Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sony Ericsson Open 2009: Venus, Serena, Federer, Roddick Win

Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Andy Roddick all advanced at the 2009 Sony Ericsson Open over the weekend.
On Monday both sisters escaped horrendous play to win 3-set matches against lower-ranked opponents to make the quarterfinals. Venus beat Aggie Radwanska 4-6 6-1 6-4 while Serena beat Zie Jheng 7-5 5-7 6-3.
The two could meet each other in the semifinals on Thursday. Serena is attempting a record 6th title (3rd in a row) while Venus has won 3 title here in Miami herself.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Community Town Hall Wed April 1 at LA Gay Center

The LA Gay and Lesbian Center will be hosting the first in a series of town hall events to be held all over the state to discuss next steps in the fight for marriage equality in California.

As part of a statewide series of meetings on the freedom to marry, the Center will co-host a community Town Hall on Wednesday from 7-9:30 p.m. at The Village. Those who can’t attend in person will be able to watch via live webcast.

Kate Kend[e]ll of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Jon Davidson of Lambda Legal will share their perspectives on how the California Supreme Court is likely to rule in the legal challenges to Prop 8, and leaders from statewide and local organizations will discuss what is happening across California. A Q&A will follow.
The final 90 minutes of the meeting will be dedicated to an open discussion about what should happen after the court issues its ruling and in the future.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP. Parking is free, but plan to arrive early for the closest spaces. .

The meetings are sponsored by the members of the Equality For All Coalition. MadProfessah will be on the panel, representing the Barbara Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition.
Hope to see you there!

BOOK REVIEW: The Name of the Wind

I read Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind on the recommendation of the owners of Mystery & Imagination Bookshop (238 N. Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA) when I wandered in there looking to see if maybe some of my favorite authors had published anything new that I had missed.

After much discussion, she recommended Rothfuss' debut novel, saying that no one she had recommended it to had been disappointed. She was correct.

The Name of the Wind is the best fantasy book I have read in a long, long time.

It has a number of features that make it similar to other very popular and classic works in the genre, such as: a story within a story, the ubiquity of magic instead of science and technology, a school (university) setting where magic is taught to impressionable teens, an orphaned protagonist anda trio of friends that includes the central character.
The author has announced that The Name of the Wind will be the first book in a trilogy, called The Kingkilller Chronicles. The next book, called The Wise Man Fear is set to be released on April 19, 2009. I can't wait!
Rothfuss has made me consider reading fantasy again and expanded the list of authors whose work I have begun reading, which include China Mieville and Scott Lynch. There are also several others who I haven't even gotten around to reading yet: Joe Abercrombie's First Law series, Hal Duncan's Vellum and Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind.
These last two are suggestions by the good people at Mystery & Imagination. I'll get to them after reading the The Wise Man's Fear or the end of the semester--whichever comes first!
The Name of the Wind is 736 pages long in the mass-market paperback edition released April 1, 2008.

Eye Candy: Jakub Stefano

Thanks to David over at (the newly redesigned) Queerty, there are more than a dozen pictures of Jakub Stefano available for your viewing pleasure. There are even more pictures (some of which are most definitely "NSFW"--not safe for work) available on Jakub's blog. You can thank me by rating this post!

Friday, March 27, 2009

The 2008 ED Salaries and Budgets of 25 Largest LGBT Orgs

This is an excellent piece of journalism which is currently reverberating through the LGBT blogosphere. The Washington Blade reported the 2008 salaries and budgets of the 25 largest LGBT organizations, doing ane xcellent job to place the numbers in context with organizational size and comparing them to non-LGBT non-profit organizations with comparative budgets.

Click on the sample above created by Pam Spaulding to see the full chart of the Top 25.
I'll have more to say on this over the weekend.

Celebrity Friday: Keith and Kevin Hodges

Fellow Black gay blogger Darian clued me in to the work of Keith and Kevin Hodges, straight African American twins who have posted a video on their Youtube channel which discusses homophobia and coming out issues from a straight Black (and phyne!) perspective.

Check out their stuff--and their videos too!

VIDEO: Andy Murray & Venus Williams Traffic Tennis

hat/tip to Craig Hickman's Tennis Blog

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Cormac McCarthy's The Road was clearly The Book of Year in 2007: Although it was published in 2006, the following year The Road was an Oprah's Book Club selection, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The book will be made into a "major motion picture" starring Viggo Mortensen released this year. McCarthy's novella No Country For Old Men was adapted into a movie by the Coen Brothers which in 2008 won them Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay and a Best Supporting Actor for Javier Bardem.

The Road is the story of a post-apocalyptic world in which A Man and his Son are walking along The Road to The Sea (the West Coast of the United States). The reader is never told the age or names of the main characters. The actual apocalypse is never explained, but the reader is left to make conclusions from tantalizing clues like "a blinding light in the distance" and the fact that there are no longer any birds or animals visible or audible from The Road.

The prose is separated into short, vivid scenes of a few paragraphs in length. It is a mind-numbingly dark and depressing tale.

The book makes the reader confront questions of life and death and attempt to unpack the individual's understanding of hope. For example, what would you do if 99% of the world's population was killed and you were still alive in a world where civilization had broken down completely? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Would you fight to survive against all odds or would you just give up to "the inevitable"?

I probably wouldn't have read the book if it wasn't the choice for a Gay Men's Book Club that I was invited to. Happily, it is quite a quick read. In some sense it is hard to put down once you start it--but I wouldn't exactly call it an enjoyable experience. I am glad that I read the book, since I was curious about his book that was both an Oprah's Book Club selection and a Pulitzer Prize winner. I'm not so sure that I would recommend it to others, however.



