calif. 0.95
8. Springfield, Mass. 0.92
9. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. 0.91
10. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-N.H. 0.91

Double suicide in western Minnesota puts bullying back in spotlight

By Andy Birkey -

Two 14-year old girls committed suicide last week in Marshall, Minn., and the evidence suggests they’d been bullied. Relatives of  Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz told Meredith Viera of the TODAY Show that the girls may have been more than just friends. Fentress had hyphenated her last name on Facebook to include Moravetz’s last name, and Fentress had been expelled from school recently for defending Paige in a fight. The pair’s deaths add to a growing list of suicides in Minnesota and around the country where bullying is suspected to have played a factor.
In Thursday’s TODAY Show interview, both girls’ families said they suspected that bullying may have been a factor, including bullying about weight issues. The families also said they suspected that Paige and Haylee may have had a romantic relationship and that ostracization may have played a role in their suicide pact.

Reports of bullying-related suicides have been increasing in Minnesota and nationally. In the Anoka-Hennepin School District, north of Minneapolis, a fierce debate continues to rage between the parents of LGBT students and religious right-affiliated parents over how to handle LGBT issues in the district following a series of suicides where anti-LGBT bullying was suspected. Tammy Aaberg, the mother of Justin Aaberg, who took his own life last summer in Anoka, has been speaking out against anti-LGBT bullying and pushing for safe school programs locally and nationally.
And, an gay Alexandria teen took his own life earlier this year. Friends in that school district have cited bullying as a possible factor.
A study released last week found that teen suicides are more likely in conservative areas and that gay and lesbian teens are more likely to have attempted suicide. The research of Dr. Mark Hatzenbuehler, Ph.D., Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York, evaluated different communities on “the proportion of same-sex couples, the proportion of registered Democrats, the presence of gay-straight alliances in schools, and nondiscrimination and anti-bullying policies in schools school policies that specifically protected lesbian, gay, and bisexual students.”
The results showed that gay students in more tolerant areas were less likely to attempt suicide. The study controlled for risk factors that might contribute to suicide attempts, including symptoms of depression, excessive use of alcohol, physical abuse by adults and peer victimization or bullying.
“This study suggests that we can reduce suicide attempts among LBG youth by improving the social environment and really challenges the myth that there is something inherent in being gay that puts gay youth at risk of attempting suicide. Instead, what we’ve shown is that the social environment strongly influences the prevalence of suicide attempts,” Hatzenbuehler told Medscape Medical News.
There’s no indication that Marshall’s schools are unsafe for LGBT students or that the community is not tolerant of LGBT people. The study only focused on the state or Oregon.
Cornell University psychologist Dr Ritch Savin-Williams told the Daily Mail that the message shouldn’t be that gay and lesbian youth are more likely to be suicidal but that society should look at more protections for young people.
He said “we have given them the message that they are suicidal” and instead society should “look (at) what kind of abilities you’re squashing by not having protection of gay kids.”

Gay rights groups want shootings prosecuted as hate crime

Jose Alfonso Aviles taken to Travis County Jail.
Jose Alfonso Aviles taken
to Travis County Jail.
Norma Hurtado was called bold and funny.
Norma Hurtado was called
bold and funny.
Maria Hurtado was described as daughter's champion.
Maria Hurtado was described
as daughter's champion.

