March 3, 2015

LGBT Rights Are Finally Recognized as Human Rights by the U.S. Government



Secretary of State John Kerry announced Feb. 23 that Randy Berry, current U.S. consul general in the Netherlands, would begin serving as the United States’ first Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT Persons.   
In his new role, Berry, an openly gay senior diplomat, is expected to advocate for LGBT rights worldwide, focusing on the more than 75 countries in which same-sex relationships remain illegal, according to a Feb. 23 statement from the U.S. Department of State. Berry will be responsible for making efforts to decrease instances of discrimination and violence against LGBT people across the world in addition to promoting international equality for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. 
“Defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT persons is at the core of our commitment to advancing human rights globally—the heart and conscience of our diplomacy,” Kerry said in the statement.
Berry’s new appointment comes at a time when the nation’s LGBT community has seen progress in its ongoing fight for equality. There is still a great deal of work to be done, but much of the United States population and its lawmakers have become more accepting of LGBT people and their rights since President Barack Obama publicly advocated for the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2012. 
Previously, Obama was open about his opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act—which allowed states to ignore same-sex marriages legally granted by other states—as well as his determination to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” The president’s statements in support of marriage equality as well as general equality for LGBT people inspired a sweeping change in attitude from the long-standing mindset of politicians in considering LGBT rights separate from human rights. 
“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,” Obama said in the 2012 interview.
Despite the government’s apparent interest in pushing progress for the LGBT community, a massive oversight on the part of news organizations including Time, came with several media outlets reported Berry’s new title as “envoy for LGBT rights,” though the statement from the U.S. Department of State clearly labeled the position as “Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBT persons.” 
Referring to Berry’s title in its entirety may be a mouthful, and as a reporter and editor, I find it understandable why some news outlets might think it is acceptable to shorten the official name of Berry’s position. However, what those news outlets seem to have overlooked is that the U.S. Department of State made a calculated choice to use that specific phrasing in Berry’s title in an effort to make clear the distinction that his position is intended to promote human rights for LGBT people and to spread what appears to be the United States government’s newfound recognition of LGBT rights as human rights. 
As a nation that loves to tout itself as one that leads—or attempts to lead—its fellow nations, this new position is symbolic of more than just a change in Berry’s employment, but of a deeper societal transition in the United States and other nations. The position is symbolic of the United States’ continuing progress toward recognizing human rights for all its citizens. Advocating for an end to violence and discrimination against LGBT people is an admirable goal for 
the government. 
A large part of the nation is still populated with individuals who strongly disagree with marriage equality and other LGBT rights initiatives, but the U.S. government and its politicians should take pride in the decision to implement this international initiative if they want to consider the United States a leading nation. 
All people are entitled to their own religious and spiritual beliefs, and many Americans still oppose same-sex relationships, but they should not interfere with the safety and rights of LGBT people. The United States government is well overdue in recognizing this in a serious and productive way. 
The United States continues to take pride in being a leading, progressive nation, but often those terms have been used in ways that are simply inaccurate. However, acknowledging the rights of the country’s and the world’s LGBT people as human rights is a step in the right direction and is definitely an initiative a leading nation should pursue. 

Putin Tries to Block UN Gay Employees Families from Getting Benefits


Last June, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a far-reaching administrative ruling that offered marital benefits for the first time to all of the United Nations’ lesbian and gay employees, as well as to other U.N. workers who had entered legally recognized domestic partnerships. On Monday, March 2, Russia gave the plan a resounding nyet.

Speaking Monday morning at a meeting of the U.N.’s main budget committee, a Russian diplomat demanded that Ban reverse his decision on the matter, saying the U.N. chief’s action violated a U.N. General Assembly resolution that left it to U.N. employees’ governments to determine whether are eligible for spousal benefits. Moscow has been weighing whether to force a vote in the budget committee, known as the Fifth Committee, to halt funding such benefits, a vote that it likely could win. Unlike the U.N. Security Council, the United States and other big powers don’t have the power to veto votes in the Fifth Committee. While its decisions are generally made by consensus, states can call for a vote.
“We will insist that the secretary-general urgently revoke the administrative bulletin” expanding benefits to same-sex couples, the Russian diplomat told the committee.“We will insist that the secretary-general urgently revoke the administrative bulletin” expanding benefits to same-sex couples, the Russian diplomat told the committee.

