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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Obama signs repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

In a landmark moment, President Obama this morning signed into law the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. The law, which banned gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military was on the books for 17 years and accounted for over 14,000 discharged service members.

From the MSNBC report:
Fulfilling a campaign pledge, cheering his party's downcast liberals and striking a blow for what he sees as basic human rights, President Barack Obama signed a landmark law Wednesday that tells America's armed services to let homosexuals serve openly for the first time.
Surrounded by senior military officials and members of Congress, the president said in remarks preceding the signing that the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" will strengthen security and uphold ideals. He also said the government will not be "dragging its feet" to enforce the repeal and encouraged those discharged under the ban to rejoin the military.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Victory! Senate votes to repeal DADT

CNN is reporting that in a final vote of 65-31, the United States Senate has voted to repeal the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell law that prevents gays and lesbians from openly serving in the military. The law will be sent to President Obama to sign early next week. Obama made the DADT repeal a regular campaign promise in his bid for office.

The repeal was made almost certain earlier in the day when the Senate invoked cloture on the the debate by a vote of 63-33, delivering a critical blow to Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and other proponents of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

From the report:

The military's prohibition of openly gay people serving within its ranks is one step closer to ending, after the Senate voted Saturday to repeal the armed forces' "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
Eight Republicans and independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut joined the chamber's Democrats to back the legislation, which passed by a 65-31 margin. The bill needed a simple majority -- meaning support from 51 of the Senate's 100 members -- to pass.
"I want to thank all of the gay men and women who are fighting for us today," said Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, one of several Republicans who voted for the measure. "We honor your service, and now we can do so openly."

Friday, December 17, 2010

World soccer leader "apologizes" to gays

NBC Sports is reporting FIFA president Sepp Blatter may be feeling some pressure from recent comments about gay soccer fans attending the next World Cup in notoriously anti-gay Qatar.

From the report:
Last week, when asked how Qatar’s laws against homosexual behavior could impact gay and lesbian fans during the 2022 World Cup, Blatter laughed and said that they should “refrain from any sexual activities.” 
This caused an international outcry and demands by gay and lesbian organizations and human rights groups for an apology. On Friday, Blatter sounded contrite.  
“It was not my intention and never will be my intention to go into any discrimination,” Blatter said in Abu Dhabi which is hosting the Club World Cup. “This is exactly what we are against. If somebody feels that they have been hurt, then I regret (it) and present apologies.”


FIFA president, Sepp Blatter
Getty Images

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

House approves repeal of DADT

From MSNBC:

The House passed a repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell' policy that has stifled the service of gays in the military.
The stand-alone legislation calls for an end to the policy that since 1993 has barred recruiters from asking about sexual orientation while prohibiting soldiers from acknowledging that they are gay.
The issue will now go back to the Senate, where Democratic leaders pledging a vote are running out of time before adjourning this session of Congress. President Barack Obama has called on Congress to end the policy.

Acrobats strip for Pope Benedict




This video really speaks for itself, so instead of trying to explain it, let's just get the comments going:
  • Wow, they really erected something there.
  • What they didn't show was the priests screaming like a teenage girl at a Beatles concert.
  • When the Pope said, "beat the bishop," this isn't what he was talking about.
  • Okay, your turn...



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New DADT repeal headed to House vote

A new bill with identical wording to the failed Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal that went down last week is headed back to the House floor on Tuesday. But this time, it's standing on it's own.

Salon.com reports:
Rep. Patrick Murphy has introduced a stand-alone bill repealing "don't ask, don't tell," and Steny Hoyer says the House will vote on it later today or tomorrow. The language in the bill is identical to the language of the repeal bill that Susan Collins and Joe Lieberman are introducing in the Senate.
Keeping the language identical allows the Senate to pick up the bill directly from the House and avoid a conference committee.

Photo: Getty Images

Stem cell transplant cures HIV in "Berlin Patient"

Along with several world-wide news agencies, the Huffington Post is reporting a significant breakthrough in the quest to cure and treat HIV/AIDS.

