Oregon Jewish leaders are hopping mad over a statement by an anti-gay-marriage spokesperson who compared loving gay couples to neo-Nazis, according to the Oregonian's Jeff Mapes:
Teresa Harke, a spokeswoman for the [Oregon Family Council] made the remarks while explaining the rationale for a proposed ballot measure from the group that would allow businesses to refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings if they had religious objections.
"Would you expect a Jewish bakery to serve a neo-Nazi who wanted a cake with a swastika on it?" Harke said in an interview with The Oregonian.
They went and Godwinned. You should never Godwin before a public vote; it's bad form. You should go check out the article to read the responses to the Oregon Family Council, which includes statements that people should never have to say in a sentence. For example: "Here you're making a comparison between a hate group that supports the elimination of Jews in the world and a couple that wants to sanctify their marriage."
You're right—ABC's The Bachelor has never featured a gay man. But you know... there could be a very good reason for that. Check out this hilarious sketch, "The First Gay Bachelor" starring your host George Takei and Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson as the unluckiest bachelor (gay or straight) in history.
UPDATE 2:13 PM: The Illinois House has voted in favor of marriage equality. Governor Quinn has previously announced his intention to sign the bill into law. I'm hearing that gay marriage will become legal in Illinois on June 1st, 2014.
Original Post: BuzzFeed says:
The Illinois House will take a final vote on marriage equality legislation Tuesday, a leading advocate tells BuzzFeed. Previously, sources had said a vote would not take place until Wednesday at the earliest.
If passed in the House, the bill will be sent back to the Senate for a vote. The Senate already approved the previous version of the bill earlier this year.
Good luck, Illinois.
I reread Ender's Game shortly before seeing the film; I was just as impressed and moved by the novel last week as I had been when I was a teenager. Reading Ender's Game when you're a kid is one thing; reading it as an adult is an entirely different experience. I found myself thinking about aspects of the story, and about Card's writing, in ways I'd never considered when I was younger.
But reading it this time was also profoundly weird, because Card, as he's aged, has gotten less and less... humane. The guy who wrote the insightful, sympathetic Ender's Game, turns out, is a rabid homophobe. And not just in a "Don't ask Uncle Orson what he thinks about gay marriage" kind of way either: Card's actively worked to get his cruel, condescending viewpoints out there, not only by serving on the board of the National Organization for Marriage—a group that fights against civil unions, gay marriage, and now, apparently, the rights of transgendered people—but also by writing anti-gay essays that're so ludicrous that they have to be read to be believed.
(This one's my favorite, and not only because Card more or less threatens to take down the government if gay marriage is made legal, but because seriously: How often does the Mormon church have to distance itself from one of its members being too conservative? That disclaimer is pretty remarkable, at least to someone who grew up in Salt Lake. For what it's worth, Card also seems to have added his own disclaimer to this 1990 piece, in which he... ugh. Just read it, if you can manage to get through it.)
Historically, there's never been a shortage of authors who are racist, or homophobic, or generally shitty—and who nevertheless created fantastic works. But "historically" is the key word: Usually by the time an author's views are thought of as being outdated, enough time has passed that the author is no longer alive. It's easier to look at racists, homophobes, and misogynists of the past and be all, "Ah, that sucks. Still, it was a different time." But Card's time is the same as ours; it's far more difficult to appreciate the work of a bigot when they're still around, still being bigoted. And even though Card reportedly won't directly profit from Ender's Game: The Movie, he's still associated with the film.
I was going to write more about this, but it turns out that Rachel Edidin already did, this morning, over at Wired (where, in the interest of full disclosure, I also write from time to time). Edidin's piece—"Orson Scott Card: Mentor, Friend, Bigot"—is an excellent read, and one well worth checking out regardless of whether or not you plan on seeing (or reading) Ender's Game.
Turns out Edidin's got a signed paperback of Ender's Game, too—hers reads, "To Rachel—a friend of Ender." That phrase sums up, at least for me, the fundamental thing people are going through as they discuss Card, and his work, this week. It's hard to find anyone who's read Ender's Game who wouldn't like to be considered a friend of Ender's—especially if they read the book in their formative years. At the same time, it's all but impossible for anyone who doesn't share Card's bigoted views to want to be associated with the guy in any way whatsoever—even if that means they won't get to see their friend Ender finally make it to the big screen.
