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Saturday, June 18, 2011

STEVE HAYES: Tired Old Queen at the Movies - #77


Escaped convict Humphrey Bogart, with the help of beautiful Lauren Bacall scour the streets of San Francisco in search of the person who murdered his wife in Delmar Daves' Noir masterpiece DARK PASSAGE (1947). This film is unique in the history of noir, as the first forty-five minutes are shot from the first person point of view and you are Bogart, accused of murder and on the lam. Rounding out the cast, are some of the most vivid character players on the Warner Brothers lot headed by a marvelously reptilian Agnes Moorehead in one of her rare roles as a femme fatale. The atmosphere is dark and dank, the black and white cinematography is gorgeous and the convoluted plot line will have you delightfully spinning in your seat. It's classic Bogie, Bacall and Warners all the way!

CNN's Kyra Phillips Confronts David Tyree Over Comments On Same-Sex Marriage

Former NFL player David Tyree discusses his controversial comments on same-sex marriage. He says it leads to anarchy & is unnatural.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lady Gaga pushes for gay marriage in New York, asks 'little monsters' to contact undecided senators

BY Glenn Blain and Kenneth Lovett -

ALBANY - Lady Gaga has activated her "little monsters" in the gay marriage battle in New York - a move supporters of same-sex nuptials fear will only anger reticent lawmakers.
The musical superstar tweeted the fans Thursday, urging them to call state senators to demand they act on the gay marriage bill currently before the Senate.
The measure passed the Assembly Wednesday night for the fourth time since 2007.
Currently, 31 senators, including two Republicans, have come out in favor of the proposal - just one vote shy of the 32 needed for passage.
Three GOPers are said to be undecided.
"I am so proud to be a New Yorker!," Gaga wrote in one tweet. "One step closer to equality and toward the legalization of Gay Marriage in America. Full Equality. Unity."
She then tweeted ways her "little monsters can get involved to mobilize social justice. NY State needs us, and the time for change is now."
In two tweets, she urged fans to go through the Human Rights Campaign to contact fence-sitting senators, including Buffalo GOPer Mark Grisanti.
HRC's Brian Ellner insisted the megastar did not coordinate her efforts with advocates - and now some worry she's doing more harm than good.
"Of course we share the same goal, but frankly we don't want senators to be bombarded this way," one source chirped.
"All our field work has been about respectful calls from constituents in the district. We'd never go this kind of mass."
Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg rushed to the Capitol Thursday in a last-ditch effort to convince Senate Republicans, who have been agonizing over how to deal with the issue, to allow a vote on the gay marriage bill.
Bloomberg later told reporters he believes the proposal would pass by more than just the "bare majority" if it's voted upon.
Gov. Cuomo's gay marriage bill has been bogged down by GOP political and religious infighting.
Some Republican senators oppose bringing the measure to the floor. Others, despite opposing gay marriage, want a vote to get the issue off the table before next year's elections.
Many believe allowing a vote will result in Conservative Party backlash that could make it tougher for the GOP to keep its thin majority.
And there are Republicans who don't even want to consider the issue until they pass some of their legislative priorities, such as a property tax cap.

Sandy & Louise: "We'll dine withJulia"

