HospitalIt all started back in 2006. My son was a year-and-a-half old and I knew that he'd be our only child. I was fine with this—I'd only ever wanted one child. What I wasn't prepared for was the desire to be pregnant again. My pregnancy wasn't perfect. It had its ups and downs, but overall it was amazing. The concept of having a life in you, sustaining that life with yours; it's simply incredible. For us though, it wasn't going to happen again. But did it have to be the end? I saw online, the word "surrogate." I wondered what that meant and did a lot of research about it. I found out that I'd have no genetic ties (as a gestational surrogate) to the baby. I could do that. It's not like I wanted a baby, I just enjoyed the pregnancy part. I wasn't going to be using my uterus for anything else now, why not give someone else a chance at the wonderful gift a baby can bring? I talked it over with my fiancée and he was supportive. He knows that when I do things, I make sure to do my "homework". He fully trusted my decision. So I contacted an agency. Sadly, it wasn't my time yet. My son was still nursing and I planned on self-weaning, so I had to wait. I would soon learn that "hurry up and wait" is a common term in the surrogacy world.

My son was done nursing about a year later, so I contacted the agency again. They were more than happy to help me and I got started on everything I needed to do. I filled out lots of paperwork, flew down to the clinic to be examined and tested, and had psychological testing done. After I was cleared, they gave me profiles of potential intended parents (IP's) to check out. Here comes the hard part. In the surrogacy world, there are many different people who need the use of a surrogate. Which one would I choose? While I didn't have a particular type in mind, I seem to gravitate towards gay men more than others, or maybe it was the agency and the profiles they were showing me? Either way, I was just fine with it. I picked out a set of IP's and we set up a match meeting. We met and we both loved each other- I wanted to help them. Unfortunately, it's never that easy. In surrogacy there are so many ways for things to go wrong. In our case, the embryos were just never good enough to continue growing. Three unsuccessful transfers later, we parted ways. The agency decided to part ways with me too. It wasn't me, they said, it was that no IP's wanted me. I felt like damaged goods. It took some time to get over what happened. It took me talking to others and understanding genetics a little better. I had to realize that it wasn't me. I was not the problem, it was the embryos. I decided to move forward.

At this point, I wanted to help more than ever. I tried signing up with a few different agencies but they all turned me down because of my past. Three failed transfers are not good for the reputation, even when they know it's not your fault. I can't blame them- IP's put a lot of money into this process and they want something that works. I decided to post an ad on a surrogacy forum. It worked. I met and was matched with a wonderful couple. Their situation was a little different. They wanted to co-parent, a gay man and his best friend (a woman). They were both so sweet and caring; I knew their baby would be loved. Life seems to like to throw me curve balls though and once again, we had a failed transfer. It was embryo quality striking again, but this time it was due to age. We all knew it might happen, but when you are in surrogacy, you always hope for the best. We only had that one transfer and the intended mother (best friend) decided not to move forward. After a few months of thinking about it, although the intended father wanted to move forward with an egg donor, he also decided this wasn't the right time for him.

So, I was at a loss again. I had to decide if I truly wanted to continue or just stop. A lot of surrogates in my shoes would have given up. That's definitely a lot of loss to take and it really does start to hurt your self-esteem. You second guess yourself and your body. I knew it wasn't me though. My body was fine. I knew I could do it. I placed another ad and received some emails from different agencies and people. Nothing seemed like the right fit. One day I received the email I'd been waiting for. It was from two gay men who were married and had decided that they wanted a baby together. Their email was funny and sarcastic, just my type of humor. They were perfect. We all met for lunch, to get to know each other a little better and we decided to work together. I knew this time would be different. And it was.

Our relationship was amazing. It was like we'd been friends for forever. We all decided working with an agency was the best and quickest option to get things moving along. And we did things fast! From match meeting to transfer was a quick four months, and only that long because the egg donor contract took a little longer than it should have. The guys decided that the best course of action was to get the embryos genetically tested. Why waste money on multiple transfers when you can know fairly quickly which ones will most likely work and which ones won't? It was brilliant. We transferred one beautiful boy embryo and after 5 long years of failure, I was pregnant.

Some women go into surrogacy knowing that they want a "business" type relationship, some women want a friendship. I was the latter. My guys didn't fail me. There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't hear from them. A simple hi, a joke or talking about life in general- we talked all the time. I was always keeping them updated about the progress of the pregnancy and they were able to come up to a few appointments throughout the 9 months. I got to visit them for an ultrasound and baby showers. We had fun getting to know each other and getting to know their son.

At 40 weeks and four days, they got to meet their son. He was like a perfect puzzle piece to fit in their family. They took to fatherhood well and enjoyed every moment. It was the best feeling ever for me. I'm proud I was able to help them with their dream, and they also helped me with mine. We still talk, not daily, but as often as they can. I see updates on Facebook about their son and I've been to visit a few times. His first birthday has come and gone and he is growing up to be the happiest toddler. Being able to see their family and know that I played a part in that happiness is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Now I'm excited to be on the path to help create another family.

 

Article orignally pubished at The Handsome Father. Republished with permssion.

Join the NOH8 Campaign in FRESNO, CA on SATURDAY, JULY 19TH for an OPEN PHOTO SHOOT !

HOSTED AT:

HOLIDAY INN FRESNO - AIRPORT
VALLEY CENTER BUILDING
5090 EAST CLINTON WAY
FRESNO, CA 93727

2:00PM - 5:00PM

 

* COME CAMERA READY *
* WEAR WHITE *
* POSE & MAKE A STATEMENT! *

NOH8 Posing Fees/Costs:

SOLO PHOTOS .......... $40.00
COUPLE & GROUP PHOTOS ......... $25.00 per person

The NOH8 Campaign accepts cash and major credit cards only. Fees cover services & processing for oneretouched digital print only (made available through www.NOH8Campaign.com) and do not include physical prints.

Scheduled to begin at 2:00PM and end at 5:00PM, the open photo shoot will take place in the Valley Center Building at the Holiday Inn Fresno - Airport. A special thanks goes out to the team at Holiday Inn Fresno - Airport for graciously providing us the space to set up!

You do not need to RSVP to attend (though Facebook RSVP's help give us an idea of how many supporters to prepare for); the photos are first come, first served and we move quickly! Anyone taking a photo is asked to wear a plain white shirt to match the look of the signature NOH8 photos.

When you arrive, you will receive a numbered model release to fill out, followed by having your NOH8 tattoo applied. We will call numbers throughout the day, and your corresponding release number will signal your time to line up to have your photo taken.

We always do our best to make sure that everyone in line by the end of the photo shoot (5:00PM) has a chance to pose for their photo - and up to this point, we haven't ever had to turn anyone away!

Celebrity Photographer & NOH8 Co-Founder Adam Bouska will be working around the clock to photograph 5-10 frames for each person that comes through. The final selection he chooses will be retouched and made available to you in approximately 8 weeks through the website (timeline subject to change): www.NOH8Campaign.com

INTERESTED IN VOLUNTEERING? E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your contact information and make sure to note which shoot you'd like to volunteer for!

supreme-court-rainbow-250x250A quick flash back, it is just over the one year anniversary of the Windsor and Prop 8 decisions from the US Supreme Court, as well as the 11 year anniversary of the Lawrence v. Texas case.

And they were all very close calls, a fact that’s easy to forget now, looking back.

Keen News Service reports:

Kennedy’s words in both Lawrence and Windsor have been repeated in numerous court decisions since. And the powerful influence of words and decisions has almost obscured the fact that they were narrow victories.

In Lawrence, Kennedy wrote for just five of the six justices who considered sodomy laws to be unconstitutional; while Justice Sandra Day O’Connor provided a sixth vote in concurrence with the judgment, she did not join Kennedy’s opinion to the extent that it overruled the 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick (which had upheld state sodomy laws). O’Connor said she would simply strike Texas’ law on equal protection grounds. (“Moral disapproval of this group, like a bare desire to harm the group, is an interest that is insufficient to satisfy rational basis review under the Equal Protection Clause.”)

In Windsor, Kennedy wrote for just five justices. One of those five, Elena Kagan, had been on the bench for only two and a half years and apparently had to recuse herself from a similar DOMA challenge that had reached the high court sooner because she likely discussed it while serving as Solicitor General. If the court had taken that first case, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the court likely would have rendered a tie vote and DOMA would still be in effect in most states.

gayblooddrive
There is a constant need for blood & donors are essential in maintaining an adequate supply. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) bans gay & bisexual men from donating blood. On July 11th, a nationwide blood drive will take place to bring attention to the ban & help save lives. Gay & bisexual men will show their willingness to contribute by bringing allies to donate in their place. This grassroots effort to create change cannot happen without YOU.  You may donate as an ally (Non MSM person) on your own, even if you do not have a Gay or Bisexual friend or family member to bring with you.

In Fresno, the event is happening 8am to 6pm at:
Central California Blood Center
4343 W Herndon Ave, Fresno, CA 93722

Make an appointment to donate: http://goo.gl/138f9a

RSVP on their Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/234349656774312/
Sign up to get involved: http://gayblooddrive.com/

Appointments are STRONGLY encouraged.  If you choose to attend without an appointment, you may have a wait.

This event is also happening in Visalia, please read more at: https://www.facebook.com/events/863234793704615/

The Gay Youth CornerIt has been quite some time since I wrote a blog article, and seeing that certain *cough* other authors have beaten me to the Indiana ruling that found my home state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, I thought I ought to write something before Scott revokes my access to the blog. Nice to see you guys again!

So we all know that the LGBT movement would be nowhere near where it is today if it wasn’t for the advent of the Internet. Not only has the Internet decreased the ignorance in society surrounding LGBTs, such as the myth that only gays get AIDS, but it has also provided an outlet for LGBT individuals to express themselves and get support from people who are in the same situation. The Gay Youth Corner, or the GYC for short, was established for that very purpose.

The GYC was originally established quite some time ago. I discovered it when I was eleven years of age and first accepting the fact that I was gay. (That was five years ago) I left the GYC after religion (*collective groan*) had me convinced that such activities as conversing with other homosexuals would send me to straight Hell. (and, I was pretty sure I was too young for the site anyway) Fast Forward a few years. I had returned to the GYC to discover that the site’s features had been reduced to a few mere chatrooms. I couldn’t login with my original account. Not too long afterwards, the website was shut down with promises of a revamp… that was in 2012.

Now, two years after the first promise of a revamp, it looks like the GYC miiiiggght be returning… again… maybe… hopefully. They revamped their greeting page (thegyc.com) and posted a new profile picture on their Facebook page:

Posted June 21st, 2014

Previous members of the original GYC have been very frustrated with the stalled development of the GYC, mainly because most of them will be too old to join when (if?) the GYC reopens. However, one must imagine the large legal hurdles the owner of the GYC must make to ensure that the GYC is a safe site to use. One can only imagine how much illegal activity could take place on a website like the GYC, not only regarding pedophiles, but also other teenagers who might use the GYC for certain sexual advances. (Which is still illegal in many jurisdictions, from my knowledge) Also, as a fellow web developer, these things take a lot of work. Seriously, when I develop, it takes me at least two hours just to plan the initial layout of the website.

Only time will tell whether or not the GYC is released to the public. I really do hope it does, but it isn’t foolish to assume that the GYC might die like many other great web projects on the big hunk o’ wires we call the Internet.

My name is Prometheus. I am a closeted teenager, LGBT and Secularist activist. I live in the great (questionably) red state of Indiana. (a.k.a. Cornland) I am proud to be an LGBT person. Thank you for reading my article. Please comment and share with your friend!

-Prometheus

a.k.a. Zion Moulder, Kendallville, Indiana

Oh God, I hope no one from my family comes across this!

Our Pride Shop selection

We're proud to announce that our online store is now available!  You can pick out any item and have it delivered right to your door!  The same great prices you've seen us offer during pride and other events.  Please browse our store.  You can always find it in the future on our site menu, listed as "Store".

Thank you for supporting Gay Fresno, all funds raised go to helping our all volunteer organization.

dadt9You thought DADT had been repealed? Well it was – but not for transgender troops. Towleroad.com reports:

In the military, coming out as transgender still disqualifies you for service, a subject that USA Today tackles in a new article on the issue: “I was at the Pentagon when Secretary Hagel was saying we’re here to celebrate LGBT service,” says a transgender Army sergeant who joined the Army as a woman. The sergeant spoke on condition of anonymity to stay in the service. “I’m kind of looking around for the rest of Ts,” the soldier says, referring to transgender troops. Other troops could celebrate marriage equality, the sergeant says, but not the transsexuals… Because of the current DADT policy, it is unknown how many transgender troops are serving in the military. About 700,000 Americans (0.3% of the total population) are transgender, according to a 2011 study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

Like their gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, many transgender soldiers have served (and continue to serve) the country admirably in the US Military. And like gays and lesbians, they should be allowed to do so openly.

 

ode-192x250The makers of the Oxford Dictionary say the passage of marriage equality in the UK is ushering in a change in the dictionary definition of the word. Gay Star News reports:

The world’s most renowned dictionary of the English language has said the definition of ‘marriage’ will change to include gay people. The home of the Oxford English Dictionary, England, has recently passed a law allowing same-sex couples to get married. While the definition and the law did not change simultaneously, the brains behind the words say they will monitor how the word marriage changes over the next year.

However:

‘It’s worth pointing out that, as the OED is distinct from other dictionaries in being a historical record of the language, meanings of the past will remain, even while language changes and new ones are added.’

So foes of marriage equality need not fear – it’s still the same old word you’ve always known – just with some new additions.

rFamily-Flyer

In the midst of court cases and media battles, one group has taken a step out of the political mayhem and prepared a week of family friendly activities for the LGBT community.  What makes this event unique is that it is centered on LGBT families, including their extended families, children, and friends.  R Family Vacations, along with their partner Family Equality Council, presents Families on the West Coast. This writer is quite pleased that the event-coordinators have chosen a venue right here in the Central Valley – The Wonder Valley Ranch Resort.

Wonder Valley Ranch Resort offers a number of family-friendly activities and is located just a short distance from several beautiful parks and natural areas.  Pine Flat Lake is just a stone’s throw from the resort, but with a little more effort you can find yourself chugging along in the Sierra Foothills through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  The Resorts activities list are many (swimming, yoga, paintball, and more), but the one that tourists and locals always love is horseback riding.  With a variety of horses and scenic bridle trails, a rider is guaranteed a fun-filled, peaceful ride through the countryside. R Family Vacations could not have chosen a better place to hold their event.

For more information on the event, costs, and registration, contact Gregg Kaminsky at R Family Vacations by phone at 917-522-0985 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.You may also visit their website at http://www.rfamilyvacations.com/

James Obergefell has lived with the love of his life for 20 years before they married two weeks ago.

They also hoped to be buried next to each other, to spend eternity together, but the state of Ohio and his spouse's relatives won't let him – because he married another man, John Arthur.

Last week, the two men sued Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Cincinnati doctor responsible for approving death certificates. Obergefell and Arthur asked a judge to overturn existing Ohio law – which doesn't recognize same-sex marriage – to allow Obergefell to be listed as surviving spouse on Arthur's death certificate and for it to show that Arthur's marital status at death as married.

 

gaywedding-04LGBT advocates expect a flood of state marriage lawsuits where same-sex marriage isn’t legal, but more cases could ultimately harm the equality efforts in those states, experts say.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and North Carolina and plans to file a joint suit in Virginia with Lambda Legal. Ken Upton, senior staff attorney at Lambda Legal’s Dallas office, said more lawsuits are expected in Arizona, Alabama and Florida. That’s in addition to a handful of lawsuits pending in federal court.

Domenico Nuckols filed a lawsuit last week in Galveston against Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott to overturn the state’s 2005 constitutional marriage amendment. Nuckols, a retired nuclear engineer, is representing himself but is looking for pro bono legal representation to help him compile legal documents. He’s been in contact with a national legal organization to discuss his case and hopes to have representation by his pre-trial date on Oct. 9.

Authored By Anna Waugh – See the Full Story at the Dallas Voice

 

The full public comments have now been released, including council discussion and vote.  Even if you do not live in Porterville, this is an important and shocking problem happening in our own Central Valley.  Also, do consider attending and supporting the fund for those arrested at this meeting, here.

 

poll-250x199In a new Rasmussen poll, 85% think business owners should be able to turn away LGBT folks. Joe.My.God reports:

From the right-slanted Rasmussen: Americans draw a fine line when it comes to respecting each other’s rights. If a Christian wedding photographer who has deeply held religious beliefs opposing same-sex marriage is asked to work a same-sex wedding ceremony, 85% of American Adults believe he has the right to say no. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that only eight percent (8%) disagree even as the courts are hearing such challenges.

As Joe notes, Rasmussen is a right-leaning organization. They also asked a series of other questions about whether bar owners should be able to refuse service to those 25 and under to avoid problems, if a bar owner could have a policy to attract women for happy hour, and so forth leading up to the gay questions. I think the answer would have been quite different if the question had been “should it be ok for a business to discriminate against gay clients”. What do you think? Here are the actual questions.

 

 

The council voted 3-2 (Mayor Gurrola & councilman McCracken voted against. Ward, Shelton & Hamilton voted in favor) to rescind the June 2013 Pride Month proclamation.  Three people were arrested for an act of civil disobedience. More will be posted soon, but here is a video of the arrests:

 

Also see write ups at: oblogdeeoblogda and by Jim Reeves in the Visalia Times Delta.

money1-250x250Now that DOMA section 3 has been struck down, legally married gays and lesbians are eligible for 1,138 federal benefits they didn;t have access to before. LGBT Weekly runs down a list of some of the biggest:

Everyone knows that the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). That means married same-sex couples now qualify for the 1,100+ federal benefits that were previously denied to them. We can’t go through them all, so here are my top 15 benefits for married same-sex couples:

IRA and Roth IRA contributions can be made for a non-working spouse.

A deceased spouse’s retirement accounts such as 401(k)’s, 403(b)’s and IRA’s will now automatically transfer to the surviving spouse.

See the rest of the tips at the link above.

 

The following column was written by a friend of mine, Ted.  Although it deals with the lack of support to LGBT businesses in another part of the country, it very much applies to Fresno and the country at large. I hope you'll read and consider supporting businesses and groups that support you.

Pride season is close to wrapping up, with only Lafayette and Fort Wayne still to go in our region, so I figured it was time to have a personal look back at not only prides, but where we as a community are, and look to be going. I was going to do this last time, but looking at things I decided I'd end up being what partner Ivan calls "a Debby Downer' during Pride Month and that didn't seem appropriate for the June issue — not that it is now, but heavy doses of reality meds are sometimes needed to keep the patient alive. In this case, the patient is our community, the businesses and people who support us and whom we support.
But before I get too off-track, let's just look at prides first. I think the following comment, posted by an Indianapolis friend on Facebook the week after Indy Pride (which partner Anthony and I did go to for a while) is very telling. He wrote: "Did you make it to Pride on Saturday? I decided not to go for the first time in twenty years. It's such a hassle to find parking, get inside, walk around, and most exhibitors are non gay owned businesses. It seems, to me, it's strayed from celebrating lesbian, gay, bi & trans into being a marketing event."

That bit was followed by folks who wrote, called and stopped me to say this or that other Midwest pride was "struggling" or that attendance was down... in some cases 20 or more percent. There were bright spots — despite what I personally find to be the offensive fencing in and gate/inspection system of Indy Pride, official attendance figures were up from 80,000 to 85,000. Sadly, I feel, a combination of the items my correspondent listed above plus other events kept that from going even higher.

prop8-overThese people are a desperate bunch. Having been rebuffed already by the US Supreme Court, now they’re taking their gripes to the California Supreme Court. Equality on Trial reports:

The saga continues, at least for now: ProtectMarriage, the group behind Proposition 8, the 2008 constitutional amendment that banned marriage equality in California, is asking the California Supreme Court to order county clerks to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Los Angeles Times reports:

Opponents of same-sex marriage asked the California Supreme Court on Friday to order county clerks to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, arguing that Gov. Jerry Brown lacked the authority to end enforcement of Proposition 8.

ProtectMarriage, the group that sponsored the 2008 ballot measure banning gay marriage, urged the state high court to act under a California constitutional provision that prohibits officials from refusing to enforce a law unless an appellate court has first determined the law is unconstitutional. There is no binding appellate ruling that says Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.

It’s a long shot. The The Advocate reports:

“The California Supreme Court will likely stay out of this and say the scope of Judge Walker’s order is a matter for the federal courts to determine,” University of California Davis law professor Vikram Amar told the Times. “State courts generally won’t get into the business of construing federal court orders. They leave that to the federal courts.”

As Joe.My.God reports, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera agrees:

“This motion is a desperate obstruction tactic used in the vain hope of pursuing an unconstitutional agenda. The opponents of the freedom to marry have chosen to ignore the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, and the well-settled California marriage case of Lockyer v. San Francisco, which they themselves celebrated at the time. Their motion has essentially no chance to succeed. The most basic concepts of American law tell us that a state court cannot and will not overrule the federal judiciary. The citizens of California are left wondering when these people will realize that, having lost the moral struggle years and years ago, they have now lost the legal struggle as well. Marriage equality is now the law in the State of California, and will remain so from this point onward. Together we will soon see the day when it is the law all across America.”

The Court meets on Wednesdays, but a response to the request could come down at any time. It’s over, folks. Pack up your bags and your lies and go home.

Vancouver police say Alberta born actor Cory Montieth, star of the hit show "Glee" has been found dead in a city hotel.

Montieth was 31.

The B.C. Coroner's Office says Montieth was found deceased in his room on the 21st flood of the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel around noon local time on Saturday.

A spokesman said the cause of death was not immediately apparent, however, police say there was no indication of foul play.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine cause of death.

Best known for his role as Finn Hudson on the Fox television series Glee, Montieth was born in Calgary and raised in Victoria, B.C.

Before becoming an actor, he worked in Nanaimo, B.C as a Wal-Mart people greeter, taxicab driver, school bus driver, and roofer.

Montieth played minor roles in Final Destination 3, Whisper and Deck the Halls, had a recurring role in Kyle XY and also appeared in Smallville, Supernatural, Flash Gordon and Stargate SG-1

We were recently contacted by card.com to review their new Pride Visa prepaid card.  It was very fun to take out for a couple of small purchases and the reactions the cashiers gave us.  "How cool!" and "That's neat" It really shows how far our community has come in its acceptance.

Having used many credit cards in the past, I was skeptical of another credit rating pull that would harm my credit.  Thankfully, as this is a prepaid card, no credit check is necessary.  Just a simple ID verification on their website and you can have one of these cards sent to you at no cost.

Visa Prepaid Pride Card

How the process works:

1. Request a card be sent to you online

2. The card arrives in a few business days and you load money onto the card via local stores that sell green dot cards, PayPal, Western Union, through your bank via an ACH transfer or direct deposit. (no going over the limit on this card)

3. Enjoy the card!

Please note that as is the norm with pre paid cards these days, their are fees, which are clearly listed before you apply (we like transparency) mainly a $5.95 monthly service fee (waived if loading $800 or more via direct deposit monthly).

But, if you are looking for a pre-paid card and want to show your pride, this may be a welcome addition on your next outing.

 

us-congress-250x250In the wake of the historic DOMA ruling, Congress is moving in two wildly different directions on gay marriage. First the Democrats – Gay Star News reports:

US Democrats Senator Dianne Feinstein and Representative Jerrold Nadler have re-introduced a bill to repeal the rest of the Defense of Marriage Act after the US Supreme Court struck out Section 3 of the law which prevented over a thousand federal benefits going to same-sex married couples. The Respect for Marriage Act would repeal the entire Defense of Marriage Act and would allow those benefits to flow to legally married same-sex couples whether they reside in a state where same-sex marriages are performed or not. ‘Today’s Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor affirms what we stand for as Americans – the guarantee that every person and every family is given equal respect under the law,’ Nadler said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the GOP plans to reintroduce a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality throughout the country, led by a Kansas republican (no surprise). Towleroad.com reports:

Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) is waisting no time in his push to to see gay marriage outlawed nationwide. Today, Huelskamp announced his intention to introduce the Federal Marriage Amendment later this week. The Huffington Post reports: Huelskamp said he plans to introduce the Federal Marriage Amendment later this week, a measure that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. DOMA did the same thing, but was a federal law, not a constitutional amendment. As such, the Federal Marriage Act is more far-reaching but also a tougher climb. It requires the support of two-thirds of the House and Senate, and ratification by three-fourths of the states, or 38 states. “This would trump the Supreme Court,” Huelskamp told The Huffington Post.

