Monday, 28 November 2011

Gay marriage champion joins Vt. Supreme Court

A woman who pushed for Vermont's ground-breaking civil union and gay marriage laws has been sworn in as the first openly gay member of the state Supreme Court.

Beth Robinson took the oath Monday afternoon. Gov. Peter Shumlin said her story represented striking progress toward equality of gay and lesbian citizens.

Beth Robinson, right, gets a hug from Susan Murray
on Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 in Montpelier, Vt.

The 46-year-old Robinson was one of the lawyers who represented three couples in a landmark 1999 state Supreme Court decision that prompted the Legislature in 2000 to make Vermont the first state to offer marriage-like rights and benefits to same-sex couples.

She later led Vermont Freedom to Marry, which pushed for and won passage in 2009 of the country's first gay-marriage law that wasn't directly prompted by a court decision.

via: SF Gate

City councillor becomes Mr Gay South Africa - Times LIVE

Mr Gay South Africa 2011 Lance Weyer (C), flanked by
 second runner-up Casper Bosman (L) and first runner-up Alexander Steyn (R). 

"Lance Weyer is a representative councillor for the DA in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, in the Eastern Cape. He also serves on the health and public safety standing committee and on the special programs strategic committee.

Weyer, 24, says on the Mr Gay SA website he is one of "the youngest municipal councillors in the country -- all as an OUT gay man".

He was crowned Mr Gay SA in a ceremony hosted by Cathy Specific and Frank Malaba in Johannesburg on Saturday."

- Times LIVE:

For a Queer Christmas - Send Gay / Lesbian Cards.

Advent begins this week, and with it the season for shopping.

For all Christians, this time of year can be difficult, with tension to negotiated, between Advent as a solemn season of preparation for the important Christian festival of Christmas, and the purely secular festive season leading up to the winter solstice, which marks the mid-point of winter's darkness and gloom.

For Christian sexual minorities (including the many straight singles and childless couples) there is an additional difficulty - the relentless emphasis in both church and stores on children and family. Kittredge Cherry at Jesus in Love Blog has come up with an ingenious way to counter this. Send your friends gay or lesbian themed Nativity cards. Love, after all, makes a family.

(I like Kitt's use of the term "Nativity" card - the word "Christmas" has been as much distorted and misused as the festival.)

Read her original post at Jesus in Love Blog, where she makes an important point: we must remember that in the traditional Nativity story, the biological details of the birth are extraordinary. Is the idea of a same sex couple procreating any more extraordinary than the Virgin birth?

To that, I would add the observation by the Catholic theologians Salzmann & Lawler, in "The Sexual Person": procreation refers not only to the physical production of an infant, but also the the subsequent care and nurturing of the child.  Procreation by same-sex couples is not nearly as far-fetched as some people would have us believe.

Order your nativity cards from the "Jesus in Love Card Shop"

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

22 November: Billie Jean King, Tennis Champion

b. November 22, 1943
I think self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion.

Life Magazine named Billie Jean King one of the "100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century." A tennis champion and an outspoken advocate for gender equality in sports, King has become an icon and legend for her contributions to the advancement of women's sports.
Despite her mother's attempts to steer her towards more feminine pursuits, King demonstrated exceptional aptitude in sports at a young age. She purchased her first tennis racket at the age of 12. She recalls thinking during her first tennis lesson, "I knew I'd found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life."
In 1961, at age 17, King won her first grand slam title at Wimbledon in the women's doubles tournament. She became known for her aggressive style and personality. In 1966, she won her first of 12 Grand Slam singles titles.
An outspoken advocate against sexism in sports, King hoped "to use sports for social change." She campaigned for equal prize awards for male and female tennis players after receiving $15,000 less in prize money than her male counterpart in the 1972 U.S. Open. King threatened to boycott the 1973 tournament. The following year, the U.S. Open became the first major tournament to award equal prize money to male and female champions.
In 1973, King became the first woman to defeat a former male Wimbledon Champion in "The Battle of the Sexes." The Women's Tennis Association named King its first president that same year. In 1974, King co-founded WomenSports Magazine and began the Women's Sports Foundation.
King struggled to come to terms with her sexuality. During her 22-year marriage she had an intimate affair with her assistant, Marilyn Barnett. Pressured by the threat of losing her career, King remained in the closet until 1981, when Barnett sued her for palimony. Though King won the lawsuit, her court battle left her financially and emotionally drained. Despite calling the affair a "mistake," King lost almost all of her commercial sponsors.
King publicly came out in 1988. Since then, she has helped further the visibility and inclusion of the GLBT community. She currently serves on the Board of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and National AIDS Fund


