Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Matthew's Choice: Hate Crimes Or No More War Funding

Memorial for Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming a few days
the gay man was brutally left to die in October 1998

Remember the movie Sophie's Choice that won Meryl Streep her Best Actress Oscar? What the LGBT community is facing today is what I call "Matthew's Choice."

The federal hate crimes bill, which would include the possibility of penalty enhancements for crimes motivated by the sexual orientation, gender identity or mental/physical disability of the victim. If enacted, the Mathew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S.909 / H.R. 1913) would become the first substantive piece of federal legislation to increase civil rights for members of the LGBT community.

However, the legislative history of the bill is so convoluted that in order for it to become law, the Department of Defense Authorization bill, which happens to include funding for both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, will also need to become law.

So, if you are against the wars but in favor of LGBT people finally receiving recognition under federal law, you have the awful choice of having to choose between your anti-war principles and your pro-equality principles, i.e. similar horrific choice with no good answer to what Meryl Streep's character had to face in Sophie's Choice. I call this dilemma Matthew's Choice.

There has been quite an intense debate going on among LGBT activists about what position to take on this question of supporting a bill which includes both the Department of Defense Authorization and the federal hate crimes act simultaneously.

For me, if the bill still included a death penalty provision I would NOT be in support of it. However, although I do not support the DOD Authorization I think it is more important to set the precedent that meaningful federal legislation can be passed that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

So, I called my Congressperson Xavier Becerra (CA-31) this afternoon and encouraged him to vote in favor of the conference report on the Department of Defense Authorization bill.

I encourage YOU to call your Congressperson as well. Find the name of your Representative here and MAKE THAT CALL!

MOVIE REVIEW: The Hurt Locker

The Hurt Locker is the most critically acclaimed movie of the summer (98% rating at although it is approaching the end of its run in movie theaters, having grossed just over $12 million dollars so far. Over Labor Day weekend the Other Half and I saw it at the Mann Theaters 10 in Glendale.

This is probably the first outstanding artistic venture inspired by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The movie is an intense experience, engrossing the viewer immediately and keeping you on the edge of your seats. The Hurt Locker has been called "the best action movie of the summer" and a "viscerally exciting, adrenaline-soaked tour de force of suspense and surprise" by A.O. Scott of the New York Times (who incidentally can now be seen every weekend taking over for Siskel & Ebert on ABC's At The Movies television show).

Although the film was written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathryn Bigelow it has the look and feel of an unscripted documentary peek at real life of soldiers working in an explosive detection and remediation unit. There are three main characters, played brilliantly by Anthony Mackie, Jeremy Renner and Brian Geraghty but the real main character is the war in Iraq itself and the frustrating, bewildering, terrifying predicament these soldiers (and our country) have found ourselves in.

Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes. MPAA Rating: Rated R for war violence and language.



Tuesday, September 29, 2009

CA-GOV: Whitman Squirms To Defend (Non)Voting Record

This is absolutely incredible. Meg Whitman did not vote in an election until she was 46 years old, 28 years after she was first eligible to vote. Listen to her try and defend this record on the record with a reporter. Absolutely Priceless.
REPORTER: Ms. Whitman, can you address your voting record? Have you ever registered as a Republican before 2007?

WHITMAN: So what I’ve said is there is no excuse for my voting record. I cannot be proud of it. Being able to vote in this country is a right and everyone should take advantage of, and I didn’t as often as I should. And you know what, leaders need to stand up and acknowledge their mistakes, acknowledge when they wish they would’ve done something different or better. And I have said now on numerous occasions I have made a mistake and there’s no excuse for it.

REPORTER: Did you ever register as a Republican before 2007?

WHITMAN: So what I have said is that I did not vote as often as I should. I didn’t register as often as I should and I’m sorry about that and there is no excuse for it.

REPORTER: …you were registered in 1998, and there’s no record of that. Are you inferring that you did? The Bee reported after you were not registered at all before 2002.

WHITMAN: So when I came back to California, I registered in 2002, so I don’t know where that came from, but I registered in 2002 when I came back to California, so thank you for that.

REPORTER: Steve Poizner suggested that you should get out of the race because of this because no one who hasn’t voted before needs to be elected governor, but also can you address the general appearance that someone who did not register to vote or vote over almost most of their adult life didn’t really care about politics and didn’t care about certain civic affairs on either a state level or a national level.

WHITMAN: So I could imagine that Steve Poizner would like me to get out of the race, and it’s not happening.

REPORTER: But answer the question.

WHITMAN: I will, just give me a chance, okay? So I think it doesn’t look good, right? I made a mistake. I didn’t register to vote as often as I should. I didn’t vote as often as I should. It is inexcusable and it’s not the right thing. But as I said, leaders stand up and take accountability for their mistakes and that’s exactly what I’m doing.

REPORTER: But the question is why, and I think the Washington Post today said it may be a display of stunning indifference in not having any interest in issues and social problems and so I think people want to know why.

WHITMAN: What I have said is it was not the right thing to do.

REPORTER: But why?

WHITMAN: It just wasn’t the right thing to do. I should have and I didn’t.

REPORTER: Why not?

WHITMAN: I should have voted and I didn’t and there is no excuse for it and I should’ve voted. I have said many times that I should have and I didn’t and there is no excuse for it.

REPORTER: But why? I’m not saying

WHITMAN: I shouldn’t have — should have and I didn’t. We’re going to move on. Thank you for that.

