January 19, 2019

Behind The Back of The Vice-Cheney Family

The Cheneys at former Vice President Dick Cheney's swearing-in in 2005
The Cheneys at former Vice President Dick Cheney's swearing-in in 2005


As the Dick Cheney biopic Vice draws to a close, it leaves viewers with one of its most emotional scenes: Mary Cheney, the former vice president’s younger daughter, sobbing on the phone to her parents after her older sister has publicly rejected her marriage to her longtime partner, a woman.

Vice, written and directed by Adam McKay, takes some liberties with the life and rise of the VP — but, sobbing or no, the feud it dramatizes in the Cheney family over Mary’s sexual orientation was very much real.

The conflict, which fractured the notoriously close family five years ago, is back in the spotlight thanks to the film, which has drawn serious awards notice and is likely to keep the Cheneys in the headlines through the Oscars.

Here, according to previous PEOPLE reports, other news accounts and statements from the Cheneys themselves, is the true story behind their fight, the crux of which was love — familial and romantic.

Growing up, the Cheney daughters were a vivacious and personable duo: together on the road, handing out pamphlets and swag at campaign events.

“We were as close as sisters can be,” Mary recalled in her 2006 memoir, Now It’s My Turn.

Related: How Vice Director Feels About Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner’s Abrupt Exit During Their Screening

While a junior in high school, Mary came out to her family as gay. Her parents responded with affirmations, though her mother said she was wary of a future made potentially harder by the world’s homophobia. 

Long before Liz entered the political arena herself, where she ultimately renounced gay marriage, the vice president seemed to have mastered a tricky balancing act. A leading Republican at a time when the party was campaigning on forbidding gay marriage, he voiced support for Mary, who was then in a longterm relationship with her later wife, Heather Poe.

Still, Cheney made clear his views were personal and he took no sweeping political action, couching the question of same-sex marriage as a states’ rights issue.

The Cheney family 

“Lynne and I have a gay daughter, so it’s an issue our family is very familiar with,” he explained to supporters at a campaign rally in Iowa, adding, “With the respect to the question of relationships, my general view is freedom means freedom for everyone. People … ought to be free to enter into any kind of relationship they want to.”

Mary, who’d worked as an aide to her dad and as the director of vice presidential operations, told PEOPLE in 2006 that President Bush had said he “would understand if I wanted to put out a statement.”

She decided to remain silent. “For me, that would have been so inappropriate,” she told PEOPLE. “I signed on to be a staffer; I didn’t sign on to express my own point of view.”

RELATED: Mary Cheney Opens Up on Her Dad and Gay Marriage

Soon after leaving office, in a 2009 speech to the National Press Club, Vice President Cheney affirmed his personal position on same-sex marriage amid ongoing campaigns to outlaw it across the country.

“The question of whether or not there ought to be a federal statue that governs this, I don’t support,” he said. “I do believe that historically the way marriage has been regulated is at the state level. It has always been a state issue, and I think that’s the way it ought to be handled today.”

Three years later, in 2012, Mary married Poe with their two children, Samuel, then 5, and 2-year-old Sarah, in attendance.

The couple met decades earlier while playing ice hockey, according to The Washington Post. Mary was the goalie and Poe was playing defense on an opposing team.

Mary’s parents issued a congratulatory statement following their union. 

But it was not her absence from the ceremony that would ultimately make so many headlines. About a year later, the rupture of the sisters’ bond took center stage after Liz launched a campaign for U.S. Senate in the Cheneys’ home state of Wyoming.

A hopeful for the Republican nomination in a deeply red part of the country, Liz began to receive angry messages and TV attack ads that accused her of “aggressively promot[ing] gay marriage,” Politico reported.

In response, Liz declared the opposite was true, upsetting the family’s longtime united front on the issue of Mary’s sexuality.

“I am strongly pro-life and I am not pro-gay marriage,” she said.

Liz went on Fox News Sunday and reiterated her stance on same-sex marriage — this time mentioning her sister by name.

“I love Mary very much, I love her family very much. This is just an issue on which we disagree,” she said in November 2013.

Mary and Poe, watching the episode from their home in Northern Virginia, were moved to respond. “Liz — this isn’t just an issue on which we disagree, you’re just wrong — and on the wrong side of history,” Mary wrote on Facebook.

She told a commenter on her Facebook that her sister’s politics “treat my family as second class citizens.”

“This isn’t like a disagreement over grazing fees or what to do about Iran,” she wrote. “There isn’t a lot of gray here.”

In her own social media post, Poe described the betrayal of Liz’s denunciation, raising the specter of a ruthlessness that put politics before family

“Liz has been a guest in our home, has spent time and shared holidays with our children,” Poe wrote. “To have her now say she doesn’t support our right to marry is offensive to say the least. I can’t help but wonder how Liz would feel if, as she moved from state to state, she discovered that her family was protected in one but not the other.”

At the time the sisters reportedly had not spoken in several months.

The Cheneys at former Vice President Dick Cheney's swearing-in in 2005
The former vice president, who had been heavily involved with his daughter’s Senate run, issued a statement with his wife supporting Liz while describing the sisters’ disagreement as a difficult and private family matter.

“This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public. Since it has, one thing should be clear. Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage,” the Cheneys said.

“She has also always treated her sister and her sister’s family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done,” they continued. “Compassion is called for, even when there is disagreement about such a fundamental matter and Liz’s many kindnesses shouldn’t be used to distort her position.”

