Daniel Hernandez, Jr., the gay intern credited with saving the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords when she was shot in the head in Tucson, will sit next to First Lady Michelle Obama at the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. ABC News reports on the arrangement, which happens to coincide with Hernandez’s 21st birthday. His father, Daniel Hernandez, Sr., will also be in attendance.
"I'm both honored and excited to have the opportunity to travel to our nation's Capitol for a once in a lifetime event,” said the younger Hernandez. “Also the chance to bring my father along for his first trip to Washington, D.C. The State of the Union is a pivotal moment because it is our opportunity to find where we are and where we will be going as a nation in this upcoming year.”
Gay Parents of All Types in All Places
Created: Monday, 24 January 2011 10:34
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
Jan 24, 2011 at 01:16 pm
If you had to guess which cities have the biggest percentage of gay and lesbian couples raising kids, you might say New York, San Francisco, or Los Angeles – but you'd be wrong. The top spot is San Antonio, Texas.
Using new census data, the Williams Institute at UCLA found that 34% of same-sex couples in San Antonio are raising children under 18. A close second was Jacksonville, Florida, which was highlighted in a recent New York Times article. Also in the top 15 are Raleigh, Houston, Dallas, and Baltimore (you can see the full Top 15 list here.)
The new data serves to clear up some myths about who and where families led by gay parents are. First off, the most common region for same-sex couples is not the west coast or the northeast, but the south. Second, many of those families are minorities – in fact, black or Latino gay couples are twice as likely to be raising children as white couples. And those minority families are more likely to be facing tough economic situations.
In Baltimore, where Freedom to Marry is working with Equality Maryland to win marriage for all loving and committed couples, there are an estimated 1,300 same-sex couples raising children. Equality Maryland Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets pointed out, "Same sex couples have the same joys as concerns as everyone else. The difference is that gay and lesbian couples and their families are deprived of the critical safety-net that comes with marriage.”
Cathleen Falsani (aka God Girl) caused quite a stirhere at HuffPost when she cited my new book "Fall to Grace" as evidence of a potential "great gay awakening" in the evangelical church.
The response was heated: 1,400 posts (and counting) filled with everything from enthusiastic support, to reasoned dissent, to emoticon-happy vitriol. Things got so unruly at Cathleen's own website that she shut down the comments thread and posted an instructional video on how to administer hugs.
This column isn't the space for a blow-by-blow account of the biblical passages on homosexuality. (For that, you'll have to check out my book. Nudge, nudge.) Instead, I'd like to challenge readers with a story about my own struggle to overcome the fear of judgment and live grace.
During a trip to California a few years back, my then-wife Amanda and I were invited out to a drag show by RuPaul, the famous drag queen (recording artist, supermodel, VH1 talk-show host, etc.) who did the voice-over for the 2000 documentary about my mom, The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
The invitation came at a delicate moment in my own spiritual evolution. I was working my way toward becoming a gay-affirming pastor -- someone who welcomes gay people into the church without asking them to compromise their love or lifestyle -- but I hadn't yet declared this position publicly. Frankly, I was really nervous about how the Christian magazines and festival organizers and even some of my Christian friends would react if they knew I'd been to a drag show.
Gay men are better endowed than straight men, radio and TV journalist Faith Sallie told Gayle King on Friday's installment of The Gayle King Show.
It's one of many ways people can tell gay men from straight men, Salie says. The journalist appeared on the show to talk about gaydar, citing David France's 2007 article for New York magazine titled "The Science of Gaydar."
Salie says research is turning up an increasing number of ways in which gay people are different from straight people. Finger length, hair patterns and finger prints are among the other ways in which gay people and straight people differ.
According to Salie, the differences between gay men and lesbians are also significant.
Kameron Jacobsen, a 14-year-old freshman at Monroe Woodbury High School in Orange County, New York, has taken his own life. "Sources" say that Kameron was bullied over Facebook about being perceived as gay — so much so that the company has even released a statement about the boy's death. Kameron's death comes just two weeks after a junior football player also committed suicide.
At the high school they both attended, students tried to make sense of the incomprehensible — that two teens with everything ahead of them seemed to find life too painful. Principal David Bernsley said the sense of loss is excruciating and that they are doing their best to cope. "Our hearts go out to the families," Bernsley said. "We're devastated as a community."
