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03/09/2013

Queen Elizabeth II to Sign Historic Pledge Against Discrimination Seen As Signal of Gay Rights Support

Queen Elizabeth II will sign an historic pledge against discrimination that does not explicitly mention gay people but is being seen as a powerful gesture on gay and women's rights, the Daily Mail reports:

QueenIn a live television broadcast, she will sign a new charter designed to stamp out discrimination against homosexual people and promote the ‘empowerment’ of women – a key part of a new drive to boost human rights and living standards across the Commonwealth.

In her first public appearance since she had hospital treatment for a stomach bug, the Queen will sign the new Commonwealth Charter and make a speech explaining her passionate commitment to it.

Insiders say her decision to highlight the event is a ‘watershed’ moment – the first time she has clearly signalled her support for gay rights in her 61-year reign.

The charter, dubbed a ‘21st Century Commonwealth Magna Carta’ declares: ‘We are implacably opposed to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed, political belief or other grounds.’

The ‘other grounds’ is intended to refer to sexuality – but specific reference to ‘gays and lesbians’ was omitted in deference to Commonwealth countries with draconian anti-gay laws.

The Queen is expected to say that the rights must "include everyone", according to the paper.

Also:

With the Duchess of Cambridge about five months’ pregnant, the change in the law could have a crucial effect. At present, if, as is rumoured, the Duchess and Prince William have a daughter, but go on to have a son, the son would become King when William dies. However, under the law change, due to be approved in the next few months, the girl would become Monarch.

Posted Mar. 9,2013 at 6:38 PM EST by in Discrimination, Queen Elizabeth II, Royalty | Permalink | Comments (54)


UFC Fighter Rashad Evans Offers Powerful Statement in Support of Marriage Equality

This week, Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said that he was trying to get more high-profile athletes and sports figures to sign the brief that he and Vikings punter Chris Kluwe submitted urging the Supreme Court to overturn Proposition 8, mentioning that one person who had was UFC fighter "Suga" Rashad Evans.

EvansOutsports spoke with Evans following that news, and got this powerful statement from him about why he signed it:

“I've never been a homophobe, never understood what that is all about. I knew some people who were gay and never cared about their sexuality. But at the same time, I didn't fully understand the issues around gay people until my friend BA started telling me about his full public support for gay marriage. We talked about the issue and I decided its not enough to not be against a minority, if you want things to go better for them you have to speak up with them.

“I'm a UFC fighter, a macho-type sport. I am a heterosexual guy in a tough macho sport, which is exactly the reason I feel a duty to say I support gay marriage and gay rights.

“I have nothing to gain personally from supporting this issue, and that's the point. Society as a whole is better when there is equality, and I want to live in a country where everyone has the same rights because we all benefit from that.

“What people overlook is that is isn't a sex issue, its a love issue. There's no justifiable reason for trying to get in the way of two people who love each other.

“I have kids. I don't want them growing up in a society where they, or their friends, could be second class citizens based on which person they fall in love with or who they want to be happy with.”

We need more athletes like Rashad Evans.

Posted Mar. 9,2013 at 5:55 PM EST by in Gay Marriage, News, Proposition 8, Rashad Evans, Sports | Permalink | Comments (20)


'Star Trek' Teaser Goes Further into Darkness: VIDEO

Trek

Attention Trekkies, there's a second teaser out for JJ Abrams next installment, Star Trek Into Darkness.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Posted Mar. 9,2013 at 5:42 PM EST by in Film, News, Star Trek | Permalink | Comments (16)


Illinois Republican Party Hedges on Plans to Oust Chair Pat Brady for His Support of Marriage Equality

As Steve mentioned last month, Illinois Republican Chairman Pat Brady has been under fire from some members of his party angry that he had urged lawmakers to support marriage equality.

BradySaid Brady in January: "Giving gay and lesbian couples the freedom to get married honors the best conservative principles. It strengthens families and reinforces a key Republican value - that the law should treat all citizens equally."

