• Gay BlogAds


  • Gay News Watch


  • Chris Tweets



  • « November 2007 | Main | January 2008 »

    December 30, 2007

    GNW 5: Latino rights, bans, murder

    Posted by: Chris

    1. New Bolivia constitution would ban gay bias, marriageBolivia draft constitution would ban gay bias, marriage: QUICK LOOK: A new constitution for Bolivia approved by the national assembly this month includes a ban on gay marriage that went virtually undiscussed during the legislative process. The ... (MORE)
    2. Porn murder defendant tries to block death penaltyPorn murder defendant triest to block death penalty: QUICK LOOK: Attorneys for one of two men charged in the killing of a Pennsylvania man who ran a gay porn company say they will seek to have the death penalty removed if their client... (MORE)
    3. Some don't like N.H. civil law but no challenge loomsSome don't like N.H. civil union law but no challenge looms: QUICK LOOK: Though New Hampshire's gay and lesbian community are preparing to celebrate the start of civil unions on Jan. 1, not everyone is welcoming the new development. Gov. John... (MORE)
    4. 2007 was the year gay issues languished in Congress2007 was the year gay issues languished in Congress: QUICK LOOK: Political expectations were high at the start of the year. With Democrats in control of both Houses of Congress, after more than a decade under Republican majorities,... (MORE)
    5. Neo-Nazis in Chile blamed for brutal murder of transsexual: QUICK LOOK: Police in Puente Alto have launched an aggressive search into the whereabouts of a neo-Nazi group blamed for brutally beating and stabbing to death a transsexual in this suburb of Santiago, Chile... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 most popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. Remember you can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    Fluid sexuality is a girl thing

    Posted by: Chris

    Lisadiamond More evidence that "fluid sexuality" is a female thing, so I can only try to understand it from a distance.

    After a mini-row here on the blog last week about whether bisexuality is really more prominent than homosexuality within the "LGBT community" or society generally, one scholar presents evidence that up to two-thirds of women who experienced some same-sex attraction in their early 20s changed their own self-identity at least once over the next decade:

    Most women's behavior had little to do with the "gay for life" story. Some switched their sexual identity many times. In fact, when asked to define themselves as "gay," "straight" or "bisexual," a number of women refused to take any label at all. Others invented their own labels; for instance, one interviewee called herself a "reluctant heterosexual."

    About one-fourth of the women reported that their choice of sexual partners had nothing to do with gender. "Deep down," said one woman, "it's just a matter of who I meet and fall in love with, and it's not their body, it's something behind the eyes." These women often had no words for the way their hearts were wired.

    The scholar, Lisa Diamond of the University of Utah, called this "person-based attraction" rather than bisexuality, although the latter term would seem to cover it just as well.

    Whatever you call it, I can say with confidence it occurs much more rarely among men, at least as a phenomenon that's discussed openly. Take, for example, this letter and response I've excerpted from today's Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch:

    Dear Margo:
    I find myself in a predicament that I never in a million years would have predicted. I am a 25-year-old man who is married to a beautiful, committed wife. Recently, I was chatting online and met a guy. He was funny and quick-witted.

    After a while, we exchanged numbers -- and have talked for more than two hours every night since. Margo, I hate talking on the phone. Last night, we were talking and laughing together, and after a moment of silence, I said, "God, I love you." I immediately apologized, but he said, "Don't." He said he has been fighting saying it, too.

    We are both straight, and we both think homosexuality is a sin. Neither of us knows what is going on. I haven't had any desire to spend time with my wife since this person came into my life. I want to talk only with "Matt." What is going on?
    -- Dazed and Confused

    Dear Dazed:
    These things would not, could not happen to a straight man. You are gay, my friend, though heavily repressed because you think it is sinful. I think you and this other chap are so closeted that you've been hiding from yourselves. Because of your religious convictions, there's probably an element of self-loathing, too, if only on a subconscious level.

    Margo should probably have allowed for the possibility that "Dazed" is bisexual, but the fact that he completely lost interest in his wife buttresses her ultimate conclusion that he's gay. It's certainly next to impossible that he's actually heterosexual but feeling "person-based attraction" for "Matt."

    Looking back at that Hunter College/Knowledge Networks survey, the Blade reported that roughly two-thirds of the gay/bi men were gay and one-third were bisexual. Those figures were reversed for lesbian/bi women: two-thirds were bisexual and one-third were lesbian. At least those statistics make some sense if you accept that female sexuality is much more fluid.

    Also, if relatively few of the bisexuals are actively involved in the "LGBT community" -- which I think is intuitively true whether it is a response to intolerance from gays or because they can pass as straight
    -- that would mean gay men outnumber lesbians roughly two-to-one within the "community." Those percentages make a lot more sense to me.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall_2 For related stories and the breaking news, click or bookmark:  gaynewswatch.com/bisexual

    Speaking in tongues

    Posted by: Chris

    As someone who has dealt daily with the challenges of translating -- with strangers and even my own boyfriend -- for almost three years now, I found this Catherine Tate sketch absolutely hilarious. Enjoy!

    H/t: Andrew Sullivan

    December 29, 2007

    All for naught?

    Posted by: Chris

    Bush_nov_8_2006 President Bush vetoed the massive Defense Department funding bill over a relatively obscure provision he said he fears would exposre the new Iraqi government to Americans with billions in legal claims against the previous regime of Saddam Hussein. The decision came as a surprise to Republicans and Democrats alike,  and puts at jeopardy funding for the Iraq war and a pay hike for the armed forces. Democrats are, of course, trying to score political points on the decision, only solidifying the "pox on both your houses" that already registers as public disgust with both parties on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue in public opinion polls.

    The Bush veto also puts a well-deserved exclamation point on the failed strategy of passing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, which would have added sexual orientation, gender identity, gender and disability to existing federal hate crime laws. Fearing a threatened veto of the Shepard Act as a freestanding measure, Senate Democrats attached it to the Defense Department bill. But when House Republicans threatened to bail on the bill, House Democrats couldn't muster enough votes, since some of their own wouldn't vote to spend additional sums on the war in Iraq.

    Now it appears that even if the Democrats could have managed to hold together, Bush would have vetoed the bill anyway, and might have even blamed the Shepard Act as well as the provision on legal claims against Iraq. Clearly, this massive bill was not the right vehicle to slip the hate crimes bill into law. The onus remains on Democrats to keep up the pressure and find another measure in January.

    Nodding and dodging for Edwards

    Posted by: Chris

    Johnedwards A week after the Washington Blade's editor Kevin Naff endorsed Hillary Clinton, the gay paper for North and South Carolina, Q Notes, has given its nod to native son John Edwards:

    After a series of meetings between the editors, the staff and the publisher, Q-Notes has endorsed John Edwards for President. His concrete, progressive policy positions (including steadfast support for pro-LGBT issues), his commitment to returning power to the people from moneyed special interests, his outstanding polling strength against the Republicans and his positive impact for down-ticket candidates nationwide combine to make him the best candidate in the race.

    Besides the obvious geographic connection, the Q Notes nod seems to be about factors other than gay issues. Where Naff was persuaded by Hillary's (supposed) electability, Q Notes went for Edwards' angry populist appeal. I can't imagine why a country that has been so divided by cultural issues, war and politics would elect a president who would further divide us by class, but so be it.

    Notably, neither Naff nor Q Notes claims their candidate is best on gay issues, probably because there is little daylight between the Edwards, Clinton and Barack Obama. The same can't be said, however, for Edwards' "official" gay adviser, former Stonewall Dems E.D. Eric Strern.

    Ericstern Flaking for Edwards on the campaign's gay blog, Stern resorts to blatant half truths to completely misrepresent the two gay rights issues on which there actually is some difference between the leading Dems -- gay marriage and immigration rights:

    Edwards supports immigration equality and repealing all portions of [the Defense of Marriage Act] — Hillary and Obama do not. And while John Edwards is not yet a supporter of marriage equality, he has pledged to use the power of the White House to rid the federal laws of anti-gay discrimination and extend all of the federal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples in committed relationships.

    Some of these same half-truths and outright lies have been regularly repeated by Stern and other gay Edwards supporters in other venues. So let's count the misrepesentations:

    1. Edwards supports repealing all portions of DOMA:  Yes, now he does. But when he ran for president just four years ago, he said on national television that he agreed with the same half of DOMA that Hillary wants to preserve: the provision that allows each state to refuse recognition of gay marriages from other states.
    2. Obama does not support repealing all portions of DOMA: Wrong and Stern knows it. Back in 2004, the same year Edwards was telling the nation he agreed with half of DOMA, Obama went on record saying he disagreed with DOMA when it was adopted and favored immediate full repeal.
           Stern no doubt bases his claim on candidate questionnaires submitted by Obama in 2003 as part of that same U.S. Senate campaign, in which "no" was checked on whether he favored DOMA repeal. I wrote a post about the discrepancy, which was most likely a campaign error and ought to be explained more completely by Obama himself. Regardless, Obama's position since at least January 2004 -- four years earlier than Edwards' recent reversal -- has been for full repeal of DOMA.
    3. Edwards is "not yet" supporting full marriage equality,  but "has pledged to use the power of the White House to rid the federal laws of anti-gay discrimination and extend all of the federal benefits of marriage to same-sex couples in committed relationships."  Misleading. The "not yet" moniker is especially inapposite, considering Edwards was actually citing his own religious beliefs to justify his opposition to gay marriage in this year's nationally televised Democratic primary debates. When the audience changed and was almost all gay, at the HRC/Logo forum, Edwards was willing to back away from imposing his own religious beliefs.
           As far as federal recognition of civil unions, etc., Edwards has made that commitment, to gay audiences on the gay section of his website and the HRC candidate questionnaire. Clinton and Obama have done the same.  Obama also repeated that commitment to general audiences -- twice on national TV, an MTV candidate forum and the "Ellen Degeneres Show," and also in Des Moines, Iowa.
    4. Edwards supports immigration equality and Hillary and Obama do not. Wrong and Stern knows it. All three of them said they support equal immigration rights for binational couples in response to HRC's candidate questionnaire. Neither Hillary nor Obama has signed on as a cosponsor of the Uniting American Families Act, but then again, Edwards when he was in the Senate didn't cosponsor UAFA's precursor legislation (the Permanent Partners Immigration Act), in either the 108th and 109th Congresses.
           At least Hillary and Obama have explained their reluctance, citing fraud concerns since UAFA offers less effective fraud barriers than marriage is for straight couples. Finally, UAFA would be rendered somewhat unnecessary if the half of DOMA blocking federal recognition of gay marriages is repealed. As noted, all three leading Democrats support that.

    There is even more misleading rhetoric in Stern's argument for Edwards, from making cynical use of Edwards' wife and daughter's views on gay marriage, to dredging up the Donnie McClurkin controversy.

    Actually, the McClurkin flap -- in which Obama camp refused to reject an "ex-gay" Grammy winner invited by his campaign staff to perform on a South Carolina campaign tour -- the Edwardses on marriage, immigration, DOMA -- all of these issues speak to the primary difference between Obama and Edwards (and Clinton, for that matter) on gay issues.

    Edwards is pathological about telling every given audience what they want to hear -- he is the Pander Bear of the 2008 campaign -- and on gay issues he's always great when talking to us while not-so-great or completely silent when speaking to the general public, much less anti-gay crowds.  Maybe that's why Edwards ranked last among  the top three when the Los Angeles Times asked voters nationally whether each candidate says what they really believe or what they think voters want to hear.

    Obama, on the other hand,  talks about civil unions to a national audience and condemns homophobia in the black church to a roomful of African American ministers. And he doesn't pander to us, either, refusing to apply a pro-gay litmus test to his supporters and raising perfectly reasonable concerns about gay rights legislation.

    I would much rather be dealt with honestly and straightforwardly than to be lied and pandered to, but on that score, clearly Eric Stern is perfectly suited to flak on behalf of his candidate, John Edwards.

    H/t: Queerty

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall_2 For related stories and the breaking news, click or bookmark:  gaynewswatch.com/DemPrimary

    December 28, 2007

    GNW 5: Reality show madness

    Posted by: Chris

    1. 'Hills' hunk Spencer Pratt offered role in gay porn vid"'Hills' hunk Spencer Pratt offered role in gay porn vid": QUICK LOOK: Will Spencer Pratt, star of MTV's "The Hills," take a role in a gay porn video. The ex fiancée of Heidi Montag has been offered a starring role by porn producer Michael... (MORE)
    2. Black gay ball subculture building a niche in Newark"Black gay ball subculture building a niche in Newark": QUICK LOOK: The eight "houses" that make up Newark's gay ball subculture -- in which men and women compete in rituals of posing and runway walking, sometimes as the opposite gender... (MORE)
    3. Teens who want abuse are like gays: Spanish bishop"Teens who want abuse are like gays: Spanish bishop": QUICK LOOK: The Bishop of Tenerife, Bernardo Álvarez, provoked outrage in Spain for saying there are youngsters who want to be abused, and he compared that abuse to homosexuality,... (MORE)
    4. Black gay men in Chicago scared after two murders"Black gay men in Chicago scared after two murders": QUICK LOOK: Activists fear gay African-Americans in Chicago are being targeted for murder. Two openly gay men were killed recently on the South Side. African-American gay and... (MORE)
    5. Cher and Chastity pitch 'coming out' reality TV show"Cher and Chastity pitch 'coming out' reality TV show: QUICK LOOK: Cher and lesbian daughter Chastity Bono are about to turn themselves into the latest reality TV stars. Their somewhat unlikely thesis has them starring as 'celebrity... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall These are the Top 5 most popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. Remember you can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    Ghost of Clinton past and future

    Posted by: Chris

    Billary There's a valuable lesson to be learned in the welcome news today that President Bush signed a bill that allows the District of Columbia to use its own money to  fund needle exchange programs in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Besides the obvious -- that it takes Washington about as long as the Vatican to accept inconvenient scientific facts -- there is also a glimpse of what we can expect if Hillary Clinton manages to become the next president.

    Ben Smith at Politico.com noted a month ago that Hillary's campaign proposal for HIV/AIDS policy included federal funding for needle exchange, a policy reversal for her and her husband:

    The changed position is worth pausing over because needle exchange was the subject of one of the campaign's most illuminating moments, during a New York City event at which an AIDS activist, Charlie King, pressed Clinton on her husband's rejection of recommendations that the federal government back needle exchange programs. I wrote about the exchange, which was caught on video, in July.

    "Well, because we knew we couldn't maintain it politically," Clinton said, and went on to discuss the trade-offs in that dispute with Congress. "I wish life and politics were easier," she said.

    King then referred back to Clinton's opening remarks. "You made a great comment earlier about how our next president needs to have some spine," he said.

    "We’ll have as much spine as we possibly can, under the circumstances," Clinton responded.

    That's classic Hillary: "We'll have as much spine as we possibly can, under the circumstances." It's actually classic Clinton, applying to either Bill or Hillary. And it's exactly why her husband was such a dramatic disappointment on gay issues -- and needle exchange -- as president. Bill Clinton had the opportunity in 1998 to approve federal funding for needle exchange, but instead accepted the recommendation against funding from his conservative Drug Czar, Barry Cafferty.

    Four years later, attending an AIDS conference as the former president, Bill Clinton said he regretted how he handled needle exchange, but notice how closely the language -- and the thinking -- tracks that of his wife:

    Asked about what he had done to fight AIDS as president, Clinton said: "Do I wish I could have done more? Yes, but I do not know that I could have done it."

    In particular, he cited his stance on needle-exchange programs, saying, "I think I was wrong about that; I should have tried harder to do that."