New Hampshire House Approves Marriage Equality

Not to be outdone by their fellow New Englanders in the Vermont Senate, the New Hampshire House of Representatives has approved a marriage equality bill by a vote of 186-179.

Interestingly, it was almost exactly two years ago that the New Hampshire legislature passed a civil unions bill that Democratic Governor John Lynch signed into law. He has said that he is opposed to same-sex marriage but unlike the Republican governor of neighboring Vermont, Lynch has not announced that he will veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.

In 2007, the House approved the civil unions bill by a vote of 243-129 and the Senate approved by a vote of 14-10. I think this is probably a good sign that the bill will make it to Lynch's desk and we can find out if takes a Democratic governor to have the cojones to sign a marriage equalitybill, or is this a peculiarly bipartisan gubernatorial defect.

Kim Clijsters Announces Return to WTA Tour!

The 2005 US Open champion, wife and mother Kim Clijsters has announced her return to competitive tennis with participation in Cincinnati, Toronto and the U.S. Open this summer. She had retired from tennis (at the age of 23!) on May 31, 2007.

Craig Hickman's Tennis Blog has more.

I think this means Justine Henin will be back soon! What do YOU think?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

President Obama Wants Your Questions!

President Barack Obama gave his second official prime time press conference on his 64th day in office on Tuesday. On Thursday, the President will answer questions submitted to him via the White House website, at WhiteHouse.gov/openforquestions. Here is the question I submitted:
"Do you agree that all 9th grade students in the U.S. should be able to solve the simultaneous equations 7x+5y=1 and x-y=1? is this an important learning outcome of our education system? Why is learning algebra more important than other math skills?"
You can also vote on other people's questions. There is no "civil rights" section but you can do a search or "gay" or "lesbian" or "HIV" and vote (up or down) questions of interest to the LGBT and HIV communities.

The questions are accepted until 9:30am EDT on Thursday. The online town hall starts at 11:30am EDT.

Vermont Republican Governor Announces Veto Threat

This just in! Governor Jim Douglas of Maine Vermont has finally announced his position on the marriage equality bill flying through his state's legislature. He intends to veto it (audio). The Burlington Free-Press reports:
"I believe our civil union law serves Vermont well ..." Douglas told a gathering of reporters and onlookers at a hastily called news conference in the Pavilion Building. "I believe that marriage should remain between a man and a woman. ... I'm announcing that I intend to veto this legislation when it reaches my desk."


"The speculation about my decision has added to the anxiety of the moment, and further diverts attention from our most pressing issues, and I cannot allow that to happen," he said.

Should the bill pass the House, and should Douglas follow through on his promise to veto the measure, the House can re-convene to try to override that veto. Douglas spoke of that possibility bluntly.

"On such an intensely divisive issue as this, I expect all members will vote as their individual conscience dictates and in the best interest of their districts, and not as political leadership requires," he said. "That said, I'm sure that legislative leaders would not have advanced this bill if they didn't have the votes to override a veto. I will accept the outcome of their vote, either way."

To override a veto, proponents of the measure would need to collect 100 votes in the 150-member chamber, constituting a 2/3 majority.
The marriage equality bill passed by a veto-proof majority in the Senate on Tuesday but is unlikely to do so in the House.

SD-26: Curren Price will be next State Senator

Curren Price will become the next State Senator from the 26th District after the May 19th Special Election. He placed first among all vote-getters in Tuesday's Special Primary Election, so as the top Democrat he will face Republican Nachum Shifren and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Cindy Varela Henderson. Only between 6-8% of registered voters bothered to turn out in Tuesday's election, less than half the percentage that turned out in the Los Angeles City elections three weeks earlier.

Thanks for the commenters at MadProfessah.com and Calitics for setting me "straight." If State Senator Abel Maldonado's June 2010 Open Primary Initiative constitutional amendment passes then the scenario I had mentioned yesterday (run-offs between the two top vote getters regardless of party if no one gets 50%+1) would come to pass.

Oh, and later in 2009 there will need to be a special election to replace Curren Price in the 51st Assembly District!

SD-26: Election Results (Price-Davis Runoff Likely)

The results in Tuesday's 26th State Senate District Special Election can be found at the Secretary of State's website. The latest--very early, i.e. 15.5% (55 of 354 precincts reporting)--results are)

Candidate                Votes   Percent
Mike Davis (Dem) 2,968 23.44%
Saundra Davis (Dem) 840 6.63%
Cindy Varela Henderson (P&F) 244 1.93%
Curren D. Price, Jr. (Dem) 3,996 31.56%
Nachum Shifren (Rep) 1,910 15.08%
Robert Cole (Dem) 1,883 14.87%
Mervin Leon Evans (Dem) 76 0.60%
Jonathan Friedman (Dem) 745 5.88%
Another election will be held during the statewide May 19th special election between the top two vote getters if no candidate gets 50% +1 vote in this election. Mike Davis and Curren Price are both sitting Assemblymembers but only one of them is in favor of marriage equality and has had nearly 750,000 dollars of independent expenditures on his behalf: Curren Price.

It will not be a good sign for the forces of equality if Price can not get more than 1/3rd of the vote (and barely 10 points more than his nearest competitor, even in an 8-way race) despite out-raising and out-spending his opposition by something like a 8-to-1 ratio.