Today, Republican leaders had planned a meeting in which they were going to discuss firing Brady for his remarks, but the meeting was canceled, the AP reports:

It was unclear if the committee had enough votes to fire Brady. State Sen. Jim Oberweis, one of the GOP committeemen leading the charge to oust Brady, said it was "certainly a possibility" that the issue could come up again at the party's meeting in April. Oberweis, of North Aurora, said Saturday that members wanted more time and also wanted to be sure Brady, who is out of town, could attend.

"Some of the members thought it would be better to take a little more time and make sure Pat could be back," Oberweis told The Associated Press. "... I think we're all interested in figuring out how to help revive the Republican Party in Illinois."

Though there's clearly dissonance within the party:

Rep. Tom Cross, the top Republican in the Illinois House, has said the push to fire Brady was "a big mistake."

"We're a party that prides itself and often talks about having a big tent approach. And if we're going to be a party that grows ... we need to acknowledge that ... we're not always going to agree with each other 100 percent," Cross said. "To me, you can be for (gay marriage), or you can be against it. But we ought to say to 'You have a place in this party.'"

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, the state's ranking Republican lawmaker, also said it would be a mistake to remove Brady, spokesman Lance Trover said Friday. Kirk voted to end the policy on gays serving in the military, known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and opposes a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Posted Mar. 9,2013 at 3:33 PM EST by in Gay Marriage, Illinois, News, Republican Party | Permalink | Comments (9)


'Why, it's a man!' It's Oz: The Great and Powerful - REVIEW

Oz
The ladies love their wizard (James Franco) in Oz: The Great and Powerful

BY NATHANIEL ROGERS 

You're basically asking for a trouble with that title, you know? OZ: THE GREAT AND POWERFUL. It doesn't take a crystal ball to predict how this will turn out. If the movie is neither great nor powerful, tomatoes will be thrown. It feels weird to abbreviate the new picture as simply Oz, since it's a derivation rather than an original, so we'll call it Great and Powerful moving forward despite the misdirection. The filmmakers would approve since the movie begins with a clear and charming admission that James Franco's "Oscar Diggs" is no wizard at all but a travelling con-artist. So I come not to throw tomatoes (too easy), at least not at first, but to marvel at how red they are as they fly through the air.

The trailer brags that the movie comes from the producers of Tim Burton's Eyesore in Wonderland, a gargantuan box office success but one of the worst films of the new century, so there was cause to worry. Could any film be as simultaneously garish and muddy to look at? The happy answer is no.3D technology has come a long way and director Sam Raimi (most famous for the Spider-Man and Evil Dead trilogies) has far more taste and control of his color palette than Burton has had recently. A

fter the movie's old fashioned title sequence and Kansas-set prologue, introducing us to Franco's womanizing wizard before he's whisked off to Oz (you know how), every color of the rainbow does make an appearance. They often share the frame but rather than a muddy color assault, the rainbow here behaves like a joyous community, intermingling peacefully and taking turns in the spotlight. In some small ways it's a worthy tribute to the joys of Golden Age Technicolor. That's especially true when the eye-popping color meets a great visual idea like the Wicked Witch's fiery silhouette (shadow play being a favorite tactic of Raimi's) or a terrific climactic image like the Wizard's pompous arrival in the Emerald City via clouds of colored smoke and cinematic projection. 

Oz-silhouette

So, points for visual prowess but visual prowess ages rapidly in cinema. People don't still watch The Wizard of Oz seventy-four years later because the effects look cutting edge. They watch it for Judy Garland and those adorable Friends of Dorothy.

MORE, AFTER THE JUMP...

The character work in Great and Powerful is hit and miss. After sleepwalking through his Oscar-hosting gig and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, James Franco is suddenly awake again, an irony of sorts since Oz is a dreamland. In the absence of tin men, cowardly lions, and scarecrows we get a flying monkey and a china doll as companions to the hero and while they're cute they won't become iconic companions. The movie has the most trouble, though, with its three witches: Michelle Wiliams cuts a hypnotic figure as "Glinda the Good" but the movie doesn't give her any opportunity to flesh out the character and strangely there's not a hint of the prissy humor that defined the character in both Billie Burke and Kristin Chenoweth's takes so she doesn't always feel like Glinda per se; Rachel Weisz has the least to do as "Evanora" but she's good with a line reading; But Mila Kunis is, I'm sad to say, an absolute disaster as her sister "Theodora." Some actors understand style and the heightened qualities of genre acting but Kunis is utterly lost which handicaps the movie considerably.