So much for a new direction for the GOP…

OK, it is nature or nurture? That’s a lot of the controversy about being gay… were you born gay or did you become gay? Was it an inherent and inevitable conclusion of your developing sexuality or was it a choice?

Well, what are people? Are they born that way or do they become who they are as a result of a complex and inexplicable life process? Were you born unable to do algebra? Why do you write well? Why do like ice cream? What was it made you overweight? Why do you consider yourself ugly or beautiful? Were you born that way or did you choose to be that way?

Some of these questions have short answers that are always wrong. We’re what you call complex. We don’t give ourselves to easy, simple uncomplicated solutions.

In a lot of ways human sexuality is a special case. It is not a special case though because there is anything really special about it. In our culture and historical period, it is special largely because it was made special by the Roman Catholic Church, and many other churches who jumped on the bandwagon. Those priests have had a thing about sex for about as long as they have been theoretically celibate.Some people say the the Catholic Church hierarchy’s unnatural preoccupation with things sexual is a result of the alleged celibacy.

On the one hand, it is a central doctrine of the church that sex is bad. It is “original sin.” On the other hand, It is something that is also central to the survival of the species. Things that we consider bad, but know to be necessary usually get enshrined in a whole bushel basket of bullshit. Human sexuality is very much that way, and it is largely sixteen centuries of Christian theology that made it that way.

Sexual desire isn’t very different from a lot of other desires: food for example. We eat, we must eat, we survive, and we survive with consequences from our eating habits. We have sex, we really must have sex to reproduce, and we have consequences from our sexual habits.

Nobody ever made me like chocolate. Nobody ever made me straight/lesbian/bi. Do I have to eat chocolate? No, but it sure makes long days nicer, but not to excess. Two questions:

* If I am gay, must I have gay sex only or can I subsist on masturbation or straight sex?

* If I am straight am I totally incapable of experience any pleasure from gay sex?

The answer to both these questions is: Yeah, it won’t kill me, but it won’t maximize my happiness and it probably won’t result in lasting mutually beneficial relationships.

It is the way I am, today, this week, this month, this year. It’ll probably be the way I am in 25 years, but that’s not a certain bet – it’s a safe bet though. But what does it matter? Who gives a damn but me?

Well, that’s another thing that these religious bigots did for us all: they told us that sex was a sin, and then they told us that it is only permissible for procreation under very limited circumstances. They also told us that any other kind of sex was really, really bad. In the olden days, they said that gay sex was about as bad as adultery. Over the centuries they modified their opinions to say that adultery is usually understandable and forgiveable, but gay sex is always awful. They told us that people who do awful things are awful people and awful people deserved to be punished.

Why was it awful? Well, because it was. It wasn’t a rational argument. It was the same kind of sin, in the 16th century, as owning a Bible in English. It would get you killed, because it was, (reality off) well, wrong. Because the Church, er… the Bible, er… God says so. (reality on) Because I say so.

As with most everything else, if it’s not like me, it is bad and people who are bad deserve to have bad things happen to them, unless they change or pretend to change to be like me.

A little ignorance is a dangerous thing. A ton of ignorance is toxic. It used to be that being left handed was awful, too, and people were “broken” of being left handed by years of torture. It used to be that people were “cured” of being gay, too, also by death or long years of torture. In the same way that most people who were cured of being left handed didn’t ever do anything intricate or difficult with their hands, people who were cured of being gay were mostly cured of being able to have or enjoy sex, or by becoming priests.

We are who and what we are because of biology, genetics, history, culture, relationships, random chance, who our parents were, luck, deliberate decision, where we went to school, fear, hope, envy, laughter, and love — to name some of the factors that result in a human individual.

Sexuality is in there somewhere and it is as much an emblem of individuality as speech or talent or accomplishment. We owe it to ourselves to find out who we are today and to be that and accept other people being who they are. We are all made different and we can either choose to enjoy and celebrate those differences or we can choose to fear and loathe people different from ourselves. Our choices make the world we live in.

What kind of a world do you want?

What is The Parenting Loop?

I wanted to be a better parent then my parents and it never occurred to me that my children would at times end up parenting me, this is what I call The Parenting Loop.  It is when you find your children parenting you in the loving ways you have parented them. It is a gift.  

When I came out (later in life) I thought I was ruining everyone’s lives.  I felt like I was traumatizing my children, but in retrospect, I can see now how underwhelming my “coming out” was to their lives.  Divorce was a much bigger hurdle but even that was manageable in our case. What I know now that I could not know then was that by me being open about my own sexual orientation and choosing to live my life completely openly, gave each of my children the opportunity to examine the chains of their own socialization. I have been amazed at how each has blossomed as a result of me living openly. It was like turning over a key to the secret box and giving them permission to look inside. 

The only way to free my children from the oppressive side of socialization was to first free myself by living openly and push up against the cultural expectations of my generation rather than continue to be blinded by it. 

Nothing I do or think about children, youth, families or communities are not serious for me. Relationships are my business and care deeply when people are hurt by social injustice, misguided education and especially ignorance.

As a parent, I have learned from my children that while bullying and threats to our children’s safety are still a reality, especially here in the Central Valley of California, there is also a completely different mindset regarding diversity among the majority of adolescents today compared to my generation. I am reassured and optimistic that by the time our children become the majority in the workforce and the voting demographics many of the equality issues that are in the forefront of politics, culture, and religion today will be more balanced and less of an issue for our grandchildren. My children and their friends continually surprise me with the way they accept, appreciate, and embrace diversity. I am learning from my children that many of the fears that I have as a result of my personal experiences and socialization do not need to be passed on to them. Our world is changing and our children are leading the way. As a parent of six children in this next generation, I have to keep my own fears in perspective as I warn my children about the dangers they may face in the world. In addition to imparting my worldly wisdom upon them, I also have to listen to the wisdom that they have to offer me.

fox-news-logo-250x250Our friend Ned Flaherty from Marriage Equality USA looks into Fox News poll on marriage equality.

National news audiences have long asked why Fox News polls always skew in favor of right-wing, conservative beliefs, instead of reporting factually. The answer is that Fox News was created not just as a megaphone for the Republican party, but with the precise goal of reporting with enough inaccuracy and bias so as to alter current events themselves. The resulting news then gets reported with more inaccuracy and more bias, and reality is altered yet again. As the instructions used to say on shampoo bottles, “Lather. Rinse. Repeat.”

Fox News surveys are an excellent example of how Fox reports inaccurately. When taking polls, Fox News interviews the wrong quantities of people from various segments of society, so that their totals over-state conservative opinions and under-state liberal opinions. As an example: for the 2012 political conventions, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press counted registered voters as follows:

Republicans 28%
Independents 33%
Democrats 35%
other 04%
100%

Source: http://www.people-press.org/2012/08/23/a-closer-look-at-the-parties-in-2012/

But when Fox surveyed 1,002 registered voters nationwide on 21 March 2013, they interviewed these percentages instead:

Republicans 39% (11% more than Pew)
Independents 17% (16% fewer than Pew)
Democrats 40% (05% more than Pew)
declined 04%
100%

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/interactive/2013/03/21/fox-news-poll-many-more-favor-gay-marriage-up-from-2003/

Fox purposely uses skewed voter sample sizes which emphasize Republicans and de-emphasize Independents. That way, Fox can claim that only 49% of Americans support same-gender civil marriage, when in fact, every national, professional survey over the last 4 months reported higher results:

Date % Poller
15 February 75 % Respect For Marriage Coalition
15 February 52 % Center for American Progress
17 March 53 % CNN News / Opinion Research Corporation
18 March 58 % ABC News / Washington Post
04 April 50 % Quinnipiac University
09 May 55 % ABC News
13 May 53 % Gallup
20 May 59 % Gallup
57 % average

Fox didn’t care that 8 other polls averaged 57%. Fox reported 49% because that’s a right-wing narrative fiction that fits their trademark.

Since Fox wasn’t created as a bona fide news outlet, and reports news with a slant so as to affect subsequent actual news, audiences looking for the straight scoop would do better to look elsewhere for their facts.

Ned Flaherty is an LGBT activist currently focused on civil marriage equality, and previously on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal. His related articles can be found at New Civil Rights Movement (http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/category/ned-flaherty) and Policy Mic (http://ned_flaherty.policymic.com/). He writes from Boston, Massachusetts, where America’s first same-gender civil marriages began in 2004. He suffered a childhood exposure to Roman Catholic pomp and circumstance, but the spell never took, and he recovered.

exodus-international-213x250 The biggest ex-gay organization, Exodus International, is closing its doors. Towleroad.com reports:

“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”

Chambers also issued an apology to the LGBT community:

Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite–or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.

Wow. I mean, just wow.

image0012

I am having a very difficult time being serene today. I read the article written in the Fresno Bee about the Kiss In at Chick-fil-a that is scheduled for Friday. But, it is not really the article that has gotten me so out of sorts; it is the comments section.

First off: I love free speech. I love that we are free to say (almost) anything that we want, and the government will not throw us in jail. I love that my opinion is free to be whatever I want it to be. I love that others are free to give their opinions, also without fear of arrest.

This is NOT about people not being able to express themselves freely. This is about the fact that, when given this amazing right, they use it to bash and threaten others. They use it to lie and spread hatred and to imply violence (sometimes, outright say it). They use this blood-soaked right in order to fight against the rights of others.

So, it is not the fact that they USE it; it is the fact that they have made a mockery of it. And, then they hide behind it using (wait for it...) freedom of religion. Yes, they claim that they are a "God-fearing" person that just can't STAND what the homosexuals have tried to do to this country. How the gays just 'can't leave it alone" and that Chick-fil-a is filled with good people that the gays just want to harm.

Okay, I can totally get behind the idea that the people behind the counter may be good and decent people. My guess is, they are also at the bottom of the financial food chain, too, so they have nothing but my sympathy on that front. But, does that mean that the rest of us need to lay down and accept the inequality that the anti-gay agenda is trying to cement into society? Does the fact that good people may be a little uncomfortable as their managers scramble around trying to deal with the fact that the gays are in their store and (gasp) kissing, mean that we throw in the towel?

Good people were uncomfortable with integration, too, at first. When you are taught something, like bigotry, from a very early age, you accept it as your norm. And, people get upset when their norm gets questioned, or god forbid, proven wrong. Then they become like the angry cornered animal: they bite.

And, THAT is what is upsetting me so much. At an intellectual level, I understand why they are doing it (fear) and how they got there (ignorance). But, like the cornered animal, they are still to be taken seriously. Like this post:



There were many like this, but then we moved into true brother-married-sister territory:



Oh, and my favorite (which was actually a response to the above comment:



These are but a couple samples of the words of those wonderful "God-fearing" people. (Never understood that term...if God is love, why do they fear him so much?) Yes, it was comment after comment of how the gays want to take away their right to free speech and a huge amount said that gays should just shut the fuck up. 

Yes, they told the gays to shut the fuck up after accusing them of trying to abridge their own right to free speech. I shit you not. 

Here's the thing, it is not that I want them to shut up. I just want them to start using the brain in their head and THINK for a moment. 

1. Chick-fil-a gave money to anti-gay organizations that actively are working to take away gay people's civil rights. This is not about having an opinion; this is about actively working to take away people's rights. There is a HUGE difference.

2. They are hiding behind a man who never said a single anti-gay word. They are using a religion that was based on being kind to others as their reason for being dicks to others. (Seriously, how do their heads not explode under this kind of dissonance?)

3. And the crux of the issue: IT DOES NOT AFFECT THEIR FUCKING LIVES IF GAY PEOPLE HAVE THE SAME CIVIL RIGHTS AS THEY DO. You have no idea how much it pains me to have to explain such a simple concept to a gradeschooler, let along an adult who should have been able to see this with their fucking eyes closed. See, taking gays people's rights away? That DOES affect them and they have EVERY GODDAMN RIGHT to be pissed and to fight back. But, gay people actually having those rights? Face it, if Fucks It Up News and that idiot on the Corner(stone) didn't TELL you to be pissed, you might actually have time in your head for the things that really SHOULD piss you off (like speculators fucking with the price of oil or that elections can be freely bought now, or the fact that our produce is now something not found in nature, or that food companies have fought (and won) the right NOT to tell you if anything in their product is a GMO).

Because, god forbid you actually get upset over something that actually WOULD affect your life.

Because, unless YOU are the one being kissed, I can tell you with great assurance, it does NOT affect you.

gaywedding-11Gay weddings are a very good thing. I plan them for a living. So when I read this weekend's New York Times story on gay wedding fatigue, I was naturally annoyed.

I get it, but just a little bit. Weddings can be expensive and annoying for guests... but you see, when the rights of a minority group are withheld, of course there's going to be pent-up demand and a subsequent surge when rights are granted.

I would hardly call this a bad thing. None of the "fatigued" mentioned in the article indicated they'd been to more than a dozen gay weddings even in the past year. The author has been to six gay weddings with two more coming up -- so eight in two years. Not a big deal in my opinion. We've all been to loads of straight weddings over the years. Suck it up -- or don't. You don't have to go! We all have busy Saturday nights... This is a good problem to have.

The author did give some humorous examples of some of the antics of gay weddings. I happen to love the way the dance floor inevitably gets packed during "Dancing Queen" and I, too, may have rolled my eyes at "Love Will Build a Bridge" but the fact remains, that these weddings are incredibly emotional and joyous.

See the Full Story at the Huffington Post

marriott-250x250

A few months ago, I had an interesting conversation with Bill Marriott. As a prominent Mormon-controlled venture, his hotel company was an obvious target in 2008, when the church vigorously supported California’s now-overturned ban on gay marriage. The Marriott International (MAR) chairman has never tried to hide his deep faith, often referring to God in his writing and interviews.

In Marriott’s personal life, marriage is something reserved for a man and a woman. But he has long been reluctant to impose that view on the company his father founded. Not only could that crimp the company’s $12 billion in sales, it might demoralize employees working in more than 3,700 Marriott properties worldwide. With Mitt Romney’s presidential run and same-sex marriage in the headlines, we spoke about his stance as Mormon leaders were being held up for scrutiny again.

“This church helped me raise a family and has brought great joy and happiness to my life,” he told me. But that didn’t mean gay employees had any less status at Marriott. “We have to take care of our people, regardless of their sexual orientation or anything else,” he said. “We are an American Church. We have all the American values: the values of hard work, the values of integrity, the values of fairness and respect.” Marriott has both a deep faith and a deep understanding of his responsibility as a leader. Many of his shareholders, customers, and employees don’t belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their values matter, too.

“Our church is very much opposed to alcohol and we’re probably one of the biggest sales engines of liquor in the United States. I don’t drink. We serve a lot of liquor. You’re in business. You’ve got to make money,” he said. “We have to appeal to the masses out there, no matter what their beliefs are.”

As a result, when his church actively campaigned against same-sex marriage in California, neither Marriott nor the hotel chain donated any money to the cause. Instead, he stepped into the drama by publicly reinforcing his company’s commitment to gay rights through domestic partners benefits and services aimed at gay couples.

Contrast that with the approach of Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy. His company is also committed to treating gay employees and customers at its 1,608 outlets with the same “honor, dignity, and respect” as everyone else gets. “Going forward,” the company says, “our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

Continue reading at Business Week

chick-fil-a

“Evidence is clear that one of the most intolerant groups in America today are gays.”
 

“…offend roughly half the population of the USA with your pro-homosexual agendas, the bastardization of the concept of Marrriage and corruption of terms like 'love' by using them to describe perversion and confused lust…”


“I just became a fan of chic fil a. I will be there friday and buy a bagfull.”


Above is just a sampling of some 360+ comments from the Chick-fil-A kiss-in event article that was featured on the front-page of THE FRESNO BEE this morning.


Sadly, it has brought out some of the worst anti-gay comments we've seen, locally, in a long time.


Won't you please take five minutes to post your support and balance these and the majority of other anti-gay viewpoints being posted? (You can log-in and comment with your facebook password, too).


Thank you!

Jason Scott
Gay Fresno

PS: Remember to RSVP to our event on Fri. August 3rd. Please share this with others!

As the same-sex marriage debate continues in New Zealand, lawmakers discussing a bill proposing the traditional definition of marriage have said it was inspired by U.S President Barack Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage.

One of the sponsors of the bill, Louisa Wall, an openly gay member of the opposition Labor Party, expressed that Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage in May “gave impetus to the bill,” The Associated Press shared. The bill was reportedly “picked at random” on Thursday during a parliamentary ballot.

“I hope that it becomes about what marriage means in modern society,” Wall said about the legislation. “This bill is based on the premise that everyone should have equal opportunity to recognize their relationship within the social and legal institution of marriage.”

See the Full Story at the Christian Post

DNC-250x250The fight to include a marriage equality plank in the 2012 Democratic Party platform is heating up as one LGBT advocate drew on support from Democratic governors and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy in testimony urging platform committee members to adopt such language.

Members of the platform drafting committee are holding a national hearing this weekend in Minneapolis, Minn., and hearing testimony from individuals seeking certain language in the platform. Among the witnesses Friday afternoon was Marc Solomon, national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, whose organization is taking the lead in pushing for an endorsement of same-sex marriage in the platform as part of its “Democrats: Say I Do” campaign.

Slated to speak on Saturday also in support of the language was Army Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan, a lesbian New Hampshire guardsmen who has been diagnosed with stage-four incurable breast cancer, as well as Michael Macleod-Ball, the American Civil Liberties Union’s chief of staff in the Washington Legislative Office, who’ll speak about marriage and other LGBT and HIV/AIDS related issues.

In his prepared remarks, Solomon drew on the “evolution” that Obama completed on his way to endorsing same-sex marriage, but also made the case the Democratic Party as a whole has largely been responsible for advancing same-sex marriage, including Democratic governors like New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

“The Democratic Party has a noble history of fighting for the human and civil rights of all Americans,” Solomon said. “Living up to that legacy, Democratic lawmakers have provided the vast majority of the support for the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples in states and in Congress, even as ending exclusion from marriage is now becoming a bipartisan cause.”

Speaking with the Washington Blade by phone after his testimony, Solomon said the inclusion of a marriage-equality plank is important to keep up “momentum” in the advancement of same-sex marriage.

“At first the effort itself made a lot of news because we were asking the party to go someplace where the president wasn’t yet,” Solomon said. “I think every step towards our end game of full marriage equality nationwide is important, especially with the U.S. Supreme Court likely to take up some major cases next session, so we want to keep building momentum in every single way.”

While committee members asked questions of others who presented testimony, Solomon said none were asked of him. At the same time, Solomon said no committee members expressed support for a marriage equality plank during the time he testified, but also didn’t express support for any other idea presented to them.

A handful of the 15 members of the platform drafting committee have already pledged to advocate for a marriage equality plank. In response to inquiries from the Washington Blade, three voting members — Carlos Odio, a Latino Democratic activist, Donna Harris-Aikens, the National Education Association’s director of policy and practice, and NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan — went on the record saying they’d unequivocally back such language, as did two non-voting members — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Democratic National Committee Secretary Alice Germond.

But that explicit support isn’t held everyone, including a high-profile openly gay member of the panel who recently married his longtime same-sex partner. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who previously expressed lukewarm support for the idea of a marriage equality plank and he preferred language opposed to the Defense of Marriage Act, had at best an ambivalent take on marriage in the platform when asked about it by the New York Post.

“There may be a decision not to get into it a whole lot,” Frank was quoted as saying. “This is a strategic judgment.”

Solomon said Frank wasn’t present during the time he presented his testimony before the panel, although most of the committee was there, including Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.).

Still, in his testimony, Solomon credited the lawmaker for assisting with a previous effort to include a marriage equality plank in the Massachusetts State Democratic Party platform and called him a “tireless advocate” in helping with the effort to preserve a 2003 court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.

“Congressman Barney Frank was a tireless advocate, making the personal case to many, many state lawmakers,” Frank said. “I remember Barney telling one conservative state representative, a bit tongue-in-cheek, ‘What if I want to get married someday?’ Well, this year Barney did marry the love of his life, and there are same-sex couples in Massachusetts who have already celebrated eight years of marriage, to their great joy and the great joy of their loved ones.”

Solomon similarly praised Kennedy in his testimony for his support, drawing on a speech the late senator gave before his death in 2009 in which he said, ”For all my years in public life, I have believed that America must sail toward the shores of liberty and justice for all. There is no end to that journey, only the next great voyage.”

Similar testimony is expected to continue later during the national hearing. Morgan, among the gay service members who are suing to overturn DOMA as part of a lawsuit filed by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, is slated to echo Solomon’s testimony in her remarks on Saturday. In February, Morgan met with staffers for U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to urge him to discontinue his defense of the anti-gay law in court.

But Macleod-Ball is expected to strike a different chord in his testimony. According to a blog posting on the ACLU’s website by Ian Thompson, the ACLU’s legislative representative, Macleod-Ball will advocate not only for marriage equality language, but also an endorsement of the Respect for Marriage Act; an endorsement of the Student Non-Discrimination Act; and including language to end stigma and discrimination against those who are living with HIV/AIDS; and strengthened enforcement of civil rights laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A general sense of optimism that Democrats will include a marriage equality plank in the platform pervades now that President Obama has endorsed same-sex marriage. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said earlier in this month in an interview with the Philadelphia Gay News that she “expect[s] marriage equality to be a plank in the national party platform.” Solomon and Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson have expressed similar confidence.

“I have every confidence this is going to happen,” Solomon told the Washington Blade. “I don’t see any red flags in front of us and I think today went just as planned, just as hoped for.”

The national hearing in Minneapolis is a prelude to a Detroit., Mich., meeting next month when the party’s full platform committee will discuss amendments before presenting the platform to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. in September.

Many Democrats have endorsed the idea of including marriage equality plank in the Democratic Party platform, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), U.S. Senate candidates Tammy Baldwin and Elizabeth Warrenfour former Democratic National Committee chairs and 22 U.S. senators.

Amid calls to include a marriage equality plank in the platform, the Obama campaign has issued a response, although without attribution and with a statement was later clarified to mean that it isn’t an endorsement of a marriage equality-inclusive platform.

“The President’s personal views on marriage equality are known. The President and the Party are committed to crafting a platform that reflects the President’s positions and the values of the Party,” an Obama campaign spokesperson said last week in an email to the Washington Blade.

In 2005 I met former executive director at Marriage Equality New York (MENY) and current co-president of Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA), Cathy Marino-Thomas and her beautiful wife Sheila at loveandpride.com's opening ceremony. In front of a large crowd, they exchanged wedding vows affirming their love and commitment to one another. I thought: this woman really knows how to make an entrance. Since then we've developed our relationship into a beautiful friendship that's also a powerful partnership advocating for marriage equality.


loveandpride's launch coincided with MENY's rise beyond New York politics and into the national arena. Cathy's and my mutual admiration led us to join forces and fight for what I believe is the main civil rights issue of our generation -- full LGBT equality.

In loveandpride's short history, we've been consistently active in fighting for the community on all fronts -- designing special jewelry pieces to raise awareness about LGBT discrimination in our military, the dangers of bullying, and replacing hate with tolerance and tolerance -- and coordinating them with media-friendly stunts to maximize attention.

Our newest endeavor is a special Marriage Equality Pendant I designed specifically to represent MEUSA, and the struggle and the beauty of our fight for equality. Two matching dog tags symbolize both our victory over Don't Ask Don't Tell, and how it takes two halves to make something whole. Couples can choose to engrave and share the tags between themselves. I designed the pendant to be simple, so it would appeal to different tastes. And, I made sure it was affordable to, so as many people as want to proudly wear it can.

