Friday, November 30, 2012

Romney and Obama Met In The Oval Office

Mitt Romney lost the presidential election by a margin of 47.36% to 50.91%, nearly 4.5 million votes, to President Barack Obama. On Thursday, the two met at the White House.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

At Arizona State University, Tempe

I'm in beautiful Tempe, AZ for work...

This is the famous Palm Walk at ASU, the largest institution of higher education in the United States.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Obama Nominates Latina Lesbian To Federal Bench

Following his historical nomination of a Black gay man to become a federal judge a few weeks ago, President Obama is continuing his practice of diversifying the federal judiciary by nominating the first openly lesbian Latina to become a U.S. District Court judge. Nitza Quiñones has been nominated to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The state has 8 vacant slots in the federal judiciary, notes People for the American Way in lauding the Quiñones nomination.

Here is the official announcement from the White House:
Judge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of PennsylvaniaJudge Nitza I. Quiñones Alejandro currently serves as a Judge on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, where she has presided over both civil and criminal matters.  Prior to joining the bench in 1991, Judge Quiñones worked as a Staff Attorney for the United States Department of Veterans Affairs from 1979 to 1991 and as an Attorney Advisor for the United States Department of Health and Human Services from 1977 to 1979.  She began her legal career as a Staff Attorney for Community Legal Services, Inc. in Philadelphia from 1975 to 1977.  Judge Quiñones received her J.D. in 1975 from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law and her B.B.A. cum laude in 1972 from the University of Puerto Rico.
¡Si, se puede!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Preparing For Prop 8 Decision Day: The Options

John Gara/Buzzfeed

The Day of Decision for California's Proposition 8 is fast approaching. LGBT legal guru Chris Geidner summarizes the 4 possibilities that the United States Supreme Court will most likely be deciding on Friday November 30th:
• The court takes multiple DOMA cases and the Proposition 8 case. This outcome would be the “all in” option, and it would make clear that at least four justices want the court to resolve the legal questions surrounding these issues, from what level of scrutiny that laws classifying people based on sexual orientation should be given (see more about this here) to whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry. (The DOMA cases also feature the unusual circumstances, in place since February 2011, of the Obama administration opposing the law's constitutionality and the House Republican leadership defending the law.)
• The court takes one DOMA case, while holding the other DOMA cases pending that decision, and takes the Proposition 8 case as well. This is not very different from the first possibility, although the choice of one DOMA case over another could be seen as narrowing the type of argument about the law that the court would like to hear. More likely though, it would simply be a sign of the justices having picked a case in which Justice Elena Kagan, who served as the top appellate lawyer in the Obama administration before joining the court and may choose to recuse herself from one or more of the DOMA cases because of that, can participate.
• The court takes one DOMA case and holds the rest of the cases, including Proposition 8, pending the outcome of the DOMA case. This prospect, advanced as a possibility by Georgetown law professor Nan Hunter, could be taken by a cautious court, wanting first to resolve some general questions — including the level of scrutiny to be applied to sexual orientation classifications — before acting on the other, more direct, question about whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry that is raised in the Proposition 8 challenge. This, as with taking the Proposition 8 case, would delay when same-sex couples in California might be able to marry.
• The court takes a DOMA case, but denies certiorari in the Proposition 8 case. This option, once considered by advocates to be the most likely possibility, would lead to same-sex couples being able to marry in California within days. The Ninth Circuit’s ruling in the case did not broadly resolve the marriage question, instead holding that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional because it took back rights formerly held by Californians. As there are other cases in the legal pipeline about same-sex couples marriage rights that could make their way to the Supreme Court, the court could decide to let the narrow Ninth Circuit decision stand.
Tune in to this space on Friday for the news of what happens with Proposition 8!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Eye Candy: Marcus Patrick (reprise)

Marcus Patrick has been Eye Candy before (September 3, 2012). These are just a few of the more risque shots of him that are available on the web. Clearly, he is a guy who probably should not be photographed in white shorts.