By Isadora Vail and Claudia Grisales -

The shooting deaths of a lesbian and her mother this week should be prosecuted as a hate crime, several gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual groups in Austin said Thursday.
Prosecutors have said they must wait for the investigation to be complete before determining whether they can classify it as a hate crime.
Norma Hurtado, 24, and her mother, Maria Hurtado, 57, were shot Monday evening after Jose Alfonso Aviles knocked on their door in Southeast Austin, police have said. The younger Hurtado and Aviles' 18-year-old daughter were in a months-long relationship that Aviles did not accept, police have said. Friends have said that Aviles did not approve of his daughter's lesbian relationship.
Aviles, 45, was arrested Tuesday near San Antonio and is charged with capital murder. He was taken Thursday from the Bexar County Jail to the Travis County Jail, and immigration authorities placed a hold on him, according to court records. He is being held without bail and could face up to life in prison or the death penalty if convicted.
Police said they have identified a second person who was with Aviles during the shootings Monday and who has not been charged. They are still investigating that person's involvement, officials said.
Meghan Stabler, a board member of the Human Rights Campaign in Austin, said Aviles should be prosecuted under hate crime laws. Gay rights groups Atticus Circle, Out Youth and Equality Texas agreed.
"We understand that the penalties for capital murder and a hate crime are the same, but this wasn't just murder; it was a biased and motivated hate crime," Stabler said.
News of the Hurtado shootings have been picked up by media and gay rights blogs across the world, including Europe and Australia. Among those decrying the targeting of a gay woman was celebrity blogger Perez Hilton.
Out Youth, a Central Texas group that supports gay youth issues, held a vigil Thursday night for the two women outside its offices in Central Austin.
More than 100 friends, family and supporters, including City Council Member Randi Shade, lit candles and shared memories about Norma Hurtado.
"It's amazing that this many people are here. We may not have known them, but we remember them, and tonight shows that total strangers can fight for the same cause," said one of the attendees, John Frederick.
"This isn't an isolated incident in Austin because people are literally having to pay a price for simply trying to be themselves," said Candice Towe, executive director at Out Youth.
Friends said the younger Hurtado met Aviles' daughter at a Wendy's in South Austin where they both worked. Co-workers were distraught, said Dave Near, president of Pisces Foods LP, which operates Wendy's in Texas.
"There seems to be a haze over everybody right now," Near said. "They are in some disbelief, especially someone so important and well-liked in our group."
Friends described Hurtado as bold and funny and a natural soccer player and a leader. Her mother, Maria Hurtado, was probably one of her biggest champions, they said.
Virginia Coy, an Austin event-planner and a friend of Norma Hurtado, said she will hold a fundraiser this month for the family at her cousin's bar in East Austin.
"I have never experienced anyone showing hate toward me," said Coy, 55. But this "put a scare in me. I know that it's out there. But I never thought I would know someone who was
so near to me and for something like this to happen."
Camille DePrang said she met Hurtado at Johnston High School in 2003, when Hurtado was a student and DePrang was an "in-the-closet teacher." She described Hurtado, even in her teens, as strong and confident.
DePrang said she didn't feel comfortable with her students knowing she was gay, but said Hurtado had no trouble reading her.
"The way she looked at me was like she was telling me she knew already, and I feel gratitude now for that," DePrang said. "I was looking forward to some random time that I would run into Norma and jokingly say, 'How could you mess with me like that?' and then on the other hand I'd thank her because I will never be in the closet again."

