Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Illinois House Passes Civil Unions Bill 61-52!

The Illinois House of Representatives passed a civil unions bill by a vote of 61-52 on Tuesday afternoon, with swift passage expected in the more liberal Illinois State Senate by the end of the day and SB 1617 ending up on Governor Pat Quinn's desk shortly thereafter.

Chicago Pride covered the story thusly:
Openly gay Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), who co-sponsored SB 1716, started his opening statement at 5:17 p.m on Tuesday. "Once in every generation," he said, "legislatures across the country have a chance to advance the cause of liberty and justice for all."

The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (SB 1716) which passed to cheers in the chamber with a 61-52 majority vote, received support from the Democratic leadership in Springfield, including Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who was present.


Conservative groups, including the Catholic Conference of Illinois and Washington D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage (NOM), lobbied hard against the bill.

The bill does not recognize same-sex marriages, but will provide the same spousal rights to same-sex partners when it comes to surrogate decision-making for medical treatment, survivorship, adoptions, and accident and health insurance.

California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington have passed laws allowing same sex civil unions. Same-sex couples can marry in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington D.C. and Iowa.
Congratulations to Illinois! I think it is quite amusing that heterosexual supremacists are now left making the counterfactual claim that "civil unions are identical to marriage" and are thus opposing measures that many in the LGBT community reject as "separate but unequal."

President Obama Releases Statement on DADT Report

The White House released a statement from President Obama on the occasion of the release of the DOD Report on DADT:

Office of the Press Secretary
November 30, 2010

Statement by President Obama on DOD Report on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

As Commander in Chief, I have pledged to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law because it weakens our national security, diminishes our military readiness, and violates fundamental American principles of fairness and equality by preventing patriotic Americans who are gay from serving openly in our armed forces.  At the same time, as Commander in Chief, I am committed to ensuring that we understand the implications of this transition, and maintain good order and discipline within our military ranks. That is why I directed the Department of Defense earlier this year to begin preparing for a transition to a new policy. 

Today’s report confirms that a strong majority of our military men and women and their families—more than two thirds—are prepared to serve alongside Americans who are openly gay and lesbian.  This report also confirms that, by every measure—from unit cohesion to recruitment and retention to family readiness—we can transition to a new policy in a responsible manner that ensures our military strength and national security. And for the first time since this law was enacted 17 years ago today, both the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have publicly endorsed ending this policy.

With our nation at war and so many Americans serving on the front lines, our troops and their families deserve the certainty that can only come when an act of Congress ends this discriminatory policy once and for all.  The House of Representatives has already passed the necessary legislation.  Today I call on the Senate to act as soon as possible so I can sign this repeal into law this year and ensure that Americans who are willing to risk their lives for their country are treated fairly and equally.  Our troops represent the virtues of selfless sacrifice and love of country that have enabled our freedoms. I am absolutely confident that they will adapt to this change and remain the best led, best trained, best equipped fighting force the world has ever known. 


DADT Report Released; Shows Strong Support For Repeal

The Department of Defense "Comprehensive Working Group Report" on the Pentagon's so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy on excluding openly LGB servicemembers from the military has been released and the results give strong support for those calling for an end to the policy.

The Defense Department's own news service characterizes the DADT report thusly:

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2010 – A change in the law that bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military can be implemented without irreparable harm, the co-chair of a Pentagon working group that studied the matter said yesterday.

“It’s my belief, having now looked this matter extensively over nine months, that the leaders of our services -- all services, all components -- are so good today, so experienced today, that they can effectively implement this change, maintain unit cohesion, and a strong focus on mission accomplishment,” Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, said.

Ham and Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department’s general counsel and the working group’s other co-chair, discussed their findings in an interview with the Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates appointed Ham and Johnson early this year to lead the group to determine the effects on the military if the law is changed to allow gays to serve openly. Ham and Johnson made their findings public today, as well as their report, which assesses the matter and gives recommendations for moving forward.

A majority -- about 55 percent -- of respondents to a survey sent to 400,000 servicemembers in the active and reserve components said allowing gays to serve openly would have either no effect or a balance of positive and negative effects on the military, and between 15 and 20 percent said such a change would have only positive effects.

About 30 percent of respondents said overturning the law would have a mostly negative impact, and those respondents mostly were part of the warfighting specialties, Ham said.

