A personal blog by a Black, Gay, Caribbean, Liberal, Progressive, Moderate, Fit, Geeky, Married, College-Educated, NPR-Listening, Tennis-Playing, Feminist, Atheist, Math Professor in Los Angeles, California
Friday, November 30, 2007
Last Reason To Watch Survivor Is Gone
See a clip of James in action:
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Hillary Clinton Releases Plan to Fight HIV/AIDS
However, blogger Sven over at My Silver State and Pam's House Blend has noticed a curious similiarity in all three released plans: none of them include the word condom!
It should be interesting to see what particpants in the National HIV Prevention Conference in Atlanta, Georgia this weekend have to say about that. Although Mad Professah is not going, I have a bunch of friends who are. I' staying in town and going to the Fusion LGBT POC Film Festival!
Heterosexual Supremacists File Federal Lawsuit Against LGBT Student Civil Rights Law
In their lawsuit, the heterosexual supremacists claim (pdf):
The Governor of California recently signed into law Senate Bill 777, which willSenator Kuehl (who happens to be a 1978 Harvard Law School graduate) responded by saying: "There's no change in the law; it was always the same. All of these truly silly claims that they make about what could happen could have been happening over the last eight years and never did," she said. "I think they know they don't have a case. I think it's purely a fundraising mechanism for them."
take effect on January 11, 2008. Senate Bill 777, in conjunction with the California Penal Code, introduces a new definition of “gender” into the California Education Code and is part of an overall nondiscrimination scheme applicable to schools in California. Senate Bill 777 recklessly abandons the traditional understanding of biological sex in favor of an elusive definition that is unconstitutionally vague. This lawsuit facially challenges the redefinition of the term “gender” as it will be impossible for school administrators and educators to enforce this new definition.
Further, it will be impossible for administrators and educators to know whether they themselves are violating the nondiscrimination provisions of the Education Code or the Penal Code. Additionally, the special treatment intended for a select few students through the enforcement of Senate Bill 777 will result in the violation of the privacy rights of the remainder of students not targeted for special treatment under Senate Bill 777. For these reasons, Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit based upon the prohibition against vague enactments as established in the Federal Constitution and the right to privacy founded in the California Constitution.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Gasquet Denies Being Gay (Again)
Q. Now your matches are finished. Do you still have any plan to go around the city maybe with your uncle or your girlfriend?Over at Craig Hickman's Tennis Blog Gasquet is always referred to "Richie Red Shoes." Maybe that should be changed to Richie Red Shorts!
RICHARD GASQUET: My uncle? No. My girlfriend, no. I have no girlfriend, so I will try to find one, one Chinese girl. Why not? Why not? I lost 6-1, 6-1. It will be very hard for me tonight. I’m ready to lose, you know.
Q. Who is the girl watching your match with your uncle?
RICHARD GASQUET: Not my girl. I don’t know. Not my girl, for sure. No, no, no, I have just friends. Men friends, but I’m not gay.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Kasparov Arrested In Russia
Kasparov has emerged as a leading opposition spokesperson and is the official candidate for President of Russia of the Other Russia political party coalition. He is widely regarded as the best chess player of all time and is well-known to citizens of the former Soviet Republics as a national hero for his chess prowess.
Gore Gets To The White House
Monday, November 26, 2007
FUSION LGBT People of Color Film Festival in L.A. This Friday
Fusion is now in its 5th edition and is widely thought of as the only LGBT People of Color film festival in the world!
Best Women's Tennis Matches of 2007
After a horrible 2006 where her ranking had fallen out of the Top 100, Serena Williams was completely disregarded as a possible factor in the 2007 Australian Open, even moreso after she lost in the quarterfinals of a Tier III tournament in Hobart, Australia to little-known Sybille Bammer less than 2 weeks before the start of the year's first Grand Slam in Melbourne. In the early rounds, she looked scrappy and won easily before running into the #5 seed Nadia Petrova. She was down a 6-1 set and a break before she came back to win the middle set and cruise through the deciding set to win that match. She easily dispatched hard-hitting Jelena Jankovic in the next round and few people were expecting the fierce battle that occurred in the quarterfinal between Serena and Sha'har Peer, who served for the match twice before succumbing 8-6 in the 3rd set. After every hard-fought match Serena's game looked stronger and stronger and her powerfully effective serve never abandoned her. However, the final against Maria Sharapova, the #1 player in the world and winner of the previous Grand Slam was one of the most powerful displays of tennis by Serena Williams ever--and this from a woman who 4 years before had won 4 consecutive Grand Slams! The performance completely stunned the tennis establishment and sent a devastating signal to the woman who had replaced her as the most highly paid female athlete in the world. There was never any doubt who would win the title from the end of the first two games of the match: Serena was hitting winners from every part of the court and serving aces at will. It immediately set the bar for the best match of the year, which was never surpassed.
