And Then Came TangoMAKE YOUR RESERVATION TODAY!

 
“AND THEN CAME TANGO”
Written by Emily Freeman • Directed by J. Daniel Herring
The play tells the true story of Roy and Silo, two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The couple is given a discarded egg, hatch it, and raise the baby chick, Tango, as their own.
 
Two performances only:
FRI FEB 27th: $100 per person, includes dinner
SAT FEB 28th: $15 per person, menu available.
Limited seating. Free Parking.
The Painted Table • Tower District • Fresno.
 
A Benefit for the Bulldog Pride Club + Bulldog Pride Scholarship Fund at Fresno State.
 
Reservations: www.bulldogpride.org or 559/278-4669.

 

rainbow-pc

This is the month of love and that not only means we love that certain someone, but to many of us it's also love of our devices — computers, iPhones, pads and any number of other options. But if you love your device, that means it needs to return the love by working well and always. Sometimes, just like with a relationship, that entails some tough love. And, as I found out recently, that can include a bit of pain. How much and for how long is up to you, but it’s the end result which pays off.

 

What I’m talking about is a complete re-do of that phone, computer or pad. And by complete I mean a "set up as new” where you save what you need and then wipe the drive clean and reinstall the OS and the apps you need.

 

This gives you a chance, too, to not return apps to the device you were excited about, but never use at all anymore and which take up space on the phone, pad or computer. Why am I telling you all of the above? Because after 16 months of great service my iPhone was getting slower and failing to update item after item. My stock list showed items from six weeks earlier. Weather forecasts had predictions for dates long past. It was clear something just was not right.

 

First I took the easy way: It was gonna be an easy (I’d hoped) fix to do a back-up, wipe the phone and then restore from said back-up. Sadly, it failed to work and I ended up with a brand new copy of everything wrong! That means most of the errors and problems were somewhere in the back-up and, when I restored, were restored too. I put the problems and errors right back on the phone!

 

The only solution was to set up the phone as "new” so let me explain. But wait! Before you dash out and do that you need to do a few other things first.

 

 

—Most vital: save those contacts. You can do it to the cloud in the Apple case or to Google or one of the other address book / contact spots out there for iPhone, Droid or Microsoft OS. Please, please, please, no matter what else you take away from this column take the thought that you must save those contacts or re-enter each and every one. And I know a few folks with upwards of 500 contacts. That's a whole lotta typing.

 

—The same goes for photos. Do you synch and download them to your computer or laptop regularly? Maybe to the cloud? Whatever, make sure you have each and every photo you want saved off your iPhone or other device before you wipe it clean. There's no way to see Grandma Gertrude or Uncle Dave who have both died since you took their photos ever again if you erase without backing up or downloading the images. I repeat: NO Way.

 

It amazes me when I talk to techs at the computer firms how many folks forget this step and come in whining that this or that pic they lost was irreplaceable. Even the ones you downloaded to social media you should keep yourself because they won't be back on the phone after you are done.

 

—Last (and this is a must to me) open your device and take a screen shot of each "page” of apps. This guarantees you know what you have and it also lets you “weed out" ones you might not want to put back on the device. More of that in a few...

OK, got that all done? Good. Next plug the device into power, go into controls and when the options show up "restore as new erase all content & settings” should be the one you pick.

 

This is something you should not do the day before a major trip or big event or other special time. It also can take a while, especially as after the setup is complete, you will need to restore those contacts and go to the iTunes or Android store and download every' app you purchased and want back over again. Remember, you wiped that device clean for a fresh start and that means clean. Aside from the operating system and the pre-installed apps like weather and notes, there will be nothing there. The good news is the store should have the records of what you bought, so the cost to download those apps again will be a big, fat zero.

 

And before you download the replacement apps, think hard and long about what I said a few lines ago: get the ones you use all the time.

 

Get the ones you usually need. But do you REALLY want the London Tube status board you got before that trip or the Toronto subway map you thought was cute or the gimmicky battery use device that looks like an apple which slowly withers and turns brown as you consume your charge?

 

I know those (and at least a dozen others) were all amongst the ones I decided I could easily live without when I restored recently. I know you will have your own list, but regardless of what goes and what comes back, do not burden your device with extra "stuff” you never use.

 

No matter how fun or cute or useful something was when you grabbed it from the app store, just like the worn out Puma shoes in your closet or the moth-eaten ski coat from 1995, there are some things that you will never have a use for again. And just as you declutter the closet regularly (think Spring cleaning) this is a golden opportunity to declutter that device.

For guidance on what you have to have, want to have or do not need refer back to that set of screen shots I told you to take. That’ll let you see what was there and help you make the final "cut”.

 

Finally a 2nd caution about something we said at the outset: No matter how tempting it seems, do not restore the device from your back-up or you will simply re-install the same problems and gain nothing.

 

It would be like going out to buy new tires for your car but instead of the new ones you buy, putting the old fiats back on. Pay the tire shop to recycle the old ones. Pay yourself by throwing away the old back-up. Hang onto it long enough to be sure things are indeed back to where they should be then let go, put it in the trash and hit empty.

 

Like the old boyfriend’s photo, the old tires or that pair of shot shoes, there's no reason to burden yourself or your gear with things you will never have a use for again — ever. If you do the job right, once things are restored and complete, you should have the apps you want and need, the contacts you had before and most importantly a working device which is literally good as new — mostly because as far as the operating system and apps are concerned, it IS new.

 

Good luck with your work and if you need help, there is a lot out there — from the Apple Genius bar to the local phone store and electronics retailer.

 

Just remember that like love, sometimes you got to say this is not working the way we want it to and re-think. If we want to continue loving our devices, the very same is true. Happy Valentines Day.

finances-in-focus

Valentine's Day is upon us. And while it’s certainly fun to give and receive chocolates and roses, why not go a little deeper this year? Specifically, if you are married, consider using this commemoration of love as a starting point for taking care of your spouse in the future — even if you're not part of it.

Actually, both you and your spouse could designate Valentine's Day as the beginning of your joint efforts to provide financial security for the surviving spouse when one of you is gone.

Your strategy should involve at least these three key elements:

—Understanding your household's finances. In some marriages, one spouse handles all the household financial matters, including investments. If this person were to pass away first, it could leave the surviving spouse with the dual responsibility of managing day-to-day finances and tracking down all investment information. These tasks could be overwhelming to someone who is unprepared to deal with them, so you’ll want to take steps to ensure you and your spouse are aware of your joint financial picture.

For starters, keep good records of all your financial assets, including investment accounts, life insurance policies and legal documents — and make sure both of you know where these records are kept. Also, if you use the services of a financial professional, it’s a good idea for you and your spouse to meet regularly with this individual to ensure both of you know where your money is being invested and how close you are to achieving your financial goals.

smoochPetty Officer 2nd Class Thomas Sawicki and his shipmates returned to San Diego this week and Sawicki’s boyfriend was there to greet him. Sawicki smooched with Shawn Brier at Naval Base Point Loma marking the first time in US Naval history that a male same-sex couple had been chosen for the traditional coming home honor, which is decided by lottery. 

outside-the-box(Authors note: This month's column is a personal experience rather than a question from a reader.)

My last column described my recent experiences learning that I had prostate cancer and having a prostatectomy. This month, I wanted to share some new developments which I hope will help readers become more informed about prostate (and other) cancer, as well as become a better friend and supporter to those dealing with it.

Last time I reported on a successful surgery, with few serious after-effects. My convalescence was so smooth that all my treatment providers told me they had never seen a patient recover so well, and I was inordinately pleased with myself. What's that old saying about "Pride going before a fall?"

In my latest follow-up appointment with my urologist, I learned that cancer was present in several biopsy samples taken during my surgery. Another high PSA score, when it should be zero after a prostatectomy, suggested that the cancer was still very aggressive and continuing to spread rapidly.

Yet there was also reason to be optimistic. Radiation therapy and hormone injections to suppress testosterone, which feeds cancer growth, promised to bring remission or at least slow the cancer down. Unfortunately, this treatment will probably need to be repeated for the rest of my life.

I saw my oncologist for the first time six weeks after my surgery and began hormone therapy then. It was still too early to begin radiation, so he encouraged me to go on and spend the month of October in Florida, as I always do, and start radiation treatment when I returned home.

Since then I've spent my days reading at the pool or beach, trying to keep my mind occupied in positive ways. However, I can't forget I have cancer, a bad one, and it’s not going away easily. I'm going to have to fight it and fight it hard, apparently for a very long time.

As a therapist, I've been teaching clients coping skills for over 40 years. I also know¬ how to practice those skills myself. I’m a survivor, with a strong faith life, and positive attitude, and I've been utilizing those pretty effectively since this journey began.

But there's still that drowsy moment every morning when I wake up and don’t remember I have cancer. . . then suddenly I do, and it’s like hearing the bad news for the first time all over again. Other friends with cancer have shared that they experience this same phenomenon.

In my last column I shared my thankfulness for loving friends and family, for recent treatment advances, and for early detection of my disease making remission more likely. I’m still thankful for all of those things, though a little less confident about the last one.

We Keep Electing Ignorant People. Fair-minded Americans have welcomed the recent wave of court decisions striking down bans on same-sex marriage. The lesbian, gay, bi & trans community and its allies have been positively euphoric.

Of course, the homophobes and those who pander to them have had a somewhat different reaction.

Here's the thing: people who don't approve of gay people, or whose religious beliefs somehow require them to see gays as sinners and same-sex marriage as an abomination, are entitled to those beliefs. It's a free country. And elected officials are entitled to disapprove of judicial decisions, although they are not free to disregard them. All of these debates over what is best for the country, what constitutes fair play, what discrimination looks like...all of the cacophony that surrounds social change is both predictable and within the bounds of democratic deliberation.
Abject ignorance is not. Which brings me to Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona, and her rant in the wake of court rulings that invalidated her state's ban on same-sex marriage.

"It is not only disappointing, but also deeply troubling, that unelected federal judges can dictate the laws of individual states, create rights based on their personal policy preferences and supplant the will of the people in an area traditionally left to the states for more than two hundred years.

"Simply put, courts should not be in the business of making and changing laws based on their personal agendas. It is not the role of the judiciary to determine that same-sex marriages should be allowed. "

Sorry, Governor Brewer, but your civic illiteracy is showing. Courts are absolutely "in the business" of "supplanting the will of the people" when that will violates the Constitution. The Founders of this country created an independent federal judiciary (one that was not elected) and provided those judges with lifetime tenure, because judges were supposed to be responsive to the Constitution and the rule of law — not to the electorate.
Congress and the Executive branch were supposed to respond to majority preferences; the judiciary, however, was supposed to safeguard individual and minority rights and to ensure that the other branches did not violate the Constitution in their eagerness to pander to popular passions.

I have repeated this basic premise of American constitutional law over and over — in my columns, my blogs and my classrooms. Let me do so one more time.
The Bill of Rights answers an important procedural question: who decides? Who decides what prayer you say, what book you read, how many children you have? In our system, government doesn't get to decide these and other very personal matters — we individuals decide these things for ourselves.

The Bill of Rights doesn't tell us what we should value or how we should live our lives; it protects our right to make those decisions for ourselves, free of the interference of government scolds.

The Bill of Rights also limits what popular majorities can vote to have government do. In fact, the Bill of Rights is sometimes called a "libertarian brake" on the power of the majority. A majority of your countrymen cannot vote to make you a Baptist or an Episcopalian; they don't get to vote on your reading materials or your political opinions or your choice of a life partner.

People who don't understand the most basic operation of our system — like Arizona's Governor Brewer, or Indiana's Mike Pence — misunderstand and misrepresent court decisions that uphold the right of individuals to live their lives as they see fit without sacrificing their right to equal treatment under the law.

Same-sex marriage doesn't threaten the republic. What threatens the republic is the election of people who are totally ignorant of the Constitution they are sworn to uphold.

 

rainbow-pc

You likely never thought you’d ever read this in a tech-savvy column but here it is for all to see: The internet is one of the worst things we have ever invented.

Now that the shock is abating, let me explain, because I do not really believe that in total, but it does have some disadvantages. And along with the net I refer to smart phones, tablets and all the rest of what are today called ‘‘devices’'.

 

The reason I am so frustrated is that the internet has made everybody walking the streets an "expert" on any topic...and sadly, about 75% of what they have in their net-gained knowledge base is either over-stated or outright wrong.


I have one close friend who, on ANY topic considers himself an expert because he can use Google and Yahoo. While so-doing is fine and information gained can be useful, anyone can post anything to most any website and when folks read it they become even more convinced that folk tales (urban legends as they are better known today) bear a lot of truth.

finances-in-focusWithin the gay community, there's no “holiday" which receives more recognition — deserved or not — than Halloween. This may be February and the holiday might be past, with its plethora of skeletons and ghosts put away for yet another year so you might feel that with it come and gone, you probably don't have much to fear (except, possibly, running out of leftover candy). But in real life, some things genuinely are frightening — such as “scary" investment moves.

Of course, investing, by its very nature, is not a risk-free endeavor. Ideally, though, these risks are also accompanied by the possibility of reward.

Nonetheless, some investment moves carry very little in the way of “upside" potential and should be avoided. Here are a few to consider:

Not investing — The scariest investment move you can make is to not invest at all — because if you don't invest, you are highly unlikely to achieve a comfortable retirement or meet any other important financial goals. In a recent survey conducted by the National Council on Aging and other groups,

pink in the sheetsDear Mz. Pink,

Now that gay marriage is becoming legal in most states, my girlfriend has been bugging me to get married. The problem is I don't want to get married. I don’t feel like we are at that place in our relationship to get married.

She has actually been pushing me into things since we started dating. First it was moving in together, then it turned into “loving' each other, then it was no friends or only friends together, now she is talking kids and a wedding. I am not ready for this type of commitment. I actually don’t want to be at this spot in our relationship. I would love to just date her and not have to worry what she has planned for us next. How can I have her slow down, without making her think I don’t want to be with her at all?

Runaway Bride

PecsnCity

daily existence. Personally, I’m still waiting for the Jetson's-style car that I can fold up into a briefcase, but maybe that's next on Team Apple's agenda. Oh, and I wish we had some sort of cloning service. Yes, I would benefit greatly from having my own clone. Then again, if I had a clone I would probably never leave the house. If that sounds narcissistic, then you are correct in your assumption.

Speaking of narcissism and clones, I was recently inducted into the world of the dating app. Or hook-up app, if you prefer. It took me almost as long to get involved with this world as it did when Facebook was in its infancy, but I’m finding that there are fascinating things you can learn about people through their brief profiles, strange photographs and messages full of touch screen courage.

With all the varied choices out there, I chose Scruff and avoided its resting-bitch-face little brother Grindr. Not only are the boys on Grindr much douchier and homophobic than Scruff, but something about that skull mask logo gives me the creeps. Not to mention that Grindr has already racked up numerous murders connected to men who hooked up with their killers using the app. Yeah, that's three strikes, Grindr. You're out.

The first thing you notice when you join up is, of course, the photos. Let me just start by saying I honestly don’t see the point of posting a picture of your nipple or your navel or your feet. How does that help anyone?

Not to sound too shallow, but when I show up to meet you and you look like Sloth from The Goonies it’s not gonna matter what your abs look like. Your face is where everything starts. The way you smile, the look in your eyes, the lips that are asking to be kissed — that's what should be first and foremost. Maybe that’s just my humble opinion, but even if I’m just hooking up with someone, the face is the spark that lights the fire.

I look at it this way: if you post a photo of your bicep are you going to show up to a date completely wrapped in bandages like a mummy with just that bicep showing? No. Or at least I hope not. When you show up at a coffee shop or a bar or someone’s door, the first thing they see is your face. So why not just put that on the profile in the first place?

And when I say that I mean a shot of your face from within the last year so you at least look somewhat similar to your photo. I saw a profile picture recently that had been taken outside a movie theatre. The poster on the marquee was Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets. That came out in 2002. Which was 12 years ago, kids. At least have a picture in front of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows for fuck's sake. That was only three years ago.

The second thing I find inherently amusing are the names on these profiles. I understand if you're hesitant about using your real name, and I know many people use either the first letter of their name or their initials or some variation on that theme, which is fine. But when you're using a name like FeetAndFisting, NeedHeadNow or BreedMe35, I feel like you're kinda pigeonholing yourself right from the get-go. I received a message from the eloquently named NeedHeadNow and I asked him if he always needed head when he was online, since you know, it's now. He told me: “No, I don't always need head.”

After that, I decided to not delve further into the reasoning behind his screen name. Look, I understand that people want to make their desires known up front, but you can also do that once you talk to someone. You know, like we do in the real world.

That, in itself, is another point. Using a dating app should be like real life. You don’t walk up to someone in the real world with your face covered and say “Hi, my name’s Dick Chugger42” do you? I understand that the concept of doing things online whether it’s Scruff or Tinder or Facebook or Instagram is the alternative to going out into the world and meeting someone to date or to fuck or to be friends with, but sooner or later, face-to-face human experience will be taking place in our lives.

The transition from whom you are online and who you really are shouldn’t be such a leap. The image crafting that we all engage in only puts up roadblocks for the real time interaction that comes with the one thing we all need: personal connection. Truth, above all else, will lead the way to what you truly need. The lies you spin through binary code are just like the lies you tell in real life. They will turn and bite you with sharp teeth.

You say you’re six feet tall and 190 pounds but you’re really five feet seven and 220 pounds? You say you’re into heavy bondage but you're really only curious about it?

You say that the photo of you online is definitely you and not Nick Youngquest? All of these things will be painfully revealed when you're standing in front of whomever you’re connecting with. And that won't be pretty. Honesty, the greatest quality that anyone can possess, is still paramount, even behind the anonymity of a touch screen.

That brings me to the one thing about these apps that I find the most infuriating. The fact that people are online looking for dick or dates when their profile says they are partnered, married or — a term that has absolutely no merit in my world — in an open relationship. Okay, so let me see if I understand this: you have someone to come home to every night, someone to wake up to every morning, someone who takes care of you and supports you, makes you breakfast, kisses you goodnight, laughs with you, argues with you, holds your hand, reminds you to bring an umbrella, tells you you're beautiful, tells you they love you and that's not enough for you? Are you kidding me?

I guess I sound like I'm old fashioned or I belong in a Nicholas Sparks movie, but that sounds like it would be enough for me. And if you're one of these people who are in a relationship that say you’re merely online looking for friendship, why are you putting your stats and desires in your profile? When I meet a new person who I know I’m going be friends with, I try to steer clear of telling them how big my dick is or if I want to be tied up. Unless they ask, of course.

So, tell me: am I missing something? Is there some reason people cannot be satisfied with what they have and need to venture into the global grid of the hook-up apps?

It seems greedy and selfish to me. When I'm with someone I'm with someone. Does temptation rear its muscled head? Of course. Do I struggle with the attentions of a 23-year-old MMA fighter in the gym when things are tough with my boyfriend? Sure, and it's not easy. But the point remains — love should trump the siren song of a stranger's touch. I came across a profile recently that said if I was interested in what this user's ideal guv was, I should check out his partner's profile. Because “he's more than I could've hoped for.'' Really? I mean, come on. If you have everything you could ever hope for, there’s no need to search for more, right?

I know I sound like I’m not a fan of Scruff and the like, but that's actually not the case. People meet online every day and get what they need, whether it's a date or a fuck or a future husband. People meet online and discover that the people they meet may not light them up in person but they become friends and take that path instead. It can be an amazing tool for connecting on many different levels. I think that if you truly want the most out of any kind of digital coupling, honesty is the way to go. Honesty will filter out what you don’t want so you can find what you do want — whether it's for an hour or forever.

Like I said before, treat these apps like you would treat a real life encounter with your face, your name, your wants and needs, your desires — no matter how twisted — your real age, and your real thoughts.

Trust me, these are the tools to pleasing your heart and both your heads. But if you're one of these guys who supposedly has everything they could ever want in a partner waiting at home for you, stop grazing where you think the grass is greener, because it isn't. And if you're a single guy with confidence and sexiness and a smile that melts my heart and drops my pants, I’ll see you online. Woof.

TheLavenderConventionOn Saturday March 8th, 2014 the first annual Lavender Convention will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Fresno, CA. The convention is an all-day interfaith event aimed at bringing the LGBT community and faith based organizations together in learning and celebration of spirituality in the LGBT community. It will be day of honoring and affirming each individual’s spiritual nature. The convention welcomes all who are interested in connecting with themselves at a deeper level, including those with no formal religious or spiritual beliefs or affiliations. The convention is an opportunity for each individual to explore their own values and beliefs in a friendly, supportive and safe environment. Although local affirming congregations and organizations will be represented at the convention, the convention is not meant to recruit new church members, but rather to allow attendees to receive information and participate in experiences to assist them on their own individual spiritual journey.

Our Mission Statement is as follows:
The Lavender Convention is a positive response to the historical exclusion of LGBT people from religious institutions. The Lavender Convention seeks healing and transformation by inviting the LGBT Community to a celebration of its spiritual essence. It is a forum for LGBT affirming communities of faith to come together for fellowship, learning, and worship. The Lavender Convention is designed to touch the spiritual nature of LGBT individuals and create a vision of a community and society that includes everyone who seeks a spiritual pathway.


The Convention will run from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM. The keynote speech is by Father Geoffrey Farrow former priest of the Newman Center of Fresno who lost is position after is public opposition to Prop 8. It will also consist of an interfaith opening ceremony which honors diverse religious and spiritual traditions, a faith leader’s discussion panel, break-out sessions with informational and experiential workshops, lunch, and a closing ceremony.


The Lavender Convention’s home and registration page can be found at http://tinyurl.com/TLCFresno

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LavenderConventionFresno

 

TheLavenderConventionOn Saturday March 8th, 2014 the first annual Lavender Convention will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Fresno, CA. The convention is an all-day interfaith event aimed at bringing the LGBT community and faith based organizations together in learning and celebration of spirituality in the LGBT community. It will be day of honoring and affirming each individual’s spiritual nature. The convention welcomes all who are interested in connecting with themselves at a deeper level, including those with no formal religious or spiritual beliefs or affiliations. The convention is an opportunity for each individual to explore their own values and beliefs in a friendly, supportive and safe environment. Although local affirming congregations and organizations will be represented at the convention, the convention is not meant to recruit new church members, but rather to allow attendees to receive information and participate in experiences to assist them on their own individual spiritual journey.

Our Mission Statement is as follows:
The Lavender Convention is a positive response to the historical exclusion of LGBT people from religious institutions. The Lavender Convention seeks healing and transformation by inviting the LGBT Community to a celebration of its spiritual essence. It is a forum for LGBT affirming communities of faith to come together for fellowship, learning, and worship. The Lavender Convention is designed to touch the spiritual nature of LGBT individuals and create a vision of a community and society that includes everyone who seeks a spiritual pathway.


The Convention will run from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM. The keynote speech is by Father Geoffrey Farrow former priest of the Newman Center of Fresno who lost is position after is public opposition to Prop 8. It will also consist of an interfaith opening ceremony which honors diverse religious and spiritual traditions, a faith leader’s discussion panel, break-out sessions with informational and experiential workshops, lunch, and a closing ceremony.


The Lavender Convention’s home and registration page can be found at http://tinyurl.com/TLCFresno

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LavenderConventionFresno

 

gaywedding-131“We made a commitment to each other in our love and lives, and now had the legal commitment, called marriage, to match. Isn’t that what marriage is? … I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry. Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. … I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.” — Mildred Loving, “Loving for All”

Last night, only days after hearing oral arguments in the case, a Virginia federal judge struck down the state ban on same-sex marriage, writing unequivocally that “[t]radition is revered in the Commonwealth, and often rightly so. However, tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.” The judge opened her opinion with the quote, above, from Mildred Loving, the plaintiff in the 1967 challenge to Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. She thus joined a unanimous and ever-expanding collection of federal judges who have chosen to answer the question left up in the air by the Supreme Court last Spring: Did the Windsor decision–striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act–pretty much strike down gay-marriage bans as well?

It didn’t have to play out this way. Once the elation of victory died down following the court’s Windsor decision in June, everyone found themselves asking the same question–what does this case mean for all of the other cases raising questions about gay and lesbian equality? The answer wasn’t 100 percent clear at the time. As he’s done in the past, Justice Anthony Kennedy authored a decision producing sweeping results, but rooted it in less than crystal clear reasoning. This was because Windsor has two independent parts that barely speak to one another.

Authored By David S. Cohen and Dahlia Lithwick – See the Full Story at Slate

 

senator-ted-cruz-250x250Senator Ted Cruz of shut-down-the-government fame is introducing the companion bill to a House measure that would stop the federal government from recognizing same sex marriages in states that ban the practice.

The Washington Blade reports:

Tea Party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced legislation on Thursday in the U.S. Senate to prohibit the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states without marriage equality. The Texas Republican said he introduced the bill, called the State Defense Marriage Act, in response to the Obama administration’s recognition of same-sex marriage in federal programs — even for gay couples living in non-marriage equality states — following the Supreme Court decision against the Defense of Marriage Act. “I support traditional marriage,” Cruz said in a statement. “Under President Obama, the federal government has tried to re-define marriage, and to undermine the constitutional authority of each state to define marriage consistent with the values of its citizens. The Obama Administration should not be trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states.”

The country needs jobs and support for the newly growing economy. Cruz gives us the repeal of Obamacare and a return to repressive 90′s policies against gays. And this is the future of the GOP?

 

gopAmid rising momentum in favor of legalizing gay marriage, Bob Vander Plaats, the Iowa conservative activist who helped both Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum win the last two Republican caucuses in his state, said he would strongly oppose any Republican presidential candidate who backed same-sex unions and predicted such a person would not be able to win in Iowa or capture the GOP nomination overall.

“I don’t think they would get a foothold anywhere and they would definitely get beat in Iowa,” Vander Plaats said of any Republican who supported gay marriage. And Vander Plaats said he and other social conservatives there would “do their due diligence” in pressing any Republican who comes to Iowa to pledge both now and in the future that they will support marriage only between a man and a woman.

The comments, in an interview with me, were a bit of a warning shot to potential Republican 2016 candidates. Vander Plaats, runs a social conservative group called The Family Leader in Iowa, and is an influential enough figure that six of the Republican 2012 candidates attended a forum on faith and politics his group sponsored during the campaign.

Authored By Perry Bacon Jr. – See the Full Story at The Grio

 

us-attorney-general-eric-holderAttorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will recognize all legal same sex marriage, regardless of where the couple lives.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

In a new milestone for gay rights, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. will issue a directive Monday expanding government recognition of same-sex marriages to all federal courtrooms and prisons, and some federal benefits programs.

The new policy, which Holder plans to announce Saturday night at a gay rights dinner in New York City, means the Justice Department will not object if gay or lesbian partners refuse to testify against their spouses in federal criminal and civil cases, and will push for them to be accorded the same rights in Bankruptcy court as other married couples. These privileges will be extended to same-sex couples even in states that do not recognize their marriages as long as they were legally married in another state.

I’m guessing this won’t sit well with folks in some conservative states… LOL.

 

Hello, Dolly!
At William Saroyan Theatre, Feb 18th & 19th, 7:30pm


Four ways to get your tickets (of course, our famous free ticket raffle too!)

Buy your tickets from Ticket Master or at the Saryoan box office

#1 Like us on facebook and enter our contest at the top of the page (Winner will receive two tickets to Feb 18th show)

#2 Donate to Gay Fresno, in any amount and you'll be entered to win two tickets for the Feb 18th show ($142 value!)

#3 Bid on eBay bidding starts at only 99c for two tickets for the Feb 18th show ($142 value, Auction ends Feb 17th at 5pm)

Just by being a member of our email list, you can know about our next ticket giveaway. Join today!

transgender-flag ong -250x250Physical pain. I’ve been experiencing a lot of it in the past week.

One of the chronic conditions that contribute to my VA disability rating of 100 percent is the lumbar area of my back. A combination of exaggerated lordosis (an exaggerated curve in the lumbar region of the spine), years of lifting heavy gas bottles and components while serving in the Navy “beat up” my lumbar region and a spina bifida (where my lumbar bones didn’t fully close around my spine) cause me to be susceptible to back aches. The past six months have found me in more pain than I have been in the last six years.

Also, I was exposed to a lot of sun during my life time, especially time I spent serving our country in the Navy. In the last few years I’ve had a significant number of precancerous growths frozen off my face, but new growths keep popping up. My VA dermatologist recommended a two week treatment of Flourouracil cream to remove the hidden growths below my visible skin, so I applied the cream twice a day to my face for those two weeks. My dermatologist told me it would leave me looking like I had leprosy – and here a week after ending the treatment my face is in pain as the facial sores from the “killing” of those hidden growths heal.