Results showed slight trends in differences among members of each service, Ham said, adding that he was surprised the feedback showed few trends among age groups.
The Center for American Progress highlighted the following aspects of the report in their press release:

The study demonstrates definitively that our women and men in uniform are ready, willing, and able to adapt to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Pentagon officials today summarized the results of the survey, which was sent to 400,000 service members:
  • Seventy percent of service members said they would be able to “work together to get the job done” with a gay service member in their immediate units.
  • Sixty-nine percent said they worked in a unit with a co-worker that they believed to be gay or lesbian.
  • Ninety-two percent stated that their unit’s “ability to work together” with a gay person was either “very good,” “good,” or “neither good nor poor.” This includes 89 percent of those in Army combat arms units and 84 percent of those in Marine combat arms units.
The study found that a minority of service members maintain some concern about the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” But it also determined that strong leadership and guidance from the top of the chain of command will mitigate these issues.

Advocates for repeal of the policy urge phone calls to the following list of Senators to hear from constituents about their thoughts about DADT repeal:

--Susan Collins (R-ME);
--Olympia Snowe (R-ME);
--Mark Pryor (D-AR.);
--Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
--Richard Lugar (R-IN);
--Judd Gregg (R-NH);
--Scott Brown (R-MA)
--George Voinovich (R-OH);
--Kit Bond (R-MO);
--Joe Manchin (D-WV)
--Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
--Mark Kirk (R-IL)
--James Webb (D-VA)

Kenya PM Declares Gays "Should Be Arrested"

Kenya PM Raila Odinga

The Prime Minister of Kenya Raila Odinga has attacked the LGBT community in his African country, declaring that they "should [all] be arrested."

"Any man found engaging in sexual activities with another man should be arrested," Odinga said at a rally on Sunday, in the Nairobi slum of Kibera. 
"Even women found engaging in sexual activities will be arrested."
Speaking to his home constituency, Odinga, also a member of parliament, argued that since August census results showed the national population was perfectly split between men and women, there was "no need" for homosexuality.
"This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated in this country. Men or women found engaging in those acts deserve to be arrested and will be arrested," Odinga said to cheers and laughter in the crowd.
Odinga is just joining a chorus of African politicians who are continually displaying their ignorance of homosexuality (There's no "need" for homosexuality--really? And "even" lesbians will be arrested) and blatant misogyny.

Unfortunately, the words of politicians can have real impacts on the lives of their citizens, especially if their underlings take these words to signal policy changes. Rod 2.0 reports that Kenyan gays and lesbians are terrified.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Eye Candy Todd Sandfield

Todd Sandfield is a smoking hot model who has been featured on the cover of two magazines that often have pictures of stunningly handsome men, Tetu in France and DNA in Australia. Many of the other models featured in MadProfessah's Eye Candy have appeared in those pages (like Nick Ayler).

Hat/tip to Sozo's Blog which recently featured these and some rather naughty pictures of Mr. Sandfield "letting it all hang out."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

ATP Tour Finals 2010: Federer Defeats Nadal 6-3 3-6 6-1

As predicted, Roger Federer of Switzerland won his 5th ATP Tour Final championships on Sunday in London  by defeating World #1 Rafael Nadal of Spain 6-3 3-6 6-1 in 97 minutes. Federer joined Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras as the third man to win the tour-ending championship for the 5th time, which he had previously won in 2003 (d. Andre Agassi), 2004 (d. Lleyton Hewitt), 2006 (d. James Blake), and 2007 (d. David Ferrer). Interestingly, it was also the 4th time he won the Australian Open (the first tournament of the year) and the season-ending championship in the same year (2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010). (Novak Djokovic was able to achieve the same feat in 2008.)

Federer improved to a career record of 8 wins, 14 losses against his arch nemesis (with the clay court record of 2 wins and 10 losses), who is now regularly being called the greatest clay court player of all time. Federer won his 66th ATP tour title, placing him firmly in fourth position on the all-time list, a mere 11 titles behind John McEnroe at 77, Lendl at 94 and Jimmy Connors at 107.

Nadal is firmly ensconced at #1 and basically has no ranking points to defend until the clay court season. The earliest Federer could challenge for the #1 ranking again is probably Wimbledon 2011. It should be an exciting year!

ATP Tour Finals: Semifinal Review and Final Preview

World #1 Rafael Nadal will face World #2 Roger Federer in the final match of the 2010 ATP tennis season at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London today. As MadProfessah predicted on Friday, Federer was able to dismiss World #3 Novak Djokovic in straight sets while World #5 Andy Murray put up a stern challenge to prevent this 22nd meeting in the storied rivalry between the two greatest players of their generation.