NSW couple Sandy Miller and Louise Bucke are all set for a great old chat with Prime Minister Julia Gillard over dinner at The Lodge soon.
“We don’t want her to feel threatened or bombarded, we just want her to hear our story,” Sandy tells Same Same.
As part of the Federal Press Gallery’s Mid-Winter Ball Charity Auction, high-profile lobby group Get Up! bid a mighty $31,100 from its marriage equality campaign fund to win the online auction for dinner with Julia.
All eyes are now on Sandy and Louise (pictured), who share their lives together with two children from Sandy’s previous marriage, Matthew (11) and Dylan (9), as they’ll soon join two other same-sex couples for a long-awaiting banter with our stubborn PM on the tricky topic of gay marriage.
“Our church just found out that we’re in the paper today,” a frazzled Sandy tells Same Same this morning. “We were a little bit concerned, but they have just sent their love and support. We’re very lucky – they’re wonderful.
“It’s an Anglican Church. We’ve had lots of debates with the Pastor, because the church doesn’t believe in gay marriages. But they have welcomed us, and been fantastic to our kids and supportive of us. The debates have been lovely. It’s an incredible community.”
Same Same: The news of your winning dinner bid has spread like wildfire. How are you feeling, at the centre of it all?
Sandy: Overwhelmed. Yesterday was just phone call after phone call – it was a tornado of interviews. Feeling really frazzled and not prepared, because I’ve never been in the media before. This morning I’m feeling a lot calmer and more relaxed.
How has the feedback been so far? All good, or have you experienced some negative comments?
The media has been extremely kind to us. The interviewers have been interested in the story and why it’s important to us. And they’ve been really gentle.
I’ve had a look online and heard some people’s comments – some have said ‘oh those poor children’ and ‘what are you putting them through?’ Some say marriage is just between a man and a woman – ‘what are you thinking?’ ‘Get your own word for it’.
But there’ve been a lot of phonecalls which have said ‘why not?’ ‘Why shouldn’t they get married? They love each other. Why would it bother you?’
So, why does being able to get married mean so much to you?
The two of us have known each other for a long time, but we’ve only been together for about four years and engaged for two. Now, I haven’t told many other people this, but Lou had cancer seven years ago. When she was 29 she was given six months to live.
I was her best friend. We pulled together and became very close. It just happened that my marriage was falling apart at that time and one thing led to another. Because of what was happening, we’re so sure of ourselves and what we wanted.
We’re ready to take the next step. I’ve always believed in marriage, and I’ve always believed that if you love someone and you want to spend the rest of your life with them, you make that commitment to each other, and so does she.
When I proposed to her two years ago, we wondered how long we were going to be engaged for! Dylan, our youngest, asks ‘when are you going to get married, mummies? When is Louise going to be officially our mum?’ I tell him that the government won’t let us get married. It’s been hard for them to digest.
How much to the kids understand about the situation?
We’ve been honest with them and told them that they might receive comments, people telling them ‘it’s a sin.’ ‘People are going to tell you marriage is between a man and a woman.’ ‘People are going to tell you that we’re not a family – and we don’t want you to get angry about it.’ You can’t force somebody to think the way you do.
People sometimes don’t understand the love and support we have around us, what wonderful children we have, and what a wonderful family we have. But I tell the kids ‘you need to know that, no matter what anyone says.’
They have been so brave. They’ve handled the teasing and stood up for themselves, and us.
When we were waiting on the results of the bid, we were already told that if we won, we would be one of the chosen couples. I had to broach it with my children, because my son is going to a Catholic high school next year. So I said to them – ‘this is what’s happened, I’d like to know what you’d like mummy to do about it, because this is going to affect your lives.’ My oldest [Matthew, 11] piped up straight away and said ‘mummy, we are so proud of you. We know how much you love us, and we love you, and we don’t care who knows it.’ And he said ‘if people tease and bully us, and make rude and ignorant comments, well they’re not our friends, are they?’
I’ve never been prouder. We cried. We just expected him to be a normal 11-year-old, who would turn around and say ‘what are my friends going to think?’ and be worried about himself, as he should be. And he wasn’t at all.
As for my youngest, the things he comes out with… don’t put the Prime Minister and him in a room together! He’s constantly saying the Prime Minister should be setting a good example and should know better. He’s so outspoken. If he meets somebody new he’ll ask ‘are you gay or straight?’ I say: ‘you can’t ask that!’ But if the people reply saying they’re gay, he’ll ask if they’ve got a partner or kids: ‘You can have kids you know, you just go to the doctor and they’ll help you – or you could adopt.’ [laughs] They are great kids.
How did you two meet originally?
We’ve known each other for about ten years. Lou was a nurse working with children and was also with a babysitting agency. We became close after a couple of years, best friends… and I would’ve never expected this to happen, but I’ve found the love of my life.
My ex-husband has been incredible. When I told him that Lou and I were together, he said ‘well honey, we’ve agreed to move on, we still care about each other, so whether it’s a man or a woman, it makes no difference. As long as you’re happy.’ So we’ve been very lucky.
We don’t know when and where your dinner with Julia will happen yet, but have you thought but about what you’ll say to her as you dine?
No, no date has been set yet. You know, I’m not a politician… I’m not really political, so I haven’t been thinking it over for a long time. We’re just going to go in and be ourselves.
We don’t want her to feel threatened or bombarded, we just want her to hear our story, and to see why it’s important to us and how it’s affected our children.
As long as the government doesn’t legalise gay marriages, it gives every person in the country permission to discriminate against us – because the government doesn’t really recognize our relationships. That in itself says it all.

A confirmed date for Sandy and Louise’s dinner with Julia Gillard at The Lodge is expected later this month.

UN rights council backs 'historic' gay equality bill

GENEVA — The UN Human Rights Council on Friday passed a "historic" resolution that seeks equal rights for all regardless of sexual orientation, marking significant progress for gay rights.The resolution tabled by South Africa passed with 23 votes in favour, 19 against and three abstentions, despite strong opposition from African and Arab states.
The resolution "affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms ... without distinction of any kind."
It also commissions a study on discriminatory laws and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Resolution at UN Human Rights Council just PASSED! 23 in favor, 19 against and 3 abstentions!
"Yes" Vote for Human Rights Council resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Thailand, UK, USA, Uruguay
"No" Vote for Human Rights Council resolution on sexual orientation and gender identity: : Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Moldova, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Uganda.

Tracy Morgan isn't the real issue: Black community is far too accepting of homophobia

Tracy Morgan has apologized for homophobic comments he made during a comedy event.
Tracy Morgan has apologized for homophobic
comments he made during a comedy event.
By Keith Boykin -

When the news broke that comedian Tracy Morgan had engaged in an anti-gay tirade during a June 3 comedy performance in Tennessee, the reaction was as swift as it was predictable. Lesbian and gay leaders complained, Morgan was forced to apologize, and eventually most of us went back to business as usual. We recently saw the same formula with Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah after their outbursts during NBA games.

But while the public quickly moved on to the next story, some of us did not enjoy that luxury. Five days after Morgan's performance, I had to write a eulogy for a friend and former assistant, a young Ivy League-educated black gay man who took his own life. The police found a suicide note written on an envelope in his car. He never explained what drove him to kill himself, but many of us knew he did not fit in easily with the crowd.

I'm not in a position to judge the sincerity of Morgan's apology, but in a society where gay teenagers are more likely to be bullied and three times more likely than others to commit suicide, one man's contrition is not enough to stop the problem.

That's why the most disturbing aspect of the Morgan episode is not what he said, but how the audience reacted. The applause and chants of support that reportedly greeted Morgan's tirade demonstrate just why some consider homophobia the last acceptable prejudice.

As Morgan's "30 Rock" co-star Tina Fey reminded us, Morgan is surrounded by openly gay New York City professionals who would not willingly countenance homophobia on the set of their TV show. But as an adopting parent of two young black males who live in Tennessee, I know that teenagers and young adults are rarely exposed to such constructive gay and lesbian influences.

