Saturday, 31 March 2012

Barney Frank

b. March 31, 1940
Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) is the highest-ranking and longest-serving openly gay politician in the United States.
"The issue is not that morals be applied to public policy; it's that conservatives bring public policy to spheres of our lives where it should not enter."
Congressman Frank is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School. Prior to entering Congress, he served in state and local government, including eight years as a Massachusetts State Representative, and three years as Chief Assistant to Boston Mayor Kevin White. During that time, Frank taught at several universities and published articles on politics and public affairs.
Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980, Frank is the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. The Almanac of American Politics has called him "one of the intellectual and political leaders of the Democratic Party in the House, political theorist and pit bull all at the same time."Politics in America has noted his "penchant for trying to match liberalism with hard-nosed pragmatism in order to move the legislative ball."
In 1987, seven years after he was elected to Congress, Frank disclosed his sexuality. He comments, "I tried every which way not to acknowledge publicly that I was gay and I said, `This was making me crazy,' and I decided to acknowledge publicly being gay."
Frank is outspoken on gay and lesbian rights and on human rights. In 1988 Frank founded the National Stonewall Democrats.
According to Representative Frank, the best perk a Member of Congress enjoys is being able, after reading about a problem in the morning newspaper, to go to the office the same day and begin working on a solution.
Selected works by Barney Frank:

Gerrit Komrij, Dutch poet

b. march 30, 1944

Komrij is considered to be one of the greatest living Dutch poets. From 2000 to 2004 he was the first poet laureate, Dichter des Vaderlands, of the Netherlands. In addition to being a poet, Komrij is also a prose writer of stature. His pieces on poetry make him one of the few Dutch poetry critics of any significance.  Komrij is both admired and feared because of his sardonic humor and biting pen.

His translation of the book on which the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical 'Cats' was based, was used for the Dutch version of the musical. 

In Verwoest Arcadië (Destroyed Arcadia [1980]), he gives an autobiographical "reconstruction of a life amidst boys and books."Komrij has written librettos to two operas: Symposium by Peter Schat (1994), which dramatizes the last days in the life of Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky and Melodias Estranhas by Antonio Chagas Rosa (2000).

In the 1970s and 1980s, Komrij and his partner Charles Hofman befriended a number of Dutch authors including Boudewijn Büch, with whom he maintained a lengthy correspondence. In the early 1980s Komrij and Hofman moved to Portugal, not long after his play Het Chemisch Huwelijk premiered in Amsterdam; he has lived in Portugal ever since. 

Komrij also worked under the names Mr. Pennewip, Gerrit Andriesse and Griet Rijmrok.

glbtq, Dutch and Flemish Literature
Poetry International Web

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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Sir Elton John – Singer

born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on 25 March 1947) is an English rock singer-songwriter, composer, pianist and occasional actor. He has worked with lyricist Bernie Taupin as his songwriter partner since 1967; they have collaborated on more than 30 albums to date.

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

The Godfather of all creatures gay and small has seen and done it all – and often, to excess. Major drug addiction, failed relationships with men and women and even a marriage came and went before Sir Elton came to terms with being gay. And since then, he’s lead the parade up the yellow brick road as the rest of us follow behind. He’s raised and donated millions to AIDS research (even setting up his own foundation), married partner David Furnish, has helped celebs with their addictions and recently became a father to son Zachary. And through all that, he’s transcended sexual orientation when it comes to popularity. He’s loved by everyone – and even performed live with Guns ‘n’ Roses and Eminem.

Sheryl Swoopes

b. March 25, 1971
Sheryl Swoopes is a professional basketball player with the Houston Comets in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). She is called "the female Michael Jordan."
"No matter how far life pushes you down, no matter how much you hurt, you can always bounce back."
Women's professional basketball did not yet exist when Sheryl Swoopes was growing up in Brownfield, Texas. She discovered her passion for the game by playing with her older brothers and began competing in a local children's league when she was seven. In 1988 she led her high school team to the Texas state championship.
As a collegiate player at Texas Tech, Swoopes led the women's basketball team to the NCAA title in 1993 and was voted the NCAA Final Four MVP (Most Valuable Player) after setting a championship game scoring record. She also received the Naismith Award as National Player of the Year.
Swoopes was a member of the US Basketball Women's National Team that won gold medals at the Olympics in 1996, 2000, and 2004. She is the first woman to have a Nike athletic shoe named for her, the Air Swoopes.
When the WNBA (Women's National Basketball Association) was organized, Swoopes was recruited for the Houston Comets during their inaugural season. She joined the team a few weeks after giving birth to her son and, despite playing only the last third of the season, led the Comets to the 1997 WNBA championship. The Comets went on to win the first four WNBA titles. In ten years with the Comets, Swoopes has accumulated more than 2,000 career points, 500 career rebounds, 300 career assists, and 200 career steals. She has been WNBA Most Valuable Player three times, more than any other player.
In 2005, Sheryl Swoopes became one of the highest profile professional athletes in a team sport to come out publicly when she announced that she is a lesbian. She and her partner, former Comets assistant coach Alisa Scott, are raising Swoopes' son.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, Military Officer