    He was referring to his administration's refusal in 1998, after a bitter internal debate, to lift a longstanding ban on federal financing for programs to distribute clean needles to drug addicts, even as top government scientists said such programs did not encourage druge abuse and could save lives. At the time, Clinton's advisers said they feared a political disaster for him if he lifted the ban.

    Even acknowledging his error, Bill Clinton was saying the same as Hillary did, that he showed "as much spine as he possibly could, under the circumstances." The real issue -- with him then as with her today -- is whether a Clinton president will risk political capital and show leadership on important social issues.

    Witness Bill Clinton on gay issues: He caved on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and never lifted a finger on the Defense of Marriage Act -- except to sign it into law. The same "under the circumstances" spinelessness caused him to cave on needle exchange, as the late Bob Hattoy, an openly gay and HIV-positive official in Clinton's Interior Department, said back in 1998 in an interview with Southern Voice:

    "This is worse than 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' because instead of just ruining lives, it can actually kill people. The president was either ill-advised or he decided certain Americans with HIV can just die. This is a very sad day for a president who wanted to have any kind of moral authority."

    Expect more of the same from Hillary Clinton; she even signals as much. Some five years after her husband acknowledged that he erred in not fighting for needle exchange funding, Hillary was still too cautious and calculating to acknowledge as much.

    Now that she's finally come around on needle exchange, no doubt because primary opponents Barack Obama and John Edwards favor federal funding, the whole timeline shows what Ben Smith called her philosophy of governing: "You can call [it] pragmatism and readiness; or too much caution, too little vision. Certainly, Hillary seems to lack Obama's confidence in the ability of a President to shape public opinion, and to lead against it."

    On gay rights, that means Hillary would sign the easy stuff -- hate crimes and employment non-discrimination, and maybe even a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- but don't except anything else from a Clinton II presidency -- whether one or two terms -- unless absolutely no leadership or political risk is required.

    *Billary pic courtesy of the clever folks at FreakingNews.com.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall_2 For related stories and the breaking news, click or bookmark:

    December 27, 2007

    A Mitt flip goes flop

    Posted by: Chris

    Mittromneymeetthepress Poor Mitt Romney just can't flip without flopping. In a cynical ploy to win over social conservatives, Romney has beat a well-documented retreat from a whole host of moderate positions, including a number of gay rights issues. But one mini-flip popped up in his recent appearance on "Meet the Press" and got little notice amidst all the giant policy reversals:

    MR. RUSSERT:  You say you'd be a more effective leader on gay rights than Ted Kennedy.

    GOV. ROMNEY:  And, and let me--let's, let's do them one by one.  OK, Tim? Let's just go through them one by one.  And, and here's my view.  I don't believe in discriminating against someone based upon their sexual orientation. And so I would be effective in trying to bring greater recognition of the, of the rights of people not, not to be discriminated against.  Let me...

    MR. RUSSERT:  You said--you said that you would co-sponsor the...

    GOV. ROMNEY:  Tim, Tim, Tim...

    MR. RUSSERT:  Wait a minute.  Wait a minute.  This is important.

    GOV. ROMNEY:  OK, fine.

    MR. RUSSERT:  You said that you would sponsor the Employment Nondiscrimination Act.  Do you still support it?

    GOV. ROMNEY:  At the state level.  I think it makes sense at the state level for states to put in provision of this.

    MR. RUSSERT:  Now, you said you would sponsor it at the federal level.

    GOV. ROMNEY:  I would not support at the federal level, and I changed in that regard because I think that policy makes more sense to be evaluated or to be implemented at the state level.  And let me describe why.

    MR. RUSSERT:  So you did--you did change.

    GOV. ROMNEY:  Oh, Tim, if you're looking for someone who's never changed any positions on any policies, then I'm not your guy.

    Most civil rights regulation of the workplace is at the federal level, which makes this particular flip-flop particularly transparent. The primary practical difference is that regulating at the state level takes it out of the president's responsibilities, allowing Romney to promise (as surely he has to social conservatives) that he will not support any type of federal protection based on sexual orientation.

    Peterlabarbera3 But it wasn't enough for at least one anti-gay leader, Peter Labarbera of Americans for Truth, since in punting the issue for Congress and the president Romney still sounds like he's supportive of state-level protections. LaBarbera has separately launched a group called Republicans for Family Values -- no doubt to preserve AFT's tax status -- on whose behalf he says this:

    “Mitt Romney’s Christmas present to the homosexual lobby disqualifies him as a pro-family leader,” LaBarbera said. “Laws that treat homosexuality as a civil right are being used to promote homosexual ‘marriage,’ same-sex adoption and pro-homosexuality indoctrination of schoolchildren. These same laws pose a direct threat to the freedom of faith-minded citizens and organizations to act on their religious belief that homosexual behavior is wrong.”

    LaBarbera said it is “inconceivable after Massachusetts’ twin disasters involving homosexual ‘marriage’ and homosexual adoption that Romney now is recommending pro-homosexual ‘orientation’ laws –– long derided as “special rights” among social conservatives — to the rest of the nation.

    That's the thing about transparently political flip flips; they are unlikely to satisfy anyone because they're not based on core principles. How ironic that a man who wears his faith -- albeit in generic Christian form -- on his sleeve turns out to be the biggest moral relativist in the race -- from either political party.

    Arrested on his own petard

    Posted by: Chris

    The blog run by Immigration Equality included an interesting tidbit about a heterosexual couple facing criminal charges because the man was helping his Mongolian girlfriend stay in the U.S. illegally. It's unusual to see a hetero facing felony charges for harboring an illegal, much less see it in the news, but the man in this relationship was also a top investigator with Citizen & Immigration Services, previously known as Immigration & Naturalization Services, or INS.

    AP reports:

    Authorities said Lloyd Miner, an internal affairs chief for U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, knew that his girlfriend, Tsomorlig Batjargal, a native of Mongolia, was an illegal immigration and helped to obtain fake identifications to hide her immigration status. Miner, 49, faces a maximum of 25 years in prison. He has been on unpaid leave since December 2006.

    Minor's attorney claims he didn't know his girlfriend was illegal, even though he paid for a plane ticket to fly her to Washington state to get a driver's license. “This is ‘boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, and boy asks her to move in with him,’ ” said Minor's attorney. “There’s no crime in falling in love.”

    If anything, Minor's crime here was one of stupidity. As gay couples in binational relationships know all too well, Minor could have solved his girlfriend's immigration problems with a quick trip to the justice of peace. Once married, Batjargal would have been golden -- or green-carded, at least.

    For those of us forced to live in exile from the U.S. because we choose not to violate immigration laws, Minor's tale is more cruel than sad.

    December 26, 2007

    GNW Pick: Bisexuality unexplored

    Posted by: Chris

    • "Controversial new poll shows bisexuality widespread": QUICK LOOK: A national poll showing that bisexuals account for half the number of people who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual is drawing mixed reactions. Many bisexual men and... (MORE)
       

    The Washington Blade's Joshua Lynsen looks into the controversial Hunter College/Knowledge Networks survey that showed Hillary Clinton with an overwhelming lead among gay Democrats -- more than two to one over Barack Obama. A number of us raised questions about the demographics of the survey, which showed more than 50 percent of LGB folks were women and 49 percent were bisexual.

    Lynsen reports:

    The poll of 768 people, conducted last month, shows in its adjusted final tally that 15.4 percent of respondents are bisexual men and 33.5 percent are bisexual women. Gay men accounted for 33.4 percent of the poll’s respondents and lesbians accounted for 17.8 percent. The poll asked respondents to assign their own sexual orientation.

    Amy Andre, a sexuality studies expert who helped write a bisexual health issues report this year for the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, said the poll’s findings are not without precedent.

    The U.S. government’s National Survey of Family Growth found in 2002 that 56 percent of men and women who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual were bisexual.

    “So the findings at Hunter come as no surprise to me,” she said. “Neither do the reactions to the Hunter study. Bi-phobia is unfortunately alive and well in the LGBT community, as is ignorance about the lives of bisexual people within the community.”

    Ahh yes, a mouthpiece from the Task Force -- who, it turns out, is a bisexual activist herself, although Lynsen does not identify her as such -- wagging the finger of phobia at the rest of us. The B's and the T's and their PC allies sure are ready with the phobia charge, aren't they? Does this give anyone else ENDA deja vu?

    Their view is one valid side of the story, of course, but critics of the survey ought in fairness to be given the opportunity to answer accusations of biphobia. Why is only one survey critic -- Andrew Sullivan -- quoted and given no opportunity to respond? Is that fair or balanced?

    Readership surveys of the nation's LGBT publications tell a much different story about the percentage of women and bisexuals in "the community," as do the membership lists of every major LGBT group, and the makeup of audiences at every LGBT event.

    Perhaps there is another explanation to the Knowledge Networks survey or the National Survey of Family Growth -- which I'd never heard of before the Blade report and which Lynsen never quotes directly.  Among the demographic data collected from respondents generally is their self-reported sexual orientation.  Those respondents are then culled into an "LGB subgroup" and polled on questions like who they favor for president.

    For one thing we don't know if that's the approach at all because Lynsen doesn't include an interview with anyone at Knowledge Networks amidst all the "biphobia" finger-wagging. If my suspicion is correct, the problem with that approach is that self-identification as "bisexual" is not the same thing as self-identification as part of the "LGBT community." A bisexual man or woman married or dating exclusively in the opposite sex, living a closeted life with homosexual activity hidden from their public partner, isn't the same as an out and proud bisexual whose family, friends and partners are aware of his or her sexual orientation.

    Sticking with that theory, one way to correct the data would be to ask respondents if they are open about their sexual orientation with their partners, at least, or simply ask whether they identify as part of the "gay community," the "bisexual community" or the "LGBT community." Otherwise, data about who they support for president, or what kind of cheese they eat or which airline they fly, isn't particular relevant to the purposes to which the data is being put.

    GNW 5: 'Third gender' gays win '07

    Posted by: Chris

    1. 'Third gender' gays emerge as Nepal's '07 winners"'Third gender' gays emerge as Nepal's '07 winners": QUICK LOOK: Nepal's gay community has emerged as the only winners of the year that saw the country suffering from a series of dismal failures. The most remarkable gain for the homosexual,... (MORE)
    2. "Italian gays call for government ban on 'reparative therapy'": QUICK LOOK: The head of the Italian homosexual activist group Arcigay, Aurelio Mancuso, is demanding that the country’s health minister, Livia Turco, intervene to stop the efforts... (MORE)
    3. Gay immigrants fight to join larger rights movement"Gay immigrants fight to join larger movement": QUICK LOOK: Chicago's immigrant rights movement was on the verge of making history, and Nicole Perez was ready to lend her voice when she was told, with an angry sneer, that she... (MORE)
    4. David Beckham loves being gay icon, wife dresses him"David Beckham loves being gay icon, wife dresses him": QUICK LOOK: Former England captain, David Beckham has confessed that his wife, Victoria "Posh Spice", likes to dress him and that he loves being a gay icon. The 32-year-old told... (MORE)
    5. Prof can see papers from gay bias basketball suit"Prof. can see papers from gay bias basketball suit": QUICK LOOK: An ex-Penn State assistant professor who claims the university discriminated against her because she is a lesbian can seek documents from the settled lawsuit involving... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall These are the Top 5 most popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. Remember you can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    December 25, 2007

    Feliz Navidad

    Posted by: Chris

    Ba_xmas Merry Christmas, Feliz Natal and Feliz Navidad, from me and mine to you and yours.

    Happy Holidays!

    December 24, 2007

    A holiday politics break

    Posted by: Chris

    With the arrival of Christmas, we all settle down with our families -- whether blood or chosen or (if you're lucky) both. Anderson and I will spend this holiday in Buenos Aires, where we've been since October, enjoying this beautiful city for the quiet days to come.

    This particular holiday isn't safe from politics, with the Iowa caucuses just 10 days away, but I thought I'd take a break and share with you something on the lighter side -- some of the Latino pop I haven't been able to get out of my head these last months.

    If you only watch one of the videos, watch the first one -- the song "Perfecta" by Spanish artist Miranda is absolutely infectious. Throw in a silly, campy video and it reminds me of "Come On Eileen." one of the Brit pop classics from my teen years.

    If you prefer your Latin pop to be less Dexy's Midnight Runners and more Ricky Martin-heartthrob, then Colombian crooner Juanes is your man. His hit "Me Enamore" ("I Love") is everywhere in Buenos Aires, and count me among its victims.

    Finally, check out the latest video of Eduardo Cruz, brother of actress Penelope Cruz, which features a scandalous kiss between Penelope and her sister Monica.


    Lyrics to the first two tunes, along with English translations courtesy of Google, are available on the jump.

    Continue reading»

    December 23, 2007

    Blade editor endorses Hillary

    Posted by: Chris

    Kevin_naff It took me by surprise to see that Kevin Naff, the editor of the Washington Blade, had penned an editorial in this week's paper endorsing Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. I know Kevin well, since I hired him on as the Blade's managing editor and worked closely with him for several years. He is smart, plugged in to politics and deeply committed on gay issues. 

    For all these reasons, I read his editorial with great interest to see where he thought Clinton was better on gay issues. Then I realized that he isn't saying that at all.  In fact, he acknowledges the betrayal of gay rights in the administration of Bill Clinton, and the former president's role in 2004 advising John Kerry to back state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. He even acknowledges that Barack Obama and John Edwards back full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, while Hillary favors only half-repeal.

    He could have added that Hillary has never said her husband shouldn't have signed DOMA. If she can't stand up to her husband on something so basic, will she do so when he (inevitably) advises her to our disadvantage as president? She also defended "Don't Ask, Don't Tell as a "necessary transition"; something longtime "FOB" David Mixner has called her out on:

    Let us be very clear about this. Nothing could be further from the truth. This policy was never presented to the Congress, the LGBT community or to the press as a ‘transitional policy.’ The Clintons never indicated that they would revisit this policy nor did they for the rest of their Administration. They never ever brought it up again.

    Despite all this, Naff endorses Hillary -- but for entirely different reasons. He argues that she is more experienced and better prepared to be president with the world so dangerous a place, and she is more likely to win the general election.  He does tie that later point into gay rights, rightly pointing out that there is far more separating the two parties on gay issues than separates Clinton from Obama or Edwards.

    I would disagree with Kevin on the experience issue, since Obama is no less experienced than Bill Clinton was in 1992, and Hillary Clinton's maddeningly cautious calibrations are unlikely to return the U.S. to a strong leadership position on the world stage.  She also voted in favor of the Iraq war, a vote that was more about politics than anything -- which is deeply disturbing in and of itself.

    As for electability, I said my piece yesterday, and I would add that nominating Hillary Clinton, or even electing her as president, only guarantees more of the divisive politics than have crippled  this country for almost two decades. That may not be entirely her fault, but it's a reality nonetheless.

