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Breaking: Olson asks 9th Circuit to lift stay on lower court ruling
Created: Friday, 25 February 2011 00:07
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
by Lisa Keen
Theodore Olson, lead attorney for the lawsuit challenging California's same-sex marriage ban, announced Wednesday, February 23 that he is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift a stay on a district court ruling that found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
The request, if granted, would enable same-sex couples to marry immediately.
Olson said he filed a motion last Thursday with the California Supreme Court to schedule oral arguments sooner than September on an issue of standing it has been asked to decide for the 9th Circuit.
He said they filed a motion Wednesday, February 23, to ask that the 9th Circuit's previous order staying the district court decision be lifted.
"Further delay is intolerable," said Olson.
"We're going on almost a year since it was held unconstitutional," noted co-counsel David Boies, referring to the August 4, 2010, ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Olson said he and Boies are "very gratified by the developments today from the Department of Justice" but did not make clear whether the request to lift the stay on the California ruling was triggered by the DOJ statement. However, he clearly feels the DOJ announcement enhances the possibility the 9th Circuit might consider lifting the stay.
On Wednesday morning, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department would no longer defend the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in two federal court cases.
"These bans are clearly unconstitutional," said Boies, referring not only to California's Proposition 8 but similar bans in other states.
"We would hope that states would recognize the unconstitutionality of those bans and establish marriage equality without the necessity of litigation state by state. ... It is now overwhelmingly clear that these discriminatory laws are unconstitutional."
I don't believe President Obama still has to "evolve" on the freedom to marry for gays and lesbians. The president is the most supportive president in history on LGBT issues. This week's historic announcementthat the DOJ will no longer defend Section 3 of DOMA is more proof.
I don't buy it, because we have the president on record when he was in the Illinois legislature "unequivocally" supporting marriage.
I don't believe a man with a Harvard education in constitutional law "struggles" with same sex couples marrying. The concept is not a difficult one to grasp for people with even the slightest amount of intellectual curiosity.
I saw him hug members of our community when he signed the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He was not afraid to embrace gay men in celebration. He is not a homophobic person. As his administration continues to move forward, he continues to prove that he can keep his promises to the LGBT community. Yes, there is more to do like pass a jobs and housing anti-discrimination bill, but I believe he will keep his promise on that when he sees the opportunity to win.
I don't believe his bluff on marriage. I think he always supported the freedom to marry, but he just has not admitted it nationally. Why?
(Reuters) - The Maryland State Senate passed legislation on Thursday night to allow same-sex marriage.
The Civil Marriage Protection Act, approved by the heavily Democratic Senate on a 25-21 vote with strong support from the majority party, would effectively legalize gay marriage without forcing religious clergy to conduct marriages of which they disapproved. It had narrowly passed two preliminary stages of approval.
Senator Richard S. Madaleno Jr., a Montgomery County Democrat and the senate's first openly gay member, hailed the vote as historic.
"It demonstrates our commitment to civil rights and equality to all," he said in an email to supporters. "The House of Delegates should act swiftly to provide loving families across our state with the dignity and respect we deserve."
He said the bill is the same as a similar act in Washington, D.C., in that it exempts religious leaders from performing ceremonies if they object to same-gender marriage.
The next step is up to the Maryland House, expected to begin a hearing on the bill on Friday.
One House member, Heather Mizeur, another Montgomery County Democrat, believes her party is probably a couple of votes short of having 71 absolute commitments for the bill.
The Democrats hold a 98-43 majority in the House, but Mizeur says some party members are reluctant to vote for the bill because of religious beliefs, or because they are concerned about narrow margins of victory in the last election.
Still, Mizeur, also openly gay, said: "I have every confidence that when the votes are counted we will win."
Opponents of the bill could not be reached immediately for comment.
Maryland would become the sixth state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry if the legislation is approved and signed into law.
The senate vote came a day after President Obama told the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act opposing same-sex marriage because he believes it is unconstitutional.
Gaga Using “Born This Way” Proceeds to Fight Bullying
Created: Thursday, 24 February 2011 12:06
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
Posted on Advocate.com February 24, 2011
Lady Gaga popped by The Gayle King Show to talk about “Born This Way,” the accompanying video(s), and her new album — and the talk show host greeted her while still in her Spanx.
“Gaga didn’t even blink — she went, ‘Oh, hi, you look great,’” King said. “Like it’s normal for someone to be greeting you in their underwear, Gaga.”
The two then moved on to more serious topics, starting with her meat dress (Gaga likens it to wearing leather) and the amount of scrutiny placed on her appearance.
