May 31, 2010

Culprits are Going to Hell

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican prosecutor of clerical sex abuse warned perpetrators on Saturday that they would suffer damnation in hell that would be worse than the death penalty.
The Rev. Charles Scicluna, a Maltese priest who is a top official at the Vatican's morality office, led a special "make amends" prayer service in St. Peter's Basilica.
Seminarians and other pontifical university students in Rome wanted to gather for prayers for the victims of clergy abuse and for the healing of the church's wounds from the scandal over its concealment of abuse.

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On Osprey event Staten Island, Dozens are injured-Watch Video

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Pelosi was key to 'Don't ask' deal

Pelosi key to 'Don't ask' deal

Former servicemembers participate in a news conference to discuss an effort to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'
Some gay rights activists found the Obama administration's slower approach to repeal untenable.AP
In a May 17 conference call, Pelosi told a phalanx of gay rights groups that she was committed to ending the don’t ask, don’t tell policy by the end of the year, according to participants. At a fundraiser for Equality California last Friday, she proclaimed she felt “quite certain” that the policy would “be a memory come Christmas.”
On Monday, Pelosi’s aides and other congressional staff huddled with aides from the White House and the Pentagon to hammer out acceptable legislative language and the details of a letter exchange between proponents of repeal and the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget — the keeper of administration legislative policies.
At the same time, according to a Democratic leadership aide, gay rights activists were meeting with officials at the White House.
The letters, released by the White House on Monday night, make clear that the administration’s original plan — to wait for the results of a Pentagon review before pushing for a legislative repeal of the policy — had fallen by the wayside. That approach would have spared conservative lawmakers a tough vote on reversing the policy — which some argue would help keep the Democratic majority. But it frustrated gay rights activists who have been upset with Democratic leaders for not addressing their legislative agenda as quickly as they desired.
“They got the message, I think, actually really from Pelosi that [Congress was] going to try to do this with or without the White House. ... They could be part of it or not be part of it,” said Richard Socarides, liaison to the gay community under President Bill Clinton. “She figured if Congress tried to get something done and failed, the White House would be blamed. If it tried to get something done and succeeded, and they stood on the sidelines, they’d look like jerks, and it would sort of make the president look bad. It was her leadership and her willingness to be out in front on this at the end that forced their hand.”

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PrEP? That's What Researchers Found Was the Answer From Gay Men

MedicationsThere's some more bad news for HIV-prevention folks out of Science Daily. The outlet is reporting the results of a study of 105 Boston area men who have sex with men in which the participants were asked about various potential prevention methods involving anti-retroviral medication applications.
Here's the breakdown. Of those involved in the study (all of whom admitted to unprotected receptive anal intercourse with a person they knew was HIV positive, or were unsure of the status of the partner in the last year), 44.8 percent knew about post exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Now, PEP has been shown to be extremely effective in preventing new infections, and requires a 28-day course of anti-retroviral medications administered within 72 hours of exposure. The sooner it is started, the better the outcomes, studies show.
The second prevention idea presented to participants was pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and the study found only 20 percent of participants had heard of the intervention. In this program, high risk populations take ARVs for days prior to potential exposure to HIV. The intervention is currently in a large scale study in South Africa, and the United States. Some results from that study are expected this summer, and final study results will be released late this year or early next.
Interestingly, when participants were given information about PrEP and also about anti-retroviral microbicides (which are not even into clinical trials yet), 60 percent said they would use one or both.
Todd Heywood

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Transgender Candidate Doesn't Support LGBT Rights

Transgender Candidate Doesn't Support LGBT Rights

Donna Milo, a Cuban-American, conservative Republican is running to replace a Democrat, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Milo is not your average Congressional candidate and is an especially surprising candidate for a Republican Congressional seat. Milo is a transgender woman.
Why is a transgender woman running as a Republican? There are certainly more aspects of politics than LGBT rights, and Milo has a wide range of conservative beliefs. But is it a conflict for someone in the LGBT community to run for Congress as a Republican?
Of course, there is nothing wrong with someone in the LGBT community being a part of the Republican party. Someone's sexual orientation or gender identity only relates to one aspect of political beliefs — LGBT equality. Transgender people face many challenges and are often misunderstood by the general public, and Milo should relate to these challenges. As someone who has experienced life as a transgender person firsthand, Milo should support equal rights for LGBT people, whether running as a Republican or Democrat.
That's why it's surprising that Milo is not just running as a Republican, but she's also opposed to certain policies when it comes equal rights for LGBT people, including marriage equality. Given her situation, her beliefs seem a little contradictory. Milo herself has been married, in what many would consider a gay marriage. Why is gay marriage acceptable in her personal life, but not good enough for others?
At age 19 and before transitioning, Milo married her high school girlfriend, Isabel. They have two children, who are now 25 and 22 years old. Many people — and the Florida government — would consider this a heterosexual marriage, since Milo had not yet come out as transgender or transitioned. But as a transgender person, one would expect Donna to realize that gender identity is more meaningful than biological sex. If Donna's true self is acknowledged, she was already part of a gay marriage. And if Donna Milo ever wanted to remarry, Florida law would only allow her to marry another woman.
One would expect that a transgender Republican Congressional candidate could show that Republicans can support equality, too. But Milo has seemingly turned her back on the LGBT community. She is resting on the privileges she's had to get married, go through the transition process, and live as a transgender woman, without helping other LGBT people who want the same for themselves.
Photo credit: Abeeeer

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Anchors Aweigh (But Not if You're Gay)

Anchors Aweigh (But Not if You're Gay)