2. J. Henin BEL d. M. Sharapova RUS, 5-7 7-5 6-3, Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships final, Madrid.
The last match of the year often ends up on Best Matches of the Year lists because it is still fresh in the memory when the entire year's matches are being re-evaluated and compared. In addition, the final of the year-end championships also provide a $1 million prize to the victor. However, this year, like last year (and the year before that) a match from the tour championships has landed in the Top 5 Matches of the Year. This time it was the 3 hour, 24 minute slugfest between the new #1 Player in the World and reigning 2007 U.S. Open champ, Justine Henin, and last year's U.S. Open champ, Maria Sharapova. Both players wanted desperately to defeat the other and played some of their best tennis of the year in an attempt to blast their opponent off the court. There were incredible rallies and unbelievable shotmaking from both sides of the net. Sharapova was attempting to salvage a horrible 2007 where she had won only one title during the entire year. Henin was trying to put an exclamation point on a year in which she had won two Grand Slam titles and maintained her #1 ranking for the entire year, winning 10 titles in the process. In the end, Henin won the battle, but Sharapova made the statement that the 5-years younger player would be a factor to be dealt with in 2008 and beyond.
3. S. Williams USA d. J. Henin BEL, 0-6 7-5 6-3, Sony Ericsson Open final, Miami.
After skipping the Australian Open to "recover from her collapsed marriage," this was the first opportunity the current #1 player in the world had to play against the resurgent Serena who had early in the tournament again dismantled Maria Sharapova in straight sets to prove her Australian Open beatdown was no fluke. The entire tennis world was curious to see how the two fierce competitors would match up, especially since it had been nearly 4 years since they had played a WTA tour match against each other. Serena started the match atrociously and before long she was not only bagelled (0-6) but was fast approaching elimination as Henin earned two match points in the second set on Serena's serve (3-5). After saving those match points (one with a service winner and the other with a forced error) Serena went on to win a string of 6 consecutive games and easily won the match. However, although Serena was victorious in the first meeting of many these two combatants had in 2007, the 3 others occurred in the quarterfinals of the three remaining Grand Slam tournaments of the year and all went Henin's way, with only the Wimbledon quarterfinal providing a fraction of the drama on display in this Miami final. It will be interesting to see if the two players meet in 2008 and now that Serena's ranking is back in the Top 10, it should occur a bit deeper in the tournament, possibly even on the final Sunday of a Slam.
4. M. Bartoli FRA d. J. Henin BEL, 1-6 7-5 6-1, Wimbledon Championships semifinal, London.
Of course tennis fans were unsurprised to see Henin losing to a French player at Wimbledon, since the defending champion Amelie Mauresmo had beaten the Belgian in the 2006 final. However, the Frecnchwoman the #1 player in the world lost to at Wimbledon in 2007 was Marion Bartoli, a relative unknown more widely recognized for her coach/father's unorthodox training regimens. Mauresmo underwent an appendectomy in early Spring and was never much of a factor on tour for the rest of the year. In this match, Bartoli was down a set and 5-3 against the fearsome Belgian when she stormed back to claim the 2nd set and continued her momentum to take the deciding set easily. The result was easily the most astonishing upset of 2007 and I would argue was the biggest upset of the current decade. Bartoli went on to become firmly ensconced in the Top 10 for the rest of the year to confirm that this result was no fluke. However, Henin got her revenge at the year-end championships in Madrid, refusing to let the Frenchwoman win a single game (double bagel).
5. V. Williams USA d. J. Jankovic SRB, 4-6 6-1 7-6(4), U.S. Open Quarterfinal, New York.
It's not often the Wimbledon final doesn't make into the Top 5 Best Matches of the Year but 2007 was that kinda year. Jelena Jankovic and Venus Williams both played several excellent matches during the year but this showdown at the final Slam was I think the best of their meetings in 2007. Unfortunately for Venus, I think she peaked in this quarterfinal match and thus was not at 100% against Henin in the semifinals. Jankovic also was simply outlasted here but this match could have gone either way, and was Venus' revenge for losing another incredibly tight match to Jankovic earlier in the year at the Charleston semifinals in a 3rd set tiebreak. Venus had demolished the other "Serbian sister" Ana Ivanovic in straight sets the previous round and thus earned the rare distinction of beating both Serbians in the same Grand Slam. However, Henin earned the even rarer distinction of beating both Williams sisters in a tournament and winning it. After this match it was revealed by her mother and coach Oracene Price that Venus had been complaining of tiredness and anemia was suspected. Hopefully the condition will be treated and Venus will be 100% and fully committed to the tour in 2008.