Candidate     Votes   Percent
Mike Davis (Dem) 5,158 21.78%
Saundra Davis (Dem) 1,803 7.61%
Cindy Varela Henderson (P&F) 414 1.75%
Curren D. Price, Jr. (Dem) 8,442 35.65%
Nachum Shifren (Rep) 2,731 11.53%
Robert Cole (Dem) 3,133 13.23%
Mervin Leon Evans (Dem) 136 0.57%
Jonathan Friedman (Dem) 1,864 7.87%

Gentleman, start your engines!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Vermont Senate Approves Marriage Equality Bill 26-4!

Amazing news from the Green Mountain State! The Vermont Senate has just given final approval to S.115 (full text) a bill that would allow same-sex couples to marry. It has passed the upper legislative house by a veto-proof majority, but this is unlikely to be repeated in the much larger State House with the companion bill, H. 178.

Republican Governor Jim Douglas has refused to state his position on the bill, although he has stated his opposition to marriage equality in the past.

Congratulations to Beth Robinson and all my friends at the Vermont Freedom To Marry Task Force who have been working on this issue since the early 1990s.

SD-26: MadProfessah with Curren Price and Mark Ridley-Thomas

MadProfessah attended Equality California Political Action Committee event to support Curren Price's campaign for the 26th State Senate District and took the above picture with Assemblymember Price (left), Sheryl Lee Ralph, Los Angeles County Supervisor (and former 26th District State Senator) Mark Ridley-Thomas (in Black).
Today is the special election. If you are in the 26th District, please vote for Curren Price, he is the only candidate in the race who not only supports marriage equality but also endorsed a resolution declaring Proposition 8 an unconstitutional revision of the California Constitution.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Eye Candy: Denham Ravi

Queerty continues to be an excellent source of attractive scantily clad men of color. Denham Ravi is an Australian guy who is of Sri Lankan extraction. Check out Queerty for more pictures of Denham which show off his interesting tattoos!

California Has Lowest Bond Rating in USA

It's official. California now has the lowest bond rating of any state in the Union.

All three major credit agencies are giving California the nation's lowest bond rating.


Moody's Investors Service downgraded the state's general-obligation bonds to A2 from A1 on Friday. The move follows similar decisions by Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings.

California previously was tied with Louisiana for the nation's worst credit rating.

Worse than Louisiana. Dayummmmmm!

At Calitics, there is a front page post stating that it is unlikely the CA economy will recover for at least two years.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New Initiative Circulating To Repeal Prop 8

The Secretary of State of California announced that the following ballot measure is now available for circulation.

The Attorney General prepares the legal title and summary that is required to appear on initiative petitions. When the official language is complete, the Attorney General forwards it to the proponent and to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State then provides calendar deadlines to the proponent and to county elections officials, and the initiative may be circulated for signatures. The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure is as follows:

REINSTATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Repeals the current provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Provides that the initiative is not intended, and shall not be interpreted, to modify or change the curriculum in any school. Clarifies that the initiative is not intended, and shall not be interpreted, to mandate or require clergy of any church to perform a service or duty inconsistent with his or her faith. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Over the long run, this measure would likely have little fiscal impact on state and local governments. (09-0002.)

The Secretary of State’s tracking number for this measure is 1357 and the Attorney General’s tracking number is 09-0002.

The proponent for this measure, Charles Lowe, must collect signatures of 694,354 registered voters – the number equal to 8% of the total votes cast for governor in the 2006 gubernatorial election – in order to qualify it for the ballot. The proponent has 150 days to circulate petitions for this measure, meaning the signatures must be collected by August 17, 2009.
I'd sign this petition, would you?

New Mexico Repeals Death Penalty!

New Mexico became the latest state to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole when Governor Bill Richardson signed a repeal bill into law on Thursday.

Gov. Bill Richardson, who has supported capital punishment, signed legislation to repeal New Mexico's death penalty, calling it the "most difficult decision in my political life."

The new law replaces lethal injection with a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The repeal takes effect on July 1, and applies only to crimes committed after that date.

"Regardless of my personal opinion about the death penalty, I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime," Richardson said.


New Mexico becomes only the second state after New Jersey to ban executions since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Fourteen other states do not impose capital punishment.

Congratulations to New Mexico! Now pass the domestic partnership bill, already!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

SD-26: Vote for Price in Tue Mar 24 Special Election

On Tuesday March 24th there is a special election to fill the vacancy in the 26th State Senate district caused by Mark Ridley-Thomas becoming a Los Angeles County Supervisor last December.

From the Los Angeles Times:
Eight candidates are running to replace Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in November, in the district, which is politically liberal and ethnically and economically diverse. Six Democrats, one Republican and one Peace and Freedom Party member are on the ballot in the district, which includes several Westside communities, parts of South Los Angeles, Baldwin Hills, Ladera Heights, Culver City, West Hollywood, Silver Lake and Larchmont, among others.

The district's registration -- 66% Democratic -- and voting history virtually ensure the seat will again go to a Democrat. But if no candidate musters a majority of the ballots Tuesday, another special election will be held May 19, with the top vote-getter from each of the three political parties with candidates in the race.

That means whichever Democrat comes out on top Tuesday will be the next representative of the district, said Allan Hoffenblum, publisher of the California Target Book, which provides nonpartisan, detailed analyses of the state's political districts.

"The only question is can it be won outright, or will the Democratic winner have to go to a runoff," said Hoffenblum, who, like other political experts watching the race, sees Assemblyman Curren Price Jr. as the front-runner.
MadProfessah has endorsed Curren Price, who is also endorsed by Equality California, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and State Senate Pro Tem Darrel Steinberg and openly LGBT Senators Mark Leno and Christine Kehoe. Curiously, Speaker Karen Bass has not endorsed Curren Price, and I believe part of her assembly district overlaps SD-26.

