March 31, 2010

Secretary of the Army Says He Will Not Pursue ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Discharges

Secretary of the Army Says He Will Not Pursue ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Discharges
By ELISABETH BUMILLER

WASHINGTON — The secretary of the Army, John M. McHugh, said Wednesday that he was effectively ignoring the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law because he had no intention of pursuing discharges of active-duty service members who have recently told him that they are gay.
Related

A Military Downgrading of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ (March 26, 2010)
Times Topic: Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Mr. McHugh, the Army’s civilian leader and a former Republican congressman from upstate New York, said that he had initiated the conversations with service members in recent months as part of the Pentagon’s review of how best to carry out a repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which requires that gay service members keep their sexual orientation secret or face discharge.

President Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have all called on Congress to repeal the 17-year-old law and allow gay service members to serve openly.

Although Mr. Gates announced revised standards last week that make it harder for the military to discharge service members whose sexual orientation is revealed by third parties, gay men and lesbians who willingly reveal their sexual orientation still face ouster from the military, at least as the law is written.

But Mr. McHugh, who spoke at a breakfast with Pentagon reporters, said it made no sense to pursue discharges of service members as he speaks with them about the change in policy. Mr. Obama, Mr. Gates and Admiral Mullen have all asked commanders to assess opinion within the military about the change in law.

Mr. McHugh said it would be “counterproductive” to “take disciplinary action against someone who spoke with me openly and honestly.” He said the Pentagon was still trying to devise a way to more formally poll large numbers of service members about their views on changing the law.

At the same breakfast, Mr. McHugh also said that a three-star general who was criticized by the Pentagon leadership last week for speaking out against repeal of the law would not receive a letter of reprimand. Instead, Mr. McHugh said the officer, Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, had had numerous conversations with Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army chief of staff, and now recognized that his comments were “inappropriate.”

General Mixon, the commander of Army forces in the Pacific, wrote a letter published on March 8 in Stars and Stripes that urged those who support the current policy to write to their elected officials and lobby the leaders of their units.


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YouTube makeover designed to keep you watching


Editor’s Note: The following article is reprinted from the Today @ PC World blog at PCWorld.com.

Two months after entering beta, YouTube's video page redesign is ready for its close up. Google's video-sharing site first unveiled the makeover in late January, and today the streamlined interface goes live to all users.
The new look comes after a year of planning, and serves two purposes. First, it provides a cleaner UI that's "more subdued, stripped down and simple than before," according to a January blog post by Yahoo designer Julian Frumar and software engineer Igor Kofman. Second, it's designed to improve the site's stickiness by getting visitors to watch more videos and (hopefully) never leave.
The revamped video page is structured to appeal to power users and novices alike. At first glance, the changes are subtle, but longtime YouTubers will spot the changes right off.
Additional information about the clip you're watching has been consolidated in one place—underneath the video window. To see more details about the video, you click an arrow to the right of the description snippet, or in the "views" box.

Better search integration

The "next up" video list on the right side of the screen is now smarter, in that it takes into consideration how you arrived at the site. If you reached the video via search query, for instance, the suggestions list shows the other search results. If you arrived via a playlist or recommendation, however, the list displays other playlist or recommendation suggestions.
In addition, you can now conduct a search while watching a video—a boon for multitaskers. Results appear on the right side of the page and won't interrupt the video.

New ratings

Gone is the old 5-star rating system. Google says that most people used either a "1" or a "5" to rate a video—a love-it-or-hate-it scenario—so the new rating system reflects that by featuring only two buttons: "Like" and "Don't Like." Click "Like," and YouTube adds the video to your favorites list.
The "subscribe" button is easier to find now: Above the video right near the title. This change makes it easier to take a quick peek at other videos from the creator's channel

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Vatican’s French Kiss, Jamaica’s Gay Walk For Tolerance, D.C. Gay Marriages Soar


Political Happy Hour: Vatican’s French Kiss, Jamaica’s Gay Walk For Tolerance, D.C. Gay Marriages Soar

Wed, Mar 31, 2010 by AKA William
Christian group honors Texas AG Greg Abbott – “Marriage is not man-made law. It’s man’s decision to adopt God’s law. Man cannot redefine God’s law, and yet they still try.”
Constance McMillen private prom back on
Indonesian gays threatened with imprisonment for blasphemy
Same-sex couples face higher health costs
D.C. marriage applications soar thanks to gay couples – Marriage applications have skyrocketed since the District started issuing licenses for same-sex couples this month, with droves of gay partners expected to relocate to the city from states where they can’t tie the k

