The Dominican Republic isn't the only country that is taking issue with US ambassadors that happen to be gay. Nigeria is adding their name to the list and, like the Dominican Republic, there is difference of opinion held between government officials...
“Nigeria is not against any country for legalizing gay marriage, but in our country, given our customs and traditions, as well as religious beliefs, marriage as ordained by God is between a man and a woman,” [Minister of Foreign Affairs Olugbenga] Ashiru reportedly said. ”But if we have diplomats with same sex spouses posted to Nigeria, we have no choice but to accredit them accordingly because they come from countries where such law is in place.”
...and hyper-conservative Christians...
"To us, this is ridiculous and unacceptable and we are seriously disturbed because for the first time, Nigerian Muslims and Christians have agreed that they don’t subscribe to gay marriage." - statement from the Christian Association of Nigeria
Much like the religious leaders in the Dominican Republic promising that ambassador James "Wally" Brewster would be made to suffer to force him to leave the country, so too have the members of the Christian Association of Nigeria promised to "mobilize to chase [gay diplomats] out of the country." Because Jesus.
The Southern Poverty Law Center called the ruling "a first in Alabama". The group has just finished representing Chelsea Hughes in Mobile County court. Hughes separated from her then-husband after following him to Mobile from Seattle, due to a military transfer. Once the couple separated, her ex-husband denied her access to her four children, due to the fact that she had chosen to be with a woman after the divorce. She subsequently enlisted the help of SPLC, and filed for visitation rights. Unfortunately, as was noted by the group, gay parents (who are just as, if not more, competent at raising families than straight parents) face an uphill battle when filing for visitation rights in Alabama:
"A circuit judge approved favorable visitation rights in a July 25 order. Although similar rulings may have occurred in Alabama where such orders are not widely published, this appears to be the first time an Alabama trial court has approved standard visitation rights for an avowedly lesbian or gay parent. Overnight restrictions – sometimes referred to as 'paramour' restrictions – especially burden same-sex parents who are still prohibited from marriage in Alabama."
Senior staff attorney Sam Wolfe hailed the ruling as a groundbreaking victory:
"This sets the right precedent for LGBT parents – and any unmarried parent in Alabama because LGBT people and unmarried parents have just as much right to their children as heterosexual couples...Parents should never have to choose between their children and an unmarried partner. LGBT parents have faced serious mistreatment in Alabama and it has got to stop."
Luckily, last week's ruling marks a step in the right direction.
There’s a very specific type of non-competition Bravo reality show that chronicles the truly insufferable. Among the usual stories of excess and big personalities are unique studies of characters that are so widely unappealing, it’s a wonder they ever make it to air.
Don’t get us wrong, many (some might say most) Bravo reality shows feature characters who are some combination of out of touch, overindulgent or obnoxious (or, in the case of The Real Housewives of Miami’s Lea Black, all three). However, most series redeem themselves with even-tempered charmers (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Lisa Vanderpump), self-aware quipsters (Flipping Out’s Jeff Lewis) or deliciously compelling drama (season one of The Real Housewives of New Jersey).
I’ll let you guess how to best categorize Princesses: Long Island, which wraps its first (and, please, let it be only) season Sunday on Bravo.
Although the ladies of Long Island aren’t the most likable, their adventures have been compulsively watchable. After having spent the last several weeks following Amanda, Casey, Chanel, Erica, Joey and (especially) Ashlee as they exist in a world largely devoid of any real consequence or personal responsibility, the epic meltdown that appeared in last Sunday’s penultimate episode was immensely gratifying. It may go down in history as one of television’s most satisfying sources of schadenfreude ever (trailing just behind Alexis Neiers’ sobbing voicemail fiasco on E!‘s Pretty Wild).
Get acquainted with this summer’s best show to hate-watch below. We’ve collected some of this season’s most outlandish moments before Sunday’s finale, so you’ll know what everyone is kvetching about come Monday morning.