REPORTER: You made a good point today saying people want to hear the truth, and you made a big push for authenticity. So why can’t you answer the question of why you didn’t vote for - it’s not a small span of time. It’s almost your entire adult life.

WHITMAN: Well I’m going to repeat what I said— I did not vote. I should have voted. It is inexcusable. Voting is something that all of us should take advantage of and I didn’t.

REPORTER: We’re just trying to get some sort of sense of your frame of mind.

WHITMAN: I understand, and I’ve said what I’m going to say about it, so thank you for that. Jack.
No wonder Jerry Brown is currently leading Meg "It's inexcusable" Whitman (and all other potential Republican candidates) in the latest polls.

Protect Maine Equality Needs $$ Before 9/30 Filing Deadline

A new poll from Democracy Corps has Maine's Question 1 leading 50% No, 41% Yes but the good guys and gals at Protect Maine Equality are not resting on their laurels. After all, one year ago Proposition 8 was behind in public polls as well, and it came from behind and eventually passed 53%-47% on November 5, 2008.

Tomorrow is the end of the financial reporting deadline and the campaign has a goal of raising 112,000$ by tomorrow on ActBlue. YOU can do your part by helping raise money to defeat Question 1. Please, please PLEASE click on the thermometer at the top of this post or at the right navigation bar and make a donation, no matter how small.

Here are the details of the latest poll results, being released on Wednesday:
Q.6 Now let me ask something else. One of the questions on the ballot this November will read as follows: "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?" - If the election were held today, would you vote YES or NO on this question?
Yes strongly.........................................................................37
Yes not strongly....................................................................4
No not strongly.....................................................................7
No strongly..........................................................................43
(Don't know/refused)............................................................9

Total yes.............................................................................41
Total no..............................................................................50

Eye Candy: Grégory Capra

Here are some pictures of the stunning Grégory Capra, a French model who has graced the pages of Tetu, the French gay magazine and was featured at recently, where they have several more images of this delightful French patisserie!

Germany May Get Openly Gay Vice Chancellor

Guido Westerwelle, 47, openly gay
head of Germany's Free Democratic Party

Germany is about to make history by having an openly gay man as the second-highest ranking politician of a G-8 country. Guido Westerwelle, head of the Free Democratic Party, is likely to become Vice-Chancellor of Germany and Foreign Minister (equivalent to the United States Secretary of State, which is the third highest member of the Executive Branch). The Free Democratic Party placed well enough in this weekend's elections that returned Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party to power that the FDP and CDU will together form a conservative coalition to form a majority in the Bundestag, the German Parliament.

And Herr Westerwelle is not the only openly gay politician making history in Germany. Klaus Wowerweit, 52, has repeatedly won re-election as Mayor of Berlin and has made no secret of his desire to become Chancellor of Germany one day.

Monday, September 28, 2009

CA-GOV: Brown Beats All Republicans, Newsom Trails All Of Them

California political junkies are buzzing about the new Rasmussen poll which shows former Governor and current Attorney General Jerry Brown handily leading all the major Republican gubernatorial contenders (Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner and Tom Campbell) while Brown's rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination trailing the same three possible Republicans. Here's the data:
Brown (D) 44%, Whitman (R) 35%
Brown (D) 45%, Poizner (R) 32%
Brown (D) 44%, Campbell (R) 34%
Whitman (R) 41%, Newsom (D) 36%
Poizner (R) 40%, Newsom (D) 36%
Campbell (R) 42%, Newsom (D) 36%
This is definitely NOT very good news for the Governor Gavin movement. That's too bad, because MadProfesah has been leaning towards Newsom, especially since Gerry Brown hasn't announced whether he wants the job (again) yet, and acting as attorney general, Brown was responsible for the devastatingly incompetent presentation by an Assistant Attorney General during the Proposition 8 California Supreme Court oral argument.

FOOD REVIEW: Brownstone Pizza (Eagle Rock)

MadProfessah discovered Brownstone Pizza (2108 Colorado Blvd. Eagle Rock, CA 90041. (323) 257-4992) a few months ago and have visited a few times but thought I would finally get serious about writing up a review. Brownstone Pizza is a fantastic neighborhood pizza joint. It is probably not the best pizza in Los Angeles, but it is definitely better than the horrendously over-hyped Casa Bianca Pizza which inexplicably gets declared repeatedly as "the best pizza in Los Angeles"! and is not even the best pizza in EAGLE ROCK!

Actually, Brownstone Pizza may not be the best pizza in Los Angeles either but it is pretty damned good. I have eaten at Brownstone on several occasions in the last several months, and ordered food to take-out. The pizza is excellent, especially if you like thin crusts with tangy sauce and fresh toppings. Their non-pizza items are worth mentioning as well, with meatballs the size of your fist in your choice of sauce [HINT: don't choose "butter"] added to your pasta of choice. The interior is small, but clean and more inviting than most New York City pizza joints, although it is curious there are not one but two flat screen TV's in a space smaller than a typical living room.

However, you don't need to make the schlep to Brownstone's for the ambiance, you're there for the pizza, and of some faux foodie friend of yours told you that Eagle Rock had the best pizza in town and you are daunted by the (inexplicable!) 45 minute wait to get into That Other Pizza Place saunter on down Colorado Boulevard to Brownstone's--you won't regret it.

Name: Brownstone Pizza. Location: 2108 Colorado Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90041. Contact: 323-257-4992.