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Mariland Panel Refuses to Impeach AG over Gay Marriage Amendment



MARYLAND HOUSE PANEL REJECTS MOVE TO IMPEACH ATTORNEY GENERAL OVER SAME-SEX MARRIAGE OPINION

As expected, the Maryland House Judiciary Committee today rejected a measure brought by Delegate Don Dwyer to impeach Attorney General Douglas Gansler over his opinion that Maryland should recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
The state House Judiciary Committee, by a 14-6 vote, turned down the measure introduced by Delegate Don Dwyer, R-Anne Arundel, earlier in the day to the state's House of Delegates. Dwyer argued that the entire House should vote on the resolution...The opinion issued in February means agencies in Maryland must now recognize out-of-state gay marriages until the Legislature or courts decide otherwise. 'It is clear that this opinion usurped the authority of the Maryland General Assembly,' Dwyer said while explaining the resolution for more than 10 minutes on the House floor and requesting a vote by the full House. But the House decided it should be referred to the House Judiciary Committee instead. A vote that would have required the entire House of Delegates to vote on the impeachment failed 39-101 after sparking a debate on the issue.
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Jennifer Aston Naked...well waist up

Jennifer Aniston's Body
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NYTimes.com asks: 'Can animals be gay?'

Submitted by Jeff on Wed, 03/31/2010 - 3:43pm
in Advice & Education gay animals

Despite overwhelming evidence supporting existence of gay animals, NYTimes.com shines light on people who believe it's impossible.

NYTimes.com:

“There is still an overall presumption of heterosexuality,” the biologist Bruce Bagemihl told me. “Individuals, populations or species are considered to be entirely heterosexual until proven otherwise.” While this may sound like a reasonable starting point, Bagemihl calls it a “heterosexist bias” and has shown it to be a significant roadblock to understanding the diversity of what animals actually do. In 1999, Baghemihl published “Biological Exuberance,” a book that pulled together a colossal amount of previous piecemeal research and showed how biologists’ biases had marginalized animal homosexuality for the last 150 years — sometimes innocently enough, sometimes in an eruption of anthropomorphic disgust. Courtship behaviors between two animals of the same sex were persistently described in the literature as “mock” or “pseudo” courtship — or just “practice.” Homosexual sex between ostriches was interpreted by one scientist as “a nuisance” that “goes on and on.” One man, studying Mazarine Blue butterflies in Morocco in 1987, regretted having to report “the lurid details of declining moral standards and of horrific sexual offenses” which are “all too often packed” into national newspapers. And a bighorn-sheep biologist confessed in his memoir, “I still cringe at the memory of seeing old D-ram mount S-ram repeatedly.” To think, he wrote, “of those magnificent beasts as ‘queers’ — Oh, God!”

Read more at NYTimes.com...

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Political Parody on Lady GaGa



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You Are So Vain, You Are So Vain " U betcha"


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March 30, 2010

Ricky Martin Buddy, What Took So Long???????


Ricky Martin’s Coming Out. “Congratulations!” Or, “What Took So Long?”