As I blogged before, he is 38 years old, 6-feet tall and weighs around 175 pounds. And definitely easy on the eyes!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

WATCH: HRC's National Marriage Equality Ad

Human Rights Campaign is launching a national advertising campaign promoting marriage equality. The ad is narrated by Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman, and says:
America stands at the dawn of a new day.Freedom, justice and human dignity have always guided our journey toward amore perfect union.Now across our country, we are standing together for the right of gay andlesbian Americans to marry the person they love.And with historic victories for marriage, we¹ve delivered a mandate forfull equality.The wind is at our back. But our journey has just begun.Join us.
The text is slightly problematic, since there is a somewhat unclear antecedent of the use of "we." One can interpret it to mean "We Americans" or one could also see it as "We Human Rights Campaign" since the ad ends with their logo and website. One would have thought HRC would have been more sensitive to multiple interpretations and made the connection between "We" and "America" tighter. (Or maybe they were trying for ambiguity.)

The ad overall is quite effective and affecting, with images of past civil rights advances (Martin Luther King, Jr, women's suffrage) and also has images of a diverse group of same-sex couples. You can watch it here.

Queer Quote: Krugman Responds To Rubio

You may recall that presidential wannabe Marco Rubio gave an interview where he claimed not to know (or to care about) the age of the planet on which we all live.

Some bloggers were not bothered by this ridiculous statement, but the New York Times Paul Krugman is not one of them. He writes a response which I want to excerpt and present as today's Queer Quote:
Coming back to the age of the earth: Does it matter? No, says Mr. Rubio, pronouncing it “a dispute amongst theologians” — what about the geologists? — that has “has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.” But he couldn’t be more wrong.
We are, after all, living in an era when science plays a crucial economic role. How are we going to search effectively for natural resources if schools trying to teach modern geology must give equal time to claims that the world is only 6.000 years old? How are we going to stay competitive in biotechnology if biology classes avoid any material that might offend creationists?
And that's exactly my point. It is important to know the age of the earth and it does have an impact on the economic growth of the United States.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

CA Gov Appoints 1st Openly Gay Appellate Judge

California Governor Jerry Brown has appointed a former advisor on legal affairs to a seat on the 1st District Court of Appeals, 4th division. If confirmed by the Council on Judicial Appointments, James Humes will be the first openly gay person on the appellate bench in California.

From the official announcement from the Governor:
Humes, 53, of San Francisco, has served as executive secretary for legal affairs, administration and policy at the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. since 2011. He was chief deputy attorney general at the Office of Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. from 2007 to 2011. Humes served in multiple positions at the California Department of Justice from 1993 to 2007, including chief assistant of the civil division and senior assistant attorney general of the health, education and welfare section. He served in the Colorado Attorney General’s Office from 1984 to 1986 and again from 1987 to 1993. Humes was an associate at Banta Hoyt Banta Greene Hannen and Everall PC from 1986 to 1987 and at Jay Stuart Radetsky PC from 1983 to 1984. He earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Denver, a Master of Social Science degree from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Illinois State University.
Gov. Brown also appointed openly lesbian Paula Rosenstein to a seat on the San Diego Superior Court.

Saturday Politics: Lesbian Wins NoCal Senate Seat

Cathleen Gagliani won a hotly contested State Senate race to
give Democrats 29 votes and the LGBT caucus an 8th member

Cathleen Galgiani made news last year when she came out of the closet to become the 8th member of the California LGBT Legislative Caucus. At that time she came out she was an Assemblymember representing the 17th District in Northern California, in the Republican-leaning sections of Sacramento and San Joaquin counties. Galgiani decided to run for the 5th Senate District this year in another conservative district against Republican assemblyman Bob Berryhill and was trailing when votes were tallied on election day.

However, it looks like she has won the tightly contested race when absentee and provisional votes were counted:
After trailing since Election Day, Democrat Cathleen Galgiani overtook Bill Berryhill by more than 2,100 votes Wednesday night, assuring her of victory in their hotly contested 5th Senate District race. 
Thomas Lawson, Galgiani's campaign manager, said the trend is clear and that her victory will make Thanksgiving Day even sweeter. 
Berryhill's campaign consultant, Duane Dichiara, stopped short of conceding defeat but admitted, "It's a tough row to hoe" now. 
Galgiani inched ahead of her Republican opponent on the strength of her showing in San Joaquin County.She started Wednesday about 1,500 votes behind and now leads by 2,111 votes.

Read more here:
If Galgiani's win is confirmed it will mean that Democrats will have 29 seats in the 40-member Senate, 2 more than the two-thirds super-majority needed to place constitutional amendments directly on the ballot and pass new taxes. Astonishingly, Democrats will also have a super-majority in the Assembly, and openly gay Speaker John Pérez will lead the largest Democratic caucus in a century, with at least 54 members in the 80-member lower house.