Interview: Peter Tatchell on a lifetime of campaigning

By Laurence Watts -

Peter Tachell is a name synonymous with the struggle for gay rights. He’s got 40 years of campaigning behind him and even his critics admire his tireless zeal for equality.
I caught up with him to discuss some of the highs and lows of a life that has been lived fighting for the rights many gay British men and women now take for granted.
Born in Australia, he came to London as a young man in 1971 to avoid the draft for Vietnam.
The plan was to return to Australia two or three years later but by then he had a nice flat, a good job and had fallen in love. He had also become heavily involved in the Gay Liberation Front.
In 1972 he was one of 40 people that organised Britain’s first Gay Pride March. Ten years later he stood in the now-infamous Bermondsey by-election, an experience which prompted him to devote his energies to campaigning for LGBT rights, full-time and with no pay.
He has been doing as much ever since. I ask him how he makes it work financially.
He says: “Well, in addition to the 70 hours a week I do on human rights campaigning I put in 20-25 hours a week on journalism and speaking engagements. I live on about £8,000 a year. It’s not easy, but I get my rewards in other ways. No amount of money could replace the emotional and psychological rewards I get from the campaigns I do.”
You don’t need to do the sums to work out that had he devoted nearly thirty years working 90-hour weeks to his own business, he’d probably be a millionaire by now.
“That has crossed my mind, but it holds no interest. Though there are moments when I hunger for a bit more money and a comfortable life.”
Honours hold little interest for him either. I tell him I’m perplexed I’m not interviewing Sir Peter Tatchell.
“I’ve turned those things down,” he tells me. “Over the years I’ve been contacted by a number of people who’ve said they’re in a position to make recommendation for honours: would I be mindful to accept (in turn) an OBE, a Knighthood and a Peerage. I’ve said no to all of them. I’ve got big problems with the honours system. It’s highly corrupt.”
He’s a seasoned campaigner and his methods are controversial, not least among those who favour behind-the-scenes diplomacy. I ask him about an age-old debate: does he believe the insider or outsider strategy works best?
“Both,” he answers. “On many occasions I’ve advised governments, parliamentary committees, police chiefs and senior church people, but often that’s only been as a result of confrontational protests, which have forced them to address an issue.”
“I dislike a lot of the way in which many campaigners are anti this and anti that. To win and have credibility you’ve got to have solutions. In all the campaigns I’ve done with the GLF through to Outrage it’s always been premised on ‘these are the solutions’.”
Readers may think of Stonewall here; Tatchell strongly criticised the group last year for not supporting marriage equality.
Speaking about why he set up OutRage, he says: “It was partly in reaction to the formation of Stonewall, which was set up in a very non-democratic way: a self-selected group of people set it up with no membership so there was no way to influence Stonewall’s policies.”
“We opted for an open accessible structure where the people who came along and gave their commitment were the ones who decided everything. That meant it was easy to get involved and we could react very quickly. You’d often find Stonewall sitting in committees for days or weeks discussing their stand on an issue while we’d already done three protests.”
These highly-publicised protests included the 1999 citizen’s arrest of Robert Mugabe and 1998′s hijack of Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey’s Easter sermon.
Tatchell was fined £18.60 for the stunt for breaking the 1860 Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act: proof that magistrates are not devoid of humour.
“It’s my only conviction,” he says. Not a bad result when you consider he’s been arrested over 300 times.
“The positive outcome was that from that moment onwards, George Carey hardly ever again spoke out publicly against gay equality. He also finally met with the Lesbian and Gay and Christian Movement.”
During the next’s year’s stunt involving Mugabe, Tatchell was beaten by the Zimbabwean leader’s bodyguards – not the last time he was injured during a protest.
I put it to him that Mugabe’s bodyguards could have been carrying guns and mistaken him for an assassin.
Is he prepared to die for the causes he fights for?
“No,” he tells me. “I don’t want to be injured. I’m not out to take needless risks. But the history of every successful social struggle is that sometimes you have to put your neck out in order to secure change. By comparison to democracy activists in Zimbabwe and Iran what I do is insignificant.”

Lesbian couple sue Brighton hotel

By Jessica Geen -

A lesbian couple claim that a hotel manager in Brighton barred them from staying in a room together because they are lesbians.
Rebecca Nash, 22, and Hope Stubbings, 19, from Andover, claim that the manager of the Brunswick Square Hotel called them “rejects” when they complained.
In response, the hotel claimed the pair never had a booking and denied being anti-gay. A manager said that the building is full of gay couples during Pride weekend.
The couple, who are both office workers, say they arrived at the seafront hotel for a weekend away last October after booking a double room by telephone.
But they said that when they arrived, they were told that rooms were only available for “couples and families”.
They claim that when they said they were a couple, the manager said: “No two boys, no two girls. We don’t have any rooms.”
They claim that the manager then became aggressive and threatened to call police before shouting: “I don’t accept rejects in my hotel”.
The couple could not find anywhere else to stay for their trip and had to drive home.
They are claiming sexual orientation discrimination against the hotel and are being represented by Liberty.
In an email to, the manager of the Brunswick Square hotel, who would not give his name, said the couple had made an enquiry and had not booked a room.
He said they were asked to leave because they were “loud” and “rude” and said the hotel had never discriminated against anyone.
He added that the hotel was full of gay couples during Pride.
James Welch, Liberty’s legal director, said: “Laws prohibiting hotels and guesthouses from discriminating against gay men and lesbians have been in place for four years now, but clearly the message still isn’t getting through.
“With the Equality Act 2010 now in force, my clients intend to show that they have as much right to enjoy a quiet weekend away together as any other couple.
This is the latest in a number of cases around hotels accused of barring gay couples.
Earlier this year, Steve Preddy and Martyn Hall won £3,600 in compensation after successfully suing a Christian-run Cornwall hotel for refusing them a room.
Another couple, Michael Black and John Morgan, are suing a Berkshire B&B after the Christian owners said they could not stay.

