September 4, 2015

Drowned Images of Child Enrages Syrian Refugees




                                                                      

Images of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, showing the little boy wearing a bright red T-shirt and shorts and lying face down in the surf on a beach near the resort town of Bodrum, went viral on social media and appeared on the front pages of newspapers in several countries.

 Syrian refugee Abu al-Yaman said that when he saw the photo of little Aylan, “  hugged my daughter tightly, imagining she could have been that innocent child.


Like millions of others, Yaman was riveted by the image of the toddler, who drowned along with his mother and brother when their boat capsized on a short run from Turkey to the Greek island of Kos and hopes of a new life in Europe.

Umm Hussein, a 40-something mother who fled Syria's war in the central city of Homs to a poor neighbourhood of the Jordanian capital, said the photo was too much for her.





Aylan Kurdi, who drowned in a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos, lies on the shore in the Turkish coastal town of Bodrum, Turkey. (Reuters Photo)

"We witnessed the bombing, the destruction... but I couldn't cope with the picture of that innocent child, whose only fault was to have been born in Syria," she said, tears welling up in her eyes.

Read: Drowned Syrian kid's father wants to be 'buried with him'

Umm Hussein said she can't afford to send her children to school, and she's furious with the Gulf's wealthy Arab oil monarchies, who are targets of a social media campaign highlighting their failure to take in refugees.

"Do Arab leaders have no shame when they see the photo," she asked.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/9/syria-crisis.jpg













@monaeltahawy on Twitter)

"They squander billions of dollars on weapons that rust in their armouries or to build the (world's) tallest tower but, despite their humanity, they ignore the suffering of the Syrian people and close their doors to us."

Syria's civil war broke out four and a half years ago when President Bashar al-Assad brutally cracked down on peaceful protests against him and people took up arms.

It has claimed more than 240,000 lives and driven nearly half of Syria's people from their homes. Some four million people have fled abroad, primarily to neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
The world's 'treason' 
Jordan has taken in at least 600,000 of them, according to the United Nations, but the government in Amman says the figure is 1.4 million.

Nearly 80,000 of them have taken shelter at Zaatari, a sprawling desert camp in northern Jordan where Abu al-Yaman is the spokesman for refugees, and their plight has also left him furious.

He denounces what he calls the "treason of the world, particularly of Arab countries," whom he also accuses of a closed-door policy.

"I'm not talking about Lebanon and Jordan," he said.

"My rebuke is addressed to the countries who have the ability to help and are doing nothing, such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia."

Read: Italy PM says Europe 'cannot just get emotional' about migrants

He also accuses unnamed news media of "using the photo (of Aylan) in an exaggerated and negative way, as if their aim is to frighten Syrians and dissuade them from emigrating."

And despite the risks, he doesn't rule out heading for Europe himself.

"There is no other way out for Syrians but to emigrate, even if it means death," he said.

The conversation returns to the image of Aylan, which Yaman said is "distressing for every human being who sees it".

Abu Malek, a 30-year-old teacher living in Zaatari, said: "I never imagined that things would reach the point where one saw Syrian bodies lying on a beach or floating in the sea."


Louei, 19, also deplores the sense of being "abandoned" by Arab countries. "This image will haunt those countries forever," he prophesied.

Hindustan Times

KY. County Clerk in Jail {Latest}


                                                   
                                                                     



Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis made international headlines this week for her continued refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a US supreme court order mandating otherwise.


Kentucky clerk jailed over refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples

But she’s not the only defecting clerk in Kentucky. Two other clerks, Casey Davis of Casey County and Kay Schwartz of Whitley County, are also still refusing to perform same-sex marriages.

“The idea of natural law superseding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed,” U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning told Rowan County clerk Kim Davis.

Davis began a 440-mile trip across the state on bicycle last Thursday, with the intention of riding from Pikeville, located in eastern Kentucky, to the city of Paducah.

“I’m actually [biking] across the state to show support to [Kim Davis] and to raise awareness of what’s going on with this woman,” Casey Davis, who has no relation to Kim Davis, said in a phone interview.

As a hearing on Thursday approaches to consider whether Kim Davis should be held in contempt of court, Casey Davis dismissed the prospect of possible jail time for the clerk, saying “she’s not done anything wrong; she’s upheld her oath”.

“She’s standing for God like she think she should and I think she should,” Casey, 43, told the Guardian. “I don’t think a person should be threatened to be fined or threatened to go to jail because they’re Christian.”
 Gay couple confronts Kentucky clerk Kim Davis for denying marriage licenses – link to video
The vocal persistence of the clerks on Tuesday attracted the attention of Kentucky governor Steve Beshear, who again declined to call a special session to address the conflict – a prickly issue for Davis’s supporters.
  
“Regardless of whatever their personal feelings might be, 117 of our 120 county clerks are following the law and carrying out their duty to issue marriage licenses regardless of gender,” Beshear, a Democrat, said in a statement.

He added: “The General Assembly will convene in four months and can make any statutory changes it deems necessary at that time. I see no need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money calling a special session … when 117 of 120 clerks are doing their jobs.”

Casey said he doesn’t see the need to wait for the legislative change, which he called a “simple idea”. The proposed bill would allow clerks to not play a role in officiating a marriage; it would only require they keep the records on hold. And he said a bipartisan coalition of legislators is ready to back him up.

At Davis’s office on Wednesday, a familiar scene played out: her supporters coalesced on one side of the entrance, occasionally praying and singing as someone held a tall American flag. Across the entrance, her vocal, noticeably younger, critics held signs that said: “You are being used by a hate group, Liberty Counsel”, a jab at the clerk’s attorneys from the Christian non-profit.

It was a noticeable divide that reflects Kentucky’s sharp split on gay marriage: ever since the state’s marriage ban was struck down this summer, a July poll showed 50% of registered voters oppose same-sex marriage, with 37% in support – however, the opposition has slowly whittled away throughout the year.

Around 10.30am on Wednesday, a couple from Ohio joined hands and walked into the courthouse to obtain a marriage license.

The pair woke up early and gathered their birth certificates, social security cards and passports before making the roughly three-hour commute. After a 25-minute altercation, Davis turned them away.

“I saw something that was reminiscent of a KKK rally,” said Robbie Blankenship, 45, who has been together with Jesse Cruz, 42, for 20 years.

Davis and the two other clerks haven’t issued marriage licenses since the supreme court’s 26 June decision to legalize same-sex marriage. Schwartz, who didn’t return requests for comment by the Guardian, said her opponents have transformed into bullies ever since.
“There’s a law against bullying and that’s what this has turned into,” she told the State Journal of Frankfort, Kentucky. “I’ve had a couple calls and when I’ve looked those people up, they didn’t even live in my county.”

In July, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky and the Louisville-based Fairness Campaign, a civil rights group, “cast a net” in counties across the state that denied licenses, said Chris Hartman, director of the campaign. “But the only counties where plaintiffs responded to the request were in Rowan County,” Hartman said.

“Any of these county clerks could have become Kim Davis,” he said. “It just so happened Kim Davis became Kim Davis.”

Casey offered a similar explanation: “Well, Kim’s been sued; Kay nor I have been.”
Their supporters echoed the clerk’s call for change outside Davis’s office on Wednesday.

“The way to settle it is to not have the county clerk sign the form,” said Don Bair, a Davis supporter who turned out in support of the embattled clerk.

David Hamm, also a Morehead resident, chimed in: “All I got to say is it’s the governor’s fault.”

The saga of Davis – a longtime bureaucrat and native of Morehead, attracted increasing attention last month, when a federal judge ordered her to abide by the supreme court’s June decision. Governor Beshear has also ordered county clerks across the state to fall in line with the ruling.

Tension heightened last week after Davis continued to refuse licenses to couples; on Friday, she filed a request to the supreme court to stay the lower court’s decision. Late Monday, the high court denied her request in a one-sentence ruling. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 11am in US district judge David Bunning’s courtroom on a contempt motion in one of several cases involving Davis, which asks the court to impose a financial penalty – not incarceration. Davis and her staff were ordered by Bunning to appear in court to explain why the clerk wouldn’t be jailed for contempt.

But attorneys for Davis filed an emergency motion on Wednesday afternoon, in what appears to be a last-ditch effort to obtain the right to reject same-sex marriage licenses. Bunning last month declined to hear the motion.