Russia’s critics characterized the gambit as a cynical political maneuver aimed at checking the authority of a U.N. leader who has clashed with Moscow over its policies from Syria to Ukraine. Russia has transformed what is by all accounts a low-priority administrative dispute into a high-profile power struggle with the U.N. leader.

Russia “is looking for any excuse to curtail the U.N. secretary-general’s authority,” said Jessica Stern, the executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. “It’s no secret that the secretary-general and Russia have been at cross-purposes over Ukraine and Syria, and the Russians have found the perfect political vehicle for attacking him.”

Philippe Bolopion, the U.N. representative for Human Rights Watch, said U.N. member states “should push back hard against Russia’s backwards efforts to impose on the U.N. the same kind of homophobic attitudes Moscow promotes at home.”

The Russian move comes several weeks after its diplomats distributed a memo, known as an aide-mémoire, to all U.N. members arguing that Ban’s action “violates the sovereign rights of members states to determine the legal framework of [the] life of their citizens.” Moscow said the move would make U.N. states that do not recognize same-sex marriages liable for the costs of some of those additional benefits and increase the likelihood of fraud. Under the new arrangement, according to the Russian memo, “each staff member who is not married can easily register sham traditional or same-sex marriage and can get additional dependency allowances.”

The European Union and the United States challenged the Russian position, saying the U.N. secretary-general had the authority to extend benefits for employees in domestic partnerships without seeking the approval of U.N. member states. “The secretary-general, as the head of this organization, has broad authority to manage U.N. staff under his authority, and we will protect his prerogatives in this manner,” Isobel Coleman, the U.S. representative to the United Nations for management and reform, told the U.N. budget committee Monday. “This should not be a forum for member states to undermine essential rights with respect to race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

U.N. officials say the Russian initiative, were it to succeed, could have an impact well beyond same-sex marriages, risking benefits for children adopted in a foreign country.

The U.N. first tackled benefits for same-sex couples in January 2004, when then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued an administrative order, known as a bulletin, that extended benefits to spouses in “domestic partnerships” as long as the union was considered legal in the staff member’s country.

The decision drew protests from conservative states, including the Vatican, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (now called the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), a bloc consisting of 56 Islamic countries. They pressured the U.N. to reissue a new bulletin, stripping out any references to domestic partnerships and reinforcing the need for a U.N. employee to secure his or her government’s approval to receive spousal benefits.

The new bulletin, adopted in September 2004, still allowed U.N. employees from countries where same-sex marriage was legal to receive benefits for their spouses. But it gave conservative countries a virtual veto over their nationals’ ability to receive such benefits, even if they were married in a place like New York or Paris, where same-sex marriage is recognized by the state.

The arrangement, according to U.N. officials, proved inherently discriminatory, denying benefits to U.N. employees who had the misfortune of being born in countries where same-sex marriage is outlawed. U.N. lawyers also feared it would set the stage for legal challenges within the organization. In June, Ban sought to rectify the situation, issuing a new bulletin that took the exclusive power to determine an employee’s eligibility for benefits out of the hands of his or her government. Instead, the U.N. will now look to the “competent authority” — that is, the city, country, or church or synagogue — that recognized the domestic partnership in the first place.

Russia, which has taken a harsher stance on gay rights under President Vladimir Putin, has only recently joined the fight, according to U.N. officials and human rights groups. In its memo, Russia raised concern about the “financial and legal implications” of the U.N.’s policy. But an internal U.N. review turned up only one case since Ban issued his administrative ruling last June in which a U.N. employee claimed benefits for a same-sex marriage, according to a senior U.N. official.

20 Million Wives in China are ‘Tonqi’ to a Gay Man

After her marriage was over, just looking at a wedding photo would make Qiu Xuan feel awful. The 29-year-old, a video editor at a communications company in Guangzhou, could tell by the picture that she wasn’t half of a happy couple that day, even though she was the one wearing a white veil.


The term “beard” to describe a woman who is used, knowingly or unknowingly, to disguise her partner’s homosexuality has been used as slang in the United States for many decades.

But acknowledgement that such marriages even happen is a recent phenomena in China. In China, a “beard” is known straightforwardly as a  同妻(Tongqi), or ““homowife”—the abbreviation of “the wife of a homosexual” in Chinese.

