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News: Supreme Court, Carnival Cruises, Plague, Rick Santorum

RoadNaked AIDS activists storm John Boehner's office (work-unfriendly) Three arrests.

SupremesRoadThe Supreme Court's most likely moves on marriage rights: "The court, after several false alarms, now appears to have settled on deciding this Friday which of the cases it will hear. Along with the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases, the court also will be considering a request brought by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who is asking the court to overturn a court order halting enforcement of a state law that ended same-sex couples’ domestic partner health insurance benefits while making no changes to opposite-sex couples’ health insurance benefits."

RoadHow many people watched Liz & Dick?

RoadGay Hurricane Sandy victims struggle to recover.

RoadRoach-eating contest winner asphyxiated on bug parts.

RoadCarnival Cruises bans drag on drag cruise: "Arrangements have been made for drag performances in the main theater featuring stars from LOGO TV. These functions will be private and only the performers are permitted to dress in drag while in the theater. Guests are not allowed to dress in drag for the performances or in public areas at any time during the cruise." Then backtracks...

RoadJoseph Gordon-Levitt to take on the role of Batman?

RoadVIDEO: Sandy's storm surge batters Union Beach, New Jersey.

MasonRoadA first look at James Duke Mason's Kickstarter-funded noir thriller Disappear Here.

RoadMan discovers his wife is trans after 19 years of marriage, assaults her: "I pushed her against the wall and said: Now I know the truth. Are you a man? She then announced that she was born as a boy and that she had been operated on. She was now a woman, and so she did not need to tell me about her past as a man. My world collapsed. That evening came to blows. The police came."

RoadRachel Maddow makes it into Doonesbury.

RoadBrad Pitt will soon marry, he says.

RoadNY state Senator Ruben Diaz encourages anti-gay pastor Erick Salgado to run in NYC mayoral race: "Diaz, who opposes same-sex marriage, abortion and supports prayer in public schools, said religious and Hispanic voters do not see a valid option among the current crop of mayoral candidates from either party."

RoadHenry Cavill looking super-suave in Details.

RoadSome on-set images from Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

PlagueRoadDavid France's How to Survive a Plague wins 'Best Documentary' at Gotham Independent Film Awards.

RoadRick Santorum is open to another presidential run in 2016:  "I think there's a fight right now as to what the soul of the Republican party's going to be and the conservative movement, and we have something to say about that. I think from our battle, we're not going to leave the field."

Road$1000 for "lunch" with Jeff Stryker.

Secrets of a gay Mormon felon.

RoadObama's gay rights to-do list: "If he truly wants to be remembered as the gay-rights President, he will have to do more than be a sometimes reluctant champion. Perhaps he will learn the lesson of his own reëlection—that equality is good politics. All this may be ambitious. But it was by employing a strategy that often involved confronting its allies while engaging its opponents that the gay-rights movement achieved unprecedented results over the past four years."

Posted Nov. 27,2012 at 3:40 PM EST by | Permalink | Comments (18)

Obama Nominates Lesbian Latina Judge to Federal Bench

President Obama has nominated, for the first time, a lesbian Latina judge to the federal bench, the Washington Blade reports:

QuinonesThe White House announced on Tuesday that Obama named Nitza Quiñones Alejandro as part of a group of three nominees to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. According to the Human Rights Campaign, Quiñones is a lesbian and was recommended by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.).

According to a bio provided by the White House, Quiñones already serves as a judge on the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, where she has presided since 1991 over both civil and criminal matters. Before that, Quiñones worked as a staff attorney for the Department of Veterans Affairs and as an attorney advisor for the Department of Health & Human Services.

Pat Toomey (R-PA), a Tea Party Republican, joined Casey in praising Quiñones: “In her 21 years on the bench, Nitza Quiñones Alejandro has presided over many cases incorporating different facets of the law. In addition to her extensive experience in the courtroom, she has also remained active in her community through her work with schools and mentoring summer law interns.”

Posted Nov. 27,2012 at 3:00 PM EST by in Barack Obama, Law - Gay, LGBT, News | Permalink | Comments (12)

Cat Interrupts Univision Weather Forecast: VIDEO


I forecast a disturbance that emerges down around Key West and makes its way east into the Caribbean.


