Monday, November 30, 2009

Californians Looking To Ban Straight Divorce

It is a story too good to be true...according to the Associated Press, there is a move afoot in California to impose a ban on divorce.

A Sacramento Web designer, John Marcotte, would like to see this become a ballot initiative in 2010.

As the AP reports:
"Since California has decided to protect traditional marriage, I think it would be hypocritical of us not to sacrifice some of our own rights to protect traditional marriage even more," the 38-year-old married father of two said.

Unless you have a good bankroll behind you, making these petition drives successful is a huge, uphill climb:
Marcotte is looking into whether he can gather signatures online, as proponents are doing for another proposed 2010 initiative to repeal the gay marriage ban. But the odds are stacked against a campaign funded primarily by the sale of $12 T-shirts featuring bride and groom stick figures chained at the wrists.

Marcotte needs 694,354 valid signatures by March 22, a high hurdle in a state where the typical petition drive costs millions of dollars. Even if his proposed constitutional amendment made next year's ballot, it's not clear how voters would react.

The deck is pretty much stacked against Marcotte, but the point has been succinctly made.

Often times the most truth can be found in satire, and I give this man credit for having the vision to call the hypocrites and phonies out.

You can read the full story here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Great Coming Out Story From ESPN

Brendan Burke, the 20-year old son of Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, has come out in a very public way.

Brendan, pictured above, next to the Stanley Cup that his father won, while GM with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007, currently is a student at Miami University (Ohio), and also serves as a student manager for the school's championship hockey team.

After initially coming out to his family, he also came out to his team and has encountered fairly unanimous support.

Rather than telling the story in the first person, ESPN columnist John Buccigross pretty much tells his story for him, albeit in a very honest and compelling way.

Buccigross takes the coming out story from its genesis to where it has evolved...stressing how supportive Burke's dad and school have been and pushing the envelope by asking ex-NHL stars to join Brendan in disclosure. Along the way, questions about how a gay athlete would be received in the macho NHL are tossed out and speculated upon.

Brendan Burke wants to be the trailblazer and open the dialogue about being gay in the homophobic sports world of professional hockey. For this alone, he deserves praise and encouragement.

Read the story here.

After you read the piece, send an e-mail of appreciation to Buccigross at

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

AP Story Reports Gay Marriage Efforts In NY & NJ Are Stalled

Not a very encouraging story on gay marriage efforts in NY and NJ, courtesy of the Associated Press.

Geoff Mulvihill writes:
The state-to-state march to legalize gay marriage across the left-leaning Northeast has lost more momentum since a major setback three weeks ago at the ballot box in Maine.

Since then, legislatures in New York and New Jersey have failed to schedule long-expected votes on bills to recognize the unions in those states.

Mulvihill then uses a Maggie Gallagher quote to set up the rest of his story. As Mulvihill reported, the extremist right-winger said,
If they are unable to pass gay marriage in New York and New Jersey, combined with the loss in Maine, it will confirm that gay marriage is not the inevitable wave of the future.

The rest of the piece is pretty much spent, with gays on the defensive, refuting the allegation of Gallagher.

This was written as if everybody thought Maine would be a slam-dunk and we were all allegedly blindsided.

We were about 5 points down in the polls the day before Maine, so, for me, at any rate, the outcome was not surprising. What is surprising is that we have so many in America that think it's perfectly acceptable to leave minority civil rights up to a simple majority vote.

The one part of this report I actually found useful was the call for immediate action in the Garden state:
There's a sense of urgency in New Jersey. This month, voters elected Republican Chris Christie over incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. Corzine has said he'll sign a gay marriage bill. Christie promised a veto.

As a result, activists are pushing hard to get a bill passed before Christie takes office on Jan. 19.

But since the election, key Democrats have said they don't intend to put the bill up for a vote unless they know it will pass. And so far, they say, that's not assured. On Monday, when lawmakers met for the first time since the election, the issue was in legislative limbo — not scheduled but not declared dead either.

Access the full AP story here.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Anti-Sexual Orientation Hate Crimes Up 11% In 1 Year

New FBI statistics are out on hate crimes, showcasing a disturbing trend. Equally disturbing are how news organizations are covering it.

AP Version

In the story released by the Associated Press, they state:
Overall, the number of reported hate crimes increased about 2 percent from last year. These same figures show a nearly 11 percent increase in hate crimes based on sexual orientation, and a nearly 9 percent increase in hate crimes based on religion. The largest category, racially-motivated hate crimes, fell less than 1 percent.