Lastly, while my face and back have been in pain, I had two root canals on two molars. Multiple medications I take to control chronic conditions cause me to have dry mouth. That dry mouth has resulted in numerous dental problems during the past three years, and that’s resulted in painful dental problems.

Authored By Autumn Sandeen – See the Full Story at LGBT Weekly

 

APPLICATIONS CURRENTLY BEING ACCEPTED FOR SIX BULLDOG PRIDE FUND SCHOLARSHIPS OF $2,000 EACH.

The Bulldog Pride Fund is an endowed scholarship that was established under the auspices of the Fresno State Alumni Association in 2006 with one simple mission: “To support students attending Fresno State.” Today, the Bulldog Pride Fund endowment provides six annual scholarships of $2,000 each and will distribute a total of $12,000 this fall: • Bulldog Pride Fund – two annual awards of $2,000 each to students demonstrating academic achievement, financial need and volunteer service to the community;

ASI President’s Award – annual award of $2,000 to the student elected as President of the Associated Students, Inc.;

GSA Network Award – annual award of $2,000 to a student affiliated with the GSA Network;

Harvey Milk Hope Award – annual award of $2,000 to a student enrolled in the Humanics Certificate Program; and

TimeOut Spirit Award – annual award of $2,000 to the student that performs as Fresno State’s mascot.

Applications for Bulldog Pride Fund scholarships to be bestowed in the 2014-15 academic year are currently being accepted online. Details: www.bulldogpride.org. Deadline to apply is Feb. 28, 2014.

Total donations, as of January 7, 2014, are $300,081. By next fall, the Bulldog Pride Fund will have awarded 34 scholarships valued at $61,000.

# # #

GIVE TODAY. FOR TOMORROW AND BEYOND. www.bulldogpride.org

tyler curry10x400-250x250As a part of the Will & Grace generation, it has been my pleasure to witness the evolution of gay couples in the context of public opinion. From the oversexed stereotypes on Queer as Folk to the Disney-like caricatures on The New Normal, our televisions have been speckled with a variety of examples of what a gay relationship looks like. No matter how cliche our TV stand-ins may be, they have relaxed much of the tension between the homo population and our hetero peers. But there is one term that should have been left in a rerun of the past that continues to get airplay today. In lieu of boyfriend, fiance, or husband, gay and straight people alike continue to use the word, partner, to reference a homosexual bond.

So why should “partner” be placed in a time capsule? It’s simple.

“Partner” is a vague term that gay people began using decades ago to reference their significant other without making their heterosexual company uncomfortable (or, at least, less uncomfortable). It was a way for homosexuals to speak freely without using the general terms that defined straight relationships, partly because boyfriend sounded silly and husband seemed to offend, nor could it be accurate in most cases. Who knows whether the term originated from the mouth of a straight or a gay because, regardless, it stuck like a son-of-a-bitch.

Even after we’ve systemically scrapped the idea of a civil union and instead demand full marriage equality, we still continue to use this ambiguous term to refer to our one and only. That may be because there is a significant group of men and women who are safely past the point of a normal engagement but still seek a more reputable title for their relationship. Most gay men feel like “partner” gives their union more validity and maturity than the term “boyfriend” ever could. And most would agree. Calling a man that you have been with for 10 or 15 years your boyfriend does sound a little juvenile.

Authored By Tyler Curry – See the Full Story at The Advocate

 

web-Professional-Photo-01-240x300-240x2502013 was a great year for marriage equality. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor brought federal recognition of same-sex married couples. When Windsor was decided, it was unclear what effect it would have on the bigger fight, the fight to strike down all remaining same-sex marriage bans. Recent decisions in two of the most conservative states in the country indicate that federal judges are no longer swayed by the typical arguments in favor of retaining the bans.

Though it is hard to predict what will happen, the recent decisions in Utah and Oklahoma are the start of the next wave of cases that will ultimately end in a decision by that same Supreme Court. On Dec. 20, 2013 a federal judge in Utah ruled that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Then on Jan. 14, 2014 an Oklahoma federal judge ruled that Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

The Utah case was big because the Mormon Church is huge there. The same church was central in providing the funding for Proposition 8 in California. It also led to some immediate marriages because the District Court judge and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals both denied requests from the state to stay the decision.

Authored By Paul McGuire – See the Full Story at Gay San Diego

 

gaywedding-04I have had enough of people being able to say ridiculous things about the LGBT community and get away with it. Most recently it was the star of the Bachelor who called us perverts. He also said that there should never be a gay Bachelor. Really, gay men and women can get married in 18 states but they shouldn’t be able to be on a TV show to find love?

I have reached the fatigue point. Why does the LGBT community continue to let this happen without any reprisals? Sure we complain, just like I am complaining, but we continue to support the shows and stars who speak this drivel. Worse, we also support politicians who speak the same inane words.

Here is what the national Republican Platform says about LGBT people:

“Defending Marriage Against An Activist Judiciary … It is an assault on the foundations of our society …” Oh yeah, those judges who have given us the right to marry whom we love, they are assaulting the foundations of our society. Ridiculous.

Authored By Stampp Corbin – See the Full Story at LGBT Weekly

 

wbc-protester-250x250One of our local Sacramento-area high schools, Granite Bay High School, is producing the Laramie Project, and Westboro Baptist Church announced with great fanfare that they would be here to protest it.

Local LGBT rights activists Beverly Kearny and Jovi Radtke swung into action, mobilizing the local LGBT community the same way they did last March, when a local mall kicked out a gay couple for showing affection in the mall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Granite Bay HS RallyFunny story – only one guy showed up to oppose the play – and we’re not even sure he was actually from WBC, though he did have the signs. He arrived about 3 1/2 hours before the play, and left within an hour.

Meanwhile, a wide range of folks from the area showed up to support the play, the students, and the school, which has apparently been very supportive of the effort.

Students from the local GSA were there, selling T-Shirts and bracelets (we bought both) – it was great to see them.

Thanks to Michaelle Mazzone Byam for the photo of the lone protester.

 

 

 

 

 

Marco-McMillian

A man is in custody today after Mississippi's first openly gay mayoral candidate was found murdered and his body dumped alongside a river. 

Lawrence Reed, 22, of Clarksdale is reportedly being held as a person of interest but has not been charged, sources said. 


Rising political star Marco McMillian, 34, was found dead on the Mississippi River levee at around 9am on Tuesday. Reed was allegedly driving McMillian's SUV when it was involved in a head-on crash around that time. 


The relationship between the two men is unclear. An autopsy report on McMillian's cause of death is expected later today.

Read more

 

 

 

 

 

Suze OrmanOut financial advisor Suze Orman spoke out on CNN yesterday about marriage equality, demanding full federal recognition of gay and lesbian relationships. Towleroad.com reports:

“How would all the heterosexual couples feel who are married if all of a sudden the wife or the husband knew that upon the death of one of them if they have a certain size estate they’re going to lose up to possibly half of that estate? They wouldn’t stand for it.”

Go Suze go!

ap-logo-250x190The Associated Press,one of the largest news aggregators in the world, recently issued a new set of guidelines on journalistic style and standards, in which they said that reporters should not generally use the words “husband” and “wife” when referring to gay and lesbian spouses, Pink News reports. The only exception:

The updated AP memo clarifies that “husband” or “wife” can be used, but only if the married couple involved regularly used those terms, or if the terms are used in quotes attributed to the couple. The style guide’s suggestion that same-sex spouses should only be described as “husband” or “wife” under those two circumstances, drew criticism from LGBT groups, journalists, and from within the AP, as it was seen as creating a double standard. David Cray, a New York based journalist, said he would rebel against the rules: “The AP style guidance will have no effect on how I write about legally married same-sex couples.

As we’ve learned painfully throughout our history, words matter.

la-pn-obama-abc-gay-marriage-position-20120509I was thinking about Obama mentioning gay marriage in the State of the Union. Of course, the thing is, that he didn’t mention it. He skated around the issue noncommittally, instead talking about equality, regardless of “what you look like or who you love.” The SOTU is the ultimate bully pulpit, giving the opportunity to stand strong on matters of principle and matters of conscience. Considering to status of DOMA in the Supreme Court, with the matter thoroughly out of his hands, POTUS has little to lose by re-establishing the position of the Administration. Frankly, his limp, post-facto support for gay marriage never included any indication of the steps that would be taken to make real progress. That dearth of progress is a shallow reward for the efforts of a community which had so galvanized itself in Obama’s support.

His nod to the LGBT community in the SOTU was only just barely that. He never used the word gay, and his only commitment to changing our lives only counts if we’re in uniform. One would never begrudge our brave service people the (relatively minor) expansion of benefits for same-sex couples, but they aren’t the only people who urgently need change. The Federal Government is the country’s largest employer, and doesn’t extend any health benefits to gay couples; now would be a perfect moment to include rights for same-sex couples in comprehensive immigration reform. Obama needs to stop worrying about what the GOP and the very thirsty Marco Rubio have to say. I think that’s the larger point: we’re into the second term – there are no real political consequences for the President for leading the nation, and standing up for his beliefs and stepping just left of center. I was hoping for some change this time around – weren’t you? What we were given instead is some watered down language from an ambivalent administration, and a long shot at the judicial overturn of DOMA – frankly no real progress from the President on gay rights.

Jared Bieschke is a certified Project Manager, etiquette specialist and calligrapher. He also owns J. Bieschke Events in Washington, DC, specializing in same-sex weddings and other life events. You can see more advice, ideas and “tips of the trade” on his website, www.jbieschkeeventsetc.com, Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest.
Jared and his partner divide their time between Rehoboth Beach and Washington, DC.

I know you’ve seen those commercials. We all have. They’re full of grinning idiots waxing on about their happy lives and fulfilling relationships, delighted about how they have found their real true love, and you can too. That is, unless you’re gay.

eHarmony, the massively popular dating site isn’t for everyone – and the founders have made that abundantly clear. After a series of lawsuits alleging anti-gay discrimination, New Jersey ruled against the misled matchmakers in 2005, insisting that they open their service up to same-sex couples. Ultimately, they created a distinct site, Compatible Partners available to same sex couples “looking for meaningful, long-term relationships.”

In a recent interview for Yahoo! Finance Blog, Off the Cuff, eHarmony founder, CEO, and bigot extraordinaire, Neil Clark Warren has taken his discriminatory beliefs one step further. He says: “I think this issue of same-sex marriage within the next five to 15 years will be no issue anymore. We’ve made too much of it. I’m tired of it. It has really damaged our company.” Has it? Is that because people don’t want to do business with a bigot? Or, as he claims, because the bigots he caters to are angry that he had to extend services to same-sex couples. Either way, I’d like him to know that I’m tired too. I’m tired of listening to people talk about my life with my partner as thought it was destructive to the country, as though our quiet, fiscally responsible, perfectly ordinary life was bringing hellfire down around nice straight folks.

I’m optimistic that Mr. Warren is indeed right, and that in only five to fifteen years we won’t need to talk about same-sex marriage, because common sense will have prevailed, and same-sex relationships all over the United States will receive the legal recognition that they rightfully deserve. What I enjoy most of all, is that he believes that “we’ve made too much” of the fight to extend legal rights to gay couples, rights that he share the legal rights that he shares with his wife. No wonder he’s tired. It must be exhausting to keep people in the back of the proverbial bus. When people in power fight to deny the equality of gay couples, they are perpetuating a medieval and destructive social paradigm that causes real harm.

In fact, his bad opinion goes so far as to imagine that our lives are all miserable, and that we are just dying for some millionaire asshat to swoop in with big bucks and “figure us all out.”

“I have said that eHarmony really ought to put up $10 million and ask other companies to put up money and do a really first class job of figuring out homosexuality. At the very best, it’s been a painful way for a lot of people to have to live.”

He seems as delusional as the people in his commercials, so I hate to burst his inept and myopic bubble, but being gay isn’t painful; it’s sort of fabulous. (You should see my shoes!) It’s not clear why Jesus wants him to hate gay people so much, nor is it clear just what he’d do when he does figure us fags out, but I’m hopeful that it involves brunch.

Jared Bieschke is a certified Project Manager, etiquette specialist and calligrapher. He also owns J. Bieschke Events in Washington, DC, specializing in same-sex weddings and other life events. You can see more advice, ideas and “tips of the trade” on his website, www.jbieschkeeventsetc.com, Tumblr blog, Twitter and Pinterest.

Jared and his partner divide their time between Rehoboth Beach and Washington, DC.

ens2013Expression Not Suppression (ENS) is a Fresno-based annual conference for LGBTQ youth and straight allies who are dedicated to creating safer schools and building the GSA movement in the Central Valley. ENS is youth-planned and youth-led.

Are you a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning or straight ally youth? Want more tools to make YOUR school safer and defeat bullying?

Join us at ENS on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at The Big Red Church in Fresno for a day of powerful workshops, insightful speakers, an LGBTQ Resource Fair, and a youth dance! 

WHAT: Every year, ENS brings together more than 100 LGBTQ youth activists and straight allies from around the Central Valley who are dedicated to creating safe schools and defeating homophobia and transphobia in the Central Valley.

WHEN: Saturday, February 23rd, 2013, 9:00am to 9:00pm

WHERE: Big Red Church of Fresno
2131 N Van Ness Blvd.
Fresno, CA 93704

WHO: We encourage high school and middle school students, teachers, school administrators, parents, GSA advisors and organizations working in support of LGBTQ youth, to join us and learn about youth activism, leadership and how to make our Central Valley schools safer for all!

YOUTH - Click HERE to register
ADULTS - Click HERE to register!
In order to participate, you must also download, sign, and bring this form to ENS. Youth under 18 must have a parent or guardian sign the form.

Illinois-Family-InstituteThe Illinois Family Institute, a designated hate group, is joining the chorus of conservatives claiming that gays and lesbians already have equality under the law. Unlike the National Organization for Marriage and Family Research Council, IFI is a bit more candid about how exactly it sees this vision of “equality”:

First, those who choose to place their same-sex attraction at the center of their identity are “treated like anyone else under the law.” They are perfectly free to participate in the sexually complementary institution of marriage. They choose not to. They are not asking to be treated equally. They are demanding to be treated specially. They want the unilateral right to jettison the central defining feature of marriage (i.e. sexual complementarity) — something, by the way, that polygamists, polyamorists, “minor-attracted persons,” and sibling-lovers are not permitted to do.

See the Full Story at Think Progress

 

Gay Fresno's coverage of the Valentine's Day same sex marriage action, organized by Marriage Equality USA.

freedom-to-marry-day-2013Unmarried same-sex couples who wish to marry and all who support them are invited to attend this important annual event!

This is an annual, National event happening in cities across the nation during Freedom to Marry Week!

What will happen:
We'll meet at the Fresno County Clerk's office at 12pm noon and unmarried same-sex couples will ask for marriage licenses. The media will be present to document their experience as they are denied the fundamental right to marry. Supporters will cheer on those who want to marry! Also, some time will be set aside to view a photo presentation of couples who married in 2008 and to hold signs for the cause.

We especially NEED married LGBTQI couples, our allies and supporters to cheer on their friends and take a stand on this important issue are DEFINITELY ENCOURAGED TO COME!

Please help us spread the word about this event on Facebook and Twitter. Please also send text messages to your friends to let them know!

Your attendance is greatly needed to show this issue is still important to our community.

kinseysicks

Guaranteed night of laughter and fun!

With a phenomenal performance record that includes an Off-Broadway show, an extended run in Vegas, two feature films, seven albums and appearances throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia, the Kinsey Sicks hardly need an introduction. For over 16 years America's Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet has served up a feast of music and comedy to audiences at performing arts centers, music venues and comedy festivals in every kind of town you can imagine, in over 40 states! Their award-winning a cappella singing, sharp satire and over-the-top drag have earned the Kinsey Sicks a diverse and devoted following.

Educational panel after the show.

Purchase advanced tickets at the University Student Union Information Center.
$5- Fresno State Students with valid student ID
$10 - General Public

For mature audiences.

Tickets at the door:
$7 - Fresno State Student with valid student ID
$12 - General Public
* CASH ONLY at the door

Parking Enforced - $3

Sponsored by USU Productions and Fresno State United Student Pride

chick-fil-a-folsom-250x250According to the Hollywood Gossip, Chick-fil-A, in the midst of the controversy over the company’s anti-gay policies, sales actually grew:

The company ended 2012 with $4.6 billion in sales, up 14 percent from $4.1 billion a year earlier, and it opened 96 news stores, four more than 2011. The company does not have to publicize its finances because it is privately owned, but made those figures available to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In related news, Pink News reports that the company’s tax returns show no donations to anti -gay groups in 2011:

A gay rights advocacy group has said that, according to its most recent tax documents, Chick-fil-A has ceased giving money to groups opposed to equal marriage and gay rights. According to gay rights group Campus Pride, the 2011 IRS 990 filings for Chick-fil-A’s charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, shows no sign that they had funded anti-gay groups.

So mixed news… and they keep popping up in new places – at least two new ones here in Sacramento in the last few months.

protect-marriageAccording to Reuters, Protect Marriage ran a huge shortfall in 2011:

ProtectMarriage.com, the advocacy group defending a California gay marriage ban now under review by the high court, showed a $2 million deficit in its legal fund at the end of 2011 – the third year in a row that expenses exceeded donations, federal tax records show.

Not only that, but they’re $700K short in their fundraising for the US Supreme Court cases:

The 2012 accounts are not yet available. ProtectMarriage.com says it has since covered the 2011 shortfall. However, it is still $700,000 short in fundraising for its Supreme Court costs, according to a ProtectMarriage.com attorney, Andrew Pugno. That message has gone out to donors, with some urgency, as the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments in March in its first thorough review of same-sex marriage.

Where are the Knights of Columbus when you need them?

family-research-councilJoe.my.God is reporting that the FRC has now filed its brief with the US Supreme Court on the DOMA case. One spurious claim – DOMA did not intend to discriminate against gays:

Even assuming, for purposes of disparate impact analysis, that sexual orientation is to be treated in the same manner as race or gender and subject to heightened scrutiny, neither plaintiff nor the Government has cited any evidence that even remotely supports the conclusion that in enacting § 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, Congress, as opposed to certain individual members thereof, had the intent or purpose to discriminate against homosexuals who wish to marry someone of the same sex, rather than the mere knowledge that § 3 could have a disparate impact on them.

Yes, congres was just full of christlove that day… extra points for recognizing the reference. :)

Joe also reports on FRC’s Prop 8 brief, and guess what? Same (il)logic applies here:

Even assuming, for purposes of disparate impact analysis, that sexual orientation is to be treated in the same manner as race or gender and subject to heightened scrutiny, plaintiffs have cited no competent evidence that even remotely supports the conclusion that in adopting Proposition 8, the People of California had the intent or purpose to discriminate against homosexuals who wish to marry someone of the same sex, as opposed to the knowledge that Proposition 8 could have a disparate impact on them.

So the FRC has given the Supreme Court a convenient way out – just rule that there actually is no animus here. Will they see through this ploy? Do they want to? We’ll see in June or July…

In related news, AmericaBlog reports that President Obama’s own past statements on marriage equality have come back to bite him (and us) in one of the amicus briefs supporting Prop 8:

On page 27, they quote Obama acknowledging in an interview last year that many people “feel very strongly” about preserving the traditional definition of marriage because they “care about families.” And on page 60, they quote Obama disclaiming any desire to “nationalize the issue” of gay marriage — in effect claiming Obama as their ally in the argument that Prop 8 should not be struck down.

Which just rachets up the pressure a little more for the White House to file their own amicus brief agains Prop 8 and DOMA.

March4Marriage-250x250The Mormon Church is once again inserting itself into the fight over marriage equality, filing an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court urging the court to uphold DOMA. On Top Magazine reports:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) is urging the Supreme Court to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and Proposition 8, California’s 2008 voter-approved gay marriage ban. The Supreme Court will hear 2 cases in March challenging the constitutionality of each statute. Lawyers for the LDS Church drafted the briefs on behalf of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Romanian-American Evangelical Alliance of North America, Truth in Action Ministries and the Mormon Church.

African American “Bishop” Harry Jackson has also filed a brief advising the court to uphold DOMA, Joe.My.God says:

Jackson’s SCOTUS brief mostly treads his tired “don’t compare your sin to my skin” tropes. “At the heart of these arguments is the assertion that California’s expansive domestic partnership law, providing vast rights for same-sex couples, is a modern-day Jim Crow law. But comparing California’s choice of family institutions to the dehumanizing Jim Crow era is a logical fallacy. Such an assertion not only misunderstands the history and effect of the Jim Crow era but also disrespects those African Americans that lived through the era and those still struggling with its scars today. Quite simply, there is no comparison.”

This line always infuriates me. As someone who has always had the utmost respect for the civil rights struggles of African Americans, it is crazy to me that some in this minority seek to slam the door shut behind them, instead of working with us to improve things for all minorities.

Joe.My.God also reports that NOM is using an old march on Washington photo to promote their rally at the Supreme Court next month – a rally that was organized by a gay man:

Jeremy Hooper writes: “Important reminder: March 26 is not only the first day of SCOTUS hearings and the day that NOM plans to march against us–it’s also the one year anniversary of us all learning their stated intent to ‘drive a wedge between gays and blacks’ in order to ‘provoke the gay base.

 gaywedding-131“I trust the Constitution,” Edie Windsor told BuzzFeed reporter Chris Geidner in an interview for his recent profile of the 83-year-old whose lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act will be heard by the Supreme Court this March. “Sometimes there’s a mistake, but mostly we move forward. I think we’re going to win just because I think justice will prevail. Is that crazy?”

Edie Windsor’s faith in the Constitution is well-placed, I think, and a sign of how long-term her thinking about the marriage equality issue is: In the end it isn’t really the Supreme Court or even one specific case that will determine whether LGBT Americans are provided with full equality; it is the Constitution, a document that holds within it the possibility of future equality even if the generations before ours would never have read it that way. To borrow an idea from the great Walt Whitman, the U.S. Constitution contains multitudes.

But this is 2013, not some unspecified and more enlightened year of the future, and the U.S. Supreme Court will be asked this March what the Constitution has to say about Proposition 8, the Defense of Marriage Act and marriage equality in general.

Full Story at The Huffington Post

 

It is shocking that we are still shocking people!

Forty years ago, in 1973, the American Psychiatric Association announced that homosexuality was not a mental illness. “Conversion or Reparative therapy” has been rejected by the World Health Organization, the American Psychological Association and almost every other professional therapeutic group in America to date.

When a medication is harmful, we pull it off the market, yet we allow a so-called therapeutic practice that we know is harmful to be used on minors. There is something very wrong here.

Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance, Calif.) sponsored California’s Senate Bill 1172 that was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown last year. The law would officially ban California Licensed Mental Health Professionals from practicing “reparative therapy,” which attempts to change the sexual orientation and/or gender identity of a minor.

There are dreadful consequences for children who are often subjected to these practices at the insistence of misled parents who either do not know any better or do not believe that the practices are harmful.

While this law is certainly a step in the right direction, it is weak in that it only covers state-licensed therapists.  Many clergy, “ex-gay groups,” and other untrained and unlicensed counselors sell snake oil to parents who unknowingly subject their LGBTQ children to dangerous treatment that is unnecessary and not effective.

Sexual orientation change efforts cause serious health risks, including depression, social withdrawal, substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide. So, why do we allow state licensed, trained mental health professionals to practice an unsafe treatment for a disorder that does not exist?

MattMooreA man who has written about and advocated using religion to stop same-sex attraction was discovered to be using the gay hookup app Grindr.

Christian Post blogger Matt Moore was first spotted on Grindr by Huffington Post blogger Zinnia Jones, who received a tip from a reader of her page atFreethought Blogs. Moore eventually confirmed that it was his profile.

 

 

 

 

 

  

gaywedding-06In less than 24 hours after his appointment was announced, it was discovered that the Georgia megachurch pastor chosen to give the benediction at President Obama’s second inauguration preached antigay sermons over a decade ago. The Reverend Louie Giglio took quite a public lashing from progressives around the country and was quickly replaced by the Reverend Luis Leon, a D.C. Episcopal priest who, along with his 1.9 million-member denomination, supports same-sex unions.

The controversy has sparked a more fundamental discussion: Are antigay beliefs welcome in the public square?

The short answer is no, but this is not a wholesale rejection of Christian beliefs, or even “traditional evangelical beliefs.” At first glance, it may seem superficial to criticize Giglio based on a sermon he preached over a decade ago. Even the president of the United States has “evolved” on LGBT equality in the past year. But Giglio has given no indication that his views have changed.

Authored By Joseph Ward – See the Full Story at The Advocate

 

family-research-councilProminent anti-gay advocate Gary Bauer admitted on Wednesday that his party cannot keep up with the change in public opinion on marriage equality, according to an interview with the conservative religious organization LifeSiteNews.

Bauer, a former president of the Family Research Council who remains influential in certain evaneglical and Republican circles, ran a super PAC during the 2012 election that attacked President Obama on his support for marriage equality. While Bauer suggested after the election that then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney would have won over critical minority voters by attacking LGBT rights, he’s now admitting that he was mistaken:

“The coalition in favor of normal marriage has been made up of political conservatives and American minority groups, including Hispanics and blacks. But the president’s so-called ‘evolution’ on this issue has resulted in what appears to be a major shift among blacks and Hispanics toward favoring same-sex marriage.”

See the Full Story at Think Progress

supreme-court-chief-justice-john-robertsGay marriage may well be the defining social and legal issue of our time. After receiving the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts, President Obama delivered a monumental speech in which he became the first President in history to use the word “gay” in an inaugural address. In unveiling an unmistakably progressive agenda, he proclaimed that, “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

Much has been written about the ideological divide between Obama and the Chief Justice. Author Jeffrey Toobin devotes to the subject an entire book entitled The Oath. There, Toobin boils down the differing views that each has of the Constitution, the Supreme Court and the country. Toobin writes that,

“Both men gave considerable thought to the Constitution, and they reached different conclusions about its current trajectory:

See the Full Story at Forbes

supreme-court-012-250x250The FRC, in its amicus brief to the Supreme Court on is rehashing one of its old claims on marriage equality and the gays, Think Progress reports:

FRC claims that gays and lesbians do not deserve nondiscrimination protections because of their sexual orientation, but adds that even if they did, the Court could still rule against them in these cases. The group explains this by pointing out that gay people can enter opposite-sex couples, and thus laws like DOMA and Prop 8 do not discriminate specifically against gay people, just same-sex couples.

The brief explains:

DOMA “does not distinguish between persons of heterosexual orientation and homosexual orientation,” and identified a recent case in which a man and a woman, both identified as “gay,” entered into a valid opposite-sex marriage. It is apparent, therefore, that the right to enter into a marriage that would be recognized under S 3 of DOMA “is not restricted to (self-identified) heterosexual couples,” but extends to all adults without regard to “their sexual orientation.”

Having trouble following such twisted logic? Then you’ll love this one, from the Advocate, about Justice Scalia:

When SMU professor Bryan A. Garner asserted that he and Scalia differed on certain issues, such as gun control and marriage equality, Scalia countered that Garner’s assertion may not necessarily be true. “I haven’t expressed my views on either of those,” he said. “You’re a bleeding heart.”

Nevertheless, we’re not holding our breath waiting for Scalia to give the green light to marriage equality.

gaywedding-071More than perhaps anyone else in America, David Blankenhorn personifies the struggle so many have experienced over same-sex marriage.

First he was agnostic, then he was against it, now he’s for it.

This is to say that Blankenhorn — a long-standing opponent of same-sex marriage — has shifted his energies to saving the institution of marriage, regardless of whom one chooses as a mate.

If you’re unfamiliar with Blankenhorn, it is because he hasn’t been barking his positions on television the way so many ideologues do. And this may be because he is not strictly an ideologue but one of those rare people who agonize in search of the right thing.

Authored By Kathleen Parker – See the Full Story at The Washington Post

supreme-court-012-250x250Lots of news today, too, on the DOMA/Prop 8 front. To start, There’s a great column by Ted Olsen (one of the Prop 8 case attorneys) over on the AFER site on the Prop 8 and DOMA cases:

“The best outcome of those two cases is that once and for all–and maybe this is too much to ask–but once and for all, the United States Supreme Court will say that people are entitled to equal treatment under the law, and under the Constitution irrespective of their sexual orientation–that they cannot be fenced off from constitutional rights, from the fundamental right to marry and other fundamental rights simply because of their sexual orientation.”

