Monday, April 13, 2009

Pro Marriage Video Pulled by You Tube After Legal Threats

These girls have some love for each other, but the National Organization for Marriage may not approve.

The National Organization for Marriage seems to be ratcheting up its efforts to suppress the audition videos that leaked from its anti-gay-rights "gathering storm" shoot.

According to YouTube, the group has gotten a clip from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show pulled from the site.

In the segment, which aired Thursday, Maddow criticizes the group's ad, and shows 40 seconds of the audition tapes. "We do not know how Human Rights Campaign got access to the audition tapes, but because they did, we do know that pretending to be a straight person hurt by gay marriage is apparently very, very challenging," she says.

The clip was previous available on YouTube, but now the page says "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by National Organization for Marriage."

MSNBC, of course, would have been well within its rights to demand the clip be removed. But NOM asserting a copyright interest to have a critical newscast scrubbed from the net?
That sets an extraordinary precedent.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Pro Marriage Video Becomes National 'You Tube' Parody for Gays

This is off the blog site, My Auburn, and we lift it with full credit to their creativity:

Have you seen the unintentionally hilarious TV ads from the National Organization for Marriage?

They're the bigoted group behind the $1.5 million TV ad to convince you that everybody should be afraid that The Gay is taking over the world, in the wake of the Iowa Supreme Court decision and Vermont Legislature's action. Now that activist legislators are actively legislating from their legislatures to legalize gay marriage, religious activists are turning up the volume on their anti-gay marriage rhetoric.

In an unintentional but hilarious gift to gay bloggers everywhere, the National Organization for Marriage has even dubbed their campaign "2M4M." (FYI, adding the "2" in front of the "M" is shorthand for a male couple in search of a single male).

Anyway, I find the argument that gay marriage is going to harm my straight marriage just plain silly. Should I be worried that my wife of two decades might run off with Elton John? I don't think so.

Matt Yglesias put it quite well: "It's not as if straight people are being asked to give anything up when gay and lesbian couples want to get married. The lives of heterosexuals will just continue as before."

I guess gay marriage is supposed to infringe on my religious freedom because it goes against the Old Testament Hebrew God's No-No-List. Well, so does my neighbors eating ham. And what about people who cook on Saturdays or who wear cotton-polyester blend shirts? That's going against biblical strictures, too. And it's no less an "abomination" than eating shrimp, or by touching your wife or daughter when she's "niddah." These things would all be equally “unclean” (toevah) behavior - - for a Jew.

Can anyone explain to me why it is okay to ignore these particular biblical prohibitions but it is not okay to ignore two people loving each other and marrying the consenting adult of their choice? Moreover, can you explain why you think it’s any of your business?

Frankly, I feel that the institution of marriage has already withstood so many socially-sanctioned debasements from heterosexuals, what with reality television couplings, game shows that reward the outing of infidelity, Brittany Spears' 55-hour trial marriage, and Christian "family-values" leaders who serial cheat on their own families with gay prostitutes -- that I doubt that gay marriage puts the institution in any special peril. Divorce does, but nobody seems as worried about that.

While I don't agree with N.O.M.'s beliefs or claims, I have to congratulate them for breaking new ground in the field of unintentional hilarity. Truly, this is an inspiration and it's ripe for parody.

Editor's Note:
The number of video retorts that have popped up on You Tube are so many I will be screening the best for publication on later today.

Sunday NY Times Features Same Sex Marriage Debate

And now there are four.

In the space of a week, the number of states allowing same-sex marriage has doubled, with Iowa and then Vermont joining Massachusetts and Connecticut. In California, gay and lesbian couples were exchanging vows for five months before voters put a stop to the practice in November. Californians are still talking it over, though, and loudly. New York and New Jersey may be next to debate the question.
But the proof that this is a serious issue warranting national discussion and emotional debates is reflected in today's Sunday New York Times:
Once the tide of civil rights begins running, like water from a dam, it flows and flows. Our time has come. Courts are only bound to follow.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

GOP 'Proud' Breaks Apart Gay Republicans

A dissident faction of gay conservatives has launched a rival group to challenge the traditional voice of gay Republicans: the Log Cabin Republicans.

