Light a Fire tonight at The Mac

Time to light a fire under people

When a group of friends came together to take a stance against bullying, Light a Fire was born. Now they hope to encourage many others to continue to raise awareness and educate on the issue. Fort Worth councilman Joel Burns guest speaks along with Dottie Griffith, Mike Rawlings and more at the Light a Fire inaugural event, with donations given to Youth First Texas.

DEETS: The MAC, 3120 McKinney Ave. 6:30 p.m. $25. The-Mac.org. Search “light a fire” on Facebook.

—  Rich Lopez

Drawing Dallas

Makeup artist Tony Price is hoppy to be our Easter cover boy

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Tony Price, 20

Spotted at: Intersection of Lemmon and McKinney

Occupation: Student in cosmetology and makeup; model

Born in Tulsa, this tall, fit Virgo moved here from Tangipahoa Parrish, La., five months ago to continue his education in cosmetology and make-up. Tony grew up the middle son between two sisters, and in school excelled in track and field, and he continues to stay in shape by running and lifting weights. He enjoys meditation, dance, the arts and, of course, makeup.

Tony remembers the fifth grade very well. That was the year a cousin, who was then in cosmetology school, sparked an interest in him becoming interested in doing hair. His grandmother, a fabulous cook, tempted him to consider a career in the culinary arts, but makeup won out and Tony continues his education to become an artist extraordinaire. His goal is to own his own spa and become celebrated for his cosmetic skills.

Tony will spend his Easter with family, sharing good times and a great meal that he will cook himself.

—  John Wright

Anti-gay hate groups continue to duck and lie about their motives

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monters

This is a combination of two posts

The whining of religious right groups newly named as anti-gay hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center is reaching the levels of absurdity.

Witness this statement regarding the designation by Concerned Women for America:

The SPLC began as a civil rights organization in the 1960s, but has been marginalized by “gay rights” organizations. They no longer simply focus on the noble cause of fighting racism and have, instead, become another tool for the left. This time, the SPLC has taken their liberal propaganda too far. By demonizing traditional family groups that support traditional marriage, they just put a huge portion of the African-American community in California in the same category with the rest us so-called bigots.

According to an Associated Press exit poll, 70 percent of African-Americans in California who voted for Barack Obama also voted for Prop 8 and in support of traditional marriage in 2008. The very people the SPLC supposedly seeks to protect from bigotry and “hate crimes” are heavily in favor of the very institution that the SPLC is fighting against.

I hope CWA's statement alerts everyone to the true cynical nature of this so-called pro-family groups.

Seems to me that the simplest thing for the CWA (and the other organizations named as anti-gay hate groups or profiled) is to address SPLC's charges head on with a simple statement such as “SPLC is inaccurate because we never said those things or took those stances,” or “our statements and actions have been misconstrued.”

But rather than doing this, CWA is attempting to drag the African-American community into this argument in a sad attempt to play that community against the lgbt community. And let's face it – the CWA does not give a flip about either community.

No one should address the racial component of CWA's argument because it is irrelevant to the facts, which is according to SPLC:

(CWA founder Beverly) LaHaye has blamed gay people for a “radical leftist crusade” in America and, over the years, has occasionally equated homosexuality with pedophilia. In 2001, she hired prominent anti-gay propagandists Robert Knight  . . . and Peter LaBarbera . . . to launch CWA’s Culture and Family Institute. Matt Barber was CWA’s policy director for cultural issues in 2007 and 2008 before moving on to similar work with the Liberty Counsel  . . .

While at CWA, on April 12, 2007,  (Matt) Barber suggested against all the evidence that there were only a “miniscule number” of anti-gay hate crimes and most of those “may very well be rooted in fraudulent reports.” In comments that have since disappeared from CWA’s website, Barber demanded a federal probe of “homosexual activists” for their alleged fabrications of hate crime reports.

CWA long relied on and displayed Knight’s articles and talking points, including claims that “homosexuality carries enormous physical and mental health risks” and “gay marriage entices children to experiment with homosexuality.” Most remarkably, Knight cited the utterly discredited work of Paul Cameron to bolster claims that homosexuality is harmful.