by DAVID BADASH on MARCH 30, 2010 
 
Yesterday I wrote, “Ricky Martin Comes Out: ‘I Am Homosexual.’ In Other News, The Earth Is Round.” The title itself got a lot of guffaws on Twitter and Facebook. But at the end of the piece I wrote,
While I’m happy Ricky Martin has found the strength to come out, I have to ask, what took so long? Everyone must make their own journey at their own pace, but, like Sean Hayes, Ricky Martin was an assumption, and the LGBTQ community needs everyone’s help, now more than ever. Those in the public eye have a responsibility to help their community.”
That part didn’t get as many laughs. Readers were split. So, I thought I’d share my thoughts, and ask you yours.
I embrace, support, and welcome Ricky Martin into our community. I hope he will use his position to support us, just as our community has supported him. I’m sure we’re all happy that he has found himself and the strength to be true to himself.
Everyone’s journey is different and no one can truly understand another person’s choices, pain, or needs. I, myself, will confess I had it pretty easy. In honor of National Coming Out Day last year, in these very pages, I wrote, “How I Never Came Out.” In it, I tell how “I never really had to” come out. A fact that I confess I neglected to consider when I rhetorically asked of Ricky Martin, “what took so long?”
That said, after listening to many readers’ and friends’ responses, here are my thoughts:
Several reminded me that Ricky Martin has a huge Latin fanbase who would not have supported his coming out, saying Ricky Martin himself grew up in a fiercely homophobic, latin, Catholic culture.
My response is, Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, the teen whose body was decapitated, dismembered, and burned in Puerto Rico. The Governor of Puerto Rico, where Ricky Martin grew up, refused to label that despicable act a hate crime, forcing the federal government to threaten to make Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado’s murder one of the first hate crime cases prosecuted under the newly-signed Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. What a great opportunity Ricky Martin had then to speak out against this heinous and despicable act, and throw his support to battling the increase we are seeing in homophobic hate crimes.
Several mentioned that had Ricky Martin come out earlier, his career would have died and he never would have reached stardom, thus rendering him unable to use his star power to help the LGBTQ community. To that, my response is, Ellen DeGeneres, who came out at a time it was not popular to do so, and, though putting a bump in her career, rendered her ultimately more popular and more powerful.
Several mentioned that it takes courage to come out, that perhaps it was just too hard for him. To that, my response is, Constance McMillen, the rural Mississippi eighteen-year old who just wanted to take her girlfriend to her high school prom, and ultimately was scorned and chastised by her classmates. She sued, thanks to the help of the ACLU, and won.
Several mentioned that he needed to come out on his own schedule, when it was comfortable for him. To that, my response is Wanda Sykes, who felt compelled after Prop 8 to do something for her community, and came out to speak publicly about anti-gay rhetoric and hate. Her career certainly hasn’t been hurt — she’s more popular than ever.
While Ricky Martin may be seen by some as a fading icon in America, internationally he is a huge star. Again, to those who say he needed to come out on his own schedule, I think of all the bi-national couples he could have helped. While we’re fighting for the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA,) what better spokesperson than someone like Ricky Martin to help educate the public? I hope now he will choose to use his position to help our community more directly.
A reader reminded me of this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.,
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
I have this final point to offer: Rock Hudson. He was a man, dying of AIDS, with no financial or career concerns left. He had all the friends and money he needed. His coming out as a gay man dying of HIV/AIDS in 1985 would have hastened this country’s move toward understanding and de-stigmatizing the disease that ultimately killed him, and put a face on a disease and a minority that desperately needed help. Instead, he pretended he was straight, went on “Dynasty” as a last attempt to prove the illusion he trying to live was real, and, sadly, died.
Times were different then. Times are different now.
OK. One last point.
If you’re in the public eye, if you chose a career in the media, in entertainment, or even in politics, you make your living from those who vote for you, buy tickets to your shows, movies, concerts, buy your recordings, buy magazines that put your picture on the cover. In short, your entire career exists because of others. Which means you have a responsibility to give something back, to help others in your community, even if it’s hard, even if it hurts a little. To those who do, from the bottom of my heart, I say, “thank you.”
Every day, too many LGBTQ teens, like Derrick Martin, are forced out of their homes, before or after coming out, because of the response they receive from friends and family. Every day, the bigotry machine on the right is working to not only stop us from gaining ground, but to actually roll back our hard-won advances. (A few of the latest examples, the Governor and Attorney General in Virginia who removed LGBTQ protections from state workers and advised public schools and colleges to do the same, and, our marriage loss in Maine.)
In his coming out letter, Ricky Martin wrote,
“This was not supposed to happen 5 or 10 years ago, it is supposed to happen now. Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment.”
That of course is true because it is his life. All I can do is respect that. But I ask others not yet out, make this your time, too.
I’m happy Ricky Martin found the strength to come out, and I sincerely congratulate him. I’m sure his journey, like those of Constance McMillen, Derrick Martin, and countless other youth, and even adults who choose to come out after decades of living in the closet, was not an easy one. But I fervently believe we are all in this together.
To those who are living in the closet, afraid of what they may lose, I urge you to think of how much more you will gain, and I urge you to consider how much good you could do for yourself and for your community, by taking that step to come out, and live proud.
Now, more than ever, we desperately need you.

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DOJ offers full-throated defense of DADT in court


TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 2010



 
There's no indication that the Obama administration is moving forward on the President's promise to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell this year. In fact, all of the evidence is to the contrary -Barney Frank recently said about the White House's approach to repealing DADT: ''They're ducking. Basically, yeah, they're not being supportive." But, the Department of Justice is aggressively defending the constitutionality of the law, even though they don't have to. The latest example is a case brought by Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) back in 2004.