From the report:
On the heels of World AIDS Day comes a stunning medical breakthrough: Doctors believe an HIV-positive man who underwent a stem cell transplant has been cured as a result of the procedure. 
Timothy Ray Brown, also known as the "Berlin Patient," received the transplant in 2007 as part of a lengthy treatment course for leukemia. His doctors recently published a report in the journal Blood affirming that the results of extensive testing "strongly suggest that cure of HIV infection has been achieved." 
Brown's case paves a path for constructing a permanent cure for HIV through genetically-engineered stem cells. 

In the United States, a heated debate over stem cell research continues. Federal funding was first banned by George Bush under praise from right-to-life groups. In March 2009, President Obama lifted the ban on federal funding for stem cell research. That move is currently being challenged in the courts.

Stem cell research.
Photo: ABC News

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oscar-winning filmmaker furious with HRC

San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter recently published a story about the Human Rights Campaign's plans to move into the location that once held Harvey Milk's now iconic camera shop. They solicited several reactions from area leaders and national figures, representing a spectrum of opinions on HRC's intent to move their retail location to what is considered by many to be hallowed ground.

One of the most outspoken critics was Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter who won an Academy Award for "Milk."

From the report:
"The reason why I was so inspired by Harvey's story seven years ago when I started researching it was his political philosophy was far more proud and progressive than anything I found with HRC," said Black. "I grew up with HRC; I didn't find it inspiring or effective. It seemed to embrace straight allies over gay people and was satisfied with crumbs of equality and seemed visionless."
He added that to now see "the very organization I thought we needed to get away from buying their way into Harvey Milk's legacy is a slap in the face."
The announcement, said Black, has caused him to reverse his policy of not publicly attacking HRC and to openly call for Solmonese's resignation. The two have not spoken, he said, since they publicly sparred during a panel at this year's Sundance Film Festival about whether young people are effective activists.
Well-known activist and Harvey Milk friend, Cleve Jones joined Black in his sharp criticism of HRC's plan to move into the location.

Dustin Lance Black (L) and Cleve Jones
Photo: Matthew Simmons

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Target-backed Emmer concedes Minnesota governor's race

365gay.com is reporting that Republican Tom Emmer has conceded his bid for Minnesota governor to Democrat Mark Dayton. Emmer was supported by Minnesota Forward, a conservative special interest group funded by large corporations like Target and Best Buy. The support of Emmer drew angry and vocal responses from LGBT communities across the country, while demonstrations at Target locations and a "Boycott Target Until the Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics"Facebook page sprang up in protest. The Facebook page remains active with over 83,000 members.

While this is a significant victory for Democrats in Minnesota, it is also one of the most striking lessons in corporate political funding since the Supreme Court overruled two standing precedents that limited corporate spending in elections.

Minnesota Governor-elect, Mark Dayton (D)

HIV-positive porn actor speaks out

The LA Times is reporting the adult film star who recently made news by testing positive and sending shock waves through the worlds of gay and straight porn is speaking out.

From the report:
The adult film performer who tested HIV-positive at a San Fernando Valley clinic this fall spoke out for the first time Tuesday, calling for mandatory condom use in porn productions, improved testing for sexually transmitted disease and follow-up care for fellow performers. 
Derrick Burts, 24, said he tested HIV-positive in October at the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare Foundation in Sherman Oaks after working in both gay and straight porn films for a few months. He had previously been identified only as Patient Zeta.

There is discrepancy over how and when Burts may have been infected:
Burts said he believed he may have contracted the disease during a gay porn shoot in Florida.
Despite Burts' account of what he was told, clinic officials released a statement last month that said "Patient Zeta acquired the virus through private, personal activity."
"That's completely false," Burts told the Times. "There is no possible way. The only person I had sex with in my personal life was my girlfriend."
Burts says his girlfriend tested negative.

Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times / December 7, 2010




UPDATE:

Here's the video of Derrick Burts. While we empathize with him, his statement seems to show contradictions. On one hand he says he contracted HIV from a gay porn shoot. On the other he says condoms are required in gay porn, but in straight porn it's all "barebacking." Is it just easier to blame HIV/AIDS on gays?