Two years ago, an 11-year-old black student named Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover hanged himself in Massachusetts after weeks of harassment and anti-gay bullying. In the same month, another 11-year-old black kid, Jaheem Herrera in Atlanta, took his own life after suffering constant anti-gay bullying at his school. Just last fall, 19-year-old Raymond Chase, a black gay college student in Rhode Island, committed suicide in his dorm room.

Even in liberal New York City, a young black gay activist named Joseph Jefferson killed himself just last October. "I could not bear the burden of living as a gay man of color in a world grown cold and hateful toward those of us who live and love differently than the so-called 'social mainstream,' " Jefferson posted on his Facebook page the day he killed himself.

Confronting homophobia is not as simple as issuing an apology, meeting gay and lesbian youth or attending a gay rally, all of which Morgan has wisely promised to do. Those remedies assume that Morgan alone is the issue while downplaying the larger societal factors that enabled him to generate laughter from his routine in the first place.

Nor should we try to neatly package this as a simple "teachable moment." We need parents, preachers and teachers to speak out and change their behavior on a daily basis.

In the black community, often misunderstood as virulently anti-gay, the biggest obstacle is the church. Ask the fire-and-brimstone pastor to turn around and survey the sexual orientation of the choir members on any given Sunday and you'll see why we need more black gays and lesbians to come out of the closet and challenge the persistent stereotypes that limit and define us.

It's easy to point our fingers at Tracy Morgan as the latest villain in the gay rights struggle, but if we ignore the seeds of the problem in our own neighborhoods, then we're just as much to blame.

Boykin is the author of the forthcoming book "For Colored Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Still Not Enough."

Australian PM Julia Gillard faces gay marriage grilling

By Jessica Geen -

Australian prime minister Julia Gillard is to be pressed on her views on gay marriage when she hosts a dinner for three gay couples.
As part of a charity auction, the prime minister offered to host a dinner for six guests at her official residence in Canberra.
The auction, targeted at corporations, was won by gay rights group GetUp!, which bid AUS$31,000
GetUp! announced that the tickets would go to six gay couples who are angry at Ms Gillard’s refusal to support gay marriage.
The auction was billed as a “unique opportunity for corporate Australia”, GetUp! director Simon Sheikh told AFP.
“But rather than dining with executives and business leaders, Julia Gillard will be forced to make the case as to why these couples cannot have their relationships recognised in the same way other Australians do,” he said.
Sydney lesbians Sandy Miller and Louise Bucke have been named by GetUp! as the first couple to join the dinner. The other two will be announced in the next few days.
Ms Gillard’s office has not commented.
The activist group also won dinners with three independent MPs considered ‘kingmakers’ in Ms Gillard’s government.
Ms Gillard has consistently said she is against gay marriage, calling herself a “cultural traditionalist”.
However, she is to allow her party a conscience vote on the issue at this year’s conference.
Last November, the Green Party won a motion calling on MPs to ask their constituents about the issue.

Latino New Yorkers Back Marriage Equality Bill

Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez speaks in support of marriage equality on the steps of New York City Hall on Wednesday, June 8.
Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez 
speaks in support of marriage equality 
on the steps of New York City Hall.
By Michael K. Lavers -

Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez joined New York City Councilmember Rosie Mendez and other Latino elected officials, activists and clergy on the steps of New York City Hall on Wednesday, June 8, to urge state lawmakers to pass a marriage equality bill.

"This is important because this is a civil rights issue," said Velázquez. "This is a human rights issue."

Velázquez and others who spoke in lower Manhattan stressed not all Latinos oppose marriage equality. State Sen. Ruben Diaz, Sr., [D-Bronx] and the National Organization for Marriage organized an anti-marriage equality rally in the Bronx last month. The outspoken legislator has also called for a boycott of New York’s largest Spanish-language newspaper, "El Diario La Prensa" because it editorialized in support of marriage equality.

"There have been a few Latinos who have been given voice to this issue and will lead you to believe that New Yorkers do not support gay marriage or same-sex marriage," said Mendez, speaking in Spanish.

A Quinnipiac University poll last week showed 58 percent of New Yorkers support marriage equality. Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly said nuptials for same-sex couples remains one of his top legislative priorities, but he maintains he will not introduce a marriage equality bill until he is assured it has enough votes to pass.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn joined City Councilmember Daniel Dromm [D-Jackson Heights] and others at a Queens press conference earlier this afternoon to urge undecided state lawmakers to support marriage equality. The current legislative session is scheduled to end on June 20.

"I pray that everyone votes in favor [of a marriage equality bill,]" Pastor Fabian Arias of the Zion Lutheran Church in Spanish Harlem told EDGE. "I hope and pray they say yes to this law."

Michael K. Lavers manages the Fire Island News. His work has also appeared in the Village Voice, WNYC, the BBC, the Advocate and other media outlets. And he blogs at Boy in Bushwick []

Census Data Mined for Gay Family Stats

By Kilian Melloy -

The 2010 Census did not ask America’s gay and lesbian families to identify themselves, but through some cross-referencing and detective work information on the country’s same-sex families can nonetheless be inferred.

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law announced in a June 14 press release that their think tank would do just that. The release also noted that same-sex families might have underreported themselves by a considerable margin because of how the Census questionnaire was worded.

Census data is used to determine which federal and state programs are funded, and at what level. By not specifically asking about gay and lesbian families, the 2010 Census failed to address the needs of taxpaying American citizens who do not fit a predetermined -- but incomplete -- profile of hetero-normative families. As a result, federal dollars that might have gone to programs benefiting gay and lesbian families are likely to be funneled elsewhere.

An anti-gay 1996 federal law, the so-called "Defense of Marriage" Act (DOMA), specifically excludes gay and lesbian families from any form of federal protection or recognition. The Census Bureau, as part of the federal government, is subject to the provisions of the act.