Semifinals Review
The two semifinals were thrilling in their own way. Federer demolished the Serb in a 6-1 6-4 match which was not as close as the score reveals. Essentially, Federer won two 6-1 sets but went through "a bad patch" at the beginning of the second set where he lost 3 consecutive games. The Swiss quickly recovered and dispatched Djokovic to continue his preparation for next week's Davis Cup Final matchup versus France in Belgrade.

The Nadal-Murray match was one of the best matches of the year, with the Spaniard (barely) prevailing 7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(6). There were some incredible 27 and 36(!) stroke rallies in the first set, with  incredibly high quality tennis on both sides of the net. Murray basically lost the first set because after enjoying a hot serving streak for the majority of the set, in the tiebreaker he couldn't buy a first serve. If you can't serve well, it makes it very difficult to win  a tiebreaker where every point is effectively a breakpoint. Interestingly the second set was similar to the second set in the Federer-Djokovic match where after basically playing to a draw at 3-all suddenly Nadal went through a bad patch  and lost 3 games in a row. (Murray grew more aggressive and was able to break Nadal twice in ten minutes to win the set). In the third set Nadal got the early break and served for the match at 5-4 where, inexplicably, he was broken after holding a match point. Would he be able to prevail in the inevitable tiebreak? It didn't look like it when Murray won the first three points of the tiebreak and led 4-2 on the change over. However, as usual, Nadal did not give up and won the mini-break back to hold a second match point 5-6 on Murray's serve.Murray was able to defend that point with some incredible gets and at 6-6 went for a huge cross-court winner which flew a couple inches wide giving Nadal his third match point on his serve. The World #1 was able to win the match point with his patented inside-out cross-court forehand winner into the far corner of the court to reach the Tour Final for the first time in his storied career.

Finals Preview
This is the 22nd meeting between the 24-year-old 9-time grand slam champion and the 29-year-old 16-time grand slam champion. The younger player enjoys a 14-7 career head-to-head edge; all but 4 of their meetings have been in finals (where Nadal leads 12-5) but at the season-ending championships Federer leads 2-0 (but those wins came when Nadal was usually exhausted at the end of the season). In hard court finals, Nadal leads 2-1 (2009 Australian Open final, 2006 Dubai final). Nadal is also experiencing one of history's greatest seasons ever, having won every clay court match he played this year and winning the last three consecutive grand slam titles with a better than even shot of claiming the "Nadal slam" in Melbourne in a few months.

There are four possibilities for the match result (tabulated below with associated estimated probabilities)
Match Result              Probability
Federer wins in 2 sets        33% 
Nadal wins in 2 sets          17%
Federer wins in 3 sets        20%
Nadal wins in 3 sets          30%
This computes to a 53% chance for Federer to win with a 47% chance for Nadal, if there is an equally likelihood of a 2-set and 3-set match. Actually, looking at their 21 previous matches, only 8 of their matches have gone the distance. All that being said, the match should be close and exciting!

MadProfessah's prediction: Federer in 2 sets; Nadal in 3 sets with a distinct edge to whomever wins the first set.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

TV Shows Liked By Democrats and Republicans Differ Greatly

According to Experian Simmons, a media research firm, there is no overlap between the most watched shows by Democrats and Republicans.

One of my students in my #CSP19: LGBT Rights in the Era of Obama and Google class pointed out  the list to me, and commented on the cognitive dissonance of the members of the anti-gay political party enjoying watching a show (Modern Family) which prominently features a gay white male couple raising a Vietnamese baby girl.

That's an interesting observation. What I notice from the list is that the shows which are in my DVR are Modern Family, The Big Bang Theory, Survivor, and 30 Rock. We just stopped watching Desperate Housewives, V and Damages this year. I have tuned into Countdown with Keith Olberman but prefer The Rachel Maddow Show.

Surprisingly, the shows that I prefer to watch live (or within 7 days of taping) are Modern Family and Survivor, which are on the Republican list. You can count me in the significant fraction (20%) of Californians who would "almost never consider" voting for a Republican candidate for any office.

So, clearly I exhibit some kind of partisan hybridity in television selection!

Friday, November 26, 2010

ATP Tour Finals: Federer v Djokovic, Nadal v Murray Semifinals

The semifinals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals are set: Roger Federer will play Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will play Andy Murray. Federer and Nadal are undefeated through the first three round-robin rounds with Nadal only dropping his very first set of the tournament against Andy Roddick, although Djokovic should probably have won the first set in their match. Federer was pretty lucky not to lose the first set against Robin Soderling.