Today, CWA continues to make arguments against homosexuality on the basis of dubious claims. President Wendy Wright said this August that gay activists were using same-sex marriage “to indoctrinate children in schools to reject their parents’ values and to harass, sue and punish people who disagree.” Last year, CWA accused the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a group that works to stop anti-gay bullying in schools, of using that mission as a cover to promote homosexuality in schools, adding that “teaching students from a young age that the homosexual lifestyle is perfectly natural … will [cause them to] develop into adults who are desensitized to the harmful, immoral reality of sexual deviance.”

As a gay man, I am amused by CWA's sad attempts to drag the black community into the argument. But as a black man, I am very angry. The way the CWA has label lgbts as oversexed monsters seeking to molest or “indoctrinate” children is no different than the way racists labeled black men as mindless brutes seeking to rape white women.

How's that for a racial component to the argument?

Meanwhile Bryan Fischer, the main reason why the American Family Association is considered as an anti-gay hate group, lodged his complaints against the designation.

It was one of those Freudian moments:

The Southern Poverty Law Center last week added five members to its list of “hate” groups, one of which is the American Family Association.

This illustrates one point and proves another. The point it illustrates is that the first and last refuge of a man without an argument is name-calling.

That would be an excellent point to make, except for one thing. As People for the American Way put it:

. . .it should also be noted that Fischer's entire professional career is based on calling gays names like nancy-boys and sexual perverts and sexual deviants and pedophiles and domestic terrorists who are part of a “deviancy cabal” who “want to use the anal cavity for sex.”

People who live in glass houses definitely shouldn't throw stones.

This sad attempt by CWA and Fischer to sidestep SPLC's charges continues to prove the main point of this entire controversy – you can't portray yourself as a victim when a paper trail reveals you to be a bully.

And the lies continue

Last night on the news show Hardball, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council sought to defend his organization's claim that gay men molest children at a higher rate than heterosexuals.

In attempting to do this, Perkins cited research by the American College of Pediatricians. However, there are several things about this group that Perkins omitted:

The American College of Pediatricians is not a legitimate medical group. It is a sham organization dedicated to the laundering of junk science about the lgbt community, i.e. the kind of “science” which demonizes the lgbt community. One of its chief researchers was George Rekers, that is before he got caught coming from a European trip with a “rentboy.”

Earlier this year, it tried to push a webpage, Facts About Youth, to American schools.

Among other things, this site made the following claims about gay men:

Some gay men sexualize human waste, including the medically dangerous practice of coprophilia, which means sexual contact with highly infectious fecal wastes

In addition, it also contained several errors in regards to research and other claims about the lgbt community.

But these things are irrelevant because the big story is how the American College of Pediatricians benefits people like Perkins.

Just as he did on Hardball, Perkins can cite the ACP without going into details about its errors. The official sounding name of the organization obscures all of that, and thus makes Perkins's position sound accurate.

The sad thing is that I think Perkins knows this.

And apparently this was not the only distortion Perkins committed during his Hardball appearance. Perkins said the following:

If you go back to the Archives of Sexual Behavior, a peer-reviewed reviewed journal, that stated that in self-identified… 86% of men, homosexual men, or who engage… or men who engage in molestation of children, 86% of them identified as homosexual or bisexual. That study has not been refuted.

However, according to the site Box Turtle Bulletin:

The study was not “refuted,” in Perkins’ terminology, simply because the finding was not considered to be significant, not even by its authors. The study, “Behavior patterns of child molesters” by W.D. Erickson, N.H. Walbek, and R.K. Seely which appeared more than twenty years ago (1988, to be exact), didn’t set out to determine the sexual orientation of child molesters. The study, of 229 convicted child molesters in Minnesota, (which, by the way, was never intended to be nationally representative in any way) was focused on the types of sexual contact the men engaged in with their victims — vaginal or anal penetration, oral contact, and so forth. In this particular sample, 63 victims were male, and 166 victims were female. The “finding” that Perkins and company found so exciting is encapsulated in just one sentence: “Eighty-six percent of offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.”

That’s right, one lone sentence out of a ten page document, buried deeply within the text. In other words, the authors themselves didn’t see it as a significant finding. And it may be because the authors didn’t delve into the adult relationship makeup of these offenders, or what criteria the offenders used in their self-labeling. Nor did they attempt to investigate whether there was any validity to their self-labeling.

 

Hat tip to People for the American Way.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Organizers Continue to Push Senator Murkowski on Repeal

It’s been five days on the ground here in Alaska and the excitement about repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during the lame duck session this year is growing.  We’ve had hundreds of Alaskans take action to urge Sen. Lisa Murkowski to vote for the National Defense Authorization Act, the defense appropriations bill which also contains repeal language.

