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    April 30, 2008

    GNW 5: Gay PDA gets an A-OK

    Posted by: Chris

    1. ABC News tests reax to public gay kissing in Ala., N.J.ABC News tests reax to public gay kissing in Ala., N.J.: QUICK LOOK: Two years ago, ABC News hired two actors, a man and a woman, to publicly display their affection for each othere by kissing in public at a restaurant. Reactions varied;... (MORE)
    2. HRC endorses 14 for Senate but not gay candidateHRC endorses 14 for Senate but not gay candidate: QUICK LOOK: The Human Rights Campaign is endorsing 14 contenders for U.S. Senate, but an openly gay candidate from North Carolina is not among them. Jim Neal, who’s seeking the Democratic... (MORE)
    3. CNN's Larry King offers support to GLBT studentsCNN's Larry King offers support to GLBT students: QUICK LOOK: American talk show host Larry King made an emotional plea to viewers that Americans must demand tolerance for LGBT students. The statement comes as thousands of American... (MORE)
    4. New protein may stop HIV in drug resistant patientsNew protein may stop HIV in drug resistant patients: QUICK LOOK: Scientists have discovered an HIV Aids treatment that may help sufferers avoid the problem of drug resistance. Scientists have found that the virus can be significantly... (MORE)
    5. N.C. gov: Clinton makes Rocky Balboa look like 'pansy'N.C. gov: Clinton makes Rocky Balboa look like 'pansy': QUICK LOOK: “This lady right here makes Rocky Balboa look like a pansy,” said Governor Mike Easley, D-N.C., today, referring to Hillary Clinton. “There’s nothing I love more than... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. 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.

    April 29, 2008

    More signs of gay media trouble?

    Posted by: Chris

    As if all the recent drama over at PlanetOut wasn't enough, blogger-journalist Michael K. Lavers posts today about signs of trouble at HX Media, Inc., which recently shuttered its HX Philadelphia title and now may be struggling in Boston:

    The long-time office manager [at the New England Blade/HX New England, formerly IN Newsweekly] left a few weeks ago, and rumor has it additional terminations and resignations have once again left the newspaper scrambling. This writer anecdotally saw HX Media CEO Matthew Bank's away message on his Facebook profile as 'is going to Boston' over the weekend. Something must be going on in the Hub!

    Mike also has the whole backstory, including the angry departure of three long-time freelancers late last year, and the subsequent legal drama when the paper's associate publisher and two sales reps planned their launch of a rival pub while still employed by HX.

    HX Media, Inc., is something of a cousin company to Window Media LLC, the company I co-founded with William Waybourn in 1997. Mike has some pretty harsh words in his post today about the way HX founder Matthew Banks has run things since his company merged with the New York Blade some years back.

    I've never met Banks, though I do know firsthand the trials and tribulations -- and the sometimes daily draaaaamaaa -- of running local gay publications on a shoestring budget. I also know the perils of trying to group those publications together and still remain faithful to local readers and advertisers.

    To the reckoning of Mike, a former New York Blade staffer himself, and many others closer to the action, Banks and the HX team in New York haven't struck that balance in Boston or even with the New York Blade. In the midst of a recession and slowing print ad sales, let's hope the critics or wrong or the HX ship rights itself -- for the sake of the communities they serve.

    Who owns the word "lesbian?"

    Posted by: Andoni


    "We're the true lesbians say islanders."

    Who owns the word "lesbian"? Is it the people on the island of Lesbos or has its use become so widespread that anyone can claim it as their own?

    Two inhabitants of Lesbos and a member of a Greek nationalist pagan association have filed a quixotic lawsuit to ban the Greek Gay & Lesbian Union (OLKE) from bearing the name "lesbian."

    Who knows the outcome of this. All I know is that when the International Olympic Committee sued the Gay Olympics over the name, we gays were told to cease and desist. A number of diners named Olympic and Olympia that had been operating for years also had to change their names. The IOC had done all the right things legally, like copyrighting and trademarking "Olympic."

    Quick, someone trademark and copyright the name "gay" to protect us in case someone tries to say that word is theirs. You know, maybe the citizens of Gay, Ga., will feel like taking it away from us some day.

    April 26, 2008

    DNC's 'talk to the hand' outreach

    Posted by: Chris

    20070419_leah1low Just when you think the staff of the Democratic National Committee can't bungle its gay community relationships any more royally, they manage to find a way.

    Take Leah Daughtry, chief of staff to party leader Howard Dean, who has garnered a reputation for inciting rivalry between African American and gay constituencies within the party. She tried to help unseat the first-ever duly elected lesbian to the Alabama state legislature, in favor of a black candidate. Later, she (and closet case Donna Brazile) pitched a fit when gay Democrats proposed that gays be included in the same quota system for selecting state convention delegates as other minority groups.

    Her conduct was so outrageous that the normally staid Stonewall Democrats reached boiling point:

    “Imagine what [DNC Chair Howard] Dean could do if people like Leah were confronted for their bigotry and fired,” wrote the Stonewall Democrats official [later revealed to be director John Marble]. Referring to Daughtry, the official says, “I think Samuel L. Jackson said it best when he said ‘I’m sick of these mother fuckin’ snakes on this mother fuckin’ plane.’ It may be time to drive the snakes from the DNC.”

    Daughtry has arrogantly refused all interview requests with the gay press and yet took the extreme step of sending lawyers to the Washington Blade offices in an outrageous attempt to intimidate the paper's coverage. Even the usually quiet organization the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association reacted to the incident by speaking out in favor of the watchdog role of the gay press.

    In an attempt at damage control, Daughtry agreed to speak at the Baltimore convention of the National Black Justice Coalition, an LGBT group. But rather than take advantage of the opportunity to respond to the many criticisms aimed at her and the DNC in recent months, she instead chose to pitch a shopworn general interest party speech virtually devoid of gay-specific content.

    That's right, with her reputation in tatters among many gay Democrats, Daughtry tried to convince a group of gay African Americans they should support the Democratic Party. You'd have to travel to Lynchburg, Va., and visit Jerry Falwell's church to find a better example of preaching to the choir. (Daughtry is, in fact, a Pentecostal minister, though hypersensitive to coverage of the fact that she and her flock sometimes "speak in tongues.")

    Whatever tongue she was using in Baltimore, it wasn't too convincing. Having helped sandbag the proposal to add gays to the quota system used to select delegates to the Democratic National Convention, Daughtry spoke of the need "to make sure … that people from various communities, and particularly the GLBT community, would have a seat at the table." Particularly? They why exclude gays in particular from the quotas used for other minorities?

    (I'm no fan of the entire idea of delegate quotas based on gender or other minority status; it reeks of special interest balkanization. But to hear Daughtry talk from both sides of her mouth on the issue is another matter.)

    To make matters worse, the good Reverend Daughtry used a forked tongue with a Blade reporter at the Baltimore event, promising before her speech to answer questions afterward but then subsequently using her gay muscle -- DNC gay liaison Brian Bond -- to refuse an interview later:

    Bond told the reporter that Daughtry would not answer questions because the DNC’s communications department had not received a formal interview request.

    This is the arrogance toward gays that infects the core of the Democratic National Committee. In my decade in the gay press, I'm aware of no other organization -- political, business or social -- whose leaders would refuse to answer a few questions because no formal request had been made in advance. Daughtry is also classic passive-aggressive: refusing for months to talk and yet moaning about unfair coverage -- even to the point of abusing reporters and editors with her hired hench-lawyers.

    Brian Bond comes from a gay rights background, having headed up the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and knows better than the games the DNC plays. The real problem is higher up, with Daughtry and Dean himself, who treat gays as if we are a captive special interest with nowhere else to go -- or even complain.

    April 25, 2008

    Good news for an old friend

    Posted by: Chris

    Richardquestblog I blogged last week about tough times from my old friend Richard Quest, the openly gay CNN anchor who was arrested for being in Central Park after hours and possession of crystal meth. Now for some good news.

    For one, he's entered a rehab program that was part of a deal he agreed to with prosecutors that will result in the charges against him being dropped. For another, CNN has issued a supportive statement that suggests his job will be waiting for him once he is well. The Guardian reports:

    "At this time, CNN's primary concern is for his health and wellbeing. We look forward to Richard returning to CNN International," the broadcaster said in a statement. A CNN spokesman declined to "speculate" on when Quest would return to the network he joined in 2001.

    Despite the legendary appetite for sleaze in the London tabloids, they've largely steered clear of exploiting Richard's arrest for prurient readers. The same can't be said for Rupert Murdoch's New York Post and Fox News Network. The latter was particularly egregious, unsurprisingly. Greg Gutfield penned a sophomoric column that accuses Quest without evidence of being in Central Park to have sex:

    Although Quest has been released, we at "Red Eye" feel his arrest is unjust. Here was a man going the extra mile for a story, in hopes of shedding light on an issue others are too frightened to get near. Quest is the Woodward and Bernstein of park sex and we need to stand up for him.

    For those of you willing to help out with our cause, we'll be meeting at Bryant Park at 3 a.m. I will be wearing magenta overalls with a hole in the back.

    No question in my mind as to which news network should be more troubled by the on-the-job conduct of its employee.

    Proud of his gay son

    Posted by: Chris

    A proud father in Oklahoma City took an extraordinary step today to stand up for his son in the face of the mean-spirited hatred spewing from a certain state representative there. I've had the honor of meeting Bob Lemon, through his (gay) son Chrys, an old friend from my first time around in Washington in the early '90s.

    Chrys' struggle with accepting being gay was similar to my own, and it was a real boost to me to see his father respond so lovingly. Clearly, that special support is still there and finding new and inventive ways of expressing itself, including an advertisement in the Oklahoman newspaper:


    April 23, 2008

    Gay Dutch tilting rightward

    Posted by: Chris

    Nova My pal Dan over at Gay Patriot has an interesting post about the rightward tilt of gays in liberal Holland. Apparently a conservative party called Proud of the Netherlands scored best among gays in a poll by the TV program Nova. The trend dates back at least to Pim Fortuyn, an openly gay politician there who launched his own nationalist party and was competing to be prime minister before being murdered by a radical animal rights activist.

    Dan's take is that Dutch gays are flocking rightward because of the rising cultural and physical threat they perceive from intolerant Muslim immigrants, second generation as much if not more than the first:

    It seems that left-wing politicians in Europe are having trouble balancing the competing interests of the various “minority” (read: “victims” in coalition of oppressed) groups to whom they feel they must appeal and whom they fear offending.

    It seems the Dutch left is having trouble maintaining that precarious balance. I wonder if the failure of leading Democrats (as well as gay organizations) to recognize how Islamofascism represents the greatest threat to gays around the world today will lead to a gay exodus from that pandering party.

    One sign of this happening in the number of gay Democrats contemplating a vote for John McCain this fall.

    He's got a point. Left and center-left parties in Holland for too long dismissed anti-immigration nationalism as prejudice -- only one motivation for some -- while also struggling to deal with the threat from Islam and conservative reaction to it to the country's famous cultural tolerance.

