Thursday, April 30, 2009

NEWS: Justice David Souter Retiring!

NPR is reporting that Justice David Souter, 69, has decided to retire at the end of the current United States Supreme Court in June, but will stay on until his replacement is confirmed by the United States Senate.

NPR has learned that Supreme Court Justice David Souter is planning to retire at the end of the court's current term.

The court has completed hearing oral arguments for the year and will be issuing rulings and opinions until the end of June.

Souter is expected to remain on the bench until a successor has been chosen and confirmed, which may or may not be accomplished before the court reconvenes in October.
Talk about being careful what you wish for! Most bets are on Barack nominating a female justice to fill the vacancy.

R.I.P. North East G.O.P.

kos continues his analysis of the demise of the GOP by looking more closely at the Republican representation in the state legislatures, Governors mansions and 2008 electoral votes in the North Eastern United States (CT, DE, ME, MD, MA, NY, NH, NJ, PA, RI, VT, and WV).

Presidential: 5 of 119 electoral votes

West Virginia was the only state to give its electoral votes to John McCain. The closest any of the other states came was New Hampshire, where Obama won by an easy nine points.

Senate: 3 of 24 seats

Two in Maine, one in New Hampshire. That NH seat will flip (D) in 2010. The two Maine senators, now alone in a hostile GOP, are candidates for future party switches. Especially Sen. Olympia Snowe.

House: 18 of 95 seats

Seven of those are in grossly gerrymandered Pennsylvania, and five in grossly gerrymandered New Jersey.

Governors: 3 of 12 states

Voters in liberal Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont have elected Republican governors in large part as a check on the hugely Democratic state legislatures.

State Legislatures: 1 of 24 chambers, 815 out of 2,347 total seats

House 114D-37R
Senate 24D-12R

House 114D-37R
Senate 25D-16R

House 96D-54R-1I
Senate 20D-15R

House 104D-36R-1I
Senate 33D-14R

House 143D-16R
Senate 35D-5R

Assembly 107D-41R-2I
Senate 32D-30R
House 224D-174R
Senate 14D-10R

Assembly 48D-32R
Senate 23D-17R

House 104D-98R
Senate 30R-20D

House 69D-6R
Senate 33D-4R-1I

House 95D-48R-7I
Senate 23D-7R

House 71D-29R
Senate 28D-8R

So of 24 chambers in the region, Republicans only hold the grossly gerrymandered Pennsylvania Senate. In fact, count all the seats in the region, and Democrats hold 1,532 total seats compared to just 815 for the GOP.

Maine Senate Passes Marriage Bill 20-15!

By a vote of 20-15, the Maine State Senate has passed the marriage equality bill, L.D. 1020.
Supporters say it would end discrimination against gays and lesbians and opponents say the proposal is an attack against the institution of marriage.

This morning’s vote means the bill has cleared its first hurdle in the Legislature. However, it still needs to pass through the House of the Representatives. And if it passes the Legislature, it will need the signature of Gov. John Baldacci, who has not yet said whether he will support it.
Joe.My.God also points out that the Senate has rejected an amendment sending the measure to the voters. A contributor to Pam's House Blend was personally phoned by Gov. Baldacci a couple days ago to discuss his position on the marriage bill after sending him an irate email calling the Governor's refusal to declare a position "craven."

Implications of Specter's Party Switch

kos has an interesting take on the implications of Senator Arlen Specter's earth-shattering news hat he will defect to the Democrats, probably giving them the 60 votes they need to a filibuster-prrof majority in the United States Senate:

Check it -- Republicans are now down to 40 senators, distributed in these
states: AK: 1, AL: 2, AZ: 2, FL: 1, GA: 2, ID: 2, IN: 1, IA: 1, KS: 2, KY: 2,
LA: 1, ME: 2, MS: 2, MO: 1, NE: 1, NH: 1, NV: 1, NC: 1, OH: 1, OK: 2, TN: 2, SC: 2, SD: 1, TX: 2, UT: 2, and WY: 2.

* Republicans are present in 26 states, which doesn't sound so bad. But it means that almost half the country doesn't have any Republican Senators. Only 14 states lack a Democratic Senator.

* Ohio, Missouri, New Hampshire, and North Carolina (and maybe even
Florida if Crist doesn't jump in for the GOP), are all top candidates for
sending two Democrats to the Senate after the 2010 elections. That would further
shrink the GOP into its deep South and Mormon Corridor strongholds.

* Of the GOP's remaining 40 senators, 17 of 24 come from the South (FL, NC, SC, AL, MS, GA, VA, TN, KY, LA, AR, TX). That's up from 15 after the 1998 election.

* Of those remaining 40 senators, only 3 of 24 come from the Northeast
(ME, VT, NY, MD, PA, CT, DE, MA, NH, RI, WV, NJ). That's down significantly from
9 after the 1998 election.

* Of those remaining 40 senators, only 10 of 26 come from the West (NM, CA, OR, WA, AK, HI, MT, ID, UT, NV, AZ, WY, CO). That's down from 16 after the 1998 election.

* Of those remaining 40 senators, only 10 of 26 come from the Midwest (IL, MN, MI, OH, WI, IA, MO, KS, IN, ND, SD, OK, NE). That's down from 14 after the 1998 election.

So check it -- there is only one region the GOP dominates, and it does so with a
solid majority. That's the South, and there's a reason it remains the only
region in the country to have a problem with our president and the Democratic majority:
Gee, and what would that reason be? *cough* race *cough*

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Federal Anti-Hate Crimes Bill Passes U.S. House

The final vote tay to pass the hate crimes bill in the U.S. House was 249-175. However, the blogosphere is melting down about the North Carolina congresswoman who in speaking against the bill claimed the Mathew Shepard incident was a hoax:

As someone else said, "Fire her!"

