Any readers out there looking for a distraction from the drama currently taking place in Russia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Twitter can kindly step right up and enjoy this hearwarming story fresh from USA Today.
A crowd of approximately 200 gathered at the dock of the Naval Submarine Base New London in Connecticut to welcome home the USS New Mexico. Among those in attendance was Dylan Kirchner, who was there to greet his boyfriend Machinist's Mate Jerrel Revels. Kirchner ended up getting a little more than he bargained for, and was surprised when Revels got down on one knee and popped the question. Kirchner confessed to The Day that, while he had previosuly given thought to getting married, yesterday's proposal proved to be completely unexpected. "I didn't really care everybody was around. It felt just like the two of us," he said.
They have not yet set a wedding date.
USA Today reports that:
"Defense officials estimate there are 18,000 same-sex couples in the active-duty military, National Guard and Reserves. It's unclear how many of those are married."
Luckily, as gay soldiers feel safe enough to celebrate their realtionships publicly, those fogures will likely become much more concrete.
The 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi could prove just the start of the anxiety and frustration already plaguing LGBT athletes, sports fans, and supporters across the globe. Russia is currently set to host FIFA's World Cup soccer tournament in 2018, and Russia 2018's CEO, Alexey Sorokin, is already being grilled with questions.
Sorokin recently gave an interview to World Football Insider, in which he defended Russia's anti-gay laws as "largely misinterpreted." "It is designed against active propaganda of homosexuality, not against homosexuality itself. That is a big difference," he argued. Of course, those committing acts of homophobic violence or luring gay teens on the internet don't seem to be making the same convenient distinction between homosexuality and "propaganda". He assures gay participants in the upcoming tournament that, as long as they keep their private lives to themselves, "they have nothing more to fear." He also adds that:
"They have guarantees and assurances that they will not be affected. The minister of sport [Vitaly Mutko] has given a full and detailed explanation. It would be strange to see someone choose such an event as the Olympic Games as a stage to propogate these ideas. We suppose people come to participate or to watch and be part of it not to display their views. Private life should remain private."
"Would you like a World Cup where naked people are running around displaying their homosexuality? The answer to that is quite obvious."
The answer might not be as "obvious" as you think. But still, wait for it...
"The Olympics and World Cup are not a stage for various views... not for Nazis, not for any other ways of life. It should be about football and nothing else."
...and there it is. Obviously, this comparison of LGBT people to Nazis hasn't sat well with a host of groups and entities, including FIFA, who asked for greater clarification regarding the law, according to National Post. Unfortunately, the organizers behind Russia 2018 must have given them the answers they were looking for. FIFA said in a statement that:
"Russia has committed to provide all visitors and fans with a warm welcome and ensure their safety. FIFA trusts that the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts will deliver on this promise."
Before anyone gets too anxious, though, know that FIFA's policies towards discrimination are substantially broader than those currently being used by the International Olympic Commission. Article 3 of its statutes clearly state that:
“Discrimination of any kind against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.”
Thus, at least FIFA seems better poised at present to protect its LGBT athletes, coaches, and spectators from Russia's incredibly anti-gay climate. There is no doubt, however, that Sochi's WInter Olympic Games will set some sort of precedent for the World Cup.
It is also worth mentioning that FIFA has already awarded its 2022 World Cup tournament to Qatar, another country with anti-gay laws on the books. Thus, the ripple effects of the 2014 Olympics will almost certainly be felt for years and years to come.
Anyone with an internet connection likely remembers the failure that was Rick Santorum's 2012 bid for the United States presidency. They also probably know that the frothy former congressman and former senator has continued to pop up on Towleroad's radar even after moving to the GOP's back seat.
This most recent blip comes courtesy of Right Wing Watch, which managed to come across a clip from a Republican Party gathering in Lyon County, Iowa. During this gathering, Santorum gave a speech in which he called the term "middle class" "Marxism talk".
"Since when in America do we have classes? SInce when in America are people stuck in areas or defined places...that's called a class. That's Marxism talk. When Republicans talk about middle class, we're buying into their rhetoric."
One hopes that Santorum includes himself in that last sentence, since Right Wing Watch was good enough to compile just a couple examples of the many times Santorum has used that very term. His speech goes on to claim that the Republican party is the sole party that "values the dignity of every human life". "Don't let them take what we rightfully own," he warns, as his rhetoric proceeds to get more heated and more vague.
Take in all of Santorum's comments in their original context AFTER THE JUMP...
In the wake of Iowa's supreme court ruling that legalized marriage equality in the state, the National Organization for Marriage launched a campaign attacking three of the court's justices, in attempt to get them replaced. According to a complaint filed by Fred Karger, NOM resorted to some questionable fundraising tactics during the campaign, and refused to disclose the names of their donors after repeatedly being asked to do so.