For Jacobsen's family, the grief is beyond measure. Even with his death, online entries still sting. His older sister, Kierten, pleaded that people stop writing "rest in peace" entries and posting personal information about her baby brother.
Facebook issued a statement about the incidents: "We are deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of these students, and our hearts go out to their family and friends. These cases serve as a painful reminder of how people can help others who are either bullied or show signs of distress on Facebook. We encourage them to notify us, and we work with third party support groups including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to reach out to people who may need help. Our Safety Center also contains resources on how to help people who are in danger of harming themselves. These deaths are a loss to many, and it's critical that we all work together to give hope to teens who may be feeling similarly."
A Facebook group mourning his death reads: "Kameron Jacobsen was an amazing kid who went to Monroe Woodbury High School. He made lots of people smile and laugh. Kameron passed away on January 18, 2011. We all love and miss him. R.I.P Kameron." We'll have more details as they come in.
The US Department of Health & Human Services announced an update to the federal Guidelines for treating HIV on January 10, 2011. The revisions are mostly small changes to using certain HIV meds, CD4 counts and viral load test results. Other changes include treating people co-infected with hepatitis B or tuberculosis.
What to Start: changes for people going on treatment for the first time The Guidelines describe several groups of regimens when starting HIV treatment: “preferred”, “alternative”, “acceptable/may be acceptable” and “may be acceptable but used with caution”. The first group includes regimens that generally are more tolerable and the most potent. Each group after begin to have increasingly more disadvantages than the one before it. The new recommendations highlight three changes in first line treatment:
A regimen with Selzentry + Combivir has been upgraded to “acceptable” because of stronger data from a randomized study.
“Selzentry + Truvada “ and “Selzentry + Epzicom” have been added as “may be acceptable”.
In response to a recent product label change to saquinavir (Invirase),
Regimens with Invirase + ritonavir have been downgraded from “alternative “ to “may be acceptable but used with caution” due to increased risk for heart rhythm problems.
Gov. Brown Budget Imposes new cost-sharing on low-income people w/ HIV/AIDS
Created: Friday, 21 January 2011 14:24
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Project Inform today thanked Governor Brown for providing an additional $77.2 million for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) to address growing need, but expressed concern about his proposal to institute cost-sharing for ADAP clients. ADAP provides access to lifesaving HIV medications for over 35,000 low-income Californians living with HIV/AIDS who are uninsured or underinsured. The details regarding the amount of cost-sharing and how it will be imposed have not been decided but research shows that even nominal co-pays can present a real barrier to low-income people accessing their life-saving medication.
“We thank Governor Brown for providing sufficient funding to ensure that California’s ADAP continues to meet the needs of low-income people with HIV/AIDS during this unprecedented fiscal crisis,” said Anne Donnelly, Director of Health Care Policy. “However, we are concerned about the impact of co-payments on ADAP clients. We know that cost-sharing can create real barriers to treatment access and could result in people not getting the medications they need to stay healthy and productive. We also know that the same people who depend on ADAP for a life-saving but limited formulary of drugs have additional, substantial cost sharing in the rest of their medical care. Stable access to HIV treatment and care is vital to achieving the treatment and prevention goals of President Obama’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy. We look forward to working with the Governor and the State Legislature to identify alternative ways of saving money in ADAP that do not disrupt people’s ability to access their medications.”
The federal department of Housing and Urban Development has announced a new policy initiative to prohibit discrimination in housing programs on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
“This is a fundamental issue of fairness,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “We have a responsibility to make certain that public programs are open to all Americans. With this proposed rule, we will make clear that a person’s eligibility for federal housing programs is, and should be, based on their need and not on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
The proposal, according to a HUD press release, would do the following:
Prohibiting lenders from using sexual orientation or gender identity as a basis to determine a borrower’s eligibility for FHA-insured mortgage financing. FHA’s current regulations provide that a mortgage lender’s determination of the adequacy of a borrower’s income “shall be made in a uniform manner without regard to” specified prohibited grounds. The proposed rule would add actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity to the prohibited grounds to ensure FHA-approved lenders do not deny or otherwise alter the terms of mortgages on the basis of irrelevant criteria.