b. March 24, 1943

"I wear my uniform at every inappropriate moment to remind people of gays and lesbians who have to serve in silence in the military."

In 1992, Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer became the highest-ranking military officer discharged on the basis of sexual orientation. Cammermeyer was dismissed as chief nurse of the Washington State National Guard after disclosing she was a lesbian during a routine security clearance interview. She challenged the U.S. military’s ban on homosexuals in federal court. In 1994, she was reinstated as chief nurse, making her one of the few openly gay or lesbian members of the military.

Cammermeyer was born in Oslo, Norway, during the Nazi occupation. Her parents sheltered Norwegian resistance forces. Cammermeyer credits her parents’ courage as her inspiration for defending civil liberties.

In 1951, Cammermeyer’s family moved to the U.S. She became a citizen in 1961 and joined the U.S. Army Student Nurse Program. After receiving her B.S. in nursing from the University of Maryland in 1963, Cammermeyer reported for active duty.

At her request, in 1967, Cammermeyer was deployed to Vietnam where she served as head nurse of a neurosurgical intensive care unit. She calls this time in her life “the most extraordinary experience any military nurse could have been a part of.” Cammermeyer was honored with the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service. In 1985, she was named Nurse of the Year by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In 1964, Cammermeyer married a fellow soldier and had four sons. The couple divorced after 15 years. In 1989, Cammermeyer met her life partner, Diane Divelbess.

Cammermeyer’s autobiography, “Serving in Silence” (1994), received critical acclaim.  The book was turned into a made-for-TV movie, executive produced by Barbra Streisand and starring Glenn Close. The film generated more than 25 million viewers and received three Emmy Awards and the Peabody Award. It was one of the first television movies about a gay person. 

Cammermeyer retired in 1997 after 31 years of service. She serves on the Military Advisory Council for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network and is an outspoken advocate for the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Bateman, Geoffrey W. “Cammermeyer, Margarethe (b. 1942)” GLBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, & Queer Culture. 2004
Cammermeyer, Margarethe. “Biography.” June 6, 2008
“Colonel Grethe Cammermeyer Biography.” HRC-Atlanta. 1998
Quindlen, Anna. “Public & Private; With Extreme Prejudice.” The New York Times.  June 24, 1992
Van Biema, David. “Military Ins and Outs.” Time. June 13, 1994,9171,980890,00.html

Egan, Timothy.  “Lesbian in Uphill Race for Congress.”  The New York Times.  July 22, 1998
Mathews, Linda.  “She Asks, She Tells.”  The New York Times.  May 15, 1996
Schmitt, Eric.  “Pentagon Ordered to Reinstate Nurse Forced Out as a Lesbian.”  The New York Times.  June 2, 1994
Serving in Silence (1994)

Other Resources
Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story (1995)
Official Margarethe Cammermeyer Website

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Friday, 23 March 2012

Trans in Politics: Some Notes

In New York,

A Transgender Candidate Is Hoping to Make History

“I’m not running because I’m transgender,” said Mr. Wymore, 50, who was born female but now, after testosterone therapy and top surgery, identifies as transgender. But, he said, that “doesn’t mean that being transgender doesn’t bring a certain perspective.”
Although gay men and lesbians have broken many electoral barriers — serving as mayors, state legislators and members of Congress — the same is not true of the transgender community. Only a few, including a Democratic district leader in Westchester County and a former member of the Hawaii Board of Education, have been elected to office around the country.
“I think there is a feeling that there is too much difference there,” Mr. Wymore said. But he said he believed: “This is the seat. This is the community that’s ready to go forward.”
The race, for the Sixth District seat occupied by Gale A. Brewer, who is term-limited, is competitive and has drawn a number of candidates, including Marc Landis, a district leader; Helen Rosenthal, a former chairwoman of Community Board 7; and Ken Biberaj, a vice president of the Russian Tea Room.
Melissa Sklarz, a transgender woman, said that the race was full of worthy candidates, and that as president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, she could not make an endorsement. But she described Mr. Wymore’s candidacy as “an opportunity for transgender people everywhere.”
Will Wymore "make history" if  elected? Well, no. He could become the first post-op openly transsexual elected councillor in New York, but that's all. Others have made it elsewhere, and in New York, to similar and even higher political offices.

