NBC Hub




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."


Andy Cohen Turns Down Hosting Miss Universe In Moscow, Cites Russia's Anti-Gay Policies

Andy

Coming on the heels of the recent anti-gay atrocities in Russia, Andy Cohen announced he will not be returning to his gig as co-host of the Miss Universe pageant in 2013 as the pageant is being held in Moscow for the first time ever.

E! News reports that Cohen, the popular host of Bravo's Watch What Happens Live and the glory that is every Bravo reunion, told two-time co-host Giuliana Rancic, that "he turned [the job] down because '[Russia's] discriminatory policies make it unsafe for the gays who live there and gays coming to work or visit...The law is that anyone under suspicion of homosexuality can be arrested'...adding that he 'didn't feel right as a gay man stepping foot into Russia.'"

Cohen has previously co-hosted the pageant in 2011 and 2012. The pageant is put on by the Miss Universe Organization which is co-owned by NBC Universal and Donald Trump.


This New York Times Story Might Violate Russian Law

Russia-articleLarge

As news of persecution against LGBT people in Russia gets more and more chilling each day, Moscow-based New York Times correspondent David Herszenhorn begins his latest report with an unforgettable lede:

If this article were published in a newspaper based in Russia, it could be labeled 18+ — like an X-rated movie — and start with the following disclaimer: “This article contains information not suitable for readers younger than 18 years of age, according to Russian legislation.”

Such warnings, put on any articles that discuss homosexuality or gay rights, are the result of a law nominally aimed at “protecting” children by banning “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships” but widely understood as an effort to suppress homosexuality and Russia’s fledgling gay rights movement.

Herszenhorn's article focuses on the disturbing fallout of a law signed into law by President Vladimir Putin in June and the international backlash that has placed scrutiny on the Russian government's recent rightward turn--especially in light of the country's hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

What the new law means for the LGBT people who will visit the Black Sea resort city next year--be they athletes, government officials, journalists or simply tourists--remains a topic of fervent debate.  Officials with the International Olympic Committee have told reporters the organization has received assurances that visitors to Russia will not fall under the anti-LGBT law's restrictions, but the Russian Interior Minister yesterday announced that the law will indeed be in effect during the 2014 games.

6a00d8341c730253ef0192ac784ec2970d-300wiIt's very difficult to guess what the ultimate outcome of these decidedly mixed signals may be.  NBC, which has the exclusive rights to broadcast the games, recently assured its LGBT employees that they would be safe during the network's coverage of the Sochi games.  Of course, how a private corporation might do so in defiance of a sovereign nation's laws is, at best, very difficult to determine.

As Herszenhorn notes, the 2014 Olympics is not the only international sporting event Russia would like to host, meaning the state is set for future conflicts surrounding the country's increasingly extremist politics:

Critics say Russia’s repression of gay rights is part of a pattern that also includes a tightening of pressure on civil society groups, and steps to limit foreign influences — all seemingly out of sync with Russia’s push to host international events, like the recently completed 2013 World University Games in Kazan and the international track and field championships now under way in Moscow.

Beyond Sochi, Russia will hold the World Cup in 2018 and is bidding for the World Expo in 2020. Asked if the gay rights issue might derail the bid, a spokeswoman for the deputy prime minister, Arkady Dvorkovich, noted that Russia was competing with Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, where homosexuality is illegal.

What company Russia is keeping.  Like Herszenhorn subtly points out, this is a question that goes beyond one country and one sporting event--it is a collision course between the increasingly tolerant West and countries where LGBT people are seen as criminals in the eyes of the law.


Change.Org Petition Wants Rachel Maddow As Human Rights Correspondent For NBC Olympics Coverage

Rachel Maddow
Controversy surrounding the human rights atrocities is already causing trouble for NBC Universal, who has exclusive broadcasting rights for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. NBC has announced that they will wait until the games draw near before making any decision about whether/how to address the controversy. However, Truth Wins Out has already proposed a solution, and have started a petition on Change.org to gain traction for the idea. Rather than boycott NBC or the games altogether, they wish for NBC to use the Games as an opportunity to shed light on Russia's human rights violations. Executive director Wayne Besen had this to say in the group's official release:

"The spotlight can be harsh, but Russia specifically asked for it when they submitted a bid and agreed to host the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi. People around the world want to watch and support the Olympics, but they want to do so with a clear conscience. Make a difference, NBC, by adding Rachel Maddow to the Olympic coverage as a special Human Rights Correspondent." 

Sochi OlympicsThey argue that coverage of the Olympic Games has always included human-interest pieces, about both athletes and the host nation. The Sochi Games present a rare opportunity to have NBC feature hard-hitting, current journalism to an unprecedented global audience, raising awareness to an entirely new level. They also maintain that Rachel Maddow is the person best suited for such a responsibility. According to the group's Associate Director, Evan Hurst:

"Rachel has the expertise and the instincts to tell this full story to a viewing audience who are appalled by the treatment of their Russian brothers and sisters. Adding her to NBC’s coverage won’t fly in the face of the Olympic spirit, but rather enhance it, as there is nothing in the ethics or the history of the Olympic Games that can coexist peacefully with the war Russia is waging against her own citizens, and the rest of the world needs to know."

She also happens to already belong to NBC's family of networks. Thus, they conclude, the decision is a no-brainer. 

The petition currently has 1200 signatures, and wishes to add at least 300 more. You can read and sign the petition, should you so desire, HERE. Meanwhile, sound off in the comments section as to whether you think this would be an acceptable solution for NBC. 


NBC Will Wait To Address Russian LGBT Human Rights Violations Until 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics

This afternoon, NBC Sports Group chairman Mark Lazarus told attendeeds at the TCA Summer TV Press Tour that the network will take a wait and see approach to the anti-gay laws and social injustices taking place in Russia.

The Hollywood Reporter reports:

LazarusRussia's draconian anti-gay laws are stirring up controversy for NBC Sports as the division prepares for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus would not directly address the issue at the division's Saturday afternoon Television Critics Association press tour session. But he promised that if the controversy was still front and center come Feb. 6, when the company's 18 days of coverage begins, it would not be swept under the rug.

"We'll address it at the time because it's still unfolding," said Lazarus, adding that the IOC has taken up the issue with the Russian government.  "The IOC has addressed it with the Russian government and has assured athletes, fans and media that there won't be any issues," he added. "Governments across the world have different laws. I don't know now it's going to [affect] us. If it is still their law and it is impacting any part of the Olympic Games we will make sure we are acknowledging it and recognizing it."

More from the LA Times:

NBC's veteran sportscaster Al Michaels said, "there will always be controversy surrounding [the Olympics]. It all seems to work out."

According to Lazarus, the International Olympic Committee has said that gay athletes will be welcome in Russia and encouraged to compete. "Obviously, as a company, we are for equality and opportunity for all," Lazarus said. "We don't believe in the spirit of the law they have passed, and we are hopeful the Olympic spirit will win out."


Trending



Towleroad - Blogged