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Friday, May 29, 2009

We lost Prop. 8 in 1978

By Mark Segal
PGN Publisher

We lost the Proposition 8 decision due to California property taxes and what
has led to the state’s current financial problems. The seeds for the defeat
of Prop. 8 were sown in 1978, during the California tax revolt. Californians
felt that they were paying way too much in property taxes so, in accordance
with state law, they went out and gathered the required signatures to put
what became Proposition 13 on the ballot in 1978.

Prop. 13 passed. With it was language that stated that future taxes could
not be raised unless the legislature voted for them by a two-thirds
majority. Here’s where we come in. The state, knowing that getting
two-thirds of the legislature to vote for new taxes would be almost
impossible, took Prop. 13 all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Prop.
13 folks won a major victory based on the California constitution, which
gives all rights of laws to its citizens through the ballot, those
aforementioned propositions.

So, with the Prop. 8 ruling, the state Supreme Court is only upholding what
the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled on. Thus, not only do Californians
not have marriage, they also have lower taxes, which has left them almost
bankrupt.

That’s the bad news. Here’s the good news.

While the tax issue has not gotten any more popular in California, gay
marriage/marriage equality has. The publicity surrounding Prop. 8 has caused
many a skeptic to look deeply at the issue, including many in our own
community.

And, like other topics, when you look deeply at an issue, you change the way
you think about it. In this case, that’s to our adversaries’ disadvantage:
You note that their objections are all false and that marriage equality
changes nothing in their lives or the religions they follow. There is no
better proof for that than the Mormon church, which was one of the most
outspoken supporters of Prop. 8. The church and the ensuing controversy of
their involvement has begun to shift on the issue. Mormons who supported
marriage equality before Prop. 8 worried about excommunication. Now the
church says there is room for members of the faith who believe in marriage
equality but understand that the church does not. Now that’s not a seismic
move, but it is movement. So if the Mormons have changed, what about
less-religious-minded people?

There is little doubt with another proposition we will be victorious — as
long as we do not take any community support for granted. And with that
comes some bragging rights: If California accomplishes this, it will be the
first state that gains marriage equality through the ballot. And it would
take a powerful tool away from the right-wingers.

Mark Segal is PGN publisher and former president of the National Gay
Newspaper Guild. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Progressive game company makes game after CA Supreme Court upholds Proposition 8

May 27, 2009 – Less than 48 hours after the California Supreme
Court’s decision on Proposition 8, Metaversal Studios is releasing a new free web
game poking fun at its absurdity. The game, “WTF, CA!”

(www.metaversalstudios.com/wtfca), is a “Whack-a-Mole” style game in which the
gavel of justice earns points for beating down unmarried gay couples, but loses
points for beating down both straight and gay couples who are legally married.
“The point of the game is that this decision brings discrimination to a new level of
absurdity,” says Metaversal Studios’s gay founder and Lead Game Designer Jay
Laird. “It’s separate-but-equal, but other than by looking at a piece of paper, you
can’t tell who’s ‘equal’, since there are now legally married gay and lesbian couples
and ones whose unions will go unrecognized by the state. As if the state-versus-
federal marriage issue weren’t confusing enough as more states adopt gay marriage and domestic partnerships, California has just stirred up the pot again.”

The game offers Metaversal Studios’ usual mix of smart, fun, and slightly edgy
humor. Unmarried straight couples aren’t worth any points, since they can get
married at any time, but hitting a married gay or straight couple is equally bad.
Additional commentary on California issues include a bonus (hitting a certain
medicinal plant that pops up gives the player extra time) and a penalty (hitting a
caricature of the Governator ends the game prematurely). Additionally there’s a
hand of God” bonus, but the creators aren’t divulging what it does, except to say it’s
satirically “smitelicious”.

WTF, CA!” comes only a week after Metaversal Studios made nationwide news with Apple’s censorship of an update to its iPhone game, the innocent-looking, tongue-in- cheek “Hot Dog Down a Hallway”. “We were upset about Apple preventing our customers from getting the latest version of ‘Hot Dog’, but California preventing loving couples from upgrading their relationships to marriage is far worse.

LGBT Organizations Warn that Lawsuits Could Set Back Progress on Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

In response to the California Supreme Court decision allowing Prop 8 to stand, four LGBT legal organizations and five other leading national LGBT groups are reminding the LGBT community that ill-timed lawsuits could set the fight for marriage back. The groups released a new publication, “Why the ballot box and not the courts should be the next step on marriage in California.” This publication discourages people from bringing premature lawsuits based on the federal Constitution because, without more groundwork, the U.S. Supreme Court likely is not yet ready to rule that same-sex couples cannot be barred from marriage. The groups also revised “Make Change, Not Lawsuits,” which was released after the California Supreme Court decision ending the ban on marriage for same-sex couples in California. This publication encourages couples who have legally married to ask friends, neighbors and institutions to honor their marriages, but discourages people from bringing lawsuits.

Why the ballot box and not the courts should be the next step on marriage in California” is available at http://www.freedomtomarry.org/pdfs/why_the_ballot_box.pdf

Make Change, Not Lawsuits” is available at http://www.freedomtomarry.org/pdfs/make_change_not_lawsuits-0509_update.pdf

Read Online: http://www.freedomtomarry.org/press_center/lawsuits_set_back_progress.php

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Senator Mark Leno’s Statement on Today’s Supreme Court Decision on Proposition 8

Today’s decision is extremely disappointing for California and hurts thousands of caring couples who wish to make lifelong commitments to one another through marriage. Let today’s decision be a rallying cry for all Californians who believe in equality and fairness, and encourage thousands more to stand up and fight the pervasive injustices LGBT people face in our community and our nation.”