2012-07-24-images-MEpendantnewanglehighres.jpg

The best part is: all proceeds go directly to MEUSA. One hundred percent. I'm making no money on it, and I only hope it raises a huge pile of cash for MEUSA. Let's face it -- besides hard workers, great volunteers and influential supporters, money is an essential ingredient for MEUSA to keep doing their vital work, helping overturn discriminatory anti-marriage laws in many states and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and promoting marriage equality at every level of government.

But there's another level to it, too -- one that gets me really excited to think about. If the pendant really catches on, and it becomes ubiquitous -- think of the effect that could have on the majority of straight people for whom marriage equality still isn't on their radar yet. I'm not talking about the haters, but the great many people in the middle. Imagine someone sees the pendant on the person sitting across from them on the subway. Twenty minutes later they notice it around the barista serving their latte at Starbucks. There it is again on the person right next to them in the elevator up to the office. Sooner or later, curiosity will get the best of that person, and they'll have to blurt out -- What the heck IS that thing, I've been seeing it everywhere all of a sudden!

I envision a powerful way for people who care about marriage equality to visibly display their support to friends, family and probably most importantly, strangers -- -in an election season, no less. This has the power to spark conversations, change minds -- and if enough people begin wearing it -- I believe it could really accelerate momentum towards marriage equality for everyone. Isn't that exciting?

Last month loveandpride held an event in THE OUT NYC, New York's new straight-friendly urban resort, to launch the Marriage Equality Pendant. There was one question every media outlet who interviewed me there asked: WHY? Why -- as a straight, married man with two children -- do you care so much about the LGBT community -- raising both money and awareness? WHY?

I decided to write my list of "whys" to put the issue to rest once and for all:

(WHY) Because I care... (WHY) Because I want to...(WHY) Because I believe in love... (WHY) Because I can... (WHY) Because it's wrong to deny human rights to anybody... (WHY) Because it's unjust... (WHY) Because it's important... (WHY) Because I have friends and family that are a part of the LGBT community... (WHY) Because it's the right thing to do... (WHY) Because it's important to me that my children learn about love and equality and protecting the rights of the minority... (WHY) Because it raises money, which LGBT groups need to manifest change in this country...(WHY) Because I believe I can reach out beyond the LGBT community to help.

I like to call myself the "F" in LGBTF -- for "Friends & Family" of the community. Only by reaching outside of the LGBT community to build more straight allies will we grow large enough and become strong enough to win this fight.

All the time, I find people questioning my motives because this struggle doesn't have a "direct effect" on me. I completely disagree with that statement. It does so have a direct effect on me. This is the world that I live in and raise my children in. I share experiences with and interact with people from all walks of life. When anyone is denied their right, I feel it, I see it, and I live it. Inequality is simply not an option.

SalvadoreCordileoneOne of the most virulently anti-gay Catholic officials in the United States, Salvatore Cordileone, who is considered the father of Proposition 8, has been named the new Archbishop of San Francisco. Highly-regarded Whispers In The Loggia blogger Rocco Palmo is stunned.

Depending on how one looks at things, this Friday morning brings either the most courageously bold -- or stunningly brazen -- American appointment in the seven-year reign of Pope Benedict XVI. [snip] After a half-century of occupants accused by conservatives of soft-pedaling church teaching in favor of a more conciliatory approach toward constituencies ranging from gays and lesbians to Nancy Pelosi -- a group of prelates among which even the recently-retired lead guardian of church doctrine, Cardinal William Levada, was not exempt from stinging criticism -- the move delivers the long-desired "Holy Grail" of the American Catholic Right firmly into the faction's hands, in the form of a prelate already known widely both for his forcefulness and a stringent doctrinal cred almost unequaled among his confreres on the national bench. For liberal Catholics, meanwhile, the appointment is likely to be received as something akin to the city's Great Earthquake of 1906, or even more apocalyptic events.

Continue reading

For all of us who grew up with the Disney classics:

Gay marriage comments are nothing new. Many are, and continue to be, meritless arguments. Recently, dot429 posted a picture (below) to its Facebook page.  Since its posting, there have been over 5,000 comments- most positive, and others…not so much.

After reading through some of the negative comments, I decided to make a list of my five most annoying posts (all of which were posted multiple times, by different people). 

Homosexuality is not “natural”:It’s hard arguing with ridiculous, but I love a good challenge, - so here goes: One can argue that virtually everything we do is “unnatural,” at least as it relates to the rest of the species we share the earth with. Clothing, cars, eyeglasses, monogamy, and marriage (yes, I’m going there) are things HUMANS “do” which are “unnatural.” 

Merriam-Webster defines unnatural as: not being in accordance with nature.

I don’t know about you, but when is the last time you’ve seen any other species of animal (in it’s natural habitat) wearing clothes, eyeglasses, or driving cars?  

As for monogamy, I know this might shock you, but there are only 11 species (other than human) that are monogamous or close to it:  Five mammals, a fish, a lizard, and four birds.  To put this into context, there approximately 1.3 million identified species of animals, making the percentage of monogamous animals roughly .0009%; none of which get married.

I guess by virtue of this argument, one could conclude that marriage is as unnatural as homosexuality. 

Homosexual couples cannot reproduce:While this may be true, neither can approximately 16% of heterosexual couples. Should we seek to limit the rights/devalue the self-worth of this subset of Americans who are medically infertile? 

Even though gay couples (and  a portion of straight couples) are unable to reproduce, there is one important thing we can do: we can provide loving homes for the 150,000+ children up for adoption each year- children born to heterosexual parents who are unable or unwilling to raise their own children.

The Bible states that homosexuality is wrong: Last I read, there is no clear verse that reads:  “Homosexuality is wrong.” It does have a verse or two that may imply it, but it’s vague at best. And those that claim it does are probably looking through the lens of a confirmation bias

If I had to guess (and yes, this is a guess), God would have been more clear about the topic of being gay if He (or She, [yes, I also went there]) were truly against it.) 

However, several things the Bible clearly outlines as sin which are still legal and/or accepted are: divorce, pre-marital sex, casting judgment on others, adultery, and “Sunday-fun-day.”  

Hate to ruin your Sunday folks, but the Bible is so clear about Sunday being a day of rest and the “Lords day” that it’s  one of the Ten Commandments. I don’t think God anticipated people using “his day” for binge drinking, NASCAR, or football (another guess).

God made Adam & Eve, not Adam & Steve: Anyone who uses this argument to justify their anti-gay sentiments is not worth talking to. Turn around, walk away, and don’t look back. Normally, stupidity is not contagious. However, in extreme cases like this, it’s not worth the chance. Entertaining this argument might actually be a sin itself. Approach with caution.

Allowing gays to marry will cause the American society to collapse: This is an old argument, which has been used before. It was used when justifying slavery, banning interracial marriages, and when minorities were denied the right to vote. Last I checked, society is better off since ending those policies; and I’m almost certain that the Roman, Grecian, and the Mayan empires didn’t fall because of gay relationships.

The point of my rant is this:If you don’t agree with same sex relationships, then don’t be in one. If you don’t agree with gay marriage, then don’t marry someone of the same sex. 

If you don’t want to vote in favor of gay marriage, then don’t; but quit with the failed logic and nonsensical arguments. I accept the fact that America is a democratic society and people are free to vote however they like. 

If you are one of the dwindling people adamantly opposed to gay rights, there are a few things you should keep in mind: 1) You’re going to be on the losing side of history; 2) Your reasoning, religious or not, is flawed and is in most cases hypocritical; 3) There are, or will be, gay people in your life. At some point you will have to accept that being gay is not a choice, and that gays and their relationships are not going to disappear.

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The Prime Minister also compared the Church, which is fighting the plans, with the Conservative Party for the way it locked out homosexuals for so long.

In remarks to a reception for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-sexual community in 10 Downing Street on Tuesday evening, Mr Cameron paid tribute to Tony Blair’s Government for the way that it had legalised “civil partnerships”.

He said: “I just want to say I am absolutely determined that this Coalition government will follow in that tradition by legislating for gay marriage in this Parliament.”

See the Full Story at The Telegraph

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino spoke out against Chick-fil-A, promising not to let the chicken chain enter the city, after the company's president and COO Dan Cathy made anti-gay marriage comments.

Now, he has sent a strongly worded letter to Chick-fil-A.

"I was angry to learn on the hells of your prejudiced statements about your search for a site to locate in Boston," he writes. "There is no place for discrimination on Boston's Freedom Trail and no place for your company alongside it."

Here's the full letter

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Chick-fil-A, home of chicken-loving bigots, is in the middle of a PR nightmare. After Chick-fil-A's COO admitted to being anti-gay, the Jim Henson Company (bless their heart) pulled their toys from Chick-fil-A's kids meals. Only Chick-fil-A claimed the toys were pulled because of a "possible safety issue". That, of course, is a complete lie. A lie that the company may be propagating with fake Facebook accounts of Chick-fil-a sympathists.

Yep, Chick-fil-A is still stuck in its own reality and is doubling down on its lie. Instead of owning up to the fact that The Jim Henson Company stopped doing business with them because they're overrun with bigots, the chicken sandwich company appears to have made fake Facebook accounts to defend its honor on the social network. How do we know the accounts are fake? Just check out this back and forth on Chick-fil-A's Facebook page between real, breathing people and "Abby Farle", a Facebook account that was made 8 hours ago by a chicken PR flack with a stock image of a teenage girl as her profile picture (see in new window).

Continue reading at Gizmodo

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A year later, Carol Anastasio and Mimi Brown still sound like lovestruck newlyweds.

“We’re more in love now than we were before,” said Anastasio, 50. She and her partner were among the first gay couples to wed in New York last July.

The lower East Side pair had been together more than 20 years before getting the chance to tie the knot in a journey chronicled by the Daily News.

See the Full Story at the NY Daily News

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Two Illinois state representatives on Thursday introduced a joint resolution in support of the state’s ban on gay and lesbian couples marrying.

Representatives Thomas Morrison and David Reis, both Republicans, are backing the measure.

“It is time for the General Assembly to reaffirm their support for Illinois laws reserving the institution of marriage between one man and one woman,” Reis said in a statement. “The people I represent are adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage and troubled by our attorney general’s recent dereliction of duty by not defending our state’s policy on marriage.”

Authored By Carlos Santoscoy – See the Full Story at On Top Magazine

dating-iconI am not all without heart or feelings of loneliness. Just like any other normal human being, I too crave the feeling of being complete with the presence of another person by my side. A

companion to which we share our most inner feelings; of happiness, and sadness; our hopes and desires. And most of all our darkest inner secrets. How many hoops and hurdles a person has to get through to fill that void, and at what price?

In my 2 year quest to find my own hearts desire of a partner (and the sake of research…hehehe) I opened my mind to the idea, my heart to the options, and my wallet to the fees I was about to incur. I had many Online Date sites at my disposal but which to choose? They all claimed to have the highest in members registered. They all claimed you would find true love. So, what makes one stand out the most from others? I found some winning sites.

I had gone through Tru.com. The MOST expensive of the bunch I had joined membership to. I had been given choices, yes; but the majority was all from another state. There were not very many people to choose from here in my state much less my city. When I called to cancel my membership after the trial the customer service rep wasn’t going to let me go so easily. They are the pushiest group that I even had to loose my temper. After my cancellation my bank card was charged for another month. When I called Tru.com they were trying to get me to keep the extra membership instead of doing a refund. I had told them that they made a very big mistake and that I was a freelance writer doing a piece on “Online Date Sites” and boy, did my card get refund quickly with many apologies.

ChickenKissIn

A Facebook page has been launched calling for a national same-sex kiss-in at Chick-Fil-A on Friday, August 3rd. "In honor of their support for love, equality, and the real definition of family, we're holding a NATIONAL Same Sex Kiss Day at Chick Fil A's around the country. So grab a friend (or 20) and head out to your nearest Chick Fil A! And don't forget to post photos/videos of it here! For all the world to see!" The groups Twitter feed is @ntlsamesexkiss.

Fresno will be part of the national day and already has a facebook event.  RSVP on it to be up to date on the local response.

Muppets

The Jim Henson Company, creator of The Muppets, has ended its relationship with Chick-Fil-A over its donations to anti-gay causes, it said in a Facebook note posted on Friday:

The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors.  Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD.

See the Full Story at Towleroad.com

brett_ratner_x-men_star_shawn_ashmore Shawn Ashmore, best known for playing Iceman in the X-Men films, and Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis are among the celebrities participating in a new video campaign from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

GLAAD announced on Sunday the involvement of Ashmore and De Laurentiis in the still unnamed campaign which will feature celebrities, professional athletes and politicians coming “out of the closet” as supporters of gay rights.

Director Brett Ratner announced he was teaming up with GLAAD to produce the video campaign three months after he stepped down as producer of this year's Oscars for using an anti-gay slur.

During a Q&A following a screening of his film Tower Heist, Ratner said that “rehearsing is for fags.” He apologized for the remark and resigned as producer of the annual awards show.

“Straight allies are vital to ensuring that millions of LGBT are treated fairly, and the new spots include both people already famous for their support of the LGBT community and some surprising new ones as well,” GLAAD said in a blog post.

Pecs n City
Ah, fairy tales... The sugar-spun stories of our childhood that made us believe in so many things: happy endings, Prince Charmings, and the existence of trolls. They also made us think about another important fact and I'm not talking about the obvious problems with wearing glass footwear. Fairy tales made us believe that no matter what our station in life, be it stable boy, farmhand, fisherman or pauper, we could win the hand of our true love with nothing but devotion and a pure heart. So answer me this question: if you met someone that you felt a connection with today and they told you they were a stable boy, how would you react? Are you being honest? Because the truth is, even in this day and age, when it comes to dating and relationships we still reside within the confines of the ancient caste system when it comes to the subject of employment. The truth of the matter is we all work for a living. Whether you are digging ditches or performing brain surgery a job is a job. Even though many people use their job as a way of identifying themselves, a job doesn't make you who you are. When you die you will be remembered for the feelings you stirred in those left behind.

Gravestones don't say: "Here lies John. He was a great pharmacist". The inscriptions say the person was loved and will be missed, that they were a great father, a wonderful brother, an amazing friend or a loving partner. We are defined by our actions and our interactions with the other members of the human race and your personality will shine through whether you are holding a scalpel or a shovel. But, even though we shouldn't use our employment or unemployment as a factor, the question of what you do for a living is usually brought up in the first few sentences when two people meet for the first time — usually right after your name and the place where you reside. So does the person's response to "What do you do?" affect your decision on whether or not to go any further? Because I can pretty much guarantee someone's talent for flipping burgers or dealing priceless art is not going to make a difference once you hit the sheets. Here's an example: Years ago I met a guy and we hung out for almost a week before I introduced him to my friends. When they asked me what he did for a living, I told them straight up. He was an assistant manager at a Burger King. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Probably exactly what they were thinking as they scoffed about it for a couple days. Then they met him. He was built like a wrestler and had a face like Liam Hemsworth. Needless to say, I didn't hear much more derision after that. He was funny, sweet and he kissed like he had invented it, and where he worked meant absolutely nothing to me. Since then, and even before then, I've dated guys whose careers were all over the map. Nurses and bartenders, artists and chemists, corporate drones and Starbucks baristas — and even though I parted ways with all of them it was never because of their jobs. So why does it matter to some people and not others? Is it because someone's job is a direct reflection of their background and education? Why should that matter? The world is full of people who pulled themselves up from small towns and working class roots to make something of themselves even though their family tree might trace back to what some would consider undesirable. There are also jobs where someone might make a great deal of money, but it's the job itself that makes someone undesirable. It's common knowledge that a stripper makes more than a schoolteacher, right? I believe the measure of what someone does for a living is in direct correlation to your own materialism and self-consciousness. If money doesn't matter to you and the janitor you just met makes your heart skip a beat then who cares about money? If what other people think is unimportant then there's really no problem bringing a mechanic to a fancy party is there?

The sword cuts both ways, however. Having a great job and a successful career can intimidate people because they don't feel like they are on the same level. Someone who works at a convenience store might feel uncomfortable mingling with the friends of the attorney they are dating. Being unable to jump on a plane to go to Puerto Vallarta at a moment's notice because you have to bartend until 4 a.M. All weekend to pay your rent tends to make you feel poorer than you actually are. Regardless of these trivial things and the ones preceding them it all boils down to compatibility. Does the person you are with make you happy? Are you interested in what they have to say? Do they make you laugh? Does the sex take your breath away? If so, then everything else should fall by the wayside whether you are the one making a hundred grand a year or the one working for tips. What about being attracted to ambition? There are a lot of people out there who believe that someone's drive to make themselves a better person is the same as having a full head of hair or a nice ass or a sense of humor — just another trait that makes someone irresistible. People talk about how it's okay to be a waiter or a bartender as long as you are working toward something else. So it's not okay to just be a bartender? An honest day's work is an honest day's work and when you clock out you're done. Ambition just means you have a strong desire to achieve something through determination and hard work, and sometimes just getting through the day is an achievement in itself. Especially with some of the jobs I've had. How many people out there work mind-numbing, spirit-crushing, well-paying jobs but dream of doing something else? I'm not negating the achievement of going to college, studying hard and earning a degree by any means and I'm certainly not knocking ambition and drive, but I am saying that to deny someone the chance to sweep you off your feet because they make pizza and you perform root canals is foolhardy. Who knows what you might be missing? You don't lie next to a diploma at night, do you? When you first wake up in the morning and you're suspended in that moment between dreaming and facing the day ahead, that's when you are your true self. That is the person you want to be when you meet someone new. Cast off the caste and open your heart. Maybe then you will live happily ever after.

The U.S. House approved on Thursday an amendment that aims to bar same-sex wedding ceremonies from taking place on military bases — although LGBT groups are denying the measure will have any legal impact.

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa,) was approved 247-166 as part of major $608 billion Pentagon budget legislation known as the fiscal year 2013 defense appropriations bill. The House on the same day approved the legislation as a whole by 247-167.

In a floor speech offering the amendment, King, who has reputation for being anti-gay, said the amendment was necessary because the Pentagon is allowing same-sex weddings to take place on military bases and chaplains to officiate over these ceremonies despite the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage.

“This same-sex marriage that has been taking place on our military bases, where otherwise legal around the world, contravenes the Defense of Marriage Act,” King said. “The Defense of Marriage Act means this, actually says specifically this: marriage means only a legal union between one man and one woman, as husband and wife, and the word spouse refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife. Pretty simple statute being contravened by the directives of the President of the United States as exercised through the secretary of defense.”

The Pentagon issued guidance shortly after “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal went into effect giving the OK to same-sex wedding ceremonies on military bases and allowing chaplains to participate in them if they so choose. The guidance states the military facilities should be used on a “sexual-orientation basis” and military chaplains may officiate over same-sex weddings, but aren’t required to do so if that’s contrary to their religious briefs.

Also on the House floor, King knocked Obama for coming out in favor of same-sex marriage, suggesting Obama’s new position is what makes him believe the administration can circumvent DOMA to allow same-sex weddings on military bases — even though Obama announced support for same-sex marriage more than a year after the Pentagon issued its guidance.

“The President has now stepped out and said that he supports same-sex marriage in the United States,” King said. “That is, apparently, the most recent evolution of his position. But an evolving position of the President of the United States cannot be allowed to contravene the will of the people of the United States, as expressed through the statutes of the United States and as signed by previous President Bill Clinton in September of 1996.”

Five Republicans voted against the amendment: Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) and Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.). But 17 Democrats voted in favor of the measure: Reps. John Barrow (D-Ga.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Ben Chandler (D-Ky.), Jerry Costello (D-Ill.), Mark Critz (D-Pa.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Tim Holden (D-Pa.), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Jim Matheson (D-Utah), MIke McIntyre (D-N.C.), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Nick Rahall (D-W.V.), Miss Ross (D-Ark.) and Health Shuler (D-N.C.).

Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.), ranking Democrat on the House appropriations committee and House defense subcommittee, spoke out against the King amendment on the floor, saying he believes lawmakers should discuss DOMA, but in terms of the negative impact it has on gay service members.

 

Seems the House Republicans are afraid that being anti-gay makes them look, well, anti-gay.  Or more importantly, too extremist.  Which is a telling development, that even among conservative Republicans there's a fear of being seen as anti-gay.

From Buzzfeed:

“And it’s that tolerance, I think that that tolerance is something that enables people to be passionate about their positions. And if you’re for gay marriage, this country allows you to express your views. Some states support it and allow it, and others don’t. But its ok to have that difference of opinion in that,” he said.

Cantor, who is also part of the leadership group that has brought a lawsuit against the Obama administration’s decision to not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, argued that open discussion and diversity are what make the nation “unique,” and warned against institutional attempts to enforce a standard position on the population.
Right, that's why Cantor is for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and a constitutional amendment mandating that marriage be only between a man and a woman, because he doesn't want the federal government enforcing a standard position on the population.

Liar.

PS This is the problem of relying on the straight press to cover gay stories - something we have no choice but to do since the economic crisis, and the larger crisis in media, killed the gay press. A gay reporter would immediately think "where do you stand on the Federal Marriage Amendment"? A straight reporter, however, says, "gosh how open-minded of you."

Too late, Chick-Fil-A, the blowback begins. You donate to anti-gay causes, and believe in a biblical business model that does in fact discriminate against marriage equality. Perhaps its leadership forgot all of the states where gay and lesbian couples are indeed legally married. And a lot of homos (and allies) will keep their green dollars out of your establishments. From its Facebook post, trying some damage control:

“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect – regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.

“Chick-fil-A is a family-owned and family-led company serving the communities in which it operates. From the day Truett Cathy started the company, he began applying biblically-based principles to managing his business. For example, we believe that closing on Sundays, operating debt-free and devoting a percentage of our profits back to our communities are what make us a stronger company and Chick-fil-A family.”

EA-against-DOMA

Electronic Arts has joined a coalition of American businesses opposing the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The game publisher said in a statement Wednesday that it was joining dozens of business in signing an amicus brief that urges the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to find the 1996 law unconstitutional. In part, the statement reads:

“DOMA presents a number of problems for businesses like EA, as it creates regulatory, tax, and discrimination complications for employers, and that’s why we’re standing against it. The underlying lawsuit impacts all employers no matter how big or small, and no matter the industry, and we encourage other business to join these efforts.”

 

Read more at Cnet

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Frustrated by the right-wing backlash against the President’s historic support for gay marriage – and fearful of its impact in giving Romney an edge – gay Obama 2012 supporters have launched LegalizeLove.com to generate visiable support for the President’s pro-equality stance. The viral video campaign website’s goal is to distribute 100,000 free bumper stickers that read “Legalize Love” with the “O” being the iconic Obama symbol before the election. Free stickers are being offered on a first-come first-served basis at LegalizeLove.com. To promote the giveaway the website has produced an emotional viral video spot that features moving Obama speech excerpts about gay rights, edited so he is speaking in unison with lesbian and gay couples from all walks of life. The couples are dressed in wedding dresses and tuxedos and the video is black and white creating a wedding portrait feel to bring home the joy of couples in love and the sadness of how gay couples are excluded from marriage rights.

“The President is sticking up for our families and our free “Legalize Love” Obama bumper stickers are our way of literally ‘sticking up’ for him in this tight election.” said Eduardo Cisneros who co-directed the viral spot with his boyfriend Luke Montgomery. “The LegalizeLove.com website and campaign video are our way of saying ‘I do’ to his re-election. It’s all about bumpers for Barack.”

In addition to rallying support for the cause on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr for the free stickers, the website plans to hold “Legalize Love” rallies around the country. Events are being planned at the Republican and Democratic conventions to both show support for the President’s position and place gentle public pressure on him to take concrete action in his second term.

With a goal of giving away 100,000 bumper stickers for free, the website is donating the first 10,000 and inviting the public to participate in helping fundraise for the rest. T-shirts reading “Legalize Love” are being offered on the site starting at $9.99 with each shirt helping pay for 5 more free bumper stickers being printed and mailed to people who sign-up at LegalizeLove.com. The campaign store also has wristbands, tank tops, hoodies, yard signs and buttons to help get the word out and show support for this grassroots movement.

Video co-director Luke Montgomery adds, “A Romney win in November would be a huge loss for equal marriage rights. This is our time, our chance to join together and make a difference. We hope people are inspired to share the video and ‘marry’ this cause at LegalizeLove.com.”

gaywedding-06

When one examines the post-civil rights era in America, following possibly the greatest crowning achievement in policy related race relations in this country; who knew that the creation of hip-hop music – mixed with spoken word poetry – would define a generation of up and coming business, entertainment and political leaders.

