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04/19/2007


NBC's Networks Devoted 119 Minutes of Coverage to Russia's Anti-Gay Laws During Sochi Games

HRC reports that over the course of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, "NBC has dedicated 1 hour, 59 minutes, 42 seconds across NBC, NBC Sports, MSNBC, CNBC and USA to discussing Russia’s anti-LGBT laws."

NbcsochiIn total, 30% of coverage aired on NBC with 66% on MSNBC and just over 3% on CNBC.  On the final day of the Games, there were three mentions of Russia’s persecution of LGBT people, including an interview where host Bob Costas asks International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach whether the IOC might change its policies to specify that certain things have to be in order in a country before the Olympics would consider going there.  After Bach stated that it was not the job of the IOC to influence politics, Costas went on to question the IOC’s decision to punish any athlete who spoke out against Russia’s mistreatment of LGBT people during official Olympic proceedings.

Coveragetime


NBC Hit With Protests for Ignoring Gays in Russia in Lead-Up to Sochi Winter Olympics: VIDEO

Weir_nbc

Queer Nation protested outside NBC's Sports Department holiday party outside a restaurant on East 30th street in NYC yesterday. The banner was sewn by Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow Flag.

Earlier in the day, the group hit the Today show holiday party.

Pogrom Nbc_wtf
The group explained its actions in a press release:

Charging that NBC is misinforming its viewers about the dire circumstances of LGBT Russians ahead of its broadcast of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia, LGBT activists will demand that NBC tell the truth about Russia and its anti-LGBT laws.

“NBC has dispatched Olympic commentator Johnny Weir and MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts, two openly gay men, to soft-pedal the Russian government’s anti-LGBT bigotry,” said Ken Kidd, a member of Queer Nation NY, an LGBT rights group. “LGBT Russians have been vilified, assaulted, tortured, murdered, and fired from their jobs by the Russian government and by Russian thugs. It’s past time for NBC to report the facts about Russia.”

NBC, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars for the broadcast rights for the Sochi Olympics, said in a Dec. 3 statement, "As we’ve previously stated, NBC will cover all newsworthy issues as they are relevant to the Games, including the LGBT law.” The following events have transpired since then; NBC has reported on none of them:

- Dec. 5: New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli asks 10 Olympic sponsors to oppose Russia’s anti-LGBT laws.
- Dec. 6: At his Moscow concert, Elton John condemns Russia's anti-LGBT laws.
- Dec. 8: German President Joachim Gauck declares he will boycott the Olympics over Russian human rights violations.
- Dec. 10: European Union Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding says she will boycott Olympics over Russian human rights violations.
- Violence against LGBT Russian continues unabated and Russian government does nothing.

Weir and Roberts cover the Olympics for NBC. Roberts hosted the Nov. 9 Miss Universe pageant that was held in Moscow and broadcast on NBC; in Moscow, he made comments that minimized the harm of Russia’s anti-LGBT laws. Weir, who also works for the Russian consulate in New York City, has consistently praised Russia and defended one of Russia’s anti-LGBT laws at a recent appearance at Barnard College.

A story on Americablog revealed yesterday that Weir's bio claimed that he worked for the Russian consulate, a detail that was scrubbed immediately after the story came out.

The scrubbing was followed by a statement from Weir and his publicist saying that the figure skater had never worked for the Russian government.

Weir also tweeted: "I have never worked at or for a Russian consulate. I don't know where people get this stuff. XO"

Queer Nation also released a video yesterday, Olympic Jive, highlighting the Russian anti-gay laws and denouncing the IOC and its sponsors for standing by and doing nothing.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "NBC Hit With Protests for Ignoring Gays in Russia in Lead-Up to Sochi Winter Olympics: VIDEO" »


NBC Expresses Support for Johnny Weir's Apology to Gay Activists

NBC released a statement late yesterday expressing support for their correspondent Johnny Weir's apology after Weir lashed out at Queer Nation activists, calling them "idiots" at a talk at Barnard College earlier this week. The activists were protesting Weir's decision to serve as an NBC correspondent during the upcoming Sochi Games in Russia and his ongoing defense of the country despite its anti-gay laws.

Deadline reports: Weir

NBC just released a statement in response to Johnny Weir’s comments this morning that he feels “remorse” for insulting protesters during an appearance Monday at Barnard College. “We’re supportive of Johnny’s apology for his choice of words last night in an emotional setting. As we’ve previously stated, NBC will cover all newsworthy issues as they are relevant to the Games, including the LGBT law”, NBC said.


Johnny Weir Faces Off with LGBT Activists at Barnard Appearance, Calls Them 'Idiots'

Earlier I posted about Queer Nation protests of Johnny Weir at a talk at Barnard College last night. Weir appeared at the talk with his husband, Victor Weir-Voronov. The openly gay skater is contracted to work at the Sochi Games as a commentator for NBC.

Weir_voronovApparently there were fireworks inside the talk as well, as Weir defended his love of Russia and attacked the LGBT activists protesting him outside.

