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11/02/2013

First Photo Of Today's Historic Marriage At West Point

Westpoint
As we promised earlier today, here's a snapshot (courtesy of the AP) from today's wedding of Larry Choate III and Daniel Lennox, the first gay men to marry at West Point. The couple has decided to hyphenate their surname to Lennox-Choate.

The two were married this afternoon in front of 20 guests. Big congrats!

Posted Nov. 2,2013 at 9:02 PM EST by in Gay Marriage, Military, New York, News | Permalink | Comments (12)


Rogue States Refuse To Obey Pentagon Order Over Gay Spousal Benefits

Despite direct orders from the Pentagon, several states said yesterday that they will continue to deny ID cards to gay spouses at state militias.

Reuters reports:

PentagonThe resistance put the Pentagon on a collision course with states that have rejected a Defense Department request, first issued in September, for identity cards to be issued to same-sex spouses so they can begin receiving benefits due to married couples.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, the Republican head of the National Governors Association, called on President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to "stop using the National Guard as a pawn in a larger social agenda," her spokesman, Alex Weintz, said in a statement on Friday.

"The president has made it clear he supports gay marriage. He has the legal authority to order federal agencies to recognize gay marriages. He does not have the legal authority to force state agencies to do so, or to unilaterally rewrite state laws or state constitutions," Weintz said.

Josh Havens, a spokesman for Texas Governor Rick Perry, said, "Texas Military Forces is a state agency, and as such is obligated to adhere to the Texas Constitution and the laws of this state which clearly define marriage as between one man and one woman."

Those Republican-led states are Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia. Earlier this week The Indiana National Guard reversed it's decision to not issue ID cards to same-sex spouses explaining that “the decision was never made to not process benefits, rather the decision was delayed in order to fully understand the impacts while service members serve in different pay categories.”

On Thursday night, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel issued a stern order to those states.

Like Perry, Republican Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant is one of those who has resisted. The Mississippi Business Journal reports:

Bryant says he does not have the constitutional authority to lift the ban. “The Mississippi Constitution clearly defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman and expressly prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions,” Bryant said through a spokesman.

Georgia has issued a similar statement: "The State of Georgia does not recognize same sex marriages and is not authorizing the Georgia National Guard to process the applications for same-sex married benefits at state facilities. Any personnel seeking to apply for same-sex married benefits will be referred to federal facilities."

Posted Nov. 2,2013 at 8:31 PM EST by in Chuck Hagel, Gay Marriage, Military, News | Permalink | Comments (31)


News: Nepal, Matt Bomer, Germany, Michigan

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi Oprah Winfrey's yard sale includes a chest of drawers worth $50,000.

Nepal6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi Nepal held its very first gay beauty pageant today: "The country's only openly gay lawmaker and BDS president, Sunil Babu Pant said: 'This programme has encouraged gay men to reveal their hidden talents and will create more awareness about gender and sexuality.'"

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi The father of the man who went on a shooting spree at LAX yesterday called police about his son around the same time the shootings actually took place.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi The former owner of a gay bar that was badly damaged in a fire has been charged with arson.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi Bernhard Goetz has been arrested for trying to sell marijuana to an undercover NYC cop.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi Two kidnapped French journalists have been killed in Mali.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi Crack-smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is adamant: "I'm not resigning."

Matt-bomer-friday-movies-with-simon-halls-016a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi A bunbled up Matt Bomer and less bundled up Simon Halls take in a movie in LA.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi New law in Germany introduces a third sex option for those born with both male and female characteristics. They reason: "The council had argued, among other things, that many people born with both sex characteristics who were operated on as children say they wouldn't have consented to the surgery."

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi Teens talk about the teen problem on Facebook.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi Britney Spears promotes her new single "Perfume" on Snapchat.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi There's a good chance that anti-discrimination laws could become a reality in Holland, Michigan if two anti-gay council members are defeated in Tuesday's election.

6a00d8341c730253ef019b008c8e6d970b-800wi The family of jailed Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova claims she is now missing.