Action on Marriage in New Hampshire and Maine

The above graphic reflects the reality of the New York Times/CBS poll MadProfessah blogged about earlier in the week. The legislative action on ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage moves to committees in Maine and New Hampshire.

In New Hampshire the State Senate amended the bill that passed the lower House 186-179 a few weeks ago and passed the measure 13-11 on its second reading today. After the third reading, it will go back to the House for concurrence on the amendments, which were (according to activist Lane Hudson):

1. amendment replaces entire bill
2. nothing in amendment takes out gender specific terms in marriage statute
3. section 1 includes new purpose and intent clause that makes clear that all NH citizens have a right to a civil marriage or a religious denomination, and that religion determines who they will marry.
4. each party to a marriage shall be designated as a bride, groom, or spouse.
5. clear now with new language that no one person can be married to more than one person at one time (duh!)
6. Section 2 ensures that the same rules that govern the age in which heteros can enter into marriage apply to same sex marriages
7. Section 3 makes clear that marriage in NH may be solemnized in one of two ways: civil or religious. hetero and homo will have access to both. again, religion determines if they will perform same sex ceremony.
8. section 5 makes clear how the State would address and accept civil unions from other States....they would be accepted as marriages in NH. those who got a civil union in NH would have a choice of pursuing and affirming a new marriage ceremony under this law, but by Jan 1, 2011, it would automatically become a marriage.
9. instructs sec of state and clerks to update their marriage certificates
10. NH Retirement system can interpret new marriage law the same as under the civil union law.
11. Section 9 indicates that if the bill should become effective, then civil union bill is repealed
12. Effective Date is Jan 1 2010.

NH Democratic Governor John Lynch has not indicated he would veto the marriage bill like the two Republican governors who have faced marriage bills previously(Arnold Schwarzenegger of California in 2005 and 2007 and Jim Douglas of Vermont in 2009).

In Maine, the Senate Judiciary committee approved their marriage bill by a 11-2-1 vote and sent it to a floor vote, which should occur within the next 48 hours. Maine's Democratic Governor, John Baldacci has also not stated whether he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

VIDEO: 100 Days of NO

Hat/tip to Oliver Willis.

Obama Names Goosby as Global AIDS Coordinator

President Obama announced Dr. Eric Goosby as his nominee for Global AIDS Coordinator at the Department of State on Monday April 27th, 2009.

Eric Goosby, Nominee for Ambassador at Large and Global AIDS Coordinator, Department of State

Eric Goosby, MD, has been CEO and Chief Medical Officer of Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation since 2001. He is also Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Goosby has played a key role in the development and/or implementation of HIV/AIDS national treatment scale-up plans in South Africa, Rwanda, China, and Ukraine. He focuses his expertise on the scale-up of sustainable HIV/AIDS treatment capacity, including the delivery of HIV antiretroviral drugs, within existing healthcare systems. Dr. Goosby has extensive international experience in the development of treatment guidelines for use of antiretroviral therapies, clinical mentoring and training of health professionals, and the design and implementation of local models of care for HIV/AIDS. He has worked closely with international partners on the development of successful HIV/AIDS treatment and treatment-based prevention strategies for high-risk populations. Dr. Goosby has over 25 years of experience with HIV/AIDS. His experience ranges from his early years treating patients at San Francisco General Hospital when AIDS first emerged to engagement at the highest level of policy leadership. In his role at HHS as the first director of the Ryan White Care Act, Dr. Goosby helped develop HIV/AIDS delivery systems in the United States. During the Clinton Administration he served as deputy director of the White House National AIDS Policy Office and director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy of the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Goosby has longstanding working relationships with leading multilateral organizations including UNAIDS, the Global Fund and the World Health Organization.

The reaction to the Goosby announcement has generally been positive. The Global AIDS Coordinator is the person in charge of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (commonly known as PEPFAR), which is budgeted to spend at least $48 billion in the next five years.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

President Issues Statement In Support of Hate Crimes Bill

President Barack Obama has issued a statement in favor of H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009, more commonly known as "the hate crimes bill."


April 28, 2009


This week, the House of Representatives is expected to consider H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance – legislation that will enhance civil rights protections, while also protecting our freedom of speech and association. I also urge the Senate to work with my Administration to finalize this bill and to take swift action.
The hate crimes bill passed both houses of Congress last year (U.S. House 237-180 and U.S. Senate 60-39) but the measure did not become law because it was stripped from the Department of Defense authorization conference report.

H.R. 1913 will be debated on the floor of the House tomorrow. The companion Senate bill, the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act was introduced today with main co-sponsors Senators Kennedy (D-MA), Leahy (D-VT), Snowe (R-ME) and Collins (R-ME).
You can follow the action by going to and following the tweet #FightHateNow.

NEWS: Arlen Specter (R-PA) Switches To Democrats

U.S. Senator Arlen Specter has announced that he will be switching parties from Republican to Democrat, giving the party 60 votes (when Al Franken) of Minnesota is seated in June.
Specter had faced a difficult Republican primary election in 2010 as he seeks a record 6th United States Senate term, this time as a Democrat! He has had higher approval ratings among Democrats than Republicans for quite awhile, and this confirms it.

NYT Poll On State Recognition of Same-Sex Couples

The New York Times has a new poll on Obama's 100th day in office which tries to compare beliefs of the White and Black population on multiple issues. For example, 96% of Black people approve of Obama's job as President compared to 62% of White people.

But on gay marriage, the results are even more interesting:

50. Which comes closest to your view? Gay couples should be
allowed to legally marry OR gay couples should be allowed
to form civil
unions but not legally marry OR there should
be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship?