Despite her father’s backing, Liz’s campaign fell short. She soon withdrew from the race, citing family health concerns, but later successfully ran for Wyoming’s long seat in the House of Representatives. She is now the No. 3 Republican there.

It remains unclear whether the sisters ever reconciled, following Liz’s public position against her younger sister. The family did not return requests for comment from the Post for an article last month.

Asked by Politico In 2015, if she and her sister had mended their relationship, Mary replied, “I don’t have to answer that.”

She was more circumspect two years earlier, before her sister gave up her bid for the Senate. That’s when she told Politico she wasn’t supporting her sister’s campaign but couldn’t even if she wanted to, as she was registered to vote in Virginia.

She signed off one email to the outlet with a note of indifference about Liz, a message made warmer only because it wasn’t as angry as she sometimes felt: “I am not saying I hope she loses.”

Gay Artists in Beautiful Paris Stage a Look Back

An image from “The Scarlet Letter,” loosely inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel, at the Théâtre de la Colline.CreditSimon Gosselin

By Laura Cappelle

PARIS — Two related scenes are currently playing out in theaters here. In “Les Idoles” (“The Idols”), at the Odéon — Théâtre de l’Europe, the actress Marina Foïs recounts in detail the death of the philosopher Michel Foucault, in 1984, of an AIDS-related illness. At the Espace Cardin, Foucault’s homosexuality is seen through the eyes of his first biographer, the sociologist Didier Eribon, in “Retour à Reims” (“Returning to Reims”).

In both productions, prominent French gay artists reclaim their pasts with striking honesty. “Retour à Reims,” staged by the German director Thomas Ostermeier, is based on Mr. Eribon’s 2009 memoir-cum-essay about his working-class roots, while the writer and director Christophe Honoré looks back at the artistic heroes — those “idols” — he lost to AIDS in his youth.

Mr. Honoré may be better known for films including “Love Songs,” but his theater work is in some ways more ambitious and original. His recent plays have brought real individuals back to life and imagined, with the benefit of hindsight, how they might have interacted: “Nouveau Roman,” in 2012, focused on the 20th-century French literary movement of the same name; “Les Idoles” brings together six writers and filmmakers who died between 1989 and 1994.

Extensive research clearly went into the play, but Mr. Honoré doesn’t strive for truthfulness. He isn’t preoccupied with physical likeness, for starters, and regularly casts women in male roles onstage. In “Les Idoles,” Ms. Foïs plays Hervé Guibert, whose autobiographical novel “To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life” evoked Foucault’s last days, while the part of the filmmaker Jacques Demy is taken with gusto by Marlène Saldana, in a fur coat and heels. 

Some of the characters in “Les Idoles” enjoy more public recognition than others. Mr. Demy is one of them, and the playwrights Jean-Luc Lagarce and Bernard-Marie Koltès are both revered names on the French stage. A creation about them might easily have turned into a series of reverential obituaries, but Mr. Honoré gives “Les Idoles” a welcome lightness of touch.

The men are portrayed as witty, imperfect individuals rather than austere icons to be worshiped. They are as likely to launch into a dance number as they are to debate the attributes of the ideal lover: Ms. Saldana’s rendition of “Chanson d’un jour d’été,” from Mr. Demy’s musical film “The Young Girls of Rochefort,” is an unlikely highlight.

The play still brings up unsettling questions about the ways in which the AIDS crisis affected the arts community, in France and beyond. If some of those who died had survived, would their legacy be perceived differently today? Did artists who were sick have a duty to speak up, or was staying in the closet — as Mr. Demy did — an acceptable choice? Throughout, Mr. Honoré contrasts the crusade by Elizabeth Taylor (also played by Ms. Saldana) to raise awareness of the disease and funds for research in the United States with the relative public discretion of artists in France.

The cast contributes expertly tragicomic performances in a production that acts as a lucid, intimate “adieu” to a formative era for Mr. Honoré. When the filmmaker Cyril Collard is left alone at the end, calling out the names of his dead peers only to be met with silence, the void they left behind is palpable. 

From left, Irène Jacob, Blade M.C. Alimbaye and Cédric Eeckhout in “Retour à Reims” at the Espace Cardin/Théâtre de la Ville.CreditMathilda Olmi
Mr. Eribon’s “Retour à Reims” is even more personal, but it doesn’t translate as easily to the stage. Mr. Ostermeier, who leads Berlin’s Schaubühne theater, has acknowledged there is “nothing theatrical” about the book, which intertwines autobiography and social theory. Regardless, the director has tackled it in three languages: He first adapted it in 2017 with the actress Nina Hoss, who performed it in English and in German, and has now brought a French version to Paris. 

It’s a spare, unhurried experience. Irène Jacob, replacing Ms. Hoss, plays a voice-over artist working on a documentary inspired by Mr. Eribon’s experiences. For 45 minutes or so, she merely reads from the book as the fictional documentary — which includes footage of Mr. Eribon and his aging mother — unfolds on a screen above her head. Slowly, however, disagreements about the project arise with the filmmaker who hired her, played by Cédric Eeckhout.

Mr. Ostermeier originally designed the production to allow Ms. Hoss to touch on her own father’s political career in Germany, and the French version feels like a compromise of sorts. In the lead role, Ms. Jacob objects to some of Mr. Eeckhout’s cuts in the text and to the use of footage from the recent “yellow vest” protests in France to illustrate a point about the far right, but her character otherwise lacks a strong identity.