There is also good news for the California LGBT Legislative Caucus, which will maintain its status as the nation's largest, with 8 members (tied with Maryland).

The openly LGBT members of the California legislature from 2012-2014 will be:
John A. Pérez (Assembly District 53) 
Toni Atkins (Assembly District 78) 
Richard Gordon (Assembly District 24) 
Tom Ammiano (Assembly District 17) 
Susan Eggman* (Assembly District 13) 
Ricardo Lara* (Senate District 33) 
Cathleen Galgiani* (Senate District 5) 
Mark Leno (Senate District 11)
California would have had a record NINE openly LGBT members if my friend Luis Lopez had won his intra-party race against Jimmie Gomez in my Assembly District (the 51st in Los Angeles), but unfortunately that did not happen.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Celebrity Friday: Yeah, Nate Silver Is Gay

Nate Silver, well-known politics guru (and now best-selling author), is indeed openly gay. In fact, he has been openly gay since at least 2010, although the 34-year-old doesn't seem to mention it in interviews much. That has changed recently with a profile in The Guardian.

Since his public profile became even more prominent after correctly predicting the results of two consecutive U.S. presidential election (49 of 50 states in 2008 and 50 of 50 states in 2012) the importance of Silver's sexuality as a famous person has also increased.

The Huffington Post reported:
Silver admits that being gay has helped him understand difference and move beyond the boundaries of traditional reporting.
"If you grow up gay, or in a household that's agnostic, when most people are religious, then from the get-go, you are saying that there are things that the majority of society believes that I don't believe," Silver said in an interview with The Guardian.
But, Silver told The Guardian, being a geek was harder than being gay since he's always been a geek and never really fit in.
“I’ve always felt like something of an outsider,” Silver told The Guardian. “I’ve always had friends, but I’ve always come from an outside point of view. I think that’s important."
With two winning election predictions,a blog in The New York Times and a$700,000 book deal under his belt, today, Silver doesn't need to fit in and he's still everyone's favorite gay geek.
It will be interesting to see if the word about Silver being gay has any impact on his public persona. Hopefully, in 2012, it will not. After all, the conservatives and Republicans who already hate him for exposing their fantasy-based election predictions will hardly be able to hate him more for being openly gay as well.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Finally got around to see Argo the day after the election with my husband at the Regal Ballston Common Stadium 12 in Arlington, Virginia. The Ben Affleck-directed film has been getting rave reviews (it has a 95% rating from critics and audience at and is widely considered to be a hot contender for end-of-year award accolades, and probably an important player in the big show itself, the Oscars.

Argo stars Affleck as the lead character Tony Mendez, Bryan Cranston as his colleague at the Central Intelligence Agency, with Alan Arkin and John Goodman as Hollwyood producers who provide comic relief.

The movie is Affleck's 3rd directorial feature, following 2007's Gone Baby Gone and 2010's The Town, which were both excellent. Argo surpasses both of them and is indeed one of the best pictures of the year. Even though I didn't come up with a list of my favorite films of 2011, without question A Separation would have been my #1 pick. I bring up the winner of the Best Foreign Film Oscar because it was set in Tehran, Iran, whichis where most of the action in Argo also occurs.

However Argo is set in the late 1970s and depicts a now-declassified true story that happened during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-1980. It involves a group of six American workers at the United States embassy who managed to escape before it was overrun by Iranian students and thus escaped being taken hostage for 444 days like the other Americans. Instead, President Carter approved a stranger-than-fiction secret "exfiltration" mission by the CIA to have Affleck's character go to Tehran impersonating a Hollywood film producer who wanted to film "Argo: A Science Fantasy" in Iran and leave the country by plane with the six Americans in tow. This explains the tag line on the poster for Argo: "The movie was fake, the mission was real."

The movie is well-directed, very entertaining and is incredibly suspenseful (surprisingly so, since we pretty much know the result that the Americans get away). It is also pretty funny, with Goodman and Arkin taking insider jabs at the Hollywood film-making process, which is amusing, since Argo is at its heart a big Hollywood movie, after all.

Argo should definitely be on your list of movies to see this holiday season!

Title: Argo.
Director: Ben Affleck.
Running Time: 2 hours.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some violent images.
Release Date: October 12, 2012.
Viewing Date: November 7, 2012.

Writing: A-.
Acting: A.
Visuals: A+.
Impact: A-.

Overall Grade: A/A- (3.917/4.0).