News on several other amicus briefs too, starting with our old nemesis Eugene Delguadio, in which he basically repeats the whole “being gay is a choice” canard. Joe.My.God reports:

Gay men and lesbian women have not been treated to a history of discrimination based on a “trait.” There is no evidence that such people have been discriminated against on the basis of a characteristic or a propensity. For example, in the enforcement of the criminal law prohibiting sodomy,there must be proof of an actus reus. Likewise, in the enforcement of the law of marriage, a homosexual pair is being denied a marriage license on the ground of sexual behavior, not sexual orientation.

LGBTQ Nation reports that Utah Pride also plans to file a brief:

Utah Pride’s legal team will encourage the U.S. Supreme Court to apply heightened scrutiny to review laws that discriminate against LGBTQ citizens, and argue that the U.S. Supreme Court should recognize that every American has the constitutional right to marry the person they love.

And a new site has been launched by Get Equal to list the rally sites for marriage equality on the days of the Supreme Court hearings:

We’re marching for justice, and we hope you’ll join us! If you’re interested in either organizing or attending an event during the Supreme Court hearings on marriage equality in March 2013, click the button below!

So far, there are 15 events listed, mostly on the East Coast. If you can attend one, or better yet, start a new one, check out the site.

Though the past year was perhaps one of spectacular gains for the LGBTQ community, it looks as if, yet again, key issues for the transgender community will have lackluster support in the 113th Congress, with the House still controlled by Republicans. Remarkable gains in this Congress, with openly gay Tammy Baldwin taking one of the Senate seats for Wisconsin and Elizabeth Warren taking one of the Senate seats for Massachusetts, do bring hope for a future Congress with a mandate on full LGBTQ equality, but not in the immediate future.

In March the Supreme Court of the United States will hear two of the marriage equality cases out there. The decision will not necessarily be a clear victory for advocates of marriage equality, given that many states still have legislation and constitutional amendments preventing same-gender marriage.

There are valid reasons for upholding the fight for marriage equality, such as much fairer tax laws, survivor benefits and the like for same-gender couples, but should the Supreme Court find the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, will the progressive movement achieve the same level of support for other issues affecting the LGBTQ community, particular economic issues?

See the Full Story at The Huffington Post

Immigration_ReformDuring President Obama’s second inaugural speech, he mentioned immigration reform as a goal.  He has been criticized by many on the left for failing to move forward any such  legislation during his first term.  He did, however, make changes in policy that affected the undocumented millions to some extent.  He initiated a plan to defer deportation of so called “Dreamers”, undocumented individuals that were brought here as children.  Short of immunity, this policy allows qualified immigrants to apply for deferment and a work permit.  He also directed the Department of Homeland Security to place LGBT illegals on a low priority status for deportation.  There are many more, small but important steps this administration has taken, detailed here by the group Immigration Equality.

But what about real, meaningful change?  Does Obama have a chance of passing comprehensive immigration reform during his second term?  He seems committed to the idea.  During his speech he said, “”Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”  But can he get the deeply divided and uncompromising Republican House to go along?    The answer is unclear, but the last election did spell out that the growing Latino population does support immigration reform and does NOT support the GOP.  If this will affect the Republican controlled House of Representatives remains to be seen.  There are many who feel that the Tea Party members, who have been vocal opponents of immigration reform, will not concede.  Others feel that if they do agree, a compromise will be struck that will exclude LGBT immigrants from the plan.  The only thing a Tea Partier hates more than an immigrant is someone who is gay – citizen or not.

So what are the other possibilities?

One is if the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, is found unconstitutional.  Many don’t realize the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) affects gay immigrants in a significant way.  Unlike heterosexual couples, gay American citizens who are engaged or married to their same sex partners are not allowed to apply for a Spousal Visa.   Late last year.  The Supreme Court has accepted two cases relating to same sex marriage.  One case, Windsor v. United States, could make a huge difference for binational couples.  The case, brought by Edie Windsor, involves ineretance tax. Ms Windsor, who was legally married in Canada to Thea Spyer, was charged over $360,000 in estate taxes after her wife died.  A straight widow would not have to pay.  The case states that the government cannot treat legally married gay couples differently that straight couples based on the equal protection clause of the Constitution.  If the Court decides in favor of Windsor, many believe legally married gay couples can apply for green cards.

Another possibility is the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).  This bill has been has many cosponsors in the House and Senate – recently, some GOP congressmen have signed on as well.  This bill would provide same-sex couples in committed relationships (they would not need to be married, since that is a right in only a handful of states) to apply for a green card.  Despite bipartisan support, the chances of passing the House during this congress is slim.

So we wait.  Some couples, like me and my husband, are lucky.  Michael is currently here from Canada legally, on a student visa.  So we have time.  Other couples continue to live in the shadows or on deportation lists, not knowing if they will need to leave the country together or face being split apart.

There are so many unknowns, but progress is being made.  It is only a matter of time before the LGBT community has full equality under the law.  But will it be soon enough for many of the 50,000 couples waiting in limbo?  Will it be soon enough for Michael and me?

I hope so.

For more information on Immigration Equality, check them out here.  To offer support for IE and find the perfect card for your Valentine, check out our offer here

Dan and his husband, Michael operate Homoquotables Greeting Cards.  They live in Boulder, CO

The Rogue Festival starts this week and runs March 1-10th at various locations and times.

roguemuse2012

The Rogue celebrates the independent performer and artist by providing the opportunity to showcase works in a friendly, affordable, and creative setting. The Rogue Performance Festival is modeled after the fringe festivals which have become popular worldwide.

The Rogue is fast growing into a Festival that will encompass every aspect of the arts.

And, of course MONEY is always welcome!  The Rogue Festival is a 501(c) non-profit, so all donations are tax-deductable.

The Rogue Festival offers a unique and eclectic variety of performance pieces and is arranged in a manner which encourages people to move between venues to see a variety of art and theater.

CLICK HERE for more details and a 2012 Rogue Festival Schedule.  There are rules as to whether you can show up late for a performance or not, and there are ROGUE BUCKS, new for 2012, that can save you money and get you free credits for your purchases.

trashique

SAT. APRIL 21ST, 2012
FRESNO ART MUSEUM
2233 N 1ST ST • FRESNO • CALIF.
TICKETS: $100 PER PERSON
VIA PHONE: 559/441-4221
VIA WEB:  FRESNOARTMUSEUM.ORG

Join fashion lovers, style makers and art aficionados at the Fresno Art Museum for TRASHIQUE – a six-hour fundraising party and fashion show like no other.

“Dozens of male and female models will hit the runway with one-of-kind ensembles made from 100 percent recycled trash,” promises Linda Cano, executive director of the museum.

Trashique_image

“Local fashion designers, hair stylists and make-up artists will assist in making each and every outfit as spectacular as it can be,” adds Roseanne Guaglianone, volunteer director and producer of the event.

TRASHIQUE will be held on Sat. April 21st and begins at 6:00 p.m. It includes exotic beverages made by celebrity bartenders, as well as food samplings from the Fresno’s finest restaurants.

Tickets are priced at $100 per person and all proceeds benefit the Fresno Art Museum. Get your tickets today by calling 559/441-4221 or online at fresnoartmuseum.org.

VOLUNTEER MEDIA CONTACT:
Peter Robertson •
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. • 559/288-5259

Hi there! another community service freebee!
6460438_1
Children kindergarten through Sixth grade are going to be seen for dental care free of service from check-ups to cleanings.
It's a first come first served basis and according to coordinator, lines fill up fast approximately 2 to 3 hours before.This Service is open to the public; not just FCC students with children.
WHAT: Dental Screening and Care
PLACE: Fresno City College~~ Health Building
(on University Ave. entrance~ Wendy's)
DATE: Feb. 25th, 2012
TIME: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Hope this helps many people in our community. I will continue to keep my ears and eyes open for more community health PSA's. I think I like this. trying to get helpful resources info out for our community for a more healthy living lifestyle.

The Maryland Senate has approved the marriage bill which has already passed successfully through the House.  Just before the vote...

r-MARTIN-OMALLEY-GAY-MARRIAGE-large570

On the eve of a historic vote in the Maryland Senate on a marriage equality bill, Governor Martin O’Malley appeared confident that the bill, which passed the House of Delegates last week, would pass the senate and be on his desk perhaps by the weekend. Maryland would become the 8th state to offer marriage rights to gays and lesbians, though the law could face a voter referendum in November.

“I believed that in my short service to the people of this state that the consensus point on this issue could only be reached around civil unions,” O’Malley said of his prior position on the issue, appearing on my radio program on SiriusXM OutQ on Wednesday. “I was wrong. It became possible to reach a consensus on marriage equality.”

“There’s been an evolution in the broadest sense among the people of our state,” he continued. “Initially, when this issue first became very visible, after Mayor Gavin Newsom conducted marriages in San Francisco [in 2004], I think initially a lot of people had a lot of fear -- and a lot of misplaced fear -- and over time I think people have come to realize that the way forward, among people of many different faiths, is always through the greater and broader respect for equal rights for all.”

The Governor has indicated he will sign the bill into law, which will make Maryland the 8th state to legalize same sex marriage.

READ MORE HERE...

...

MAHER_STAND_UP

Watch Bill Maher's latest stand up for FREE on THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 23RD...

Yahoo! Screen and Bill Maher, comedian and critic-at-large, together bring you Yahoo!’s first-ever live-streaming standup event. The language and content may not be suitable for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised. This comedy series has more original hilarious video shows to come. For updates and funnies, follow Yahoo! Screen and Bill Maher on Twitter.

Bill Maher LIVE Stand Up Link on YAHOO

The next step in the Prop 8 case has reared its ugly head, with the proponents of Prop 8 filing paperwork to have the Ninth Circuit reconsider the ruling by the three judge panel.

ca9-thumb-250x249-727-thumb-200x199-743-thumb-200x199-1426

The panel majority erred in breaking with the uniform and binding precedent upholding the constitutionality of laws adopting the traditional definition of marriage, and the Court, sitting en banc, should rehear this profoundly important case.

The panel majority concluded that the Supreme Court's decision inRomer v. Evansdirectly "governs" and "controls" this case because it struck down a "remarkably similar" constitutional amendment—Colorado's Amendment 2. This conclusion, however, rests on a patently implausible reading ofRomer.

[I]n declaring a state constitutional right to same-sex marriage in theMarriage Cases, the California Supreme Court not only overturned thestatutory will of the People in Proposition 22, it also refused to defer its decision until theconstitutional will of the People could be expressed on Proposition 8 at the ballot. And that decision, according to the panel majority in this case, rendered the will of the People irrelevant in any event; for once the California Supreme Court redefined marriage to include same-sex couples, the People of California were powerless, as a matter of federal constitutional law, to exercise their reserved right to [amend their state constitution.]

The move means a larger panel of judges from the Ninth Circuit will likely hear the case and present their judgment as to the Proposition's constitutionality.

READ THE PROPONENT FILING HERE...

READ MORE HERE...

...

California State University, Fresno and the West Virginia University are looking to get YOUR views on your relationship with your in-laws.  Please view the flyer below and take a moment to complete their survey at:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LGBTInlaws

GLBT_flyer_February_8_2012

I am living in a state that is flirting with the idea of writing discrimination into their constitution. Knowing in the back of my mind that thirty other states have voted to discriminate against same sex couples by defining marriage between one man and one woman, it is sometimes easy to look over the historic changes that have occurred over the last two weeks. From the appellate court ruling proposition 8 unconstitutional, to the partnership between JC and Ellen DeGeneres, to the state of Washington legalizing same sex marriage with Maryland following close behind, nationally, the debate is looking very optimistic.

Fueling that optimism, it is good to know I am not the only one being vocal about marriage equality. Yet, sometimes under this extraordinary pressure, every event from attending weddings to interjecting when overhearing homophobic rhetoric  becomes a moment where I find myself thinking about the Minnesota Marriage Amendment. This causes me to feel very upset, stressed, and often times displaced when I feel like all I do is talk about queer activism. However, come to find out, my friends, family, and peers feel the exact same way I do on the matter and are becoming just as vocal and frustrated as the political year brings us closer together and closer to voting day.

In the meantime, when something is on my mind, I head over to the Center for Student Diversity to talk to the “Assistant Director of Gender and Sexual Orientation Initiative”. Who I like to call the queer guru and a  good friend. The last time I went in to chat, I ranted about how a student on campus had used the words gay and fag near me and how I had interjected asking him to stop using his derogatory rhetoric. From there, we briefly tied this into the Minnesota Marriage Amendment and I had plenty to share about that. Fortunately, I was reassured that there were a lot of people like me who had become more vocal and irritated since the moment the amendment was introduced. I’m not the only one who see's through this, and to those who are just as irritated, it's important to remember we are in this fight together.

This spirit of pacifist outrage through vocalization is definitely a stressor that many Minnesotans both allies and queers alike are experiencing. Only through pursuing this often times stressful and emotionally draining dialogue through Minnesota United’s method of spurring on the conversation, can Minnesota be a catalyst as the first state to defeat a state amendment to write marriage discrimination into their constitution. Keeping the conversation alive and talking to other supporters in times of stress will  continue the historic and progressive wave of success.

Jacob Woods blogs at Good as Gay and can also be found on Twitter.

lgbt_health_fair_2012

Gay Central Valley will be hosting our first LGBT Health Fair on Saturday, March 24th from 10AM – 2PM. This year’s National Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Health Awareness Week is March 26-31, 2012. The Fresno County Dept. of Public Health will be attending and providing free HIV testing on site.

The Health Fair will take place in the parking lot of the office complex which houses the Fresno LGBT Community Center, operated by Gay Central Valley. The address is 1055 N Van Ness Avenue in the Tower District. The Community Center is located in Suite A.

We will take up the parking lot during the event, which provides the opportunity for interested groups and organizations to set up booths and tables. We will also have entertainment and a raffle. We are also requesting a raffle prize donation from those organizations participating, although it is not mandatory. Participation is free.

We are seeking out any interested organizations to participate. If you are interested in having a booth at this event, please contact Chris Jarvis by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or leave a message at the Fresno LGBT Community Center phone at 325-4429.

www.gaycentralvalley.org www.gayfresno.com www.fresnolgbtcenter.org

FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE

Gay Central Valley and the San Francisco New Conservatory Theater Center brings "The Laramie Project - Ten Years Later" to Fresno for two performances, June 16th & 17th 2012.

laramie

The play deals with the aftermath of the Matthew Shepard murder...

Ten years after the brutal death of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, five members of Tectonic Theatre Project returned to Laramie to try to understand the long-term effect of the murder. They found a town wrestling with its legacy and its place in history.

This production is sponsored by and a fundraiser for Gay Central Valley and the Fresno LGBT Community Center . Gay Central Valley and the San Francisco New Conservatory Theater Center are working in collaboration with local LGBT Groups... My LGBT Plus , Community Link, Bulldog Pride Fund , GSA Network , GetEQUAL and the Rainbow Delegation .

There will be TWO PEFORMANCES at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, located at 2672 E Alluvial Avenue, Clovis, CA 93611.

The first performance is Saturday, June 16th at 7:30PM. Ticket prices for this performance are $20 for ADULT PLUS (One adult ticket plus the sponsorship of one YOUTH ticket for the Sunday afternoon performance), $15 for General Admission and $7.50 for Seniors and Youth.

The second performance is Sunday, June 17th at 3PM. Ticket prices for this performance are $15 for ADULT PLUS (One adult ticket plus the sponsorship of one YOUTH ticket for the Sunday afternoon performance), $10 General Admission and $5 for Seniors & Youth. (Youth will not have to pay a ticket price for Sundayif sponsorship is available through PLUS ticket sales).

You may purchase tickets starting March 1st by clicking on the following link...

TO PURCHASE TICKETS CLICK HERE (STARTS MARCH 1ST) ... http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/230393

FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE

The recent birth control controversy gets an hilarious hit from Saturday Night Live...

...

Do NOT miss this amazing documentary documenting the struggle by the Lovings, an interracial couple in Virginia in the 1960's, to overturn bans on interracial marriage.

Listen to the case, the arguments and the eventual ruling, and notice how similar it all is to the struggle for LGBT marriage rights today.

The wave continues...The Maryland House has just passed a bill legalizing same sex marriage. Next is the Senate, which appears to be a slam dunk and then the Governor, who has vocally supported the legislation.

maryland-map-symbols

The Maryland House of Delegates needed 71 votes to pass the bill. Whether the chamber had the requisite votes was a matter of much speculation just hours before the vote. Pro-marriage equality lawmakers Thursday had to delay consideration of the legislation until today, when it passed 71 to 67 as cheers erupted from the gallery and on the floor.

Nearly a year ago, the House voted to shelve a marriage bill by sending the legislation back to committee — this after it became clear that supporters simply did not have enough votes. But the Senate passed the bill and is expected to do so again this year. Gov. Martin O’Malley has pushed for the law and pledged to sign it. "Today, the House of Delegates voted for human dignity," he said in a statement after the vote.

READ MORE HERE...

...

Last year the Obama administration caused a controversy when they announced they would no longer defend certain parts of the Defense Of Marriage Act in federal court, saying to do so would be unconstitutional.

Now, in a similar move, the administration has declared it will no longer defend in court, laws which deny legally married same sex couples in the military the same benefits as heterosexual married partners. This is in response to a Massachusetts lawsuit filed by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network on behalf of a lesbian couple.

navy-sailors-gay-couple-kiss-cropped-proto-custom_28

Attorney General Eric Holder wrote the following in a letter to Congress...

The legislative record of these provisions contains no rationale for providing veterans' benefits to opposite-sex couples of veterans but not to legally married same-sex spouses of veterans. Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs identified any justifications for that distinction that would warrant treating these provisions differently from Section 3 of DOMA.

Holder points out that the benefits which are in dispute are...

"medical and dental benefits, basic housing allowances, travel and transportation allowances, family separation benefits, military identification cards, visitation rights in military hospitals, survivor benefits and the right to be buried together in military cemeteries."

READ MORE HERE...

...

Just as he said he'd do, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has vetoed the state's gay marriage bill. Christie has stated he believes this issue should be left up to the voters.

r-CHRIS-CHRISTIE-large570

The veto came a day after the state Assembly passed the bill. The state Senate had passed it on Monday. Christie, a Republican who opposes same-sex marriage, had vowed "very swift action" once the measure reached his desk.

"I am adhering to what I've said since this bill was first introduced – an issue of this magnitude and importance, which requires a constitutional amendment, should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide," Christie said in a statement. "I continue to encourage the Legislature to trust the people of New Jersey and seek their input by allowing our citizens to vote on a question that represents a profoundly significant societal change. This is the only path to amend our State Constitution and the best way to resolve the issue of same-sex marriage in our state.

READ MORE HERE...

...

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ’wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry.  Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others, especially if it denies people’s civil rights.” – the late Mildred Loving, speaking out for marriage equality on June 12, 2007, the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia announcement.

lovings

Read about the historic case HERE

It's official in Washington State. Governor Gregoire signed the same sex marriage bill into law. Couples won't be able to marry until early June, but the law makes Washington the SEVENTH U.S. state to legalize same sex marriage.

r-CHRIS-GREGOIRE-large570

Opponents filed Referendum 73 Monday afternoon. If they collect the more than 120,577 valid voter signatures by June 6, the law will be put on hold pending the outcome of a November vote. Separately, an initiative was filed at the beginning of the legislative session that opponents of gay marriage say could also lead to the new law being overturned.

Gay marriage supporters said that while they are ready for a campaign battle, they are allowing themselves to celebrate first.

"You have to relish this moment," said 31-year-old Bret Tiderman of Seattle.

The state reception room at the Capitol was packed with hundreds of gay rights supporters and at least 40 lawmakers from the House and Senate to watch Gregoire sign the bill.

Sen. Ed Murray, a Seattle Democrat who is gay and has sponsored gay rights legislation for years, told the cheering crowd: "My friends, welcome to the other side of the rainbow. No matter what the future holds, nothing will take this moment in history away from us."

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

READ MORE HERE

Among conservatives, one often hears homosexuality referred to as a choice, while most of us insist—quite vehemently sometimes—that our sexual orientation was set from the moment we were born. I believe we and conservatives are talking about two different things, each of which is interesting and important to study.

Conservatives may well cede that some of us may born with gay or lesbian inclinations, a belief that still has not been proven by scientific investigations. That may not be what they are talking about; that is what we are talking about. Conservatives are talking about behaviors more than inclinations or attractions. We may or may not act on those impulses, and if we choose to live without acting on them, we are not homosexual, at least in their way of thinking. One does not become one unless one acts upon one’s interests and embraces the life, providing a handy label of gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.

For some of us, the label may have come first, before any sexual activities had taken place. It can become part of our identity before it becomes part of our behavioral repertoire. It is a plan in the making, a choice already made. There is support for the young and the questioning throughout our community, people who have made the choice and live their lives the way they have chosen.

In this sense, we all make a choice about whether to act on our feelings. While conservatives might believe it is better to choose to ignore those feelings and push them away, we imagine a lonely, unhappy life if we follow that path.

Choice is an American expectation, we believe, and our choices are ours to make. We accept the consequences, both good and bad, of all of our decisions. They may come with a label or they may not.

If you, like me, were thrilled with the outcome from the ninth circuit court on Tuesday, you'll want to read on...

Although the courts ruled in our favor, again, we don't have marriage equality in California. The court issued a stay on performing marriages. That makes this year's Marriage Equality action even MORE important.

STAND UP - BE SEEN - Let them know Marriage Equality Matters!

Tuesday, Feb 14th (Valentine's Day) 1PM - 2PM

Unmarried same-sex couples, married same-sex couples and all who support them are invited to attend this important annual event!

NEW THIS YEAR! Get Equal is working on a non-violent civil disobedience action along with this event. If you want to take part, please email ca-fresno @ marriageequality.org and we'll get you all the details to stand up and take even MORE action!

We'll meet at the Fresno County Clerk's office at 1pm and unmarried same-sex couples will ask for marriage licenses. The media will be present to document their experience as they are denied the fundamental right to marry. Supporters will cheer on those who want to marry! Also, some time will be set aside to view a photo presentation of couples who married in 2008 and to hold signs for the cause.

We especially NEED married LGBTQI couples, our allies and supporters to cheer on their friends and take a stand on this important issue are DEFINITELY ENCOURAGED TO COME!

Please help us spread the word about this event on Facebook and Twitter. Please also send text messages to your friends to let them know!

Your attendance is greatly needed to show this issue is still important to our community.

If you want a text reminder the day prior, please send "Fresno" to 559-862-4559

ca-fresno @ marriageequality .org

Fresno Medical Team presents it's next monthly free Clinic event: Feb 11, 2012 (Saturday) from 9 am - 3 pm at Manchester Mall, 1901 E Shields Ave., Fresno, CA 93726.

We hold monthly free medical outreach and weekly mobile clinic (every Tuesday) to serve the underprivileged group in central valley.  The services provided included Blood Pressure Test, Blood Sugar Test, Adult Medicine, Pediatrics, Dental, Acupuncture, Chiropractics, Vision and Hair Cut.

If you or someone you know can use these services, please be sure to attend.  The group is also seeking volunteers.  Their website is located at: http://tzuchi.fresnomedicalteam.org/

Laramie_10-Years

The Laramie Project - 10 Years Later...an original play examing the aftermath of the Matthew Shepard murder in Laramie, Wyoming, 10 years after the event...

A production by the San Francisco New Conservatory Theater Company

Sponsored by Gay Central Valley in collaboration with MY LGBT Plus...Community Link...Bulldog Pride Fund...GSA Networks...GetEQUAL & Rainbow Delegation

VENUE: Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno...DATES: June 16th & 17th

Official Facebook Event to be posted soon...TICKETS ON SALE SOON...

A FUNDRAISER for Gay Central Valley and the Fresno LGBT Community Center

laramie-10-years-later

Coming to Fresno June 16th & 17th...Sponsored by Gay Central Valley and the San Francisco Conservatory Theater Company...in Collaboartion with MY LGBT Plus...Bulldog Pride Fund...Community Link...GSA Network...GetEQUAL...and Rainbow Delegation...

An original play focusing on the aftermath of the Matthew Shepard murder...10 years later...

Event DETAILS coming soon...

...

The Fresno LGBT Community Center is now listed in the BLADE CALIFORNIA MAGAZINE, a Lifestyle & News Magazine for LGBT California.

429726_345415762150290_176876772337524_1224976_1088993953_n

blade_ad

The Blade Magazine regularly runs articles and items related to the Fresno LGBT Community. The Magazine is available FREE at the Fresno LGBT Community Center.

It can also be viewed ONLINE by clicking here... http://jremedia.com/bladeca/

You can visit and LIKE the California LGBT Publication on FACEBOOK by clicking here... http://www.facebook.com/BladeCalifornia and we encourage you to do so...

...

The tragedy in the story about Eric James Borges life is not how he died.  It is that he died for love at the hands so called Christians with their inflated egos and mangled moral virtues.   The same people who would have stoned Jesus Christ if he lived today.  These same Christians are shaken to the core when they realize that if Jesus lived today he would be a flaming liberal.

Jesus lived his life being an example of love.  He cared for the widows, fed the hungry, healed the ill and gave hope to the outcast.  And that is why I know that Eric James Borges was more of a Christian than those that cast him aside in the name of Christ.

That he was able to live his life according to the one commandment which Jesus gave us, LOVE, is remarkable given the horrible image of Christ he was exposed to.

This was Eric’s message:

Click on READ MORE below for the rest of this article...

...

Only a day after the historic ruling in California that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, the Washington House has followed the Senate in passing the legalization of same sex marriage. The Governor has confirmed she'll sign it, making Washington State the 7th state to legalize same sex marriage.

r-GAY-MARRIAGE-large570

The action comes a day after a federal appeals court declared California's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional, saying it was a violation of the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples.

The Washington House passed the bill on a 55-43 vote. The state Senate approved the measure last week. And Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to sign the measure into law next week.

READ MORE HERE...

...

Courtesy Huffington Post

prop8group

SAN FRANCISCO — A federal appeals court on Tuesday declared California's same-sex marriage ban to be unconstitutional, putting the bitterly contested, voter-approved law on track for likely consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a lower court judge correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedents when he declared in 2010 that Proposition 8 was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.

It was unclear when gay marriages might resume in California. Lawyers for Proposition 8 sponsors and for the two couples who successfully sued to overturn the ban have repeatedly said they would consider appealing to a larger panel of the court and then the U.S. Supreme Court if they did not receive a favorable ruling from the 9th Circuit.

"Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted," the ruling states.

The panel also said there was no evidence that former Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn Walker was biased and should have disclosed before he issued his decision that he was gay and in a long-term relationship with another man.

The ruling came more than a year after the appeals court heard arguments in the case.

Proposition 8 backers had asked the 9th Circuit to set aside Walker's ruling on both constitutional grounds and because of the thorny issue of the judge's personal life. It was the first instance of an American jurist's sexual orientation being cited as grounds for overturning a court decision.

Walker publicly revealed he was gay after he retired. However, supporters of the gay marriage ban argued that he had been obliged to previously reveal if he wanted to marry his partner – like the gay couples who sued to overturn the ban.

Walker's successor as the chief federal judge in Northern California, James Ware, rejected those claims, and the 9th Circuit held a hearing on the conflict-of-interest question in December.

READ MORE HERE...

...

Celebrate with us tonight at Blackstone and Shaw in Fresno!

From 5pm to 7pm!

Any questions, call (559) 862-4559

same-sex-marriage

Prop 8 has been ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

Courtesy Bilerico Project

The highly anticipated Proposition 8 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has been released. The court has ruled in favor of LGBT couples on the matters of the constitutionality of Proposition 8.

The three judges who heard the appeal, Judge Stephen Reinhardt, Judge Michael Daly Hawkins, and Judge N. Randy Smith issued their ruling this morning at 1:00m Eastern time. Writing for the court, Judge Reinhardt said:

We consider whether that amendment violates the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. We conclude that it does.

In case you missed it...or want to see it again...

...

In Washington state, a state on the edge of becoming the 7th U.S. state to legalize same sex marriage, another young teen has taken his life due to anti-gay bullying. 14 year old Rafael Morelos hanged himself after intense bullying and online attacks.

Morelos

“He pretended everything was OK,” she said. “Sometimes he acted strong, but inside, he was dying, little by little.”

Rob Cline, principal at Cashmere Middle School, where Morelos was enrolled, said school officials had taken “appropriate action” earlier in the year when Morelos was bullied, but declined to say what action the district took to combat antigay attacks.

“Student discipline is not something I am at liberty to share,” Cline said.

READ MORE HERE...

...

Prop 8 Ruling is due tomorrow, Tuesday, February 7th.

9thC-to-rule

Courtesy American Foundation for Equal Rights...

Special message from Chad Griffin, AFER Board President

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will issue a ruling in AFER’s case challenging Prop. 8 tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. PT.