Clarifying that all otherwise eligible families, regardless of marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity, have the opportunity to participate in HUD programs. In the majority of HUD’s rental and homeownership programs the term “family” already has a broad scope, and includes a single person and families with or without children. HUD’s proposed rule clarifies that families, otherwise eligible for HUD programs, may not be excluded because one or more members of the family may be an LGBT individual, have an LGBT relationship, or be perceived to be such an individual or in such relationship.
Prohibiting owners and operators of HUD-assisted housing, or housing whose financing is insured by HUD, from inquiring about the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant for, or occupant of, the dwelling, whether renter- or owner-occupied. HUD is proposing to institute this policy in its rental assistance and homeownership programs, which include the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance programs, community development programs, and public and assisted housing programs.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A government analysis says that discharging gay service members cost the Pentagon nearly $200 million from 2004 to 2009. The money went mainly to recruit and train replacements.
The Government Accountability Office report says it cost an average of $52,800 per discharge. The totals are estimates because of differences in how the military services compile and report budget data.
Congressional investigators say that of the 3,664 service members dismissed for being gay, more than 1,400 held critical jobs or spoke an important foreign language.
President Barack Obama signed a new law in December ending the Pentagon's 17-year-old "don't ask, don't tell" policy and allowing gays to serve openly for the first time in history. That change is not expected to take effect for several months.
U.S. Judge allows gay and lesbian couples' lawsuit against CalPERS to proceed
Created: Friday, 21 January 2011 11:52
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
Bay City News Service
Posted: 01/20/2011 07:05:47 AM PST
Updated: 01/20/2011 07:19:47 AM PST
Three married gay and lesbian couples in which one partner is a state employee have won an important step in their fight for the equal right to buy long-term care insurance from the state's pension system.
In a ruling issued on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland said the couples can proceed with a lawsuit they filed in April against the U.S. Treasury Department and the California Public Employees' Retirement System, known as CalPERS.
Wilken said that two federal laws used to deny the same-sex spouses the right to buy long-term care insurance "do not bear a rational relationship to a legitimate government interest."
The two laws are the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, which bars federal recognition of same-sex marriage, and a section of the Internal Revenue Code that prohibits same-sex spouses from receiving favorable tax treatment for insurance plans.
Wilken did not explicitly strike down the DOMA law, but said it could not be used as a basis for dismissing the lawsuit.
She turned down a bid by the U.S. Justice Department for dismissal and said the case can go to trial.
Several other challenges to DOMA are pending in other U.S. courts, including a ruling in which a federal judge in Boston overturned the measure. That decision is now on appeal.
The three couples in the CalPERS lawsuit - Michael Dragovich and Michael Gaitley, Elizabeth Litteral and Patricia Fitzsimmons, and Carolyn Light and Cheryl Light - were married during a five-month window in 2008 when same-sex marriage was legal in California.
Duran Duran: 'All You Need Is Now' (Official Video)
Created: Thursday, 20 January 2011 01:03
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
WATCH "All You Need Is Now" by Duran Duran, the first single (out of 12 new tracks) from All You Need Is Now, the bands 13th studio album.
One of the things I like about this record,” says Simon Le Bon, “is that it’s unselfconsciously pop, it’s catchy without trying to be. To me, this sounds like an alternative album – and that’s what we were successful for in the first place."
All You Need Is Now is a record, says its producer, “that sounds more energetic and youthful and vibrant than any other band I can imagine of their age making”.
When she declared “gay rights are human rights,” Hillary Clinton elevated the dialogue on LGBT rights around the globe.
In spite of a wave of controversy washing over the U.S. State Department with the release of classified documents, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton granted The Advocate’s Washington correspondent, Kerry Eleveld, an interview just two days before the February issue went to press. Arguably the Obama administration’s most progressive and productive agency on LGBT equality, the State Department, underClinton’s leadership, overhauled discriminatory personnel policies while championing gay rights internationally.
Soon after declaring that “human rights are gay rights, and gay rights are human rights, once and for all” at the State Department’s pride celebration, Clinton began clarifying the department’s LGBT human rights policy to U.S. embassies around the globe. “There is this rising global tide of violence against the LGBT community around the world,” Clintonsays, “and we are taking the lead in confronting the dangers of the lives and the livelihood of LGBT people as they go about their daily lives.”