In this week's paper, I reviewed Ender's Game, the new movie based on the 1985 novel by Orson Scott Card. It's... not bad? It isn't great, either, but it's about as decent of an adaptation as we're going to get, once you make peace with the fact that that the filmmakers decided to (A) cram Ender's Game into two hours, and (B) soften the story so that it'll appeal to the widest possible audience. Anyway, read the whole review if you're interested, but here's the final paragraph:
While Ender's Game boasts stuff worth seeing (ZERO-GRAVITY BATTLES), here's a downer: Anti-gay activist Card is credited as a producer on the film, which means he'll likely be seeing some money once Ender's Game makes back its budget. I was going to suggest buying a ticket to another film, then sneaking into Ender's Game, but here's a better idea: Swing by Powell's. Pick up a used paperback.
TURNS OUT THAT'S NOT TRUE. According to TheWrap, Card sold his movie rights before authors realized they could have a much bigger role in the filmmaking process, let alone share in their films' profits:
Multiple sources from both inside and outside the companies that produced the Ender’s Game film—distributor Summit Entertainment, visual effects company Digital Domain and book-rights holder OddLot Entertainment—tell TheWrap that Card’s fee has already been paid through a decade-old deal that includes no backend.
If you really want to hit Card where it hurts, don’t buy his book: Card still profits handsomely from the novel, perched at the top of the latest New York Times Best Seller List for paperback mass-market fiction.
Though it was whispered early on that Card’s contract had “escalators”—built-in box-office milestones with cash bonuses attached—individuals close to the film say he has no such profit participation. (Via.)
So the good news is that if you want to see the Ender's Game movie and don't want your money going to Card, you're in the clear! That said, I'd still recommend picking up a used paperback of Ender's Game instead. The book's better than the movie—and while Card is no doubt making a ton of cash from sales of new copies of Ender's Game, authors don't see a dime when bookstores sell used copies.
Update 5:55 PM: Michael Lewellen, VP for communications of the Trail Blazers sent this statement a few minutes ago, in response to my question to him this afternoon:
“The Portland Trail Blazers are in support of the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection ballot initiative. We do so as believers in individual choice as a fundamental right of all people.”
The Trail Blazers are now the biggest pro sports team, apparently the first from a big four pro league, to formally endorse a marriage equality ballot measure.
Original post: You've probably got a good reason or two, or at least a bunch of bad ones, if you're one of the few people in Portland who've never been out to watch the Timbers or Thorns with your own eyes. Maybe you're just a casual soccer fan. Maybe you hate soccer. Or maybe it's just simple, stupid inertia. Whatever.
But here's one to get you going—even if you think soccer is dumb. (It's not; I just said that for the sake of argument.) The Portland Timbers and the Portland Thorns FC, in a major first for American professional sports, have formally declared their support for a ballot measure next year that would bring marriage equality to Oregon.
And, look! They made a video!
The endorsement follows recent nods from groups like the Portland Business Alliance and the Oregon Business Association—evidence that the ballot measure's main backers are working methodically to build a broad base of high-profile and diverse supporters ahead of any right-wing Christian jihadi counter fundraising push.
A statement from Oregon United for Marriage, the coalition running the campaign, says 91,114 signatures have been gathered, as yesterday, in support of putting the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection Initiative on the ballot next November. The measure would undo a discriminatory state constitutional amendment, approved in 2004, that banned same-sex marriage.
The campaign says it's the first time any major U.S. professional sports teams have endorsed a same-sex marriage ballot campaign. Give 'em credit. Most sports teams (hi, Seattle Seahawks!) would prefer to ignore the subject as much as possible.
“We are proud to support Oregon United for Marriage and its efforts to secure the freedom to marry for all Oregonians next November,” Timbers owner Merritt Paulson said in a statement.
I'm looking at you next, Trail Blazers. Time to make your name mean what it sounds like.
...and has herself a little rethink:
"It made me question everything," said [Wendy] Montgomery, 37, of Bakersfield, Calif. "I'm looking at this 13-year-old boy who is totally innocent and pure and an amazing kid and I think, 'Either everything I know about homosexuality is wrong, or my son is not really gay. And, he's obviously gay.' I kind of had to unlearn everything I had learned."