    December 22, 2007

    GNW 5: One lesbian's ripple effect

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Death of one lesbian could reshape marriage debate"Death of one lesbian could reshape marriage debate": QUICK LOOK: Charlene Strong was on her way home in a pounding Seattle winter storm when the call came from her partner, Kate Fleming. Sounding stressed, Fleming told her that a rain... (MORE)
    2. Gay Swedish pop star admits he is HIV-positive"Gay Swedish pop star admits he is HIV-positive": QUICK LOOK: One of Sweden’s best-known pop stars has admitted in a magazine interview that he is HIV-positive. Andreas Lundstedt, 35, who achieved international success as a member... (MORE)
    3. Gay '60 Min' soldier arrived home with unit for holidays"Gay '60 Minutes' soldier arrived home with unit for holidays": QUICK LOOK: The holidays will be a whole lot brighter for the Manzella family, who are looking forward to welcoming a very special guest home. Sergeant Darren Manzella, the Army... (MORE)
    4. PayPal co-founder, Facebook investor Thiel is gay"PayPal co-founder, Facebook investor Thiel is gay": QUICK LOOK: Silicon Valley gossip blog Valleywag wants to put the notion that Venture Capital is scarce of gay people to rest, letting the world know that PayPal co-founder Peter... (MORE)
    5. "S.F. man arrested for stalking over post-sex trans secret": QUICK LOOK: A 25-year-old California man allegedly shocked to learn that he was engaged in a sexual act with a transgender woman was sentenced yesterday to four months jail for engaging in a month-long terror... (MORE)

    Romney redefines what he 'saw'

    Posted by: Chris

    Mittromneyhands Anyone supporting Mitt Romney or considering doing so should read this first. In the same week where Romney went on "Meet the Press" and tried to spin his way through his reversal on a dizzying array of issues, he's now trying to dissemble his way out of a whopper from his big religion speech.

    From MSNBC on Thursday:

    Romney says that it depends on what the definition of "saw" is.

    A defensive Romney was peppered with questions today on exactly what he meant when he said -- most recently on "Meet the Press" -- that he "saw" his father march with Martin Luther King Jr. Recent articles have indicated that his father, the late Michigan Gov. George Romney, didn't march with the civil-rights leader.

    Admitting that he didn't see the march with his own eyes, he said, "I 'saw' him in the figurative sense."

    "The reference of seeing my father lead in civil rights," he said, "and seeing my father march with Martin Luther King is in the sense of this figurative awareness of and recognition of his leadership."

    "I've tried to be as accurate as I can be," he continued, smiling firmly. "If you look at the literature or look at the dictionary, the term 'saw' includes being aware of -- in the sense I've described."

    If this is Mitt Romney "trying to be as accurate as he can be," then that says something about Mitt Romney. The story itself isn't particularly consequential, but that's exactly the point. If he will exaggerate the facts on something small, and then not admit error when he is caught dead to rights for doing so, it raises serious questions about how he would handle bigger whoppers, or just plain mistakes.

    The New York Times actually put together a collection of Romney's exaggerations -- "Romney learns that 'facts are stubborn things'"-- which bring to mind Al Gore's famous claims to having invented the Internet, etc. But Gore wasn't also under scrutiny for having reinvented himself to run for national political office. Between the flip-flops and the fibs and the dissembling, Mitt Romney comes across as not only lacking in integrity, but as a bit of an empty suit.

    December 21, 2007

    GNW Pick: Only in San Francisco…

    Posted by: Chris

    Once in a while you come across a story from the Bay Area that has a certain twist that makes you say, "Only in San Francisco…" In just the last two days, I came across two. Both are serious, mind you, crime stories actually. But they take that left turn at Albuquerque and never look back…

    • "Gay son's death in trans woman's attack angers mom": QUICK LOOK: The mother of a gay man who died after a fight in the Castro last year is blasting a decision by the San Francisco District Attorney's office this week not to refile manslaughter ... (MORE)

    03_07_adams_511 The first comes from the Bay Area Reporter, San Fran's venerable gay newspaper, about the district attorney's decision not to seek a retrial of Kyle Adams in the death of Chad Ferreira, a gay man, in a street fight in the Castro. Adams was found guilty of felony assault but the jury deadlocked on more serious counts.

    According to the prosecution, Ferreira confronted Adams for punching Ferreira's friend. After the two came to blows, Ferreira was knocked to the ground and hit his head on the curb. Adams subsequently kicked Ferreira in the head, but the jury couldn't agree on whether it was the fall or the kick that actually killed Ferreira. All terribly sad and tragic.

    The "San Francisco twist"? It's not even the fact that Adams proclaimed after the trial that he is actually a she, as in a transgender male. It's that the victim's mother and the jury foreman agree that the gender switch was actually a ploy for sympathy in winning a lighter sentence.

    "It's awfully convenient," the foreman said. Adams was indignant in response:

    Adams told the B.A.R. that she had identified as a transgender woman before her fight with Ferreira. But she said on the night of the incident with Ferreira, she was dressing as an effeminate flamboyant man and not as a woman. Adams says she considers herself to be a pre-operative transgender woman and is taking hormones. She learned she will be able to continue to receive hormones in state prison. Unless her sentence is overturned on parole, Adams will have to serve three years in state prison before being eligible for parole.

    Sounds like a heavier sentence came with its own set of benefits.

    • "S.F. man arrested for stalking over post-sex trans secret": QUICK LOOK: A 25-year-old California man allegedly shocked to learn that he was engaged in a sexual act with a transgender woman was sentenced yesterday to four months jail for engaging in a month-long terror... (MORE)

    The second story involves a young man angry after learning he had engaged in a sex act with a male-to-female transgender woman. Police say Robert Delavictoria "posted threatening anti-gay screeds on the front door of the couple's San Bruno home and plastered much of their apartment complex with homophobic graffiti." Some of that graffiti alleged the transgender woman was HIV-positive, which the prosecution said was untrue.

    Delavictoria was initially charged with six felonies, including two hate crime counts, but eventually pled no contest to one felony count of stalking with a hate crime allegation.

    The San Francisco twist? The victim actually appeared in court to ask for lenience in sentencing, arguing Delavictoria was in need of counseling and sensitivity training more than punishment. There are several levels of irony here, including that the whole point of hate crime allegations is to increase punishment, not decrease it.

    So rather than eight months in jail, Delavictoria got half that, along with mandatory counseling from Community United Against Violence, "a multicultural organization working to end violence against and within our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQQ) communities." So much for arguing that hate crime laws aren't intended as a form of thought control, if those convicted are forced to undergo re-education, however well-intentional, from our own advocacy groups.

    The final irony, at least for me, is trying to imagine what Delavictoria will be taught in his sessions. There's no question, of course, that his vandalism, mischief and stalking were completely unjustified under the circumstances, but this isn't a course in anger management.

    Will he be taught that it's perfectly OK socially for a transgender woman to not reveal her "status" -- even with her own sex partners? I can think of perfectly reasonably arguments both ways on that one, and I would imagine that 99.9% of us would want our sex partners to volunteer that type of information.

    Not doing so certainly doesn't justify vandalism, stalking or violence, but it's also not particularly good manners, and in fact quite inconsiderate and (dare I say it?) deceitful. Will Delavictoria's re-education stay neutral on that point or insist otherwise?

    The electability factor

    Posted by: Chris

    In a rare direct jab at a rival, Barack Obama has questioned Hillary Clinton's oft-repeated claim to be the most electable candidate, a big factor in Iowa that probably turned the state for John Kerry four years ago:

    “I’m not going to mention names, but I mean the notion that a viability or an electability argument is being made by somebody who starts off with almost half the country not being able to vote for them doesn’t make sense,” the Illinois senator told a Portsmouth audience, according to a report in Foster’s Daily Democrat.

    “For whatever reason I keep on defying this notion that somehow the American people are not ready for me. That just is not borne out,” he said.

    Then, a new Zogby Poll bore that out, showing Obama as the only candidate beating all five of the top Republicans:

    Obama (D) 53%, Romney (R) 35%
    Obama (D) 47%, Huckabee (R) 42%
    Obama (D) 48%, Giuliani (R) 39%
    Obama (D) 47%, McCain (R) 43%
    Obama (D) 52%, Thompson (R) 36%

    Clinton (D) 46%, Romney (R) 44%
    Huckabee (R) 48%, Clinton (D) 43%
    Giuliani (R) 46%, Clinton (D) 42%
    McCain (R) 49%, Clinton (D) 42%
    Clinton (D) 48%, Thompson (R) 42%

    Edwards (D) 50%, Romney (R) 38%
    Edwards (D) 47%, Huckabee (R) 41%
    Giuliani (R) 45%, Edwards (D) 44%
    McCain (R) 46%, Edwards (D) 42%
    Edwards (D) 51%, Thompson (R) 35%

    If only, Bill, if only

    Posted by: Chris

    Bill_richardson_1 An exclusive interview with Bill Richardson in today's Washington Blade is a painful reminder of his enormous potential as a candidate and leader on gay rights issues. Finally, just weeks before he is likely to implode in Iowa and New Hampshire, Richardson offers an eloquent case for support from gay Democrats.

    I was an early fan of Richardson's, enamored of his record of actually passing gay and trans rights legislation, in addition to voting and cosponsoring the other hopefuls have skated by with.  Asked by Lou Chibbaro to make his case for gay votes, Richardson is succinct and persuasive:

    Because I, by far, have the best record, not just the record of voting right but of pushing for gay and GLBT legislation throughout my career as a congressman and as a governor, particularly as a governor. I believe I have the most far-reaching legislative record in a red state than any other governor. In fact, I think New Mexico and New York are considered the most pro gay-lesbian states in terms of rights simply because I’ve taken leadership positions and not just supported them.

    I’ve taken the lead, as you probably know, on a number of pieces of legislation. Hate crimes [legislation] with [protections for] gender identity — I pushed that in 2003 against the advice of gay rights activists who thought it would be too controversial. I pushed it and got it done by one vote. I passed executive orders preventing discrimination against gays in the state workplace. We passed legislation preventing discrimination against gay people. … I put a domestic partnership bill on the legislative agenda last year. We lost by one vote, and I’m going to put it up again in January.

    He even has polished his explanations on the two big gay gaffes of his campaign: saying "maricon" on the Don Imus show and telling Melissa Etheridge that being gay was a "choice" during the HRC-Logo debate:

    Well, those were mistakes. They were screw-ups. On the Imus issue, Imus actually asked me to repeat it, just to show that I could speak Spanish. So I didn’t say it in a derogatory sense. Plus, I think the version of ‘maricon’ in Spanish is not — in some cases in the old days when I learned the word, it was not directed at gay people. Gay people weren’t even referred to in the ‘60s, as you recall. It was more a term of making fun of somebody and there was no connection to it being a gay insult. But nonetheless, I shouldn’t have used the word. He just asked me to repeat it to see if I could speak Spanish. And so it was an inadvertent mistake.

    The second one, I was just tired. I should have known better. I wasn’t thinking. You know, we all make mistakes but I shouldn’t be judged on one stupid word as opposed to, I think, a distinguished and very progressive record. So that’s happened. I misunderstood the question. I still made a mistake because I have always been enamored of using the word choice. You know, choice when it comes to the right to choose, choice when it comes to health care. I thought that was an opening to say that I was for choice. I do now understand — I did understand that, I did know that. It’s just a foolish thing that I said.

    Certainly good enough, even if he's still skirting a bit on the meaning of "maricón."

    There were some glitches in the interview, where he promised to pass trans-inclusive hate crimes and ENDA merely by pointing out he rallied the votes in New Mexico. He never said if the whip count there showed a 40-plus vote gap with "gender identity" included, as it did in the U.S. House.

    But there was far more to impress in the interview than to criticize, including a one-of-its kind commitment from the former U.N. ambassador to use the weight of American influence around the world in the cause of gay rights:

    First, in my definition of the importance of human rights in foreign policy, and how we judge other countries in relationship with ties with the United States, it shouldn’t just be the Geneva Conventions and fair elections. I would include the treatment of gay and lesbian people as a factor in American foreign policy positions toward those countries.

    Secondly, I think the United Nations is a very strong forum to, with the Human Rights Committee, to pass resolutions, not just condemning these actions but pushing for full rights for gays and lesbians around the world. And then, thirdly, I would make my AIDS commission — millennium goals a major priority, funding for AIDS treatment, outreach and education. But I would also put my vice president in charge of the AIDS commission to give it both national and international strength, which is going to be needed to continue fighting pandemic diseases and AIDS around the world.

    Unforturnately, even heart-breakingly, it all comes too late. Richardson came close but never broke out of the second tier and isn't registering on the radar of the ABC -- Anybody But Clinton -- voters. It even seems he is submarining his shot as No. 2 on the ticket with Hillary. Perhaps he's still a possibility at Barack Obama's veep.

    Dare to dream.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall For all the related headlines and breaking new, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/demprimary

     

    December 20, 2007

    GNW 5: Good week for gay pols

    Posted by: Chris

    Here are the Top 5 most popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. Remember you can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    1. Gay candidate wins Fort Worth city council runoff"Gay candidate wins Fort Worth city council runoff": QUICK LOOK: Joel Burns defeated Juan Rangel for the District 9 Fort Worth City Council seat. This was the first race for Burns, who becomes the first openly gay Fort Worth City... (MORE)
    2. Edwards vows to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act"Edwards vows to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act": QUICK LOOK: (*WARNING*: anti-gay source): John Edwards said yesterday that if elected president, he would try to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, signed in 1996 by President Clinton,... (MORE)
    3. Lesbian loses to man on Tila Tequila's dating show"Lesbian loses to man on Tila Tequila's dating show": QUICK LOOK: Dani Campbell, a 29-year-old lesbian firefighter for Deerfield Beach, Fla., lost her bid for "A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila" last night. Tequila — whose real last... (MORE)
    4. Gay cop targeted in NYPD sting fired, loses pension"Gay cop targeted in NYPD sting fired, loses pension": QUICK LOOK: A gay cop stung by an undercover detective posing as a potential lover was fired after refusing to drop a lawsuit and rejecting a medical board's approval of a disability... (MORE)
    5. Being gay isn't hindering Colo. congressional hopeful"Being gay isn't hindering Colo. congressional hopeful": QUICK LOOK: Jared Polis, campaigning as the first openly gay candidate for Congress from Colorado, can't wait to take his partner to a delegation dinner in Washington, D.C. The Boulder... (MORE)

    The news from Colorado on Jared Polis shows how the media can report the same basic facts -- that Polis isn't facing homophobia but also hasn't locked up all the gay support you'd expect -- and see the glass half-full, as the Denver Post did in its story, or half-empty as the Rocky Mountain News did in its article.

    Still the more I learn about Polis, the less attractive he is as a candidate. Here he is actually "offended" that heterosexual politicians -- like his chief rival former state Senate prez Joan Fitz-Gerald -- are courting the gay vote:

    Polis is annoyed at what he sees as attempts by his opponents to look as gay-friendly as he is.

    "It's insulting when somebody who is not a member of our community feels like they have a great understanding of what it's like to grow up gay in this country," he said. "These are all personal issues for me. I do intend to have kids and have a family."

    It's one thing to make the case that gay candidates represent gay issues in a way even gay-friendly heterosexuals cannot -- which is true, although the converse is as well. It's quite another to be "insulted" by gay-friendly heterosexuals competing for gay votes against a gay opponent.

    And considering Polis actually opposed the gay-only Employment Non-Discrimination Act pushed by Barney Frank, his straight opponent may actually be better than him on gay rights as well.

    December 19, 2007

    Edwards moves on marriage

    Posted by: Chris

    Bilde1 The same day John Edwards was endorsed by the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition, an influential gay rights group in the state with the nation's first primary, he said the Defense of Marriage Act was "a mistake from the beginning" and he would work to repeal it as president.

    The press account of that commitment, from the anti-gay Washington Times of all publications, is the first time I've seen Edwards expressly call for full repeal of DOMA:

    "I think we should get rid of DOMA; I think DOMA was a mistake from the beginning, and discriminatory, and so I will do everything in my power as president to do that," the Democratic candidate said in a three-minute meeting with reporters.