“I always like to say people take me too seriously and not seriously enough all at the same time,” Gaga said.
King noted that “Born This Way” is the first time she’s ever heard the word “transgender” used in a song, and the two talked about Gaga’s reasons for speaking to those who have been bullied.
“I really wanted to make a record that was unapologetic and quite literal and really to the point,” Gaga said. She said she wanted to create a cultural, religious experience that doesn’t dance around the issues with poetry or sex.
Gaga also told King there will be two videos for “Born This Way” and she will be releasing a stripped-down version of the song, the proceeds from which she will donate to an organization that fights antigay bullying. Listen here.
Kazaky: LOVE (Official Video)
Created: Wednesday, 23 February 2011 23:57
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
Ukrainian delights, Oleg, Arthur, Stas and Cyril (Kazaky), are back with 'Love" in their latest video. Shot by Yevgeniy Timokhin, who also directed "In The Middle," "Love" brings with it the 'brevity, elegant choreography, elaborate clothing, hyper-sexuality, flamboyant manners and high heels' that these boys are known for. Watch and fall in "Love"...all over again.
Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way' video release date announced
Lady Gaga has officially announced the "Born This Way" video premiere date... and it's sooner than we expected! The video will be first aired online this Monday, Feb. 28 at 11 a.m. EST.
According to gossip blogger Perez Hilton, the video is directed by Nick Knight, famed choreographer Laurieann Gibson, and Lady Gaga herself. Honestly... we just can't wait to see all the weird bumps that will inevitably be poking out of her body.
In the meantime, we're going to keep watching this adorable video of Gaga fan Maria Lourdes Aragon doing a beautiful cover of "Born This Way." We're obsessed.
HONOLULU – Despite battling a cold, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie got out of his sick bed today to sign the Rainbow State’s civil unions bill into law.
Abercrombie, a Democrat, said the new law would truly make all Hawaiians equal.
He said Hawaii “does not let diversity divide us.”
“This bill represents equal rights for everybody in Hawaii,” Abercrombie said just before formally signing the bill. the Rainbow State will join 13 other states plus Washington, D.C., with laws providing an expansive form of state-level relationship recognition for gay and lesbian couples.
Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C., provide marriage to same-sex couples under state law.
New York and Maryland recognize out-of-jurisdiction same-sex marriages, but do not provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples in state.
Five other states — California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington — provide same-sex couples with access to almost of all the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships. A new law providing for civil unions in Illinois will take effect on June 1.
Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, and Wisconsin provide gay and lesbian couples with limited rights and benefits, not all rights provided to married couples. An attorney general opinion and subsequent court ruling in Rhode Island resulted in limited recognition of out-of-jurisdiction marriages of same-sex couples. California recognized marriage for same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. Couples married during that window remain married under California law, but all other same-sex couples can only receive a domestic partnership within the state. The state will recognize out-of-jurisdiction same-sex marriages that occurred before Nov. 5, 2008 as marriages and those that occurred on or after Nov. 5, 2008 as similar to domestic partnerships.
Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and benefits in any state. For an electronic map showing where marriage equality stands in the states, visit HERE.
Obama: DOMA Unconstitutional, DOJ Should Stop Defending In Court
Created: Wednesday, 23 February 2011 16:10
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
AP/The Huffington Post First Posted: 02/23/11 12:21 PM Updated: 02/23/11 06:56 PM
WASHINGTON -- In a major policy reversal, the Obama administration said Wednesday it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.
Attorney General Eric Holder said President Barack Obama has concluded that the administration cannot defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. He noted that the congressional debate during passage of the Defense of Marriage Act "contains numerous expressions reflecting moral disapproval of gays and lesbians and their intimate and family relationships - precisely the kind of stereotype-based thinking and animus the (Constitution's)Equal Protection Clause is designed to guard against."
The Justice Department had defended the act in court until now.
"Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed" the Defense of Marriage Act, Holder said in a statement. He noted that the Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional and that Congress has repealed the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said Obama himself is still "grappling" with his personal view of gay marriage but has always personally opposed the Defense of Marriage Act as "unnecessary and unfair."
Holder wrote to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, that Obama has concluded the Defense of Marriage Act fails to meet a rigorous standard under which courts view with suspicion any laws targeting minority groups who have suffered a history of discrimination.
Pop superstar Lady Gaga met with top Target executives to press for more support for LGBT organizations before inking an exclusive deal with the retailer. A company spokesman says Target's new political giving procedures were in part a response to a recent flap over donations to anti-gay candidates. Still, Target won't rule out donations to anti-gay candidates in the future. Billboard.biz
Military 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal training under way
Created: Tuesday, 22 February 2011 16:30
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
By Larry Shaughnessy, CNN
February 19, 2011 -- Updated 1521 GMT (2321 HKT)
All four branches are following a three-step approach to the training as the military works toward removing itself from the "don't ask, don't tell policy."
