Saturday, October 31, 2009

'Just Beautiful Men' an Aesthetically Pleasing Site

Sometimes you get so caught up in politics that you forget a blog can be individually expressive as well as politically explosive. And occasionally you come across sites which are deserving of recognition because they make a statement on their own.

‘Just Beautiful Men’ is one such vehicle. A collage of aesthetic portraits of well built men, who have taken the time to take care of themselves, and nurture what they got, the website is compelling.

It contains nudity, warnings, and disclosures, as well as a cross section of blogmates who similarly trespass openly and brazenly on the male physique. Not bad at all. If we are going to be open about our sexuality, why not own up to our sensuality? It is not always about politics and law. Sometimes, as my partner reminds me, it is about our own needs, the kinds politicians cover up.

So ‘Just Beautiful Men’ is to be applauded, linking also to agency and modeling sites, photographic studios, forums and discussion groups. Jump into their links and you can spend hours cruising the net into homoerotic sexuality, nothing to be ashamed of for sure, and something to appreciate even more. Gratuitous shirtless hunks everywhere. Politics no where. So what?

In fact, I am going to create a link which opens to adult homoerotic sites, which like this one, or Hunk du Jour, show professional men in personal ways, accentuating their talents with and without their clothes on. You know we have spent so much time trying to assimilate into society it is good to remember we are different and not the same. We are all unique. And that is what we have in common.

Elton AIDS Event in NYC Features Prez Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton will be among the honorees at the annual Elton John [ tickets ] AIDS Foundation benefit event, entitled "An Enduring Vision," .

The Nov. 16 benefit--which will be held at New York City's Cipriani Wall Street--will feature special musical guest Donna Summer [ tickets ].

In a statement, John said, "Donna Summer's energy, voice and spirit are going to electrify our guests and I can't wait to share the stage with her. Donna has been a tremendous supporter of the Elton John AIDS Foundation for many years, and I am so excited that she has agreed to perform for our 'An Enduring Vision' event."

As part of the eighth annual EJAF event, the foundation will present Enduring Vision awards to four honorees that have supported its mission to fund innovative HIV prevention programs, its efforts to eliminate stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, and the direct care and support services it provides to individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

Sometimes, in the midst of so many other things, AIDS is still real for so many. We should particularly not forget during the week the Ryan White Bill was extended by President Obama, and here are is remarks as reported in Steve Rothaus' preeminent Miami Herald blog:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Open Gay US Attorney Takes Helm in Washington

Great AP story by Gene Johnson might not get as much coverage as one would like on the day President Obama signed the Hate Crimes Bill into law, but the new top federal prosecutor in Seattle is the nation's first openly gay U.S. attorney. Here you go-

'But as a daughter of privilege — her dad was a powerful Democratic state senator, and she had all the benefits of a comfortable upbringing and a good education — Jenny Durkan also recalls what someone once told her: "You're the most non-diverse diverse person I know." '

"I don't think I can fully appreciate how important it is to many people to have someone in a role like this who is gay," Durkan said this week in an interview with The Associated Press. "The more people are able to see people in situations where pretty soon that's an invisible characteristic, the better it is for the entire community."

Gay rights activists say her appointment reflects a growing acceptance in the U.S. as well as the attitude of President Barack Obama's administration. Earlier this month, Obama nominated an openly gay police sergeant to be the U.S. marshal in Minneaopolis; she would be the first openly gay U.S. marshal. We cannot underestimate the significance of Obama embracing diversity at every level. Fox News calls it radical. It is not. It is America.

Durkan, 51, has been named to the Attorney General's Advisory Committee, where she will head a subcommittee on cybercrimes and intellectual property. The FBI is building a new cybercrime center in the old federal courthouse in Seattle, and the U.S. attorney's office here has done novel work in prosecuting such cases.

Before being confirmed by the Senate a month ago, Durkan performed a wide variety of civil litigation and criminal defense work, and was active in bar associations. In 2002 she traveled to Morocco to train female candidates for parliament. She has been Gov. Chris Gregoire's personal attorney and confidante, and represented the Democratic Party when Gregoire's 133-vote re-election win was confirmed in court.

Durkan has said she did some of her most satisfying work using lawsuits to force institutional reform — such as changes in how the King County Jail handles mentally ill prisoners after one who had been recently released stabbed a firefighter to death.