Marry Civil unions None DK/NA
3/10-14/04 22 33 40 6
5/20-23/04* CBS 28 29 40 3
7/11-15/04 28 31 38 3
10/28-30/04 23 34 36 7
11/18-21/04 21 32 44 3
2/24-28/05 23 34 41 2
7/29-8/2/05 CBS 27 27 43 4
10/27-31/06 28 29 38 5
3/7-11/07 28 32 35 5
5/30-6/3/08 CBS 30 28 36 6
3/12-16/09 CBS 33 27 35 5
4/22-26/09 42 25 28 5
White 40 26 30 4
Black 38 30 26 6

Another point to note about this result is that the differences between the races is not that great, and that nearly two-thirds of the respondents support some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples.

Report from CA Democratic Convention: Day 2 & 3

The second full day of the California Democratic Convention was a very busy affair. There were many speeches by politicians in the main hall (Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, etc etc).

Because I had a blogger credential, I was able to attend U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer press conference after her speech at the convention which was attended by both bloggers and members of the "old media." It was a very interesting experience. I had a question prepared, but I was too shy to ask it. My qeuestion would have been:

Senator, according to several national LGBT civil rights organizations there are currently nine United States Senators (10 if you count Al Franken) who have publicly announced their support for marriage equality. I think many of us in this room are aware of your position on this issue, but my question is would you like to use this opportunity to go on the record in favor of marriage equality, especially in light of the state Supreme Court's imminent ruling on the legality of Proposition 8 and the ongoing discussion about a future ballot measure to legalize the practice if the Court upholds the measure?

But, the other questions asked at the press conference were pretty good, if a bit focussed on the potential challenge of Carly Fiorina.
Later, in the day I went to the "Recession Reception" hosted by Attorney General Jerry Brown at the historic Governor's Mansion. At the reception I ran into the openly gay mayor of Mahattan Beach Mitch Ward who is running for the 53rd Assembly District seat currently held by Ted Lieu who is running for Attorney General. Ward is the first person of color (African American) elected to the Manhattan Beach city council in over one hundred years. Also at the reception was Ward's main rival for the seat, Betsy Butler who says she has already received the endorsement of Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.

Luis Lopez (President, HonorPAC, the Latina/o LGBT political action committee),
Hans Johnson (Board Member, NGLTF) and
Jerry Brown (CA Attorney General and Former Governor)

After the recession reception, I hung out with Luis and Hans and we ran into HonorPAC-endorsed, openly gay Long Beach city councilman Robert Garcia (who was the youngest person ever elected to that august body at the age of 31 a few weeks ago).

Luis Lopez and Robert Garcia 31-year-old openly gay Long Beach city councilman Robert Garcia with Luis Lopez

On Friday I had previously reported that I had run into openly gay, African American guy who is running for Ellen Tauscher's congressional seat in the 10th district. Here's a picture of Anthony Woods (left) with Tauren Jones, a volunteer for the African American caucus of the California Democratic Party.
(Notice the spiffy red-green-black pin on his lapel).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Same-sex couples Getting Married in Iowa Today

Today is the day that Iowa's historic (and unanimous) Varnum v. Brien decision goes into effect and same-sex couples will be allowed to start getting married.

Iowa joins Massachusetts (May 17, 2004), California (June 15, 2008) and Connecticut (November 13, 2008). California's marriages were suspended after the passage of Proposition 8 on November 4, 2008. Vermont will start allowing same-sex couples to get married on September 1, 2009.

Promo For Meet In the Middle

Eye Candy: Max Philisaire

Max Phillisaire was a "gratuitous skin" model over at Queerty awhile back. They have nearly three dozen images of this very attractive Black fitness model. Check him out!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Iceland Elects Lesbian PM To Full Term

After a snap election, Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir's party has won an estimated 35 seats in the 63 member Parliament to claim a full four-year term as the first openly gay person elected to head a country.

The New York Times reports:
It would also confirm a remarkable turnaround in the political fortunes of Johanna Sigurdardottir, the 66-year-old caretaker prime minister, who is the first woman to lead Iceland’s government. Only months ago, before January’s turmoil, she was readying herself for retirement after 30 years in politics and was widely seen as too feisty, and even too left wing, to rise beyond a series of midlevel coalition cabinet appointments.

Ms. Sigurdardottir is notable, too, for being the first openly declared lesbian to lead a government in the modern world, though her sexual orientation was never a significant election issue. What Icelanders say they like about her, as much as anything, is the way in which she embodies everything the New Vikings did not: a quiet, steady personality uncomfortable with the public spotlight, who chose to stay away earlier this month from a NATO summit meeting in Europe, where she would have met President Obama and other Western leaders for the first time.

In Iceland, the storyline of the election has closely followed the growing partnership at the head of the government between Ms. Sigurdardottir, a former flight attendant, and Steingrimur Sigfusson, the 53-year-old former truck driver and geologist who leads the Left-Greens. He, too, is a combative character, though as much at ease with the hurly burly of politics as the shy Ms. Sigurdardottir is not.
MadProfessah first reported this story in January when Sigurdardottir was named as a caretaker Prime Minister and made history as the first lesbian head of state of a modern nation. It is amazing that she has made history again winning election to lead her nation of 300,000 people. 

Saturday, April 25, 2009

CA-GOV: Text of Newsom Speech to CDP

The full text of Gavin Newsom's prepared remarks to the California Democratic Party convention:

Let me get to the most important business first... Art: every single Democrat owes you a debt of gratitude. Thank you is hardly sufficient. But let's start there. Thank you for being a champion for our health, for our kids, for our environment, for California.

I also want to express my appreciation to Art for something else - for that very kind introduction. I certainly enjoyed it a whole lot more than the introduction I got in a few of those TV ads last fall!

Well, whether they like it or not - my name's Gavin Newsom, and I'm here to get things started. I'm here to start taking on the big problems the Republicans want to ignore.

Because I'm with you - I've had enough of politicians who say they care about liberty and then fight to take our freedoms away. I'm done with the excuses. I'm over the finger pointing. I've seen enough of the blame game. I'm tired of California leaders promising the future and delivering the past.