New Hampshire Republicans Defend Marriage Equality

The impressive feature of yesterday's victory for marriage equality was the extent of Republican support for defending marriage equality. The GOP has an overwhelming 3 to 1 majority in the State House, but the bill went down by almost 2 - 1. Among the 211 votes against, were about 100 Republicans (nearly half of the total), who defied their caucus leadership on the matter.  This is a valuable illustration of how even political conservatives are coming to see gay marriage as consonant with their values, and not in conflict with their religious beliefs.

“The people that are supporting repeal want their personal religious views to be the law of the land. I hate to say it, but that's really what it's coming down to,” Representative Tammy Simmons added. “It's great to have faith and it's great to have religion, but that should dictate your life, not how somebody else lives their life.”

This decision to stand with libertarian principles rather than traditionalist impulses represents victory in the effort to modernize the Republican Party and expand its appeal rather than courting a backlash by reinforcing some of its negative stereotypes.
In particular, some legislators were concerned that an ideological over-reach by social conservatives could alienate independent voters—who make up a plurality of registered voters in the Granite State—in the next election. “I am concerned about the message it could sends to Independent voters,” said Schroadter. “I'm a Republican for small government, low taxes, and pro-business initiatives. This [marriage equality] is just one of those issues that government should probably stay away from.”
Attitudes toward same-sex marriage have changed dramatically in the past few years alone, with 59% of independents now supporting it, compared to 49% in 2010, according to Gallup. Significantly, only 7% of New Hampshire Republicans voted for the Freedom to Marry in 2009.
“What's happening here in New Hampshire is the amazing new direction that the Republican Party is taking at the state level,” said Tyler Deaton, a spokesperson for New Hampshire Republicans for Freedom and Equality PAC. “We’ve got so many Republican state representatives that are opposed to this repeal effort. And it's like the Republican Party's getting back to its roots—values of individual freedom and liberty and equality. It’s been an exciting thing to see. I think that New Hampshire is going to be a model for the national Republican Party to see that it is okay for the Republicans to be inclusive of gays and lesbians and to be in favor of equal rights. It's a new step forward for the party.”
It is healthy and heartening to see libertarians stand up to social conservatives on matters of principle and conscience, aiming for a philosophic consistency that reconnects the Republican Party to its roots as a force for expanding individual freedom.
Ostrich of the week award goes to the sponsor of the bill, Bill Bates, who said he simply did not believe the polls that showed very limited voter support for repeal.
In a poll released in early February by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, 59 percent of respondents were either strongly or somewhat opposed to repealing the law, while 32 percent said they supported repeal. But Mr. Bates said he did not believe that the results truly reflected public opinion.
Mr. Bates said the repeal effort could return next year, adding, “I don’t think this is the end of it.”
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Thursday, 22 March 2012

22 March: Stephen Sondheim, Broadway Composer and Lyricist

Theatrical lyricist and composer
b. March 22, 1930

"Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos."

Stephen Sondheim is hailed by The New York Times as the greatest artist in American musical theater. His most famous scores include “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” “Sweeney Todd,” and “Into the Woods,” for which he wrote both lyrics and music, and “West Side Story” and “Gypsy," for which he wrote the lyrics.

Sondheim was born in New York City, a son of wealthy dress manufacturers. As a result of his parents’ divorce, he grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and on a farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania

Sondheim had the good fortune of befriending Jimmy Hammerstein, son of the well-known lyricist and playwright Oscar Hammerstein II. Entering into an informal apprenticeship with his friend’s father, Sondheim found in Oscar Hammerstein an inspiring mentor as well as a surrogate dad. 

At prep school in Pennsylvania, Sondheim wrote a comic musical about the students and faculty. Expecting accolades, Sondheim proudly showed his musical to Hammerstein, who told him it was the worst work he had ever seen, and then offered his help. Sondheim claimed he learned more in that afternoon than in his entire formal education. 

Sondheim graduated magna cum laude from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1950 and went on to study composition with composer Milton Babbitt. He found initial success with “West Side Story” (1957), for which he wrote the lyrics. The unexpected rhymes and clever use of language that became Sondheim’s signature helped “West Side Story” win the 1958 Tony Award for Best Musical. In 1961, the musical was adapted for film and won 10 Academy Awards

Sondheim’s groundbreaking musicals often tackle unconventional topics—like the Victorian murder-revenge story “Sweeney Todd” (1979) and the anti-fairy-tale “Into the Woods” (1986)—or have innovative structures like the nonlinear and plotless “Company” (1970) and the characterless “Pacific Overtures” (1976). Broadway performers such as Chita Rivera, Bernadette Peters, Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Patti LuPone, Nathan Lane and Whoopi Goldberg have starred in his musicals.