The first part focuses on training experts -- service members responsible for the administration of the new policy such as chaplains, lawyers and recruiters. The second step involves training senior leaders, including the highest-ranked officers and enlisted men and women in the services. Finally, the rank and file troops will be trained.
All uniformed military personnel and civilians in a position in which they supervise troops are required to undergo the training.
The Marine Corps was the first branch to begin training and expects to be finished before the end of May, according to Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Brian Block.
The Army started its training Thursday with Gen. George Casey, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, leading many of his four-star generals through the guidance during a meeting at the Pentagon. It plans to complete training for all soldiers by the middle of August, according to a statement published online.
The Air Force began its training this week and plans to have it complete by this summer, according to Maj. Joel Harper, an Air Force spokesman.
The Navy began its training earlier this month and has set a goal for completion by June 30.
Many service members will receive their training via computer, including slides, narration, vignettes and frequently asked questions. Hypothetical scenarios are included in the curriculum and are used to question service members on how the new law should be applied in those situations.
-- All four branches of the U.S. military have begun the training required as part of the repeal of the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the armed forces, and expect to have it completed before the end of summer.
More companies paying for surgery to change sex
Created: Tuesday, 22 February 2011 16:22
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
By LISA LEFF
updated 2/21/2011 4:37:11 PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO — When Gina Duncan decided to undergo the medical treatment that would make her a woman, she had plenty to fear. The reactions of her children, her professional colleagues and friends. How her body would respond to hours on the operating table. If, at the end of it, she would look female enough so strangers wouldn't gawk.
What the Orlando mortgage banker didn't have to be anxious about was how she would pay for two of her surgeries. Her employer of 10 years, Wells Fargo, included breast augmentation and genital reconstruction as coverable expenses under its employee health plan. Duncan was told the San Francisco-based bank already had had 16 other employees transition to new genders and assigned a benefits specialist to walk her through the process.
"They had a template in place, and it was surprisingly supporting and mentally encouraging," said Duncan, 55, who four years later still works for Wells Fargo. "So much of what I'd heard involved people who ended up losing their job, losing their family, losing their friends, becoming destitute."
With little fanfare, more and more large corporations, including Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup andWalt Disney, have expanded their insurance coverage to meet the needs of transgender workers. The trend follows a concerted push by transgender rights advocates to get employers and insurers to see sex reassignment the way the American Medical Association does — as a medically indicated rather than an optional procedure.
The California Supreme Court Agrees to hear Prop. 8 question From 9th Circuit
Created: Tuesday, 22 February 2011 16:08
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
The California Supreme Court voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to decide a question of state law in the Proposition 8 case now pending before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Prop. 8 trial watchers have been waiting anxiously to see if the California Supreme Court would take the question posed to them by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The question is whether the state high court thinks the proponents of Prop. 8 have the legal standing to defend the constitutional amendment in the higher federal court.
That’s important because the government-defenders—the public officials named in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger—have refused to defend Prop 8. If the Prop. 8 proponents do not have legal standing, then the ruling by District Court Judge Vaughn Walker that Prop 8 is unconstitutional could stand.
Lambda Legal’s Jenny Pizer noted in a statement that the Prop. 8 proponents “are not law enforcers, and have the same limited rights as everyone else to litigate only when their own rights are at stake, not merely to assert their opinions about others' rights."
The California court is expediting the case, with opening briefs on the merits to be delivered on or before Monday, March 14. The court could hear oral arguments as early as this September.
This spring, 2(x)ist introduces Neon, a collection of men's underwear inspired by digital culture with bursts of bright color. Neon makes a bold color statement with extra comfort. Available in a variety of low-rise silhouettes, Neon is made with soft-fle(x) cotton, one of the softest stretch cotton fabrics available.
Not to mention the Model Andre Ziehe is a sight to see.
By The POZ Staff on February 18, 2011 10:59 AM By Trenton Straube (Copy Editor, POZ)
Lady Gaga's latest hit single "Born This Way" must be the most overtly pro-gay song to perch atop the Billboard Hot 100, where it currently waves like a rainbow flag on a Pride float. (You can read the lyrics at the end of this post).
Though her message to love and express yourself has been labeled a "gay anthem" linked to LGBT causes--for example, to counter gay teen suicides--Gaga's empowering dance track also does double duty as a battle cry against HIV/AIDS.