But researchers are able to subject the results to analysis that reveals, with some degree of accuracy, how many same-sex families there are in the country, and what their geographical distribution is. This is exactly what the Williams Institute intends to do.

"Historically, US Census Bureau data on same-sex couples have been a critical resource for informing the many national, state, and local debates about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights," the Institute’s press release said.

"The Williams Institute has been a leader in disseminating and analyzing these data from Census 2000 and will continue to do so with the release of data from Census 2010."

The release went on to explain, "Same-sex couples are identified in households where Person 1 describes his or her relationship with another adult of the same sex as either a ’husband/wife’ or ’unmarried partner,’ and clarified how America’s gay and lesbian families might, unwittingly or otherwise, have underreported themselves.

"It is possible that some same-sex couples may be unwilling to identify themselves as such on the Census due to concerns about confidentiality," the release noted. "Same-sex couples may experience stigma and discrimination and consider it too risky to identify as spouses or unmarried partners on a government survey like the Census. Instead, they may choose to call themselves roommates or unrelated adults.

"A second reason for an undercount is that only couples where one partner is Person 1 can be identified on the Census since identification relies upon knowing the relationship between Person 1 and others in the household," the release continued. "For example, a younger couple residing in the home of a parent would not be identified if one of the parents was Person 1 in the household."

The problem of same-sex couples being under-counted also occurred eleven years ago, the release said.

"The Williams Institute conducted a survey of same-sex couples just after Census 2010 and found that about 15% either identified themselves as something other than spouses or unmarried partners or were in a household where neither partner was Person 1.

"Another concern about the accuracy of same-sex couple data involves the possibility that a small portion of different-sex couples miscode the sex of a spouse or unmarried partner and are incorrectly counted as a same-sex couple," added the release. "Since there are more than a hundred different-sex couples for every same-sex couple, even a very small amount of errors among different-sex couples result in relatively large numbers of misidentified same-sex couples."

In all, the release added, "between 15 and 20 percent of identified same-sex couples may, in fact, be miscoded different-sex couples. Given that most different-sex couples are married, the bulk of these miscodes likely occur among same-sex couples identified as spouses."

Because of changes from decade to decade, it’s not possible to generate reliable data about trends among gay and lesbian families using Census data, the release noted.

"In 1990, same-sex couples who identified a partner as a spouse were not identified as same-sex couples at all," said the release. "In 2000 and 2010, the Census Bureau did count same-sex spouses among same-sex couples but the procedures used to process same-sex spouse couples differed. As a result, it is not appropriate to compare the same-sex couple tabulations across the three decennial Census years."

The Institute has scheduled a release over time of Census data showing, on a state-by-state basis, where gay and lesbian families are, and what their concentration is. The first release is set for this month.

"Data from several states are distributed each week," the release said. "These data will include official tabulations of same-sex male and female couples and information about the presence of children in their homes at a variety of geographic levels (e.g., state, county, and Census tract)." The release also said that all same-sex families would initially be tabulated as "unmarried partners," regardless of whether they live in the five states where marriage is legal and have availed themselves of the opportunity to wed. Currently, thanks to DOMA, even where marriage equality is legal, it is limited to state-level rights, protections, and recognition. But a separate tally later will follow, looking at the question of married same-sex families.

"Later in the year, the Census Bureau will release tabulations on its American FactFinder website and a technical note about same-sex couples that will include national and state counts of the number of same-sex couples who designated themselves as spouses versus unmarried partners," the release said.

"The Williams Institute will publish two-page research briefs on each state as the SF-1 data are released," added the release. "These briefs will highlight the geographic distribution of same-sex couples across the state, rankings of cities and counties, and information about the number of male and female couples and the number of couples raising children."

Local and national GLBT equality advocacy organizations will be able to reference the data supplied by the Institute in arguments relating to protecting the rights and legal status of GLBT individuals and their families.

Kilian Melloy is EDGE Media Network’s Web Producer and Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes aggregate news stories and commentary for EDGE.

Study: It’s Homophobes Who Are Turned on by Gay Porn

By Kilian Melloy -

It’s a stereotype that the most homophobic men are likely to be closet cases themselves, but a longstanding study indicates that there’s more than a grain of truth to the belief, which is widespread among the GLBT community.

Armchair psychologists theorize that gay men who are terrified of facing up to the truth about themselves overcompensate by attacking the GLBT community -- whether politically, socially, or through physical violence -- in order to enhance a macho, heterosexual image.

Professional psychologists tested the theory a decade and a half ago, and found it holds up: A study done at the University of Georgia in 1996 confirms that that men who describe themselves as homophobic are the same men who are physically aroused by watching gay porn.

The 15-year-old study resurfaced in a June 12 article posted at as a series of high-profile anti-gay laws dominated headlines, along with an anti-gay celebrity rant delivered as a comedy routine.

The irony of the situation appears to be that truly heterosexual men are secure in their sexuality and do not need to be homophobic, meaning that what gays have long said -- that overtly anti-gay aggression is a sign of suppressed homosexuality -- bears some degree of truth.

The study monitored arousal by directly gauging changes to the men’s penises. Such changes occur involuntarily and as a result of sexual arousal. When shown images of lesbian sexual activity and heterosexual congress, both groups -- heterosexual men who had no problem with gays and men who said they were straight and homophobic -- registered sexual arousal.

Gay porn elicited arousal from the homophobic group, but not from the non-homophobic group. The men in the homophobic group claimed to be disgusted and turned off -- but their bodies said the opposite.

The study was published in the August, 1996, edition of the Journal of Abnormal Psychiatry. A press release from that time explained the study’s methodology and conclusions.