Sondheim has won an Academy Award, a Pulitzer Prize, and seven Grammy Awards. A winner of more Tony Awards than any other composer, he was honored with a Tony Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.

Recordings, DVD
Other Resources


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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Should Two Left-handed People Be Permitted to Marry?

The Catholic theologian James Alison and others have frequently made the point that there are many parallels between left -handedness and homosexuality. Both occur entirely naturally in a small but significant minority of people, both are entirely non-pathological - and both have historically been treated with suspicion and condemnation, including condemnation in the name of religion. The world has moved on from branding left-handedness as sinister, and no longer says to people who are naturally left-handed that "It's OK to be left-handed, just don't write left - handed": but that's an exact counterpart of what the Catholic Church says to its gay and lesbian Catholics: "It's not a sin to be gay, but it is a grave sin to do gay".
left and right handed scissors 
Think of it this way. There is a distinction between left-handedness and the act of writing left-handedly. For most of us the distinction remains exactly that, and has no moral consequences. We would understand that a left-handed person forced to write right-handedly owing, say, to having their left arm in a plaster cast, or a right-handed person forced to write left-handedly for analogous reasons, would, with some difficulty, be able to learn to do so. These people would in some sense be acting “contra natura”. But the use of the hand appropriate to their handedness would be entirely unremarkable, and if we used words to describe it at all, they would be words like “typical” or “natural”. Now, imagine that, involved in a Catholic discussion, you find yourself addressing a left-handed person. You say: “Any left-handed writing you do is intrinsically wrong; and in fact the inclination we call left-handedness must be considered objectively disordered.” The only justification for using the distinctions in this way is if you have received, from quite other sources, the sure knowledge that right-handedness is normative to the human condition, anything else being some sort of defect from that norm, and yet you don’t want entirely to condemn the person who has a more or less strong tendency to left-handed writing.
Left-handedness would seem to be irrelevant to modern political discussion, but this symmetry between it and homoerotic orientation has suddenly and unexpectedly become an entertaining sideshow in marriage politics, New Hampshire.

Greg Voakes: Study Finds Increasing Support for Transgender Rights in the U.S.

Until recently, the struggles that transgender individuals face in both public and private institutions have been discussed primarily in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, but not by the wider public. Thankfully, a November study conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) has found that the majority of Americans support strong rights and legal protections for transgender individuals. This positive change in public opinion proves that civil rights movements have finally caught on with the general public. Whatever the case, it appears that the attitude of the majority of American toward transgender individuals is changing for the better.
The results of the poll have been reported widely in both LGBTQ and mainstream media sources. The historically queer magazine The Advocate wrote in its analysis of the study that the majority of Americans support transgender rights legislation at the federal level, an important change from previous attitudes. A handful of gender-studies Ph.D. commentators have suggested that support has cropped up even in traditionally conservative communities as awareness of trans issues has been raised in the media. For example, Chaz Bono appeared on the popular show Dancing with the Stars during the 2011 season, offering millions of television viewers the opportunity to see that trans people are not so different after all. Increased awareness of the presence and struggles of the trans community has no doubt led to wider support for these individuals in America on the whole.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Nepal launches Asia's first gay sports tournament

The two-week event at the national football stadium and other venues around Kathmandu will feature Nepali participants in track and field, volleyball, football, martial arts and tennis, said The Blue Diamond Society, Nepal's leading gay rights group.
"Renowned and respected Nepali athletes will support as coaches and referees for the programme," said organiser Sunil Pant, the country's only openly gay MP said in a statement.
Asia already stages the "Asia-Pacific Outgames", another multi-sport gay event, but this has only been hosted by New Zealand and Australia. Nepal's version which is due to take place in late September will be the first in Asia.
"The aims for organising the Blue Diamond National Sport Competition 2012 are to mainstream LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people) into the larger society, promote healthy lifestyles, encourage physical fitness, and promote health mentally and spiritually," said Pant.
Nepal is a conservative, Hindu country which nonetheless has some of the most progressive policies on homosexuality in Asia. A landmark 2007 court ruling ordered the government to enact laws guaranteeing the rights of gays.
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Friday, 16 March 2012

Principal who invited anti-gay Christian band to school assembly resigns – LGBTQ Nation.

