On Friday, the United Nations officially unveiled a global public education campaign called 'Free & Equal,' with the goal of increasing support and awareness for LGBT rights around the world. The Washington Blade reports:
The year-long effort, which the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights unveiled during a press conference in Cape Town, South Africa, seeks to raise awareness of anti-LGBT violence and discrimination and encourage what it describes as 'greater respect for the rights of LGBT people.'
The "Free & Equal" campaign will stress what a press release described as the 'need for both legal reforms and public education to counter homophobia and transphobia.' The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights will also produce a number of videos that are similar to the one it released in May to mark the annual International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and gay South African Constitutional Court Justice Edwin Cameron, who lives with HIV, joined U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay at the Cape Town press conference.
'Changing attitudes is never easy. But it has happened on other issues and it is happening already in many parts of the world on this one,' Pillay said. 'It begins with often difficult conversations. And that is what we want to do with this campaign. 'Free & Equal' will inspire millions of conversations among people around the world and across the ideological spectrum.'
'The [U.N.'s] Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world in which everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights - no exceptions, no one left behind,' Pillay said. 'Yet it's still a hollow promise for many millions of LGBT people forced to confront hatred, intolerance, violence and discrimination on a daily basis.'
Check out a powerful video about the new campaign's mission, AFTER THE JUMP...
Target Corp. found themselves under the financial microscope once again, after it was revealed yesterday that they donated $50,000 dollars to the Republican Governors Association, a PAC that has spent over $3 million campaigning for anti-gay Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia. Some, including Right Wing Watch, claimed that the donation was "indirect support" for Cuccinelli, who has an extensive history of homophobic remarks.
Now, Target Corp. has released a statement to The Advocate, in an attempt to put these recent concerns to rest. Molly Snyder of Target Communications insisted that the funds must "not be used for any individual electoral campaigns or other electioneering efforts."
"Target has a long-standing commitment to the LGBT community. We also believe strongly in our civic responsibility to engage in a bipartisan manner at the state and federal level in order to learn about public policy priorities and advocate on issues that affect our business, such as fairness legislation," stated Snyder. "One of the ways we do this is through membership in both the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations, both of which include several hundred other corporate members. When paying for our memberships, we explicitly require that our dues not be used for any individual electoral campaigns or other electioneering efforts. It would therefore be wrong and inaccurate to associate our membership dues with any particular political candidate or campaign."
So far, no one has yet been able to independently confirm this claim.
It's been a stressful week for companies like SPI Group, producer of Stolichnaya vodka, as boycotts of Russian products are currently underway in response to the country's anti-LGBT regime under Vladimir Putin.
So far, however, reactions to the boycott have been somewhat mixed. Some commentators, such as Scott Shackford with the libertarian magazine Reason say the boycott was started before all the facts were on the table.
Responding to the arguments that Dan Savage, Queer Nation, and others have made to continue the boycott despite the SPI Group's statement pledging their support to the LGBT community, Shackford says that there is a 'big Western bias' that is being left out of the equation.
Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that the boycotters quite get it. Stoli sent out an open letter Thursday, declaring its support for gay rights, mentioning its history of activity within the gay community in America and other countries. But, Dan Savage posted, this isn't enough. What are they doing about the suffering of gays in Russia? Scheffler (SPI Group's CEO) is one of Russia's richest men!
There's a big Western bias in this argument, assuming that Russia's corporatism is like America's or Europe's corporatism. Because Scheffler's rich, he must have some sort of government influence! There must be something he can do! No doubt there are certainly similarities, but you simply can't ignore Russia's deeply nationalist streak and how closely it's flirting with autocracy. It doesn't take that much research to see how difficult a position Scheffler is in. Russia wants his company.
Shackford goes on to detail how, back in 2002, police ransacked the SPI headquarters in Moscow in an attempt to renationalize the Russian assets of the company. Scheffler himself is wanted for 'questioning' for allegedly threatening the director of the parts of the Russian company that were renationalized.
What's sad about this effort is that if Russia succeeds in getting its hands back on Stoli, then a boycott actually makes sense. But the consequence will be that a powerful businessman who does support the gay community will lose his company. Boycotting Stoli now is a very bad idea. Scheffler is an ally who the gay and lesbian community needs to work with, not alienate. From a Western perspective it may be hard to realize that an incredibly rich person like Scheffler has the potential to be a victim of Russia's authoritarian regime like its gay citizens or members of Pussy Riot, but it's extremely important not to look at the nature of power and influence there the way we do here.
In related news, The Guardian points out that even Russia's own gay rights activists are saying the boycott is misguided:
"They mixed everything up. Stolichnaya isn't Russian," Said the lawyer Nikolai Alekseev, head of the Moscow Pride organizing committee.
Still, SPI Group isn't the only vodka company with ties to Russia. Russian Standard vodka, unlike Stolichnaya, is actually produced in Russia and owned by the Russian oligarch Roustam Tariko. The company has yet to comment publicly about the boycott.
Cue the gay nerd fantasies...
