ROME (AP) - Two Italian legislators caused an uproar among colleagues in this predominantly Catholic country on Wednesday when they placed dolls representing two gay couples in Parliament's nativity scene.
Bruno Mellano and Donatella Porretti of the small but vocal Radical Party said their gesture was intended to show support for a law that would give unmarried couples, including gays, some of the same rights as married couples. But it prompted swift and stern condemnation from shocked legislators on all sides.
``Vulgar and unacceptable,'' said a statement by women deputies with the rightist, opposition Forza Italia party.
Pro-Vatican politician Rosy Bindi called the move ``a useless provocation against the nativity of the Chamber of Deputies that hurts us as Christians and as citizens of this country,'' in comments carried by the ANSA agency.
The four dolls in question included dolls embracing. They were removed within minutes, according to the ANSA news agency.
From Zogby International:
Survey Indicates Shift in Military Attitudes
Nearly one in four U.S. troops (23%) say they know for sure that someone in their unit is gay or lesbian, and of those 59% said they learned about the person's sexual orientation directly from the individual, a Zogby International poll of troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan shows.
More than half (55%) of the troops who know a gay peer said the presence of gays or lesbians in their unit is well known by others. According to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, service members are not allowed to say that they are gay.
These findings come amidst significant changes in the military and political landscape. This week, Robert M. Gates took over as the U.S. Secretary of Defense, and next month, Democrats will take control of the Congress. Some observers expect the new climate to prompt intense examination of all aspects of military policy including potential reinstitution of the draft, which is advocated by some in the new majority's leadership.
According Congressman Marty Meehan (D-MA), "These new data prove that thousands of gay and lesbian service members are already deployed overseas and are integrated, important members of their units. It is long past time to strike down 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and create a new policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve openly."
The Zogby Interactive poll of 545 troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan was designed in conjunction with the Michael D. Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and conducted by Zogby Oct. 24-26, 2006. It carries a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points.
Of those in combat units, 21% said they know for certain that someone in their unit is gay or lesbian, slightly less than for those in combat support units (25%) and combat service support units (22%). One in five troops (20%) in other units said they know for certain someone is gay or lesbian in their unit. Overall, nearly half (45%) say there are people in their unit they suspect are gay or lesbian, but they don't know for sure. Slightly more than half (52%) say they have received training on the prevention of anti-gay harassment in the past three years. But 40% say they have not received this type of training, which is mandated by Defense Department policy.
The data also indicate that military attitudes about homosexuality have shifted. In the early 1990's, many senior officers argued that U.S. troops could not form bonds of trust with gays and lesbians, according to Dr. Aaron Belkin, Director of the Palm Center, who has written widely on the subject. According to the new Zogby data, however, nearly three in four troops (73%) say they are personally comfortable in the presence of gays and lesbians. Of the 20% who said they are uncomfortable around gays and lesbians, only 5% are "very" uncomfortable, while 15% are "somewhat" uncomfortable. Just two percent of troops said knowing that gays are not allowed to serve openly was an important reason in their decision to join the military.
Some troops believe the integration of openly gay and lesbian service members in the military could undermine cohesion, but those who know at least one gay peer are less likely to believe it would negatively impact morale. Of those who know a gay or lesbian peer, 27% said it has a negative impact on the morale of their unit. By contrast, among those who do not know of a gay or lesbian person in their unit, or are unsure of their presence, 58% said it would have a negative impact on their unit.
Prominent supporters of "don't ask, don't tell" have expressed concerns about privacy in the shower, Dr. Belkin said, but nearly three out of four troops said in the Zogby poll that they usually or almost always take showers privately – only 8% say they usually or almost always take showers in group stalls.
For a detailed methodological statement, please visit:
For the complete Zogby report on the survey, please visit:
BY CINDY GEORGE, Houston Chronicle
A man who lives as a woman sued a would-be employer Monday for allegedly revoking a job offer after realizing she is transgender.
Izza Lopez, 26, filed the lawsuit in federal court against Houston-based River Oaks Imaging and Diagnostic. She alleges employment discrimination.
She is seeking damages for lost pay and benefits, and for emotional distress, pain and suffering.
To read more, click here.
From The Advocate:
When Wayne Besen heard that President Bush had invited Alan Chambers, head of the “ex-gay” group Exodus International, to a June 2006 White House press conference in support of amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, he reached into his pocket and bought a plane ticket to Washington, D.C. “That was one straw too many,” Besen says. “I rented a room at the National Press Club and flew in a kid who had been hurt by an ‘ex-gay’ camp.” Besen, 36, held his own press conference to educate people on the harmful nature of the “ex-gay” movement.
Author of the 2003 book Anything but Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth, Besen has in recent years become a powerful force against those who argue that gays are called by God to “change” their sexual orientation.
