Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Chris Evans as Captain America


True Blood Returns With Season 3 June 13

Dude! That's not coffee!

Berdych Upsets Federer in Miami

Tomas Berdych beat World #1 Roger Federer 6-4 6-7(3) 7-6(6) in the 4th round of the Sony Ericsson Open after midnight on Tuesday night, saving a match point, after being up a service break in the third set. The Czech player had last beaten Federer at the Athens Olympics but lost 8 consecutive matches in a row to the 16-time major champion.

In addition to Berdych, the remaining quarterfinalists in the tournament are Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, Robin Soderling, Nicolas Almagro, Fernando Verdasco, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mikhail Youzhny.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

War On Drugs: Now 82% Less Racist?

The Los Angeles Times editorializes about a compromise in the U.S. Senate to modify the patently racist policy of treating possession of crack cocaine 100 times more aggressively than powder cocaine. Unfortunately, the Senate voted to make the new ratio 18-to-1, so it is now just 82% less racist:

Panic over a crack epidemic in the nation's cities in the 1980s led to draconian laws that ultimately would be as devastating to entire communities as the drug itself. According to a 2006 report by the American Civil Liberties Union, 1 in 14 black children has a parent in prison because of felony drug convictions. That's why a bipartisan bill to reduce the 100-1 sentencing disparity, approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee, is at once welcome and disheartening. The committee voted to reduce the disparity to 18 to 1, but the ratio should be 1 to 1, as proposed by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.). Under the bill, possession of 28 grams of crack, instead of 5 grams, would trigger the five-year mandatory minimum sentence. The bill also would stiffen penalties for bribing a peace officer and violence attendant to a crack-related offense.

It has taken more than a decade of determined advocacy to reach this point, and although it's not perfect, the Senate's reform measure, which is not retroactive, would mitigate the sentences of an estimated 3,000 people a year. So we reluctantly urge the House to forgo its rational, reasonable and more just approach -- because insisting on a 1-1 ratio, as approved by the House Judiciary Committee in the Fairness in Cocaine Sentencing Act of 2009, would by most accounts destroy any chance of passage. This is one issue on which there is cross-aisle cowardice: Few members of either party are willing to appear "soft on crime."

So 18 to 1 appears to be the best we can get. Republicans are insisting that bipartisanship is over and that there will be little, if any, cooperation for the rest of this year. But this agreement has already been struck. Before year's end, we hope to see the biased sentencing disparity on its way out.

The War on Drugs. Now 82% less racist. Sheeesh.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Ricky Martin Comes Out

Confirming one of the most widely known "secrets" in Hollywood, Ricky Martin revealed on his website (and via Twitter) that he is indeed, gay. Martin, 38, has long-rumored to gay and recently was in the news when he became the father of two kids through surrogacy.
These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed.

What will happen from now on? It doesn't matter. I can only focus on what's happening to me in this moment. The word "happiness" takes on a new meaning for me as of today. It has been a very intense process. Every word that I write in this letter is born out of love, acceptance, detachment and real contentment. Writing this is a solid step towards my inner peace and vital part of my evolution.

I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.
Congrats, Ricky!

Eye Candy: Jhonatan Z

UPDATE 07/02/2012: The pictures of Jhonatan Z were removed at the model's request.

Another great find from the discerning eye of David Dust: Jhonatan Z. He's a Dominican Republic-born 26-year-old model currently living in New York City. I love how David not only shows some hot shots of his choices but also has personal identifying information about them. Jhonatan has a Bachelor's degree in computer information systems.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Obama Names Chai Feldblum to EEOC In Recess Appointment

President Barack Obama, fresh off his stunning political success with enacting national health care reform, on Saturday announced 15 recess appointments bypassing Senate confirmation. Openly lesbian Chai Feldblum ("Godmother of ENDA") was one of the 15:
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.
The White House press release notes:
  • President Obama currently has a total of 217 nominees pending before the Senate. These nominees have been pending for an average of 101 days, including 34 nominees pending for more than 6 months.
  • The 15 nominees President Obama intends to recess appoint have been pending for an average of 214 days or 7 months for a total of 3204 days or almost 9 years.
  • President Bush had made 15 recess appointments by this point in his presidency, but he was not facing the same level of obstruction. At this time in 2002, President Bush had only 5 nominees pending on the floor. By contrast, President Obama has 77 nominees currently pending on the floor, 58 of whom have been waiting for over two weeks and 44 of those have been waiting more than a month.
I don't relations between Obama and the Senate Republican caucus are gonna get any better, especially if Justice Stevens announces his retirement next month!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

WATCH: Karen Bass Answer Questions On LGBT Rights

Today is Saturday which means it is local politics day at This week, I attended a "Millennials for Karen Bass" event this week which was streamed live on the internet and recorded. It can be accessed here.