Selected Works

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Monday, 21 November 2011

James Wharton, soldier

Gay serviceman James became the first homosexual soldier to appear on the front cover of the Armed Forces’ magazine in 2009. The Household Cavalry Regiment trooper was featured in the monthly Soldier publication to celebrate diversity in the Army, nine years after it lifted its ban on homosexuality within the ranks. During his eight-year career, the Lance Corporal says he has experienced just two uncomfortable moments, but neither was serious enough to make him quit.

“I came out to the Army before I told my parents, so that says a lot for the Armed Forces,” he recalls.

James went on to wed air steward partner Thom McCaffrey in 2010. And in April this year, he raised £4,000 for Stonewall by completing the Brighton Marathon.

Number 5 on the DS list of the "50 Most Influential Gays", 2011

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Saga of the Toronto Gay Penguins

In a bizarre move, a zoo is splitting up a male pair, to force them to breed. 

Queer Politics for the Birds: The Saga of the Gay Penguins

Toronto’s zoo is splitting up a pair of same-gender penguins. These Happy Feet males, Pedro and Buddy -- jokingly referred to as "Brokeback Iceberg" -- have been nesting with each other for a year.

The reason for the boys’ split-up, a zoo official says, is because African penguins are an endangered species.

The pair has what’s known as a "social bond," but it’s not necessarily a "sexual bond," Tom Mason, the zoo’s curator of birds and invertebrates told the Associated Press.
"Penguins are so social they need And the group they came from was a bachelor group waiting for a chance to be paired up with females," Mason stated. "They had paired up there, they came to us already paired, and it’s our job to be matchmakers to get them to go with some females." 

The argument they have used to justify this, is the old one that they aren't "really" queer, just doing it in the absence of females. This is nothing more than homophobia directed at the animal world, used to avoid facing the fact that sexual activities between members of the same biological sex are commonplace in nature - for some species, and for some individual animals, more common than the heterosexual kind.

Bruce Bagemihl, in Biological Exuberance, has described this avoidance strategy, and several others, in his book "Biological Exuberance" - together with accounts of the extensive scientific evidence now emerging to rebut them.

As scientists, the curators at Toronto zoo really should know better. 


Related articles

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"Unnatural" Nature, Immoral Butterflies: The Great Cover-Up of Animal Homosexuality

Back in 2000, an eminent and otherwise respectable biologist declared that except for a few instances observed among primates, there was no evidence of homosexuality among animals:

When animals have access to the opposite sex, homosexuality is virtually unknown in nature, with some rare exceptions among primates."
-G. Barlow, 2000
This was breathtakingly inaccurate. Just the previous year another biologist, Bruce Bagemihl,had published a book summarizing previously published scientific papers which described homosexual behaviour in over 300 species of animals and birds (listing dozens of papers for each), and also listing additional species of reptiles, amphibians, fish and even insects - over a thousand species in all, and tens of thousands of peer-reviewed articles. The first recorded observations of animal homosexuality were two millenia ago, by the ancient Greeks. In modern times, the first formal publication of scientific observations go back over 150 years. Photographic evidence of male swan couples has existed since the mid-nineteenth century.
Even this illustration, of male beetles doing it, was published as long ago as 1896:

Male Scarab Beetles, 1896

Did a Republican member of Texas' State Board of Education just come out as gay?:

A Texas state board of education Republican seeking re-​election has come out as gay, and immediately lost the endorsement of a prominent conservative political activist known for her homophobic and religious views.