WA Ref. 74 Near 54-46 Win For Marriage Equality

The passage of Washington's Referendum 74 was known sometime last week when the heterosexual supremacists conceded and preliminary election results showed a decisive 52%-48% victory for marriage equality.

Washington is now a 100% vote-by-mail state now so their election results take a little bit longer to be finalized. The very latest results (from November 21) show that Referendum 74 is being approved by over 225,000 out of well over 3 million votes, with 1,652,306 in favor of marriage equality and 1,426,742 against it, which in percentages is 53.66% to 46.34%.

The other states where marriage equality also passed currently indicate that in Maine Question 1 passed 52.59% to 47.41% (369,220 to 332,904 although bizarrely the Maine Secretary of State does not have easily accessible online election results in 2012? #FAIL!). In Maryland Question 6 passed 52.4% to 47.6% (1,373,504 to 1,246,045).

In Minnesota, the attempt to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality failed when only 47.44% of the total votes cast were in favor of the measure, with 1,510,434 No votes and 1,399,916 Yes votes.

I find it fascinating that there are millions and millions of people who voted for marriage equality this year. (Of course in 2008, there were even more people who voted for marriage equality by voting No on Proposition 8 but there were even more millions who voted against it.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Godless Wednesday: Atheists Win Legal Fight Over Nativity Display

Atheists recently won a legal fight in Santa Monica, California about an attempt by Christians to force the display of religious symbols in a public space.
In a case that has drawn national attention, Judge Audrey B. Collins of U.S. District Court in Los Angeles denied a church coalition's request that the court require the city to allow Nativity scenes to be displayed in Palisades Park this year, as it has for nearly 60 years.


Atheist groups praised the judge's ruling as an example of the upholding of the separation of church and state.
"Religion is innately divisive and just doesn't belong in public parks," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis. "There are tax-exempt churches on every other corner. Why isn't that good enough?"
Charles C. Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center and director of the Newseum's Religious Freedom Education Project in Washington, called Collins' decision "consistent with other rulings."
"It's all or nothing in these cases," he said. "If the government opens up and creates a limited forum, it can't practice viewpoint discrimination. But it can say, well, we're not going to have any.... There has to be a level playing field in the public sphere."
This almost certainly will not be the only case decided this year. It is very curious why religious people feel compelled to display symbols of their religion in public spaces but then get annoyed and dismayed when reminded that everyone has free speech rights, and if the government allows one religious display it has to allow equal access to all religions.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance #tdor

Today, November 20th, is the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, also known as TDOR. TDOR is the day to honor the transgender community and remember those who are known to be killed worldwide; there are an estimated 256 trans-identified people murdered this year.

GLAAD has posted a great infographic illustrating a timeline of transgender visibility.

Hat/tip to LGBT Think Progress.

A Gay Republican Mayor of Los Angeles?

Kevin James is a former conservative radio talk-show host and gay Republican who has declared his candidacy for Mayor of Los Angeles. The Mayoral primary election is March 5, 2013 and James is facing off against three other declared Democratic candidates, former City Council president Eric Garcetti, City councilwoman Jan Perry and City Controller Wendy Greuel. Millionaire real-estate developed Rick Caruso declined to join the race in October 2012.

Currently, Garcetti is considered the slight front-runner in the race, which is confirmed by fundraising totals which show him slightly ahead of Greuel and both way ahead of Perry.
Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti has raised $2.87 million for his mayoral bid, edging ahead of City Controller Wendy Greuel by about $72,000 in the search for campaign cash, according to figures released Wednesday by the two campaigns.
Garcetti raised $664,000 in the three months ended Sept. 30, compared with $592,000 collected by Greuel, who has taken in $2.8 million since launching her campaign.
Garcetti reported $2.35 million still available in his coffers, compared with $2.25 million for Greuel.
Meanwhile, Councilwoman Jan Perry reported raising $1.3 million since the start of her campaign, including more than $150,000 over the last three months. Perry said she wasn't worried about her third-place position in the money race.
"I will continue to raise money till election day," Perry said. "And I will have enough money to run my race in a competitive manner."
Former prosecutor Kevin James reported collecting a campaign total of $275,090 as of the end of last month. A fifth candidate, tech company executive Emanuel Pleitez, reported raising slightly more than $110,000 since joining the race in July.
If no candidate gets more than 50% on March 5, there will be a run-off between the two top vote-getters on May 21, 2013 (my birthday!)