Reports Andy Humm at Gay City News:

During his talk he spoke of “idiots like the ones outside tonight, dumping vodka in the street,” action he dismissed as useless.

“They say all these stupid things,” he told the audience of about 40 Barnard women students. “I never supported the [Russian] government. I supported the people.”

Polling shows the Russian people support the anti-gay laws overwhelmingly.

...

“We’re angry at him for not telling the truth about what’s going on in Russia to LGBT Russians and everybody else who dissents, who are being brutalized,” said Ann Northrop of Queer Nation at the protest. “He is selling out millions of people to satisfy his desire not to forgo his income or status. Is this what he would have done in Germany in 1936?”

Protest_weirVersha Sharma at Vocativ backs up Humm's report:

The real tension came when he referenced “idiots like the four outside,” referring to the half-dozen activists from organizations Queer Nation and RUSA LGBT who were protesting the event. They held up a banner in front of the school gates that read, “Weir: Russian Olympic Clown; N.B.C.: Naive Bloody Collaborators.”

...

“I as a gay man hope there’s a beautiful iconic moment, but I don’t think it will happen in Sochi,” Weir said.

The iconic moment of Weir’s talk came when longtime activist and reporter Andy Humm called out Weir for his “idiots” comment and demanded the figure skater apologize.

“You insulted them,” Humm told Weir, pointing out that the activists outside “have 100-plus years of experience…they won your right to get married.”

“When I feel attacked, I have the right and ability to say something,” Weir responded, and then apologized.


Queer Nation Protests Gay Figure Skater Johnny Weir Over NBC Gig at Sochi Games: PHOTO

Protest_weir

The activist group Queer Nation protested an appearance by gay figure skater Johnny Weir at Barnard College in NYC last night over his gig as an NBC correspondent for the 2014 Sochi Games.

“In advance of its broadcast of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Russia, NBC has embarked on a disinformation campaign to minimize the plight of LGBT Russians in order to justify its involvement in the Games,” said Duncan Osborne, a member of Queer Nation.

“NBC has had the openly gay Johnny Weir, a former figure skater, and Thomas Roberts, the openly gay MSNBC anchor, make public comments that suggest that Russia’s anti-gay laws are not harming LGBT Russians,” Osborne continued. “But those laws have led to the arrest and imprisonment of LGBT Russians, and have resulted in de facto state-sanctioned beatings, torture, rape, and murder of Russian lesbians and gay men. NBC should stop deceiving the public and tell the truth.”

Weir was speaking at an event at Barnard College called "The Sochi Olympics and the Role of Athletes".

(image: versha sharma twitter)


Pentagon: Some Service Members in Same-Sex Marriages Must Take Long Drive to Equality

6a00d8341c730253ef019aff2b6308970dThe Washington Post this week called the National Guard a "new gay rights battleground," pointing to the decision of four states--Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma--to refuse to process married same-sex couples' benefits applications despite an order from the Pentagon to do so.

In its order, the Pentagon said that service members living in non-marriage equality would be offered seven days of leave to travel to states with equal marriage rights so that they could return to their home states and access federal marriage benefits.  

Becuase of that policy, the administration argues, it doesn't really matter that those four states are refusing to process benefits applications.  But as NBC News reports, the road to equal benefits has been long for some married same-sex couples--literally:

"All federal military installations (in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Louisiana) will issue IDs to all those who provide a valid marriage certificate from a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage,” Nathan Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, said via email.

For Alicia Butler, the same-sex spouse of Texas National Guard member, completing that task will take a 120-mile, round-trip drive from her home in Austin to the nearest federal installations, either Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio or Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. With a 6-month-old child and with Butler and her National Guard spouse, Judith Chedville, each holding jobs, the couple hasn’t had time yet to make that trek, Butler said. They married in California in 2008. Chedville served in Iraq. 

“This is an ominous signal Texas is giving,” Butler said. “When I get my military ID, will they let me onto Camp Mabry (the Austin-based headquarters of the Texas Military Forces)? And if I get on the property, will I be allowed to use the services there for military spouses: the gym, the PX, and marriage-support groups? That’s all still very unclear.”

While there is a question of state vs. federal law here--officials with the four states' National Guards say they're simply obeying those states' constitutional bans on marriage equality--the system for married same-sex couples to access benefits in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma smacks of an unfair 'separate but equal' standard.  Technically, no rights are being withheld, but it is undeniable that forcing same-sex couples to drive farther than different-sex couples to obtain the same benefits creates a feeling of second-class citizenship.

"It ... ignores the culture that is created in these states — the culture that says it's acceptable to discriminate against a group of people," Chris Rowzee, a spokesperson for the American Military Partner Association, told NBC News. "When these states do this, they are telling their military units, commanders and members that it is OK to treat (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) members differently, to discriminate against them. That culture is what leads to gay bashing, hate crimes, harassment and discriminatory employment practices."


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