Sunday, February 28, 2010

Avatar Breaks $700m Domestic Gross Record

Avatar has now grossed a record-breaking $700 million, domestically. I guess that's just a consolation prize for writer-director-producer James Cameron, because it is looking more and more likely that his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow will win the Best Director Oscar, and her film The Hurt Locker, will win the Best Picture Oscar.

The two films went head-to-head at "British Oscars" (formally known as the BAFTAs) and The Hurt Locker won 6 awards: Picture, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing and Sound. (Avatar won one, for Visual Effects.) The BAFTAs are looked at closely as precursors for the Academy Awards because often the films that are nominated there are also nominated for BAFTAs and the two award ceremonies have similar categories.

The Oscars are on Sunday March 7th. I will have my annual Oscar prediction post up within the next week. I correctly predicted 82% of the Top 8 categories of this year's Oscar nominations. Last year I correctly preidcted all 8 of the Top 8 categories (no surprises with a Slumdog Millionaire sweep) and 20 of 24 categories overall.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Venus Defends 2nd Consecutive Title In A Row


Venus Williams defended a WTA Tour title for the second consecutive week, following up her win no hard courts in Dubai last week with a win on clay in Acapulco, Mexico by defeating World #60 Polona Hercog 2-6 6-2 6-3.

Winning the Mexican Open title increases Venus' lead of having the most titles of all active players on tour with 43 (compared to Justine Henin's 41).

Saturday Politics: AD-43 and AD-53


Saturdays are local politics days at MadProfessah.com

Today there are stories about two Los Angeles area State Assemby races that I have been following closely, AD-53 and AD-43.
In the 53rd Assembly District race to replace termed-out Ted Lieu (who is running for California Attorney General) openly gay Mayor of Redondo Manhattan Beach Mitch Ward has been endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. Ward is competing in a crowded field which includes straight Equality California board member (and registered lobbyist) Betsy Butler, her ex-boyfriend Jim Aldinger, city prosecutor Nick Karno, enviromentalist James Lau, former staffers Kate Anderson and Edgar Saenz, and for good measure, a 22-year-old Tea Party activist named Neal Mintz. Only Aldinger and Ward have held elected office before. The big news this week is that HONOR PAC, California's Latino LGBT political action committee has endorsed Anderson in the race. MadProfessah has endorsed Mitch Ward. Lau has been the most successful fundraiser to date and still has the most cash on hand, closely followed by Butler, Anderson and Karno who each have close to 200,000 to spend before the June 8 primary.

In the 43rd Assembly District race to replace now-Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, internal polls show a narrow lead for attorney Mike Gatto where the most popular candidate is "Undecided." Last week, we reported that Andrew Westall had dropped out of the race but in the poll conducted of 400 residents in the district he was included and the results were Gatto 16%, Nayiri Nahabedian 12%, Westall 10%, Chahe Keuroghelian 6% among Democratic primary voters with 56% undecided. Interestingly, when told information about the candidates, Gatto had the largest increase, rising 26 points to 42%, Nahabedian 19% (+7), Westall 14% (+4), Keuroghelian 8% (+2) and Undecided falling 39 points to a mere 17%. Gatto also leads the money race, but the path to victory is complicated by the three elections that one needs to win in order to claim the seat in November.
Feel free to send me any suggestions for future Saturday local politics stories!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Providence City Hall

My hotel during my short stay in the capital of Rhode Island happened
to be next door to City Hall. That and some buildings at Brown
University was all I was able to see.

MD Attorney General Issues Favorable Marriage Opinion

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler made big news on Wednesday by finally issuing an advisory opinion (53 page pdf) on whether Maryland law allows recognition of legal same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. His conclusion? It does!

Law Dork Chris Geidner analyzes the opinion:
The A.G.’s Opinion basically says that the law could be interpreted so as to allow out-of-state marriages to be recognized and that Gansler believes the Maryland courts would decide that way. He reaches this conclusion despite the state’s ban on performing same-sex marriages in the state.

[...]

Nonetheless, to the extent that Gansler determined the current legal landscape would result in a court decision upholding out-of-state recognition, the opinion set the law as it stands in Maryland unless the courts rule otherwise.

Interesting side note, some of the stilted and awkward language in the opinion comes from the opinion’s steadfast avoidance of whether recognition of out-of-state marriages is required, which would have gotten into the due process and equal protection arguments that marriage equality-watchers know also would apply to the state’s prohibition on performing same-sex marriages in the state. It is in that sense that the opinion is quite limited.

What this means is that agencies will begin adopting regulations and policies to allow for recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages. This, obviously, will include the District of Columbia, where the marriage equality bill is to take effect on March 3. The opinion noted that such changes will be made to the extent possible when not constrained by federal law (primarily, the Defense of Marriage Act). In other words, there are still complications to be resolved.

Equality Maryland will be hosting a national blogger call Friday morning at 11:30am EST but I am supposed to be at the Providence airport trying to get back to Los Angeles despite the snowicane on the Eastern Seaboard.

It will be interesting to see how the Maryland news will interact with the fact that starting March 3rd (next Wednesday!) same-sex couples will start being issued marriage licences in the District of Columbia, which neighbors Maryland.

The main question to be answered is:
Starting March 3rd, 2010, can Maryland residents go to DC (which could be as easy as getting on the Metro for some of them), get legally married in DC and be considered legally married in Maryland as well?
I suspect the answer is YES. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rep. Maxine Waters Co-sponsors UAFA!


Great news on the LGBT immigration front: key Congresswoman Maxine Waters has agreed to co-sponsor the Uniting All Families Act (H.R. 1024)!

According to Rod 2.0:
The ]Los Angeles] California Democrat becomes the 121st House member to cosponsor, reports Immigration Equality. "Waters sits on the House Judiciary Committee and its Immigration Subcommittee. She brings the number of Democrats on the Immigration Subcommittee who are current UAFA cosponsors to seven out of ten, and the number of Demorcrats on the full Judiciary Committee to 18 out of 24. UAFA has more cosponsors in the House than any other piece of immigration legislation."
Reminder: MadProfessah sits on the board of directors of Immigration Equality. I commend Congresswoman Waters for taking a meaningful step towards supporting equality for all people. Our nation's immigration laws are based on the principal of uniting families, and I'm pleased that she agrees that should include same-sex couples like Shirley Tan and Jay Mercado and thousands of others in similar situations in the United States.

YOU can look at the ActOnPrinciples banner on this blog to contact your congressperson on UAFA and other LGBT related legislation.

BOOK REVIEW: David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas

David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas is a hugely ambitious novel that has been widely celebrated. In fact, it made it to the #6 position on my favorite books of the decade 2000-2009. It was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize as well as a nominee for the Nebula award.

Cloud Atlas is a very fun book to read. I am not surprised that it is a favorite of authors. The book is split into six different stories, each of which is told in a different style, genre and voice.