The issue before this court was much greater than marriage equality. The question asked of our justices goes to the core of our society. Can a majority vote undermine a foundation stone of our constitutional democracy, equal protection under the law? Today our highest court ruled that minorities do not matter.”

Through our disappointment, we will still find hope and encouragement, including the 18,000 couples whose marriages in California remain secure and protected today. Through our sadness, our resolve to fight for justice and equality only grows stronger. Love is an unstoppable force, and equality is right around the corner.”


Senator Mark Leno represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes Marin and portions of San Francisco and Sonoma Counties. He is the first openly gay man elected to the California Senate and one of the first two openly gay men elected to the Assembly. As an Assemblymember he authored California’s historic first bills that would have given same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The Legislature passed the marriage equality bill in 2005 and again in 2007, but both measures were vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Statement by Lori L. Jean, LA's GLBT Center

Today, our Supreme Court sent a mixed and troubling message. While upholding the legal marriages of the 18,000 same-sex couples who married in California, the ruling establishes that all Californians are NOT entitled to equal protection of the law. This is a sad day for our state and a setback for the cause of freedom and fairness.

But it’s also important to keep this in perspective. Every noble struggle known to man or woman has been filled with losses—temporary defeats that people had to endure and overcome. We must pick ourselves up and move forward, knowing that justice ultimately will prevail and the right to marry will one day be ours forever.

Fortunately, this loss comes amidst a veritable tide of progress in many other state supreme courts and legislatures—a tide that cannot be turned back, no matter today’s decision. Not only are courts and legislatures recognizing that it’s wrong to discriminate against any group of people by denying them the fundamental freedom to marry the one they love, but now even a majority of Americans agree. Most people in the nation now believe that same-sex couples should be treated equally under the law.

That is enormous progress and we cannot let one election, one court case, one defeat or even many defeats stop us. And we must not let such challenges limit our dreams. Those who came before us and who could never imagine our successes did not give up. We owe the same dedication to those who are yet to follow.

Most importantly, we cannot afford to lose sight of the bigger picture. Ours is not a fight simply for the freedom to marry. Ours is a fight for full equality; full equality and nothing less.

Across the state, community gatherings will demonstrate the continuing support for marriage equality, contextualize this moment in the larger civil rights struggle and prepare for taking the necessary next steps forward toward securing civil marriage equality at the state and federal levels. In Los Angeles, marches and rallies are planned for this evening and the next few days - visit the Center’s homepage for the latest information.

On Saturday, May 30, in Fresno, Meet in the Middle 4 Equality is launching a statewide and national effort toward full federal equality. To learn more, visit http://meetinthemiddle4equality.com/.

Monday, May 25, 2009

California’s AIDS Funding Cuts would be, ‘Catastrophic,’ says AHF

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the nation’s largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider, today criticized California state officials for planning draconian budget cuts that will jeopardize the public health by eliminating all funding for AIDS care and treatment from the state’s General Fund. The state action came on the heels of Tuesday’s state election where five ballot measures to address the state’s burgeoning budget deficit were voted down and; as a result, in response to the $21 billion and growing deficit now facing California.

The fact remains that AIDS is a communicable disease. California’s slash and burn approach to eliminating funding for the care and treatment of those afflicted by this public health epidemic is totally wrong-headed. As a result of its actions, the state could actually end up killing many poor Californians living with HIV/AIDS,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “In addition, these draconian cuts—$170 million in total from the General Fund—will also trigger $322 million in additional lost matching federal and private AIDS dollars. The state is destroying a crucial public health safety net by decimating over $400 million in AIDS treatment, care and support services. And in the end, the state will still be responsible for the care of many of these patients who will end up seek far more costly care in overloaded emergency units throughout the state. These cuts would be catastrophic if they are implemented.”

Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget proposal wipes out $170 million that the Legislature appropriated for General Fund-supported AIDS programs, including $96 million for the jointly funded state/federal AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) which serves over 35,000 low income Californians. The state currently gets $88 million in matching ADAP federal funds; however, in order to receive these matching funds, California must meet a ‘maintenance of effort’ requirement, and by cutting all state ADAP funding, the state fails this requirement and will lose out on the $88 million in matching federal dollars.

The state’s elimination of all ADAP funding will also mean a loss in rebates from drug manufacturers who sell AIDS drugs to the state. These rebates add millions of dollars to a special ADAP fund. This rebate fund has had as much as $233 million in at one point, money which also goes toward AIDS services. If the state halts all drug purchases for ADAP, this additional funding stream for AIDS treatment, care and services also dries up. The state’s action will trigger a huge across the board loss of funding—a significant portion of which isn’t even state money—for the care of some of its most vulnerable citizens living with HIV/AIDS.

The Governor’s proposal also cuts the entire $8 million budget of the Therapeutic Monitoring Program (TMP). TMP provides diagnostic assay testing to help determine the efficacy of an individual's AIDS drug treatment protocol. The HIV Diagnostic Assay Program had been threatened in 2004 with an 87% cut, but Governor Schwarzenegger interceded at that time and restored most of the funding for this crucial AIDS testing program in his 2005 budget.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Decision Day" is on Tuesday! For Prop 8

The California Supreme Court just announced that it will release its decision on the fate of Proposition 8 on Tuesday, May 26.

The court will either uphold the Constitution, recognizing equal protection under the law, or uphold discrimination, taking away fundamental civil rights from a minority.