If you live in the 26th district (see the map above), I encourage you to vote for Assemblymember Price, and help him to avoid the May 19th run-off election.

On Sunday, there is an event which Equality California PAC is sponsoring and MadProfessah will be attending:

Curren Price for LGBT Equality

EQCA PAC Fundraiser
Hosted by Sheryl Lee Ralph & Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes

Special Guest
Assemblymember Curren Price (D-Los Angeles)

Sunday, March 22
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Mid-City/Country Club Park
Los Angeles

For event address, to become an event host or RSVP, email or call 323.461.100

Friday, March 20, 2009

SCI FI FRI: Battlestar Galactica Ends Tonight!

Once called "the best show on television," the Peabody award-winning Battlestar Galactica ends its original series run tonight on the soon to-be-named "Sy Fy Channel" (formerly SciFi channel).

Celebrity Friday: Cary Alan Johnson

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has announced that Cary Alan Johnson will become their executive director effective March 1, 2009. Since I served on the Board of Directors of the organization from 1996 to 2002 I still keep pretty close tabs on IGLHRC's doing and am in pretty close contact with most of their executive directors, although I have never met Mr. Johnson. 

For example, I ran into Julie Dorf, IGLHRC's founder and first executive director at Creating Change 2009 in Denver in January which she was attending as part of her work with a new organization called the Global Council for Equality.

Juie Dorf's successor was Surina Khan who attended a fundraiser for Judy Chu's congressional campaign to fill the seat vacated by currentLabor Secretary Hilda Solis

I ran into Surina Khan's successor Paula Ettelbrick at the Global Arc of Justice conference last week at UCLA Law School, and she was excited about being unemployed for the first time in her adult life.

It's like some kind of six degrees of separation game with IGLHRC's executive directors and I am Kevin Bacon!

President Obama on The Tonight Show

Barack Obama became the first sitting President to appear on a late-night television show.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is Roger Federer Gay? Apparently Not!

World #2 Roger Federer confirmed earlier this week that he and his longtime companion/girlfriend/fiancee Mirka Vavrinec are expecting their first child this summer. The 13-time Grand Slam champion insisted (impending) fatherhood will not alter his motivation to play tennis:

“I think it’s not going to really disturb my mind-set on tennis a whole lot. I’ve always made sure that my schedule is (arranged with time to) get away from tennis a little but and then come back when I’m ready to play again.

“If it does something to me, I think it’s going to motivate me to play for a long time.”


"I’ve been thinking about something like this happening for the last two or three years.

“For me, this is not a massive shock. But when it does happen (and) your girlfriend-wife is pregnant, it definitely changes your mind-set. All of a sudden you’re hoping everything goes well, whereas before you’re just joking about it. From that respect, I’m excited that the baby comes out healthy and everything goes OK. Other than that, it’s just happiness. And all the people around me, all the people I talk to, everybody is like, ‘Wow, it’s such great news.’

“It’s a nice time. And yeah, the baby is due in summer. Summer is a big word, yeah. I’m not going to say anymore.”

So apparently Roger Federer is not gay. I never really thought that he was. From the above quote, apparently he and Mirka have been eschewing birth control for "two or three years." Interesting.
So which do you think comes first, a child or his 14th major title? (And which do you think he wants more?)

Boricua In Space!

Liftoff occurred at 4:44 p.m. Pacific time, about 3 minutes after sunset in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The shuttle is to rendezvous with the Space Station on Tuesday.

Joseph Acaba -- a geologist and former Peace Corps member, Marine Corps reservist and math and science teacher -- is to serve as a mission specialist and take two space walks during the 14-day mission.

He is on the team assigned to install the final truss elements and solar arrays that provide power to the space station.

The shuttle mission, originally set for Feb. 12, was previously delayed several times to check hydrogen fuel valves, one of which broke during a flight in November.

On the first of his two spacewalks, Acaba is to join crewmate Steve Swanson on a tour of the truss.

Acaba's second space walk will involve preparing the International Space Station for future flights.
Mad Professah is happy to see another Math and Science teacher in space. Here's to wishing Mr. Acaba a safe return to planet Earth.

Amazing Claymation Video of Chess

Hat/tip to Andrew Sullivan. As a chess player, I think this is really cool. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

U.S. Signs On To UN Declaration on Homosexuality Decriminalization

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

In an official declaration from the Obama Administration's Department of State released today, the United States has signed on to a United Nations Declaration in favor of the Worldwide Decriminalization of Homosexuality that the Bush Administration declined to sign onto when 66 others did so in December 2008.

UN Statement on "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity"
Robert Wood

Acting Department Spokesman, Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
March 18, 2009

The United States supports the UN Statement on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity,” and is pleased to join the other 66 UN member states who have declared their support of this Statement that condemns human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity wherever they occur.

The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world. As such, we join with the other supporters of this Statement and we will continue to remind countries of the importance of respecting the human rights of all people in all appropriate international fora.
Change we can believe in.

MadProfessah Quoted in Latest Colorlines Magazine

In the March/April 2009 edition of Colorlines magazine, yours truly is quoted in an article by Black gay writer Kai Wright about the racial faultlines exposed by the Proposition 8 battle last year. Here in an excerpt in which my words of wisdom appear (at the very end of the four-page article entitled "A Fragile Union"):

[Andres] Duques recalls the scene at a packed community forum where a uniformly white panel of movement leaders discussed both Prop. 8 and New York’s future. “I looked around the crowd, and I didn’t see any Latinos, actually. The crowd was Chelsea,” he says, referring to the city’s most well-known gay neighborhood, which is dominated by white men.