Anti-Gay Montana Lawmaker A Lesbian?

Kristin Hanson
Kristin Hanson
By Kilian Melloy -

A proposed law in the state of Montana would have taken away the rights of municipalities to establish anti-discrimination ordinances for GLBTs if it had passed earlier this year. Now online reports allege that the bill’s sponsor, Republican State Rep. Kristin Hanson, is a closeted lesbian.

GLBT blog JoeMyGod reported in an April 19 posting that a "very trusted tipster" had alerted him to Hanson’s alleged status as a closeted lesbian.

"She lives with a woman who she introduces to others as her ’friend’ but has confirmed to a handful of people is her partner," the tipster claimed. "The partner’s ex has also been telling people what’s up."

JoeMyGod noted that Hanson was elected in the midterm elections as a Tea Party-backed GOP candidate. The bill was prompted by a single Montana city--the university town of Missoula--enacting just such protections.

"According to my source, Hansen will be outed at an upcoming meeting of University of Montana students," JoeMyGod added.

As previously reported at EDGE, Hanson’s bill would have taken GLBT non-discrimination laws out of the purview of local governments by outlawing such ordinances by cities. State Rep. Michael Morre offered a tangled rationale for the measure.

"You introduce things in one city, you can do things differently in another city, you can do things in another town differently from that. If that is what you want, if you want to go down the road that can ultimately lead to one place then sure let’s not pass this ordinance," said Morre. "But we need, this is what we do in here, we try to put things into the context of the whole."

A similar sentiment in Colorado two decades ago led to Amendment 2, the notorious anti-gay constitutional amendment that voters ratified in response to municipalities instituting protections for GLBT residents. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the amendment in 1996. However, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals twice reaffirmed a virtually identical amendment adopted by the city of Cincinnati and applied to the city’s charter in 1993. Cincinnati residents themselves struck the amendment to the city charter in 2004.

Montana’s House Judiciary Committee indicated support for the state law barring city protections for GLBTs on Feb. 21, reported ABC on Feb. 22. The same panel opposed a proposal to include GLBTs in existing anti-discrimination laws that apply to race and religion.

The article reported that Democratic members of the State House objected, partially on the grounds that Republican State Representatives were applying a double standard, demanding state’s rights and less interference from the federal government, but proving unwilling to allow municipalities to determine their own policies with regard to gays.

Truth Wins Out, an organization set up to counter organizations promoting so-called "reparative therapy," posted news of the JoeMyGod story at its web site on April 19.

"How refreshing! A self-loathing Republican lesbian," one reader at the Truth Wins Out posting commented.

"Bad enough the straight bigots, but when our own join in, it is heartbreaking indeed," a second wrote in.

"I hate to sound petty but the idea of outing Teabaggers makes me giddy," a third chimed in.

The phenomenon of closeted homosexual politicians who pursue anti-gay laws is well documented. Outrage, a 2009 film by Kirby Dick, tackled the subject, addressing the lives and voting records of a number of politicians who either had emerged from the closet or were rumored to be gay.

Just over a year ago, anti-gay California State Sen. Roy Ashburn was arrested for DUI after leaving a gay club. Another man was with him in the vehicle at the time. Ashburn subsequently came out as gay and said that his record did not necessarily reflect his own beliefs as much as those of his constituents.

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

Common Cause: Why The LGBT and Environmental Communities Must Work Together.

EarthdayBy David Mixner -

Happy Earth Day!

With the celebration of Earth Day, this is the perfect time to realize that the LGBT community and environmental activists occupy much common ground. The political forces who are attempting to denied LGBT citizens full equality are the very same people who are attempting to strip protections from our environment. The right wing wants to close the Environmental Protection Agency, remove protections from the clean water act and are fighting any effort to deal with climate change.

In addition, both communities have seen our issues readily and often without a battle sacrificed in the name of a 'greater good'. Just as we can't compromise basic freedom we can't afford to live in an overpopulated world, dirty rivers, toxic waste sites, unsafe nuclear plants and polluted air. The deniers of climate change are the very right wing extremists who advocate that LGBT citizens are dangerous and immoral. For anyone to deny that climate change is taking place is to place all citizens in jeopardy and that includes every single LGBT American.