The film is only intermittently revelatory, too, giving this “Retour à Reims” a disjointed feel. Although the production marks the first appearance of the yellow vests in French theater, they are discussed only in passing. A third character, played by Blade M. C. Alimbaye, is present throughout and performs a couple of songs, yet a key story — of his African grandfather, who fought for France in World War II — isn’t introduced until the last 10 minutes.  

The visceral force of Ms. Liddell’s confessional monologues has salvaged many of her productions. Not so here. In attempting to react to the social mood, the director and performer, who describes herself as a “recluse,” bites off more than she can chew. “I don’t like this world where women have stopped loving men,” she says early on. “No woman loves enough anymore.” This sets the scene for rants so misogynistic that they would probably land a male performer in artistic exile.

In any event, “The Scarlet Letter” proves so over the top that Ms. Liddell’s ode to the superiority of men mostly prompted awkward laughs at one recent performance at the Théâtre de la Colline. The contrast with “Saison Sèche” couldn’t be starker. In Ms. Ménard’s latest work, seven women were trapped under a white ceiling that moved up and down. Their way out was to slowly take on the appearance of men, in the style of drag kings, until the walls around them began to visibly erode and crumble.

With no text, this metaphor for the glass ceiling relied entirely on Ms. Ménard’s taut staging and precise physical direction. Her vision comes across with increasing clarity these days, just as #MeToo has brought her staunchly feminist stance closer to the mainstream. This might just be a banner year for her.

An image from “The Scarlet Letter,” loosely inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel, at the Théâtre de la Colline.CreditSimon Gosselin
The new year in Paris has also featured two female directors at odds with each other. While Phia Ménard, a Frenchwoman, channeled the feminist anger that crystallized in #MeToo in “Saison Sèche” (“Dry Season”), the polarizing Spanish director Angelica Liddell rails against the same movement in “The Scarlet Letter,” loosely inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel.

Les Idoles
Les Idoles. Directed by Christophe Honoré. Odéon — Théâtre de l’Europe, through Feb. 1.
Retour à Reims. Directed by Thomas Ostermeier. Espace Cardin/Théâtre de la Ville, through Feb. 16.
Saison Sèche. Directed by Phia Ménard; was at MC93.
The Scarlet Letter. Directed by Angelica Liddell. Théâtre de la Colline, through Jan. 26.

January 18, 2019

Puerto Rico: Trump wants His Paper Towels Back

Political cartoon

Political cartoon

300 Ft. Deep Down Trapped in a Well Lies a 2Yr Old Boy in Spain

Image result for well in spain 2 year old trapped
 300 ft down a boy lies, Everyone hopes alive

The well is over 300 feet deep, but less than a foot wide. And somewhere in its depths a 2-year-old boy is believed to be trapped.

Frantic efforts to rescue the toddler, Julen Roselló, have been underway in the countryside northeast of the port city of Málaga after he was said to have slipped down the well while his parents were preparing Sunday lunch.

About 100 rescuers have been working at the site, covered round-the-clock by the Spanish news media, while Julen’s father has made repeated pleas on television for every effort to be made to find his son alive.

On Wednesday, the authorities in southern Spain announced that according to a preliminary DNA test, hair found in mud excavated from the well was the boy’s, confirming his presence. He is believed to be more than 250 feet underground, beneath earth dislodged by his fall. 

The rescue operation includes specialists dispatched from Asturias, the coal mining region of northern Spain, as well as a Swedish company that provided the technology to help save 33 Chilean miners trapped for two months underground in 2010.

To reach Julen, rescuers are drilling two separate tunnels, one of which runs closely parallel to the well while the other is designed to open an alternative horizontal access route, using as a starting point a platform excavated into the hillside near the well.

They are also using special machinery to remove earth that is blocking access to the deepest section of the well, and installing a tube inside the shaft to reduce the risk of more earth falling into the well.

José Roselló, Julen’s father, told reporters that “we have an angel that will help my son come out alive as soon as possible.” Julen’s parents already lost their first son, who died when he was 3 from a congenital heart defect.

María Gámez, a local official in Málaga, told reporters on Wednesday that preliminary DNA testing was conducted on hair found within some of the muddy earth extracted from the well, which amounted to the first “scientific evidence” confirming that Julen was down below. 

Jesús Esteban Gutiérrez, a colonel from Spain’s military police, told local news media that a dozen teams were involved in the rescue operation, but the police had also received over 60 additional offers of help from companies worldwide. “We’ve lost count,” he said.

The media spotlight on the rescue operation in southern Spain is reminiscent of that triggered by past efforts, like the one last year that saved 12 boys and their soccer coach who were trapped for more than two weeks in a flooded cave system in Thailand.

Another hopeful parallel may be the case of Jessica McClure, who fell down an abandoned well in Texas as an 18-month-old in 1987, and remained trapped for 58 hours until rescuers completed a parallel shaft and pulled her out. She was caked with dirt, but healthy.

Image result for well in spain 2 year old trapped


Born in Grand Rapids, Vet From Fighting in Afghanistan But The Sheriff Turned Him in To ICE for Deportation



 Jilmar Ramos-Gomez

As an American Citizen I am ashame when I see these injustices for people that love this county. While drugs and trains of paying illegal immigrants cross underneath electrical lit tunnels and are dropped off at their destination indifferent about walls at the border. Meanwhile an ageing baby president insist in keeping the government shut as you read this. This is what some people elected for the rest of us. They call it democracy, I call it racism and the wish to go back to what things were before the the 1960's. Everything in it's place. Brown with brown, white bathroom for white only. Black, gays and other that don't fit the mold burning and lynching will keep them from demanding what is for white's only.
But if you live long enough you know that nothing last forever and when the pendulum reverses everything that went on on the last swing will no loner be.Pleasse read this story and see what is happening in our country. How long can we let it go on?