Ron Buckmire, a leader in the Los Angeles Black gay group Barbara Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition, insists, “There’s no way that the LGBT rights movement is going to succeed if they don’t have vibrant LGBT people-of-color organizations. No way.”

The question remains, however, whether the defeat and the acrimony surrounding Prop. 8 have brought that point home to the people and the organizations that power gay rights movements across the nation.

“I’m 78 years old. I been around a long time,” says [Dolores] Huerta. “Sometimes things happen for a reason, and I feel that way about this initiative. The electorate has forced us to take a look at ourselves. Our whole progressive community is going to be strengthened if we do that.”
Of course the Andres Duque quoted here is my friend and fellow blogger at Blabbeando. The entire piece is worth reading!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Washington Post Editorializes In Favor of UAFA!

The Washington Post on Monday editorializes in favor of passage of UAFA (Uniting American Families Act) which would allow LGBT Americans to sponsor their same-sex foreign partners for permanent resident status. Here's the editorial in its entirety:

THE UNITING American Families Act would allow gay and lesbian Americans and permanent residents to sponsor their foreign-born partners for legal residency in the United States. The bill, introduced last month in the Senate by Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and in the House by Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), would add "permanent partner" and "permanent partnership" after the words "spouse" and "marriage" in relevant sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If passed, it would right a gross unfairness.

Under the proposal, a "permanent partnership" is defined as a "committed, intimate relationship" with another adult "in which both parties intend a lifelong commitment." The couple must be financially interdependent and not married to or in a permanent partnership with anyone else. And the partners can't be related. The benefit comes with the same immigration restrictions and enforcement standards that apply to heterosexual couples. Fraudulent permanent partnerships face the same penalties as fake marriages: up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

"Under current law, committed same-sex foreign partners of American citizens are unable to use the family immigration system, which accounts for a majority of the green cards and immigrant visas granted annually by the United States," Mr. Leahy said upon introducing the bill. "The promotion of family unity has long been part of federal immigration policy, and we should honor that principle by providing all Americans the opportunity to be with their loved ones." According to the most recent census, he added, about 35,000 binational, same-sex couples are living in the United States. The new legislation would ensure that the family connections valued under immigration law are extended to gays and lesbians.

The strain of the status quo on gay and lesbian binational couples should not be discounted. Because their relationships are not legally recognized by the United States, some couples have resorted to illegal marriages where the foreign nationals marry Americans to get green cards that allow them to stay in the country permanently. In other cases, Americans have exiled themselves to be with their partners. Sixteen countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United Kingdom, allow residents to sponsor same-sex permanent partners for legal immigration. American gays and lesbians should not have to choose between their country and their partners.
For a full list of the 16 countries which allow their nationals to sponsor their same-sex partners and to contact your Congressperson about your thoughts on H.R.. 1024/ S. 424, go to the website of the advicacy organization Immigration Equality. (NOTE: MadProfessah is a member of their board of directors.) This is great news. Hopefully the bill will either be a stand-alone measure enacted by the Obama administration to show a tangible success for the LGBT community, or as part of comprehensive immigration reform.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shocking HIV Prevalence Rates in District of Columbia

The Washington Post published a shocking article on Sunday entitled "HIV/AIDS Rate in D.C. Hits 3%"
At least 3 percent of District residents have HIV or AIDS, a total that far surpasses the 1 percent threshold that constitutes a "generalized and severe" epidemic, according to a report scheduled to be released by health officials tomorrow.

That translates into 2,984 residents per every 100,000 over the age of 12 -- or 15,120 -- according to the 2008 epidemiology report by the District's HIV/AIDS office.

"Our rates are higher than West Africa," said Shannon L. Hader, director of the District's HIV/AIDS Administration, who once led the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's work in Zimbabwe. "They're on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya."


So urgent is the concern that the HIV/AIDS Administration took the relatively rare step of couching the city's infections in a percentage, harkening to 1992, when San Francisco, around the height of its epidemic, announced that 4 percent of its population was HIV positive. But the report also cautions that "we know that the true number of residents currently infected and living with HIV is certainly higher."
The District's report found a 22 percent increase in HIV and AIDS cases from the 12,428 reported at the end of 2006, touching every race and sex across population and neighborhoods, with an epidemic level in all but one of the eight wards. Black men, with an infection rate of nearly 7 percent, carry the weight of the disease, according to the report, which also underscores that the District's HIV and AIDS population is aging. Almost 1 in 10 residents between the ages of 40 and 49 has the virus.


More than 4 percent of blacks in the city are known to have HIV, along with almost 2 percent of Latinos and 1.4 percent of whites. More than three-quarters -- 76 percent -- of the HIV infected are black, 70 percent are men and 70 percent are age 40 and older.

Heterosexual sex was the principal mode of transmission for blacks with the disease, 33 percent. Men having sex with men was the chief mode of transmission for white residents, 78 percent; and Latinos, 49 percent. Black women represent more than a quarter of HIV cases in the District, and most, about 58 percent, were infected through heterosexual sex. About a quarter of black women were infected through drug use.


There is good news in the AIDS office's report: More people are getting HIV diagnoses early, while they are still healthy, as a result of a policy of routine testing implemented by the city in mid-2006. Publicly supported HIV testing expanded by 70 percent.
This is a pretty stunning report and puts an explanation point on how events like Tavis Smiley's State of the Black Union could be organized without a presence of Black LGBT individuals and no discussion of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Black community.