 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Prop 8 Appeal Arguments Begin Today

The nation's second-highest court will begin hearing arguments today over a lower court's decision that California's Proposition 8 initiative banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

From the Wall Street Journal:
A three-judge panel at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments about an August ruling by a district court judge in San Francisco. That ruling found that California's 2008 gay-marriage ban, known as Proposition 8, violated constitutional guarantees to equal protection and due process.
While most legal experts suggest proponents of the discriminatory measure don't have legal ground to stand on, those favoring Prop 8 will argue they represent the will of the people.
Lawyers for Proposition 8 said that they would argue Monday at the Ninth Circuit Court that California voters made a "rational public policy choice" to define marriage as between a man and a woman, said Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defense Fund, which is part of the legal team with Protectmarriage.com, the group that put Proposition 8 on the ballot.  
"This is a public-policy choice that is left to lawmakers and the people through the initiative process. The court should simply stay out of this," he said. 
California's Governor-elect and current Attorney General, Jerry Brown has refused to defend Proposition 8 in court.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Barney Frank says Republicans, Not Obama, Should Defend DADT

Congressman, Barney Frank (D-MA) recently appeared on MSNBC's "Last Word," saying President Obama should not block any DADT repeal by defending the existing law in court. That is, of course, if the Senate cannot overcome a likely filibuster attempt by Republican senator, John McCain.

Representative Frank;
"I hope that we can break that filibuster, but it's fear of Tea Party that is keeping some of the supposedly moderate Republicans from joining us."





Representative Barney Frank on MSNBC.

Friday, December 3, 2010

China to open activity center for gay men

IANS reports China may be evolving when it comes to health and human services for gay men.

From the report:

Beijing, Dec 3 (IANS) China will soon open an activity centre for gay men, where the homosexuals will receive training on HIV prevention and will be given condoms free of cost.
The Chongqing Rainbow Floating Population Activity Centre will be officially opened in Chongqing city after the Spring Festival in 2011.
It will be reportedly be the first organisation in China to hold HIV prevention training for gay men, according to the Chongqing Business Daily.
The centre, with an area of 160 square metres, will have books, videos and pictures on AIDS prevention, along with treadmills and other exercise machines.
Condoms would be provided to the gay men free of charge.
The setting up of the centre was undertaken by the Rainbow Group, one of the pioneer HIV prevention organisations for gay men in China.
The centre will regularly visit migrant workers' residential areas, construction sites and other areas with a large number of the floating population to promote AIDS prevention information and help people stay away from the disease, said Zhou Shengjian, head of the Rainbow Group.
Two revelers at Taiwan's recent Pride Festival. 
Taiwan is considered far more progressive than mainland China.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tea Party shows signs of split

Newsweek is reporting that a rift between Libertarian and Religious Right Tea Party members may be threatening the foundation of the latest conservative movement.

From the report:
And so, the fight is on for the soul of the Tea Party. On one side: libertarian-minded grassroots activists. On the other: the leaders of the wealthy, powerful, and better-established Christian right, who’ve dominated conservative populism in the United States for decades. Roughly half the people who say they support the Tea Party also say they are part of the religious right. Christian conservative leaders have long espoused limiting government intrusion in the economy—Jerry Falwell regularly condemned social programs and praised Milton Friedman—making the Tea Party attractive to their followers. But many of them also want government to enforce moral standards—banning abortion and gay marriage, for instance—a notion that’s anathema to libertarians who want government off their backs. “Principled libertarians aren’t going to like Big Religion telling them how to act and are going to have to draw the line,” says Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The report suggests the Tea Party's cracks started to show when the gay conservative group, GOProud sent a letter to newly-elected conservative legislators urging them to "stay focused on the issues that got you and your colleagues elected and to resist the urge to run down any social issue rabbit holes in order to appease the special interests." The letter was signed by 17 leading Tea Party activists.


Roughly half the people who support the Tea Party also identify as member of the Religious Right.


Tea Party rally sign.
Photo: CNN