Posted Nov. 2,2013 at 5:19 PM EST by in Britney Spears, Chicago, Crime, Germany, Matt Bomer, Michigan, Nepal, News, Oprah, Toronto | Permalink | Comments (14)


Group Criticizes SNL For Lack Of Black Female Cast Members

The nonprofit organization ColorOfChange.org has written an open letter to Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Micheals attacking the producer for the show's lack of African-American female cast members. The Hollywood Reporter received the letter exclusively and published it on their website. According to the article:

Kerry_Washington-Scandal(1)Since Maya Rudolph's departure in 2007, SNL has failed to cast even one Black woman -- yet still manages to traffic in dehumanizing portrayals that make race and gender the butt of the joke," reads the letter from ColorOfChange.org executive director Rashad Robinson. "SNL seems committed to aggressively continuing to push images of Black women as incompetent, rude, hypersexual and financially dependent. Frankly, we're tired of this disrespect."

The organization also took a moment to applaud SNL's choice to host tonight's episode: Scandal star Kerry Washington.

That praise was followed up with more criticism from the group: "But it's scandalous that after Ms. Washington's episode wraps on Saturday, this season is unlikely to feature any Black women characters at all."

Read the letter in its entirety, AFTER THE JUMP.

Washington herself was recently interviewed by The Advocate about diversity and how she feels about the support her show has received from the LGBT community. She responded:

For our show in particular, because it represents such diversity on so many levels, sexual orientation included, it means a lot. I always want to be a part of work that speaks to people across the lines that divide us. When fans came up to me, I used to play this game where I'd guess which of my movies they wanted to talk about. It was a totally horrible game based on outward appearances and assumptions about identity. Like, if it was an older black woman, I knew she wanted to talk about Ray. If it was a guy in his 20s, it was Fantastic Four. And if it was a lesbian, it was She Hate Me. But because it has such an amazing following that crosses age, race, gender, and sexual orientation, Scandal has changed the game completely.

October 31, 2013

Dear Lorne Michaels and producers of Saturday Night Live,

I am the Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org, the country's largest online civil rights organization with more than 900,000 members nationwide. ColorOfChange exists to strengthen Black Americans' political voice, in part by holding industry decision makers accountable when they promote or reinforce noxious racial stereotypes in the media.

I was deeply troubled by SNL cast member Kenan Thompson's recent comment that Black women comics just aren't "ready" to join your show. Thompson's remark gives cover to disturbing, long-held industry myths that Black women entertainers as a whole are untalented, unrelatable and unprofitable -- while conveniently sidestepping SNL's glaring (and much-remarked) deficit of Black onscreen talent that has come to define the show for nearly four decades now.

It's clear the producers, casting team and writers at SNL aren't oblivious to the ways Black women are breaking barriers across the television landscape -- and garnering huge audiences in the process. Your decision to tap Kerry Washington, the breakout star of ABC's tremendously popular Scandal, to host this week's show at least acknowledges that TV viewers want to see dynamic, multidimensional Black women characters on screen. But it's scandalous that after Ms. Washington's episode wraps on Saturday, this season is unlikely to feature any Black women characters at all.

In the 39-year history of SNL, just three Black women have joined the show's repertory cast. The first, Danitra Vance, was hired after the show had already been on air for a decade, and quit after a short period because she was only given tired roles written expressly to demean and dismiss Black women, including baby mamas, maids and women with a bad attitude. That was 1986 -- when I was in elementary school -- and it seems little has changed over the course of my lifetime.

Since Maya Rudolph's departure in 2007, SNL has failed to cast even one Black woman -- yet still manages to traffic in dehumanizing portrayals that make race and gender the butt of the joke. Whether it's Kenan Thompson in drag as the crass, sexually aggressive "Virginiaca," or white cast member Cecily Strong voicing "Verquonica" -- a "large, non-functional" (i.e. overweight and lazy), unmistakably "Black" Starbucks coffee machine -- SNL seems committed to aggressively continuing to push images of Black women as incompetent, rude, hypersexual and financially dependent. Frankly, we're tired of this disrespect.