Of course the Black AIDS Institute has been making the point for nearly a year that the AIDS epidemic in the domestic community is comparable in severity to that in several African countries.

This is not an issue that can just be talked about on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (February 7).

REVIEW: 2009 Fusion LGBT POC Film Festival Shorts

Vaughn Lowery in The Young and Evil

Joe Jimenez in El Abuelo

MadProfessah attended the 6th Fusion LGBT POC film Festival in Los Angeles last weekend and saw the following shorts at the Opening Night Gala:

EL ABUELO, Dir. Dino Dinco, 2008, 3 min. An intimate portrait of local educator and poet Joe Jimenez, shot on location in San Antonio, Texas. A very attractive hombre is shown lovingly preparing his "homie" uniform at home: ironing his white shirt, his bandanna and even his shorts, while the powerful words of Joe Jimenez ring in our ears as we get a little glimpse into the possibility that same-sex attraction could exist even in the ultra machismo world of Latino gang-bangers. GRADE: B+/A-.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Dir. Roberta Marie Munroe, 2008, 15 min.
Hannah wants a baby. Abigail wants a dildo. Jack and Madeleine like things just the way they are. Intended to be a comedy and written to that fact, the script is ill-served by the screenwriter also serving as the director for what appears to be an either under- or over- rehearsed cast. Clearly the film-maker wants us to wrestle with the dichotomies of women f***ing other women (with strap-on rubber "enhancements") and the complications that the penetrative act can place upon relationships in which both parties are the same-sex and neither has a penis. However, the assumptions behinf her depictions of butch/femme and top/bottom binaries are too simplistic and lacking nuance to make this film anything more than an honorable misfire. GRADE: B-.

THE BATH, Dir. Mi-rang Lee, 2007, (Korean with English subtitles). 20 min. Two sisters share a poignant moment of realization. This is a very subtle film, which happily is able to communicate its message quite clearly despite being in a language foreign to most. There are some slight miscues with the acting, because although the audience is quick to recognize that there are some serious societal taboos being explored and broken, at some points it seems like the film might be about incest when instead it is imply about a family wrestling with a member's gender identity. GRADE: B+.

THE YOUNG AND THE EVIL, Dir. Julian Breece, 2008, 15 min.
A highly intelligent but troubled gay black teen sets out to seduce an HIV-positive prevention advocate into giving him the virus. Visually stunning but highly disturbing content with a remarkable performance by Vaughn Lowery as the very troubled young teen Karel who seeks increasingly dangerous situations, including having unprotected anal sex with HIV-positive men. Contains shocking and arousing images of very attractive men doing things that we don't want to watch but can't stop watching. Problematic indeed, but intensely memorable. GRADE: A-.

LA CORONA, Dir. Amanda Mitchell and Isabel Vega, 2008, 40 min.
Female murderers compete ferociously for a beauty pageant crown in prison. An absolutely stunning tour de force. This film was nominated for Best Documentary Short at the 2009 Academy Awards and is clearly one of the best short films on the festival circuit. The setting at first seems so incongruous that initially the viewer is disoriented and thinks "Surely, this must be fictional?" But, as many others have said, truth is often stranger than fiction. The intense desire to win a beauty pageant in a Colombian women's jail is communicated so starkly in the faces of the actual contestants that the film very quickly captivates the audience and we are left rooting for our favorite to win "la corona." The recognition what is entertainment for the viewer is much much more for the women in the film puts this film head and shoulders above its competition. GRADE: A.

Unfortunately, I missed the Metro/Sexual Shorts on Saturday, since I was attending the EQCA Donor Reception at which MassEquality Executive Director Marc Solomon was introduced as the new Marriage Director for Equality California.

I did attend the Experimental shorts but frankly don't have the energy to type up a full review of all the entries.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Eye Candy: Rob Neda

After a long stretch of pedestrian "Morning Goods" models, Japhy at Queerty.com hits one out of the park with these pictures of Rob Neda. Even though I am trying to find more models of color, you gotta admit, pretty comes in all colors!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Field Poll Shows Trend On Marriage Equality

I have long argued that we really can not win an electoral battle to legalize "gay marriage' unless there is 50% support for the concept, regardless of what the precise ballot question is. I was under the impression that support for marriage had never cracked the magic 50% barrier, but as the table above shows, in May 2008 the Field Poll has support for marriage at 51% with opposition at 42%. I believe this poll was taken a few days after the landmark California Supreme Court cases legalizing marriage equality in In Re Marriage Cases was released on May 15 2008, so it is more likely this is a serious outlier in public support for the concept.

The table does show a general favorable trend on the question of marriage equality. The question is will we be consistently be above 50% in 2010 or will it take to 2012 or (yikes!) 2016?

What do you think?

Initiative Filed To Repeal Prop 8 (And Eliminate Civil Marriage For Everyone)

One of the interesting developments in the post-Prop 8 aftermath is the idea that the State should get out of the marriage business altogether. Now, this idea has been realized in an active initiative constitutional amendment filed with the Attorney General which would do just that:
SUBSTITUTES DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP FOR MARRIAGE IN CALIFORNIA LAW. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE. Replaces the term “marriage” with the term “domestic partnership” throughout California law, but preserves the rights provided in marriage. Applies equally to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation. Repeals the provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: This measure would have an unknown fiscal effect on state and local governments. (09-0003.)
The initiative was proposed by two straight guys, Ali Shams and Kaelan Housewright who say that "the measure would provide equality to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation, while preserving marriage as a religious and social ceremony."