The high school principal who allowed the Christian rock band Junkyard Prophet to espouse anti-gay, anti-abortion views at a student assembly last week, is resigning, according to school district officials.
Mike Cooper, principal of Dunkerton High School, resigned Monday in the wake of growing controversy surrounding the appearance of Junkyard Prophet, but will remain in position through the end of the school year.
Dunkerton High School

Superintendent Jim Stanton told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that Cooper’s decision is unrelated to the band’s appearance at the school assembly.
“He simply wants to be a superintendent,” Stanton said, acknowledging that the timing of the announcement suggested there might be a connection.
It was Cooper who recommended the district invite Junkyard Prophet to perform at the assembly, and said the plan had been “in the works” for nearly a month.
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Swiss edge closer to gay adoption

Switzerland's upper house of parliament, the Council of States, decided on Wednesday by 21 votes to 19 to give same-sex couples the right to adopt children.
The Council determined that anyone should be able to adopt a child, regardless of their choice of lifestyle, so long as such adoption would be in the best interests of the child, Swiss news agency SDA reported.
In addition, although the type of marriage would not be a determining factor, applicants seeking to adopt must be in some form of registered partnership.
Those in favour of the change in regulations have pointed to the changing face of family dynamics, and the reality that many children do not grow up in what would be considered “traditional” family constellations.
Urs Schwaller of the Christian Democratic Party said that, while he did not doubt that gay and lesbian people could take of children as well as heterosexuals, there was in his view no need to give them rights to adopt, gay information website reported.
Conservative politicians are concerned that the rights of registered partnerships are becoming increasingly aligned to those of traditional marriages, gradually eroding the status of marriage. Schwaller maintained that this is not what the Swiss people want, the website reported.
The lower house, the National Council, must now consider the motion before it can pass into law.
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Agnes Hernandez, Mexican Transgender Activist, Brutally Murdered

Nearly 2000 individuals congregated outside a civic plaza in Puebla, Mexico on Tuesday, demanding justice for slain Mexican transgender activist Agnés Torres Hernández, whose body was found on Friday by neighbors who reported the crime to local police.
Mexican Attorney General is considering the investigation of Torres' murder as a hate crime, according to the newspaper El Universal (in Spanish).

She was last seen on Friday night when she left her home to attend a party in Chipilo, a small town in the state of Puebla. She was found clothed only in underwear, a blouse with suspenders and a brown jacket on Saturday in a ditch outside the city of Puebla. Her throat had been slashed and their were several burn marks across her body.
Torres, a 28 year-old psychologist and educator, is remembered as an activist and ardent defender of human rights in Mexico's LBGT community. She was an important figure in the strive for acceptance for the transgender community in her native country.
via  Huffington Post
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Queensland unions ditch MP Bob Katter after anti-gay advertisement

MAVERICK federal MP Bob Katter has lost the support of unions representing hundreds of thousands of workers after broadcasting a political ad branded "homophobic" and "grubby".
With just a week to go until the Queensland state election, the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) this morning withdrew its support for Katter's Australian Party over its stance against same-sex civil unions.
Last Sunday night the political party, founded by Mr Katter, launched an advertisement that targeted Queensland Liberal National Party leader Campbell Newman over his support for gay marriage
The ad was slammed by gay rights activists and all sides of politics – but none were more vocal than Mr Katter's gay half-brother Carl, who condemned the ad as "homophobic", "unchristian", "pathetic" and "grubby".
Carl said Katter’s Australian Party was a “rabble of bigots", and said he was worried about the “hate that is incited by such ads".
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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Latin American gays reach high govt offices

Tatiana Pineros is a man by birth and a woman by choice.
Pineros, 34, is also a high-powered public servant who manages a $360 million budget and nearly 2,000 employees in Colombia's biggest and most powerful municipal government.
Her appointment by Bogota's new mayor to head the capital's social welfare agency was remarkable for how unremarkably it was received by Colombia's predominantly Roman Catholic public.
Across Latin America, public acceptance is gradually growing for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, officials. It's a phenomenon that has accompanied activists' broader struggle to win rights to marry, adopt children or share financial benefits with same-sex partners, and to transform the way socially conservative nations view and treat gays.
"It's all about the mobilization of groups demanding their rights," said Colombia's best-known gay activist, Marcela Sanchez. "It didn't just spring up spontaneously." 
Ecuador's new health minister, Carina Vance, can attest to the change. She has a master's degree in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. She is also openly lesbian."
- full report at 

Another Evangelical Republican for Marriage Equality

In yet another demonsration of how even conservative Republicans and Evangelical Christians are coming to support marriage equality as a conservative value and a Christian cause, Kathy Potts, the former chair of Rick Perry's presidential campaign in Iowa, has declared in favour.