    Asked by The Washington Times why the act is discriminatory, he bristled, then said: "I think it's discriminatory against gay and lesbian couples, that's what's discriminatory about it." An Edwards staffer ended the press conference one minute later.

    Edwards' claim that DOMA was "a mistake from the beginning" is a subtle dig at Hillary Clinton, since she has never said the same about the law her husband signed as president and has never since renounced. But it's not new for Edwards. He said the same thing way back in 2004 during a nationally televised Democratic primary debate, when he said he would have joined John Kerry and voted against DOMA had he been in the Senate in 1996. He repeated that same position during the HRC-Logo debate earlier this fall.

    Hillary favors a half-repeal of DOMA, removing the portion that blocks the federal government from recognizing marriage licenses issued by states to gay couples. But she would leave in place the half that permits each state to refuse to recognize gay marriages from other states, under the theory the issue is better decided at the state level.

    (She'd be better off arguing that full repeal of DOMA dramatically increases the risk of a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage entirely. That -- and a built-in Hillary bias -- explain why the Human Rights Campaign only asked the Dems about a half-repeal of DOMA in its candidate questionnaire.)

    Up until yesterday, however, Edwards had never committed to a full repeal, and his unqualified support for a repeal pretty much does that. A week after that 2004 primary debate, ABC's George Stephanopoulos pressed Edwards on the issue and he said that he actually agrees with and supports the half of DOMA that allows one state to ignore another state's gay marriages. Whether Edwards has changed his mind about that, or favors a full repeal for the same reason he says he would have voted against DOMA to begin with, is anybody's guess.

    My own guess is that he's tacking his way through the issue, using his wife and daughter's support for gay marriage and his own vague position on DOMA to appeal to gays and progressives while leaving wiggle room for the general election. That's the type of slickness that has always been Edwards' biggest problem, and it contrasts with Barack Obama's specific opposition to both halves of DOMA, when enacted and now for repeal.

    One additional note: When doing research on this post I came across a Washington Blade story from 2004 that included this nugget (sorry but I couldn't find it online to link to it):

    HRC gave Edwards a rating on gay issues of 71 percent for the 106th Congress, which covers 1999 and 2000, his first two years in the Senate. HRC gave him a rating of 100 percent for the 107th Congress, which covers 2001 and 2002.  The HRC rating scorecard shows that Edwards lost points in the 106th Congress for not co-sponsoring the gay civil rights and hate crimes bills at that time.

    HRC's Web site also includes information from the Congressional Record that shows Edwards voted for an amendment introduced by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) in June 2000 that sought to delete the term "sexual orientation" from the hate crimes bill, an action that HRC opposed. However, HRC did not use that vote to dock points from Edwards' score.

    Had it done so, he would have been given a rating of 57 percent for the 106th Congress. HRC spokesperson Steven Fisher said he would review HRC's records to determine whether an error was made on that rating.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall For a complete news summary, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/demprimary

    Watch this space!

    Posted by: Chris

    Under_construction2 The end of the year will bring some exciting changes to "Citizen Crain" that I hope will make it more interesting and relevant to those interested in gay politics, news, culture and more.  Some of the changes will be cosmetic -- ye olde Typepad template is finally gonna get souped up into something more customized -- and some will be more substantive.

    The changes could begin as early as this week, with more on the way soon thereafter.

    In the meantime, several of you have had trouble posting comments on the blog, apparently getting an error that says the comment has been trapped by a spam filter.  I can assure that I have not tagged any words as automatically spam-worthy and have only banned two commenters in the history of this blog.

    The problem stems from Typepad's addition of a spam filter to all of its blogs. I'm not sure why they did it, since spam has never been a big problem for me, but I can't opt out. Your comment isn't "lost," however. It goes into a spam folder, and I can publish it from there.  Feel free to give me a heads up (click "Email Me" below my photo on the right) if your comment is trapped.  Typepad promises that the filter "learns" after I publish a trapped comment, so hopefully the glitch is temporary.

    And as always, thanks for reading and feel free to pass on your suggestions for how to improve the blog.

    December 18, 2007

    GNW Pick: Mitt-Flop flops on 'Meet the Press'

    Posted by: Chris

    Image3624022g I'm separating out my Editor's Pick from the GNW 5 from now on so the posts aren't so long. My choice this time is Mitt Romney's appearance on "Meet The Press" on Sunday (video here, transcript here).

    • "Romney insists he'll stick to anti-gay, abortion views": QUICK LOOK: Republican Mitt Romney sought Sunday to deflect charges that he is a flip-flopper, insisting he had learned from experience and could be counted on to keep his campaign... (MORE)

    The hour-long interview did nothing to dispel his image as a craven politician willing to say or do almost anything to win office. As usual, Tim Russert was methodical and relentleess, eschewing all talk of the horse race by going point by point through all the issue areas where Romney had flip-flopped: abortion, gun control, immigration, gay rights, health care, taxes and the list goes on.

    Romney is smart and articulate and had explanations for each position change, but none was satisfactory and the cumulative effect was devastating. Here was a businessman-turned-politician who treats his policy views as the equivalent of a corporate marketing strategy. If the target market changes, so does the pitch. Every politician engages in some of that, and Bill Clinton is at least partially right that Barack Obama has the advantage of being so new to the national stage that he hasn't had to do so on the big issues of the day. But Romney is the worst in recent memory.

    The clincher for me, and it surprises me that Russert didn't pick up on it, was near the end of the hour-long interview, when Romney tried to move to the offensive, constrasting his "evolution" on stem cell research with what he claims was a 180 by Hillary Clinton:

    In terms of funding, I think the best source of our funding application should be in what are known as alternative methods.  And this just recent.  I've been, as you know, fighting for this for some time.  But this recently saw a major breakthrough with direct reprogramming of, of human adult cells to become stem cells that can be very potent cells applied to help cure disease and, and serious conditions. 

    Now, interestingly, Hillary Clinton voted for these alternative method technologies when she was first faced with it.  But then as she became a presidential candidate, she was one of 28 to vote against alternative methods.  She put politics ahead of people.

    You get that? A man who has changed his mind more times than he has made it up tells us, when he sees a similar "evolution" in someone else, that she "put politics ahead of people." It takes one to know one, Governor Romney.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall For a complete news summary, click or bookmark:  gaynewswatch.com/GOPprimary

    GNW 5: Gay vs. gay-friendly

    Posted by: Chris

    Gnw5




    1. Gay contestant Todd Herzog wins 'Survivor: China'"Gay contestant Todd Herzog wins 'Survivor: China'": QUICK LOOK: He was obnoxious and often times repugnant with his backstabbing and overly paranoid game play, but this weekend, at the age of 22, gay flight attendant Todd Herzog became... (MORE)
    2. Colo. activists bypass gay candidate in House race"Colo. activists bypass gay candidate in House race": QUICK LOOK: He's gay and she's straight, but Colorado's top gay activists didn't hesitate when it came time to endorse in the 2nd Congressional District race. They've backed former... (MORE)
    3. '60 Min': Military soft on gay discharges during war"'60 Min': Military soft on gay discharges during war: QUICK LOOK: Discharges of gay soldiers are dropping, dramatically: from over 1,200 a year in 2001 to barely 600. With the military struggling to fight two wars, there are growing... (MORE)
    4. Gay entrepreneurs wearing their hearts on T-shirts"Gay entrepreneurs wearing their hearts on their T-shirts": QUICK LOOK: The symbol is known to many — three gold bars within a blue box, the Human Rights Campaign's ubiquitous sign, inspiring the fight for gay and lesbian rights and, apparently,... (MORE)
    5. TV anchor busted for calling N.Y. cop a 'dyke bitch'"TV anchor busted for calling N.Y. cop a 'dyke bitch'": QUICK LOOK: A foxy Philly anchorwoman - who once e-mailed sexy swimsuit snaps to a married TV talking head - became an anger woman yesterday, calling a female NYPD cop a "dyke bitch"... (MORE)

    435757519_t220Check out the story on Colorado congressional candidate Jared Polis. He is a young businessman financing his first-ever political run by going for an open seat in the U.S. House. He's up against a much more experienced politician, former state Senate president Joan Fitz-Gerald.

    Polis was endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin, but gay leaders in Colorado, including Tim Gill, have gone with Fitz-Gerald based on her long record of leadership on gay rights. I'm usually inclined to go with the Victory Fund, supporting any viable gay candidate because it is so critical to get us a place at the table. That usually means opposing a gay-friendly politican, since gays are most likely to be viable in districts that are left-liberal.

    But Polis has mucked things up, to my mind, by coming out against Barney Frank's compromise Employment Non-Discrimination Act because it did not include "gender identity." No need to replay that debate here, but suffice it to say that I'd prefer a realistic politician of whatever sexual orientation over a purist who would hold gay rights hostage for a long, long time.

    The 'other Dem' gets a gay nod

    Posted by: Chris

    John_and_stuart_talk_to_john_edward It's not just in the mainstream media that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have hogged almost all the coverage. Most of the attention in the gay press and blogs has been focused on the two Democratic primary frontrunners, with nary a mention of John Edwards, the candidate in third in Iowa and most national surveys.

    When the spotlight has fallen elsewhere, it's either been for also-rans who are prone to gay gaffes (Bill Richardson) or who are especially good on gay issues (Dennis Kucinich and even Mike Gravel).

    Edwards, the 2004 vice presidential nominee, has barely registered on the political gaydar. His only prominent gay endorsement has been from former Clintonite David Mixner, and that was based on the former North Carolina senator's vehement war opposition and commitment to fight poverty. Now Edwards can count at least one more prominent gay nod, from the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition.

    The choice is a curious one, considering Edwards hasn't been much of a factor in New Hampshire, trailing both Clinton and Obama in the state by significant margins. A poll released last week by the Concord Monitor showed the frontrunners locked at 31 and 32 percentage points, respectively, with Edwards at half that amount.

    Given that he's not appreciably better on any gay rights issue than the two more likely to win, then why the endorsement from the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition?

    "We took a long look at all of the candidates, we met with many of them, and in our judgment, John Edwards's sincere commitment to battling discrimination and ensuring equal rights for every American is unparalleled," the group's executive director, state representative Mo Baxley, said in the release.

    "He and his wonderful wife, Elizabeth, have spent their entire lives fighting for those without a voice and standing up for what is right. John Edwards will be the kind of president we can trust to stand up for everyday Americans."

    The N.H. FTM hasn't posted anything yet on its website about the Edwards nod, so reading between the lines it appears that Edwards' populism -- "fighting for those without a voice" -- won the day for the group and its E.D., a former state rep, who also endorsed Edwards personally.

    The other curiosity, of course, is that Edwards opposes gay marriage and until the HRC-Logo debate cited his own religious views and conservative North Carolina upbringing as policy justifications. For the New Hampshire "Freedom to Marry" Coalition to back him over Obama, when Edwards favors only a half-repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and Obama favors full repeal, is passing strange.

     

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall For a complete news summary, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/demprimary

    City of Sensitive Brotherly Love

    Posted by: Chris

    Phillylove250 I wrote a couple weeks back that the New York City campaign to woo gay tourists was in serious need of some sensitivity training, after a spokesperson was quoted as welcoming "families" or "just you and your lover." I took some flak for being hyper-sensitive myself, but I felt some vindication earlier today when I read that the city of Philadelphia is actually putting money into more than marketing gay tourists.

    The goal, obviously, is to avoid "awkward situations" at check-in and throughout the gay guest's stay. If you've traveled much with a same-sex partner, you no doubt know what they're talking about.

    On more than a few occasions, especially outside big cities, there are the confused and repeated questioning about whether you really want a single bed for two guests of the same gender. I've been annoyed as well by references to my boyfriend as my "friend," when I'm sure they wouldn't make the same assumption if he were a she.

    I recognize the reputation of "sensitivity training" and political correctness, but keep in mind that these are not merely folks with whom we have every day interactions. We are their paid guests, and their role within the hospitality industry is to make us feel welcome and comfortable.

    Let's hope the Big Apple follows the City of Brotherly Love's lead and starts with City Hall.

    December 17, 2007

    Different hemisphere, same leadership vacuum

    Posted by: Chris

    Kevinrudd_wideweb__470x3050 Australian gays were understandably a bit giddy about last month's election, as the left-center Labor Party overturned 12 years of Conservative Party rule. Moderately anti-gay Prime Minister John Howard even lost his own seat in Parliament. But it's interesting to see how the rise of new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd still carries with it little prospect for actually following through on pro-gay campaign rhetoric.

    In an essay in the gay paper Sydney Star-Observer, the country's first out gay senator, Brian Greig of the centrist Democrats, paints the picture:

    On the face of it, a Labor Government and Green Upper House is the most ideal outcome for the delivery of sexuality law reform. Certainly, that dynamic has worked well in WA and Tasmania, producing the best suite of law reforms in Australia at state level.

    However, this won’t necessarily translate to federal dynamics because federal Labor is more conservative than its state counterparts. Labor could also bypass the Greens in the Senate if it needs to by working with Opposition and Independent senators.

    Sound familiar to anyone in the U.S.? (And not just on gay issues, of course.) A national party sapped of political willpower by the moderates it fears it needs to compete nationally.

    Greig also points out that even though Rudd's Labor party supports a national anti-discrimination law and 58 reforms in same-sex entitlements recommended by a non-partisan blue chip panel, party leaders have already signaled that the federal law must wait until after the next election.

    Labor committed during the campaign to recognizing state-issued civil unions at the federal level, according to Greig, but just yesterday Rudd denied his government was planning a civil unions law, instead opting for a "national relationships registry" and some minor insurance and tax reforms.

    And, of course, Labor like their Dem counterparts back home are opposed to same-sex marriage, a position which for some reason surprised the country's gay activists. I suppose hope springs eternal in both hemispheres. Rudd even refused to say how he felt about same-sex second parent adoptions, something leading Dems have at least supported.

    The moral of this tale of two parties is that national political parties will take support from gays and our allies for granted without constant pressure and an activist base that is not captive to the "gay-friendly" party -- or so steeped in inside-baseball lobbying that they forget they are part of a civil rights movement, not a textile manufacturers' trade association.

    December 16, 2007

    The outing double standard

    Posted by: Chris

    Jodiecydney The news that Jodie Foster publicly thanked her "beautiful Cydney" at a Los Angeles women's banquet has apparently pushed the magic button that allows the mainstream media to finally acknowledge that the two-time Oscar winner is gay.

    In a typical report, CNN's Kiki King discussed the development by saying, almost in passing, "of course she's been with Cydney Bernard for over 14 years now."

    "Of course"? If Foster's long-term relationship was so obvious to the mainstream press, why did it take 14 years to report it, and only after Foster herself acknowledged it?

    Here is the double standard on outing. When it comes to heterosexual celebrities, the entertainment media can't get enough, reporting every salacious detail they can get their hands on.  And when closeted celebrities are caught in scandals, they'll jump in with gusto. But gay celebrities in happy, well-adjusted relationships -- whether Ellen or Rosie or Jodie (why are they all lesbians?) -- the public is told nothing about until the celebrity says OK.  Even if the gay star shows up escorted in public by her partner at event after event.

    The same type of double standard holds sway with closeted politicians as well, with those accused of shenanigans investigated without any regard to privacy. But it's hands off on those with long-term relationships until they come out. Mark Foley is an example of both standards.

    The alternative I have advocated for years is "equality." Apply the same rules to gay and straight celebrities, and the same rules to gay and straight politicians. Ask about their personal lives, as they would otherwise, and report their answers, whether they lie, equivocate or refuse to answer. Then report the public facts that fit or contradict what they've said.