That being said, Nadal has a 8-4 career edge against Murray, a 14-7 lead against Federer and a 15-7 lead against Djokovic. He is, after all, the World's #1 player and the current holder of 3 of the 4 major title, having won 3 in a row in 2010. He has never won this tournament, because he's usually dead tired by this point in the season. He did not play in 2008 and lost all 3 round-robin matches last year. However, it's 2010 and I expect him to at least get to the final, where I suspect he will play Federer in a mouth-watering final. Although Nadal leads the Greatest Of All Time in their overall head-to-head and beat him once this year as well as the last time they met on a hard court (the inexplicable 2009 Australian Open final), their hard court record head-to-head is tied 3-3 with Federer beating Nadal twice in the semifinals of the year-ending championships in 2006 and 2007. However, in Finals one would have to give the edge to Nadal (12-5).

Can Novak and Andy stop another Fedal final? Possibly, since Murray sports a 2-1 lead over Nadal (4-4 career on hard courts) this year, both time winning on hard courts including the last time they played in the semifinals of Toronto (where Murray also beat Federer). His single loss to Nadal came in London earlier this year in the Wimbledon semis. For all intents and purposes that was the equivalent of a Tour final. Murray himself has been lowering expectations about his chances against Nadal (and Federer) in his press conferences this week. However, I think he probably has the best chance of the four of preventing Nadal from winning his first tour championships.

While Nadal faces the person most likely to beat him, Federer plays the person least likely to beat him. (He beat Murray this week in round-robin play but has an overall 5-8 losing record to the Scot.) Djkovic trails Federer 6-12 in their career match-up, including 1-3 for the year. Of course that one win was in the semifinals of the 2010 US Open where Federer held two match points and lost. One does feel if the match is close, Federer will likely lose it. Ever since then, Federer has beaten Novak relatively easily and I expect that will be the case tomorrow.

MadProfessah's predictions: Nadal defeats Murray in 3 sets; Federer defeats Djokovic in 2 sets.

AUS OPEN 2011: Serena Williams Won't Defend Title

Serena Williams tweeted this picture about 2 weeks ago but this week dashed the hopes of her fans hoping to see her add to her 13 major titles any time soon by announcing she would not defend her 2010 Australian Open title due to injury:
As I continue to rehabilitate my foot after the second surgery last month, it is with the utmost regret that I am withdrawing from the Hopman Cup and the 2011 Australian Open Championships. As I recently learned, pushing myself back into my intense training too early only caused me further injury and damage. While I desperately want to be back on the court and competing in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, it is imperative for my health that I continue to work with my doctors to ensure my foot heals properly. This decision, though heavy on my heart, is the right one. I am praying for a healthy recovery and I promise my Aussie fans and my fans around the world that I will be back better than ever as soon as I can be.
In 2010, Serena won her 5th Australian Open by defeating Justine Henin in the final in 3 tense sets. By failing to defend her title Serena will probably fall out of the Top 10. In 2010 she only played in 6 tournaments, winning 2 majors (Australian and Wimbledon).

Celebrity Friday: Survivor's Chase Rice

One of the reasons I still watch the show Survivor is for views of scantily clad fit guys (and the fascinating strategic and  tactical intrigue); this season's Chase Rice on Survivor: Nicaragua definitely fits the bill. He has made it into the final 9 in the game to "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast" your competitors for $1 million (the show has been around for 10 years---shouldn't this be doubled by now?).

Chase is a 24-year-old aspiring country singer-songwriter who played football in college at the University pf North Carolina. He's in the young people's alliance but although he's in the best physical shape of all the remaining players, is not really considered a major threat to win because of his emotional neediness. Plus, despite being so buff (the pictures above do not do him justice) he was beaten in a physical challenge by 56-year-old Jane Bright, someone I think probably deserves (and probably will get) the million dollar prize.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I finally saw the film The Town directed by Ben Affleck which has a 94% rating at rottentomatoes.com while I was in Washington, D.C. on a business trip at the Ballston Mall.

The Town is a surprisingly good film, starring Affleck as Doug MacRay, the brains behind a gang of bank robbers in Boston, Massachusetts. In fact, a statement at the beginning of the movie claims that the Charlestown section of Boston (i.e. "The Town") has the most bank robbers and armored car robbers per capita of any community in the country. Also starring in the film are Jeremy Renner (Oscar nominated for last year's The Hurt Locker), Jon Hamm (star of television's Mad Men) and Rebecca Hall (The Prestige, Vicky Christina Barcelona). The film also features Oscar-winner Chris Cooper (Adaptation) as Doug's father, Stephen MacRay.