After Bush’s press event Besen launched Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit group dedicated to educating the public about LGBT lives while debunking the “ex-gay” myth and “religious-right disinformation campaigns.” He has organized protests, won support from mainstream health groups, and pressed the media to provide balanced reporting on the issue. “You can argue about Scripture until you’re blue in the face,” Besen says. “Nobody’s ever going to win that argument. But you can make a persuasive case that these ‘ex-gay’ ministries are harmful.”
On Saturday, March 3, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will host South Florida’s Third Annual Advocate Golf Classic at the Presidential Golf Club in North Miami. Previously held over Presidents Day weekend, the Task Force has moved the tournament to March to coincide with the 2007 Winter Party Festival – offering our local community a chance to hit the greens with fellow golfers from around the globe.
The day will commence with a round of golf and wrap up with an Awards Lunch and Silent Auction, and a $10,000 prize will be awarded to the first hole-in-one! The Advocate Golf Classic offers local businesses sponsorship opportunities ranging from $300 to $10,000. To purchase tickets or become a sponsor, please visit www.taskforcegolfclassic.org. Direct any questions about the tournament to Lindsay Bubar, Special Events Manager, at 310.855.7384 or lbubar@theTaskForce.org.
We'll see you out on the course on March 3!
The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge. The Task Force is a 501(c)(3) corporation incorporated in Washington, D.C. Contributions to the Task Force are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Inc. ("NGLTF, Inc."), founded in 1974, works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality. We do this through direct and grassroots lobbying to defeat anti-LGBT ballot initiatives and legislation and pass pro-LGBT legislation and other measures. We also analyze and report on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community. NGLTF, Inc. is a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation incorporated in New York. Contributions to NGLTF, Inc. are not tax- deductible.
Lisa M. Performs at Siren @ Score, Sat. Dec. 30th
Direct from Puerto Rica, considered by many, “the first Lady of Rap”, Lisa M. performs New Years Weekend, Saturday, Dec. 30th at the very popular women’s party, Siren.
In the early Nineties, Lisa M. belonged to the first batch of artists who produced an early version of reggaeton known as el underground. At the tender age of 14, she recorded her debut album, Trampa (Trap) with Prime Records in Puerto Rico. Hits from this album Trampa and La Segunda Cita (The Second Encounter) put Lisa M. on the map as the first female Latin rapper. Sales for the album exceeded expectations and few weeks after its release it went GOLD. This made Lisa M. the highest paid rapper in Puerto Rico, the U.S. and Latin America of this genre. In 1990 Lisa M releases her second album, No Lo Derrumbes, produced by her and Vico C and it included the hits No Lo Derrumbes, Tu Pum-Pum y Menealo. The album went PLATINUM with sales exceeding 100,000 copies in Puerto Rico alone! Her success continued in the nineties with hits such international hits such as Tiempo de Amar (Time to love), Everybody Dancing Now, and Flavor of the Latin earning Lisa M yet another PLATINUM plaque. She became later known as the THE QUEEN OF RAP after being signed by Sony Discos. She has since shard the spotlight with icons such as Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, Ricardo Montaner, and Selena among others.
In June 2006, the A self-described barrio home-girl, Lisa M. released her latest work, Respect. The album includes the single Hey Ladies, Fuego (Fire), Encendido (Turned On) featuring Voltio and Quítate (Move) featuring Moncho Rivera. There are also collaborations with Reggaeton artists Huracán G, La Bruja K-Mille and Waydi, along with the most recognized Reggaeton producers, Urba y Monserrate, Nesty, Bones, Taino and La Suprema herself!
Watch this fiery performer as she takes the stage at Siren, the longest running Saturday party for women who love women on South Beach. The night includes a special appearance by TwinSoul and others. You don’t want to miss it!
Siren @ Score 727 Lincoln Lane
For more info go www.icandeeproductions.com
News release from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:
By Sean Cahill
In 2004, after Christian conservatives helped re-elect George Bush and a Republican Congress, right-wing groups and journalists launched a campaign alleging a “war on Christmas.” They denounced the fact that Macy’s and other retailers were wishing customers “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly ran a regular segment titled “Christmas under siege” trumpeting the newly formed Committee to Save Merry Christmas. Sean Hannity and others also got in on the action.
Because disputes over public school Christmas pageants and government-sponsored crèche scenes are a perennial affair, I wondered whether this was the same silliness as any other year and I was simply noticing it more, or whether it was actually worse than usual. The consensus among friends and colleagues was that it was worse than usual.
2005: Fox News anchor ups the ante
In 2005 another Fox News anchor, John Gibson, published The war on Christmas: How the liberal plot to ban the sacred Christian holiday is worse than you thought. Gibson decried “the annual parade of Christmas outrages,” including the renaming of Christmas parades as holiday parades and the banning of Christian-themed gifts from student gift exchanges at school holiday parties.
He insisted those waging a war on Christmas are “a cabal of secularists, so-called humanists, trial lawyers, cultural relativists, and liberal, guilt-wracked Christians — not just Jewish people,” but then went on to blame non-Christians in general.