More, AFTER THE JUMP...
Right from the beginning, Ashlee rocketed ahead as the most aggressively unlikable character of this bunch. Her proudly-pampered lifestyle was on display when she went for a pedicure with her father in the first episode. Not only did it culminate with Ashlee’s refusal to walk in anything other than heels, but then she demanded to be carried out of the salon by an employee (see photo at the top of the post).
The most fascinating (and tragic) aspect of Princesses is the persistence of their high-school past. For a group of girls in their late-twenties and early-thirties, there is an awful lot of talk about their teenage years. Never was that more at the forefront than when Casey breaks down while confronting Erica about sleeping with her boyfriend when she was 16.
Sure, holding a grudge over a high school romance for more than 10 years sounds petty, but that’s nothing compared to the screaming match -- complete with gay slurs -- that erupted over who was Facebook friends with Amanda’s boyfriend.
In true reality fashion, some of the girls have completely unnecessary product lines, including Amanda’s “Drink Hanky.” (It’s like a sock for your cup.) To promote the product, she went on a “spontaneous” photoshoot that incorporated a 9/11 memorial statue of a firefighter in a less than respectful way.
It was a perfect Princesses storm. The typically tolerable Chanel was embroiled in an argument with a guest at a party celebrating Amanda’s “Drink Hanky.” When Joey ignored Ashlee’s commands, it triggered a second shouting match. For some reason, it's Joey's use of the phrase "Mama Dukes" that really sets Ashlee off. It’s here that the seeds of the fight from last Sunday’s breakdown were first sown.
Which Princess: Long Island moments made you cringe?
Yesterday, Queer Nation and RUSA LGBT announced that the two organizations would be holding a joint protest of anti-gay violence and legislation outside of the Russian Consulate in Manhattan today. Now, according to Joe My God, "100 activists are demonstrating outside the Russian consulate". They've also apparently been joined by members of ACT UP, and photos are now hitting the web thanks to the Memeographs Facebook page and the ACT UP New York Twitter Account.
View some of the photos AFTER THE JUMP...
Even now, human rights and LGBT advocates are protesting Russian vodka, the chief target of which appears to be Stolichnaya and its parent company, SPI Group. SPI CEO Val Mendeleev has already expressed the company's support of the LGBT community and decried the protests, a statement that was already elicited harsh rebuttals from the likes of Dan Savage and Queer Nation. Mendeleev subsequently seized a recent opportunity to address the boycott again and elaborate on his company's support in an interview with XM Progress.
Mendeleev described himself as an "ex-Russian" in the interview, considering that he left the country 20 years ago. He used the same term to describe SPI's owner, Yuri Scheffler, and insisted that they both oppose Russian president Vladimir Putin, as well as the country's anti-gay policies. He maintained that SPI is "not a Russian company," highlighting the fact that the company is headquartered in Luxembourg, and only operates one distillery in Russia. He did admit that the company does use Russian ingredients, However, he said that the company is looking into other sources, but that will unfortunately take time. "We produce more than 100,000 bottles of Stoli every day...It’s not so easy to shift production immediately."
To bolster his arguments, Mendeleev highlighted the fact that Stoli and SPI have been in contest over ownership of the brand for over ten years:
“We were forced to move our headquarters from Russia about 10 years ago. And this is because we have ongoing litigation with the Russian government about the ownership of the brand. So, we’re not a friend of the Russian government. We are not a Russian company. Stoli is not even allowed to be sold in Russia... [The Russian government] did manage to grab up the Russian Stoli brand and they have been trying to grab up the ownership of the global brand. But the international courts in London and Switzerland understand that this commercial dispute with the Russian government has political motives. Yuri Scheffler, in early 2000, when this whole thing started, was supporting political opposition to the new government that was installed there, and that basically started the whole dispute.”