The plot is interesting and features excellent performances, primarily by Renner, Affleck and Hamm.. The story is a pastiche of a romantic drama featuring Hall and Affleck, a heist thriller with several scenes of numerous bank robberies executed like clockwork, and a cop procedural featuring Hamm and "the feds" as they trace Affleck and his brotherly gang of thieves. This is not  meant as a critique, but a fair description to illustrate Affleck's creativity as a writer. However, it as a director that Affleck really makes his mark. The Town moves swiftly, in an engrossing fashion. Although it is sometimes preposterous, and often quite violent, it is never boring.

Running Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes.
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and drug use.
Release Date: September 17, 2010.
Seen: Sunday, November 14, 2010.

Plot: B+-.
Acting: A-.
Visuals: A-.
Impact: B+.

Overall Grade: A- (3.50/4.0). 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Watch CA Speaker John Pérez Say "It Absolutely Gets Better "

Speaker of the California Assembly John Pérez, one of the highest ranked openly gay officials in the country, has released a "It Gets Better" video for the holiday season, which he recognizes can be a difficult one for LGBT teens.

CA-AG: Cooley Concedes! Kamala Harris Wins!

The next Attorney General of California (will be a Black/multiracial woman)

The latest tally has Harris with 4,376,509 votes (or 46.0%) versus 4,324,924 votes (or 45.5%) for Cooley, a lead of 51,585 votes out of 9.5 million votes cast for Attorney General (there were 4 minor party candidates). Note, starting in November 2010 general election ballots in California will only ever have two candidates (with no write-in provision), thanks to the ill-conceived Proposition 14 which passed in June 2010. That, along with "non-partisan, "citizen-driven" re-districting should make 2012 a wild and crazy year for electoral politics, even in the deep blue state of California.

It should also be noted that Cooley received some 300,000 votes more than his party's ill-fated standard bearer, failed gubernatorial candidate ("such a lovely ring to it, dontcha think?" Meg Whitman and 150,000 votes more than that (rhymes with "witch") failed U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina.

It also means that the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General all explicitly support marriage equality and oppose defending Proposition 8 in court. since they believe it is unconstitutional. In fact,  I would wager every single statewide elected official in California supports marriage equality at this point (since they are all Democrats!) 

Fight Over Ill. Civil Unions Bill Coming Next Week

Illinois is quickly becoming the site for a legislative battle royale next week over LGBT equality as the State Legislature is expected to take up Senate Bill 1617, a bill to enact civil unions (also known as comprehensive domestic partnerships).

The bill is expected to come up for a vote on Tuesday November 30th and recently elected Democratic Governor Pat Quinn has agreed to sign the measure into law.

The expected opposition to the civil rights legislation from heterosexual supremacists and religious theocrats is starting to emerge:
The head of Chicago's Roman Catholic archdiocese Monday portrayed legislation authorizing civil unions between gay and lesbian couples as an initiative that would ''change the nature of marriage'' and urged state lawmakers to reject it.
''Everyone has a right to marry, but no one has the right to change the nature of marriage,'' Cardinal Francis George said in a statement. ''Marriage is what it is and always has been, no matter what a Legislature decides to do; however, the public understanding of marriage will be negatively affected by passage of a bill that ignores the natural fact that sexual complementarity is at the core of marriage.''
Note the words "sexual complementarity" being described as a "natural fact" at the "core of marriage" by the man of faith. He is trying to combine the tautological argument against marriage equality (marriage is defined as only between a man and a woman) with the gender confusion argument ("who will be the wife?"). Of course, both of these arguments can be easily refuted by the easily discernible fact that marriage in 2010 is not based on subordination of women and that there are tens of thousands of legally married same-sex couples in the United States.

But the openly LGBT sponsors of Senate Bill1617 say it best:
The proposal, pushed by Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) and Rep. Deb Mell (D-Chicago), would grant new spousal rights to same-sex partners in a civil union, putting them on par legally with heterosexual married couples when it comes to surrogate decision-making for medical treatment, survivorship, adoptions and accident and health insurance, for example.
But Harris said the legislation does nothing to change the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, which currently is spelled out in state law.
''I'd say either he is being misinformed about the state of the law in Illinois or they're trying to make more of it than there really is,'' Harris said in response to George's statements.
A portion of Senate Bill 1716 explicitly states that the proposal is not intended to ''interfere with or regulate the religious practice of any religious body.'' The bill goes on to state that religious bodies are ''free to choose whether or not to solemnize or officiate a civil union."
It should be interesting to see if Equality Illinois can prevail over NOM next week.