In some sense, the book is really six novellas or short stories. What is fun as a reader is reading to find the connections between the stories. Generally, the main character in one story is usually seen as having had access to the story we have just read.

Although the six stories cover many different genres, at least two of them are clearly classifiable as science fiction, which is probably one reason that I enjoyed the book so much. Interestingly, the longest story (which is set in a post-apocalyptic world) is my least favorite part of the book and despite finding that section almost unreadable I still evaluated Cloud Atlas as one of my favorite books of the decade.

I believe that David Mitchell should be rewarded for his creativity and imagination at even attempting to create such a unique work as Cloud Atlas. Although it is not completely successful in every aspect, it is still a delightful reading experience that you should not miss!

Title:
Cloud Atlas.
Author: David Mitchell.
Paperback:
528 pages.
Publisher:
Random House Trade Paperbacks.
Date: August 17, 2004.

OVERALL GRADE: A/A- (3.925/4.0)

PLOT: A.
IMAGERY: A.
IMPACT: A.
WRITING: A-.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MadProfessah Visiting Brown University

I'm en route to Providence, Rhode Island today to participate in a panel discussion entitled "Beyond Proposition 8: Race, Sexuality, Religion, and Same-Sex Marriage" at Brown University on Thursday.

There are 290 Bills Waiting On U.S. Senate Action

The reason why nothing appears to be getting done even though Democrats "control" both houses of Congress? The United States Senate!

On the front page of Daily Kos is this article about the 290 bills which have passed the U.S. House but have yet to be acted on by the United States Senate:

1) H.R. 12, Paycheck Fairness Act
2) H.R. 20, Melanie Blocker Stokes Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression Act
3) H.R. 22, U.S. Postal Service Financial Relief Act
4) H.R. 23, Belated Thank You to the Merchant Mariners of World War II Act
5) H.R. 31, Lumbee Recognition Act
6) H.R. 35, Presidential Records Act Amendments
7) H.R. 36, Presidential Library Donation Reform Act
8) H.R. 44, Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act
9) H.R. 46, Family Self Sufficiency Act
10) H.R. 80, Captive Primate Safety Act
11) H.R. 81, Shark Conservation Act
12) H.R. 86, Regarding California Coastal National Monument
13) H.R. 118, Regarding Morristown National Historical Park