You can even look at the label, he points out, which now reads "premium" vodka instead of "Russian" vodka, a change that took place in 2007. Mendeleev also used the interview as an opportunity to announce his company's decision to donate money to an unspecified group on behalf of Russian LGBT citizens and their allies. The current anti-gay propaganda law makes it challenging for SPI to simply donate to one or more LGBT organizations, especially since many have been forced to go underground. But, as he points out:
"I’ve been giving interviews, some of them in Russia, emphasizing our position, that we are upset by the lack of tolerance in Russia and the law limiting rights. But at the same time, we’re now analyzing the best way to influence this in Russia. Probably we will identify a global or local charity that knows better than us how to tackle the issue and influence the issue in Russia. And we’ll support it financially.”
Mendeleev also made sure to mention his company's nondiscrimination policy and domestic partner benefits, which he uses to emphasize one final point-- that SPI and Stoli are the true victims in this situation.
“Stoli has been a friend of the LGBT community and has been an opponent of the Russian government. Stoli was singled out by the community with which we associated in a way that we don’t believe was appropriate. If you look at our relationship with the Russian government, we’ve been boycotted by the Russian government for the past 10 years. We’ve been threatened, raided. And now we are being boycotted by the LGBT community.”
Despite certain bans being put in place both in the U.S. and abroad, ex-gay therapy continues to be offered by 70 different clinics in 20 different states, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Luckily, the SPLC has filed a lawsuit against one such organization, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (or JONAH), alleging consumer fraud. The New Jersey lawsuit will hopefully break new ground, and set a precedent for similar lawsuits against other similar organizations.
That doesn't sit well with Nicholas A. Cummings, a former therapist and head of the American Psychological Association, who used the lawsuit as an avenue to advocate for ex-gay therapy in an op-ed piece he wrote for USA Today. "The sweeping allegation that such treatment must be a fraud because homosexual orientation can't be changed is damaging," he wrote, claiming that the Southern Poverty Law Center has "gone astray" from its original "service for our nation in fighting prejudice."
It is worth mentioning straight away that Cummings' credentials as a therapist date from 1959–1979, and his credentials as head of the APA date from 1979–1980. As ThinkProgress pointed out, "it’s unclear what professional experience he’s had since then." Since Cummings' time as head, the APA has recognized the practice of ex-gay therapy as ineffective and potentially harmful. Nevertheless, Cummings maintains that "of the patients I oversaw who sought to change their orientation, hundreds were successful." He went on to explain:
"I believe that our rate of success with reorientation was relatively high because we were selective in recommending therapeutic change efforts only to those who identified themselves as highly motivated and were clinically assessed as having a high probability of success."
When it came to providing specific numerical or even anecdotal evidence of this "high probability of success", Cummings chose to stay conspicuously silent in his op-ed piece. Instead, he chose to lament the politicization of ex-gay therapy, and claimed that:
"Accusing professionals from across the country who provide treatment for fully informed persons seeking to change their sexual orientation of perpetrating a fraud serves only to stigmatize the professional and shame the patient.
it is also worth mentioning that Cummings does agree with the fact that "homosexuality is not a mental disorder". That is, unfortunately, where he and the APA split, since the organization has agreed that sexual orientation cannot be changed by therapy. As for those claiming to be changed by therapy? Studies indicate that they are simply "acting the part". Thus, Cummings' op-ed, which ThinkProgress calls "a rehash of an affidavit he filed defending JONAH in the lawsuit," serves only to toss around old credentials and vague evidence to advocate for abusive treatment, as was reported by plaintiffs in the JONAH lawsuit.
Perhaps even more troubling is the fact that organizations such as NARTH, who advocate for ex-gay therapy, are already championing Cummings' article to their supporters. Then again, "he has also featured as a keynote speaker at NARTH conferences, where he claimed that the LGBT movement uses “homophobia as intimidation” to oppress those who oppose homosexuality."
Read the full op-ed for USA Today HERE.