With anti-gay legislation on the ballot in California last year, and the deliberate GOP incitement of the right-wing base, an increase in crimes against people based upon sexual orientation, should have been expected.

And yet, the AP includes their own skewed analysis:
The increases may be partly due to more law enforcement agencies reporting hate crimes data to the FBI: 2,145 agencies in 2008, compared to 2,025 agencies the year before.

Let's do the math. Hate crimes up 11%. Agencies reporting hate crimes up 5%. No it does not add up. Especially when one notes that racially-based hate crimes actually fell (which is rather startling, considering the anti-immigration rhetoric).

And, what of religion. Simply saying that religious-based hate crimes also were up would probably cause smug Christians to feel that maybe they are also under increased attack. Curious that the AP left out the most significant component of that segment, because it wasn't even anti-Muslim sentiment that was the reason.

CBS News version

For details on this, check out the CBS News account of the story:
Anti-Jewish bias accounted for 65.7 percent of the religious bias attacks; 7.7 percent of the attacks were against Muslims.

One would think that this would be a significant story, in and of itself.

But I digress.

In the CBS account, there is no mention of the huge increase in anti-sexual orientation attacks. In fact, they report it this way:
Hate crimes rose slightly in 2008, with bias-motivated attacks based on race, religion and sexual orientation all increasing, according to new data released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Didn't the actual number of race-based incidents drop slightly?

One interesting thing that CBS did, in its report, was make clear that anti-sexual orientation hate crimes are not gay male-specific. They report:
Gay men were the victims in most of the sexual orientation-bias attacks - 58.6 percent.

Why not mention the numbers of anti-lesbian and anti-transgendered attacks? My guess is because it helps to keep those groups invisible.

(Note: The picture in this blog post is that of 15-year old, African-American, lesbian Sakia Gunn. Gunn was slain in Newark in 2003 and got nowhere near the coverage that Matthew Shepard's killing received, despite her young age.)

Sometimes it is not the story that is the focus, but the way that the story gets reported. As I have done in my past glbt-activism, one of the focuses of this blog will be watching and monitoring the way glbt news is covered. We need to hold news organizations accountable for what they tell the public, because all of this matters when it comes to changing hearts and minds on glbt issues.

Source Material

Click on the following links from the FBI website for the summary, and the full report on hate crimes.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Don't Ask, Do Postpone Indefinitely

AFP is reporting that a promised hearing on the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," which had been scheduled for this month, has been "postponed indefinitely."

Tara Andringa, a spokesperson for the U.S. Armed Services Committee, indicated that "we do not have a date" for the hearing to be rescheduled.

I guess the return of gay dollars to the DNC will be postponed indefinitely, as well.

In a strongly gay-positive press report, compared to what one would get from an AP story, the French press agency added the following:
About 13,000 US service members have been discharged under the policy since then, and estimated costs through 2003 run at 95.4 million dollars in recruiting costs and 95.1 million in training replacements, according to the US Government Accountability Office.

An overwhelming number of Americans support allowing openly gay men and lesbians to serve in the US military.

Think you would see a news report like that originating in America?

Not unless you were watching MSNBC.

For the full AFP story, click here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Action Alert: Contact AG Holder On Puerto Rico Slaying

Last weekend, 19 year old George Steven Lopez Mercado, a popular member of the Puerto Rican gay community, was found murdered.

According to the website, "he was partially burned, decapitated, and dismembered, both arms, both legs, and the torso."

Making matters worse, the police investigator suggested he "deserved" his fate, because of his "lifestyle."

I have been to Puerto Rico, since coming out, and, like many other areas of the Caribbean, anti-gay sentiment runs deep. I remember feeling a bit threatened by some local hoods that were lingering around the gay club at the beach in San Juan that I went to...they were very vocally predatory. It may have been in the 90s, but it is no secret that this is hardly a gay-friendly environment.

According to the AmericaBlog report on what the police had to say:
Here's the Spanish version of what the investigator reportedly told UnivisiĆ³n about the victim:

"Este tipo de personas cuando se meten a esto y salen a la calle saben que esto les puede pasar."

I speak Spanish fluently, so let me give you a rough translation:

Someone like that, who does those kind of things, and goes out in public, knows full well that this might happen to him.

John Aravosis also writes that it is time for the Justice Department to investigate, now that we have a Hate Crimes law in effect.

To sign an online petition asking Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate, go to the online action center that AmericaBlog set up by pointing here.

As reports, an arrest has been made and a "gay panic" defense has been initiated.

To follow this story at towleroad, click here.

To visit the newly created facebook page on this crime, click here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

8: The Mormon Proposition -- Coming To A Theatre Near You

A documentary that passionately and forcefully targets the Mormon church for being the driving financial force in attacking the rights of gays to marry, is set to be released soon.