V. Williams USA d. M. Bartoli, 6-4 6-1, Wimbledon Championships final.
J. Henin BEL d. A. Mauresmo, 7-5 6-7(4) 7-6(2), Eastbourne Open final.
A. Ivanovic SRB d. N. Vaidisova CZE, 4-6 6-2 7-5, Wimbledon Championships quarterfinal.
M. Sharapova RUS d. V. Williams USA, 2-6 6-2 7-5, Sony Ericsson Open 3rd Round.
V. Williams USA d. M. Sharapova RUS, 6-1 6-3, Wimbledon Championships 4th Round.
S. Kuznetsova RUS d. J. Henin BEL, 6-4 5-7 6-4, Qatar Telecom German Open semi-final
A. Chakvetadze RUS d. V. Williams USA, 6-7(5) 7-6(3) 6-2, Acura Classic quarterfinal.
A. Ivanovic SRC d. S. Kuznetsova RUS, 3-6 6-4 7-6(4) , Qatar Telecom German Open final.
J. Jankovic SRB d. M. Sharapova RUS, 4-6 6-3 7-5, Birmingham DFS Classic final.
E. Dementieva RUS d. S. Williams USA 5-7 6-1 6-1, Kremlin Cup fina
A. Mauresmo FRA d. K. Clijsters BEL, 6-4 7-6(4), Diamond Proximus Games final.
K. Clijsters BEL d. J. Jankovic SRB, 4-6 7-6(1) 6-4, Medibank Sydney International final.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Sampras Beats Federer In 3rd Exhibition Match After Losing First Two
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Mirthala and Mayor Call It Quits
Months after revelations about the affair damaged the mayor's political standing and devastated Salinas' broadcasting career, the two sources said the relationship disintegrated weeks ago.
"They broke up earlier in the fall. They've both moved on. And Antonio is focused on his relationships with his kids," said one person who said he learned about the breakup in October.
The other source -- who described himself as a longtime friend of Villaraigosa's -- said the relationship ended two or possibly three months ago.
"I think it was a tough summer. I think it was hard on his family. And I think he's trying hard to get past everything that was that summer," the friend said.
Both sources spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
When told of the news, most people's thoughts were "I wonder what Latino politician she is dating now?" (Salinas has previously been romantically linked to Los Angeles City County president and now State Senator Alex Padilla, current Speaker of the State Assembly Fabian Núñez and of course former Speaker of the Assembly and current Mayor of Los Angeles Villaraigosa.)
The beauty of mathematics, part 1
The short video (also available on YouTube) demonstrates effects of linear fractional transformations, also known as Möbius transformations, on a square segment of the plane. The subject is a key point in Complex Analysis, one of my favorite classes to teach due to the sheer number of beautiful visuzalizations like this one that are possible. The video was made by Douglas N. Arnold and Jonathan Rogness of the University of Minnesota and has become widely celebrated; it recently was a winner in the 2007 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Slapping Saletan on Racist Theory of Intelligence
Are differences in performance on standardized tests indicative of differences in intelligence? Are differences in intelligence, in turn, rooted in genetic difference? Are the genetic determinants of intelligence distributed in predictable patterns along racial lines? Finally, are race-based discrepancies in mean intelligence brute biological facts, impervious to social or technological efforts to alleviate them?What do you think?
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Openly Gay USC Law Pofessor Appointed to Police Commission
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
U.S. Attempting To Make HIV Travel Ban Even More Stringent
Thanks to Towleroad comes the news that the Bush administration is in the process of revising the current travel ban also, but this time they want to make it worse! The always indispensable Gay City News has an article ("A Bush Double-Cross on HIV Travel Ban") about the proposed regulation change which is currently open for public comment until December 6th. The regulation is issued by the Department of Homeland Security entitled "Issuance of a Visa and Authorization for Temporary Admission Into the United States for Certain Nonimmigrant Aliens Infected With HIV" and numbered USCBP-2007-0084-0001.
The Gay City News article (written by activist blogger Doug Ireland) summarizes the issues nicely:
Last year on World AIDS Day, President George W. Bush pledged to issue "streamlined" new regulations with a "categorical waiver" that would make it easier for the HIV-positive to receive exemptions.Are you going to let them get away with it? Go to http://www.regulations.gov/ and look for USCBP-2007-0084 and submit your comment before December 6. Do it as your way of celebrating World AIDS Day!