George Clayton, a Republican member of the State Board of Education from Richardson, sent an email to several news organizations last week that appears to confirm he’s gay.
Clayton is an academic coordinator at North Dallas High School, according to his bio on the Texas Education Agency website. He won the District 12 SBOE seat in 2010, when he defeated longtime Republican incumbent Geraldine “Tincy” Miller in the primary.
Clayton sent out his email in response to an apparent whisper campaign about his sexual orientation among Republicans in the district, which covers all of Collin County. Miller is trying to unseat Clayton and recapture her old seat in 2012."

The Dallas Voice says the e-mail "appears" to confirm he is gay. There's no need for this caution: Clayton's words are clear and unambigous - he has a live-in, male partner:
“So as to avoid the tyranny of misinformation and innuendo in this political race, I wish to say that I, in fact, do have a male partner who lives with me in my home in Richardson, Texas. I hope this frank announcement satisfies Tincy Miller and the ladies associate with the Golden Corridor organization. All of us can now move on with discussions concerning education instead of being overly occupied with my personal life.”
Clayton is paying a political price for his honesty. Since the announcement, he has lost the endorsement of a homophobic political activist:

Clayton’s email confirming that he’s gay has already prompted one right-winger, Donna Garner of Waco, to withdraw her endorsement of his re-election bid.

“If Clayton is indeed a homosexual, then we as voters must be concerned about re-electing him to the SBOE since the Board will soon begin the process of writing and adopting Health curriculum requirements for all Texas public school students,” Garner wrote.

Will this cost him? Garner is clearly hoping so, but the evidence so far is that most voters are no longer concerned about sexual orientation. Character, integrity and the ability to do the job are far more important. 

Labour's first transgender candidate tells of bullying hell at hands of police colleagues - The Daily Record

AN ex-cop who is Scottish Labour’s first transgender election candidate told last night how she was hounded out of the police.
Carol Mapley, 53, revealed how her time in the British Transport Police became a “living hell” after colleagues discovered her desire to become a woman.
Carol, who has a female partner and lives near Newton Stewart, Dumfriesshire, will fight the Castle Douglas and Glenken council seat next May.
And the trainee social worker then plans to stand for election as an MSP."

Friday, 18 November 2011

Gay adoption, New Zealand: It "will happen" -Shelley Bridgeman

"A recent Herald-DigiPoll survey found that 54 per cent of people think gay couples should be allowed to adopt children while 36 per cent disagreed. Two years ago a Herald website poll had 41 per cent in favour and 59 per cent against, according to Derek Cheng's article Majority back gay adoption.
Our collective attitudes towards the rights of gay people are clearly becoming more liberal. Most of us see this as a simple human rights issue. The fact that adopting a child isn't an option for same-sex couples is discriminatory and doesn't sit well with our aims of achieving an egalitarian society."

full report at NZ Herald News 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Massachusetts approves transgender rights bill

The Massachusetts Senate has joined the House in passing a bill that would prohibit discrimination against transgender individuals.

The measure was approved by the Senate Wednesday morning on a voice vote. No senator spoke against it.

Some House Republicans had argued that the measure was unnecessary and could hurt small businesses that have transgender workers.

Proponents of the bill agreed to drop a public accommodations section of the bill that critics warned would lead to a breakdown in privacy in bathrooms and other single-gender facilities.

The bill still needs routine final approval votes in both branches.

The House passed the bill Tuesday night but only after Democratic leaders moved to limit debate to one hour, cutting off many of the 50 or so amendments that had been filed by opponents."

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Saturday, 12 November 2011

Gay couple, Communist mayor defy French law with same-sex marriage - France - RFI

"A French gay couple were married on Saturday in the south-western town of Cabestany in a gesture they and the town’s Communist mayor hope will help change French law, which does not recognise homosexual marriage."

“There are times when you have to be an outlaw,” declared Cabestany's mayor Jean Vila before Saturday morning’s ceremony, appealing to other mayors to follow his example.

Saturday’s happy couple, 37-year-old artist Guillaume and 48-year-old photo-lab manager Patrick, say they were married both as a demonstration of love and as an activist gesture so that “very soon in France two people of the same sex can get married legally”.