There are millions of gay men married to women in China, academics believe. According to an estimate by Zhang Beichuan, one of the first Chinese scholars to study sexuality, China has 20 million male homosexuals of marriageable age—and 80% of them will marry a woman. In contrast, according to a 2010 Economist report, 15 to 20% of gay men in America have married heterosexual women.

The women in these marriages are quietly becoming an unlikely force in China’s nascent gay-rights movement. If men are free to openly have relationships with other men, sham marriages like theirs will no longer happen, they say. Being “homosexual is not wrong,” said Qiu in an interview. “What’s wrong is to marry a heterosexual to make a tragedy.”

Why China has millions of “homowives”

Liu Jie, a 25-year-old homosexual interior decorator from Shantou, Guangdong Province, has thought of entering into a gay-straight marriage, because, like many Chinese of marrying age, he’s under a lot of pressure from his parents. “They said they would have nothing to worry about in their lives once I got married. How can I come out of the closet to them?” Liu said to Quartz.

“Among three ways of being an unfilial son, the most serious is to have no heir,” argued Mencius, an ancient Confucian philosopher. The idea is still ingrained in modern China; men are under social pressure to marry and produce a male heir to carry on the family line. Though new generations are more open-minded, many still believe that to marry and have children are the two most important things in life, whether they are gay or straight.

For women who unknowingly marry gay men, a divorce can be difficult to obtain, and can leave them much worse off financially. Qiu, the video editor, got a divorce and custody of her 9-month-old daughter after court mediation. Her husband agreed to pay alimony of 700 yuan, or $114, per month, which, according to Qiu, accounts for less than 20% of his monthly income. Qiu only agreed to the terms, she said, because her husband’s family refused to let her see her daughter otherwise.

Qiu said the court had rejected her appeal for further compensation, because she could not prove her husband had an extramarital affair. “He has never admitted he is gay, although everyone knows about that,” Qiu said.

“A person who has a spouse but cohabits with another person” is one of the circumstances listed in China’s marriage law that allows a husband or wife to file for divorce, and demand compensation from the other party, but in its judicial interpretation, the “another person” only refers to “the opposite sex.”

“If a man and a woman get a room [in the hotel], we can say it’s an extramarital affair; but if it is two men, we can say nothing,” said Liu, 35, a judge from Shenzhen who agreed to speak on the matter if he was identified only by his surname.

Growing awareness, and activism

Some women in China unknowingly married to a gay man are openly choosing to maintain a nominal marriage to give their children a stable family. Jiang Xinyi, a 24-year-old software engineer from Shanghai, who has been counseling women married to gay men since 2009, said this was a common alternative to divorce and separation. “They draw three ground rules for their husbands: Have sex [with their wives], take care of the family, and look after the child.”

Other arrangements are springing up as well—like the “cooperative marriage” or “xinghun,” in which a lesbian woman and gay man agree to marry to appease their parents.

Jiang first learned there were other women in similar marriages fromChina’s first homowives meeting in 2009. Then a university student, she found the women who had attended the meeting online and joined their chat group on QQ, a popular Chinese instant messaging software.

After watching other women share their ordeals and comfort each other in the chat group, Jiang volunteered to establish and operate new groups for newcomers.

Now Jiang runs three QQ chat groups, which have over 200 members in total, and a social media account on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblog site. She also helps these women get legal advice and speak out to the public. She named the volunteer organization Hibiscus Flower, which she said stands for tenacity and vitality.

“Homowives” and their supporters are getting more vocal about their own situations, and the need for China to become more accepting of homosexuality. Zhang Ziwei, a 27-year-old corporate secretary from Nanchang, southeast China’s Jiangxi Province, who dated a gay man three years ago, now manages a QQ chat group on the topic with more than one hundred members. She is translating two books—My Husband Is Gay and When Your Spouse Comes Out, written by Carol Grever, an American woman who married a gay man—into Chinese. After she finishes, she plans to send them to other women in her situation, because there are no such books in China.