When Maria Gomez showed up late one December afternoon at a Grand Rapids, Michigan, jail to pick up her son, an American-born Marine who served in Afghanistan, the deputies told her something that, frankly, made no sense.

“Your son was just sent with immigration,” she recalls the deputies telling her. “He is in their hands.”

It must be a mistake, she told them. “My son doesn’t have anything to do with immigration. He is a US citizen,” she said. “They said ‘we don’t know anything about that. He’s in their hands now.’ It almost gave me a heart attack.” 

When she returned to the jail’s parking lot, she saw him enter a white van and be driven away.

Her son, Jilmar Ramos-Gomez, had served in Afghanistan as a lance corporal from 2011 to 2014 and returned to the United States suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He’s had episodes where he’ll disappear for days, and no one in his family will know where he’s gone.

It happened again Nov. 21, when Ramos-Gomez was arrested on suspicion of attempting to start a fire in a stairwell at a Grand Rapids hospital and trying to reach the facility’s helipad, according to his attorneys and local law enforcement. Ramos-Gomez, 27, pleaded guilty to a trespassing charge and was ordered released on Dec. 14 on his own recognizance to await sentencing, his attorneys said.

Instead, the Kent County Sheriff’s Office held him for more than an hour so he could be picked up by another county that transports and detains individuals for ICE.

Chuck DeWitt, undersheriff for the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, said that his officers had followed procedures and that everything about the case appeared routine. He regrets what happened to Ramos-Gomez but says that it was ICE, not the sheriff’s department, that made the ultimate decision to identify him as a target.

“It sounds very harsh but there isn’t anything we could’ve done differently in this situation that could have prevented that,” he said. “It is regretful but under these circumstances, I don’t know where we would have prevented that.” 

ICE put the blame squarely on Ramos-Gomez, saying that when ICE officers interviewed him in jail he claimed he was “a foreign national illegally present in the US.” Because of that, ICE asked the sheriff’s department to hold him after he was released from local custody, and the sheriff’s department complied.

The ACLU of Michigan, which has taken up Ramos-Gomez’s case and has called for an investigation into the detention, said ICE’s statement opened up many questions.

“This shows how flimsy the evidence is that ICE relies on to deport people from this country,” said Miriam Aukerman, a senior attorney with the ACLU of Michigan, who said the organization was investigating whether Ramos-Gomez had in fact told ICE he wasn’t a US citizen.

Ramos-Gomez had a US passport and identification that noted his veteran status, Aukerman said.

“It is appalling that a comment by a mentally ill individual is enough to get you deported. What kind of investigation is that?”

The ACLU attorney also wondered why ICE had interviewed him in jail.

“If his name is John Smith, ICE isn’t interviewing him,” she said.

Because Ramos-Gomez had been transferred to ICE on a Friday, his family was unable to secure his release until the following Monday, when his lawyer called ICE officials.

“I don’t have words to say this because I feel like they don’t care,” Gomez told BuzzFeed News. “They don’t care that my son served this country.” 

Aukerman said the incident reflected a larger problem with immigration enforcement.

“This is what immigration enforcement has come to in this country. It is so indiscriminate that we take people who served our country and try to deport them,” Aukerman said. “This is a tragedy. He risked his life and mental health for our country, came back and did not get the services he needs, and now ICE is trying to deport him. It is outrageous and appalling.”

“His immigration attorney said to ICE: Here is his military record, birth certificate, and ICE was like: ‘Oops, we got a US citizen,’” she added. ICE officials said that once they received the information they authorized his release, and no further action will be taken.

The case highlights what advocates believe is the problem with cooperation between some sheriff’s departments and ICE. When a person is arrested, fingerprints are compared with prints in federal databases that alert immigration authorities if the person is wanted. It’s at this point that ICE officials will often request a “detainer” to hold the individual until their officers can show up and take them into custody.

While in some areas, “sanctuary” policies limit cooperation between local authorities and ICE, that’s not the case in Kent County. The sheriff’s department has an agreement with ICE to hold individuals for up to three days and to be reimbursed for the extra detention.

The Michigan jail also allows ICE access within the facility to interview inmates, like Ramos-Gomez, whenever they’d like. In sanctuary areas, like California, inmates must sign forms consenting to an interview with ICE officials and are told that an attorney can be present with them. 

DeWitt said that his office has asked ICE to review its policies so that a similar situation doesn’t happen.

DeWitt said he still supports cooperation between federal and local law enforcement, saying such cooperation is necessary to protect residents. But advocates see it differently, saying such cooperation actually chills trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities.

For her part, Ramos-Gomez’s mother, who came to the country from Guatemala, said that she will not trust law enforcement any longer.

The case is indicative of the problems that can come up when such interactions are rampant, Aukerman said.

“It’s terrible but it is the predictable consequence of this blind willingness to hand people over to ICE without looking,” she said, noting that ICE utilizes “administrative” warrants and not warrants signed by judges to request and hold individuals. “If ICE says ‘please, hand him over’ that is not enough. That is not what we should be doing.”

ICE has detained American citizens in the past, including a Queens man whose case was detailed by BuzzFeed News. Late last year, an American-born man sued ICE for detaining him.