14) H.R. 129, Conveying Certain National Forest System Lands in Los Padres National Forest in California
15) H.R. 151, Daniel Webster Congressional Clerkship Act
16) H.R. 174, Establishing a national cemetery for veterans in the southern Colorado region
17) H.R. 310, HALE Scouts Act
18) H.R. 320, CJ’s Home Protection Act
19) H.R. 324, Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area Act
20) H.R. 325, Avra/Black Wash Reclamation and Riparian Restoration Project
21) H.R. 326, Cocopah Lands Act
22) H.R. 347, Congressional Gold Medal for 100th Infantry Battalion in World War II
23) H.R. 384, TARP Reform and Accountability Act
24) H.R. 388, Crane Conservation Act
25) H.R. 402, Naming William C. Tallent Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic
26) H.R. 403, Homes for Heroes Act
27) H.R. 409, Conveying Land to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway
28) H.R. 411, Great Cats and Rare Canids Act
29) H.r. 445, Heavy Duty Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development and Demonstration Act
30) H.R. 448, Elder Abuse Victims At
31) H.r. 466, Wounded Veteran Job Security Act
32) H.R. 469, Produced Water Utilization Act
33) H.R. 479, Wakefield Act
34) H.R. 509, Marine Turtle Conservation Reauthorization Act
35) H.R. 511, Terminating Certain Easements in Caseyville, Illinois
36) H.R. 515, Radioactive Import Deterrence Act
37) H.R. 548, Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act
38) H.R. 549, National Bombing Prevention Act
39) H.R. 553, Reducing Over-Classification Act
40) H.R. 554, National Nanotechnology Initiative Amendments Act
41) H.R. 556, Southern Sea Otter Recovery and Research Act
42) H.R. 559, Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely Redress Act
43) H.R. 577, Vision Care for Kids Act
44) H.R. 601, Box Elder Utah Land Conveyance Act
45) H.R. 603, Utah National Guard Readiness Act
46) H.R. 626, Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act
47) H.R. 628, Encouraging enhancement of expertise in patent cases among district judges
48) H.R. 631, Water Use Efficiency and Conservation Research Act
49) H.R. 632, Encouraging Silver Alert Plans
50) H.R. 637, South Orange County Recycled Water Enhancement Act
51) H.R. 685, United States Civil Rights Trail Special Resource Study Act
52) H.R. 689, Interchange administrative jurisdiction of certain federal lands between Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management
53) H.R. 714, Authorizing lease of certain lands in Virgin Islands National Park
54) H.R. 725, Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act
55) H.R. 729, Phylicia’s Law
56) H.R. 738, Death in Custody Reporting Act
57) H.R. 748, CAMPUS Safety Act
58) H.R. 749, Technical Amendment to Federal Election Campaign Act
59) H.R. 756, National Pain Care Policy Act
60) H.R. 762, Validating a final patent number
61) H.R. 780, Student Internet Safety Act
62) H.R. 842, Naming R. Jess Brown U.S. Courthouse in Jackson, Mississippi
63) H.R. 844, Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Amendments
64) H.R. 860, Coral Reef Conservation Act Reauthorization
65) H.R. 869, Naming Scott Reed Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Lexington, Kentucky
66) H.R. 885, Improved Financial and Commodity Markets Oversight and Accountability Act
67) H.R. 887, Naming James A. Leach U.S. Courthouse in Davenport, Iowa
68) H.R. 905, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve Boundary Modification Act
69) H.R. 908, Missing Alzheimer’s Disease Patient Alert Program Reauthorization
70) H.R. 911, Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act
71) H.R. 915, FAA Reauthorization Act
72) H.R. 934, Conveying certain submerged lands to Commonwealth of Mariana Islands
73) H.R. 940, Conveyance of certain National Forest System land in Louisiana
74) H.R. 957, Green Energy Education Act
75) H.R. 965, Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act
76) H.R. 985, Free Flow of Information Act
77) H.R. 1002, Pisgah National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act
78) H.R. 1018, Restore Our American Mustangs Act
79) H.R. 1029, Alien Smuggling and Terrorism Prevention Act
80) H.R. 1043, Deafy Glade Land Exchange Act
81) H.R. 1044, Port Chicago Naval Magazine
82) H.R. 1053, Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act
83) H.R. 1065, White Mountain Apache Tribe Water Rights Quantification Act
84) H.R. 1080, Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act
85) H.R. 1084, CALM Act
86) H.R. 1088, Mandatory Veteran Specialist Training Act
87) H.R. 1089, Veterans Employment Rights Realignment Act
88) H.R. 1107, Relating to certain public contracts
89) H.R. 1110, PHONE Act
90) H.R. 1120, Central Texas Water Recycling Act
91) H.R. 1121, Blue Ridge Parkway and Town of Blowing Rock Land Exchange Act
92) H.R. 1129, Authorizing iron working training program for Native Americans
93) H.R. 1139, COPS Improvements Act
94) H.R. 1145, National Water Research and Development Initiative Act
95) H.R. 1147, Local Community Radio Act
96) H.R. 1148, Conducting a program in the maritime environment for the mobile biometric identification of suspected individuals to enhance border security
97) H.R. 1168, Veterans Retraining Act
98) H.R. 1170, New Assistive Technologies for Specially Adapted Housing
99) H.R. 1171, Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Reauthorization
100) H.R. 1172, Requiring List on VA Website of Organizations Providing Scholarships for Veterans
101) H.R. 1178, Requiring a study on the use of Civil Air Patrol personnel and resources to support homeland security missions
102) H.R. 1211, Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act
103) H.R. 1216, Naming Lance Corporal Matthew P. Pathenos Post Office in Chesterfield, Missouri
104) H.R. 1217, Naming Specialist Peter J. Navarro Post Office in Ballwin, Missouri
105) H.R. 1218, Naming Lance Corporal Drew W. Weaver Post Office in Saint Charles, Missouri
106) H.R. 1219, Lake Hodges Surface Water Improvement and Reclamation Act
107) H.R. 1242, Providing for additional monitoring and accountability of the TARP
108) H.R. 1246, Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act
109) H.R. 1253, Health Insurance Restrictions and Limitations Clarification Act
110) H.R. 1259, Dextromethorphan Distribution Act
111) H.R. 1262, Water Quality Investment Act
112) H.R. 1280, Modifying A Land Grant Issued by the Secretary of the Interior
113) H.R. 1287, Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center Partnership Act
114) H.R. 1293, Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act
115) H.R. 1319, Informed P2P User Act
116) H.R. 1323, Reducing Information Control Designations Act
117) H.R. 1327, Iran Sanctions Enabling Act
118) H.R. 1333, Regarding shipment of certain explosive materials to federally recognized Indian tribes
119) H.R. 1345, District of Columbia Hatch Act Reform
120) H.R. 1376, Waco Mammoth National Monument Establishment Act
121) H.R. 1380, Josh Miller HEARTS Act
122) H.R. 1385, Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act
123) H.R. 1393, Lower Rio Grande Valley Water Resources Conservation and Improvement Act
124) H.R. 1404, Federal Land Assistance, Management and Enhancement (FLAME) Act
125) H.R. 1429, Stop AIDS in Prison Act
126) H.R. 1442, Providing for sale of federal government’s interest in 60 acres of land in Salt Lake City, Utah
127) H.R. 1454, Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semipostal Stamp Act
128) H.R. 1471, Designating Jimmy Carter National Historic Site as a National Historical Park
129) H.R. 1511, Torture Victims Relief Reauthorization Act
130) H.R. 1517, Relating to certain U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees
131) H.R. 1580, Electronic Waste Research and Development Act
132) H.R. 1586, To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients
133) H.R. 1593, Adding a segment of Illabot Creek in State of Washington to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System
134) H.R. 1617, Department of Homeland Security Component Privacy Officer Act
135) H.R. 1622, R&D on Natural Gas Vehicles
136) H.R. 1641, Cascadia Marine Trail Study Act
137) H.R. 1662, Anthony DeJuan Boatwright Act
138) H.R. 1664, Regarding executive compensation practices of companies receiving TARP funds
139) H.R. l665, Coast Guard Acquisition Reform
140) H.R. 1672, Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative Reauthorization
141) H.R. 1674, National Consumer Cooperative Bank Act Amendments
142) H.R. 1675, Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act
143) H.R. 1676, PACT Act
144) H.R. 1679, House Reservists Pay Adjustment Act
145) H.R. 1694, Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Protection Act
146) H.R. 1700, National Women’s History Museum Act
147) H.R. 1709, STEM Education Coordination Act
148) H.R. 1727, Managing Arson Through Criminal History (MATCH) Act
149) H.R. 1728, Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act
150) H.R. 1736, International Science and Technology Cooperation Act
151) H.R. 1741, Witness Security and Protection Grant Program Act
152) H.R. 1746, Pre-Disaster Mitigation Act
153) H.R. 1747, Great Lakes Icebreaker Replacement Act
154) H.R. 1771, Chesapeake Bay Science, Education and Ecosystem Enhancement Act
155) H.R. 1803, Veterans Business Center Act
156) H.R. 1804, Federal Retirement Reform Act
157) H.R. 1807, Educating Entrepreneurs through Today’s Technology Act
158) H.R. 1824, Best Buddies Empowerment for People with Intellectual Disabilities Act
159) H.R. 1834, Native American Business Development Enhancement Act