The event was to raise fund for Karen Bass' run for the 33rd Congressional District of California. The Democratic Primary is June 8, 2010. At the event, surprisingly, Speaker Bass took questions from the audience and was unabashed about her support for marriage equality and viewing LGBT rights as a question of justice and equality. "A hard vote for some but not for me" is how she described voting for marriage equality (twice!) in the state legislature.

Karen Bass will be a true progressive voice in the halls of Congress. Please help get her there.

WATCH: Glee + Madonna!

Fox's Glee returns with new episodes on Tuesday April 13th and this promo featuring what will surely be a killer version of Madonna's Like A Prayer is steaming up the nets.

It features the great line from Curt: "She's Black, I'm Gay, we make culture!"

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oklahoma Homophobes Can't Even Discriminate Straight!

Last week in the blogosphere there were multiple reports about the Oklahoma State Senate passing legislation which would exempt that state from enforcing the recently enacted federal hate crimes act that includes sexual orientation and gender identity. However, now it turns that there was "a legislative error" and instead of exempting Oklahoma from enforcing hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the fools eliminated protections based on race and religion instead:
Oklahoma State Senate Minority Leader Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, said when the Senate passed Senate Bill 1965 on March 10, it eliminated hate crime protections for race and religion.

The bill states local law enforcement agencies should not enforce any sections of federal law under hate crimes statutes listed under Title 18 U.S. Code Section 245 unless they are in correlation with Oklahoma’s hate crimes laws.

But the protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes, which passed Congress last year, are not listed under Section 245, but Section 249

“The bill in its current form doesn’t take away rights from gays and lesbians,” Rice said. “It takes away rights for religion and race.”

“This is most likely a legislative error or at least a typo,” Rice said.

All I can do is shake my head.

hat/tip to PFAW's Right Wing Watch.

Celebrity Friday: Nancy Pelosi

Today, Friday March 26th is the 70th birthday of Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi. On Sunday night, she presided over the final passage of the most sweeping social justice legislation in over 40 years, Obama's national health care reform bill. Let's hope she has a good celebration of her 70th birthday!

Pssst, Nancy! We still expect ENDA and DPBO to pass before November. Don't let us down.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Congress Completes Work On Health Care Bill!

The United States Senate passed the bill 56-43 early today and the House of Representatives passed the bill 220-207 a few minutes ago.

Barack Obama has become the first President to get Congress to pass a health care reform bill. He was able to get his number one domestic policy agenda enacted without a single Republican vote.

The American people will have a chance to have their say on November 2, 2010.

BOOK REVIEW: Neal Stephenson's ANATHEM

Neal Stephenson's Anathem was probably the most widely discussed science fiction book of the year in 2009. It was even reviewed in Nature magazine, one of the top scientific journals in the world.

Stephenson, the author of the seminal science fiction novels Snow Crash (see MadProfessah's review), Cryptonomicon and The Diamond Age has long been regarded as one of the pre-eminent fiction writers in the country, with all of his most recent works spending significant time on the New York Times bestsellers list. He has won (or been nominated for) all the top awards in speculative fiction such as the Hugo, the Nebula, the Locus, the Prometheus, the British Science Fiction Award and the Arthur C. Clarke award.

Anathem has actually not received as many awards or nominations as some of Stephenson's earlier works, with most (but not all!) critics generally showering effusive praise for this latest offering. It did win the 2009 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction novel, but was snubbed at the Hugo and Nebula awards, the most prestigious speculative fiction prizes.

Anathem is a big book, about big ideas. Here is the summary from the book jacket:
Anathem, the latest invention by the New York Times bestselling author of Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle, is a magnificent creation: a work of great scope, intelligence, and imagination that ushers readers into a recognizable—yet strangely inverted—world.