Be the first to know as soon as the decision is released. Sign up for breaking news updates from AFER, the official sponsor of the Prop. 8 federal court challenge.

As a member of AFER, I’d like to invite you to a special online press briefing following the announcement. I’ll be joined by AFER’s attorneys as well as the two couples challenging Prop. 8 for press conferences at 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Find out details >

After a lengthy and thorough trial, the Federal District Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to single out gay and lesbian couples and deny them a fundamental freedom. The anti-marriage Prop. 8 Proponents immediately appealed that decision and now the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will issue a decision tomorrow.

At the end of the day, it’s wrong for the government to tell someone they can’t marry the person they love. Couples like our plaintiffs, Kris & Sandy and Jeff & Paul, simply want what other Americans want: to be treated with fairness and dignity.

Marriage is a fundamental American freedom and it’s time our country realizes its promise of equality for all.

Rally together in celebration or solidarity, February 7th from 5-7pm. The Day the Ninth Circuit Announces Prop 8 Decision. WIN OR LOSE, JOIN US,  at Blackstone/Shaw!

There are two gay bars that have come to my attention since moving from the lost green forests of pines in Northern Minnesota to the intriguing colors and sites of the Twin Cities. There is first the Gay 90’s and secondly, Lush. I am sure there are more gay and lesbian bars within the metro, but I don’t care to hear about them because I am frustrated with what they might be doing to the queer scene.

It is widely published, especially by the opponents as well as supporters of the queer movement that the  queer community has a high addiction rate. An article titled Gay and Ashamed. How America’s shame Culture is Feeding LGBT Addiction discusses how shame and stigma feed the flames of chemical dependency of queer individuals.

. . . according to Joseph Amico, president of the National Association of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Addiction Professionals and Their Allies, this culture of shame is much more than embarrassment, though. In fact, it is the leading cause of addiction, and it is the reason why drug and alcohol abuse is higher in the LGBT community that it is among heterosexuals.

The article shares a too frequently read narrative of an addict going from bad to worse in an attempt to feel good about herself. Where family members were not open to their daughter Erin’s sexual orientation, Erin turned to drugs as a place for acceptance. Being intoxicated was the place for escape from the reality that her family was rejecting her. She quickly felt, like many others, there was nowhere else to turn to feel good.

But, this addiction phenomenon is highly complicated pulling in many factors. Not only can alcohol and drugs reduce the stress and social tension that comes along with a queer identification, it is often tied into a social atmosphere of acceptance which the queer community is desperately seeking. That is where gay bars come in.

I have been told on many occasions that to find a boyfriend, I would have to head to a gay bar to have a “good time”. Though an occasional scurry may be fun, I know the consequences of such a culture. The gay bar to me is a place where the stereotypical “gay lifestyle” hides itself behind glazed eyes and highly sexualized bodies. More disturbing is the fact that the gay bar is one of the places where queers can actually be themselves. If I went to a gay bar, I wouldn’t have to worry about a number of things that the heterosexual world rarely considers when courting and dating.

In a day out on the town, I can be considered freaky and perverted for checking out another man. People become judgmental if you act a bit effeminate when you are a male or manly as a female. When dating, people will taunt you for holding hands and even throw condoms at you for expressing your love through a simple kiss or a lean on a shoulder. (Black People: Condoms and Faggots) When you are at the Mall of America, people will actually laugh at you and utter statements like, “Hey, look at these two.” for just sitting close to your partner’s side.

The question left is, where are the safe places to be gay? Where is it safe to hang out with your partner? Where is it safe to check out someone and ask people out on a date? Sometimes the only place that it can be found and safe to express such sentiments is within the gay scenes that often actively promote drug use and promiscuity getting the queer community hooked, and addicted. That is precisely why I don’t go to gay bars.

Jacob Woods blogs at Good as Gay and can be found at @thejacobwoods

The Fresno County Department of Public Health will be offering FREE HIV testing in honor of Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Details, courtesy of the Dept of Public Health are below...

National Black HIV / AIDS Awareness Day is Tuesday, February 7, 2012. In observance of this day, the Fresno County Department of Public Health will offer Free rapid HIV testing for all interested persons at the Food Maxx Shopping Center on Monday, February 6th from 1:00 – 4:00 pm. Free HIV testing at the Department of Public Health in downtown Fresno will also be conducted according to the established schedule on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays of each week.

African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV of all racial/ethnic groups in the United States (US). Despite representing only 14% of the US population in 2009, African Americans accounted for 44% of all new HIV infections in that year. Compared with members of other races and ethnicities, African Americans account for a higher proportion of HIV infections at all stages of disease—from new infections to deaths (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Fact Sheet, November 2011.)

 

Free HIV Testing Opportunities:

 

Food Maxx Shopping Center -

1177 Fresno Street - between “B” and “C” Streets in southwest Fresno

Monday, February 6, 2012

1:00 pm – 4:00 pm 

 

Fresno County Department of Public Health

1221 Fulton Mall – 1st floor clinic area

Tuesday, February 7th and Thursday, February 9th

8:30 am – 11:00 am and 1:00 pm – 3:30 pm (Confidential Testing)

Wednesday, February 8th

8:30 am – 11:00 am (Anonymous Testing)

1:00 pm – 3:30 pm (Confidential Testing)

 

To view the Fresno County Department of Public Health HIV Testing Calendar, visit

http://www.co.fresno.ca.us/DivisionPage.aspx?id=3592

1221 Fulton Mall / P.O. Box 11867, Fresno, California 93775

(559) 600-3434 / FAX (559) 445-3459

Friday Fun...Madonna Season begins again...catch her at the Super Bowl this Sunday...

...

In a statement that allows them an out on renewing grants to Planned Parenthood, the Susan G Komen foundation has reversed their position on ending existing grants to Planned Parenthood...

susan-komen-foundation_lg_html

Courtesy Huffington Post...

Following a massive public backlash over its decision to pull funding for breast cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood, Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker apologized to the family planning organization on Friday and said Komen will preserve its eligibility for future grants.

Brinker said in a statement that the decision is a result of "distress" at the "presumption" that Komen, the nation's largest breast cancer charity, pulled its funding from Planned Parenthood for political reasons:

We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives.

The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.

Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.

Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process. We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities.

It is our hope and we believe it is time for everyone involved to pause, slow down and reflect on how grants can most effectively and directly be administered without controversies that hurt the cause of women. We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics - anyone's politics.

Starting this afternoon, we will have calls with our network and key supporters to refocus our attention on our mission and get back to doing our work. We ask for the public's understanding and patience as we gather our Komen affiliates from around the country to determine how to move forward in the best interests of the women and people we serve.

We extend our deepest thanks for the outpouring of support we have received from so many in the past few days and we sincerely hope that these changes will be welcomed by those who have expressed their concern.

Read More HERE...

...

plannedparenthood

Due to a current investigation by Congress, led by anti-abortion groups, Susan G Komen For The Cure, the largest breast cancer charity, has issued a decision to pull grant money from Planned Parenthood. Their policy is to not give money to any organization which is under investigation. The Komen Foundation has invested almost two billion dollars on breast cancer research since it began.

This is the latest in a recent onslaught of attacks on Planned Parenthood from conservative organizations, often claiming that Planned Parenthood operates under a different set of standards than it actually does, as well as misrepresenting where their funding comes from.

Now, some of those affilitated with Susan G Komen, including doctors, are pulling away from the organization, stating that they disagree with the leader's moves.

Dr. Kathy Plesser, a Manhattan radiologist on the medical advisory board of Susan G. Komen for the Cure's New York chapter, said she plans to resign from her position unless Komen reverses its decision to pull grant money from Planned Parenthood.

"I’m a physician and my interest is women’s health, and I am disturbed by Komen’s decision because I am a very strong advocate for serving under-served women," Plesser told The Huffington Post. "Eliminating this funding will mean there’s no place for these women to go. Where are these women to go to have a mammography? Do they not deserve to have mammography?"

The money from Komen has funded screening, education and treatment programs for breast cancer through Planned Parenthood. Since the news broke, Planned Parenthood has received an additional $400,000 in donations from the public. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg plans to make a substantial donation as well.

READ MORE HERE...

Check out the video below, where Andrea Mitchell talks with Nancy Brinker of Susan G Komen For The Cure about the recent controversy. Mitchell, a breast cancer survivor, points out that Karen Handel, VP of the organization stated publically that she was "staunchly pro life". Brinker denies that Handel had anything to do with the decision.

He's SEXY AND HE KNOWS IT....this episode airs Tuesday, February 7th...

...

lgbt_health_fair_2012

Gay Central Valley will be hosting our first LGBT Health Fair on Saturday, March 24th from 10AM – 2PM. This year’s National Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Health Awareness Week is March 26-31, 2012. Due to the Cesar Chavez holiday, we have chosen to host the fair on the 24th in order to allow interested State and local government programs to participate. The Fresno County Dept. of Public Health will be attending and providing free HIV testing on site.

The Health Fair will take place in the parking lot of the office complex which houses the Fresno LGBT Community Center, operated by Gay Central Valley. The address is 1055 N Van Ness Avenue in the Tower District. The Community Center is located in Suite A.

We will take up the parking lot during the event, which provides the opportunity for interested groups and organizations to set up booths and tables. We will also have entertainment and a raffle. We are also requesting a raffle prize donation from those organizations participating, although it is not mandatory. Participation is free.

We are seeking out any interested organizations to participate. If you are interested in having a booth at this event, please contact Chris Jarvis by email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or leave a message at the Fresno LGBT Community Center phone at 325-4429.

www.gaycentralvalley.org www.gayfresno.com www.fresnolgbtcenter.org

Click on READ MORE below to see the flier FULL SIZE...

...

My gosh, so much has been going on and I have had a hard time not only carving out some time to blog but also in narrowing down the topic.  I have so many things to write on but today I decided I wanted to let you know about a new and major change.  The Queer Femme is leaving the country.  Yes, a totally unanticipated turn of events came about a couple weeks ago; I was attending a job-hunting seminar one day and received a text from Angela to call her on my break.  Wanda had announced that she had decided to move to Arkansas to live with her sister and the sister’s family.  Wow.  Okay, we definitely did not see that coming.

2-2E29627C-748708-800

After giving up our fantastic jobs, leaving our loving circle of friends and professional groups to help Wanda through her illness, she decided to make arrangements to leave.  All I can say about that part is…well there really nothing I can say about it.  We weren’t considered in that decision so that is all.  So, as one of my old mentors used to say... “Next?!”   We took a few days to figure out what our “next” step would be and have decided to move on to the big city.  In the job hunting course offered by Madera County I learned that out of the top 20 hardest places to find a job in the country, 5 or 6 of our local Central Valley towns were at the very top.  I can testify that my skills have not been of any use to employers around here.  For weeks recently, there were 3 jobs available in Chowchilla.  One required agricultural background, one was a pastor, and one was at KFC.  I looked today and the only one that was filled was KFC.  The other two are still there.  Not a lot of hope.  With we are down to one vehicle, only one of us would ever be able to work outside of town and with no jobs in town, it just is not a promising future.  It makes me very sad for Chowchilla that the economy has gotten this bad for them.  More businesses are going under and there just is no reason to stay.

Click on Read More below for the rest of this article...

...

After a number of attempts to get the video of the Prop 8 trial released to the public, the decision has been reached again to keep the video secret. The reason this time? The fact that the trial judge who allowed the recording initially said it would be kept secret. This will likely be the final nail in the coffin in the release of the Prop 8 video. It was even specified that Judge Walker, who presided over the trial, cannot keep his own copy of the tapes.

video-tape-hi

...the ruling maintained a blanket of secrecy over recordings of a trial that was as public a proceeding as federal court rules allow: intense media coverage, live-blogging from the courtroom, a telecast to spectators in an overflow courtroom, and re-enactments on YouTube - and even on Broadway.

Prop. 8's sponsors, however, argued that any telecast beyond the courthouse would intimidate and endanger their witnesses. They persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to ban live broadcasts to other federal courthouses on the eve of trial in January 2010, and they prevailed again today in an effort to keep the recordings under seal, perhaps permanently.

There's also no indication as to when the ruling on the constitutionality of Prop 8 will happen.

READ MORE HERE...

...

Unmarried same-sex couples who wish to marry and all who support them are invited to attend this important annual event!

This is an annual, National event happening in cities across the nation during Freedom to Marry Week!

What will happen:
We'll meet at the Fresno County Clerk's office at 1pm and unmarried same-sex couples will ask for marriage licenses. The media will be present to document their experience as they are denied the fundamental right to marry. Supporters will cheer on those who want to marry! Also, some time will be set aside to view a photo presentation of couples who married in 2008 and to hold signs for the cause.

We especially NEED married LGBTQI couples, our allies and supporters to cheer on their friends and take a stand on this important issue are DEFINITELY ENCOURAGED TO COME!

Please help us spread the word about this event on Facebook and Twitter. Please also send text messages to your friends to let them know!

Your attendance is greatly needed to show this issue is still important to our community.

For more information go to·www.gayfresno.com or·www.marriageequality.org/ca-fresno-county
If you want a text reminder the day prior, please send "Fresno" to 559-862-4559

Email: ca-fresno@marriageequality

FreedomtoMarry2012

By a vote of 28-21, the Washington State Senate has approved marriage equality. The issue now will move to the House, where there is enough support to pass it, and then on to the Governor, who has said she will sign it.

Washington State will become the 7th U.S. State to legalize same sex marriage.

Washington_flag_map

The packed public galleries burst into applause as the Senate passed the measure on a 28-21 vote Wednesday night after nearly an hour and a half of debate. Four Republicans crossed party lines and voted with majority Democrats for the measure. Three Democrats voted against it.

The bill includes strong protections for religious organizations.

READ MORE HERE...

...

Local activist Matt Mazzei of The Rainbow Delegation , is featured in the current issue of HIS Magazine. Check out the article by clicking on the above links.

download

This commercial, addressing the use of slurs, specifically “That’s so gay” is set to air during Sunday’s Super Bowl.

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) will share its new PSA campaign targeting anti-LGBT language among teens with Super Bowl attendees at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday. The award-winning "Think Before You Speak" campaign features stars Hilary Duff, Wanda Sykes and the NBA's Grant Hill.

From the Ad Council…

Almost 90% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students report being verbally harassed at school because of their sexual orientation. LGBT teens experience homophobic remarks and harassment throughout the school day, creating an atmosphere where they feel disrespected, unwanted and unsafe. Homophobic remarks such as that’s so gay are the most commonly heard; these slurs are often unintentional and a common part of teens vernacular. Most do not recognize the consequences, but the casual use of this language often carries over into more overt harassment.

This campaign aims to raise awareness about the prevalence and consequences of anti-LGBT bias and behavior in Americas schools. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce and prevent the use of homophobic language in an effort to create a more positive environment for LGBT teens. The campaign also aims to reach adults, including school personnel and parents; their support of this message is crucial to the success of efforts to change behavior.


Gay Central Valley and Bulldog Pride Fund are joining forces to bring the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus to Fresno for their second California Freedom Tour. The concert is scheduled for Sunday, April 10th at 2:30PM on the campus of Fresno State. This event is a exciting, Spring afternoon concert which will benefit Gay Central Valley, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and Bulldog Pride Fund.

sfgmcfinal

Tickets are available in Premium, General Admission and Student/Youth categories. Ticket prices will go up on the day of the event, so purchase your seats ahead of time to benefit from the lower prices.

Purchase Ticket Online by clicking HERE

Pictures from Gay Central Valley's LGBT Community Center

Courtesy THE BUSINESS JOURNAL


Apparently 2010 was a big year at all levels of government for passing legislation in order to find out what is in it.

In the City of Fresno, the use of “safe and sane fireworks” is now allowed year-round between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., and until midnight from June 28 through July 6, when nonprofit groups are permitted to sell snakes, sparklers, noise makers and other non-exploding, non-flying items for fundraising.

Some members of the City Council expressed surprise recently that the revision passed in December -- even though it was the council that voted the change in.

Scores of Fresno charities, churches and other nonprofits are listed on the city’s website as beneficiaries of the fireworks sales.

A relatively new nonprofit called Gay Central Valley took part in firework sales for the first time last year and raised more than $10,000, which it used to open a small office in the Tower District with Internet access and a book and video library. The group also operates websites for the LGBT community.

“It’s the largest fundraising avenue that we have,” said Jason Scott, president of the group, which became a 501(c)(3) two years ago. “We’ve been working out of our homes. We’re all volunteers.”

READ THE WHOLE STORY HERE

Jim_Franklin_yes_on_8
Dear Jim,

I am trying my hardest to understand you. At first, I just couldn't stand you and didn't really care why you did what you did. But, the more I think about it, I just think there must be something I am not getting and maybe if I try to understand you, then I will.

Why are you against people loving and marrying who they want? I am going to try and lay out every argument I have ever heard and see if I can find any logic.

"Marriage is for having children."

Well, sure, that's part of it. But, no one can say that is the only part. Otherwise, infertile couples and older couples and couples who never want children would not be able to marry. Besides, gay people DO have children. They also adopt and take in foster children, many times even taking in hard to place children that need that extra love. So, take that one off your list.

"You are redefining marriage."

First off, YOU are redefining the word "redefining." Maybe "expanding" marriage or making marriage more "inclusive" would be more accurate. Because, is marriage ONLY about "one man, one woman"? Or, is it more about love, commitment, and trust? Because, if what you are saying is true, that it IS only about gender, then bother with that silly courting process? All you need is a man and a woman and you can just marry them. Since that is all that matters...

Besides, we have redefined marriage plenty of times. It used to be for property, it used to be that the woman WAS the property, it was for bringing families together, or countries. For a long time, it was so the man could have an heir or the woman would have someone to protect her, since she was not allowed, legally, to take care of herself.

(Crossing that one off, too.)

"Next you will want polygamy, children marrying adults, people marrying their pets, etc."

 

The California Supreme Court recently issued it’s decision that it will hear the matter of whether the plaintiffs in the CA Prop 8 case have the right to appeal Judge Walker’s ruling to overturn Prop 8. The court has expedited the hearing, which could begin in September of this year. Depending on what happens at that hearing, the fate of this appeal could be dragged into 2012.

The attorneys in the case, Ted Olson and David Boies, on behalf of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, have now filed documents with the court, urging an end to the stay on same sex marriages in the state of California while the case is being heard.

“[T]here there can be no justification for prolonging the suffering of plaintiffs and the tens of thousands of couples like them for an additional year,” attorney Ted Olson wrote in a court filing.

Julian Bond of the NAACP, and a board member of AFER, added this…

“These delays due to procedural technicalities are extraordinarily harmful and need to be resolved.  We’re talking about delaying basic civil rights which is adversely affecting tens of thousands of Californian couples and families in a real way, on a daily basis. It’s simply not acceptable to continue state-sanctioned discrimination and second-class citizenship. Equality delayed is equality denied.”

READ MORE HERE

 

In the wake of the Obama Administration’s decision to no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act in federal courts, Senator Dianne Feinstein has committed to introducing a bill to repeal DOMA…

 

"My own belief is that when two people love each other and enter the contract of marriage, the Federal government should honor that. I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. It was the wrong law then; it is the wrong law now; and it should be repealed," the California lawmaker said in an e-mailed press statement.

READ MORE HERE

 

DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, suffered a major blow today when the Obama administration declared it will no longer defend the constitutionality of a portion of it in court.

Section three of DOMA specifically limits marriage to one man and one woman, as it applies to federal law. Given that there are currently states that have legal same sex marriage…

"The President has also concluded that Section 3 of DOMA, as applied to legally married same-sex couples, fails to meet that standard [of stricter judicial review] and is therefore unconstitutional," Holder said. "Given that conclusion, the President has instructed the Department not to defend the statute in such cases."

Attorney General Eric Holder added...

…that laws affecting the rights of gays and lesbians should be held to a stricter standard of judicial review—the result of a "documented history of discrimination" against LGBT individuals. Holder cited the recent repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," as well as lower court decisions against DOMA and the landmark 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas — in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unconsitutional state sodomy laws — as chapter and verse of the evolving legal landscape.

CLICK HERE to read the entire letter from the Dept of Justice to the Speaker of the House. I urge you to read the letter, in which Holder set forth a strong argument for full equality of LGBT Americans.

READ MORE HERE

 

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

From the Associated Press...

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand – A powerful earthquake struck one of New Zealand's biggest cities Tuesday at the height of a busy workday, toppling tall buildings and churches, crushing buses and killing at least 65 people in one of the country's worst natural disasters.

It was the second major quake to hit Christchurch, a city of 350,000, in five months, though Tuesday's 6.3-magnitude temblor caused far more destruction than a more powerful September quake that struck before dawn on a weekend. An unknown number of people, including a dozen visiting Japanese students, were feared trapped in the rubble.

"It is a just a scene of utter devastation," Prime Minister John Key said after rushing to the city within hours of the quake. He said the death toll was 65, and may rise. "This may be New Zealand's darkest day," he told TV One News.

READ THE WHOLE STORY HERE

As reported by the Associated Press, things are looking up for company employees in the United States who face the daunting expense of gender reassignment. Thanks to the diligent work of transgender rights advocates, more and more companies are covering gender reassignment under their employees insurance policies. What started slowly and with little understanding, is now becoming accepted and more understood.

Gina Duncan is an employee of Wells Fargo, one of 16, who found their surgical needs covered by their insurance policies.

"They had a template in place, and it was surprisingly supporting and mentally encouraging," said Duncan, 55, who four years later still works for Wells Fargo. "So much of what I'd heard involved people who ended up losing their job, losing their family, losing their friends, becoming destitute."

And more companies are joining the effort...

Among the corporations providing transgender-inclusive health benefits are some leading Wall Street and Main Street brands.

American Express, Kraft Foods, AT&T, Yahoo!, Eastman Kodak, Sears, Morgan Stanley, Price Waterhouse, General Motors and State Farm are among 85 large businesses and law firms that cover the cost of at least one surgery, according to a 2010 survey by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights group.

READ THE STORY HERE

The Central Valley celebrated the opening of an LGBT community center in Fresno on Sunday, February 13th. The center is located at 1055 N Van Ness Avenue, Suite C, Fresno, CA 93728. The center will provide information, as well as facilitate the meeting of different organizations in the LGBT community.

For the individual, the center will provide a place of support and guidance. The Fresno County Department of Health has provided free condoms and HIV/AIDS information.  There is a 24 hour phone number is 559-325-4429 or 559-325-4GAY. It is also a place for people to relax and socialize at.

Brock Neely & John Coffee

Brock Neely and John Coffee from Porterville.  Brock said, “We don’t want tolerance, we want acceptance.” They are both very involved in the Trevor Project.

Jerry Thurston & Diane Blair from SAFE

Jerry Thurston and Diane Blair from SAFE (Straight Advocates for Equality). Thurston said the center “solidifies a tangible place for the LGBT community and their advocates.”

Jason Scott, Randy Gray & Venus DeCarlo

Jason Scott. “I’m hoping that everyone will see this as the start of something and it is something they want to support with their time and money. It is necessary to support a place like this because it is crucial for those LGBT youths in need.”

Louis Hernandez, 20. Venus Decarlo. Martell Udell, 20. Yesenia Valdez, 22. Benji Kakihina, 18 and Nkechi Uzegbu, 22. Denise Wallace from Fresno City College Diversity club. Benji noted the importance of a place where, “people can go and learn and get involved in the LGBT community.”

Mona Smith, Jennifer McGuire & Slade Childers

Slade Childers, “I’ve always said ‘if Fresno needs a LGBT Community center.’ This is the starting place. There are a lot of groups. This gives them the opportunity to come together, network and disseminate information. There needs to be more networking with other centers in California.” Mona Smith, Jennifer McGuire and Slade Childers from Visalia Pride Lions Club.

Calliope & Sabrina with daughter, Isadora

Married couple, Calliope and Sabrina with daughter, Isadora. They have been together for 5 years and have been married since 2009.

Kate Henry: GCV Secretary, Chris Jarvis: GCV Vice President, Jason Scott: GCV President & Jaymi Morgan: GCV Volunteer & Marriage Equality USA

Chris Jarvis , who will be running the center, commented, “People have been talking about it for 30 years. We had the last center in the 90’s.”

Amanda & Brooke Burk: GCV Treasurer & Webmaster of GayVisalia.com

Kirk Caldwell of Community Link

The center will be open:

WEDNESDAYS 12PM-6PM

FRIDAYS 12PM-5PM

SATURDAYS 12PM-6PM

SUNDAYS 9AM-12PM

PFLAG Bakersfield will host Father Geoff Farrow as a Speaker on Thursday March 3rd, 7PM, at the First Congregational Church at 5 Real Road in Bakersfield.

FYI to the community...HIV/AIDS Information as well as FREE condoms are available at

Gay Central Valley's LGBT Community Center

1055 N Van Ness Avenue, Suite C, Fresno, CA 93728...559-325-4429...

OPEN

Wednesdays Noon-6PM

Fridays Noon-5PM

Saturdays Noon-6PM

Sundays 9AM-Noon.

The Community Center includes...local and national LGBT information & resources, brochures, fliers, local event calendars, community bulletin boards, free rainbow wristbands from the Rainbow Delegation, computer use, gathering and meeting space, a safe social space, grant writing assistance, volunteer opportunities, referrals, and a multi media library of books, magazines, videos, DVD's and CD's, available to borrow at no charge.

You can also pick up the latest copies of local group newsletters and the latest edition of

News Link, the Central Valley's LGBT newspaper.

Stop by and see us...

...

Community Link is off and running, planning this year's Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade & Festival. The theme for this year's Pride is LEGALLY PROUD.

Courtesy Community Link...

The 21st Annual Central Valley & Fresno's GLBT Pride Parade and Festival will take place on SATURDAY, June 4th 2011 in the Tower District between 10am and 3pm.

Community Link has chosen the theme for this year’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Parade and Festival.

“LEGALLY PROUD,” was selected as a result of our legislative repeal victory in the 17 year old Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law and the court victories we have won as of late.

Does this mean our fight and struggles are over for full dignity and our civil rights as Gay Americans? That would be a big no! We are not done and we will not stop until we have reached the summit. But let us celebrate these triumphs with pride, as we refocus on the battles ahead.

Please click on the following link to learn everything about this year's Pride event, and how YOU CAN HELP...

FRESNO RAINBOW PRIDE

How many prescribed drugs do you take every day? How many do those around you take?

Another young person had apparently overdosed, this time on Oxycontin. The gay producer of the "Narnia" films, age 39, was found dead...

The executive producer of the "Chronicles of Narnia" trilogy was found dead in his SoHo apartment on Thursday after an apparent overdose, sources said.

Perry Moore, 39, was found unconscious in the bathroom at about 9:30 a.m. by his partner, Hunter Hill, inside the W. Houston St. home they shared, the sources said.

Deaths due to prescribed drugs are well over 100,000 per year, and reporting is sketchy. Given that around 40% of children are now on drugs for things as ridiculous as ADD, maybe it's time for Americans to stop having tunnel vision and look in their own medicine cabinets. As much as people get riled up over drunk driving, those statistics, anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 depending on where you look, are less than half the death rate of prescription drugs. But hey, we simply can't accept depression, can we?

READ MORE HERE

Facebook has added some details to their profile details that are of interest to the LGBT community. Now, under relationship status you can enter IN A CIVIL UNION or IN A DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP.

UPDATE: I listen to Michelangelo Signorile, but let's face it, he's often way off the mark. Today he's ranting about whether this Facebook update is a good thing or not, that maybe it's just highlighting the inequity in society and is therefore a bad thing. Many in the LGBT community, as has become the case, cannot be pleased with anything and are labeling these new options as some support of the civil inequity of LGBT Americans. Wow. Signorile is even saying that most LGBT people who are simply living together have already checked "married" and why not, since married isn't a legal term, not like civil union. What exactly is he smoking? If it's not a legal term, what are we fighting for?

IT’S A QUEER THANG! – with Matt Mazzei of the Rainbow Delegation


Fri. Feb. 18, 2011

5:00 – 5:30 PM (PST)

KFCF 88.1 FM

Live streaming: http://www.kfcf.us/

Details: http://www.rainbowdelegation.org/

Gay Central Valley would like to send a great big THANK YOU to CENTRAL CALIFORNIA ALLIANCE (CCA), which has just made a donation to GCV in the amount of $1,000 !

This money was raised last year by CCA to help fund an LGBT Community Center and they have passed those funds on to us. The money will be used exclusively for the monthly cost of our current LGBT Community Center, located at 1055 N Van Ness Avenue, Suite C, right here in Fresno. CCA’s generous donation will fund operating costs for the Community Center for 3 months.

A special SHOUT OUT to Gary Mykins and Peter Robertson of CCA, as well as all members of Central California Alliance.