160) H.R. 1838, Amending Small Business Act to modify certain provisions regarding women’s business centers
161) H.R. 1839, To amend the Small Business Act to improve SCORE
162) H.R. 1842, Expanding Entrepreneurship Act
163) H.R. 1845, Small Business Development Centers Modernization Act
164) H.R. 1849, Medal of Honor Commemorative Coin Act
165) H.R. 1854, Modifying an environmental infrastructure project for Big Bear Lake, California
166) H.R. 1858, Providing for a boundary adjustment for Roosevelt National Forest in Colorado
167) H.R. 1933, A Child Is Missing Alert and Recovery Center Act
168) H.R. 1945, Tule River Tribe Water Development Act
169) H.R. 2020, Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act
170) H.R. 2034, Rural Homeowners Protection Act
171) H.R. 2062, Migratory Bird Treaty Act Penalty and Enforcement Act
172) H.R. 2092, Kingman and Heritage Islands Act
173) H.R. 2093, Clean Coastal Environment and Public Health Act
174) H.R. 2097, Star-Spangled Banner Bicentennial Commemorative Coin Act
175) H.R. 2134, Western Hemisphere Drug Policy Commission Act
176) H.R. 2173, Naming Carl B. Smith Post Office in Island Falls, Maine
177) H.R. 2174, Naming Clyde Hichborn Post Office in Howland, Maine
178) H.R. 2182, Enhanced Oversight of State and Local Economic Recovery Act
179) H.R. 2187, 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act
180) H.R. 2188, Joint Ventures for Bird Habitat Conservation Act
181) H.R. 2200, Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act
182) H.R. 2221, Data Accountability and Trust Act
183) H.R. 2247, Congressional Review Act Improvement Act
184) H.R. 2265, Magna Water District Water Reuse and Groundwater Recharge Act
185) H.R. 2278, Directing President to submit a report to Congress a report on anti-American incitement to violence in the Middle East
186) H.R. 2330, Camp Hale Study Act
187) H.R. 2352, Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act
188) H.R. 2410, Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY 2010 and FY 2011
189) H.R. 2423, Naming George P. Kazen Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Laredo, Texas
190) H.R. 2430, Directing the Secretary of Interior to continue stocking fish in certain lakes
191) H.R. 2442, Bay Area Regional Water Recycling Program Expansion
192) H.R. 2454, American Clean Energy and Security Act
193) H.R. 2489, National Land Remote Sensing Outreach Act
194) H.R. 2510, Absentee Ballot Track, Receive and Confirm Act
195) H.R. 2522, Regarding Calleguas Municipal Water District Recycling Project
196) H.R. 2529, Neighborhood Preservation Act
197) H.R. 2571, Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act
198) H.R. 2611, Authorizing the Securing the Cities Initiative of the Department of Homeland Security
199) H.R. 2623, Clarifying and expanding the definition of certain persons under the federal securities law
200) H.R. 2646, Government Accountability Office Improvement Act
201) H.R. 2651, Maritime Workforce Development Act
202) H.R. 2661, Court Security Act203) H.R. 2664, Promoting Transparency in Financial Reporting Act
204) H.R. 2711, Special Agent Samuel Hicks Families of Fallen Heroes Act
205) H.R. 2728, William Orton Law Library Improvement and Modernization Act
206) H.R. 2729, Authorizing designation of National Environmental Research Parks
207) H.R. 2741, Regarding water recycling and reuse project in Hermiston, Oregon
208) H.R. 2749, Food Safety Enhancement Act
209) H.R. 2751, Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act
210) H.R. 2765, Prohibiting enforcement of foreign defamation judgments against the providers of interactive computer services
211) H.R. 2770, Veterans Nonprofit Research and Education Corporations Enhancement Act
212) H.R. 2781, Designating segment of Molalla River in Oregon as part of National Wild and Scenic Rivers System
213) H.R. 2802, Regarding the Adams Memorial Foundation
214) H.R. 2806, Adjusting border of Stephen Mather Wilderness and the North Cascades National Park
215) H.R. 2843, Architect of the Capitol Appointment Act
216) H.R. 2847, Jobs for Main Street Act
217) H.R. 2868, Chemical and Water Security Act
218) H.R. 2873, Enhanced SEC Enforcement Authority Act
219) H.R. 2947, Securities Law Technical Corrections Act
220) H.R. 2950, Regarding prepayment of contracts between U.S. and Uintah Water Conservancy District
221) H.R. 2971, Naming Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Post Office in Portland, Oregon
222) H.R. 2990, Disabled Military Retiree Relief Act
223) H.R. 3014, Small Business Health Information Technology Financing Act
224) H.R. 3029, Improving Efficiency of Gas Turbines
225) H.R. 3113, Upper Elk River Wild and Scenic Study Act
226) H.R. 3123, Regarding collapsed drainage tunnel in Leadville, Colorado
227) H.R. 3137, Regarding authority of U.S. Postal Service to accept donations as an additional source of funding for commemorative plaques
228) H.R. 3157, Naming Max J. Beilke Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Alexandria, Minnesota
229) H.R. 3165, Wind Energy Research and Development Act
230) H.R. 3175, Conveying to Miami-Dade County certain federally owned land in Florida
231) H.R. 3179, SIG TARP Small Business Awareness Act
232) H.R. 3193, Naming Alto Lee Adams, Sr., U.S. Courthouse in Fort Pierce, Florida
233) H.R. 3219, Veterans’ Insurance and Health Care Improvements Act
234) H.R. 3221, Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act
235) H.R. 3224, Building a vehicle maintenance building for Smithsonian Institution
236) H.R. 3237, Enacting certain laws relating to national and commercial space programs
237) H.R. 3246, Advanced Vehicle Technology Act
238) H.R. 3250, Naming Private First Class Garfield M. Langhorn Post Office in Riverhead, New York
239) H.R. 3254, Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Act
240) H.R. 3269, Corporate and Financial Institution Compensation Fairness Act
241) H.R. 3276, American Medical Isotopes Production Act
242) H.R. 3305, Naming H. Dale Cook Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Tulsa, Oklahoma
243) H.R. 3330, Improved Oversight by Financial Inspectors General Act
244) H.R. 3342, Aamodt Litigation Settlement Act
245) H.R. 3360, Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act
246) H.R. 3371, Airline Safety and Pilot Training Improvement Act
247) H.R. 3388, Petersburg National Battlefield Boundary Modification Act
248) H.R. 3433, Regarding payment of non-federal share of costs of wetland conservation projects in Canada
249) H.R. 3476, Reauthorizing the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area Citizen Advisory Commission
250) H.R. 3527, FHA Multifamily Loan Limit Adjustment Act
251) H.R. 3537, Junior Duck Stamp Conservation and Design Program Reauthorization Act
252) H.R. 3570, Satellite Home Viewer Reauthorization Act
253) H.R. 3585, Solar Technology Roadmap Act
254) H.R. 3598, Energy and Water Research Integration Act
255) H.R. 3603, Renaming the Ocmulgee National Monument
256) H.R. 3618, Clean Hull Act
257) H.R. 3619, Coast Guard Authorization Act
258) H.R. 3631, Medicare Premium Fairness Act
259) H.R. 3632, Federal Judiciary Administrative Improvements Act
260) H.R. 3634, Naming George Kell Post Office in Swifton, Arkansas
261) H.R. 3639, Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act
261) H.R. 3689, Extending legislative authority of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
262) H.R. 3714, Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act
263) H.R. 3726, Castle Nugent National Historic Site Establishment Act
264) H.R. 3737, Small Business Microlending Expansion Act
265) H.R. 3738, Small Business Early-Stage Investment Act
266) H.R. 3743, Small Business Disaster Readiness and Reform Act
267) H.R. 3759, BLM Contract Extension Act
268) H.R. 3763, Certain amendments to Fair Credit Reporting Act
269) H.R. 3791, Fire Grants Reauthorization Act
270) H.R. 3804, National Park Service Authorities and Corrections Act
271) H.R. 3854, Small Business Financing and Investment Act
272) H.R. 3892, Naming E.V. Wilkins Post Office in Roper, North Carolina
273) H.R. 3940, Facilitating public education programs in the non-self-governing territories of the United States
274) H.R. 3949, Veterans’ Small Business Assistance and Servicemembers Protection Act
275) H.R. 3951, Naming Roy Rondeno Sr. Post Office in New Orleans, Louisiana
276) H.R. 3961, Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act
277) H.R. 3963, Criminal Investigative Training Restoration Act
278) H.R. 3978, First Responder Anti-Terrorism Training Resources Act
279) H.R. 3980, Redundancy Elimination and Enhanced Performance for Preparedness Grants Act
280) H.R. 4017, Naming Ann Marie Blute Post Office in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
281) H.R. 4061, Cybersecurity Enhancement Act
282) H.R. 4095, Naming Congresswoman Jan Meyers Post Office in Overland Park, Kansas
283) H.R. 4139, Naming Sergeant Matthew L. Ingram Post Office in Hickory, Mississippi
284) H.R. 4154, Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families, Farmers and Small Businesses Act
285) H.R. 4173, Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
286) H.R. 4194, Law Student Clinic Participation Act
287) H.R. 4213, Tax Extenders Act
288) H.R. 4474, Idaho Wilderness Water Facilities Act
289) H.R. 4495, Naming Jim Kolbe Post Office in Patagonia, Arizona
290) H.R.4532, Social Security Disability Applicant’s Access to Professional Representation Act
Who is in charge of the United States Senate? Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