Friday, March 13, 2009

At the Global Arc of Justice Conference

MadProfessah will be at the Global Arc of Justice conference at UCLA Law School all day today.

Eye Candy: Inked

It's surprisingly difficult to find high-quality puictures of models of color on the web. One source I was directed to was: http://bbwphoto.blogspot.com where I found the amazing shot above. Lucky us!

Racism Is Not Dead, Exhibit #467

It took Pam Spaulding to point out this heart-wrenching story about that hoary cliché, a racist Texas sherrif in a small town, that appeared in my hometown newspaper yesterday:
David Guillory, an attorney in nearby Nacogdoches who filed the federal lawsuit, said he combed through Shelby County court records from 2006 to 2008 and discovered nearly 200 cases in which Tenaha police seized cash and property from motorists. In about 50 of the cases, suspects were charged with drug possession.

But in 147 others, Guillory said the court records showed, the police seized cash, jewelry, cellphones and sometimes even automobiles from motorists but never found any contraband or charged them with any crime. Of those, Guillory said he managed to contact 40 of the motorists directly -- and discovered that all but one of them were black.

"The whole thing is disproportionately targeted toward minorities, particularly African Americans," Guillory said. "Every one of these people is pulled over and told they did something, like, 'You drove too close to the white line.' That's not in the penal code, but it sounds plausible. None of these people have been charged with a crime; none were engaged in anything that looked criminal. The sole factor is that they had something that looked valuable."

Read the whole thing, it's stomach-churning.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Openly Gay Candidate Makes LA Community District Runoff

In the City of Los Angeles elections last week openly gay candidate Robert Nakahiro made the runoff for the Los Angeles Community College District Seat #6 by a mere 200 votes! MadProfessah endorsed Nakahiro after meeting him at the 45th Assembly District State Party delegate elections on Sunday January 12th. If you live in any of the yellow sections of the map above, you will have the chance to vote on May 19th, 2009 in the special election for this candidate.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

OPM Nominee "Straight-Washed" by Obama Administration?

The Obama Administration announced John Berry would become its appointee for the important position of Director of the Office of Personal and Management recently with this release:

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the follow individuals [March 3rd]:

John Berry, Nominee for Director of the Office of Personnel Management

John began his Federal career as a Legislative Director for U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), a major leader on all issues affecting the Civil Service. John was responsible for overseeing Hoyer's work Federal employees, and was the primary craftsman behind the locality pay reform, among many other issues affecting pay and benefits of employees and retirees.

John began his management career at the Department of Treasury, where he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary and acting Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement. Later in the Clinton administration, John was appointed Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, where he focused on employee partnerships, worklife issues for employees and reversing years of decline by achieving one of the largest budgetary increases in the Department's 150 year history.

As Director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, John worked with Interior Inspector General, Earl Devaney, to reconcile 20 years of financial records, establish sound management practices, while also conserving over 3 million acres of wildlife habitat through innovative public-private partnerships.

Most recently, John was hired to turn around the National Zoo, which was laboring under continual reports of issues and problems. In its Accreditation approval last year it was noted that "It is good to see the National Zoo worthy of its name again." John has completed a strategic plan, a mangement[sic] reorganization, and a 20 year capital master plan. John also recognized a critical weakness in the absence of fire protection at the Zoo and has secured the funding (35 million) to replace the Zoo's water main and install sprinklers throughout the Zoo, while also launching the renovation of the 1930 elephant house and seal and Sea Lion exhibits.
Ummm, John Berry is also the most senior openly-gay member of the Obama Administration, as far as I know, although one would never be able to tell from this announcement.
OPM (as the Offie of Personnel and management is known) is an incredibly important agency, since it determines policy for all federal employees, and the Federal Governement is one of the largest (if not the largest) employers in the United States, aespecially as the LGBT community will be asking for federal non-discriminatio protections for ALL employees (and notjust federal ones) on the basis of sexual orientation (real or perceived) as well as gender identity in addition to federal recognition of state's domestic partnerships and civil unions and domestic partnership benefits for federal employees.
It's pretty troubling that this announcement was sent to a mailing list for LGBT press announcements, and appears on the official White House website, scrubbed free of any hint that Mr. Berry may be (gasp!) non-heterosexual.
Pam Spaulding calls this "straight-washing" and I'm very disappointed to see this from the Obama admnistration.

In case you think the Obama Administration never includes personal information with their personnel announcements, check out the information included on the other person who was included in that very same press release:

Julius Genachowski, Nominee for Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission

Genachowski is a technology executive and entrepreneur with strong experience in both the private sector and public service. He is Cofounder and Managing Director of LaunchBox Digital and Rock Creek Ventures, and a Special Advisor at General Atlantic. He was a senior executive for eight years at IAC/InterActiveCorp, where his positions included Chief of Business Operations and General Counsel.


Genachowski received a J.D in 1991 from Harvard Law School (magna cum laude), where he was co-Notes Editor of the Harvard Law Review, and a B.A. in 1985 from Columbia College (magna cum laude). Genachowski was raised in New York, and now resides in Washington DC. He is married to Rachel Goslins and has three children, Jacob, Lilah and Aaron.

OIne of these things is "not like the other" is it?