This is good, of course, and lots of people come around on LGBT issues only after finding out that someone they know, love, or gave birth to—or all three—is gay, lesbian, bi, or trans. But wouldn't it be nice if social and religious conservatives were capable of making this leap for other peoples' children? Wendy had to reassess "everything [she] knew" about homosexuality when it turned out her own "innocent and pure and amazing" kid was gay. Somehow she was blind to the innocence, purity, and amazingness of other peoples' gay kids.
And what blinded her? Religion, of course. Check out the reaction of other people in at Wendy's church—people who do not have gay kids of their own—when she and her husband stopped believing that gay kids were guilty, impure, and the opposite of amazing:
They remain faithful Mormons, but have switched congregations after enduring ridicule from friends and fellow church members. One woman told Montgomery her children should be taken away from her and given to somebody who follows the teachings of the prophet. Montgomery and her husband had to step down from their church positions—he was the assistant bishop and she was a Sunday school teacher to teens—after parents flooded the bishop's office with complaints that they were teaching homosexual propaganda that would turn other kids gay.
Because Wendy Montgomery wouldn't reject her 13-year-old gay son—because she wouldn't double her son's already quadrupled risk for suicide—she was condemned and driven out of her church. Because too many Mormons would rather see gay kids die than admit that their prophet got the gay thing wrong just like he got the black thing wrong and the polygamy thing wrong.
A newly-discovered anti-gay video making the rounds in Russia (see the video below with subtitles) claims that gays adopt children so that they’ll have a readily available source of kids to rape.
Even more troubling, the video bases its adoption-child-rape assertion on a debunked faux-scientific “study” from Mark Regnerus, a religious right researcher whose “gay parenting” study was roundly rebuked for only including two kids who actually grew up with gay parents. Yes, a whopping review of 2 children makes a scientific “study” of gay parenting. The “study” was also called “bullsh*t” by an auditor after it was published.
First: I don't know how Mark Regnerus sleeps at night.
Second: My heart breaks for the gay parents and their children—many of them Americans (and some of whom I recognize)—who are shown in this vile and offensive propaganda video.
And third: anti-gay propaganda attacking gay parents lays the groundwork for passage a yet another anti-gay law in Russia, one that would rip children from the homes of their gay or lesbian parents and place them in notoriously awful Russian orphanages. ("Of course [a lesbian parent] should definitely be deprived of her rights to the child," Alexei Zhuravlev, deputy of the Russian Duma, said in an interview. "Homosexuals must not raise children. They corrupt them. They do them much more harm than if the child were in an orphanage. I am deeply convinced of this.")
After months of rumors, a bill was introduced in the Russian Duma that compares LGBT people to alcoholics and drug abusers and would deny LGBT Russians custody of their own biological or adopted children.
[Russian journalist Masha] Gessen had already sent her oldest son overseas, fearful that he'd be snatched by the government.
"My situation is that my partner and I are raising three kids, one of whom is adopted and two of whom are biological," Gessen explained to me yesterday on my radio program in an interview from Moscow. "In June the Russian parliament banned adoption by same-sex couples. It was a fair assumption that the law could be used to annul the adoption of our oldest son, so we made the decision to send our oldest son out of the country immediately."
But now, if the new law passes—the adoption law passed in four days—Gessen's biological children could be taken too.
In a controversy that threatened to overshadow the 30th anniversary of Dallas’ gay Pride parade, some LGBT activists expressed outrage this week after organizers reminded participants about the need for the event to be family-friendly and said nudity and lewd behavior will no longer be tolerated.
Daniel Cates, one opponent to the idea of a family-friendly Pride parade, wrote on his Facebook wall:
“The ‘queer’ is effectively being erased from our Pride celebration in favor of the most polished, heteronormative representation of our community as possible,” Cates wrote. “It should be noted that the rioters at the Stonewall Inn fought to break OUT of the damn closet! Our movement was built of sex positivity and our desire to BE WHO WE ARE! I urge you ALL to openly DEFY the Tavern Guild!”
Of course this story is fucked-up because it takes place in Texas—the order came from the Dallas Police Department, which makes it more of a censorship issue—but I bet that as as LGBT becomes more and more mainstream, these kinds of conversations are going to be happening with more frequency at Pride celebrations in the future.