SASOD Files Lawsuit Against Guyana Cross-Dressing Law

Official flag of Guyana

Guyana's Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of that country's archaic law against "cross-dressing."
In a series of crackdowns last year between February 6 and 7, the Guyana police arrested a number of male-to-female transgender persons (MtF Trans) and charged them for ‘cross-dressing’ under the archaic Colonial section 153(1)(xlvii) statute. Unrepresented and completely unaware of their rights, the defendants were detained in police custody over the week-end and then hustled through the legal system. When they appeared before Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson on February 9, 2009, they were further ridiculed and told that they are men not women, before being fined by the learned Chief Magistrate. Seon Clarke, also known as Falatama, one of the persons arrested, said: “It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. I felt like I was less than human.” The motion also pleads that the Chief Magistrate was improperly influenced by irrelevant considerations, discriminated against the MtF Trans on the basis of religion, and violated a fundamental norm of Guyana as a secular state. Vigorous and wide-ranging calls within and out of Guyana for the repeal of these discriminatory laws which facilitate such injustices have been ignored by the government.

Since then, SASOD has forged partnerships with human rights interests in the local and regional arenas who have been working collectively and consistently on a voluntary basis over the past year to assist this marginalized group to obtain access to justice for the atrocities endured at the instance of the law enforcement authorities. The 2009 ‘cross-dressing’ crackdowns and prosecutions provided clear illustrations of how discriminatory laws are facilitating grave human rights’ abuses, in spite of the existence of an entrenched regime of human rights protection in the Guyana constitution. Leading the research initiatives to support strategic-impact, human-rights litigation in the region, Tracy Robinson of the University of the West Indies Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP) based at the Cave Hill campus’ law faculty in Barbados described the arrests and prosecutions as “an unfortunate embodiment of the patriarchal use of coercive state power for no clear or rational purpose,” highlighting the need for law reform to ensure social justice and gender equity in Guyana and across the region.

SASOD has mobilized support from local and regional human rights attorneys to provide representation in what amounts to a ground-breaking constitutional case. According to Dr. Arif Bulkan, also of U-RAP and one of Guyanese attorneys involved in the litigation, “unless the wide-ranging constitutional reforms conducted in 2001 and 2003 are to be dismissed as pure window-dressing, then the emphasis placed on non-discrimination during that process should guide the High Court to interpret the expanded equality rights generously in order to protect one of our society’s most marginalised groups.”

Veronica Cenac, a St. Lucian attorney who serves as the human rights focal point on the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition board of governors, lauded SASOD for spearheading the case. “For way too long, we have allowed abuses against the most affected populations to go unchallenged,” she said, quoting the closing words of the UN Secretary-General’s message: “Lack of social justice anywhere is an affront to us all.”

At last year's Global Arc of Justice conference at UCLA Law School I met some Caribbean LGBT activists and heard first-hand from them about some of the indignities suffered by members of the LGBT community living in the British Caribbean countries (like Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, Jamaica, Guyana etc) as well as their plans for redress.

I am glad to see the resistance to institutionalized homophobia in these jurisdictions is starting to reach a heightened level of activity (and even mainstream press coverage!) I will endeavor to keep track of the progress of this lawsuit and other efforts to combat homophobia and transphobia in the Caribbean.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lieberman To Introduce Senate Bill To Repeal DADT


Well, looks like things are getting serious about the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the military's exclusionary policy on openly gay or lesbian officers serving their country. The blogs are a abuzz with the news that Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) will be serving as the lead sponsor of the United States Senate bill to repeal the policy.

Lieberman issued an official statement on DADT today:
“I will be proud to be a sponsor of the important effort to enable patriotic gay Americans to defend our national security and our founding values of freedom and opportunity. I have opposed the current policy of preventing gay Americans from openly serving in the military since its enactment in 1993. To exclude one group of Americans from serving in the armed forces is contrary to our fundamental principles as outlined in the Declaration of Independence and weakens our defenses by denying our military the service of a large group of Americans who can help our cause. I am grateful for the leadership of President Obama to repeal the policy and the support of Secretary Gates and Chief of Staff Admiral Mullen.”
Many people think that by having Lieberman, who caucuses with the majority Democrats but who most definitely is NOT a Democrat, be the lead sponsor of ending this policy makes it more likely it will actually happen this year, as many have insisted.

We'll see.

Eye Candy: Marco Dapper



Saw some hot shots of Marco Dapper by photographer Adam Bouska and had to share a few of them with y'all. Marc over at Shirtless Perfection also has a LOT more pictures (in underwear) of the 26-year-old model and actor.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2009 Nebula Award Nominations Announced

The nominations for the 2009 Nebula Awards for best work in speculative fiction were announced on Friday.
The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Nightshade, Sep09)
The Love We Share Without Knowing, Christopher Barzak (Bantam, Nov08)
Flesh and Fire, Laura Anne Gilman (Pocket, Oct09)
The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey, May09)
Boneshaker, Cherie Priest (Tor, Sep09)
Finch, Jeff VanderMeer (Underland Press, Oct09)
The only one of these that I have even heard of is China Miéville's The City & The City, which I recently reviewed. Last year's winner was Ursula K. LeGuin's Powers (which I have also previously reviewed). The top awards in science fiction writing are the Hugo Awards (voted on by fans) and the Nebula Awards (voted on by authors).

A rare number of books have won both awards, and they are often some of my favorite reads.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Venus Defends Dubai Title; 42nd of Career

Venus Williams defeated Victoria Azarenka 6-3 7-5 to defend her title in Dubai, the 42nd of her illustrious tennis career. Venus now leads all active players on the tour with the most titles, surpassing recently un-retired Justine Henin's total of 41, although the two are tied with 7 Grand Slam titles each.

Venus recently became the second player in history to earn more than $25 million in career prize money, following her sister Serena Williams, who with her win at this year's Australian Open is now well over $30 million.

AD-43: And then there were two!

Mike Gatto, candidate for AD-43

More local political news. In the race to replace former Assemblyman Paul Krekorian in the 43rd Assembly district, another candidate has dropped out and so there are now only two main candidates remaining: MadProfessah-endorsed 35-year-old Stonewall Democrat Club member Mike Gatto and Glendale school boardmember Nayiri Nahabedian, 40.