Fraa Erasmas is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside "saecular" world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent's walls. Three times during history's darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside—the Extramuros—for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.

Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fraas and suurs prepare to venture beyond the concent's gates—at the same time opening them wide to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected." But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change.

Powerful unforeseen forces jeopardize the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros--a threat that only an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose--as, one by one, Erasmas and his colleagues, teachers, and friends are summoned forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster. Suddenly burdened with a staggering responsibility, Erasmas finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world--as he sets out an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of the planet... and beyond.
One of the main problems of the book is that it is packed with so many ideas that it is somewhat exhausting to read. Stephenson is a demanding writer. He has compared his work to television shows like The Wire and Battlestar Galactica (two of my all-time favorites) in that they require the viewer to commit their attention for a long time for a payoff that is all the sweeter due to the delayed reward.

Unfortunately, that strategy requires the audience to be entertained during the journey and the destination itself has to be worth the trip. While I was writing this review I was thinking about Iain Banks' Matter, which was released around the same time as Anathem and which I reviewed earlier this year.

I must say that I enjoyed Matter more than Anthem, probably because the latter is nearly 50% longer (900 pages versus 600 pages), but also because Matter is more engaging--it's funny. Anathem is wry, and funny in its own way, but the sense of humor is very cerebral.

It is that intellectual stimulation which makes one glad that one has completed the journey (read the entire book) but I'm not sure it's somewhere one would want to visit again.

TITLE: Anathem
AUTHOR: Neal Stephenson




OVERALL GRADE: A (3.93/4.0).

POLL: 50% of Californians Support Marriage Equality

A brand new poll (pdf) from the Public Policy Institute of California shows majority support for marriage equality for the first time with 50% of Californians supporting marriage for same-sex couples while 45% oppose equality under the law. The margin of error is +/- 2 percentage points.

Equality California has released a statement from executive director Geoff Kors in response to the new information:
"We are very pleased that the more than 700,000 conversations about marriage that Equality California has initiated over the past year with Californians across the state, alongside our tireless volunteers and coalition partners, are making a remarkable difference. We are seeing the tremendous impact of reaching out, one-on-one, to change hearts and minds toward equality and fairness.

"Moving forward, we are committed to having more than 1 million conversations with voters in order to achieve solid majority support by 2012, when we will return to the ballot to restore the freedom to marry."
It should be noted that marriage equality in California has reached 50% support once before, in the May 28, 2008 Field poll (pdf) released less than two weeks after the In Re Marriage Cases California Supreme Court ruling but before marriages had actually begun happening on June 16th.

The new poll is unusual in that it shows that difference in support for marriage from Democrats (64%) is basically the same as the opposition from Republicans (67%). Generally, Republicans oppose marriage at a much higher rate than Democrats support it, so that even though there are more Democrats than Republicans in California, the overall result usally ends up tipped to the opposition side of the scale. Let's look at the internals:

Majorities of Democrats (64%) and independents (55%) favor allowing same-sex marriage, while a majority of Republicans (67%) oppose it. Since last March, support is up a slight 4 points among Democrats, 8 points among independents, and 6 points among Republicans. Support is far from unanimous across regions and demographic groups. Central Valley residents oppose allowing same-sex marriage (51% oppose, 42% favor), while San Francisco Bay Area residents favor it (64% favor, 30% oppose). Residents are divided in Los Angeles (46% favor, 48% oppose) and Other Southern California (47% favor, 49% oppose). Most whites (55%) express support, while Latinos are more opposed (51%) than in favor (43%). Support declines with older age, but rises as education and income increase. An overwhelming majority of evangelical Christians are opposed (75%). Since last March, support jumped 17 points among Californians age 18 to 34 (49% to 66%) and rose modestly among Latinos, whites, men, residents with lower household incomes, and those without college degrees.
Will YOU be ready to join the fight to restore marriage equality in 2012?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

LA Youth Protest Against Uganda Anti-Gay Bill

Condomania Ranks U.S. Cities By Average Penis Size

Joe.My.God has posted this great map which ranks American cities by average penis size by analyzing the size of the custom condoms ordered to addresses in those cities via online retailer "The Big Easy" (New Orleans, LA) ranks first. I'm somewhat surprised but I have barely ever been there. However, if my memory serves me right, I am unsurprised by the District of Columbia being ranked #2! *cough* majority Los Angeles, my fair city, placed 17th. Oh, the shame! Then again, yours truly didn't order any condoms from Condomania, or else I would have skewed the rankings up! *grin*