“There’s sometimes complex questions about citizenship, but in this case it is 100% obvious. He was born in a US hospital,” Aukerman said. “It reflects an incredibly sloppy approach by ICE.”

The ACLU sent a letter Wednesday to the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and the county Board of Commission demanding an investigation. DeWitt said that a US passport was not listed as one of Ramos-Gomez’s possessions but that often items are not marked by deputies. 

The county’s agreement with ICE is up in September, and Ramos-Gomez’s case will be a factor in the decision-making on whether to continue with it or not, DeWitt said.

Meanwhile, Ramos-Gomez’s family is just happy he’s home and not in ICE custody or deported to Guatemala, where his family had initially come from. His mother said she couldn’t sleep the weekend he was in ICE custody.

But when he was released Dec. 17, she waited for him in the detention center parking lot. When he walked out of custody, they immediately hugged.

“I can’t believe they did this to you, son,” she told him. “I’m sorry.”

“I know,” he told her. “They didn’t believe me.”

He is 31, A Volunteer Soldier in The Ukraine Under Fire From Russia, Decides To End His Isolation and Come Out Gay

The LGBT community in Ukraine is often under attack but one volunteer soldier has gone public about his sexuality.
Viktor Pylypenko, 31, decided to come out after hearing how the LGBT community was being talked about. 
The BBC's Zhanna Bezpiatchuk went to meet him.
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The man confesses that it is easier for him to live after he came out. Viktor is pleased that he does not need to hide. “In reality, comings-out should be done almost daily, for far from everybody reads the internet, where all this is published,” Pylypenko adds. “Someone may be telling a joke about gays, and I have to do a coming-out in front of these people to make them aware of being wrong, so to speak.”
Viktor was in fact a rifleman in the “Donbas,” but he had to perform various functions. “We were short of personnel. When all kinds of far rightists chased gays and lesbians in Kyiv, we lacked soldiers,” he says. “I had to use a heavy antitank grenade launcher, and this robbed me of normal hearing – I hear badly now. I also did a combat medic course and used to give first aid on the battlefield. My comrades and I would carry off the wounded under gunfire. My platoon was also an assault unit, and we mopped up such places as Shyrokine.”
The exhibit “We Were Here” was put on as part of the project “Coming out of Isolation: through Art to Visibility.” It is a long-term interdisciplinary project of the Isolation foundation and NGO Kyiv Pride. Its aim is to spotlight the problem of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in Ukraine through the prism of art.
In addition to Shebetko, the project involves Tetiana Kornieieva and Oleksii Salmanov. They studied the theme in March at the residency under the general guidance of the Polish artist Karol Radziszewski and tutors from Ukraine and the UK. Following this, the artists began to work on their own projects.
Besides, Kornieieva performed “Come In/Out” at the Kyiv Pride opening ceremony in June and then prepared, together with the online publication The Village Ukraine, a special project, “Alphabet of Equality,” in which LGBT people tell about themselves. Salmanov is going to present his project in the fall.
Isolation foundation curator Kateryna FILIUK says: “Handling the LGBT topic, I understood a banal thing which many people pass over. Whenever we say that what is going on in the bedroom is ‘their’ own business, we often forget that heterosexual couples can formalize their relationship, get married, acquire property, and legally divide, sell, or inherit the latter. They have children. All these moments present difficulties for the LGBT community who are in fact deprived of these basic rights. This is why openness is important – in order not to flash your identity around but to have the same rights as other citizens have.”
The exhibit “We Were Here” will remain open until October 7. There will be debates and film showings – you can follow announcements on IZONE’s Facebook page https://www. facebook.com/izone.ua.
By Mariia PROKOPENKO, photos by Mykola TYMCHENKO, The Day

January 17, 2019

Gay Fathers Face Major Stigma As Parents


(Reuters Health) - Even as parenting by same-sex couples becomes more common in the U.S., many gay men and their families still experience discrimination and are stigmatized by relatives, neighbors, salespeople and other members of their communities, a study suggests.

Creating families has gotten easier over the years for gay men. Medical advances have made it possible for them to father children through surrogacy, and more adoption and foster agencies have encouraged them to become parents to non-biological children. And the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide in 2015, advancing legal parenting rights for same-sex couples with children.

But almost two-thirds of gay fathers experience stigma based on their status as homosexual dads, and half of them avoid situations out of fear of mistreatment or discrimination, the current study found.

Their children experience stigma, too. One-third of gay fathers said their kids were stigmatized by other children, and one in five dads said their children had avoided forming friendships out of fear of mistreatment or discrimination.

“Legal protections today are much more expansive than they were a decade ago, which in turn means that the stigma faced by gay fathers - and, by extension, lesbian mothers - should be less than in the past,” said Brian Powell, a sociology researcher at Indiana University in Bloomington who wasn’t involved in the study.

“But these protections are not universally provided across all states,” Powell said by email.

For the study, researchers surveyed 732 gay fathers with 1,316 children in 47 states.

Researchers ranked states based on how many legal protections they offered to gay parents that covered things like marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships, adoption, child custody and anti-bullying policies. 

Not surprisingly, gay fathers were more likely to report stigma affecting their lives in states with fewer legal protections. They also reported more active discrimination in states with fewer legal protections, particularly from family members and in religious settings.

Overall, about 35 percent of the families in the study were formed through adoption or foster care, 15 percent with the assistance of a pregnancy carrier or surrogate, and 39 percent through a heterosexual relationship.

Families in states with more legal protections for gay parents were more likely to be formed by surrogacy, while men in states with few legal protections were more likely to become fathers through heterosexual relationships, the study found.