This will be a moment that you -- and your friends -- will remember for the rest of your life. We don't know what the state Supreme Court will do. But we'll send you the news as soon as it is announced.

Do you know someone who wants to hear this historic news as soon as the Supreme Court releases it? Then forward your friends this message right now and ask them to sign up for a "Decision Day" email alert at:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/DecisionDay

As Charlize Theron told the Courage Campaign community a few weeks ago, Fresno will be the most important place to be on the Saturday after Decision Day -- no matter what the Supreme Court rules.

At 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 30, thousands of marriage equality supporters from across California -- LGBT and straight allies alike -- will "Meet in the Middle for Equality" to celebrate or protest the Supreme Court's ruling at Fresno City Hall.

Nearly 100 organizations, including the Courage Campaign, are mobilizing members for this amazing event in the heartland of California. "Equality Express" buses are leaving from several locations across the state. If you don't already have a spot reserved, think about car pooling with your friends to Fresno.

If you have friends who want to hear the Supreme Court decision as well as more information on Meet in the Middle, please forward this message right now and ask your friends to sign up for email alerts today:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/DecisionDay

Thank you for doing everything in your power to restore marriage equality to California, regardless of what happens on Decision Day.

Rick Jacobs
Chair, Courage Campaign

P.S. You can also get the Supreme Court's decision texted to your cell phone the moment it is announced. The Courage Campaign is teaming up with CREDO Mobile to send cell phone users the court's decision on Prop 8 as well as news on "Meet in the Middle." To sign up on your phone, just text "DECISION" to 27336.

UNITE HERE:Calls On Manchester Hyatt To End Opp To Same Sex Marriage

Council Passes Resolution Citing Hypocrisy of Hyatt Marketing to Gay Community While at the Same Time Maintaining Relationship with Manchester

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--On Monday the West Hollywood City Council passed a resolution calling on Manchester Grand Hyatt Owner, Doug Manchester, to end his opposition to same sex marriage. The Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood is owned and operated by the Hyatt Corporation, which also operates the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego. Manchester donated $125,000 to help put California’s Proposition 8 on the ballot last November. The Manchester Grand Hyatt has been at the forefront of the battle over same-sex marriage since leaders of San Diego's LGBT community called a boycott of the hotel in July.

The West Hollywood City Council resolution cited Manchester’s donation in favor of Proposition 8 and “the conflict of interest that exists between the Hyatt Corporation’s policies of actively marketing to the worldwide LGBT community, while maintaining a relationship with an individual [Manchester] seeking to limit the rights of the LGBT community.”

UNITE HERE Local 11 and LGBT advocacy groups hailed the resolution as a victory for the ‘Hyatt Hypocrisy’ campaign which was forged under a new partnership between labor and the LGBT community. The resolution comes a few weeks after a press conference and delegation at the Andaz Hotel where Cleve Jones, historical consultant to the film “MILK,” Rick Jacobs, founder and executive director of the Courage Campaign, John Cleary, President of the Los Angeles Stonewall Democrats, Tom Walsh President of UNITE HERE Local 11, and City Councilman John Duran presented a set of demands to the hotel. The coalition presented two demands to the Hyatt Corporation: 1) for Hyatt to publicly support Marriage Equality and 2) for Hyatt to sever all ties with Doug Manchester.

The City of West Hollywood has been one of the most ardent advocates for the legal rights of same-sex couples and the freedom to marry and was one of the first cities in the country to pass a resolution in support of marriage equality. We hope the Hyatt Corporation will rethink their business relationship with Doug Manchester and persuade Manchester to end his opposition to same sex marriage,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Abbe Land.

Earlier this week, LGBT groups and UNITE HERE Local 11 expanded their ‘Hyatt Hypocrisy’ campaign to Long Beach. On Wednesday, dozens of Hyatt Long Beach hotel workers and LGBT activists held an action outside the hotel. Raymond and Byron (13 Love Stories), who were married last year, reaffirmed their vows in a ceremony outside the Hyatt Regency Long Beach. Activists tried to present their demands to Hyatt Long Beach management, but Hyatt management refused to accept the written demands.

Are we losing hope, faith in Obama?

By Mark Segal
PGN Publisher

There have never been higher hopes for our community as a president took the
oath of office as in January. We were promised an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t
Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act. And as a Senate candidate, he
supported gay marriage; as a presidential candidate, he was opposed, but
spoke out against antigay-marriage legislation in Pennsylvania and
Proposition 8 in California, also stating that he supported federal civil
unions that would give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual
couples.

While the administration states it still supports those issues and is
working on a strategy to achieve at least some of them in Obama’s first
term, something happened last week that was unsettling.

National Guard First Lt. Dan Choi, an infantry patrol leader who has seen
combat and speaks Arabic, along with a group of 38 West Point graduates,
came out in March with the offer to serve as a sort of support group for
other LGBT cadets, and more importantly offered to serve as a liaison with
the Army administration as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is repealed.

Choi appeared on “The Rachel Maddow Show” and publicly came out in violation
of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and returned to the show last week.
This came to the attention of the White House press correspondents and the
following exchange took place between reporters and White House press
secretary Robert Gibbs.

GIBBS: The president, as you know, supports changing that because he
strongly believes that it does not serve our national interest. He agrees
with former members of the Joint Chiefs in that determination. Unlike
photos, the durable solution to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is through the
legislative process, and the president is working with Congress and members
of the Joint Chiefs to ensure that that happens.