The request for an injunction asks Bunning to block Beshear’s order. It’s unclear what, if any, impact it could have on the contempt hearing; attorneys for Davis didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Davis could face a charge of official misconduct, a misdemeanor that could bring up to a year in jail. A request for a special prosecutor to review the allegations is pending before Kentucky attorney general Jack Conway, a Democrat. Conway’s office declined additional comment on Tuesday.

Republican presidential candidates also jumped into the fray on Wednesday. Rand Paul appeared to side with Bevin, the Republican nominee for the Kentucky gubernatorial race, and said in a radio interview that Davis’s protest is “part of the American way”.

“There never should have been any limitations on people of the same sex having contracts, but I do object to the state putting its imprimatur to the specialness of marriage on something that’s different from what most people have defined as marriage for most of history,” Paul told Boston Herald radio.

“So one way is just getting the state out completely and I think that’s what we’re headed towards, actually.”

Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and TV personality, said he spoke with Davis on Wednesday and praised her actions.

“She is showing more courage and humility than just about any federal office holder in Washington,” Huckabee said in a statement to the Associated Press.

By not calling a special session, several of Davis’s supporters said those are characteristics Governor Beshear clearly doesn’t embody.

“If the governor would simply do his job, then [same-sex couples] could go to Rowan county and they could get their license,” said clerk Casey. “And [Davis] wouldn’t have to be violated while she was getting them.”

But Blankenship, who fought back tears moments after being turned away by Davis’s office on Wednesday, said he wants Kentucky – a state he has a long history with and where several family members live – to simply accept everyone.

“I want Kentucky to recognize our love,” he said. “Whoever is refusing our love needs to stop.”

 in Morehead, Kentucky
The Guardian
photo: USA Today


Appearing on MSNBC’s The Last Word (with guest host Alex Wagner) last night, columnist and gay rights activist Dan Savage summed up what he sees as Kentucky court clerk Kim Davis’ “hypocritical” stand against gay marriage.
In Savage’s words:
“I think Kim Davis is waiting to cash in. I predicted from the beginning that she would defy all the court orders, defy the Supreme Court, she would ultimately be held in contempt of court, lose her job, perhaps go to prison for a short amount of time. And then she will have written for her, ghostwritten books. She will go on the right-wing lecture circuit and she’ll never have to do an honest day’s work ever again in her life. This is about someone hypocritically cashing in, and she is a hypocrite.”

China Censors Approves Gay Movie



                                                                     


Chinese censors have approved public screenings of a movie featuring gay characters in leading roles for the first time, in a landmark ruling that has been hailed as a sign of change in the world’s most populous nation.

Seek McCartney, a romance that centres on a relationship between two gay men - one French, one Chinese – will become the first film of its kind to screen in Chinese cinemas. Director Wang Chao broke the news via a post on the Chinese version of Twitter, Weibo. “This is a small step for the film department,” he said. “And a big step for the members of the film industry.”
Homosexuality was decriminalized in China in 1997 and removed from a list of mental illnesses in 2001, but same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships remain forbidden and many families, institutions and even educational textbooks still treat gay relationships as a problem that needs to be fixed. Attitudes are complicated by the fact that the country tolerated same-sex affairs for much of its history, according to Richard Burger, author of Behind the Red Door, a history of sex in China, but such permissive attitudes applied only when homosexual relationships manifested in addition to “traditional” male-female couplings, and these days there is often relentless family pressure to marry and have children.

Xing Fei, of the Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences, estimated in 2013 that as many as 12m gay men are married to straight women. Work pressures on employees to show they are settled into wedlock can be extreme: many gay Chinese people report being passed over for promotion and even fired without justifiable cause. Gay-straight conversion clinics are widespread, though a landmark case in December last year ruled “gay cure” treatments involving hypnosis and electric shocks were illegal.
Seek McCartney is a Chinese-French co-production, with the local contribution also helping to explain why censors handed it a release spot. China allows only 34 films a year made by foreign film companies to screen at the world’s second-largest box office, as it seeks to foster interest in home-produced movies and protect them in the face of competition from Hollywood fare. Foreign films given permission to screen are rarely those with adult-orientated themes and tend to be blockbuster fantasy productions with little or no controversial content. The censor has been known to mount rapid U-turns: in 2013 the blood-soaked Quentin Tarantino western Django Unchained was pulled from cinemas after less than a day on release following complaints about a full-frontal nude scene featuring the film’s lead actor, Jamie Foxx.

Experts warned that Seek McCartney’s approval should not necessarily be hailed as a sign of a relaxation of censors’ usually prudish attitudes. “The fact that this film can be released in theatres doesn’t mean gay films in the future will be able to released in China,” LGBT film-maker and rights activist Fan Popo told AFP. “China’s system for evaluating films is still very unstable, because the rules are very unclear. It depends heavily on the individual censor’s whims.”

September 3, 2015

Russia Tightens Internet Makes it Easy to Spy on Citizens



                                                                     
A new law which makes it mandatory for companies to store personal data on Russian citizens on local servers has sparked fears, as critics say it gives the government easy access to sensitive data.


That view is echoed by Laura Reed, a research analyst for Freedom Houses' Freedom on the Net department. "There's evidence that the government has been using [its] surveillance capabilities to target human rights activists and opposition figures," she told DW.
So far, it's unclear whether companies have indeed agreed to move personal data about Russian citizens to servers on Russian soil. Russia's media watchdog Roskomnadzor announced it would be checking some 300 companies this year, but told DW in an email that search giant Google and social media platform Facebook would not be part of that group.
'System based on intimidation'
"The idea of this law is not immediate implementation. The idea of the legislation is to have something at hand to put more pressure on the Internet in Russia and specifically on global platforms," Soldatov said. "The Russian system of managing the Internet is based on intimidation." 

The Kremlin had invited companies for talks, he added. "And the Kremlin was quite successful. Over the last two years, all three [major] companies - Twitter, Facebook and Google - sent their high representatives to Moscow for secret talks with the Kremlin."
Meanwhile, Facebook has reportedly told officials it would not comply with the new law, whereas Google reportedly moved some servers to Russia.

                                                                       

Facebook declined to comment and Google did not respond to interview requests. A Twitter spokesperson sent a link to a Roskomnadzor statement saying that federal censors don't consider the kind of user data Twitter collects as personal information under the law.
A move that's indeed surprising, says Freedom House's Reed, "because Twitter is a company the government has pressured in the past". Just last year, she recalled, the Russian government requested that anyone who had more than 3,000 followers had to register their real name with the government.



"With laws like this, the fear is that the government will use it selectively," she added.
'Constructive conversations' with Facebook
In a recent interview with Russian online newspaper Lenta, Roskomnadzor head Alexander Zharov confirmed that the watchdog had met with representatives of Twitter and Facebook, but declined the notion that Facebook refused to transfer personal data to Russia.
"The conversation took place in a constructive manner, and we expect that Facebook in the nearest future will fulfill the promise to announce a formal position on the transfer of databases with personal data of Russian users on servers located in Russia," Roskomnadzor said in an email.

Soldatov says the law is rather vague and it was also unclear how companies were supposed to distinguish personal data on Russian citizens from personal data from other non-Russian citizens. For instance, how are social media sites supposed to know whether a person with a Russian-sounding name living in Germany is a Russian citizen?
Latest move to tighten grip

In November 2012, after protests when Putin returned to power, Russia introduced its controversial system of Internet censorship that allowed authorities to blacklist websites without a court decision. Just last week, Russia briefly blocked access to the Russian-language version of Wikipedia because it failed to take down an entry about a drug. Russia has also blocked access to opposition websites as well as blogs of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. 

"We saw the same thing happening on Facebook as Russian authorities tried to block some of the groups on Facebook last year when Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was due to face a new court verdict. And people tried to gather in Moscow to protest. Immediately ,Roskomnadzor attacked Facebook and required them to close down event groups devoted to protest," Soldatov said.
And Russia is set to tighten its grip even more: Come 2016, a new "right to be forgotten" is due to come into effect. It will go well beyond the European legislation of the same name as the Russian version doesn't exclude public figures. "There is concern that it is going to be used as a free pass for local politicians and others to get information about them removed from search results online," Reed said.
According to a statement by Roskomnadzor, the “law will not apply to information about events that contain signs of criminal acts, terms of criminal responsibility which have not expired, as well as information about crimes, which are not removed, or outstanding previous conviction."

Putin with one his non official “enforcers”
                                        

What's next?