Jackman and wife Deborrah Lee-Furness supposedly "confessed" this fact to The Sun yesterday. Lee-Furness told the tabloid that her husband makes use of the Wolverine costume, claws and all, all around the house. “Oh my God, it’s dreadful! Always with the claws. I’m like, ‘Mix the salad. Put them to use, come on!’” Jackman then quipped, "The sheets we go through...”
Queerty added that "perhaps it’s merely a ploy to generate more attention for The Wolverine‘s release, or maybe it just another attempt to end the gay rumors." Perhaps they have a point. After all, any lesbian can tell you that, when it comes to claws and lady-parts, the shorter the better. But, at the end of the day, who cares if it's true or not as long as the two are happy?
This writer cares, for one. If for no other reason, it makes for a nice visual. Sploosh...
Bryan Fischer Backs Ken Cuccinelli's Sexual Crusade, Says 'Homosexual Behavior Should Be Contrary to Public Policy'
Looks like Virginia Attorney General (and Republican gubernatorial candidate) Ken Cuccinelli has a not-so-surprising ally in his quest to rid the commonwealth of oral and anal sex. Writing in the Huffington Post, radio host Michelangelo Signorile reports that in a recent interview on his show, American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer not only backed Cuccinelli's plan, but also went further, essentially describing it as a necessary public health effort:
In what appeared to be a reference to HPV-related cancers, Fischer said in a conversation with me on SiriusXM Progress that a rise in head, neck and throat cancers "among millennials" is a direct result of the influence of "Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky." Throughout the interview, Fischer refused to clearly state what the punishment should be for those who engage in the sexual activity he believes should be banned, alternating between the idea of issuing summonses like "parking tickets" and "speeding tickets"and putting those who engage in oral sex or homosexual sex -- which he compared to drug trafficking, pedophilia and bestiality -- into something similar to drug rehab, at one point even suggesting an "intervention."
Fischer has brought plenty of crazy to the table before, and he's in fine form in his interview with Signorile. Asked what he thought about oral and anal sex engaged in by heterosexual individuals, Fischer said, "That kind of sexual activity is destructive to the human body and I don’t care who does it. Let’s talk about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. We now have an epidemic of cancers of the throat and head and neck among millennials"--apparently, if Fischer is to be believed, because they grew up during Clinton's presidency.
While Fischer's views on uncontroversial sexual practices that are without a doubt taking place across the country every day--and his ideas for punishing them with traffic ticket-like fines or rehab (really!)--might seem far outside the mainstream, Ken Cuccinelli's sodomy law would make different-sex vaginal intercourse the only acceptable form of sex in Virginia. That means anal sex and oral sex--whether homosexual or heterosexual, and even amongst married couples--would be illegal.
Even more shockingly, after Cuccinelli lost his attempt to revive Virginia's anti-sodomy laws at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in March--which relied explicitly on the Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas invalidating sodomy laws nationwide--the attorney general petitioned the high court to review the decision, in essence asking it to repeal Lawrence.
There's something truly remarkable about the fact that, on this issue at least, there is so little daylight between one of America's most anti-gay voices and the highest law enforcement officer of the nation's 12th most populous state.
If you can stomach it, you can listen to Signorile's full interview with Bryan Fischer, AFTER THE JUMP...
Posted Jul. 26,2013 at 6:45 PM EST by Jacob Combs in American Family Association, Bryan Fischer, Gay Rights, Ken Cuccinelli, Michelangelo Signorile, Supreme Court, Virginia | Permalink | Comments (15)
Iowa Department Of Public Health Reportedly Still Denying Accurate Birth Certificates To Gay Parents
According to a release by One Iowa, the state Department of Public Health is currently making married, same-sex parents jump through extra hoops when trying accurate birth certificates that contain the names of both parents. According to the release:
"Same-sex married couples are being told by the Iowa Department of Public Health that they must follow an affidavit process and obtain certified copies of their marriage license before accurate birth certificates can be issued. These requirements do not apply to non-gay Iowa families."
The controversy comes in the wake of Garter v. Newton, a case that, after being argued before the state supreme court, directed the Department of Public Health to begin issuing birth certificates containing the names of both same-sex spouses. At least one lesbian couple, who gave an interview to KCRG-TV, is experiencing difficulty with their child's birth certificate. Lindsey Clark and Joanne Abbas report "they filled out the necessary paperwork at the time of [their child]'s birth," and were confused when they received a certificate with only one name on it.
One Iowa's director, Donna Red Wing, had strong words to share in the group's statement:
"It is unacceptable that the Iowa Department of Public Health is still dragging its heels on this very important issue of granting accurate birth certificates to children born to married lesbian mothers. The Attorney General's office knew at the time of the Gartner decision that a process needed to be in place, and they have failed. These couples are forced to jump through bureaucratic hoops and spend time and money to attain what is rightfully and legally theirs. Nobody takes a certified copy of their marriage license to the hospital with them when they are about to give birth. The Iowa Department of Public Health is playing procedural games with the lives of the children of these married couples and that is simply outrageous and unfair.
"No other state with marriage equality has treated same-sex married couples in this manner. Equality in Iowa should mean something. It is time, once and for all, for the Iowa Department of Public Health to end its shameful practice of denying children their legal bond to both parents."