The latest wrinkle in the money race is a report this weekend that a Super PAC run by a Republican political operative says it may spend $4 million to promote Kevin James' candidacy.
Looking to dramatically tip the scales in the race for Los Angeles' next mayor, a nationally prominent Republican media strategist has formed a "super PAC" that aims to spend millions of dollars to elect dark-horse mayoral candidate Kevin James.
Fred Davis, a GOP advertising man who has worked on campaigns for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Senate hopeful Carly Fiorina and former President George W. Bush, said the Better Way LA committee has raised nearly $500,000 on behalf of James and plans to collect at least $3.5 million more.
Will Republicans in Los Angeles (and California) really rally behind a openly gay candidate for Mayor? And is Kevin James going to become the first openly LGBT head of a major city after openly lesbian Annise Parker of Houston?

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is termed out and can not run for re-election.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Czech Republic Wins 2012 Fed Cup and Davis Cup

The Czech Republic has completed an historic sweep of the annual international team tennis competitions known as the David Cup and Fed Cup (for men and women, respectively) by winning both titles in 2012.

On Sunday, 32-year-old Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic beat higher-ranked Nicolas Almagro of Spain 6-4 7-6(0) 3-6 6-3 in the fifth and final rubber to clinch the tie 3-2 for the Czech team over Spain, which had won the Davis Cup three of the last five years (2009, 2009, 2011) with its top player Rafael Nadal on the team. This year the Spanish team was anchored by World #5 David Ferrer and Almagro. The Czech team featured Stepanek, World #7 Tomas Berdych and Nadal-killer Lukas Rosol.

Amazingly, just about two weeks ago, in the women's competition the Czech team anchored by lefties Petra Kvitova and Lucie Safarova was able to defend their 2011 Fed Cup title by defeating Serbia 3-1 when Safarova defeated former World #1 Jelena Jankovic 6-1 6-1.

The Czech Republic also won the 2012 Hopman Cup, which is a much lower profile mixed doubles tournament which happens a few weeks before the Australian Open at the very beginning of the tennis season. This year's Hopman Cup-winning team consisted of Kvitova and Berdych.

Queer Quote: Sen. Rubio Doesn't Know Earth's Age

Marco Rubio is a first-term Republican United States Senator from Florida (elected in 2010), who is widely expected to run for President in 2016 or in the future. He's young (41 years old), Latino (Cuban-American), relatively telegenic and conservative enough to be acceptable to the Tea Party wing of the GOP. Rubio was widely believed to be on the shortlist to be Mitt Romney's vice-presidential running mate and was a surrogate for the Romney-Ryan ticket in the all-important state of Florida, incorrectly predicting a Republican win this year's election.

He also is either an idiot, or a religious extremist (basically the same thing, in my opinion). He apparently is willing to embrace creationism and reject basic scientific information about the age of the Earth. He was asked by GQ magazine "How old do you think the Earth is?" and his response is today's Queer Quote:
"I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries."
This is an absolutely unacceptable answer by a serious politician on the national stage who has aspersions of even higher office. The Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old. This number is not in dispute among any reputable scientists. To deny this fact is an assault on reason and science.

I would also strongly dispute the claim that knowing (or not) the age of the planet has no impact on the United States economy. Our economy depends on increasing the number of people in the workforce who are educated and informed about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Such informed people will know how old the Earth is, and will make important contributions to the future of the country.

Clearly, Rubio did not get the memo issued by (another 2016 presidential hopeful) Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana that the GOP needs to "stop being the stupid party."

I'd love to see how old Governor Jindal and Governor Chris Christie think the Earth is?

Eye Candy: Jason Beam

Jason Beam is a guy I found over at the Gorgeous Sexy Guys blog, always a good resource when looking for potential new Eye Candy. He definitely falls into the category of "cute white boys." According to information on the web, Jason is 32 years old (born in 1980) and s 5'10"-11" tall and weighs 176 pounds.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Black Gay Blogger Elected to Maine State House!

Craig Hickman, elected Maine State Representative!
There are so many election results from around the country from Tuesday November 6 that it is taking awhile to catch up on all the good news. Regular readers of this blog will know that I covered the race of the 51st Assembly District of California between my friend (and fellow LGBT activist) Luis Lopez and Jimmie Gomez fairly closely (especially since I live in the district and I tend to support openly LGBT candidates).