It's unclear if and when the government will fully enforce its new data localization law, but it seems the scare tactics are working. "It's much easier to intimidate companies than, say, to intimidate thousands of users," Soldatov said. "Because if you are going after users, you need to be technically advanced. But if you are dealing with companies, all you need is to do is find pressure points for these companies.”

dw.com

Will we do the same or have we already done it??????????????????????

KY.Clerk Married 4 Times ‘now’ Denies Marriage to Gay Couples


                                                                     
I do_divorce_I do_divorce-I do_divorce I do_divorce_ No Marriage for you under my law. She doesn’t obey her god but she will make you obey her

A controversial US court clerk who has cited “God’s law” while refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses has herself been married four times, it has been revealed.

Rowan County courthouse clerk Kim Davis has defied a US supreme court order demanding she issue marriage licenses to couples – both gay and straight – at her office in Kentucky.

Davis, who was only elected clerk last fall, has publicly claimed her duty to God overrides the law of the United States.

“I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage,” Davis said in a statement.

“To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience.”

But records obtained by the Guardian show Davis has been divorced three times before she “surrendered” her life to religion, which she said happened four years ago. “Divorce is rare,” according to a website on the Apostolic Christian religion, which Davis follows.

“I am not perfect,” Davis said. “No one is. But I am forgiven and I love my Lord and must be obedient to Him and the Word of God.”
Her argument was not well-received by David Ermold and David Moore, a gay couple of 17 years who live in Moreland.

The pair first went to Davis’s office in late June, after the US supreme court handed down its landmark decision that legalized same-sex marriage. Ermold, 41, told the Guardian he sent Davis’s office a letter immediately after the court’s ruling was handed down, “letting them know we were going to come down for a license”.

“We just wanted to get a license and have it done,” Ermold said. “Unfortunately, that’s not the way it turned out.”

The couple has since been turned away from Davis’s office three additional times, a “frustrating” experience in light of the high court’s decision to enshrine the right for gay couples to marry.

Moore, whose verbal altercation with Davis on Tuesday was captured on video and shared widely on social media, said the incident put him in a precarious position as a “very introverted person”.

“I don’t get angry … in front of lots of people hardly ever,” he said. “I’m beyond the point just being polite now. I’m not happy.”

Davis’s history as documented in her marriages may now raise charges that she is hypocritical in the application of her beliefs.

In 1984, Davis married store clerk Dwain Wallace, records show. More than a decade later, she divorced and married Joe Davis, her current husband. The couple’s relationship apparently fizzled out sometime around 2007, when Davis married Thomas McIntyre Jr, a construction worker. When she rejoined Joe Davis, 49, on 24 August 2009, it was her fourth marriage.

The 49-year-old mother of four worked at the clerk’s office for 27 years before winning her seat last November by only 465 votes.

Her quest to adhere to a strict interpretation of the Bible, and avoid issuing same-sex marriage licenses, is perhaps unsurprising given how her religious convictions run deep: in her statement on Tuesday, Davis said her choice to deny marriage licenses was not “a light issue for me. It’s a Heaven or Hell decision”.

But the Moreland native’s past raises questions of whether she is a hypocrite in the application of her faith.

For instance, Davis gave birth to twins after divorcing Wallace, according to the US News & World Report. McIntyre was the father, the news outlet said, but Davis ended up adopting them.

The decision stunned residents of Moreland who spoke with the Guardian, saying Davis didn’t allude to her strong religious ties while running for office last November.

Though Davis said on Tuesday her relationship with God precluded her duty as clerk to issue marriage licenses, she told the Moorehead News after winning the race last November: “[I] will be the very best working clerk that I can be and will be a good steward of their tax dollars and follow the statutes of this office to the letter.”

A town of about 6,800, Morehead is situated along a roadway, about 65 miles from the city of Lexington. Residents described the saga over Davis’s decision to disregard an order form the supreme court as an unusually high-profile story in a typically quiet town.

For Ermold and Moore, the developments in recent days still came as a surprise. The people in Moreland were “fairly nice”, said Moore. “We’re just finding out the government is a little different.”

The decision to reject their request for a license burned the couple deeply, as Moore and Ermold supported Davis’s election bid last November.

“If we had known [how she’d respond to their license request] we wouldn’t have voted for her,” said Ermold. “She ran on a Democratic ticket, but clearly she’s not Democratic.”

Last month, a federal judge ordered Davis to abide by the court’s June decision; Kentucky governor Steven Beshear also ordered county clerks across the state to fall in line with the ruling.

But last week, Davis refused to issue licenses and on Friday night filed a request with the supreme court to stay the lower court’s decision. The supreme court denied her request on Monday night. Davis’s claim rests on her belief that issuing licenses to gay couples would infringe on her freedom of conscious.

In response to Tuesday’s maneuver by Davis, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed a contempt motion with US district judge David Bunning. The request asks the court to impose financial penalties – not incarceration. Davis and her staff were ordered by Bunning to appear on Thursday at 11am to explain why she shouldn’t be jailed for contempt.

Additionally, the clerk risks a potential charge of official misconduct, a misdemeanor that could bring up to a year in jail. A spokeswoman for attorney general Jack Conway, a Democrat, said the Rowan County attorney was recently approached by a couple who were denied a marriage license.

“They informed the county attorney that they believe Ms Davis was violating state statute by refusing to issue licenses,” said Allison Martin, communications director for Conway.

The attorney expressed he had a conflict of interest because “he was representing the county in lawsuits regarding this issue”, and asked Conway to appoint a special prosecutor to review the allegations. The request is currently being reviewed.

By late Tuesday, the scene outside the clerk’s office along Main Street had quieted, besides the presence of one news truck. Earlier, supporters and critics had spilled across either side of the building’s entrance, hurling words back and forth on a warm September day.

The Christian non-profit group representing Davis, Liberty Counsel, posted on Facebook decrying the plaintiffs who filed suit against Davis as “militant homosexuals who … will be on her front step FORCING her to choose between obeying Scripture or going to jail”.

While a strong contingent turned out in support of Davis, a crowd funding campaign the clerk apparently launched this week has drawn little support: as of early Wednesday, it had raised $0.

 in Morehead, Kentucky

Update:

(CNN)The ACLU of Kentucky filed a motion in federal court Tuesday asking a judge to hold county clerk Kim Davis in contempt of court for failing to comply with the Supreme Court and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
In court papers, the ACLU lawyers note that following the Supreme Court's order late Monday night, the plaintiffs in their case went to the Rowan County Clerk's office at 8 a.m. Tuesday to obtain a marriage license.
"Unfortunately , they were again denied by a deputy clerk who asserted that no marriage licenses would be issued," the ACLU said in a statement. The lawyers argue that Davis has "violated a definite and specific order" and that the Court is left "with no choice but to hold her in contempt."
Davis, of the Rowan County Clerk's office, has refused to issue any marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court decision -- Obergefell v. Hodges -- came down. She is an Apostolic Christian who says that she has a sincere religious objection to same-sex marriage. Other clerks in the state have expressed concern, but Davis is the only one turning away eligible couples.
The ACLU said they do not compel her compliance through incarceration, but instead they urge the court to impose financial penalties "sufficiently serious" to compel her immediate compliance without further delay.
The lawyers also ask the judge to "state unambiguoulsy" that his original injunction applies to marriage licenses for all couples, not just the plaintiffs in the case.
A Kentucky judge has called for a hearing for Davis for 11 a.m. on Thursday in Ashland.
The Supreme Court on Monday night denied an emergency application from Davis who has been refusing to issue marriage licenses because of her religious objections.
The order marks the first time the issue of same-sex marriage has come back to the justices since they issued an opinion last June clearing the way for same-sex couples to marry nationwide.

September 2, 2015

16 Tops Taboo Subjects and How Pope Francis Feels and Talks about Them



                                                                       


— Pope Francis is expected to raise issues ranging from climate change to income inequality when he visits Cuba and the United States Sept. 19-27. Francis has launched an agenda of reform in the Vatican and in the global church, prioritizing different issues and counseling a more merciful message. Here's a primer on where the pope stands on key issues.

1* GAYS: Francis famously uttered “Who am I to judge?" when asked in 2013 about a Vatican monsignor who purportedly had a gay lover in his past. Many took the comment to be a sweeping new opening by the church toward gays, as Francis has urged the church to be less judgmental and more merciful in welcoming saints and sinners alike. Asked about his position on homosexuality later, Francis stressed that when he said "Who am I to judge" he was merely repeating church teaching, and he responded with a question of his own: "When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person." But while he has met on several occasions with gays and even counseled a transgender couple, Francis hasn't changed official church teaching that while gays should be treated with dignity and respect, homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered."