Hawaii has approved CIVIL UNIONS…

HONOLULU (AP) -- The Hawaii Legislature approved a bill on Wednesday allowing civil unions for same-sex couples, sending the measure to the state's Democratic governor, who has said he will sign it into law.

Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office said he intends to sign the bill within 10 days, and civil unions would begin Jan. 1, 2012.

READ MORE HERE

What this means is that the CA Supreme Court will hear the case as to whether ballot proposition sponsors have the right to bring the appeal in the Prop 8 case, nothing more. If they decide they do not, the case dies and same sex marriage is legal in CA. If they do then the 9th Circuit will make a decision as to whether the appeal is granted. If it is and we win, the case could easily move to the US Supreme Court, which will have nation wide ramifications.

COURTESY ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- California's highest court is wading back into the legal morass surrounding the state's voter-approved gay marriage ban.

The California Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to rule on a question from a federal appeals court mulling the constitutionality of the 2008 ban known as Proposition 8.

The three-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel said last month it needs to know if ballot proposition sponsors can step in when the attorney general and governor refuse to defend voter-approved initiatives in court.

The question is pivotal to the future of Proposition 8 because then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gov. Jerry Brown, then attorney general, both declined to appeal a federal trial judge's decision last summer overturning the measure.

Prop 8 sponsors, a coalition of religious and conservative groups, are trying to fill that void. But the 9th Circuit says it's unclear if they have authority to do so.

 

Courtesy LA Times

The California Supreme Court will meet behind closed doors Wednesday to deal with a pressing question in the legal battle over gay marriage in California.

The justices will review a request by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to determine whether Proposition 8's sponsors have the legal standing to defend the ballot measure that reinstated a ban on same-sex marriage.

A federal judge in San Francisco struck down Proposition 8 in August, ruling after a 12-day trial that the 2008 ballot measure violated equal-protection guarantees under the U.S. Constitution. Experts testified during the trial that one's sexual orientation was largely fixed and that matrimony benefits the families of gays and lesbians.

State officials refused to appeal the ruling. Now the 9th Circuit must determine whether Proposition 8's sponsors, ProtectMarriage.com, have legal standing to challenge the trial court's decision.

Depending on the state high court's ruling, the 9th Circuit could either dismiss the appeal on procedural grounds -- limiting the case's effect to California -- or rule on federal constitutional questions that would affect same-sex marriage throughout the country.

 

The Valentine's Day Marriage Equality Counter action was bittersweet. It was sweet to see the couples holding hands at the counter, asking for that piece of paper that would give legal recognition to their relationships. It was bitter to know that they never had a chance (although, I have a secret wish every year that the County Clerk will buck the system and say yes). It was sweet to see them hand-fasted in a ceremony outside, among friends taking pictures and giving their support. It was bitter that they were sent out to the sidewalk and relegated to a ceremony that could only have a symbolic meaning. It was sweet to see good friends of mine on that day, but bitter to know that yet another year has gone by and still not everyone can marry the person they love. That was the bitter and the sweet.

Till I saw the video. Now, all I can feel is the bitterness of the open mic that always seems to be placed in front of that bigoted mouthpiece of Fundamentalist Fresno.

Why do we care what a straight pastor thinks about what a gay person does with their life? How, exactly, does it affect him? Does it affect his personal life? His job? His property values?

(Okay, on that last one, evidence is that having the "gay" in the neighborhood will actually drive up home values. But, I don't have the energy to figure out why, in addition to gays, anyone would hate for home values to improve. Bigotry is such an enigma.)

So, why, then? Why the drive to stick one's nose where it doesn't belong? I mean, it's already in my uterus, my kid's sex ed classroom, and my entire AM dial. I mean, if it weren't for the bigoted mouthpiece, I am sure I would be having monthly abortions, my kids would be wanton fornicators (and joining me for my monthly abortion), and I wouldn't have a station to let me know where I need to stick my own nose.

Last year, I sat down with Abby Dees at a Starbucks here in Fresno to interview her about her book, Queer Questions, Straight Talk. That book, a short, smart and humor filled,  yet serious take on communications between straights and gays is a suggested read.

Lately, Abby is utilizing her talents as a civil rights attorney to work with groups and companies in bridging the divide inherent in areas of LGBT diversity information and training, legal issues and communication.

Abby and I spoke by phone to discuss some of the issues facing LGBT Americans in the workplace, controversy over GLEE, the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, and a topic dear to both our hearts, free speech...

CHRIS JARVIS: So you're dealing now with legal issues in the workplace?

ABBY DEES: Also communication. I think a lot of people look at diversity goals and employment issues around race and identity as things to be afraid of and nervous about, so my approach is how to get beyond that and how to make the most of the legal requirements and get back to the idea that diversity is a good thing.

CJ: Can you tell us where LGBT employment rights stand in California right now?

AD: California is generally a model state. There are statewide protections against discrimination in the workplace that also include gender expression. We also have a lot of local areas, such as San Francisco, LA and West Hollywood, that go above and beyond that. So in California you are protected, but the burden is often on the employee to show that indeed, to show that the employer acted in violation of the law. On paper, though, it's quite good.

CJ: So we're covered in hiring, firing, sexual harassment, etc.

AD: Right. The only thing that's sort of an issue is that while we have some marriage rights and domestic partnership, we have this funny, weird situation with some of us being married, some being partners...all of those rights are supposed to be treated as marriage rights. The problem is when you have the federal government hiring here or you've got federal benefit plans, and then it doesn't always work that way.

CJ: So let me ask you this. A lot of times when I'm talking to people about marriage versus civil unions, a lot of people still believe those two are the same thing, that they afford you the same rights, and of course they don't . How do insurance companies deal with that. In California are they forced to deal with same sex marriage and civil unions the same as traditional marriage?

 

AD: Yes, in California they are. They only exception to that is on a federal level. I will say, this is one area where Obama has been sort of quietly making some changes, nibbling around the edges. For example, until last year, if you inherited your partners 401K, you would be taxed on it if you were in a same sex relationship. That's one of the things that Obama has changed, where in the states that have same sex marriage or legal recognition of same sex relationships, then you get the benefit of those things. So it depends on how your state recognizes these relationships. There are states that have domestic partnerships that are not held as equal for all legal intents and purposes.

CJ: So it's valid for us, when we have conversations with people, to say that civil unions and marriage are not the same thing.

AD: Right. You absolutely cannot make that blanket statement. And in California there are some sorts of procedural differences in civil unions and marriages. They're more sort of technical, but there are some differences.

CJ: What about the current appeals case for same sex marriage in California. Any idea where we stand?

AD: Well, marriage in California is like a game of hot potato. This is just my feeling, but I feel the California Supreme Court and the circuit court, they want to rule in our favor, but they're aware of the political attention on this thing that they are absolutely bending over backwards to appear fair, which is actually a little convoluted.  So they sent it back to the California Supreme Court to determine the standing issue.

CJ: I have to say I was surprised by that move. I thought they'd considered whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring the case to appeal prior to the hearing, given that the Attorney General and Governor of California declined to appeal Walker's ruling.

AD: What's happening is they're doing this for all time. That's what Judge Walker was doing. He was so aware that he was doing this for all time.  So he wanted to create a record that wouldn't be easily dismissed. Of course when you get up to the appeals court you're not really dealing with factual records anymore, you're dealing with kind of making sure you've dotted all your i's and crossed your t's.

CJ: It seems like it's taking too long to back from the Supreme Court. It seems like whether they have standing would have been a very easy decision to reach.

AD: I know. I am worried that the California Supreme Court is going to use this as their way out. I'm going sort of both ways on this. I'm worried that they're going to use this as a procedural way to get out, but even then the issue's not decided. If they decide these people have standing then we have to go back to the circuit court.

CJ: Let's say they decide these people don't have standing to bring this case. There's no one else who can appeal it, so Walker's ruling would stand?

AD: Right.

CJ: And if they decide they do have standing what do you think will happen?

AD: I don't know. I feel like they're going to lean our way. Now maybe that's because when I was listening to all the trial court proceedings, to me it was such a clear case.

CJ: And I'm with you on that. It seems like a slam dunk. Then again, look at the way the California Supreme Court overturned their original ruling, which legalized same sex marriage. It's not all logic and reason. Some people are trying to keep their jobs, or not mess with majority sentiment.

AD: After the original marriage decision, I was shocked at how the California Supreme Court sort of turned and ran. It seems they completely contradicted their own language.  So that's what I'm worried about. I think the circuit court would rather have this taken care of on a procedural level.

CJ: And if they rule in our favor are we moving on to the US Supreme Court?

AD: If they rule in our favor, if they decide the parties have standing and they rule in our favor, then yes, it can move on to the US Supreme Court. But if the ruling is they have not standing here in California, if there's no one to bring that case, then it dies. That's why the standing issue is really important.

CJ: So the bigger victory would be to have the Supreme Court say they have no standing to appeal the ruling.

AD: That depends on who you talk to. The problem with that is it's a victory for California and the Ninth Circuit, but it seems that this is such a well crafted case with two very good lawyers, and that the ultimate goal was to take this to the US Supreme Court. So if that doesn't happen this time around, the case dies here in California, even though we'll have legal same sex marriage, on a national level you have to start from scratch.

CJ: So it's a victory for California but a setback for the nation.

AD: Right. But the silver lining is that the Ninth Circuit is incredibly persuasive to what the other circuits do, that it's going to have an effect. It's going to give other circuits permission, basically, to go that way.

CJ: Let's talk about some gender issues. Gay rights, as far as employment in California, seems to be full steam ahead, but what about the touchier issue of transgender rights?

AD: Well the last big battle, as you probably know, had to do with the employment non discrimination act (ENDA).

CJ: Right, in which they removed the transgender portion of protection.

AD: Well, it's back in. So that's a victory, but it's also sort of died. It was introduced by Barney Frank in the last Congress and that Congress ended without any action. I'm worried with the change in the House of Representative, that it's going to go nowhere.

CJ: Right, for quite a while, don't you think?

AD: For quite a while. It seems nobody wants to stake their political reputation on ENDA right now. Which is a shame. My theory is that the left, which typically are supporters, are so used to being in defensive postures about all this stuff, that they're not going to actively put something out there and stand behind it.

CJ: Which seems to strange. I would say that marriage is a touchier issue and yet there seems to be more ground being gained there. How is not a slam dunk for anyone to say that, in America, we will not allow anyone to be discriminated against in the employment arena?

AD: I know. Now if you look at some of the early history of ENDA, it was a compromise itself. There was an original bill that was a full gay rights bill, and our advocates decided that was just too big a pill to swallow for America, so they shifted focus to employment issues. I understood the arguments from both sides about the inclusion and exclusion of transgender rights, but I buy the Martin Luther King argument that there's never a wrong time to push for equality.

CJ: What would you say to a transgender person who may be looking for work and is in one of the stages of transitioning, and what issues that might bring up in the employment arena?

AD: It's very important to know in your state and your county, what protections there are for gender expression or if there are any laws dealing specifically with transgender issues. It's important to know what your rights are. There is a very good chance that where you're looking for a job, you don't have legal protection.

CJ: So how do people find out what their rights are?

AD: There are a couple of really good ones. There's the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Despite their name, they really represent the broad spectrum of our community. They have a lot of legal information and they have a help line. Lambda Legal is also good. All these folks are online and they have a lot of online services and information. Find your rights. Get the statutes and citations, print them out, bring them out.

CJ: What about protections for employees from other employees, from joking, comments, etc. What are the protections there?

AD: I depends where you are. In California, you're protected. If you're working for the federal government, there are some limited protections. Starting with Bill Clinton and now with Obama, they've used some Executive orders to extend some of the existing civil rights act, and have added some soft language that basically says people can't be fired based on things that have nothing to do with the job.

CJ: And recently Obama extended some spousal benefits to federal employees.

AD: Yes, he did some, around pension benefits and stuff like that. But there is no federal full protection.

CJ: And we won't until we get ENDA.

AD: Right. But I'll give HRC some credit on this.

CJ: Wow, that's unique to hear someone say "I'll give HRC some credit."

AD:  (Laughs) And I say that reluctantly, because HRC often does take the middle path, and if you're a grass roots advocate, it can be absolutely maddening. They have, though, worked very quietly to get a lot things through on a federal level with Obama. So if you're a federal employee, and I'm not talking about the military, because they're exempt, then you have some rights that have not been totally defined but are being interpreted, depending on where you go, as covering gender expression and sexual orientation.

CJ: Have you been seeing a lot of litigation on these issues? People fired over what are, at least under the surface, gender or sexuality issues, who are bringing historic litigation cases?

AD: If they are, they're not a high level yet. NCLR is always representing people on a small level, but generally the focus seems to always be on the state level. I know that there are things in the pipeline but I am not aware of any threshold cases currently happening. When it comes to trans and sexuality issues, the majority of states don't really have protection.

CJ: Speaking of the military and the recent repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) do you think that will have influence on federal employees in general?

AD: That's one of the big issues that's being debated right now. As you know, DADT is still in effect.

CJ: Right, they're in the training phase for the transition.

AD: Right, and some of the things being negotiated right now are so, okay, you get rid of DADT, then what do you about partner benefits? There is a push to get partner benefits to be on the same level as it's happening in the federal government, through executive orders. The military has always been exempt from most policy regarding federal employees.

CJ: So even once DADT is completely repealed, it doesn't mean anything about benefits.

AD: It doesn't mean anything about whether your partner can come visit you, partner benefits, etc. I think that's going to be a while. I think it's going to be a long process.

CJ: Do you think that's something that will happen internally in the military on a gradual basis, or do we need more legislation?

AD: I think it takes people being out in the military. I think it has to come within. My feeling is that a lot of what's happened with DADT in the last couple of years has come from service members coming out. What's interesting is that transgender people are not specifically excluded from the military.

CJ: And won't one of the things that may change as a result of DADT being repealed is that up to now, a lot of harassment or abuse hasn't been reported because it could create a violation of the DADT and get you thrown out of the military, so now maybe incidents of harassment can be reported safely?

AD: Right, but you have to know if there's a policy that covers that. And that's what really good about the Service Members Legal Defense Fund. They know the culture.

CJ: Abby, you're now focusing on companies and diversity training, but what about another book? Are you still writing?

AD: Well, I have lots of passions around that but my main passion right now is free speech. I thought it was at a pinnacle in our cultural conversation a couple of years ago, but now it seems to be even more so. I'd like to write a very user friendly book about free speech.

CJ: Let me ask you this, because I'm a huge free speech advocate as well. What about this recent uproar over words, and specifically politically correct speech? You know, the N word, the F word, the D word...I watched GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) attack the TV show GLEE recently for using the word tranny in an episode. Then they just went after Saturday Night Live over a commercial parody featuring transgender people which I thought was funny and more importantly, sent a message that transgender people are "normal" for lack of a better word. They showed transgender people at the gym, running large companies, etc. When I posted a comment on the GLAAD site using the words faggot, tranny, etc., they censored my comments, as every other comment was censored. What do you make of this?

AD: Well let me say that I'm glad that GLAAD exists. Generally speaking they've been a good voice for us. I have often found myself either wondering where the hell they were, when something seemed really obviously requiring a response, and then other times, just like what you're saying, I'm thinking, "you didn't get it, you just didn't get it".

CJ: Exactly. I mean, if you can't print out the word on your own blog where you're leading a discussion about the word, that just doesn't make any sense to me.

AD: Right. You know, even if it hurts a little, I'm always gonna be on the side of allowing the speech. Context is everything, as is intent.

CJ: Exactly. You know I wrote a couple of articles about this issue just after it happened. I explained that it's completely different when you use the word in an article in which you're highlighting the issue than it is when kids yell it at each other on the playground. It's completely different. And I got a lot of nasty comments about that.

AD: I'm sure you did. I think this goes to the general lack of sort of subtle critical thinking. You know, it's that old argument, why can't I use the N word and you can. Some people you can explain it to a thousand times and they're just never going to get it, so let's just make it not okay. I think on the whole that we've really moved toward that kind of knee jerk reaction to things and an unwillingness to accept nuances, or just the idea that words have everything to do with context and intent.

CJ: And now bullying is the hot word, and it's used inappropriately over and over again. A drag group here in Fresno had a radical reaction to a simple review of their performances, and ended up claiming they were bullied. Bullying is in the media right now because LGBT teens are killing themselves due to actual bullying, so for someone in a theatrical situation to claim bullying over a review is shameful, I think.

AD: Everything gets so reduced that way, so watered down and meaningless. It really is too bad, and I think it's human nature. I remember when I was doing political work when I was very young, like 19 years old, and everyone was taking everything so damn seriously and not getting the differences between things, and the general feeling was you just could not open your mouth. So going back to my book, Queer Questions, Straight Talk,  that was sort of the idea I had in mind. I'd rather have you talking about this stuff with people you care about than staying silent. You know, put it out there even it makes you squirm a little bit. You're grownups, you can deal with it.

CJ:And you know what's interesting to me is that we're now in a period where there is so much LGBT activism, so many local activists all over the country, doing everything they can to open their mouths right and left, and then on the other side of it they're mired in this politically correct speech which is diluting everything we're doing.

AD: That's part of what I want to do with the consulting work, is to get away from the politically correct, brain dead response. You know, what's the original idea? I always go back to Miss Manners. After all my political career I've sort of come back to Miss Manners has it right. You know, whatever polemic you want to follow, I'm just going to follow Miss Manners. Somebody said to her, you know, I'm just tired of all this politically correct speech, everything I say is up for criticism, and her response was well, if politically correct means you just don't say rude things about each other, then I'm all for it. But I understand that politically correct end up being this sort of phrase meaning we're shutting up for fear of criticism. So don't be completely thoughtless with your words, but don't be silent.

CJ: You know what I think is ironic, is that all of us, each and every one of us, if we had a gay or lesbian friend and a straight enemy standing in front of us and they both called us faggot or dyke, or whatever, we'd instantly know which one was a slam and which one was bad and which one was okay.

AD: Right, exactly. I actually wrote a little article about this, it was sort of like, a gay naming thing. It was my handy little guide to figure out what you call your favorite gay...you know, gay or lesbian, LGBT, etc. And I said, just don't worry too much about that. If you have a friend who uses the word dyke in a friendly way, I'd understand that I have express permission to do so, but if you do, just go ahead. Just don't worry about it so much. I think we all need to have just a little more patience with each other, and a little bit more of a sense of humor.

Abby Dees conducts webinars with companies, employees and groups interested in information about diversity, as well as working directly with companies and individuals on such topics. She's a smart, well spoken advocate for LGBT civil rights. She's currently working out ideas for a new book about free speech. You can contact Abby Dees at  her official website... abbydees.com.

Pictures Courtesy Peter Robertson...

 

...

Watch television on any day of the week for any period of time and you'll be overwhelmed at the number of ads there are for drugs. Pharmaceutical drugs, but drugs none the less. Given that the death rate in America due to prescription drugs is around 100,000 it's fair to say that just because something is prescribed, doesn't mean it's safe.

Still, across the country, medical marijuana and marijuana in general is still vilified by the majority of people, despite the fact that it's one of the most therapeutically active substances on the planet. Add to that the fact that there's never been a single death from marijuana in all recorded history, that it's not a gateway drug, does not create violent or criminal behavior, and that it has the possibility of helping millions of Americans who suffer from chronic pain and a vast number of other maladies, and it's still a mystery why facts fall away and myth rules the roost on this issue.

Now, in Colorado, where medical marijuana is legal but many doctors still won't prescribe it, some people are taking matters into their own hands...

...

A new airline out of Thailand is hiring transgender flight attendants, promoting equality. Thailand has one of the largest populations of transgender citizens in the world…

 

According to The Telegraph today , a brand-new airline out of Thailand hopes to promote equal opportunities for Thailand's "third sex" by hiring three ladyboys among their first round of employees this week. Peter Chang, the head of the new airline appropriately named PC Air, congratulated himself on the groundbreaking move thusly, "I think these people can have many careers - not just in the entertainment business - and many of them have a dream to be an air hostess. I just made their dream come true. Our society has changed. It's evolution. I'm a pioneer and I'm sure there will be other organizations following my idea."

 

READ MORE HERE

 

 

New Williams Institute Study Finds Marriage for Same Sex Couples in Rhode Island Would Boost State Budget by Over $1 million

Media Contact:
M.V. Lee Badgett,

LOS ANGELES – A new research study released today by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law shows that allowing same-sex couples to marry in Rhode Island would boost the state budget by more than $1 million over three years. This net impact would result from an increase in state income and sales tax revenue as well as savings in expenditures on state means-tested public benefit programs.

“Rhode Island would provide much needed protections to its same-sex couples if they were allowed to marry. Opening up marriage to same-sex couples would also boost Rhode Island’s economy and state budget with new tax revenue and spending,” explains study co-author M. V. Lee Badgett, research director of the Williams Institute and professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

In calculating the net benefit to the State, the study predicts that half of Rhode Island’s 2,097 same-sex couples, or 1,048 couples, will be married within three years after the legislation is passed. This estimate includes about 440 couples who may have already married in the neighboring states of Massachusetts and Connecticut, which allow same-sex couples to wed.

Most of the new revenue to the state is gained through increased income taxes paid by married same-sex couples. “Some same-sex couples with children would pay more in taxes if they married,” explains study co-author, Craig Konnoth.

The state’s public assistance expenditures will also drop, since a spouse’s financial assets are taken into account when assessing eligibility for public assistance. Many individuals in same-sex couples who currently receive public assistance will no longer need or qualify for cash assistance upon marrying their partner. Further, as study co-author Jody Herman notes, “Sales taxes obtained through increased wedding spending will bring in over $400,000 to the state coffers over three years. Marriage license fees would also account for some of the revenue gains.”

The Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policymakers and the public. This study can be accessed at the Williams Institute website, www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute

 

BORN THIS WAY is a blog dedicated to showing that, even as children, we are who we are. They welcome submissions from anyone who'd like to share the "early signs" of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The website explains themselves as...

"A photo/essay project for gay adults (male & female) to submit pictures from their childhood (roughly ages 2-12) - with snapshots that capture them, innocently, showing the beginnings of their innate LGBT selves. It's OUR nature, it's our TRUTH!"

Check it out HERE

Now you can help the Central Valley LGBT Community by donating to Gay Central Valley without it costing you anything. Gay Central Valley has become part of the SHARES program offered through Savemart. All you need is a SHARES card (you can pick one up at our local Office & Community Center on the days we're open...some are also available at the North Tower Circle).

Then you simply swipe your SHARES card each time you shop at any of their four stores (Savemart, Smartfoods, FoodMaxx & Lucky). No need to register, no pin number, etc. And the best part is that funds donated to us don't come out of your pocket. It doesn't cost you a cent! Gay Central Valley will receive anywhere from 1% - 3% of your total bill. Use it every time you shop!

All Gay Central Valley board members can help you get your SHARES cards. (Board members are Jason Scott, Chris Jarvis, Brooke Burk and Kate Henry) or you can pick one up at the locations above.

Courtesy WIKIPEDIA

Black History Month is a remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. Since 1976, it is celebrated annually in the United States of America and Canada in February and the United Kingdom in the month of October. In the U.S., Black History Month is also referred to as African-American History Month.

Black History Month actually started as Negro History Week in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson. The goal of Black History Week was to educate Blacks about their cultural background, and instill in them a sense of pride in their race.

 

Visit the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES

to learn more about Black History Month…

 

February’s Black History Month is the perfect time to investigate the tremendous contributions that African Americans have made to the history and cultural development of the United States. In this feature, teachers, parents, and students will be introduced to some of the best resources for telling the story of African Americans as well as some of the most influential voices and the most memorable images from that history, literature and culture.

Bill O’Reilly just doesn’t know how to back off of a blunder. During an interview with David Silverman, president of the American Atheist Group, O’Reilly proclaimed the mystery of ocean tides to help explain the existence of God. According to O’Reilly, no one knows why the tides go in and out, so it must be at the hand of some mythological God.

O'REILLY: I'll tell you why [religion's] not a scam, in my opinion: tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can't explain that.

SILVERMAN: Tide goes in, tide goes out?

O'REILLY: See, the water, the tide comes in and it goes out, Mr. Silverman. It always comes in, and always goes out. You can't explain that.

Of course, science long ago explained the reason tides move in and out, there’s no mystery to it at all.

The tides on the Earth are mostly generated by the gradient in intensity of the Moon's gravitational pull from one side of the Earth to the other, the tidal forces. This forms two tidal bulges on the Earth, which are most clearly seen in elevated sea level as ocean tides

.

This all started because O’Reilly is upset about the recent increase of an atheist perspective and message in public places, such as on billboards and on the sides of buses. We’ve had Christian and other religious messages in public places forever, but given that atheism is on the rise in America as well as other countries, the voice of atheists can be heard louder and clearer than ever before.

So now, in answering a question on his video blog, O’Reilly screws up again, simply making stuff up as he goes along to support his un-supportable position on scientifically proven facts. “How’d the moon get there?”

The prevailing hypothesis today is that the Earth–Moon system formed as a result of a giant impact: a Mars

-sized body hit the nearly formed proto-Earth, blasting material into orbit around the proto-Earth, which accreted to form the Moon.

He admits in the second video that “Okay, the moon does it, but how did it get there?” And science has already explained that. So he goes on to say that if there’s life here, why not on the other planets? First of all, we don’t know if there is life on the other planets, but more specifically, O’Reilly obviously doesn’t know the other very real influence of the moon on Earth. The moon maintains a specific orbit for the earth which allows life to flourish. Without it, orbit would be much more random and temperatures would fluctuate wildly. This is all basic science. What’s interesting is that while O’Reilly wants you to take his “faith” on his word, he’s obviously too busy to read in order to discover facts.

 

A celebration of life hosted by the Golden State Bears honoring members Tom Hayhurst, Allan Gilbert, and Patric Hipp will be held on Saturday, Feb. 5th, beginning at 1pm. The celebration will be at the Spiritual Living Center, 723 West Clinton, between Fruit and West avenues.

We welcome food donations for the event.

The country was stunned in 2009 when Iowa's State Supreme Court ended hundreds of years of discrimination by making same sex marriage legal. Now, in many ways, Iowa is following in the footsteps of California, as the legislature there is working to get a ballot measure to the people in order formally and constitutionally overturn the decision and ban same sex marriage.

Today, the Iowa House resoundingly voted to do just that, with a vote of 62-37, which follows a House Judiciary Committee vote of approval of the measure at 13-8.

The efforts to destroy marriage equality in the state may be stalled, however.

Senate majority leader Michael Gronstal has vowed to block debate of the measure in his Democratic-controlled chamber. A resolution needs to pass two consecutive sessions of the legislature in order to make the ballot.

“The vote today by House Republicans was a big step backwards for the constitutional rights of all Iowans," said Sen. Gronstal in a statement provided to The Advocate. "I remain committed to protecting the rights of all Iowans and focusing our energy on helping Iowans recover from the national recession.”

READ MORE HERE

The following videos are from public hearings on the matter just prior to the House vote.


Renato Seabra, the male model who is accused of violently killing a male celebrity television journalist he was vacationing with, 65 year old Carlos Castro, has been arraigned in a Manhattan court.

Seabra, 21, admitted to brutally attacking him for more than an hour - castrating him with a corkscrew, stabbing him in the face, slamming a computer monitor into his head and stomping on his face, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Seabra has denied being gay as well as being Castro's lover. His lawyer says he plans a "vigorous defense".

READ THE WHOLE STORY HERE

What will happen: We'll meet at the Fresno County Clerk's office at 12pm and unmarried same-sex couples will ask for marriage licenses. The media will be present to document their experience as they are denied the fundamental right to marry. Supporters will cheer on those who want to marry! Also, some time will be set aside to view a photo presentation of couples who married in 2008 and to hold signs for the cause.

Please keep in mind that only unmarried couples will be able to request a marriage license, but married LGBTQI couples wanting to cheer on their friends and take a stand on this important issue are DEFINITELY ENCOURAGED TO COME!

Same-sex couples who would like to to participate in requesting marriage licences please RSVP here: http://tinyurl.com/Marriag eAct2011

Please help us spread the word about this event on Facebook and MySpace. Please also send text messages to your friends to let them know!

Your attendance is greatly needed to show this issue is still important to our community.

The Washington Post is reporting that starting in February, the Pentagon will start a program to train commanders, chaplains and troops for the impending overturning of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Training should focus on reminding troops to treat each other with respect, that no policy will be established solely based on sexual orientation and that harassment or unlawful discrimination of any service member is prohibited, Gates said in a memo. The services must submit detailed training plans to him by Friday.

"Moving along expeditiously is better than dragging it out," Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said this week in a briefing with reporters.