From the soulful sounds of the Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron in the 60′s and 70′s, that redefined the meaning of being black in America; to the soothing funk beats created by legends such as DJs Kool Herc and Coke La Rock with the poetically laced lyrics laid down by Kurtis Blow, Grandmaster Flash, Spoonie Gee, Keith Cowboy and more – a generation of music loving leaders were born.

However, while this new hip-hop generation of young leaders in America accredit themselves by knowing the lyrics of the Sugarhill Gang’s ‘Rapper’s Delight’ or KRS-One’s ‘Self-Destruction’; they at times seem confused as to their roles in shaping the direction of this country for the next hundred years or so – not clear as to what they actually believe in or the commonalities they have outside the music.

Authored By Hassan Giordano and Catalina Byrd – See the Full Story at Examiner.com

When I started Gay Fresno, back in 2004, I had no idea how quickly it would grow. But, in five short years, we went from a single website to several community service websites, including a community center. I’m happy to say that we now have our independence back. On May 29th 2012, Gay Fresno and Gay Central Valley, a spinoff and former partner of Gay Fresno, decided to part ways. Certain things will remain as they have from the beginning: an all-volunteer staff working tirelessly to bring the community together, community events, such as the recent LGBT Skate Night for Gay Visalia, and the website itself-for the community, by the community.

So what will change for the flagship organization?

First off, it will be a “not for profit,” rather than a “nonprofit” group. So, while that means you won’t be able to write off your donations, it does mean that your donations will be able to go farther-such as endorsing pro-equality politicians (something 501(c)(3) nonprofit groups are forbidden from doing). Before you gasp at the idea of us jumping into politics, remember that politicians have the power to change the rules. Change doesn’t happen only because we will it to happen. We also need to vote it into office. Unfortunately, even good people don’t get voted in these days.

Second, Gay Fresno is back to its roots: information, availability and community. When I first went out looking for people and organizations to connect with and get help from in the early 2000's, I found nothing but voicemail boxes that did not get calls returned. The LGBT community deserved better. Armed with a desire to inform and connect the LBGT community, especially in a conservative area that had little to no online options available to them, I began Gay Fresno, a website devoted to being the cohesive structure around which a community could grow and connect.

So, what will stay the same?

Gay Fresno, and its co-websites, Gay Visalia, Gay Porterville, and Gay Hanford, will continue to do what they’ve been doing all along: working for the community, by the community, and within the community. The websites will continue to contribute to the community with information and the ability to bring people together through events and activities. People will still be able to write in and comment, and even contribute their opinions and thoughts (this is encouraged). The organization will still promote equality, but will be able to work smarter by utilizing the political world and understanding that if we do not elect pro-equality politicians into office, all the protesting in the world will be for naught. In short, Gay Fresno will have the same message as always: pulling a community together. 

Unfortunately, Gay Fresno walked away from this dissolution without the funds it brought into it. The organization is choosing to look at this as an opportunity to start fresh and to dream big. After all, dreaming big is what got Gay Fresno, the starting point for so many other central valley LGBT groups, so big to begin with. It is what got people giving a dollar here, and five dollars there. It is what got people out and skating or bowling at the community social events. And, there is a fair amount of evidence, that it is what kept more than one LGBT person from feeling alone and hopeless. 

Asking for money is never fun, it is always awkward, and you risk alienating people. But, organizations need funds to run. Gay Fresno has been tirelessly serving this community for eight years, contributing to its growth, its knowledge, and its acceptance. Gay Fresno has and will continue to support community events like Fresno Rainbow Pride, Reel Pride and many other local organizations. We’re where you go to see what is going on in the community, what the latest news is, and even what churches are gay friendly. But we cannot do it without your support.

Please take a moment to visit http://www.GayFresno.com/support and see the ways you can make a difference.

So, there are the changes in store for Gay Fresno. It is back on its own, and back to its roots.

Change can be a good thing.

signature

P.S. Join me in choosing one (or MORE) of the options below that suits you:

DonateShopVolunteer

Gay Fresno is now participating in the Save Mart & Food Maxx loyalty card program. 
Gay Fresno is new to the program, joining up in July of 2012.

Fill out this request form and we'll get a card right out to you!  No cost and no obligation.

If you shop at Save Mart or Food Maxx, they will donate up to 3% of your purchases to support the work of Gay Fresno.

It's a win win!

Get Yours Today!


What is S.H.A.R.E.S.?:

It is an electronic card that you use when making a purchase at Save Mart, FoodMaxx, Lucky or S-Mart foods.

Each time you use the card, up to 3% of all qualified purchases is automatically credited to Gay Fresno!

Present the S.H.A.R.E.S. card to the cashier before you begin your transaction. Your receipt will show the number of points earned for that transaction and the monthly total of points earned.

It won't cost you anything extra.

Thank you for making a difference, one purchase at a time!

Do you already have a card that supports Gay Fresno?

No.  Gay Fresno just joined the program.  But, we would be very honored to have your support. 
You may also support multiple groups by using a different card with each visit.

Get Yours Today!

TEM

Trans-E-Motion is a 501(c)(3) organization offering education, advocacy, and support for the transgender community and their allies.  Trans-E-Motion currently hosts a monthly social, support group, and annual transgender events like The Transgender Day of Remembrance while supporting their community coalitions faithfully.

As the largest Transgender advocacy organization in the Central Valley the demand for resources and community support from the transgender community is ever growing.   Help build our team to insure that help will be there for our community.  How can you help?

Trans-E-Motion is currently seeking new leaders and motivated team members to join their board. Volunteer opportunities would include but are not be limited to: keeping important records, leading committees, recruiting volunteers, attending board meetings, representing us at local events, online networking and social media interaction.

For more information please e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (559) 464-5806.

Note: You do NOT have to identify as transgender to be part of the team! Everyone is welcome.

Zoyer Zyndel

Trans-E-Motion Chair


You'd think that with the real problems facing America these days, and with the undeniable improvements in public opinion we've seen over the past decade or two, most of the culture warriors would have put a lid on it and moved on.

Instead it's like fighting zombies. They just won't die.

In Indiana culture warrior extraordinaire Mike Pence is running for governor, and thanks to his corporate and Christian sponsors, he has piles of money to spend.

Republican supporters of Pence's gubernatorial campaign pooh-pooh the notion that their candidate is an extremist. Pence himself is frantically trying to re-introduce and re-invent himself with huge ad buys that avoid any reference to his (exceedingly lack- luster) congressional performance or to the policies he supports. In the process we've been treated to interminable 30-second spots filled with saccharine drivel intended to repackage and replace the real article.

Did you know he took his wife ice-skating on their first date? Or that his grandfather was a bus driver?

The underfunded and outgunned Democrats have raised the ire of Pence supporters by focusing their response on a booklet published by the Indiana Policy Review when Pence was president of that organization, called Indiana Mandate: an Agenda for the 1990s. Ordinarily, a manifesto issued by a fringe organization nearly 25 years ago wouldn't be relevant today; however Pence has never disavowed the positions it espoused. To the contrary, he has consistently voted for the measures that booklet sup- ported and against those it opposed.

He voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Act — an act to enforce equal pay for women. He has worked tirelessly to completely de-fund Planned Parenthood.

He has opposed the Americans with Disabilities Act, minimum wage laws and the Family Leave Act.

And on issues that matter to the gay, lesbian, bi and trans community, he's been a complete disaster. He supports DOMA, state and national constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage, re-institution of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and a host of other anti-gay measures which he characterizes as "family-friendly" policies.

In fact, Pence's voting record in Congress has been entirely consistent with the positions set out in that long-ago Policy Review document.

In one sense, that's admirable — here's a candidate who has very strong beliefs and who has stuck to them through thick and thin. The whole idea of elections is that we voters get to compare candidates' positions and beliefs and choose between them — and that requires that we know where the candidates really stand. You have to give credit to Rick Santorum whose ideology was very similar to Pence's. He never wavered. Voters may not have liked his positions, but we were under no illusions about what they were.

Unlike Santorum, when most candidates realize that their actual beliefs are unlikely to be embraced by the average voter they do what Pence is doing: they re-invent them- selves. (Zombie? Who, me? I'm just an average Hoosier who sometimes eats brains...)

Mike Pence has never shown the slightest interest in economic development, transportation policy, public administration or the myriad other issues that occupy a governor. His sole passion has been the social issues that divide Americans — and even in the Hoosier heartland most people do not agree with him on those issues. So — voila! — a "softer, gentler" Mike Pence.

Zombies don't die. They hire campaign consultants.

medical-matters

It’s Summer. Have you taken the temperature of your medications lately? Most folks do not realise that the temperature meds store or travel in can do a lot for and to the pills or salves they use to get and stay well. In fact, most people don’t even bother to read the leaflet which comes when their pills are dispensed and even fewer look at the boxes that things like creams (oft used this time of year for poison ivy, rashes or jock itch) or ointments come in, but it’s vital that you do look and try hard to pay attention to what those directions say. Just as it’s critical to take your medicine or use your cream when the doctor says, it’s also important not to let it get too hot or too cold. And our Midwest Summers are a perfect time to ruin the effectiveness of many of the items dispensed from behind the pharmacy counter.

Items which get too hot can have their potency compromised, so they just don’t work — or they don’t work right. Also, some creams, salves and even other meds can be affected by heat. Capsules can melt and leak. Creams and salves can separate and the medication they contain be weakened or ruined altogether. 

So what should you do? Be realistic. Most things come with one of those info sheets or a box with some info on the outside.

First the really easy part: look for the sheet or notice on the box and then read it. See what the manufacturer or pharmacy advise. In most cases the temperatures will be a range. One salve we use says “Store at 20-25 degrees C (68-77 F). Avoid temperature above 30C (86F).” Sounds simple enough, but how many people would read and do it? According to a couple pharmacist and doctor friends we asked, sadly, not many at all. 

And if they do read the notices, do you or they understand what the words mean? Again, likely not. So what does the notice above mean? It means long term this product should be kept between 68 and 77 degrees but it also means you can take it into the heat (to 86 degrees) for a brief while. 

Some meds call this an “excursion” and the box or sheet would read “excursions to 86 permitted.” Our pharmacist friends told us that means a couple or three hours but not all day and no leaving the tube (even in a bag or suitcase) in the seat or trunk of the car where temps this time of year can easily hit 130 degrees and ruin the medicine.

Drops and pills also have their own limitations as one we checked says “Store upright at controlled room temperature 20 to 25 degrees C (68-77 F) and protect from freezing.” That means again what it says, and note that line about how to store it (not on its side) as well as the caution against freezing it in the cold months. Again, think that suitcase on a trip or even sitting in the bag in your car while you run into the grocery after you stopped at thedrugstore. The value of the pills or drops or salve will be, well, practically nil if kept too hot for too long.

There’s also the matter of what you do with your meds when you get them home. A handful say plainly “Refrigerate.” Others, though — the vast majority — are less clear but what all of the sources we consulted were unanimous on was the answer to this question: Where’s the worst place you can store your medicines?

Their answer: In the bathroom medicine cabinet.

Why? Because the moisture level there is unusually high and often that nice, steamy, warm shower you so love heats things up past 77 in the room, too. This can cause medicines to deteriorate and lose their potency or change composition so they might not work well, might work too well (become too strong) or have different side effects — none of which are desirable. So the best thing to do? Unless you have kids or pets with busy hands or mouths leave your pills on the bedside table and keep the lid securely on the bottle. Did we mention air doesn’t do a thing for pills but ruin their potency, too? For salves, sprays and the like the table or cabinet under work fine. Again, though, skip the “medicine cabinet” because it’s not a good, safe place to store medicines you want to last!

Finally, and we will have more on this in a future column, look for and observe the dates on medications. If they expired in 2007 they should have been recycled ages ago. And if you “always have pills left” as a friend does (He always says “in case I feel this coming on again later”.) then you are not following directions. Almost every medication — save for some people take on-goingly like HIV/AIDS or heart meds — need to be taken until they are gone. This is especially so with antibiotics. You may feel well or like you are “over” what ailed you, but if you quit before the medicine is done, the illness could regroup and hit again — often with increased resistance to the drug you were taking. Remember, too, that the doctor and pharmacist are a team and they know how many and what dose you need. Take the pills until they are finished.

Follow all of the directions given by your pharmacist and doctor, too, on interactions. Using a single pharmacy can make this easier as we recently got a call from our druggist that she was declining to fill a pill our physician ordered because it had a “type one interaction potential” — the most serious kind. Had we taken it, there could have been over a 40% chance of developing a stomach ulcer because of an interaction with potassium we also are prescribed. Instead of dispensing it she sent us back to our physician for a rethink which ended with another drug being used to accomplish the same thing.

Remember, the doctor and pharmacist work together and whether or not you use just one pharmacy or multiples, always keep your family doctor (GP) informed of what you are taking — especially if say a specialist or ER visit added something — as well as any changes in your condition. And above all at this time of year, keep cool and let your pills chill with you.

"The AFL-CIO today filed a “friend of the court" brief asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold a lower court’s ruling that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The 1996 law denies federal benefits to same sex couples.

In the brief, filed along with Change to Win (CTW) and the National Education Association (NEA), the three union groups say:

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), by intention and design, ensures that workers with same-sex spouses earn less money, are taxed more on their wages and benefits, and have available to them fewer valuable benefits and less economic security than their counterparts with different-sex spouses.

In February, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled DOMA unconstitutional in a case filed by Karen Golinski, a federal attorney who was seeking family insurance coverage for her wife. But House and Senate Republicans and other groups filed an appeal.

The three labor organizations outline four key ways DOMA limits the rights of workers married to persons of the same sex:

  • First, DOMA prevents or significantly restricts access to spousal healthcare benefits.

  • Second, DOMA denies to same-sex couples benefits provided to other married couples when a worker suffers a workplace injury, or otherwise becomes ill or infirm.

  • Third, DOMA impinges on the ability of workers to plan for retirement by mandating a complete denial of Social Security benefits to same-sex spouses of covered workers, and precludes same-sex spouses from receiving the benefits of tax provisions intended to incentivize savings in private retirement accounts.

  • Fourth, DOMA unfairly circumscribes immigration and naturalization laws for married same-sex couples seeking to work and remain lawfully in the United States.

Click here for the full brief. Also today, more than 130 House Democrats filed a similar brief with the Court of Appeals.  The case is expected to be heard in September.

TransView
I have been reporting on the many legislative advances for transgender individuals. Now I would like to turn some attention on the more practical aspects of transitioning. This month let's look at LEGS. Trans men seem to have better luck in firming up more masculine legs. The hormone quickly supplies more hair and "filling out". To encourage the progress, it has been suggested to me that consuming a soy protein muscle builder herbal as well as combining an effective exercise routine can encourage a little quicker result.

Trans females have a little more "practice" to look forward to. First I have learned from various sources and some detailed observations that males have more of a tendency to swing their arms and shoulders when they walk. Females have more of a tendency to swing their hips and legs when walking (pre-teens can be seen "practicing" this sometimes). It might be beneficial to be a little more consciences about this when strolling down the street. To practice put all of your weight on one leg then shift all of your weight to the other leg when taking a step. Exaggerate this for a while until you get used to it. Wearing heels (2 to 3 inches) will add to the "wiggle". I did come across an exercise to encourage the "hip wiggle" movements for females. Put one of your feet up on a stool (not really high) then lean and rock forward about 10 times. Next move/wiggle hips side to side for 10 to 20 and rotate 10 to 20 or so. Change feet and do again. Another tip I learned was to shorten my stride. Some studies indicate the average women's stride is about 26" or so. Measure the distance from the toe of one foot to the toe of the opposite foot in a step. Higher heels may warrant shorter steps. Wearing pencil skirts will encourage shorter steps also.

There seems to be a consensus among many of my acquaintances that a great many trans females actually make better looking females than the genetically gifted do. They may try harder (make a more concerted effort) in paying attention to a lot of the "little details". Someone once commented to me that the pre-teen and young teen genetic females could spot a trans female a mile away with their backs turned and their eyes closed. The tiny "little details" seem to be that important.

I have been subscribing to an "e-zine" run by Lucille Sorella (www.flat2fem.com) and have learned a few tips on helping to cope with some of those tiny "little details". For winter time a good pair of panty hose or nylons is a must. Try the more tinted as they will hide more yet show off your curves. For the summer I have tried airbrush (aerosol) leg makeup and it adds some color to my legs as well as evens out the different shades my legs have naturally. It also hides some of the faint flaws. It does seem to permanently stain some fabrics, though; careful.

Shoes are a necessity, of course, and keep in mind that a higher heel will cause some contracting of the calf muscles and add unwanted muscular features. Be mindful that some pointy toes can add inches to the feet and square toes can add a "stumpy" look. A round closed toe would work the best for camouflaging those size 10 and above a little better.

Consideration should go to choosing the right length skirt. Calf length for some may come across as a little "dowdy". Too short can also have its own hazards. To find a good length for your legs a fashion rule of thumb may work best to your advantage. Stand upright with arms to your sides. The tips of your fingers should just barely be able to feel the flesh of your legs. This may be the symmetry you are looking for.

Try to find fashion that shows the color RED. This color seems to bring interest to your legs.

Maybe next month I will do a column on VOICE. Meanwhile watch with a detailed eye how others dress, walk, and present themselves. Then PRACTICE.

The author welcomes comments and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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Do you know where you can travel to in Europe and legally hold a wedding for same sex couples?

Even though there are many countries within Europe that offer some form of union or even Marriage – every country with the exception of Gran Canaria (for now) have placed a residency restriction, stopping gay and lesbian couples living outside from coming over and getting married, for example, France, Switzerland, Prague, Spain to name but a few.

What does that mean for us? , a new battle heading its way direct to the EU,

If opposite sex couples can come to the UK and have a legally recognized partnership without a residency requirement – why tolerate discrimination and out right to found a family across Europe.

We request any residency restriction removed from every country in Europe to allow equality to shine and same sex couples to have an open choice.

Sign the Petition Here

State-level Republican parties widely see eye to eye on guns, taxes and the role of government. But they split in every direction when it comes to gay marriage: Some are for it, some are against and other states want to avoid it entirely.

Last week, the Washington D.C. Republican Committee – the equivalent of the state party – became the first state GOP group to officially endorse gay marriage with a plank in its 2012 platform.

Same-sex marriage is already legal in D.C. The “Family and Marriage” section of the new platform affirms, “We, the Republicans of the District of Columbia, support the belief that all individuals, without regard to sexual orientation, are entitled to full and equal protection under the laws and the Constitution and that everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Full Story from TPM

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DC Comics’ hero Green Lantern proposes marriage to his boyfriend in comic book Earth 2.

The proposal comes after gay superhero Northstar married his boyfriend in Astonishing X-Men No. 51 and Archie’s gay character Kevin Keller married his husband in the January issue (#16) of Life with Archie.

Social conservatives have criticized the increasing number of gay characters in comic books.

Full Story from On Top Magazine

congrats
A BIG Congratulations to the winners of our Pride Month contest!
 
 Be sure to join our email list to know when we run our next contest!

 

Christopher M. won:
Kwirkworld River Park

Gift Bag with various items, valued at $162.20

Denise W. Won:
Michael Craghead Stables
Certificate for 3 riding lessons, valued at $100

Kim L. Won:
Ficarra Studios
Certificate for Studio Session & 8x10 portrait, valued at $100

Daniel F. Won:
Starbucks - Tower District
Set of Two 1lb bags coffee and 4 mugs, valued at $67.70 

Randy W. Won:
Amenities Day Spa & Salon Fig Garden
Certificate for Spa & Salon, valued at $50 

BJ K. Won:
CW Ceramics
Ceramic statue, session and item firing

Margo I. Won:
Chase Flowers
Certificate for Flowers, valued at $40.

Angel G. Won:
Valley Animal Center
Certificate for Dog or Cat Nail Trim, valued at $40 Certificate for Dog or Cat Microchipping, valued at $40 

Justin S. Won:
Irene's Cafe
Certificate for Dining, valued at $10

Andee L. Won:
Stevin Osback
Sweet Pea Heritage Candle and holder, valued at $34.96


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The Supreme Court Justices have left a steaming Washington – a summer heat wave and a searing new dispute over how they made the health care decision – but no sooner had they departed than the next major controversy arrived.

Awaiting them at the end of summer will be the issue of same-sex marriage, as emotionally charged as any issue they faced even in the difficult term just ended.

As if to prolong the partisan conflict that surrounded the health care decision, President Obama’s Justice Department is facing off in the new cases against the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives. They will be jousting over the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the 1996 law that defines marriage for all federal purposes (benefits included) as only the union of a man and a woman. More than 1,000 federal laws are involved.

Full Story from the Constitution Center

Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of most of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), most liberals are cheering, most conservatives are feling betrayed by Chief Justice Roberts and are looking ahead to the next election, and most Americans are wondering what this all means. Unsurprisingly, immediate reactions from the left and right may not be well thought out. Legal experts far smarter than I -- Professor Glenn Cohen of Harvard, for example -- have been offering scholarly commentary online, on the radio, and elsewhere; their words are insightful and worth a read. Today, I would like to add a few words about the implications of the Court's decision on the LGBT community.

First, let us rid ourselves of the notion that Chief Justice Roberts's opinion in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius was an unmitigated victory for progressives. In fact, in upholding a law that seems so odious to conservatives, the Chief Justice tried to give the right a legal victory by further narrowing the scope of federal power under the Commerce Clause. That has been the cause celebre of conservatives for decades, and by deciding the case pursuant to Congress's taxing power and quashing the idea that the individual mandate falls under "interstate commerce," Chief Justice Roberts tried to continue the march away from broad Congressional power to pass social legislation.

Read more at Towleroad 

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Happy Friday!

Happy end of July… wow! Did you get all your summer reading/tanning/swimming/relaxing/vacationing… done? If not, or if you still have the energy to be adventurous in August, check out this list of great fun (and sometimes free) things to do in the great outdoors! (Unless you are headed to the movies this weekend… more on that later.)

But before you head off to King’s Canyon for a hike or to pool to get back to relaxing, check out these notes about this week’s news.

Prop 8 Update: CA’s Supreme Court has scheduled a September 6th hearing to consider whether ballot initiative sponsors have the legal standing to fight the court’s previous ruling.

The Baltimore Oriels and True Blood’s Alex Skarsgard joined the “It Gets Better” campaign.

The country of Columbia is planning on legalizing same-sex marriages.

Apple has pulled i-Tunes from the Christian Values Network citing their affiliation with hate groups that are anti LGBT and anti women . But it isn’t just Apple that deserves a thumbs up for distancing themselves from the CVN… Microsoft dropped out two weeks ago, along with Macy’s, REI, Delta Airlines, BBC America and Wells Fargo.

In Olivette Missouri two gay-rights measures passed the city council on Tuesday : a domestic partnership registry and an amendment to an anti-discrimination ordinance forbidding housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Gender bending roles for actors and actresses has been, if not common, not totally unheard of. But what about transgendered actors/actresses? A recent New York Times article talks about the struggle of the trans thespian.

The evolving attitudes towards gay and trans communities in Canada is being credited, in part, to the positive portrayal that such groups have been receiving on mainstream TV and in pop culture.

Mo Rocca (from The Daily Show and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me) has come out of the closet.

Last year’s Day in Gay America from the Advocate was so successful… they are doing I again! Charge your camera, read the details, and then take part!

And lastly… What’s your movie going pleasure this weekend? Cowboys vs Aliens? Or… Neil Patrick Harris and Tim Gunn in The Smurfs!

Here’s the trailer!

 

 

That’s it for me… have a fun, and safe, weekend!

The following is a slice of life piece. The views expressed here do not represent the official views of GayFresno.com, GayCentral Valley, or their members but are the author's own.