Further, it's critical to note that the callous, monolithic representations of Black people peddled by SNL and others have alarming real-world impacts. Media depictions of Black individuals, families and communities irrefutably shape how we're perceived in society. According to a recent study by The Opportunity Agenda, the negative perceptions of Black men and women that form in TV audiences' minds as a result of biased portrayals translate into greater chances of us being shot by the police, diminished attention from doctors, and less consideration when applying for jobs, loans and educational opportunities.

And SNL has a particularly important role to play when it comes to influencing both the casting and characters that gain traction with a wider television (and film) audience. SNL acts as a springboard for the entire comedy universe, spinning off standalone shows and movies based on SNL skits, and lending an imprimatur of bankability to cast alums. Your impact has been especially pronounced in late night -- a realm of television where white male dominance persists -- with Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Fallon and now Seth Meyers chosen for the handful of hosting opportunities available.

Given the substantial real-life consequences of your ability to evolve casting practices at SNL, we are demanding to know what you will do to ensure Black women are no longer excluded from the show. I urge you to treat this matter with all due seriousness and respectfully request a phone meeting by Wednesday, November 6th, to discuss how you will improve the situation at SNL.

Sincerely, Rashad Robinson Executive Director ColorOfChange.org

Posted Nov. 2,2013 at 3:02 PM EST by in News, Saturday Night Live, Television | Permalink | Comments (38)


Michele Bachmann: 'God, I’m A Loser'

That's what a new book titled Double Down claims the Republican Congresswoman said to herself after she quit her failed presidential bid in 2012.

The Huffington Post has published an excerpt from the book: 00000403049208

Sitting in her campaign bus, in the same seat where she cried with joy in August, she now sobbed over her drubbing. “God, I’m a loser,” Bachmann said. “God, I turn people off.” With two debates ahead in New Hampshire, some of her advisers thought she should consider staying in the race. Bachmann wanted no part of it. Let’s draft a withdrawal speech for tomorrow, she said.

Double Down focuses on the 2012 presidential campaign and will apparently give a fair amount of attention to Bachmann and her campaign. The book will be released on Tuesday.

If you want to revisit that speech, which took place right after the Iowa caucuses, watch it, AFTER THE JUMP.

Posted Nov. 2,2013 at 12:22 PM EST by in Books, Michelle Bachmann, News | Permalink | Comments (19)


West Point To Host First Gay Wedding Between Two Men Today

Hike

For the first time in West Point's history, two men (both West Point graduates) will marry in the chapel of the military academy today. According to the AP:

Larry Choate III, class of 2009, will marry Daniel Lennox, class of 2007, on Saturday at the U.S. Military Academy's Cadet Chapel. West Point hosted two same-sex weddings of women in late 2012, more than a year after New York legalized gay marriage. But this is the first time two men are being wed at West Point...

WestChoate, 27, said the landmark Gothic chapel at the Hudson Valley academy is a special place and it's an honor to be wed there. He taught Sunday school at the chapel as a cadet and always thought of it as the place he would get married, if he could.

Both men are out of the military. Lennox, a 28-year-old from Washington, D.C, is getting his master's degree in business administration at Harvard University in Massachusetts. Choate, from Seattle, works at the business school there and is applying to Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Last year,  Brenda Sue Fulton and Penelope Dara Gnesin became the first gay couple to marry at West Point.

According a post on Choate's blog, the two men became engaged in March of this year, soon after Lennox's return from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. The right side photo captured their reunion upon his return.

In a post from earlier this week, Choate writes about the excitement he and Lennox experienced after being handed their marriage license from a clerk in New York:

It was just a white paper form that came out of their laserjet printer and was embossed with the seal of the state of NY. It's real world value is next to nothing. But to us it's the official, legal recognition of our new life together. It's everything so many advocates and activists have devoted their lives to making possible.

We'll post photos from the wedding as soon as we see them. Congrats, guys!

Posted Nov. 2,2013 at 11:27 AM EST by in Gay Marriage, New York, News, West Point | Permalink | Comments (25)



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