___

2* GAY MARRIAGE: As archbishop of Buenos Aires before becoming pope, he opposed efforts to legalize same-sex marriage and proposed, unsuccessfully, that the country approve civil unions instead. As pope, Francis has upheld church teaching that marriage is a union between man and woman, said children deserve to grow up with a father and mother and praised the "complementarity" of the male and female bodies. He has denounced what he calls the "ideological colonization" of the developing world — a reference to how ideas about contraception and gay rights are often imposed on poor nations as a condition for development aid.

___

3* IMMIGRATION: Francis has denounced the “globalization of indifference” that the world shows migrants and urged Europe and other countries to open their doors to refugees seeking better lives. "We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery!" he has told European lawmakers. He has decried the "inhuman" conditions facing migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and encouraged frontier communities to not judge people by stereotypes but rather welcome migrants and work to end discrimination.

___

4* INDIGENOUS: Francis has apologized for the sins and “crimes” of the church against indigenous peoples during the colonial conquest of the Americas. But he has also held up as a model economic system the Jesuit-run missions in Paraguay that brought Christianity and European-style education and economic organization to the natives in the 17th and 18th centuries. Some American Indian and Native American groups have opposed Francis' plan to canonize the 18th-century missionary, Junipero Serra, during his U.S. trip. They accuse Serra of forced conversions, enslaving converts and helping wipe out indigenous populations. The church considers Serra a great evangelizer who established 21 missions across California.

___

5* NUNS: Under Francis’ tenure, two sweeping Vatican investigations into U.S. nuns that had elicited alarm among sisters and outrage among liberal Catholics ended amicably. The investigations were launched during Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate amid concern by conservative U.S. bishops and lay Catholics that the sisters, whose numbers have declined sharply in recent decades, had become too feminist and secular and weren't emphasizing church teaching on abortion and homosexuality enough. The first probe, into the quality of life of American sisters, ended up praising the nuns for their selfless work caring for the poor. The second one, into the main umbrella group of U.S. sisters, ended two years early with the Vatican declaring mission accomplished without any major changes.

___

6* RESIGNATION: Francis has said he expects his pontificate will be brief — maybe five years — and he has signaled he would follow in Pope Benedict’s footsteps and resign if he found he didn’t have the strength to carry on. He has praised Benedict for what he called his noble, humble and courageous gesture in retiring, and said the German pontiff set the precedent by "opening the door to retired popes."

___

7* SEX ABUSE: Francis was initially accused by victims’ advocates of not “getting it" as far as clerical abuse was concerned. He has since created a commission of experts, including two survivors of abuse, to advise the Vatican on best practices and accepted the commission's recommendation to create a Vatican tribunal to prosecute bishops who failed to protect their flock from abusive priests. Francis has accepted the resignations of two U.S. bishops accused of cover-up, Archbishop John Nienstedt of Minneapolis and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City. However, even members of Francis' abuse commission objected publicly when he appointed a Chilean bishop accused of covering up for the country's most notorious pedophile.

___

8* VATICAN REFORM: Francis was elected on a mandate to restructure the outdated Vatican bureaucracy and reform the scandal-marred Vatican bank. He named nine cardinals from around the globe to advise him and created commissions of inquiry, involving outside experts and consultants, to propose a more efficient, transparent and accountable administration for the church and its assets. Two years on, the biggest change has been the creation of a new Secretariat for the Economy to put the Holy See's finances in order.

9* ENVIRONMENT: Francis became the first pope ever to use scientific data in a major teaching document by calling global warming a largely man-made problem driven by overconsumption in his landmark encyclical “Laudato Si” (Praise Be). In the document, Francis denounced a "structurally perverse" world economic system and an unfettered pursuit of profit that exploits the poor and risks turning the Earth into an "immense pile of filth." He is expected to speak about climate issues at the United Nations. While he has gotten a lot of attention for his encyclical, a long list of popes before him called for better care for God's creation, including Pope Benedict XVI who was dubbed the "green pope" for his environmental initiatives.

10*ABORTION: Francis has upheld church teaching opposing abortion and echoed his predecessors in saying human life is sacred and must be defended. But he has not emphasized the church's position to the extent that his predecessors did, explaining that by now the church's teaching on abortion is well-known and that priests "cannot be obsessed" with preaching only about "a disjointed multitude of doctrines." In an indication of his mercy-over-morals position, he has established a new type of roving confessor, dubbed "missionaries of mercy," who can absolve people of sins reserved to the Holy See, including abortion.

___

11* CAPITALISM: Francis has been accused by some U.S. conservative commentators of Marxist sympathies given his frequent denunciations of economic systems that “idolize” money over people and the failings of the trickle-down economic theory. He has said while globalization has saved many people from poverty "it has condemned many others to die of hunger because it's a selective economic system." Francis has said he's not preaching communism but the Gospel. Pope Benedict XVI voiced the exact same concerns, and in 2009 denounced the profit-at-all-cost mentality blamed for bringing about the global financial meltdown and called for a new world financial order guided by ethics and the search for the common good.

___

12* CELIBACY: Francis said last year that celibacy for priests “is a rule of life, which I highly esteem and I believe is a gift for the church.” But he added, "since it is not a dogma of faith, the door is always open" to discussing the issue. In the book "On Heaven and Earth," the pope, when he was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, said he was in favor of maintaining celibacy "for the moment," but noted the Eastern Rite Catholic church makes celibacy optional.

___

13* CONTRACEPTION: Francis has defended the church’s opposition to artificial contraception, which is enshrined in the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. At the same time, he has said Catholics need not breed "like rabbits" and should instead practice "responsible parenthood" through "licit" methods. The church endorses the Natural Family Planning method, which involves monitoring a woman's cycle to avoid intercourse when she is ovulating. He has also said, though, that any good priest in confession must dispense mercy and take into account the individual needs of couples.

___

14* DEATH PENALTY: Francis has gone beyond his predecessors — and official Catholic Church teaching — in saying there is simply no justification for the death penalty today. He has said it is "inadmissible regardless of how serious the crime." He has called life prison terms a "hidden death penalty" and solitary confinement a "form of torture" — and said both should be abolished. He famously washed the feet of female and Muslim inmates weeks after he was elected. The United States is in the Top 10 list of countries that still execute people, along with China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and North Korea.

___

15* DIVORCE: Francis has divided the church by opening debate on whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion. Church teaching holds that, without a church-issued annulment declaring the initial marriage invalid, these Catholics are committing adultery and thus cannot receive the sacrament. Francis has called for a more merciful approach, insisting that these Catholics are not excommunicated and must be welcomed into the church.

___

16* DRUGS: Francis has called drug addiction “evil” and condemned the legalization of recreational drugs as a flawed and failed experiment. He has said the drug problem cannot be solved by liberalizing laws, as has been done in some U.S. states and many other countries, but by addressing the problem underlying addiction: social inequality and lack of opportunities for young people. Francis has years of personal experience ministering to addicts in the drug-laden slums of the Argentine capital.

(AP) 

Australia’s “Got Talent” Greg Gould Comes Out of the Closet in a ‘Leap’



                                         
 
Coming out rarely takes place with one bold leap out the closet. For 2013 Australia’s Got Talent runner-up Greg Gould, it has been more like tiny footsteps – first considering himself bisexual, then coming out to his family.

With the imminent release of his debut single, Run to You, the 27-year-old is taking one of his last and final steps, by coming out to his fans.

Clean-cut and dressed in a midnight-blue dinner jacket (“blue is my colour,” he says), the singer, from the NSW central coast, comes off as boyish and animated but relaxed. “In other interviews I’ve been more nervous because I’m trying to pander to what I’m not,” he says.

When Gould was just 17 he found himself subjected to the scrutiny of Australian Idol producers, who bluntly asked if he was gay.

In other interviews I’ve been more nervous because I’m trying to pander to what I’m not
When Gould replied, “When I know, I’ll let you know” and that for now he was “label-free”, Mark Holden, the judge, told him: “To be honest, mate, let’s cut to the chase here when you say ‘I’m label-free’, that means ‘I’m gay’. It does, mate.”

Another producer advised the aspiring pop star: “Don’t be too gay.”

Gould never made it past the show’s top 40 round and left the competition feeling deeply disillusioned. “Nope, I can’t do it,” he thought. “I’m not ready to be me, let alone be in this industry.” His father encouraged him to pick up a trade and he reluctantly became a hairdresser.