"Psychoanalytic theory holds that homophobia -- the fear, anxiety, anger, discomfort and aversion that some ostensibly heterosexual people hold for gay individuals -- is the result of repressed homosexual urges that the person is either unaware of or denies," read the release.

"A study appearing in the August 1996 issue of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), provides new empirical evidence that is consistent with that theory."

The study was titled "Is Homophobia Associated With Homosexual Arousal?" The study’s abstract summarized the results as follows:

"Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies."

According to the press release, the results were quite so clear-cut, however. The release said that about a quarter (24%) of the non-homophobic men showed penile enlargement while viewing gay porn; but the among the homophobic group, over half (54%) showed penile tumescence.

"I’m sure this is not a universal explanation for homophobia, but it’s certainly an interesting result," the Wired article noted.

Anti-gay groups and politicians have hammered ferociously at gays and their families in recent years. Recent headlines have indicated that although acceptance for GLBTs and their relationships is climbing in American society in general, such elements continue to target the GLBT community through social and legislative avenues.

One group,, attempted to overturn last year’s verdict on Proposition 8 on the grounds that the federal judge in the case was a gay man who only came out after his retirement from the bench. sought to portray that judge, Vaughn Walker, as possibly standing to benefit from his own finding because Walker has been in a committed relationship with another man for ten years. When lost that bid to overturn Walker’s verdict, they promptly announced that they would appeal.

Meantime, the state of Tennessee has been a focus of anti-gay legislative activity. Lawmakers there recently approved a measure that strips the ability of local governments to extend anti-discrimination protections to GLBT workers. That law now faces a suit.

Another bill, which would criminalize discussion of GLBTs in elementary school classrooms, has been passed by the Tennessee Senate, and is expected to be revisited by the state’s House of Representatives, possibly as soon as this week.

Comedian Tracy Morgan also brought the spotlight to Tennessee when he launched into an anti-gay tirade during an appearance in Nashville, saying that young gays who are bullied should strike back at their tormentors, and telling the audience he would stab his son to death if his son came out as gay.

Morgan later recanted those statements and apologized. He is expected to make a return to Nashville to repeat his apologies there.

Kilian Melloy is EDGE Media Network’s Web Producer and Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes aggregate news stories and commentary for EDGE.

NY State Senate Inching Closer To Passing Marriage Equality Bill

Thomas Roberts talks with Sean Eldridge (Freedom To Marry) & Claire Buffie (Miss New York).

UN could OK historic gay rights resolution Friday

The United Nations is poised to deliver a historic call for gay rights Friday when it votes on a U.S.-backed resolution that demands equality for people regardless of sexual orientation and orders a global investigation of violence and discrimination against gays.
Obama administration officials believe they have a majority of support in the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva for the resolution, which would be the first such statement to pass a U.N. vote.
The issue of gay rights has polarized nations at the U.N. for years. Despite growing acceptance for gay rights Western nations and parts of Latin America, lawyers say human rights treaties don't offer adequate protection against discrimination and mistreatment.
The resolution would take a first step toward redressing the problem. Drafted by South Africa, it expresses "grave concerns at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world," against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals. It commissions a global inquiry, to be completed by year's end, into their treatment.
The administration has led diplomatic efforts in support of the measure, seeking to reverse years of U.S. ambiguity on the subject under President George W. Bush.
In March, the U.S. issued a nonbinding declaration in favor of gay rights that gained the support of more than 80 countries at the U.N. The international push has coincided with domestic efforts to end the ban on gays openly serving in the U.S. military and discrimination against gays in federal housing.
The Bush administration didn't support a French resolution at the U.N. General Assembly in 2008 that addressed similar concerns, and joined Russia, China, the Vatican and Islamic states in opposition. The U.S. said it feared some language that would infringe on the right of American states to legislate matters such as gay marriage.
In December, the Obama administration held back from voting for a U.N. resolution condemning killings of vulnerable people around the world after proposing an amendment to protect people based on their sexual orientation. At issue was a separate legal dispute over international human rights law.
U.N. General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions aren't legally binding. They reflect the view of the majority of the world's nations.
But gay rights advocates say they are important even when their immediate legal effect is null. Because gay rights are hotly contested in many parts of Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, a resolution helps establish a legal norm such as those that exist for the protection of women, religious minorities, children and other vulnerable or marginalized groups. Over time, many of these become undisputed standards of human rights.
American officials believe they've secured a slim majority of the council's 47 members in clear support of the gay rights resolution.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bloomberg Visits, But No Breakthrough on Gay Marriage Vote