"Unfortunately, despite using the terms 'streamlined' and 'categorical,' in reality these regulations are neither," said Victoria Neilson, legal director of Immigration Equality, which works on behalf of LGBT and HIV-positive asylum seekers and immigrants.
Neilson told Gay City News, "This is a big disappointment, given the rhetoric of the Bush administration that the US was making it easier - because the new regs simply add more heavy burdens for the HIV-positive traveler."
Among other provisions, under the new rules proposed by DHS, a visitor would need to travel with all the medication he would need during his stay in the US; prove that he has medical insurance that is accepted in the US and would cover any medical contingency; and prove that he won't engage in behavior that might put the American public at risk. The maximum term for any waiver would be 30 days.
The new regulations purport to speed up the waiver application process because consular officers would be empowered to make decisions without seeking DHS sign-off. However, by using this "streamlined" application process, waiver applicants would have to agree to give up the ability to apply for any change in status while in the US, including applying for legal permanent residence.
The purpose of fast-tracking the new regs and setting a super-tight December 6 deadline for public comment before they take effect was to catch the AIDS community - busy with preparations for World AIDS Day on December 1 - unawares. To a certain extent, the ploy has worked.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Another L.A. Firefighter Sues Over Discrimination
Firefighter Gonzalo Salgado is suing the Los Angeles County Fire Department, alleging retaliation and hostile treatment after he told colleagues to stop making derogatory conversation about another firefighter perceived to be gay.
Salgado was unreasonably punished for allegedly losing equipment, was transferred to four different fire stations in as many months and was passed over for promotion, according to the lawsuit complaint.
Salgado, 46, had complained to the county Office of Affirmative Action Compliance and to the Fire Department's employee relations officials. Salgado alleges in the complaint that the Fire Department took years to complete its investigation, which he said was sloppily conducted.
Official reviews found no pattern of mistreatment toward Salgado, according to county investigation records, but did conclude that department managers did not appropriately report the conversation about a firefighter's perceived sexual orientation.
The complaint alleges that Salgado's supervisor, Capt. Lee Gregory, "attempted to minimize the inflammatory nature of the discussion by contending that it was a joke." Fire Department employee relations officials recommended discipline for the gossiping firefighters, but none was imposed, according to the complaint.
Venus Williams in L.A. This Weekend!
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Federer Wins 4th Masters Cup Final and $10M for 2007
By winning the year end championships, Federer won $1.2 million and a $1.5 million year end Masters Series bonus for winning the Hamburg, Cincinnati and Shanghai Masters Series events, the most on tour this year. Federer becomes the first player to win 10 million dollars in a calendar year. However, he doesn't have something that David Ferrer has:
(Hat/tip to Craig Hickman for the picture of David Ferrer's torso, above.)
IGLHRC Applauds Suspension of Execution For Gay Iranian
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has learned that the Iranian Chief Justice, Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, has nullified the impending death sentence of Mr. Makvan Mouloodzadeh, a 21-year old Iranian citizen found guilty of multiple counts of anal rape (ighab), allegedly committed when he was 13 years old. The Iranian Chief Justice described the death sentence to be in violation of Islamic teachings, the religious decrees of high-ranking Shiite clerics, and the law of the land.Congratulations to IGLHRC!
"This is a stunning victory for human rights and a reminder of the power of global protest," said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC's executive director, who on November 5 sent a letter in Persian and English asking that Iranian authorities intervene to halt the execution.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
New York Governor Spitzer Reaffirms Intent To Legalize Gay Marriage
*sigh* If only we could swap our Governator for a real Governor like Spitzer!
Friday, November 16, 2007
Federer To Face Nadal; Roddick Faces Ferrer at Masters Cup
Federer will meet Rafael Nadal for the second consecutive year in the Masters Cup semifinal. At Last year's event they played one of the best matches of the year which was won by Federer in two very tight sets of excellent tennis 6-4 7-5. MadProfessah hopes for (and expects to see) a repeat of last year's semifinal, with the same victor.
In the other semifinal, Andy Roddick will meet David Ferrer who has been on fire. Mad Professah believes that Ferrer now believes that he can beat anyone on tour, and he can, so I expect he will outlast Roddick in three sets. If the match is only two sets, I believe Roddick will pull through.
CDC Rumored To Announce 50% Inrease In Annual HIV Infections
Now insiders are saying that estimate may be revised upwards by nearly 50 percent to between 58,000 to 63,000 new HIV cases per year.