Councilmember Herb Wesson staffer Andrew Westall suspended his campaign after the sudden death of his colleague, Wesson's chief of staff of a brain aneurysm over the weekend. Westall endorsed Nahabedian as he exited the race.

The special primary election is on April 13th, and then there's a primary election and the special general election on June 8th. The candidate who wants to be the Assemblymember from the 43rd Assembly district should win all three, but the primary election on June 8th is the most important.

According to the Secretary of State's financial records, Gatto had $200,000 plus on hand as of 12/31/2009 while Nahabedian appears to have had significantly less than $100,000. Typically (but not always, Meg!) the person who spends the most and/or raises the most wins these elections.

CA-GOV: Poll Shows Whitman and Brown Tied

A February 15th telephone poll of 500 California "likely voters" by Rasmussen has Republican Meg Whitman and former Democratic Governor Jerry Brown tied at 43 percent support each, with a margin of error of 4.5 points. Brown leads the other Republican challenger, Steve Poizner, 46% to 34%.

Brown, who is currently California's Attorney General, has not officially announced his gubernatorial candidacy but he is the only prominent California Democrat left, especially with Senator Dianne Feinstein expressing her desire not to join the race in no uncertain terms.

Friday, February 19, 2010

REMINDER: Williams Institute LGBT Law Update Today


MadProfessah will be spending most of the day at UCLA Law School today, attending their Annual Update on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy. I may have some pictures up later tonight or tomorrow (or perhaps even live from the proceedings!)

Celebrity Friday: Raynard Kington


Today's celebrity is Dr. Raynard Kington, the newly announced president of Iowa's Grinnell College, who also happens to be Black and gay. Please do watch the entire video of Kington's introduction to the college, it features his "partner-in-life," Dr. Peter Daniolos and one of his two kids (who joins his father on the stage), 4-year-old Emerson. A very heartwarming tale!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

VIDEO REVIEW: Inglourious Basterds

I finally saw Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds on home video a few weeks ago. It was the first Blu-Ray movie I have seen from Netflix and I was very favorably impressed with the latest film from the man who brought the world Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs.

The film uses a similar conceit that was employed in Kill Bill, in that the story is split into chapters, which are basically filmed set pieces.

Of course, most films are actually structured as a series of filmed set pieces, but Tarantino writes and directs his film in such a way that the narrative backbone is immediately apparent to the viewer.

Although Inglourious Basterds was released in 2009, I didn't see it until the first few days of 2010, so although it would have definitely made my Top 10 (probably even the Top 5) list of best movies of 2009 and I want to be a stickler about the rules.

Inglourious Basterds has now been nominated for 8 Academy Awards: Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, Sound, Sound Editing and Best Supporting Actor. In fact, Christoph Walz has won nearly every Best Supporting Actor award this year (Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, etc etc) and is considered a lock for the Oscar. He plays Cololnel Hans Landa, an urbane Nazi, more commonly known as "The Jew Hunter." It is a part which tears up the scenery, but I am not really that big a fan of the performance.

The film's plot contains typical Tarantino flourishes: sparkling dialogue, bloody violence, broad humor and strong female characters. The story has been described as a Jewish revenge fantasy, since it is about an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler (and most of the top leaders of the Third Reich). It also features Brad Pitt as Lieutenant Aldo Raine who recruits and leads a team of Jewish-American soldiers to kill and scalp Nazi soldiers. Aldo and his gang become so successful that even Hitler himself knows their name. I thought Brad Pitt was excellent in the part. Other standouts for me were Diane Kruger as Bridget von Hammersmarck and Michael Fassbender as Archie Hickox. Mike Myers has an amusing cameo as British general with a pitch perfect British accent.

Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino's most commercially successful film and is probably his best film to date (although I have a soft spot for the Kill Bill movies, but it really shouldn't take 4 hours and two movies to tell that tale).

Running Time: 2 hour, 33 minutes. MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong graphic violence, language and brief sexuality.

OVERALL GRADE: A/A-.

ACTING: A.
IMAGERY: A-.
PLOT: A.
IMPACT: A-
.

CA-33: Karen Bass Announces Run For Congress

Karen Bass

At a press conference on Wednesday, outgoing Speaker of the California Assembly Karen Bass announced that she is indeed seeking to represent the 33rd Congressional District of California, which Congresswoman Diane Watson announced that she was retiring from last week. The congressional district includes many different sections of Los Angeles, including Culver City, Baldwin Hills, Ladera Heights, Windsor Hills, Hancock Park, Hollywood, the Wilshire corridor and Koreatown.

The highest ranked African American politician in Los Angeles County, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Rep. Watson herself appeared at the press conference and endorsed the 56-year-old Bass to be her successor.
“I 100% -- maybe 300% -- endorse Karen Bass," said Rep. Watson, 76

"Karen's abundant strengths as a public servant have always been her willingness and desire to listen carefully to the people she serves, couples with her ability to act swiftly, forcefully and sensitively to meet the needs (of) her diverse constituents. Speaker Bass has my full support as she seeks to succeed Congresswoman Diane Watson in the House of Representatives to serve the needs of the people of the 33rd Congressional District," said Ridley-Thomas, 55.
Karen Bass will be an excellent Congresswoman and MadProfessah endorses her in the June 2010 Democratic primary.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

SCOTUS Oral Argument in Doe v. Reed: April 28

The Supreme Court has set the oral argument date of April 28th in the closely watched case of Doe v. Reed, which is the case in which proponents of the anti-gay ballot measure Referendum 71 (which, if rejected by voters would have prevented Washington's comprehensive domestic partnership statute from going into effect) won an emergency injunction from the US Supreme Court prior to the November 2009 election barring the release of the information of those who had signed to get the question on the ballot. Referendum 71 was approved so that the anti-gay side lost their bid to use the ballot box to write their homophobic views into state law, but the question of whether Washington State's public disclosure law trumps the right of heterosexual supremacists who sign petitions to eliminate the rights of others is still a matter of judicial dispute.

Specifically, the questions to be considered on April 28th will be:
  1. Whether the First Amendment right to privacy in political speech, association, and belief requires strict scrutiny when a state compels public release of identifying information about petition signers.
  1. Whether compelled public disclosure of identifying information about petition signers is narrowly tailored to a compelling interest, and whether Petitioners met all the elements required for a preliminary injunction.
I believe that both the answers to these questions could be Yes (though, actually there are two questions in Question #2, the second of which is moot at this point) and Petitioners should lose their case. Respondent (the State of Washington being represented by Secretary of State Sam Reed) should rely heavily on the excellent 9th Circuit Court appellate opinion in this case.

Even conservative UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh believes that "you don't have a constitutional right to essentially engage in a legally significant action anonymously" and election law expert Rick Hasen is similarly dubious about petitioner's chances of prevailing. This is on appeal from the 9tyh Circuit, the Circuit the conservative majority loves to slap down.