Karger's compaint subsequently launched an investigation by the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board after the group voted unanimously to pursue it. NOM President Brian Brown was obviously not happy, a fact that likely surprises no one. Anyone familiar with Brown's history of distorted and inflammatory remarks could likely expect a stong reaction, which he promptly posted on NOM's blog. In the post, Brown chose to especially single out the board's chair, Megan Tooker, alleging a few bold accusations:
"The people of Iowa are entitled to the highest standards of ethical conduct and independence from the state’s top ethics officer, but Megan Tooker has shown herself to be biased and incredibly unprofessional in her handling of the complaint against NOM. Ms. Tooker worked for one of the justices we helped remove from office in 2010 and which is the subject of the complaint she is evaluating. At a minimum this presents the appearance of a conflict of interest. Furthermore, her comments to the media reveal deep-seated animosity toward our position and are grossly inaccurate, prejudicial and inappropriate. We demand that she be removed from having any role in evaluating the complaint filed against us.
"By blatantly misrepresenting our position in the media, Ms. Tooker has in effect convicted us in absentia, without conducting any investigation or receiving any evidence. She’s prejudiced our case by lying to the media about our position on critical matters, and then declaring us to be ‘absolutely wrong’ and ‘absolutely false’ in our defense of the complaint. Clearly, this is not the kind of ethical behavior one would expect from the state’s top ethics officer, someone charged with conducting a fair and impartial investigation into the facts, and then carefully applying the facts to the law. Rather, it shows the deep bias she holds toward us for having helped unseat her former employer."
As was noted by ThinkProgress, Tooker's former employer, the supposed justice in question, was not the only judge to issue the decision in favor of marriage equality--the decision was unanimous, and NOM was only able to remove three of the four justices in that Iowa supreme court. Furthermore, Tooker was not the only member of the board to vote in favor of the investigation. That decision was also unanimous. Even if Tooker was as biased as Brown's claims painted her to be, there was an entire rest of the board to help counteract that.
ThinkProgress also reported on an event that took place in Iowa over the weekend, during which Brown attacked Karger, the person responsible for the compaint that launched the investigation. "Karger told On Top magazine that Brown 'just began to lash out at me' and was 'clearly bothered.' Indeed, NOM has been fighting to hide the source of its funding in every state it has campaigned, so Brown may well have reason to be concerned that the ruse could soon come unraveled."
According to an update, NOM is now using the investigation as yet another excuse to solicit donations on their official site.
Last month, we reported on a great new educational app called Quist that teaches users a daily history lesson related to LGBT culture, politics, and movements. The app has had a very successful launch, having already been downloaded over 10,000 times in its first month alone.
Yesterday, however, the app hit a bit of a snag when the owner attempted to update the text of the iTunes App Store description and received the following message from Apple:
"The following is not recommended for use in this field: bisexual. Your app may be rejected if you use this term"
In response, Quist began an online change.org petition to get Apple to remove 'bisexual' as an unacceptable term for use in app descriptions. Within 24 hours, word of the petition spread across the web to GLADD, Queerty, and Buzzfeed and Apple quickly called Quist directly to inform them that the term 'bisexual' will no longer be a flagged or spam word in the App Store in the future.
A great example of the power of petition!
Previously, the International Olympic Committee has assured LGBT athletes, coaches, and spectators that they will "work to ensure" that the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will take place "without discrimination", and that they had "received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the (anti-gay) legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games." This seemed to quell apprehension, as well as embolden the likes of Johnny Weir, Blake Skjellerup, and most recently, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.
Now, the IOC seems to be changing its tone, according to a new report released by Gay Star News and publicized by The Advocate. According to the report, the IOC plans equate any displays of LGBT rights advocacy or solidarity with a "demonstration of political, religious or racial propaganda", which is prohibited by Rule 50 if the organization's charter. Those found in violation of Rule 50 can be subject to "disqualification or withdrawal of the accreditation of the person concerned," without any sort of appeal. The IOC spokeswoman who spoke to Gay Star News did not specify if those found "in violation of Rule 50" would also be subject to any punitive action by Russian authorities.
She was asked, though, if the games might provide any sort of "Pride House" where openly LGBT athletes would be able to be fully free and open in a more secluded setting. She responded by saying:
"Regarding your suggestions, the IOC has a clear rule laid out in the Olympic Charter (Rule 50) which states that the venues of the Olympic Games are not a place for proactive political or religious demonstration. This rule has been in place for many years and applied when necessary. In any case, the IOC would treat each case individually and take a sensible approach depending on what was said or done."
While it may come as some consolation that the IOC is not directly aligning itself with the Russian government, Gay Star News did point out the troubling fact that "the Olympics own charter describes such things as ‘propaganda’ – the same word used by the Russians in their new anti-gay law which stops homosexuality being ‘promoted’ to minors." Also note that, as of now, the Olympic Charter only forbids discrimination on the basis of race, religion, politics and gender. Terms like "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" are conspicuously absent or incomplete.
No reactions have been released yet from LGBT athletes or advocates regarding this newest development in the Sochi Olympics controversy. No doubt, though, that this most recent statement will likely galvanize and inflame those standing on both sides of the debate. We will, of course, keep track of these developments as they come in...since this fight is likely far from over.