Many fathers reported barriers to becoming parents. About 41 percent had difficulties with adoption and one-third encountered problems arranging custody of children born in heterosexual relationships.

The study can’t prove whether parenting status or sexual orientation directly impacts discrimination, and it wasn’t nationally representative.

Most participants were white, and it’s also possible that gay fathers from other racial or ethnic groups might report different experiences, Dr. Ellen Perrin of Tufts Medical Center in Boston and colleagues write in Pediatrics.

Even so, the results underscore that legalizing gay marriage in the U.S. hasn’t eliminated discrimination and stigma experienced by same-sex parents, said Julia Raifman, a researcher at the Boston University School of Public Health who wasn’t involved in the study.

“These findings suggest that stigma persists for gay fathers, who reported experiencing the most stigma in religious institutions, in restaurants, and from neighbors,” Raifman said by email. “In states with less equal rights, gay men who wish to become fathers may be less likely to be able to become a parent and those who do become parents are more likely to experience stigma directed toward them.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2SWdopf Pediatrics, online January 14, 2019.

Vice Pres.Wife Karen Pence Got Employment at A School that Prohibits Gay Students, Parents or Employees

                                                            Image result for karen pence anti gay

Second lady Karen Pence will teach art part time at a Christian school in the Washington suburbs that does not allow gay students, parents or employees to be part of its community.

Pence will teach elementary art two days a week at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia, her office announced Tuesday. The second lady previously taught at the school for more than a decade when her husband, Vice President Mike Pence, was a member of Congress.

"Mrs. Pence has returned to the school where she previously taught for 12 years," Pence's spokeswoman Kara Brooks said in a statement. "It's absurd that her decision to teach art to children at a Christian school, and the school's religious beliefs, are under attack."

The second lady, who is an artist, has most recently illustrated "Marlon Bundo's Day in the Life of the Vice President," which was written by her daughter Charlotte. Marlon Bundo is the name of the Pence family's pet rabbit.

In Immanuel Christian School's "parent agreement," it states that the school can refuse admission to an applicant "if the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home, the activities of a parent or guardian, or the activities of the student are counter to, or are in opposition to, the biblical lifestyle the school teaches." 

The agreement goes on to state that it includes "participating in, supporting, or condoning sexual immorality, homosexual activity or bi-sexual activity, promoting such practices, or being unable to support the moral principles of the school."

"I acknowledge the importance of a family culture based on biblical principles and embrace biblical family values such as a healthy marriage between one man and one woman," the parental agreement continues. "My role as spiritual mentor to my children will be taken seriously."

The employee application also states that applicants must "understand that the term ‘marriage’ has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive covenant union as delineated in Scripture."

The agreement also lists disqualifying qualifications, including "heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female, sexual harassment, use or viewing of pornographic material or websites, and sexual abuse or improprieties toward minors as defined by Scripture and federal or state law.” 

Pence's husband, Vice President Mike Pence, has in the past come under fire for his views on the gay community. The vice president has previously expressed support for the controversial practice of gay conversion therapy, voicing his support for federal funding to treat people "seeking to change their sexual behavior."

Karen Pence in a statement on Tuesday said she is "excited to be back in the classroom and doing what I love to do, which is to teach art to elementary students."

“I have missed teaching art, and it’s great to return to the school where I taught art for twelve years," the second lady said in a statement.

"The Little Jerk” (Named by McCain) S.C. Linsey Graham Fell From Grace With His “Kook” President


If loyalty goes only so far, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham’s goes every which way — depending on the day, week, month — or proximity to Election Day.

One day, the South Carolina Republican may think Donald Trump is a “kook.” That was Graham’s description of then-candidate Trump in 2016, shortly after he’d ended his own campaign for president. Or, he may think Trump is “presidential,” as he said recently in appraising President Trump’s speech from the Oval Office on border security.

What did they do with Graham, one might reasonably ask? If you posted this question to random people on Capitol Hill, you might hear them say, Aw, that’s just Lindsey. He’s in a cycle.

If this sounds vaguely endocrinal, well, suit yourself. What it means, of course, is that Graham is up for reelection in 2020. When you’re in one of the redder states in the union, you’d best cheer for the Man from MAGA or risk fading into local history.

It isn’t unusual for politicians to tweak their language or style, to soften or toughen rhetoric as one’s audience pleases. Still, there’s something almost comical about Graham’s toughening stances and head-snapping reversals. It’s as though his body has been occupied by someone else, his inner Terminator liberated at last — in part, perhaps, because he’s no longer John McCain’s wingman. He’s Maverick now.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Whatever else he intends, Graham has always known how to play the media and keep himself in the headlines. This may explain his and Trump’s recent comity, which can be traced to lunch in March 2017 when the two found common ground in, among other things, an affection for playing golf. They are also both showmen and may share some mutual respect. Both love to be center stage, and both seem to have a similar knack for giving people what they want. The president and the apprentice.

Confession: I love Graham — for all the right reasons. He’s a mensch who’d give you the shirt off his back, whether you needed it or not. He’s a good guy, brought up hard, who transcended tragedy (both parents died while he was in college, leaving him to care for his then-13-year-old sister). He’s a true patriot who served in the Air Force judge advocate general’s corps and then the Air Force Reserve as he was rising from lawyer to congressman to the U.S. Senate.