ALBANY — Senate Republicans emerged from a brief session with MayorMichael R. Bloomberg on Thursday morning and said they had still not decided whether to allow a vote on same-sex marriage.
Mr. Bloomberg, an independent who is the biggest single donor to the Senate Republican caucus, is a strong advocate of same-sex marriage, and he flew up to Albany in an effort to persuade the G.O.P. Senate majority to allow a vote on the contentious issue, which is supported by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and was approved by the State Assembly Wednesday night.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting, Mr. Bloomberg said he believed that the bill would ultimately pass with several votes to spare.
“I still believe if they do vote their hearts and principles, New York State will become the next state to adopt marriage equality,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “Because based on my conversations with senators, I believe that if the bill comes to the floor, it will pass. And I’m very hopeful that will be any day now.”
The mayor did not say which additional Republican lawmakers he expected to switch their votes, but Mr. Bloomberg mentioned three Republican senators he had spoken with in recent weeks: Andrew Lanza of Staten Island, John J. Flanagan of East Northport, and Mark J. Grisanti of North Buffalo.
“In all my conversations with senators – Senator Lanza, Senator Flanagan, Senator Grisanti – and many others, I could see how personal this was for them and their families, how carefully they were listening to both their parents and children, and how earnestly they are struggling to find the right answer,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “This is not an easy issue.”
But at least some potential votes appeared to be slipping away on Thursday. Greg Ball, a Republican senator from the Hudson Valley who had been heavily lobbied by advocates and Republican donors who support gay marriage, issued a statement calling Mr. Cuomo’s bill “an affront to religious organizations” because it did not include broad enough protections for religious institutions.
The bill, Mr. Ball said, “would open up a new era of lawsuits against individuals and religious organizations.”
A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo had on Wednesday rejected Mr. Ball’s characterization, saying that the measure protects religious organizations and that the governor was not considering changes to the bill.
The Senate remains deadlocked over marriage, with 31 of the 62 senators saying they would support passage and the lieutenant governor of New York barred from voting on substantive matters. A handful of Republican senators say they are undecided; they will determine the fate of the issue, which wasdefeated in a Senate vote in 2009.
The Senate majority leader, Dean G. Skelos, a Long Island Republican, went immediately from the Republican conference to a brief meeting with Mr. Cuomo, a first-term Democrat who has said that passage of gay marriage is one of his top priorities for this year’s legislative session, which is scheduled to end Monday. After emerging from his meeting with the governor, Mr. Skelos reiterated that no decision had been reached on how to handle the same-sex marriage bill and that Republicans would discuss that issue, as well as others, later in the day.
“We’re going into session, and throughout the day we will come back and discuss the issue,” Mr. Skelos told reporters before meeting with Mr. Cuomo.
Senator Thomas Libous, a Republican from Binghamton and the Senate deputy majority leader, said the caucus had been attentive to the mayor’s remarks, but still undecided.
“Mayor Bloomberg came in — very, very passionate on the issue of gay marriage — spoke with us, and we listened to him,” Mr. Libous said. “The mayor is a very influential leader, and he shared his thoughts and opinions on the issue.”
However, Mr. Libous said, “This is a very difficult decision for any individual senator, and the process continues.”
Senator Martin J. Golden, a Republican from Brooklyn and a steadfast opponent of same-sex marriage, predicted that the Senate would ultimately vote on the issue.
“I think gay marriage comes to the floor,” he said. “I think it’s definitely coming to the floor.”

Bloomberg Headed to Albany to Push Gay Marriage Bill


In a rare unannounced visit, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City will travel to Albany Thursday morning to try to persuade Republican state senators to legalize same-sex marriage before they are scheduled to adjourn for the year, according to a person briefed on the plan.
His trip comes at a sensitive time for the Republican senators, who are embroiled in a fierce internal debate about how to proceed on gay marriage: most of them are opposed to the measure, but a handful are prepared to vote for it, if Senator Dean G. Skelos, the majority leader, allows the issue to reach the Senate floor.
Mr. Skelos is facing growing pressure to bring the issue to a vote after three Senate Democrats and two Senate Republicans who had previously opposed the bill declared their support for it over the past few days, leaving the legislation a single vote shy of passage.
The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on Monday, giving the Senate three working days to take up the marriage bill. As it has in the past, the Democratic-controlled State Assembly passed a bill to legalize gay marriage by a wide margin on Wednesday night.
It was Mr. Bloomberg who requested the 10:30 am meeting Thursday, the person briefed on the matter said, to make his case for why New York should become the sixth and largest state in the country to allow gay couples to wed. He is expected to argue that it is consistent with Republican principles of limited government, personal liberty and strong families.
Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican turned independent who rarely spoke out about gay weddings during the first half of his mayoralty, has emerged as a passionate spokesman for gay marriage this year. He delivered an uncharacteristically personal speech on the topic, held a fund-raiser for the cause and went to Albany two weeks ago to lobby Republicans to pass the measure.
Mr. Bloomberg’s views may hold special weight with Republican senators, because he ranks among the biggest campaign donors to the state party in recent years.

OutSpoken Newsletter


In This Issue



Courage Unfolds Video Launched

IGLHRC commemorated this year's International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO)on May 17 with the launch of Courage Unfolds. This video, co-produced with Lesbian Advocates Philippines (LeAP!) highlights the struggles and triumphs of LGBT activists in Asia and promotes the use of international human rights law as a tool for social change. …
Read more » A Celebration of Courage 2011

A Celebration of Courage 2011

IGLHRC's annual gala event - Celebration of Courage - held earlier this year in New York City was hosted by award-winning actor Alan Cumming - who has since generously donated to IGLHRC proceeds from the sale of his latest fragrance.  The March 7th event drew a strong crowd of supporters and was an opportunity to honor the work of those who have made significant contributions to the global movement for LGBT equality.  Honorees included the Mongolian LGBT Centre and journalist and educator Jeff Sharlet.…
Read More »



New Additions

IGLHRC has had an exciting addition to its staff with Linda Schlapp joining in May 2011 as Director of Development. For Linda joining IGLHRC is an exciting step in bringing her past experience in development and social justice to work within her own community. … Read More »

Activist Toolkit



Video is an incredibly powerful tool for human rights documentation and advocacy and is used in various ways to bring about social change. The human rights organization WITNESS provides training and support to local groups to use video in their campaigns but also provides a vast collection of resources and tools designed to help create videos for effective human rights advocacy. …

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"Under Construction"

Cary JohnsonOver the last 9-months, IGLHRC has undertaken an introspective strategic planning process. We've looked at who we were, who we are, and who we want to be. We've explored our current staff capacity, the needs and gaps in the field, what our partners, friends and supporters expect from us, and how the trends in fundraising are likely to affect our ability to raise the necessary resources to work effectively. …Read More »