We give the Portland Business Alliance a fair amount of guff—usually over homelessness and sidewalk issues. Ahem. But here's something we both agree on wholeheartedly: giving everyone in Oregon—no matter their sexual orientation—a chance to legally marry the person they love.
The PBA's board of directors voted this afternoon to endorse Basic Rights Oregon's push for a ballot measure next year that would undo the constitutional dirty work of 2004's Measure 36—which bans marriage equality in Oregon.
PBA members hold a lot of juice in Oregon politics—and presumably this means they'll give big and help the marriage rights campaign gather enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot, and then keep giving big to make sure, when it does qualify for the ballot, that it passes overwhelmingly.
Kudos, PBA. Kudos.
The Portland Business Alliance board of directors today announced its support for legalizing same-sex marriage in Oregon, and said it would support a business community-led effort on behalf of marriage equity.
The Alliance board voted to support amending the Oregon Constitution to end the current prohibition against same-sex marriage, while still clearly protecting the rights of religious institutions to choose whom they will or will not marry.
“The Alliance strives to make the region a great place to start and grow a business, as well as a place where employees can thrive in an inclusive environment. To accomplish that end, we need fair and equitable laws that treat all Oregonians equally,” said Gregg Kantor, chair of the Portland Business Alliance board of directors and CEO of NW Natural. “For these reasons, the Alliance will support a business community-led effort on behalf of marriage equity.”
The organization has a long history of supporting inclusion and equity. In 2007, the Alliance endorsed legislation legalizing civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. And in the 1990s, the organization opposed measures that would have limited the rights of the state’s gay and lesbian residents.
Alliance board endorsements include a vote by the full board and two-thirds of the board members present must agree before an endorsement is made.
Masha Gessen is a Moscow-based writer, journalist and activist who's been speaking out in recent months on Russia's anti-gay propaganda law. Though she's an American citizen, she's from Russia and has lived in Russia for many years, raising three children with her lesbian partner, a Russian citizen. Gessen hoped Western pressure in recent months would help change the course of Russia's crackdown on its LGBT citizens, but now she believes that that's not going to happen, and that it's time to for Russian LGBT people to flee the country to escape what she says has now become "all-out war" against LGBT people in Russia. And she's calling on the United States to allow political asylum for LGBT Russians, and for LGBT activists here to focus on making that happen.
Yesterday, after months of rumors, a bill was introduced in the Russian Duma that compares LGBT people to alcoholics and drug abusers and would deny LGBT Russians custody of their own biological or adopted children.
Gessen had already sent her oldest son overseas, fearful that he'd be snatched by the government.
"My situation is that my partner and I are raising three kids, one of whom is adopted and two of whom are biological," Gessen explained to me yesterday on my radio program in an interview from Moscow. (Listen to clips of the interview below.) "In June the Russian parliament banned adoption by same-sex couples. It was a fair assumption that the law could be used to annul the adoption of our oldest son, so we made the decision to send our oldest son out of the country immediately." But now, if the new law passes—the adoption law passed in four days—Gessen's biological children could be taken too.
This news is all over the nerd internet. Here's Rob Bricken's summary at io9:
J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman have announced they'll be leaving as the [creative] team on Batwoman, citing DC's editorial interference and in particular, the publisher's refusal to allow characters Kate Kane/Batwoman and her partner Gotham City police officer Maggie Sawyer marry each other.
When this iteration of Batwoman was created, the media went crazy over the fact that she was a lesbian. Except for the typically loud (but proportionally very small) right-wing blog response, the feedback was almost entirely positive. (The character even won a GLAAD Award.) The comic has bobbed along on mostly positive reviews for years now, but this will probably mark the end of that good will. In a post titled "Heartbroken," Blackman explains the situation in a little more detail:
Unfortunately, in recent months, DC has asked us to alter or completely discard many long-standing storylines in ways that we feel compromise the character and the series. We were told to ditch plans for Killer Croc’s origins; forced to drastically alter the original ending of our current arc, which would have defined Batwoman’s heroic future in bold new ways; and, most crushingly, prohibited from ever showing Kate and Maggie actually getting married. All of these editorial decisions came at the last minute, and always after a year or more of planning and plotting on our end.