Each of the military services will be responsible for the specifics of its training, which will occur in three phases, officials said. Military chaplains, lawyers and civilian personnel will go first, followed by commanding officers, then the rank and file. The services will focus on training troops before they deploy, but some training may take place at the battlefront, officials said.

READ MORE HERE

The news comes at the same time that a California federal appeals court has denied a request by the government to suspend a lawsuit in which DADT was ruled unconstitutional. Since the government is in the process of ending the ban on gays in the military, they asked to be relieved from defending the case. Their request was denied.

BULLDOG PRIDE FUND AT FRESNO STATE
ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR
THE 2011-12 GSA NETWORK AWARD OF $2,000!

(Fresno, Calif.) The Bulldog Pride Fund at Fresno State is currently accepting applications for the 2011-12 GSA Network Award of $2,000. A $50,000 endowed scholarship, the GSA Network Award provides a $2,000 annual scholarship “to a student affiliated with the GSA Network” that is currently or will be attending Fresno State.

“In the past four years, the Bulldog Pride Fund has distributed four GSA Networks awards totaling $6,000, said Peter Robertson, founder. “Past recipients are Sara Martinez ($1,000), Alisa Lopez ($1,000) and Julia Scott ($4,000).”

Interested students need to apply by Feb. 28, 2011. Details online: www.bulldogpride.org. See “About Us.”

About the Bulldog Pride Fund:
Established in 2005 by Peter Robertson (BA '92, MA '95, MBA '05) and officially recognized by the Fresno State Alumni Association in 2006, the Bulldog Pride Fund is an endowment that provides an annuity to support students at Fresno State.

The BPF scholarship criteria is that a Fresno State incoming or returning student with good academic standing that has demonstrated pride in the community be selected as its recipient. The BPF also bestows the TimeOut Spirit Award to the student(s) that performs as Fresno State's mascot; and the GSA Network Award to a student affiliated with the GSA NETWORK.

The BPF is administered by the Scholarship Office, Division of Student Affairs, at Fresno State. The office is located in Joyal Administration, Room 274.

The BPF is maintained under the auspices the Fresno State Alumni Association, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (TAX ID# 94-1085570); as well as Registered with the Office of the Attorney General, State of California.

The earnings (interest) of the BPF are used to fund student scholarships, while the principal continues to earn interest in perpetuity for the funding of future scholarships. As of Jan. 28, 2011, donations to the Bulldog Pride Fund total $184,839.

Give today. For tomorrow and beyond.
www.bulldogpride.org

In Champlin, Minnesota, another brave stand for LGBT Equality was made by two lesbian students at a local high school. Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton were both elected to the Royalty Court for the Snow Days Pep Fest and wanted to walk into the auditorium together. Traditionally, students elected walk in boy-girl pairs. When school officials heard about the plans of the two girls, suddenly, rules were changed and students were told they could walk in alone or with a parent or teacher.

Students voted onto the royalty court traditionally enter the assembly in boy-girl pairs. After Lindstrom and Shelton, both 18, were elected, school officials last week announced a change in procedure: court members would walk in individually or accompanied by a parent or favorite teacher.

School officials said they merely wanted to prevent the two from being teased. But on Friday, two human rights groups sued on their behalf.

But that didn't sit well and the decision ended up in federally mediated talks.

On Saturday, in federally mediated talks, school officials relented. The two sides agreed that members of the royalty court would be escorted by anyone meaningful to them, regardless of gender or age.


The school district has been in the headlights of the LGBT movement over the last year due to policies including "neutrality" in terms of discussions of homosexuality, and when faced with the suicide of a student who'd been harassed at the school.

While there was negative reaction when the girls walked in together, the overwhelming attitude was supportive.

READ THE WHOLE STORY HERE

Illinois has made civil unions for same sex couples legal. While it does not equate to marriage, and the state will continue to define marriage as one man and one woman, it's a step in the right direction, and a salvation for couples in the state who are faced with discrimination in hospital visitation, property rights, etc.

About 1,000 people crowded into the Chicago Cultural Center to watch Quinn, a Democrat, sign the measure that supporters call a matter of basic fairness and opponents decry as a threat to the sanctity of traditional marriage.


"We believe in civil rights and we believe in civil unions," Quinn said before signing the bill to a roar of cheers and applause.

Currently five U.S. states allow civil unions and another five states allow same sex marriage. In California, a decision is expected soon on whether Proposition 8, the ballot measure that overturned the right of same sex marriage here, will itself be overturned, which would make California the sixth state to make same sex marriage legal. California's case is particularly interesting since same sex marriage was granted by the Supreme Court, then overturned by the people. That proposition was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge and is now in the process of appeal.

READ MORE HERE

Reality TV star Richard Hatch, openly gay winner of the show Survivor, may be headed back to prison. Hatch has already spent time in jail for tax evasion, and has been accused by prosecutors of not amending his prior tax returns and re-filing.

Hatch and his attorney have said they didn't revise the tax records because Hatch's case is awaiting appeal. Hatch owes around $1.7 million in back taxes.

Hatch, who is openly gay, has since complained that he was unfairly prosecuted in part because of his sexuality - a charge prosecutors say is absurd.

READ MORE HERE

The gay bashing, proposed Constitutional Amendment, anti gay x-President George W Bush's daughter, Barbara, has joined the HRC Campaign New Yorkers For Marriage Equality to voice her support for marriage equality. Reports are widespread, and have been for years now, that in reality GW is not truly against gay rights, that he only used the issue to gain votes.

A category 5 cyclone, rivaling the strength of hurricane Katrina, is set to hit Australia by this Thursday. Although predictions are that the cyclone may be downgraded to a category 3 after it hits land, after the recent flooding devastation in Australia, damage could be substantial to already ravaged country.

READ MORE HERE

The controversy over the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A continues. It all started when one of
the restaurants donated food to an anti-gay, pro-traditional marriage group about a month
ago. The CEO of the company made a video explaining that they donate to all sorts of groups
and they don't necessarily check out all the details or agendas of the groups before they
donate (how intelligent). He then made a stupendous gaffe in the video, proclaiming that the
restaurant chain has always been pro-marriage (which translates to traditional marriage, the
very topic he was trying to deflect).

The chain has always been staunchly Christian based, including prayers among
employees and potential franchisees forced to discuss their marital status and church
involvement. They're even closed on Sundays. The chain has given millions of dollars in
donations over the years to religious groups and those working to fight same sex marriage.

Because the company remains privately held — his two sons run it — it can easily keep its
faith-based principles intact. The company’s corporate purpose is, in part, “to glorify God by
being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us.”

It's been interesting to watch this one. I'm not a boycotter. I'm not a fan of it. I think it's an
overblown reaction to a simplicity of thought. The recent Target boycott did nothing to stem
anti gay support from the major chain, and in reality, corporations are, by their very nature,
out for a profit and that's all. They generally don't care who they throw away or offend on
their path to make a buck. Where are gay boycotts when it comes to the amount of pollution
corporations are dumping into the atmosphere and waters on a daily basis which will affect all
humans for hundreds of years to come?

I'm bothered much more by a religious group getting my money than any business or
corporation. Religion is at the heart of the anti gay sentiment not just in the U.S. but around the
world. Religious bigotry is what we have to defeat in order to secure our rights. The politicians,
many of whom are non religious themselves, do not work against gay rights because of any
personal faith, they do so to rally the base of religious hatred which manages to get them re-
elected year after year.

So I'm happy to begin my boycott of Chick-fil-A based on that. Oh, and also on the fact that
after hearing so much acclaim for their food that I pulled in and tried it when they first opened
up in River Park. I thought it sucked and I haven't been back since.

Read More Here

Here we go again. Another beauty pageant contestant who spews homophobic rhetoric...been there, done that...but here we go again...

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Image 

Court documents, released this week, detail Equality California's participation in the campaign to block CA Prop 8 from succeeding with voters in 2008. The document is the declaration of Geoff Kors, Executive Director of EQCA.

Not surprisingly, the document paints a fairly scattered approach to the Prop 8 effort, with an umbrella group, Equality For All, watching over a wide variety of groups and individuals. Originally about 35 local, state and national groups were involved, which stretched eventually to over 100 . Reading through it, a sense of cohesiveness is difficult to find.

It's also easy to see why so much money was being raised but frustrating as well. The amount of paid consultants is staggering. There were messaging consultants, campaign consultants, strategy consultants, media consultants and on and on and on. It seems this problem is built into the LGBT activist movement to this day, with gay activist groups consistently gathering to "brainstorm", while "action" takes a back seat. I realize certain consultants are necessary to a campaign, but I mean really, do we know so little about this whole thing that all we can do now is brainstorm and pay consultants?

Glaringly missing, although perhaps not pertinent to this particular document, is money spent on actual television advertising and opposition engagement. We all know at this point how little was done in that area to combat the forces of Prop 8, but reading through this court document, it's easy to see why we were constantly told TV ads couldn't run unless we coughed up more money...they had a few rooms full of consultants that had to be paid. Maybe it's time we stop "consulting" and "brainstorming" so much and do what the other side is good at...just DOING SOMETHING.

Read the court document here...

...

ImageIt just doesn't matter anymore. Truth and study and fact finding, it's all out the door. Another military officer stood before Congress today and moaned about "possible" ramifications of repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell. Gen. James Conway, the Marine Corps commandant, considered to be the most resistant among service chiefs, whined about unit cohesion and chaos.

Of course he can't tell you what will happen. "No one knows" seems to be the mantra uttered over and over again to Congress, who are wimpy about the repeal in the first place. This, despite numerous studies that have been conducted over the years which all indicate a transition away from Don't Ask Don't Tell would very likely be simple and effective.

After being pressed about possibly at least putting a freeze on DADT until a US study can be completed, Conway said "Half measures, I think, would only be confusing in the end."

Read the story here... ...

ImageWhat does it take to make an impression on Washington politicians, particularly Democrats? As we've seen, after all the celebration over the election of Barack Obama, we've witnessed disappointment after disappointment. The troops weren't called home, as he promised, DADT has not been repealed, as he promised, equal rights for LGBT Americans is not in place, as he's promised and the economy bump still seems to positive only for banks and CEOs. It's clear that corporations and politicians are dedicated to laying down in bed together and drowning out the taps on the windows from the general public with a nice soothing wave machine.

Now, young people have taken notice. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, to be released today, support for Democrats among younger Americans (18-29), the ones who turned out in record numbers to elect Barack Obama, has dropped from a record 62% last year to 54% in just a few months time. Add to that the fact that these voters generally don't identify as "regular voters", that more are looking to support conservative or alternative parties and the Democrats seem to have blown another advantage, something they've become professional at doing.

Read the story here...

...

ImageFocus on the Family lost another one this week, when the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) removed a banner ad from their website. Although the ad was fairly benign, with a father holding his son and saying  "All I want for my son is for him to grow up knowing how to do the right thing.", the NCAA says the ad was pulled not for its content but for it's sponsor.

Focus On The Family is an organization which is in direct conflict with NCAA's policy of inclusion regardless of sexual orientation.

Read the whole story here... 

...

ImageRALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- More than a year after disclosing he is gay, Clay Aiken is speaking before a gay-rights event in his hometown.

Aiken will deliver a speech about gay rights this weekend at the Human Rights Campaign Carolinas gala in Raleigh, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Wednesday. Actress Meredith Baxter, who recently said she is a lesbian, also will deliver a speech.

Read the rest of this story here...

...

 

It's difficult for the truth to be victorious these days. The truth can present itself, stand tall and proud and provide stacks of evidentiary support, but as far as turning the tide in order to bring about evolution in government, truth doesn't appear to be a deciding factor.

Aside from same sex marriage and gay rights in general, one of the hottest topics, as it's currently being debated in Congress, is the possible repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Don't Ask Don't Tell restricts the military from efforts to discover or reveal gay and lesbian service members, but at the same time, provides for the expulsion of soldiers who are openly gay or lesbian. The reason given is that openly serving gays and lesbians results in "an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability". The bill was introduced in 1993, as a compromise to then President Bill Clinton's plan to allow gay and lesbians to serve openly within the armed forces.

Opinions are easily accessed on this vital LGBT civil rights issue. Everyone is speaking out about it. We also have many foreign countries who allow gays and lesbians to serve openly from which we can draw conclusions. Or shall I say, we SHOULD be able to draw conclusions. Just as we've learned in the battle for marriage equality, the United States has a way of refusing comparison to other nations, as well as a knack for re-crafting the truth of those countries in order to provide the "Armageddon"  syndrome much of the populace of the US has come to feed on.

ImageImageAccording to John Henning, executive director of Love Honor Cherish, the signature gathering efforts underway to get a measure on the ballot in 2010 to repeal California's Prop 8 is struggling to meet their goals. Signature gathering began in mid November of last year. In order to qualify for a ballot measure, signatures must be turned in by April 12th, only about 7 weeks away. About 694,000 valid signatures are required, which means signature gatherers need to get about 1,000,000 signatures total, to account for those which would be invalidated for any number of reasons.

It's impossible, it seems, to get anyone to make a statement about how many signatures have been gathered to date. Henning, as well, will not volunteer any information on that subject. When I spoke to a pair of signature gathering representatives in Fresno recently, they stated the same, that they have no idea where the effort stands. Henning has also said that in the final days they may have to resort to paid signature gatherers, while up to now the efforts have been all volunteer.

The Bay Area Reporter has much more on this story HERE

ImageAmong new legislation introduced this week in California is Assembly Bill 2199. Apparently, for the last 43 years there has been a section of the California Welfare and Institutions Code which requires the Dept Of Mental Health to "plan, conduct and cause to be conducted scientific research into the causes and cures of sexual deviation, including deviations conducive to sex crimes against children, and the causes and cures of homosexuality, and into methods of identifying potential sex offenders".

Long Beach democrat and assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal has introduced the bill to strike the language from the code. Makes you wonder what other outdated language is laying around in the law books in California...

Read the story here...

...

ImageWASHINGTON (AP) -- Lawmakers this week will press the military's top uniformed officers for the first time on whether they think repealing "don't ask, don't tell" makes sense or would be too disruptive.

The testimony from each of the service chiefs on Capitol Hill will be crucial to the debate in Congress on whether to repeal the 17-year-old law, which bans gays from serving openly in the military.

President Barack Obama says the policy unfairly punishes patriots who want to serve their country. Defense Secretary Robert Gates agrees and has begun a yearlong study on how to mitigate the impact of lifting the ban.

Providing much-needed political cover is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, who has said he thinks the law unfairly forces gay troops to compromise their integrity by lying about who they are.

Read the rest of this story here...

...

Ryan Sorba is a member of the California Young Americans For Freedom, a group formed in the 1960's, upholding the US Constitution as the foundation of the nation, only to now have mutated into a group of young conservatives who strive to deny chosen minority groups their access to equal rights. You know, the kind of logic enshrined in the US Constitution.

Sorba spoke at CPAClast week, condemned the Convention's inviting of Go Pride (an LGBT group) to the event. According to Sorba, civil rights are not based on anything like a Constitution, or the laws of a nation, but rather to "natural rights". He further defines the rights as Civil, Natural, Human. In other words, LGBT Americans don't deserve equal civil rights because we aren't "natural" in Sorba's mind. Forget the fact that all professionals in science, medicine and psychology announced long ago that LGBT people are just as natural as anyone else. Another instance of conservatives re-defining words to rile the base. Check out how the crowd reacts in the video below...

...

As laptops become more common in schools, the technology available to those computers may pose threats you'd never think of. What about the faculty of a school which issues laptops to their students then using the technology available to watch the students at home, without their knowledge. Just how far are we going in this country in our attempt to watch everyone, even illegally, just so we can catch someone doing something wrong. Believe it or not, this very situation has created a class action lawsuit in Pennsylvania...

 

Pennsylvania: A Lower Merion family has set off a furor among students, parents, and civil liberties groups by alleging that Harriton High School officials used a webcam on a school-issued laptop to spy on their 15-year-old son at home.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court, the family said the school's assistant principal had confronted their son, told him he had "engaged in improper behavior in [his] home, and cited as evidence a photograph from the webcam embedded in [his] personal laptop issued by the school district."

The suit contends the Lower Merion School District, one of the most prosperous and highest-achieving in the state, had the ability to turn on students' webcams and illegally invade their privacy.

While declining to comment on the specifics of the suit, spokesman Douglas Young said the district was investigating. "We're taking it very seriously," he said last night.

Court Filing: Robbins v. Lower Merion School District (PDF)

Read the rest of this story here... ...

 

BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley says a federal law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman interferes with her state's right to regulate the institution.

Coakley's office filed a lawsuit in July challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act. In papers filed late Thursday, Coakley asks a judge to deem the law unconstitutional without holding a trial on the lawsuit.

Coakley argues that regulating marital status has traditionally been left to the states. She also says the federal law treats married heterosexual couples and married same-sex couples differently on Medicaid benefits and burial in veterans' cemeteries.

Massachusetts was the first state to legalize gay marriage and is the first to challenge the law.

Source - AP

That intense heavy silence like at a wedding when the vows are being read was evident on Valentine's day at the County Court's office. The onlookers leaned in and attuned themselves to the tone and emotional truth as each person declared their love for the other. County officials and policemen bowed their heads respectfully. Some onlookers wiped away tears. The journey of this couples relationships had obviously begun. Their love was real but no marriage licenses was issued by the county clerk, Victor Salazar. Mr. Salazar explained, “Due to the passage of Prop 8, I am not allowed to issue you a marriage license.”

            One couple approached the counter and introduced their betrothed and declared their love before being turned away without a marriage license.

            “What if I marry this woman," Jason Garrigus said, seemingly grabbing a woman from the crowd. “Would you issue a wedding license to us to be married?”

ImageImageImage 

            “Yes, we would,” Mr. Salazar said.

            “Well, I don't love her. I love this man and I want to be married to this man,” Garrigus said.

            Mr. Salazar later said, “When I took this office I took an oath. I  am duty-bound to uphold the constitution...Even if I were to marry someone, it would not be valid.”

ImageImageImage 

            The couples went up one after another like soldiers charging a fortress but in war, you can see the enemy, here it is not visible. It was the law, a concept floating around that has stonewalled the LGBT community from joining in legal matrimony. This proposition keeps one group in and one group out.

            Outside, lesbian, gay, transgender and supporters of same-sex marriage stood hugging and crying and laughing and  regaining their energy and emotion as they supported each other and regrouped in their efforts.

            Garrigus and his fiancée, David Zandt stood surrounded by television cameras and reporters. “It's important that we do this!” Garrigus proclaimed. “Marriage is a symbol to everyone of what we already feel together.”

ImageImageImage 

            Kate Baldridge saw the big picture as she stood beside her legally recognized domestic partner, Elizabeth Chase.  “It hurts,” Baldridge said. “It's obviously painful. It doesn't feel good to walk up and be turned away. It is another thing that has to be done.” The County of Fresno and the state of California have to know that the LGBT community will not fade away or accept a second-class status. Baldridge and Chase had to pay an extra $23.00 for a domestic partner license in comparison to straight couples who file for domestic partnership. This fee funds research on LGBT domestic violence abuse. They begrudgingly paid but they are not satisfied. Domestic partners are not privileged with some 1200 federal rights that married couples are. Baldridge and Chase will play the system to beat the system. They'll be going to Iowa this summer to marry. They know the state of California will honor their marriage. “We want the legitimacy and the recognition to say 'this is my spouse or wife,' ”Baldridge said.

            This 'legitimacy' is not a self-indulgent desire to be loved and accepted by all. This legitimacy is about the law. With this legitimacy comes all the privilege of ownership, inheritance and protection under the law. With this legitimacy, a gay, lesbian or transgender couple can marry and build an estate that their spouse is legally bound to.

            Jason Scott from Marriage Equality USA explained the “The word 'marriage' has legitmacy and 'partnership' doesn't. Partnership means many different things. At a company level, employers from out-of-state companies have the option to offer benefits to partners. They have to give those benefits to spouses.”

            The LGBT's and all the supporters of same-sex marriage in Fresno and in California are not going away. They are only reloading, aligning and preparing because they will return to the ballot box and this time they plan to tear down that wall.

Hello and welcome to my article on current events taking place in our valley. First allow me to introduce myself. I am Jordan Garcia. So I will now get right to the point and cover the issues that we as citizens face and could have an impact on us. 

I assume you have all have heard some talk of a water crisis. Well it is true. California is in a bind with its level of clean water. It is in the Sacramento - San Joaquin river delta where water is pumped from the rivers and then goes through a treatment process. You can find more info here at http://www.waterinfo.org/taxonomy/term/540.

On August 31st 2007 California federal judge Oliver Wanger put a tight hold on the water uses of the delta to protect an endangered fish called the delta smelt. This fish is important because it is low in the food chain and serves as the food source for many other fish and also some birds of prey. So its extinction would have obvious consequences on the wildlife in that area.  Also another huge problem arose. The limited water has had a disastrous effect on our agriculture, which California relies heavily on for jobs and money as well as its reputation as the best supplier of produce in the entire world. Many farmers have had no choice but to give up their profession and dig up what they have tried to grow and make a living off of. More recently, on February 6 of this year the water pumping limits have been temporarily lifted in hopes to meet both environmentalist and struggling farmers half way. Many people still doubt that this temporary lift on the strict water regulations will solve much. The question still remains on the survival of the delta smelt and more importantly the survival of our agricultural system that without would have a horrifying impact on the state of California as many jobs and money would be lost. In this time a loss of jobs is the last thing we need.

In more bizarre and unfortunate news in Los Banos California. A 53 year old man and his dog went hunting for ducks by highway 152. The man set his shotgun down and his black Labrador retriever mix stepped on the gun and shot its master in the back! Luckily doctors were able to treat the wounds and release the man within a few hours. I suppose this ordeal raises the question is a dog truly man's best friend? Perhaps the man went cheap on his dog food or maybe made him sleep outside in the cold? Was it a crime of revenge for mistreatment?  Was it a crime of passion? Of course not. It is obviously a freak accident and a very easy one to make jokes about in bad taste. I'm sure the man and his dog will have many more hunting trips together, and I am certain they will go much more smoothly.

In other news, on valentine's day many same sex couples showed up to the Fresno county office to be married only to be turned down due to Prop 8. A proposition that was pushed by the religious and the right wing and barely passed in November of 2008 . They watched many opposite sex couples tie the knot and become legally married, yet they could not. Some may come to the conclusion that clerk Victor Salazar seems to promote and encourage this biased proposition, but whether he is biased or not we do not know. He is only enforcing a change to our constitution that is very clear that only opposite sex couples can have the basic human right to legally marry the one they love. After all homosexuals can vote, can fight in the military and die and kill for their nation, but only if they keep their sexual orientation a secret. All for a country that does not allow them the same rights as a heterosexual person. Maybe they should settle and be satisfied with having less rights than their heterosexual neighbors? Well I am very certain that we all find that kind of thinking to be foolish and unfair. This nation was founded on the principle that all men are created equally and should share the same rights and no one should be denied those rights! The fact that a proposition such as prop 8 could even make it into our states constitution is sickening and goes against the very principle that all have equal rights!  I was proud to hear of the fact that homosexual couples went and demanded the right to marry, because by all logical means they have every right to marry! The day will come when elections will roll around again. That will be the time where we all as people can correct the mistake that is prop 8 and allow homosexual couples to marry as they should have that right in the first place.


Well that concludes this news column on recent valley events. I hope you all benefit from it and I look forward to bringing you the next column. Good day and stay safe.

In my ongoing effort to reveal faith for what it is, which is "a belief in something for which there is no proof", I post the latest issue of THIS WEEK IN HOLY CRIMES from JoeMyGod...

ImageOver the last seven days...

Pennsylvania: Father James Shimsky busted in cocaine buy.
Michigan: Pastor Russel Schaller charged with six counts of child molestation.
Pennsylvania: Pastor Phil Marmon sentenced to prison for propositioning a child over the internet.
Illinois: Pastor Mark List charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child.
Vancouver: Youth Pastor Brad Firth still on Anglican payroll after child molestation conviction.
Virginia: Pastor Jack Duffer convicted of nine felony counts of child molestation.
New Hampshire: Pastor Robert Farah accused of aiding son in $2M housing scam.
Indiana: Father Francis Markey will be extradited to Ireland where he is charged with the 1968 rape of a boy.
Illinois: Father Alejandro Flores charged with seven felony counts of child molestation.
Ireland: Irish Catholics call for the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law over massive nationwide child molestation scandal. Law, an American, selects Ireland's bishops.
Ohio: Father Robert Polandl charged with three felony counts of child molestation.

This Week's Winner-
California: Pastor Wiley Drake has claimed credit for the death of Rep. John Murtha, who died of gallbladder surgery complications last week. According to Drake, it was his 30-day run of imprecatory prayers for the death of Murtha that did the Congressman in. Last year Pastor Drake gained national attention during his prayer campaign for the death of President Obama. Drake is also campaigning to be named president of the Southern Baptists Convention.

As reported by  JoeMyGod

Joe consistently chronicles the hypocrisy of religion in his column This Week In Holy Crimes. Please check out his Website

 

Day 2 Chapter 2 of the Proposition 8 Trial Re-enactment presented by MarriageTrial.com. Produced by John Ainsworth & John Ireland.  

Dozens of couples smitten with Valentine's Day fever made good use of a rare Sunday opening at the Fresno County Clerk’s Office to tie the knot. But a handful same-sex couples, seeking to make a statement for their cause, were turned away at the counter.

The same-sex couples said they knew their requests for marriage licenses would be denied but said they wanted to make their voices heard on Valentine’s Day.

"We are committed as long as it takes until we can marry,” said Beth DeBussey, 58, who approached the clerk's counter with her partner Rosa Domenech, 60.

County Clerk Victor Salazar told the Fresno couple and other same-sex couples like them that Proposition 8 — passed by California voters in November 2008 and being challenged in federal court — defines marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

The same-sex couples and about 40 supporters said they want to keep the fight for equality in the public’s mind.

“I believe that civil rights are not something that should be taken away by a vote,” DeBussey said outside the Clerk’s Office.

Said Domenech, “We’re not going to stop. We’re going to press on.”

The Rev. Russell Noland of the Temple of St. Brigid’s Moon performed commitment ceremonies for the same-sex couples in front of the Clerk’s Office in downtown Fresno.

Meanwhile inside the Clerk’s Office, staffers and volunteers were busy marrying couples who chose to wed on Valentine’s Day.

About a half dozen relatives witnessed the marriage of Rachael Esquivel, 19, of Fresno and Marquis Lane, 21, of Oakland.

Lane said the couple chose Sunday to wed “so every Valentine’s Day we have together will be a special day.”

Some county employees volunteered their time and others swapped other days off to work Sunday so the Clerk’s Office could perform the weddings, Salazar said.

Source - The Fresno Bee

Photos from the FREEDOM TO MARRY DAY event at the Fresno County Clerk's Office on Sunday, February 14th, 2010. This is an annual event during which same sex couples request marriage licenses, and are rejected.

CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE TO FULL SIZE...VIDEO COMING SOON

ImageImageImageImage

ImageImageImageImage

ImageImageImageImage

ImageImageImageImage

ImageImageImageImage

ImageImageImageImage

ImageImageImageImage

ImageImageImageImage

ImageImageImageImage

ImageImageImageImage

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- The students stomped their feet, heckled and then stood and turned their backs as the speaker at the University of Oregon defended red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy and called Martin Luther King Jr. a communist dupe.

With more than 30 security officers assigned to keep the peace, the 90-something patriarch of the group sat in a wheelchair next to the speaker, silently observing the spectacle while at times half-asleep.

A campus with a reputation for young, leftist radicals has been roiled in protest in recent weeks as the aging collection of extremists - deemed a hate group by those who track the issue - has intensified its message, including a Hitler salute at an event in December.

Some students say their speech has made the university a dangerous place and want them banned from campus. Administrators now find themselves trapped between the ideal of tolerance and the right to free speech, searching for a way to have both.

Read the rest of this story here... 

...

ImageNEW YORK (AP) -- Just in time for Valentine's Day, Billboard has ranked the 50 sexiest songs by popularity - and Barry White didn't even make the list.

Instead, it's Olivia Newton-John who is tops - her hit "Physical" is No. 1, followed by Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)."

Rounding out the top five: Boyz II Men's ballad "I'll Make Love to You," Next's "Too Close" and Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On." (Gaye's "Sexual Healing" is No. 35)

It's not until No. 10 - Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" - that sex is mentioned in any song title.

Billboard's list, released Thursday, is based on the popularity of songs from 1958 until early January of this year. 

Source

ImageFrom Peter Robertson...

"Kathy Ward, co-founder of PFLAG Fresno, has invited me to be the guest speaker on Valentine's Day to share my personal coming-out story with them. (Sun. Feb. 14th @ 2pm, Wesley United Methodist Church).