This state is ready for a new direction. And this party is ready to show the way.

Let me ask you - how many times do we need to hear our leaders talk about quality health care - and then spend four years explaining why they can't get it done? How many times? Not this time!

Too many politicians are substituting words for action - confusing motion for progress. We need to stop talking about universal health care and start providing it!

How many "Years of Education" - "Decades of Education" - “Millenniums of Education" are we going to declare and then stand by while our teachers are attacked and our students ignored? It's time to stop declaring our commitment to teachers and schools and start demonstrating it!

How many times are we going to listen to politicians promise to deliver jobs and then wake up and realize all they've delivered is just another tired speech? Millions of unemployed Californians can tell you right now that the old ways of doing business just don't cut it in this tough new world.

They want our leaders to stop bickering with each other and start fighting to put people back to work.

How many times are we going to allow politicians to over promise on the environment and then under deliver when they get in office? It's time to stop testing the waters and start swimming in them!

I've seen what can happen when we stop looking back – and start looking for solutions.

In San Francisco - we're not just talking about quality health care - we're delivering it. We're the only city in America daring to offer quality health care to every single uninsured resident - regardless of pre-existing medical conditions. How can we afford it? We're proving what you already know - it's less expensive to keep people well, and to invest in their health, than it is to treat their sickness. I know what it takes to pass health care reform - because, working with many of you who are here today, we did it.

School districts throughout California are laying-off tens of thousands of teachers. But we're giving our teachers a raise, raising test scores, and protecting teachers from layoffs. How did we do it? We stopped fighting over who was going to be in charge and started working together to find solutions. We refused to blame teachers and we started supporting them.

The State of California is nearly bankrupt and our state bond rating is now the worst in the nation. We have a Governor who promised to "terminate" the state's credit cards - then went on the biggest borrowing binge of any governor of any state in history. But in San Francisco - our bond rating just went up because of our Rainy Day Reserve and sound fiscal policies. And it's because of this rainy day reserve that we were able to rescind teacher layoffs.

What's the difference? We figured out that sound fiscal policy isn't a conservative value or a progressive value … it's just plain smart for everyone.

Our economy is in trouble.

But in San Francisco, our economy is stronger because we made basic investments - in new fields like biotech and life sciences, in green technology, in digital media – in industries that pay more than a minimum wage – they pay a living wage.

We figured it out - the greatest asset we have in this state is HUMAN capital. It's people. It's time to start investing in people again. I know a thing or two about this because I've built a number of small businesses from the ground up, creating nearly one thousand jobs. And I know we can't be pro-jobs and anti-business. But we also can't be pro-jobs without investing in our workforce - our schools, our community colleges, our universities and in life-long learning. In San Francisco, we didn't blame Washington for our economic problems - we got to work solving them with exactly these kinds of smart investments.

Nearly every politician on the planet is talking about the environment. I don't think any city in America is doing more to protect it than San Francisco. We have the most aggressive local solar incentives in America. The highest recycling rates. Pioneering green building standards. Aggressive energy efficiency programs to help wean our city from carbon fuels. We've already rolled back our greenhouse gas emissions to 6% below 1990 levels. And we're putting San Franciscans, those who used to be locked out of the old industrial economy, back to work as part of this new green economy.

How do we get it done - even in tough economic times? We understand that policies that may have been cutting-edge in the past just won't cut it in the future.

We took many smart steps - like becoming the only city in California with a local Earned Income Tax credit - that allows working families to keep more of what they earn and brings in tens millions of dollars in federal tax refunds, that used to go uncollected.

And we're taking big leaps like San Francisco Promise - a pioneering new program that guarantees an opportunity for a college education for every public school child. This is going to open doors and change lives. And we got it done because we opened our minds to a new way of looking at problems.

These are difficult times. And we need bold solutions to get California out of this mess. I haven't been afraid to tackle big problems. I haven't been afraid to offer bold ideas. Because California can't afford to keep returning to the same old, tired ideas and expect a different result.

Many of you know me - you know where I stand on important issues like universal health care, fighting for our schools, creating green jobs, protecting equal rights for every person and fighting for marriage equality for every Californian. I’m not the kind of person who says one thing in private and does another in public. You will know where I stand.

If there's one thing this past year has proven - the old ways of doing business just don't work so well any more. So what are we going to do next year - will we offer the voters of California a stroll down memory lane, or a sprint into the future? Will we nominate candidates who know Sacramento - or leaders who know how to change it? Will we choose the past - or will we embrace the future?

So I am asking you to join us - on, on Facebook, on Twitter, or at one of the many events we're holding up and down California. I hope you'll give your ideas. Share your insights. And help us shape a campaign that can do more than win an election. I hope you'll join a campaign that has set out to change California.

California has always been a land of dreamers and doers. Of entrepreneurs and innovators. We're not a state of memories. We're a state of dreams. We're Californians. We're not content to re-live history. We're going to keep making it. So let's start making a better future for California. And let's do it together.

Thank you.

Hat/tip to Karen Ocamb.

Country Approves of Obama, Republicans Don't

Below is the interactive graphic which shows the current approval rating for President Obama

However, Republicans feel very differently.

Hat/tip to Andrew Sullivan.

Report from CA Democratic Convention: Day 1

Day 1 at the California Democratic Covention in Sacramento was a bit of a blur.

I joined and attended the African American and the LGBT Caucuses of the CA Democratic Party, although I only voted in the former. The two were scheduled at the same time! I also attended and voted in the Progressive Caucus.