    Digging deeper into their private lives is a judgment call, just as it is with straight politicians, that inevitably involves balancing the newsworthiness of the information versus how much personal privacy must be invaded to get it. It's unthinkable that a heterosexual Hollywood celebrity of Jodie Foster would have a 14-year-relationship that went completely unreported. It's way past time that it be unthinkable for gay celebrities, too.

    GNW 5: Gay teens on TV and streets

    Posted by: Chris

    Gnw5_2


     

    1. Navy chaplain's sodomy convictions raise concerns"Navy chaplain's sodomy confictions raise gay rights concerns": QUICK LOOK: The case of a HIV-positive Navy chaplain who pleaded guilty last week in military court to seven violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including forcible... (MORE)
    2. Are MCCs dying or thriving since Perry's retirement?"Are MCCs dying or thriving since Perry's retirement?": QUICK LOOK: The Metropolitan Community Church has served as a sanctuary for countless GLBT Christians who either felt uncomfortable in their "home" denomination or who were no longer... (MORE)
    3. Pyfrom talks about gay teenager role on 'Housewives'"Pyfrom talks about gay teenager role on 'Housewives': QUICK LOOK: Shawn Pyfrom is amazingly astute and mature for a man of his age. At only 21, he already has some fine ideas and ideals. Starpulse talked to him recently about his past... (MORE)
    4. NYT: For gay teens, there is growing hope in numbers"NYT: For gay teens, there is growing hope in numbers": QUICK LOOK: Michael Moreno, a 15-year-old 10th grader from Brewster, N.Y., could not believe what he was seeing as he walked into the big hall at the Westchester County Center, and... (MORE)
    5. Has Ark. moved from ex-gov. Huckabee's AIDS views?"Has Ark. moved from ex-gov. Huckabee's AIDS views?" QUICK LOOK: Mike Huckabee didn't quite disavow his stance 15 years ago that AIDS patients should be isolated from the general public and homosexuals could pose a public health risk... (MORE)

    EDITOR'S PICK

    • Gay soldier says military lax on discharges during war"Gay soldier says military lax on discharges during war": QUICK LOOK: A gay soldier says he disclosed his sexual orientation to his superiors, even offering graphic proof, and was neither discharged nor reprimanded, despite the military's... (MORE)

    Tonight on "60 Minutes," Army Sgt. Darren Manzella will tell the story about how he came out to his commander in Iraq after receiving anonymous emails threatening to out him. He was investigated pursuant to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and even provided photos of himself kissing his boyfriend to authorities. But rather than being discharged, Manzella was told there was insufficient evidence of homosexuality, and he was retained by the Army.

    Darren_manzella His story may seem shocking, but actually it's par for the course because military leadership knows the ban on service by out gays is an anachronism, since gays are generally accepted without incident by fellow soldiers and sailors, just as they are in the armed services of the U.K., Australia, Israel and many other countries.

    Manzella highlights several of the most outrageous aspects of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," among them being government policy that allows gays to serve but requires that they lie in deference to the (presumed) personal prejudices of other service members.

    Just as disturbingly, the policy allows a loophole for straight service members to avoid war in Iraq or Afghanistan by claiming they are gay -- think of a modern-day version of Klinger in "M*A*S*H." There's no question that some significant percentage of those higher discharges since Bill Clinton agreed to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" are heterosexuals escaping their military obligation.

    Finally, it's clear that the U.S. military, strapped by two wars and extended international commitments, has little interest in discharging gay service members with good records doing good for their country. Discharges have dropped from 2,000 a year in 2001 to half that amount in the last several. To be fair, it's not up to the military to change the policy, since it's now the law of the land, but the Pentagon could be more blunt with Congress and the White House that the time has come to end the ban.

    December 14, 2007

    I'm not 'ex-gay'…

    Posted by: Chris

    Wright_003 … I'm just bipolar and off of my medication. From the Dallas Voice comes this incredible story:

    In late November, right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson’s “The 700 Club” aired a segment on how some have come to believe — through prophecies, dreams and visions — that Interstate 35 is the “highway to holiness” referenced in the Old Testament. The segment featured James Stabile, “a 19-year-old homosexual atheist from Dallas,” was out having a few drinks when he ran into Joe Oden, the Heartland evangelist who’s been helping to organize the sieges. 

    “He just barely touched me, and he said, ‘Fire!’ And I remember staggering backward, and I thought I was, like, tripping on acid,” Stabile said in “The 700 Club” segment. “It was the weirdest thing ever. … I didn’t feel the desire to be with men like I had felt before.”

    After nearly four months, James returned home last weekend. His parents said they are fully accepting of his son’s sexual orientation and believes being gay is neither a choice nor a sin. Joseph Stabile said his son is bipolar and had stopped taking his medication.

    Don't miss all the details here.

    The "ex-gay" ministries can destroy lives and irreparably harm relationships among well-meaning if ignorant family members. Thankfully there are organizations like Wayne Besen's Truth Wins Out and blogs like Ex Gay Watch to keep them honest.  I just find it hard to believe that in 2007 this sort of witch-doctor quackery is still practiced in the U.S.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall For a complete news summary, click or bookmark:  gaynewswatch.com/exgay

    Twinkdom is safe at least for now

    Posted by: Chris

    Image003 I am happy to report that gay twinkdom is safe and sound, as Adam Dahl came out victorious in Metroweekly's annual Coverboy of the Year contest.  You may recall that the D.C. gay weekly's annual vote-fest, which usually pits a dozen twinks up against the occasional musclebear or leather boy, this year featured something else entirely. Amidst all the well-defined 20-somethings was "Alexander O.," a female-to-male transgender man who waxed on about his girlfriend and how much he loved "The L Word."

    Adamdahl Some transgender activists saw Alexander's candidacy as a chance to score some socio-political points and started drumming up support for him, even reportedly introducing him at a trans rights banquet. So I did my part, letting folks know that it was a bit odd to see a FTM trans man who identifies with lesbian culture and has a girlfriend as a contestant in a gay Coverboy contest. The predictable hilarity ensued, though if you take the time to weed through the usual vitriol, there is some interesting and provocative debate among the comments.

    Anyway, hats off to my ex-roomie and all around super guy Adam Dahl (who unveiled his full name on the cover of this week's issue). It couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Kudos also to Jeff Code for his amazing (as always) photos. (Pout for the camera, Adam baby, pout!)

    Adam, I expect a raspberry margarita with my name on it at the Diner upon my return to Washington in January!

    Background:

    Love is a question of faith

    Posted by: Chris

    1_2 I wrote last week that the second issue of new gay Brazilian glossy Junior Magazine featured a story about six "real life love stories," including a bit about Anderson and me. I've now gotten my hands on a scan of the page about us and thought I'd share it with you. If you click on the image, it will enlarge for you.

    The feature was great, and we enjoyed the photos as well. Brazil has needed a professional, porn-free national gay magazine of the likes of Out, Genre or Instinct, and it looks like Junior is making the grade.

    Junior_swimmer My pal over at Made In Brazil will be doing a full review of the second issue and the debut of another national gay mag, DOM, next week and I'll link to it. Both have eye candy, of course. A photo feature on gay swimmers included one athlete (pictured on the right here) who we know from our gym in Rio.  DOM featured a fashion spread with model André Ziehe. As always, Made in Brazil has the best of the pics.

    Our amigão Marcos Costa has already compared the two -- albeit in Portuguese -- over at Carioca Virtual. His take is that DOM is for the more sophisticated, older gay man, more focused on daily lives than fashion or glamor. Junior is younger, more visual, and stylish.  How we wound up in Junior and not DOM, in that case, there's no telling.

    Here's my attempt at translating the article from Junior:

    Chris Crain, 42, journalist and lawyer, and Anderson Freitas, 32, student, have been together for almost three years and wear rings. In Amsterdam, they were attacked in the street for walking holding hands. Their story was in the newspapers, and the city government even invited them back for the Gay Pride Parade, months later, as a way of apologizing.

    "Our relationship is caught between the immigration laws of Brazil and the United States," explained Chris, the American. "The U.S. doesn't recognize gay relationships for immigration, so Anderson can't live with me there. And Brazil doesn't permit foreigners with tourist visas to stay in the country for more than six months per year, which prevents me from living here. In order to stay together, we have to travel to other places so we don't have a fixed residence and all of our things are stored in boxes. We plan to marry in some country that recognizes civil unions between gays to get recognition for our relationship."

    "It hasn't been easy living like this. We are always saying goodbye to the other without knowing how much time we will be apart," says Anderson. "But I think when you love someone, barrier don't exist. In the beginning of our relationship, are biggest problem was communication. I didn't speak any English and Chris didn't speak any Portuguese. We were still able to establish a connection because we wanted to so much." Chris agreed completely: "Love is a question of faith"

    December 13, 2007

    GNW 5: The gay on/off switch

    Posted by: Chris

    Gnw5_4


    1. Escort charged with extorting Wash. GOP legislatorEscort charged with extorting Wash. GOP legislator: QUICK LOOK: Arrest warrants have been issued for four men allegedly involved in the extortion of a state legislator who resigned after a sex scandal became public. Spokane County... (MORE)
    2. Calif. gay marriage case delayed by record high amicus briefs:  QUICK LOOK: One reason why the California Supreme Court is taking so long to decide whether gay marriage is legal is that the issue has attracted more "friend of the court" briefs than any other case in recent... (MORE)
    3. Gay Aussie 'Idol' star's TV actor pal also comes outGay Aussie 'Idol' star's TV actor pal also comes out: QUICK LOOK: Australian TV actor Tim Campbell, the friend gay "Idol" star Anthony Callea has turned to after his romance broke up, has announced he is gay. The former "Home and Away"... (MORE)
    4. Queen Latifah laughs off rumors of lesbian weddingQueen Latifah laughs off rumors of lesbian wedding: QUICK LOOK: Queen Latifah was in Chicago promoting her new holiday flick "The Perfect Holiday" when she was asked for reaction to recent tabloid gossip that she allegedly was going... (MORE)
    5. Pope says gay marriage, abortion block world peacePope cites gay marriage, abortion as obstacles to world peace: QUICK LOOK: Nuclear arms proliferation, environmental pollution and economic inequality are threats to world peace -- but so are abortion, birth control and same-sex marriage, Pope... (MORE)

    EDITOR'S PICK

    • Fruit fly researcher expects to find gay on/off switchFruit fly researcher expects to find gay on/off switch: QUICK LOOK: What if you could take a drug that would quickly alter your sexual orientation from straight to gay, or vice versa? To their surprise, neurobiologists have discovered... (MORE)

    It's a bioethics question with no easy answer. If scientists are able to locate particular genes that indicate a predisposition to be gay, or a likelihood of being gay, should tests be developed to identify it in fetuses, or even treat it out of existence?

    The easy answer is no, that we are a natural part of life and have survived and even flourished through evolution for a reason. Putting aside the prejudice question -- some parents are bigoted while others don't want their children to suffer the prejudice of others -- are there other reasons to create a hetero-only world?

    What if scientists isolated the gene that predisposes gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder?

    Huckabee doesn't heart gays

    Posted by: Chris

    Huckabeearkansas Mike Huckabee's surge to the top of GOP polls in Iowa and nationwide has brought the expected scrutiny of his record and, ironically for a candidate courting social conservatives, it is on those same issues that he is withering a bit in the spotlight.

    First came Huckabee's outrageous statement from his 1992 campaign for U.S. Senate in support of quarantining people with AIDS.

    "If the federal government is truly serious about doing something with the AIDS virus, we need to take steps that would isolate the carriers of this plague," Huckabee wrote.

    "It is difficult to understand the public policy towards AIDS. It is the first time in the history of civilization in which the carriers of a genuine plague have not been isolated from the general population, and in which this deadly disease for which there is no cure is being treated as a civil rights issue instead of the true health crisis it represents."

    Advocating quarantine would have been outlandish enough in 1982, when HIV first emerged, but it was flat-earth territory to do so a full decade later -- six years after Surgeon General C. Everett Koop confirmed the already accepted view that casual contact could not spread the virus.

    Huckabee's citation to the Kimberly Bergalis drama is a red herring; even if health care workers with HIV posed a risk, and it turns out they did not if they followed simple protocol, his support for "isolating plague carriers" was not limited to those in medicine.

    Given the opportunity last week to distance himself from those views, Huckabee made clear that he's more concerned with being seen as a Mitt Romney flip-flopper than with alienating moderates. At a news conference, he said:

    “The one thing I feel like is important to note is that you stick by what you said,” said Huckabee. “I’m not going to go around changing my opinion on everything.” …

    Contesting those who say it was “common knowledge” in 1992 that AIDS could not be spread by casual contact, Huckabee said the nation was in “real panic” after the case of a patient contracted the disease from a dentist.

    What's most striking is that Huckabee acknowledges the "panic" surrounding the AIDS virus but rather than clarifying how he didn't fall victim to it, he essentially advocates it as valid justification for public policy, even when the science was clearly to the contrary.

    There's also no question, of course, that Huckabee's ridiculously harsh view about AIDS was informed by general animus toward gays, since he also said in that 1992 questionnaire, "I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural, and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can pose a dangerous public health risk."

    As off-the-wall as Huckabee's views may sound, they were within the mainstream among Arkansas conservatives at the time. I know because I come from a family of conservative Arkansas Republicans. Born and raised in Little Rock and just across the river in Memphis, I regularly debated a very intelligent uncle over whether AIDS could be spread by mosquitoes and whether it was, as Billy Graham had said, God's retribution against homosexuals. I was no bleeding heart, but my views were nonetheless seconded by no one.

    Huckabee's refusal to budge from his 1992 views on AIDS, while endearing him to hard-core conservatives like my kin, risks alienating not just moderates but Republicans who want to nominate someone who is electable. Worse yet, in avoiding at all costs appearing like Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani, who have flip-flopped the other direction on social issues, Huckabee invites an even more damaging comparison: to the current occupant of the White House.

    Whatever currency he gains with conservatives by rewriting the science of AIDS and sticking to inflammatory anti-gay rhetoric, he undermines his credibility with Americans -- including many Republicans -- who want a president who will unite the country and not stick stubbornly to views even when all evidence is to the contrary.

    We've seen what happens when a president buys into public panic -- in Bush's case about terrorism and "weapons of mass destruction" -- ignoring the data and the qualifiers put on the most dire warnings from experts. The last thing Americans want -- or need -- is another president like that.

    December 12, 2007

    Hispanics are the new gays: Obama

    Posted by: Chris

    Obamainnh In a private meeting with New Hampshire Freedom to Marry activists, Barack Obama apparently offered his assessment that Republicans are now using immigration as the wedge issue that gay marriage was in the last several election cycles. "You guys have been supplanted by the Hispanics" as the new evil group, Obama is paraphrased as having said.

    He's probably right about that, given Tom Tancredo's presidential candidacy and how Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee compete with each other to see who can be more xenophobic. Still, the backlash for writing off the much larger Latino voter bloc is much riskier for the GOP than demonizing the gays. Not a strategy Karl Rove ever would have signed off on; not because of it's divisiveness or immorality, of course, but because it's politically stupid.

    Perhaps that's why the only federal gay rights issue that gives Obama and Hillary Clinton pause isn't marriage -- since that's a state issue and both back repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. It's immigration rights for same-sex couples.

    It's still worth noting that on this, as on so many other issues, Obama is slightly better than Clinton, committing to a full (not half) repeal of DOMA, which would allow gay Americans to seek fiance or marriage visas for their (er... our) non-American partners.