Manhattan women are all dressed in satin, so the fellows say,
There's just one thing necessary in Manhattan,
When you just have one day,
Gotta pick up a date, maybe seven or eight,
By your way, in just one day.
Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and the other guy in On the Townsure do make Fleet Week sound romantic, don't they? This week the streets of Manhattan are teeming with young Navy and Coast Guard enlistees. But some are learning the hard way that New York, well, it's a hell of a town.
They all look so young, too young to know with any certainty about sexual orientation or what it takes to be a good soldier. They travel in packs, and flirt with girls and drink a little. Ten years ago, as a bartender in the Village, I sweet talked a young recruit into giving me his sailor cap. It was a fun, flirty moment for everyone involved and ultimately harmless. It's what Fleet Week is all about. But it also highlights what it means to be a young man discovering his sexuality while serving our country. And for some, it's no walk in the park.
Pretend for a minute, that you're an eighteen-year old man and you've just joined the Navy. When you joined you knew about DADT but thought, I won't have to deal with it, or maybe I will, but how hard could it be, I just won't tell anyone. And then, there you are in New York City, perhaps the biggest city you've ever visited and this is what you see: boys holding hands with boys, lesbian moms, rainbow flags in storefront windows, the Gay City paper. In general, the vibe is a level of acceptance not seen in places like, well, the Navy and the Coast Guard. And something in you clicks.
You are out with your navy buddies, who all want to go to Scores. You are not interested. You are thinking about checking out Christopher Street because you've never seen anything like it. You want to see where the Stonewall riots changed the course of gay history. You are considering, for the first time in your life, that you just might be gay, and you're in the perfect city to safely explore.
Except you are in full naval dress whites. And for the next twenty years, if you decide that a military career is right for you, you spend every single day watching your buddies live their lives, meet their spouses, and welcome their children while you remain buried in secrecy. These aren't things the average recruit probably ever considers.
I can't imagine joining the military knowing it would mean complete separation of personal and private, a 24-hour job of damage control and masquerading, an entire career (and one already rife with stress and emotional challenges) spent scrambling to cover up who you love. This is the psychological torture that is "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." And it's so much more nefarious than anyone ever knew.
There are a number of events scheduled around the city this weekend to continue the push toward repeal.  The momentum is building, but the road ahead is steep. Hopefully this time next year, some lucky bartender in the Village can harmlessly sweet talk his way into winning the cap of a handsome young sailor.
Photo credit: Rev Stan

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HIV Death Panel

As Florida Announces ADAP Waiting List, Heat Turns Up on Obama Admin
The Obama Administration seems to have a back-log of gay-related legislative issues to tackle.
Most recently emerging is the call to increase ADAP funding. ADAP stands for
The AIDS Drug Assistance Program – a means for low-income persons to obtain
life-saving HIV medications.
Because ADAP funding has remained constant but the number of persons seeking
assistance has grown by 25%, there are shortages in coverage. According to
Tom Liberti, Chief of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS at the Department of Health in
Florida, “the 2011 health care reforms should benefit and help us tremendously
 but we’re not there yet and we can’t gauge exactly how significant those changes will be.”
Worrisome news is floating around about those states which have introduced an
 ADAP waiting list. This is one method of restricting services that the state of
Florida will be implementing on June 1. South Carolina, which already had a waiting list
 for ADAP recipients has been slashing the state’s contributions to the program.
The House of Representatives in South Carolina even tried to push a complete cut of all
state funding to ADAP but this “solution” to S.C.’s budget problems was denied by the
Senate on Tuesday the 26. This would have represented a hostile “drop dead” approach to
dealing with HIV/AIDS patients and the pervasive fear is that some legislators in Florida
might find that appealing as well.
The example of South Carolina, where people have already died waiting for life-saving
medication is being seen by some as a bellwether for Florida, which cut state contributions
by $1 million last year. Liberti disagrees – he says that he “[doesn’t] expect anyone to go
without treatment.”
“There are all kinds of situations in which we would not deny someone their treatment,”
says Liberti, “For instance, if you are a pregnant woman or a pediatric/adolescent patient
or you’re undergoing chemotherapy.”
Liberti says that “you can’t just look at the fact that someone died while on an ADAP
waiting list in another state and draw too many conclusions from something like that.
Perhaps they were in advanced stages of the disease or died from other health complications.
They didn’t necessarily die from a lack of treatment.”
When asked if the possibility for discrimination against gay men was a possibility,
Liberti didn’t seem to think so. “There is no discrimination in the Florida Department of Health.
We have been advocating and caring for people without prejudice for many, many years.
I work with a number of gay people in my department,” Liberti affirms. However,
there is no official non-discrimination policy in the department.
“But there are always people who fall through the cracks in situations like this,” says
 Michael Rajner,
South Florida’s leading independent HIV/AIDS advocate. “There are people who
 can’t make their
appointments or don’t have the resources available to them to seek other services
that the state provides.”
Some patients feel that the government and its myriad of federal and local agencies
are naïve when it
comes to understanding how easily they can fall through those cracks.
One anonymous patient says
 “It’s been difficult to work or do anything else with my life since I spend so
much time waiting to
 fill out forms and apply for various services just to get the medication I need.
And what they don’t tell you
is that you are punished for missing an appointment by being put on the back burner.
We’re also expected
 to keep perfect records and have all the necessary documentation for everything.
 It’s a headache to say the least.”
“If any additional funds could help me get my medication faster so I can get back to work,”
the patient continues,
“then we need to tell Obama, or Congress or whoever that South Florida
really needs those funds... like, yesterday"...

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