REPORTER: But couldn’t he in the meantime put a moratorium on these
discharges until that can be accomplished?

GIBBS: The president has determined that’s not the way to seek any sort of
lasting or durable solution to the public-policy problem that we have.

REPORTER: How would you respond to the criticism that dismissing qualifying
linguists endangers the troops?

GIBBS: I would respond by saying the president has long believed the policy
doesn’t serve our national interests.

To put this into perspective, you have to notice two other items the
administration turned around on: continuing the military tribunals in
Guantanamo, which he said he would end during the campaign; and he would not
release the infamous Abu Ghraib torture pictures.

So where’s the common link? The military. In that regard, even before taking
office Obama and his staff were well aware of how entrenched our military
system was and how difficult it would be to win their trust. Their homework
was “The Clinton Curse.” One of President Bill Clinton’s first efforts was
to resolve the gays in the military issue. This led to the creation of
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a political disaster. Like then, the military
doesn’t trust the new president.

Should this be a surprise? No. During the campaign, Obama said in the
Gay History Project exclusive interview last September that he would work
to change the military ban by working with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We
further asked him if he’d do it by executive order or a signing statement.
Again he stood his position. The president wants to change the ban by
legislation in harmony with the Joint Chiefs. But there is opportunity in
what happened this week and keeping with his campaign promise.

The president could create a presidential commission to look into “Don’t
Ask, Don’t Tell.” That commission would have members of Congress and the
military — on both sides of the issue — as well as members of the military
who have been personally affected by the policy. Choi would be a prime
candidate.

While it doesn’t help those who are being dismissed currently, it does
accomplish the president’s promise to work jointly with the military and
Congress to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” It moves the issue forward and
produces the dialogue this president appreciates.

Mark Segal is PGN publisher and the former President of the National Gay Newspaper Guild. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com.

Monday, May 18, 2009

GOProud Calls on Equality California and its Allies Not to Target Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA)


On Friday, The Hill reported that Equality California and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee intend on targeting Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-CA). “Representative Mary Bono Mack has been one of the most outspoken advocates for the gay community,” said Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director of GOProud. “Any organization that claims to work with Republicans should make it clear that they will not support Equality California’s efforts to defeat Rep. Bono Mack.”

Even on the gay left’s own issue matrix, Mary Bono Mack has been a consistent friend to the gay community,” continued LaSalvia. “Rep. Bono Mack has voted for hate crimes legislation, for employment non-discrimination legislation, is an original co-sponsor of the Early Treatment of HIV/AIDS Act, and has repeatedly voted against efforts to add an anti-gay amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Any organization that works against Rep. Bono Mack is making it clear that they are little more than an arm of the DCCC.”

Rep. Bono Mack has been a consistent fighter for lower taxes on gay families, an outspoken supporter of free trade measures that would create jobs for gays and lesbians in her district and courageously opposed President Obama’s stimulus boondoggle,” said LaSalvia.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gays Organize Rally for LGBT Iraqis, Leaders Want End to Torture and Murder

(San Francisco, CA) – A broad, united coalition of human rights advocates and politicians will hold a spirited rally Sunday, May 17, in solidarity with the LGBT citizens of Iraq, who face surging violence and killings. Recent reports out of Baghdad document the gruesome gluing of anuses of gay men, who are forced to swallow laxatives, leading to death by diarrhea, and come amid continuing genital mutilation of gays.

Responding to the atrocities, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community organizers will hold a demonstration to support LGBT Iraqis:

WHO: Human rights activists and elected officials

WHAT: Rally and fundraiser

WHERE: Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets

DATE: Sunday, May 17

TIME: 12:30 – 1:30 PM (Fundraising on the streets noon-4pm)

A diverse array of leaders will speak at the rally, including Sen. Mark Leno, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, SF Police Commission President Theresa Sparks, Karen Kai of the Rainbow World Fund, Rev. Lea Brown of the Metropolitan Community Church, Debra Walker of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club, political artist Clinton Fein, and community organizers Michael Petrelis and Gary Virginia of Gays Without Borders.

There will be al so a “bucket brigade” at the rally and circulating through cafes and restaurants of the Castro soliciting donations for groups working with LGBT Iraqis. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a social advocacy organization, have donated $1,000, and will supply volunteers for the brigade.

Rainbow World Fund, an LGBT international humanitarian relief charity, is serving as the fiscal sponsor, and donations made through it are tax-deductible (http://www.rainbowfund.org). The Fund's colorful and eye-catching school bus will be parked at Milk Plaza, to serve as a welcome-wagon full of banners, posters and donation buckets. Donations will be used to provide direct aid to the Iraqi LGBT community.

Speaking for Gays Without Borders/SF, an LGBT group focused on global issues, Gary Virginia explained the motivations for the May 17 actions.

We San Franciscans have a solemn duty to denounce anti-LGBT hatred in Iraq. Our demands to President Obama, the State Department and Congress are simple and doable – condemn the torture and slayings, investigate the human rights abuses, and create a sizable number of asylum slots for LGBT Iraqis to enter and reside in America,” said Virginia.

Jason Antone Pushes “To the Limit” and Re-launches JasonAntone.com


May 15, 2009 *** Jason Antone is ready to breakout “To the Limit” as the first single from his upcoming debut full-length CD “Start to Move.” Co-written and produced by Willie Lewis, “To the Limit” embodies Antone’s whole artistic movement into the pop world, away from his club dance sound of recent years. Boasting an undeniable intelligent edge, “To the Limit” showcases Antone’s vocal ability in a way his fans have not heard him before. Antone’s fresh pop electronic sound builds a searing modern approach that will capture audiences internationally. “To the Limit” is currently available for purchase on iTunes.