GOPROUD, the new 527 group, will launch next week, according to a media advisory. The contact given for the group is Christopher Barron, a former Log Cabin political director who broke with the group.

"Essentially, there's no voice for gay Republicans or gay conservatives in particular in D.C. right now. Log Cabin has been completely and totally absent here in D.C. for months and months," Barron said.

"It has simply moved way too far to the left and is basically indistinguishable from any other gay left organization."

The ideological battle has been playing out in the gay media and on some blogs for a while, but who cares. Anyone that still calls themselves gay and wraps themselves up in a Republican umbrella is porous and ought to get rained on.

You can't just argue anymore that the 'philosophies' of the GOP mirror your own, not when the issues of the day are gay marriage, gay rights, gay partnerships.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Transgendered Stanton Lands New Job in South Florida

A small town just south of Palm Beach, Florida, has a new city manager today. She is Susan Stanton, the former Largo city manager who drew national media attention after being fired for announcing plans for a gender change.

Susan was selected as Lake Worth's city manager today by a 4-1 vote.

Commissioner Suzanne Mulvehill said she liked Stanton's approach to marketing the city and her ability to work for such a long time in Largo."The fact that she stayed 17 years with one city through several different commissions said something to me," Mulvehill said."I thought she had the right temperament for our city and, truthfully, I learned a lot from her," Vice Mayor Jo-Ann Golden said.

Commissioner Cara Jennings said she favored Stanton because of her team-building approach to managing city staff. "She's highly motivated," Jennings said. "Also, we need someone who wants to be here for a long time." During an interview at city hall Monday, Stanton said she would work to educate city staff, spend a lot of time communicating with commissioners and would focus on the "three Ps - pride, passion and professionalism."

Note each of the comments dealt with Ms. Stanton's work performance, not her gender; her talents, not her tops. Look, any job as a city manager is tenuous at best, and to have spent 17 years at one municipality already said measures about Stanton.

Sexuality became the diversion, the ick factor her other city could not deal with. Maybe in Lake Worth she will be able to focus on her talents and expand her efforts for transgender equality simply by doing what Pericles once said of Athens thousands of years ago:

"If Athens shall appear great to you, consider that her greatness was won and purchased simply by good men doing their duty every day."

Government Says 'Nyet!' to Gays in Moscow

The Kremlin is still coming down on gays in Russia. Maybe not hanging them like in Iran but still censuring them like witches in Salem. The latest and most foolish effort found a couple of activists and gay pride organizers guilty of "popularizing homosexuality among minors and the court ruled to fine them 1,500 rubles [about USD$50] each," reports Interfax. Here is a pix off the Qweerty site showing a quiet protest for a loud injustice.

Last month they organized a public demonstration with posters reading "Homosexuality is normal" and "I am proud of my homosexuality"; a judge ordered the posters destroyed, issuing his decision from a court in Ryazan, identified as the only region in Russia where a law that bans discussing homosexuality with minors is enforced. Right out of California, circa 1978. Even President Reagan opposed that proposition.

This is just the lead up to Moscow's gay pride march on May 16, which will not proceed if Moscow's latest mayor has his way. Year-after-year, their city hall has refused to grant a marching license to organizers, but at least activists are fighting it in the European Court of Human Rights. There do not appear to be too many rights in Moscow. There are still causes to be fought in America, because each door we open here sends a message of inspiration to gays everywhere else in the world.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vermont Legislature Vetoes Governor and Protects Same Sex Marriage

Gay marriage advocate Beth Robinson, center, holds back tears following the passage of a gay marriage bill in Montpelier, Vt., Tuesday, April 7, 2009. At left is Sherry Corbin and at right is Susan Murray.

Vermont has now become the fourth state to legalize gay marriage.

The state legislature voted Tuesday to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto of a bill allowing gays and lesbians to marry. Think about this folks. A state legislature not only passed a law protecting gays, it overrode its repressive governor's veto, which required a two thirds margin to do. The vote was 23-5 to override in the state Senate and 100-49 to override in the House.