However, I just learned that my fellow openly gay, Black blogger Craig Hickman (who created the Craig Hickman's Tennis Blog that I post my Grand Slam predictions to) has been elected to the Maine House of Representatives! Hickman, a 44-year-old Democrat, won with 2,915 votes to 2,057 votes for Republican Scott Davis in the 82nd House District, which covers the towns of Winthrop and Readfield.

Here is a short bio for Hickman:
Hickman is the son of a Tuskegee Airman and a wise woman. He’s also a Harvard graduate, President of the Rotary Club of the Winthrop Area, National Poetry Slam champion, award-winning author, chef, and founder of Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog. He grows the best collards, tomatoes, okra, beets and butternut squash around. People call his eggs magic. He’ll bring his unparalleled passion for life and his strong, independent voice to Augusta to fight for the people of Maine and move us toward prosperity.
By winning election, Hickman becomes one of the very few Black LGBT people ever elected as a state representative in this country. I know of approximately a half-dozen openly gay, African-Americans who are currently serving as state legislators: Marcus Brandon of North Carolina,  Gordon Fox of Rhode Island, Mary Washington of Maryland and Simone Bell and Keshia Waites of Georgia. Hickman's achievement is even more impressive in that he was not associated with the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the national organization devoted to promoting and supporting the election of LGBT politicians around the United States.

Jason Bartlett of Connecticut and Rashad Taylor of Georgia used to be state legislators but are no longer in office.

Hat/tip to Tennis Now

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Saturday Politics: 5 State Houses Have LGBT Heads

Tina Kotek, 46, will become the first lesbian to head a
 state legislative body in the United States
As a result of the elections in blue states in which Democrats made significant gains, opportunities have opened up for openly LGBT people in state legislatures to assume historic leaderships positions. Before the election, Gordon Fox of Rhode Island and John Perez of California were the only openly LGBT heads of state legislative bodies.

Since then Mark Ferrandino of Colorado, Tina Kotek of Oregon and Ed Murray of Washington have all been selected by their peers to lead the respective caucuses of their state legislative bodies. Ferrandino was selected to become the first openly gay Speaker of the Colorado House, Murray was selected to become the first openly gay Majority Leader of the Washington State Senate and Kotek became the first lesbian to head a legislative body, the Oregon house.

Local television station KATU reports:
Kotek said she didn't set out to break barriers but is honored to represent the gay community. It's important for the gay community to have role models in leadership positions, she said.

"We all look for people out there who look like us," she said.

"I have had emails and text messages from people who are very excited," Kotek said. "I think any time you have a 'first' it's an important thing for the community."

Kotek has represented a liberal district in the heart of Portland since 2007. She became the No. 2 leader in the Oregon House in 2011 after convincing her Democratic colleagues to oust her predecessor following a legislative session that left many of them frustrated by Republican successes. She oversaw campaign efforts that helped her party pick up four House seats and grab the majority last week.

Kotek ran unopposed for speaker, and her colleagues selected her for the job in a closed-door meeting Thursday evening. She won't formally take over as speaker until the new Legislature convenes in January.
"Now the real work begins," Kotek said in a statement after the vote. "Oregon continues to face many serious challenges, and the public is counting on us to tackle them head on." 
More LGBT history made in 2012!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

POLL: Nationwide Support For Marriage Equality

A new poll from ABC News/Washington Post has progressives like myself smiling because they show majority support for the liberal position on immigration reform and marriage equality with marijuana legalization very closely split.

After last Tuesday's results which showed that in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington majorities of voters supported the pro-marriage equality position at the ballot it is not surprising that a new poll shows that 51% if respondents support marriage equality versus 47% who oppose it.
GAY MARRIAGE – Fifty-one percent of Americans support gay marriage, slightly more than half for the fifth time straight in ABC/Post polls since March 2011, and up sharply from its levels in similar questions earlier this decade, as low as 32 percent (of registered voters) in mid-2004. 