Posted Nov. 27,2012 at 2:28 PM EST by in News, News Clips, Pets, weather | Permalink | Comments (21)

NOM Anti-Defamation Spokesman Damian Goddard Goes After Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe: VIDEO


NOM anti-defamation spokesman Damian Goddard went after equality advocate and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe in a recent video rant about same-sex marriage and pro football, calling Kluwe a "pose-in-a-gay-mag-shanking-20-yard-punts kicker, an idiot kicker who uses bully tactics in open letters to state delegates."

Kluwe isn't having it, responding to Goddard, a former sports tv host, on Twitter: "So @heydamo, I'm curious. Where is the logical backing for your arguments? All I see are a bunch of ad hominem attacks and fallacies...I'm also curious @heydamo, why you think that discrimination should be tolerated by people, especially those relying on freedom of religion...Also, @heydamo, for future reference, I'm a punter, not a kicker. I'd say do some research, but clearly that's beyond you...You can deny you're a bigot all you want, but when you discriminate against people, your actions speak for you."


(via good as you)

Posted Nov. 27,2012 at 2:05 PM EST by in Chris Kluwe, News, NOM, Sports | Permalink | Comments (39)

Seeing 'How AIDS Ends'


We're so busy falling over cliffs or sliding down slopes and waiting with bated breadth for word about whether the Constitution recognizes the equal dignity of gay persons that we sometimes forget that a long life is a prerequisite for the enjoyment of rights and the good life.

So, mark your calendars: Saturday, December 1 is World AIDS Day.

How-aids-ends-Facebook-generic-403x403It is a day on which we should make an extra effort to remember those whom we lost, reflect on what the AIDS Crisis has taught us, and realize that there are still too many getting infected with HIV, not getting tested, practicing unsafe sex, and dying of AIDS-related complications. Take the time to see David France's fantastic documentary, How to Survive a Plague, which tells the story of ACT UP (and its offshoot TAG) during 9 years of the AIDS Crisis in Greenwich Village. Even those too young to know anyone who died of AIDS will be taken into a world of anxiety, emergency, and death and will walk away thanking ACT UP for what it did and trying to learn from the examples of brave men and women like Peter Staley, Bob Rafsky, and Iris Long.

But, World AIDS Day Version 2012 is also a day that we can start to see how AIDS will end. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in 2011, "the goal of an AIDS-free generation may be ambitious, but it is possible with the knowledge and interventions we have right now. And that is something we've never been able to say without qualification before. Imagine what the world will look like when we succeed.”

Imagine indeed. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF), the country's largest AIDS services organization is not only imagining it, it is working hard to achieve it. In addition to its outreach, education, health care, counseling, and research work, the SFAF has just published a fascinating e-book in which scholars, activists, and leaders talk about what needs to be done to end the AIDS epidemic and what will happen in a post-AIDS world. Available here and for just $0.99 (that's less than what you spend on a Chobani yogurt!), How AIDS Ends asks 15 contributors -- from former President Bill Clinton to Cleve Jones -- to answer a simple, compelling, and overdue question: When we write the complete history of HIV/AIDS, what will the final chapter look like?

Buy the e-book. All proceeds go to support the free HIV prevention and care services of the SFAF, so you know your money is going where it's most needed. Take a moment to read it (it won't take long), and as you process what you've just read, follow me AFTER THE JUMP to discuss.


The book offers incredible perspective. Among the most powerful stories was the one from Jeanne White Ginder, the mother of Ryan White. She wants nothing more than to see the end of AIDS so she can know that her boy did not die in vain. The Whites' story is one of illness, discrimination, and struggle: Ryan, who was born in 1971 and died 18 years later, was born with hemophilia and took a drug that was later found to be laced with HIV. His family had to fight discrimination, threats to their safety and health care, and stigmatization, and eventually found enough allies in Congress to pass a law that bears Ryan's name. Although not available to everyone and far from a complete safety net, it's a payer of last resort for poor and uninsured individuals with AIDS.

In addition to the stories that make you cry, the stories that make you hopeful (from Ambassador Mark Dybul, the Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS), and the stories that teach you about viral load, treatment, and medical breakthroughs (Drs. Paul Farmer and Robert Gallo, the latter of whom discovered HIV as the cause of AIDS and developed the first HIV blood test), the greatest intellectual and strategic contribution of this short anthology is its explication of the role that stigma plays as a barrier to health care and eradication.