Also, even though the issues are different from the Proposition 8 injunction case, it is clear which side if the "pro-gay" side (Respondent) and which is the "anti-gay" side (Petitioner) so it should be very interesting to see the final ruling in this case by the end of June.

Grinnell College Names Openly Gay, Black Male President

An amazing good news story out of the blue just in time for Black History Month: the first openly gay, Black male college president! Grinnell College announced today that it has selected Raynard S. Kington, M.D., M.B.A., Ph.D. as the 13th president of the 146-year-old liberal arts college based in rural Iowa. Dr. Kington had been serving as the deputy director of the National Institutes of Health since 2003 and served as Acting Director of the federal agency for a year, until Dr. Francis Collins was confirmed by the United States Senate in August 2009.

From the official college press release:

Dr. Kington was unanimously elected by the trustees after an extensive nationwide search by a 14-member Presidential Search Committee, including representatives from the trustees, faculty, administration, student body and alumni. The committee considered a diverse pool of more than 200 candidates with remarkable talents and accomplishments from large and small public and private institutions as well as multiple academic disciplines. The trustees noted Dr. Kington’s exceptional record of achievement at NIH and at the RAND Corporation, including his leadership, policy direction and coordination of NIH biomedical research and research training programs at NIH’s 27 institutes and centers, and his community-based leadership and research in Los Angeles, Calif.

[...]

Dr. Kington’s personal example underscores his commitment to educational excellence. At the age of 16, he entered a combined undergraduate-medical school program at the University of Michigan that allowed him to earn his B.S. when he was 19 and his M.D. when he was just 21 years old. He completed his residency in internal medicine at Michael Reese Medical Center in Chicago and was appointed a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. While there, he completed his M.B.A. and Ph.D. with a concentration in health policy and economics at The Wharton School.

“I am absolutely delighted to join the Grinnell community and excited about the tremendous possibilities awaiting this distinguished college,” said Dr. Kington. “My entire career to date has been a reflection of the three core values of Grinnell: the pursuit of academic excellence, the advancement of a diverse community and the promotion of social justice. For those fortunate enough to attend a top-tier liberal arts college, particularly one with Grinnell’s wonderful heritage, the experience can be transformative. It opens the pathway to a life where students become citizens who make a difference in the world and improve society for the benefit of us all. I can think of no more gratifying opportunity than to lead Grinnell College as it strives to build on this tradition, and I am eager to get started.”

[...]

Dr. Kington; his partner, Peter T. Daniolos M.D., a child psychiatrist at Children’s National Medical Center and George Washington University; and their two young children plan to move to Grinnell during the summer and occupy the president’s home at the college.

Interestingly, nowhere in the press release does it mention Dr. Kington's race or sexual orientation. I also find it interesting as to whether Grinnell was able to recruit such an academic star to rural Iowa because it is one of the few states where Dr. Kington and his partner can be married and be fully guaranteed that their family will be treated equally under state law?

Openly gay (or lesbian) college presidents are not that unusual any more. Way back in 2007, I blogged about the 11 known at the time. I suspect the number is appreciably higher now. The real breakthrough here is 1) It's Iowa! and 2) Kington is Black and gay (and a parent and possibly a Republican).

Federer Now #2 in All-Time List Of Weeks at #1

Roger in Ethiopia with kids helped by his pseudonymous charitable foundation

Roger Federer is enjoying his 270th week at #1 on the ATP Tour this week, tying him at #2 on the list of most number of weeks at #1with Ivan Lendl, leaving him 16 behind Pete Sampras' total of 286, which will likely fall later this year.

Unfortunately, Roger opened his mouth about how much his biggest rival for the top spot, Rafael Nadal, feels about being #1, dissing the Spaniard in the process. Here is what Roger said:
“Some people have that drive more than others who’ve been number one. Rafa doesn’t seem like he cares as much for number one, or he doesn’t show it.”--Roger Federer
What do you think? Did Roger just dis(respect) Nadal? Nadal moved up one place from World #4 to World #3 on Monday, swapping places with 2010 Australian Open finalist Andy Murray who took him out in the quarterfinals at last month's Grand Slam.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Annual Update on Sexual Orientation Law Fri Feb 19 at UCLA

Friday February 19th at UCLA Law School, the Williams Institute will hold its 9th Annual Update on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy. Entitled "Sexuality and Gender Law: Assessing the Field, Envisioning the Future," the day-long event will feature appearances by some of the most prominent LGBT legal minds in the country, such as (just to name a few that I am looking forward to meeting and seeing again) NYU Law Professor Kenji Yohsino, University of Chicago Law Professor Mary Anne Case, Columbia Law Professor (and former Vice-Dean) Katherine Franke, American University Law Professor Nancy Polikoff, Obama appointee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Chai Feldblum, Georgetown Law Professor (and blogger!) Nan Hunter, and Yale Law Professor Bill Eskridge.

There'll be a whole lotta "mad professahs" in the house!

Here's the schedule at a glance (see full schedule here):

Friday, February 19

9:00-10:20amThe Difference a Field Makes: The Impact of Sexuality and Gender Law Scholarship on the Law and Legal Scholarship

10:40-12:00pmTheories Behind Multidimensional Advocacy

1:00-2:30pmThe Impact Sexuality and Gender Law and Policy Scholarship on LGBT Rights

3:00-4:30pmIntersectionality

5:00-6:30pmFinal Round, 6th Annual Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Moot Court Competition

6:30-8:30pmAnnual Gala Reception and Awards Ceremony: Honoring Richard Taylor and Announcing Williams Institute National Moot Court Winners
*Click here for tickets.

Saturday, February 20

9:00-10:15amSexuality in a Global Culture

10:30-11:45pmThe Many Meanings of Gender

12:00-1:00pmNext Steps: The Future of Sexuality and Gender Law and Scholarship


Just a few weeks ago I was a guest judge in the early rounds of the 6th Annual National Moot Court Competition on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law. It is a very interesting case which pits religious freedom under the first amendment against equal protection interests based on gender identity in a hypothetical in which national health care has become law but includes a rider which allows a "conscience clause" allowing doctor's to not treat transgender people.
Exemption Protecting Religious Freedoms of Medical Personnel:
No physician, nurse, or other medical personnel shall be required under this or
any other law of the United States to provide hormone therapy, surgery, or any
other medical care to transgender patients that is related to their transgender
status, gender identity, or gender expression if the provision of such care violates
the sincerely held religious beliefs of the physician, nurse, or other medical
personnel requested to provide such service. This provision shall not apply in
situations in which the transgender person’s medical condition is life threatening.
This year's Moot Court problem allows students to go into the details of the Lemon test in Supreme Court jurisprudence for improper governmental establishment of religion as well as the parameters of equal protection analysis involving suspect classes and the evolving nature of rational basis review.