In preparation for World AIDS Day (December 1) in about two weeks, the CDC has scheduled a webcast at 11am PST (2pm PST) at which a number of senior administration officials responsible for HIV/AIDS policy in the United States are scheduled to appear:
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH
Dr. Deborah Parham Hopson, Associate Administrator for HIV/AIDS, HRSA
Dr. Kevin Fenton, Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC
Ms. Beverly Watts Davis, Senior Advisor on Substance Abuse, Office of the Administrator, SAMHSA
Christopher H. Bates, Acting Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy, will moderate the webcast
If you miss the webcast, an archive and transcript will be available at www.AIDS.gov.
Organ Transplant Leads to 4 HIV and Hepatitis Co-Infection
Initially, the donor had tested negative for both H.I.V. and hepatitis C, apparently because the infection was too recent to be detected by commonly used blood tests. Those tests do not find the virus itself, but instead look for the body’s reaction to the infection — antibodies, produced by the immune system. But the body takes time to react, and if the test is done too soon, within 22 days of H.I.V. infection or 82 days for hepatitis C, antibodies may not yet be detectable. Doctors say that is what probably occurred in Chicago.
It has always been known that this kind of transmission was theoretically possible, but it was considered highly unlikely. And indeed, since 1994 nearly 300,000 transplants from have occurred without any reported cases of H.I.V. transmission.
Another, more sensitive type of test can pick up viral infections earlier, but was not used. That test looks for evidence of the virus itself, and can reduce the “window,” the early period in which the test does not work, to 12 days for H.I.V. and 25 days for hepatitis C. That test, called the nucleic acid amplification test is not widely available, and doctors said that it was more difficult and time-consuming than other tests and that there is usually no time to spare with transplants because organs deteriorate quickly when the donor dies.
According to the University of Chicago, the organ donor in Illinois, an adult, was known to be “high risk,” based on a risk factor revealed by a close friend who provided “a health and social history.” The exact nature of the risk was not disclosed. Federal guidelines recommend against transplanting organs from high-risk people unless the recipients are so likely to die for want of a transplant that H.I.V. seems a lesser threat.
There is a shortage of organs for transplant, and many patients die waiting. Currently in the United States, 98,000 people are on the transplant list, but only about 19,000 transplants have been done this year. Last year, 7,200 died waiting.
In 2005 Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that prohibited discrimination in the provision of medically necessary organ transplants based on the HIV status of the recipient.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Migden-Leno Primary Race Gets Even Uglier
State officials are trying to determine if Migden used credit cards to charge $397,000 in expenses without disclosing who was initially paid and for what, according to the newspaper. If Migden is found to be in violation with campaign finance laws, she could face up to $60,000 in administrative fines.Umm, yeah, right Mark. Does this really help you make the case that you're the most qualified candidate to repesent the people of the 3rd Senatorial District of California?
"We're working with the FPPC to address some issues, to resolve some errors that were self-reported," Migden told the newspaper, adding that the lack of itemization of credit card expenses "would be part and parcel of that."
She had previously been charged with violations and fined a total of $110,600 for failing to disclose donations by deadlines set in state law, including twice last year.
State officials launched the investigations of Migden's expenses after they received a formal complaint from Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who is running against Migden in the upcoming election.
"It goes right to the heart of the cynicism voters have about the political process," he said.
Mad Professah has been following this race for quite awhile and has family members living in the district. I intend to make an endorsement in the race before the June primary. Let's hope that the race can be fought on the issues of importance to the voters of San Francisco and not turn into an internecine personality fight.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
FX Renews 'Damages' For 2 More Seasons!
The show has been critically acclaimed but ratings challenged, averaging just 2.5 million viewers per episode. Television executives decided to take a gamble on Glenn Close and the the rest of the cast as well as the show getting award nominations to raise public awareness.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Race, Drugs and Sentencing Laws
Regardless of the intention, those guidelines proved not only discriminatory but ineffective -- as well as unjustified by scientific research. More than 80% of those serving time in federal prison on crack charges are African American. This has justifiably fueled distrust and disrespect for the law in black communities. Why should a black crack addict get more time than a white cocaine addict? Especially when research has shown that the two drugs are pharmacologically identical? Moreover, 20 years of harsh crack sentences have done nothing to stem the drug trade.
As of Nov. 1, the sentencing disparity has been eased, and Congress did the right thing by allowing the changes to take effect. Today, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a panel created by Congress in 1984 to ensure fair terms for those convicted on federal charges, will discuss whether to make the reduction in sentences retroactive -- a move that would shave an average of at least two years off the terms of nearly 20,000 inmates.