Advertisement

“My dad was the first person I came out to,” he says, describing his father as an aggressive problem solver. Recognising that his son was troubled, they sat down one day and ran through the list of possibilities: was it school, was he doing drugs?

“And that’s when I said I thought I might be bisexual,” he says.

“His reaction was, ‘Bisexual? So you have a choice! I’m not going to make the decision for you, but if I had to make this decision between a sweaty, meaty man or a gorgeous, voluptuous woman, I know what I’d choose.’”

The singer smiles, then says: “I don’t think I made the same choice.”

It took Gould some time to realise he wasn’t bisexual, he was gay. And even more time to realise he would never be happy as a hairdresser – he was a musician.

When auditions came around for Australia’s Got Talent, it represented a second chance for Gould. He was now 25, more confident and determined not to let his sexuality eclipse his talent. Appearing alongside a six-piece band as Greg Gould and the Chase, his brassy, stage-shaking takes on Prince, Nina Simone and Arthur Hamilton’s Cry Me a River took them all the way to the 2013 finals – nabbing the band the runners-up spot.

Throughout Gould’s run on the show no reference was made to his sexuality. But in the post-reality show scramble for managers and label deals, no one in the industry seemed to know what to do with him. He was consistently told to either hide his sexuality or go the opposite way – become the movement’s poster boy, be “really fabulous”.

“I’m not – ” Gould breaks into a hyper-camp impression, “Hello! I’m going to be the poster boy for gay people! … I’m not that person,” he says emphatically.

And yet, with his ambitious campaign to support marriage equality called #keeprunning (“Now is not the time to slow down, we need to keep running towards marriage equality,” he says) he is becoming a poster boy of sorts. Just without bearing the badge of a “gay musician”, merely a musician who happens to be gay.

When I hear someone say you can’t marry another man, it’s dehumanising
Greg Gould
“I’m a serious artist with real music,” he says. “I’ve got stuff I want to say, I want to sing about.” He is hoping to set an example. “You don’t have to be a certain way to be gay. And you don’t have to be a certain person to be successful.”

Among his musical influences (Tina Arena, Guy Sebastian), he greatly admires the British singer-songwriter Sam Smith, who has been frank about his sexuality and made music that has touched a wider audience. “Sam Smith is huge in Australia, so why don’t we have our own?

“Why can’t I be the next Sam Smith?” he asks. It is more than a rhetorical question. It is a challenge.

He remains frustrated by Australia’s inability to make marriage equality a legal reality. “I’m just sick of these excuses. You can put eggs in any basket but at the end of the day there are people in this country that are adding plenty of value to the community, that have so much love to give, but they’re being denied the right to marry who they love.”

And he views former prime minister Julia Gillard’s change of heart with some scepticism. “When she was in a position of power she could have done something then. I feel like it’s a little bit too late,” he says, although he acknowledges it is a positive step.


 Greg Gould and the Chase on Australia’s Got Talent
“When I hear someone say you can’t marry another man, it’s dehumanising. It’s saying, ‘We can’t give you the same certificate. We can’t credit your love the same as somebody else’s.’”

Would he like to get married one day? “Absolutely. But only if we’re all allowed to do the same thing, we all have the same rights in this country. And hey, I’m not going to be allowed to marry unless they change the law. So hurry up!”
And he adds with a wink. “So if Mr Right is out there … ”

In the meantime, Gould is busy keeping up with the seismic shifts in his career. The power romance ballad Run to You was written by American songwriters Chris Mann and Jared Lee, but Gould says was partly inspired by “the only time I’ve ever been in love” and recorded in Erina on the NSW central coast with Adam Lambert’s band. “I wanted it to be an anthem for love because at the moment we can’t have an anthem for marriage equality – we haven’t got it in this country,” he says.

Just last week Gould moved from the central coast to Sydney and, in making the decision to reveal his sexuality, feels he has broken new ground.

“My whole body had changed, my whole world felt different,” he says. “It felt like I was moving towards something really perfect.”

Monica Tan
The Guardian

September 1, 2015

Monogamy Electronic Dating is Having its Moment



                                                                     

There are lots of ways to cheat online, and maybe the idea of inadvertently hooking up with a smug married on Tinder repulses you. Perhaps you’d be happier on a site that promised you’d meet only fellow commitmentphiles, or at least one that lets you know if that dashing fellow or dimpled blonde is “in a relationship” on Facebook. If you’re already coupled up, maybe you’d be interested in an app that beams your movements and texts straight to your better half’s phone (and vice versa, of course). Turns out you have all these options, and more.

Monogamy may just be having a moment, particularly after the hack of the notorious “Life is short, have an affair” site Ashley Madison, which exposed the names, emails and sexual proclivities of some 30 million members. And why not? Regular dating services have already gained a reputation as cheater minefields. Researchers at GlobalWebIndex just reported that 45 percent of Tinder users worldwide are married or in a relationship, seemingly confirming the long-held suspicions of many users. (Tinder calls that study “totally inaccurate” and says “simple logic” makes its claims impossible, although it didn’t offer data of its own.) Many dating sites, in fact, offer tips about spotting cheaters and forums for discussing them, although most are limited in what they can do about stepper-outers — even if a two-timer gets booted, it’s ridiculously easy to reregister under a new handle and email address.

They cater to the tired, the poor at heart, the huddled masses yearning not to find unexpected sexts on their partner’s phone.
If the Ashley Madison hack “doesn’t fundamentally change the way the serious side of the dating industry conducts business,” says David Evans, a dating service consultant, “then all is for naught.” And there’s a lot of business being conducted — $2.4 billion in 2015, up from $1.6 billion in 2006, according to the market-research firm IBISWorld. It doesn’t take too much poking around to find a surprising number of sites and services catering to the tired, the poor at heart, the huddled masses yearning not to find unexpected sexts on their partner’s phone. Fidelity-first sites claim to offer a safe alternative, especially for folks who found that their partners were seeing other people without letting them know about it. Monogamy sites are a haven for such people; “they’ll reach out for it,” says Danine Manette, author of Ultimate Betrayal, a guide to detecting and surviving infidelity.

There’s certainly an irony here, as a medium infamous for harboring cheaters now also shows an evolving potential to foster more “old-fashioned” relationships. It’s further evidence, in case you needed it, that the digital nature of human relationships continues to shift on what feels like a daily basis. New dating tools could also have bigger real-world ramifications than you’d think. Marital infidelity, some experts say, inflicts serious emotional trauma on the betrayed spouse — in some cases, pain and grief so intense it’s surpassed only by the death of a child, often lingering as a sort of PTSD of the heart.

Fidelity Dating co-founder Gary Spivak is out to prevent that. He was cheated on years ago, after which he dropped serious weight, couldn’t sleep and developed muscle aches so intense they required medication. His seven-month-old service, which claims fewer than 5,000 members, aims to ward off the waywards by asking members to take a fidelity pledge. If you’re looking for an affair, “why would you come to a site for people looking for faithful partners?” Spivak asks.

Invite-only apps like the Dating Lounge, created by a professional matchmaker, also claim they can screen out cheaters (and police them if they slip through). More mainstream apps like Hinge, which connects would-be couples through mutual friends, now explicitly expose people dumb enough to join a dating service while professing to be committed on Facebook. But users can also do some background checking themselves. Women, for instance, can turn to Lulu, an app for dishing about men — their looks, sense of humor and, most important for our purposes, their sense of commitment. Less than a week after the Ashley Madison hack, Lulu saw a 16 percent spike in usage, according to Deborah Singer, Lulu’s vice president of marketing.

And if you’ve already found your lobster and just want to make sure they stay yours, there’s always the option of voluntarily enforcing your monogamy. Some couples already share email and Facebook passwords as a sign of trust, a means of verification or both; soon, there may also be an app for that. It’s still apparently in the concept phase, but a would-be app called Monogamy aims to actually bind your smartphones together, according to its website. (The startup behind it once tweeted that “monogamy is a relationship between” two devices.) That could include beaming your current location and where you’ve been to your partner, as well as informing them if you uninstall the app. No one at Monogamy replied to our request for comment.

Of course, a lot of monogamy marketing may amount to little more than lip service. Many such services use eminently gameable systems — it’s always possible to lie on Fidelity Dating’s pledge or delete your relationship status on Facebook, so branding for commitment doesn’t guarantee a cheater-free zone. Plus, there’s what you might call the empty-of-fish problem: It’s not at all clear how many people will specifically go looking for partners who won’t cheat on them. Apps like Tinder attract everyone, from those looking for their next spouse to those looking for the next hookup. “People often flock to those sites even if they don’t represent what they want, because the pool is so big,” says Logan Levkoff, a relationship expert and author.