2011 was a big year for Republicans. We saw leaders emerge and saw candidates drop out. We saw job creation and education being seriously debated, and I felt that the concerns of the American people were heard — for the most part.What I didn’t hear much of this year was support for marriage equality from the Republican front-runners. I support marriage for gay and lesbian couples and have been vocal about my support, even when it hasn’t always been the popular thing to do in my party.I heard a lot of rhetoric about gay and lesbian Americans that didn’t fit with what I know to be true and what many Republicans believe. As an evangelical Christian Republican, I know many people who hold conservative values like equality and freedom, but those voices were lost this year. However, I believe in my heart that things are changing. If it weren’t for the loud voices of a few in our party, I do believe more Republicans would stand up in support of marriage equality.
- full report at TheGazette

'via Blog this'
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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Poll: Australia leads Britain and US in support for equal marriage (

Australia is leading Britain and the US in its support for the implementation of equal gay marriage rights, a poll released today suggests.

An equal right for gay couples to marry had 49 percent support in Australia, 43 percent support in Britain and 42 percent support in the US, the Angus Reid Public Opinion survey found.

The survey also found that in Canada, where gay couples have been allowed to marry since 2005, a higher proportion of the public, 59 percent, were in favour of keeping that right in place.

The poll also found that 59 percent of Canadians, 53 percent of Australians and 49 percent of Britons believe people are born gay. 40 percent of Americans agreed.
Women across the four countries were more likely to back equal rights than men.
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Poll: National Support for Marriage Equality Soars

In the US, the  balance of support on gay marriage continues to shift, and rapidly. Not only is total support increasing, so is the intensity of that support. In a new NBC / Washington Post poll, those "strongly" in favour increased from just 18% in 2004, to 32% in 2012. Conversely, the proportion "strongly" opposed collapsed from 51% to 31% over the same period.

Commentary at Seattlepi illustrates how this is an almost exact flip from the time when Republicans used gay marriage as a wedge issue to weaken the Democrats. This time around, the wedge issue will be setting Republicans against each other. (In all the recent wins for equality over the past year, victories have come with the help of GOP senators and politicians. In Colorado, where the state House is facing a bill to introduce civil unions, the Republicans are said to be evenly divided in a 3 - way split: for, against, don't care).

Support for same-sex marriage is up sharply in a dramatic public opinion shift from as recently as three years ago, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Monday morning.
The national poll showed 49 percent of Americans favoring marriage equality with 40 percent opposed. Support among younger voters approaches 60 percent. Only two groups among those surveyed — voters over 65 and Tea Party supporters — werein opposition.
The figures are an almost precise flip on the issue from an NBC/Journal poll in October of 2009. At that time, 41 percent favored same-sex marriage while 49 percent were opposed.
In 2004, Republicans used more than 20 statewide ballot measures, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, to get evangelical voters to turn out at the polls for President Bush’s reelection.
Same-sex marriage was opposed by a 30-62 percent margin in an NBC/Journal survey taken at the time.
“Progress is happening: The Republican Party, in what its presidential candidates are saying, is out of step with the mainstream,” said State Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, sponsor of Washington’s marriage equality legislation.
These results are also bad news for NOM and the other opponents of gay marriage. After the victory in New York last year, they pledged to raise money to campaign against any Republicans who voted in favour, a pledge they have repeated wherever gay marriage has advanced. In doing so, they may help their targeted officials, more then they hurt them. More voters say that they are more likely to vote for a supporter of marriage, than for an opponent.

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Monday, 5 March 2012

Matt Lucas, Comedian

b.  5 March 1974

An English comedian, screenwriter and actor best known for his acclaimed work with David Walliams in the television show Little Britain; as well as for his portrayals of the scorekeeping baby George Dawes in the comedy panel game Shooting Stars, Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Alice in Wonderland, directed by Tim Burton, and the thief Thénardier in the musical Les Misérables.

On Christmas day 2010 the BBC began showing Matt Lucas and David Walliams' new series, Come Fly with Me. The show followed the familiar style of Walliams and Lucas each playing multiple characters, but unlike Little Britain, it focussed entirely on the working environment of the airline industry.

In December 2006, Lucas entered into a civil partnership with Kevin McGee,[15] in a lavish ceremony in Central London. In attendance were various celebrities, including Barbara Windsor, Neil Tennant, Elton John and Courtney Love.[16] After six years together, the couple divorced through the High Court in 2008, becoming the first high-profile same-sex couple divorce in Britain. On 5 October 2009, Kevin McGee committed suicide, 10 months after the divorce

In May 2007, he was placed eighth in the list of the UK's 100 most influential gays and lesbians, in fields as diverse as entertainment, business, politics, and science, by British newspapers The Independent and The Daily Mail.

In 2011, he was placed at 29 on the DS list of the "50 Most Influential Gays":
For such a funny man, Matt’s life has been marred by sadness. He was completely bald by the age of six, his father died when he was a teenager and his ex-husband Kevin McGee committed suicide two years ago. Yet both Matt and his comedy creations have proved an inspiration for young gay outsiders worldwide. Shooting Stars, Little Britain, Alice in Wonderland and Come Fly With Me have all kept us laughing for more than a decade. He’s an equal opportunities comedian – he’s mocked gays, straights, transvestites and the disabled – and all without causing offence. Matt’s also a huge philanthropist, supporting charities including those involved with leukemia, cystic fibrosis, AIDS and the homelessness.

Alan Turing

When I was doing some exam invigilation recently at the University of Surrey, I was struck by a larger than life-sized statue of a man, laden with books, striding across the large piazza between the main car park and he university buildings. The name identifying him gave me a start: I knew it well.

I first came across the name Alan Turing during my cursory explorations of theoretical computer science, a discipline that some would say, depending on your perspective of the subject, he largely invented. during the war, he was something of a British hero, for his work on codes and code breaking. He invented the methods to crack the codes behind the German enigma machine, thus opening the door for British intelligence to German military secrets. For this work he has sometimes been described as one of the “secret heroes” of WWII.
But I had also seen his name in the press much more recently, when Gordon Brown apologised, on behalf of the British people, for their treatment of him. Alan Turing was gay. For that, the British could not forgive him and punished him cruelly, in spite of his immeasurable contribution to the war effort, and his major part in the development of the computer age which has transformed our lives.
This account is taken from "Alan Turing, Secret Hero"in "Out of the Past” by Neil Miller:
Turing was a homosexual at a time when it was very dangerous to be Christmas 1951, he met Arnold Murray, a nineteen year-old working-lass youth, and began a brief affair. A month later, a friend of Murray’s burgled Turing’s apartment, with Murray’s knowledge. During the course of the investigation, whether out of naivete, fear or arrogance, Turing admitted that he and Murray had had sex together. In February 1952, Turing was arrested on charges of “gross indecency”, punishable by two years in prison. He and Murray were among 2,109 men against whom charges were brought that year for homosexual offences.
The two men went on trial in April 1952….Turing was placed on probation, on condition that he consented to undergo an experimental medical treatment known as “organo-therapy”. He was to injected with female hormones for a year, in an effort to reduce his libido. After the treatment, he confided to a friend, he expected to return to normal. An additional problem, however, was that the treatment would cause him to grow breasts.
There were further difficulties later. He found unexpected professional difficulties blocking his career and was banned from cryptoanalytic work , because in the paranoid national atmosphere of the 1950’s, it was believed that his sexuality made his national loyalty suspect. A Norwegian friend, a subject of a friendly nation, was not permitted to visit him.
On June 7, 1954 Alan Turing killed himself.
In September 2009, fifty five years later, Gordon Brown apologised (in response to a petition) for the "appalling" way in which Britain had treated a war-hero. I have not seen any similar apology to any others, not necessarily war heroes, who received similar "treatment" for their "crimes" of homosexual love.

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Saturday, 3 March 2012

Same-sex adoptions nod for Tasmania

"TASMANIA will allow same-sex couples to adopt local and overseas children under proposed changes to the state's adoption laws.
At present, only married couples have full rights under adoption laws in Tasmania.
The proposed amendment has angered the conservative Christian Lobby as the group deems a mother-father relationship the best for raising children. Gay and lesbian rights advocates, however, argue a loving and secure family is best for children regardless of the gender of parents.
The move will allow same-sex couples and de facto couples who are registered under the Relationships Act to adopt an unknown child, whether locally or from overseas.
-full report at The Mercury 

At present, the law only allows same-sex couples to adopt children who are "known" to them such as stepchildren or relatives.

The amendment will allow same-sex couples to adopt "unknown" children who have been relinquished by their birth parents and are available for adoption to suitable parents."

'via Blog this'

Friday, 2 March 2012

California Gay Marriage Leader Tapped to Head Human Rights Campaign

SAN FRANCISCO — A political strategist from California who has played a leading role in trying to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage ban was named Friday as the new president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest and most influential gay rights group.

The Washington-based campaign’s directors voted to hire Chad Griffin, 38, to replace outgoing president Joe Solmonese, who announced last year that he would step down after seven socially transformative and sometimes internally stormy years at the organization’s helm."
“We’re ecstatic to have someone of Chad’s caliber as our next president,” Tim Downing, chairman of the campaign’s lobbying arm, and Sandra Hartness, who chairs its nonprofit education foundation, said in a statement. “His superior credentials and achievements, both as a visionary and strategist, make him uniquely qualified to lead this organization forward.”

'via Blog this'

Archie gay marriage comic sells out

Despite attempts by a conservative American mothers' group to have it pulled from sale, the new Archie comic, which features a gay marriage, has just sold out.
Tracing the adventures of the teenagers Archie, Betty and Veronica in the small town of Riverdale, the Archie storyline has been running for 70 years and is one of America's most popular comic series. Its publisher described the marriage of Kevin Keller, the series' first gay character, in the latest issue as "a historic moment", announcing yesterday that the Life with Archie #16 had sold out.
The strong sales follow a call from the American Family Association's website One Million Moms for Toys R Us to stop selling the new Archie issue. The conservative Christian group is concerned that "children are now being exposed to same-sex marriage in a toy store". "Please remove all the same-sex 'Just Married – Archie' comic books immediately from your shelves. My decision to shop in your stores depends on it," they have written to the retailer."

'via Blog this'

New NYC center caters to gay and lesbian seniors

 (AP) NEW YORK - New York City celebrated the opening Thursday of what city officials say is the nation's first full-service senior center designed specifically for the gay community.

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the SAGE Innovative Senior Center in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood.
"This is long overdue," said Lillian Barrios-Paoli, commissioner of the city Department for the Aging. "We are beyond thrilled."
The center is operated by the Department for the Aging and SAGE, a 34-year-old social service agency. SAGE stands for Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders.
Robert Philipson, a 77-year-old retired jewelry salesman, said he started going to bereavement counseling at SAGE after he lost his partner of 50 years.
"When you find yourself alone at 77 and you've built your life around another person, you are at somewhat of a loss as to where to go next," he said. "SAGE filled that gap."

-full report at  CBS News

'via Blog this'

Matthew Mitcham, Olympic Diver

 b. March 2, 1988
"Being ‘out' for me means being just as I am with nothing to be ashamed about and no reasons to hide."

Australian diver Matthew Mitcham is one of the few openly gay Olympic athletes. At the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Mitcham won a gold medal after executing the highest-scoring dive in Olympic history.

Mitcham grew up in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He competed as a trampoline gymnast before being discovered by a diving coach. By the time he was 14, he was a national junior champion in diving. A few years later, he won medals in the World Junior Diving Championships.

In 2006, after battling anxiety and depression, Mitcham decided to retire from diving. The following year, he returned to diving and began training for the Olympics.

In Beijing, Mitcham won an Olympic gold medal in the 10-meter platform dive. It was the first time in over 80 years that an Australian male diver struck Olympic gold. After his triumph, he leaped into the stands to hug and kiss his partner, Lachlan Fletcher.

Mitcham was the first out Australian to compete in the Olympics. There were only 11 openly gay athletes out of a total of over 11,000 competitors in Beijing.

Mitcham was chosen 2008 Sports Performer of the Year by the Australian public. The same year, Australia GQ named him Sportsman of the Year. After accepting the GQ award, Mitcham joked, "Oh, my God, I’m a homo and I just won the sports award!"

Mitcham competed in the 2010 Gay Games in Cologne. He is studying at Sydney University and training for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

"I look at the last 20 years as a long, winding path of lessons and some hardship," Mitcham said in 2008. “I hope I do have more lessons to learn. I look forward to that."


  • Bradshaw, Don. "Aussie Olympic Gold Medalist Matthew Mitcham to Attend 2010 Gay Games in Cologne." Philadelphia Examiner. 1 June 2010.
  • Buzinski, Jim. "Olympic Diver is Openly Gay.” 1 June 2010.
  • Fonseca, Nicolas. "Matt’s Next Act.” The Advocate. 1 June 2010.
  • Halloran, Jessica. "Out, Proud and Ready to Go for Gold.” Sydney Morning Herald. 1 June 2010.
  • Jensen, Michael. "Catching up with Matthew Mitcham.” 1 June 2010.
  • "Matthew Mitcham.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 1 June 2010.
  • Williams, Rebecca. "Sensational Dive Earns Matthew Mitcham Gold Medal in Beijing.” FoxSports. 1 June 2010.

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