The other key event of 2005 was when the city of Boston officially renamed the giant spruce tree erected on the Boston Common a “holiday tree.” After Jerry Falwell and the Alliance Defense Fund threatened to sue, Mayor Thomas Menino assured residents he would continue to call the tree a Christmas tree, and the controversy abated.
O’Reilly again repeatedly hyped these stories, calling for a boycott of stores that wished shoppers the inclusive “Happy Holidays” instead of the exclusive “Merry Christmas.” He claimed non-Christians would be “crazy” to be offended by “Merry Christmas,” while insisting that “Season’s Greetings” and “Happy Holidays” are “absolutely... for a fact” offensive to Christians.
2006: The “war” escalates
This “war on Christmas,” Gibson charged, is really a “war on Christianity.” This theme emerged more explicitly in 2006. Vision America’s Rick Scarborough convened a conference titled “War on Christians and the Values Voters in 2006,” where speakers denounced “moral relativism,” “hedonism” and “Christophobia.”
Not surprisingly, several speakers denounced the “gay agenda.” Peter LaBarbera called gay people “disgusting” and urged the closing of “homosexual establishments.” Brian Camenker falsely claimed that Massachusetts gay activists were pushing a bill to decriminalize bestiality. Lou Sheldon, Phyllis Schlafly, Alan Keyes and other anti-gay leaders also spoke.
Persecution was a major theme. The Hudson Institute’s Michael Horowitz claimed “you guys have become the Jews of the 21st century.” Navy Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a chaplain who was disciplined for proselytizing, compared himself to the Afghan Christian who was nearly executed.
While this comparison is an overstatement, three-quarters of evangelicals believe they are a minority under siege.
In a culture that is 90 percent Christian and in which the Christmas shopping season begins around Halloween, Christmas and Christianity are not at all threatened by the use of inclusive language such as “Happy Holidays.” Maybe calling a Christmas tree a holiday tree is a little ridiculous. But here the issue is public funding, not mere language. I trust the ACLU and the courts to work out this important principle of church-state separation.
But what does this mean for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community? Anti-gay activism is part of a broader right-wing politic of resentment, fear and majority domination. This sometimes manifests in the portrayal of dominant groups as oppressed minorities. In Massachusetts, anti-same-sex marriage activists demand, “Let the people vote!” — insisting that equality for our families somehow denies them of rights. In California, anti-immigrant activists warn, “Do you want your children to have to learn Spanish to get a job?” even though Latinos learn English at about the same rate Swedish-Americans do.
We’ve also seen this with the so-called “war on Christmas” and affirmative action, where Christians, whites and men are portrayed as oppressed even as they hold disproportionate power and privilege.
So this holiday season, when conservatives claim there is a “war on Christmas,” take it for the manipulative hyperbole that it is.
And meanwhile, enjoy the holidays — no matter what you call them.
Sean Cahill directs the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute.
The gossip blogger's use of an agency's paparazzi photos puts the legal spotlight on copyright infringement
By Robin Abcarian
Lost Angeles Times
It's hard to know whom to sympathize with in this fight.
On one side: the paparazzi who stalk celebrities in their moments of greatest vulnerability — at doctors' offices, with their newborns, when they are falling-down drunk.
On the other: a blogger who helps himself to those photos, scrawls puerile comments on them, and posts them on his immensely popular and profitable website.
The owners of one L.A. photo agency are so frustrated with what they consider to be blatant theft by self-styled "gossip gangsta" Perez Hilton that they've decided to make a federal case of it.
On Nov. 30, X17 Inc., known for the aggressive pursuit of celebrity prey, filed a $7.6-million federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Hilton, alleging that he has used 51 photos without permission, payment or credit.
The list of allegedly infringed photos is an almost poetic inventory of the state of pop culture and people's obsession with it: "Pregnant Katie Holmes," "Kevin Federline Pumping Gas," "The New Slim Britney Spears," "Britney Spears Exposes Her Derriere," "Britney Spears Exposes Herself (Again)."
To read more, click here.
From Miami Herald wire services
Mary Cheney's baby will have two mommies, and that is just fine with President Bush.
When People magazine asked him what he thought of the news that Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, who is a lesbian, was pregnant with a child whom she will raise with her longtime partner, Heather Poe, Bush said, ``I think Mary is going to be a loving soul to her child. And I'm happy for her.''
People released portions of the interview on Friday, and the quotation about Mary Cheney's baby prompted a new round of questions about the president's past statements against same-sex marriage and, more particularly, child-rearing by gay couples.
In an interview with The New York Times last year, Bush said in response to a question about gay adoption, ``The ideal in society is to raise children with a man and a woman. Private adoption firms can make whatever choice they choose to do.''
During a news briefing on Friday, White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush still believed that children should ideally be raised by a man and a woman as parents. But, he said, ``He believes that Mary Cheney's child will, in fact, have loving parents.''
Asked if Bush believed a child raised by parents of the same sex would be at a disadvantage, Snow said, ``He does not make comments on that, and nor will I.''