But there’s one consolation: Sites like Fidelity Dating will be hacker-proof in a way, Manette suggests. After all, who would care if its members’ information leaked? That wouldn’t be a scandal — the monogamous crowd is “the silenced majority” already, she says.

LIBBY COLEMAN

UK: Lord Montagu Dead at 88 (tried-jailed for being a homosexual)


                                                                        
 Lord Montagu, known for fast cars and for being gay(pic. express.co.uk)
                                                                       
                                                                       

The aristocrat whose trial for consensual homosexual acts helped usher in the end of legal discrimination against gay people has died aged 88.

Determined to avoid being defined by his 1954 ordeal, Edward, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, succeeded in becoming better known  for founding the National Motor Museum at his stately home of Palace House in Beaulieu, Hampshire.

As the chairman of English Heritage from 1984 to 1992, he also played a major role in the preservation of the nation’s historic houses.

But perhaps his greatest contribution to public life was thrust upon him in 1954 when he was arrested and tried amidst a moral panic about homosexuality.

                               

Outwardly a conventional member of the upper classes, with an Eton and Oxford education and a stint in the Grenadier Guards, Lord Montagu led a double life as a bohemian bisexual. In 1954 he was arrested over the disputed events at a party in a beach hut near his estate.

Lord Montagu, who always maintained he was innocent, said the small gathering with his cousin Michael Pitt-Rivers, and his friend Peter Wildeblood – who bought two RAF men Edward McNally and John Reynolds – had involved nothing more than drinks, dancing and some kissing. But it took place in the summer of 1953, amid Establishment paranoia partly fuelled by the defections of the gay spy Guy Burgess. Conservative Home Secretary Sir David Maxwell Fyfe ordered a “new drive against male vice” that would “rid England of this plague”.

Amid what he later described as a “witch hunt”, Lord Montagu was arrested in January 1954. “I will never forget being woken up at 7am with the police banging on the (bedroom) door,” he recalled. “I was in bed alone, may I say.”

The two RAF men were granted immunity from prosecution and became witnesses, suggesting to the court that the party had, in fact, been something approaching an orgy.

FOUNDER OF THE NATIONAL MOTOR MUSEUM, DIES AGED 88

Lord Montagu, Mr Wildeblood and Mr Pitt-Rivers were charged with “conspiracy to incite certain male persons to commit serious offences with male persons” – the first time this charge had been used since the Oscar Wilde trials in 1895. Suspicion grew that the proceedings at Winchester Assizes were really a show trial and the UK’s own anti-homosexual version of  McCarthyism.

Lord Montagu, then 28, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, and his co-defendants were sentenced to 18 months imprisonment. But when  the trio left the court, the  waiting crowd burst into  sympathetic applause. Newspaper editorials spoke of a victimless crime.

Maxwell Fyfe, the Home Secretary who had promised a drive against “male vice”, subsequently felt obliged to appoint a committee under Sir John Wolfenden, the Vice-Chancellor of Reading University, to investigate the law’s treatment of homosexuals. In 1957, this recommended that consenting adult homosexuality should not be a criminal offence. It was a key step towards the legalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales in 1967.

But Lord Montagu did not talk publicly about the case until decades later.

“I didn’t want to be a professional convict,” he said in 2007, “like Lord Archer or [Jonathan] Aitken. If you ever want to recover yourself in the public’s eye, you’ve got to do something else, you’ve got to achieve something. I just felt that the better I could succeed in life, the better I could deal with it.’

So successful was he, that many now know him as the founder of the motor museum that he created in 1952 as a tribute to his father, a pioneering motorist.

He was also a proud custodian of the Beaulieu Estate, which he took over in 1951 at the age of 25 without sufficient income to cover the running costs.

“To any rational being,” he said later. “The wise solution was to get rid of it. For me, however, neither entirely sensible nor rational, that was unthinkable.”

Lord Montagu was first married in 1959 to Belinda Crossley. They had a son, Ralph, in 1961, and a daughter, Mary, in 1964.

Their marriage ended in 1974, after which he wed Fiona Herbert. They had a son, Jonathan, in 1975. His elder son Ralph succeeds to the barony.

August 31, 2015

La’crss Playr Andrew Goldstein with Scott Braeden ‘goalies W/ balls to score NCAA tournament’ and Come Out


"Nothing could prepare me for the numerous text messages I read going to bed one night this past February. My twelve-year-old son’s texts come to my iPad, but I rarely read them. This night, the sheer quantity of them led me to read. They all said the same thing: “Braeden, are you really gay?” Trying to keep calm, I started reading them to my husband, Scott. It was almost midnight and Braeden was fast asleep, but Scott insisted we wake him up and ask him if it was true. When we got him awake enough to ask and he nodded his head in what felt like resignation, pride was the most overwhelming feeling I felt. Fear was what my husband felt. Scott started asking all the wrong questions and when I felt it had gone on long enough, I asked him to leave the room. All I needed to know was that Braeden was okay. He told me that he had known for a few months and didn’t feel like hiding it anymore. I have never felt prouder as a mom. Scott’s pride would come. He just needed time. A My husband, who played lacrosse his whole life, now coached Braeden. The bond this sport gave them was one that Scott had shared with his dad, before he passed away when Scott was 24. Lacrosse is everything to these two guys in my life and Scott thought that his son being gay was going to make that difficult. He thought that Braeden wouldn’t be accepted into the fraternity that had been such a big part of his life” sportingnews.com 
                                                                       
Braeden along with Courage Game co-founders Andrew Goldstein and Nick Welton(ESPN)
 


A DOZEN YEARS AGO, at the age of 20, Andrew Goldstein came out to his Dartmouth College lacrosse teammates. The All-American goalie had struggled with his sexuality since he was 7, and like so many gay and transgender kids, had contemplated suicide.

"I would lie awake thinking, like, 'God, I can't live that life,'" Goldstein says. "'I could hide, I could do this, or I could just end it and no one would ever know.'"

Earlier this year, another young lacrosse player realized that he was gay. Braeden Lange, a 12-year-old from outside Philadelphia, was in a group chat with about 15 people back in February when a friend started making jokes.

"There's nothing wrong with being gay," Braeden responded, "because I am gay."

Later, he explained, "I couldn't hide from the fake me anymore."

Things eventually got so bad that Braeden, too, began talking openly about suicide.

Goldstein's many and varied accomplishments -- on the athletic field, as an eye-opening trailblazer and in the laboratory as Dr. Goldstein -- are extraordinary by any calculus. But his greatest triumph may well have been reaching out, comforting and ultimately saving a desperate 12-year-old boy whom he recognized in himself.

"This is the greatest gift," Goldstein says. "I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world, because I get to have that conversation with the 12-year-old version of myself. I get to see the impact that my story had on someone."

The Lange family has come to a consensus.

"If Andrew hadn't come," Braeden says, "then I probably wouldn't have made it."

Says his father, Scott, "Unequivocally, yes. Andrew saved Braeden's life."




The story begins, as it should, on the field:

Even given the perpetual motion of YouTube, Andrew Goldstein's legs seem to be moving too quickly.

Playing in the cruelest of crucibles, the Syracuse Carrier Dome, before 25,000 fans, Dartmouth College's sophomore lacrosse goalie somehow has plucked Michael Springer's point-blank shot out of the air and starts sprinting up the curiously open left sideline. He veers left to avoid two converging Orangemen and nearly steps out of bounds at midfield before regaining his equilibrium and floating in on disbelieving Syracuse goalie Jay Pfeifer. When a defender hesitates, Goldstein takes two more strides and fires the ball into the far low corner, the toughest spot for the other goalie, who is also a lefty. Pfeifer never moves. Seventy-five yards in 12 seconds.

It's May 11, 2003, and Dartmouth, in the only NCAA men's lacrosse tournament game in school history, has tied the score at 5-5 late in the second quarter. It is the first NCAA tourney goal scored by a goalie in nearly three decades.

Among the 4,000 spectators in the stands, sitting not far from Goldstein's parents, is his new boyfriend, Ethan. Two months later, in something of an epiphany, Goldstein, 20, will come out to his teammates.

The two events, Goldstein says today, were connected.