One woman who was formerly married to a gay man, who calls herself “Little Delan,” dressed in a bridal gown to seek marriage at the Qixi Festival, China’s Valentines’ Day, in August, 2014 on the the streets of Quanzhou, the largest city in southeastern Fujian Province. She told Chinese media that, besides finding the right man, she wanted to raise awareness about homowives, and the need for China to offer homosexuals equal rights and legalize gay marriage.

A 51-year-old retired worker from Zhengzhou, central China’s Henan Province, who only wants to be identified by her online nickname, Aunt Moon, has been volunteering at Hibiscus Flower since she helped her niece get out of a gay-straight marriage four years ago.

“I don’t have a high literacy level, but I am gentle, and willing to talk,” said Aunt Moon, who has had volunteer experience at the Red Cross Society of China.

Among the thousands who attended Hong Kong’s annual gay rights parade in November, Aunt Moon and the three women she was with became a peculiar scene with their different identities and pursuits from the gay marchers. During the march, they held up placards that read: “My husband is gay. I am in pain.”

Aunt Moon said she thought it may have been the first time that women married to gay men in China took part in a gay rights demonstration. She said the parade was a chance for them to increase people’s awareness about their fate. She wishes the gay rights movements to succeed as well: “the more prosperous the better,” she said. Little Delan also appeared at the Hong Kong parade, again in a bridal gown.

Yet a tune of discord hung over the event. A group of gay participants from Hong Kong drew people’s attention by holding a red flag, like the ones that police use during protests to tell demonstrators to halt, that read: “Stop discriminating or we will marry a woman and hehe [be gay] in the dark.”

“The threatening slogan helps nothing. It will only harm their image,” Aunt Moon said. “If they want to achieve marital rights, they must face up to homowives.”

Three women married to gay men attended the last annual PFLAG China meeting, the gay support group’s co-founder told Quartz. Their involvement isn’t without controversy. “Ideally we should stand in the same trench to fight against biases from the society,” co-founder Aqiang said. But being a “homowife is only a transitional identity—after they find a heterosexual man and get married, they are no longer homowives.” Aqiang said, “I don’t expect them to do much.”

“What they want is to solve their own problems,” he added. “They are often emotional, critical and angry. We can’t hear the husbands’ voices in their cases.”

The future of gay marriage in China

Same-sex marriage is now legally recognized in 16 countries, and 33 states in America. China is not on the list. Li Yinhe, a sociologist and sexologist who has been trying to legalize homosexual marriage since 2000, has failed each time. Li, who has been in a relationship with a transgender man for many years, said she has been unable to get the 30 cosponsors necessary for the idea to be discussed at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which advises the government on issues that should become law.

The government, Li said, thinks it is an idea that is ahead of its time.

“Homosexual marriage had been brought up when the marriage law was revised in the 1980s,” Yang Lixin, a law professor at Renmin University of China, told Quartz, “but the society was deemed not prepared.” Yang said next time the marriage law is revised, homosexual marriage might be legalized, but when that will occur, “only the heads of the legislature know.”

Until then, expect millions more unhappy couples to tie the knot.


March 2, 2015

Gay Actor Russell Tovey of “Looking” Says He is Glad he is not Gay ‘Effeminate'


Before I go into the story let me say that Russell Tovey has been out of the closet and has been a good supporter for gay and HIV causes. I expect but hope it doesn’t materialize a fire storm of criticism from the gay community.  On his defense I will say non effeminate gays tend to like others that are non effeminate and sometimes in the past have been critical of the more effeminate or sometimes called “girlish” or “queen” gays. I think sometimes is forgotten that this is the community  that has always taken the blunt of the abuse, murder and criticism from homophobes and sometimes from fractions of the community itself. 
Famous people are always on the public eye even if at times they think they are talking to friends or people they take as trustworthy. I hope we have patience with him and just take this was a teaching moment with him and the community as a whole, knowing that we will only advance if we treat each other with respect and dignity knowing that we are different even within the community.

One of the stars of the HBO gay drama Looking has angered some in the gay community with comments that highlight prejudice within the LGBT community.
Russell Tovey is an actor who happens to be gay, stars in series about gay men, and has been a victim of a knife attack because he says he was wearing a cardigan in a town where men didn’t wear cardigans.
Now Tovey is being the bully. He’s essentially putting down other men who wear cardigans, or in his words “effeminate” men.
“I feel like I could have been really effeminate, if I hadn’t gone to the school I went to. Where I felt like I had to toughen up,” Tovey told the Guardian
“If I’d have been able to relax, prance around, sing in the street, I might be a different person now. I thank my dad for that, for not allowing me to go down that path,” Tovey goes on to say.
It’s a classic case of the oppressed becoming the oppressor.