 

Ever since I interviewed Matt Mazzei about his grassroots organization, the Rainbow Delegation, (read the article here)), I have proudly worn my own rainbow bracelet. I don’t bother to take it off at that pool or in the shower. It has, like my support of the LGBT community, become an unavoidable part of myself. 

aaaaaa

As you might know, the bracelets are to show support for the LGBT community. I see people wearing them semi frequently and there is always an instant flash of recognizably, a joke of "wonder twin powers" or a smile smile of acknowledgement. we are connected.

It gets noticed by people who are a bit more unfriendly as well. Like the rude man who dumped water on my lap while I was sitting on a city bus for being a “queer lover.”

My bracelet was also noticed, eventually, earlier this week by a Mormon duo, which is the story I am going to tell today.

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Troubled, Grammy-winning singer Amy Winehouse has been found dead in her North London home, Sky News is reporting. The Daily Mail reports that police have confirmed the passing.

In a statement, the London Metropolitan Police said, "Police were called by London Ambulance Service to an address in Camden Square NW1 shortly before 16.05hrs today, Saturday 23 July, following reports of a woman found deceased. On arrival officers found the body of a 27-year-old female who was pronounced dead at the scene. Enquiries continue into the circumstances of the death. At this early stage it is being treated as unexplained."

COURTESY HUFFINGTON POST...READ MORE HERE...

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This Sunday, July 24th, same sex couples will be able to legally wed in the state of New York. The marriage bureaus, which are normally closed on Sundays, have chosen to open, marking this historic event. There were so many requests from the citizens of New York to be married on this monumental day, that the state had to institute a lottery system and choose couples instead.

"...more than 2,600 couples expressed an interest in marrying. Some 823 couples entered the drawing for 764 spots, and city officials announced Thursday that they planned to accommodate all of them."

“Most people are kind of pumped up and excited because they know this is going to be a very special day in the history of civil rights and everyone knows they are going to be playing a role,” said New York City clerk Michael McSweeney. “It’s a time that will be long remembered in the history of New York City, and I think there is a feeling that this is going to be an exciting time to be part of this.”

READ MORE HERE...

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Please join us for a memorial service this Saturday afternoon at Wesley for Laverne Lennon. Because of people like LaVerne we have a reconciling committee at our church that works to bring inclusion of all peoples to our church regardless of sexual orientation. LaVerne meant so much to all of us and will be truly missed. Please help us in celebrating her life and supporting Della.

There will be a lunch to follow the service and then Wesley Celebration will provide clean-up. We are looking for volunteers who would be willing to help with dishes following the luncheon. If you plan on helping please respond by Email or post on our FB wall, www.facebook.com/wesleywc .
LaVerne

From CNN: President Barack Obama has certified that the U.S. military is prepared to accept openly gay and lesbian service members, and that doing so will not harm military readiness, according to the White House.

It was also certified by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. Under a bill passed last year that set up a process for repealing the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy, all three men needed to sign the certification.

A 60-day waiting period will now begin before the repeal is fully implemented. Watch live coverage

President Barack Obama has certified that the U.S. military is prepared to accept openly gay and lesbian service members, and that doing so will not harm military readiness, according to the White House.

It was also certified by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen. Under a bill passed last year that set up a process for repealing the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy, all three men needed to sign the certification.

A 60-day waiting period will now begin before the repeal is fully implemented. Watch live coverage

Happy Friday!

Have you seen the newest Harry Potter movie? Are you all set for Captain America this weekend? Don’t you just LOVE summertime movies? Well, it isn’t The Daily Prophet, but here are a few bits of news and notes to help tide you over between blockbuster movies and keep you company at Comic-Con.

First off, today is the expected day that the Pentagon is expected to announce that gays can serve openly in the military. We will keep you updated as the story unfolds.

Three years after Florida passed the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act, which prohibits the bullying or harassment, including cyber bullying, of any public K-12 student or employee, Miami-Dade County Administration amended their policy to be explicitly inclusive of students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT). The policy will now include “sexual orientation and gender identity” providing clearer protections for LGBT students. .

A tragedy of violence and an frustrating sign from the media.:NBC is reporting that a “transgender person” was shot and killed in northeast D.C. Wednesday morning. Not sure why they couldn’t bring themselves to say ”transgendered woman” since they used the female pronoun throughout the article

Remember last week when we celebrated the passing of the FAIR Education Act? Well, buckle up folks, we are in for a fight to keep it.

Not wanting its murderous homophobia to be out-shined by Africa sister nations like Uganda, leaders in Ghana have revved up their anti-gay policies, with one leader even calling for the lynching of homosexuals in the country

President Obama is planning on nominating Michael Fitzgerald, an out gay attorney in Los Angeles, to serve as a district court judge in federal court in California.

To deal with DOMA, we have the Respect of Marriage Act… and to deal with Focus on the Family and their lies and misleading testimony, we have Al Franken who’s comedic timing and wit coupled with his actually reading the study make him the clear winner, in my book at least.

Sobering statistics: 1 in 4 lesbian teens and 15% of bisexual teens are homeless.

Both The Phillies and Stephen Collbert have joined the fray with their own “It Gets Better” videos.

The continuing saga of the Bachman’s flavor of insanity.

Speaking of the Bachman’s… the Gay Horde Glittered the “Pray The Gay Away” clinic! See it here!

That’s all for me. Have a fun, and safe, weekend!

Tomorrow, Friday, June 22nd, is the expected day that the Pentagon, specifically Leon Panetta, will announce and certify that gays may serve openly in the armed services.

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The decision is not unexpected. The Pentagon has conducted months of internal studies and training to gauge how troops would react to the change triggered by a law passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in December.

President is fully expected to support it, which means that Don't Ask Don't Tell will be a thing of the past by the end of September (implementation takes 60 days after certification).

READ MORE HERE...

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Can we just elect Al Franken as President? Actually he's probably doing better work in the Senate...

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I’m sure you have all seen that Gay Central Valley has expanded. We are very excited and proud to now be operating Gay Porterville. Already there have been articles posted, an up and running Facebook page and more things that you just don’t know about yet. You might be asking yourselves….who is this Gay Porterville? Well, I’d like to take this time to let you know about the woman behind the curtain, so to speak. It is my honor to introduce Melissa McMurrey, Division Leader of Gay Porterville. Melissa has only been with us for a short time but already has great ideas, great initiative and most importantly, a great passion for her community.

Melissa was raised as an Army brat. She and her family lived in various places throughout her childhood; Georgia, Washington, Germany, and New York, to name a few. She spent a lot of her adult life in Santa Barbara. Being out in the world and coming from a pretty liberal area as SB, you can imagine the culture shock she received moving back to Porterville. Lucky for you however, because that is one of her driving forces. Oh yeah, and to answer the burning question….. Yes, Melissa is gay. She currently lives with her partner of a year. She also has a dachshund named Sadie. She’s an Aquarius, likes long walks on the beach and her favorite color is teal. Did I just take that too far? :)

To give you a better perspective of her, we had a little Q&A session and here’s what she had to say:

What was your biggest adjustment moving back to the valley?

Biggest adjustment would have to be lack of cultured events and/or not having the option to do anything after 9pm locally that doesn’t include alcohol or strippers…although those things can be fun too. (Note to self: Take Melissa out for alcohol and strippers)

What was your motivation in starting up Gay Porterville?

Having been raised in various parts of the world I've had the opportunity to see full acceptance and tolerance of people outside of the traditional norm. Having Porterville to come back to on and off throughout my army brat upbringing made it easy to see how repressed the central valley is and saw what kind of advancements it could make. Porterville being off the beaten path sometimes contributes to the lack of resources we have here.

What do you think the hardest struggle for your area is?

Gosh, where to begin? Lack of LGBT community resources. Lack of understanding by the general population of LGBT issues. I feel that many LGBTQ people in the area think they are alone but don’t realize how many of us are actually here.

Did you find it difficult coming out to your friends and family?

I actually made a mountain out of a mole hill with this one. I had anticipated some resistance from my retired military gone correctional officer father but he actually was really open to the fact. My dad’s exact words were “I don’t care who you date as long as they treat you right and make  you happy”…another favorite quotable from my dad when I first came out to him was in my asking him if he feared I wouldn’t be giving him grandchildren he said  “What? Why? Women get inseminated all the time!! You better be giving me a grandkid!” With my mom…I was very fortunate to have the opportunity in coming out to her shortly before she passed away. My mom’s response was “I always knew something was up…especially with the effeminate men you used to date”. Friends… Again, I have been really fortunate in my coming out experience. Most of my friends stated they weren’t surprised and found it exciting. However, I do have one or two friends from high school that have struggled with it. They have voiced their more conservative opinions to me but I take it as a challenge to try and educate them rather than turn the other cheek.

What can the community do to help you in your efforts?

Voice their opinion. Pass any information or leads they may have to me. Voice any ideas they have or resources that I can try and harvest into a community resource or outlet.

What's the one goal that you, Gay Porterville, have for this year?

I have a couple of ideas still brewing that I still need to figure out a means and a plan of action for. I would like to get the LGBT community working on some volunteer projects and other types of community outreach where we are working side by side with other everyday people. I also am looking to get a general LGBT support group going to allow people of like mind to get together and chat.

Have you ever been discriminated against for identifying as an LGBT community member?

I've had a few comments and remarks made to me since I've been back in the area but nothing I really cared to hear. I imagine as I become more active in the community more people will recognize and associate me with the gay community possibly making me a target for discrimination. But I am ready and excited for that challenge.

Now that you have people's attention, what would you like to say to them?

That I would like for any member of the community to feel comfortable in approaching me at any time for any reason. I will never judge anyone for their feelings. I am a safe space. I will always do my best to help in any way I can...If I personally can't help I will find the appropriate resources.

I’m excited to have her with us and I’m really glad that the Porterville area has someone who can help continue the growth that has been started. Many of you have already done such great things there, together, you guys will be amazing. I encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity. Connect, share, engage and empower. Melissa is full of ambition and truly wants to bring everyone together for a stronger and better community.

Melissa: On behalf of myself and Gay Central Valley, welcome and thank you for coming aboard. The journey you are embarking upon is not an easy one at times, but I can’t think of a better person for the job.

Get involved Porterville, let her know what you need and how she can help!

Melissa McMurrey

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

559-791-8699

www.GayPorterville.com

Courtesy The Huffington Post...

r-BARACK-OBAMA-DEFENSE-OF-MARRIAGE-ACT-large570

President Barack Obama is throwing his support behind a bill that would repeal the federal government's ban on same-sex marriage.

The president has "long called for a legislative appeal for the so-called Defense of Marriage Act which continues to have a real impact on families," White House spokesman Jay Carney announced Tuesday.

The president is “proud to support” the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, Carney said.

The Obama administration announced in February that it believes the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and would no longer defend it in court.

READ MORE HERE

Labels: necessary, but sometimes annoying.

What’s the point of a label? Isn’t it to provide some sort of description, some sort of understanding or explanation? As in, “How can I explain why all these things on the table should go together… I can classify them as all being products from the garden, all with seeds in the middle, thus: fruit!”

Of course, labels get more complicated when it comes to people. We want to label ourselves in ways that we appreciate or support. We shy away from other people labeling us, especially if we doubt their motives or don’t agree with their classifications.

When I was young there was Gay. There was Lesbian. Then, there was Bi. Bi was relatively new, at least in my experience. It wasn’t really mainstream, and there were a lot of notions of what it meant. Namely that it was a label for fence sitters who were afraid to go all the way to Gay-dom “Bi now, Gay later” etc. It also had the reputation of being shifty, slutty, and untrustworthy.

One of the things labels do is attach or confirm stigma or stenotypes, which is why we are so careful when allowing ourselves to be labeled. I resisted the label of “bi” for years because I didn’t see myself as a fence sitter, a slut, or a shifty spy. I saw myself as able to fall in love (and sometimes lust) with a person despite their gender, not because of it.  I was, and still am, attracted to people based on their personalities, their senses of humor, their ability to converse intelligently, etc. What does or doesn’t dangle between their legs is beside the point. When pressed, I usually would say that I was into people, not gender.

I became more comfortable being bi partly from exposure to more understanding and less judgmental people, and partly from a desire to change the stereotype.

And then I was introduced to the concept of Pansexual.  “What does that mean?” I asked innocently enough.

“It means that I am attracted to people based on their personalities and not limited by genitals. I‘m gender blind.”

“In my day, we called that bisexual.”

“No, bisexuality is limited. You only love two genders. I have the capacity to love them all.”

Let me stop right here and add that due to the fact that I am typing this, you might not be getting the smugness and slight condescending tone of this particular pansexual person.

This definition, and the way it was delivered, bothered me. A lot. While it is true that the strict dictionary definition of bisexuality does indeed refer to two, I would argue that most bi people would use almost the exact definition. Why, then didn’t we chose the term pansexual?

Because language is fluid. Because it wasn’t an option back then. Because the choice had been Straight, Gay (subset Lesbian) and the Bi community needed a third option.

Not because we are all drones who only think in binary terms.

Upon more polite conversations with members of the pansexual community, I have been given a more specific definition: Pansexuality is sexual attraction to people of all genders and non genders. It grew up out of a lack of language revolving around the trans community.

For example, Bob is in process of becoming Betty. Bob/Betty is not currently portraying him/herself as either gender. And you fall in love with him/her during that transition. Or, a young person named Pri has decided to be genderless and wants us to use the gender neutral pronoun Ze. And you fall in love with Zir. Are you bi, or is it more complicated than that? Enter the phrasing of pansexual.

This, I can understand and to a small extent support.

While I think it is nice to see a group of people determine that no current label works for them and thus introduce a new label into our community and society at large, I do think that in a community that prides itself on looking beyond the base level, we might have tried to expand the definition of bisexuality to move beyond the literal and into this realm. (But they didn’t ask me, and it seems that pansexuality as a label, as the new version of bi, as Bi-Plus if you will, has already been voted on, ratified and put into place.)

I don’t think this is the last time that our community will need to re-label itself or create language that will better serve our needs. I do think that when we do that, we need to be cognoscente of the real and implied definitions of the words we are updating and replacing. We need to consider the motivations, the limitation, and the context of the original definitions.

We also need to be cautious. In a community that is already disenfranchised, already set apart and looked down upon, already fringe… we need to chose our moments of dissention so as not to further fracture ourselves. By creating categories and sub categories of labels within our own group, we run the risk of not being able to provide a united front to the outside world which is ready and willing to use any perceived crack in our facade as a breaking point.

And let’s not forget, labels are political not just personal. They matter. They are what is going to be used by our enemies as well as our friends. Now, I am not saying that we need to let the outside world determine our inner processes, but I am saying that we must be careful where we draw the lines and how.

Again, labels are useful. They help us categorize, define, and understand who we are. But because language and social norms are continually evolving, labels can also be fraught with misunderstanding, unfair judgments, and confusion.

Take note from the trailer...the government only stopped using homosexuality as a reason to deny employment in 1995...

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Good news from South America.

Columbia might be the next country to legalize same sex marriage.

The country is already steos ahead of neighboring countries in terms of same sex couples rights. Since 2007, the country has provided more than 30 rights to same sex couples including social security pension benefits.

The high court has until July 22nd to make a decision regarding marriage and adoption rights for same sex couples. Read more here.

From all of us at Gay Central Valley, we'd like to show our appreciation to those who stepped up to the plate and volunteered at this years fireworks stand.  Your time and energy allows us to help our community.  Without the help of our many volunteers and the following businesses and organizations, the GCV fireworks stand could not have happened.  And of course, those who came from all over the Central Valley to purchase from Fresno's only LGBT oprated fireworks stand.  THANK YOU!

 

TheFresnoExpress
Saturday, July 2nd Fireworks Show & BBQ: Food & BBQ items donated by The Express.


pge_logo
Event volunteers & financial grant provided by PG&E Pride Network


Volunteer Meals provided by:

Straight Advocates for Equality (SAFE)
IMAG0065
Mary Ann & Josh

Tower Dogs

TowerDogs

Piemonte's Italian Delicatessen
Piemontes

Happy Friday!

Can you believe that July is half over? I already see “Back To School” signs…

And what a great way to transition into one of more exciting pieces of news from the week. Yesterday Governor Brown signed the FAIR Educationl Act which mandates that the contributions of the LGBT community be included in social studies and history curriculum. This is very exciting as CA is the first state with such a mandate and many feel that steps like this will help curb the bullying epidemic in our schools. Read the whole story here.

A two year reprieve for a same sex couple facing deportation proceedings.

Former Cowboys star and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin appears shirtless on the cover of Out - the most widely read gay magazine in the world - to lend his support to gay rights. "I don't see how any African-American, with any inkling of history, can say that you don't have the right to live your life how you want to live your life," he said, according to the magazine. "No one should be telling you who you should love, no one should be telling you who you should be spending the rest of your life with. When we start talking about equality, and everybody being treated equally, I don't want to know an African-American who will say everybody doesn't deserve equality."

Larry King and Kristin Bauer have joined the NOH8 cmapagin.

Argentina Celebrates Nearly 2,700 Weddings In First Year Of Gay Marriage

Some GOP leaders aren’t signing the “Marriage Vow” that is causing so much controversy.

From GLAAD: “A new report released on Tuesday by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs shows that the number of hate crimes against people in the LGBT community rose 13% in 2010, and that minorities and transgender women were most likely to be targets of violence.”

And lastly a bit of silly…. Davey Wavey (self proclaimed fitness guru and internet sensation) brings us “How to be gay on a budget!”

That’s all for me. Have a fun, and safe, weekend!

Gay Central Valley's own Kaylia Metcalfe participated in local news coverage of the newly signed Fair Education Act...

kaylia2

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO

 I called it the Fair and Equal act… Oops, It was, and still is, the FAIR Education act.

And it was signed by Governor Jerry Brown, today.

Many of us applaud this as a big step towards equality, towards an end of bullying, towards a future where inclusion and not exclusion is the norm.

But as you celebrate and link on Facebook be prepared. People will tell you that this law restrics the rights of parents, that it dictates policy that will teach sex to first graders, that parents will lose all rights to educate their kids…. The list goes on and on.

It is tempting to say “Wrong, wrong, wrong….” But that probably won’t get you anywhere.

In this case, it easy and very effective to simply point the nay-sayer to the Actual Text of the Bill which does NONE of those things. Here it is!

Go forth… celebrate, educate, and empower!

Breaking news!

Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation today that makes California the first state in the nation to require the inclusion of the contributions of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans in school history lessons and textbooks.

Yay!

Read the whole story here.

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GLSEN, a leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students, recently launched its 2011 National School Climate Survey to LGBTQ youth. This survey is GLSEN’s 7th national survey of LGBT youth and is the only national survey that specifically examines the experiences of LGBT youth in middle and high school. It calls for youth to respond about their experiences with harassment and victimization at school, hearing biased language from students and school staff and with other factors that affect their overall feelings of comfort and safety at school. The information gathered from this survey will help GLSEN to advocate for the rights of all students to be treated with respect in their schools.

Please share the link to this survey with your youth. http://www.glsen.org/cgi-bin/iowa/all/library/record/2730.html?state=tools&type=student. The survey takes about 25 minutes to complete and is anonymous.

Thank you,

Leslie

Leslie M. Kantor, MPH

National Director of Education Initiatives

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

434 West 33 Street

New York, NY  10001

212-261-4372 (voice)

646-745-0949 (cell)

212-868-4262 (FAX)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thanks to Jay Hubbell for finding this video...

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The word “community” gets a lot of attention in our, umm, community. We talk about building it, strengthening it, fostering it, protecting it, celebrating it…

Recently, I have heard a lot of people talking about how they don’t feel they fit into this community or that community. I’ve been told that the spectrum of “too gay” to “not gay enough” leaves people out or feeling marginalized.

Yes, we are a group of diverse people. We each have our own backgrounds, out own priorities… our own stories. We need to celebrate our differences. We need to share our backgrounds and our priorities. We need to tell our stories.

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Avery who wished he had been named April instead...

Once upon a time there was a party where some drunken frat boys painted the word “Fag” on the side of Mr. Peterson’s car...

Once upon a time there was a girl in a rainbow bracelet who was hassled by an old man who called her a “queer lover” and dumped a bottle of water on her lap...

We all have stories. One of the best ways to bond with a new person is to swap a story, to delve into a shared context and find out what you have in common. “You went to that school? Me too. Did you have Mrs. Groph for art?” “Yeah, I loved that movie, I really liked how it felt so real.” “When I was seven I broke my arm too!”

But stories do more than build bridges, they build communities. It is with this in mind that I want to cordially invite you to share your story. Yep, YOUR story.

USP (United Student Pride) is currently accepting submissions of personal stories, essays, or poems of the LGBT experience (either directly or peripherally) for an anthology that will be published later this year. 

They are looking for voices beyond the college, beyond the inner sanctum of activism. They want to hear from you.

The anthology will be available in local public and school libraries as well as the LGBT Community Center here in Fresno. It is important that the community of tomorrow understand the community of today.

Details

• 1,000 word maximum

• Coming out stories and/or GLBT+ issues

• Allies GLBT+ support stories

• Poetry

• Fiction/Non Fiction Prose

• Must pertain to GLBT+ issues • Contributors do not have to identify as GLBT+

• Due by Monday, August 1st

Please visit: This link to download the submission file. For more information, or to inquire about the suitability of a piece, call (559)285-0795 or e-mail Zoyer at zoyer_zandel @ yahoo.com

If you need or want help with writing your story, essay, or poem…. Please feel free to come to the LGBT Community Center this Saturday from Noon – 3pm for a Writer’s Workshop.

At the Writer’s Workshop you can

*Use the Center’s computer to submit your story.

*Get hands on writing advice from experienced writers (Help with anything from grammar to creative diction, to narrative flow!)

*Discuss and workshop ideas.

*Get typing assistance if needed.

*Have a safe place to talk about coming out issues, bullying issues, or anything else that relates to your experience as a member of the LGBT+ community.

Details can be found on the event’s Facebook Page. Again, as we as a community work on making Fresno a safe place to come out, a place where everyone in our community can be visible, vocal, and active… we need to share, to bond, to grow. Telling our stories, even just to ourselves, is an excellent way to do just that.

Won't children be destroyed by the idea of gay couples? Hmmm...

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800px-Rainbow_flag_and_blue_skies1

Here's a Happy Pride Photo Collage from New York Pride 2011...check out the Happy Faces at Pride in Madrid...where this unbelievable piece of man meat danced for the crowd...there are more than a few hot contestants in the Mr. Gay Pride Espana contest...a huge crowd and lots of feathers turned out for London Pride...also in London, check out how many turned out for the post Pride Soho Street Party...check out Margaret Cho & Friend performing at L.A. Pride...lots of questions and answers during Hot Topic With Phil during Toronto Pride...the Sirens Motocycle Club kicked off NY Pride...get up close and personal at Paris Pride...was the leader of Iran at SF Pride?...and did the Backstreet Boys peform?...check out some Sexy Pole Dancers...and Martha Wash performed at Pride in San Antonio...

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Happy Friday!

Today is a big day for the Liberty Bell! On this day in 1776 the Liberty Bell was first tolled to announce the first hearing of the Declaration of Independence, which had been signed four days earlier. In 1835 the Liberty Bell cracked while tolling for the death of the first Chief Justice, John Marshall answering forever the question of “For whom doth the bell toll to the point of breaking?”

Ahem.

As we head into another weekend of 100 plus temperatures, here are a few non-bell related notes and stories from this week’s news.

On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a two-page order against the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell” in a case brought by the group Log Cabin Republicans. You might remember that last year President Obama ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but before it could end they had to prove that the ban wouldn’t have negative effects for the military. Thus, while it was getting ready to officially end, it was still being enforced . Until now.

Myley Cyrus tweeted her support again for gay marriage this week.

The Red Sox released their own “It Gets Better” video last week. Using both team members as well as fans, the video joins that of the SF Giants and the Chicago Cubs.

A recent quote from India’s Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad reminds us all that though strides have been made in India regarding changing attitudes towards homosexuality, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Russell T. Davies, you might remember him as the creator of the original British Queer As Folk or for his more recent work on Dr. Who and Torchwood, is working on a new show for Showtime called Cucumber that will also real with the sex and regular lives of gay men.

As I mentioned yesterday, the CA bill that would mandate the teaching of LGBT contributions to history etc is now waiting for Governor Brown’s signature to become law. He was two weeks from yesterday. We will keep you updated.