So far I have seen at close quarters:

Attorney General Jerry Brown
SF Mayor Gavin Newsom
CA Lieutentant Governor John Garamendi
SF Attorney General Kamala Harris
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson
Speaker Karen Bass
Many state legislators...
In addition I met and spoke privately with two openly gay African American men who are both running for political office: Manhattan Beach mayor Mitch Ward
(state assembly) and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" casualty Anthony Woods who is running for the soon-to-be-open 10th Congressional district seat curretly held by Ellen Tauscher (CA-10).

That's it for now!

Friday, April 24, 2009

VIDEO: Best Tennis Point Of 2009

MadProfessah in Sacramento at the CDP

MadProfessah is attending his first California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento this weekend as an elected delegate representing the 45th Assembly District.
I'm also an official blogger at the conference so I will be tweeting and blogging about my experiences.

CA-32: Chu Endorsed By Antonio, Leads $$ Race

Multiple good news stories recently for congressional candidate Judy Chu (who has been endorsed by MadProfessah) in her attempt to win the now-vacant seat representing California's 32nd District in a May 19th special election.

Last Wednesday, financial reports were released which showed Chu outraised her nearest rival, State Senator Gil Cedillo by over $200, 000:
The breadth and strength of Judy Chu’s campaign for Congress was demonstrated again today as candidates reported their first fundraising numbers for this May 19 special election.

In the first three months of 2009, Judy Chu collected an impressive $770,167, over $200,000 more than her nearest rival, State Senator Gil Cedillo.

Judy Chu, Vice-Chair of the California State Board of Equalization, reported a strong $577,609 cash-on-hand figure at the end of the period.

Chu’s consultant, Parke Skelton, stated, “Judy Chu is well on the way towards surpassing $1 million for this race. Her fundraising reflects the enthusiastic and broad support she has attracted from throughout the 32nd District. Just over 83% of her contributions have come from individuals, not PACS. An impressive 1,567 individuals contributed to Dr. Chu’s campaign in this filing period.
But, wait, there's more!

EL SERENO - The Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, will be joined by his counterparts from Azusa, West Covina, South El Monte, Duarte and scores of other San Gabriel Valley elected officials on Wednesday as he officially announces his endorsement of Judy Chu in the race for the 32nd Congressional District seat recently vacated by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

The event, which will include just a fraction of the more than 75 elected officials from the San Gabriel Valley who have already endorsed Judy Chu, will feature statements from Mayor Villaraigosa and other mayors and mayors pro tem from the San Gabriel Valley.
There is video of the endorsement available on YouTube.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

CT Legislature Passes Bill Codifying Marriage Ruling

Joe.My.God is reporting that the state legislature of Connecticut has completed action on a bill to codify that state's landmark Kerrigan ruling that the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage by the availability of civil unions was unconstitutional. Republican governor Jodi Rell has said that she will sign the bill once it reaches her desk.

Interestingly, the bill that was passed in Connecticut Wednesday night was similar to a bill enacted by the Vermont legislature a mere two weeks ago by overriding the veto of that state's Republican governor Jim Douglas.

According to The Day:
”Public opinion has rapidly surpassed the position that many legislators hold,” said Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, the co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee and an architect of the codification bill. “There's no doubt that the vast majority of Connecticut citizens are more than comfortable with equal rights for same-sex couples, and it doesn't undermine their lives.”

And even some of the fiercest opponents of the marriage bill were expressing satisfaction with the exemptions it carves out for churches and religious groups, like the Knights of Columbus and Catholic Charities, which sought to preserve the right to refuse to serve gay couples hoping to reserve wedding facilities or to arrange adoptions.


Religious groups warned that the bill would infringe on religious freedom and did win a late bipartisan compromise, as sponsors agreed to modify the proposal to more explicitly exempt church-affiliated groups from some provisions. The language closely mirrors that in a bill recently passed in Vermont, overriding a gubernatorial veto to legalize same-sex marriage in that state. The language expressly permits churches and related organizations - including church-owned venues and adoption agencies - to continue to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation as long as the specific services that discriminate do not receive funding from the state or federal government.
When raving homophobe Maggie Gallagher from the National Organization for Marriage debated Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese on CNN after the Vermont bill was enacted and the hilarious NOM-sponsored "Gathering Storm" ad was released she tried to get Solmonese to agree to support the "religious exemption provisions in the Vermont statute" and he demurred.

I was initially suspicious of these "religious exemption" but if they really just apply to specific services that do not receive state or federal funding then I am probably okay with that.

The problem is that the opponents of marriage equality often try to blur the difference between civil marriage and religious marriage (Dennis Prager appeared on CNN earlier this week and did exactly that while debating Perez Hilton), going as far to say insane things like if gay marriage passes preachers will be forced to marry gay people in their churches and other nonsense.

As Maine and New Hampshire continue their legislative debates of marriage bills it should be interesting to see where they land on this religious exemption question.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Hat/tip to Derrick's Window.

Multiple Polls Show NY Support for Marriage

Hat/tip to Latino blogger Blabbeando who posted the above graphic (courtesy of "poll maven" Nate Silver of and analyzed two recent polls showing mjority support for marriage equality in New York state.

A Siena poll of 624 registered voters found that 53% of those polled supported Governor David Paterson's push for a marriage equality bill, while 39% opposed it.

A SurveyUSA poll of 500 registered voters sponsored by WABC-TV had a 49% to 44% margin of support.


Note to Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr. and Luis Tellez: Among registered voters in both polls, Latinos in New York State support marriage equality by an overwhelming margin.

The Siena poll puts Latino support at 57% to 31% (a difference of 26 percentage points) while the SurveyUSA poll puts it at 53% to 38% (a difference of 15 percentage points).

I am struck not only by the fact that in both polls Latino support for the bill is not only higher than that of whites but that the negative numbers are so low.

I am heartened for my New York brothers and sisters that there is such supportive polling for marriage equality (and even happier that the Empire State does not have California's insane initiative process). I am also e

As I have said before, what is striking about these numbers is not the Black-white disparity in those who oppose marriage equality, it is the disparity between Republicans and Democrats.