    As I asked before after my own firsthand brush with hate in Amsterdam, how do you tolerate everything while not tolerating intolerance? That was the very subject of an episode of Nova on which I was interviewed, along with the left-leaning mayor of Amsterdam.

    At the same time, there is a world of difference between Dutch conservatives and those back home in the States. Over there, most conservatives support the full panoply of gay rights, including marriage, and promise to actively combat rising intolerance of gays and others among Muslims. McCain and the GOP, of course, oppose any affirmative legal protection for gays and too often cave in to the their xenophobic wing.

    The unfortunate irony for Republicans is that they claim the mantle of opposition to Islamists worldwide, even while depending upon conservative Christians who would impose their own (much milder) religious intolerance at home on gay Americans. Of course gay Republicans don't buy into that double standard and align with other moderates in the party looking to change things -- a difference also lost on most gay observers.

    April 22, 2008

    Tough times for Brazilian friends

    Posted by: Chris

    041508_2 My friend Marcos Costa, who blogs at Carioca Virtual, has been drawing attention to an outrageous case of mistreatment inflicted on Jose Ávila, days after the death of Fabio, his partner of 10 years. That's Jose and Fabio in the photo; Jose's on the right.

    Days after Fabio's death, his family met Jose in the street and unceremoniously informed him that since the apartment was in Fabio's name and he died without a will, Jose was no longer welcome. All the belongings inside, accumulated over a decade together, were sealed away as well.

    Jose sued and, to the credit of gay-friendly legal treatment in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, won a temporary order that restored him in the apartment and made him executor of Fabio's estate. But the family fights on, demanding a trial to test Jose's claim of a long-term relationship.

    I have known both Jose and Fabio socially -- a genuine, happy, fun-loving couple like so many I've had the honor to know in my time here. Jose is trying an unusual tactic to prove the relationship: a petition available at Foch clothing stores popular with gay men in Rio, São Paulo and Curitiba. Those who knew the couple are encouraged to sign, providing additional evidence of the legitimacy of their relationship.

    I've never understood how the families of gay men could be so heartless in the treatment of long-term partners, no matter how they felt about the morality of their relationship. Whatever biblical passages they might use to condemn, they violate countless more by acting in such a vicious, mean-spirited manner.

    I'm not sure many readers of this blog can help out in Jose's case, but it's a reminder of why gay couples everywhere need and deserve legal recognition. It's also a reminder why all of us need to take the time to draw up the necessary legal docs to protect our partners, should the unthinkable happen.

    GNW 5: Hip-hop bombshell set to drop

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Royal's gay sex blackmail tape played in closed courtRoyal gay sex blackmail tape played in closed court: QUICK LOOK: Tapes at the center of a royal gay sex blackmail trial have been played to a jury in a restricted court hearing. The court had already been told that the recordings include... (MORE)
    2. Obama addresses attempt to ban gay marriage in Pa.Obama addresses attempt to ban gay marriage in Pa.: QUICK LOOK: A 15 month campaign comes down to the last critical 48 hours before the Pennsylvania primary where this race will either come to its end or be propelled all the way to... (MORE)
    3. Charges dropped in bashing by son of Bush ex-aideCharges dropped in bashing by son of Bush ex-aide: QUICK LOOK: The United States Attorney’s office on April 17 dropped an assault charge against a Georgetown University student who had been accused by D.C. police of physically attacking... (MORE)
    4. New book claims to tell gay underworld of hip-hopNew book claims to tell gay underworld of hip hop: QUICK LOOK: The May 13 release of author and former MTV executive Terrance Dean's memoir "Hiding In Hip Hop: On The Down Low in the Entertainment Industry from Music to Hollywood",... (MORE)
    5. Same-sex wedding flourish in a religious strongholdSame-sex weddings flourish in a religious stronghold: QUICK LOOK: Salt Lake City, Utah, is known as the seat of Mormonism in the U.S. The religion, established in upstate New York in the 1820s, takes its teachings from the Book of Mormon,... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. 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.

    April 21, 2008

    Accessing those 1,200 federal benefits (III)

    Posted by: Andoni

    CLARIFICATION: The first portion of this post has been edited to clarify that Marc was not suggesting a change in Matt's suggested language; but rather that they had a broader scope than I interpreted them.

    Marc raised a great point in a comment on my last post about accessing those 1,200 federal benefits of marriage. Basically, he observed that if we passed a federal law to recognize civil unions for federal benefits, it would actually open up federal benefits for civil unions to the whole country, allowing a couple from Georgia (a state with no civil unions) to go to Vermont (a civil unions state) to get united and return to Georgia and be eligible for those federal benefits.

    Matt Coles, the director of ACLU's Lesbian & Gay Rights Project, had suggested a new federal law that includes this simple statement:

    "The term ‘marriage’ in all federal laws includes civil unions and domestic partnerships created by states that have substantially the same definition, obligations and rights as a marriage in the state does."

    Marc noticed that legislating using Matt's language actually tied federal benefits to getting a legal piece of paper, not to geography. That would be great news for all of us.

    For some reason, I initially assumed that someone could go to a civil union state to get united but that to get those benefits you would have to choose to reside there. Matt realized the full effect of his language when he proposed it; Marc picked up on it, and I didn’t.

    In fact, Matt’s language would open up federal benefits for all LGBT people in the country as long as they were willing to go to a civil union state and legally get united.

    If people move back to their original non-civil union state, they would be in the strange position of receiving federal recognition and benefits, but no state recognition or state benefits. I believe I could live with that because it is the federal benefits I want most. Of course, if you decide to stay in the civil union state, you get the entire package, both state and federal benefits.

    April 20, 2008

    Tough times for an old friend

    Posted by: Chris

    Quest I read the news today and oh boy (that's a Beatles reference, for you young'uns). My old friend Richard Quest, who anchors CNN's "Business Traveler" and his own show "Quest," was arrested in Central Park last Friday for being there after-hours and for possession of crystal meth.

    I have known Richard since college. When I was an undergrad at Vanderbilt, Richard was there working on his LLB, a master's degree in law. We were both "tunnel rats," working in the student media offices in a tunnel of the student center. I was editor of the school paper, the Vanderbilt Hustler (we had the name first) and then Versus, the student magazine. Richard was a DJ at WRVU, the college radio station.

    Richard was one of a kind, even back in the '80s. (Yes, we're that old.) A Brit from Leeds with a big curly 'fro easily stood out on our conservative, Southern campus. His hilarious, quirky personality was contagious and I had a total blast every time we hung out together.

    He even recruited me to do the sports portion (stop laughing) of his regular news reports. I'll never forget the time he invited me to guest DJ with him, even picking the records to play. I violated every rule of college radio; I'm not sure the station's reputation has yet recovered from the Styx triple-play I inflicted on Nashville.

    Even then, it was clear Richard's personality was way too big for radio. So it was only mildly surprising to hear he turned up as a regular on BBC, although that staid network seemed a bit of a misfit. A few years after, I would catch him as a late-night anchor on CNN, where the broadcast time allowed him to be more himself. (I remember Anderson Cooper in his ABC late-night new gig, too, around the same time.)

    Right about that time, Richard tracked me down. During one of his trips to CNN's Atlanta headquarters, he picked up the Southern Voice, Atlanta's gay newspaper, and saw I was the editor. We eventually met up when I was visiting London and renewed our friendship. Turns out we were both closet cases at Vandy -- one of dozens more I never would have imagined at the time. Richard is openly gay in an industry where others lack the courage to be. (Are you listening, Anderson?)

    The great success and fame (especially outside the U.S., where he is on-screen at CNN multiple times daily) hadn't changed Richard at all. He was and is the same cheeky, genuine, unique person he was then.

    As difficult as I know this time must be for Richard, and the knives are certainly out for him, I have zero doubt that will recover from all of this. He's already agreed to a six-month drug treatment program that will result in the charges being dropped.

    Hopefully CNN will stand by "one of the most instantly recognizable members of the CNN team." Living outside the U.S., I have been able to view both of his shows much more often. "Quest," in particular, tackles unusual subjects in an entertaining way, and with a depth that is unusual for fast-paced cable news.

    Whatever CNN decides, I am sure Richard will survive and thrive; he's got way too much talent going for him, and I wish him nothing but the absolute best.

    April 19, 2008

    Them's fighting words, Matt

    Posted by: Chris

    Foremanweb1_story Remember when Matt Foreman, the newly departed director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, took a shot at Barney Frank over the whole ENDA debacle -- claiming he had a history of being "squeamish" on transgender issues? The legendary, short-tempered congressman from Massachusetts was quick to respond, dismissing Foreman for "covering his ass" for falling short on votes for trans-inclusion in the workplace act.

    Well now Foreman has upped the ante considerably on his way out the door at the Task Force. In an interview with Gay City News, Foreman was at times complimentary of Frank but then wound up and threw down with this one:

    [Foreman] is particularly critical of the way in which the advice of Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, an openly lesbian Madison Democrat, was ignored; she felt that the votes could be rounded up for the trans-inclusive version, and Foreman has noted several times that she was the legislator who successfully lined up the support for the hate crimes measure.

    "I thought the way she was treated in the ENDA struggle was shameful, with lots of overtones of misogyny," he said, in a comment that might spur a new riposte from Frank.

    It's classic leftist trype, of course, to accuse anyone who disagrees of being an "ist" or "phobe" of some sort. Foreman and his allies regularly engaged it such ridiculousness regularly during the ENDA debate, accusing anyone who agreed with Barney on tactics of being a transphobe. Ironic given that Foreman himself used Barney's tactics to get New York's state gay rights law passed.

    Still, it's beyond galling in this case, and Foreman should apologize. It's funny how Foreman never acknowledges that Tammy Baldwin voted for the pared-down ENDA backed by Barney -- despite pleas from Foreman et al not to. It's also funny how Foreman and his "trans or bust" allies claim to want to "unify" the community -- another theme of his GCN interview -- even while gratuitously insulting anyone who doesn't think like he does.

    (Photo of Matt Foreman via Gay City News)

    April 18, 2008

    Shepard Act sandbagged by Reid?

    Posted by: Chris

    Harry_reid I missed this tidbit from a couple of weeks ago on Blog Cabin, the gay GOP group's blog, about whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has sandbagged the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. It's actually taken from a Washington Blade story:

    One congressional source familiar with the hate crimes bill said a number of GOP lawmakers believe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) did not want to bring the hate crimes bill to a vote because doing so would help the re-election chances of moderate Republican senators who support the bill.  Among them are Sens. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), who face strong election challenges by Democrats in November.

    That's pretty damning, given that Democratic Party leaders promised activists they would do anything possible to push the hate crimes bill and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act through in the current session, and perhaps even the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

    Of course the Blog Cabin post leaves off the paragraphs that follow in Lou Chibarro's Blade story:

    Jim Manley, a spokesperson for Reid, disputed that assertion, saying Reid’s deliberations over the bill had “nothing at all” to do with the election.