More in this survey are “opposed” to gay marriage, 47 percent, than said in recent polls that it should be “illegal” (39 percent last May), likely because making something illegal is more punitive than opposing it personally. 
While 30 states have constitutionally banned gay marriage, voters approved pro-gay marriage ballot initiatives in Maryland, Maine and Washington last week, and those in Minnesota rejected a constitutional ban on it. Obama announced his personal support for gay marriage in May, saying individual states should decide on its legality. 
Last week’s exit poll found voters similarly divided, 49-46 percent, on gay marriage. Supporters favored Obama over Mitt Romney by 73-25 percent. And Obama won gay and lesbian voters, 5 percent of the electorate, by 76-22 percent, vs. 70-27 percent in 2008. 
Support for gay marriage in this poll tops out at more than three in four liberals and more than six in 10 young adults and Democrats. It’s opposed by a broad 81 percent of those who describe themselves as “very conservative,” and by two-thirds of senior citizens.
This is just another example of how the electorate did not just reject Mitt Romney as a candidate, but conservative ideology as a political philosophy. It will be interesting to see how they react.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Obama Picks Out Gay Black Male As Federal Judge

William L. Thomas

President Obama is continuing to make history with his judicial nominations. On Wednesday the White House announced that the President has selected Florida Circuit Court judge William L. Thomas to become a United States district court judge for the Southern District of Florida, the first openly gay, black male to receive such a prestigious nomination.

The first openly gay, Black female judge was nominated by President Bill Clinton way back in 1992. Her name is Deborah Batts and for decades she was the only openly LGBT members of the federal judiciary.

Here's his official biography from the White House announcement:
Judge William L. Thomas:  Nominee for the United States District Court for the Southern District of FloridaJudge William L. Thomas has served as a Circuit Judge in Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit since 2005, where he has presided over both civil and criminal matters.  For seven years, from 1997 to 2005, he served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in the Southern District of Florida, where he represented indigent clients in federal criminal cases.  Judge Thomas began his legal career as an Assistant Public Defender at the Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office in 1994.  He received his J.D. in 1994 from the Temple University School of Law and his B.A. in 1991 from Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania.
From his graduation in 1991 one could estimate the judge's age to be about 43 or 42 years old. Congratulations to Judge Thomas! (May his confirmation be quick and unanimous!)

Hat/tip to Chris Geidner.

Godless Wednesday: Lone Atheist Loses House Seat

Congressman Pete Stark has long been identified as the lone member of Congress to openly associate himself with the label "atheist." Stark had represented a district in Northern California in the U.S. House since 1973(!) but in last week's congressional election he lost an all-Democrat match-up (courtesy California's new top 2 general election format) to Eric Salwell by almost 10,000 votes.

Interestingly, Kyrsten Sinemathe first openly bisexual person elected to Congress (that we have been following on this blog since she won her primary earlier this year) has reportedly flirted with being an openly atheist member as well. She won her race (over a Black male Republican!) by a mere 6,000 votes and for several days after the election it was too close to call.

During her race Sinema described herself as a "notnheist" but now her campaign spokesperson is claiming the Congressperson-elect is rejecting that label.

While Sinema's campaign was initially unavailable for comment after Tuesday's election, spokesman Justin Unga said Friday that Sinema does not consider herself a nonbeliever, adding that she prefers a "secular approach.'' 
"Kyrsten believes the terms non-theist, atheist or nonbeliever are not befitting of her life's work or personal character,'' Unga said in email. "She does not identify as any of the above."

And doesn't that just speak volumes? After making headlines all over the country (and world) as the first openly bisexual person elected to the United States lower legislative body, Sinema apparently feels like it would be a "bridge too far" to also be known as someone who is also godless.

Hat/tip to Friendly Atheist

LOOK: The Partisan Racial Divide in the 2012 Vote

The Washington Post's The Fix summarizes the Republican Party's current and future problems in winning elections at the national level by demonstrating the partisan racial divide in the 2012 exit polls of the presidential vote.
That only 11 percent of Republicans’ total vote came from non-whites tells you everything you need to know about the large-scale demographic challenges that Republicans must confront. (The fact that 44 percent of all Democratic votes came from non-whites paints the Republican challenge in even starker terms.) That the white vote as a total of the overall votes has declined in every election since 1992 and dropped to just 72 percent in 2012 just adds to Republicans’ problems.
Hat/tip to The Fix

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The New U.S. Map Of Marriage Equality

The New York Times reports on the current map for marriage equality and analyzes what is in store in the near future for marriage equality in the United States:
Nine states and Washington, D.C., have now legalized same-sex marriage. Though it remains unpopular in the South, rights campaigners see the potential for legislative gains in Delaware; Hawaii; Illinois; Rhode Island; Minnesota, where they beat back a restrictive amendment last Tuesday; and New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in February.
Beyond seeking repeal of Oregon’s marriage amendment, rights activists feel they can win in a repeat ballot in California if the courts do not first invalidate Proposition 8, the 2008 referendum that banned same-sex marriage, but faces a legal challenge.
It is true that the next bridge to cross will be the repeal of a previously passed constitutional ban on marriage equality. It is likely that will either happen in Oregon or California.