Here's the Top 20:
    20 Cities Ordered by Penis Size
  1. New Orleans
  2. Washington DC
  3. San Diego
  4. New York City
  5. Phoenix
  6. Portland
  7. Atlanta
  8. San Francisco
  9. Chicago
  10. St. Louis
  11. Seattle
  12. Miami
  13. Indianapolis
  14. Columbus
  15. Boston
  16. Denver
  17. Los Angeles
  18. Detroit
  19. Philadelphia
  20. Dallas/Ft. Worth

I would love to know what this is going to do to my blog traffic now that I have a blog post with "penis size" in the title!

WATCH: Animation Illustrates Fibonacci Sequence

The Fibonacci sequence, 1, 1, 3, 5, 8,13, ..., is one of those amazing mathematical objects which shows up in nature in some of the most unusual places. There's a very cool video demonstrating this idea, below. WATCH:

Hat/tip to TowleRoad.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

AD-43: Shock! Nayiri Wins Stonewall Dems Nod


In a shock to most political insiders, Nayiri Nahabedian, Glendale School board members and AD-43 candidate, won the endorsement of the Stonewall Democratic Club, one of the oldest and most prominent LGBT democratic clubs in the country, despite the fact that her main opponent Mike Gatto, has been a longtime paid member of the club for well over a decade and a strong LGBT ally.

MadProfessah is a Stonewall Democratic Club board member (technically, elected Steering Committee member) of Stonewall, and although I have participated in other endorsement panel hearings, I was not on the committee that recommended an endorsement for Gatto by a vote of 4-3. However, at the meeting of the membership on Monday March 22nd, the vote was 23-10 to endorse Nahabedian, which observers chalked up to an impassioned speech by former Assemblyperson Jackie Goldberg, who is openly lesbian and best well-known for the primary author of AB 205, California's Comprehensive Domestic Partnership Act. Stonewall does not allow candidates to speak at a club meeting in which their race is being considered by the membership, but allows 3 people to speak in favor and in opposition to motions on the floor.

Gatto has been endorsed by yours truly, but more importantly he has been endorsed by the California Democratic Party. This surprising result at the Stonewall Democratic Club is the second time that Nahabedian has mobilized (some would say "packed") a Democratic club meeting to overturn the recommendation of a club's endorsement committee for Gatto. DPSFV (Democratic Party of San Fernando Valley) had recommended Gatto but the endorsement was changed to open endorsement by a vote of the membership.

The special primary election will be help on April 13th to see who will replace Paul Krekorian and then on June 8th the Democratic primary will be held for who gets the nomination for the November election to represent the 43rd Assembly district in January 2011.

Obama Signs Health Care Bill Into Law

This morning at around 11am EDT, President Barack Obama signed the health care reform bill (which passed the Senate 60-40 on December 24th and the House 219-212 on March 21st) into law. 7 minutes later a number of attorneys general filed a frivolous lawsuit to declare the individual mandate unconstitutional.

LA TIMES semi-endorses gay blood ban repeal

The Los Angeles Times editorialized on the topic of modifying the lifetime ban on gay men (who have had sex with another man since 1977) on donating blood, a subject that MadProfessah has been following for quite awhile. They want to change that to a ban on gay men who have had sex with a man since 2005:
Beyond the theories, the reality is that there were only four known cases of transfusion-related HIV infection from 1999 to 2007, out of more than 112 million units of blood. In all four cases, the donors had denied having any risk factors. In addition to sexually active gay men, the high-risk groups banned from donating include anyone who was ever an intravenous drug user, people with a history or family history of certain illnesses and anyone who has ever accepted payment for sex. Other groups cannot donate for up to a year -- people who have had acupuncture or body piercings, for instance, or heterosexuals who have engaged in high-risk sexual practices.


A 2008 report by the American Medical Assn., which reviewed a host of pertinent studies, concluded that there was a very small but statistically significant increase in risk of transmission of AIDS and other diseases if men who had abstained from sex for one year were allowed to give blood. That risk, small as it might be, is nonetheless too big. The FDA should reject a shift to a one-year abstention policy.