The movie is called "8: The Mormon Proposition," and according to an AP article, Reed Cowan, a gay Mormon, decided to make the film after the personal turmoil he experienced within his own family over the issue of gay civil rights. His own sister was a supporter of Proposition 8.

The film is still in production, but the trailer is generating a ton of hits on the net. It is very well done.

To go to the movie's official website and view that trailer, click here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rhode Island Governor Signals A Surprise Shift On GLBT Rights

Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri, who had just recently vetoed a bill that would give gay surviving partners burial and funeral rights, has apparently signaled that he is looking into statutes that might give the glbt community a broader range of rights, similar to the civil unions statute that recently passed in Washington state.

The Governor, who is a staunch social conservative, on record as opposing both gay marriage and civil unions, allegedly vetoed the funeral planning bill because he didn't want to resolve glbt civil rights issues in a piecemeal manner.

This apparent about face has many in the glbt community scratching their heads. Either way, it looks like there will be a vote upcoming in the Rhode Island legislature to override the Governor's veto.

The story is reported above by WPRI in Providence.

For the AP take on this development, click here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rhode Island Governor Vetoes Bill That Allows Gays Funeral Privileges

In a story that sounds like it belongs in a state from the Deep South, Rhode Island Governor Dan Carcieri has just vetoed a bill that would have given survivors of gay partners burial rights.

It was Tuesday that the Governor vetoed the bill that, according to the Providence Journal would have wound up, "giving "domestic partners" the right to make funeral decisions for each other."

This is what passes for family values?

To the credit of the Rhode Island state legislature, the bills originally passed by aq margin of 63-1 in the House and 38-0 in the Senate. Yet, still, it is apparently not definite that there will be a vote to override the veto.

About a possible veto override, the Providence Journal reported,
House Majority Leader Gordon Fox issued this statement in response to an inquiry: "Personally, I favor an override of this legislation. I look forward to meeting with Speaker Murphy and the Senate leadership in the near future to review all of the vetoes and discuss our next course of action."

If you would like to express your displeasure to Governor Carcieri, the contact page is here. It contains a form where you can e-mail Carcieri directly. It also has his contact numbers and the snail mail address.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Barney Frank vows An End To DADT In 2010

Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) announced on Wednesday that repealing 'don't ask, don't tell' will be included as an amendment to the fiscal year 2011 Defense Appropriations bill. Rep. Frank told the Washington Blade that once the bill passes in 2010, that President Obama could begin issuing stop/loss orders, preventing further discharges, as of October 1.

I am one of those who believe that President Obama could issue those orders now, while the flawed policy is under review.

I've never been a big fan of Barney Frank. I think he messed with the glbt community on ENDA. And his comments undercutting the recent march on Washington were self-serving and infuriating.

Color me cynical, but the timing on this to me has everything to do with the recently announced boycott of the DNC.

This probably explained why Frank took great pains to mention that Rahm Emanuel is somehow behind this policy decision.

Whatever you say, Barney.

For the full Blade article, click here.

Kerry Eleveld also has a report on this at The Advocate.

Action Alert: Veteran's Day Letter From SLDN

It's Veteran's Day, what better way to celebrate than supporting our gay brothers and sisters who serve in America's military?

The nation's leading advocacy group for gays in the military is asking for your help in writing letters to the editor. The following letter has a hyperlink that will make it easy for you to do. The hyperlink is included twice.

It was sent out today by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN):

Today, November 11, we mark Veterans Day across the country. On this day, we remember our veterans -- which include an estimated one million LGBT patriots -- and express our gratitude for their service.

As a retired Navy Captain with 29 years of dedicated service, I have seen firsthand how "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" dishonors the brave sacrifices of our service members. I will always love and respect the military, which is why I know our men and women deserve better than the injustice of DADT.

This year, let us honor the courageous men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice and renew our commitment to end DADT.

Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and make the case for repeal:

If published, your letter will raise awareness about DADT and the need for repeal. A particularly effective letter can get thousands of people talking about the issue and have effects well beyond the pages of the paper.

Join us now:

Thank you, as always, for your support.

CAPT Joan Darrah, USN (Ret.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

AMA Supports Gay Marriage & Ending DADT

The American Medical Association gave a 1-2 punch of support Tuesday, officially calling for an end to "don't ask, don't tell," and stating that gay marriage bans contribute to health disparities because gay couples are less likely to be fully covered by health insurance.