Hat/tip to Joe.My.God

Vote for the Hodge Twins for Best Body!

Thanks to Mechadude I have been informed that two of my favorite crush objects, Kevin and Keith Hodges are competing in an online contest to be bodybuilding spokespeople. Watch the video below and then vote for Keith and Kevin!

Aren't they hella phyne?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

ATP Tour Finals: Federer Gets Revenge On Murray 6-4 6-2

World #1 Roger Federer defeated hometown favorite Andy Murray 6-4 6-2 to win his second round-robin match at the Barclay's ATP Tour Finals in London. Federer improved his win-loss career record to the young Scot to 6 wins out of 14 matches played. Murray had beaten Federer the last two times they met this year, both times in Masters finals (in Shanghai and in Toronto). Of course, Federer has beaten Murray in the two major finals they have competed in (2010 Australian Open and 2008 US Open ).

Murray beat Robin Soderling and so in order to make the semifinals of the ATP World Tour finals, Murray will need to beat David Ferrer in straight sets in order to reach the semifinals. Federer will just need to win a set off of Soderling to clinch a semifinal berth if Soderling does not beat Ferrer today.

The other half of the draw has Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic. Djokovic and Nadal have wins over Berdych and Roddick, respectively so far.

DADT Update: DOD Report Out In 7 Days; Discharges Ceased; TV Ad Out

There have been multiple developments in the fight to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" recently.
The Defense Department has (barely) bowed to political pressure by agreeing to release its now-famous study of the impacts of open military service by LGBT soldiers on "unit cohesion, military readiness and effectiveness, recruiting and retention and family readiness" one day early, next Tuesday, November 30.
The Pentagon also announced that ever since Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued new procedures that require a DADT discharge to be approved by one of a handful of top military officers on October 21, no LGBT people have been "separated" from the military in the last month.
Recent polls have begun to show declines from the massive support for repealing the military's discriminatory DADT policy. In the last few days, a Gallup poll has been released indicating only 56% of Americans think passing DADT repeal in the Senate's lame-duck session is important or very important (compared to 60% who feel that way about passing the DREAM Act).

Today, the Palm Center had the above television ad touting the lack of consequences to open military service experienced by our NATO allies currently fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan rejected by Fox News.

I believe that the Obama Administration will deliver on its promise to have DADT repeal accomplished by the end of 2010.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

NBC Cancels J.J. Abrams' "Undercovers"

NBC's Undercovers is toast. The spy series created by J.J. Abrams and Josh Reims has been cancelled by NBC. It is the second TV show cancelled by the network this season, although. It is also the first network show to have two Black actors in the lead roles, Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

It's too bad. I enjoyed the show; it was probably better suited for USA or another NBC-Universal Comcast cable outlet.

I am also watching NBC's The Event but that show has some problems and I would not be surprised if it is cancelled by the end of the season.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

CA-AG: Harris Has Insurmountable Lead of 43,050!

Kamala Harris now leads Steve Cooley by 43,050 votes (4,291,854 or 46.0% to 4,248,804 or 45.5%). According to the Secretary of State's office (pdf) there are are now 629,634 unprocessed ballots, with 361,588 provisional ballots and 228,854 vote-by-mail ballots. Los Angeles County has the most number of outstanding ballots, left to be counted 93,590 (73,928 of which are provisional). 82% of provisional ballots are usually counted. The thing to note is that Harris won on election day (when provisional ballots are turned in by approximate 3 percentage points and she lost vote-by-mail ballots by 8 percentage points. Of the ballots left to count, Cooley should be expected to have a net gain of 10K-20K votes at most.
(He wins VBM ballots netting approximately 20K votes but loses provisional ballots by 8K votes.)

Basically, we are where we were on election night when Harris had a slim lead but today there are far less votes to be counted, dramatically reducing Cooley's chances of retaking the lead. I'm still slightly worried that the percentage of votes left to be counted consists of less than 20% from Los Angeles County, but Harris won other relatively large counties by good margins as well. Also, there are some indications that the unprocessed ballot number is too high, making things even tougher for Cooley.

It is mathematically possible for Cooley to win but the probabilities are in the 1-2% range (he would have to win the outstanding ballots at net rates of 7-8% which the rest of the sample simply does not reflect). Los Angeles County Council President Eric Garcetti (and former Occidental College professor) called the race for Harris yesterday and urged media outlets to do the math to show how slim the possibility of Cooley winning actually is. Garcetti actually estimates that there are far LESS uncounted votes than in the unprocessed ballot status page since some of the counties have not updated their numbers in over two weeks and the total vote count is approaching 9.6 million. We'll probably hit 10 million votes cast statewide by the time everything is counted and certified next month.