The lead album track “To the Limit” truly conveys what I set out to do early in my career as an artist – not just in terms of success, but in terms of breaking-through to a unique sound and edgy manner,” states Antone. “The process of working with producer Willie Lewis had been the most enriching and creative experience I’ve yet to have in the studio. He really helped to push me and my craft to the limit.”

To coincide with the release of the debut CD, Chickie Records has revamped and re-launched www.jasonantone.com. Visit the new site featuring Jason Antone news, music samples, videos, merchandise, photo galleries, performance dates and social networking links.

Upcoming Jason Antone performance dates include:

· June 12 - Milwaukee Pride Fest

· June 14 - Chicago - CD Release Party @ minibar

· June 19 - Nebraska Pride

· June 20 - Nashville Pride

· June 28 - New York City Pride Fest

· August 1 - Chicago Market Days

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Breaking News: Pa. grants domestic-partner benefits

Pennsylvania state employees in same-sex relationships will now be able to obtain the same medical benefits for their partners as heterosexual married employees.

The Pennsylvania Employees Benefit Trust Fund, a non-governmental agency that oversees the state benefits programs, will offer medical, prescription drug, dental, vision and hearing-aid benefits to the same- and opposite-sex domestic partners of all PEBTF-eligible employees, which amounts to about 81,000 individuals.

Read on:(Philadelphia Gay News)

STRAIGHT SPOUSE NETWORK RESPONDS TO “OUTRAGE”

Outrage, the recently release documentary by Kirby Dick about the outing of closeted gay politicians, is getting rave reviews, for its documentation of the hypocrisy of closeted gay politicians who hew a "straight" line to the point of denying their fellow gays equality and justice and then engage in double talk when found out or express relief when they finally own up to the truth. The film is on target with its message that America is not well served by politicians who seek power and forget the truth of who they are and that all Americans would fare better if gay and lesbian persons were accepted in their own right as decent, honest human beings and elected for their ability to serve the common good.

However, the missing and important sidebar story shown throughout the film is one that bears further exploration: the painful impact on the straight wives of these closeted gay politicians when they discover they were unknowingly in their husband's closet. These women are not isolated cases. They are among the nearly 2 million straight spouses from every walk of life in the United States who were or are married to gay and lesbian partners. The frozen faces, confusion, and pain we see on screen is evidence of the harm done to straight spouses, too, when gay people pretend to be straight in heterosexual marriages. Their plight, too, calls for outrage and action.

"At the time a heterosexually married gay person comes out, there is a huge difference between his or her experience and that of the straight partner," says Amity P. Buxton, author of The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families. "In the film, former New Jersey Governor McGreevey who finally declared himself a gay American on national television exudes happiness from having his burden lifted and now being totally immersed in and empowered by his own truth, while, his former wife, Dina Matos McGreevey, describes the destruction she and her daughter experienced after he disclosed to her. Her words echo those of the tens of thousands of straight spouses who seek help from the Straight Spouse Network after they discover their husbands or wives are gay or lesbian. The realization that they have been living someone else's lie without knowing it torpedoes their lives, as they believed them to be. Yet their trauma in the wake of their partners' revelation is not recognized or understood."

The film's exposure of harm done by closeted gay politicians is a rallying cry for outrage and activism against hypocrisy in government. "May it also be a wake up call to increase awareness of the harmful effects on straight women and men of gay men or lesbians who are closeted in marriages in communities across the country, "says Kathy Callori, Executive Director of the Straight Spouse Network.” They remain an invisible minority, first hidden in their partners' closet and then overlooked in the excitement of their partners' disclosure. As their gay and lesbian mates move on to fulfilled, truthful lives, the straight spouses suffer their own struggle to find whatever truth can be found in the leftover debris."

Despite recent increases in the percentage of Americans who accept gay persons, many gay men and lesbians continue to deny their orientation and marry straight persons as the "right thing to do." Most eventually come out, as documented by the more than the hundred-plus straight wives and husbands who contact the Straight Spouse Network every month. Their plight is the news between the lines of the film, thanks to the shots of the wives involved. They are unintended victims of the very homophobia and heterosexism that caused their partners to deny and hide who they were. As second-level casualties of antigay attitudes and pro-straight expectations, they desperately need help to untangle the lies they were living unknowingly so they can rediscover their own identity, integrity and belief system so they can stabilize their families devastated by the disclosure. They can find help through the Straight Spouse Network at www.straightspouse.org. Their experience will keep being repeated in other marriages until we change the underlying cause by the social action called for in the film.

The most effective action to be taken to change antigay stereotypes and mindsets is, as Harvey Milk's words say at the end of the film, that gay men and lesbians become open about who they are to family, friends, workplace, and community. Personal truth telling will shatter stereotypical assumptions, antigay attitudes, and heterosexist paradigms. The more people who understand and interact with gay people who are honest about who they are, the more likely all-gay individuals will be accepted on their own merits. The long-term result will be more honest leadership at state and national levels and more responsible formation of couple relationships. Fewer families will be devastated by the disclosure of a spouse and parent. There will be fewer divorces. The Straight Spouse Network can go out of business. Until then, the Network will keep helping spouses and their families and educating the larger community about the imperative to achieve equality and social justice for the greater good of the greater number of Americans.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE STRAIGHT SPOUSE NETWORK GO TO:
http://www.straightspouse.org/

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Prairie Avenue Gallery hosts 'Pride' show


Chicago's Prairie Avenue Gallery will host a Pride Show in honor of gay pride month in Chicago. The opening reception will be Sunday, June 7, noon-4 p.m., with food, music and mingling with the artists. The gallery is housed in the Prairie Avenue Historic District, in the Keith House, one of the few remaining historic homes along Prairie Avenue. The building, located at 1900 S. Prairie Avenue, is also the former home of Woman Made Gallery.