    How HRC spent winter break

    Posted by: Chris

    Hrc_division Now we know what the Human Rights Campaign was doing when it wasn't marshaling its considerable resources to save the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act from being stripped from the Defense Department bill. It was busy strategizing  how to make nice with transgender activists still fuming that HRC backed out on its promise to oppose the Employment Non-Discrimination Act when trans protections were removed.

    Martiabernathy My old friend Marti Abernarthy blogging at Trans Advocate, somehow got hold of an internal memo by HRC National Field Director Marty Rouse that summarizes a conference call HRC recently had with trans leaders. In the memo, Rouse also strategizes how to mend fences and "redouble" efforts to pass federal trans rights legislation.

    The Rouse memo, the authenticity of which is not yet confirmed, is remarkably humble and proposes a laundry list of concrete actions HRC should take on behalf of its trans constituents. First, the crow eating:

    • We recognize that HRC’s decision to follow a different strategy to secure a fully-inclusive bill was hurtful to some members of our community and we regret that.
    • The first step in rebuilding our trust in HRC must be for HRC to own up to the fact that we were promised one thing and the promise, for whatever reason, was broken. Members of the transgender community I’ve spoken to want an apology and an explanation, and the explanation must be sincere and convincing. They want to see a stop to public announcements that contradict private activity which many believe is still going on. Until that is done, it will be near impossible to get increased participation from the transgender community.

    But beyond that, Rouse suggests a long list of concrete actions HRC is prepared to take not just to "win back" trans support but move forward with the case for passing a trans-inclusive ENDA:

    • immediately launch a new public education campaign designed to continue the mainstreaming of transgender issues;
    • conduct the state of the art professional survey to teach us just what the American people understand about trans and what they don’t;
    • research the 110+ jurisdictions with protections and characterize what was done right and what was done wrong;
    • work with NCTE to find trans persons to target those 50 or so Congresspersons, and give them the data to help them lobby;
    • work with GLAAD to develop video and PSAs for the targeted states and Congresspersons;
    • redouble the corporate work — they’ve been doing a great job;
    • complete a health insurance survey to increase coverage for medical and surgical transition;
    • offer to assist NCTE for psychiatric members and those who would have contacts that could help us remove GID from the DSM;
    • engage with an organization-wide effort to redouble our educational efforts around gender identity and expression;
    • reposition all of HRC’s messaging to be more inclusive of transgender people, and more humble/apologetic about HRC’s past exclusion of the transgender community;
    • recognize that transgender people are not “new” – that they were present at Stonewall and other early uprisings;
    • encourage transgender people to come out and tell their stories, perhaps providing forums where they can do so safely;
    • require each HRC Regional Steering Committee to undergo transgender awareness training, and to actively work to increase transgender participation on the Committee;
    • hold “lunch and learn” sessions at HRC headquarters, where staffers can hear from transgender people directly on topics such as trans law, history, insurance, healthcare issues etc.;
    • urge HRC staffers to consider transgender people for job openings.

    You would think that however trans activists feel about the ENDA debacle, they would be pleased to see HRC doing what it can to say it's sorry and move forward. But then you would be underestimating the level of acrimony and bitterness that pervades transgender rights activism generally. Those of us who have dared to disagree with them in the past know firsthand just how mean-spirited they can be.

    Rouse_marty_rdax_111x155 Still, it's a bit breathtaking to read Marti Abernathy's point by point dismissal of everything Rouse wrote, no matter how supportive of trans views; not to mention the "hang 'em high" amen chorus of comments to Abernathy's post. I have a great deal of respect for Rouse, ever since his productive work on gay health issues during the Clinton administration. Considering how far he bends over backward to mollify trans concerns, it's distressing to see him get stepped on so.

    Abernathy and I can at least agree on one thing, however. She writes:

    I’ve been told by multiple sources that David Smith has said that HRC will NEVER oppose a gay rights bill (even if it’s not transinclusive). This seems to be the place where the rubber meets the road.

    I don't know if the citation to Smith, HRC's vice president of policy, is accurate, but I certainly agree that "the rubber meets the road" on this question. It ought to be a no-brainer that HRC (or any group that claims to work on behalf of gay and lesbian Americans, will never oppose a gay rights bill, whether or not it's trans-inclusive.

    Hands down the most depressing thing about HRC's "Project Win Back," if such exists, is the last line from Rouse's memo:

    HRC has the political and financial clout to do all this. We have two years to prepare for the next volley in Congress. I think this would be a good start.

    That sounds very much like HRC has (once again) drank the Democrat kool-aid and will make no effort to push ENDA through the Senate early next year. If this was all HRC expected or demanded this entire time, then its long past time for heads to roll -- starting at the top.

    We need a gay rights lobby that spends its resources on forcing the hand of feckless politicians on the Hill; not a coterie of lobbyists so immersed in Beltway minutiae that they accept whatever table scraps -- like late-coming symbolic votes -- offered by our so-called political friends.

    December 11, 2007

    Window Media in the headlines

    Posted by: Chris

    It was a big day in the news for Window Media, the gay publishing company that William Waybourn and I founded in 1997.  William and I both left Window Media last year and are not active in management, though we remain part-owners.  So viewing things from the outside, I'd say the odd thing is that all of today's stories are unrelated:

    1. Andy Towle of Towleroad, who is a former Genre editor, picked up on a report by Queerty that Genre Magazine faked its cover story and then offered some extra background:

    Genre_2_2 One of the men featured as part of a monogamous couple on the current Genre cover is actually heterosexual Playgirl model Julian Fantechi. Inside the magazine, they're presented as a real life couple, an example of monogamy. According to the reader that tipped off Queerty, "Inside the magazine, they are stripped down, appear to be into each other, and are allegedly, discussing their physical relationship, emotional, sexual and spiritual relationship." 

    Editor Neal Boulton told Queerty: "The idea was to use these hot boys to sell a bigger idea that I feel is very possible—longevity in relationships."

    [Before the flap came to light, Boulton had earlier said:] "On the cover this month, Genre bravely put forth a reality couple, and not the typical models who hold perfection over our heads. Our message is simple. Reach for forever. Genre can help you get there."

    2.  Queerty reported that, for unrelated reasons, "Genre’s sales team walked out."

    3.  The Washington Blade has hired a new publisher who's no new face to the newspaper:

    Lynne Brown, the Blade’s former director of business development, starts Wednesday as publisher. Brown said she was excited to rejoin the Blade.

    “I am thrilled to be returning to the Washington Blade newspaper, which is a true passion of mine,” she said. “It touches people’s lives.” …

    Brown, who first joined the Blade in 1988 working as a sales executive, left the publication in July 2006 to become director of business development at Metro Weekly, a gay publication in Washington, D.C.

    Missing from the posts on the Genre cover flap are the real details about how the couple on the cover is portrayed in the story itself. It's not usual for publications to use hot models to illustrate a story, sometimes from "clip art" stockpile photos that have no connection to the actual story.

    But portraying the models as an actual couple would be something else entirely -- and a surprising choice if for no other reason than that Julian Fantechi, the former Playgirl Man of the Year, is hardly a low-profile hetero. Here's hoping Genre Editor Neil Boulton, who's so far produced more headlines (here, here and here) than issues, will set the record, er, straight.

    The Washington Blade news, on the other hand, is all good. Lynne Brown is a big reason why the Blade has been so successful over the years and her return can only mean positive things for the "gay paper of record."

    I still remember the very first meeting William and I had with the Blade staff, back in May 2001, to announce Window Media was purchasing the paper. Lynne was the first to raise her hand to ask a question, wanting to know whether we understood that the strict separation between sales and editorial was a key to the paper's credibility and success. No question was more welcome for me, especially coming from someone in the sales department. The Blade should be well-served by that kind of leadership and her unquestioned commitment to the community.

    NY Times schools HRC

    Posted by: Chris

    Pelosisolmoneseshepard UPDATE: At the end of the post.

    What does it say about the inside-the-beltway captivity of the gay rights movement today when a mainstream newspaper is more aggressive and passionate on our behalf than "the nation's largest gay rights group"?

    First, let's recall the tepid statement from the Human Rights Campaign after House Democrats bailed from the Defense Department bill containing the hate crimes provision so they could cast a symbolic vote against the Iraq war:

    "Today’s decision is deeply disappointing, especially given the historic passage of hate crimes legislation through both Houses of Congress this year.  After more than ten years and several successful bipartisan votes, it is heartbreaking to fall short this close to the finish line," said Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign. …

    "The exhaustive efforts of Majority Leader Reid, Senator Kennedy, Senator Smith, Senator Levin, Representative Conyers, Representative Kirk and other allies of equality on Capitol Hill, to keep the Matthew Shepard Act as part of this bill should not go unnoticed.  We thank them for their efforts and know that they will continue to work with us to find a way to get this legislation to the President’s desk," continued Solmonese.

    Contrast that thank-you note to the Democratic leadership that failed (yet again) to actually pass our legislation with the blistering editorial in yesterday's New York Times:

    Congressional leaders, who have disappointed frequently this year, have done it again. This time, the House leadership has failed to find a way to get a bipartisan law against hate crimes passed and signed into law. Racial, religious, sexual and other minorities have waited long enough. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has to do more than just express her support for the bill; she must find a way to make it the law. …

    Ms. Pelosi says she is still committed to getting the Matthew Shepard Act passed, perhaps early next year. That’s nice, but it is time for her to explain how she intends to do it — and then to make it happen.

    When will the Human Rights Campaign stop acting like a wing of the Democratic Party and more like a wing of the gay rights movement? Even the Stonewall Democrats managed to sound more forceful than HRC:

    "Democrats in both the U.S. House and Senate support passage of the Matthew Shepard Act (Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act). The Democratic Leadership, which guided this legislation to successful passage in their respective chambers, are now burdened with a moral obligation to see their work completed.

    "If the National Defense Authorization Act is not the appropriate vehicle for passage, then we encourage the Democratic Leadership to work with our community to find the most expedient way to place this legislation on the President's desk within this Congress." - Jon Hoadley, Executive Director.

    UPDATE:

    It seems I'm not the only one doing a compare/contrast between HRC and the mainstream press today. Gay and AIDS activist Michael Petrelis takes a look at HRC's statement in response to Mike Huckabee's outrageous views on HIV and a Washington Post editorial on the same subject and asks which one of these things is not like the other?

    Hmmm, the Washington Post is practically falling over itself to use the "h" and "g" words and hold Huckabee to account for his AIDS _and_ gay views, while the leaders at HRC are much more interested in invoking a brave heterosexual kid with AIDS, an "innocent victim" who doesn't raise any troubling icky issues like male-on-male anal transmission of HIV. HRC never says the word gay in their statement!

    How can HRC go out of its way to omit the concerns and voices of gays with AIDS in this debate? Maybe the HRC leaders have forgotten that gay men are the largest category of people living with HIV/AIDS in America. Whatever the reason for the omissions, HRC continues on its well-worn path of spinelessness.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall For a complete news summary, click or bookmark:

    GNW 5: Gay boys and bi fruit flies

    Posted by: Chris

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall Here are the Top Five most popular stories over the last 24 hours on Gay News Watch, along with an Editor's Pick from me at the end:

    1. Gay men fail to break from boy-play: U.K. scientistGay men fail to break from boy-play: QUICK LOOK: Some men are gay because they fail to make a crucial break with the 'boys together' stage of childhood, according to a new book. U.K. anthropologist Desmond Morris argues... (MORE)
    2. Anti-gay carolers bemuse Target shoppers in Calif.Anti-gay carolers bemuse Target shoppers in Calif.: QUICK LOOK: Christmas carolers wearing shirts advertising anti-gay principles drew bespectacled looks from store patrons as they sang outside of a Sacramento Target store, officials... (MORE)
    3. Giuliani says gay 'acts' sinful but homosexuality isn'tGiuliani says gay acts 'sinful' but homosexuality isn't: QUICK LOOK: GOP frontrunner Rudy Giuliani disagrees with his conservative rival Mike Huckabee over whether homosexuality is a "sinful lifestyle" but nonetheless said homosexual acts... (MORE)
    4. Pa. man bludgeoned friend to death in gay panic, lawyer says: QUICK LOOK: A Fayette County man fell into an uncontrollable rage and bludgeoned his drinking buddy to death because the victim purportedly made homosexual advances, then threatened to kill him and rape the man's... (MORE)
    5. Changing a gene in fruit flies also turns them bisexualChanging a gene in fruit flies also turns them bisexual: QUICK LOOK: A new study is providing insights into the genetics of homosexuality -- at least in fruit flies. Researchers have discovered a gene involved in homosexual behavior in... (MORE)

    EDITOR'S PICK:

    • Big issue for '08: gay, illegal and carless: QUICK LOOK: Every election year has them: the provocative social issues that can destroy a candidacy. In 2004 it was gay marriage that upended Kerry-Edwards in close swing states...(MORE)

    Comedian Mo Rocca riffed for AOL Newsbloggers about what he sees as the issue of the 2008 election: gay illegal immigrants who need licenses to drive themselves to their own gay weddings.

    Adam Francouer, policy coordinator for the gay rights group Immigration Equality, found Rocca's sketch insensitive to the plight of gay binational couples. Rocca, who made his name as a correspondent on "The Daily Show" and as a regular pundit for VH1's "I Love…" series, is no conservative. So it's more than likely that he was poking fun at those who oppose gay marriage and resent immigrants.

    Even so, if Rocca is going to make hay about issues that are so serious for so many, he could at least be shaper about it, and funny. His man-on-the-street skit fails miserably on both counts.

    Judge for yourself:

    December 08, 2007

    Romney's brand of religious 'freedom'

    Posted by: Chris

    Mittromneycollegesta Mitt Romney's speech Thursday about how his Mormonism would, and wouldn't, inform him as president was both stirring and depressing, and two columns for the New York Times set it just right.  The editorial board, clearly not friendly to Romeney's conservative candidacy, was predictably harsh:

    Mr. Romney spoke with an evident passion about the hunger for religious freedom that defined the birth of the nation. He said several times that his faith informs his life, but he would not impose it on the Oval Office.

    Still, there was no escaping the reality of the moment. Mr. Romney was not there to defend freedom of religion, or to champion the indisputable notion that belief in God and religious observance are longstanding parts of American life. He was trying to persuade Christian fundamentalists in the Republican Party, who do want to impose their faith on the Oval Office, that he is sufficiently Christian for them to support his bid for the Republican nomination. No matter how dignified he looked, and how many times he quoted the founding fathers, he could not disguise that sad fact.

    Romney's ongoing attempt to present himself as something he's not -- in this case an evangelical conservative -- is disgusting enough. But conservative Times columnist David Brooks pointed out an even greater contradiction in Romney's address, noting that he was essentially blending "an argument for religious liberty with an argument for religious assertiveness."

    How can Romney argue for religious freedom at the same time his central pitch is to social conservatives who want to impose their particular religious beliefs through the force of law? Brooks also pointed out, to my surprise, that arguing from freedom among religions but not from religion leaves out another group: the non-religious:

    When this country was founded, James Madison envisioned a noisy public square with different religious denominations arguing, competing and balancing each other’s passions. But now the landscape of religious life has changed. Now its most prominent feature is the supposed war between the faithful and the faithless. Mitt Romney didn’t start this war, but speeches like his both exploit and solidify this divide in people’s minds. The supposed war between the faithful and the faithless has exacted casualties.

    The first casualty is the national community. Romney described a community yesterday. Observant Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, Jews and Muslims are inside that community. The nonobservant are not. There was not even a perfunctory sentence showing respect for the nonreligious.