To that end, she's spoken with local prosecutors, state and federal agencies and the governor's office about bringing those groups together to coordinate better responses to environmental crimes, for example.

Ultimately, she said, she hopes to be judged on how the U.S. attorney's office handles those threats — not on her sexual orientation.

"In this region I don't think it's very remarkable that you have someone who is gay in a position of authority, because it's woven throughout our culture and has been," Durkan said. "In other parts of the country it might be, but I think a generation from now it will be a footnote."

Monday, October 26, 2009

President Obama Will Sign Hate Crimes Bill into Law on Wednesday

Eleven years after Matthew Shepard’s death, President Obama will sign the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill into law during a White House signing ceremony Wednesday afternoon, White House officials confirm.

The long-sought hate crimes provision is part of the fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill and will extend federal hate crimes law to include crimes motivated by a victim's gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

The passage of hate crimes legislation would allow the U.S. Justice Department to assist in the prosecution of hate crimes committed against LGBT people that result in death or serious injury. The federal government could lend its assistance to local authorities or take the lead if local officials are unwilling or unable to prosecute cases. Further, the legislation would make grants available to state and local communities to train law enforcement officials, combat hate crimes committed by juveniles and investigate bias-motivated violence.

Matthew Shepard, a gay twenty-one year old college student was brutally killed in 1998. Some of the Shepard family will be in attendance at the White House signing on Wednesday. Afterward there will be a reception with gay rights groups as well as civil rights leaders to commemorate the occasion. I guess they forgot to invite me.

The main thrust of the bill is defense policy, including authorizing $130 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The DOD Authorization bill also strips money from the Pentagon budget for the controversial F-22 Raptor. This is a classic example of how one issue gets thrown upon another upon another. It should have been a stand alone bill, honoring James Byrd, Jr. a slain African American killed by hate, and Matthew Shepard, murdered because he was gay.

But it is a law now, and just like you do not know if your doctor was first or last in his class when he graduated Med School, 20 years after we are all gone no one will know this bill to tame hate was an appendage to a military appropriations bill for the Pentagon. Ironic in a way, because gays still can't join the military, and African Americans too, were once excluded from fighting with Caucasians. Just relics of the past. Like hate may one day be.

Thank you Judy Shepard for never forgetting your son.

Thank you Mr. Obama for pushing this issue to passage.

Thank you Congress for doing something Progress-ive.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Has 'Gay Athlete's Blog' Taken its Last at Bat?

Remember that commercial about a sound system which went 'is it real or is it memorex?'

I want to direct you to a blogger's site:

The guy has been posting infrequently for four years, and he has claimed to be a professional baseball player living life in the closet. He has developed a small cult of followers appreciating his occasional posts, relating his life on the road and in the dark. Some think it's a scam. Authenticity has a price. Verification. This blog yearns for it, but it just isn't there.

Is it authentic? Is it Memorex? There is no reason not to believe the candor expressed on these pages but we live in the world of 'The Balloon Boy.' We are exposed to hoaxes and frauds in every financial market. We can't believe anything we see because it may be compromised by digitalizing, morphing, spindling, and mutilating.

When I do television interviews, the makeup covers up the sun spots on my forehead, the wrinkles below my eyes. My body pleads for Botox, the reality is I am aging. No, check that. I have aged.

So these candid admissions from the anonymous athlete are open and revealing, but his identity remains secret. Larry King has had Billy Beane on and there are others who played 20 years ago still in the closet. One ex-pitcher, who plays in our local gay softball league, and has had his retired major league uniform framed in a local gay bar, still lives a quiet and secret gay life he would rather his teammates not know about. But an ex jock like me picked up on his World Series ring the very first day I saw him play.

Can't presuppose what to tell the 'gay athlete' on this blog site to do. Would love to meet him though. Would love to share with all the stories I have heard for the past ten years, first as the Publisher of the Express, then as an open radio host, then out as a lawyer, of life in the sunshine.

Maybe his time has come. Or maybe its time to just go back to the shadows. There is only one way he will ever know.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Harvey Milk Honored Posthumously in California

He was from Woodmere, New York, but made his case for gay civil rights in San Francisco, California. And now, some 30 years after his assassination, California will forever commemorate his passing, his life, his memory.