However, I would note that this data should further put a nail in the coffin of the zombie meme that Blacks overwhelmingly oppose marriage equality. The average numbers in the latest polling data are 54 percent oppose, 39 percent in favor which is in line with more accurate analyses of Black public opinion (in the wake of California's Proposition 8) on this question has shown.

According to the numbers an average of 62 percent of Republican oppose marriage equality while a mere 58 percent of Democrats support it, barely different from Independents.

Also striking (as many people have pointed out previously) is the age disparity between those who oppose and support marriage equality. In this recent data, an average of 63 percent of those aged 18-34 support equal marriage rights (while only 29 percent oppose).

Now that is overwhelming support for equality and a harbinger of future gains.

CA-GOV: Newsom Announces Gubernatorial Candidacy

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eye Candy: Blatino

I found this guy on a blog called "Blatino Sexy Dudes." I have been having a discussion with one of my friends about the term "blatino." He claims that blatino is a sexualized term, primarily used in porn and highly sexual spaces online to indicate a level of hypersexuality which combines both of the typical meanings assigned to Black men ("big back dick")  and Latino men ("passionate lover") simultaneously.

My position is that "Blatino" simply means a Latino guy who is also Black (i.e. of African descent). While I agree the term is often sexualized, it doesn't have to always have sexual connotations.

The Urban Dictionary seems to agree with me. Here is their definition of "blatino."

1. An abbreviation for "black & Latino" used most commonly by young urban gay men of color; 2. A person, place,or thing that is Afro-Latino.

Yo, there was some hot blatino papis at the club last night!
by platanoluva Jul 25, 2003 share this

2. blatino
A sexy ass black/latino papi

nicca is a mix with latino
by ladymay Aug 3, 2003 share this

3. blatino
Term for a young male of black and latin heritage - popularized by the thug homosexual community.

I realized why my ass was sore when I remembered I went home with a blatino last night.
by Benutty Mar 8, 2008 share this

What do you think?

Regardless, the guy above is definitely eye candy, whether he is Black, Latino, both or "blatino."

Monday, April 20, 2009

POLL: Majority of New Yorkers Support Marriage Equality

The latest Siena College poll of New Yorkers shows majority support for marriage equality in the Empire State.

Alan van Cappelle, head of the Pride Agenda, released a statement on the poll which highlights the historic nature of the latest results:

Not only are a majority in favor of legalizing marriage for our families, these new numbers establish a clear trend of increasing support, year after year, every time Siena asks about this issue. In the past three years, Siena polling has shown support for marriage equality growing from 43% in 2007 to 46% last year to 53% this year and opposition dropping from 47% in 2007 to 40% last year to just 39% now.

Talking Points Memo DC analyzes the cross-tabs:

The numbers: 53% favor, 39% oppose, with a ±3.8% margin of error. The internals show all regions of the state (New York City, the suburbs and Upstate) support it by various margins.

Among religious sub-groups, only 41% of Protestants favor it to 53% against, Jews favor it 64%-32% -- and Catholics favor it by a 49%-41% plurality. In the racial cross-tabs, Whites are in favor 56%-36%, Latinos are for it 57%-31%, and African-Americans oppose it with 44% in favor to 49% against.

These numbers clearly support Governor David Paterson's efforts to have the New York State Legislature pass a bill ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage.

IGLHRC Condems Execution and Torture of Iraqi LGBTs

The new Executive Director of IGLHRC, Cary Johnson, just sent out an action alert regarding the execution and torture of Iraqi LGBTs which is chilling to read.

The above picture is taken from a report on the Arab news netweork Al-Arabiya (the translation is available here):
A prominent Iraqi human rights activist says that Iraqi militia have deployed a painful form of torture against homosexuals by closing their anuses using "Iranian gum." ... Yina Mohammad told that, "Iraqi militias have deployed an unprecedented form of torture against homosexuals by using a very strong glue that will close their anus."

According to her, the new substance "is known as the American hum, which is an Iranian-manufactured glue that if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile cellphones in Iraq."

According to this human rights activist, for the past 3 weeks a crackdown on homosexuals has been going on based on a religious decree that demands their death; dozens have been targeted. She says that the persecution of homosexuals is not confined to the Shiite clerics. Some Sunni leaders have also declared the death penalty for sodomy on satellite channels."

63 People Tortured

According to Hassan from the Iraqi LGBT group in London, attacks against homosexuals have been abundant in Shiite neighborhoods, especially poor regions and remote areas such as the southern provinces and the Hurriya, Sho'la and Sadr neighborhoods in Baghdad. So far, 63 members of the group have been tortured.

Hassan also confirmed the use of "Iranian Gum" in the torture process, adding that, "I talked to many young men who have been tortured by this method. They went to the hospital for treatment and in some cases they were refused treatment." According to Hassan, "all religous leaders, whether Sunni or Shiite, call for the eradication of homosexuals, but the Shiittes are the ones who are most involved in these attacks."

Vigilante Groups

According to newspaper reports from local news sources in Sadr City in East Baghdad, a previously unknown group "Ahl al-Haq (the followers of Truth) have stepped up the persecution of Iraqi homosexuals after the murder of a number of them in the past few days. The news sources say that, "3 lists, each with the name of 10 gay men were circulated in Sadr City for a few hours." The lists included a quote saying, "You, prostitutes, we will punish you!"

7 Bodies in Bagdad's Morgue

The Alarabiya reporter, visited the Baghdad Morgue in Bab-al-Moazaam in central Baghdad, where the Neman Mohsen, the medical examiner, confirmed that they have the bodies of 7 homosexuals in the morgue. He said, "We were not able to identify the culprits who dumped the bodies in front of the morgue and fled, without being seen."

He explained, "There were bodies with gunshots in the head and chest and the rest of the body without any obvious causes of death."