Still, Secretary Clinton remains unchanged on the issue of full marriage equality. Clinton, recently caught off guard during a recent inquiry on the topic during a visit to Australia, supports civil unions but not full marriage equality. Despite her husband’s recent announcement that he supports full marriage equality, having many committed gay couples among his friends, Clintonsays, “Well, I share his experience because we obviously share a lot of the same friends, but I have not changed my position.”
Nevertheless, Clinton aims to stomp out inequities in her own federal agency and worldwide. “I just really have a strong negative reaction to prejudice, discrimination, hatred, violence–anything that tried to delegitimize or marginalize any of our fellow citizens,” she notes. “So it fits into my long-term and personally felt commitment to expanding the circle of human rights for everyone.”
Read the full cover story, Madame Secretary, at the Advocate.com.
Tom Ford was a shy 25-year-old when he met magazine editor Richard Buckley. It took him the length of an elevator ride to decide he wanted to marry him.
Tom Ford takes to the cover of Out’s February issue, enjoying an intimate kiss with his longtime partner, Richard Buckley. The portrait kicks off an issue dedicated to love, in which a series of striking photographs and stories celebrate gay couples and families, including artist Julie Mehretu and Jessica Rankin, Grizzly Bear musician Ed Droste and Chad McPhail, photographer Catherine Opie and her family of five, and supermodel Tasha Tilberg and Laura Wilson.
In an accompanying first-person story, Ford recalls riding on an elevator with Buckley in 1986, 10 days after first spotting him at a fashion show. “I decided in that elevator ride that I was going to marry him. He ticked every box, and—boom—by the time we got to the floor, I was like, sold. He seemed so together. He was so handsome, he was so connected, he was so grown-up, so he was very intimidating. And he really chased me—not that he had to chase that hard.”
In the same piece Ford also recalls how AIDS overshadowed their burgeoning relationship. “One of the very first people to be diagnosed with what was then called gay cancer, in 1981, was a friend of mine. It completely flipped me out, and from then on, I was extremely safe. It probably saved my life, but it damaged the way I think about sex forever. You just associated sex with death—or at least, I did. If I made a list, I would say that half of our friends from the early ’80s are no longer with us.”
[ KEEP READING: Tom Ford & Richard Buckley Cover Out's Love Issue ]
Hospital visits to extend to same-sex couples
Created: Thursday, 20 January 2011 00:50
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
Monday, January 17, 2011
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- Some new rules on hospital visitation go into effect Tuesday. The new regulations were ordered by the Obama administration and deal with visitation issues affecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
Many hospitals have a relatives-only policy when it comes to seeing certainly critically ill patients. Gay-rights activists have fought for years to gain equal rights and equal access for same-sex couples. The law that goes into effect will now allow that.
Imagine you're hospitalized in critical condition and your loved ones aren't allowed in to see you. It happened at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. A woman was dying and her partner of 17 years and their children were kept out.
"It's horrible and shocking, especially nowadays when we think we've advanced so much and there's these horrible rules that need to be changed," said West Hollywood resident Marcus Ketty.
And they are changing. Because of that case, the president issued new regulations regarding hospital visitation rights. Gay-rights activists say some hospitals often wouldn't allow visitors who weren't related to a patient by blood or marriage. Now a patient can designate anyone they want to visit them regardless of their sexual orientation or status.
"I have seen firsthand how the previous laws have affected people," said West Hollywood resident Myk Browne. "I know people who were in the hospital and couldn't have their partner come and visit them, and just how devastating that is."
And some people said some hospitals won't allow a same-sex partner to make medical decisions for a patient who might be incapacitated.
"It's not the hospital's choice, it's the patient's choice and they should respect their wishes," said Ketty.
"I think it frees up restrictions and gives the citizen more power to make their intelligent choices and logical choices," said West Hollywood resident Abdul Moghrabi.
In the Miami case, the patient's partner was denied access even though all of the legal forms were sent to the hospital. People hope the new law will stop that from ever happening again.