"A week later I was named All-Ivy League and two weeks after that, All-American and team MVP," Goldstein explained recently in an email. "So I started the summer with a surge of momentum and confidence. It would have almost seemed crazy to not come out after all of that.

"I'm sure scoring the goal helped me have the confidence to come out, just as having a boyfriend for the first time gave me the confidence to score the goal. It was a pretty unbelievable time for someone who had always wanted to be great at sports and had been holding a secret inside for a decade."

As Goldstein would say later, "I guess it takes a gay goalie to have enough balls to score in the NCAA tournament."

Breaking barriers

When the Playboy Magazines came out at summer camp, Goldstein knew he was supposed to feel something. But he didn't. When his friends began having relationships with girls in middle school, he wasn't interested.

"You're trying to fall asleep and you start thinking, 'I'm not like everyone else,'" Goldstein says. "I always imagined that lies and hiding would be a large part of getting through the day."

He did his best to fit in, pretended to be straight, even had a date with a girl. But early in his sophomore year at Milton Academy, in his Massachusetts hometown, he told a friend, Christina.

It was liberating, even thrilling, but Goldstein's secret stayed between the two until July 2003, two months after he scored that groundbreaking goal at Syracuse. On the first day of weight lifting during the summer term, he told defender Matt Nicholson he had a boyfriend.

"Wow, man," Nicholson, who knew Ethan, had the grace to say. "He's hot."

Encouraged, Goldstein asked Nicholson to tell the rest of the team. There were several weeks of awkward uncertainty; initially, Goldstein wouldn't shower with the team after practices and games. He worried that on the team's first road trip that the "unlucky guys who had to be my roommates would complain about sleeping in the same room as the homo." He wondered if anybody would sit next to him on the team bus.

Soon, however, several teammates approached him to apologize for homophobic language and off-color-jokes from the past. They appreciated his toughness in a physically difficult sport and gradually came to accept his sexuality.

In the spring of 2005, two weeks before he graduated from Dartmouth with degrees in biology and biochemistry, ESPN dispatched a crew to Hanover, New Hampshire, to chronicle his story. A handful of notable professional team-sport athletes had come out after their careers ended and, to be sure, there were a number of openly gay athletes in individual sports at the Division I, II and III levels. Still, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound goalie was, the sports network concluded after researching the context, the most accomplished male, team-sport athlete in North America to be openly gay during his playing career.

Later that year he was drafted by the Boston Canons of Major League Lacrosse and eventually played for the Long Island Lizards.

Nearly a decade before American soccer player Robbie Rogers played for the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer, prior to Jason Collins stepping on the court for the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, before Michael Sam, a Missouri defensive end, came out in advance of the 2014 NFL draft, there was Andrew Goldstein.

"Andrew was the first openly gay male athlete to be drafted by a professional sports league in the United States," said Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of Outsports.com. "And then he became the first to play in a professional sports league. So he broke two incredible barriers that years later we attribute to Robbie Rogers and Michael Sam.

"In 2005, the gay community didn't want to talk about sports and the sports community didn't want to talk about gay people. Andrew, being an active athlete at the very top of his game, helped change that. You can no longer say that gay men all just want to listen to show tunes. They can be strong powerful men who play sports as well."

The ESPN profile won a television journalism award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. In March 2006, after a clip of his goal was shown to the audience of several thousand at the Marquee Marriott in Times Square, Goldstein was greeted with a rousing standing ovation -- one that ran longer than the reception for winning director Ang Lee in the wake of his opus "Brokeback Mountain."

In 2013 Goldstein was enshrined in the inaugural class of National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame, joined by, among others, Martina Navratilova, Billie Jean King and Greg Louganis.

Duneier and Goldstein


Today, at 32, Goldstein seems comfortable in his own skin.

A few months ago at a vegan restaurant, Phillip Frankland Lee's Gadarene Swine in Studio City, California, Goldstein delicately leaned back into the arms of his husband, Jamie Duneier, in the process of ordering a half-dozen small plates for the table. The cauliflower, the crisp yucca and the olive stuffed olives -- and two bottles of a crisp Chablis -- were all memorable, but that small, unconscious gesture was the one that confirmed he is happy.

Professionally, Goldstein already has made headlines. His groundbreaking laboratory at UCLA is making startling progress toward a cure of prostate cancer. After interning and working at two of the world's finest institutions in cancer treatment -- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute -- Goldstein moved to UCLA. As a molecular biology Ph.D. student under immunologist Owen Witte, Goldstein was the lead author of a July 2010 paper published in "Science Magazine" that identified a surprising source of prostate cancer.

"When a cell divides, it has to replicate all of its DNA," Goldstein wrote in a lengthy email designed, impossibly, to put his advances in layman's terms. "Sometimes the cell can make a mistake."

In cases of chronic inflammation and the unhealthy state, often caused by obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise, the immune system can miss some of those mistakes, leading to the production of more cells and, with that, more mistakes. When those mistakes reach a critical mass, cancer can develop.

Previously, conventional wisdom held that prostate tumors originated in luminal cells because tumor cells look similar to luminal cells. Under Witte's supervision, Goldstein isolated both luminal and basal cells from healthy human prostate tissue and engineered them to express cancer-promoting genes, called oncogenes. Then the cells were introduced into mice and allowed to grow for several months. Surprisingly, the malignancies did not appear in the expected luminal cells, but in the basal cells. When examined by a pathologist, the tumors that originated in basal cells were similar to those found in male humans, made up of tumor cells that looked like luminal cells.

"It was a simple result but had profound implications for how we think about the development of not just prostate cancer, but cancer in general," Goldstein wrote. "It says that what we see under the microscope doesn't tell us the history of that tumor because cells can change what they look like from one type of cell to another."

The Los Angeles Times and numerous other media outlets lauded the discovery. Goldstein, a rare "first author" as a graduate student, was the "senior author" in another groundbreaking paper published three years later in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This time, Goldstein's lab outlined the discovery that tumors that originated with basal cells could evolve to live without them, which should help researchers in their search for a cure.

None of this surprised his parents, Sue and Irwin Goldstein, who founded San Diego Sexual Medicine in 2007.

Irwin, a respected urologist, was a principal researcher in the early Viagra trials. Sue was a schoolteacher who supported her husband in his dreams of solving people's sexual problems before those dreams became hers, too.

"Taking normal prostate cells and manipulating them, well, that's pretty cool," Irwin said recently. "No one has ever played with the stem cell before, but that doesn't guarantee that doors are going to open."

Still, that story published in "Science" is displayed on the door of his office, Irwin said, "so every human being gets to see it."

Today, with the help of Sue, who is the program coordinator at SDSM and a certified sexuality educator, the two are collaborating in the pioneering trials of flibanserin, the so-called Viagra for women.

Goldstein has inherited his scientific curiosity and virtuosity from his father, as well as his mother's infectious personality and desire to help others.

"He has always been the good boy, the helpful boy," Sue says. "When he came out, he got calls from Oprah and Out Magazine around the same time. Andrew turned down Oprah, telling me he didn't want to be the token regular person next to all those movie stars. He knew he could be a role model to people in the right context. He did the Out interview.

"He got his message out there. He wanted to make a difference."

Coming out at 12

The Lange house, on a leafy street in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania, about 40 miles west of Philadelphia, is a high-energy venue. Scott and Mandy live there with four children: boys Blake, 14, and Braeden, 12; girls Kendall, 10, and Abby, 7; dogs Lucy and Buster; a cat, Duce (named after former Eagles' legend Duce Staley); and two rabbits, Piper and Ziggy.

Lacrosse is the spine of their sporting lives, which is to say their lives in general. Scott's dad, Dick, who grew up on Long Island and went on to score more than 100 goals at Cortland State, coached Scott in youth lacrosse. The son scored 100 goals at West Chester University. Both played attack and wore No. 4. So does Braeden, who is coached by his father and joined in lacrosse by all three siblings. A typical spring week features about 15 practices and games for the entire group. Braeden, who already has a decent command of both hands -- unusual for a kid so young -- plays for three different teams. His goal is to play at Cornell, like his hero, Rob Pannell.

Last fall, Braeden began sixth grade in a new school.

""There are 3,000 men in the four major men's sports in the United States, and right now none of them are out of the closet.""
Brian Sims
"I would notice that a lot of people would make, like, homosexual jokes," he explains. "At the time I didn't know why, but it would offend me, really get to me. And then I realized that I was gay."