Andrea Shorter Named EQCA's Coordinator of Coalitions

MadProfessah and Andrea Shorter at the
Equality Summit in Los Angeles in Janury 2009

Lost in the news on Monday of Equality California's hiring of MassEquality Executive Director Marc Solomon to win, defend and keep the right to marry was the news that Equality Summit co-chair Andrea Shorter has accepted a position at the organization to coordinate outreach to coalitions, specifically, labor, communities of color and faith communities. From the press release:
Shorter has a long track record of success in the fight for LGBT equality and other social justice issues. She is the co-founder and chair of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, the largest African-American LGBT political organization in the Bay Area.
"Andrea Shorter has a proven record of leadership and effectiveness," said San Francisco Supervisor Bevan Duffy. "She will bring a needed infusion of grassroots organizing and her commitment to working in diverse communities to our cause."

"I am pleased to join forces with Equality California to direct and expand its coalition building efforts," Shorter said. "Our work through And Marriage For All to engage people of color and faith in honest, plain talk about the importance of the freedom to marry will complement EQCA's appreciation that true coalition building must extend beyond the purpose of meeting a singular goal such as marriage equality, but must work to create and support common ground, common cause across communities. I look forward to working with EQCA to grow a statewide broad-based coalition to advance long-term civil and human rights interests for all."

In addition, Equality California has announced that is looking to hire field organizers in the Central Valley, Inland Empire and Orange County (basically all areas Prop 8 passed easily) in order to expand volunteer efforts and enhance LGBT infrastructure in those regions.

This is great news and shows that Equality California is taking seriously the commitment to do the work AHEAD of a future ballot measure to win back full equality in the state of California, regardless of what happens with the California Supreme Court decision on Proposition 8.

Praise G-d! Americans Becoming Less Religious

Queerty and Joe.My.God are among several blogs that are reporting about a major Religious Identification study which reports that the number of Americans who respond "none" when asked their religion is up to 15%.

According to 365gay.com:
Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey.

Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state.

“No other religious bloc has kept such a pace in every state,” the study’s authors said.
Of course, the impact that an increase in the percentage of people who do not believe in ancient homophobic religious dictates is good news for the LGBT rights movement, as a Queerty analysis shows. New England (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont) contains the states that are the most progressive on LGBT rights in the United States and just happens to be the least religious section of the country, with 34% if Vermonters saying that they have no religion while CT and MA both have marriage equality already and VT and NH have civil unions. In 2009, all 4 states in New England that do not have civil marriage for same-sex couples will be considering bills to legalize the practice--more than half are expected to pass their respective legislatures.

The second least religious area of the United States is the Pacific Northwest (California, Oregon and Washington) three states which have comprehensive domestic partnership statutes which give most or many of the state-bestowed rights and responsibilities of civil marriage to same-sex couples.

The converse is also true. The most religious states are, in order, (Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma). All of these states have at least 75% of their respondents saying that religion is "an important part" of their daily lives. Notice anything? None of these states have statewide protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and all of them except for North Carolina have constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.

MadProfessah is definitely in the 15% who would answer "none" to the question of what my religion is and I am very comfortable calling myself an atheist or agnostic.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Field Poll Shows 48% Yes 47% No on Prop 8 Re-Do

Tuesday's Daily Roundup by the Capitol Weekly reports on a new poll which shows a closely divided electorate on the question of whether marriage equality should be allowed in California:

"Voters in California are sharply divided on same-sex marriage, and an amendment to overturn Prop. 8 would depend largely on campaigning and voter turnout, according to a Field Poll to be released today," writes the Chron's Leslie Fulbright.

"The poll of 761 registered voters shows 48 percent in favor of a constitutional amendment to allow same-sex marriages, with 47 percent opposing and 5 percent undecided.

"The California Supreme Court is currently considering challenges to Prop. 8, the initiative passed by voters in November that banned same-sex marriage. Proponents say that if the court doesn't side with them, they will work on a measure to overturn the ban."

Though views on same-sex marriage vary greatly according to age, geography, political party and religious preference, the numbers overall are almost equally split."'

Opinions haven't changed much since November,' said Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo of the election where 52 percent of voters approved Prop. 8. 'The closeness of the divide suggests it would depend on the quality of the campaigning and voter turnout.'" Dan Walters reads the poll and writes: "It could be argued that gay rights groups had their best shot in 2008 as they sought to defeat Proposition 8 and allow an earlier Supreme Court decision, validating same-sex marriage, to stand. It was an extremely high-turnout presidential election in which Democrats dominated from the White House down."

It's likely that 2010's voter turnout will be millions of voters smaller and somewhat less liberal than the 2008 electorate, although it's not certain yet whether a pro-gay marriage measure would be on the June primary ballot, whose turnout would be even lower, or on the November general election ballot."

If the Supreme Court were to uphold Proposition 8 and gay rights groups were to seek a 2010 measure, only to lose again, their cause could be stalled for many years."

So, what do you think? If the California Supreme Court does not overturn Proposition 8, should we try and repeal it in 2010 or 2012? MadProfessah votes for going forward on November 2010. I seriously question Dan Walters' views on this topic since he has been so wrong before.
There are some other interesting facts in the crosstabs of the poll:
According to the poll, Democrats favor same-sex marriage by 63 percent and 32 percent oppose. Republicans are 70 percent opposed and 24 percent in favor. In the San Francisco Bay Area, those polled are 64 percent in favor and 31 percent opposed. In Los Angeles County, 55 percent favor and 40 percent oppose. Voters aged 18 to 39 favor gay marriage by 55 percent while those 65 or older are 58 percent opposed, according to the poll.
As I have said before, we need to get Democrats to realize that marriage equality is a central feature of the Democratic agenda. It is also unacceptable that we are only at 40% of Angelenos opposing a constitutional amendment to discriminate against their neighbors relationships.

What is up with that?


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