"I think this bodes well for the future of the gay community and for the country, that we're on the right path," said Browne. "That the idea that all Americans are equal and we all share the same rights is truly coming to fruition, and that's a beautiful thing."
But activists say they will only get these rights if the new law is properly enforced. It goes into effect Tuesday.
Miami couple who successfully fought Florida's gay adoption ban officially adopts 2 brothers
Created: Thursday, 20 January 2011 00:45
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
By Associated Press
January 19, 2011, 1:29 p.m By Associated Press MIAMI (AP) — A gay Miami man has officially adopted two brothers after he successfully fought to overturn Florida's three-decade old ban on gay adoptions.
Martin Gill and his partner were the boys' foster parents for six years before the adoption was finalized Wednesday.
Gill and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the state, calling the ban unconstitutional. The 3rd District Court of Appeal agreed in a ruling last year. The state decided not to appeal.
Gill says he is thrilled they are "officially a family in the eyes of the law."
The prohibition was enacted in 1977 and court records indicate it's the only law of its kind in the United States.
The Department of Children and Families changed its forms so adoptive parents aren't asked if they're homosexuals.
Michelle Obama Goes Gay Again
Created: Wednesday, 19 January 2011 17:41
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
Michelle Obama turned heads in an Alexander McQueen dress at the State Dinner honoring the Republic of China Tuesday night.
It’s not the first time the first lady has worn McQueen — but fashion blogs seem to agree it’s the boldest dress she’s ever worn by the late, gay designer.
Obama is often drawn to dresses by gay designers — she put Jason Wu on the map when she wore his dress to the inaugural balls.
Scientists warn California could be struck by winter ‘superstorm’
Created: Tuesday, 18 January 2011 02:29
Written by Joe L. Sosa, Jr
A group of more than 100 scientists and experts say in a new report that California faces the risk of a massive "superstorm" that could flood a quarter of the state's homes and cause $300 billion to $400 billion in damage. Researchers point out that the potential scale of destruction in this storm scenario is four or five times the amount of damage that could be wrought by a major earthquake.
It sounds like the plot of an apocalyptic action movie, but scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey warned federal and state emergency officials that California's geological history shows such "superstorms" have happened in the past, and should be added to the long list of natural disasters to worry about in the Golden State.
The threat of a cataclysmic California storm has been dormant for the past 150 years. Geological Survey director Marcia K. McNutt told the New York Times that a 300-mile stretch of the Central Valley was inundated from 1861-62. The floods were so bad that the state capital had to be moved to San Francisco, and Governor Leland Stanford had to take a rowboat to his own inauguration, the report notes. Even larger storms happened in past centuries, over the dates 212, 440, 603, 1029, 1418, and 1605, according to geological evidence.
The risk is gathering momentum now, scientists say, due to rising temperatures in the atmosphere, which has generally made weather patterns more volatile.
The scientists built a model that showed a storm could last for more than 40 days and dump 10 feet of water on the state. The storm would be goaded on by an "atmospheric river" that would move water "at the same rate as 50 Mississippis discharging water into the Gulf of Mexico," according to the AP. Winds could reach 125 miles per hour, and landslides could compound the damage, the report notes.
Such a superstorm is hypothetical but not improbable, climate researchers warn. "We think this event happens once every 100 or 200 years or so, which puts it in the same category as our big San Andreas earthquakes," Geological Survey scientist Lucy Jones said in a press release.
Federal and state emergency management officials convened a conference about emergency preparations for possible superstorms last week. You can read the whole report here.
In case you missed Glee cast member Chris Colfer’s Best Supporting Actor acceptance speech last night at the Golden Globes, it was simple, gracious and gave a nod of support to all the gay kids in America getting bullied at school. The adorable 20-year-old actor seemed shocked to have won the award, his mouth wide open during the long walk he took from the back of the theatre where he was seated at a table with friends.
Colfer’s delightful speech may be the only Golden Globes acceptance to end with the phrase, “Well, screw that kids!” Take a look:
Colfer is gay, and admits to having been bullied by kids in real life. Gleedevoted an entire episode to the gay bullying epidemic back in November, and will reportedly add another gay character to the show in an upcoming episode. According to the UK’s Now magazine, Anne Hathaway will play Colfer’s character Kurt’s lesbian aunt.