The Prairie Avenue Gallery was founded in the mid-1980s by Joy Darrow, a photojournalist who was a managing editor of the Chicago Defender. Darrow died in 1996, and her daughters, Marcy and Tracy Baim, re-opened the gallery in May of this year with a show featuring freshmen students at the School of the Art Institute.

The Prairie Avenue Gallery was known for ground-breaking shows, including what is believed the first AIDS art show in the mid 1980s, a showcase of Black photojournalists, and shows featuring emerging Chicago photographers, sculptors and painters.

The new Prairie Avenue Gallery will have weekend hours. During the week the gallery will offer classes and studio space for photographers and artists.

Artists in the Pride Show are: Photographers Rick Aguilar, Steve Becker, Kat Fitzgerald, Lisa Howe-Ebright and Betty Lark Ross. The painters and illustrators are Jorjet Harper, Juarez Hawkins, Carol James, David Johnson, Andrea Kaspryk, Mary King, Riva Lehrer, Otis Richardson, Erik R.Sosa and Travis.

Labrys Chicago presents musicians Christine Kent, Lisa Danielson and Kat Fitzgerald.

The Pride Show is in honor of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pride Month and will be up through June and July. The hours are: Sunday, June 7, Noon-4 p.m. opening; Sat., June 13, noon-3 p.m.; Sat., June 20, noon-3 p.m.; Sunday, June 21, noon-3 p.m.; Closed pride weekend (June 27-28); and open every Saturday and Sunday in July, noon-3 p.m. Call 312-326-2923 for hours by appointment.

Prairie Avenue Gallery has a page on Facebook: Prairie Avenue Gallery

Dr. Jill Biden to Speak at GLSEN’s Respect Awards – New York Gala


GLSEN is very pleased to announce confirmation of a very special guest at the Respect Awards – New York gala: Dr. Jill Biden, wife of the Vice President and a lifelong educator. Dr. Biden will also provide brief remarks at the gala dinner, which will be held at Gotham Hall in New York City on June 1. GLSEN is excited to welcome someone with a long history of working with and advocating for young people, particularly some of the students most vulnerable to bullying and harassment.

Dr. Biden has been an educator for the past 28 years and continues to teach English classes at a DC-area community college. Prior to moving to Washington, Dr. Biden taught English full-time at Delaware Technical and Community College for 15 years. Before that, she taught for 13 years in public schools as a reading specialist and English teacher, as well as working part-time with the Rockford Psychiatric Hospital Adolescent Program.

Dr. Biden has a long history of activism and service in her community and she continues to work to raise awareness on education, military families, and women’s health issues.

GLSEN’s Respect Awards recognize individual and corporate leaders who have helped propel GLSEN’s efforts to ensure safe schools for all of America’s students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Putting the “B” in LGBT Summit

THE LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL & TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY CENTER PARTNERS WITH THE BI WRITERS ASSOCIATION TO HOLD
PUTTING THE “B” IN LGBT SUMMIT

New York, NY. – The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center and The Bi Writers Association present “Putting the ‘B’ in LGBT” Summit. The free one-day Summit will be held on Saturday, May 30, 2009 at the Center in NYC. Putting the “B” in LGBT is co-sponsored by The New York Times Company GLBT & Allies Affinity Group and The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.

Event speakers include Robyn Ochs, Editor of Getting Bi and Honoree of the Natl. Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Cindi Creager, National News Director, GLAAD; Hawk Stone (Board Member, Natl. Gay & Lesbian Task Force), Loraine Hutchins, Co-Editor of Bi Any Other Name; Sean Kennedy, News & Features Editor, The Advocate and Chagmion Antoine, Correspondent for 365 Gay News on Logo.

Many people aren’t quite sure how the ‘B’ fits into LGBT,” says Bruce Anderson, Interim Executive Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center “as a result, mention of bisexual people often goes missing from discussion of LGBT rights issues like marriage equality, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and ENDA in press releases, media coverage and political speeches.

Accuracy of reporting on LGBT issues is compromised when bisexual people are left out of the equation,” Sheela Lambert points out.

By holding the summit, organizers hope to develop a consensus between LGBT rights organizations, journalists and political officials that inclusion of bisexual people in the discussion of LGBT issues is necessary. “This summit aims to give people the tools to understand and include the bi community more fully,” Lambert explains.

The media is invited to attend the Putting the ‘B’ in LGBT Summit.

WHAT: Putting the “B” in LGBT Summit

WHEN: Saturday, May 30, 2009
11am - 6:30pm

WHERE: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
208 W. 13 Street, 7-8 Ave, New York NY 10011

HOW: Free admission. Please register here: http://www.gaycenter.org/node/3326


PROGRAM:

11am -12pm Registration (Free Continental Breakfast & Shmooze)
12pm -1pm Opening Plenary Putting the “B” in LGBT
Keynote Speaker: Robyn Ochs, Editor of Getting Bi, Honoree of the Natl. Gay and Lesbian Task Force and marriage equality activist.

1:15pm - 2pm Bisexuality: Exploding the Myths
Panel of experts will explode myths and stereotypes about bisexuality and explain the realities. Dont be afraid to ask questions!