Khalaf Abdul Hussein, from the Legal Affairs Office at the Police Station in Sadr City, told Alarabiya: "the extra-judicial killing of any citizen is a crime punishable by law. No one has the right to become a substitute for judicial authorities or executive authorities, and if there are complaints against individuals, there is law and there are police and there are government agencies. No group or class has the authority to punish people instead of the state."

He said: "We, like everyone else, have heard rumors about these cases, but we can't comment on something that is not evidence, and there is no evidence for these crimes either in terms of motivation or in terms of the nature of the criminal acts. We do not know the motives of the killers and we do not know the intentions of those killed."

"Son of a Bitch"

Officials and tribal leaders in Sadr City are reluctant to provide details about the murder of homosexuals. However, Sheikh Hashem Mokhani, one of the tribal elders in the city, said: "The people refer to these sexual perverts as 'son of a bitch,' but most of the victims were not residents of Sadr City. They used to hang out in a [gay] cafe, on Palestine Street in Baghdad."

Sheik Salal Al-kaabi, one of the elders of Sadr City says: "we have heard that the tribes, to whom these perverts belonged, declared their lives worthless and allowed their death, but we have also heard that an organization calling itself the followers of Truth (ahl-al Haq) are reponsible for the murders and have written on the chest of victim a sentence that reads: This is the fate of a son of a bitch."

IGLHRC's response to the report is to send the following letter:

April 17, 2009
Her Excellency Wijdan Mikhail Salim
Minister of Human Rights
Unios (Naqabat) St. Mansour
Baghdad, Iraq
Fax: +964-1-5372017

Your Excellency:

On behalf of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), I am writing to express deep concern about an alarming increase in violence based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity in Iraq over the past few weeks. Iraqi officials have recently confirmed the murder of six men whose bodies were found in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad. The Iraqi authorities unearthed the bodies of 4 men killed by gunshots on March 25, 2009. On April 2, Iraqi police found the bodies of two additional men who were reportedly killed by members of their tribe to restore their family honor. Media reports suggest that vigilantes killed these men because of their perceived sexual orientation.

This wave of violence coincides with an arson attack against a Sadr City coffee house that was popular among gay men. IGLHRC has also received reports of official persecution—abduction, torture, trial without due process, and execution—of Iraqis who the government believes to have been part of a gay organization. In addition, IGLHRC learned today that an Iraqi group known as "Fazilat" (Virtue) has circulated flyers around Sadr City threatening gay men with death and listing the names of their potential targets.

As a signatory to international treaties that assure the right to privacy, liberty and security of the person and the right to non-discrimination, it is Iraq’s obligation to protect its citizens and ensure that human rights violations are fully investigated and that perpetrators are brought to justice.

The new Iraqi Constitution protects the equality of all citizens before the law (Article 14), guarantees everyone’s right to enjoy “life, freedom, and security” (Article 15) and reiterates the right of all Iraqis to live “in freedom and with dignity” (Article 35). The mob murder of men perceived to be gay also violates the Iraqi Constitution, since the law protects the private lives of all citizens (Article 17), makes any kind of violence against family members a crime (Article 29) and prohibits extra-judicial punishment (Article 19, Section 2). Despite the legal obligations of the Iraqi government to protect all citizens, crimes committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqis and those believed to be homosexual are not properly investigated or prosecuted.

In accordance with Article 2 of the Charter of the Ministry of Human Rights (CMHR), which was passed by the Iraqi parliament as law number 60 in 2006, it is the responsibility of your ministry to “promote …and secure the implementation of…. the culture of human rights and personal freedom in accordance with international treaties that Iraq has entered... and prevent its violation.”

To fulfill this mandate, we request that your ministry take the following steps:

Actively and thoroughly document cases of human rights abuses against LGBT people and include this information in your annual report on the status of human rights in Iraq for submission to parliament and the cabinet. (Article 3, Section 2, CMHR)

Prepare a comprehensive report on state, community and family violence based on sexual orientation with concrete recommendations on how to stop such human rights violations. (Article 3, Section 3, CMHR)

Launch an investigation into the Iraqi legal system—including police, judiciary, and penal systems—to assure the full enjoyment of human rights principles by all people, regardless of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Promote a culture of tolerance and respect for the rights of LGBT people at the tribal level and within the larger Iraqi society. (Article 3, Section 11, CMHR)
IGLHRC is ready to support the efforts of the Iraqi government to secure the rights of its same-sex practicing citizens through training, consultation and information exchange.

We trust that you will give this matter due attention.

Yours sincerely,

Cary Alan Johnson
Executive Director
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

And people are talking about a boycott of Jamaica while insanely horrific of murders of LGBT individuals are occurring RIGHT NOW in Iraq, a country in which we currently have tens of thousands of United States military servicepeople? Please!

Frank Rich Demolishes The NOM Ad

Columnist Frank Rich demolished the now universally-mocked National Organization for Marriage's "A Storm Is Coming" ad campaign opposed to marriage equality in an op-ed published in Sunday's New York Times.

As the polls attest, the majority of Americans who support civil unions for gay couples has been steadily growing. Younger voters are fine with marriage. Generational changeover will seal the deal. Crunching all the numbers, the poll maven Nate Silver sees same-sex marriage achieving majority support “at some point in the 2010s.”

Iowa and Vermont were the tipping point because they struck down the right’s two major arguments against marriage equality. The unanimous ruling of the seven-member Iowa Supreme Court proved that the issue is not merely a bicoastal fad. The decision, written by Mark Cady, a Republican appointee, was particularly articulate in explaining that a state’s legalization of same-sex marriage has no effect on marriage as practiced by religions. “The only difference,” the judge wrote, is that “civil marriage will now take on a new meaning that reflects a more complete understanding of equal protection of the law.”