    Manley also disputed a claim by another congressional source that Reid and other Senate Democrats were reluctant to bring up gay rights bills at a time when Democrats are focusing most of their attention on the economy and a mortgage crisis that is causing Americans to lose their homes through foreclosure.

    Senate Democrats can deny all the rumored explanations they want, but they can't escape the fact that both bills have been passed by the House and are awaiting action in the Senate.

    ENDA is no doubt hobbled by the fact that dozens of LGBT groups actually hope for its failure since it lacks transgender rights protections in its current form. In reality, Democrats would be better off passing a gay-only ENDA now and blaming Republicans for leaving out "gender identity." Otherwise the pressure will be overwhelming for a trans-inclusive ENDA to pass early next term, after being deferred yet again one more time.

    Trolling for Catholics, dissing gays

    Posted by: Chris

    Popebush385_317573a Pope Benedict's visit to the U.S. this week coincides with the closing days before the crucial Democratic presidential primary in Pennsylvania, where Catholics are expected to cast about one-third of the votes. Many of those Catholics are the same working class whites that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are competing so vigorously to win over.

    As a result, you would expect both candidates to do a bit of papal pandering, looking for whatever edge they can find going into next Tuesday's ballot. That said, neither candidate even acknowledged Benedict's aggressive political role in challenging any sort of legal recognition of gay relationships, not to mention his vocal opposition to abortion rights and the Vatican's maddeningly unethical challenge to condom distribution in the fight against HIV.

    Both statements are in the jump to this post in full, but these excerpts are representative.

    First, Obama:

    At a time when American families face rising costs at home and a range of worries abroad, the theme of Pope Benedict’s journey, "“Christ Our Hope," offers comfort and grace as well as a challenge to all faith communities to put our faith into action for the common good.  It will not only be Catholics who are listening to the Holy Father’s message of hope and peace; all Americans will be listening with open hearts and minds.

    Now, Clinton:

    We are blessed to receive a visit from His Holiness, Pope Benedict, to the United States this week. Not only is he the spiritual leader of America's great Catholic community, he is a strong and effective voice for the cause of peace, freedom, and justice as well as the fight against poverty and disease. … His apostolic journey is built on the theme of Christian hope, and as he has said, the Gospel message is 'deeply rooted' in our country. We all pray that he will have a safe and successful visit to America, and that everyone will find inspiration in his presence and his words.

    Of the two, Clinton's is particularly appalling, with the astonishing acknowledgment of this pope as "a strong and effective voice for the cause of … freedom and justice," not to mention praising his "fight against … disease."

    Even setting aside the Vatican's shockingly immoral handling of thousands of child sexual abuse claims -- covering up claims, shuffling pedophile priests to new dioceses, then blaming homosexuality when the scandal blew up -- the Catholic leadership, and this pope in particular, is hardly a champion for peace or a warrior against disease.

    Shame on Hillary Clinton for saying so.

    (Photo of Pope Benedict XVI and George Bush via Times Online)

    Continue reading»

    Maybe ABC did Obama a favor

    Posted by: Andoni

    539wAs I wrote yesterday, I was dismayed with the display of gotcha journalism at Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Philadelphia.

    However, after thinking about this for awhile and listening to the reaction of voters, friends and bloggers, I think it's quite possible that ABC News' George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson actually did Barack Obama a favor. No, I'm not bullshitting.

    Consider the following:

    • Obama was pummeled by Gibson, Stephanopoulos, Clinton and by proxy the Republican attack machine, and yet he left Constitution Hall alive and standing. This goes a long way toward answering the question of whether he can take it or not.
    • The debate was sort of like a surgical procedure honing in on multiple abscesses. The infections were incised and drained and we ended up with a lot of pus all over the floor. This procedure substantially immunizes him should the same vile bacteria decide to invade again.
    • People say that he is not vetted, but Wednesday night went a long way towards answering that charge.
    • Finally, it exposed Hillary for her true self. The voters have a clear choice: go back to the politics of division, personal attack, and distraction, or choose Obama and try to move to a new level of politics of addressing problems honestly without needless distractions.

    I can’t wait to see what the voters of Pennsylvania decide.

    As I have said before, should there be an upset in Pennsylvania next Tuesday, Hillary's overreach on the “bitter” comment will have been a turning point. Now I think the attack machine on display at Wednesday’s debate may be a tipping point. We'll see.

    Finally, check out this HuffPo post that puts into clearer context all of Clinton's criticism of those remarks by Obama about small town working class whites.

    PlanetOut-LPI sale, take two

    Posted by: Chris

    Specpubs Time for me to revisit my post last week about the sale of LPI (Advocate, Out, Alyson Books) by PlanetOut to Regent, owner of Here Networks and GayWired. I was under the impression that the sale did not include Specialty Publications, the division of LPI (and hence, PlanetOut) that publishes the racier Men, Freshmen and Unzipped magazines. (Specialty also published [2], a magazine that included couples in near-XXX action, but no longer.)

    That puzzled me because that's historically where more of LPI's profits come from. My pal and gay-journo colleague Rex Wockner pointed me to an SEC filing by PlanetOut that includes the actual "letter of intent" for the sale. That document seems to say that Speciatly Pubs is, in fact, included in the sale.

    The inclusion of Specialty Pubs actually makes sense for several reasons. Ever since PlanetOut got a badly needed cash infusion from new investors last year, part of the deal was to find a buyer for the more graphic magazines. In addition, as I noted last week, Specialty has been the LPI profit center for some time.

    On the other hand, this new info (at least new for me) means LPI was sold intact for $6 million in the same form that PlanetOut bought it in 2005 for $31.1 million. That's a pretty shocking haircut for PlanetOut considering it was less than three years ago. (Factor the inflation-value of that 2005 price, and the difference is even more dramatic.)

    For that $6 million Regent is paying for LPI, PlanetOut is also providing $6 million in advertising with PlanetOut for the films etc. of Here Networks. So for a property PlanetOut paid $31 million in 2005, it got a $6 million ad buy from Regent that it now must fulfill.

    None of that means the sale was a bad idea for PlanetOut, given the limited market of potential buyers for LPI and the woes of the print pub business generally. What's more, PlanetOut announced back in January that due to its plunging share price and consecutive quarters of sagging revenue, the company was looking for buyers -- for all or parts of the company.

    PlanetOut's ongoing troubles are depressing for those of us with history in the gay media biz. The first gay-focused company to go public (trading as LGBT on the NASDAQ exchange), PlanetOut seemed for awhile there to be succeeding where so many dot.com business had failed.

    At least in its present, leaner form, PlanetOut can concentrate on its core online business and hopefully re-emerge in some form that is more financially stable and able to provide more than just another online social network, as its founders intended.

    April 17, 2008

    Big gay immigration news from Brazil

    Posted by: Chris

    Lula Some potentially great news out of Brazil this week. The center-left government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva -- known here as Presidente Lula --  has announced a legislative proposal that would extend to gay Brazilians the same right straight Brazilians have to sponsor foreign partners for temporary or permanent resident visas. It's a Brazilian UAFA (Uniting American Families Act), if you will.

    The proposed law would simply remove any distinction of sex from existing provisions that allow Brazilians to sponsor foreign partners. In reality, Brazil is already one of two-dozen countries that already allow gay citizens to sponsor foreign partners for residence, but that right is based entirely on vulnerable judge-made law.

    As a result, the process is long, cumbersome and expensive. Presumably this new legislative right would streamline the process and reduce the cost, although it would still require review of each request on a case by case basis.

    My partner and I have thus far chosen not to follow that route, partly due to the expense and partly because our goal is to live together in the U.S. But if this proposal becomes law, and it should given Lula's backing, we could at least have a stable life here until we find a way back home to the States.

    The article (in Portuguese) is in the jump to this post.

    For more about gay immigration issues, click here.

    Continue reading»

    'Out'-ing absolutely nothing

    Posted by: Chris

    Gayrepublicans I almost hate to offer any criticism at all about the new Out magazine piece, "Washington's Gay War," which purports to expose the "ancient hypocrisy" of closeted gay Republicans working in the political world.

    That's because the Out of old -- not the engaging, original Out under Sarah Pettit, or its cheeky reincarnation under James Collard, but the "Us/People" years with Judy Weider at the helm -- wouldn't touch politics unless there was a gay-for-pay celebrity somehow involved.

    OutmagAfter years of Hollywood pablum, it's at least encouraging to see Out editor Aaron Hicklin paying attention to more serious stories out of Washington. But talk about an appallingly bad job… Author Charles Kaiser ("The Gay Metropolis") was the one tasked with shedding some insight on the phenomenon of closeted gay Republicans. So who did he talk to: Barney Frank, outing activist/ blogger Mike Rogers, an unnamed Democratic political consultant and a gay Washington Post reporter.

    What about an actual living, breathing gay Republican (closeted or otherwise)? Wouldn't they be at least relevant? Could Kaiser not find the number for Log Cabin?

    The result was a 2,800-word, one-sided hack job that failed to report even one single new fact. J. Edgar Hoover? Terry Dolan? Jeff Gannon? Stop the presses! Kaiser even retells the story about Lee Atwater insinuating then-House speaker Tom Foley was gay (based on his Barney-like voting record) without ever acknowledging the possibility that (hello?!?!) Foley might actually be an example of a powerful Dem who lived a gay double life.

    The sole interesting exception was the article's opening vignette, which actually outs a gay Democrat -- not a Republican. Longtime Hill staffer Rob Cogorno was already out about being gay but said he was floored when Barney told a Capitol Hill crowd at Cogorno's going-away party that he hosted (in outrageous drag) the Miss Adams Morgan pageant.

    Those of us familiar with the annual MAM extravaganza know how absolutely paranoid many of its participants -- Democrat and Republican alike -- are, so that little story was at least interesting. But how in the heck does it show gay Dems are more out that gay Republicans?

    We can only hope that Hicklin stays interested in gay politics and Washington. (I'll admit to being a very irregular reader during his tenure, given my geographic disadvantage.) The magazine length is perfect for truly digging into some serious and interesting stories, but with at least some interest in all sides of the subject and breaking new ground.

    GNW 5: Gay gossip, gayer politics

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Gossip site claims to reveal Anderson Cooper's exGossip site claims to reveal Anderson Cooper's ex: QUICK LOOK: Our friends in the gay mafia here in Hollywood (Yes, it’s real) recently introduced us to the very hot J.D. Ordonez, Anderson Cooper’s ex boyfriend at a party!!! JD’s... (MORE)
    2. Stripper egged royal into sex act, drugs, court toldStripper egged royal into sex act, drugs, court told: QUICK LOOK: A married U.K. royal said to have performed a gay sex act on his senior aide on a kitchen floor as a Stringfellows stripper egged him on also took drugs, a jury heard... (MORE)
    3. The war against Washington's closeted RepublicansThe war against Washington's closeted Republicans: QUICK LOOK: Welcome to gay Washington in the 21st century, where the gay Democrats are proud and out on the Hill and in the lobbying firms on K Street, while many gay Republicans... (MORE)
    4. Kern's anti-gay comments spook big biz relocationKern's anti-gay comments spook big biz relocation: QUICK LOOK: A San Francisco Bay-area financial services company has not yet ruled out Oklahoma City for a major office relocation, a vice president of a real estate search firm confirmed... (MORE)
    5. Barney Frank says Dem primary should end June 3Barney Frank says Dem primary should end June 3: QUICK LOOK: Rep. Barney Frank said the trailing Democratic presidential candidate should drop out of the race by no later than June 3 — the date of the two last Democratic primaries... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. 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.