But the agency should seriously consider allowing donations from gay men who have abstained from sexual contact for at least five years. Under that scenario, the AMA found, the risk would be indistinguishable from current levels. The figures are theoretical, of course, based on statistical probabilities. If anything, they are probably conservative. The four transfusion-related HIV cases in recent years were a tiny fraction of what the statistical models predicted. Because not all donors remember exactly how long they have abstained from sex, the FDA should consider adding a buffer of several more years. If it does ease the restrictions, it should require.

No one should be deceived about how meaningful such a change would be. Mostly, it would give a symbolic victory to the gay and lesbian community. The number of gay men who have abstained completely from sex for at least five years is considered to be quite small. Fewer yet would be interested in donating blood. The AMA report predicts that even though changes in risk would be unnoticeable, the number of blood donors would not increase appreciably.

But that's not a valid defense for clinging to what might be outdated guidelines. The country has more effective tests and other safety measures than when these rules were devised. If there is no reason to think the country would see a rise in transfusion- related illness with a five- to 10-year rule, refusal to relax the restriction would indeed be unfairly discriminatory.
So, they think the lifetime ban should be lifted, but want to replace it with a 5-10 year ban if you have had sex with another man, as opposed to a year for all other "high risk groups." Still sounds discriminatory to me.

What I find bizarre is that there is no mention of safer sex in their analysis. I'd like to see statistical analyses of the difference in probabilities between a gay man who has had sex with a condom a year ago and straight man who has had sex without a condom a year ago. Plus, it must be remembered that all donated blood is tested for HIV antibodies. The very low probability scenario that everyone is trying to avoid is the case of someone who has HIV (and doesn't know it) because they are in a one-month window of when they haven't developed detectable antibodies to the virus but they have donated blood.

Is it really reasonable to tar all gay men with the broad brush of medical hazard to avoid this infinitesimally small event? As the editorial mentions, there were 4 known cases of transmission out of 122 million units of blood donated between 1999 and 2007. Even if the rate were to DOUBLE this would still be a vanishingly small probability, on the order of being struck by lightning.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Eye Candy: Chadwick Johnson (reprise)

UPDATE 08/25/2010: Pictures removed by request

We first saw Chadwick Johnson last August 31, 2009 where he was featured as an Eye Candy model. After thinking about people I'd really like to feature again, he was pretty much at the top of my list. I don't understand why more big-name photographers like John Gress, Carlos Arias, or Adam Bouska haven't worked with this attractive man.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

House Passes Senate HCR Bill 219-212!

The House of Representatives passed the Senate's health care reform bill by a vote of 219-212. It passed the second bill to amend that bill (before it has become law) by a vote of 220-211.

Deal Is Done! HCR Reform Will Pass

You can thank the election Scott Brown (R-MA) for making Democrats realize that they needed to pass the health care reform using reconciliation.

Breaking news! The New York Times is reporting that the "Stupak gang" of anti-choice Democratic congressmembers who claimed that the legislation changed the status quo of federal support for abortion has agreed to vote for health care reform, based on an executive order that President Obama will issue once the bill passes. The agreement guarantees that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has well more than 216 votes in the House of Representatives to pass the Senate bill as well as a separate bill fixing that bill, which will then be passed by the Senate on a majority vote using reconciliation.

The White House has released a statement on the Stupak deal, as well as the text of the pending executive order:

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (approved March __, 2010), I hereby order as follows:

Section 1. Policy.
Following the recent passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("the Act"), it is necessary to establish an adequate enforcement mechanism to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), consistent with a longstanding Federal statutory restriction that is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment. The purpose of this Executive Order is to establish a comprehensive, government-wide set of policies and procedures to achieve this goal and to make certain that all relevant actors--Federal officials, state officials (including insurance regulators) and health care providers--are aware of their responsibilities, new and old.

The Act maintains current Hyde Amendment restrictions governing abortion policy and extends those restrictions to the newly-created health insurance exchanges. Under the Act, longstanding Federal laws to protect conscience (such as the Church Amendment, 42 U.S.C. §300a-7, and the Weldon Amendment, Pub. L. No. 111-8, §508(d)(1) (2009)) remain intact and new protections prohibit discrimination against health care facilities and health care providers because of an unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.