Last month’s 5-4 Holland City Council vote against expanding the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes was not challenged in the City Council meeting this week meaning the lack of protection will stand and will continue to stand until a Council member places it back on the table for debate. Supporters vow to attend every meeting until their demands are met.

And lastly, not related but still fun, Fresno’s own Man Vs Food… a 30 inch burrito from El Mariachi. So far no one has been able to finish the huge publicity getting brrito. The wall of shame has claimed 13 contestants.

That's it for me, have a fun, and safe, weekend!

Last Friday I mentioned the Fair Education Act, a law that would require the roles and contributions of LGBT people to be added to History and Social studies curriculum.

The bill has made it past the state assembly and is now waiting the signature of Governor Jerry Brown.

Supporters of the bill, that landed on our Governor’s desk on Tuesday, say that not only will it make things better in terms of education, but that it might actually make schools a safer place for students. EQCA spokesperson, Mario Guerro points out that kids already hear the terms “gay” “lesbian” “bisexual” and “transgendered” but they are usually used as insults. If the terms could be placed in a context of positivity, that might go far in terms of building acceptance.

The Governor has two weeks to sign the bill into law and despite loud cries from the opposition, many at the Capitol feel he will indeed sign it.

Being part of the LGBT community means that you are frequently bombarded with bigoted incorrect assumptions about what being LGBT is; what it means in terms of rights, and what it means in terms of self.

These conversations can be difficult to deal with. At times, I know, some of us wonder if we should even bother. There seems, at times, to just be those people who don’t understand, who don’t want to understand, who refuse to understand…. They are an insurmountable wall of prejudice or religious dogma.

This is true in some cases to be sure, but let me tell you a story. and then, let me give you some tools to fight back.

Happy Friday!

Pride month is over… welcome to July! Month of fireworks! And speaking of fireworks, (and not the Katy Perry exploding boobs (!) sort of fireworks…) Don’t forget to buy your excuses for rampant flaming at the Gay Central Valley Fireworks stand at Palm and Olive. Come by and visit!

But before you go out and buy dangerous (and yet oh so fun) ways to celebrate your patriotism, here are a few notes about this week’s news.

The big story actually broke last Friday when New York became the seventh territory (6 states and the DC) to allow same sex couples the right to marry. Yay!

The same sex couple involved in that bankruptcy case you might remember from a while back, has decided to put the case on track to be heard by the Supreme Court in 2012.

Lil B's new album "I'm Gay" dropped on Wednesday night. The album doesn't actually deal with homosexuality at all.

Maine: Back in 2009 the legislature passed a same sex marriage law which was repealed by the voters. Now, the fight has a new chapter as gay rights activists are gearing up to place a law allowing same sex marriage back on the Maine ballot for 2012.

Good news for same sex couples who might not both be America citizens... deportation proceedings have dropped in this case and while it does not set legal precedence, it does indicate a change in climate.

Rhode Island passed a Civil Unions law that has many in the LGBT community displeased . The law allows for religious based organizations (like a Catholic hospital) to ignore the union of same sex couples (like deny partners visitation rights).

California: The Fair Education Act has passed out of the State Senate and is now headed to the State Assembly. The bill would require that roles and contributions of LGBT Americans, like other traditionally overlooked groups, be included in school curriculum. Despite resistance, the bill is seen as likely to become law, making CA the first state to have such mandates.

And lastly, in honor of NY and same sex marriage.... I give you this classic Sex With Ducks.

That’s all for me… have a fun, and safe –stay in the shade!-, weekend!

 

Join our Community Engagement Team and spend time each month giving back to Central Valley nonprofit organizations and representing the LGBTQIA community! We will spend one day a month volunteering to improve the lives of others, as a team alongside others in the Fresno area who are making a difference. Team Members will receive a free Gay Central Valley tee shirt to wear at volunteer events. Gay Central Valley  will do the leg work to set up volunteer days with friendly organizations and send you a reminder to attend and help. Our second volunteer day will be the morning of August 14th at the Valley Animal Center, where they are excited to have us training dogs to be more adoptable 8 am to 10 am, we will work with a professional dog trainer who will show us how to train a dog (we will each be assigned a dog for the session) to sit, stay, etc. so that when a potential adoptive parent comes in they get an adorable doggie that already knows his or her stuff!  GCV will bring your tee shirt and  we will all have a fun evening getting to know one another while doing some good. For more information and to sign up today to be a team member (and give us your shirt size!), send an email to our volunteer coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

I tried Jimmy's Eastside Tavern last Sunday. It replaced Long Island Bar and Grill on Kings Canyon just east of Clovis Avenue in southeast Fresno. You walk into Jimmy’s and it is relatively dark with no windows and a large bar in the middle of the room.  The outer walls are lined with comfortable green vinyl booths.  It still looks very much like Long Island minus the table clothes.  The service is super friendly and ensures that you get everything you need promptly, but they do not serve your next course until your last course is done either, unlike restaurants that shove you your meal in the middle of your appetizer.  I ordered the stuffed portabella appetizer, and the prime rib special. The stuffed portabella filled with meat and cheese was flavorful and juicy. The specials, which they only serve on Sunday, come with a soup or salad and an ice cream sundae included for only around $20. The soup of the day was gazpacho, a cold Spanish tomato soup that is very refreshing on a hot summer day.  The prime rib which I ordered medium rare was cooked to order. Though it could have been more tender, it was not too tough either.  Beside it was served very creamy mashed potatoes and a stir fried mixture of multicolored bell peppers cooked just right, warm, but not soft. For dessert came the ice cream sundae, a very rich vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate syrup.  The cocktails are of medium strength, not particularly strong, but not weak either. The food is very traditional and not particularly inspired, but still very good for the price.  For those on the far southeast side of Fresno, where it is the only upscale restaurant besides DiCicco’s, it is worth a try.

Courtesy Metro Weekly

On Wednesday, July 28, eight individuals associated with Get Equal were arrested for "Unlawful Conduct - Demonstrating in the Capitol Building," according to the U.S. Capitol Police, following a protest in which the eight stood silent with signs serving as a "reminder" to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) that she had promised a vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act this year. The eight then, as the Rotunda was being cleared of visitors and media, sat down, began pounding the marble floor and called for a vote on ENDA. Among those arrested was Zack Rosen, of the blog The New Gay.

Video: Chris Geidner
Editing: Aram Vartian

The Fresno Bee, as well as local news channels, are reporting that the driver of the SUV which rolled over on Highway 41 and caused the Greyhound Bus accident was intoxicated. It's also being reported that the bus driver was not under the influence of alcohol.

The driver of the SUV was 18 years old, and along with the other two women in the vehicle, also under the age of 21, had been at the Integration party at Starline nightclub that night. Integration is an 18 and over dance party hosted weekly at the club.

One of the most outspoken opponents of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy said Thursday that he has been discharged from the Army.

He admitted his sexual orientation publicly for the first time last year on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show," prompting the Army to initiate proceedings to discharge him.  One part of the story is why others who have started the "don't ask, don't tell" discharge process sooner than Choi are still pending and Lt. Choi was discharged so swiftly.  On CNN it was implied that his acts of civil disobedience and arrests in uniform that may have caused the discharge.

Read more at CNN

                It was hot. It was probably the hottest day of the year. It wasn’t eighty degrees. It was ninety degrees. The sweat in the air seemed to make it even worse. This was the type of day that made you want to watch television. This type of day made you want to go swimming with friends. It was the kind of day in which you could only think about the night and how beautiful it was going to be outside. I wish I would have had a ping pong table in the basement or a pool in the back yard. A bunch of friends is want I wanted. I wanted so many things but it was difficult because there were other obstacles. So many obstacles.

                My mother was out in the living room snoring and I was tired of Facebook arguments and games. I was tired of being online and I had been up late already the night before. I didn’t want to get my mom upset at me by waking her up and plus she had the TV blaring. If I had changed the channel she would have woken up. So instead of waking the beast of burden I stayed in my room with nothing to do.


Twenty activists from GetEQUAL shut down the Las Vegas strip this afternoon after unfurling a banner calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to a vote.

Photos of the event as it happened, from 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Read more at TowleRoad
From our friends at The Living Room:

We are pleased to announce that The Living Room has entered into an agreement with Fresno County Department of Public Health to perform rapid HIV testing at The Living Room (601 E Belmont Ave. Fresno CA 9370) from 4 to 7PM on the third Tuesday of every month. We will begin the collaboration this month on July 20th.

5 Reasons to Get HIV Tested

1. Early intervention means a healthier life
The key to living a healthy life with HIV is being diagnosed early. Getting into the care of an HIV specialist is an essential part of staying healthy. Get tested and if you are positive, find an HIV specialist.

2. Knowing your status protects you both
Knowing your status allows you to protect your partner as well as yourself. Even if you are both positive, safer sex techniques are a must.

3. Knowing your status allows you to make informed decisions
Knowing your status allows you to make informed decisions regarding your future and your life.

4. Now you can ask the right questions
Knowing your body is an important part of living a healthy life. Get tested for HIV and if you are positive ask the right questions.

5. Know your status... get the most of your doctor visits
When you're not feeling well, your doctor will be better able to treat you if he has all the facts. If he knows your status, he can address the special needs your HIV demands. And it's up to you to get the most of your doctor visits.

The Boys and the Bees
 
Author Joe Babcock
 
  
 
Rated: Two snaps up with a twist
 
I really liked this storyline because it took me way back to when I was in elementary school. (This, may I add, was not long ago.)I still remember the little sexual flings my and I had. My 'friends' and I didn't know really what we were doing but had a sense of belonging to each other. This story can really make a person related with inner conflicts of ones own personal identity and sexual frustration of not understanding what to make of the whole thing. (Talk about your Jekyll and Hyde personality.)
 
James loves his friend Andy. Andy is falling hard for Mark. And mark is …straight? Things are not always what they seem in a sixth grade catholic school class, as this charming and bittersweet novel shows.
Twelve-year-old Andy immerses himself in his love for comic books:when he's not thinking about Mark, the captain of the basketball team, or dodging the pinings of his childhood friend, James. Ever since adolescence made James' sexuality more apparent to his peers, Andy fears he will be exposed just by association. The only way to change his social status and get closer to Mark is to try out for the basketball team, which seems like a hopeless cause, not only because he can't play, but because he sure Mark is more interested in the popular female student all the boys are after. Mark may be a jock, but one should never assume that means he's straight…

If you would like to drive together.........contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This is the last time Dr. Pearson is scheduled to be in California this year.  If you know anyone who would benefit from attending this workshop, please pass it along.  As you know this material is extremely well researched.

Christianity & Homosexuality
Reconciled
Workshop

Experience a break through in a safe space!

This FREE workshop will answer all your questions about the Christian faith and lesbian, gay, bisexual and Transgender people.(Free lunch provided)

Who should attend?
Christian lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders who nee a firmer understanding of how the Bible does not condemn them.

Straight family members  and friends who want to learn more about these issues and support their loved ones.

Nonchristian lesbian, gays, bisexuals and transgenders who would like to learn why many conservative Christian groups oppose  gay marriage and how to address these issues on a cultural basis. 

Church ministers and members who might like their church to become more LGBT-friendly. (This format is very interactive and allows participants to ask questions in a safe environment)

Sponsored by
Freedom In Christ Church of San Francisco
Facilitated by Rev. Joseph A. Pearson, Ph.D.

Date: July 31, 2010
Location:St. Mark's Lutheran Church,  1031 Franklin St.                                                   

(Parking is Free)San Francisco, CA (Lower Level Fellowship Hall)
Time:10am to 4pm

Questions? 415-970-8149

BREAKING: DC Court Rules Against Foes of Marriage Equality

 
 

By  Michael Cole
July 15th, 2010 at 10:47 am

Big victory for marriage equality in DC!  Today the DC Court of Appeals ruled against foes of DC marriage equality who had wanted to put an initiative on the ballot to invalidate same-sex marriages entered into in the District.

While Bishop Harry Jackson, a pastor in Maryland, has been the public face of this litigation, the truth is that outside groups like the National Organization for Marriage and the Alliance Defense Fund are the driving force behind these anti-equality measures.

“The court’s ruling today is a significant victory for justice, the rule of law and the protection of all D.C. residents against discrimination,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “It’s time for the National Organization for Marriage to realize equality is here to stay no matter how much money they want to throw at turning back the clock.”

Visit HRC to read the rest of the story, CLICK HERE.

In a somewhat surprising move, a federal judge has ruled that the Federal ban on gay marrage (DOMA) is unconstitutional.  Now, the wait begins to see if the Obama administration will appeal this ruling.  Read more at the New York Times.

 

I have to admit, Pride in Madrid looks like a lot of fun...including the huge circuit party...Madrid Pride also featured a performance by Kylie Minogue...after Madrid, head on over to Barcelona Pride...Gay Pride in Paris included a dance routine by men and women in hospital scrubs...What are people in New York talking about at Pride parties? Here's a 45 Second Remix...People from all over London in all kinds of locations participate in a music video for "Holding Out For A Hero"...Deborah Cox performed "Absolutely Not" at Toronto Pride... where you could also see "The Penis Guy"...and watch Tony have a breakdown in the street after his boyfriend breaks up with him...can you imagine participating in a day of Pride that takes place right in front of in front of the Colosseum in Rome?...here's a great video of highlights from the San Francisco parade...London Pride was lead by a massive rainbow flag...Cher made a surprise appearance at San Antonio Pride...where apparently their parade is at night...and let me tell you, this conversation takes place in Minnesota, but I've had more than a few conversations like this myself...also in Minnesota was Ross Matthews from The Tonight Show. He invaded the Pride festival to chat with the crowd, as well as ask what people are proud of, then introduces himself as Jasmine, and finally joins in to sing Beyonce's "Halo" 


Wow...

It's quite an experience operating a fireworks stand for one week in the middle of a Fresno Summer. We at Gay Central Valley decided some time back to try our hand at this once a year fundraising opportunity. We didn't have much of an idea what we were getting into. We had no reference since none of us have ever done it before. Still, we took on the task. To get a license to operate a fireworks stand in Fresno you have to be an official nonprofit organization, then submit your application and hope for the best. Not everyone gets chosen, and it's basically luck of the draw. Amazingly enough, we were lucky right on our first attempt.

It took weeks of planning, lots of phone calls and classes at the TNT warehouse. As June 28th approached, it seemed there was more and more detail to navigate through. Then came our first day, on Monday, June 28th, which turned out to be the hottest day of the year so far, topping out at 107 degrees. While we officially opened at Noon on June 28th, every day following was a 13 hour day, from 9am to 10pm. Our stand was situated on the barren, dirt lot at the corner of Palm & Olive. Don't get me wrong, we were thrilled to get a Tower District location, which we didn't have at first, but a big dirt lot presents its own set of obstacles. Every day we sustained through the heat and the constant dust to keep things running.  

Any sort of electricity is a luxury in a fireworks stand, which is basically a big wooden frame with shelves in the front and back, a wood door at either end, and wire mesh between you and the customers. We hooked up our generator which allowed us the use of a cash register, fans, calculators, an occasional radio, and lights once it got dark. On a dirt lot as we were, it's a fairly primitive atmosphere.

Each and every day our entire supply of fireworks had to be picked up from our storage unit at the TNT warehouse, and then delivered to the stand in boxes. There, it was taken out and set up. Then, each and every day, at the close of the day, everything in the stand has to be boxed up and moved back out, leaving nothing but the shell of the stand. That's not just unsold fireworks, but all things we needed to operate. Let's just say, it's an intensive operation. Add to that such things as additional runs to storage as you run out of items, plus runs for food, drinks, supplies, banking, etc. Although we went into the week with very little knowledge, we ended it with a lot of experience and new knowledge. Next year will be easier.

But with all the variables and details, I can easily point to one aspect of this operation that allowed us to succeed. Our volunteers. Those who selflessly gave their time and energy to this fundraising event were nothing short of AMAZING. Without them, we would have collapsed early on. And to watch them come in on a daily basis, facing the conditions we were faced with, was inspiring. Everyone pulled together and gave more than we could have hoped for. I don't want to list everyone by name here because I would inevitably neglect to mention someone and I don't want that to happen. Let me just say that the board members of Gay Central Valley cannot possibly express our gratitude to all the volunteers, as well as the individuals, groups and organizations that came together to provide us with a staff, donations, food, drink and support through this last week. While the Board of Directors of Gay Central Valley were faced with our own issues during this time, it was the volunteers and others who kept the stand up and running and made the entire effort a great success. Please accept our heartfelt thanks. And a big thanks to all in the community who chose to purchase their fireworks this year at our stand. Gay Central Valley in continuously grateful for all the community support.

Yes, we're doing it again next year, but right now we really just want to appreciate all those who stepped up to the plate to help us so that we can in turn help the community.

Standing ovation to all of you...

 

In 2005, a small group of Fresno State alumni and friends established the Bulldog Pride Fund (BPF). Its mission was and is quite simple: to provide an annuity to support scholarships.

Just five years later, donations to the BPF endowment total nearly $175,000. All made possible by the generosity of Fresno State donors, alumni and friends just like you. In fact, 2009-10 donations increased 62 percent, compared to 2008-09. What an accomplishment!

Most importantly, by this fall, the BPF will have awarded a total of $21,000 in scholarships to students based on academic achievement, financial need and community involvement.

It is my pleasure to share with you the 2009-10 Honor Roll of Donors: [CLICK HERE]. These donors provided $13,632.64 in donations between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010.

You, and many people like you, are successfully transforming students’ lives at Fresno State. Thank you for your continued support.

PETER ROBERTSON, BA ’92, MA ’95, MBA ‘05

PS: This fall, the BPF will award four $2,000 scholarships ($8,000 total) for the 2010-11 academic year: Allison Zulewski, Leonel Barajas, Julia Scott; and to the student(s) performing as Fresno State’s mascot, the inaugural TimeOut Spirit Award!

GIVE TODAY. FOR TOMORROW AND BEYOND.

www.bulldogpride.org

Andrew McIntosh will be speaking at the First Congregational Church (The Big Red Church) at 2131 N Van Ness Blvd, on Friday, July 30th from 7:30pm to 8:30pm. Admission is free.

VISIT: Andrew McIntosh: Coming out while a college athlete - Facebook Page

When “out” college lacrosse player Andrew McIntosh speaks at The Red Church the evening of July 30th, he won’t be alone. A Fresno State student planning to be in the audience has been in McIntosh’s shoes too.

Travis Stephenson, who’s a member of the university’s men’s water polo club team, came “out” as gay while playing water polo at Merced College four years ago. “Playing a sport in college and being gay is def a tough thing in my experience,” Stephenson says. “I knew throughout my college carrier I was gay, but I was soo scared to tell anyone, because Atwater and Merced are very small and very anti gay. I was considered to be the utility player of the team, I could literally play any position, and do it well. None of my teammates, with the exception of one treated me any differently.”

Stephenson was the team captain of both the swim team and the water polo team.

“Most of the team was fine with it, except one, who happened to be my best friend,” Stephenson added. “The sad thing is, he actually attends Fresno State now. He refuses to acknowledge my existence. It is sad but it is a struggle you have to go through.” 

Stephenson said that coming out had other repercussions. While playing water polo at Merced College, he also coached ‘polo at Atwater High School. Going into “my third year coaching at my alma mater, they replaced me at the very last minute (one week before practice) saying they could not get ahold of me--which was not the case--rather they found out I was gay through my assistant coach. Since I was coaching the JV boys, I’m sure the school and parents were worried.”

ImageImagePresident Barack Obama is scheduled to posthumously award America's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Harvey Milk, one of the country's first openly gay elected officials. The award will be accepted at a White House ceremony August 12th by Stuart Milk, the nephew of the late San Francisco Supervisor and civil rights activist.

"The President's action today touches the core of our very human hearts and my uncle would be so proud of this high honor.  His election was, for him, a beginning-a chance to make real change. That change is happening, but we still have so far to go," said Stuard Milk in a prepared statement. "I hope this recognition inspires LGBT Americans everywhere to heed Harvey's call to run for office, to serve openly, to live proudly with authenticity and to demand the equality that we all deserve."

American tennis great Billy Jean King, who is openly lesbian, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, who has championed LGBT equality throughout his political career, also will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the August 12 ceremony. Kennedy was honored by the Victory Fund in 2004 with its Oates-Shrum Leadership Award in recognition of his tireless work on behalf of LGBT Americans.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award created to honor especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, or world peace, or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

Copyright © 2009 Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Leadership Institute

BAGHDAD — The young man turns to the camera and pleads with his tormentors.

"I'm not a terrorist," he tells the Iraqi police who surround him. "I want you to know I am different. But I am not a terrorist."

To some fundamentalist Iraqi Muslims, Ahmed Sadoun Saleh was worse than a terrorist.

He was gay. He wore his hair long and took female hormones to grow breasts. Amused by his appearance, Iraqi police officers stopped him in December at a checkpoint in a southern Baghdad neighborhood dominated by radical Shiite militias. They groped Saleh and ridiculed him.

The assault was captured on video and circulated on cellphones throughout Baghdad, says Ali Hili, founder of London-based Iraqi LGBT, a group dedicated to protecting Iraq's gays and lesbians. Shortly after the video was made public, Hili says Saleh contacted him, fearing for his life, and asked for his help to flee Iraq.


ImageAs many as three explosive devices reportedly detonated in two track stadiums of the Outgames in Copenhagen, leaving one person with minor injuries.

Before the men’s 4x200-meter track relay in the afternoon, two bombs were thrown onto the track and exploded instantly, according to a witness writing in an e-mail obtained by Advocate.com. An Outgames athlete was taken to a local hospital with injuries to his right hand from flying shrapnel. He has since been released.

Participants on the field were unharmed but shaken by the incident. Less than an hour later, a second bomb was thrown in another stadium. Luckily, no one was injured, but track events were delayed for 90 minutes. Police now have a 31-year-old male suspect in custody.

This is the second violent incident in less than a week for the Outgames.

Read the rest of this article by clicking HERE

ImageA major slash to the State Budget made today by the Governor will result in critical changes to health services for the people of California. HIV/AIDS programs were drastically compromised by the Governor's actions. Read the story here: Schwarzenegger Slashes Health Care To Create A Surplus

ImageThe Get Engaged Tour , organized by Marriage Equality USA, was a recent set of meetings held throughout the state of California, including one here in Fresno, which I participated in with other local LGBT groups and activists. The meetings solicited communities to come out, listen to results of polling data concerning public opinion on same sex marriage, and to offer up opinions and ideas of how the battle for marriage equality should move forward. The tour ended a couple of weeks ago, with the results shared at a summit held last weekend in San Bernardino. You can watch some of the video of the summit HERE. (Apparently technical problems resulted in some video being lost, and be prepared for a difficult time watching some of the meeting, as the camera was swung and jerked around far too much and audio is less than great. How about setting the camera up in one place in the back of the room so we don't get a headache and we can at least follow the conversation?)

From virtually all honest accounts, the meeting was not good. Contentious and divided, there still seems to be no clear strategy in sight. Unite The Fight called the meeting an utter failure on their blog, going into great detail about our now fractured movement. The blog hit more than a few nails on the head when it pointed out that anyone with a different point of view in this movement is ridiculed and has their head bitten off, and that a few massive egos are derailing any chance of unity simply because they want to be the ones with the brass ring in their hand at the end of the ride. (I'll add that I couldn't find anything on the Unite the Fight site about who runs it, and blog entries are simply credited to "Unite The Fight". And with such a strong opinion in the blog about unity and not ridiculing other groups, it seems strange that in their list of action sites, virtually everyone is mentioned with the exception of EQCA.) UPDATE: Phillip Minton with Unite The Fight contacted us and explained that the absence of EQCA was an oversight due to the fact that when the list was created EQCA did not have a field and canvassing program on the ground. Phillip stated that EQCA would be added to the list.