He had a girlfriend by the end of 2014, but it didn't feel right. When she texted him, asking when he was going to kiss her, he said he'd do it in March. In retrospect, he seems to have had a plan.

On the night of Feb. 9, his parents were lying in bed upstairs around 11, reviewing Braeden's texts on Mandy's iPad, when they found out.

"They all say the same thing -- are you gay?" Mandy says. "So we go into Braeden's room and ask him, 'Are you gay?' And he nodded his head.

"For me, it was probably the proudest moment of my life as a mother. I can't even put into words how brave it was of him. I mean, he's 12. I was like, 'Cool.' The next day I had my big cry in the laundry room, kind of saying goodbye to the life I thought my son would have."

Scott, on the other hand, says he felt like he had been punched in the gut. There is a list of things that you're not supposed to say in that situation -- and he managed to raise just about every one.

"Hey, maybe this is because of some attention you want to get?"

"You may not want to tell anybody yet because you never know."

"Maybe this is just a phase."

"How can a 12-year-old know?"

"It's pretty simple," Scott says now. "The age that you know that you are interested in girls is the same age that you know you can be interested in boys."

A dark spot

Scott came around pretty quickly and, frankly, the rest of the family wasn't too excited about Braeden's news.

"That's OK," said his older brother Blake after his parents told him. "He's still stupid."

The first few weeks went well enough, but soon those jokes began creeping back into the sixth-grade conversations. One boy at his school told Braeden he was going to hell because being gay wasn't mentioned in the Bible. And then there was the cyber-bullying on the app, Ask.fm. It allows Instagram followers to ask and answer questions anonymously and, with that cloak of invisibility, the comments were brutal.

They said they didn't want to have sleepovers with him anymore because he might have a crush on them. He was called names. One kid wanted to fight him, but said he was afraid of touching him.

"He was just kind of devastated," Mandy says. "He didn't know who he could trust anymore. He went from being cautiously optimistic to, just, Braeden was gone.

"From there he would start talking about suicide, and I knew he wasn't just saying it. My mother committed suicide, so I'd been down that path before."

Scott, too, was terrified.

"He was about as withdrawn as a kid can get," Scott says. "Not leaving his room, crying himself to sleep almost every night. Saying things like, 'I wish I was normal. Why do people treat me differently?' Then he would go on to say he just didn't want to be here anymore. He wanted to kill himself."

Scott had found the statistics on-line: The suicide rate for gay teens is thought to be four times the national average.
"I felt like I was in a corner and I was all alone, even though I was the one pushing people away," Braeden says. "It was, like, a really dark spot for me."



Making a connection

Five weeks after Braeden came out, on March 16, the Langes found Andrew Goldstein.

Mandy remembered seeing a television piece on a gay lacrosse player and within a few minutes she had Googled the ESPN feature. Watching it with Scott, she immediately felt better. Scott, doing further research, discovered Goldstein was a doctor at UCLA. He quickly tracked down his email address.

Goldstein was eating lunch in his laboratory when he opened the email.

"I read just a few sentences," he says, "and it just broke my heart. These parents were watching their kid struggle, progressively watching them lose him, essentially."

When he returned to their then-Topanga home, Goldstein and his husband, Duneier, shot a video out on the back deck for Braeden.

Scott and Mandy showed Braeden the feature when he got home from school and, for the first time in weeks, he smiled.

The video arrived via email after supper.

"You're the bravest kid I've ever heard of," Goldstein told him. "It's a tough road, not every day will be easy. But it's all going to work out, it's going to be all good in the end. I look forward to going to Philly and meeting you."

Braeden, tears in his eyes, was awed.

"It was me saying to myself, 'I'm not alone, because there's other people like me,'" he says. "It really, like, gave me some hope knowing that if he could do it, I could probably do it, too."

Says Mandy: "He got that video, and everything was different. Braeden was back to being Braeden."

Seven days later, a package for Braeden came in the mail. When he opened it, surrounded by the family in the front foyer, it felt like Christmas. It was Goldstein's Long Island Lizards helmet.

The Courage Game

Thank-you notes are often a sign of good parenting, even if they are sometimes written under duress.

A flurry of emails, videos and calls had led to a meeting between the Lange family and Goldstein and Duneier, who were visiting New York City to be with Jamie's family on the upper east side for Passover. A few days before, Scott asked him to write a thank-you note to Goldstein, who also would be celebrating his 32nd birthday. No response. Five minutes later, Scott handed his son a piece of paper and made the request again. Fifteen minutes later, Braeden dropped a full-page, 8½-by-11-inch note in clean, earnest handwriting on Scott's chest and walked out of the room.

"Braeden is not one who has always gone above and beyond -- that's not Braeden's gig," Scott says. "I read his letter and was absolutely blown away."

The end went like this:

Thank you for making me realize that I'm not alone. Your video touched my heart and the day I got that video was the best day of my life. Your video and all of the other ones boosted my confidence to where I felt like I was unstoppable. ... So I wanted to thank you for not only being my role model but for being my friend."

The families had dinner in Times Square, bonding in almost madcap fashion, and Andrew and Braeden had a memorable lacrosse catch in Central Park.

On Memorial Day weekend, Andrew threw Braeden an entire game. On the day before the 2015 Division I lacrosse championship game between Denver and Maryland at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, a few miles away on the campus of Pennsylvania University, several hundred people, gay lacrosse players and their allies, gathered for The Courage Game.

"You want to know how much courage it takes for a 12-year-old boy?" asks Brian Sims. "There are 3,000 men in the four major men's sports in the United States, and right now none of them are out of the closet."



An enduring friendship

The Lange's black refrigerator is an impressionistic montage of their riotous life:

In the upper-right corner there is a picture of Scott -- he says Kevin James, to whom he bears an uncanny resemblance, will play him in the movie -- with Blake, then aged 11, and the trophy he won after he placed third at 95 pounds in his first wrestling tournament. You can see the happy tears in Scott's eyes. Slightly above, framed by a purple puzzle-piece frame, Mandy holds a then-6-month-old Kendall. To the left, Scott proudly holds the championship trophy won by his Gen3 marketing team -- after he scored a behind-the-back goal in overtime in the title game. To the right is a newspaper advertisement for Valotta Studios' summer camps, where Kendall learned to play the guitar. Just above is a photo of Andrew and Jamie, side by side, smiling broadly.

At their new place in Westwood, there is a picture of Braeden and Andrew taken at The Courage Game on a wall in the den. Braeden's framed letter is on a nearby wall and the quilt that Mandy had made of Braeden's lacrosse jerseys hangs on the wall of their bedroom. When Andrew feels a chill in the air, the Freedom Lacrosse sweatshirt, representing Braeden's Pennsylvania club team, comes out of the closet.

Goldstein used to fear that he would never be able to get married and have children, but society has changed appreciably in the past decade or two.

He and Jamie are planning to have a child; there is an extra room in their home for just that reason. Andrew's older sister, Lauren, donated an egg and Jamie provided the sperm. It's already an embryo sitting in a southern California fertility clinic freezer.

A few months ago, not long after the television cameras had left the house, Mandy sat on her living room couch, legs tucked beneath her, and talked about the growing relationship between the Lange family and Andrew and Jamie's and about her plans to visit them this summer in Los Angeles. She had offered, she said, to carry their baby.

"I feel like I owe them one."

The visit occurred earlier this month and, after a number of emotional discussions, “We all agreed it's probably best for our long-term friendship to keep things clean," Goldstein explained*, "and instead hire a surrogate we aren't friends with to carry the baby when we are ready. We thanked them deeply for the incredibly generous offer, but we assured Mandy that she doesn't need to carry our child in order to show her gratitude.

“Our friendship means everything."

  • Greg Garber, Writer, Reporter


    This story appeared today on ESPN adamfoxie intro.

$24. T Shirt or Custom+$

[Pay Pal Accepted + More]

[Pay Pal Accepted + More]
adamfoxie*blogspot.com and Fox Logo

SEARCH This BLOG

Loading...

Amazon SearchBox/ Most Things You buy through here will give us a few cents

The Gay Man in You♥ or Him

The Forest Needs help

ONE (Look for Green PREVIOUS PAGE)

ONE (Look for Green PREVIOUS PAGE)
Relief World Hunger

Save The Lungs of The Earth

Click Here To Get Anything by Amazon- That will keep US Going

DVD's

Blog Archive/White No# Stories per Month/year

Gay Pride

Male Gay Pride Items #1 (Square Banner)

Popular Posts

Everyday at the Movies

Orangutans ARE Part of the Forest