I've been a bit out of the loop this week, so I just this morning saw Andy's post about Shane Bitney Crone and the video about his boyfriend Tom Bridegroom's death.
An untimely death of a young man is of course a lamentable situation, but this particular story touched me not only for the fact that Crone is using the tragedy to fight for equal rights, but also because I went to college with Tom Bridegroom.
He was one year under me and we became friends through his roommate, Anthony. Tommy was a unique, intriguing and sensational guy and watching Crone's video celebrating him made me realize that Bridegroom's death, so senseless and confusing at the time, was not in vain.
Crone recently sat down with the team from OutCast to discuss Tom and their relationship, including why they waited to marry, Tom's family's reaction to their relationship and how he's dedicated to honoring his late boyfriend's life. He also clarifies his motivations for making the initial video: "I did not make this video to attack his family ... I hope that instead of getting angry about the video, they change."
You can download the OutCast podcast at iTunes, and I hope you do.
According to Politico, there are seven states where President Obama's gay marriage support could hinder his campaign. They are, in no particular order, North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Iowa, where gay marriage is legal, and Missouri.
Here is what reporter Charles Mahtesian has to say about the Florida scene:
One day, gay marriage might be enshrined in law across the map. But it won’t be until after the current generation of senior citizens passes away. Not only do they oppose it by lopsided margins, they also vote in disproportionately high percentages.
Consider this fact about Florida, a state with an unusually large population of seniors. Four years ago, Obama and an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment shared the Florida ballot. Obama won the state narrowly, the amendment won by a landslide.
And the amendment won 600,000 more votes than Obama.
The president can still win reelection without Florida’s treasure trove of electoral votes. But he’d prefer not to risk it, which could be the side effect of a public affirmation of support for gay marriage in a state as competitive as Florida.
I tend to think that despite the much-deserved fanfare over Obama's marriage announcement, most voters this November will be more concerned about the economy than Adam and Steve. And I think the Obama administration knows that, too. It's not as if he will -- or could -- rest his entire reelection campaign on this decision, right?
The AP reports that Argentina's Senate yesterday approved 55-0 a measure that will allow transgender people to change the gender on their ID and receive health care for potential sex change operations.
Any adult will now be able to officially change his or her gender, image and birth name without having to get approval from doctors or judges — and without having to undergo physical changes beforehand, as many U.S. jurisdictions require.
When Argentines want to change their bodies, health care companies will have to provide them with surgery or hormone therapy on demand. Such treatments will be included in the "Obligatory Medical Plan," which means both private and public providers will not be able to charge extra for the services.
"This law is going to enable many of us to have light, to come out of the darkness, to appear," said Sen. Osvaldo Lopez of Tierra del Fuego, the only openly gay national lawmaker in Argentina.
The bill will now head to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for the final signature.
JC Penney garnered plenty of right-wing criticism last year for its decision to hire Ellen DeGeneres as a celebrity spokesperson. Then, earlier this month, those same conservatives -- allied under the American Family Association's "One Million Moms" campaign -- shook their collective fist at the retailer for including a lesbian couple and their children in a recent catalogue.
JC Penney, however, refuses to give up. Commercial Observer reports that JC Penney, about to open a new location in New York's Soho neighborhood, is standing by their LGBT support, and in doing so they celebrate lesbian mothers everywhere.
"As J.C. Penney focuses on becoming America’s favorite store, we want to be a store for all Americans," a company spokesperson said. “In celebration of Mother’s Day, we’re proud that our May book honors women from diverse backgrounds who all share the heartwarming experiences of motherhood.”
I haven't been to a JC Penney in years, but I'm thinking maybe I need to take a second look at the department store's wares.
In a 2008 interview with The Advocate, Barack Obama said his mother and a professor at Occidental College, Lawrence Goldyn, had the most influence on his acceptance of gay people.
"He was the first openly gay professor that I had ever come in contact with," the then-candidate said at the time. "He was just a terrific guy… His comfort in his own skin and the friendship we developed helped to educate me on a number of these issues."
Now the Obama is president, and has come out in favor of same-sex marriage, Goldyn's saying that the president's decision is "brave" yet "cynical."
"I think it's very brave in a way because he risks of course alienating some right wing people who might otherwise have stayed out of the election," Goldyn told BuzzFeed. "I think it's probably a somewhat cynical calculation he made [but] he's a smart politician and I don't blame him for that."
Goldyn also discussed with BuzzFeed's Rosie Gray how Obama was unique in his interest in and support of an openly gay man.
Goldyn recalled that when the future president was a student at Occidental, he "talked to me, he hung around from me, he wanted to learn from me. He was clearly not gay. But he thought I was somebody unusual and somebody he had something to learn from."
"It's a very rare straight man who will hang out with a gay teacher in order to learn things."
Goldyn had a following of students at Occidental (he called it a "constituency"), mostly "gay men and women of color." Obama was a rare, straight male exception in that group.
"I don't see it as he was somebody who wanted to know me," Goldyn said. "He was someone who wasn't afraid of me."
Though proud of his former pupil, Goldyn is also wary of the marriage debate, telling Gray that the institution itself comes with loads of oppressive baggage.
"[Marriage] is one of the most conservative institutions in human history," he said. "So it's hard for me to get really enthusiastic about it personally."
If you feel like dancing right now, but are afraid to let it all out, take some inspiration from these lovely gents dancing around New York City.
A reader sent us the link, saying that the video "made me smile and feel good." A review eloquent in its simplicity -- and accurate.
Make yourself smile, AFTER THE JUMP.