The Justice Department argues that returning all those convicts to the streets represents a potential danger to the community. Perhaps, but then the release of any inmate represents a potential danger; anyone eligible for release has already served ample time for his or her crime. Because the Sentencing Commission has already ruled that the crack guidelines were unfair, it would be inconsistent to keep inmates in prison simply because they were sentenced before the rules were changed. What is unfair now was unfair then.
Mad Professah agrees with the calls for retroactivity, and notes that when drug sentences for marijuana and LSD were changed in the early 90s, those changes were applied retroactively. Of course, those changes primarily affected white people, while the current sentences for crack cocaine primarily affect black and brown people. I'm jus' sayin...
Federer Loses (Again)
The last few weeks have been rough for the World #1, who has lost 3 matches (twice against his nemesis from the juniors David Nalbandian). In 2005, Federer lost only 4 matches out of 85 played, and three of them were to World #2 Rafael Nadal! Last year, Federer lost 5 matches out of 97 played. In 2007 he has (so far) lost a total of eight matches out of 73 played. This year Federer lost to Novak Djokovic, Guillermo Canas (twice, consecutively), Fillipo Volandri, Rafael Nadal (twice) and David Nalbandian (twice, consecutively).
Most tennis fans are not crying in their beers for Federer, however. See, Craig Hickman's tennis blog for more details. Mad Professah still believes that Federer IS the greatest tennis player of all time, and will break Pete Sampras' grand slam record by Wimbledon 2009. Federer has 12 Grand Slam titles and needs to reach 15 in order to exceed Sampras' record.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
In San Francisco
Friday, November 09, 2007
Gay Jamaican Man Wins Asylum in U.S.
NEW YORK (November 8, 2007) - Today, Columbia Law School's Sexuality andWith the movement of IGLHRC's Asylum Project to another organization a few weeks ago, it is heartening to see other organizations stepping up to conduct this very important work.
Gender Law Clinic secured asylum for Ven Messam, a gay man who feared
persecution if forced to return to Jamaica because of his sexual
orientation. The grant of asylum, issued by the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security, comes at a time when conditions for gay, lesbian,
bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people in Jamaica are getting more
dangerous by the day.
Within just the last month, gay Jamaicans have been murdered and the
government has not intervened. Rampant rumors that hostile groups are
plotting the social cleansing of hundreds of gay people by year's end have
forced countless GLBT people into hiding. Far from a tropical paradise,
this Caribbean nation continues to imprison and kill its gay citizens with
"I am grateful to the United States government for saving my life," said
Mr. Messam. "My life in Jamaica was constantly in danger, with angry mobs
carrying machetes, stones, knives, and guns, threatening to kill me
because I am gay. When I tried to contact the police for help, the police
instead threatened to arrest me and told me to leave the country if I
wanted to stay safe."
"This asylum grant highlights the particularly severe dangers facing gay
Jamaicans. From election campaigns that use songs which promote burning
and killing gay people to police support for violent, anti-gay mobs, the
Jamaican government is actively menacing and endangering its gay
citizens," said Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg, director of the Sexuality
and Gender Law Clinic.
"Mr. Messam's personal story, and the stories of countless other Jamaicans
demonstrate the terrifying situation facing GLBT individuals in Jamaica"
said Simrin Parmar, one of the Columbia law students who worked on this
case. "We are thankful that Mr. Messam will be able to live openly as a
gay man--safe from government-sponsored persecution," remarked Jennifer
Stark, another Columbia law student who worked on this case, "but it is
alarming to think about the fate of other GLBT people in Jamaica who are
not as fortunate."
Mr. Messam was referred to Columbia's Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic by
Immigration Equality, a national organization focused on immigration
rights for GLBT individuals, which provided important assistance in the
Since this past September, four students from Columbia's Sexuality and
Gender Clinic--Simrin Parmar '08, Jennifer Stark '09, Jonathan Lieberman
'08, and Eileen Plaza '09--have provided legal assistance in preparing
their client's application for asylum. The students spent many months
conducting interviews, drafting affidavits, researching country
conditions, filling out necessary forms, accompanying their client to the
New York asylum office, and providing assistance during his interview.
"This experience--where students are responsible for working through the
challenges of a case that makes a real world difference in an emerging and
important area of law--is what the Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic is all
about," said Professor Suzanne B. Goldberg. "Thanks to the students'
work, we can now provide supporting materials to asylum advocates for gay
Jamaicans anywhere in the world," she added.