As reported by the AP, the policy decisions by the nation's largest organization of doctors, occurred during an interim policy-making meeting in Houston. It comes one day after the AMA endorsed the health care reform bill passed by the House. However, unlike that endorsement, do not expect the White House to be trumpeting, or pointing to, these new policy statements.

On coming out against same-sex marriage bans, The AP reported,
Same-sex families lack other benefits afforded married couples, including tax breaks, spouse benefits under retirement plans and Social Security survivor benefits — all of which can put their health at risk, according to an AMA council report presented at the meeting.

On the governmental ban on gays serving openly in the military, it was reported that,
Doctors who pushed the group to oppose "don't ask, don't tell" say the policy forcing gay service members to keep their sexual orientation secret has "a chilling effect" on open communication between gays and their doctors.

"A law which makes people lie to their physicians is a bad law," said Dr. David Fassler, a University of Vermont psychiatry professor who attended the meeting.

We in the glbt community should find a way to thank the AMA for doing their part to help us in our struggle for full civil rights. It would be a good idea to refer to their support when we are advocating in support of both gay marriage and ending dadt.

You can learn more about the AMA at their website.

Update: New York State Senate Postpones Gay Marriage Vote

The New York State Senate, still in need of 5 Democratic votes, has put off a vote on gay marriage, according to reports.

An AP story posted at a Rochester news site first broke the story at 12:22PM, and was later followed up by confirmation at the New York Times.

Democrats hold a slight 32-30 majority in the Senate.

According to the Times report,
Republicans and Democrats said that as of Tuesday afternoon the measure was still several votes short of the 32 necessary for approval. About five Democrats remained either opposed or noncommittal, meaning that Republican votes were needed to secure passage.

But not enough Republicans have committed yet to voting yes, legislators said.

Sponsor of the bill, Tom Duane, has not been able to say whether or not it will come to the floor for a vote at all, at this point. According to the Times, Duane did say he was "optimistic."

Some in the State Senate are indicating that the vote may come after the Deficit Reduction Plan is addressed, as the Times also reports.

As I learn who the 5 State Senators are, I will post them so that we can continue our lobbying efforts, as well as seeking out GOP converts to the cause.

Stay tuned.

Action Alert: Lobby NY State Senate On Tuesday Gay Marriage Vote

On Tuesday, at the urging of Governor Patterson, the New York State Senate will vote on gay marriage. We only need to sway a few votes. Please join us in helping bring equality to New York's gay and lesbian couples.

There is a useful tool at the website of the Empire State Pride Agenda. There is a form feed that will allow you to get all the contact information for your State Senator so that you can personally ask them to support gay marriage.

This is the page of the action center. Just input your zip code and you will get contact information for your State Senator. PLEASE call or e-mail your State Senator asap, since the vote is tomorrow. Ask them to support gay marriage so that gays in New York are not 2nd class citizens.

Please share that site info with your friends and crosspost, because what we need right now is direct contact with the State Senators voting on this on Tuesday

Monday, November 09, 2009

No More Money For The DNC

First a note about LelioRisen and this blog

Sorry I have not been blogging much here since renewing my LelioRisen 'net presence. I have been starting a new business and keeping much of my focus there. However, I have spent a lot of my blogging time posting at AmericaBlog. But now, I do plan on renewing my focus here. I have my own stories and agenda that I would like to put forth.

For the past several years, I had blogged as scootmandubious, and received a ton of hits leading up to the 2008 election. My incredible disillusionment with Obama after that election has caused me to temporarily suspend blog activity there. I have no heart to defend the Dems and Obama on anything these days.

Rather, I plan on going back to my original focus, glbt issues, which can be best served through this blog. Since I have a decade of prior glbt advocacy as leliorisen, I thought it best to use this presence.

The Petition

I have pretty much decided to leave the Democratic party and register as an independent. The one thing holding me back, for the moment, is that I want to work in the primary system to help ensure that Blue Cross DLC-style Dems are beaten by progressives at every turn. So, I have to evaluate which scenario suits me best.

But, I have made a pledge to not give another dime to the Dems and the DNC. Democrats have used gays and lesbians to tap our time and our resources and then stab us in the back at every turn.

No More.

At AmericaBlog I just signed a petition to notify the DNC that they can no longer count on me for monetary support until they follow through on promises made to the glbt community.

Under the heading "Don't Ask, Don't Give," The petitioners are asking for people to join in signing the following pledge:

"I pledge not donate to the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, or the Obama campaign until Congress passes, and the president signs, legislation enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT), and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)."

Please take the time to sign the petition and pass it on to others.

The link to the petition can be found by clicking here.

(note: above logo found at