2pm -2:30pm Lunch (Inexpensive & healthy lunches will be available for purchase.)

2:30pm-3:45pm Bi Community Panel: Telling Our Stories
Panel of bi speakers discuss how LGBT rights issues such as Marriage Equality, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and Job Discrimination impact their lives. Q&A following presentation.

4pm-4:45pm Crafting the Message: How to Put the “B” in LGBT
Practicum on putting the ‘B’ in LGBT in a press release, news story, policy paper, speech or interview on LGBT rights issues. How to report more accurately on bisexuality.

5pm-6:30pm Closing Plenary Discussion
Putting the “B” in LGBT: How can we do a better job?
Roundtable discussion by distinguished LGBT rights activists, media professionals, political office holders and bi community activists. Audience participation welcomed.

Keynote Speakers: Robyn Ochs (Editor of Getting Bi, Honoree of Natl. Gay & Lesbian Task Force, marriage activist.) Plenary and Panel Speakers: Chagmion Antoine (Correspondent for 365 Gay News on Logo), Cindi Creager (National News Director, GLAAD), Tom Duane (NY State Senator) Cynthia Frawley (Producer, Out Q in the Morning with Larry Flick on Sirius Radio), Oriol Gutierrez (Board, Natl. Lesbian & Gay Journalists Assoc, Dep. Editor, POZ), Loraine Hutchins (Co-Editor, Bi Any Other Name), Ramon Johnson (Gay Life Guide at New York Time's About.com), Micah Kellner (New York State Assembly Member), Sean Kennedy (former News & Features Editor, The Advocate), Sheela Lambert (Founder, Bi Writers Association, Denny Meyer (Public Affairs Officer, AVER: American Veterans for Equal Rights), Ann Northrop (Co-Anchor, Gay USA), Pauline Park (NYAGRA), Donna Redd (Founder, SiSTAH, Co-Founder Bi Women of All Colors), Cathy Renna (Managing Partner, Renna Communications), Ignacio Rivera, activist/performance artist, Lara Schwartz (Legal Director, HRC), Dennis Slade (Co-Organizer, BiRequest), Hawk Stone (Board Member, Natl. Gay & Lesbian Task Force), Ron Suresha (Editor of Kinsey from Zero to Sixty and Bi Men), Jay Venasco (Editor in Chief, 365 Gay.com) Dr. Barbara Warren (Director of Organizational Development, Planning & Research, The Center) More speakers TBA

About the Bi Writers Association
The Bi Writers Association works to dispel myths and stereotypes about bisexuality and is the foremost voice promoting bi writers, bi books and bisexual writing in America. BWA successfully campaigned for a Bisexual Book Award category at the Lammys (LGBT book awards) organizes readings, bi culture events, panels, summits and conferences. BWA provides a networking forum for bi writers, an online bi book club, a bi bookstore and Bidar: a blog covering bisexuality in media arts & culture. This association includes writers in all genres including journalism, essays, fiction, non-fiction, plays, poetry, TV and movie scripts, songwriting and erotica. For more information, please visit www.biwriters.org

About the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center
Established in 1983, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, located at 208 West 13th Street in New York City, is the largest LGBT community center on the East Coast. More than 6,000 people visit the Center weekly and 300 groups meet there. For more information visit Gaycenter.org.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

GAY FOR GOOD: CLEANS UP THE LA RIVER

EVENT INFO:

WHAT: More than 100 LGBT people and allies who are members of “Gay For Good,” cleaning up and removing trash along the Los Angeles Rivers as volunteers for “The Great LA River Clean-Up.” This is Gay For Good’s fifth volunteer event this year, donating over 100 hours to non-profits here in LA County.

WHEN: Saturday, May 9 - 9 a.m. - Noon

WHERE: LA RIVER / Marsh Park, Los Feliz (2690 Marsh Street, Los Angeles, CA)

WHO
: The diverse members of the all-volunteer organization “Gay For Good”
__________________
More than 100 members of “Gay For Good,” an all-volunteer organization created to energize and mobilize LGBT people to engage in service projects that benefit us all, will be volunteering their time to support “Friends of the Los Angeles River” (FOLAR) for a clean-up and trash removal project along the Los Angeles River at Marsh Park in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles River is one of the largest waterways in Los Angeles County. Storm drains from all over the LA Basin drain into the ocean. Along the way, the litter from people (cigarette butts the highest percentage of that litter), find their way to the LA River, and eventually our beaches and the Pacific Ocean. Enough trash to fill the Rose Bowl three times!!

The Great LA River Clean-up will be Gay For Good’s fifth service project this year and will mark roughly 1,000 hours of service by the LGBT members of this organization to local non-profit/charitable organizations. The group continues to grow since it was founded in December. Already over 450 members, we encourage others in the LGBT community to join. For more information, visit: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=44171587413 or email us at: gayforgood@gmail.com. Our website launches in June: www.gayforgood.org.

Gay For Good has worked with organizations that include: Tree People, LA Regional Foodbank and Friends of Ballona Wetlands. Though the group has a full calendar of events, it is always looking for other organizations to support through volunteer work.

NGLCC Again Teams with Intel to Offer Conference Scholarships

For the fifth year in a row, Intel is teaming with the NGLCC to make attendance at the 2009 Business and Leadership Conference: Out for Business more accessible and affordable for LGBT business owners.

The NGLCC-Intel Business Development Scholarship has helped more than 120 LGBT business owners, entrepreneurs and LGBT chamber leaders attend past conferences by covering part or all of the cost of conference registration, depending on need.