He is also very funny, as debate viewers will recall from his 2015 performances. His best lines from those debates were spontaneous, quick-witted and true. We delighted in his unfiltered answers to questions, such as: “You know how to make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.” Or, if Trump were to win, the Islamic State “would be dancing in the streets; they just don’t believe in dancing.”

Funny then, but no more. Graham has become a lead gladiator for a wall along the southern border, even recently advising Trump to invoke national-emergency powers to fund it. From “Little Jerk,” McCain’s affectionate nickname for Graham, to Maximus in a few short months. No longer is Trump a “kook.” In 2017, Graham repeated the word but that time in taking issue with the media for “this endless attempt to label the guy as some kind of kook not fit to be president.”

But then Monday happened. The president turned on Maximus, rejecting Graham’s suggestion to temporarily reopen the government while the wall debate continues. The mind meld lost its connection. Do we sense a split after all Graham has done, not least his fiery attack against Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Brett M. Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, which Graham called an “unethical sham”?

Instantly, Graham became a meme sensation on the right. On the left, you’d have thought he had called Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, “bat---- crazy,” a term he previously had used to describe the GOP for its support of Trump.

As we enter 2019, the Grahamster is full of brio and bluster, ready to rush Texas with his own posthole digger. His speechwriter must surely be busy preparing text for the senator’s remarks upon the groundbreaking, perchance to include: “President Trump, build this wall!” In the meantime, as Judiciary Committee chairman, Graham has vowed that the next Supreme Court justice will be a conservative, as though anyone doubted it.

One can hardly wait, but not for long. The night is young, the news breaks 24/7, and we’ve nearly two more years to wonder what Graham will say, growl, hiss, spit, growl, whisper or sing, hallelujah! May his cycle be unbroken.

January 16, 2019

NYS State Legislature Bans Gay Conversion Therapy Making It The 15th State To Do So


 By Dan Avery
NBC News

The New York State Legislature voted Tuesday to ban so-called gay conversion therapy on minors, with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo expected to sign the bill as soon as this week. The measure, which passed 57-4 in the Senate and 134 to 3 in the Assembly, will make New York the 15th state to ban the controversial practice, which is widely discredited by medical and mental health organizations.
“New York has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and psychological well-being of minors, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth,” the bill reads in part, “and in protecting its minors against exposure to serious harms caused by sexual orientation change efforts.” 
The ban is part of a larger LGBTQ rights push announced by Cuomo last year, an agenda that includes prohibiting the so-called gay panic defense in court and adding gender identity to state human rights and hate crime laws. (The Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act passed the Legislature today as well.)
Bans on conversion therapy — which seeks to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity — repeatedly have passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly, only to die in the Republican-dominated Senate. But the GOP ceded its majority in the midterm election, paving the way for today’s victory.
Democrat Brad Hoylman, who authored the Senate bill, called conversion therapy “among the worst frauds in history.” “We have to consider the message we are sending to LGBT youth today,” Hoylman said Monday after the bill passed committee. “That we have your back and you are perfect just the way you are.”“The State of New York has a responsibility to stop licensed mental health professionals from causing irreparable damage to LGBT youth and their families,” Hoylman said when advocating for the ban in 2014.
Mathew Shurka, a member of the anti-conversion therapy group Born Perfect, told NBC News he "feel[s] safer” after the bill’s passage, but he stressed that the fight against the discredited practice is still “not over.”
“The next step is testing the law,” he said, “because there are several working conversion therapy practitioners in New York State.” According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, conversion therapy “can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.” 
Techniques used to attempt to change sexual orientation and gender identity have included inducing nausea and vomiting, providing electric shocks, psychotropic medication, and hypnosis. And according to a 2009 report by the American Psychological Association, the treatment has been associated with depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, high-risk sexual behaviors, homelessness, and other issues. 
The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law recently estimated that 20,000 LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 17 will undergo conversion therapy by a licensed health care professional before they turn 18, and approximately 57,000 will be subjected to the treatment by a religious leader or spiritual adviser. In 2012, California became the first state to prohibit conversion therapy on minors, and since then more than a dozen other states, the District of Columbia and several localities across the U.S. have followed suit. A number of state legislatures are currently considering bans, including Texas, Minnesota, and Indiana.
The issue has also entered the multiplex, with two recent films recounting the struggles of young people subjected to conversion therapy: “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” starring Chloë Grace Moretz, and “Boy Erased,” with Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman, and Russell Crowe.

The Gay and Foster Penguin Parents in Australia

SphengicCreditSea Life Sydney Aquarium

SYDNEY, Australia —

 It was a young penguin colony, and all but one of the couples were pretty bad parents.

They would get distracted from their nests, go for a swim or play, and so neglected eggs were getting cold, likely never to hatch. This was normal for inexperienced penguins, and the aquarium managers didn’t worry. Next mating season would be better.

One couple, though, was extraordinary. Not because they were the colony’s only gay penguins, though they were, but because Sphen and Magic looked like they would make great, diligent, careful egg-warming parents. They made the biggest nest, and they sat on it constantly.

Curious, the aquarium managers gave the two males a dummy egg. They took to it. And so then, when a particularly negligent heterosexual penguin couple looked to be leaving an egg exposed (females lay two, but usually only one survives), the aquarium workers figured they would give it to Sphen and Magic. 

In October, that egg hatched. Now the chick of a gay penguin union is waddling around an ice enclosure by the touristy docks in Sydney.

When Sphen and Magic became a couple, Australia had just gone through a bitter battle about whether gay marriage should be legal. The human gay marriage debate had brought out thorny personal and religious tensions. These two diligent Gentoos, unaware of the political heat around their courtship, became a larger symbol for the country. If a penguin colony could figure this out, a human nation certainly could.