Looking fans acknowledge Tovey is entitled to his own opinions but say his comments are damaging.
 Looking has been celebrated for showing the diversity and complexity of gay men. The weekly 30-minute series includes images of muscular gay rugby-playing men as well as not-so-muscular bearded men who prance around and sing in the street.

But in a single interview Tovey has dismantled the progress shows like Looking have made.
What’s sad is that Tovey gets it. He’s been the victim of bullying and understands the psychological and emotional trauma it can cause.

“If they’d asked for my wallet or phone I would have understood it. But it wasn’t anything to do with that. They just wanted to fucking hurt me,” Tovey told the Guardian. “For years afterwards I was left with an insecurity.”

GOP Gives Formal Recognition to Log Cabin Republicans


In a historic move, the California Republican Party on Sunday officially recognized a gay GOP group.

The Log Cabin Republicans, a 38-year-old organization that had unsuccessfully sought a charter from the state party several times in the past, received the formal imprimatur on a 861-293 vote at the party’s biannual convention in Sacramento.

It is among the first gay groups officially sanctioned by a state Republican Party.

“It would have been the complete opposite 15 years ago,” said Gesicki, who also turned in a proxy vote from former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado supporting the recognition. “The fringe does not control the party anymore. We truly are a big tent once again.”

Charles Moran, chairman of the Log Cabin California chapter, was visibly emotional after Sunday’s vote.

“I’m personally overwhelmed,” he said, noting that he got his start in politics as a staffer at the state party in 1999. “This is the culmination of a 15-year journey for me.”

The move comes as attitudes toward homosexuality and same-sex marriage have shifted across the United States. A February CNN poll found 42% of Republicans favored same-sex marriage, a sharp increase from previous polls. 


Log Cabin was founded in California 38 years ago and was the first gay GOP group in the country. It and other groups have sparred with Republican officials and conservative leaders over the years, and received varying levels of acceptance.

The national Log Cabin group was once again turned down as a sponsor for last week’s Conservative Political Action Committee gathering in Maryland, but its executive director was invited to speak on a panel. In Texas last year, two gay Republican groups were barred from having a booth at a state party convention.

Tolerance in California has been greater. Last year, GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari marched in a San Diego gay-pride parade, the first statewide Republican candidate to do so. Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, who is considering a run for U.S. Senate, supports same-sex marriage. The Log Cabin Luau, at which attendees don rainbow-colored leis and sip Mai Tais, is among the best-attended parties at state GOP conventions.

Moran and his supporters had cited the work that his members did in several competitive election contests last year to argue that the group deserves a party charter.

“We’ve earned our street cred,” Moran said Saturday.

The group worked for two years to make sure its application aligned with party bylaws.

“A lot of us knew we were Republican before we knew we were gay, so this is home for us,” he said.

With the recognition, “the left will not be able to say to us anymore, ‘The Republican Party doesn’t want you.' "

The group’s effort received support from longtime GOP leaders, including national committee member Shawn Steel, former state party chairman Bob Naylor and Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita).

“The Log Cabin Republicans have given their time, money and resources to this party time and time again, and we have given them nothing in return,” said Nathan Miller, chairman of the California Young Republican Federation, a group for young professionals that is chartered by the state party. “This vote is not about orientation, it’s about participation.”

Opposition came from social conservatives, who said the move violated the party’s values.

Andrew Levy, a delegate from Sacramento, said the decision to grant the recognition was an affront to his Jewish faith.

“People supported the Republican Party because they’re strong on family values,” Levy said, adding that the embrace of the gay group undermined his trust in the GOP.

John Briscoe, president of the socially conservative California Republican Assembly, pointed to Log Cabin’s support of same-sex marriage.

“I have a hard time understanding how we’re going to charter an organization that’s in opposition to our platform,” he said during the debate.

The party’s official platform says homosexuality is unacceptable.

“We believe public policy and education should not be exploited to present or teach homosexuality as an acceptable ‘alternative’ lifestyle. We oppose same-sex partner benefits, child custody, and adoption,” the platform says.