    Giving ABC News some feedback

    Posted by: Andoni

    I am so angry over how bad last night's debate was that I am writing a letter to the president of ABC News. Here is the address in case others also wish to write:

    David Westin
    President, ABC News
    7 West 66th Street
    New York, NY 10023

    If you wish to call to complain, use the number I suggest below because the normal customer relations line (818-460-7477) is overwhelmed, and you won't be able to get through. What you do is call the ABC News Radio number in the box below and ask for ABC News Television. They patch you right through. And you actually get to talk to a real person!

    (Ask for ABC News Television)

    Dumbing down politics by sound-bytes (II)

    Posted by: Andoni

    In the spirit of my post about hating 30-second sound-bytes and going around the MSM that feeds them to us to get more information from sources like YouTube, I have been looking for the entire transcript of Senator Barack Obama’s "bitter/clinging" remarks in San Francisco.

    I have found countless transcripts of the sentence in which he uses the words “bitter” and “clinging” and several sources that give the entire paragraph, but I have yet to locate the whole speech he gave at that fundraiser.

    What I did find is a report from someone who was at that fundraiser who describes the setting, the entire speech and the events surrounding Obama’s comments. I think his account of Obama’s speech at that fundraiser is worth reading because it gives a fuller picture of what happened --- in contrast to MSM sound-bytes.

    Just keep in mind that this was an Obama fundraiser and this account is from someone supporting Obama.

    Help an irmão out…

    Posted by: Chris

    For a political junkie like me, it's a bit painful to miss something as important as tonight's (last?) Democratic primary debate. Since we only get CNN down here in Rio, I was left to follow the live-blogging of others. From what Andrew Sullivan, Marc Ambinder and others have said, I didn't miss much.

    What did you think? Help a brother (irmão) out!

    April 16, 2008

    A tale of two children

    Posted by: Andoni

    Janet has two children, each of whom fell in love with a foreign citizen. Her daughter is straight, and her son is gay. As you might have already guessed, the straight daughter’s story has a happy ending -- and the gay son, well, the U.S. government made sure he was punished for his sexual orientation and exiled to a foreign country. This mother has a bird's-eye view of the pain and suffering this type of discrimination inflicts upon gay and lesbian Americans.

    The reason I bring all this up is that Immigration Equality is having “Lobby Week” in Washington, D.C., on May 6, 7 and 8. The purpose is to educate Congress on how destructive U.S. immigration policy is on same-sex couples and their families. If you can participate, I urge you to do so. Call your senator or congressperson to ask them to co-sponsor the Uniting American Families Act (S. 1328 in the Senate, and H.R. 2221 in the House). Or if you can't do much, at least sign the petition.

    I am one of those 38,000 gay U.S. citizens in binational relationships suffering unnecessarily due to the official institutionalized discriminatory policies of our government. In fact, so are Chris and Kevin, my co-bloggers here.

    The number of people affected by anti-gay immigration policies is bigger than you think. For instance, the number is many times the number of soldiers who have been discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, instituted in 1993. Both DADT and the anti-gay immigration policies are official institutionalized government sponsored discrimination and both should be ended as quickly as possible.

    Did you know that as recently as 1990, it was official government policy to not allow gays to immigrate to the United States at all? Only 18 years ago, gays were on the equivalent of a terrorist watch list and excluded from being able to enter the US.

    Thank God, we got rid of that law. However, now it is the partners of gay U.S. citizens who cannot come to this country. How much progress is this, considering that 20 other leading Western democracies make provisions for gay couples to bring their partners into their home countries?

    Please consider going to the Immigration Equality web page to take some sort of action to help your lesbian and gay brothers and sisters change this cruel, discriminatory official government policy. Thanks.

    April 15, 2008

    Civil unions, then marriage

    Posted by: Chris

    Don't miss Don's post from earlier tonight laying out how at least one gay rights leader -- Matt Coles of the ALCU -- sees things playing out in federal legislation recognizing gay couples. Most of what Matt says makes perfect sense -- although it's fairly shocking that our national groups have shared so little (done so little?) on how we'll bring it to effect.

    I do have one major question about Matt's rundown, however. I don't understand why repealing part 3 of DOMA should come before extennding of the 1,200 benefits to couples in civil unions and domestic partnerships. For one thing, just touching DOMA means dealing with the "M word" -- marriage -- which remains such a hot button for so many.

    Why not go with federal recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships first? Extend the 1,200 rights and benefits of marriage under federal law to same-sex couples in state-issued civil unions and domestic partnerships -- deferring for the time being to the public support for "marriage by another name."

    In fact, that statute could even do an end-run around DOMA, simply by treating gay couples married by states as included in the definition of "civil unions." DOMA wouldn't be in the way. Part 3 provides:


    (a) IN GENERAL- Chapter 1 of title 1, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
    `Sec. 7. Definition of `marriage' and `spouse'

    `In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word `marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.'.

    Yes, doing so degrades gay marriage in the states where we've gotten it, but it's better than no federal recognition at all for gay marriages, if as I'm guessing repeal of DOMA "part 3" will be a very hard sell. What's more, the more the federal government sets up a separate system of recognition for gay couples and straight couples, the more the stage is set for a federal constitutional challenge.

    Accessing those 1,200 federal benefits (II)

    Posted by: Andoni

    If you remember, I was delighted to learn that both Democratic candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, advocate extending the 1,200 federal benefits of marriage to gay couples who are in civil unions -- even though neither supports gay marriage per se.

    But I wondered why we haven’t heard any follow-up on this or seen any action from our national organizations, especially since the two candidates themselves gave us an opening. I also wondered what the best way to implement those 1,200 federal benefits would be.

    After e-mailing my questions to all our national organizations, I heard back from my friend Matt Coles, Director of the Lesbian & Gay Rights Project of the ACLU. He told me to stop fretting; they are prepared.

    He said the best way to start the ball rolling is for Congress to repeal "part 3" of DOMA, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing state sanctioned same-sex marriages. That would immediately make the gays married in Massachusetts (and those New Yorkers who married in Canada) eligible for those federal benefits --- everything from filing joint tax returns, to inheriting property better treatment under the estate tax, to obtaining surviving spouse social security benefits, to immigration rights, etc. -- all 1,200 of them.

    Matt also feels that soon there will be two to four more states that will recognize gay marriage, so we're talking about a significant number of people here who would benefit.

    Repealing DOMA "part 3" will not help those gays in states that have civil unions, however. For these people to gain federal benefits, a relatively simple (but not as easily passed) federal law would say: the term “marriage” in all federal laws includes civil unions and domestic partnerships created by states that have substantially the same definition, obligations and rights as a marriage in that state does. That would do it for states with civil unions and their equivalent domestic partnerships, as their called in California, Washington state and Washington, D.C.

    So there you have it.

    Unfortunately, all those (including your's truly) who live in states that don't have civil unions or even enacted constitutional amendments that prohibit same sex marriage, are basically out of luck . It would take a massive overhaul of federal law to cover us. The federal government would have to get into the civil union business; heretofore marriage and civil unions have been a state issue. Making a federal civil union law and having it mesh into all the state laws would be a nightmare.

    For me, the best answer would be to simply move to another state rather than wait for this to happen.

    The problem with this entire strategy, from repealing DOMA onward, is that Matt believes it would take a very active president, making these issues a very high priority and pushing hard to get them through. He believes none of it will happen before universal health care reform, which is a top priority of both Democrats, or ENDA, which remains the top priority of the Human Rights Campaign and congressional Democrats.

    As Chris noted today, ENDA unfortunately is hobbling all our other efforts. My own view is that ENDA has become our community's Iraq. It was supposed to be small, limited in scope, quick and easy and here we are 14 years later stuck and going nowhere -- or even backwards.

    It's using up movement resources and in spite of the obvious failure, no one at our national organizations will admit it and come up with a new federal strategy. At this point, I would even welcome a "surge" to get this done this year, so we can move on to better and more important things in the next Congress.

    The return of Barney Fag?

    Posted by: Chris

    Remember back in 1995 when then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Tex.), a renowned opponent of gay rights, referred to Barney Frank as "Barney Fag" in a press interview? He claimed it was only "a slip of the tongue" but as Barney noted at the time, "I turned to my own expert, my mother, who reports that in 59 years of marriage, no one ever introduced her as Elsie Fag."

    Now we're seeing the emergence of "Obama Bin Laden," and I would file it away as things that make you go hmm…

    First there was John Ashcroft, who flubbed it up while questioning Obama's patriotism:

    Then Joy Behar of "The View":

    Now there's the chairman of the Associated Press, of all people:

    You can cut them all some slack, but you have to wonder if this sort of things catches on, whether the Barney Fag phenom has returned.

    Foreman's farewell thoughts

    Posted by: Chris

    Foremanmatt700224 I'm just off of a media conference call with Matt Foreman and other leaders of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, marking his final day as executive director. He'll be succeeded in interim fashion by Rea Carey, his deputy E.D., with no firm date set for a successor to be named. (Carey said she has not applied for the job but will stay on as deputy E.D.)

    Regular readers of this blog know that Foreman led the Orwellian-named "United ENDA" effort, which aimed to oppose the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act after Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi determined that only a version limited to "sexual orientation" had enough votes. Rather than rehash the "trans-or-bust" strategy urged by Foreman et al., I chose to ask him a forward-looking question.

    As noted in a previous post, ENDA took the top spot on the "gay agenda" because HRC's Elizabeth Birch and other movement leaders in the early 1990s agreed with Barney and others that it made most sense to trim down the broader gay civil rights bill pushed by Bella Abzug and others since the early '70s in favor of a more limited bill with the best chance of passage.

    Whatever your view about the "trans-or-bust" debate last fall, it's clear that ENDA is no longer the golden child most likely to succeed: whether as a trans-inclusive bill that lacks support even among Democrats in the House, or as a gay-only bill that generates public bickering within the movement that leaves politicians with no-win options.

    My question was whether as a result the movement ought to step back and reconsider its federal legislative agenda and press forward on other issues, like "Don't Ask Don't Tell" or relationship recognition. Foreman agreed in principle, complaining that ENDA ("a very small bill") had made the movement "a one trick pony" for far too long.