Together we can fight our common enemies. Even more important is understanding our common cause. Now is the time for LGBT citizens to reach out to the community of environmental activists and build bridges for freedom and saving our planet. Afterall, freedom and a secure planet is everyone's issue.

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

The 2011 TIME 100

By Dianna Agron -

Meet the most influential people in the world. They are artists and activists, reformers and researchers, heads of state and captains of industry. Their ideas spark dialogue and dissent and sometimes even revolution. Welcome to this year's TIME 100

Chris Colfer -

Chris has wanted to be an actor, as he says, "since I was an embryo," which gave him the determination to say, "Yes, I can," despite the many who had said no. Chris, 20, lives by extreme truth, speaking out against the epidemic of bullying that he, too, faced in high school. The honesty that he infuses into his Glee character, Kurt, leaves you reeling. Our cast is blessed to hear things like "Your character has helped me through this, or helped me do that," but none more so than Chris. To witness the power he gives to his audience firsthand? It's wonderful.

Agron plays Quinn Fabray on Glee

Thursday, April 21, 2011

STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies - #73


It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely, when Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn and Kay Thompson hit the streets of Paris singing Gershwin in Stanley Donen's classic FUNNY FACE. Audrey plays a seemingly ugly duckling transformed into a swan when she becomes a fashion model who's taken under the wing of fashion photographer Astaire. Playing a character based on Richard Avedon, who over saw the production and filled it with his classic images, he teams up with Thompson, in her screen debut as a powerful fashion editor, based on Diana Vreeland. Shot in Technicolor, on location in New York and Paris, it's a glorious, music filled eyeful. Hepburn more than keeps up with Astaire. Thompson commits grand larceny by stealing the film from under both their noses. You'll be swept away with the singing, dancing and the magic of April in Paris when you see FUNNY FACE.

Irish actors Support Belong To's Stand Up! Campaign

The stars of hit TV series RAW & Pure Mule call on everyone to support their LGBT friends and to work together to stop homophobic bullying!

Stand Up! is a campaign by BeLonG To Youth Services to end homophobic bullying of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender young people.

Another amazing star of TV series RAW (amongst other things), shows his support for BeLonG To's Stand Up! Campaign.

Senator goes after Cuomo on gay marriage

By Cara Matthews -

Rev. Ruben Diaz, an outspoken Democratic senator from the Bronx, just issued a statement that accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo of crossing a line by advocating for gay marriage during Holy Week. Diaz, a staunch opponent of same-sex marriage, said he was responding to news reports of Cuomo’s “excessive pressure to mobilize elected officials to legalize homosexual marriage in New York State.”
A coalition of gay-rights groups announced today that it is launching an aggressive campaign to get legislation passed and will target lawmakers who are opposed to same-sex marriage. Members of New Yorkers United for Marriage have been meeting with members of Cuomo’s staff. The Democratic governor has said getting gay-marriage legislation passed this session is a priority.
A bill to legalize same-sex marriage has passed the Democrat-led Assembly twice before. The Senate voted it down in 2009 with the help of eight Democrats who voted no. None of the 30 Republicans voted for it. For the bill to be successful this year, it would need support from some of the 32 Republicans in the Senate. Democrats are in the minority with 30 members.
This is Diaz’ full statement:

“I am deeply offended that during this Holy Week, which is a most sacred time to millions of New Yorkers, Governor Andrew Cuomo is working hard to mobilize elected officials to legalize homosexual marriage in New York. “We all know that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Budget, which was done in haste to beat the clock, will cause tremendous suffering to countless New Yorkers – especially Black and Hispanic communities.  His cuts will hurt students, senior citizens, the sick, the poor and the needy.
“Now Governor Cuomo is targeting communities of faith in an effort to redefine marriage. The most basic tenets of New York’s largest faith communities include defining marriage as between one man and one woman. These religions that cherish these values include Catholic, Christian, Jewish and Muslim.
“I must ask, if Governor Cuomo is ethically allowed to use public resources during these serious financial times to raise funds (by having his staff raise money) and to use his staff (who are paid for with tax dollars) and his office (for weekly meetings) to promote a radical agenda, then shouldn’t we all be able to use our offices and staffs to raise resources for issues that matter to us?
“I implore my colleagues in New York’s government and my fellow religious leaders in New York State to oppose Governor Cuomo’s blatant and shameful attack on New York’s people of faith.  I encourage all New Yorkers of faith to raise your voices in prayer and in action to prevent Governor Cuomo from redefining marriage.”