Some opponents said Log Cabin's proposal was sneaked onto the convention agenda without notice, and that the group violates the party’s by-laws, which forbid the recognition of organizations focused on “lifestyle preferences.”

“The only thing I ask is this body stand on the rules we’ve supported for two decades that say there is a process to change the rules and the bylaws,” Assemblywoman Shannon Grove repeatedly pleaded during the hearing.

State party chairman Jim Brulte replied that he had followed the rules -- by forwarding the group’s application to the volunteer organizations committee, which on Saturday voted to unanimously send the proposal to the floor for a vote.

The Sunday morning debate and vote count took nearly an hour. Five people were allowed to testify in support, and five in opposition. Though the debate was largely civil, there were a few testy outbursts, mostly on points of order, prompting Brulte to admonish at one point: “Everyone take a deep breath.”

Times staff writer Melanie Mason contributed to this report.

Twitter: @LATSeema

How Gay came to be Gays


The word “gay” seems to have its origins around the 12th century in England, derived from the Old French word ‘gai’, which in turn was probably derived from a Germanic word, though that isn’t completely known.  The word’s original meaning meant something to the effect of “joyful”, “carefree”, “full of mirth”, or “bright and showy”.
However, around the early parts of the 17th century, the word began to be associated with immorality.  By the mid 17th century, according to an Oxford dictionary definition at the time, the meaning of the word had changed to mean  “addicted to pleasures and dissipations.  Often euphemistically: Of loose and immoral life”.  This is an extension of one of the original meanings of “carefree”, meaning more or less uninhibited.
Fast-forward to the 19th century and the word gay referred to a woman who was a prostitute and a gay man was someone who slept with a lot of women, often prostitutes.  Sort of ironical that today a gay man doesn’t sleep with women.   Also at this time, the phrase “gay it” meant to have sex.
With these new definitions, the original meanings of “carefree”, “joyful”, and “bright and showy” were still around; so the word was not exclusively used to refer to prostitutes or a promiscuous man.  Those were just accepted definitions, along with the other meanings of the word.
Around the 1920s and 1930s, however, the word started to have a new meaning.  In terms of the sexual meaning of the word, a “gay man” no longer just meant a man who had sex with a lot of women, but now started to refer to men who had sex with other men.  There was also another word “gey cat” at this time which meant a homosexual boy.
By 1955, the word gay now officially acquired the new added definition of meaning homosexual males.  Gay men themselves seem to have been behind the driving thrust for this new definition as they felt (and most still do), that “homosexual” is much too clinical sounding and is often thought of as offensive among gay people due to sounding like a disorder.  As such, it was common amongst themselves to refer to one another as “gay” decades before this was a commonly known definition (reportedly homosexual men were calling one another gay as early as the 1920s).  At this time, homosexual women were referred to as lesbians, not gay.  Although women could still be called gay if they were prostitutes as that meaning had not yet 100% disappeared.
Since then, gay, meaning homosexual male, has steadily driven out all the other definitions that have floated about through time and of course also has gradually begun supplementing the word ‘lesbian’ as referring to women who are homosexual.
Not satisfied with simply changing its definition once a century, as early as the 1980s a new definition for the word gay started popping up among American youth where now something gay could either mean a homosexual or something that is “lame” or “stupid” or the like.  This new definition was originally almost exclusively meant as an insulting term, derogatorily referencing homosexuals.
However, according to a report done by the BBC, most children are still using the word to mean “lame”, but now with having nothing to do with sexuality of any sort and also not generally meant as an insulting term against homosexuals.  
Now it is used more to the effect of just saying, for instance, “That movie was gay” as in stupid, but having nothing to do with homosexuality in their minds and not generally directed at people (thus not supposedly meant to be offensive to the gay community).  Whereas the origins of this new “lame” or “stupid” definition were most definitely meant to be insulting and were primarily directed at people.
The abstract noun ‘gaiety’ has somehow largely steered clear of having any sort of sexual connotation as with the word “gay”.  It still keeps its definition as meaning something to the effect of “festive”.Male homosexuality was illegal in Britain until the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967.  Because even mentioning someone was a homosexual was so offensive at the time in England, people who were thought to be gay were referred to as “sporty” with girls and “artistic” for boys.
Bringing Up Baby in 1938 was the first film to use the word gay to mean homosexual.  Cary Grant, in one scene, ended up having to wear a lady’s feathery robe.  When another character asks about why he is wearing that, he responds an ad-libbed line “Because I just went gay”. 
At the time, mainstream audiences didn’t get the reference so the line was thought popularly to have meant something to the effect of “I just decided to be carefree.