 

 

To view the final results of the Get Engaged Tour meetings, compiled by Marriage Equality USA, click HERE

ImageJust a month ago I made the biggest decision of my life. I packed up my bags, kissed my family and friends goodbye and I moved here, to Fresno, from Gawler, South Australia. Three weeks ago, it was the best thing I’d ever done, woohoo. Two weeks ago, I was wondering what in the world I was thinking, because I was so... damn... lonely. And bored. One week ago, I sucked it up and decided that since there wasn’t a line of friends on my doorstep ala Mary Poppins and the nannies every morning, I should probably go out and try and make my own fun. Thus, my time as a volunteer writer for Gayfresno.com was born.

When Gayfresno.com suggested that I cover the Grizzlies Celebrate Marriage Night, I agreed pretty quickly. I was going to the game anyway, so what’s the harm in checking it out and writing a little piece about it? Right? It wasn’t until I was walking up to the gates that it kinda clicked. I was a lesbian walking into what I figured would amount to a pro-8 Celebration Night. It made me suddenly feel like I had a target painted onto my back.

A honking great rainbow one.


 

UPDATE: JUDGE ORDERS MCINERNEY TO STAND TRIAL FOR THE MURDER OF LAWRENCE KING, STATING THAT THE MURDER WAS CLEARLY PRE-MEDITATED. CLICK HERE FOR THE STORY.

ImageLawrence King, at the age of 15, was shot and killed by a classmate on February 12, 2008. His pre-trial began Monday, July 20th, 2009. Tactics were vivid on the first day. Vivid, and tragically repetitive.

Defense attorney Scott Wippert seems to be taking the path to a gay panic defense for his client, Brandon McInerney. (There is also such a thing as a "trans panic" defense, which has been used in defending someone when the victim was transgender) When questioning one of the police officers involved, Wippert asked if the officer was aware that King had been making sexual advances toward McInerney, which "provoked" him. He added that King "taunted" McInerney with his "effeminate" ways.

In 2009, the year that would have been Harvey Milk's 79th birthday, 31 years after he was murdered by a man who got off easy because his lawyers argued he was stressed, complicated by the fact that he had too much sugar in his system, the infamous "twinkie defense", it's demeaning to see crazy tactics still being used in courts of law.

And I can see it working in this case. Remember, the boys were just that, boys, and as such, can often find excuses as flimsy as this in courts of law. Their minds aren't fully developed yet, they don't have the judgment that adults are supposed to have. Add to this the fact that King was dressing in girls' clothing, something Americans can't seem to deal with to this day, and you can see how this might go. If Americans are still so repulsed by the idea of flirtation by someone of the same sex that they're willing to use it as an excuse for cold blooded murder, you can also see how far we, as a movement, have yet to go.

Something's really wrong with Americans. The fact that so many other countries are evolving into humans, rather than subjects, should urge us to some epiphany to the error of our ways. It should be an emergency, what's happening to Americans whose biology falls somewhere outside pure heterosexuality. Despite evidence, despite truth, despite the promise of protection from the constitution and the courts, we've become the only minority in this country who are not allowed equal rights. And with gay bashings on the rise and lawyers willing to do anything to keep murderers free, who knows how much more hell we have to go through.

Maybe, just maybe, all this hope that we've put into the American people is fruitless. Maybe, just maybe, we aren't smart enough or strong enough to shoulder simple things like human sexuality, or truth. I've learned a tragic fact in recent years. Maybe, just maybe, Americans, in a slight majority, are too stupid to move forward.

Read more about the Lawrence King trial by clicking HERE

ImageWhen I first heard of the federal case for same sex marriage I agreed with some of the things I read. Maybe this was the wrong time. Maybe it was doomed to fail, based on the history of other challenges which weren't supported by a majority on a state level.

I've been there since, wondering what the right answer is. I still don't know, in terms of legal success. But after reading a recent article, written by David Boies, one of the lawyers in the case, I'm hopeful.

I've never felt this issue had anything to do with anyone's personal opinion, as those voting to restrict civil rights, do. This is a matter of law, of reverence to the words as written in our founding documents. The reason Christians and others opposed to legal same sex marriage avoid the constitution is because there's nothing that can help them there. The constitution only hurts them, destroys them, in fact, supporting none of their platforms.

Until recently, Americans who denounce non-heterosexuals and deny us our rights, haven't had much to worry about. It's only in our very recent history that we've demanded marriage equality. While it's been tossed around in the past, it's never been anywhere near as big an issue as it is now, and it's never had such a large group of Americans behind it. In the past, it wasn't running through conservative minds that certain legal judgments, which were based on the equality of the constitution, would open the doors for gay marriage in the future. The idea that non-heterosexual Americans would demand marriage equality was ridiculous. It wasn't on their radar.

Somehow, this issue of marriage equality, which is a simple and clear cut case of equal rights for all Americans, has been hijacked to the "will of the people". Despite the fact that the California Supreme Court ruled only last year that to deny same sex couples the right to the word marriage was to, in effect, deny them equality, they ignored their own decision and allowed the majority to restrict the minority. This isn't how law works in this nation. Why did it go that way? I don't know, but it sounds like the lawyers in the Federal Case know exactly what the truth of this issue is, and they intend to present it.

Even though I'll work with others if a ballot measure becomes a reality, I don't believe for one second that it's the right thing to do. It may be our only option at this moment, but it's certainly not right for us to take equal rights to the ballot box when we denounce others for doing it. So, hopefully, a federal case can be heard and can succeed, and put an end to this insanity.

The article by David Boies begins with this...

"When I got married in California in 1959 there were almost 20 states where marriage was limited to two people of different sexes and the same race. Eight years later the Supreme Court unanimously declared state bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional.

Recently, Ted Olson and I brought a lawsuit asking the courts to now declare unconstitutional California's Proposition 8 limitation of marriage to people of the opposite sex. We acted together because of our mutual commitment to the importance of this cause, and to emphasize that this is not a Republican or Democratic issue, not a liberal or conservative issue, but an issue of enforcing our Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and due process to all citizens."

Our battle has never been so eloquently presented as it is in this article, in my opinion. Read the full article HERE

Short answer: The moral high road matters.

Long one: We kept saying it over and over during the election. "Why are we voting on civil rights? We aren't supposed to be voting on this." So, why is it okay now?

Well, I get the "it's the only way to win" argument, but I still don't agree with it. I don't believe in winning at all costs, especially at the cost of others. Because, as soon as we promote voting on civil rights ourselves, we open Pandora's Box. We lose the ability to claim outrage at it. When the next group loses their civil rights to a majority vote, how can we then say "we never should have voted on that", when we promoted that very thing. We cannot have it both ways.

But, that other thing we lose is the ability to fight this. This has happened once. Once can be an aberration. Once can be fixed. Twice? Twice becomes problematic, because the second case can now refer to the first as precedent. Three times? Now, this is "the way we've always done it."

Winning or losing is not really the issue. We could probably win on this. If not in 2010, then in 2012. But, then what happens in 2014? In 2016? Do we have to do this every two years? Will we win every time? Will people meet, fall in love, propose and then have to wait for the election to see what happens? Or hurry up and get married before the election, so they don't have to wait two more years for this to happen all over again?

Okay, now this is only my argument over what could happen to same-sex marriage. What about everyone else whose rights could be put out there? The trans community comes to mind. What if someone proposed a constitutional amendment banning the changing of your legal sex? Could that pass a popular vote? Transgender people are even less understood than the LGBT community, even among LGBT people. A radio show host in Sacramento even said that if he ever had a transgender child, he would "beat his son with one of his own shoes". He also said "I look forward to when they go out into society and society beats them down." He and his co-host dedicated a half-hour of their show towards gender dysphoric children and all of the ill they wished them.

When confronted with what they said (and a heavy loss of advertising), the two hosts defended it as a joke and denied doing anything wrong. A glance at the half dozen comments on there put half in each camp. So, half of the people on there thought that there was nothing wrong with advocating violence against a child, and a few invoked it as a First Amendment right.

Do you really want to chance that going up for a vote? (While I realize there were only three comments against these children and for the radio hosts, in my opinion, that is three too many. That there were only six comments and fully half thought the hosts did nothing wrong and one even said they would boycott the advertisers that pulled their ads? Well, that chilled me to the core.)

The courts need to decide this. Maybe they will be smart enough to know that the correct answer is equality, maybe they won't. But, more than one amendment was trashed on the way to this mockery of a law, so I think we have a chance. At least we won't be following bad with bad.

Why is the idea of a little civil disobedience so distasteful to some people? Why is it considered so wrong to fight a little harder for something you passionately believe in? Why are people worried about offending others, about pissing people off? This isn't a popularity contest. This is a fight for civil rights, for the same rights others have. The same rights, I might add, that someone else fought for, and possibly died. Weird, huh, how that is not considered the same thing. Weird, how going to a foreign country and pretty much destroying it and killing hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, in the process is not considered worse than a sit-in or a protest.

Now, to be clear, I am not talking about any form of violence. No one gets hurt and no property is destroyed. At worst, someone might be inconvenienced. But, I would never advocate for violence and that is definitely not what I am speaking of here. I am talking about a peaceful demonstration that might be just a little outside what the law allows for. Maybe.

The thing is, we need to be heard. And the way to be heard is to be loud, to yell at the top of our lungs, that we will not keep sitting in the back of the bus. Or, as my friend, Pam put it, we will not go back into our silk-lined closets, no matter how nice they may be. You don't get heard by speaking sweetly. We've tried.

Like I said, this is NOT a popularity contest. No one needs to like us. No one needs to be us. No one even needs to agree with us. So, why do we care about pissing anyone off? Why do we need their approval?

Oh yeah, because someone allowed civil rights to be put on the ballot. Because someone thought it was okay to vote on the rights of others.

This is not the time to be nice. This is the time to take back what was ripped from our constitution. This is the time to scream back and say "NO!" This is the time to stand up and fight back, to refuse to pander to the majority so they might, pretty please, give us our rights back.

This is not a time for silence.

Introducing our very own Sara Scott. She is a local friend, author and fellow crusader in the equality battle. Among other accomplishments, Sara has just written and published her first book, BloodRite: Dominique. The book officially launches on August 31, 2009 but you can pre-order the book NOW!

Sara has graciously decided to donate 25% of her book sales to the Courage Campaign, starting now through August 19, 2009. So don't delay, support a local author and support our cause for equality all at the same time.

Visit her website at www.sarasscott.com to find out more about her, the book and also to pre-order your copy today!

Stay tuned for book signing dates and events soon!!

Ani DiFranco
Special Guest: Anais Mitchell

Purchase tickets IN ADVANCE!

Presale is active NOW

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 8:00 PM (Doors open at: 7:00 PM)

Tower Theatre 815 East Olive Ave., Fresno, CA 93728 (559 485-9050)
All Ages. $37.00 All seats. Tickets available from Tower Theatre Box Office
All seats are $5.00 Higher Day of Show!

Buy your tickets NOW!

Ani DiFranco

ImageImageImage 

Click on images to enlarge...

A "kiss-in" drew about 60 people sporting pink paper hearts to the sidewalk just off of LDS Church property near Temple Square on Sunday to protest actions taken by the church's security personnel late last week.

Dozens of gay and straight couples smooched, posed for photos and talked with reporters while church security issued a few reminders to stay on the sidewalks.

But, as the gathering was beginning to disperse, about 35 protesters crossed onto church property and walked around the reflecting pond, eliciting a call to police by church representatives.

Kim Farah, spokeswoman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, issued a statement about Sunday's action.

"Church security asked the demonstrators repeatedly not to come onto the plaza to demonstrate," Farah said. "Though the requests were issued calmly and respectfully, demonstrators ignored the requests, and the police were phoned."

Click on the following link to read the rest of this story...Couples Pucker Up To Make Positive Point

ImageBy JENNIFER STEINHAUER Published: July 10, 2009

Reverend Eric Lee spoke eloquently and honestly at Fresno's "Meet In The Middle". To view the video of his speech, click HERE

LOS ANGELES — The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the 50-year-old civil rights organization founded by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others, is seeking to remove the president of its Los Angeles chapter in response to his support of same-sex marriage in California.

The effort by the Atlanta-based organization is meeting stiff resistance in Los Angeles from both the board of the local chapter, whose chairman is secretary of the state’s Democratic Party, and the City Council president.

During the battle last fall over Proposition 8, an amendment to the State Constitution that banned same-sex marriage, the chapter’s president, the Rev. Eric P. Lee, was more than a tangential figure for the opposition. He was front and center at an opposition group’s large rally at City Hall and marched in the blazing sun for 15 miles in Fresno. Many other local African-American pastors prepared mailings featuring church leaders in support of the proposition and linking their views to Barack Obama, then the Democratic nominee for president.

Mr. Lee “was very helpful to us,” said Rick Jacobs, head of the Courage Campaign, a left-leaning political action group in Los Angeles that fought the initiative.

For the rest of this article, click on the following link...CIVIL RIGHTS GROUP DIVIDED OVER GAY MARRIAGE

 

ImageClose your eyes.

I want you to imagine the person of your dreams.  Maybe you’ve already met them, maybe you haven’t.  This is the person who makes your heart skip a beat when you walk into a room.  This is the person you never want to be apart from.  This is the person that you live your life for, your soul mate.

Now, imagine your life with them.  Imagine doing all of the things a couple does; movies, dinner, lazy, Sunday mornings.  You go on vacations, you visit family and you come home together and do all of your laundry.  You take turns doing the dishes.  You snuggle up and watch television together.  You make a home.

But, what if one of you is sick?  Then you don’t leave their side.  You sleep in hospital chairs.  You hold their hand and you comfort them.  You become their advocate.  You take your own strength and you give it to them.  You become their rock.  Because that's what you do for the person of your dreams.  You live, breathe and sleep for them. 

So, why is this not universally understood?  Maybe it’s because most of the world would automatically picture this as a man and a woman.  That’s not unusual, considering most of the world is straight.  But, what if I were to say that for one woman (actually, many women) the person of her dreams was another woman?  How would you react?  Would you just say “Oh, okay” and go on your way?  Or would you keep her from the person she loves? 

Would you force her to wait in the chair outside the ER?  Would you make her keep checking back in to find out the admitting status of her loved one?  Would you ignore any information she gave you and do the opposite?  How, exactly, would you treat her?

In the United States, HIV disproportionately affects black residents. In the current study, the authors from the San Francisco Department of Public Health conducted a cross- sectional survey of men who have sex with men (MSM) in San Francisco through time-location-sampling, analyzing the dynamics of racial mixing and HIV risk. Through computer- assisted interviews, MSM were asked about their selection of sexual partners, partner preferences, HIV-risk perceptions and social mixing in terms of race/ethnicity.                                                                                                         
Among 1,142 MSM, 56 percent were white; 22 percent Latino; 14 percent Asian; and 9 percent black. Altogether, participants reported 3,532 sexual partnerships in the previous six months.
Black MSM had a significant, three-fold higher level of same- race partnering than would be expected through chance alone; that is, in the absence of selective forces regarding race among partnerships. Among participants, black MSM were reported to be the least preferred as sexual partners; at a higher risk for HIV; counted less frequently among friends; considered hardest to meet; and perceived as less welcome by other MSM in San Francisco venues where MSM congregate.                                     
"Our findings support the hypothesis that sexual networks of black MSM, constrained by the preferences and attitudes of non-blacks and the social environment, are pushed to be more highly interconnected than other groups with the potential consequences of more rapid spread of HIV and a higher sustained prevalence of infection," the authors suggested. "The racial disparity in HIV observed for more than a decade will not disappear until the challenges posed by a legacy of racism towards blacks in the US are addressed."
Today marks the 233rd anniversary of the United States of America declaring its independence from Great Britain. I hope today finds each of you well and happy and able to celebrate in the way you see fit. I read the Declaration of Independence this morning, as I do each Fourth of July, and I marvel at its elegant straightforwardness, listing our grievances and declaring our sovereignty over ourselves. I always, however, cringe at certain things in it. The use of the words “man” and “mankind” throughout linguistically excludes the female population. The reference to Native peoples as “merciless Indian Savages” is also cringeworthy. We know these are not “just words,” as some would protest. Our history, while so positive in so many ways, shows that we actively visited upon women and Native Americans (among others) many of the very offenses we were declaring intolerable by Britain in this historic document.

This is not to ‘America-bash,’ as some might argue. These are simple facts that need to be squarely (if painfully) faced time and again for us to continue to mature into that “more perfect union.” Those words, along with those in our Constitution that characterize people of African descent as “three fifths” human, need to be faced for many reasons. One reason related to our organization, S.A.F.E., is that they remind us that things change. At one point in this country, people considered women biologically disinterested and too driven by emotion to be responsible voters, much less property or (gasp) office holders. At one point, the subjugation of people of color was thought to have been warranted, even commanded, by Scripture. While there is still much work to be done on both of those (and many other) fronts, our concerns focus on the un-equal treatment of our LGBT family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow citizens. As a people, we have seen fit to grow past the thinking of our Founders’ times, and, however imperfectly and slowly, have rejected those words—“man,” “mankind,” “Savages,” and “three fifths of all other persons.” This proud history of growth informs us that we are a dynamic nation, willing to recognize our imperfections and thus change, even when that change means acknowledging the faulty thinking of our iconic Founders.

As such, on this Fourth of July, I recommit myself to convincing as many people as possible that the conventional thinking related to what makes a family, what makes a marriage, what makes a man or a woman needs to be rejected. Just as this country has rejected slavery, prohibition of women’s rights, discrimination in many forms, we need now to end discrimination of our LGBT population. A healthy family can be comprised of a mother, father, and children, sure. An equally healthy family, however, can also be comprised of a single father and his daughter, two lesbians and their daughter and son, a transgendered person and her partner, two gay men and their three kids, a bi-sexual woman with her male partner and their blended family of five children, or even two straight people with no children—only two cats and two pugs!

Many historians characterize America as an amazing yet immature civilization, not as criticism, but as mere fact. We haven’t been around that long in comparison to many other nations. As such, some have theorized that while we are mature far beyond our years in many ways, we are in our adolescence in a number of areas. I believe this country is beginning now to grow up some when it comes to recognizing that lesbian and gay and bi-sexual and transgendered people are a perfectly natural part of the tapestry comprising America (and the world). They are an extremely vital, indispensable part of our nation. In fact, “they” are us. We are all human beings seeking survival—maybe a little comfort, maybe a bit of happiness.

So, as you celebrate with your friends and family today, I hope you and yours are well and happy. I hope you are surrounded by people who make you feel safe and loved and valued. I hope, too, that we all remember that as citizens of this union, we are obligated to contribute to its further maturation toward the equal treatment of all of its diverse citizenry. I further hope we remember that millions of our fellow citizens today do not feel safe, loved, or valued because their nation has declared them second-class citizens, unworthy of participating in marriage—unworthy of defending this great nation that they love and to which they contribute so greatly. As a member of S.A.F.E., you are helping our country grow up some more. You are helping your fellow citizens of all sexual orientations to feel more safe, more loved, and more valued than they felt before you stepped up to speak out. My most sincere thanks to you for your help in this cause. Happy Fourth of July.

Jerry Thurston, President
Straight Advocates For Equality

ImageUPDATE: WE'VE ADDED THE VIDEO CLIPS COMPILING THE DOCUMENTARY "MIDDLE SEXES" TO OUR GAY FRESNO YOU TUBE PAGE, UNDER OUR "FAVORITES". SIMPLY CLICK ON THE YOUTUBE LINK, UNDER OUR "ONLINE" MENU ON THE MAIN PAGE AND YOU CAN WATCH THE VIDEOS.

Last year I highly recommended the HBO Documentary, "MIDDLE SEXES - REDEFINING HE & SHE". The film explores all forms of human sexuality and gender identity. Narrated by Gore Vidal, it's forthright, honest and revelatory. These issues have become commonplace in the media over the last few years, and although I'm constantly doing research for pieces I write on Gay Fresno, I wasn't finding the answers I needed on subjects such as being transgendered or on the topic of sexual reassignment. I simply didn't understand the layers of complexity involved with the human nature between heterosexuality and homosexuality.

This documentary, for me, was a crash course in how it all works. When it was over I no longer felt confused by these issues. While I'm not suggesting one film can answer all questions, this one covers enough to bring these issues into focus.

Today I accidentally stumbled upon a YouTube User channel which has uploaded this documentary in several short videos. For those who've either been unable to see the film on HBO or find the DVD, this is an easy, free opportunity to see this incredible work. Simply click on the following link...YouTube User - Middle Sexes Documentary

"Middle Sexes" is also available on NETFLIX , or it can be purchased at the HBO STORE or at AMAZON 

Article by: Brittany Reyes
Photos by: Nigel Medhurst

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 marked the one year anniversary of the brief legalization of same-sex marriage in California. Same-sex couples and their supporters met at the historic Water Tower in downtown Fresno to renew their vows and take group photos. The celebration continued throughout the night at the popular North Tower Circle club and bar where guests were offered complimentary flowers, appetizers, champagne, & cheesecake courtesy of various organizations in the community that support marriage equality. It was a well planned event complete with entertainment by singer Lily Dale Murray and Andalee's Eastern Sun Dancers.

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The history of The North Tower Circle club and bar was a common topic as guests who hadn't been to the club since its reopening in October of 2008 spoke of the hate inspired arson that literally burned the club to the ground, and remarked at how the establishment has flourished since then. Couples came from all over to share their stories and in that intimate setting, the tales of love, marriage, hurt, pain, and redemption caused one to remember exactly why we as a community continue to come together. One couple drove out from Lemoore and told the story of how they met only two years ago. When asked why they chose to get married the gentleman replied, “We felt like it was now or never, you never know when you are going to get an opportunity like this again.”

Indeed, those words could not be closer to the truth for what was meant to be a joyous occasion could not escape the gravity of the plight of our fellow members in the LGBT community who are still fighting for civil rights. This event will go down on the books as a great success, as the night drew to a close, it left individuals wanting more. Many couples commented on how much they enjoyed the social gathering and expressed the need for more couple oriented events in the future. “This is an awesome anniversary party,” one woman commented, “but it's not enough to just get together once a year, my wife and I go to bars but we want more couple nights like bowling or movie night and stuff.”

Hopefully, that eager woman will get her wish. Oftentimes in the struggle for our dreams, we forget about the simple moments in life that carry us through the trials and tribulations we undoubtedly face in this current battle for marriage equality. This anniversary event inspires us to take a moment to value the relationships that we have whether legally married or not, while remembering all who are still denied that right. For us, success is not an option, it is the standard to uphold for all who are willing to accept the challenge.

 Colabora en el combate del movimiento actual para prohibir por siempre a la comunidad de LGBT de lograr la igualdad del casamiento enmendando la constitución del Estado de California.

¡El voto para Votar NO a la Proposición 8!

Todos nosotros trabajamos duramente para tratar uno a otro justamente porque cada uno merecemos lo mismo. Ten cuidado si te acercas para votar en la proposición que hara "Proteger El Matrimonio", – es realmente un esfuerzo de dar al gobierno más que decir en nuestras vidas privadas. Esta petición es realmente acerca de enmendar la constitución del estado para excluir las parejas del mismo sexo de nunca casarse en California.

Ayuda a detener esta proposición injusta. ¡Vota No a la Proposición 8!

Cada californiano merece justicia justa. Nuestro gobierno no debe estar en la posicion de decir a las personas con quien se pueden o no se pueden casar. Apoya la equidad. Por favor

¡Vota NO a la Proposición 8!

Dos personas en un compromiso, amoroso, en su relación de confianza merecen el honor y el apoyo que viene con el casamiento. La igualdad para Todos es una coalición grande y diversa de derechos civiles, fe, la elección, las organizaciones del trabajo y la comunidad del color que trabajan para parar y derrotar cualquier medida de la votación que negaría a parejas gays y lesbianas el derecho de casarse en California.

Visita por favor http://www.equalityforall.com para más información.

Llama al 559-593-6766 o madanos un correo electrónico a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. para preguntas o para estar en esta accion en Fresno.

¡Si estas interesado a coloborar con esta campaña en Fresno, ven con nuestra comunidad que se reunira el domingo, 3 de agosto del 2008 a las 6:00 de la tarde! La reunión será en GSA Network Central Valley ubicada en 928 N. Van Ness Ave., Fresno, Ca 93728! ¡Esperamos verte allí y trae a un amigo!

