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Is Washington D.C. the Gayest Place in America? — VIDEO

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The New York Times heads to Washington D.C. to find out if, indeed, it is the nations' gayest city, paying a visit to Nellie's drag brunch and talking to several LGBT advocates and residents.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Writes Jeremy Peters, along with a compilation of statistics and anecdotes:

Consider what surveys by Gallup and the Census Bureau have found about the gay population here. When the District of Columbia is compared with the 50 states, it has the highest percentage of adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to Gallup. At 10 percent, that is double the percentage in the state that ranks No. 2, Hawaii, and nearly triple the overall national average of 3.5 percent...

Why are they all here? They could not have just moved in. Unlike cities like Austin, Tex., that rank high on the list of same-sex households (No. 15), Washington has not experienced a huge population boom in the last decade. One answer seems to be that they have always been here. Gays and lesbians do seem to be drawn to politics in disproportionately high numbers.

Continue reading "Is Washington D.C. the Gayest Place in America? — VIDEO" »


Indiana's First Openly Gay Countywide Official to Marry Longtime Partner

Zach AdamsonIndiana's first openly gay countywide official, Zach Adamson, will be making history once again, announcing that he and longtime partner Christian Mosburg will be heading to D.C. this week to get married. Indianapolis Star has the story:

Like any couple on the verge of marriage, they're excited about taking their vows. But they also hope that marriages like theirs can help to further break down the stereotypes and biases that have discriminated against gay individuals and couples for so long.

"It's important that people see this doesn't have to be the wedge issue or the divisive issue that it is often portrayed as," said Adamson, a 42-year-old first-term Democratic councilman. "We are just doing what other people do."

Adamson said the positive reception they've received, and the opportunity to get married, "just speaks to how far we've come." It's indeed a reminder of how much things have changed in a relatively short period of time.

Zach Adamson 2GOP leaders in the state, however, have been immune to these changes, continuing to push for a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the November 2014 ballot. Polls have already shown Hoosiers are strongly opposed to the amendment proposal, with many, including Adamson and Mosburg, seeing it as an issue of common decency.

"Putting a group of people's civil rights and self-worth up to a vote of their fellow citizens has a very deep and entrenched impact on a human being," Adamson said. 

Mosburg said in a more perfect scenario their wedding would be taking place in Indiana. State law, however, already prohibits same-sex marriages, so the couple will have to make do with a follow-up ceremony in Indianapolis. 

"This is where we live," he said. "This is where we've put our home base. This is where most of our friends are. You should be able to say that the place you've chosen to be your home is your home for everything."

And one day, it will be.

(photo via Facebook


Richard Socarides On Justice Scalia's NY Mag Interview And The Progress of LGBT Rights

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As we reported earlier this week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sat down with New York Magazine's Jennifer Senior recently for a wide-ranging interview that was filled with, well, exactly what you'd expect from a man known for his fiery dissents and come-at-me public persona.

Aside from a somewhat baffling and wild exchange about the devil (he's out there, according to Scalia, and he's decided to take on a lower profile compared to those stories you've read about in the Bible as a tactic), the justice raised some eyebrows when he told Senior that he doesn't know anybody who's openly gay.  "I have friends that I know, or very much suspect, are homosexual," he admitted to her. "Everybody does."

Scalia--as his New York Magazine interview makes patently clear, is a devout Catholic.  But as LGBT rights advocate Richard Socarides, writing in the New Yorker, points out, that very faith is currently experiencing a self-evaluation of its approach towards sexual orientation in the highest echelons of its power structure:

The most breathtaking development since the Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage rights, three and a half months ago, and the one with obvious global impact, was Pope Francis’ basic acceptance of gay people within the context of Roman Catholic theology—“Who am I to judge?”—signaling a turning point of historic proportions. A Quinnipiac poll late last week showed that American Catholics approve of the Pope’s new approach by a margin of sixty-eight per cent to twenty-three per cent. No doubt the dramatic progress we have seen in the U.S. impacted the Pope’s thinking.

Shortly after the Pope said that it was time to end the church’s focus on demonizing gay people (and its “obsession” with issues like abortion and contraception), Andrew Solomon, a longtime gay-rights advocate and the author of “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity,” told me in an e-mail, “The primary obstacle to gay rights—and indeed to various forms of human rights—is prejudice and bigotry that have been encoded in religion.” Solomon believes, as many do, that “the Catholic Church was long set up as our most vigorous enemy, and it’s to be hoped, very profoundly, that this change in position will filter down through the Catholic hierarchy and make religion once more the champion of loving-kindness, and no longer the instrument of oppression.”

Even Scalia felt the effect, though he argued that it was a matter of emphasis, not doctrinal change: “He’s the Vicar of Christ. He’s the chief. I don’t run down the pope.”

Socarides points out the significance of such a shift--even if it is only in the tone of the church's position--and underscores its ability to have a lasting impact. Earlier this year, the association of American bishops wrote in an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court that equal marriage rights for same-sex couples "would compromise the ability of states to accommodate religious and moral objections to homosexual conduct on the part of employers and individuals." As Socarides pithily puts it, "So much for that."

Senior's interview with Justice Scalia reveals a man happily inhabiting a island of conservative thought that seems far removed from today's reality--it's incredible that he could live in our nation's capital in 2013 and know zero gay people personally.  But Socarides's point is a good one: as Scalia stands firm, history--and the very institution responsible in many ways for his opinions about LGBT people--continues to shift around him.