Sunday, September 27, 2009

Truth About That "AIDS Vaccine Breakthrough"

The New York Times and online news outlets like WebMD and DailyKos are starting to analyze more carefully the more sensationalist claims of an "AIDS vaccine breakthrough" that you may have heard pf last week.

For example, Times reporter Donald McNeil reports that
In the data itself, the real margin of success was razor-thin: 23 Thais out of 16,395.

That is, three years after getting the vaccine or a placebo, 74 in the placebo arm of the trial became infected while only 51 in the vaccine arm did.

Bloggers with a taste for biostatistics — and one rival AIDS vaccine specialist who declined to be quoted — said it would take only a handful more infected Thais in the vaccine column to shift the results from “statistically significant” to meaningless. Even one more would have weakened the data enough to make headlines saying “One Quarter Protected” more likely, given the way journalists round off numbers.

Got that? The 1/3rd protect meme that was propagated last week came from the fact that 23 fewer Thais out of more than 16,000 participants who would have been expected to get HIV, did not.

'Outrage' appearing on HBO

Kirby Dick's Outrage (see MadProfessah's A review) will be airing repeatedly on HBO during the month of October:
Oct. 5: 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET/PT

Oct. 5: 2:30 a.m.

Oct. 8: 1:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m.

Oct. 11: 10:30 a.m.

Oct. 14: 4:25 a.m.

Oct. 15: 6:00 p.m.

Oct. 20: 3:30 p.m., 12:05 a.m.

Oct. 24: 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 30: 4:00 p.m.


Oct. 14: 8:00 p.m.

Oct. 22: 12:05 a.m.

Oct. 28 11:00 a.m
It is a must-see film!

Bill Clinton Endorses Marriage Equality

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Legal Marriage Challenges Correlate With Increased Popular Support

An interesting graph from a recent blog post at the Gender & Sexuality Law Blog written by Katherine Franke, a Columbia University Law School Professor, noted expert on gender and sexuality law and friend of MadProfessah about a possible correlation between public opinion in favor of marriage equality and state supreme court challenges to existing marriage statutes.

VIDEO: Another Maine No on 1 / Maine Equality Ad

I'm not a fan of this ad. I think it is reasonable to attempt to convince voters who are opposed to gay marriage but also embrace a "live and let live" philosophy to vote no on Question 1. I think it is important to point out to such voters that same-sex marriage will have no impact on their lives, which bolsters their laissez-faire attitudes on this issue.

The ad I want to see is one in which people from states where marriage has been legal for awhile, like Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont tell the camera what impact same-sex marriage has had on their lives. In Iowa, we know 92% of respondents said it had no impact on their lives.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2010 Prop 8 Repeal Proponents Reveal Measure's Text

Accordimg to Rex Wockner, the language of the ballot measure to be submitted to the California Supreme Court shall be:

This amendment would amend an existing section of the California Constitution. Existing language proposed to be deleted is printed in strikeout type. Language proposed to be added is printed in underlined type.

Section 1. To protect religious freedom, no court shall interpret this measure to require any priest, minister, pastor, rabbi, or other person authorized to perform marriages by any religious denomination, church, or other non-profit religious institution to perform any marriage in violation of his or her religious beliefs. The refusal to perform a marriage under this provision shall not be the basis for lawsuit or liability, and shall not affect the tax-exempt status of any religious denomination, church or other religious institution.

Section 2. To provide for fairness in the government’s issuance of marriage licenses, Section 7.5 of Article I of the California Constitution is hereby amended to read as follows: Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Marriage is between only two persons and shall not be restricted on the basis of race, color, creed, ancestry, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.
We'll see, but I suspect that people will have issues with the school issues not being addressed. I also wonder if there's a problem by not insisting the two people not be "adults" and not mentioning consent? Presumably other parts of California law deal with those issues. I like the fact that both sex and gender are included. Bizarre that "ancestry" is chosen over ethnicity.

Poll: Likely Voters Would Approve WA's Ref. 71

The latest polling in Washington state shows that the electoral battle to retain their recently passed comprehensive domestic partnership law will be hard-fought and close.

In Washington, in a mail-in only ballot ending on November 3rd, voters are being asked whether they APPROVE of the new law in a ballot measure known as Referendum 71. Read the actual language that will appear in a poll of likely voters, their responses were:
Approve: 51 percent
Reject: 44 percent
Undecided: 5 percent
In other Referendum 71 news, a federal appellate court has fast tracked an appeal of a troubling decision made earlier this month by a Bush-appointed federal circuit judge that ruled that the names of the people who signed petitions to qualify Referendum71 did not have to be released, in violation of Washington State's public records law, issuing a preliminary injunction against the Secretary of State of Washington. The Attorney General of Washington filed the appeal and asked for a fast-track, since the election is less than 40 days away!

CA-GOV: Whitman Formally Announces For Governor

Meg Whitman formally announced she was running for Governor of California on Tuesday.
"California is at a tipping point. Our finances are bankrupt. Much of our society's infrastructure – the roads, the ports, the water delivery systems – is at the breaking point," she said.

She said creating jobs, cutting state spending and fixing the education system will be her top priorities.

Whitman, 53, said she would cut 40,000 jobs from the state government payroll and reduce state spending by another $15 billion. That would come on top of the 18 percent cut made to the general fund over the last two years.