But the most disappointing thing about Great and Powerful which is a bit better than it ought to be thanks to Sam Raimi's visual giddiness, is that there's just not much to talk about that isn't in some way a paraphrase of "So… how about that the immortal 1939 musical!?!"  So why fight it…

Wizofoz-itsaman

My absolute favorite soundbyte from The Wizard of Oz (and the competition is stiff) though not my favorite shot is when Dorothy Gale discovers the Tin Man, feet first. The camera pans up with Dorothy's eye from legs to crotch to torso to face.  "Why, it's a man!" 

For all of that clip's gay camp value, it's completely asexual; Dorothy is never thinking about boys. If The Wizard of Oz is an innocent child, than Great and Powerful is a horny teenager. But unlike the 1939 classic it serves the male ego despite the largely female cast.  When the claws come out (literally), it's weirdly sexist as a result.

Look I'm not above a good cat fight. There's almost nothing funnier in The Wizard of Oz than Glinda's helium-voiced Queen Bee dismissals of the Wicked Witch ("only bad witches are ugly"). In fact, the original cattiness enabled a whole modern wave of sympathy for the devil (i.e. The Wicked Witch of the West) in rethinks like "Wicked" and Great and Powerful that wondered how she got that way. But at its heart the 1939 classic was a heroine's journey that spun on the bravery and kindness of a young girl testing her strength and resolve in a frightening world.  

Though the three witches in Oz are all quite powerful, they are rendered powerless when a man enters the equation. Even a man who admits he is without power. It's not really about about who sits on the Emerald City's throne but who sits beside the man who will sit there. The plot spins not on transporting tornadoes but on the con-artist's seductive charms and HOW CRAZY WOMEN GET IF A MAN DOESN'T LOVE THEM! 'Someday their Prince/Wizard will come' being the takeaway. If you're really going to Follow the Mighty Dick Road at least have a little camp fun with your ode to the patriachy ! Great and Powerful hedges its bets here by taking it too seriously and extending an olive branch to the Wicked Witch because it's not her fault she's so crazy. James Franco, you see, is just too irresistible in Sepia or Technicolor. 

Oz-claws

P.S. If you'd rather just skip the new movie and just think about The Wizard of Oz again, here's a fun breakdown from Vulture about what the 1939 film is really about and a "best shot" party I hosted, wherein bloggers praised their personal favorite images from the film.

Nathaniel Rogers would live in the movie theater but for the poor internet reception. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.

Posted Mar. 9,2013 at 2:00 PM EST by in Film, James Franco, Mila Kunis, Nathaniel Rogers, News, Review | Permalink | Comments (28)


LGBT Groups Asked Michigan Judge to Delay Marriage Decision to Avoid Conservative Appellate Court

This week a federal judge in Michigan delayed a ruling in a case challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage until after the Supreme Court took up its cases on DOMA and Proposition 8.

LmcBuzzfeed's Chris Geidner has some details on why that may have happened:

Hoping to avoid a marriage case being heard by the more conservative Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, several organizations fighting for marriage equality — including the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, and National Center for Lesbian Rights — suggested in a December 2012 filing that the court hold off.

The groups wrote that before resolving the Michigan couple's case, "this Court may determine that it is prudent to await decision" in the California Proposition 8 case at the Supreme Court.

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman took the national groups' recommendation Thursday and is holding the couple's case to await word from the Supreme Court before issuing a decision in DeBoer and Rowse's case.

Although the LGBT groups' moves have been out of the spotlight as the DOMA and Proposition 8 cases took center stage, they shed light on the careful approach LGBT legal advocacy organizations have taken in the past couple of years. Although courtroom successes have been plenty in challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, more direct marriage-rights cases have met with mixed results.

Posted Mar. 9,2013 at 1:00 PM EST by | Permalink | Comments (1)



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