The finals will be judged this year by two sitting members of State Supreme Courts: Justice Carol A. Beier (Kansas Supreme Court) and Justice Joette Katz (Connecticut Supreme Court) and is always a highlight of the entire day.

Blogswarm: Call HRC To Demand Action on DADT!

There's a blogswarm going on today to ramp up the pressure on getting the LGBT community's largest organization to insist on ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell this year, as President Obama said at the State of the Union address a few weeks ago:
OUR MESSAGE TO HRC IS SIMPLE:

Publicly demand that President Obama take the lead in getting DADT repealed this year.

1) That means the President needs to state publicly that he wants Congress to repeal DADT this year; and

2) The President needs to take the lead in working with Congress to make sure the repeal happens.

HRC Front Desk: (202) 628-4160
TTY: (202) 216-1572
Toll-Free: (800) 777-4723

HRC Web site comment page.
General membership email at hrc: membership@hrc.org

Some may say that there is little the President can do, or that this is up to Congress now. That is simply untrue. The President can send a powerful signal that he wants the repeal done this year. He can include the repeal of DADT in the Defense Budget he sends to Congress in the next few months. If the President is serious about keeping his promises to our community, now is his chance to prove it.

BLOG SWARM SPONSORS

Today's blog swarm is sponsored by the following bloggers and sites, all of which will also be writing about this issue today, and urging their readers to contact HRC:

Joe Sudbay and John Aravosis, AMERICAblog
Pam Spaulding, Pam's House Blend
Michelangelo Signorile, Sirius OutQ & the Gist
Markos Moulitsas, DailyKos
Andy Towle, TowleRoad
Joe Jervis, Joe My God
Bil Browning, Bilerico
Taylor Marsh, TaylorMarsh.com
Dan Savage, Slog

MOMENTUM HAS TURNED TO CONFUSION

HRC may argue that it's already told the President it would like to see DADT repealed this year. Well, that's not enough. And here's why.

We've had an amazing few weeks of momentum on DADT repeal following the mention of DADT in the State of the Union, the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing during which both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs both stated their support for repeal, and the unexpected support we've received from former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell and former Defense Secretary and Vice President Dick Cheney.

But that momentum is quickly slipping away. After talking to people around Washington over the past two weeks, Joe and I have found a vacuum of leadership that is leading to confusion. The Hill has no idea if the President does or doesn't want them to move ahead with repeal this year. The House has already said that it's waiting for the Senate to do something. The Senate is in turmoil after the Democrats lost a single seat in January. And the DADT proposals being discussed in the Senate are focused on every possible approach
except full repeal this year.

As we painfully learned last year during health care reform, nothing happens in Congress unless the President leads. And when the President doesn't lead, disaster is guaranteed.

Whatever HRC has been telling the White House about DADT, it clearly isn't working. In spite of the President's positive comments during the State of the Union, no one knows where President Obama stands on repealing "Don't Ask Don't Tell"
this year. All the while, unnamed administration officials are telling the media that itcould be years before repeal finally happens. The White House clearly didn't get HRC's message, and as a result, we are losing this historic momentum.

WHY HRC?

Why are we focusing on HRC? Because HRC is our community's largest, best-funded gay rights organization in Washington, and they carry the most sway with the White House. In fact, HRC often boasts about their close working relationship with the White House. HRC's President, Joe Solmonese, is so close to the White House that he gave the President political cover during the uproar over the administration's brief in support of DOMA. It's time HRC, and our entire community, got something in return for everything we have done for this President, this Congress, and the entire Democratic party.
Although, I am not usually a fan of John Aravosis' tactics or language in dealing with the Obama Administration, I do agree that it is important that concrete action be taken this year which will lead to end of this mindless and discriminatory policy which falsely claims that "homosexuality is incompatible with military service." MadProfessah.com joins the blogswarm!

CALL NOW!

RI-01: Openly Gay Providence Mayor Announces Bid For Congress

Openly gay mayor of Providence, Rhode Island David Cicciline has announced that he will run for the open seat in Rhode Island First Congressional District being vacated by Patrick Kennedy. If elected, the 48-year-old Cicilline would likely become the 4th openly gay congressperson to serve in the next Congress (and second openly gay man ever to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives). The only other openly gay person running for Congress this year (that I am aware of so far) is the current mayor of Palm Springs Steve Pougnet, who is running against U.S. Represntative Mary Bono Mack in California's 45th Congressional district.

Cicciline has been Providence's mayor since 2002 and was up for re-election this year. The former head of the Rhode Island democratic party Bill Lynch has also announced he will challenge Cicilline for the Democratic nomination, and there will probably be other contestants.

He made is announcement of his official candidacy for Congress on his Facebook page on Saturday:
Today, I am announcing my candidacy for the United States Congress in the First District of the State of Rhode Island.

I’m running for Congress because Washington has lost sight of what is really happening to the hard-working middle class in the cities and towns in America. There’s a dangerous disconnect between what Washington thinks will help the American people out of this miserable economic decline and what will really make a difference in their lives right now. I see the cost and the reality of that disconnect every single day.

Rhode Island has been hit as hard as any place in America by this recession. Unemployment here is nearly the worst in the country. And no matter what the hopeful stirrings and positive signs they’re seeing in the rest of America, the fact is that Rhode Island is still in the thick of the worst of it. Somehow Washington hasn’t figured out that our Number One priority has to be creating, retaining, and training for jobs of the future.

Rhode Islanders don’t want to hear about billions of federal dollars in bank bailouts. They don’t even want to hear about billions of dollars of stimulus funds tagged for Rhode Island if that money isn’t helping them find jobs and pay for groceries today.

I’m running for Congress to take to Washington what I know about getting hard things done. That’s what mayors do every day—solve difficult problems. We cut costs, resolve complex problems, and look an impossible challenge in the eye and just figure it out. We know how to work across party lines and build coalitions to get things done. I intend to bring these critical skills and perspectives to Washington and represent this state’s urgent need to move beyond our current stagnancy and toward the economic vitality that I am so confident is within our reach.

I am gratified by the outpouring of support from the many people who have urged me to run for Congress. I look forward to presenting my vision for the future of this great country to the citizens of Rhode Island’s First District in the coming months.

Finally, I want to thank Patrick Kennedy for his extraordinary service to our state and the nation. His passionate and courageous leadership has made a lasting difference in the lives of Rhode Islanders.

David N. Cicilline
My internet connection has been sporadic the last few days, so I have not been able to blog as regularly as I would have liked.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

VIDEO: Craig Armstrong and Liz Fraser's "This Love"

The following song is one of my favorite songs of all time, "This Love" by Liz Fraser (of Cocteau Twins fame) and Craig Armstrong (who mastered many of Massive Attack's hits), from the album The Space Between Us by Craig Armstrong.

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