In an interview with The Associated Press later Tuesday, Whitman was vague about what state programs she would cut or what employees she would eliminate to meet her goals.

She said eliminating 40,000 jobs would save $3.3 billion, and she would also seek to shrink commissions and boards, use technology better and consolidate the state's purchasing power. Whitman said she would thoroughly examine the budget to look for waste and fraud.

"Trust me, there is $15 billion at least in there," she said

"Trust me"? Is this some kind of joke? Whitman has donated $19 million to her campaign so far, and has said she may spend as much as $150 million to become the nation's largest state's first female chief executive.

In other news, Jerry Brown announced the creation of an exploratory committee to allow him to begin raising money for a 2010 run for the Governor's office.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Obama Health Care Reform Plan in 4 Minutes

L.A. CD-2: Krekorian and Essel in Dec. 8 Runoff Election

MadProfessah-endorsed candidate Paul Krekorian was the top vote-getter in yesterday's special election in City Council District #2:
TAMAR GALATZAN                  1,871 12.94%
CHRISTINE ESSEL 4,104 28.39%
MICHAEL MC CUE 339 2.35%
PETE SANCHEZ 699 4.84%
PAUL KREKORIAN 4,929 34.10%
MARY BENSON 1,198 8.29%

Turnout was a measly 11.74% out of 123, 750 registered voters with more than half (55%) of all votes cast by mail. Krekorian will face Christine Essel in the Tuesday December 8 run-off election. If Krekorian wins, it will set off another special election for his 43rd District Assembly seat that he currently holds.

U.S. House Committee Hearing on ENDA Wednesday

There will be a hearing in the United States House of Representatives Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, H.R. 3017 , on Wednesday September 23rd at 10am.

Full Committee Hearing
10:00 AM, September 23, 2009
2175 Rayburn H.O.B
Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, today announced that on Wednesday, September 23, he will hold the first full committee hearing in the House of Representatives on legislation to prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017), introduced by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), would prohibit employment discrimination, preferential treatment, and retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by employers with 15 or more employees. Currently, it is legal to discriminate in the workplace based on sexual orientation in 29 states and in 38 states based on gender identity.

U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)

Hon. Stuart J. Ishimaru
Acting Chairman

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

William Eskridge
John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence

Yale Law School

Vandy Beth Glenn
fired from her Georgia state legislative job when she told her supervisor she was transitioning from male to female

Camille Olson
Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Craig Parshall
Senior Vice President and General Counsel
National Religious Broadcasters Association

Rabbi David Saperstein
The Religious Action Center

Brad Sears
Executive Director
Williams Institute
UCLA School of Law

Additional witnesses TBA

Pam Spaulding over at The Blend has posted a great fact sheet on what ENDA does and does not do:

* Federal employment laws currently prevent job discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, age and disability. ENDA would extend this to cover sexual orientation and gender identity, covering all LGBT Americans.

* Although some states have laws to prevent such discrimination, in 29 states it is legal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and in 38 states it is legal to discriminate on the basis of gender identity.

* The bill covers both the public and private sectors.

* The bill has more than 170 cosponsors, including Democrats and Republicans. The current list of original cosponsors will be available after the press conference.

* The legislation does not afford "special rights" to any group.
* The legislation specifically prohibits preferential treatment on the basis of quotas.

* The legislation does not apply to members of the Armed Services, veterans' service groups, and religious organizations.

* The legislation does not require employers to provide benefits to domestic partners.

* The legislation does not apply to organizations with less than 15 employees.

* The legislation does not prevent businesses from enforcing dress codes

In 2007 a version of ENDA without gender identity protections (which MadProfessah and others called 'fake ENDA' or "SPLENDA") passed the U.S. House in the 110th Congress but died in the Senate. In the current, 111th Congress, with a larger Democratic majority a version of ENDA with gender identity was introduced this summer and is widely expected to pass the U.S. House again and possibly the Senate, where President Barack Obama would eagerly sign it into law.

The 111th Congress has already passed the federal hate crimes act in April 2009 but it has not been taken up in the Senate, leading some to worry about ENDA's chances in the upper legislative body.

Maine's Yes on 1 Is Shamelessly Repeating the Yes on 8 Campaign

The second ad from the heterosexual supremacists in Maine who want to ban gay marriage has been released and it looks awfully familiar:

Here's the corresponding ad that ran in California almost exactly a year ago:

I suppose it makes sense that Frank Schubert, who ran the winning Proposition 8 campaign to ban gay marriage in California on 2008, would try to repeat his victory in Maine as he runs the campaign to promote Question 1, but now he's not even deviating from his playbook.

What do you think No on 1/Protect Maine Equality should do this time? Last time, No on 8 responded with this ad:

What is odd is that Yes on 1 is running the weaker of the two ads that raised the issue of "homosexual marriage" being taught in schools to second graders. What most observers think is the most effective of the Yes on 8 ads is the infamous "Princes" ad:

Since Frank is following his Yes on 8 playbook, it's only a matter of time before a copy of this ad is airing all over the Maine airways.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Henin Announces Return to WTA Tour

The rumors are true. Justine Henin is returning to competitive women's tennis and intends to play in the 2010 Australian Open.
Henin had been retired for just over a year, but at 27 says she has the fire and physical strength to compete for an eighth Grand Slam title. Her announcement on VTM television capped an about-face that went from her ''definitive decision'' to retire last year, to weeks of no comment to a smiling admission Tuesday that she truly missed the game too much.