March 1, 2015

Paying Tribute to Leonard Nimoy, The President, JJ Abrams and Zachary Quinto

Following the death of actor Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed Mr. Spock on Star Trek, countless tributes have poured in for the man who popularized the phrase "Live long and prosper." Among those remembering Nimoy’s legacy are astronauts, scientists, writers, sci-fi fans, fellow actors and directors and even President Barack Obama, who wrote in a statement from the White House, “I loved Spock." 

"Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy. Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time. And of course, Leonard was Spock. Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the center of Star Trek's optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity's future," Obama wrote. "In 2007, I had the chance to meet Leonard in person. It was only logical to greet him with the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for 'Live long and prosper.' And after 83 years on this planet – and on his visits to many others – it's clear Leonard Nimoy did just that. Michelle and I join his family, friends, and countless fans who miss him so dearly today.”

Zachary Quinto, who took over the role of Spock in the Star Trek reboot and acted alongside Nimoy in two films thanks to the films' time-twisting plot lines, shared on his Instagram, "My heart is broken. I love you profoundly my dear friend. And I will miss you every day. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Nimoy passed away Friday at his home in Los Angeles after a long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 83. In a handwritten noteStar Trek director J.J. Abrams penned, "Dearest Leonard. What a man you were. What a life you lived. As funny and thoughtful and generous and loving as you were talented. You taught us all, at every encounter. We will miss and love you forever.”

A trio of Star Trek captains also remembered their fallen comrade. "It is with sadness that I heard of Leonard Nimoy's death. I was lucky to spend many happy, inspiring hours with him. He won't be forgotten," tweeted Patrick Stewart, who played Jean-Luc Picard on the TV spin-off Star Trek: The Next Generation. Following news of Nimoy's death, his longtime co-star William Shatner wrote, "I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love." Chris Pine, who portrays Captain Kirk in the Star Trek cinematic reboot, tweeted simply, “ he world has become a darker place."       
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Never has an Israeli PM Create Such Controversy on a Visit to Congress