Artist's View of Gay Cities Around The World

The above picture was created by lesbian artist Wendy MacNaughton for GayCities.com. Apparently, there is a contest going on at http://www.gaycities.com/best-of-gaycities/ where people can vote in different categories and the prize is a trip to Berlin, Germany (a city I have never been to but would love to visit).

It's sort of fun. Click on the picture to go to the website to vote!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Prop 8 Federal Appeal Will Be Televised On Dec. 6!

On Monday December 6th at 10am, A 3-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, also known as the federal Proposition 8 lawsuit. On August 4th, openly gay federal District Court judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 violated the United States Constitution.

These facts have been known for awhile. The new information is that apparently the oral arguments in the Perry appeal will now be televised by C-SPAN and local channel KGO. This is a big deal, because the lower court was intended to be broadcast as well but the heterosexual supremacists defending Proposition 8 objected and appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court who overruled Judge Walker and banned the broadcasting of the oral arguments just days before the trial was scheduled to begin this past January.

Here are the details of the hearing on Monday, which will be in two 2-hour segments. The first session will be on whether the Proposition 8 propnents have "standing" to actually continue defending the statue, since the official parties to the lawsuit (the Governor and Attorney General) have refused to defend the voter-passed initiative in court. The second hour will be about the constitutionality of Proposition 8 itself.
Filed clerk order (Deputy Clerk:KKW): The Court orders that oral argument in these appeals be conducted in the following manner: The argument shall be divided into two hour-long sessions, with a brief recess in between. In the first hour, the parties shall address each appellant’s standing and any other procedural matters that may properly be raised. In the second hour, the parties shall address the constitutionality of Proposition 8.
During the first hour, the Hollingsworth defendants-intervenors-appellants (“Proponents”) shall first have 15 minutes, and the Imperial County movants-appellants shall next have 15 minutes in which to present their opening arguments regarding standing and other procedural issues. The Perry plaintiffs-appellees shall then have 30 minutes in which to respond. Any time reserved by either appellant may be used for rebuttal, but only one rebuttal argument may be made and that by either appellant.
During the second hour, the Proponents shall first have 30 minutes to present their opening argument on the merits of the constitutional question. The Perry plaintiffs-appellees shall then have 15 minutes, and the plaintiff-intervenor-appellee City and County of San Francisco shall have the next 15 minutes, in which to respond. Any time reserved by the Proponents may be used for rebuttal.
No later than November 24, 2010, the parties shall advise the Court of any objection they have to the allocation of time within each hour or of any reallocation of time within each hour that they wish to propose, by electronically filing letters with the Clerk of the Court. If any party wishes to give its full allotted time within either hour to an amicus curiae, it may request that the Court reallocate that time accordingly. Otherwise, no motions for leave to participate in oral argument by amici curiae will be entertained.. [7545517]
The names of the judges who will hear the appeal have not been released yet. Whoever loses at this level will appeal to the United States Supreme Court, who may or may not accept the case.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

First Comprehensive Review of U.S. Laws On HIV/AIDS Released

An interesting press release just passed my inbox announcing the release by the of a comprehensive review on all state and federal laws that impact people living with HIV or AIDS in the United States.

The Center for HIV Law and Policy today released the first comprehensive analysis of HIV-specific criminal laws and prosecutions in the United States. The publication, Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization: State and Federal Laws and Prosecutions, covers policies and cases in all fifty states, the military, federal prisons and U.S. territories.

“In the United States there are many shocking cases of persons being prosecuted for otherwise-legal conduct solely based on their HIV status,” said René Bennett-Carlson, CHLP’s Managing Attorney, and one of the authors of the manual, “This singling out of people with HIV for arrests and punishment without consideration of the responsibility of all parties in a sexual relationship, the actual risk of HIV transmission, and  whether transmission even occurred is based on intolerable ignorance about HIV. These laws and prosecutions have no positive impact whatsoever on HIV infection rates or risk behavior.”

People are being imprisoned for decades, and in many cases have to register as sex offenders, as a consequence of exaggerated fears about HIV.  Most of these cases involve consensual sex or conduct such as spitting and biting that has only a remote possibility of HIV exposure.  For example, a number of states have laws that make it a felony for someone who has had a positive HIV test to spit on or touch another person with blood or saliva. “We hope that this resource will put a spotlight on this terrible injustice and make it easier for advocates to defend against these discriminatory prosecutions,” Bennett-Carlson added.