She wants to play two exhibition tournaments, in Charleroi, Belgium, and Dubai, to hone her skills ahead of a competitive return next year with plans to compete in the next Grand Slam, the Australian Open.

''The fire within burns again,'' Henin said. ''I want to come back in January.''


''Subconsciously, it might have had an impact,'' Henin said of Clijster's successful comeback. ''But it certainly was not the most important reason.''
Mmmm, hmmm. A little more than 18 months of retirement. Sounds like a *cough* doping violation ban *cough* to me!

Paul Krekorian for City Council

Guess what? There's an election today in Los Angeles. Paul Krekorian is a strong supporter of the LGBT community and a current Assemblymember who is running for the Los Angeles City Council in District #2. The special election was set for today to fill the seat being vacated by Wendy Greuel who became Los Angeles City Controller on July 1st. Bizarrely, the Los Angeles Times has endorsed another candidate, Christine Essel, who has never held elected office but is movie studio executive following in Greuel's foot steps (and has been endorsed by her) from the board room to the council chambers.

The Los Angeles City council is a 15-member body that is the elected political body representing nearly 4 million residents. This is an important election.

Krekorian has been endorsed by Stonewall Democrats. MadProfessah endorses Krekorian for City Council.

Henin Expected To Announce Return To Tennis Tuesday

7-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin is expected to announce the end of her retirement from tennis on Tuesday, multiple sources are reporting. Henin announced her retirement effective immediately on May 14, 2008 while still ranked #1 and the clear favorite to win another title (her fifth) at the 2008 Roland Garros grand slam tournament.

Belgian Kim Clijsters returned from retirement this summer and won the 2009 US Open in just her third tournament back on the tour following a 2 1/2 year gap and the birth of her daughter Jada.

I am completely unsurprised by this turn of events, and knew that as soon as Clijsters was back Henin would return as well. Last month rumors started circulating that Henin was starting training again and some people noted that Henin's projected "absence" from the sport would appear to coincide with an 18-month ban that would have been imposed if there had been a doping violation. I'm not saying that there has been, but it is curious that if Henin does indeed announce her return to the tour today, what her first tournament is, and whether it occurs before November 14, 2009.

92% of Iowans Say Gay Marriage Doesn't Affect Their Lives

What was the big deal again? In a poll released today about Iowan voter attitudes about gay marriage the number 92 jumped out of this summary of the results:
Forty-one percent say they would vote for a [constitutional amendment to] ban [same-sex marriage], and 40 percent say they would vote to continue gay marriage. The rest either would not vote or say they are not sure.


The overwhelming majority of Iowans - 92 percent - say gay marriage has brought no real change to their lives.


The poll shows that 26 percent of Iowans favor April's unanimous court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, 43 percent oppose it and 31 percent don't care much or are not sure.

Despite the 43 percent opposition to the ruling, 61 percent of Iowans say other issues will influence their decision on whether to vote to retain Iowa Supreme Court justices in the 2010 elections.
The margin of error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points and the poll was conducted of 803 Iowans from September 14-16 by a Des Moines based firm.

Gee, what a surprise! Nearly 5 months after gay marriage became legal in Iowa, 92% of respondents basically said it had no impact on their lives. I hope heterosexual supremacists like the Nationak Organization for Marriage are reading these results and gnashing their teeth.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Eye Candy: Marcus Randall

Marcus Randall was Hunk du Jour's Hunk of the Day on Thursday September 17th. I figured y'all might enjoy him as Eye Candy.

Lost's Michael Emerson Wins Best Supporting Actor Emmy!

Michael Emerson, who plays the evil Ben on Lost, probably my favorite television show, has finally been recognized by the Emmy awards for his amazing work on that program.

In other television news, 30 Rock won again for Best Comedy Series and Mad Men (which I have never seen, and probably never will) won Best Drama Series. Happily, Glenn Close won Best Actress in a Dramatic Series for Damages (which is another of my favorites).

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Uruguay Now Most Pro-LGBT Country in South America

Uruguay is rapidly gaining a reputation as the most pro-gay country in South America despite neighboring Argentina and Brazil.

The small country enacted nationwide civil union legislation in 2007, ended it's ban on gays openly serving in the military earlier this year and last week opened up adoption to same-sex couples.

MadProfessah visited the country in 2006 (Montevideo) and quite enjoyed it!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Poll On Maine's Question 1: 48% Yes, 46% No

A Daily Kos-funded poll has been released which shows that the fate of marriage equality in Maine is "too close to call."

The Resarch2000 poll (conducted September 14-16 using random digit dialing with margin of error plus/minus 4 points) says that 48% of Maine voters will vote YES to reject Maine's marriage equality law, while 46% would vote to keep it. In another bad sign for marriage in Maine, 49% of respondents say that they are opposed to marriage equality, with 46% supporting it.

QUESTION: As you may know there will be one question on the ballot this November in Maine addressing the issue of same-sex unions. In part it will read "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry?" A yes vote takes away the right of same-sex couples to marry. A no vote keeps the right of same-sex couples to marry. If the election were held today would you vote YES or NO on this question?


QUESTION: Regardless of how you might vote do you favor or oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally?

Basically this is a situation where the people who are opposed to marriage equality, Republicans, males and people over 60 are more intensely opposed (and more likely to vote) than the people who are in favor of it.