Numerous executive agencies have a role in ensuring that these restrictions are enforced, including the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Section 2. Strict Compliance with Prohibitions on Abortion Funding in Health Insurance Exchanges. The Act specifically prohibits the use of tax credits and cost-sharing reduction payments to pay for abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered) in the health insurance exchanges that will be operational in 2014. The Act also imposes strict payment and accounting requirements to ensure that Federal funds are not used for abortion services in exchange plans (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered) and requires state health insurance commissioners to ensure that exchange plan funds are segregated by insurance companies in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, OMB funds management circulars, and accounting guidance provided by the Government Accountability Office.

I hereby direct the Director of OMB and the Secretary of HHS to develop, within 180 days of the date of this Executive Order, a model set of segregation guidelines for state health insurance commissioners to use when determining whether exchange plans are complying with the Act's segregation requirements, established in Section 1303 of the Act, for enrollees receiving Federal financial assistance. The guidelines shall also offer technical information that states should follow to conduct independent regular audits of insurance companies that participate in the health insurance exchanges. In developing these model guidelines, the Director of OMB and the Secretary of HHS shall consult with executive agencies and offices that have relevant expertise in accounting principles, including, but not limited to, the Department of the Treasury, and with the Government Accountability Office. Upon completion of those model guidelines, the Secretary of HHS should promptly initiate a rulemaking to issue regulations, which will have the force of law, to interpret the Act's segregation requirements, and shall provide guidance to state health insurance commissioners on how to comply with the model guidelines.

Section 3. Community Health Center Program.

The Act establishes a new Community Health Center (CHC) Fund within HHS, which provides additional Federal funds for the community health center program. Existing law prohibits these centers from using federal funds to provide abortion services (except in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered), as a result of both the Hyde Amendment and longstanding regulations containing the Hyde language. Under the Act, the Hyde language shall apply to the authorization and appropriations of funds for Community Health Centers under section 10503 and all other relevant provisions. I hereby direct the Secretary of HHS to ensure that program administrators and recipients of Federal funds are aware of and comply with the limitations on abortion services imposed on CHCs by existing law. Such actions should include, but are not limited to, updating Grant Policy Statements that accompany CHC grants and issuing new interpretive rules.

Section 4. General Provisions.
(a) Nothing in this Executive Order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect: (i) authority granted by law or presidential directive to an agency, or the head thereof; or (ii) functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This Executive Order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This Executive Order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity against the United States, its departments, agencies, entities, officers, employees or agents, or any other person.

As Daily Kos points out, what this executive order does is basically reiterate the Senate bill's language and does not change current or future federal law. What the egomaniacal Bart Stupak has done is basically force the President of the United States to "confirm that women's health isn't equal to everyone else's, that a legal, medical procedure to which we STILL have a right is further stigmatized, further politicized."

Congratulations to President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Stonewall Democrat Club's Stoney Awards Sun 3/28

Sheraton Universal Hotel
333 Universal Hollywood Drive
Universal City, CA 91608
Sunday, March 28, 2010
6:00 pm Silent Auction and No-Host Bar
7:00 pm Dinner and Program

Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) - Elected Official of the Year
Cleve Jones - Stonewall Lifetime Achievement Award
Christine Pelosi - inaugural Anne Marie Staas Ally Award
Bil Browning (Bilerico Project) - Bob Craig Media Award
T. Santora (Pride at Work) - Public Official of the Year Award
Garry S. Shay - Member of the Year
Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce - Sheldon Andelson Award

Saturday, March 20, 2010

CA-GOV: New Polls Show Tight Brown v Whitman Race

Recent polls show that billionaire Republican Meg Whitman running even or ahead of presumptive Democratic gubenatorial nominee Jerry Brown.

(Field Poll)
March 2010 (January '10, October '09)
Whitman 46 (36, 29)
Brown 43 (46, 50)
Undecided 11 (18, 21)

February 15, 2010
March 15, 2010
Meg Whitman (R)
Jerry Brown (D)
Some other candidate
Not sure
Really, California? Are you going to let a political novice buy the governorship of the country's largest state?

Friday, March 19, 2010

WATCH: Preview of SG:U Upcoming Episodes

New episodes of Stargate: Universe begin airing on SyFy on April 2.