Australia is famous for having many dangerous creatures on land and in water: some of the most dangerous snakes and spiders in the world, kangaroos that look like bodybuilders, great white sharks patrolling surfers. Suddenly, though, Australia’s biggest animal celebrities were two gay penguins, which their keepers noticed with pleasure.

“Everyone likes penguins,” said Tish Hannan, the head of penguin supervision at the aquarium. “They’re so cheeky.”

“They’re not like sharks,” said the senior penguin keeper Amy Lawrie, her second in command. “No one’s had a bad experience with a penguin.” 
Penguin keepers cannot say exactly why one penguin chooses another, especially two penguins as different as Magic and Sphen.

Magic, a 3-year-old Gentoo born at the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, is excitable and playful. He chases after toys and anything that shines. He greets visitors.

Sphen, who is 6 and from SeaWorld, is taller and has a bigger beak. He’s quieter, more serious and less interested in toys and humans.

But it was clear early on what Sphen and Magic were doing when they met one summer day at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.

First, as is the Gentoo way, they began to bow to each other.

They brought each other carefully selected pebbles for the nest they hoped to build together. If either had not been interested he would have rejected the pebble, pushing it away with a beak. But each admired the pebbles he was brought.

Ms. Lawrie described it as “consent.” 

“You would see Magic standing in his spot looking for Sphen, and he would call and Sphen would come running over and give Magic a little bow and sing as well,” Ms. Hannan said. “They’ve chosen each other. That’s it. They’re bonded now.”

Others in the colony of 33 penguins were still flirting. Younger birds tend to take a little while to choose their partners.

“They were recognizing multiple different bird calls and bowing to different individuals,” Ms. Hannan said. “We saw none of that behavior from either Sphen or Magic. They weren’t interested in other birds in the colony.”

And so it was no surprise that the two began preparing for an egg.

“We knew they would start picking up stones,” Ms. Hannan said. “And we knew they would build the best nest.”

When they egg came, Sphen and Magic each took turns sitting on it for 28 days.


The penguin keepers had a discussion.

 Sphen, Magic and Sphengic.CreditCreditSea Life Sydney Aquarium

“We made the decision within the penguin team, and no one was against it,” Ms. Lawrie said. “Any pairs that want to pair up, it’s great.” 
They alerted aquarium leadership that there were going to be two male penguin parents. The aquarium executives embraced it. 
Sphen and Magic, two male penguins at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, looked after an egg when a heterosexual penguin couple wasn’t up to the task. The 3-month-old chick will be called Sphengic until it gets a permanent name.Published OnJan. 15, 2019CreditCreditSea Life Sydney Aquarium
The aquarium put out a video of the pair singing to each other. There is a video of them making their pebble nest.

Visitors now come just to see the new gay parents and ask tour guides which were the gay penguins.

There were those who objected to using of the word “gay.”

“The word ‘unnatural’ was used a lot,” said Samantha Antoun, the aquarium’s public relations manager. “People said we shouldn’t call them gay because maybe they’re just friends.”

The penguin keepers said they would bring no politics onto the ice.

“We’re not going to discourage any companionship for our penguins,” Ms. Lawrie said. “Love is love.”


The first sign of a good Gentoo parent is that they’re able to recognize an egg has hatched and that the chick is slowly breaking its way out. This can take days. Sphen and Magic noticed straight away.

“When it’s got its face out, it can start talking to its parents, and Magic and Sphen recognized this and started singing to the egg before it even hatched,” Ms. Hannan said.

Their chick — for now called Sphengic — was born on a Friday and weighed 91 grams. It was the only chick to have hatched of all the eggs in the colony.

For the first few months of a chick’s life, it stays close to its parents. Sphen and Magic feed and sing to the chick. They tuck it into bed at night. The chick needs to have its head faced toward the parents when it sleeps under them, so parents use their beaks to keep it in proper position.

Like any couple, Sphen and Magic did face challenges, mostly related to their age difference.

“Magic is the younger one, and he would try to pawn off the parental duties in the first couple days,” Ms. Hannan said. “Sometimes he would be like, ‘You feed the chick today’ and hop off and go swimming.”

But slowly he learned to co-parent. When Magic would feed the chick, Sphen would come over and sing to them. 

“He was singing to encourage him,” Ms. Hannan said. “So Magic would know he was doing the right thing.” 

Now the 3-month-old chick is almost fully grown. He, or she, does not have a permanent name yet. Nor does the penguin have a gender. A penguin’s reproductive organs are internal, so gender can only be determined by a blood test at maturity. Orientation and identity are not Sphengic’s most pressing challenges.

One recent morning, Magic was playing with the other members of the colony, and Sphen was minding Sphengic, who is set aside from the colony in a crèche. Another penguin, Rita, came a little too close. Sphen flapped his wings and lightly jabbed at her with his beak. Sphengic, whose personality has yet to develop, was busy eating ice.

Lunch that day would be pilchards and squid.

The penguin keepers said they do not think much about the politics of Sphengic. But they do see that he is inspiring visitors.

“Penguins are born with the ability to raise chicks from start to finish whether they’re male or female, and that’s quite an interesting thought to keep in mind,” Ms. Hannan said. “We’re the same.”

Many of the other penguins are searching for new pairs for another mating season. But Sphen and Magic remain together. Recently, Sphengic began learning to swim. Sphen and Magic padded nearby, ready to dive in.

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