Not only have we been successful with mobilizing the grassroots to take action, but I have been meeting with leaders of the LGBT and larger progressive communities, as well as reasonable voices within the Republican Party to mobilize support from a “grasstops” perspective.  We’ve also identified dozens of veterans who are supportive of repeal in the state who are taking action by calling and writing to Sen. Murkowski, and submitting letters to the editor of their local newspaper.

Here in Alaska, especially during the winter when it’s cold and dark much of the day, you have to go where the people are in order to get the job done.  So whether that meant catching people to take action at a Rocky Horror Picture Show or grabbing students at the University of Alaska – Anchorage and Alaska Pacific University to make phone calls, that’s what we did.

It’s been long days and we’ve come so far, but the journey toward open service is not yet complete.  If you’d like to help carry the torch in Alaska, please contact me at Tony.Wagner@hrc.org.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Why Do We Continue Drinking Alcohol? Because We Like Drinking Alcohol

It's not exactly full-proof scientific research, but here's a handy way to explain to your roommates, spouse, or labradoodle why you stumble home at at 3 o'clock in the morning and knock over the lamp.

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  John Wright

DADT Study: Mission-critical specialists continue to be discharged, hurting military effectiveness

Again – these discharges will continue long into 2011 even if DADT manages to be repealed this year.

Our Congress and Commander in Chief are weakening our national security over nothing more than bigotry and soap dropping in the shower. (The Palm Center):

The military continued to fire mission-critical specialists for being gay in fiscal year 2009, according to new data released today. The data show that gay discharges included 8 linguists, 20 infantrymen, 16 medical aides, 7 combat engineers, 6 missile artillery operating crew members, and one member of the Special Forces, among others.

According to Aaron Belkin, “These data show, yet again, that “don?t ask, don?t tell” undermines national security. Why are we firing linguists and infantrymen in the middle of two wars?” Belkin is Director of the Palm Center, the research institute at the University of California that released the data today.

The data confirm a long-term trend, and a 2005 Government Accountability Report found that the military fired 757 mission-critical specialists, including 322 linguists, in the first decade of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” JD Smith, co-Director of OutServe, said that today’s news shows how “don’t ask, don’t tell” jeopardizes the safety of the troops. “These discharges put our lives at risk,” Smith said. “As leadership continues to fire gay service members in critical career fields, it is the troops on the ground who will pay with their personal safety.” OutServe is the first-ever organization made up exclusively of currently-serving gay and lesbian troops. It now includes more than 500 members.

The new data were collected by the Defense Manpower Data Center and made available by the House Armed Services Committee. They were submitted to the Committee in compliance with current law which requires each of the services to disclose on an annual basis the number of service members who have left the service, why they left and what jobs they performed.

“The next few weeks will determine the future of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’” stated Christopher Neff, Palm Center Deputy Director. “After 13,500 discharges, hundreds of millions of dollars and 17 years, it all comes down to the Senate.” The Senate is expected to address the policy shortly after it reconvenes from the August recess on September 13.

The Palm Center also noted that the data showed disproportionate discharges on the basis of race and gender. In the Navy, two officers were discharged in FY 2009 and both were Asian. In the Army, of the five Officers discharged, two were African American, one was Asian and two were white.

Although women comprise only 14% of the Army, lesbians received 48% of the Army’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” discharges in FYI 2009. In the Marines, women comprise just 6% of the force, but received 23% of discharges under the policy. The numbers represent a dramatic shift from last year, when women received 36% of Army discharges and 18% of Marine Corps discharges. In the Air Force, women comprise 20% of the service but received 51% of “don’t ask, don’t tell” discharges in FY 2009. Women comprise 14% of the Navy but received 27% of the discharges last year.