    "We as a movement probably made a mistake a long time ago about what our priorities would be," allowed Foreman, because as it turned out ENDA as a gay-only bill failed to pass even when Democrats controlled one or both houses of Congress and the White House.

    At the same time, he nodded to the political reality that "the bills debated the longest are at the head of the queue," meaning ENDA isn't going anywhere from its perch at the top of the agenda. He said his "biggest fear" is that even if a Democrat takes the White House and the party broadens its control of Congress, they will enact ENDA and declare that's enough for the gays for the new president's first term.

    He was also surprisingly frank about the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, which would add gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal hate crimes law. "I don't even consider that 'a gay bill," said Foreman. "I really don't see that on the list for our community."

    His thinking was that the bill includes many non-LGBT categories and is backed by a much broader civil rights coalition than ENDA. He also pointed out: "The real-world importance of the hate crimes bill pales in significance to other issues like 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' and relationship recognition."

    As much as I disagree fundamentally with the divisive tactics of Foreman, United ENDA and transgender activists, I largely agree with his observations about ENDA, movement priorities and the Shepard Act. I also share his "biggest fear" about what we're likely to get from a new Democratic president, though not as much under a President Obama than a second President Clinton. (See Etheridge vs. Clinton, HRC-Logo Forum (Aug. 9, 2007)).

    The ripple effect of that "mistake" in agenda-setting more than a decade ago is now rolling in at a very high tide. The Task Force leadership talked at length on the call about how they are working now to do what critics said they should have been doing all last year, lobbying Congress for a trans-inclusive ENDA. That's a boon for transgender Americans, the vast majority of whom don't even identify with "the gay or LGBT community," but it's a diversion of precious resources on several levels.

    Lobbying for an inclusive ENDA means they're pushing already gay-friendly members to also support trans protections, rather than working for a veto-proof majority that might get ENDA done this year, clearing the decks for legislation that Foreman acknowledges would be far more meaningful. Because of the "first come, first served" reality Foreman described, the long slog for a fully-inclusive ENDA further defers the day that the real heart of the gay rights movement -- relationship recongition -- finally gets its day in Congress.

    ACLU audits H & R Block

    Posted by: Andoni

    The director of the ACLU's Lesbian & Gay Rights Project, Matt Coles, sent out a April 15 e-mail missive announcing a retreat at H & R Block after the tax preparer was challenged for discrimination against couples in civil unions using its online tax program. According to Coles:

    Jason Smith and Settimio Pisu have a Connecticut Civil Union.  They decided to use H & R Block’s online service to file their taxes.  But when they tried to fill out the forms, they got a pop up screen telling them “We don’t support Connecticut Civil Union Returns.”  They could, the online service explained, file a return by going into an H & R Block office.  And pay four times as much.

    We had a little conversation with the “world’s preeminent tax services provider.”  From now on, they will support Connecticut Civil Union returns, for the balance of this year by changing their website to allow taxpayers in civil unions to prepare their tax returns online at the same cost as for married couples, and by providing a free online support specialist to help folks complete the papers.  Happy April 15."

    April 14, 2008

    Dumbing down politics by sound-bytes

    Posted by: Andoni

    I hate 30-second sound-bytes in politics. I would argue that they don’t serve America well, but I also realize there’s not much I or anyone else can do about it. Unfortunately, these snippets of information and opinion have become a big part of our political discourse and often determine who is elected president. I would blame sound-bytes from giving us George W. Bush, for example, rather than Al Gore.

    The most recent example of how sound-bytes serve the public poorly is from San Francisco, where Barack Obama told supporters that he encountered "bitter" people in small town Ohio and Pennsylvania who were "clinging" to guns and religion because of their difficult economic situation.

    That sound-byte from San Francisco does not reveal the depth with which Obama has thoughtfully considered this issue.  He made the same point in a more detailed way in an interview with Charlie Rose back in 2004, expressing his compassion for how many small town workers have lost their jobs and benefits. It is disingenuous for John McCain or Hillary Clinton to claim that's some form of elitism.

     Obama's comments back in 2004 took several minutes to walk through. He was saying that workers in small towns who have lost their jobs, benefits and insurance are bitter about it and gravitated toward other activities they have long enjoyed and felt a part of, getting support from church or hunting with buddies. It’s the very same position only more artfully said, and said in a way the most people taking the time to listen will learn what is in this man’s heart and what he believes.

    The question is whether YouTube and the Internet have helped us evolve to the point we can get around these sound-bytes to see for ourselves the full statement or what a person’s position really is? Are we seeing the dawn of a new era of politics don't rely on the 30-second bytes the MSM chooses for them?

    For America’s sake, let’s hope so. The results next Tuesday in Pennsylvania will offer some indication.

    April 13, 2008

    Hillary's 'bitter' faux pas

    Posted by: Andoni

    Barack Obama has gotten a lot of heat for telling a San Francisco audience that when he was in Pennsylvania’s small towns he encountered voters who were bitter. He attributed that to their repeated disappointments from politicians and the government making promises but never following through.

    Sensing a gaffe, Hillary Clinton jumped, accusing Obama of elitism and saying he was belittling and out of touch with the working class. Clinton was playing the same old game of politics that she and Bill perfected.

    As someone from Pennsylvania, I would argue that Clinton’s move was a big faux pas. What she has shown is that she is the one who is out of touch with these people, not Obama. Should she lose Pennsylvania, we will look back upon her move as the turning point for this happening.

    I am from Western Pennsylvania, returning home several times a year, so I know this area well. It is impossible for someone to visit the small towns in Pennsylvania, such as Altoona, Johnstown, Greensburg, and Beaver Falls, and not detect bitterness, anger and disappointment. If you miss these things, you are either deaf and blind --- or simply not listening to the people.

    What’s surprising is that Hillary Clinton is supposed to be the candidate of these blue collar workers, the ones who have seen their jobs and health insurance disappear. If she has been through these small towns and all she sees are strong, hardworking people with a rosy outlook, she isn't attuned to what they are saying.

    How can someone who claims to be for these people visit with them and talk with them and not pick up on their anger, bitterness, and hurt. I think Pennsylvanians will soon wake up to the fact that she hasn’t been listening to them, and when they do that they are going to conclude that she really isn’t fighting for them and that she is phony.

    Obama's response  to her “out of touch” criticism is remarkably good. Score another round for the “new politics” of honest discussion as opposed to the old attack politics of triangulation and obfuscation.

    April 12, 2008

    GNW 5: Trouble under the golden arches

    Posted by: Chris

    1. McDonald's draws criticism for joining gay biz networkMcDonald's draws criticism for joining gay biz network: QUICK LOOK: *WARNING: anti-gay source*: McDonald’s has come under attack recently over what critics claim to be a high-profile endorsement of homosexuality. Last month, the vice... (MORE)
    2. Wis. parents upset health teacher told students she's gay: QUICK LOOK: School officials in Eau Claire say they’ll look into the case of a teacher who told five health classes about her sexual orientation. Administrators confirm that South Middle School instructor Stephanie... (MORE)
    3. PFLAG releases tape of disputed meeting with KernPFLAG releases tape of disputed meeting with Kern: QUICK LOOK: A gay rights group released a 40-minute audio recording Wednesday of a meeting between members of the group and state Rep. Sally Kern in hopes of shedding light on the... (MORE)
    4. Gay businessman has a shot in N.C. Senate primaryGay businessman has a shot in N.C. Senate primary: QUICK LOOK: The top two North Carolina Democratic challengers vying for incumbent U.S. senator Elizabeth Dole's seat are in a dead heat in polls among likely voters. State senator... (MORE)
    5. Gays face crackdown in Egypt, Kuwait, elsewhere in Mid East: QUICK LOOK: For three months, Egyptian police have embarked on periodic sweeps of downtown streets to clear them of presumed homosexuals. The raids, independent observers and human-rights activists say, reflect... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. 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.

    April 11, 2008

    Some gay straight talk from Obama

    Posted by: Chris

    Kerry_obama Barack Obama's wide-ranging Advocate interview posted yesterday confirmed again that he "gets it" on LGBT issues while avoiding the temptation to pander.

    Asked what gays can "reasonably expect" to enact in an Obama administration, the Illinois senator set the bar higher for himself than Hilllary Clinton has thus far, including

    • repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell"
    • passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act
    • extending domestic partner benefits to gay federal employees

    Clinton has committed to those same items, along with ushering through the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act. Most importantly, Obama also said he was "very interested in making sure that             federal benefits are available to same-sex couples who have a civil union."

    Advocate News Editor Kerry Eleveld took that to mean repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, but it's actually much more sweeping. DOMA only blocks federal recognition of gay marriages, at this point are limited to Massachusetts, but says nothing about civil unions. That leaves the field open for Congress to extend to gay couples in civil unions all the federal rights and benefits of heterosexual marriage.

    Given that two-thirds of the public either supports marriage or civil unions for gay couples, Obama's proposal is a clever way of extending vitally important federal rights while recognizing the states' prerogative to decide what relationships to recognize. The real question is why we are hearing innovative proposals like this from presidential candidates and not from our own movement leadership.

    Along with the savvy legislative agenda, Obama craftily navigated several P.C. minefields. On ENDA, he said he supports trans-inclusive but says enacting it would be tough. "Obviously, my goal would be to get the strongest possible bill," he added. So why isn't that likewise obvious to HRC and the United ENDA crowd?

    On gays in the military, Obama avoids the doodoo Al Gore stepped in back in 2000, when he said opposition to the policy would be a litmus test for any chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Obama has the advantage of eight more years of social acceptance within the military, but nonetheless gets it right:

    I would never make this a litmus test for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Obviously, there are so many issues that a member of the Joint Chiefs has to deal with, and my paramount obligation is to get the best possible people to keep America safe. But I think there’s increasing recognition within the Armed Forces that this is a counterproductive strategy … That doesn’t make us more safe, and what I want are members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who are making decisions based on what strengthens our military and what is going to make us safer, not ideology

    On marriage, Obama declined to take the bait on advising the movement to press for civil unions rather than full marriage equality:

    I don’t ask them that. Anybody who’s been at an LGBT event with me can testify that my message is very explicit -- I don’t think that the gay and lesbian community, the LGBT community, should take its cues from me or some political leader in terms of what they think is right for them. It’s not my place to tell the LGBT community, "Wait your turn."       I’m very mindful of Dr. King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail,” where he says to the white clergy, "Don’t tell me to wait for my freedom."   

    So I strongly respect the right of same-sex couples to insist that even if we got complete equality in benefits, it still wouldn’t be equal because there’s a stigma associated with not having the same word, marriage, assigned to it.

    Not only is that respectful, it's the first time I've seen any viable presidential candidate state so succinctly the case for gay marriage over civil unions. Clearly Obama gets it, even if he's "operating in a broader political and historical context," as he puts it.

    Eleveld also manages to elicit more background from Obama about where he personally traces his comfort level on gay issues; mostly from his mother's general tolerance and an openly gay professor.