Here is a preview of what we'll see for the rest of Season 1 (the show has already been renewed for a second season).

Celebrity Friday: Dan Choi

Lt. Dan Choi was arrested on Thursday after he chained himself to the White House gate. Pam's House Blend has pictures and Joe.My.God has the deets.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

VIDEO: Des'ree "Kissing You (Love Theme from Romero+Juliet)"

This is the video for one of my favorite songs of all time... It is Des'ree's "Kissing You" (the Love Theme from Romeo + Juliet). You might notice a theme from my previous post of one of my favorite tracks ("This Love"): both songs feature the orchestration of Craig Armstrong. The 1986 movie by director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) stars a very young Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes as the star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet in this very faithful but expertly updated adaptation of Shakespeare's classic. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Travelling To DC Today

Today is a travel day, as I fly to Washington, D.C. for a business meeting at the National Science Foundation. Unfortunately, I will not be in town for the big immigration rally on Sunday (click on the new blogad in the upper right hand corner!) but I definitely support the goals of the marchers to call for comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigration Equality, the LGBT immigration group, will have a contingent in the march. If you're in town, Join Them!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

FDA To Review Ban on Gay Blood Donors

There is news about the irrational ban on men who have had sex with another man since 1997 from donating blood.

Federal health officials announced Friday that they would reexamine a 27-year-old set of restrictions on blood donations by gay men. 
The restrictions, enacted in the early years of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, impose a lifetime ban on men donating blood if they've had sex with another man at any time since 1977.

In recent years, the American Red Cross, the American Assn. of Blood Banks and America's Blood Centers, which collectively represent almost all blood banks in the country, have recommended loosening the restrictions to allow men who have abstained from gay sex for one year to donate blood.
The American Medical Assn. also has proposed revising the policy but recommended a five-year instead of a one-year waiting period.
Gay rights groups also have pushed for a change in the donor policy, arguing that it stigmatizes gay men and does not adequately address threats to blood safety posed by high-risk heterosexual behaviors.

Recently, a letter was written by 2004 Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry (and signed by 18 United States Senators) to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg which cogently deconstructed the purported rationales for the gay blood ban policy.

See for yourself:

Dear Commissioner Hamburg:

We write today to express our concerns regarding outdated, medically and scientifically unsound deferral criteria for prospective blood donors.  With hospitals and emergency rooms across the country in constant and urgent need of blood products, we believe certain blood donor deferral policies should be reviewed and appropriately modified and modernized while ensuring the blood supply meets the highest possible standards that we all expect in America.

The American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, and AABB reported before an FDA-sponsored workshop on March 9, 2006 that the ban on men who have had sex with other men (MSM), even once, since 1977 from ever donating blood “is medically and scientifically unwarranted.”  Then in 2008, the Council on Science and Public Health at the American Medical Association also advocated modifying the lifetime deferral requirement for MSM.   We all recognize the practical and well-intentioned origins of this ban, first established in 1983 at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis when modern screening procedures and advanced testing methods for HIV were yet to be developed.  Standards and selectivity is of course necessary to protect the blood supply.

We live in a very different country than we did in 1983.  Today, the high-risk behaviors associated with HIV contraction are more fully understood and dramatic technological improvements have been made in HIV detection.  Collecting facilities now screen all donors for history of certain high-risk behaviors, and FDA regulations determine that all donated blood be analyzed by two highly accurate screening tests; one for antibodies to HIV-1/2 and HIV-1 Group O variants, and the other for the actual sequences of the virus using molecular technologies.  As a result, the blood banking community believes that the lifetime deferral is no longer necessary to protect the integrity of the blood banks.

It is our understanding that there is a window period of up to three weeks following a person’s initial exposure to HIV during which infection may be missed by the blood tests.  It is this window period that rightfully serves as the scientific basis for a deferral period for prospective donors deemed to be of high-risk for HIV.  Similar approaches and deferral periods are used to prevent window-period transmission of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C by blood transfusion.  However, there is a clear and unscientific double standard embedded in the current deferral rules for potential exposure to HIV.