This is something that I haven't thought about too much, lately. But, back in the day I was pretty active with the GLBTQ guest speaking circuit with other Fresno State students: Durk Hubel, Angela Welton, Jeff Robinson, Matt Cunningham, Leslie Basden, Barbara Cooper and Shelby Stark. Oh! Stephen Ortega, too!

For nearly the past 20 years, I've had the honor of serving as an MC for Fresno's Pride Parade. Each and every year, the one group that consistently brings a tear to my eye is PFLAG Fresno.

Yes, PFLAG Fresno is truely "Moving equality forward" for all of us.
"

DETAILS + RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=348921431520

Get ready for your mouth to drop open. Not for all of us. Some of us remember when the world was like this. Some of us remember it like it was yesterday. Younger people may look at this in an almost campy way, finding it hard to take seriously. But this is exactly what the world was like in 1967, years before the American Psychological Association officially declared that homosexuality was not a mental illness. Put this into perspective. This was only 40 years ago. So to all those activists who still believe we can talk our way out of this equal rights mess, I hope you take that into consideration. The prejudice against homosexuals plays on a very deep level in much of the country.  

In 1967 there were only 3 networks. No cable. No Dish. No remote controls. And not a lot of color. TV broadcasts ended at the same time each night, around midnight, when the screens would switch to static, after a momentary patriotic send off.  The Homosexuals first aired on Tuesday, March 7, 1967, at 10 p.m. Mike Wallace hosted and Gore Vidal appears to tell it like it is.

Some "facts" pointed out in this piece...

“They frequent their own bars ... where they can act out…”
“The average homosexual isn’t capable of love.”
“Homosexuality is, in fact, a mental illness.”
“The church has a great deal of sympathy for those who are handicapped in this way.”
“[Being a homosexual] automatically rules out that [the man in question] will remain happy.”

Take a look. Our history is fascinating. It runs about 45 minutes, but don't let that stop you.

Michelangelo Signorile is annoying. If you've listened to his radio show at all, you're likely nodding right about now. He talks far too slowly, takes too long to get to the point, has trouble phrasing his thoughts cohesively and lately has been far too pleased with his own words. The worst thing though, is that he repeats himself over and over. Over and over. He repeats himself over and over.

I realize it must be difficult to fill several hours 5 days a week with content, but that is the job description. Maybe he should TAKE MORE CALLS! So often when I listen to his show I get the distinct feeling that he's caught up in the love he feels for the words he's so clumsily crafted. I think he's not taking calls because it will interrupt the flow of his thought process. Not good for a talk show host.

Still, I enjoy his show, mostly for the topics rather than him, but I do have to regulate him now, turning him off every few minutes to take a breather. Anytime he gets together with Barney Frank, however, I stay tuned. I found these two snippets from one of his latest chats with Frank online - http://www.queerty.com/?p=83812. Frank is at his most belligerent and surprisingly, Signorile is forced to concede on more than one occasion.  That's not the most common things to happen to Signorile during his shows. He made a shift late last year and joined the "bash Obama for all our troubles" bandwagon, changing his common sense sort of delivery to a more brusque, self reliant sense of right and wrong. Considering the wrath that's been hurled at Barney Frank since he made comments about the National March last year, it's refreshing to listen to him stand his ground and especially to hear Signorile chuckle slightly when he's forced to concede to the logic and reason of Frank's dialogue.  

So Signorile has fallen onto the path that seems to be quite popular with a lot of LGBT Americans and especially activists, at our current point in the struggle. Blame Obama for everything and demand he come out screaming until everyone lies in his wake and is forced to comply with his every demand. The first, of course, being to overturn every wrong that is not levied against all LGBT Americans. Forget the truth, which is that the President doesn't exactly have that kind of power, and if he did, Congress still has power to reign him in. Forget the way the government works, the way the system works and the majority of Americans who still oppose our equal rights. Forget all that and do one thing and one thing only. Blame Obama for everything.

You need to install or upgrade Flash Player to view this video, install or upgrade here:
Get Adobe Flash player
You need to install or upgrade Flash Player to view this video, install or upgrade here:
Get Adobe Flash player

This latest tactic, which is nothing more than that, nothing more than a decided point of contention for the "LGBT Group" to latch onto and spread like wildfire, is poorly thought out, poorly strategized and tragically executed. Of course Obama isn't to blame for our lack of rights, and of course he can't just wave a magic wand. Is it going slower than we all expected, given Obama's words during the campaign? Of course. To say that translates to "blame Obama for everything" however, shows how little this movement is willing to follow the path that might work, as opposed to the path their egos have decided will make things easier.

Barney Frank is the other fascinating piece of this conversation. Seems you either love him or hate him. That's not a new thing, actually. Frank has been delivering his take no prisoners and tell it like it is speech long before the last couple of years. He's abrupt, cocky and dismissive. For many, many years he's been both hailed and condemned. Anyone listening to Frank has no choice but to admit that his sort of delivery is rare among politicians. Agree or not, you don't often hear the kind of blunt honesty that Frank continues to provide.

But Frank made some comments last year about the National March and a portion of the LGBT community, mostly activists, and mostly those who live, breathe and operate through their life sustaining yet brief postings on Twitter or Facebook, chose to do what they do best, to form instantaneous opinions about a person then spread it passionately, as if they'd actually taken time to reach a conclusion about the pieces of the facts at hand. Take the time to consider the context? Listen to the whole interview? Think about the circumstances in which the words were spoken? Consider whether it's relevant, personal or important? No, no, no, no, no and no. Just decide whether the person making the statement should be labeled good or evil based on one factor and one factor only, which one is more beneficial politically to whatever organized group you might be involved with. And so it has been with Frank and a vocal portion of the LGBT community ever since.

In the noted audio pieces, Frank once again shouts about what so many LGBT Americans and activists have decided they don't want to hear... which tactics work best to move equal rights forward. Frank has remained consistent in his advice to LGBT Americans. Lobby. Lobbyists are very influential in Congress and successful at getting any number of items through which will benefit their particular interest.

Of course lobbying for us can prove difficult, given our relatively small numbers. Still, if that's the way it works in Washington, to form a strong lobby that works daily to nudge Congress in the right direction, why aren't all these groups who spend endless upon endless months "brainstorming" what to do next...why aren't they coming up with this option as a choice? If the past is any indication, the last thing we need is more brainstorming only to come up with another weak, easy to pull off approach.

The recent call for LGBT Americans to boycott donations to politicians, particularly the Democratic party, at least until we get our way, seems to be another tactic not very well thought through. After all, at this point it's fairly difficult to deny that money is the primary motivator for politicians. So at a time when we're not only losing up and running campaigns but also watching successful rights efforts later stripped away by voters, it seems a bit confusing to suggest that we remove ourselves from the way the game is played for virtually all other interests in this country. How about instead of boycotting money for Washington, we start to funnel the millions of dollars being spent for rallies and marches and boycotts into Washington, in a calculated, planned attack on Congress through strong lobbying?

Barney and others really do speak the truth when they say a large portion of LGBT Americans have now decided to sit in the corner like spoiled children until they get their way, which of course makes no sense historically in a civil rights battle.

Image 

Image 

The ACLU has drafted a letter to the President of Fresno City College, to issue a formal complaint about Bradley Lopez, a health instructor at the school. They claim his teachings include various religious based arguments as well as anti-gay misinformation being shown to the students. Some of what the ACLU says Mr. Bradley has...

*Presented media labeled as "homosexual facts" which state that homosexuality is a "biological misapplication of human sexuality" and that the "condition" of homosexuality can be treated with hormones or counseling.

*Presented LGBT Americans as a burden on society.

*Used biblical quotes as "empirical evidence" that life begins at conception and therefore, abortion is murder.

*Stated that the climate change to be worried about is the biblical description of the world ending in fire.

Mr. Lopez responded in December, stating that he only provides students with "measured, scientific information in current issues and health", as well as noting his disagreement with the concept of the separation of church and state.

While free speech is, of course, Mr. Lopez's right outside the classroom, the ACLU reminds that "as a tax supported entity, FCC must of course comply with state and federal law, which prohibits religious indoctrination in public education".

The ACLU has demanded a response from the school by February 15th.

Read the ACLU letter here...ACLU Letter

Image 

The San Francisco Chronicle details the latest "revelation" from the Prop 8 Trial in San Francisco, which is now in recess. The Judge in the case, Vaughn Walker, is gay. Walker is not closeted. He keeps his private life separate from his professional life, but it's no secret that he's gay. According to another judge who knows Walker personally...

"He has a private life and he doesn't conceal it, but doesn't think it is relevant to his decisions in any case, and he doesn't bring it to bear in any decisions," said the judge, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the Prop. 8 trial.

And although the Prop 8 case was not sought by Judge Walker, but rather assigned to him at random, there are, of course, some who support Prop 8 that will no doubt use this as a wedge issue, as they've already begun to do, in the National Review. There will likely, however, be absolutely no fallout cost from the revelation that Walker is gay. Virtually everyone in any position of power has done nothing but relay the utmost respect for Walker, and assured that his sexuality plays no part in this or any other of his judicial opinions. Read the full Chronicle article here... 

...

By Joel Pett, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, Cartoonists and Writers Syndicate, for USA TODAY

 

Every once in a while I run into a true surprise, a hole in the wall that is one of the best eating experiences I ever had.  I ran into that with the most recent restaurant I visited, Thalia’s. It is unlikely I would have visited this place if I had not been referred to it, but it was the most exceptional Mexican food I have had in a Fresno restaurant. Fresno is a city with many good Mexican food establishments, making the competition stiff. 

  Thalia’s is near the corner of Butler and Orange in a rundown retail building. When I walked in it had no business, but 11:00 is a little early for lunch in Mexican culture. You walk in to the sight of cheap plastic table cloths, and patio chairs. Some would consider the ambiance tacky, but I think the decoration style gives it a homey feel.  I was greeted by a very friendly waiter who was attentive to my every need. 

 

  The menu is limited, but I prefer a small well done menu over a large poorly done one.  They serve several breakfast items, including chilaquiles which are not often on menus in this country. The regular part of the menu includes the usual tortilla dish culprits, but some with a different twist. Their specials are fajitas, huarache, and chile verde.  The menu was in Spanish, but they may have English ones.

   I ordered the asada fajitas. The meat was perfect. It was tender, and very juicy, mixed with tomatoes and chili peppers. Mexican restaurants often overcook their meat. You get a choice of potatoes instead of rice for a refreshing change. The potatoes were cooked until very tender with tomatoes and black pepper.  The beans were not too thick or thin.  There was a generous heaping of lettuce, avocado, and red onion, all very fresh. The tortillas were freshly made, fluffy, and almost burning my hand. It is not too much food like you get served at many Mexican restaurants, and has its own unique twist. It was one of the most amazing meals I have ever eaten.

Thalia’s has been open for five months and very much deserves to succeed, so I urge everyone to try them out.

Image 

The New Twenty

Director: Chris Mason Johnson

Starring: Bill Sage – Terry Serpico – Nicole Bilderback – Colin Fickles

Andrew Weilin – Ryan Locke – Thomas Sadoski

Reviewed By: Leon Velasco

Rating: Two Thumbs Down

I felt that this movie was taking too long to finish. There are no real dramatic turn of events, no action (or sex), and there was no real thrill. It was just a lot of talk. If you are like me and need a little bit of noise, just to have noise while you’re taking a nap; this is the movie to have on. If you just need to have something on the television and don’t mind wasting money on a rental fee, this is that movie.

Writer-Director Chris Mason Johnson’s award-winning first feature charts the lives of five New Yorkers, a mix of gay and straight best friends about to turn thirty, whose tight relationship is threatened when an older, charismatic man joins their ranks. With emotionally vivid performances and nuanced characters, THE NEW TWENTY paints the portrait of a generation living the highs and lows of a Wall Street world destined to disappear overnight.

“Sharp, intelligent writing, erotic tension and intriguing ambiguity. A stylish production.” – The Hollywood Reporter

“A vivid portrayal of real life. A breath of fresh air.” – NY Examiner

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The federal challenge to California's same-sex marriage ban is attracting nationwide attention in the form of "friend of the court" briefs.

Groups and individuals supporting and opposed to gay marriage submitted a flurry of opinions on the subject Wednesday, the deadline Chief U.S. Judge Vaughn R. Walker had set for the filing of amicus briefs.

Among those siding with the pair of same-sex couples suing to overturn the 2008 law passed by voters as Proposition 8 were the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ and a retired state appeals court judge.

Last month, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the National Organization for Marriage were among those supporting the ban's sponsors.

SOURCE - AP News

John McCain certainly proved he has ZERO integrity during his recent Presidential run, when he literally flip flopped on virtually every position he'd ever held, just to attempt to gain the nomination. Look at McCain's REAL history and you'll see he wasn't a very good soldier in the first place, yet was labeled a war hero for getting caught. This man is the sad example of all things wrong with politics. Now, he's reversed his position on how to handle DADT, and thanks to Keith Olbermann and the availability of video (I know you're old, John, but certainly you're aware that you're being recorded every time you open your lying big mouth), we can see first hand just what an opportunist this worthless politician really is...

...

Image 

HONOLULU (AP) -- Hawaii lawmakers declined to vote Friday on a bill that would have allowed same-sex civil unions, effectively doing away with the measure.

State House leaders said a narrow majority of representatives would have voted for civil unions, but they decided to indefinitely postpone a decision on whether to grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits the state provides to married couples.

Civil union supporters in the crowded House gallery on Friday shouted, "Shame on you!" while opponents cheered.

By MARK NIESSE
Associated Press Writer

Read the story here......

The aim of this research is to explore the meaning of marriage to lesbian couples marginalized by the California State Supreme Court ruling on Proposition 8 and the affects of minority stress on some lesbian couples now barred from the legal institution of marriage in California.  The research focus is on the lived experiences of lesbian couples and it seeks to make visible the hidden hierarchies of heterosexism. 

The results of this research will be used to educate social workers and other professionals in order to advocate for equal rights in the civil rights debate on marriage equality in the State of California.  Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act creates less social equality for same-sex couples in the State of California and has marginalized lesbian couples that would like access to the legal entitlements, regardless of their marital status and may have created mental health problems, as a result of this social policy.

Participant criteria: 

--Five to Seven lesbian couples that are currently living together in the State of California and would like to get married.

--Aged 18 years or older

Please contact:
Margo J. Randolph, MSW student at (559)790-0048 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

 

 Freedom to Marry Event - Feb 14 - 1pm - Fresno County Clerks Office

Unmarried same-sex couples who wish to marry AND married same-sex and opposite sex couples AND all those who support them are invited to attend!

This is an annual, National event happening in cities across the nation during Freedom to Marry Week!

What will happen:
We'll go in to the County Clerk's office at 1pm and unmarried same-sex couples will ask for a marriage license. The media will be present to document their experience as they are denied the fundamental right to marry. Supporters will cheer on those who want to marry! Also, some time will be set aside to view a photo presentation of couples who married in 2008 and to hold signs for the cause.

Please keep in mind that only unmarried couples will be able to request a marriage license, but married LGBTQI couples wanting to cheer on their friends and take a stand on this important issue are DEFINITELY ENCOURAGED TO COME!

Your attendance is greatly needed to show this issue is still important to our community. Especially with the court ruling coming down shortly.

To RSVP contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (559) 862-4559

 

Day 1 Chapter 1 of the Proposition 8 Trial Re-enactment presented by MarriageTrial.com. Opening statements begin at min. 15:02. Produced by John Ainsworth & John Ireland. Copyright John Ireland Productions, LLC.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Defense Department last year dismissed the fewest number of service members for violating its "don't ask, don't tell policy" than it had in more than a decade.

The 2009 figure, a sharp decline from the previous year, comes from President Barack Obama's first year in office. He opposes the policy but has done little to reverse it.

The lower number continues a trend since 2001 in which fewer troops have been dismissed as the services struggle to fight two wars.

According to figures released by the Pentagon on Monday, 428 service members in 2009 were fired for being openly gay compared to 619 in 2008. In 1997, 997 service members were dismissed.

Overall, more than 10,900 troops have been fired under the policy.

By ANNE FLAHERTY
Associated Press Writer
Image What had started out uncertain ended with a bang. It was a rainy night and my drive over there was making me doubt that anyone would show up under the rainy conditions. BOY was I wrong. There were about a dozen of us (and yes, we wore our rainbow flag name tags for all to see). If you think that the economy is going down hill; try getting through the line at that place on a Friday night at dinner hour, rain or no rain. A female couple even found us by the name tags a few minutes late. We had a couple of tables in the “Cabin Fever” room. With our name tags showing and the conversations being discussed, I thought for sure we’d be challenged but everyone around us minded their own business. We had jokes, several laughs, ate heartily, and had a good time. Then you know what comes next!!!!! DESSERT!!!!!! Everyone had something different and all pigged out. But that was ok, cause then the fun part for working it off was coming up after. Everyone was in the game room and we mingled with everyone else in the room, parents, teens, employees, and everyone was delightful. Not once through the entire night was there any opposition, ore derogatory remarks made. Everyone had fun trying to win tickets to see who can get the most out of one game. I even got wrapped up in a pile of tickets with Monique, (caught on camera). So, what ever the reason that you couldn’t join us that night either rain, or money, we wished you could have joined us. It was a lot of fun and I’d do it again with the group. Catch us next time for March’s event; it could be more fun than this.

"Fidelity": Watch the video viewed by over 1 million people on Vimeo and YouTube, then sign our letter Join over 300,000 people who have signed this letter telling the state Supreme Court to invalidate Prop 8, reject Ken Starr's case, and let loving, committed couples marry. DEADLINE EXTENDED: March 2

Click HERE to sign the letter BEFORE MARCH 2ND...


"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo

Videos from the 81st Academy Awards featuring Sean Penn's Best Actor acceptance speech, as well as a Q&A backstage where he discusses gay rights, and Dustin Lance Black's acceptance speech for Best Original Screenplay


ImageImageLet California Ring has started the "I DO" Campaign, offering a range of merchandise to help us all show our support publically for the cause of equal gay rights, and to spark conversations with those around us. Proceeds go toward marriage education. Click HERE to see a video by Wanda and to check out the merchandise available.

Following is a message from Wanda Sykes...

I do. I do believe in equality for all and I do want to make a difference.

When Prop 8 passed, I was heartbroken. As a black lesbian, I already knew there was a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding out there (trust me), but Prop 8 still stung me deeper than I ever thought it would. 

I knew I had to do something. So I came out thinking maybe I could get a few more people talking about what gay is and how discrimination hurts. And if I could start a conversation, then maybe a few of those folks would start to open their minds and we’d all move a little closer to equality for all.

 

The following is in response to the proclamation signed by Mayor Swearengin:

Mayor Ashley Swearengin
City of Fresno
2600 Fresno Street
Fresno, CA  93721

February 13, 2009

Dear Madam Mayor:

As both a concerned citizen of Fresno and an open lesbian in a married-committed 11-year relationship, it was with mixed emotions that I learned of the City of Fresno's Proclamation making this week "Celebrate Marriage Week."  While I wholeheartedly embrace the concept of marriage and celebrate this institution as it strengthens our families, our communities and protects our children.  I question the spirit of this celebration as long as marriage is a right not granted equally to all of Fresno's citizens.

For now, this proclamation unfortunately serves two purposes:  1)  For many, the purpose for which it was intended, a celebration of marriage, which I whole-heartedly support your public endorsement to strengthen and value ALL marriages and 2) For others, a reminder of that which we have not yet been able to secure, equal treatment under the law.  This proclamation is a celebration thrown by the City of Fresno, where the invitation is conditional for area LGBT couples who were not able to get married before November 4th.

Since 1992, the last time Mayor Karen Humphrey signed a proclamation to celebrate pride day in the city of Fresno, I have eagerly awaited a Mayor who would again celebrate the value of ALL Fresno’s citizens.  I truly hope the intent of signing the “Celebrate Marriage Week” proclamation was simply done as an effort to strengthen ALL relationships for the betterment of Fresno and that we are not realizing only a few weeks in to your position that we have a Mayor who will creating divisions and offering much of the same to our community.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this email, the proclamation created mixed emotions for me, and I believe strongly that many others feel the same.  I sincerely hope that your expressed willingness in the past to work with and for all citizens of Fresno includes me, my wife and family, and other gays and lesbians and their families as well.  In that spirit I thought it was important to make sure that you were aware of the sensitivities and concerns brought about when you signed this proclamation.  I would value a response to the intent of your signing such a proclamation.

With Thoughtfully Positive Intent,

Robin McGehee

What will it take to repeal Prop 8?

A grassroots army of activists empowered with the tools and skills necessary to effectively organize their own communities -- especially in communities like Fresno. 

That's what propelled Barack Obama into the White House and that's what it will take to restore marriage equality to California.

That's why we are bringing our "Camp Courage" training program to Fresno on March 7-8. Inspired by "Camp Obama," Camp Courage uses community organizing methods that have developed leaders and nurtured progressive social movements for decades.

Our first Camp Courage in Los Angeles received phenomenal reviews from participants, with evaluations averaging 9.36 on a scale of 1 to 10. We chose Fresno as the next Camp Courage location because we believe Central Valley activists are at ground zero in California's marriage equality movement.

Fresno's intensive two-day training will teach participants about community organizing, empowerment, team building, leadership development, voter persuasion and more. With these tools, participants will be primed to organize their own communities, door-to-door, neighbor-to-neighbor across all 58 counties of California.


We want you to be at Camp Courage in Fresno on March 7-8. But first, we need you to fill out a short application. Space is limited, so please apply now before the event is full:

http://www.couragecampaign.org/ApplyCampCourage

I spoke today with world renown fashion designer, Andrew Christian about his clothing line and how he started his business after growing up in Fresno...

ImageImageAndrew Christian is a former Fresno native who decided to do whatever was necessary to live his dream of being a fashion designer. At the tender age of 19, just out of high school, he knew he had to be in the big city.  "At the time I felt like I couldn't do what I wanted to do in Fresno."

With just $500 he packed up and moved to Los Angeles, where he started working for others in the industry in order to learn the trade.

"Now, I would have never done it," he says, "But when you're that young you don't really think about everything that can go wrong. I just always sort of landed on my feet. I met the right people and almost immediately started working."

He immersed himself in the fashion world and made connections that forged his future. "Every job I got working for other people was basically through networking, this person knows that person, and being around the fashion scene."

In 1997 he started his own company and started producing the Andrew Christian clothing line. Initially focusing on outerwear and accessories, in recent years it's Andrew's underwear line which has taken off and become his calling card.  

 

ImageVideo by Sarah Welch of County Clerk Action on Thursday, February 12th, 2009...


...

ImageAh, love, sweet love.  And look!  It's Valentine's Week!  That week of hearts, roses and cheesy Valentines.   This is the week to sneak that little candy heart to that special person that says "Will U B Mine?"

This is also the week to get married.  How romantic would that be!  The Fresno Mayor has just declared this Celebrate Marriage Week.  How perfect!  A week to celebrate that union of love and togetherness; that sacrament called marriage.

You know, I'm not sure how much more snark I can pull off without my head exploding.  Because today four same-sex couples went before the Fresno County Clerk and asked for marriage licenses and they were denied.  So, this week?  Not so much with the celebration.  No, it was more of a "we can't believe you people are still trying to make us sit in the back of the bus didn't we resolve the civil rights issue forty years ago" kind of party.  Except without the party part.

 

Image

Fresno Bee Raw Video From Event

Image

VIDEO LINK - KSEE Local 24 "Fresno Gay & Lesbian Community Take Stand"

Image

Local CBS News 47 Video (below) of local Freedom To Marry Action at the County Clerk's Office on Thursday, February 12th, 2009, courtesy of 

After the painful loss on November 4th, many members of the LGBT+ community were calling for answers (among other things) from the individuals and organizations who ran the No on 8 campaign.  Including the lack of support for the central valley, etc. etc.  Cathy Brooks asked questions posed by the community with the intent of looking at the lessons from the campaign, taking those lessons and moving forward.
"Easily a third of them (unanswered questions) are from the Central Valley" Cathy Brooks

Part 1 of the video:

(Move to 24:30 minutes for discussion of central valley issues)

Left to Right: Geoff Kors of Equality California, Kate Kendell of NCLR, and Tawal Panyacosit of API Equality

(If video does not load, please click here)

Click Read More to see part 2

The following photos are from the January 31st LGBTQQI & Supportive Allies Town Hall Meeting
If you've written about the event, we'd love to publish it right here!  Write us.

ImageImageImageImage
ImageImageImageImage
ImageImageImageImage

Yesterday, members of the LGBT+ community were alerted to the fact that during this morning's Fresno City Council meeting several proclamations were going to be presented, one of which was to declare the Valentine's Holiday Week "Celebrate Marriage Week".

Given that LGBT couples have been denied our equal civil rights by the passing of Proposition 8, some members felt that this was a direct insult to our community, particularly given that the California Supreme Court will soon be considering whether Prop 8 should be overturned.

Text of speeches read today: Beverly Senkowski, Jay Matthew, Michael Esswein, Vickye Ashton

Video from today's proceeding.

(Forward to 13:30 for proclamation reading and presentation. Forward to 51 minutes for community response)
Fresno City Council 2/10/09Fresno City Council 2/10/09Fresno City Council 2/10/09

ImageImageThe last time Cleve Jones came to Fresno to talk about gay rights, the Ku Klux Klan showed up in the Free Speech Area—in full hooded attire.

Jeff Robinson remembers it well; he was there at Fresno State on that President[s'] Day weekend in 1989, when the Western States Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgendered United Students Conference was held on campus.

“The Klansmen had to be escorted off the premises by campus police,” said the Gay Straight Alliance [Network]’s “Expression Not Suppression” [co-]organizer. “So when I asked Cleve to come speak at our conference this year, the first thing he said was, ‘Is the Klan going to be there to greet me?’”

Jones, founder of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and historical consultant for Gus Van Sant’s film “Milk,” was in Fresno’s Tower District Saturday for the conference to talk about issues affecting the gay community and about the film.

“Milk” chronicles the life of Jones’ close friend and mentor former San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk and the assassination of him and mayor George Mascone.

The Collegian got the chance to sit down with Jones and ask him about the film.

Collegian: What did you think of the movie?

Jones: I loved it. It was very well done, and I’m extremely proud to have been a part of it.

C: Was there anything left out that you feel should have been included?

J: Well, there were many things that had to be left out. [Screenwriter] Dustin Lance Black chose to focus on the last year of Harvey’s life.

C: How did it feel seeing someone portray you on screen?

J: It was pretty bizarre, but quite lovely. I think Emile Hirsch is a very fine actor. Cute as a button, too.

C: How did San Francisco change after Harvey’s death?

J: People were very sad, and then they got very angry. There was a big riot after his death, and then a year and a half later, the AIDS epidemic hit.

C: Do you think Harvey would have tackled the AIDS issue head-on?

J: Most certainly. I’ve thought about that often over the years.

C: You campaigned for Harvey in the ‘70s, started the [N.A.M.E.S. Project] AIDS [Memorial] Quilt in 1987 and wrote a book about it, “Stitching a Revolution.” What are you doing now?

J: I work for United Here, a labor union that represents hotel workers. Right now I’m working on a campaign called Hotel Workers Rising.

C: What kind of a person was Harvey Milk?

J: Harvey was the most empathetic person I’ve ever met. He went out of his way to make connections with people, and to find a common ground.

URL: http://collegian.csufresno.edu/2009/02/09/reflecting-on-%e2%80%9cmilk%e2%80%9d/

ImageImageImageImage

ImageImageImageWhen voters passed Proposition 8 and abolished same-sex marriage in California, a lot of young people in the gay community may have felt discouraged. On Saturday, a star of the gay rights movement gave them a pep talk.

Cleve Jones -- longtime friend and supporter of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in the state -- was the keynote speaker at the Expression Not Suppression conference at First Congregational Church in Fresno. Jones tried to inspire the 275 people in attendance to continue their fight for equal treatment.

"When I came out of the closet, it was a felony for two people of the same sex to have sex," said Jones, 54. "Don't ever believe progress doesn't happen. Change does happen ... but only if you do the work."

Read the rest of the story HERE

ImageHelp designer Andrew Christian, a native of Fresno, be the next one chosen for a new reality series on Bravo, titled "The Fashion Show".

From Bravo..."Bravo's newest creative competition series, The Fashion Show, is looking to cast its final contestant and is putting the designer's fate in your hands. What is the The Fashion Show you ask? The show will follow professional designers as they strive to make their mark in the dog-eat-dog world of fashion and compete for a chance to have their designs sold for the mass retail market. You can vote for one final designer to join the competition. Vote as often as you want between now and February 13."