    Obama's weakest moments were at the beginning and the end of the interview. He defended his inaccessibility to the gay press as a general campaign bias in favor of "general press" or "specialty press." There are a number or problems with this, not the least of which is the frequent criticism of Obama as a feel-good candidate full of generalities.

    Sticking with mainstream media interviews only perpetuates that, since reporters with a general audience rarely plum the details of specific issues like gay rights because they are covering the field. The Advocate interview, as well as several of Clinton's gay press chats, demonstrate how the specialty press will ask important detailed questions that the broader media will miss. Obama should embrace the opportunity to get into specifics, since the reach of the Internet opens even specialty press interviews to a much broader audience.

    I'm also not buying the unsolicited analogy Obama made between ex-gay gospel singer Donnie McClurkin and his own pastor Jeremiah Wright. Obama argued that both were examples of the importance of opening the tent wide enough to embrace those who disagree on specific issues. Fair enough, as far as that goes. But Wright was removed from any official role in the Obama campaign, while McClurkin was invited to perform at official campaign events.

    A more consistent approach would have been to either banish both from any official campaign connection, or leave them both be while distancing himself from their more radical views. Only the politics of the moment explains the disparate treatment and Obama would be better served simply acknowledging as much.

    The Clintons' pants on fire again

    Posted by: Andoni

    I’m so over the Clintons and their followers making politics nothing but a series of purposeful misstatements and lies. That seems to be the only way they know how to do business, and I don’t want to go back to those days with them in the White House.

    Here are some the latest examples of the Clinton modus operandi. Yesterday Bill Clinton was trying to defend by revision his wife’s various statements on her sniper fire visit into Bosnia. In the course of his revisionist statement, he euphemistically makes eight false statements … or in plainer English... he tells eight lies. ABC’s Jake Tapper exposes them here.

    Just a few of the lies: Bill claims Hillary only told the Bosnia story once, that it was at 11 p.m. (she was tired), and she quickly corrected the story -– all whoppers! Then he goes straight to victimhood, claiming that the media is picking on her.

    Increasingly desperate Clinton surrogates are every bit as willing to engage in “bend the truth” politics, repeating something untrue or unproven often enough so that people eventually think it is true. Take the  column by Peter Rosenstein in today's Washington Blade:

    Rosenstein’s topic sentence/thesis is, “It is amazing that Barack Obama supporters continue to excuse his connections to anti-gay figures, yet attack Clinton for hers.” As apparent proof, he cites two previous Blade opeds: "It's still the audacity of hope" by David Pitts, and "An unfair assessment" by your's truly. The trouble is neither of these cited articles says anything attacking Hillary for her anti-gay supporters (his thesis). And Rosenstein says nothing in the rest of his essay to support his opening claim.

    The politics of misstatement and lying certainly  flow downhill in Hillaryland. How do these people think they can get away with this? Don't people remember Bill Clinton wagging his finger saying, “I did not have sex with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.”

    Repeating a lie often enough and authoritatively enough, hoping people think it is true, is no way to run a country. After 15 years of this type of dishonest, duplicitous politics, I look forward to a new era of forthright leaders.

    GNW 5: Obama, Clinton and the gays

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Obama names LGBT rights priorities in interviewObama names LGBT rights priorities in interview: QUICK LOOK: Democratic presidential front-runner Barack Obama has been weathering a small storm lately in the LGBT community for being too tight-lipped with gay and lesbian news... (MORE)
    2. Lesbian elected top prosecutor in Texas with easeLesbian elected top prosecutor in Texas with ease: QUICK LOOK: Riding the endorsement of retiring Ronnie Earle, Rosemary Lehmberg on Tuesday soundly defeated her better-financed opponent to win the Democratic primary runoff for Travis... (MORE)
    3. Elton John blasts 'misogyny' at Clinton fund-raiserElton John blasts 'misogyny' at Clinton fund-raiser: QUICK LOOK: Experience is central to Democrat Hillary Clinton's presidential bid, and Wednesday night she tapped one of pop music's most venerable rockers to help fill her campaign... (MORE)
    4. Older gay philanthropists are investing in next generations: QUICK LOOK: As the first wave of out-of-closet, childless queer baby boomers enter their golden years, many are considering leaving their legacies to charity. Although stigma attached to queer causes has waned... (MORE)
    5. Task Force leader leaves with pride and frustrationTask Force leader leaves with pride and frustration: QUICK LOOK: After three decades, Matt Foreman remains one of the most prominent and outspoken figures within the movement for LGBT rights as executive director of the National Gay... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. 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.

    April 10, 2008

    A DSM-IV for McCain Mania?

    Posted by: Andoni

    John_mccainListening carefully to John McCain state his position on the Iraq War over the past few months, I have have concluded there is a huge problem here that the MSM is missing.

    McCain repeatedly asserts that if he is president, America cannot and will not lose in Iraq under any circumstances -- even if we have to stay there 100 years or more. When I listen to McCain talk about the "winning the war," I wonder exactly which war McCain has in his head –- Iraq or Vietnam?

    It may well be that McCain has never gotten over what happened to the U.S. (and him personally) in the Vietnam War and is transferring his feelings to Iraq. In McCain’s mind, Iraq represents Vietnam. And McCain’s positions on Iraq are simply the emotional manifestations of his trying to achieve closure (and victory) in Vietnam.

    Georgewbush This is something that has no doubt eaten away at him for over 35 years. Now he's stuck living in the past and his intransigent view about Iraq is actually an attempt to change the result in Vietnam -- at least in his head.

    If it sounds familiar to have a president using a new conflict to re-fight a previous war, trying to change the outcome, it is.

    President George W. Bush believed  his father President George H.W. Bush blew it by not going all the way to Baghdad and finishing off Saddam during the first Gulf War. With that gnawing at him for years, W’s emotions were primed for the 2003 invasion.

    Similarly, there was a young German corporal who in 1919 could not accept the outcome of World War I for his country, and so over 20 years set himself up to lead his country to avenge that loss, trying to achieve a different outcome. The result -- Nazi Germany and World War II -- was disastrous.

    AdolfhitlerThe DSM-IV stands for the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition. That is the psychiatric medical text that began listing homosexuality as a mental illness in 1952 in its first edition. Homosexuality was removed as an illness in 1973 for the fourth edition.

    In light of my observations about Hitler, Bush and McCain, I am going to write to the American Psychiatric Association to suggest they add a new category “Paleo Guerre Disorder” (PGD): whereby a person is so distraught over the result of a previous conflict that he confuses the events and emotions of the old conflict with the current situation.

    If America is stupid enough not to see that McCain is trying to undo and avenge the result in Vietnam, then it gets what it deserves if it elects him. Getting fooled twice by a president with the same emotional mental disorder, would be quite stupid on our part, devastatingly stupid.

    Obama's gay press snub? (II)

    Posted by: Chris

    Politico bit on the "Obama-gay press snub" story, and the story by Carrie Budoff Brown does a nice job of covering the field:

    With a decent story for Obama to tell, gay editors from Dallas to San Francisco to Boston have been left wondering why Obama doesn’t take it directly to their publications, as Clinton has done with increasing frequency since Super Tuesday.

    “It doesn’t seem to match what he says at these other events,” said Cynthia Laird, news editor at the Bay Area Reporter in San Francisco. “It is very disappointing to me.”

    The reason for Obama’s distance is unclear. In keeping with his campaign’s managed approach to the media in general, Obama has communicated with the gay press on his own terms, placing ads in local gay newspapers and writing op-eds. And with more interview requests than Obama can fill, aides likely do a cost-benefit analysis of each media outlet and the audience it reaches.

    She notes that some gay press entities are asking to be treated like MSM without observing the same rules of objectivity and neutrality -- the complaint I've registered here.

    Responding to the Politico piece, the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder suggests the gay press take a chill pill:

    Arguably, it is more important for Obama to speak about gay issues to general audiences than it is for him to speak about gay issues before gay audiences.

    That's mixing apples and oranges, actually. I would agree that Obama talking about gay issues to mainstream audiences is more important in determining whether he's genuine in his support for gay rights, rather than viewing us as just another special interest. But that's a bit beside the point concerning the gay press snub. These brief encounters with mainstream audiences do not allow for the kind of in-depth questioning that comes from a "specialty press" interview.

    The gay community has been plagued since Bill Clinton by Democrats with campaign bromides who don't deliver in office. The long primary campaign season is an ideal time for those generalities to be fleshed out into policy details. Candidates may have limited time, as Ambinder points out, but over the many months of campaigning there ought to be a spare 20 minutes here and there to get down to specifics.

    That said, even as an alum of the local gay press, I don't buy into the idea that it's a snub of "the LGBT press" if a candidate only talks to the Advocate. The local gay press shot itself in the foot with the Resnick and Segal hijinks of this campaign season, but there are plenty of local LGBT publications -- the Washington Blade, Southern Voice and (most of) the other National Gay Newspaper Guild papers, certainly -- that employ quality journalists who can conduct a proper, probing interview.

    The point is whether the tough questions get asked and answered. In Obama's case -- between the HRC-Logo forum and the two Advocate interviews -- I would say they have been.

    PlanetOut sells Advocate, Out, Alyson

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATE: The portion of this post that reports the LPI sale did not include Specialty Pubs turns out not to be correct. For details, check out my subsequent post.

    Ryan The gay media conglomerate PlanetOut dropped a bombshell yesterday, announcing that it would sell off its magazine and book publishing business, including marquee titles like the Advocate, Out and Alyson Books, to Here Networks for a pricetag of $6 million. The deal should be formalized by the end of the month and the sale completed by Aug. 31, the San Francisco Business Times reported:

    PlanetOut … wants to return its focus to its web sites gay.com and planetout.com, which have been contributing a smaller percentage of its revenue recently.

    The company's online segment has been contributing less to its revenue for each of the last three years. In 2005 it accounted for 87 percent, in 2006 54 percent, and in 2007 51 percent. Magazine publishing's portion of total revenue rose in each of those years, from 13 percent in 2005 to 46 percent in 2006 and 49 percent in 2007.

    Imageaspx The sell-off is the latest chapter in the de-coupling of gay media, just years after a trend toward conglomeration. PlanetOut Inc., was itself the result of the December 2000 merger with PlanetOut Corp. (planetout.com) and Online Partners (gay.com). Only months earlier that year, Liberation Publications., Inc. (LPI), which published the Advocate, Alyson Books and soft-core "adult" titles under the name Specialty Publications, had purchased rival Out magazine. Then, in November 2004, PlanetOut Inc., bought LPI, for $32.1 31.1 million (or about $36 35 million in 2008 dollars).

    Just four short years later, with PlanetOut struggling financially, the sales price for LPI is only a fraction of what PlanetOut paid, likely reflecting the difficult economic market for print publications generally, and nationwide magazines in particular. These have been challenging times for the Advocate, published biweekly, and Out, published monthly, when local gay publications publish weekly and the Internet is on a 24-hour news cycle.