Columbia Law School's Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic began in September
2006 and currently has eight students. Under Professor Goldberg's
guidance, students have worked on a wide range of projects, from
constitutional litigation to legislative advocacy to immigration cases.
Through the broad scope of its work, clinic students have had the
opportunity to serve both individual and organizational clients, and they
have devoted over 6,500 hours to cases involving issues of sexuality and
gender law. For more information, please visit
Thursday, November 08, 2007
China To Drop HIV Travel Ban
"China has decided to change its immigration laws, scrapping travel restrictions," Michel Kazatchkine, executive director of the Global Fund, told a news conference.
"The new law, which hopefully will be passed in the coming months, will be in line with the global conventions, which recognize that travel restrictions for HIV-positive people do not have any public health value," he said.
Vice Minister of Health Huang Jiefu did not give a timeline for the change, but said China was committed to making the amendment.
"Modifying laws and regulations is quite a complicated process and it takes some time. I must be very candid with you, that this process has not been completed yet," he said.
"But I would like to ask the international community and the media to rest assured that China would honor its commitment ..." he said.
Congresswoman Lee's bill, H.R. 3337 (The HIV Nondiscrimination in Travel and Immigration Act of 2007), currently has 24 co-sponsors and is unlikely to go very far in the current session of Congress.
It would be interestng to see what current Democratic (and Republican) presidential candidates think of this legislation.
Serena Withdraws from Year End Championships in Madrid
World #5 Serena Williams withdrew from the season-ending WTA Championships being held in Madrid today after losing the first set 6-4 and retiring from her first match against Anna Chakvetadze with a knee injury. As shown above, she did try and play for awhile with the injury but was forced to retire. Her withdrawal means that she is replaced by Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli who will play her first match against an undefeated World #1 and defending champion Justine Henin. The tennis world (and apparently Serena) has been looking forward to a re-match between the World #1 who had defeated the 8-time Grand Slam champion in 3 consecutive quarterfinal match-ups this year (Roland Garros, Wimbledon and U.S. Open) after Serena won the 2007 Australian Open after starting the year ranked #95.
House Passes Federal Gay Rights Bill 235-184
“We are deeply disappointed that House leadership decided to ignore the position of a vast majority of LGBT organizations, ignore the legal assessment that this bill may not even provide adequate protections for gays, lesbians and bisexuals, and ignore the fact that this vote might make it more difficult to persuade members of Congress to support a fully inclusive bill in the future. We are also disappointed that House leadership forced many members of its own caucus to choose between voting for a bill not supported by most in the LGBT community, or voting against a civil rights bill. This entire process has been painful, divisive and unnecessary. And worst of all, we went through all of this on behalf of a bill that the president has already said he would veto.
“The past six weeks have been among the most difficult and challenging our community has ever faced. When confronted with the possibility of Congress moving forward on a bill that stripped out protections for transgender people, the activist and grassroots backbone of our movement responded almost instantaneously in unprecedented numbers with conviction, passion and political savvy. United ENDA — a broad coalition of more than 360 national, statewide and local LGBT organizations, community centers and health clinics — fueled the effort. All of this has shaken the long-established order to its core and things will never be the same. While we are frustrated with the course of action that has been taken so far, we will not stop pressing forward toward our ultimate goal: nondiscrimination protections for everyone in our community.
“We are relieved this episode is behind us, and starting right now we are going to pick up where we were six weeks ago — namely, working to pass into law in 2009 the ENDA our entire community wants and deserves.
“We also applaud our champions in Congress who courageously fought in committee, in their caucus and on the floor to guarantee protections for all LGBT individuals. Many members of Congress took significant risks to buck their leadership and speak out in favor of an inclusive bill. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) fought to bring an amendment to the floor to add gender identity protections. Reps. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) voted against the non-inclusive bill in the House Education and Labor Committee. Seven members voted against the bill on the floor today on the principle that the bill should have provided protections on the basis of gender identity: Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Rush Holt (D-N.J.), Michael Michaud (D-Maine), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). The LGBT community will be forever grateful for their passionate support.”
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
2007 Election Roundup
Generally, a year before the pivotal 2008 Presidential Election, Democrats did very well around the country.
In Kentucky corrupt incumbent Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher was replaced by Democrat Steve Beshear.
In Virginia (where Mad Professah was on election day), Democrats changed a 17-23 deficit in the state Senate to a 21-18 majority with one race too close to call.
In the "battleground state" of Ohio, Democrats won mayoral races all over the Buckeye State including such previously red areas like Columbus, Chillcothe, Marion, Canton.
Here's looking forward to November 4, 2008! It's gonna be an interesting year.