To place your vote for Fresno's own, Andrew Christian, click HERE

ImageImageCome Wearing White, Leave Seeing Red!

Location: State Capitol, Sacramento, CA / Time: 12pm-3pm

Description:

Love and Marriage will be a statewide rally where people from all over the state will join us on the steps of the Capitol to show our solidarity for the rights of 18,000 same-sex couples who were married and look forward to the day when those rights are available again, this time for everyone. Speakers, entertainment and thousands of like-minded people – in one spot – join us to put a FACE on the issue of true equality.


ImageReported from NPR...On Monday, the Justice Department undid a small part of the damage that top officials caused in a scandal of politicized hiring and firing during the Bush administration. The department rehired an attorney who was improperly removed from her job because she was rumored to be a lesbian.

NPR first broke the story of Leslie Hagen's dismissal last April, and the Justice Department's inspector general later corroborated the report. Now, Hagen has returned to her post at the department's Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.

Read the story HERE

It's easy to think we know who we're fighting in the battle for gay rights. Easy to believe we couldn't be fooled. Easy to think we can spot our foes from a mile away. Again, know who we're fighting. Know that when someone seems to support gay rights, it doesn't always mean they do. This idea that such people as "progressive Christians" or "educated people", "artists", etc. would never have donated money to the passage of Prop 8 is absurd.

Take for example, a New York artist, Maureen Mullarkey (interesting last name for a hypocrite), who's known for painting colorful pieces of art depicting drag queens and pride parades. She donated $1,000 to help Prop 8 pass, while at the same time stating that pride parades are "marvelous spectacles" and "assertions of solidarity". Know who we're fighting, read the story HERE

(02-03) 15:09 PST SAN FRANCISCO -- The state Supreme Court will hear arguments March 5 on the validity of Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage that California voters approved in November.

The court said today that it would hold a three-hour hearing, from 9 a.m. to noon, at its chambers in San Francisco. The proceedings will also be televised statewide on the California Channel, the court said. A ruling is due within 90 days of the hearing. Read the story HERE

Dear Ted,

I saw this movie tonight(The Trials of Ted Haggard). I have to say, I am looking at you in a different way. Before, I was very angry and disgusted with you. You preached that being homosexual was wrong and that people who lived a gay life were sinners. Personally, that was enough for me to be angry with you. Some of my best friends and family are gay and I am Mama Bear where they are concerned. Don't mess with my gays. I will tear you up.

But, then to hear that you are gay. That you went to a gay prostitute and had sex. Now, I felt two ways about this. One, I was very angry that you were so hypocritical in your life. Hypocrites bother me. You know that being gay is not a choice, firsthand, yet you kept trying to "fix" gay people. But two, I felt very strongly that the church that you looked up to, forced you into this mess.

Now, I mostly feel the second way.

ImageIt reads like a movie script, this column by Lisa Neff at 365Gay.com. It tracks the big money behind all kinds of anti-gay legislation, both in California and around the country.

To anyone believing the passing of Prop 8 was a fluke, a "setback", or some blip on the radar, read this article. The organization and connections outlined here may read like a bad episode of "Dynasty", but it's happening in very real time. Time to pay attention to who we're really fighting.

Read the article here: Follow The Money - The Network Behind Anti-Gay Funding

You can also click HERE to search the California Government's database for those who contributed to Prop 8.

ImageImageImageRuPaul has a new CD coming out called "Champion", and tonight, premiered her new series, "Drag Race", on the LOGOnetwork.

"Nine contestants must re-invent their glam drag looks using thrift store clothing and tchotchkes from the 99-cent store. Guest judge Bob Mackie stops by to help RuPaul weed out the drag queen with the least style."

I love RuPaul.  I don't have LOGO. I was pissed. Then, as so often has happened before, the internet saved the day.

Watch the first episode of RuPaul's new LOGO series, "Drag Race" by visiting the LOGO WEBSITE or RuPaul's Official Website 

And check out LOGO Online to see the multitude of free video clips that are now available. Clips such as the UK performance,  Joan Rivers "An Audience With..." or Walk Like A Man, about "the struggle between the San Francisco Fog and Sydney Convicts for the ultimate prize in the World Cup of gay rugby", or Equality U where "equality hits the road visiting religious colleges",  as well as Kate Clinton - The 25th Anniversary Tour,  NewNowNext Music Videos and clips from Rick & Steve - The Happiest Gay Couple In The World. The list goes on. Check out what you can watch on LOGO for free...

...

ImageAdam & Steve  Rated: R  Written & Directed: Craig Chester

Starring: Craig Chester – Malcom Gets - Parker Posey – Chris Kattan

Reviewed By: Leon Velasco - Rating: 2 Thumbs up

I had the privilege of reading the book before seeing the movie. Both are funny and romantic. The movie followed right along as the book. All the characters played their parts as humorous and effective as the book. It makes for a great date movie for those cold, wet nights in. I love the fact that it shows that although we have different views of each other all can come out best if love, trust and hope are their to accompany any given situation.


 

By Shane Goldmacher | Sacramento Bee

The Mormon church has revealed in a campaign filing that the church spent nearly $190,000 to help pass Proposition 8, the November ballot measure that banned gay marriage in California.

The disclosure comes amid an investigation by the state's campaign watchdog agency into whether the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints violated state laws by not fully disclosing its involvement during the campaign.

Read the rest of this story HERE

On January 20th the CCA held their Ninth annual Talent Show at Roger Rocka’s Music Hall in Fresno’s Tower District (1226 N. Wishon Ave). The CCA, or Central California Alliance, has been around since 1993. With goals and objectives that are quite clear, their aim is to support the LGBTQ community in any way they can. One of the ways they help out many of the organizations here in town is to hold fund raisers, the one we are going to talk about today was quite fun and well worth the money.

The night started off with a spectacular dinner buffet, which is customary at Roger Rocka’s, that appealed to everyone.  The dinner featured Roast Beef, Baked Tilapia Au Gratin, and a delicious Cherry Coke Glazed Chicken. There were many side items to choose from, some of which were Mixed Vegetables/Fruit, Soups, Rice, Salad, and they also had a full bar in the back. The staff was very friendly, and quite happy to host the event. “Gay people are the nicest people,” commented one of the employees when I asked him about what he thought about the crowd.

After the dinner there was a span of time for people to bid on the silent auction. Some of the items included things such as a one hundred dollar VISA gift certificate + 6 movie tickets, Lock Smith services by Aloha Rainbow Lock and Safe (Give them a call, (559) 447-KEYS), and various wine gift sets, with all proceeds going to the LGBTQ groups in town.

The show itself was definitely the main course, with a full line up of singers, (I must admit I was a bit nervous about that) each with at least two songs to perform. Let me just say, I was blown away by how amazing the performances were. One of the best shows of the night came from Lilly Dale Murray, when she gave it her all and belted out “At Last,” an Etta James Classic.  We all know that is a hard song for anyone to sing, even Etta, but she nailed it. It was definitely a show stealer, but good thing the show was not over.

There was also a really fun performance from Teri Robinson, a local Transgender woman, and her songs got everyone involved, even howling like monkeys. You had to have been there. The last performers  of the of the night, Noa Kristi, of Aloha Rainbow Lock & Safe, and Bear Murray, gave a well received performance of the old country classic, Cow Patty.

So around this time next year when you are looking for something fun to do, why not be charitable at the same time?  Make a donation to a great cause, enjoy a free dinner, and watch a great show, which benefits the community we are so much a part of. You never know, you may just have the best time you have had in a while. I know I did.

Image In episode 7, "Butterflies & Showgirls",  I hang out with actress Calpernia Addams who's new show "Transamerican Love Story" is currently airing on LOGO.  We talk about how to identify what it is that attracts us to the wrong people, Calpernia offers her personal experience and advice to a transgender FTM (female - to - male) Afterellen viewer, and Lucia and I take on the task of de-mothing my apartment...good times... good times...

ENJOY! - Cathy   http://www.afterellen.com

ImageImageImage About forty people turned out on Wednesday night, February 20th, at the corner of Shaw & Blackstone in honor of Lawrence King, who was recently shot and killed by a fellow student in Oxnard, CA. Local ABC Channel 30 covered the event and you can see their video here: 
Local ABC News Coverage of Vigil

Image On Monday, February 18th, members of Gay Fresno and members of Wesley Celebration at the United Methodist Church participated in a peaceful protest at the Walmart located at Herndon and Ingram here in Fresno. The demonstration was part of an ongoing stand against the signature gathering which supports a ballot initiative (California Marriage Protection Act) which hopes to revise the California state constitution to include “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California

Image The Fresno County Department Of Community Health - HIV/AIDS Program provides assistance and counseling for those seeking help in revealing their HIV status to a partner, as well as individual HIV counseling. Click on the READ MORE link  below to access the informational brochure and contact information. 

Image Check out Episode #5 of Cathy DeBuono's VLog with her guest, comedian Bridget McManus. "Among a few other things, we two east coast italian girls talk about age difference in relationships, randomly bang on a drum and fight over a chicken sandwich."
http://www.afterellen.com
www.cathydebuono.com
www.myspace.com/cathydebuono 

ImageImage (UPDATE: Click on READ MORE at the end of this paragraph for the latest details, including a CANDLELIGHT VIGIL to be held here in FRESNO on WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20TH) Lawrence King, 15, a junior high school student in Oxnard, Calif. was shot at E.O. Green Junior High School on Feb. 12, 2008 and pronounced brain dead on Feb. 13, 2008. According to reports from friends of Lawrence King speaking to The Los Angeles Times, the victim self-identified as gay, sometimes wore make-up and feminine jewelry, and was the target of ridicule by some of his classmates. Check out more of the story here: http://bulldogpride.org/gallery/2008_lawrence_king.pdfand here: AP Story
Please click on Read Morebelowfor the latest...

...

ImageImage I've been on the fence for some time now between Hillary and Barack. In the beginning I preferred other Democratic candidates, mainly Joseph Biden and secondarily Dennis Kucinich (the only Democratic candidate who vocally supported gay marriage as equal in name and benefit to straight marriage), but I was also well aware from the start that they were doomed to be eliminated from the game. Americans have a long history of rejecting truth and honesty in favor of whatever the preferred mantra of the day is, and it's never the truth. This race is just like any number of blind debates well written in our checkered past. I could have even voted for Ron Paul (the only Republican in my lifetime that made any sense whatsoever) but that's not meant to be either, not by American standards of fantasy.

Image Click on the following link to read a recent interview with Hillary Clinton in which she expands on her LGBT policies...Washington Blade Interview With Hillary Clinton

Image The Imperial Dove Court did it again with it’s Mr., Miss and Ms. Gay Fresno Pageant - Motown Review this past Saturday evening.  It was a packed house with everyone hooping and hollering
for their favorite contestant and the wonderful entertainment...("Read More" to continue, as well as to View Photo Gallery)

Image As I have traveled around the country these past twelve months, what I sensed in my heart has been confirmed - America is embracing its LGBT sons and daughters with an acceptance and understanding as never before. On the campaign trail, a father of a gay son will ask about ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell. A woman will ask why she can be discriminated against just because of who she is. Sometimes they wait furtively for the crowd to thin and then whisper their confidences in a soft voice and sometimes they stand up proudly at town meetings and want me to share my views on how I will help lead the change to assure that this country fulfills its promise to everyone. 

Image Fresno Rainbow Pride is seeking committee members. Wanted: Individuals who are COMMITED can FOLLOW THROUGH on their commitments work COOPERATIVELY and can be a TEAM PLAYER!
ImageTwenty years! Twenty years of being a part of the Central Valley GLBT community is quickly approaching for Community Link. February 2008 will mark the two decade anniversary of Community Link's formation to provide services to the GLBT community, to help create positive changes in attitudes about GLBT individuals, and develop social opportunities and outlets to celebrate the queer experience here in the Valley.

ImageImage A new episode of my VLog "WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM?" has posted on the front page today AFTERELLEN.COM Episode 4: "HAVING YOUR CAKE AND EATING HERS TOO" With my guest: SUZANNE WESTENHOEFER  www.suzannew.com
Things lighten up in this episode and Suzanne and I have a blast....
I invite you to join us, at http://www.afterellen.com
be well, Cathy DeBuono
 

Image Celebrity news seems a little more gay today…First, check out these pictures of Sean Penn as Harvey Milk and James Franco as his lover during filming on Castro Street in San Francisco Pics From The Set Of "Milk" on Castro Street … And it seems Britney’s manager isn’t the nicest guy in the world Britney Drugged By Manager … See if you can avert your eyes from Christina Aguilera's Post Baby Rack … It seems Suzanne Sugarbaker has a “hoarding” problem so Delta Burke Checks Into Psychiatric Ward … while Lance Armstrong Throws Hissy Fit at a bar in a piece with enough gay innuendo in the writing to qualify it as a gay story… there’s a challenge aboard a cruise ship which leads to John Mayer's Borat Moment … to give wacko Tom Cruise a break there’s Kirstie Alley - Scientology Insanity … and if you haven’t seen it yet, rush over to this video link where Sarah Silverman & Matt Damon Are F**king (Video) 

Image The results of Heath Ledger's toxicology tests are in the and the actor's death has been ruled accidental. Read the details here...Heath Ledger Toxicology Results

ImageViolinist Patrick Contreras-- "The American Gypsy"--  takes a few moments to pose with four members of Community Link’s GLBTQ Youth Group following his successful concert at Fresno State ’s Satellite Student Union on Feb. 2nd. The event, billed as “The Bon Voyage Concert,” was Contreras’ last San Joaquin Valley appearance before embarking on a European tour to cities including London , Paris , Rome and Berlin . Contreras returns to Fresno and the William Saroyan Theatre on April 16th. Complimentary tickets were made available to members of the GLBTQ Youth Group and six youth members attended the event. This concert was also a benefit for the Bulldog Pride Scholarship Fund, a $150,000+ endowment dedicated to providing an annuity to support student scholarships at Fresno State . See additional details online: bulldogpride.org and myspace.com/patrickcontreras . Photo by Peter Robertson

 Talent Night Video: (modem) (dsl/cable)

Image   Let's just be honest. Put those two little words together, "talent" and "show", and you'll send most discerning individuals into post-traumatic flashbacks: embarrassing air guitar solos, excruciatingly off-tune renditions of tired show tune standards, dancers who couldn't have been less graceful if their feet had been bound with lead weights. Never fear. The CCA talent show takes exception to the rule that the term "talent show" has to be a euphemism for two hours of torture. This was actually an event worth attending, and not just because it served a good cause. It is rarity to see someone like accomplished mandolin player Eva Scow, who has performed at Carnegie Hall and worked with acclaimed artists such as David Grisman and Bela Fleck, share a stage with local celebrities like Steve Ono and amateur performers like the soulful folk singer/songwriter Terry Robinson. Simply put, this show provides an extraordinarily unpredictable, pleasurable experience for artist and audience.

Image It used to an annual staple of the gay community in Fresno, but Barn Dance disappeared a few years back, when the D&D Ranch was no longer available as the venue. The Imperial Dove Court has resurrected the event, and will host it’s re-opening on March 4th, 2007. The attached flyer provides details, or visit The Imperial Dove Court website. 
For the LGBT community, Valentine’s Day is now synonymous with political action and demonstration. Every year, same sex couples from around the country gather at their County Clerk’s offices on that day to request marriage licenses with the knowledge that they will not be issued. It’s a way to keep the issue of marriage discrimination in America in the public dialogue.

Recently my partner James and I, along with Jason and RJ from Gay Fresno, set off to Palm Springs at the invitation of Ken Stabins, one of the owners of La Dolce Vita, a renovated, upscale gay men’s resort in Palm Springs. Ken and his partner, Tim Phillips, purchased the property two years ago in a life changing move that took them away from corporate America into something much more meaningful.

ribbonThe Gay Fresno Website is one of the recipients of a 2007 GLBT Awareness Campaign,  sponsored by La Dolce Vita, an upscale gay men’s resort in Palm Springs, California. The focus of the program, according to resort owner Ken Stabins, is to recognize GLBT organizations in various cities which have been successful in bringing about awareness on issues of importance to their particular GLBT communities.

Central California Alliance will host a Freedom To Marry Panel & Community Discussion on Saturday, February 10th. The event will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno, which is located at 4144 North Millbrook Avenue in Fresno. There will be a photo presentation and discussion of the issues. Scheduled event time is from 6PM to 9PM and admission is free. Please visit CCA Fresno for more information.

Central California Alliance held it’s 7th Annual Talent Night at Roger Rocka’s on Tuesday, January 23rd. The evening included a buffet dinner, silent auction and a roster of talent from the Central Valley. To view our video of highlights from the talent portion of the night, visit our Multi-Media Gallery.

Image

What can we as people of the LGBT community do in order to draw attention to the fact that we are still, in 2006, not granted the same legal rights as our heterosexual counterparts? For the second year, a gathering organized by www.gayfresno.com and Equality California www.eqca.org met at the offices of the Fresno County Clerk in downtown Fresno to make a statement by requesting marriage licenses as same sex couples. Valentines Day is a universal day of  love, marriage and commitment, the perfect atmosphere to continue our goal to bring awareness to the public eye. Love cannot continue to be defined by the bigoted, selfish and the religious right.
Image

Students and faculty at Fresno State have had enough
of spiritual violence being preached on their campus.
In response to the unwelcome intrusions of “hate
speech” preacher Anthony Munoz, a coalition of students,
faculty, and community members has been created.
The group counts gays, lesbians, straights, Christians,
and Muslims among its members.
outoftheclosetlogo.JPGThere’s a new edition to the Tower District, the independent bookstore Out Of The Closet Book & Gift Emporium. Tucked at the corner of Olive and Farris, between Palm & Olive, the store specializes in Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Trans publications. I sat down with Charlotte Jenks, managing partner of the store, and asked what made her decide to open her own business.
 
“Well, I closed Central California Pride Network. We just could not get enough grant money to keep it open. So I looked around to try to figure out what I wanted to do. I realized I was really burned out from being a social worker. The last five years working for our community we had very little money and not much support, not from our community, but from the general domestic violence community.”
 
Faced with the decision of what to do with her free time, Charlotte turned her attention to the things she herself enjoyed.
 
“Pam and I are both avid readers, and it’s really awful when you go to places like Borders or Barnes and Noble and they have the same old books every time. So we said to each other ‘Would you like to do that?’ and we decided we did, just that quick.”
Local Churches offering a Loving Alternative


Community United Church of Christ
The Reverend Dr. Christopher Breedlove
5550 N. Fresno St., Fresno, 93710
559-435-2690
Sunday Service 10:00 AM

First Congregational Church (Big Red Church)

United Church of Christ
The Reverend Raygan Baker
2131 N. Van Ness Blvd., Fresno, 93704
559-227-8489
Sunday Service 10:00 AM

Wesley United Methodist Church
Rev. Karen Pugh
1343 E. Barstow, Fresno, 93710
559-224-1947
Sunday 8:30 & 11:00 AM

New Community United Methodist Church
49223 Road 426
Oakhurst, CA 93644
559-683-2652

Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno

Reverend Tim Kutzmark
2672 E Alluvial Ave., Clovis, 93611
559-322-6146
Sunday 10:30 AM

Temple Beth Israel
Rabbi Rick Winer
6622 N. Maroa Ave., Fresno, 93720
559-432-3600
Friday 8:00 PM

Our Saviour's Lutheran Church
2101 North Fruit Avenue, Fresno, CA 93705
559-237-7597
Sunday Service at 10:15am
Children's program Fridays at 5:30pm

New Thought Community
2060 N. Winery Ave. #101, Fresno, CA 93702
559-454-1005
Sunday Service at 10am

St James Episcopal Cathedral
4147 E Dakota Ave, Fresno, CA 93726
559-439-5011
Sunday 7:30am, 9am, 11am, (3pm 1st Sunday of the month)

Vietnamese Buddhist Association
Quang Phich
2459 S. Elm St., Fresno, 93706
559-264-2728
Sunday Service 9:00 AM
 

 

RMI signature JPGRio Mesa Insurance Agency

Commercial, Personal, Health, and Life Insurance
Phone: (559) 292-2490
Call for a Free quote
Hablamos Espanol

Proud to serve the LGBTQ+ Community with specialized health and life insurance options from knowledgeable Insurance Specialists. Education is empowerment. Peace of mind is priceless. Rest assured you are protected ~The Rio Mesa Difference

Granite Fresno logo
Valley Stone Works

4885 N. Backer Ave. #131
Fresno, CA 93726
Phone: 559.244.1013

At Valley Stone Works, granite is our passion.  Discover the possibilities with a free in-home consultation. We create beautiful custom kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, and fireplaces.
Mark Morgan & Son 

Evaporative Cooler Parts, Service, Installation, and Repair


(559) 704-7683

Free Estimates in Fresno or Clovis
Looking for a cost efficient way to keep cool this summer? Right now, save with our summer service special. Full summer cooler servicing including a new set of pads for just $75.00 per unit. Planning on tackling your cooler your self this summer? Pick up your full new set of Aspen cooler pads for just $20.00 per unit. Over 25 years experience in evaporative cooler service and repair.
T&M Household and Yard Services
(559) 273-6854
Specializing in housecleanings, yard cleanups, window cleaning, and stripping and waxing floors.
Free Estimates
Palma del Sol Imports
(559) 229-1500
Gay Management. Special Family Discounts
The name says it all. "imports form all over the world" Unique style for unique people...
Tuesday - Friday 11-6pm, Sat. - Sun 10-4
4563 N Cedar (corner of Cedar and Gettysburg)
Dragon's Treasure
(559) 226-9265
816 E. Olive Ave
Fresno, CA 93728

Jewelry creations in sterling silver, bronze or 14k gold by local artist Robert Spickard.
Lost wax castings of original design and historic reproduction jewelry with exquisite detail and meticulous finishing.  Viking to Victorian, Celtic, Japanese, Mystical & More!  We also sell gifts, prints, books and wonderful cards.
GalaxSea Cruises & Tours
(559) 432-8747

6465 N. Blackstone Ave, Fresno, CA 93710
THE OFFICES OF SCOTT J. PREBLE
A PROFESSIONAL LAW CORPORATION
Serving the LGBTQ Communities in California's Central Valley, including Fresno. 1-877-777-3253
Chase Flower Shop
(559) 233-8631
1405 N Van Ness
Fresno, CA 93728

Sending the perfect expression of your emotion, across town or across the world! Gay owned/operated.
Designs with Life
(559) 696-6554
6955 Morain Dr., Sanger, CA 93657
Real Estate Staging, Interior Design. Specialize in preparing homes for sale with the use of furniture rental and interior design.

Dispersive Talents Website Development & Photographic Services
(559) 326-7240
Websites: from $500 for 10 pages (includes limited custom artwork). Price does not include ISP services (hosting, domain, email, ecommerce, etc. are extra). Photography: from $50 per hour (if location is more than 20 miles from Clovis, add 34 cents a mile round trip).
If you need a website for personal or business needs, we can help! If you need professional photography for the website or for other uses, we can help! Anyone that uses our services and mentions "GayFresno.com" gets 10% off our already very low prices!

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(559) 709-2263
Cynthia Manuszak / On Location Photographer
Photographer specializing in the more intimate moments of our lives.
Capturing a moment forever through my lens is my passion. Allow me to capture yours.

Wonder Valley Ranch Resort & Wedding Venue
559-787-2551 ext. 452
6450 Elwood Road, Sanger, CA 93657

Home to 75 of the most beautiful acres in the Sierra Nevada foothills, Wonder Valley Ranch Resort and Conference Center mixes work and play everyday!

Doctors:

Dr. Nikki Donaldson Family Practice

Toby Johnson at Sierra Pacific Orthopedic Center

Dr. Hing B. Luong

Tzu Chi Fresno Medical Team

Businesses are listed FREE of charge on a first come, first post basis
LGBT Fresno is not compensated for a basic listing by any business posted on this page.

fab fresno

Tuesday - Saturday 6pm to 2am
Sunday 12pm to 2am
(closed Mondays)

Visit
Fab on facebook

716 E. Olive, Fresno, CA 93728 559-492-3911

Splash Fresno 

Splash is the Valleys premier LGBTQ+ Bar & Nightclub! 🏳️‍🌈 OPEN MON-FRI (4PM-2AM) SAT (2PM-2AM) SUN (12PM-2AM)
 

644 E Olive Ave Fresno, CA 93728 559-515-6760

The Red Lantern is a landmark Fresno bar, established more than 30 years ago. The Red is a friendly, neighborhood bar frequented by the bear, drag and latin communities. Dance floor, performance stage, outdoor patio with weekly barbecues. Pool tables and video games. Drag, performances and events on a regular basis. Latin night packs them in every Saturday night. 

Visit The Red Lantern on facebook

4618 E. Belmont Fresno, CA 93702 (559) 251-5898

alibi fresno 

It's Not Really a Sin When You Go To The ALIBI...

Visit Alibi on facebook

4538 E. Belmont Ave Fresno, CA 93702 (559) 252-2899

Sadly, The Express (formally 708) closed their doors in 2013.  The North Tower Circle closed in 2014, reopening at Bam Bams/Twisters in 2015, then closing again 2016. The Den closed in 2010 due to fire, reopening in 2011 as The Phoenix, the Phoenix closed April 2016, reopening as Alibi. Club Legends closed March 2020.

"Bad Education," Pedro Almodovar’s latest film and one of the most talked-about of the year, played to enthralled houses this past weekend at Fresno’s Tower Theatre.

The film, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Fele Martinez and Javier Camara, is a twisty tale of two school friends who meet again 20 years later. One is a movie director, the other has written a story about their Catholic school days. But not everything is what it appears to be on the surface. I’m going to say no more. Enjoy!

Supporters of Fresno's gay and lesbian film festival received startling news today -- long time Festival Director Dave Houck announced he is "retiring".
"After nine festivals I now start a new chapter in my life. Therefore I find it necessary to retire from my duties," Houck said in the festival's newsletter.
Houck said that Jon Carroll will be taking over as the new President and festival director. Carroll has been the public relations director for the festival that last four years. ReelPride board member Robin McGehee will assume the Development directorship, in charge of sponsorship. Houck said that Carroll will "work hard to expand ReelPride."
Houck said he looks "forward to enjoying the films as a civilian member of the audience."

Image
Three gay couples requested marriage licenses on Valentine's Day at the County Clerk's office.

ImageFebruary 12th was an evening of comedy, activism, and fun-raising!  Sponsored by Central California Alliance, this fundraiser/comedy night raised $250.00 to go towards the MECA/EQCA, Marriage Equality of California Fresno Chapter led by spouses Baltimore Gonzalez and Robert Flanagan.

“Support and Defend Traditional Marriage”
Madera, CA  February 5th, 2005

This past Saturday, Feb. 5th, Madera played host to a “Support and Defend Traditional Marriage” rally sponsored by The Campaign for Children and Families. They were joined by Assemblyman Dave Cogdill, Mike Villines, Randy Thomasson (president of CCF), Judy Hutchens and Benjamin  Lopez of the Traditional Values Coalition. They were accompanies by about 150 people and several children. Not to mention those of us present for a peaceful protest.

ImageOn the cold winter morning several dozen individuals were in attendance to protest AB 19.
The majority of attendees were from a church choir and other from outside the city of madera. Quite a few bible versus were read by speakers. At one point, speaker Benjamin Lopez was quoted as saying "gays are infiltrating our workplaces".

The Equality Campaign-www.dontamend.com, is working nationally to help communities organize rallies or protests regarding marriage equality for LGBT people.  They continue to fight to stop the US Constitutional Amendment against same-sex marriage.

Robin is one of the leading activists, speakers and Special Event Producers for the Lesbian/Gay, Aids, and Women's movement, distinguishing herself at such events as the Main Stage Producer of the 1979,(line producer) 1987, (sole producer) and 1993 Marches on Washington (co-producer) for Lesbian and Gay Rights.  She was the Producer of the Women’s Philharmonic at The Kennedy Center, and Producer/Executive Director of the 1st International Gay Comedy Festival in Sydney, Australia. In addition to 25 major outdoor women’s music and comedy festivals, she produced the Stonewall Democratic Federation Convention in Palm Springs.

After several weeks of development and design GayFresno.com is pleased to announce a brand new website.  Along with our new layout we are glad to extend an offering to any aspiring authors who would like to write articles for our website.  Our new system allows for article submission with a few clicks to take your ideas into an article published online.  To find out how easy it is contact us and we will walk you though it...

GayFresno is the only individually run not-for-profit web directory/news website for the gay & lesbian community in Central California.  We invite your comments and hope you will join our volunteer community to help make our site better.

Thanks for your support and too many more years of community service...

...