This shows that the fight to defend marriage equality in Maine is going to be very tough. If you want to help, there are numerous ways that you can get involved.
1) Give money. (You can click on the thermometer on this page)
2) Go on a Volunteer Vacation to Maine (spend a week campaigning against Question 1--they have scholarships so that anyone who has the time but not the money should be able to go!)
3) Tell your friends to Vote No On Question 1 To Protect Maine Equality!
Keep your fingers crossed. There are less than 46 days left until election day! What are YOU going to do to save marriage equality?

Celebrity Friday: Mehcad Brooks (reprise)

Mehcad Brooks recently told an interviewer that he supports marriage equality. The True Blood star said that he will not be getting married in California until everyone has that right.

I’m also not even concerned with marrying somebody until it’s legal for everybody to get married. And what I mean by that is the whole Prop 8 thing,” Brooks told “I find it really offensive. I just find it really problematic when you start throwing people’s rights away. Until we get our gay brothers and sisters back into a realm of consciousness that everyone else is in, it’s just not right. A woman who’s getting married — it’s probably going to be a gay man who made her dress, and a gay man who’s doing her hair and makeup, but he can’t get married. How messed up is that?
Not just a pretty face and a set of killer abs but an insightful guy as well!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Bill To Repeal DOMA Introduced

Yesterday, U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and more than ninety other congressmembers introduced the Respect for Marriage Act (H.R. 3567) in Washington, D.C. which would repeal 1996's Defense of Marriage Act.

According to The Advocate there are currently 92 Congressmembers who voted for that bill and who are still in Congress now:
Sanford Bishop (D-AL)
Rick Boucher (D-VA)
Corrine Brown (D-FL)
James Clyburn (D-SC)
Jerry Costello (D-IL)
Elijah Cummings (D-MD)
Norman Dicks (D-WA)
John Dingell (D-MI)
Lloyd Doggett (D-TX)
Chet Edwards (D-TX)
Bart Gordon (D-TN)
Gene Green (D-TX)
Tim Holden (D-PA)
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX)
Paul Kanjorski (D-PA)
Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Dale Kildee (D-MI)
Sander Levin (D-MI)
Daniel Lipinski (D-IL)
Alan Mollohan (D-WV)
John Murtha (D-PA)
Richard Neal (D-MA)
James Oberstar (D-MN)
David Obey (D-WI)
Solomon Ortiz (D-TX)
Collin Peterson (D-MN)
Earl Pomeroy (D-ND)
Nick Rahall (D-WV)
Bobby Rush (D-IL)
Ike Skelton (D-MO)
John Spratt (D-SC)
Bart Stupak (D-MI)
John Tanner (D-TN)
Gene Taylor (D-MS)
Peter Visclosky (D-IN)

Spencer Bachus (R-AL)
Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD)
Joe Barton (R-TX)
Brian Bilbray (R-CA)
John Boehner (R-OH)
Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Dave Camp (R-MI)
Michael Castle (R-DE)
Howard Coble (R-NC)
Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL)
David Dreier (R-CA)
John Duncan Jr. (R-TN)
Vernon Ehlers (R-MI)
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
Elton Gallegly (R-CA)
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Ralph Hall (R-TX)
Doc Hastings (R-WA)
Wally Herger (R-CA)
Pete Hoekstra (R-MI)
Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Bob Inglis (R-SC)
Sam Johnson (R-TX)
Walter Jones (R-NC)
Pete King (R-NY)
Jack Kingston (R-GA)
Tom Latham (R-IA)
Steven LaTourette (R-OH)
Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
John Linder (R-GA)
Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ)
Frank Lucas (R-OK)
John McHugh (R-NY)
Buck McKeon (R-CA)
John Mica (R-FL)
Sue Myrick (R-NC)
Thomas Petri (R-WI)
George Radanovich (R-CA)
Harold Rogers (R-KY)
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)
Ed Royce (R-CA)
James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
John Shadegg (R-AZ)
Chris Smith (R-NJ)
Lamar Smith (R-TX)
Mark Souder (R-IN)
Cliff Stearns (R-FL)
Mac Thornberry (R-TX)
Todd Tiahrt (R-KS)
Fred Upton (R-MI)
Zach Wamp (R-TN)
Ed Whitfield (R-KY)
Frank Wolf (R-VA)
Don Young (R-AK)
There are at least 5 members of the Congressional Black Caucus who voted for DOMA who are still in Congress. Let's hope that now that there are legally married same-sex couples in California, Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut and Vermont these elected officials will see the error of their ways and support Rep. Nadler's bill to correct their mistake from 13 years ago.

President Bill Clinton, who signed DOMA into law, is one of several former supports of the bill who now support H.R. 3567 and said so in a statement released yesterday.
Throughout my life I have opposed discrimination of any kind,” Clinton said, according to Nadler. “When the Defense of Marriage Act was passed, gay couples could not marry anywhere in the United States or the world for that matter. Thirteen years later, the fabric of our country has changed, and so should this policy."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yes on 1 Radio Ad Transcript

Here's a transcript of a radio ad that has started running in Maine about Question 1, which would eliminate marriage equality in that state if passed by voters on November 3, 2009:
The chair recognizes the representative from Brunswick.” Special interest groups got the legislature to approve homosexual marriage and tried to prevent Mainers from voting on it. Representative Charlie Priest – “We ought naught to send it out to referendum.”

 But Question 1 gives us our vote.