The most direct and sharpest paper on this topic comes from the famous activist Cleve Jones. His article tells us what we already know -- that we need money -- but argues that money is not the greatest barrier to ending AIDS. It's stigma, the malodorous social stigma that certain laws, many people, and, unfortunately, many people in the LGBT community, attach to HIV-positive individuals. As Mr. Jones writes: "Stigma keeps HIV underground. It prevents people from getting tested for the virus. It makes them too afraid to disclose their status and seek the medication and services that would otherwise save their lives."

Stigma allows conservative legislators to drag the public along when they want to overreact to HIV. For example, the fear surrounding HIV in the early 1990s helped scores of states pass specific HIV transmission laws and cemented a prosecutorial practice of charging an HIV-positive person who has sex -- even safe sex -- with a partner without prior disclosure with aggravated assault. Now, when someone maliciously tries to spread the disease, that's criminal; but there are many problems with these laws and practices. First, they treat all HIV-positive individuals the same -- from the person with a 50,000 viral load (amount of virus in your blood) to the guy who is undetectable. But, you can't treat these two individuals the same because each carries a different likelihood of transmission, which is an essential element of the crime. Second, the manner in which some of these laws treat all HIV-positive individuals the same violates due process: prosecutors simply offer proof that HIV can be transmitted through intercourse, not that this particular defendant's HIV is likely to be transmitted under the standard and given the unique factors that constitute his HIV.

Stigma also makes it harder for us to talk about these issues in a civil manner. Comments to online articles about HIV are riven with hate, ignorance, and silly statements like, "there is absolutely no way to protect yourself when you're having sex with someone who has HIV." Even our own community, which lost so many young men to this epidemic, is fighting an internecine fight between two types of people who feel HIV can never touch them: those who feel invincible and engage in unsafe sex practices and those who have no concern for the HIV-positive community. Just ask Ryan White's mom if contracting HIV is all about personal responsibility. 

Paint-the-Castro-Red-LogoStigma also has the more subtle, but overpowering effect of keeping HIV hidden, locked in a closet. This could be the worst effect of stigma, as Lambda Legal's Scott Schoettes and others have said. Take the gay rights movement as an example: Years ago, when we were first getting started (pre- and post-Stonewall), a great debate raged about the value and importance of coming out. Some counseled caution, worried what being open would do to our jobs, our families, and our safety. Others said that coming out was not only a political statement itself, but a necessary prerequisite for freedom from discrimination: if you are too ashamed of who you are to come out, you are complicit in the discrimination foisted upon you. The problem is that stigma is not only perpetuated by our absence from the public sphere, it keeps us away, forcing us into a vicious cycle of fear, discrimination, and the inability to do anything about it. Perhaps the HIV-positive community needs to focus more on coming out and build on its own "we're here, we're queer, get used to it" movement that need no longer be so dominated by the AIDS emergency. 

We can all help end the stigmatization of the HIV-positive community. It starts at home, in our hearts, where our own community must come to embrace and include those who are HIV-positive. We can help by "Painting the Castro Red" on World AIDS Day or speaking with our legislators or donating to AIDS services organizations or working with AIDS patients. We can point out anti-HIV behavior just like we point out anti-gay behavior. We can create safe places for the HIV-positive community to come out.

How AIDS Ends allows all of us, not just HIV-positive individuals, to engage in this discussion and to stand in the shoes of those we know and love, but can't always know what it's like. It allows us to join in the amazing and necessary work the SFAF is doing everyday. It allows us to see a bright future and suggests how we might forge a path to this difficult, but eminently attainable goal -- the end of AIDS, for everyone.


Ari Ezra Waldman teaches at Brooklyn Law School and is concurrently getting his PhD at Columbia University in New York City. He is a 2002 graduate of Harvard College and a 2005 graduate of Harvard Law School. His research focuses on technology, privacy, speech, and gay rights. Ari will be writing weekly posts on law and various LGBT issues. 

Follow Ari on Twitter at @ariezrawaldman.

Posted Nov. 27,2012 at 1:05 PM EST by in AIDS/HIV, Cleve Jones, Law - Gay, LGBT, News | Permalink | Comments (15)

A Sad Anniversary


Thirty-four years ago today. RIP Milk and Moscone, and thank you.

Happening later this afternoon in SF:

Join the Moscone & Milk Family, Mayor Lee, Mayor Brown, Current & Past Supervisors, the SFGM Chorus, and Friends of Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Milk today at 4:30 pm for a candlelit remembrance on the steps of City Hall.

Posted Nov. 27,2012 at 12:44 PM EST by in Harvey Milk, News | Permalink | Comments (11)


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