DOJ asked for summary judgment, in order to throw the case out. It's strongest argument is a challenge to the standing of LCR. But, as in the DOMA brief (that invoked incest and pedophilia as a reason the court shouldn't overturn DOMA), DOJ had to go the extra mile to show just how valid the DADT law is. It's hard to miss the section titled:
Because Congress Could Rationally Have Concluded That The DADT Policy Is Necessary To Maintain Unit Cohesion, Accommodate Personal Privacy, and Reduce Sexual Tension For Military Effectiveness, LCR’s Facial Due Process Challenge Fails
They only right-wing talking point they left out is the "we're in two wars" argument.

You'd think by now the Obama administration would have figured out a way to finesse its legal arguments on issues like this this. In fact, you'd think the President would be using his Dept of Justice to fight the constitutionality of DOMA and other legislation that impinged on the civil rights of our citizens. Remember what we learned during the DOMA brief debacle -- the administration can oppose laws that it finds unconstitutional. But when it comes to gays and lesbians, the administration chooses not.

John and I are going through the brief right now, but on particularly egregious portion cites the 1993 testimony of Colin Powell:
General Powell testified that homosexual conduct in units “involves matters of privacy and human sexuality that, . . . if allowed to exist openly in the military, would affect the cohesion and well-being of the force.” 1993 WL 2866446 at 281. He further testified that “it would be prejudicial to good order and discipline” if the military required heterosexuals and persons who demonstrate that they do or are likely to engage in homosexual acts “to share the most private facilities together,” id. at 283, and that “[c]ohesion is strengthened or weakened in the intimate living arrangements we force upon our people. . . . In our society gender differences are not considered conducive to bonding and cohesion within barracks living spaces.” Id. at 278.
That was 1993. Now, the Obama administration's Dept. of Justice may be stuck in 1993, but in 2010, General Powell thinks the law should be repealed:
“In the almost 17 years since the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ legislation was passed, attitudes and circumstances have changed,” General Powell said in a statement issued by his office. He added: “I fully support the new approach presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee this week by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen.”
"Attitudes and circumstances have changed." But, the President Obama's DOJ is still vigorously defending the underlying policies from 1993 to make its legal case -- they're still arguing that gay service members hurt unit cohesion at the same time they claim they want to lift the ban. And they're using people who have already recanted on their previous bigotry.

Here's another example where the administration is happy to parrot the bigoted arguments used to pass DADT in the first place:
The Ninth Circuit in Philips continued by acknowledging that “we cannot say that the Navy’s concerns are based on ‘mere negative attitudes, or fear, unsubstantiated by factors which are properly cognizable’ by the military. Nor can
we say that avoiding sexual tensions lacks any ‘footing in the realities’ of the Naval environment in which Philips served.”
Ah, so anti-gay prejudice isn't just based on fear or negative attitudes. That's helpful.

Then there's the "barracks and showers" argument, aka "forced intimacy. The Obama administration had a field day with that one.
These rules are necessitated by, among other things, “[t]he worldwide deployment of United States military forces, the international responsibilities of the United States, and the potential for involvement of the armed forces in actual combat routinely [which] make it necessary for members of the armed forces involuntarily to accept living conditions and working conditions that are often spartan, primitive, and characterized by forced intimacy with little or no privacy.” Id. § 654(a)(12). Congress’s policy judgment culminated, as noted, in its finding that “[t]he presence in the armed forces of
persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”
It goes on, a lot. Like the pages where the Obama administration tries to minimize the impact of the historic Lawrence v. Texas case. It's probably our most significantly legal victory in decades, if not ever. Just as in the DOMA brief, the administration is attempting to limit our ability to use other legal victories to expand our civil rights. That is simply unacceptable. They should be on our side, not fighting to thwart our civil rights challeneges.

If only the people charged with ending DADT, starting with White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, were as assertive and aggressive as the lawyers at DOJ who defend the law. As Richard Socarides, a former senior advisers to President Clinton put it:
They seem to have a pretty strong plan to defend the law, and no plan whatsoever to repeal it.
The DOJ brief is below. I'm sure the usual apologists will jump to the defense of the Obama administration, even as it becomes more and more clear that the Obama administration has no intention of working to repeal DADT, or enacting ENDA, or repealing DOMA. This also begs the question of what the DOJ's LGBT liaison, Matt Nosanchuk, does all day. Didn't this set off some warning bells? Perhaps he has as much sway as the LGBT liaison at the White House, Brian Bond -- which isn't much.

We did not elect a Democratic president so that he could go to court and undercut our most important civil rights cases

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