HRC Now Publicly Supporting SPLENDA
Last spring, Congressman Barney Frank introduced HR 2015, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which prevents employers from discriminating against workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity. After much discussion, House leadership determined that Congress did not have the political will to pass HR 2015, and has decided to move forward with a narrower ENDA bill, HR 3685, that prevents discrimination based only on sexual orientation. While it is not the inclusive bill we wanted, if passed by the House, HR 3685 would be the largest and most prominent step Congress has ever taken in protecting gay rights.
While the bill Congress is set to vote on a non-inclusive ENDA is not what we wanted, the Human Rights Campaign decided to stay at the table with Congress to fight for the best bill possible, and because passage of this legislation is a first and absolutely necessary step toward preventing discrimination based on gender identity.
Throughout this entire struggle, the Human Rights Campaign has been guided by the principle of equality for all. We’ve also been guided by the need to navigate potential roadblocks in order to achieve that equality and we’ve tried not to get ourselves boxed into a corner -- especially if that corner opposes progress.
We believe that staying at the table and negotiating in support of the best possible bill is better than simply walking away. It isn’t right and it’s a disappointing reality of how politics works but if we are going to win we can’t ever be disillusioned by letting the perfect get in the way of the good. But, without a doubt, the only path to achieving a bill protecting our whole community is by achieving a successful House vote tomorrow. A defeat of ENDA tomorrow would set back the possibility of an inclusive bill for many, many years.
Moral and principled advocates for equality can disagree on strategies but we should never question each others commitment to the common goal of equality we all share. We hope that our partners in the ongoing fight for equality will join with us in this step forward and not seek to divide us.
The Family Research Council, Traditional Values Coalition and their allies would like nothing more than for our movement to fail, and for ENDA to die in this Congress. To stand idly by and let that happen would constitute ceding ground.
Once it was clear that HR 3685 was heading to the House floor for debate and a vote, HRC joined the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and other civil rights groups on a letter asking Members of Congress to vote for H.R. 3685. All of these groups agree, defeat of a major civil rights bill on the House floor would set back the movement many years.
Last night the bill was reported out of the Rules Committee. As of now, all indicators suggest that the ENDA will brought to the House floor for debate and a vote on Wednesday.
Pam's House Blend has the gory details.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
(SPL)ENDA set for floor vote this week
What's interesting are the inside the beltway details of the latest on the Baldwin Amendment to restore transgender protections to the bill:
Floor action on ENDA could come as early as Tuesday, but is clearly expected some day this week.
The Committee will also consider whether an amendment from out lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, to add transgender protections back into the bill, will be heard on the floor as well. Baldwin, originally Frank's co-lead sponsor on ENDA, declined to put her name on his revised measure, urging instead that the original, fully-inclusive bill be taken up by the House.
Baldwin has apparently made limited headway in wooing colleagues to support the inclusion of transgender protections, and ironically her measure, if put to a vote, would create precisely the framework that Frank warned against when he advised a narrower formulation of the bill. His fear was that Republicans would put up a mirror-image amendment to Baldwin's, stripping out transgender protections.
Such an amendment, by forcing members of Congress to record a vote specifically on that issue, threatened to point up the weakness of support for transgender rights - and if done by using a particular parliamentary maneuver could have killed the entire bill for this session.
Both Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Roberta Sklar, a spokeswoman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force - two groups leading a coalition of roughly 300 organizations pressing Congress to vote no on any version of ENDA that is not fully inclusive - confirmed today that their understanding is the same as what Gay City News learned last week: that Baldwin's amendment would be offered on the floor, debated, probably for one hour, and then withdrawn.
"It's unfortunate that leadership would continue to try to pass a bill that the LGBT community has said it doesn't want," Keisling said when asked about the imminent Rules Committee action. "But whatever happens, this is not the end. There is no chance of this becoming law now. We will have to get together and decide how to proceed in '09."
And so the plot thickens....
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Nalbandian Repeats Crush Of Nadal; Wins Paris
Friday, November 02, 2007
Off To Washington, D.C.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Hingis Retires From Tennis (Again!)
Nalbandian Defeats Federer For Second Time In A Row
Craig Hickman (blogging from The Netherlands) has more details on that and the other major tennis story of the day...
Marriage and Domestic Partnerships Roundup
In Rhode Island, the General Assembly has over-ridden the veto of a bill to provide domestic partners of public employees with the same pension and retirement benefits as spouses.
In New Jersey, the Rutgers-Eagleton poll was released which found that 48% of respondents supported marriage for same-sex couples while 44% oppose legalization of gay marriage.