In 2008, 60 percent of Iowa’s Republican caucus voters were evangelical Christians. Mike Huckabee won. That’s the hurdle facing the party’s contenders in 2012, which is why Romney, Palin and Gingrich are now all more vehement anti-same-sex-marriage activists than Rick Warren. Palin even broke with John McCain on the issue during their campaign, supporting the federal marriage amendment that he rejects. This month, even as the father of Palin’s out-of-wedlock grandson challenged her own family values and veracity, she nominated as Alaskan attorney general a man who has called gay people “degenerates.” Such homophobia didn’t even play in Alaska — the State Legislature voted the nominee down — and will doom Republicans like Palin in national elections.

One G.O.P. politician who understands this is the McCain-Palin 2008 campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt, who on Friday urged his party to join him in endorsing same-sex marriage. Another is Jon Huntsman Jr., the governor of Utah, who in February endorsed civil unions for gay couples, a position seemingly indistinguishable from Obama’s. Huntsman is not some left-coast Hollywood Republican. He’s a Mormon presiding over what Gallup ranks as the reddest state in the country.


As marital equality haltingly but inexorably spreads state by state for gay Americans in the years to come, Utah will hardly be in the lead to follow Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont. But the fact that it too is taking its first steps down that road is extraordinary. It is justice, not a storm, that is gathering. Only those who have spread the poisons of bigotry and fear have any reason to be afraid.



Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is an amazing first novel which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Mad Professah read the book during my trip to Italy in January 2008.

As readers of this blog may know, I follow the winners of the Hugo and Nebula awards pretty closely. These are the awards for speculative fiction, which is a great pastime of mine.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is not a science fiction or fantasy book, but it is about the people who read those kinds of books and will especially resonate more intensely with people familiar with the classics of those genres.

The story follows Oscar, a 300-plus pound Dominican "nerd" who is obsessed with science fiction and fantasy as well as unlucky in love.

However, the book also weaves in the story of Oscar's family, especially his mother and sister, and in so doing vividly depicts life on the island of Santo Domingo as well as the barrios of New Jersey. In a somewhat controversial stylistic choice, the author uses footnotes to includes fascinating historical details on the Dominican Republic as well as the liberal inclusion of several Spanish words throughout the text which he does not translate, but leaves to the reader to obtain their meaning from the context (which is usually possible). I imagine that a Spanish speaker would have an even more resonant experience with the work.

I was completely enchanted with this book. Not only is it enjoyable by people familiar with Hobbits, Star Trek, Star Wars and other science fiction tropes but I would also recommended it to people with an immigrant or bicultural background, who have enjoyed the works of Jhumpa Lahiri (whose The Namesake was one of my favoite books in 2006).

One aspect of writing reviews of book for this blog that I have noticed is that books that I really, really like often take the longest for me to sit down and complete an official review. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is definitely in that category, but it is a book I think about often even though I finished it nearly 16 months ago. And how many books (or, really works of art, period) can one say that about?



Sunday, April 19, 2009

Nadal Wins 5th Consecutive Monte Carlo AMS Title

World #1 Rafael Nadal defeated World #3 Novak Djokovic in a hard-fought, high-quality, 3-set match 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 to claim his 5th consecutive Monte Carlo Masters Series title. Every year since 2005 that Nadal has won Monte Carlo, he has also won the French Open. That is, 5 years in a row. For the last two years he had faced former World #1 Roger Federer in the final of Monte Carlo as well as facing him in the Roland Garros final and had been victorious (in both settings) every time.

However, Djokovic (and earlier, World #4 Andy Murray) showed this week that they are closing the distance between Nadal on clay.

With his win today, Nadal now ties Federer in second position behind Andre Agassi's 17 masters series titles with 14 AMS titles each. There are two more clay Masters Series titles this season (Rome and Hamburg Madrid) before the clay Grand Slam at Roland Garros in Paris at the end of May.

It looks to me very likely that Nadal will end the year with the most Masters Series titles of all time.

Celebrity Sunday: Andy Roddick Got Married!

World #6 Andy Roddick, 26, married his girlfriend of two years Brooklyn Decker, 22 in a small private ceremony in Austin, Texas attended by Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf on Friday.
Roddick got married one week after World #2 Roger Federer got married.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

CA-32: Judy Chu wins official CDP nod

I attended the California Democratic Party endorsement meeting in
Rosemead today at Garvey High School to cast a proxy vote for the
Congresswoman from the 32nd District, Judy Chu.

Hundreds of people turned out and lined up in the hot midday Sun.
Here's a shot of the candidate herself with some supporters:

Colbert Has Best NOM Parody Video

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Colbert Coalition's Anti-Gay Marriage Ad
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

Friday, April 17, 2009

NY Gov. Paterson Introduces Marriage Equality Bill

On Thursday New YorkGovernor David Paterson announced his introduction of a bill to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage at a press conference attended by openly lesbian New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, openly gay Assemblyman David O'Donnell and openly gay (and HIV+) State Senator Tom Duane.

Although Democrats control both house of the state legislature, there are a number of conservative Democrats that oppose marriage equality and do not support the legislation.

WA Domestic Partnership Bill Passes Legislature

A comprehensive domestic partnership bill passed the Washington state legislature's lower house Wednesday by a vote of 62-35.

Previously, the bill had passed the upper house by a vote of 30-18.

Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire has announced that she will happily sign the measure into law.

Two year ago, Governor Gregoire signed another domestic partner bill into law which conveyed limited benefits to the 5,712 couples that have registered in the interim. The new comprehensive bill provides all rights and responsibilities that state law affords to married couples to registered domestic partners.

Washington will join California, Oregon, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia with significant recognition of same-sex couples. Subsequently, Connecticut and Vermont have enacted marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Maine, Colorado, Hawaii and Maryland have limited domestic partnership laws in effect also.


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