Nowhere to Turn: Blackmail and Extortion of LGBT People in Sub-Saharan Africa

blackmailOf all of the violations that LGBTI people in sub-Saharan Africa deal with, blackmail and extortion are perhaps the most prevalent – and the least visible. In places where it is illegal, stigmatizing, or dangerous to identify as LGBTI or to engage in same-sex activity, keeping one's sexuality a secret may be, quite literally, a matter of life or death. It is difficult to overstate the terror and helplessness that threats to expose one's sexual orientation and gender identity evoke for their victims. … Read More »

Publications and Research

Haitian campsIn Haiti in the year since the devastating earthquake that struck in January 2010, violence and discrimination against LGBT people has increased significantly. This finding and other anti-LGBT human rights violations were documented in a briefing paper published In March 2011 by IGLHRC and Haitian partner, SEROvie. … Read More »
See Other IGLHRC Reports »

IGLHRC at Work

LGBT Recommendations included in Final Statement of 7th ASEAN People's Forum

IGLHRC at workIn Asia LGBT issues have not received much attention in local and regional conferences. However, in the lead up to the May summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta Indonesia, forty LGBT activists from 8 ASEAN member countries were able to gather as a group for the first time to engage with the summit. … Learn more and view the LGBT recommendations to ASEAN member States »

Closing of Ugandan Parliamentary Session Without Vote on Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Uganda BillIn early May, activists in Uganda were again faced with the possibility that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill would be adopted by the Ugandan Parliament. Fortunately, the last session of the Parliament closed without the Bill's passage. Although there was relief at this, activists urged caution and vigilance as the new session of Parliament may see the Bill's reintroduction. See our work on Uganda »

Presentation to Inter American Commission on Human Rights on LGBT Rights in Haiti

HaitiFollowing the release of the briefing paper on The Impact of the Earthquake, and Relief and Recovery Programs on Haitian LGBT People, IGLHRC and its Haitian partner organization – SEROvie – had the opportunity to present their findings at a hearing during the 141st session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Watch a video of the presentation »

IGLHRC attends the Trial of Turkish Feminist, Pinar Selek

Pinar SelekIn response to a request for international solidarity by LGBT groups, an IGLHRC representative attended a court hearing in February in support of Pinar Selek, a well-known feminist, sociologist, peace activist and scholar, at the Istanbul 12th High Criminal Court. … Read More »

Two Spirits

Historic, sepia-toned photo of Navajo couple from the collection of the Museum of New Mexico

About the Film

Zuni leader We’Wah, a two-spirit, is pictured in this black and white portrait from the 19th century when she visited Washington D.C.Two Spirits interweaves the tragic story of a mother’s loss of her son with a revealing look at the largely unknown history of a time when the world wasn’t simply divided into male and female and many Native American cultures held places of honor for people of integrated genders.

Fred Martinez was nádleehí, a male-bodied person with a feminine nature, a special gift according to his ancient Navajo culture. He was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at 16. Two Spirits explores the life and death of this boy who was also a girl, and the essentially spiritual nature of gender.

Two Spirits tells compelling stories about traditions that were once widespread among the indigenous cultures of North America. The film explores the contemporary lives and history of Native two-spirit people — who combine the traits of both men and women with qualities that are also unique to individuals who express multiple genders.

Two Apache warriors with headdresses and war paint to their faces, gently touch foreheads.The Navajo believe that to maintain harmony, there must be a balanced interrelationship between the feminine and the masculine within the individual, in families, in the culture, and in the natural world. Two Spirits reveals how these beliefs are expressed in a natural range of gender diversity. For the first time on film, it examines the Navajo concept of nádleehí, “one who constantly transforms.”

In Navajo culture, there are four genders; some indigenous cultures recognize more. Native activists working to renew their cultural heritage adopted the English term “two-spirit” as a useful shorthand to describe the entire spectrum of gender and sexual expression that is better and more completely described in their own languages. The film demonstrates how they are revitalizing two-spirit traditions and once again claiming their rightful place within their tribal communities.

Two Spirits mourns the young Fred Martinez and the threatened disappearance of the two-spirit tradition, but it also brims with hope and the belief that we all are enriched by multi-gendered people, and that all of us — regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or cultural heritage — benefit from being free to be our truest selves.

Watch the full episode. See more Independent Lens.

The Filmmaker

Director Lydia Nibley Director, co-producer, and co-writer Lydia Nibley creates film and television projects under the banner of Riding The Tiger Productions. Her work has been broadcast internationally and she has created and contributed to works that have received Emmy, Clio, and numerous film festival awards. Her next film, In Her Honor, deals with honor killings, and is in preproduction. It unravels the complex knot of tribal, religious, and family beliefs that make it acceptable for a man to murder a wife or daughter and defend the act with the logic, “A man is like a piece of gold; when he is dirtied he can easily be washed clean. But a woman is like silk; when she is dirtied she cannot be cleaned and must be destroyed.”