Harvey Milk will get a special day of recognition.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signing of the bill establishing “Harvey Milk Day” each May 22, Milk’s birthday, was announced Monday. The Republican governor vetoed similar legislation a year ago.

In the interim, Milk was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in August and was the subject of a movie for which Sean Penn won the Academy Award for best actor. Penn spoke out in favor of the bill last spring, saying he didn’t want to insult Schwarzenegger’s intelligence by assuming the governor would again oppose creating Harvey Milk Day.

“He has become much more of a symbol of the gay community than he was a year ago because of those things,” Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said. “That made the difference from last year: he’s really come to symbolize the gay community in California”

"Harvey Milk Day” will not be a formal state holiday, so government employees will not be given the day off. The bill instead calls for the day to be observed by public schools as a day of special significance. Teachers will be encouraged to conduct exercises recalling Milk’s life and contributions to the state.

That message should be a simple one at that. Harvey Milk stood for the principle that gay people are decent Americans and should be recognized for such. We have never asked for special rights. We have always asked for the same rights others have had.

If we ask to marry, it is because others similarly situated have had that sacred right. If we ask to serve as soldiers, it is because our country is our country. We have never asked to be picked up, just requested not to be put down. We have never asked for anything other than a doctrinal truth articulated in the Declaration of Independence: "That all men are created equal..."

Hate Crimes Bill on its Way to White House

The US Senate has passed groundbreaking legislation making an assault on an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity a federal crime.

The measure expanding federal hate crimes law was added to a $680 billion defence authorization bill. It now goes to the desk of President Barack Obama who has pledged to sign the measure. President George W. Bush had threatened to veto a similar measure. Glad he is gone.

The bill is named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998, and James Byrd Jr., an African-American man dragged to death in Texas the same year.Several religious groups have expressed concern that a hate-crime law could be used to criminalise conservative speech relating to subjects such as abortion or homosexuality.

Attorney General Eric Holder has asserted that any federal hate-crimes law would be used only to prosecute violent acts based on bias, as opposed to the prosecution of speech based on controversial racial or religious beliefs. Holder called Thursday’s 68-29 Senate vote to approve the defence spending bill that included the hate crimes measure “a milestone in helping protect Americans from the most heinous bias-motivated violence.”

This month Obama told the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest gay rights group, that the nation still needs to make significant changes to ensure equal rights for gays and lesbians.“Despite the progress we’ve made, there are still laws to change and hearts to open,” he said during his address at the dinner for the Human Rights Campaign. “This fight continues now, and I’m here with the simple message:“I’m here with you in that fight.”

Among other things, Obama has called for the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. He also has urged Congress to pass laws to recognize same-sex marriages and extend family benefits now available to heterosexual federal employees to gay and lesbian federal workers. Gays and Lesbians are going to win significant legal rights and victories under this administration. We worked hard for a president who embraces diversity. He has.

Keep in mind though enacting a law does not change automatically or overnite a social attitude as invidious as hate. The battle will still need to be fought. Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation one hundred years before Lyndon Baines Johnson had to sign a federal Civil Rights Bill. Equality and Justice do not come easily.

More than 77,000 hate-crime incidents were reported by the FBI between 1998 and 2007, or “nearly one hate crime for every hour of every day over the span of a decade,” Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee in June.The FBI, Holder added, reported 7,624 hate-crime incidents in 2007, the most current year with complete data.

All crime is hateful, but some more hate-specific than others. The law is welcome and overdue.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Time for Obama to End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

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Last week, Rachel Maddow started her show with the story of Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, whose 18-year career as an Air Force fighter pilot is about to end due to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

Maddow has been giving "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" a good amount of coverage recently. Instead of following this issue as a political story -- e.g. talking about which politicians made the most dramatic argument on the issue or discussing how the issue will affect the next election -- she's been focusing on people facing a discharge under DADT, people like Lt. Dan Choi, a West Point graduate and an Arabic-translator, or 2nd Lt. Sandy Tsao, who received a personal letter from President Obama after Tsao wrote to Obama about repealing DADT.

As President Obama addresses the Human Rights Campaign tonite, an event I wish I could have attended, one can only hope he denounces again the discriminatory policies of our armed forces; that he uses his bully pulpit to launch a campaign that will bring the practice to an end, soon.