Scott Fitzgibbon, professor of law from Boston College Law School, “Unless Question 1 passes there will be real consequences for Mainers. It will no longer be live and let live. Homosexual marriage will be the law whether Mainers like it or not.

“Dear Governor Baldacci, we write to provide you with an analysis of the effects…” Distinguished legal scholars wrote the Governor warning of the flood of lawsuits against individuals, small businesses and religious groups.

Church organizations could lose their tax exemption. And in Massachusetts, homosexual marriage is taught in public schools. Federal courts have ruled that parents have no right to notice, or to pull their children out of this instruction.

Vote Yes on Question 1 to preserve traditional marriage between one man and one woman. Paid for by Stand for Marriage Maine. Titles for identification only. No university endorsement implied.
Jeremy Hooper over at Good As You has posted the audio of the ad so you can hear it for yourself. I don't think the "good guys" have posted a radio response yet.

To support the Protect Maine Equality/No on 1 organization which is defending Maine's marriage equality law, please donate here.

VIDEO: NO ON 1 Response to Anti-Marriage Equality Ad

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yes On 1 Ads Start Airing; LA Maine Event TONITE

The heterosexual supremacists who think that it is reasonable to have a majority vote on whether other consenting adults should be able to get married have begun their television advertising campaign to repeal Maine's marriage equality law (see above). The Yes on 1 ad should look familiar to people in California. They are using the same color scheme as the Yes on 8 folks, as well as the same kind of talking head (white male law professor) warning of "the consequences of gay marriage whether you like it or not."

To me, this one does not seem as effective as their devastating ad featuring Gavin Newsom, but we'll see what DailyKos's poll on Question 1 says later this week.

Jeremy Hooper from Good As You has already developed a response video.

If you live in Los Angeles, you can attend a Los Angeles for Maine event at East/West Lounge (8851 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA) tonight at 7pm. All money raised will be going to No on 1/Protect Maine Equality. MadProfessah is a co-host.

People Believe Gays Face More Discriminaton

The Pew Research Center has been doing a lot of public opinion research about Americans feelings about religion and other minorities. They have released a chart showing that more people feel that gays and lesbians face discrimination than Muslims, Hispanics and Blacks.

The only group that Americans perceive as subject to more discrimination than Muslims is homosexuals; nearly two-thirds of adults (64%) say gays and lesbians face a lot of discrimination. About half say blacks (49%) and Hispanics (52%) suffer from a lot of discrimination, and more than a third (37%) say there is a lot of discrimination against women in the U.S. today.

Mother of ENDA Appointed to EEOC by Obama

This is very cool! Openly lesbian Georgetown law professor Chai Feldblum and self-described mother of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (and primary author of the Americans with Disabilities Act) has been appointed by the Obama Administration to sit on the federal commission that is tasked with insuring anti-discrimination in employment nationwide, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Here's the formal announcement from the White House:
President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals today:

Chai R. Feldblum, Nominee for Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Chai Feldblum is a Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center where she has taught since 1991. She also founded the Law Center’s Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic, a program designed to train students to become legislative lawyers. Feldblum previously served as Legislative Counsel to the AIDS Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. In this role, she developed legislation, analyzed policy on various AIDS-related issues, and played a leading role in the drafting of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and, later as a law professor, in the passage of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. She has also worked on advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and has been a leading expert on the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. As Co-Director of Workplace Flexibility 2010, Feldblum has worked to advance flexible workplaces in a manner that works for employees and employers. Feldblum clerked for Judge Frank Coffin and for Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and B.A. from Barnard College.
I have met Professor Feldblum at seminars at the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School. I still remember her calling ENDA her "baby." She quipped "hey, I don't have kids, I have federal bills."

Perhaps this signals a more extensive political push for passage of ENDA through this Congress?

US OPEN 2009: Venus and Serena Win Doubles Title

Venus and Serena Williams beat the #1 seeded doubles team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber 6-2 6-2 to win their 10th career major doubles title and 3rd of the year (Australia and Wimbledon and now U.S. Open).

US OPEN 2009: Del Potro Wins 1st Major Title

20-year-old Argentine Juan Martin del Potro outlasted 15-time major champion, 28-year-old Roger Federer 3-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in a 4 hour, 6 minute marathon to win his first major title and prevent the Swiss great from winning his 6th consecutive US Open title.

Del Potro became the first person to win a major by beating Federer and Nadal at a major tournament. In the semifinals, del Potro handed the Spaniard his worst loss in a major, allowing Nadal a mere 6 games in 3 sets. The Argentine also became the first person in Federer's 21 grand slam major finals to beat Federer other than Nadal (who has done it 5 times out of 7).

Federer was definitely not playing his best tennis, not serving particularly well, finishing with only 13 aces and 11 double faults over 5 sets, a far cry from the 50 aces Federer served in his thrilling 5-set Wimbledon win over Andy Roddick earlier in the summer.
Federer finished with 56 winners to 62 errors (-6) compared to del Potro's 57 winners to 60 errors (-3). Federer was attempting to extend a 40-match winning streak in New York, his last loss coming to another Argentine, David Nalbandian, in 2003. However, despite being ahead in both the second and fourth set, Federer managed to lose them both in tiebreaks and eventually lost the match and his title to the 6'6" 182 pound youngster from Tandil, Argentina.