“We are citizens, the same as everybody else,” they commented.

Their marriage lines contain the phrase “unfortunately this document has no official character, since the law today forbids marriage between people of the same sex, but it signifies the wish of the local authority to see the law change”.

- full report at RFI

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Ballot Box Progress, Tues 8th November

Tuesday seems to have been a generally good night at the ballot box for LGBT Americans:

"Democrats have held a crucial senate seat in a special election in central Iowa Tuesday. Had the seat fallen to Republicans, it would have allowed the Iowa Senate to potentially proceed with revocation procedures of legal gay marriage in the state."


Voters in Traverse City, have overwhelmingly voted to keep a nondiscrimination ordinance that protects LGBT people from bias, after conservative voters attempting to derail the proposal forced a referendum.


Annise Parker has been re-elected as mayor  without a runoff election.

Mike Laster is now  the first openly gay man elected to the Houston City Council.


Out lesbian Caitlin Copple has been elected to the Missoula council, defeating a hostile, anti-gay incumbent.


Has its first openly LGBT city councillor, with the election of Chris Coolbach, who had earlier led a campaign to repeal an anti-gay city ordinance.

Charlotte, NC

Has its first openly LGBT city councillor. LaWana Mayfield won her runoff, after earlier defeating an incumbent in the Democratic primary.

New Jersey

Tim Eustace, already the mayor of Montgomery, has been elected to the state assembly - the first openly gay non-incumbent to do so.

Bruce Harris was elected mayor of Chattam Borough - the first African American, openly gay Republican mayor anywhere.


Pedro Segarra was easily re-elected as mayor of Hartford.


Zach Adamson, who becomes the first openly LGBT city councilmember


Adam Ebbin, a Virginia Delegate, who became the first openly gay State Senator


Alex Morse became the first openly gay mayor of Holyoke

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

"A Night in the Desert", George Quaintance

"Night in the Desert--1951" is one of the first of the iconic paintings of George Quaintance, who died November 8, 1957.
Although now obscure, George Quaintance was one of the most influential figures in a unique American style of art and one of the most flamboyant and interesting gay characters for four decades of the twentieth century.

Though few people outside the gay world know it, Quaintance was a pioneer of male physique painting. This genre heralded a new American gay consciousness in the early 1950s.

Poll: Support for gay marriage continues to rise

"Public acceptance of same-sex marriage has grown at an accelerating pace, with approval jumping by nine percentage points in the past two years and the nation now evenly divided on the issue, according to a new Pew Research Center survey released Thursday.

The poll, conducted in late September and early October, showed 46% of Americans surveyed support legalizing same-sex marriage and 44% are opposed. The survey among 2,410 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

 -full report at  Los Angeles Times:

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Scottish Conservatives elect gay leader

An openly gay woman has been elected leader of the Scottish Conservatives after the membership rejected her leading rival's radical proposals to create a new centre-right party.

Ruth Davidson, 32, widely seen as David Cameron's favourite, was chosen to lead the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party by a comfortable margin after the most bitterly-fought and divisive leadership campaign in party history.

Officials in London believe that Davidson, a lesbian and the youngest of the four candidates, will be able to freshen up the Tories' faltering appeal to Scottish voters.

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

New Zealand: Majority back gay adoption

A majority of (New Zealnd) voters support changing the law to allow gay couples to adopt children, according to the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey.

Labour and the Greens have pushed the rights of gay people as an election issue, but the National Party has sidelined them as not a priority.

Adoption in New Zealand is governed by the Adoption Act 1955, and Labour and the Greens say the law needs of an update.

More than half - 54.3 per cent - of the poll respondents said the law should be changed to allow gay couples to adopt children, 38 per cent disagreed, and 7.7 per cent did not know or refused to answer.

Green MP Kevin Hague

Green MP Kevin Hague, who has started a cross-party group to find political consensus on gay issues, said the result was pleasing.

"It's great to see that most New Zealanders now support this, and I'm confident that once it's in place, that majority will increase even more.

"What should be at the centre of adoption laws is putting the interests of the child first. To do that you've got to have all the options on the table."