You can read the full report here.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

AFER statement on today’s ruling: ‘we are confident that we will continue to prevail’

There were lots of post-decision reactions today. But, I think this one is important. It’s the full press release from the Americans Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the group that brought the Prop. 8 lawsuit:

The Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, who last week rendered a sweeping decision striking down California’s Proposition 8 as an unconstitutional violation of the rights of gay and lesbian citizens to due process and equal protection of the law under the Fourteenth Amendment, today denied the proponents’ motion to stay that decision pending a full resolution of the merits on appeal, instead granting only a short stay until August 18, 2010 “solely in order to permit the court of appeals to consider the issue in an orderly manner.” This means that unless the Court’s decision is stayed by a higher court, Californians who were denied equality by Proposition 8 will soon, and once again, enjoy their fundamental right to marry. Today’s order can be found here: http://www.equalrightsfoundation.org/legal-filings/ruling-on-motion-for-stay-pending-appeal/

“The overwhelming evidence at trial established beyond any doubt that Proposition 8 denies gay men and lesbians the fundamental right to marry and treats them unequally, without any rational basis for doing so, and that it causes them irreparable and immediate harm,” said Theodore B. Olson, who together with David Boies led the legal team in this lawsuit. “The Court’s decision today recognizes that there is no reason to delay allowing gay men and lesbians to enjoy the same rights that virtually all other citizens already enjoy.”

“The unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 is comprehensively and unequivocally demonstrated by the Court’s 136-page ruling, and so we are confident that we will continue to prevail,” said Chad Griffin, the Board President of the American Foundation for Equal Rights. “Our nation was founded on the principle that every American is equal in the eyes of the law. This case is about affirming that principle.”

The American Foundation for Equal Rights and plaintiffs Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo challenged Proposition 8 in federal court for violating the U.S. Constitution. After a three-week trial (including the testimony of 17 plaintiffs’ witnesses, among them the foremost experts on the relevant issues, and thousands of pages of documents and a wealth of other evidence) the Court ruled last Wednesday, August 4, that Proposition 8 violated the rights to equal protection under the law and due process that the U.S. Constitution guarantees to every American.

With AFER’s team. led by Olson and Boies, leading the way, I am confident we will continue to prevail, too.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Stay Tuned: Judge to Rule Today on Whether to Continue Stay on Prop 8 Case

image via WikiCommons

According to press reports, sometime after noon today (Eastern time), Judge Vaughn Walker will rule on whether to lift the stay on his decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, allowing California to once again issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  The judge concluded last week, in declaring Prop 8 violates the U.S. Constitution, that “California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians.”  Lifting the stay would put that conclusion into action, ending the enforcement of a discriminatory and unconstitutional law and once again treating same-sex couples as full citizens of California.

Whatever Judge Walker decides today, there are many steps left – and a lot of unanswered questions – in this case.  Prop 8 supporters can appeal the stay decision to the Ninth Circuit, which could issue its own stay and stop marriage licenses from being issued.  So even if marriages begin again today, it may not last for long and their legality may remain in question.  Also, wasting no time in trying to undo Judge Walker’s historic decision, supporters of Prop 8 have already filed their appeal of the entire case with the Ninth Circuit.

Same-sex couples in California deserve their equality and they deserve it now.  But no matter if the stay is maintained or lifted today, the ability of same-sex couples to marry, and the legal status of any marriages that may happen, will remain somewhat uncertain.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

DC Marriage Equality Advocates Gather to Celebrate and Continue Progress

The following post comes from HRC Field Organizer Nick McCoy:

An air of excitement moved through the Equality Forum at the Human Rights Campaign last week.

A diverse crowd of forty, including couples, seasoned community advocates, and excited neophytes, gathered for a couples meet and greet hosted by HRC and the DC marriage collaborative. The cause, to galvanize support for a continuing marriage equality education initiative, is entrenched in a broader undertaking by the DC marriage collaborative and HRC, to make inroads, build relationships and overcome differences within the community.

As such, the evening was an opportunity for dialogue between the DC marriage collaborative, HRC and all coalition partners, and residents of the broader DC Metro area. Jasper Hendricks, the new director of the DC Civil Marriage Collaborative, was introduced to the guests who provided feedback about what they need in their own communities to make progress on equality and justice, with a focus on LGBT issues.

The first same-sex couple married in the District, Angelisa Young and Sinjoyla Townsend, lit up as they told the attendees of the encouraging message they received from neighbors, District employees and officials since exchanging their nuptials. The picture of marital bliss, the newlyweds, who married in the same room five months ago, expressed pride in their ability to finally enjoy the same rights and bear the same responsibilities as their fellow citizens.

The event was a rousing success and the DC marriage collaborative and HRC look forward to the next opportunity to engage the community with its mission.

Special thanks to the National Black Justice Coalition, Gay and Lesbian Alliance, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club and the DC Civil Marriage Collaborative.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright