Wednesday, October 31, 2007

President's Wife Elected President In Argentina

First Lady and Senator Cristina Fernández de Kirchner the 54-year-old wife of Nestor Kirchner, the current president of Argentina, became the first woman elected president of the country on Sunday by winning 45% of the vote, at least 20 percentage points of her nearest rival (who also was female) in a multi-candidate field.

Often called the "Hillary Clinton of South America," Fernández mentioned the Democratic frontrunner for the U.S. Presidential nomination in her first press conference while acknowledging the similarities between the two: Both are senators and lawyers who accompanied husbands from obscure state governorships as they rose to the presidency.

Fernández will be inaugurated December 10.

According to The Bilerico Project, one of the President-elect's strongest supporters in the Argentine legislature is also the sponsor of a bill to allow same-sex marriage in Argentina and argues that Fernandez' election augurs well for the LGBT community in Argentina. According to election results the First Lady did NOT do as well in the urban areas of the country, especially Buenos Aires where one would expect members of the LGBT community are over-represented.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nip/Tuck Season 5 Starts Tonight; Writers Strike Looms

Thank god! Heroes has been disappointing, Bionic Woman is laughably bad, Grey's Anatomy

has been underwhelming, but relatively enjoyable. Honestly, the most enjoyable show I have been watching are Damages (whose season is now complete) and ER which is consistently involving after all these days. Now that Survivor: China is going into the merge I may check that out for as many shirtless shots of African American muscle boy James as I can get, but besides that the TV season has been bleak.

That may be why the screenwriters guild has authorized a strike, which may happen very soon after the stroke of midnight on Halloween, Wednesday October 31. This will be the first Hollywood work stoppage since 1988 whivch lasted for 5 months and severelydamaged several televisions shows and resulted in a lot of "schlocky" movies being in theaters.

Stay tuned, because if the writers do strike, our bad television season will only get much much worse. Games shows and reality shows, all the time.

Georgia Teen Imprisoned For Consensual Sex Act Freed

Genarlow Wilson, a now 21-year old African American man who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for aggravated child molestation for having oral sex at age 17 with a 15-year old girl at a 2003 New Year's Eve party has been freed by the Georgia Supreme Court which ruled in a 4-3 decision released Friday October 26th his sentence violated the U.S. Constitution's 8th Amendment prohibition of Cruel and Unusual Punishments.

Wilson, who was a star athlete (homecoming king) and college-bound senior with a GPA of 3.2 at the time of the videotaped incident had served nearly 3 years (32 months!) of his 10-year sentence and recently refused plea deals by the district attorney because they would have forced him to register as sex offender and prevented him from living at home with his 9-year old sister.

According to Georgia Law at the time of the 2005 jury trial and conviction, a 15-year old was below the age of consent of 16 and thus could not legally have consented to sexual relations with anyone. In response to the hue and cry over the Genarlow Wilson case, the Georgia Legislature in 2006 had included a "Romeo and Juliet" provision in the law which would prevent teenagers from being charged for having consensual sex with each other and changed the statute he was convicted under to a misdemeanor. However that new law could not be applied retroactively to Wilson so he would have to wait for either the courts or the District Attorney or Attorney General to act. Both legal officials acted to prolong Wilson's time in jail. The Attorney General of Georgia is Thurbert Baker, the highest African American elected official in the State.

Wilson said he felt no "negative energy" towards Douglas County District Attorney David McDade but instead is looking forward to going to college in majoring in sociology because he feels like he has been "living his major."

LA TIMES Editorializes In Favor Of Exclusionary Legislation

The Los Angeles Times has a peculiar editorial in Monday's edition which argues that the federal hate crimes act (H.R. 1592) which passed both houses of Congress is too inclusive. Not because it includes protected categories of sexual orientation and gender identity, but because it includes gender and disability!
The U.S. Senate has joined the House in voting to expand the federal definition of hate crimes to include acts of violence inspired by a victim's sexual orientation. Yet by declining to curb some of the House bill's excesses, the Senate may have assured its failure.

The Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, named after the gay University of Wyoming student who was beaten to death in 1998, is a well-meaning but over-broad bill that is probably headed for a presidential veto -- if it gets that far. The Senate unwisely attached it to a defense funding authorization from which it could easily be stripped in a conference committee.

The Justice Department already includes anti-gay attacks in its hate-crime statistics. But when it comes to federal assistance for state and local prosecutions, the definition of a hate crime is narrower, encompassing crimes motivated by a victim's race, color, religion or national origin, but not by a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity. The legislation approved by both houses would rectify that unconscionable omission. The problem is that it goes further, extending the definition to crimes based on gender or disability. That could give President Bush a pretext for vetoing legislation opposed by his conservative base.

Obviously, acts of violence or intimidation should be prosecuted aggressively regardless of the motive, and no doubt some are motivated by hatred of men or women or even (though this is hard to imagine) of disabled people. But such crimes are rare. According to the FBI, less than 1% of hate crimes in 2005 reflected a bias against the disabled. The FBI doesn't keep count of gender-bias crimes, but California does. In 2006, "hate crime events" involving gender and disability combined accounted for only 0.8% of incidents, compared to 18.8% of incidents motivated by the victim's sexual orientation.

Evidence abounds that, like racial minorities, gay Americans are subjected to violence because of who they are. In 2005, according to the FBI, 14.2% of "single-bias" incidents involved sexual-orientation bias. That's less than the 54.7% attributed to racial bias but more than the 13.2% motivated by "ethnicity/national origin bias."

It's understandable why the authors of the legislation erected such a "big tent" -- the longer the list of protected groups, they may have thought, the less controversy. But in legislating so broadly, they have undermined their best argument for adding sexual orientation to the definition of a hate crime: the demonstrated existence of a problem requiring federal intervention in what is ordinarily the business of municipal law enforcement. By targeting the Matthew Shepard law to the all-too-common animus that cost him his life, Congress would make it harder for Bush to argue that it was providing solutions for which there is no problem.

This is a simply bizarre position articulated by the Times editorial board. The President has already announced that he would veto the bill, if it were to make it to his desk. The official announced points in contention for the White House were not the "disability" or "gender" provisions but the fact that there were too few provisions in the bill:

State and local criminal laws already provide criminal penalties for the violence addressed by the new Federal crime defined in section 7 of H.R. 1592, and many of these laws carry stricter penalties (including mandatory minimums and the death penalty) than the proposed language in H.R. 1592. State and local law enforcement agencies and courts have the capability to enforce those penalties and are doing so effectively. There has been no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement, and doing so is inconsistent with the proper allocation of criminal enforcement responsibilities between the different levels of government. In addition, almost every State in the country can actively prosecute hate crimes under the State’s own hate crimes law.

H.R. 1592 prohibits willfully causing or attempting to cause bodily injury to any person based upon the victim’s race, color, religion, or national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. The Administration notes that the bill would leave other classes (such as the elderly, members of the military, police officers, and victims of prior crimes) without similar special status. The Administration believes that all violent crimes are unacceptable, regardless of the victims, and should be punished firmly.

Moreover, the bill’s proposed section 249(a)(1) of title 18 of the U.S. Code raises constitutional concerns. Federalization of criminal law concerning the violence prohibited by the bill would be constitutional only if done in the implementation of a power granted to the Federal government, such as the power to protect Federal personnel, to regulate interstate commerce, or to enforce equal protection of the laws. Section 249(a)(1) is not by its terms limited to the exercise of such a power, and it is not at all clear that sufficient factual or legal grounds exist to uphold this provision of H.R. 1592.

The L.A. Times editorial is endorsing the position that if a minority is small enough, then its concerns are not significant enough to warrant legislation to defend or protect. So somehow there's some threshold at which a minority's concerns become important enough for the majority to care about. What is that number? 10%? 5%? 1%? Shouldn't we try and prevent wrong acts from occurring even if it only affects one person?

The editorial also shows a complete lack of understanding why one would create legislation that would cover a long list of groups. It's not "to reduce controversy." It's because discrimination against one group is related to discrimination against other disenfranchised groups, and by including all the disenfranchised groups together the legislation has a larger constituency of support.

Mad Professah would note that according to the logic of the Times editorial, they would support SPLENDA (H.R. 2015), the version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would only cover sexual orientation employment discrimination, and NOT include transgender employment discrimination, since transgenders individuals are a much smaller group than LGBT individuals (although proportionately, transgender people suffer employment discrimination more prevalently).

The latest news on ENDA (and SPLENDA) is that the bill is not on the agenda of scheduled floor votes on the House of Representatives this week, according to Pam at The Blend, quoting Mike Rogers PageOneQ.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

REVIEW: Damages

FX's Damages starring Glenn Close and Rose Byrne (Sunshine, 28 Weeks Later) has been a guilty pleasure during the slow television times this summer when favorites such as Lost, 24, Heroes and Gray's Anatomy were off the air. Thank goodness, Nip/Tuck will be returning next week on Tuesday, and apparently will now be set in Los Angeles for Season 6.

The first season of Damages had its finale on Tuesday October 23rd and was a satisfying conclusion to an extremely well-written and acted television show. Although the legal drama can be a cliched stalwart of the television landscape, Damages manages to avoid the pitfalls of other entries in the genre by 1) generally avoiding the sexual escapades of the main characters 2) eschewing courtroom scenes with adversarial over-written exchanges between well-coiffed, too-pretty attorneys and 3) eliminating single episode stories.

Instead, Damages had a story arc which lasted the entire 13-episode season. It involved a complex corporate malfeasance case worth hundreds of millions of dollars against Arthur Frobisher, played with gusto by Ted Danson. The inimitable Glenn Close, who is probably my favorite actor of all time, plays Patty Hewes, a fearsome defense attorney who is representing Frobisher's employees in a civil action to obtain restitution for his looting of the company's assets and the collapse of their retirement accounts. The main protagonist in the story is not Patty Hewes but Ellen Parsons (played by Rose Byrne) who plays a brand new attorney who gets her dream job working for her legal hero while she and her handsome medical school fiance juggle demanding careers, ambition, complicated family members and their relationship.

Unfortunately, FX has already renewed two really atrocious series in Dirt and The Riches and these decisions may be delaying a decision to renew Damages for a second season although the latter is much more critically acclaimed (although as ratings-challenged) as the othertwo shows. The producers had originally announced they had a commitment from Glenn Close for 5 seasons with the show, so I hope FX executives and give us the opportunity of many more years of Damages.


Venus and Serena Both Qualify for Year End Championships

Savannah over at Savannah's World has the details of the final 8 qualifiers for the lucrative and prestigious Year End Championships in Madrid which start November 6.

Updated Race List: 10/28/2007

--WILLIAMS, VENUS USA 2470.00 (Withdrawn!)
11 VAIDISOVA, NICOLE CZE 1886.00 (Quebec R1 +1) 140=2026

Both Venus and Serena Williams made the "Elite Eight" who qualified for the Year End Championship despite their erratic playing schedule in 2007. After all, they each did win a Grand Slam tournament this year (although Justine Henin won the other two).

With Daniela Hantuchova winning her first WTA tour title apart from Indian Wells (2002 and 2007) at Linz today, she was able to tie Maria Sharapova for the 8th spot, so only one of them would have made it, and according to the rules, Hantuchova would have been chosen for the spot because she played more tournaments (26) than Sharapova (12).

However, Venus released a statement withdrawing from the Madrid tournament:
"This year has been a great one for many reasons," said the Wimbledon
winner. "I am pleased that I finished the year in the top eight and in recent
weeks I have remained optimistic about participating in the season-ending Sony
Ericsson Championships. Nevertheless, the accumulation of matches has taken its
toll and I have received several medical opinions to delay my return to
competitive tennis. As a result, I will miss the Sony Ericsson Championships. I
look forward to playing in the New Year for what will hopefully be an even
better 2008."

Though it's not clear that Sharapova will use her spot, since she has withdrawn from the last two tournaments she has entered, which would put Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli back in the mix. She looked injured during her loss to Patty Schnyder in the Linz semifinals yesterday so perhaps Nicole Vaidisova can sneak in to the Elite Eight. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 26, 2007

REVIEW: Sandworms of Dune

The long awaited final book in Frank Herbert's much celebrated Dune series, Sandworms of Dune, written by the author's son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson has been released and soared to the best seller lists. Since the first 6 books of the series have been some of my favorite books, Mad Professah has looked forward to the completion of the "Dune 7 project" since Frank Herbert died in 1986 soon after the publication of the masterpiece Chapterhouse: Dune. The 7th Dune 7 book project ended up being split into two books, Hunters of Dune which was published last August and Sandworms of Dune which came out this August.

Sandworms is one of much awaited novels published this summer in the science fiction/fantasy genre. Of course, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (see review) was the mostly highly anticipated and best-selling book of the year. The Children of Húrin based on notes left by J.R.R. Tolkien (The Lord of the Rings), but written by his son Christopher Tolkien and illustrated by Alan Lee is another book which seeks to leverage the popularity and success of their father's landmark works with publication of updated works.

I must say that is incredibly sad to report that a complex, intricately written series of books like the six Dune novels written by Frank Herbert (Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, God Emperor of Dune, Heretics of Dune and Chapterhouse: Dune) have come to such a pedestrian denouement in Sandworms of Dune. I had read the first half of the final "Dune 7" book, titled Hunters of Dune earlier in the year but somehow I had convinced myself that somehow when it came to end the series Anderson and Herbert would rise above their previously barely competent approach to the material so evident in the Prelude to Dune and Legends of Dune series. Surely, they wouldn't end the series shoveling the schlock they had previously delivered?

Sadly, Sandworms of Dune gives the reader more of the same. Incredibly shallow characterizations. A thumbnail sketch of a plot. Appearances by beloved, familar characters acting unrecognizably. Simplistic, sodden prose.

I can understand why the estate of Frank Herbert has authorized these explorations into the Dune universe, but my recommendation for anyone who has not yet read Dune is to reject these counterfeit imitations of the master's works and to only read the Dune books written by Frank Herbert.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Do You Support A Presidential Candidate Without a National AIDS Plan?

Phill Wilson of Black AIDS Institute called my attention to a poll that AOL is running which asks respondentst to vote on whether they would support a Presidential candidate who does not have a National AIDS Strategy. Mad Professah had blogged previously about the proposed National AIDS Strategy that numerous groups have agreed to promote jointly last month.

To date, only Barack Obama and John Edwards have publicly released comprehensive national strategies to combat HIV/AIDS in the United States. Black AIDS Institute has analyzed Edwards' plan not not Obama's plan (which oddly enough doesn't seem to be easily found on his website). The Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton has not released a plan yet and as the days continue this is startingto look increasingly curious, especially for a candidate so closely linked with health care issues.

Don't you think that every Presidential candidate should have a National AIDS Strategy? Take the poll now!

Arnold Getting Hit From Both Sides Over Condoms Veto

The New York Times ran an editorial on Friday October 19 entitled "Reality and Denial in California Prisons" which criticizes the veto by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of Assemblymember Sandre Swanson's AB 1334, which would have allowed the distribution of sexual barrier devices in state prisons.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political courage clearly failed him when he vetoed a bill that would have permitted the distribution of condoms in California’s AIDS-ravaged prisons. At the same time, the governor ordered up a pilot distribution program for one as-yet unnamed prison. A small, exploratory program falls far short of the mass distribution effort that the system clearly needs.

Public health officials around the world have long realized that condom distribution is central to any meaningful AIDS-prevention effort. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made that point last year when it urged states to consider starting condom programs in prisons. Programs are already up and running in Canada and much of the European Union, as well as in jails in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington and New York.

Mr. Schwarzenegger said he vetoed the bill because it conflicts with state law that makes sexual contact among inmates illegal. That’s self-defeating and a denial of the reality of life behind bars, and the governor seems to know it. His veto statement acknowledged that condom distribution represents a reasonable “public policy, and it is consistent with the need to improve our prison health care system and overall public health.”

The governor should have gone with what he knows and signed this bill. His pilot program needs to get under way quickly and should be expanded as soon as possible. That’s the only way to improve California’s prison health care system and overall public health.

In addition, the imperious AIDS Healthcare Foundation has also condemned the Governor's action in a press release.

The Sacramento Bee ran an article on the burgeoning controversy over the Governor's veto message in which he endorsed the concept of condom distribution in prison as an HIV prevention measure and suggested a pilot program to determine efficacy and effectiveness. Of course, as the New York Times noted in its editorial, condoms have been distributed in prisons and jails all over the world for years.

Swanson said the pilot-only project works for him.

"I think this is an extremely positive move forward," the assemblyman said. "The project is going to demonstrate that we can reduce the spread of these sexually transmitted diseases and that our prisons will no longer be considered a place where these diseases can incubate."

While prison sex may be against the law, it's pretty much a part of the fabric of incarcerated life, according to one former inmate who now runs an acclaimed residential program for parolees.


Otherwise, the banned acts between consenting prisoners can add a year to an inmate's time if they get caught. Schwarzenegger's consequent approval of them, even on a pilot basis, has served to befuddle the California Family Council, a nonprofit group formed "to protect and foster Judeo-Christian principles in California's laws, for the benefit of its families," according to its Web site.

"He's talking out of both sides of his mouth," said Lynne Fishel, a spokeswoman for the group, which registered its opposition to the Swanson bill in the Legislature. "He acknowledges that it's illegal, but he wants to put a pilot project in one prison? I don't understand the logic. I can't connect the dots."

The California Correctional Supervisors Organization opposed the legislation, citing concerns of inmates using condoms to hide drugs in their rectal cavities. Spokesman Ford Canutt said inmates also use balloons, condoms and plain old cellophane to conceal stabbing devices.

"Anything that circumvents security, we have a problem with," Canutt said.

Canutt said the CCSO might be OK with a pilot project, however, at a minimum-security prison, or at an inmate fire camp.

Besides the 33 state prisons, California's Penal Code also bans sex "in any local detention facility." But that hasn't stopped San Francisco from making prophylactics available to its inmates for the past 20 years. They even put a condom machine in the recreation room a few months ago, without ever having a problem, according to Sheriff Mike Hennessey.

"We've never had an inmate caught using a condom to hide contraband, we've never had an inmate use a condom as a weapon, to strangle someone or suffocate someone, and we've never had an incident of sexual assault where a condom was used," Hennessey said. "The fears about bad things happening if you allow condoms in prison, they just haven't happened."

Another question to ask would be why is it constitutional to ban consensual sex between adults in any setting in the United States?

Mad Professah salutes Sheriff Hennessey for speaking truth to power and discounting the ridiculous argument by the CCSO that condoms will be used as weapons or to smuggle weapons or contraband. The prisoners seem to already have lots of weapons and condoms already, don't they? Where do you think prisoners get that stuff? Not from other prisoners, but from people who have access to the outside of the prison, i.e. prison employees.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

U.S. House Postpones ENDA Vote After Bush Issues Veto Threat

The Executive Office of the President issued an official Statement of Administrative Policy on H.R. 3685, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (a.k.a. SPLENDA) Tuesday October 23rd to the House Rules committee in which the Bush Administration threatened to veto this federal gay civil rights bill (pdf):

H.R. 3685 would extend existing employment-discrimination provisions of Federal law, including those in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to establish “a comprehensive Federal prohibition of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” The bill raises concerns on constitutional and policy grounds, and if H.R. 3685 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.

H.R. 3685 is inconsistent with the right to the free exercise of religion as codified by Congress in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The Act prohibits the Federal Government from substantially burdening the free exercise of religion except for compelling reasons, and then only in the least restrictive manner possible. H.R. 3685 does not meet this standard. For instance, schools that are owned by or directed toward a particular religion are exempted by the bill; but those that emphasize religious principles broadly will find their religious liberties burdened by H.R. 3685.

A second concern is H.R. 3685’s authorization of Federal civil damage actions against State entities, which may violate States’ immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The bill turns on imprecise and subjective terms that would make interpretation, compliance, and enforcement extremely difficult. For instance, the bill establishes liability for acting on “perceived” sexual orientation, or “association” with individuals of a particular sexual orientation. If passed, H.R. 3685 is virtually certain to encourage burdensome litigation beyond the cases that the bill is intended to reach.

Provisions of this bill purport to give Federal statutory significance to same-sex marriage rights under State law. These provisions conflict with the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the legal union between one man and one woman. The Administration strongly opposes any attempt to weaken this law, which is vital to defending the sanctity of marriage.

Ummm, so what was all that fuss about dropping transgender individuals from coverage in ENDA in order to get a bill enacted into law which would help people right now?

As many people have been arguing for weeks during the whole ENDA brouhaha, there is no way that any bill which provides statutory protections from discrimination for gays and lesbians was going to become federal law as long as George W. Bush is president (January 21, 2009). So, therefore the argument that splitting ENDA by removing "gender identity" from the original bill (H.R. 2015) to produce a Split-ENDA (i.e. SPLENDA) was a hallmark of legislative pragmatism has always been a stretch. I can support the notion that Congressman Barney Frank and other Democratic House leaders wanted to make a statement by passing a gay rights bill in the House, but if one is simply making a statement why not choose the strongest statement, instead of the weakest?

Regardless, Mad Professah disagrees with organizations and activists calling for a vote against H.R. 3685. Instead, I have always supported the passage of H.R. 2015 (original ENDA) and H.R. 3685. In particular, I strongly support the Baldwin Amendment to H.R. 3685 which would restore protections against employment discrimination based on gender identity to the bill.

In light of the Presidential statement, House leaders have rescheduled Wednesday's planned vote on H.R. 3685 on the House floor.

Oprah Show Covers International LGBT Human Rights Wednesday

Blabbeando has a post up alerting readers to Wednesday's Oprah (see preview) which is covering the state of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered human rights around the world. Mad Professah has been long interested in international human rights, particularly how LGBT individuals are treated in countries around the world.

On Wednesday's show called "Gay Around The World," Oprah will apparently have guests such as Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil (who was disowned by his royal family in India when he came out as a gay man) Staceyann Chin (a Jamaican lesbian poet/performance artist who now lives in NYC) and John Amaechi (openly gay NBA player who was born in the United States to a Nigerian father and English mother but raised in the United Kingdom).
I've set my DVR for to tape the show,and I hope you will also.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Obama Refuses To Cancel Events With Homophobes

Barack Obama is enmeshed in a controversy over his campaign's decision to tour South Carolina with some African American gospel singers who are notably homophobic. Rod 2.0 has the details:

This has already been nicknamed the "gay-bash" tour because three of the acts are on the record for rebuking the "gay lifestyle." Mary Mary, the enormously popular duo, has a large gay following but has compared gays to murderers and prostitutes. Hezekiah Walker is a minister of the Pentecostal faith, traditionally inhospitable to gays, and, heads a Brooklyn mega-church well-known for its anti-gay views. Walker was also the subject of an unfounded gay rumor that has become urban legend.

The piece de resistance: Donnie McClurkin, the famously "ex-gay" gospel singer who emerged from sexual abuse and 20 plus years of "active" homosexuality to evangelize against the gays. "What makes his otherwise inspiring story so troubling is that he is now violating young people in much the same way that he was violated," Keith Boykin pens one of the most definitive profiles of the "ex-gay" evangelist: "By teaching young people that they can pray their way out of who they are, he is essentially creating a generation of newly confused adolescents." The New York Times reports the gospel tour but does not mention McClurkin's back story—an odd omission because several of their top political reporters are gay.

McClurkin has performed for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush—the "ex-gay" gospel singer is seen [above] over the shoulder of Erica and Tina Campbell of Mary Mary—and belongs to the anti-choice and anti-gay, black mega church wing of the Republican Party.

As the controversy continued to swirl with more statements from bloggers condemning his position, Obama released his own statement defending his decision to appear on stage with notorious homophobes in order to raise money and votes for his presidential bid:

"I have clearly stated my belief that gays and lesbians are our brothers and sisters and should be provided the respect, dignity, and rights of all other citizens. I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country.

I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin's views and will continue to fight for these rights as President of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division."
Joe.My.God and other white gay bloggers like Wayne Besen seem disappointed by this statement and have renewed calls for Obama to drop McClurkin from his 3-stop South Carolina "Embrace The Change" Gospel Tour. The controversy is starting to be widely reported in outlets like The New York Times (Obama Criticized Over Singer), USA Today (Obama under fire for gospel tour with anti-gay singer) and others.

Bloggernista has published the text of a letter Alexander Robinson of the National Black Justice Coalition, the only national Black LGBT advocacy organization, has sent to Senator Obama requesting a meeting to discuss the matter and express disappointment at his refusal to not appear with McClurkin.

Bloggernista is a black gay bloogger who agrees with conservative blogger Chris Crain that this McClurkin-Obama controversy appears to reflect simply bad advance work by Obama staffers since a quick Google search of the other people on the gospel tour (Mary Mary and Hezekiah Walker) would have immediately revealed the problematic anti-gay history that Rod McCollum has been reporting.

To Mad Professah just saying that it's bad advance work by staffers lets Obama off the hook. It's not just about McClurkin. Once the controversy bloomed and the tour became under a more public spotlight, the homophobic views of the other performers should have been enough for Obama to take a more drastic step: refusing to appear with McClurkin (which Obama is already agreed to do, at least at one of the stops) is not enough. He should actively seek to make public appearances with prominent pro-LGBT Black people in South Carolina as well. If he needs help in finding such people, I'm sure NBJC can help identify them!

U.S. House Vote on ENDA This Week

Bloggernista and HRC Backstory are reporting that H.R. 3685, a.k.a. ENDA or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (sometimes known as SPLENDA) will likely be brought to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday October 24th.

Mad Professah encourages everyone to contact their Congressperson and tell them to support The Baldwin Amendment to H.R. 3685.

Monday, October 22, 2007

11 Openly Gay College Presidents!

Towleroad linked to an Inside Higher Ed article about the Massachusetts marriage of the openly gay president of Hampshire College to his male partner of 27 years. John Hexter married Manfred Kollmeier. Interestingly, Towleroad ends his post with a link to a September 7 Chronicle of Higher Education article which claims that there are 11 openly gay college presidents. Here's the list:

    1. Sean T. Buffington, University of the Arts

    2. Raymond E. Crossman, Adler School of Professional Psychology

    3. Ralph J. Hexter, Hampshire College

    4. Michael J. Hoyle, McIntosh College

    5. Cynthia E. Huggins, University of Maine at Machias

    6. Theodora J. Kalikow, University of Maine at Farmington

    7. Neal King, Antioch University Los Angeles

    8. Charles R. Middleton, Roosevelt University

    9. Tullise (Toni) A. Murdock, Antioch University

    10. Richard Ortner, Boston Conservatory

    11. James Warwick, American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Los Angeles Division

It's interesting how many of these openly gay or lesbian chief executives are at a liberal arts college.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nalbandian Defeats Federer To Win Madrid AMS title

David Nalbandian of Argentina came back from a set down to defeat World #1 Roger Federer 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 to with ATP Master Series title in Madrid, denying the Swiss star his career 15th AMS shield. It was Nalbandian's 6th career title.

Craig Hickman has more photos.

Trader Joe's Now Open Until 10pm!

One of the biggest benefits of living in Los Angles just got better. Trader Joe's has extended its hours: it's now open from 9am until 10pm!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Harry Potter Author Reveals Dumbledore Is Gay!

While in New York City on an author's tour J.K. Rowling revealed in response to an audience member's question that Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter's headmaster at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was gay.
"Falling in love can blind us to an extent," Rowling explained Friday in front of a packed house at New York's Carnegie Hall, where she capped off her first U.S. book tour since 2000.

Which explains why the brilliant wizard was briefly blinded as a young man by the charm and skill of Gellert Grindelwald, his companion turned arch-nemesis who turned out to be more interested in the Dark Arts than a three-bedroom craftsman in Hogsmeade.

After Dumbledore was "horribly, terribly let down," Rowling explained, he went on to destroy Grindelwald in what is considered in the wizarding world to have been the ultimate wand-toting battle between good and evil.

That love, she said to raucous applause, was Dumbledore's "great tragedy."

"If I had know this would have made you so happy, I would have told you years ago," Rowling said.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Barney Frank Urges Colleagues To Support Baldwin Amendment

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank is urging his Congressional colleagues to support U.S. Rep Tammy Baldwin's amendment to H.R. 3685 to restore a prohibition against employment discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression.

Bloggernista has the text of the statement:


Congressman Barney Frank is urging his colleagues to vote for the
amendment to be offered by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin to include
transgender individuals in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act when it
is considered on the House floor.

“The decision to offer such an amendment came out of a Caucus which
Chairman George Miller held of the Democratic Members of the Education and
Labor Committee. After some discussion, it became clear that offering
such an amendment would offer us the best chance to achieve Speaker
Pelosi’s goal of adopting in the House the most inclusive ENDA bill for
which majority support existed.

“I argued in favor of transgender inclusion when I testified on the
original legislation on September 5, but many of us believed that sending
the full inclusive bill to the floor would open the door to a series of
demagogic procedural moves that would have endangered our chances of a
passing any bill at all. The discussion held by the Democratic Members of
the Education and Labor Committee, Congresswoman Baldwin and myself
resulted in this approach and I believe it meets the goal of giving people
the opportunity to support a fully inclusive bill while avoiding the
potential parliamentary death traps that would otherwise have resulted.
I will on the floor of the House be repeating essentially the arguments in
favor of transgender inclusion which I made in the September 5 hearing,
because we will now be able to do that in a procedural setting that allows
us to maximize support for an inclusive bill without endangering our
chances of getting any bill at all.”

(Spl)ENDA Passes U.S. House Committee 27-21

Bloggernista is reporting that the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee reported out H.R. 3685 to the House floor by a vote of 27-21. Some wags are calling this controversial bill "Split-ENDA" or SPLENDA, because it is a purported LGBT employment non-discrimination bill which was stripped of transgender protections in a much debated and controversial strategic move by openly gay U.S. Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) a few weeks ago. This lead to a coalition of 300-plus groups called United ENDA to call for opposition to H.R. 3685 in favor of the original ENDA, H.R. 2015, which included protecions for transgender individuals and prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of gender idenity or expression.

HRC Backstory has the details of the four obnoxious Republican amendments that were defeated.
Souder Amendment #1:

This Amendment would have stripped H.R. 3685’s protections against discrimination based on “perceived sexual orientation.” Adoption of this amendment would have left unprotected people who are discriminated against because their employers thought them to be gay, whether or not this was in fact the case. The protection of an individual based on his or her perceived membership in a particular category is common in state civil rights laws protecting gay, lesbian, and bisexual people, as well federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (protecting individuals “regarded as” disabled).

Souder Amendment #2:

This Amendment would have removed a provision of H.R. 3685 that prevents employers from using being married, or being able to get married, as a proxy for discrimination based on sexual orientation. Conditioning a job on marriage would per se discriminate against employees based on sexual orientation in the 49 states where same-sex couples do not have equal access to marriage. As Representative Rob Andrews (D-NJ) noted in today’s committee markup, this amendment would give employers a “road map” to continue to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Souder Amendment #3:

This Amendment would have added a provision to H.R. 3685 that would explicitly protect employees from adverse treatment by their employers if, because of their sincerely held religious beliefs, they refused to consent to a company’s anti-discrimination policy or refused to participate in a diversity training program. Essentially, this amendment would ensure that any employee who expressed a religious objection to homosexuality could “opt out” of agreeing to an anti-discrimination policy or attending diversity training. However, federal law, namely Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, already prevents an employer from discriminating against someone based on their religious beliefs.

Hoekstra Amendment:

This Amendment would have altered the already broad religious exemption in H.R. 3685 to provide protections for any religious school which “maintains a faith-based mission”. The religious exemption in H.R. 3685, following the model of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, already exempts all religious educational institutions “controlled, managed, owned or supported” by a religion or religious entity or if the institution’s curriculum is “directed toward propagation of a particular religion.” This language has provided broad protections for religious organizations, including religious schools, for nearly forty years. This amendment would have broadened the exemption even further, with ambiguous, untested language regarding a “faith-based mission.”

Interestingly, openly lesbian U.S. Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) announced Wednesday that she would offer an amendment to H.R. 3685 to restore transgender protections to the bill on the House floor. I presume this was a collegial move by Baldwin to not offer her amendment in committee. Frank and House Speaker Pelosi have claimed that a trans-inclusive ENDA does not have enough support in the Democratic caucus to pass the U.S. House and that she will only bring H.R. 2015 to a vote when she is assured it will pass. Regardless, it is unlikely that either version of the bill will become law since the Republican minority could filibuster the bill in the United States Senate, or if by some miracle it does pass the Congress, President Bush will most likely veto it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

MRSA More Deadly Than AIDS

Bloggernista covers the story which has been freaking people out all week. There's a more deadly bug out there than HIV, and this time it's not sexually transmitted and it's a bacteria: methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, colloquially known as MRSA or "staph infection."
An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that MRSA kills more than 19,000 Americans annually, which is more than succumb to AIDS every year, despite the fact there are only 90,000 MRSA infections per year and over 1 million Americans infected with HIV.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hillary Erases Obama's Money Lead

The third quarter cash-on-hand numbers were released yesterday and Hillary Clinton has erased Barack Obama's previous lead in money raised and cash on hand. The Politico reported that Clinton and Obama were tied in the money race, while most outlets reported the story as Clinton having more cash on hand than Obama.

Clinton holds nearly $35 million three months before the voting starts, to Obama's $32 million.


She reported raising $23.7 million for the primary and had operating expenses of $21.3 million. Obama spent a nearly identical amount, but he raised $19.3 million in the quarter. They each reported debts — Clinton owed $2.3 million and Obama owed $1.4 million.

Democrat John Edwards reported $12.4 million in the bank after raising nearly $7.2 million and spending almost $8.3 million during the quarter. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, trying to establish himself among the Democratic leaders, reported $5.8 million in the bank. He raised $5.3 million in the quarter and spent $6.6 million.

Only Clinton raised more money than she spent in the third quarter. The Democratic presidential candidates have $104 million in the bank compared to $36.5 million for the Republican candidates.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Why Schwarzenegger Is Not Good For California Gays

Boi From Troy attempts to argue that Friday October 12th, the day that Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 43, the gender-neutral marriage bill, was actually a "good day for Gays in California" by listing the eight bills the Governor signed into law in the same post that he reports that the Governor vetoed the marriage bill. Mad Professah vigorously disagrees with the notion that somehow by signing some gay rights bills while vetoing the most important makes Schwarzenegger "gay-friendly."

Here are the bills in question listed by Boi From Troy that the Governor has signed into law this year that are of interest to the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities in order to support his argument that the Governor's veto of the gay marriage bill wasn't that bad:

SB 559 retroactively grants domestic partners exemptions from property tax reassessment after the death of a partner
SB 105 implements joint tax filing by domestic partners
AB 102 allows couples to take the last name of either partner at registration of their domestic partnership
AB 394 reinforces the anti-discrimination laws for LGBT youth in schools
SB 443 makes it possible for HIV positive men to have children through artificial insemination
AB 682 changes the process for patient permission to get an HIV/AIDS test.
AB 14 updates the anti-discrimination policies in several sections of the law
SB 777 reinforces anti-discrimination policies in the education code
Where to begin? First off, a Democratic Governor would have signed all these bills as well as AB 43, the gender-neutral marriage bill. So, because California has this Republican governor LGBT individuals have to settle for "some" rights and presumably be happy with half a loaf instead of a whole.

Secondly, the Governor vetoed a lot of other legislation which would have benefited all Californians and members of the LGBT and AIDS/HIV communities specifically. The most important of which was universal healthcare. Thirdly, thanks to his financial policies California's schools, colleges and universities face higher fees and less state support and by damaging educational opportunity, the Governor is harming all Californians.

That's just three reasons that I could think of off the top of my head why having Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor is not "good for California Gays."

Monday, October 15, 2007

REVIEW: 3:10 To Yuma

The user reviews for 3:10 To Yuma were impresssive so Mad Professah and the other half went to our favorite local multiplex in Alhambra and caught a weekend screening of the Russell Crowe-Christian Bale remake, rejecting Jodie Foster's revenge fantasy The Brave One and a repeat viewing of Matt Damon's The Bourne Ultimatum in the process. The other film we seriously considered was David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises starring Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts.

So, surprisingly, we chose the western. We were not disappointed. The most notable feature of the film is not the interplay between Russell Crowe's Ben Wade and Christian Bale's Dan Evans but the mesmerizing performance by Ben Foster as Charlie Prince, the slightly-fey, exceedingly homicidal sidekick to Ben Wade. Although, After Elton objects to an allegedly homophobic subtext that director James Mangold (Walk The Line) has added to his remake which do not appear in the original 1957 version starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. Foster's performance is the first performance I have seen this year where one walks out of the theater thinking "That guy should get an Oscar nomination."

When Foster's Prince is on screen, he is absolutely riveting. He exudes a wild-eyed, devil-may-care, sense of someone who has no respect for life whatsoever. His character is shown repeatedly violating various social compacts and particularly the golden rule (do unto others as you would like them to do unto you).

The movie itself is quite suspenseful, with an engaging plot and a suprising twist at the end. Christian Bale's character is part of a posse led by Peter Fonda's character to take Russell Crowe's character to the nearest big city (which is 50 miles away) in order to catch the 3:10 train to Yuma, AZ where there's a federal prison with a hangman's noose for Crowe's Ben Wade, who has been responsible for dozens of robberies and murders. Bale's Dan Evans joins the posse entirely for the money ($200), which he desperately needs to pay off his struggling family farm's mounting debts, which is about to collapse due to a long-running drought.

The movie becomes quite psychological, where the roles of Wade, the greedy, heartless killer and heartless gang leader, and Evans, the gentle, principled farmer and married father of three boys, trade verbal barbs and meaningful glances while they compete for the heart and soul of Evan's oldest boy William. William (played well by Logan Lerman) is unimpressed by the careful ways of his father and is attracted by the danger and dominance exuded by the gangster. By the end of the film, the roles of Crowe's bad guy and Bale's good guy have becomes blurred and it becomes unclear who is leading who to catch the 3:10 train to Yuma.


Governor Vetoes Bill To Allow Condoms in Prisons

The Governor of California has completed his actions on 964 bills passed by the State Legislature. Schwarzenegger vetoed the gender neutral marriage bill on Friday afternoon and on Sunday (the deadline for signing or vetoing all bills) he again vetoed legislation that would have allowed the distribution of condoms in California prisons. Assemblymember Sandre Swanson (D-Oakland)'s AB 1334 would have allowed the distribution of "sexual barrier protection devices" by nonprofit or health care agencies to inmates. (The State wouldn't even have to pay for it!) Like gender neutral marriage, Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill to legalilze the distribution of condoms before but this time his veto message at least acknowledges that the distribution of condoms is "not an unreasonable public policy." Well, duh!

To the Members of the California State Assembly:

I am returning Assembly Bill 1334 without my signature.

This bill would enact the Inmate and Community Public Health and Safety Act, which would allow any nonprofit or health care agency to distribute sexual barrier protection devices to inmates in state prisons.

As stated in my veto of AB 1677 last year, the provisions of this bill conflict with Penal Code Sections 286 (e) and 288 (e), which make sexual activity in prison unlawful. However, condom distribution in prisons is not an unreasonable public policy and it is consistent with the need to improve our prison healthcare system and overall public health.

Local jail systems in both Los Angeles and San Francisco have already implemented condom distribution programs. Therefore, I am directing the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to determine the risk and viability of such a program by identifying one state prison facility for the purpose of allowing non-profit and health agencies to distribute sexual barrier devices.


Arnold Schwarzenegger

It's not every day that the Governor of the state endorses one of the main missions of a non-profit organization that Mad Professah serves on as the Chair of the Board of Directors, i.e. Center for Health Justice, even if he did use litotes to do so.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dementieva Upsets Serena in Moscow

Elena Dementieva defeated Serena Williams for the first time in 4 career meetings by coming back to win 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 and claim her first Moscow Kremlin Cup title before her hometown crowd despite losing in the final two times before. Dementieva, who turns 26 years old on Monday, won her eighth career title and returned to the World Top 10 after an absence of over 6 months.

It was a disappointing loss for Serena who in the semifinal round had obtained revenge for last week's loss in Stuttgart against World #2 Svetlana Kuznetsova by defeating the Russian 7-6(2), 6-1. Dementieva, who has long struggled with her serve but throughout her career has possessed some of the most muscular strokes on both wings, simply played better than the 8-time Grand Slam champion who gave her opponent (some) credit for the win:
"She just played really unbelievable, she should play like that more often.

"I'm not going to make excuses for myself. I played terrible. I had a
feeling that almost every shot I hit, it was out."
Dementieva, on the other hand, said:
"It was very special playing in front of this crowd.

"They were behind me the whole week and especially today in the final.
Serena is such a great champion and I felt like this was really my chance to
play well against her, in front of my home crowd, too. It was very, very
important for me to do that today."

Serena, girl, are those comments really necessary? I mean, I know for all intents and purposes you had just gotten bageled (She broke Dementieva in the first game of the third set and then lost 6 consecutive games to lose the match) but, really "She should [try to] play like that more often"? That's just plain rude.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Governor Vetoes Gay Marriage Bill (Again)

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco)'s gender-neutral marriage bill, again. Here's his veto message, issued Friday October 12.

To the Members of the California State Assembly:

I am returning Assembly Bill 43 without my signature.
As I stated in vetoing similar legislation in 2005, I am proud
California is a leader in recognizing and respecting domestic
partnerships. I believe that all Californians are entitled to full
protection under the law and should not be discriminated against
based upon their sexual orientation. I support current domestic
partnership rights and will continue to vigorously defend and
enforce these rights.

In 2000, the voters approved Proposition 22, a challenge to which
is currently pending before the California Supreme Court. I
maintain my position that the appropriate resolution to this issue is
to allow the Court to rule on Proposition 22. The people of
California should then determine what, if any, statutory changes
are needed in response to the Court’s ruling.


Arnold Schwarzenegger

Friday, October 12, 2007

ENDA Discussion Reaches New Heights

Blogging will be mostly intermittent while I'm on the road through next Monday but I could not resist calling readers attention to two articles about the ENDA mess that have reached the "main stream media."

In Friday's New York Times there is an article entitled "Liberal Base Proves Trying to Democrats" which puts the outrage by LGBT organizations (now at 280 groups and growing!) iat U.S. Representative Barney Frank's decision to jettison transgenders from coverage in the federal Employment Non Discrimination Act into a broader context of the pushback the new Democratic congressional majority has been receiving from it's liberal base which believes it is responsible for the favorable outcome of the 2006 midterm elections.

Mr. Frank, in an hourlong news conference on Thursday, defended himself and said he would press ahead with the bill knowing that by not including the transgender language he could attract enough votes to get it approved. But he also expressed frustration that the Democrats were hampering themselves.

“There is a tendency in American politics for the people who feel most passionately about an issue, particularly ones that focus on a single issue, to be unrealistic in what a democratic political system can deliver,” Mr. Frank said, “and that can be self-defeating.”


But many gay rights groups said they were truly angry and bewildered, especially because the compromise involves a bill unlikely to be signed by Mr. Bush. A coalition of some 280 groups sent Mr. Frank a letter urging him to include gender identity in the bill to be voted on soon. “What we are talking about is stripping out a part of our community for a symbolic vote, which in our opinion does not advance the struggle for civil rights for our people,” said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

“If the goal here is for the new majority to demonstrate that it is responding to a core constituency,” Mr. Foreman said, “passing a non-inclusive bill is not going to accomplish that.”
Kudos to Matt Foreman for getting quoted in the paper of record (on page one, no less)! But wait, there's more! Over at Salon Magazine, Simon Fraser University Women's Studies Professor Susan Stryker in an article entitled "Why the T in LGBT is here to stay" demolishes the arguments that bloggers Chris Crain (Citizen Chris)and John Aravosis (Americablog) and others have been making in favor of Barney Frank's trans-exclusive ENDA bill (HR 3685) while simultaneously questioning and ridiculing the inclusion of "T" in the LGBT community in general. Aravosis had an article in Salon magazine earlier in the week which Stryker is clearly responding to, and forcefully rebutting.

In my line of work -- teaching history and theory of sexuality and gender -- we've invented a polysyllabic technical term applicable to Aravosis & Co., which is homocentric, whose definition Aravosis supplies when he asserts, as he did in his recent essay, that gay is the term around which the GLBT universe revolves. By gay he means gay men like himself, to which is added (in descending order of importance), lesbian, bisexual and transgender, beyond which lies an even more obscure region of poorly understood and infrequently observed identities.

Aravosis isn't questioning the place of the T in the GLBT batting order; he's just concerned with properly marking the distinction between "enough like me" and "too different from me" to merit inclusion in the categories with which he identifies. His position is a bit like those kerfuffled astronomers not too long ago, scratching their noggins over how to define Pluto's place in the conceptual scheme of the solar system. Sure, we've been calling it a planet for a good number of years because it's round and orbits the sun just like our Earth, but now it appears that if we keep doing so we'll have to let a bunch of the bigger asteroids into the planet category, as well as some other weird faraway stuff we only recently learned about, which stretches the definition of "planet" into a name for things we don't really think of as being much like good ol' Earth, so let's just demote Pluto instead. In Aravosis' homocentric cosmology, men may not be from Mars, nor women from Venus, but transgender people are definitely from Pluto.


Aravosis, not being one to mince words when it comes to mincing meat, wants to know what he, as a gay man, has "in common with a man who wants to cut off his penis, surgically construct a vagina, and become a woman." The answer is "gender." The last time I checked my dictionary, homosexuality had something to do with people of one gender tending to fall in love with people of the same gender. The meaning of homosexuality thus depends on the definition of gender. However much Aravosis might wish to cut the trannies away from the rest of his herd, thereby preserving a place free of gender trouble for just plain gay guys such as himself, that operation isn't conceptually possible. Gender and sexuality are like two lines intersecting on a graph, and trying to make them parallel undoes the very notion of homo-, hetero- or bisexuality.

Now here's the rub -- but it requires another of those fancy words my academic colleagues and I like to throw around: heteronormativity, the idea that whatever straight people do is really what's what, and that whatever anybody else does is deviant to some degree. To want to have sex with somebody of the same gender violates heteronormative expectations of gender behavior as much as it does heteronormative expectations of sexual behavior. Simply put: Real men don't suck cock. Nor do they use the word "fabulous" when describing a pair of women's shoes. Nor do they keep a picture of their husband pinned to the wall of their office cubicle. All of the above violates conventional or stereotypical expectations of proper masculine gender, and as Lambda Legal's preliminary analysis of ENDA makes clear, none would be protected under the rubric of sexual orientation alone. It's OK to be gay, in other words, just so long as you don't act like a fag.

Well-written and well-said!

October 11 is National Coming Out Day

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Off To Rochester, NY To See The Sea

Mad Professah is off to Rochester, NY to see the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra's performance of Vaugh Williams' Sea Symphony on Thursday October 11 starring Jane Eaglen, soprano and Dean Elzinga, bass-baritone (pictured above).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Oregon Heterosexual Supremacists Fail To Gather Signatures To Repeal Domestic partnerships

There is some good news today out of Oregon. As Mad Professah reported earlier this year, the Democratic-controlled Legislature passed both a non-discrimination bill called the Oregon Equality Act (inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity and covering employment, public accomodations, housing and other areas) as well as a domestic partnership bill (the Oregon Family Fairness Act) and both bills were signed into law on May 9, 2007 by Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski.

However, soon afterwards heterosexual supremacists announced they would start collecting signatures to put the civil rights of the minority up to a majority vote, in the hopes that the majority would repeal both LGBT rights laws and prevent them from going into effect on January 1, 2008.

Yesterday came word that the evil doers collected 55,063 signatures to put a measure on the November 2008 ballot to place the Oregon Family Fairness Act on hold until then. Happily, they needed 55, 179 signatures so Oregon will join California and Washington with comprehensive domestic partnership laws in effect at the beginning of the year. However, they clearly came very very close (just 116 signatures) and are apparently not discouraged:

Sponsors of the referral effort had conceded in recent days that they probably hadn't gotten enough signatures. But they vowed to take another avenue to try to derail the laws — an initiative effort to repeal the laws outright. They would have until next July to collect 82,000 valid signatures to repeal each of the two laws.

"We're not discouraged," said former state Sen. Marylin Shannon, spokeswoman for the referral effort. "We definitely will file initiatives to repeal both of these laws. We are very optimistic about it."


Gay rights activists say that many of those couples plan to file for domestic partnership status as soon as the new law takes effect Jan. 1.


Oregon's domestic partnerships measure covers benefits relating to inheritance rights, child-rearing and custody, joint state tax filings, joint health, auto and homeowners insurance policies, visitation rights at hospitals and others. It does not affect federal benefits for married couples including Social Security and joint filing of federal tax returns.
Later this week, the Secretary of State will announce whether the heterosexual supremacists also failed to reach their signature goal to refer the Oregon Equality Act to the voters but most political observers expect that they will fail in this effort, since the domestic partnership act was the measure that provoked more voter opposition.

Congratulations to Basic Rights Oregon and fellow LGBT activists in our neighboring state!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Neverending ENDA Debate (Bring In the Lawyers)

The debate about what the new ENDA will do continues. I made this comment on The Volokh Conspiracy a legal blog which had a guest post by conservative gay law professor Dale Carpenter this weekend:

One of the things that is so perpelexing about the people who are in favor of the "gay-only" ENDA like Aravosis and Crain is their simultaneous lack of ackowledgement of the salience of gender and complicated parsing of gender-stereotype jurisprudence. They make the argument that transgender people don't need to be included in pending federal legislation because "a man who wants to cut off his penis and install a vagina in its place" has nothing in common with a gay man. This completely ignores the umbrella nature of gender discrimination on LGBT individuals which has not been acknowledged by the Courts. It is to fill THIS lack that federal legislation is needed and the original ENDA (HR 2015) addressed.

Clearly what animates sexual orientation discrimination is the fact that (mostly, but not only, straight) men and women are offended by the presence of men (and women) who do not conform to their gender's "mandate" to 1) sleep with people of the opposite sex and 2) maintain distinct gender roles. (This is known as the Koppelman-Law theory of sexual orientation discrimination as sex discrimination.) Gay men and lesbians violate these two main precepts in various levels of obviousness (c.f. the very attractive gay man who is the crush of all the straight girls, the "lipstick lesbian" and the prissy, effeminate gay or the butch lesbian).

Transgender individuals violate precept (2) with their various presence, and this is so frightening to legislators and the general public that they can't even wrap their minds around the notion that most transgender people do not violate precept (1).
The jurisprudence in this area is NOT very well settled and anyone who claims that gender-noncorming individuals are protected under either Titlle VII or the Supreme Court's now hoary decision in Price Waterhouse hasn't reviewed the latest conflicting decisions.

And what's the big deal about bathrooms anyway? Why can't there be some percentage of bathrooms that are gender non-specific? Doesn't everyone have gender-non-specific bathrooms at home??

SNL Take On Senator Larry Craig's Decision To Stay

(hat tip, Towleroad)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Anand Breaks 2800 Barrier

The World Chess Federation's new Top 10 rating is out and newly crowned World Champion Viswanathan Anand is not only in the top spot, but he has again broken the 2800 barrier, one of only four people to ever have done so (Veselin Topalov, Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik are the others).

1. V. Anand (India), 2801 (+9)
2. V. Ivanchuk (Ukraine), 2787 (+25)
3. V. Kramnik (Russia), 2785 (+16)
4. V. Topalov (Bulgaria), 2769 (=)
5. P. Leko (Hungary), 2755 (+4)
6. A. Morozevich (Russia), 2755 (-3)
7. S. Mamedyarov (Azerbaijan), 2752 (-5)
8. T. Radjabov (Azerbaijan), 2742 (-6)
9. L. Aronian (Armenia), 2741 (-9)
10. A. Shirov (Spain), 2739 (+4)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Venus Williams Loses Japan Open Final To Virginie Razzano

Virgine Razzano, a 24-year-old player from France ranked #33 in the world who won the Tier III Guangzhou International Women's Open last week, defeated 6-time grand slam champion and World #8 Venus Williams 4-6 7-6(7) 6-4 to win the Tier III AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships today. Venus had 3 match points at 6-3 in the second set tie-break, after coming back from being down 2 games to 5 games in the 2nd set. However, Razzano saved all three match points and at 4-4 in the 3rd set was able to break Venus and hold serve to win her second consecutive title. Venus had won her third title of the year in Korea last week.

Meanwhile, Serena Williams lost 6-3 6-3 to 2007 US Open finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. World #2 Kuznetsova lost to Tatiana Golovin 6-4 6-2 in the semifinals and World #1 Justine Henin defeated World #3 Jelena Jankovic (again!) 7-6(2) 7-5 to set up a Henin-Golovin final. Henin has now won 15 consecutive matches in a row, since her shocking loss to Marlon Bartoli in the Wimbledon semifinals.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Appellate Court Ruling Protects Domestic Partner Property Rights

Wednesday's California Roundup reports on a favorable appellate court ruling in California rejecting a challenge by homophobic county tax assessors to a policy that treats registered domestic partners as married couples.
"Domestic partners have the same right as husbands and wives to accept or inherit
real estate from one another without big property tax increase
, a state
appeals court ruled Tuesday," reports the Chron's Bob Egelko. "In a victory for
same-sex couples, the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento upheld
regulations approved by the state Board of Equalization in 2003 and a law passed
by the Legislature in 2005 that gave registered domestic partners the same tax
break as spouses under Proposition 13. "The ruling is 'a recognition that
domestic partners, like heterosexual married couples, should be treated equally
and with dignity and respect,' said attorney Daniel Powell, who represented
several same-sex couples and the advocacy group Equality California. A contrary
ruling, he said, would have forced some domestic partners "to pay much higher
taxes upon the death of a loved one." "Lawyers for assessors in several counties
who challenged the tax break were unavailable for comment. The ruling could be
appealed to the state Supreme Court."
MadProfessah's State Board of Equalization member, former Assemblymember Judy Chu, discussed this policy last weekend at the 2007 Los Angeles Leadership Awards, where she strongly supported the principle that California tax laws should treat all Californians equally. Judy has been a longtime champion of gay rights and was deservedly presented the 2007 Los Angeles Leadership Award by the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center's Lorri Jean (previously scheduled former Governor Gray Davis did not show up because he had a sudden death in the family).

PREVIEW: Elizabeth The Golden Age

I am so looking forward to this movie!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

California Heterosexual Supremacists Claim They Will Miss June Primary Ballot

Capitol Weekly has been doing an excellent job of keeping track of potential anti-gay marriage ballot measures on the three statewide elections California will be having in 2008. Mad Professah has also been following these articles closely. Today, Capitol Weekly has posted an article in which they report that the heterosexual supremacists who have been attempting to amend the California constitution in order to enshrine discrimination against same-sex couples are admitting that they will most likely miss the June 2008 ballot.
Peter Henderson, who is leading the charge to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, says he and his supporters were hoping to qualify for the June ballot. "We're no longer on track for June," he said. "We simply have not been able to raise the money to get the signatures in time, so we're looking toward November."

Initiatives have 180 days from the time they receive title and summary from the attorney general's office to gather signatures. In order to qualify for the June ballot, measures must be certified by the secretary of state no later than January 24, according to the secretary of state's office.

Petitions submitted after that date would push the measure to the next ballot, in November.

Henderson says the political calculus for his group will change dramatically because they will miss the June ballot. "It certainly does change the political equation. Republicans have shied away from California in presidential years, and that could depress Republican turnout."

Henderson says his group's measure polls well among Democrats and Republicans, however, and is confident that a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the November ballot would still be approved by voters.

This is very good news for people who believe in the freedom to marry for all Californians.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

KPCC Covers Brouhaha Over ENDA

Larry Mantle, a talk show host on one of my local NPR stations, KPCC 89.3 FM, aired a segment on Wednesday's Air Talk devoted to the brouhaha about the substitute ENDA bill. He talked with U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez and Legal Director of Lambda Legal, Jon Davidson about Barney Frank's stripped-down version of ENDA, H.R. 3685. Davidson emphasised the first two points which Lambda has been trumpeting in its newly released legal analysis of the amended bill:
As a point of clarity for the community: The recent version is not simply the old version with the transgender protections stripped out —but rather has modified the old version in several additional and troubling ways.

In addition to the missing vital protections for transgender people on the job, this new bill also leaves out a key element to protect any employee, including lesbians, gay men and bisexuals who may not conform to their employer's idea of how a man or woman should look and act. This is a huge loophole through which employers sued for sexual orientation discrimination can claim that their conduct was actually based on gender expression, a type of discrimination that the new bill does not prohibit.

This version of ENDA states without qualification that refusal by employers to extend health insurance benefits to the domestic partners of their employees that are provided only to married couples cannot be considered sexual orientation discrimination. The old version at least provided that states and local governments could require that employees be provided domestic partner health insurance when such benefits are provided to spouses.

In the previous version of ENDA the religious exemptions had some limitations. The new version has a blanket exemption under which, for example, hospitals or universities run by faith-based groups can fire or refuse to hire people they think might be gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Lorri Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, called in to the show and made the point that H.R. 3685, as opposed to the original bill H.R. 2015, has expanded the exemption to a near-blanket exemption for businesses run by religious organizations (such as schools, hospitals etc) and also includes a new measure which states that failure by businesses to not extend benefits to same-sex domestic partners is NOT discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

One of the callers who called in had intended to support the substitute bill but changed his mind when he heard that the new bill is not just about kicking transgenders to the curb but is also substantially weaker than the original ENDA.

Another caller called in an said that since the transgender community is such a smaller community than the LGB community a bill should be passed to protect the larger community first. Davidson made the point that transgenders although a smaller numerical population face much higher rates of emplyment discrimination, and in fact, employment discrimination increases with the level of gender non-conformity the employer perceives and since the substitute bill doesn't cover gender non-conformity at all it does not provide protection for many people of any sexual orientation.

Excellent, topical show, as usual


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