 

 

 

 

 Cynthia Manuszak es una fotógrafa independiente con una pasión por los problemas sociales. Cuándo de primero la contacté por teléfono para los detalles de esta historia, yo asumí que hablaba con un estudiante de la universidad. Pero la inocencia de su voz juvenil oculta su madurez. Sus años más jóvenes fueron, a lo mejor, desordenados. Traumatizada por el divorcio de sus padres, ella dejo la preparatoria al ser una madre adolescente. Como Cynthia lo pone, ella "la rego". Como un adulto ha sido una víctima de la violencia doméstica, una violencia tan extrema que quebrantó sus dos tímpanos, ha vivido en un motel, y ha criado sus niños mientras enfrenta con un esposo adicto que esta en la prisión. Has clic en READ MORE para el resto de la historia... ….

 El North Tower Circle esta casi al fin de una extensa renovación debido a un incendio desastroso, que fue causado intencionalmente. El histórico club nocturno fresno gay estará reabriendo en Agosto. El Círculo esta situado en el 2777 North Maroa Avenue. Esta al pendiente por más detalles de esta Grande Reapertura...

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Image Get involved in-order to battle the current movement to forever ban the LGBT community from achieving marriage equality by amending the California State constitution.

Vow to Vote NO on Proposition 8!

We all work hard to treat other fairly because each of us deserves the same. Be careful if approached to vote on a proposition that will “Protect Marriage”, – it's really an effort to give government more say in our private lives.  This petition is actually about amending the state constitution to exclude same-sex couples from ever marrying in California.

Help STOP this unfair proposition. Vote NO on Proposition 8!
Every Californian deserves fairness under the law.  Our government should not be in the business of telling people who they can or cannot marry.
Support fairness. Please Vote NO on Proposition 8!

Two people in a committed, loving, trusted relationship deserved the honor and support that comes with marriage.  Equality for All is a large and diverse coalition of civil rights, faith, choice, labor and community-of-color organizations working to stop and defeat any ballot measure that would deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in California.

Please visit http://www.equalityforall.com for more information.
Call 559-593-6766 or email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for questions or to get involved in Fresno.

If you are interested in getting involved with this campaign in Fresno, come to our community meeting on Sunday, August 3, 2008 at 6:00 pm!  The meeting will be held at the GSA Network Central Valley location at 928 N. Van Ness Ave., Fresno, Ca 93728!  We look forward to seeing you there and bring a friend!

Image The North Tower Circle is nearing the end of an extensive renovation due to a disastrous fire, caused by arson. The historic Fresno gay nightclub will be re-opening in August. The Circle is located at 2777 North Maroa Avenue.

Image(Los Angeles, CA) -- The United States leads the global response to HIV/AIDS, but fails to mobilize the same commitment to address the large and growing epidemic within its own borders, finds a new report released today by the Black AIDS Institute. "Left Behind! Black America: A Neglected Priority in the Global AIDS Epidemic" praises the United States for it vital efforts to address HIV worldwide, but criticizes the government's profoundly inadequate response to the epidemic within its own borders, where Black Americans are most severely affected by the disease. Read the rest of the story here BlackAIDS.org and you can read the actual report here:Left Behind! Black America: A Neglected Priority In The Global AIDS Epidemic (pdf)

Image( Fresno State , Fresno , Calif. ) ~ The Bulldog Pride Fund (BPF) at Fresno State announces the 2008-09 scholars— Amanda Junge, Alisia Lopez and Jared Lindo, and releases the 2007-08 Annual Report & Honor Roll of Donors.

 

 

 

“The Bulldog Pride Fund is pleased to announce the selection of three scholars that will each receive $1,000 this fall,” said Peter Robertson, founder of the BPF and a three-time Fresno State graduate. “At the same time, the BPF is proud to release its 2007-08 Annual Report & Honor Roll of Donors.”

 

ImageGet Real  Rated R / Directed by: Simon Shore / Starring: Ben Silverstone, Brad Gorton Charlotte Brittain / Review by: Leon Velasco / Thumbs Up

 I can never get tired of watching this story. I often think back at when I was a teenager trying to keep things in secrecy and trying to experience my ‘true’ feelings at the same time. I am pretty sure that the girls had the same problems and worries as us guys and even fearful of being teased and taunted by schoolmates. Had this movie been out when I was a teen and I had watched it, I may have not have had a hard time trying to fit in and be myself and keep my inner feelings bottled up. Had the guys been in my high school when I was there I would have fallen for both of them just for their foreign English accents. That and being good looking with almond shaped eyes with blonde hair and blues eyes….Damn, I think I wet myself.

 

ImageCynthia Manuszak is a freelance photographer with a passion for social issues. When I first contacted her on the phone for the details of a story, I assumed I was talking to a college student. But the innocence of her youthful voice hides her maturity. Her younger years were, at best, chaotic. Traumatized by the divorce of her parents, she became a high school dropout and a teenage mother. As Cynthia puts it, she “screwed up”.  As an adult she’s been the victim of domestic violence so extreme that it shattered both her ear drums, she’s lived on motel drive, and she’s raised children while dealing with an addicted spouse serving time in prison.

The Stonewall Democrats sent out a report today detailing some recent comments by John McCain concerning the rights of LGBT Americans.

ImageYesterday, on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, John McCain had this to say about adoption by same-sex couples: "I want to help with family values."
In an interview with The New York Times last week, John McCain this is what he said on the same subject:
Question: President Bush believes that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children. Do you agree with that?
Mr. McCain: I think that we've proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no I don't believe in gay adoption.
Question: Even if the alternative is the kid staying in an orphanage, or not having parents.
Mr. McCain: I encourage adoption and I encourage the opportunities for people to adopt children I encourage the process being less complicated so they can adopt as quickly as possible. And Cindy and I are proud of being adoptive parents.
Question: But your concern would be that the couple should a traditional couple
Mr. McCain: Yes.

On July 11, 2008 I hosted the social event for the month to be themed “Christmas in July”. About thirty people had RSVP’d since I was going to provide the main course and some sides and desserts. Approximately about twelve showed up. I had cleaned, decorated the place and had a fully decorated Christmas tree (Thanks to Lance and Tom) and cooked which was not easy in one day. I would like to thank Daniel for helping me to co host as I was getting things prepared and having everyone feel at home.

ImageElection officials in California have made a change to the language of Proposition 8. Some activists think the language change, which spells out the removal of the right for same-sex couples to marry, could help add support to defeat the amendment. Read the story here

ImageAshley Swearengin says: "Proposition 8 says marriage is simply between a man and a woman and of course I support that. It's my long held view, and today I officially endorse Prop 8."

What?! Be sure to email her and let her know what you think: http://www.ashley4mayor.com
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

On the other hand, Mayoral Candidate Henry T. Perea will not back or support it, saying: "I believe marriage is to be between a man and a woman but I will not vote to support the proposition. It is a civil rights issue."

Watch the local news story here: ABC 30 News Video - Fresno Mayoral Candidates On Gay Marriage and Prop 8

Read about Proposition 8 here: Wikipedia - Proposition 8 California 2008 

ImageJAMIE BARNETT: Our duty to our gay defenders in military 07/24/08 THE FRESNO BEE

Did you know that your safety and security depend on gay men and lesbians? An estimated 65,000 gay men and lesbians serve in the U.S. armed forces, though, by law, they cannot be open about their sexuality. As we fight two wars, our military is stretched thin. Those gay and lesbian soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and members of the Coast Guard are essential.

Without them, we would stretch to a dangerous point the length of time troops must spend in Iraq and Afghanistan. Without them, we would lose crucial military leadership, expertise and skills. Without them, we would have a hard time meeting our military commitments worldwide.

 

The House of Representatives voted 303 to 115 late Thursday to approve a sweeping global AIDS relief bill that includes language repealing a 1993 U.S. immigration law that prohibits HIV-positive visitors from entering the country and bars most foreigners with HIV from obtaining legal immigrant status. Read the full story here: House Approves Repeal Of HIV Travel Ban

Business of the month

Starting a business is more than just people wanting to turn their passion into profit. Starting a business can be a long complex process, but luckily we have an organization right here in the Valley that can help new entrepreneurs get a jump start.

 Today Newsweek Magazine came out with a cover story about young kids coming out and gay hate crimes. This is a MUST READ. Click Here to read this great article covering these important social issues...

The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization which includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace, and humanitarian service.  Its work is based on the Quaker belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

Position Available

Title:                                  No on 8 Organizer  
Location:                           Fresno, CA
Hours:                                40-60 Hours/Week
Contract Amount:             $3000 per month from August 15-November 15 (3 months).

BACKGROUND: The work of the American Friends Service Committee to promote peace, social justice, and humanitarian service is rooted in the experience and faith of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).  While AFSC contractors are not required to belong to any particular denomination or faith, they are expected to understand and support AFSC’s Quaker foundations. These guiding principals are based on the belief in that of God in every person, and the right of each person to reach his or her full potential.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The No on 8 organizer will work with Marriage Equality affiliates and partner with Equality for All in Fresno and Tulare counties in organizing and coordinating volunteers on the No on 8, no on the marriage ban campaign.

ImageProposition 8 is the gay marriage ballot measure which will be voted on in November by Californians. If passed, it may nullify the California State Supreme Court ruling which legalized same sex marriage in the state.  Maybe…the problem is no one really knows what will happen.  I’ve discussed this with several people and there’s a lot of confusion. The California State Supreme Court has stated that if the Proposition passes, the court may be forced to step in to overturn it, if they decide, as they should, that voters cannot choose to deny one group of citizens equal rights. Will marriages sanctioned before the November election still be valid? That issue is unclear as well, but I found this article today on the Advocate website, and it does a good job addressing many of these questions and explaining the ins and outs of the issue. Read the story and learn the facts involved HERE

ImageCheck out Advocate’s coverage of LOS ANGELES OUTFEST, the country’s largest LGBT Film Festival. Read film reviews and see the coverage HERE

ImageHeath Ledger, who died tragically last year, delivers his final, and what may be the finest performance of his career in “The Dark Knight”, the new Batman movie which opens Friday, July 18, 2008. Click on the following link to read the review.  The Dark Knight Review

ImageThe upcoming November election is a critical one for the LGBT community. Besides making sure that a Republican does not get elected, LGBT Californians and their supporters need to turn out in force to defeat the Gay Marriage Ballot Measure, which would reverse the recent Supreme Court Ruling. If you aren’t registered to vote you can click on the link at the end of this article to fill out an email form which begins the process. You’ll be emailed the appropriate voter registration form and you’ll be able to register to vote. This is one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. There are deadlines for registering, so don’t put it off. Do your part… Register To Vote At Rock The Vote

Déjà vu Fresno’s premier gay night club has enjoyed success due to the support from the gay community of Fresno, the surrounding communities and our wonderful and devoted staff.

When Lee and Steve opened Déjà vu in December of 2002 part of their business plan was to always give back to the gay community as much as the business would allow and still keep Déjà vu viable.

We are happy to report that Déjà vu has been able to support the following GLBT organizations and Gay owned businesses in a total of well over $ 102,000.00 within the past five years that we have been open.

With close to half of the total going to our community based GLBT Organizations:
Reel Pride, Fresno Pride Parade, Community Link, West Care, Fresno Gay Men’s Choir, Queer Fresno and assorted Gay owned businesses located right here in Fresno.

The Staff , Lee and Steve would like to thank all of our customers for their loyalty if weren’t for them we would not have been able to pass along financial support to those in our community that do so much for Fresno and the  surrounding cities that make up the Central Valleys GLBT Family.

We are looking forward to another successful 5 years with your help.

Lee, Steve, and the Déjà vu Family.

ImageThe California Supreme Court declined on Wednesday to hear a challenge to a ballot measure asking voters to ban same-sex marriage. Read the story HERE

ImageSen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) yesterday introduced an amendment that would have added the name of Jesse Helms to the title of the HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria bill that is before the Senate. Helms, who died eleven days ago, was the nation's most vociferous foe of federal funding for HIV/AIDS programs from the epidemic's beginning until he left the Senate. Read the story HERE

ImageThe Catholics just never stop entertaining. They really have a gift for it…A Westchester County Catholic school principal is in serious trouble after he was arrested for allegedly going on a naked sexual romp with two other men in the backyard of a vacant home in the Orchard Hill section of town on Sunday. Read the story HERE

ImageAfter much controversy and a long absence from the stage, Paula Poundstone stages a successful return to stand-up Saturday night at the Wadsworth Theater in Los Angeles. Read the story HERE

ImageSame-sex couples from Wisconsin who marry in California can face nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine on returning home, CNN reported last Tuesday. Read the story HERE

ImageAfter McCain told The New York Times in no uncertain terms last weekend that he opposes allowing gay couples to adopt children, his campaign lurched back to the center Tuesday with a clarifying statement saying that “he recognizes that there are many abandoned children who have yet to find homes” and he “believes that in those situations that caring parental figures are better for the child than the alternative." Read the full story HERE

Image "What's Your Problem" Episode 17 "Photos, Friends & Pheromones: Part II" picks up where we left off as I hang out with my guests - my best boy buddy and co-creator of our current project in development, Slate&Kelly (www.myspace.com/slateandkelly), John W. McLaughlin and artist & photographer Kerry Krenzin. In part II, we get to a letter from W.Y.P viewer "hoops", who has questions about how to navigate dating when you bring mental illness and physical scars to the table. Kerry, John and I discuss this issue while Lucia takes a breather to deal with a tummy ache in the other room... (bad cheese I think...).  When we decide to share our scars with the viewers I drop trou, and despite my on camera decision to edit it out... it somehow makes the final cut anyway. While the issues addressed this time around are certainly nothing to laugh about, my guests and I still find the way to our senses of humor - come along for the ride with us....The episode posts tonight, July 10th, at The Smoking Cocktail

Enjoy! Cathy
www.cathydebuono.com

www.myspace.com/cathydebuono

ImageAbout 15 new Gay Pride Videos have been added to our ongoing 2008 collection , including videos from London, LA Black Pride Beach Party, Portland, Paris, Cologne, Madrid, Greece, Georgia, Budapest, New York City, and some fierce drag performances from Atlanta, which aren’t really from this year, but they were so great I had to put them on the list..

ImageThe right-wing American Family Association (AFA) announced a boycott of McDonald’s restaurants. According to AFA, McDonald’s is part of a giant gay agenda. Read the story here:  AFA Boycotts McDonalds For Gay Agenda

ImageABC News is reporting that Thomas Beatie, also known as “The Pregnant Man”, gave birth today to a healthy baby girl. Read the story here:  Pregnant "Man" Gives Birth

Image20 NEW Gay Pride Videos have been added to our compilation of International Pride Coverage. New videos from New York, Minneapolis, Italy, Antwerp, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New Jersey, Columbus, San Antonio, Toronto and Jennifer Hudson performing live at NYC Pride... Click HERE to see our complete list of videos…

 It is with a heavy heart that I post this. I only had the chance to meet this wonderful woman once but I was able to learn so much about her. She was a great friend of the community. Many knew her from the lesbian social group she created called, “Wildflowers”. We met at one of many meetings at Deja Vu. I regret that she became ill while I began a relationship with her daughter, Amber and never got the chance to have the time to form a friendship. Through Amber, I became second witness to her considerable strength and humor in the face of such adversity. She will be missed by many and always remembered… for like the sunshine that shone on her garden, so she shall shine above us all. Let us all remember those in our lives that we love, so that it may transcend..for the spirit is always so much stronger than the body and will live on forever in our hearts.

Image  What's Your Problem With Cathy DeBuono

Episode #16 “Photos, Friends & Pheromones” / Guests Kerry Krenzin & John W McLaughlin

After a month long hiatus, "What's Your Problem?" is back with a brand new episode on a brand new venue... The Smoking Cocktail  is a virtual cornucopia of LGBT news, gossip and information and will be temporarily hosting "What's Your Problem?" until I'm ready to announce its new home.... which is coming very soon... so stay tuned!! In the mean time, episode 16, "Photos, Friends & Pheromones" picks up the fun right where we left off as I hang out and have cocktails with artist, Kerry Krenzin and my dear friend, John W. McLaughlin. In addition to taking on viewer letters that explore such things as dating with mental illness and physical scars, disappointing your parents, and the gay issue of nature vs. nurture.... we also take you with us to the recent "What's Your Problem?" party at The Standard Hotel where Kerry's first photography exhibit made its debut. Enjoy!, Cathy
www.cathydebuono.com
www.myspace.com/cathydebuono

    We as youth these days are scared of rejection, not getting accepted for who we are. We feel like we have to live up to societies standards. We have to act, dress, be a certain way to feel accepted. So when we have a different sexual preference we don’t know to tell someone. Its easier for us to tell our friends because its not a big deal, they can either accept us for who we are or not and if they choose not to we can find other friends.

The African American HIV Prevention Capacity Building Project, funded by the California State Office Of AIDS, is seeking volunteers to participate in focus groups. The focus groups are aimed at African American MSM (men having sex with men) age 25 and older, and African American women at high risk for contracting HIV who are 21 and older.

ImageImage 

Participants will be given a meal and a $25 American Express gift card. The purpose of the focus groups is to learn where African American high-risk women and African American MSM are accessing HIV primary and secondary services, how they are accessing the services, identify any gaps in services and whether or not their feel the services are culturally competent and appropriate. If you are interested in being a part of this study, please call 1-888-900-9599. See the attached flyers for more information. Scheduled dates are July 25th & 26th from 6pm-8pm. (Dates were changed on July 13th, so if you already called please call again to verify your participation)

Image When the words “Gay and Adoption” are brought into one sentence, what comes to your mind? Do you find yourself burdened with the memories and battles of gay activism? Or do you picture yourself battling a panel of social workers before a court defending your right to have children? Well it’s not as difficult as you might think; one local agency (Families First) aims to be the local pioneer encouraging the LGBTQ community in adopting children. The agency’s local office handles cases in the central valley's tri-county area.

Photo gallery from CCA's Bass Lake Boat Float on July 22nd:
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The first ever Stride with Pride for Kids walk will take place on Sunday, August 27th from 7:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. at Woodward Park in Fresno, CA. The Stride with Pride for Kids walk hopes to help promote a positive image of  the LGBTQ community, by concentrating on participation from various groups and organizations within the community. Because your group/organization is an influential and vital part of our community, we need your support!!

A meeting has been scheduled for next Thursday, July 27th, from 8:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M. to present the plan for the event, and answer any questions or concerns you may have. The meeting will be at the Carrow's Restaurant at 484 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno, in the banquet room. The restaurant is located on Shaw, between Sixth and Cedar.

R.S.V.P. by Tuesday, August 25th by calling 903-3710 (Leslie) or 285-2333 (Pam)

Download and view/print the: Event Pamphlet & Sponsorship Form
The 2006 Reel Pride Film Festival Needs Your Help! Be a Star!

Local award-winning photographer Keith Seaman is teaming up with the Reel Pride Film Festival to photograph the Tower Theater for the upcoming 2006 Reel Pride Film Festival event.
We are seeking volunteers to act as extras for the shoot as we re-create opening night at the festival! Bring the whole family! Here are the details...
Jared Lindo
A sophomore beginning his second year at Fresno State, Jared Lindo is the first recipient of the Bulldog Pride Scholarship Fund. A civil engineering major, he’s also the third brother from his Modesto-
based family to attend Fresno State.

"I dearly appreciate the kindness of the Bulldog Pride Scholarship Fund," says Jared. "I promise to work hard with my studies to make you proud!"

The first Bulldog Pride Scholar plans to graduate in May of 2009 and envisions on pursuing a Master of Science degree in engineering, as well.
Additionally, Jared will be publicly recognized at the Fresno State Alumni Association's "Top Dog Alumni Awards Gala," which will be held at the Save Mart Center on October 13, 2006.

Give today. For tomorrow and beyond.

www.bulldogpride.org
News from Visalia which is the Central Part of the Rainbow in California

Imagine going on campus to the College of the Sequoias and being greeted by over 30 Rainbow flags leading from the courtyard to the cafeteria.  You open the cafeteria doors and then see Rainbow Flags on every table. Ah, gay pride month (and that is meant to be LGBTQ inclusive). It was so refreshing being back on campus and seeing those Rainbow Flags with the 'true colors shinning through" just like those Cyndi Lauper lyrics.  Did you know that Cyndi Lauper (and she isn't sure if it is true or not) said that a long time ago, the creator of the Rainbow Flag told her at a gay pride event that he was so inspired by her song "True Colors"  that he created that flag. True or not,  while singing "True Colors" in concert we have seen her remove a large Rainbow Flag from the piano, drape it over her shoulder and with her fist high in the air, finish singing the song.  Talk about pride  swelling up within you.  It did and big time.  Cyndi has a lesbian sister! Cyndi Lauper has always supported  our community and we love her for it.
madd_logo.gifAn ad in a Los Angeles trade paper seeking men interested in participating in the production of a Public Service Announcement on behalf of MADD Canada(Mothers Against Drunk Driving) has stirred up a controversy.
The ad seeks straight acting men to portray friends in a car, stoned out of their minds, who begin to “make out” with each other. Titles at the end of the commercial would warn people of the dangers involved in doing drugs, specifically the temptation of homosexuality. Even worse, the end of the ad suggests the boys making out are brothers, bringing incest into the picture. UPDATE AT THE END OF THIS STORY...
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marriage_now.JPGThe highest courts in two states dealt gay rights advocates dual setbacks Thursday, rejecting same-sex couples' bid to win marriage rights in New York and reinstating a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in Georgia. Read the full story at  CNN 
Howard Dean Responds To Ruling
ouzone_logo.jpgCable network Bravo has launched OutZoneTV.com , an all inclusive website targeted toward gays and lesbians. The site includes everything from full length LGBT films to photo galleries, blogs, videos and news.
Bravo President Lauren Zalaznick says “OutZoneTV is a culturally provocative site that’s fun, kitschy and newsworthy. We’ve combined our out of the box editorial content with a culturally resonant sensibility for the gay audience.”
KAMPOUT_LOGO_JPG.JPGThe long running annual event known as Kampout Fresno is just around the corner, taking place on September 8, 9 & 10th. Organization of the event has been taken over by a new group beginning this year, with a revamped committee consisting of representatives from various LGBT groups including the Knights Of MaltaImperial Dove Court and Golden State Bears, as well as independent parties. All committee members are long time Kampout participants. This newly formed group is striving for a varied representation of the community at large and is dedicated to a longer period of planning each year in order to achieve a smooth and well organized event. 
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After months of waiting, the re-construction of the North Tower Circle began July 3rd, 2006 with the construction company pulling in their vehicles and starting work.

The North Tower Circle has been a fixture on and off in the gay community of Fresno for over 30 years.  The unique round shaped nightclub that sits by the railroad tracks on Maroa Avenue has been sitting vacant for almost a year now, after an arsonist set it on fire in the early morning hours of  September 26th, 2005 . The fire was one of a  series of arsons  which took place within a two block area of the neighborhood that sits on the edge of the Tower District.

What is activism?  According to Webster's Dictionary, the definition of activism is as follows:

ac·tiv·ism ( ak t -v z m) NOUN:
The use of direct, often confrontational action, such as a demonstration or
strike, in opposition to or support of a cause.

In a nutshell, that sums up this past weekends Power Summit held at Fresno State
University, put on by Equality California, and the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce.
The summit began on Saturday, July 16th and continued on through Sunday, July 17th.
Fourty-four  individuals from throughout the Central Valley attended Saturdays training,
thirty-two of whom returned on Sunday for the remainder of the conference.  The
conference was an intensive course centered around marriage rights for gay and lesbian
couples as well as the issue of equality in general.
Just ten months from now, the June 2006 Primary election ballot will include three Amendments by the Religious Reich that will take away our RIGHTS as members of the LGBT community. These amendments will not only ban Same Sex Marriage but will also abolish Domestic Partnerships and if they are successful they will be the slippery slide to more attacks on our community.
Now it's Official - They're the 4th Nation for Marriage Equality
LGBT Legislative Caucus, Equality California, And Allies Join Forces to Revive Equal Marriage Rights Legislation for Same-Sex Couples
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Welcome to Lavender Prom 2005

Fun was had by all...