Just think about this. How far we have come. What an achievement this is. Just take a deep breath. Not just to win the vote, but to win the veto, and then at 6:45 pm Eastern, have Brian Williams on NBC News announce it to the nation. You see, the fact that these decisions make mainstream news also sends a message to our nation that we have come a long, long way.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Openly Gay Zoo Director To Manage People Instead

The United States Senate today confirmed John Berry as the next Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Berry was nominated by President Barack Obama on March 4, 2009, to serve as the Administration's chief advisor on human resources issues for the nation's 1.9 million Federal employees.

Among his primary responsibilities will be improving Federal recruitment strategies and expediting the hiring process for men and women with a rich mix of talents who wish to serve America through the civil service. The Smithsonian Zoo director, Berry has lived his life as an openly gay man.

"I look forward to getting to work with the great men and women at OPM and to advancing the President's goal of ensuring that our country's best and brightest continue to be drawn into the service of our country," said Berry."

Anytime a gay man can openly serve our country because of his talents we are all enhanced and embraced. The measure of a man, Martin Luther King, pointed out, is not the color of his skin, but the content of his character. So too the measure of gay men is not recorded by who he sleeps with. It is measured by what he does for his community. John Berry's appointment sends that message to America. And the US Senate's willing confirmation is a reaffirmation that homosexuality is no longer an impediment to professional achievement.

Gay Men's Chorus of LA Does Cellblock Tango

Just some music for a Saturday afternoon.

Iowa Ruling Scores Another Victory for Gay Partners

A unanimous Iowa Supreme Court today upheld a lower court ruling that denying marriage to same-sex couples violates the equal protection clause of the state's constitution. People For the American Way Foundation, which was amicus in the case, welcomed the decision as a victory for core constitutional and American values.

"The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision is a historic affirmation of equality," said People For the American Way Foundation Interim President Michael B. Keegan. "It’s a joyous day for the Iowa families involved in the case, and for equality advocates in Iowa and across the nation. Congratulations to the courageous couples who challenged unfair and unconstitutional discrimination, and to One Iowa, Lambda Legal, and all their allies. We were glad to support their work in this case."

Keegan urged Americans not to be confused by expected distortions of today’s ruling from opponents of marriage equality. They will say things like your kids are about to be abducted by queers in leather on motorcycles.

"Americans rely on independent courts to uphold constitutional principles, and that’s what the Iowa Supreme Court did today," said Keegan. The State Attorney General will not appeal, so the decision kicks in to law in 21 days, if you are planning a trip.

Advocates against same-sex marriage have said they would likely not appeal a ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. They plan to ask lawmakers to pass a constitutional amendment and put the issue to voters. So what else is new? Bottom line is we have won again. Another victory unfolding in the slow but certain march to permanent civil rights.

Right Wingers Propose Florida 'Pre Marital Preparation' Bill

Friends like this you do not need. An attorney who heads the conservative Florida Family Council, and who co-authored the successful Amendment 2 anti-gay marriage initiative, is taking his stance on 'traditional marriage between a man and a woman' one step further.

John Stemberger is now calling for more government involvement in heterosexual marriage, this time proposing higher marriage license fees, state-mandated premarital counseling, and more obstacles for heterosexual married couples seeking divorce.

“Basically, when we succeeded with Amendment 2,” Stemberger told the Orlando Sentinel, “we asked ourselves: What do we want to do next? We wanted to do something big.” Stemberger’s “Strong Marriages Campaign” is promoting what they call a “Premarital Preparation Bill” before the State Legislature.

The bill already has several sponsors, and Stemberger is pushing for an additional $100 marriage fee to be charged to couples unless they first complete eight hours of state-mandated premarital counseling. No word yet on whether you have to check with Stemberger on when to go shopping, when you are allowed to have sex, and which movies you can send your kids to.

The good thing about losing to bad people is that eventually they push so far they inevitably go off the deep end. This is one of those stories.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Gay Porn Performers Band Together to Send Safe Sex Message

On the heels of the gay porn awards, one more word, a congratulatory one for the porn industry on behalf of a group of young entertainers who are using You Tube to send a safe sex message.

Andy Kay, Phillip Ashton, Jayden Taylor, Krist Cummings, Jacob Wright, Zack Randall, Ryan Conners and Angel Benton said they are using the tagline "Safe Sex is Hot Sex" to make a point, and they hope other performers and studios will sign on to the effort.

It is a four and half minute video, made simply, not fancy, with an adult theme, warning you to be careful. And while I can't say I know who any of the 'artists' are, you may, your friends may, and you may want to hear what they have to say. It could keep you alive and healthy.

Castro Theater Hosts 11th Annual Gay Porn Awards in San Francisco

Now I am not going to tell you gay porn is like the equivalent of Shakespeare, but it is news, it is business and it is a multi million dollar industry. And the annual Gay Video awards were given away this past weekend at the Castro Theater in San Francisco, of all places. Parties all weekend and while there were not Hollywood A Listers, there were pleasures, porn and passion and performers of the year awarded all weekend., above, apparently a big winner in this year's contests.

As a lawyer who defends and represents the actors, entertainers, and producers, all this stuff is real business and real life to them. To you, the reader, the consumer, the entertained, you should know these performers put their heart and soul in these productions- and a little bit more as well, to be sure. The truth is though, it is worth commenting that the porn stars and the producers have pride in their work, and seek to win the awards they sought.

I missed this year's event so I can only tell you from past years that this is a real live industry with its own website: and the GAYVN Awards are the most respected and recognized awards in gay adult entertainment history. And Margaret Cho was the host this year.

Bi-National Gay Couple Seeks to Come Home to America

U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., has gone to bat for a binational gay couple, asking the Obama administration to let Genésio Oliveira return from Brazil to live with his husband, Tim Coco, in Massachusetts.

The couple married in 2005 and own a home in a Boston suburb. Oliveira was sent home in August 2007 after losing an asylum case based on anti-gay persecution he said he experienced in Brazil. He also lost a case this year in which he sought to return to the U.S. based on his marriage to a U.S. citizen.

Kerry is a co-sponsor of a bill in Congress to extend spousal immigration rights to same-sex couples. The reality is that this couple reflects a situation dramatically impacting the lives and relationships of thousands and thousands of gay couples, and it cannot go ignored or understated without hindering the happiness and dreams of a large measure of our community. So boring though this issue may seem, it is a cause worth fighting for; an admirable task worth noting. Thank you Senator Kerry for taking the lead.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Pedro" Premieres on MTV

“Pedro,” which premiered last night on MTV dramatizes the short, productive life of Pedro Zamora, a third-season cast member of "The Real World" -- the 1994 San Francisco season, known also for the abrasive bike messenger Puck, who was kicked out of the house, in part because of his treatment of Zamora.

As commented about in the LA Times, this was back when "The Real World" still had the air of a social experiment, making roommates of seven strangers "to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real," before it became, for a while anyway, a kind of financed spring break, a chance to live in a cool house and party and be on television.

Born in Cuba and raised mostly in Miami, Zamora -- "the first-ever openly gay, HIV-positive main character on TV," the network says -- was an inspirational figure just for showing up. But he was also an AIDS educator who saw his "Real World" tenure as a kind of platform -- in a time when Ellen DeGeneres was still in the closet and gay characters, let alone HIV-positive gay characters, had yet to become unremarkable participants in the narratives of mainstream television.

Today, he would be dancing on Ellen's show. No, if he were alive, Ellen might be dancing on his show. He had a courage that allowed others to open their own closets. It helped me make AIDS a passion.
Yet "The Real World" made the ring exchange between Zamora and boyfriend Sean Sasser the centerpiece of one of its episodes and made the enlightenment of his cast mates one of the series' main themes as well. It was bold television in its time, and the gesture still resonates.

Pedro, my young friends, was a national hero, a compelling young man, whose life ended too soon. He lived here in South Florida, and we got to meet him, share stories with him, and see his courage. We were there for his funeral on Lincoln Road. I got to speak. Thousands lined the mall. So did Fred Phelps, the ugly Kansas pastor who was protesting gay funerals back even then. Fred is still screaming uselessly outside memorials of slain gay men and US soldiers, decrying homosexuality. Screaming so loud no one pays attention to him anymore, reduced to a useless relic, a vestige of hate.

Pedro is gone, but his passion and voice echoes humanely forever, now on film for posterity.