Monday, September 14, 2009

US OPEN 2009: Serena Apologizes For Saturday's Outbursts

Serena Williams issued a press statement on Sunday which said
Last night everyone could truly see the passion I have for my job. Now that I have had time to gain my composure I can see that while I don't agree with the unfair line call in the heat of battle I let my passion and emotion get the better of me and as a result handled the situation poorly.
and then amended it to include a full apology earlier today
I want to amend my press statement of yesterday, and want to make it clear as possible - I want to sincerely apologize FIRST to the lines woman, Kim Clijsters, the USTA, and tennis fans everywhere for my inappropriate outburst. I'm a woman of great pride, faith and integrity, and I admit when I'm wrong.

I need to make it clear to all young people that I handled myself inappropriately and it's not the way to act -- win or lose, good call or bad call in any sport, in any manner.

I like to lead by example. We all learn from experiences both good and bad. I will learn and grow from this, and be a better person as a result.
I do think it is reasonable for Serena to apologize and completely inappropriate for Mary Carillo to say that Serena should have been prevented from playing the Women's Doubles with Venus (which they won easily earlier today).

US OPEN 2009: Men's Final Preview

Roger Federer SUI (1) vs. Juan Martin Del Potro ARG (6). For the xith year in a row, Roger Federer is in the finals of the US Open, facing a 6th different opponent. His five other victories, in order, were over Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi,Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic, and Andy he plays the 6'6" (or 6'7") Juan martin del Potro from Argentina. del Potro means "young colt" in Spanish and that is what this 20-year-old phenom is. Last year, while most of the major players were in China playing in the Olympics, the youngester ran through the Tour like a bull in a china shop, racking up a record four consecutive tournament wins on the hard courts. These were also his FIRST tour victories.

del Potro has never defeated Federer in 6 tries, although at the French Open this year he came back from a break down in the 5th set to even the match and put a scare in the Swiss great in the semifinal round. Federer came through then, and I expect he will do so again, for his record 16th major singles title.

MadProfessah's pick: Federer in 5 sets.


MadProfessah's favorite writer, Jhumpa Lahiri, has had her most recent book Unaccustomed Earth listed in the New York Times list of the 10 Best Books of 2008. Lahiri won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her first book (a collection of short stories titled Interpreter of Maladies) in 2000.

Her second book, The Namesake, was her first novel and was made into a well-regarded film directed by Mira Nair and starring Kal Penn (see MadProfessah review).

I read this collection of stories last summer and am now finally getting around to writing up my review.
To do so, I re-read the first half of the collection again.

Although not packing as devastating an emotional wallop as her first collection of stories Interpreter of Maladies, this latest collection is still full of superb writing, intriguing characters and genuine insight into the human condition.

The collection begins with the story "Unaccustomed Earth" about a widowed father and adult daughter trying to connect as their lives follow increasingly elliptical orbits and both of them attempt (unsuccessfully) use an obligatory family visit to reveal a secret that they have been itching to share with the other.

After the stunning, heart-breaking first story comes "Hell-Heaven" which has very similar characters from her first novel, The Namesake: the father is a professor while the stay-at-home mother is slowly going stir-crazy and the first generation Bengali-American kids confound and disappoint their parents.

"A Choice of Accommodations" is the weakest story in the first half of the book, in my opinion. This is partly because I could not connect fully with the central character who is a married Bengali man attending a wedding of a former college crush with his wife on a rare weekend getaway together. Lahiri does excellent work of dissecting her character for the reader with clear, detailed prose--it's just that in this case the characters are a bit remotely drawn.

My favorite story of the collection is "Only Goodness" which would make an excellent Bengali remake of "Ordinary People." The story is told from the perspective of the older daughter of a Bengali couple who succeeds academically but not as well as her younger brother who goes to Princeton. But slowly we realize that all is not well with the younger brother and his "problem" becomes an unmentionable shame to the entire family with several agonizing scenes depicted with surgical precision and maximal emotional impact by Lahiri.

Part One of the collection ends with "Nobody's Business" which is a bit of a departure from Lahiri--slightly. Instead of focusing on the internal machinations and external challenges of the Bengali immigrant family assimilating in America, the general topic basically all of her writings tend to be about, this story is about a family of choice, of three housemates in Cambridge (only one of whom is Bengali) and the complications that can result when you get more information than you really want to know about the people you live with but are not related to. The central character is a Caucasian male graduate student with an unexpressed crush on the beautiful female Bengali character and Lahiri inserts the Bengali social custom of arranged marriages and the social pressure of "marrying well" as a running joke throughout the story.

The second part of the collection is three paired stories featuring Hema and Kaushik, two star-crossed lovers who also (surprise!) happen to Bengali. The first time I read the collection I felt that part of the problem with the second half is that neither Hema or Kaushik are incredibly likable characters--Lahiri is going for a nuanced portrayal which risks the emotional connection of the reader to her story. Additionally, the end of the story, which is surprisingly tragic is completely predictable. Instead of stomach-sinking dread at the inevitable conclusion one feels a sense of annoyance that Lahiri couldn't avoid the temptation of such a pat conclusion.

All in all, although Unaccustomed Earth is not as uniformly enthralling as her first novel, I do think it is, on balance, a stronger collection than Interpreter of Maladies (which is saying a lot, since that collection won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, mainly on one devastating short story) and indicates that Lahiri is growing and improving as a writer, one that I look forward to reading again and again for many years to come.

Published: April 1, 2008. Length: 352 pages (Hardcover).




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