    All these contradictions aren't just features of Romney's presidential campaign; they are central to modern-day social conservativism. But Romney has so bastardized his past beliefs in an effort to court favor with evangelical and fundamentlist Christians, there is some additional satisfaction in seeing him surpassed in Iowa and nationally by Mike Huckabee, who is at least the real McCoy.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall For a complete news summary, click or bookmark: www.gaynewswatch.com/GOPprimary

    Ready for our close-up

    Posted by: Chris

    Junior_cover_2 Just before my boyfriend and I left São Paulo for our three-month purgatory here in Buenos Aires, we agreed to an interview for the second issue of Junior, a fantastic new gay magazine published by MixBrasil, a gay web portal itself a part of UOL, which is something like the Brazilian version of AOL.

    The idea behind the article, "Amor vida real" ("Real Life Love"), is to tell the true love stories behind six Brazilian gay male couples, including our half-Brazilian half-gringo relationship. Unfortunately Junior is only teasing the issue on its website, so we'll be bugging our friends (you know who you are) to pick up a copy to send over here.)

    Pg5_6_5875 The photo shoot by Carlos Kepfer was its own unique and enjoyable experience, with an aim to have us dressed modern but posing in a more formal way like people did in the early days of modern American photography.

    Marcoscosta Thanks to our amigão Marcos Costa, who blogs (in Portuguese) at Carioca Virtual, for suggesting we talk to the good folks at Junior. Marcos has some news of his own to crow about. First he got a gig to write a gay column for ultra-chic Drops magazine. Now he's been named to write a gossip column about São Paulo for Cena Carioca, a popular nightlife website. Parabens, Marcos!

    GNW 5: Memphis trannie mayhem

    Posted by: Chris

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall Here are the Top Five most popular stories over the last 24 hours on Gay News Watch, along with an Editor's Pick from me at the end:

    1. Lexus Toyota threatens lawsuit over gay porn star Lexus: QUICK LOOK: What does Toyota have to do with gay porn? A lot, apparently. The U.S. branch of the Japanese automaker recently sent a communiqué to Daniel Grangier, president and CEO... (MORE)
    2. Jeffreyneilson GOP ex-aide admits sex with teen he met on gay site: QUICK LOOK: Jeffrey Ray Nielsen — the well-connected Orange County conservative activist who claimed the liberal media was out to get him by publishing a series of exposés on his... (MORE)
    3. Jodiefosteraward Foster almost comes out accepting women's award: QUICK LOOK: Jodie Foster gave a moving and surprisingly candid speech when she received the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at the 16th annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast this... (MORE)
    4. Lulabrazil Brazil's president announces first gay rights confab: QUICK LOOK: Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced last week that he will convene the first-ever national LGBT conference in South America's largest country. The... (MORE)
    5. Cloutier1 After arrest, gay Calif. mayor-elect loses in recount: QUICK LOOK: The new mayor of Vallejo, Calif., is finished after less than 48 hours on the job. Two days after Gary Cloutier was sworn in as the city's chief, a recount of ballots...

    EDITOR'S PICK

    • Dacoriangreer Cross dressers attack McDonald's workers in Memphis: QUICK LOOK: Three men who were dressed as women and attacked a Memphis McDonalds worker have been charged with assault. Dacorian Greer, 23, Danny Mitchell, 26, and Lynn Gillespie,... (MORE)

    Not only is the story a bit bizarre, but it was irresistible for me because it comes from my hometown and was first reported by the TV station where my brother has worked for some 20 years. He's no longer on the editorial side of things, but I had to check out WMC's original report because local activists have been critical of the way the story has been covered.

    Here are the highlights, with the language I'm guessing would be objectionable in my italics:

    Memphis Police continue to search for search three cross-dressing crooks who started a fight at the McDonalds on South Mendenhall Sunday night. It was definitely not business as usual at a local McDonald's Sunday night as a carful of angry transvestites pulled up to Martez Brisco's drive-thru window.

    "Men trying to look like women, drag queens, transvestites is what they were," Brisco said. There was an argument at the window and that's when things started to get a little strange.

    "They come to the window, tap, tap, tap. I'm still ignoring them. I guess that just pissed them off worser," Brisco said.

    Three men, dressed as women, jumped out of the car, ran into the restaurant armed with a tire iron, and started swinging at employees, but not before they disrobed, kicking off their stiletto boots, hoop earrings, and jackets. …

    Albert Bolton had bandaids covering scratches where one of the drag queens mauled him with his fingernails.

    "I was fightin with 'em, trying to protect him, and he scratched me," Bolton said.

    As the fight carried on, the manager grabbed a pot of hot french fry grease and launched it at the men. One of the men retaliated, smacking the manager in the head with a wet floor sign sending him away in an ambulance.

    Before they drove off, the cross dressers smashed in the drive-thru window.

    Police are working on a more detailed description of the trio. Authorities said they are looking for a black car and three men dressed as women.

    1128071014431 It's a colorful story, reported colorfully. The primary objection, I'm guessing, would be to the description of the trio as "men dressed as women" rather than as "transgender women."

    I wouldn't quarrel with the way WMC did it, considering we don't know nearly enough about these three to know whether they were, in fact, drag queens, cross-dressers, trasvestites or transsexuals. Yes, "transgender" is an umbrella term for all of these things, but the more specific terms aren't offensive. I know that "men dressed as women" pushes buttons for trans folks, but it's accurate at least for drag queens and cross-dressers.

    Then again, even after reporting on transgender issues for more than a decade I'm repeatedly told I need "Transgender 101" training -- which is activist code for buying into their rhetoric and usually their political agenda.

    I believe that we should leave it up to people to decide what it is we call them, so long as the terms they use are defined adequately to remain accurate and not skew reality.  WMC covered this bizarre fast-food fight in ways an LGBT publication would not -- although it's notable that Out & About, the local GLBT newspaper, borrowed almost the entire WMC story.  Still, all in all, it seemed fine to me.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall For a complete news summary, click or bookmark: gaynewswatch.com/transgender

    December 07, 2007

    Sex scandal from hypo to reality

    Posted by: Chris

    Jefferynielson Well that didn't take long.

    Coincidentally the very same week that an aide for a Democratic senator was busted for allegedly arranging a three-way with a 13-year-old male, a former aide to a Republican senator pleaded guilty to charges he met a 14-year-old on a gay hookup site and had sex with him, and on separate occasions a 12-year-old.

    The liberal O.C. Weekly, which has doggedly reported Nielson's now longer alleged sexploits, has the details:

    In open court, a somber Nielsen, who has extensive personal ties to Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Orange County Republican Party boss Scott Baugh, gave Superior Court Judge David Thompson signed guilty pleas acknowledging two felonies: committing lewd acts on a 12-year-old Virginia boy and 14-year-old Orange County boy. In exchange, Nielsen, 37, received a three-year prison sentence.

    Danarohrabacher Rohrabacher is a classic Orange County Republican, very conservative on social issues like Randy "Duke" Cunningham, who is now serving time for bribery and about whom gay rumors have surfaced. Rohrabacher's gay rights record is atrocious, including two votes for a federal marriage amendment and consistent scores in the teens or 0 on Human Rights Campaign report cards.

    But Nielsen's nefarious dealings with the two teens occured after his employment with Rohrabacher, who is not alleged to know anything at all about it when they worked together. He did write a law school recommendation for Nielsen, though that was also before the molestation charges were first filed.

    There are all sorts of parallels here to the arrest this week on child exploitation charges of Mike McHaney, a scheduler for Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and a former scheduler for Joe Solmonese at the Human Rights Campaign. I suggested that:

    Mikemchaneyfriendster [Leftie] bloggers traffic in a double standard that says sexual misconduct is blogworthy only if it suggests hypocrisy; that is, only if it's committed by conservatives or those who work for them. Or, in the case of those bloggers who attempt to out conservatives and their staffers, no mis-conduct is required at all -- simply alleged gay sexual conduct, or even gay affiliation, such as showing up at gay parties or bars.

    Of course I understand that hypocrisy is newsworthy and blogworthy, but if sexual misconduct says something about the credibility of conservatives, why doesn't it say anything about the credibility of liberals when it happens to one of their own? If McHaney worked for Trent Lott, for example, we'd be told that the scandal reflects on the legitimacy of Lott's position on gay rights and moral values.

    So let's see how the leftie blogosphere has reacted to his story. For the most part, the gay blogs only started in on Nielsen after the plea agreement, but every indication that is only because the California case hadn't made it to their east coast radar. And with the obvious parallels to McHaney they could be expecgted to soft-pedal their glee over Nielsen. For example, Pam's House Blend reported on McHaney and Nielsen both this week, and thankfully resists the urge to visit the sexual sins of either staffer on his political boss.

    But back in California…

    The Liberal O.C. blog said this in November 2006, when Nielsen was on trial for the first time:

    "Rohrabacher recommends a child molester": Nielsen worked for Rohrabacher, and met the first child (that we know of) that he raped while working in Rohrabacher’s D.C. office.  That ties Rohrabacher to Nielsen. Rohrabacher also wrote a letter of recommendation in 1997 that helped Nielsen get into USC Law School.  That also ties Rohrabacher to Nielsen. No matter how you cut it.

    Similarly, the blog Republican of the Week chimed in just this week:

    Republican activist and former aide to Orange County, Calif. congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Jeffrey Ray Nielsen, pleaded guilty to child molestation and in a plea deal will go to prison for three years. … Nielsen's defense included accusing "the liberal media" of being out to get him. When he was first arrested in 2003, he claimed he didn't know the boy was 14 years old. Rohrabacher claims he doesn't remember Nielsen but he wrote a recommendation for the child molester in his office to get into law school.

    Jeffreynielsonoc Raw Story, the liberal online newspaper with ties to gay outing activist-blogger Mike Rogers, also reported Nielsen's plea, and only in the last graph of the story informed its readers for the first time about Mike McHaney, the Maria Cantwell aide arrested last week. Rogers, who has outed low-level staffers on Capitol Hill and in the White House for being gay, despite a complete absence of sexual misconduct, has said nothing about McHaney on his blog.

    And the aforementioned O.C. Weekly reported on the Nielsen story no fewer than eight times, even bringing to light the Virginia teen whose account eventually forced Nielsen to cop a plea. Kudos for that, although my point here is that there's no question in my mind that those sort of resources would never have been thrown after Nielsen if his ties were to liberal Democrats.

    Of course the conduct here -- alleged as to McHaney and admitted to by Nielsen -- is perverted, immoral, exploitative and criminal. The evidence does not suggest either is strictly a pedophile, but instead it appears they are both gay men who betrayed the trust of teenagers in ways that are unconscionable to the vast majority of us.

    Their political connections, liberal and conservative, aren't particularly relevant to their sexual misconduct. But the point is that's true for both of them, even though McHaney's boss has a good gay rights record and Nielsen's ex-boss has an atrocious gay rights record. The big "H" of hypocrisy does not trump all.

    'Boston Legal' defends Larry Craig

    Posted by: Chris

    The Larry Craig toilet tapping has just about run its course as a social phenomenon, working its way through mainstream culture in an episode of ABC's "Boston Legal." Conservative lawyer Denny Crane (William Shatner) is the Craig stand-in here, busted for tapping his foot in a bathroom stall at the courthouse as he tried to hum his way through mild constipation.

    Alan Shore (James Spader) defends Crane on the solicitation charge and in his closing argument takes on not just the facts of the case but the bigger social and political issues -- even the David Vitter comparison -- pretty much hitting the nail on its proverbial head. The jury finds Crane not guilty, as they would have Craig.

    In case you missed it, George Clooney and Brad Pitt pulled off their own Larry Craig send-up in a Julia Roberts film tribute, of all places.  For that video, just follow the jump.

    Continue reading»

    December 06, 2007

    'Deeply disappointed' over Shepard

    Posted by: Chris

    TWO UPDATES: At the end of this post.

    The Human Rights Campaign has issued a statement calling the removal of the hate crimes bill "deeply disappointing" -- wording that is somewhat eerie for me only because I wrote the exact same thing in my post a few hours ago. Joe Solmonese also echoed my hope that congressional Democrats will find "another legislative vehicle, in the second half of this Congress, to move the Matthew Shepard Act."

    Tacking the Shepard Act on something less controversial that a bill relating to the Iraq war strikes me as more promising than Barney Frank's suggestion that the Senate pass the hate crime measure as a stand-alone bill, which exposes it to a threatened Bush veto.

    The HRC statement also makes a point of detailing the organization's lobbying efforts to keep the Shepard Act intact as part of the DOD bill:

    On November 14th, HRC sent an e-mail to all Capitol Hill offices urging the retention of hate crimes legislation in the Department of Defense Authorization conference report.  Additionally, HRC organized and signed onto a coalition letter sent to the Chairman and Ranking Members of the Armed Services Committees urging them to retain the Hate Crimes amendment as part of the conference report.  Timed to correspond with Members returning from the Thanksgiving recess, on November 28th, HRC launched a nationwide action alert to all of its members urging immediate grassroots action to Members of Congress.

    An email and a letter? That's it? 

    That's nothing compared to the "10 in 10 days" campaign HRC launched that generated 80,000 calls and emails to keep the "gender identity" protection in ENDA. Or the 100 HRC board members and volunteers who stormed Capitol Hill to lobby members directly on trans rights. Or how HRC staffers "worked around the clock" when the transgender protections were at risk because of the House whip count.

    Solmonese also thanked Democratic leaders in both houses for their "exhaustive efforts… to keep the Matthew Shepard Act as part of [the DOD] bill." At what point do we actually get to complain about the failure of congressional Democrats to pass hate crimes, despite a vote of 237-180 in the House and 60-39 in the Senate?

    Still nothing from the Task Force on the hate crime bill. Apparently Matt Foreman and his United ENDA allies are still too exhausted from their divisive attempt to sink gay workplace protections to notice that Congress just tanked the first transgender rights measure ever to pass both houses.

    UPDATE #1:

    Kudos to Judy and Dennis Shepard for speaking with a much more powerful voice about today's congressional shenanigans:

    “We are truly dismayed to find that Congress now will put aside its leadership on passage of federal hate crimes legislation that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

    “At this time of year that fills us all with hope for humankind, we are sad to find that a Congressional majority of each House who have already adopted the Matthew Shepard Act cannot yet come together. 

    “Make no mistake; this is a small triumph of process over principle.  We are dedicated to redoubling our efforts next year to achieve our vision of a hate-free America that truly includes everyone.  This has never simply been about Matthew Shepard and our family, this legislation is a gift delayed but never forgotten for all America’s families.”

    Shepard_family

    UPDATE #2:

    The Task Force has weighed in for the first time publicly in weeks on the Shepard Act, also expressing "deep anger and disappointment" that it was jettisoned from the DOD bill. Despite its inexplicable inaction for weeks now, the Task Force claims in its statement to have been busy behind the scenes, "mobiliz[ing] its members through action alerts, lobb[ying] congressional offices and organiz[ing] other national partners to pressure Congress not to give in — again — to right-wing opposition to LGBT legislation."

    Riiiight. Even taking that claim at face value -- which I don't -- the comparison to the Task Force's balls to the wall push on trans protections in ENDA -- and then to sink the compromise version -- couldn't be more striking. And Matt Foreman's strategic advice at this point?

    "We call on the Senate to immediately advance a stand-alone version of hate crimes that matches the version passed by the House earlier this year and send it to the president’s desk. When the president vetoes the bill — as he has repeatedly promised to do — everyone will see just how subservient this administration is to America’s anti-gay industry. Force his hand, for goodness sake, rather than hiding us away."