Some examples of recent prosecutions discussed in CHLP’s manual include:
·        A man with HIV in Texas is serving thirty-five years for spitting at a police officer;
·        A man with HIV in Iowa, who had an undetectable viral load, received a twenty-five year sentence after a one-time sexual encounter during which he used a condom; his sentence was suspended, but he had to register as a sex-offender and is not allowed unsupervised contact with his nieces, nephews and other young children;  
·        A woman with HIV in Georgia received an eight-year sentence for failing to disclose her HIV status, despite the trial testimony of two witnesses that her sexual partner was aware of her HIV positive status;
·        A man with HIV in Michigan was charged under the state’s anti-terrorism statute with possession of a “biological weapon” after he allegedly bit his neighbor. 

Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization: State and Federal Laws and Prosecutions is intended as a  resource for lawyers and community advocates on the laws, cases, and trends that define HIV criminalization in the United States. Thirty-four states and two U.S. territories have HIV-specific criminal statutes and thirty-six states have reported proceedings in which HIV-positive people have been arrested and/or prosecuted for consensual sex, biting, and spitting.  At least eighty such prosecutions have occurred in the last two years alone.

The catalog of state and federal laws and cases is the first volume of a multi-part manual that CHLP’s Positive Justice Project is developing for legal and community advocates. The goal of the Positive Justice Project is to bring an end to laws and policies that subject people with HIV to arrest and increased punishment on the basis of gross ignorance about the nature and transmission of HIV, without consideration of the actual risks of HIV exposure. 

“We support the work of the Center for HIV Law and Policy’s Positive Justice Project. This manual is a tremendous achievement and provides a desperately needed resource for the HIV community,” said Vanessa Johnson, Executive Vice President of the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA). “NAPWA proposed the idea of an HIV criminalization manual to CHLP because of their reputation in this area, and because criminalization acts as a disincentive to testing. It discourages testing by imposing huge risks and penalties on a positive test result. Criminalization also is an unwarranted assault on the rights and dignity of people living with HIV.” 

Catherine Hanssens, Executive Director of CHLP, added, “These laws make the statement that those who test positive for HIV are too toxic to have intimate relationships, that HIV is highly infectious, and that only those who get tested bear any responsibility for preventing the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. These laws treat people with HIV as if they are packing an unlicensed, loaded gun – as if the very fact of HIV infection is proof of criminal intent.” 

René Bennett-Carlson concluded, “Three decades into the HIV epidemic, it is time to bring this kind of ignorance and hysteria to an end.”  

The manual can be accessed and downloaded at www.hivlawandpolicy.org/resources/view/564. Its completion was supported by grants for CHLP’s anti-criminalization work and Positive Justice Project from the MAC AIDS Fund and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

# # #

The Center for HIV Law and Policy is a national legal and policy resource and strategy that works to reduce the impact of HIV on vulnerable and marginalized communities and to secure the human rights of people affected by HIV. We increase the advocacy power of advocates, and community members, and advance policy initiatives that are grounded in and uphold social justice, science, and the public health. We do this by providing an accessible web-based resource bank; leadership and analysis on key policy issues; and direct back-up to advocates on initiatives through our interdisciplinary support networks of experts, activists, and high-quality resources.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Which E-mail Program Do You Use?

This interesting chart comes from Talking Points Memo, who snagged it from Business Insider. BI is reporting that Facebook's new planned email service could have a significant impact on other big players on the Internet:
If Facebook's email service is a success, it's bad news for Yahoo and AOL, which are already losing users. It's also bad news for Google, which uses Gmail as a launch point into search, Google Apps, and to small degree social stuff through Buzz.
What would it take for Facebook email to be a success? Well, Facebook has 150 million active users in the United States. It's unlikely to convert all those users, but if it can get just a third of them to start using its email, it would have the second most popular email service in the U.S.
Which email program do you use?

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Word About Our Sponsors

weekly web traffic at MadProfesssah.com since the beginning of 2010

For some inexplicable reason, after a low point in the middle of the summer, web traffic at this blog has recently gone up to about 3000 visitors per week from our usual average of 2000 visitors per week and advertisers have started to notice. Currently I run ads from the Gay Ad Network, MSNBC political ad network and two blogads channels: Gay Blogads and Gay Political Blogads.

We had a huge traffic spike right around election day (interestingly the day AFTER, not the day before) and so are currently running four ads simultaneously. This is very cool but not something I expect to happen very often. I'm not even making enough from advertising to pay for the amount of time I spend on the blog, but it is better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Please support the advertisers on MadProfessah.com!


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