    Freshmen_feb02 Here Networks didn't buy LPI's "adult" Specialty Pubs division, though it's unlikely that was based on content since the pay-TV network shows similar content. Those who know LPI well say that Specialty Pubs was long the profit center for the company, but magazines like Men and Freshmen have suffered from online competition as well. But since the LPI that Planet Out purchases is not the same LPI it sold, it's difficult to say how steep a haircut PlanetOut took on the pricetag.

    That mystery is compounded by the unusual structure of the deal, which involves the payment of the $6 million as pre-paid advertising to be spent by March 2009. Here will also be assuming the liabilities of LPI as well.

    The sale of LPI could be seen as an important part of CEO Karen Magee's effort to refocus San Francisco-based PlanetOut on its core online business, including the sale last fall of the RSVP Vacations gay cruise company to competitor Atlantis Events. It's interesting to see Here moving in the opposite direction, expanding from on-demand TV to print media with an online component.

    Time will tell which company is making the right bet financially, or whether PlanetOut is simply selling off its old media division on the way to making itself more attractive for a buyout -- something the company announced in January it was seeking. News of the sale improved PlanetOut stock price, up 18 cents (7.9 percent) to $2.45, a split-adjusted price.

    For a quick history of PlanetOut and LPI, follow the jump:

    Continue reading»

    April 09, 2008

    Clinton's future 3 am phone calls

    Posted by: Andoni

    Apparently the Clinton campaign is having trouble paying its bills. In fact, the University of California-Davis says the campaign still owes $5,496.75 from January. Other California universities report the campaign owes them money, too. UC Davis says that if the bill is not paid by May 10, it will turn the account over to a collection agency.

    Keith Olberman wryly suggested that Hillary's 3 a.m. phone calls might start coming from collection agencies.

    Obama sits for second Advocate chat

    Posted by: Chris

    Barack Obama has apparently done another interview with the Advocate, which should settle some of the criticism he's received of late for limiting gay press access.

    He did sit down for the Human Rights Campaign-Logo forum and was the first to accept the invitation. Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Bill Richardson and most of the other Democratic presidential contenders did as well. Obama also talked to the Advocate during the whole Donnie McClurkin flap, though the interview was limited to that subject.

    Since then, Clinton talked to the Advocate, the Washington Blade, did a joint interview with the Dallas Voice and two Ohio gay papers, and last week talked to the Philadelphia Gay News. PGN, in particular, took umbrage that Obama declined to be interviewed, publishing a half-page of blank white space on the front page to reflect where his Q&A would have been.

    PGN Publisher Mark Segal also took Obama to task on the editorial page, never revealing that he was an early Clinton supporter, having donated $1,000 to her campaign in early 2007.

    The Advocate interview should be up on the publication's website by tomorrow, according to a report in the Dallas Voice, and Obama campaign spokesman said it had been arranged before the whole PGN flap.

    April 08, 2008

    Travel days and the GNW 5

    Posted by: Chris

    Yesterday was a travel day, hence the dormant blog. I've had a lot of those recently -- D.C. to N.Y. (March 28), N.Y. to Memphis (March 31), Memphis to Atlanta (April 4), and Atlanta to D.C. (yesterday). I have another big one tomorrow, flying back to Rio for the first time in almost five weeks. I'll enjoy my last day -- my birthday! -- here in Washington with friends today, but for obvious reasons I'll be very happy to be "home" in Copacabana as well.

    Just to play catch up, here are the top stories now on Gay News Watch:

    1. Shame over being gay leads retired teacher to suicideShame over being gay leads retired teacher to suicide: QUICK LOOK: A former teacher took his own life in Hampshire, U.K., because he was afraid people would find out he was gay, an inquest heard. Clive Richards, who was prominent in... (MORE)
    2. Gayle King to Letterman: Oprah and I aren't lesbiansGayle King to Letterman: Oprah and I aren't lesbians: QUICK LOOK: Gayle King is single and ready to mingle. Promoting the ABC show "Oprah's Big Give" on Letterman, King laughed off reports she and best friend Oprah Winfrey were more... (MORE)
    3. Appeals court hears Ill. student's claim to wear anti-gay T-shirt: QUICK LOOK: A three-judge panel heard testimony Friday in a Naperville, Ill., high school student's appeal to wear a T-shirt expressing opposition to homosexuality. Alexander Nuxoll, a Neuqua Valley High School... (MORE)
    4. Hitch tells Andrew Sullivan, 'Don't be such a lesbian'Hitch tells Andrew Sullivan, 'Don't be such a lesbian': QUICK LOOK: On the April 5 edition of MSNBC's Tim Russert, Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens debated the significance for Sen. Barack Obama of comments made by his former... (MORE)
    5. Bravo, Lifetime in tug of war over 'Project Runway'Bravo, Lifetime in tug of war over 'Project Runway': QUICK LOOK: NBC and Bravo aren’t letting “Project Runway” jump to Lifetime without a fight.
      Peacock has filed suit in New York Supreme Court against “Project Runway” producer... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. 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.

    April 06, 2008

    Accessing those 1,200 federal benefits

    Posted by: Andoni

    Last week on Chris Mathews’ Hardball College Tour at West Chester College, Barack Obama was asked by a gay student if he supported civil marriage for same-sex couples. Obama answered that he did not support gay marriage but rather “strong civil unions,” where all 1,200 federal benefits of marriage are bestowed on gay couples in civil unions:

    Similarly, in her interview with the Philadelphia Gay News, Hillary Clinton said she would like to “extend the same access to federal benefits across the board” to couples in civil unions or domestic partnerships. She wasn’t as definitive as Obama and she didn’t reference the 1,200 benefits, but she did lean in the direction of wanting federal benefits for gay couples.

    My first thought as a guy person in a same-sex binational relationship was whether whoever was compiling this list of 1,200 benefits had included immigration rights on it. And then I wondered who is keeping this list anyway?

    A quick email to Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, got me a list of those 1,200 benefits, compiled by the General Accounting Office. To my relief, immigration is listed (Category 6, page 7). It also got me an interpretation of these benefits from the Freedom to Marry website.

    So with two presidential candidates who want to extend federal benefits to legally partnered same-sex couples, the question is how best to do it? Repeal the Defense of Marriage Act? That will only benefit the people in Massachusetts, where same sex marriage is legal, but not those in Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, California, Washington, Oregon or the District of Columbia -- all of which have some form of civil union or domestic partnership.

    Can federal benefits be extended to same sex couples in states that have partnership laws by simply passing a federal law mandating it? What about DOMA?

    As a non-attorney, I would argue that repealing DOMA, passed way back in 1996, is unnecessary. A new federal law recognizing gay partnerships for federal benefits would conflict with DOMA but be more recent -- the more recent federal law would govern. Still, for married gay couples in Massachusetts, DOMA would have to be repealed.

    Whether I'm right or not, it's passing strange that with two presidential candidates publicly advocating federal recognition of gay couples, we have not heard anything from our national organizations about how best to get the ball rolling.

    HRC, NGLTF, Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin, Lambda Legal? I’m calling you out here.

    This is a big thing Obama and Clinton are proposing; a huge deal. I'm dismayed that no groundwork is being laid by our national leadership.

    April 05, 2008

    Leno unapologizes to Ryan Phillippe

    Posted by: Chris

    Jay Leno is trying his best to have it both ways in the flap over whether he was gay-baiting actor Ryan Phillippe during a "Tonight Show" interview.

    Leno had noted Phillippe's conservative Baptist upbringing and his first role, playing a gay teen on the soap "One Life to Live." Then Leno tried to be funny -- always a risky move on his part, if you ask me -- and said, "Give us your gayest look."  Phillippe responded, "That is so something I don't want to do. Are you just going to embarrass me tonight, or ... ?"

    Here's the clip:

    That led to a handslap from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for Leno's "misguided use of adolescent humor" and kudos for Phillippe from GLAAD director Neil Giuliano for refusing to take the bait.

    Leno dutifully apologized by press release, insisting, "In talking about Ryan's first role, I realize that what I said came out wrong. I certainly didn't mean any malice. I agree it was a dumb thing to say, and I apologize."

    Came out wrong? Hard to see how he was misunderstood and within days, Leno was unfiltered and unapologizing (listen here), whining about "political correctness" and the rigors of being a comic today. After all, he claims to have gay guests all the time and he never makes fun of their relationships. (I'll bet "some of his best friends are gay," too, and he invites them over for dinner and everything.)

    Woe is Jay.

    "They really are spying on you."

    Posted by: Andoni

    Bigbrotherposter How would you feel if there were a camera inside your home watching everything you do? Worse yet what if there were also a device that could read your mind when you are at home or at work?

    I think most of us would feel very uncomfortable with this. Yet according to the New York Times today, that is exactly what Internet Service Providers (and as a result, our government. too) can do. We've all heard someone say there is no such thing as privacy anymore. That may be true, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I like the idea of better federal regulation of privacy on the Internet.

    For me. it is simply an extension of the Fourth Amendment. The Founding Fathers had no inkling of the Internet, but I’m sure that if someone described a system where someone could be spied upon in their own home or, even more incredibly, a system that allows someone to know what you were thinking (by the web pages you visit), the Founders would have included a specific protection against this type of behavior in the Fourth Amendment.

    An Opt Out system for Internet spying like the federal “Do Not Call List” would be great, but making it an Opt In system would be even better.

    April 04, 2008

    GNW 5: April Fools? Actually, no.

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Cheyenne Jackson comes out about Popeye fantasyCheyenne Jackson comes out about Popeye fantasy: QUICK LOOK: The ever-alluring Cheyenne Jackson gets all sorts of gay in The Advocate’s latest edition. Rather than taking his publicists’ white-washing advice to eschew his sexuality,... (MORE)
    2. 'Million Fag March' draws 400 to protest Phelps clan'Million Fag March' draws 400 to protest Phelps clan: QUICK LOOK: The Million Fag March, started by Chris Love, of Leavenworth, drew more than 400 demonstrators with signs, shirts, even pants touting messages of compassion and tolerance... (MORE)
    3. Lesbians' Camp Lickalotta causes an uproar in N.C.Lesbians' Camp Lickalotta causes an uproar in N.C.: QUICK LOOK: A lesbian couple attempting to create a gay-friendly camping space named “Camp Lickalotta” in rural North Carolina claim they were booted from the campground where they... (MORE)
    4. Naked gay sessions in public pool outrage some BritsNaked gay sessions in public pool outrage some Brits: QUICK LOOK: Gay naturists have been granted their own swimming sessions at a public baths – to the fury of families who also use the pool. Several parents have withdrawn their children... (MORE)
    5. Utah Libertarians rebel against anti-gay gov. candidateUtah Libertarians rebel against anti-gay governor hopeful: QUICK LOOK: Utah newspapers have already declared “Super Dell” Schanze the Libertarian candidate for governor, but others aren't so sure. “We may be small and ineffective but, by... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. 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.

    April 03, 2008

    Hillary's latest gay press chat

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATE: At the end of the post.