    Ahh yes, let's have a purely pyrrhic victory rather than, as at least Solmonese suggested, finding some other vehicle to push hate crimes through Congress and to an actual presidential signature.

    Matthew Shepard Act RIP?

    Posted by: Chris

    Nyrally_2 Is the Matthew Shepard Act dead?

    Senate Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Edward Kennedy acquiesced this morning to demands by Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee to remove the Matthew Shepard Act from the Defense Department funding bill, the Washington Blade and 365gay.com are reporting. That deeply disappointing decision comes several weeks after press accounts first surfaced from Capitol Hill that the hate crime measure was caught in a wedge in the House between conservatives who opposed the hate crime add-on and liberals who opposed Iraq war funding.

    In an (unfortunately typical) unbylined story that cites no sources, 365gay.com reports: "In a private meeting Wednesday night, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and House Democratic Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., that if the Senate continued to insist on the hate crimes provision the defense legislation would fail." (Usually when Logo's 365gay engages in such irresponsible (and illegal) journalism, it means they've stolen the story outright from another media source, probably in this case Congressional Quarterly, which restricts most of its web content to subscribers. Who knows, in this case. As it turns out, 365gay stole the info from AP, which 365gay at least pays for but did not appropriately credit.)

    That AP report quotes an unidentified House as saying the hate crime inclusive DOD bill was "40 votes short, not four or six."

    Regardless, the saga surrounding the Matthew Shepard Act is most striking in contrast to what happened with the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The parallels are obvious: a House whip count showed the votes weren't there for transgender protections in ENDA, so they were stripped and the compromise bill passed the House. It appears the same fate befell the Shepard Act as part of the DOD reauthorization, although it's unclear whether the inclusion of "gender identity" helped tank the hate crime bill, too.

    Even if the Shepard Act would have siphoned off too many votes from the DOD bill as a gay-only measure, the Democrats don't get a bye on this one. The tactic of adding the hate crime bill to the Defense Department bill was suspect from the beginning, but it was Kennedy and Reid who decided to do so, knowing the Iraq war already made that legislation a white-hot button. Granted, they did so because President Bush threatened to veto a stand-alone Shepard Act, but having chosen that path the onus was on Congressional Democrats to see the measure through to passage.

    This is the rub on the Democratic Party and gay rights on the federal level. Despite overwhelming support for hate crimes and workplace protections for years now, the Democrats have not made either measure a sufficiently high priority to get the job done, even when they controlled one or both houses of Congress and the White House. A gay-inclusive hate crime bill has passed the House and Senate several times before, only to die because Republicans killed it in conference, Now that the Democrats are in charge, and we get the same result.

    Also on the hook are Matt Foreman, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the so-called "United ENDA" organizations. These groups managed to mount a massive lobbying push after Barney Frank announced that trans protections were being pulled from ENDA so that it could pass the House. But despite weeks of advance notice, they stayed almost entirely silent when the fate of the Shepard Act -- which is trans-inclusive -- hung in the balance.

    There's no excuse for that, and it makes that earlier ENDA fight look less and less like one over principle and more and more like Beltway posturing by the Task Force to elbow the Human Rights Campaign out of favor with grassroots GLBT groups. HRC isn't off the hook either, having waited until after the Thanksgiving holiday, losing two critical lobbying weeks, to issue its first action alert signaling the hate crimes bill was in jeopardy. During the ENDA fight, HRC also mounted a no-holds-barred lobbying effort for the trans provision, but inexplicably we saw nothing like that for the Shepard Act.

    Thankfully, the Blade is also reporting that Barney Frank, for one, hasn't given up the fight on hate crimes and is calling on the Senate to pass the Shepard Act again as a stand-alone measure by the end of February. Considering the hate crime bill got 60 votes in the Senate even as a controversial add-on to the DOD bill, that should be an easy sell. So should be finding a less controversial bill to tack the Shepard Act on as an amendment, shielding it from a possible Bush veto.

    But as always, we wait for Congressional Democrats (and our Washington, D.C. lobbying groups) to actually produce results.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall For a complete news summary, click or bookmark:

    GNW 5: Lesbian mommie madness

    Posted by: Chris

    Gnw_lighthouse_logosmall Here are the Top Five most popular stories over the last 24 hours on Gay News Watch, along with an Editor's Pick from me at the end:

    1. Jpcalderon1 America's top gay model dishes on Janice Dickinson: QUICK LOOK: The third season of “Janice Dickinson's Modeling Agency” debuts this week. Last season, Dickinson practically held J.P. Calderon in her arms as the camera-ready stud... (MORE)
    2. Huckabee Huckabee warns gay marriage threatens civilization: QUICK LOOK: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has enjoyed a surge in recent Republican primary polls, says in an interview with GQ that gay marriage is a threat to civilization... (MORE)
    3. Mouloodzadeh Gay Iranian earlier spared is executed for teen sex: QUICK LOOK: Makvan Mouloodzadeh was executed in Kermanshah Central Prison at 5 a.m. this morning, Iranian time. Neither Mr Mouloodzadeh's family or his lawyer were told about the... (MORE)
    4. Michaelguest Gay ex-ambassador quits Bust State Dep't in protest: QUICK LOOK: Michael E. Guest, a tall, soft-spoken man with salt-and-pepper hair, looks every bit the diplomat. At the young age of 43, at the start of the Bush administration, he... (MORE)
    5. Pennywong New Aussie P.M. names first out gay cabinet minister: QUICK LOOK: A former rock star and a lesbian barrister are among the Australian prime minister-elect's new ministers. Kevin Rudd, a former diplomat, has broken with party tradition... (MORE)

    EDITOR'S PICK

    • Lesbian mom defends push for child support from sperm donor: QUICK LOOK: A lesbian in England who had children with her partner thanks to a friend who donated sperm hit back at his claims that he is being unfairly asked to pay child support. Firefighter Andy Bathie, 37,... (MORE)

    File this one away under battles where we gays are on the wrong side. A friend agrees to donate his sperm to a lesbian friend and her partner in London, and all involved are clear that there'll be no ongoing legal obligations or responsibilities. Still, the father is nice enough to stay somewhat involved in the lives of the boy and girl he sired. The lesbian moms don't object, agreeing that it's good for the children to have a father figure.

    Now that Terri Arnold has split from her partner, she's successfully sued her friend, Andy Bathie, for thousands of dollars in monthly child support. "What people don't understand is that they have only heard one side of the story," insists Arnold. "He was a father to the children, a dad. He played a father's role for two years of their, well, my daughter's life," she added.

    A similar case out of New York is just as disturbing. A Nassau County man donated sperm to a lesbian friend and all involved agreed verbally that he'd have no ongoing legal responsibility for the child. The donor did agree to put his name on the child's birth certificate, so a father would be listed, and sent occasional gifts and cards over the years.

    Now the lesbian mom has successfully sued for child support, to help the 18-year-old pay for college. The donor's "interactions with the child over the years he man's interactions with the child over the years had a patriarchal nature," according to the lesbian's lawyer. "It's still a parental relationship."

    The abuse of trust and the system is absolutely outrageous, and if it becomes a trend could discourage generous sperm donations. The only positive effect could be to encourage those who plan in virtro fertilization to enter into legal agreements that spell out their ongoing responsibilities, if any. But it's sad that's even necessary.

    These cases are almost but not quite as disgusting as biological lesbian moms who use anti-gay laws to try and screw their ex-partners out of any visitation rights after a breakup. At least the deadbeat mom in London is getting public heat for her outrageous decision. It's too bad all the identities have been kept anonymous in the Nassau County case.

    December 05, 2007

    Christian sensitivity

    Posted by: Chris

    Some readers took me to task for allegedly being too sensitive about New York City's effort to recruit gay tourists, which welcomed "everyone, whether you are a family or you're just here with your lover."

    I'll put my thin skin up against the hyper-sensitive Roman Catholic faith any day. For a religion that has been oppressing all who dared to dissent for centuries, and still represents very mainstream culture in many parts of the world, it's remarkable how ssssssensssssitive (so many s's!) the Vatican and its priesthood can be.

    Take, for example, this Red Bull ad, which an Italian priest convinced the energy drink manufacturer to pull.

    You don't have to speak Italian to know harmless fun when you see it.  It's certainly no "blasphemous" and "sacreligious" act that offends "Christian sensitivity."

    Here's hoping the ad shows up in environs not so close to Rome.

    Blogging H-free sex scandals

    Posted by: Chris

    Mikemchaneyfriendster An interesting debate is shaping up over how or whether gay media and bloggers will cover the arrest of gay Senate aide Mike McHaney (pictured here from his Friendster profile) for allegedly showing up for a three-way involving a 13-year-old male. I have argued that sex scandals like McHaney's illustrate the illogic and, at least, the over-emphasis on "hypocrisy" as the only factor in whether a sex scandal is newsworthy or blogworthy.

    I wrote:

    There can be little doubt that if McHaney were an aide to, say, Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott or some other anti-gay Republican, the blogosphere would be having a field day with the arrest. But as it turns out, McHaney works for gay-friendly Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Washington state Democrat.

    The logic here is what fascinates me. It would be hypocritical for the aide to an anti-gay Republican to be busted as a sexual predator, but it's not hypocritical for the aide of a pro-gay Democrat. What does that say about pro-gay Democrats exactly? That we expect this sort of behavior from them and their staff? Or is that so long as you don't legislate morality, your own immorality and that of your staff doesn't "stick" on you?

    Matt over at The Malcontent points out the one-sidedness:

    Say what you want about Larry Craig, but no one is calling him a pederast.

    And herein lies one of the chief problems with the leftists who decide whom they choose to out based on their political party:  While they busy themselves with Republican closet cases and politicians who aren’t in favor with HRC, they tend to lose sight of equally bad or worse behavior in their own midst.

    Now comes a response from Joe.My.God, who has been among the first and most extensive with coverage of gay sex scandals involving anyone right of center politically. Joe passed on the McHaney scandal entirely at first, then posted about it in response to my report that McHaney previously worked as Joe Solmonese's scheduler at HRC. Even still, Joe posted mainly to explain why he thinks the scandal still isn't blogworthy:

    Sex crimes, gay and straight, occur every day. Does the gay blogosphere have a moral imperative to cover the crimes of relative nobodies, just because they work for politicians, especially when the perpetrators have no known anti-gay track record? I don't think so.

    I've exhaustively covered the stories of major hypocrites like Ted Haggard and Larry Craig, and dangled unproven theories such as the recent Trent Lott hooker nonsense. But I've also left other unpleasant stories about Democrats and Republicans alone, for the reasons mentioned above.

    By Malcontent's standards (and probably Chris Crain's), my hands are not clean. There may indeed be some "meat" to the McHaney story, that remains to be seen, and Crain is absolutely correct that we need to call out our own, even if it damages the movement. I just don't agree that we've been doing that bad of a job.

    Joe's thoughtful post touches on the two central problems I have with how left-leaning gay bloggers handle the sex lives of those involved in politics (or, in Haggard's case, religion).

    First, this exaggerated focus on the importance of hypocrisy as the only newsworthy or blogworthy angle to the sexual conduct of those in politics leads to all sorts of horrible intrusions into personal privacy. Gay bloggers on the left routinely traffic in rumor and unconfirmed innuendo involving the alleged intimate details of the sex lives of those they "report" on, whether or not misconduct or a crime is involved.

    Second, these bloggers traffic in a double standard that says sexual misconduct is blogworthy only if it suggests hypocrisy; that is, only if it's committed by conservatives or those who work for them. Or, in the case of those bloggers who attempt to out conservatives and their staffers, no mis-conduct is required at all -- simply alleged gay sexual conduct, or even gay affiliation, such as showing up at gay parties or bars.

    Of course I understand that hypocrisy is newsworthy and blogworthy, but if sexual misconduct says something about the credibility of conservatives, why doesn't it say anything about the credibility of liberals when it happens to one of their own?

    If McHaney worked for Trent Lott, for example, we'd be told that the scandal reflects on the legitimacy of Lott's position on gay rights and moral values. Why doesn't the same hold true for McHaney's boss, gay-friendly Democrat Maria Cantwell? Is liberalism associated with a culture of permissiveness in which a Senate staffer could spend work time setting up a three-way with a 13-year-old?  Or in which someone with a history of sexual impropriety could be shipped around among a top gay rights group, two Democratic presidential campaigns and a U.S. senator without anyone raising a red flag?

    I don't necessarily think so, certainly about the permissiveness theory, but my point is it's one-sided and unbalanced -- and dare I say it? hypocritical -- to only make political judgments about the sex scandals of those you disagree with.

    'United' for the Matthew Shepard Act?

    Posted by: Chris

    Lccr_letter The Human Rights Campaign has issued another action alert warning supporters that the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, passed by the House as a stand-alone bill and by the Senate as part of the Defense Department reauthorization, remains in jeopardy. According to the HRC alert, House Democratic leaders may decide as early as Wednesday whether to keep the hate crime amendment.

    As I posted several weeks ago, the hate crime add-on is caught in a political wedge between conservative House Republicans who oppose its inclusion in the defense bill and liberal House Democrats who oppose the defense bill because of unrelated provisions on the Iraq war. Moderate Democrats, on the other hand, are doing what moderate Democrats all too often do, declaring a "moral victory" in passing the hate crime bill while suggesting it be jettisoned to save the bigger legislation.

    It took two weeks, but HRC finally alerted its members late last week that the bill was in jeopardy. Now Congressional Quarterly is reporting that informal House-Senate conferees have resolved all outstanding issues relating to the huge defense bill except the hate crimes amendment. CQ reports:

    House Democratic leaders plan to decide in the next day or two whether to include the provision, aides said. It is considered vital by many in the Democratic constituency who have been lobbying House leaders to include it in the final defense bill.

    But the provision could jeopardize the whole bill. In the House, liberals upset over war spending could join forces against the bill with conservatives concerned about the hate crimes language.

    This is the time when the rubber meets the road, and all that pro-gay rhetoric from Democratic Party leaders needs to be backed by action. It was Democrats -- Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts among others -- who decided to peg the Shepard Act to the DOD bill, primarily to discourage a threatened veto by President Bush. But having committed to that strategy, now is not the time to abandon it.

    Curiously silent in the weeks leading up to this moment are Matt Foreman, the Task Force and their "United ENDA" crowd who launched a website, lobbying effort to encourage Democrats to bail on ENDA if transgender protections were removed. It is beyond curious that they have been so silent when a bill that has already passed both houses and does include transgender protections hangs in the balance.

    HRC did release a missive on the letterhead of the Leaderschip Conference on Civil Rights -- the same group that along with HRC came out in favor of Barney Frank's compromise ENDA -- that calls on ranking Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services Committtees not to bail on the Shepard Act. And the Task Force and a number of other "United ENDA" groups are listed as signatories.

    But signing a letter is not real lobbying and is nothing compared to the full blitz they put into effect on ENDA.  The Task Force website, remarkably, still devotes one of its top three "alert" positions to the ENDA battle -- one of the other two is on the pressing needs of LGBT Asian-Pacific Islanders -- and there's nothing on the entire site I could find about the hate crime bill.

    Funny how the Task Force could devote so much energy to an ENDA battle that coincidentally cemented its relationships with the grassroots at the expense of rival HRC and now cannot muster only the energy to sign on to a letter for the Shepard Act.

    © Citizen Crain - All Rights Reserved | Design by E.Webscapes Design Studio | Powered by: TypePad