How? Simply put, LGBT people who love and respect themselves are less likely to put themselves at risk for HIV, compared with those who are struggling with their sexuality or who are rejected by their communities. This is because those who aren't empowered and accepted are more susceptible to drug and alcohol abuse, to depression, low self-esteem, homelessness, unhealthy sexual relationships and myriad other factors that increase one's risk for contracting the virus.
What's more, the very title "Born This Way" is a powerful rebuke to the ex-gay movement. This fundamentalist religious ideology posits that LGBT people are not born this way, baby. Indeed, the ex-gay theory goes, same-sex attractions result from childhood trauma, sexual abuse or unhealthy relationships with parents. This, in turn, means that being gay can be overcome with reparative therapy and the power of God.
Gaga's not having it. She opens "Born This Way" by stating: "It doesn't matter if you love him, or capital H-I-M, just put your paws up, 'Cause you were born this way, baby."
Amen. And by the way, this ex-gay ideology is not a fringe belief system to be snickered at by those of us lucky enough to live out, loud and proud lives. Its dangerous premise continues to devastate individuals, families and communities (Uganda, anyone?) while helping spread HIV in the process. For more details, click here to read POZ's recent cover story linking the ex-gay movement with the spread of HIV.
Of course, Gaga isn't the first artist on the planet to trumpet loving yourself and living a healthy life. Back in the day--1977 to be exact--openly gay singer Carl Bean had a hitdisco anthem titled "I Was Born This Way" (and Bean's version itself was a remake of a 1975 track by Valentino; the chorus goes "I'm happy, I'm carefree and I'm gay / I was born this way"). Bean went on to found the Minority AIDS Project and is now the archbishop of the Unity Fellowship Church in Los Angeles.
But has any celebrity ever sang about HIV and queer equality backed by the star-wattage of Gaga? The week after launching her track, an alien-looking Gaga appeared on Good Morning America wearing what she described as a "latex and condom-inspired outfit." But there's a method to her madness. She was there to speak about the MAC AIDS Fund, for which she's a spokesperson.
Tyler Clementi. Asher Brown. Seth Walsh. Justin Aaberg. Raymond Chase. Five gay teenagers who ended their own lives after relentless bullying and torment. In the devastating wake of these tragedies, family and friends were left to ask the tough questions. “Could I have prevented this?”; “Where was the school involvement?”; and probably the most heart-wrenching, “What was the last thought that went through their mind?”
The Cutting Edge Theater Project, Fresno’s newest boutique theater company, seeks to answer these questions with their premiere show, The Wretched Void.
A demand for acceptance and equality, The Wretched Void is a show aimed at both straight and gay audience members. Void provides a window into the intimate details of these tragedies, as well as a mirror charging audience members to examine their own prejudices and beliefs.
He sits at a table with his fingers encircled around the tail of a glass filled with Smirnoff. He is at a Kampala nightspot and has dissolved into the crowd, looking just like any other reveller. What most people at the bar would not know however, is that he, plus a couple of his colleagues at the venue, is homosexual. He demands that his identity is hidden if he is to be quoted in the papers instead; he proposes a pseudonym, Alan Mukasa.
He gives off no signs that he is gay. He’s not dressed in a tight fitting pair of jeans, commonly known as skinnies, his hair is a natural un-treated neatly trimmed black, he has no studs or earrings, wears no make-up or anything that may attract undue attention to him. “It’s a security precaution one has to take,” he says. “The best way to hide is to fit in.
Be as ordinary as everyone else and there will not be many questions to ask, and answers to give,” he adds. There is an ever-present sense of consciousness that runs on autopilot in the Ugandan gay man’s mind, Mukasa says. But that was before the murder of gay rights activist, David Kisule Kato last month, which, as Mukasa says, “Forces you to ask yourself whether you have watched your back well.”
Mukasa and Sam Musiime (also not real name), say the gay Ugandan living in the closet now has to add even more latches and keep the world away from the skeletons. “The aftermath of David Kato Kisule’s death is a strange atmosphere of confusion, fear, sadness, shock, and terror,” Musiime says, adding, “After watching a pastor deliver a less than savoury hate speech at his funeral, all I could think is, ‘they must think we are all mad’.”
Musiime and Mukasa are both in their late 20s and have kept their orientation a secret from many for nearly a decade now. “You tell no one. Only gay people like you ever get to know, and even then, you watch which gay person gets to find out because they too could sell you out, accidentally or not,” Musiime says. “The key is to ease into society as much as possible, behave like everyone else, even flirt with girls to portray the usual boy look,” Musiime says.