    P1clintonhillary Hillary Clinton has once again granted an interview with the GLBT press, and the Philadelphia Gay News has done everything it could to reward her for the effort -- from a redesigned website that features the interview before the rest of the site, to a front page print edition that includes a segment of blank white space to reflect Barack Obama's failure to face questioning.

    Unfortunately, like the Blade and Gay People's Chron before it, PGN did not come to the table with completely clean hands. The interview -- and all the website and print trimmings -- were the handiwork of PGN publisher Mark Segal, who has already donated $1,000 to the Clinton campaign. Has the gay press joined Fox et al in completely abandoning the idea of neutrality? At least the Blade editor's endorsement was public record; Segal doesn't disclose his Clinton ties to readers.

    Pgn_obama The interview itself makes little news, asking two or three different ways whether gay couples should get equal federal legal recognition, something Clinton (and Obama) has been on record supporting for almost a year now. I was pleased to see that one of those repetitive questions was pegged to immigration rights, to which she responded:

    I think that that’s one of the biggest problems that we’ve got to contend with. Even states that have civil unions, domestic partnerships or even marriage laws are running into roadblocks with the federal government when it comes to federal benefits and privileges. Of course, immigration is a federal responsibility and I am going to do everything I can to eliminate any disparities in any benefits or rights under our law at the federal level so that all people will have available to them every right as an American citizen that they should, and that would include immigration law.

    There was no follow-up about why, if she feels that way, that Clinton (like Obama) has failed to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act, which would do just that. Despite all the questions about federal recognition, Segal and his co-questioner also failed to ask why Clinton supports repealing only half of the Defense of Marriage Act, when Obama supports full repeal. Considering it's the only actual policy difference between the two on gay rights, the omission is pretty glaring.

    Several of the questions displayed a poor understanding of the law, like asking if she could simply wave away "Don't Ask Don't Tell" with an executive order or a "signing statement." No, she explained patiently.

    In a humorous aside, Hillary backed away from promising she would march in a Gay Pride parade as president -- do we really still crave affirmation that much? -- blaming it on the Secret Service, as if the Commander in Chief answers to them. The questioner praises her for marching in our parades as First Lady, though she only did so once -- in June 2000 in New York City -- when she was kneedeep in her campaign for the U.S. Senate there.

    The highlight of the interview, and the only real news, was an excellent question about what Clinton would do as president in response to governments -- from allies like Egypt and Iraq to enemies like Iran -- that treat their own gay populations brutally. Her answer was strong:

    I would be very strongly outspoken about this and it would be part of American foreign policy. There are a number of gross human-rights abuses that countries engage in with whom we have relations and we have to be really vigilant and outspoken in our total repudiation of those kinds of actions and do everything we can, including using our leverage on matters such as aid, to change the behavior so we can try to prevent such atrocities from happening.

    The State Department already documents human rights abuses against gays around the world and it is the basis for asylum claims under existing law. But a proactive president like Clinton describes could be of incalculable benefit to gays abroad.


    Mark Segal, the PGN publisher, is digging himself deeper into the credibility hole.  Here's an exchange of an interview he gave to the Philly Daily Examiner:

    You guys seem to really be behind Hilary …
    I did not say we are behind Hilary. I’m personally on the fence. The space was left open to show that we are willing to feature him equally.

    You could cut the suspense with the knife, trying to figure out who Segal/PGN will endorse -- there is no separation between editorial and sales since Segal runs roughshod over both. The only real question is whether he'll come clean with readers that all his shenanigans this week were behind a ruse of objectivity, given his previous $1,000 donation.

    John McCain, the dancing queen?

    Posted by: Chris

    John_mccain Maybe there's hope yet for the GOP's crochety presidential nominee John McCain. When he appears on stage, his campaign has taken to blaring the usual patriotic fare -- "God Bless America" and John Phillip Sousa. When they venture into the last few decades, it's the "Top Gun" theme and Kenny Loggins' "Danger Zone."

    McCain, on the other hand, if he had his druthers, would take a chance on different tune-age:

    "I wish they'd play ABBA," he said.

    Learning the lessons of ENDA . . . not

    Posted by: Chris

    6bde59c8729d4008ab8b4c25604f3801big Just weeks after the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was declared dead for the year by the Human Rights Campaign, Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy appears to be sticking by his promise for a Senate vote on the bill, albeit later than the original January-February timetable.

    In an interview with the Associated Press, Kennedy defended his decision to move forward with the version of ENDA that passed the House, which includes sexual orientation as a protected category but not gender identity:

    "The fact is that the House of Representatives has taken action," Kennedy said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press. "The best opportunity for progress is ... to follow along on the action of the House of Representatives, and then look down the road to a new day after we have a good Democratic Congress and a Democratic president."

    Kennedy expects an "uphill fight" in the narrowly divided Senate, where 60 votes rather than a simple majority would be needed to overcome expected GOP stalling tactics.

    That "uphill fight" will also pit Kennedy against the intransigent left of the GLBT movement, which hasn't moved a muscle since the debacle of last fall's fight over ENDA in the House:

    "We will strongly oppose it," said Roberta Sklar of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "Leaving transgender people out makes that a flawed movement." …


    "It was made very clear in the fall that most LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) organizations, the vast majority of LGBT organizations, do not want Congress to shove a civil rights bill down our throat that we don't want," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

    Sklar is right, of course, that a gay-only ENDA is "flawed," but so would be a trans-inclusive ENDA, since it would protect the workplace but not in housing and public accommodations; it also carves an exception for the U.S. military -- where the government itself is the discriminatory employer. But flawed incremental progress is inevitable to any civil rights movement.

    Sklar, Keisling and their "United ENDA" allies know this, but they are willing to sacrifice an advance that would benefit almost everyone for the few who would not be helped; even though it's politically impossible to help those few nor or anytime in the near future.

    And there there is HRC, whose Joe Solmonese started the unfounded rumor of ENDA's death in Los Angeles several weeks ago, sitting on the sideline being ineffectual:

    "We will continue this work until all members of our community no longer fear being fired for who they are," said Brad Luna, Human Rights Campaign communications director.

    OK, but what in the heck does that mean? Is HRC supporting Kennedy's gay-only ENDA or reverting to its disastrous flirtation with the United ENDA crowd? If the organization cannot even communicate its position -- the HRC website and blog are devoid of any reaction to Kennedy's ENDA announcement -- then how could it possibly lobby effectively?

    (Photo of Ted Kennedy via Associated Press)

    April 02, 2008

    Deeply disappointing Donna

    Posted by: Chris

    Brazile The deposition given last month by Democratic Party chair Howard Dean shed some ugly light on longtime operative Donna Brazile, who headed up Al Gore's 2000 election and is a regular political analyst on CNN.

    Dean admitted it was Brazile who objected most strenuously to a proposal put forward by gay Democrats to add GLBT delegates to affirmative action guidelines states follow when selecting those who attend the party's national convention:

    Dean said some “influential individuals” within the DNC Black Caucus, such as Donna Brazile, opposed the plan because it was seen as “an affront to the civil rights movement.”

    Brazile, who chairs the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute, declined to comment for this article.

    Dean said the dispute grew to the point where “we had two very important groups of people in the DNC disagreeing with each other” and several DNC and caucus officials were asked to broker a deal that would make peace on the issue.

    “I wanted equal representation for gay and lesbian Americans,” he said, “and I wanted to achieve it in a way that wasn’t offensive to the history of the civil rights movement.”

    On the one hand, the DNC's infatuation with quotas -- even the committee itself adheres to rigid gender parity -- hardly needs encouraging with the addition of another category, whether or not GLBT folks are deserving. On the other hand, the dismissive slap-down from Brazile reeks of competing to see who's been more seriously oppressed, a pointless contest that only serves to divide groups that ought to be combining their efforts.

    We've seen this before, of course. One particularly galling example was when the National Association of Black Journalists vetoed the inclusion of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association in an umbrella group of minority journalists called -- ironically enough -- UNITY. Groups representing Hispanic, Native American and Asian American journalists OK'd NLGJA's participation but NABJ balked, and even pressed UNITY to change its name to UNITY: Journalists of Color.

    It's bad enough that Brazile would stoop to something similarly petty, especially claiming "offense" to the idea of greater gay inclusion. But perhaps it's more understandable when we remember that Brazile herself is a closet case.* That's right.

    After she was named Gore's campaign manager in October 1999, I assigned a reporter at Southern Voice to look into why the press releases omitted all mention of her role on the steering committee of the Millennium March on Washington, the massive GLBT rights event that listed "coming out" as the No. 1 item on its agenda.

    When Brazile and the campaign ignored repeated inquiries, our intrepid reporter showed up at an Atlanta fund-raiser, where she was again rebuffed. Undaunted, she walked up to the microphone and asked Brazile why she had so studiously avoided acknowledging her own sexual orientation when the MMOW platform celebrated the importance of being open about such things. Brazile said she was, you got it, "offended" by the question.

    A week or so later, when the Washington Post asked her the same question, Brazile was ready with a much better quip in response: "If I had a personal life, I'd have time for a sexual orientation." Clever, but still closeted.

    It's not much of a stretch to see why a closet case like Brazile would find little sympathy in the importance of sending as many openly gay delegates as possible to the Democratic National Convention. But shame on Howard Dean (again!) for allowing her messed up personal situation to create a black-gay wedge within the party.

    * = In anticipation of the inevitably comments I'll get, calling Brazile a "closet case" doesn't mean she's a lesbian, anymore than calling Ken Mehlman the same thing is saying he's gay.  A closet case is someone who is hiding their true sexual orientation, whether or not they put on a public front of being straight or gay. So a closet case could be a gay person pretending to be straight, or a person of unknown sexual orientation who refuses to answer the question. Brazile and Melhman are the latter.

    April 01, 2008

    Obama knocks the socks off NYC gays

    Posted by: Andoni

    "I've been to many events over the past 10 years of candidates running for office. This was the most forthright, eloquent, and detailed stuff I've heard from a politician [regarding gay issues]."

    That's according to Corey Johnson, one of the hosts of a Barack Obama fundraiser held the other night at the apartment of GLSEN founder and executive director Kevin Jennings -- right in Hillary Clinton's home turf, New York City.

    According to those present, Obama took on some of the toughest issues on the gay legislative agenda in his remarks without prompting and spoke with detail and candor that those in the audience were not used to hearing.

    On marriage equality, Obama again said he favored civil unions at this time, but left the door open for marriage at a future date. On the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, he said he supported a transgender-inclusive ENDA but did not think the votes were there in the Senate for that version of the bill.

    What surprised me was that Obama's speech was on gay issues and yet most of the questions following his 30-35 minutes of remarks were on non-gay issues. To me that means that he must have nailed every gay issue that was on peoples' minds or they wouldn't have switched to non gay issues during the Q & A.

    Obama repeated that his top three priorities if elected will be to safely extricate the U.S. from Iraq, pass affordable health care legislation and address greenhouse gases and the environment.

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