Reflecting the dangers associated with the window period, prospective donors who have engaged in heterosexual sexual activity with a person known to have HIV are deferred for one year.  At the same time, male donors who engaged in protected homosexual sexual activity with a monogamous partner 26 years ago are deferred for life.  The FDA-imposed lifetime ban for men who have sex with men does not fall in line with the one-year deferral required for high-risk heterosexual behavior, nor does it correspond in any way to the window period.  The ban also does not distinguish between safe and unprotected sexual activity.  As a result, healthy blood donors are turned away every day due to an antiquated policy and our blood supply is not necessarily any safer for it.

With the safety of the blood supply as our top concern, our examination of the deferral process has brought to our attention a second issue that we believe requires your consideration.  It is our understanding that there are rapidly rising rates of new HIV infections among certain segments of the heterosexual population.  While the screening and testing procedures are rigorous for certain high-risk behaviors, there is no expressed concern with unprotected heterosexual sex during the window period in which the administered HIV tests are unreliable.  Unprotected sexual activity, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is recognized as a significantly higher risk behavior for HIV transmission than protected sexual activity.  We urge you to take this important distinction into consideration when reexamining possible changes to deferral policies.

The safety, availability, and integrity of our nation’s blood supply are vital.  For these reasons, we agree with the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, AABB, and others that the time has come for the FDA to modify the lifetime deferral for MSM to be consistent with sensible health and safety policy and with FDA deferral guidelines for high-risk heterosexual behavior.  We request that you initiate a review of the lifetime deferral requirement for men who have sex with men wishing to donate blood and that you reexamine the deferral criteria for all blood donors to ensure all high-risk behaviors are appropriately addressed.

Thank you for your leadership in promoting public health and safety.  We look forward to working with you on this issue.


John Kerry                             
United States Senator

Kirstin Gillibrand                   
United States Senator

Dick Durbin
United States Senator              

Daniel Akaka
United States Senator                         

Sheldon Whitehouse              
United States Senator

Sherrod Brown
United States Senator

Frank Lautenberg                   
United States Senator

Bob Casey                              
United States Senator

Bernie Sanders
United States Senator
Russ Feingold                        
United States Senator

Mark Udall                             
United States Senator

Al Franken

United States Senator
Maria Cantwell                      
United States Senator

Carl Levin                              
United States Senator

Tom Harkin
United States Senator
Mark Begich                          
United States Senator

Rolland Burris                        
United States Senator

Michael Bennet
United States Senator

It should be interesting how  big a story this becomes in June when the commission meets to review the policy. Last time I blogged about this story in May 2007 there was not much outcry when the Bush administration's FDA refused to modify the policy.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eye Candy: Mark Shavers

Thanks to TonyJoe over at Dark Flex I found out about the hotness that is Mark Shavers, a 26-year-old model living in New York City. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi Day!

Today is Pi Day, 3.14. Enjoy!

Flight from ORD to LAX delayed 6hours!!

Probably no more blogging from me today since I landed at LAX after 4am
Instead of around 10:30pm. I will never fly through O'Hare again if I
can help it, even if I have to go to Chicago!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

CA-33: Bass Gets Big $$ Rival and Big Endorsements

Former Speaker of the California Assembly Karen Bass received endorsements from Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in her recently announced attempt to represent the 33rd Congressional District of California, which Diane Watson represented for over a decade.
The endorsement by Rep. Waters is noteworthy, because it signals a unanimous blessing of the entire Black political establishment of Los Angeles, which has rarely been united behind single candidates in electoral races.

In addition to receiving important endorsements, Bass received unwelcome news in the form of a well-funded, independently wealthy challenger for the Democratic nomination for CA-33: Dr. Howard Mandell, who announced his candidacy and transferred $500,000 into his candidate account. MadProfessah has endorsed Karen Bass for the 33rd District and will be watching developments in this race more closely.

In other, less local news, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom made waves by announcing his run for Lieutenant Governor, about five months after he suddenly dropped out of the race for the top job. His entry will complicate the race for the previously announced candidates Los Angeles City Councilperson Janice Hahn and Dean Florez, the latter of whom immediately dropped out. MadProfessah has not (yet) made an endorsement in this race.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Celebrity Friday: Nhojj

Nhojj has the #1 video on MTV's Top100 list. And he's openly gay. Born in Guyana but raised in Trinidad, he has a degree in Economics from NYU. And now he is being considered the vanguard of a gay music revolution by Billboard magazine. Represent!

Here's the award-winning video for the song called "Love."


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