If the courts don't eliminate Proposition 8 for us first I would support going forward with a ballot measure to repeal it in 2014, as long as my three previous pre-conditions are met (polling showing support for marriage equality at 50% above the margin of error, significant cash on hand for the campaign at the beginning and a comprehensive, inclusive plan for how the organization running the campaign would be structured and managed).

Hat/tip to Joe.My.God

2012 ATP TOUR FINALS: Djokovic Wins 2nd Crown

Defying my prediction and their previous career head-to-head record World #1 Novak Djokovic defeated World #2 Roger Federer 7-6(6) 7-5 to win  the 2012 ATP World Tour Finals in London. Djokovic came back from being down an early break in both sets and even saved 2 set points in the second set to win the set and thus the match.

Djokovic's 75th match win of the year (4 more than Federer) cemented his hold on the #1 spot and could propel him to a third consecutive year-end #1. It was his 6th ATP Tour title of the year, matching Federer's total, and 34th career title.  It was Djokovic's 2nd year-end championship, a title he had won before in 2008.

The Federer-Djokovic rivalry was ever present in 2012, where they played 5 times, with 3 being won by Djokovic. They split the finals 1-1 as well as the grand slam meetings. Djokovic's win raised his career head to head to 13 wins and 16 losses in the 29 times they have met so far, including 25 consecutive times in either finals or semifinals. It will be interesting to see if the 31-year-old Federer will still remain competitive with his 25-year-old rivals (Djokovic and Andy Murray) in 2013 and beyond.

7 Days After Election: Geography of the Vote

The presidential election is over (although votes are still being counted) and President Obama has won with 332 electoral votes to Romney-Ryan's 206. Florida was finally called for the Bue team sometime on the weekend.

The graphics above show the geographic distribution of the electoral college votes (which decide the election) by state and the popular vote for President by county. It just goes to show you that there are lots of very large counties (in rural areas) which are overwhelmingly Republican while overwhelmingly Democratic counties tend to be compact (in urban areas).

Monday, November 12, 2012

Obama's Vote % of White People and Uneducated

There are some interesting analyses of the presidential vote which illustrate the contours of President Obama's re-election victory and the characteristics of the coalition he brought together to carry him to 332 electoral votes and nearly 51% of the popular vote.

Previously I had blogged about the crucial role of the LGB population (5% of the electorate) voting 76% to 22% for Obama-Biden 2012 but today I want to talk about the people who did NOT vote for the President.

The graphic at the top of this post indicates that all of the top 10 states that have the highest percentages of people with college degrees (MA, MD, CO, CT, VT, NJ, VA, NY, MN) voted for Obama, while 9 of the bottom 10 (WV, MS, AR, KY, LA, AL, IN, TN, OK) voted for Romney-Ryan 2012.

Additionally, Charles Blow in The New York Times noted some other interesting features of the election results:
 This year was the first presidential election in which there were more Asian-American voters (11 percent) in California than African-American ones (8 percent). In 2008, 6 percent were Asian-American and 10 percent were African-American. In fact, there were more Asian-American voters than African-American voters in Washington and Oregon, the other two Pacific Coast states, this year, too. 
In fact, Obama won the white vote only in states with small minority voting populations. The others Obama won were Iowa (93 percent white), New Hampshire (93 percent white), Oregon (88 percent white), Connecticut (79 percent white) and Washington State (76 percent white). 
 Obama won all four states that begin with “New” (New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York), but he lost all five that begin with a direction (North Carolina, South Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia).
It's interesting that conservatives have been focussing on how how people of color voted for the first Black president but they haven't noticed how places (in)famous for unapologetic racial prejudice voted overwhelmingly for Mitt Romney. For example, Obama won a mere 10% of the white vote in Mississippi.

Hat/tip to Wonder Man and Sentient Meat.

Eye Candy: Denham Ravi (reprise)

Denham Ravi is a 28-year-old fitness model of Sri Lankan descent who lives in Australia. He's appeared briefly as Eye Candy here before (on March 23, 2009). He lists himself as 5'10" and 172 pounds on a bodybuilding website, and he does have an amazing physique. However, to me his best asset is his stunning coloring: the jet black hair with very white teeth and a honeyed skin tone that glows with health.

As we say around here, "Hawt is hawt!"


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