In The Life - Hidden Histories

This month IN THE LIFE reveals hidden treasures in LGBT history which, unknown to many, have had lasting impact in shaping our lives. In the Smithsonian's historic and controversial Hide/Seek exhibit, sexual expression and desire in American Art is viewed in a new way. And, we delve into the sexually charged, fiercely liberated, and fascinating life of Samuel Steward.

Judge rules against gay couples seeking rights


A Helena judge has ruled against six gay couples seeking the same legal protections as married couples.
District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock ruled Tuesday that an amendment to the Montana Constitution that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, has already settled the question.
He says the question of granting gay couples the benefits, without allowing them to get married, is best left to the legislative process.
The gay couples weren't asking for the right to marry in the lawsuit against the state. Rather they wanted be able to make burial, health care and other decisions, while enjoying such benefits as jointly filing taxes.
The attorney general's office countered that Montana can't extend spousal benefits to gay couples because those benefits are limited to married couples by definition.

$500k to defend discrimination (oh, and it's your money)

Lambda Legal banner.

Earlier this week the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives — including Speaker of the House John Boehner — announced that it has hired a lawyer to defend the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
In between sound bites calling for budgetary restraint and a near government shut down, Congressional leaders have found a way to carve out at least $500,000 to defend a law that the Attorney General has declared unconstitutional.
No Defense No Excuse
There is no room in the budget to defend discrimination!
Lambda Legal recently filed an amended complaint with the federal district court in Northern California in Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management, our case challenging the constitutionality of DOMA.
While we don’t know yet whether Golinski will be challenged directly by the House leadership, our attorneys are taking no chances. We’ve been part of the fight against DOMA since it was first proposed in 1996 — we didn’t back down against the Attorney General (or several Presidents for that matter) and we certainly won’t back down from the House leadership or its new lawyer.
For more than 37 years Lambda Legal has been on the front lines defending the legal rights of LGBT people and those with HIV. Our landmark cases have set the legal precedent that many of our movements’ recent victories are built on — including the decision by the Attorney General to cease defending DOMA.
We receive no government funding; the support of our members has kept our work in the courts and in the court of public opinion and woven this important story into the history of this country.
Thank you in advance for your generosity at this time
With warm regards,
Kevin M. Cathcart
Executive Director
P.S. Our lawyers are currently studying the retainer contract prepared by the House leadership. What we have found so far is not only antigay and financially undisciplined, it is un-American and un-democratic. Stay tuned for further emails about what we find and how you can take action against the House leaderships’ effort to defend DOMA. Today, we urge you to make a gift to help keep the fight going!

Fifty-Four Top Interior Designers Help Fight AIDS at Design on a Dime Benefit

Design On A Dime showroom for Housing Works’ annual interior design fund-raising benefit
Design On A Dime showroom for 
Housing Works’ annual interior 
design fund-raising benefit
NEW YORK - On May 5, 2011, the largest-ever roster of designers and celebrities will come together for Housing Works’ spectacular interior design shopping benefit, Design on a Dime, at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. 
   All five of this year’s co-chairs, Iman, Nate Berkus, James Huniford, Charlotte Moss, and Lara Spencer, will attend to raise funds for Housing Works, the non-profit organization with a mission to end AIDS and homelessness.

   Housing Works is a healing community of people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Their mission is to end the dual crises of homelessness and AIDS through relentless advocacy, the provision of lifesaving services, and entrepreneurial businesses that sustain their efforts.

   Design on a Dime features 54 of the world’s top interior designers. Each designer will create a room vignette using new, donated merchandise, which is then sold for 50 to 70 percent off retail pricing. Event sponsors include HomeGoods, Valspar Paint and returning media sponsor Traditional Home. HSBC Private Bank will present an Open House preview hour on opening night from 6 PM to 7 PM (Tickets start at $500).