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is just days away from landing in Washington, where a storm is raging over his plans to address a joint session of Congress.
A few dozen Democrats plan to skip the speech, the White House isn't done blasting the prime minister and Republicans -- especially presidential hopefuls -- are using it all as red meat.
In Israel, meanwhile, Netanyahu's visit has added an extra layer to an already contentious election season.
Why has this become such a massive fiasco? And what does this mean for the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship?
Let's dive in.
1. Isn't support for Israel rock solid in Congress? Why has an Israeli prime minister's visit become so controversial?
The controversy first started because of two words: protocol and snub.
    House Speaker John Boehner's announcement that Netanyahu would be addressing Congress took the White House by surprise.
    Boehner barely gave the White House any heads up and neither did Netanyahu.
    U.S.-Israeli relations strained by Netanyahu speech  02:09
    That's despite several high-level interactions between U.S. and Israeli officials in the lead-up to the announcement, interactions that included a phone callbetween Netanyahu and President Barack Obama and a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and the Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer. 
    That last meeting took place for several hours, the day before Boehner announced the visit.
    It didn't take long for White House officials to call the move a breach of protocol and a snub by Israelis who were enjoying the backing of U.S. officials as Palestinians pressed their case through international institutions.
    And then there was the politics of it. Boehner made the invitation soon after Republicans assumed control of both Houses of Congress — and the day after Obama announced in his State of the Union that he would veto the Iran sanctions Republican members are seeking. The invitation had the appearance of scoring partisan political points.
    2. Okay, so White House officials felt like Netanyahu and Boehner plotted behind Obama's back. But this has got to be about more than a snub, right?
    Well, Netanyahu won't be lecturing Congress on any old topic.
    Instead, he'll stake out a hardline position on Iran and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, warning lawmakers that ongoing negotiations with Tehran are moving in a dangerous direction -- a lobbying push that Obama implored Netanyahu not to make in the phone call that came just over a week before the visit was announced. 
    In the process, Netanyahu is expected to stake out a position that undercuts almost every aspect of Obama's approach to dealing with Iran.
    That's provoked a strong reaction from many Democrats, who say it's inappropriate for a foreign leader to counter the President's foreign policy in such a high-profile forum.
    3. So why is Netanyahu insistent on coming to Congress now?
    For starters, it's for the same reason he's facing so much pushback from the White House.
    The United States and five other world powers negotiating with Iranian diplomats in Geneva have a late March deadline to reach a framework agreement on curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions. 
    The Obama administration has invested massive amounts of political capital into negotiations even the president concedes have just about a 50-50 chance of success.
    Frayed edges showing in U.S.- Israel relationship  02:26
    But Netanyahu is convinced the Obama administration would accept a bad deal rather than come away empty-handed, warning recently that the agreement in the works would allow Iran to preserve far too many centrifuges. Netanyahu would like to see Iran give up all its nuclear enrichment capacity, a demand no one considers realistic.
    "I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with the President, but because I must fulfill my obligation to speak up on a matter that affects the very survival of my country," Netanyahu said recently in a televised statement, explaining that he needs to lay out his "profound disagreement" with the U.S. and its negotiating partners over the nuclear talks. 
    Netanyahu added that he needs to address lawmakers before the March deadline "because Congress might have a role with an important nuclear deal with Iran." Specifically, there are two bills in the works that could gum up a deal — one on more sanctions and the other demanding congressional approval of any agreement. 
    4. It's not the first time Netanyahu and Obama have been at odds over Iran, is it?
    Nope. Obama has repeatedly insisted he would rather take no deal than a bad deal with Iran. But Netanyahu, Republicans and some Democratic lawmakers have claimed Obama is going too soft, too soon.
    With the help of a dozen Democrats, Republicans unsuccessfully tried to push a bill through Congress last year that would have hit Iran with additional sanctions in the midst of negotiations.
    With a new majority in their hands, Republicans renewed that push in January with a watered-down bill that casts the specter of additional sanctions over Iran if it failed to come to the table.
    Netanyahu has supported ratcheting up sanctions on Iran, but Obama and his State Department negotiators have insisted it could bolster hardliners in Iran and push Iran away -- rather than closer to -- a peaceful end to Iran's nuclear program.
    5. What else is driving Netanyahu?
    Israelis will head to the polls just two weeks after Netanyahu addresses Congress and Netanyahu is leaning heavily on a strong national security platform to remain prime minister and keep his party in power.
    Netanyahu has been active on Twitter in the last month, posting about the existential threat a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to Israel and playing up his defiant stance in heading to Congress to defend Israel in the face of opposition from even the President of the United States.
    Speaking of which, the White House announced that Obama will not meet with Netanyahu during his trip to Washington due to the proximity of the Israeli elections.
    While Netanyahu's circle has denied that the elections play a role in his decision to make the controversial visit, there's no doubt the prime minister will be able to play up his address to Congress in the home stretch of the campaign season.
    6. Will there be lasting damage to the U.S.-Israel relationship?
    Probably not.
    The question on everyone's minds in Washington is whether U.S. support for Israel is now becoming a partisan issue. 
    While several Democrats will be skipping Netanyahu's speech and National Security Adviser Susan Rice recently called Netanyahu's address "destructive" to the U.S.-Israel relationship, widespread support for Israel is unlikely to wane anytime soon.
    Opposition to certain policies -- like settlement building in the West Bank -- may be gaining strength, but shifting Democratic views and the recent tensions provoked by Netanyahu's impending visit haven't affected U.S. military assistance and diplomatic support for Israel (and aren't likely to).
    Despite the personal tensions, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel has remained close throughout Obama's tenure -- and Israeli officials like to emphasize that ties between the two countries have never been stronger.
    However, the deep disagreements on Iran mean that there could be a divergence on a significant policy issue. There have been reports of some breaks in what has traditionally been intensive consultations on the matter.
    And though the U.S. has showed no sign of backing away from its defense of Israel in places like the U.N. where the Palestinians enjoy wide support, a nasty, politicized spat between Israeli and American leaders doesn’t exactly boost Israel's standing.



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