(photo courtesy of Platon for New York Magazine)


A Monumental Geology Lesson: VIDEO

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Washington D.C.'s monuments are gorgeous and It's Okay to Be Smart's resident smartypants Joe Hanson is about to offer you some related geological factoids with which you can impress your friends on your next visit to the nation's capital.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "A Monumental Geology Lesson: VIDEO" »


Thousands Arrive in D.C. to Commemorate 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

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The Washington Post is publishing live updates from today's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington:

The rally will include speeches from Attorney General Eric Holder, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Rev. Al Sharpton, among others. At 12:30 p.m., a march will leave the Lincoln Memorial, pass the memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and travel to the Washington Monument.

Live coverage here.

Starting with today's march, the nation will begin a series of events commemorating this historic civil rights moment leading up to the 50th anniversary on Wednesday of MLK Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech" at the Lincoln Memorial where Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Carter will speak.

ByardEliza Byard, the Executive Director at GLSEN, will be speaking at Wednesday's event, GLSEN reports:

Dr. Byard is the only leader of an LGBT organization selected to speak at the event.

Said Byard: “I am humbled and honored to represent GLSEN at the anniversary of one of the landmark moments in United States and world history. Dr. King and March on Washington organizer Bayard Rustin are personal heroes who have inspired me and influenced our work at GLSEN to create a better world for all. GLSEN has spent more than 20 years working to eliminate injustice and inequality directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in K-12 education, and I look forward to delivering a message of hope for a brighter future where every young person has an equal opportunity to get an education.”

GLSEN partner organizations working predominantly in the South nominated Dr. Byard to speak at the event, and the King Center selected her for the honor.

BondNAACP Chairman Emeritus, Julian Bond, in an email from the Human Rights Campaign, writes:

In August 1963, I was the Communications Director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), led at the time by John Lewis, the march's youngest speaker that day.

A gay black man by the name of Bayard Rustin was one of the chief organizers – an early embodiment of the unity and commonality that bonded the movement for LGBT equality with the fight for equal treatment of African-Americans.

In his honor, HRC will help lead a commemoration of Bayard's incredible contributions to the civil rights movement on Monday. And it was recently announced that President Obama will posthumously award Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian award in the United States.

Fifty years later, I can still feel the power of that noble, August day. Its weight is what drove me for years – from founding the Southern Poverty Law Center, to overseeing the NAACP as Chairman, not to mention the ten terms I served as a member of the Georgia legislature. And later, that exact same commitment to achieving equal rights is what convinced me to stand with the Human Rights Campaign in endorsing marriage equality.

Together we have marched millions of miles to land on the right side of history, and today we stand firmly planted, hoping only that more will join us, one by one, until everyone in this nation is truly free and equal. I know you are with the marchers today – in spirit and in solidarity – and I hope you'll follow the news coverage of today's powerful events.

(top image via david mixner, lower image via steven portnoy twitter,  8/24/2013)

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September Announced As "Ex-Gay Awareness Month" After "Ex-Gay Pride Month" Proves To Be A Failure

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Some of you out there may have just finished celebrating "Ex-Gay Pride Month" this past July. Chances are that, if you did, you were among a very small minority, at least according to Right Wing Watch. Regardless, whether due to disappointing numbers or "anti-ex-gay extremism", a Lobbying Day and Evening Reception that was previously scheduled to take place on July 31st was tentatively postponed until September. 

Now, the group "Voice for the Voiceless" has formally announced the new dates, along with the addition of a new "Ex-Gay Awareness Month". The group has declared that the new lobbying day and evening reception will take place on September the 30th, and that there will be more events announced to take place throughout that entire month. 

DL_FosterIn the group's release, however, they warned that this new "Ex-Gay Awareness Month" may not yet come to fruition, but not for reasons that you might think. Voice for the Voiceless co-founder DL Foster warned, in his statement, that if damage set in motion by the repeal of DADT was not addressed soon, the consequences could prove disasterous for the United States:

"The assassination of DADT created an even larger, more critical issue for the military who right now is a general with no clothes on. One is that its given this unchecked, almost covert power, to a group of people who demonstrated numerous times that they want revenge for the perceived and real injustices done to them by their heterosexual neighbors. Sure, its been conveniently called “equality,” but we needn’t look any further than the growing rash of anti-church, anti-ex-gay laws and policies being rushed to the front lines as evidence that revenge is a motive.

"Just look at the venomous language used by gay-hatchet group “Truth Wins Out” (ironic I know) and its commentators, and the case is closed.

"Secondly, giving “sexual orientation” unofficial power offset the very balancing nature of the UCMJ. The UCMJ was an equalized to all sexual lifestyles that carried a threat to the good discipline and order within the ranks. It kept in check adultery, fraternization, and homosexuality, at least to the degree that we all felt equal under military law.

"But now, homosexuality has the “get out of jail” free card while the other proclivities are still in stripes. That’s patently unfair. It’s an unspoken belief that soon because the filed will need to be leveraged, other sexual activities will go the way of homosexuality and be sanctified. Then something Al Qaeda can’t do will be accomplished by our own hands."

The above statement was deleted from Voice for the Voiceless' website. Luckily, Right Wing Watch was able to capture the above excerpt before it disappeared. Meanwhile, we will be following developments surrounding "Ex-Gay Awareness Month", and will provide updates should they prove significant or especially entertaining. 


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