The program was developed to ensure business owners-many of whom may not be able to afford the conference-have the financial resources to attend Out for Business in order to develop valuable connections and relationships for their businesses.

"Our chief goal is to create opportunities for LGBT entrepreneurs so they can acquire the tools they need to succeed, especially in these trying economic times," said NGLCC co-founder and president Justin Nelson. "The NGLCC-Intel Business Development Scholarship does just that."

Those business owners interested in applying for the scholarship should contact the NGLCC Supplier Diversity Department at supplierdiversity@nglcc.org or download the application here www.nglcc.org/seattle2009/scholarship .

Click here to learn more about the conference

Click here to see a full list of conference sponsors

O'Reilly smears hate crimes bill with false claim that pedophiles could be protected

On the May 5 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that pedophiles could be protected under the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act -- which defines as a crime acts of attempted violence "motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim."

Specifically, O'Reilly said:
"[Y]ou could make an argument that a pedophile has a disease, and because the disease is there, he's a target or she's a target." O'Reilly later added that pedophiles could be protected by the bill because "[d]isability is included. They have a mental disability." However, pedophilia is not considered a "disability" under current federal law. Indeed, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), specifically excludes pedophilia, thereby precluding protection for pedophiles from the hate crimes bill. Additionally, on May 6, America's Newsroom co-host Megyn Kelly joined other Fox hosts in advancing the false claim that Democrats "vote[d] to protect" pedophiles by voting against an amendment to the hate crimes bill by Rep. Steve King (R-IA) stating that "the term 'sexual orientation' shall not include pedophilia."

Full text here: http://mediamatters.org/research/200905060036

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

GOProud Unequivocally Opposes “Outing”

Statement of Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director

Washington, DC- In light of the latest debate regarding “outing,” sparked by the release of the film “Outrage,” Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director of GOProud, issued the following statement:

“GOProud is the only national gay organization that is unequivocally opposed to outing. We stand for the proposition that an individual’s personal life isn’t relevant to policy – period.

We want the government – as well as liberal activists – out of people’s bedrooms. The sex police is just as distasteful coming from the far left as it is coming from the far right.”


GOProud represents gay conservatives and their allies. GOProud is committed to a traditional conservative agenda that emphasizes limited government, individual liberty, free markets and a confident foreign policy. GOProud promotes our traditional conservative agenda by influencing politics and policy at the federal level. PO Box 15861, Washington, DC 20003. For more information visit our website www.goproud.org

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tourisme Montréal Offers Insider Access to Gay Life in Montréal

When it comes to guidance, we ask our friends. When it comes to travel, we ask the locals. Tourisme Montréal combines the best of both worlds thanks to their new “Insider” program, with a Montréaler who will show visitors what’s hot and happening in the city’s gay life. Finding gay-specific information about a particular destination isn’t always easy, but Daniel Baylis, a longtime blogger, columnist and journalist, always has the inside scoop to gay Montreal.

So how is Daniel sharing his passion, expertise and love of gay life in Montréal? Online, where everyone can reach him. Daniel actively explores the city and regularly updates his blog on the Tourisme Montréal website with his latest adventures, but it doesn’t stop there. Come “friend” Daniel on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and check out his videos on YouTube. Do you have specific questions about gay life in Montréal? Just ask, and he’ll give you the answers. It has never been easier for travelers to learn from a friend “on the inside” about the latest local buzz.

Visit Daniel’s blog: http://www.tourisme-montreal.org/Blogs/Gay-Life
Become Daniel’s friend on Facebook: Daniel Baylis
Follow Daniel on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Daniel_Baylis


Daniel is one of five Montréal “Insiders” who show visitors what’s hot and happening throughout the city in the world of arts and culture, epicurean life, gay life, nightlife and girls’ getaways. Recruitment of the five “Insiders” began early in 2009 and the selection criterion was rigorous and focused on integrity. Each had to be a Montréaler and possess a thorough knowledge of the destination, specifically in their area of insider expertise. Social media savvy was also a must, balanced by an embracing of Web 2.0 values including: transparency, humility, honesty, authenticity, innovation, listening and credibility. They are top-notch communicators, real and representative of the city’s underlying multicultural fabric.

Summer is the perfect season to visit Montréal, the “most European city in North America.” Let the Insiders take you behind the scenes and through the streets of this sophisticated city. Whether it’s history, culture, festivals, museums, the best restaurants, underground DJs (even underground shopping!) and a rockin’ music scene, Montréal’s offerings are as diverse as its visitors. The city offers great value options throughout the year with its Sweet Deals and getting there is easy with plenty of air travel options.

To book a Sweet Deal or customize an itinerary visit: www.tourisme-montreal.org.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Underneath.com Sponsors the Drag Queen Registry


Underneath.com, on the web at http://www.underneath.com, announced today the sponsorship of a new website focused on the phenomenon of the Drag Queen. The website, DragQueenRegistry.com, on the web at http://www.dragqueenregistry.com, is a growing registry of drag queens worldwide, including The Drag Queen Hall of Fame and The Drag Queen Hall of Shame. The website is in need of Drag Queens to list themselves. It is free to list.

I love drag queens, as they bring light into the world with their wit and glamour,” says Jeff Johnson, owner of Underneath.com. “This website will create a network for them to sell their talent and make friends. We hope we can get the word out to drag queens that the website is here for them to use. Furthermore, everyone needs a drag queen as a friend and the public will be able to access the site to see drag queens in their area.”