G.O.P. Senators Are Stalled in Talks on Marriage Bill

ALBANY — Anguished Senate Republicans held a four-hour meeting on Wednesday at which they were unable to decide even whether they would bring same-sex marriage to a vote, stalling a last-minute drive by supporters of the legislation.
The long-debated marriage measure, which has overshadowed all other issues in the final days of this legislative session, remained one vote shy of the number they needed for passage in the Republican-controlled Senate. The Democratic-controlled Assembly approved the legislation late Wednesday, by a vote of 80 to 63, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is a strong supporter.
Dean G. Skelos, the Senate majority leader, emerged from his caucus’s meeting on Wednesday afternoon to say that Republicans had not decided how to proceed on the marriage bill, but would continue discussions on Thursday.
“We haven’t resolved anything other than that we’re going to continue our conference,” said Mr. Skelos, a Long Island Republican.
The marriage issue, which had languished here for much of the legislative session, seemed to gain momentum early this week, as two Republican senators, James S. Alesi of Monroe County and Roy J. McDonald from the capital region, announced that they would join 29 of the 30 Senate Democrats in supporting same-sex marriage. And while gay-rights advocates believe a few other Republican senators are poised to support the marriage measure, none of the Republican lawmakers considered swayable on the issue announced a change of heart on Wednesday.
“Some of my colleagues are anguished,” Mr. McDonald said. “This is a cultural change. I think people struggle over the way they were raised, if they’re Catholic, if they’re Baptist, you know what I mean?”
Senator Greg Ball, a Hudson Valley Republican, said he did not believe the proposed legislation went far enough in protecting religious institutions, some of which, he said, would be vulnerable to lawsuits under Mr. Cuomo’s proposal.
“On the specific issue of marriage equality, with the possibility of serious and comprehensive religious protections, I will remain undecided until I see the final bill,” Mr. Ball said in a statement.
But Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, said no further changes were being contemplated by the governor or advocates.
“Senator Ball can decide to vote with the conservatives against the bill, but his characterization and description of the bill is just plain wrong,” Mr. Vlasto said. “Senator Ball is entitled to his own politics but not his own facts.”
Mr. Cuomo and other advocates have sought this week to flush wavering supporters into the open, in the process raising the political price for Senate Republicans of bottling the legislation up without a vote.
As the week began, three Democrats who had voted against the measure two years ago publicly announced they would support it, effectively depriving Republican lawmakers of any bipartisan cover for defeating or blocking the bill. Those Democrats were quickly followed by Mr. Alesi and Mr. McDonald, who are so far the only Republican lawmakers in the Senate to publicly back same-sex marriage.
If the measure does not pass now, Republicans could face political challenges on two fronts: an array of angry and well-financed gay-rights groups seeking to unseat Republican incumbents in the elections next year, and potential attacks or primary challenges against Mr. Alesi and Mr. McDonald from the right.
Andrew J. Lanza, a Staten Island Republican who has expressed uncertainty about the issue in recent days, said his colleagues had “talked about their innermost thoughts” during the private conference but insisted that the conversation had never become heated.
Mr. Lanza would not say if he thought same-sex marriage would come to a vote, instead repeating several times that he was proud to be part of the Republican caucus in the Senate.
“There’s an ongoing discussion here,” Mr. Lanza said. “Speak to Leader Skelos.”
On Wednesday evening, lawmakers in the Assembly debated the legislation for the fourth time in five years. Some had rainbow flags alongside American flags on their desks; others quoted from the Bible.
One Republican assemblywoman, Nancy Calhoun of Orange County, said that if the marriage bill passed, it would be “a day when the state of New York and its constitution lost something.”
And Dov Hikind, a Democratic assemblyman from Brooklyn, waved a copy of the Hebrew Bible and invoked religious principle in arguing against the measure.
“You want to tell God he doesn’t know what he’s talking about?” Mr. Hikind said.
But other lawmakers spoke of friends and family members who had struggled with discrimination or had pleaded with them to push for the bill’s passage. Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, a Democrat from Manhattan, noted that many once believed the Bible had instructed them to practice polygamy.
“Today, adhering to that commandment would be a criminal act,” Mr. Gottfried said.

General Motors on It Gets Better

GM employees talk about the importance of the Trevor Project and It Gets Better.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New York Assembly approves same-sex marriage

New York's Marriage Equality Act would grant same-sex couples equal rights to marry.
New York's Marriage Equality Act would grant same-sex couples equal rights to marry.
(CNN) -- New York's state Assembly Wednesday night approved a same-sex marriage bill, sending it to the Senate, where it faces a closer vote.
The Marriage Equality Act passed the Assembly 80-63.
It would grant same-sex couples equal rights to marry "as well as hundreds of rights, benefits and protections that are currently limited to married couples of the opposite sex," according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.
"This is an immense step toward achieving true equality for all here in New York," said Democratic Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, who argued that he and his partner should be allowed to marry.
Wednesday night's debate included discussion of religious, traditions, customs and families. Small gay rights flags decorated many desks in the chamber.
Same-sex marriage is a fundamental human right, said Democratic Assemblyman Richard Gottfried during the debate.
Democratic Assemblyman Micah Kellner also supported the bill, saying, "This is about people's happiness."
Republicans defended their opposition, saying it did not mean they were intolerant.
"It doesn't make me a bigot," said Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin. "It makes me a traditional American."
"Marriage to me has a separate importance and it has to do with a man and a woman," said Republican Nancy Calhoun.
Senate Republicans also met Wednesday on the issue, and discussed the law's wording.
There was no decision on when it may come to the floor. A vote there likely won't happen until Friday, at the earliest.
The state Senate rejected a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in 2009. Wednesday's vote was the fourth time same-sex marriages were approved in the Assembly, according to O'Donnell.
Currently, 31 senators, including two Republicans, are in favor of the bill. Backers need one more GOP member to vote in favor for it to pass.
Although New York does not grant same-sex marriages, a 2008 appellate court ruling upheld the right of couples to have their same-sex marriages recognized if they are performed elsewhere.
The act would amend the state's Domestic Relations Law to say, among other changes, that "no application for a marriage license shall be denied on the ground that the parties are of the same or a different sex."
Five states -- Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire -- and the District of Columbia currently grant same-sex marriage licenses.
The issue also is being debated in California, where a federal judge ruled Tuesday that another judge who ruled against a ban on same-sex marriage and later revealed that he is gay showed no evidence he was prejudiced in the case. Supporters of the ban said they would appeal.