   "It was an easy decision to get involved with an event like Design on a Dime. The idea that decorating your house can build a home for someone else is just fantastic," said Iman, who is collaborating with Robert Verdi to create her dream boudoir featuring original artwork from David Bowie. "The idea that decorating your
house can build a home for someone else is just fantastic."

Nate Berkus
   Nate Berkus echoed Iman’s comments: "Many New Yorkers know Housing Works as a great thrift store. But, their mission is a serious one, providing care and community for those suffering with HIV/AIDS. I am honored to join them for Design on a Dime, to raise funds and awareness for the good work they do."

   Design on a Dime 2011 benefits Housing Works’ Jefferson Avenue Residence Project, a new housing development consisting of 12 permanent units of supportive housing for single, formerly homeless adults living with HIV/AIDS. 
Other 2011 notable design highlights include the design duo Tilton Fenwick partnering with event sponsor Traditional Home to create a fictional design bloggers’ home office complete with a new white iPad 2. MTV Networks’ Yetta Banks will build her ultimate fantasy walk-in closet.

For more information, visit



WHAT: Housing Works’ 7th-annual Design on a Dime Benefit.

WHO: Iman, Nate Berkus, Lara Spencer and Charlotte Moss join founding chair James Huniford, and dozens of other top designers and celebrities.

WHEN: Ticketed opening night reception and shopping, Thursday, May 5 (Starts at $150 advance/$200 at the door). Free public sale, May 6 and 7 (10 AM to 6 PM)

WHERE: Metropolitan Pavilion, 123 W. 18th St., New York City

BENEFITS: Housing Works’ Jefferson Avenue Residence Project, a new housing development in Brooklyn for homeless adults living with HIV/AIDS


Equality isn't controversial

Over the past week, GetEQUAL organizers have been busy!
We confronted Maggie Gallagher, founder of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage, to present her with the "First Annual Anita Bryant Award for Unbridled and Unparalleled Bigotry." (If you haven't seen the video, you should join the 12k+ folks who have watched it:
We also organized Tax Day actions across the country at post offices and other locations to draw attention to the 1,138 rights that LGBT Americans are denied while paying the same amount in taxes each year as heterosexual Americans.
And, complementing the momentum we're seeing on the ground for marriage equality, we also saw a CNN poll that -- yet again -- indicated marriage equality is still rising in public opinion…meaning that groups like the National Organization for Marriage and others are on their way to extinction.
However, when we looked at the CNN poll, we saw something weird -- Americans under the age of 35 weren't polled. That's right -- in a national poll of likely 2012 voters, not one person under the age of 35 -- the most progressive and LGBT-friendly generation in history -- was included in the poll results!
What does that mean? It means that the 51% of Americans who favor marriage equality are actually -- if CNN had bothered to ask enough young people for a representative sample -- more like 54% or 55%. Why didn't CNN ask people under 35 what they thought? Who knows -- but we're tired of seeing media outlets continue to peddle a narrative that says that LGBT equality is a "controversial" issue.
We're heading into an election season that will undoubtedly use LGBT Americans as a convenient "hot button issue" rather than respecting us as people who deserve more than headlines and poll numbers. It's time to start pushing back on outlets like CNN who continue to foster the notion that equality is a divisive, controversial issue.
To get ahead of this before the 2012 election begins dominating the news 24/7, we're partnering with Our Time to make sure that CNN doesn't undermine our community by making equality a more divisive issue than it actually is. Our goal is to collect 5,000 signatures demanding that CNN include the 60 million Americans under 35 in their polling. Once we've made our goal, Our Time will send 17 cell phones to CNN -- one to call the 18-year-olds they ignored, one for the 19-year-olds they ignored, etc. Snarky, right??
Help us make sure that millennials -- the most progressive generation ever -- aren't cut out of the political narrative. And help us make sure that media outlets like CNN don't get away with under-representing the vast majority of Americans who support equality. We deserve better than that!
Thank you!
Get Out! Get Active! GetEQUAL!
Robin McGehee, Director
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