DC Comics has been in editorial turmoil for years now, and that turmoil has been made public most often in the form of upset creators leaving titles with very little warning. There's even an internet clock called hasdcdonesomethingstupidtoday.com, and it's updated with alarming regularity. But maybe DC's biggest mistake in recent years was soliciting a Superman story written by hateful homophobe Orson Scott Card, and the lesson DC seems to have learned from that controversy is: Don't make any waves on LGBT issues at all. Don't be pro-gay. Don't be anti-gay. Just don't make waves.
Good luck with that.
I stopped reading DC's superhero comics soon after they relaunched the entire line. It was too stupid, too creatively void. I liked Williams and Blackman's Batwoman comic, but I quit reading it because I knew it wouldn't be long before editorial bumped the two from the book. I figured they would get bounced over their refusal to take part in some stupid crossover or something, but this is even more disappointing. Fuck DC Comics and their repeated lack of support for the gay community. It's now officially a trend.
Yesterday Vladimir Putin told the AP that Russia doesn't discriminate against "these people"—against gays and lesbians—heck, he sometimes gives "state prizes or decorations" to them. Today we find out that Russian lawmakers are moving to take something from gays and lesbians: their children:
Lawmaker Alexei Zhuravlev has proposed a bill that will would deny gay parents custody over their own children. If passed it would make “non traditional sexual orientation” a basis for the deprivation of parental rights. It places same-sex sexual orientation in the same category as alcohol and drug abuse. If passed the law would follow on from a piece of legislation signed into law by President Putin in July that banned gay and lesbian couples from foreign countries from adopting children.
Zhuravlev told the Associated Press that "homosexual 'propaganda' had to be banned not only in the public space 'but also in the family.'"
And where would children taken from their gay and lesbian parents go? There isn't a culture of adoption in Russia and Russia doesn't have a functioning foster-care system. So children taken from their gay and lesbian parents would wind up in state institutions. And Russian orphanages are notoriously dangerous places.
Journalist Masha Gessen was right to flee Russia with her partner and their children. But not everyone can get out.
Maybe now we can talk seriously about moving the Olympics?
And he lies, lies, lies. But what he said in that interview isn't nearly as important as the fact that he was forced to give that interview. John at Americablog:
I’ve been noting for the past month how interesting it is that Putin hasn’t spoken out about the building gay drama. Lots of other senior Russian officials have, but not Putin. Now he has. Anyone who’s run an effective activist campaign against a large corporation, or especially a politician, knows that they try to insulate the CEO, or the Senator or President—they refuse to let him or her comment on the matter—until they feel they absolutely have no choice. In Putin’s case, that’s clearly what’s happened. Things have gotten so bad that he no longer has a choice but to respond to international criticism.
And it’s clear why Putin feels so cornered. The international outrage following the launch of last month’s Russian vodka boycott, has been deafening. First it was gays and our allies around the world, then it was the international media, just hounding the Russians non-stop about this issue. Then the next shoe to drop, and it keeps dropping, was world leaders weighing in, like President Obama. And now we have the news that Obama will meet with NGO representatives, including gay and trans activists, during the G20 meeting in Russia this coming Thursday. And the additional news that British Prime Minister David Cameron will raise his concerns about the gay situation with Putin.
To call the last month a glaring success would be an understatement.
Putin has even now offered to meet with Russian LGBT activists, something he only offered because President Obama is doing the same. And President Obama likely only offered it because the issue exploded in the news over the past month following the Russian vodka boycott.
This wouldn't be happening—Putin wouldn't be forced to answer questions about the gays—if it weren't for the activism we've seen in New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Berlin, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and other cities around the world. And if we keep the pressure on in the run-up to the Winter Olympics next year, and if we continue to push even after the Olympics (next up: pressuring FIFA to move the 2018 World Cup out of Russia), Russian lawmakers will eventually conclude that the domestic political benefits of scapegoating and persecuting gay people are outweighed by this never-ending international political shitstorm. And there's really only one Russian lawmaker whose opinion matters: Putin. And he isn't happy about the protests taking place around the world.
And this story in the Guardian yesterday drives home the importance of getting these laws revoked:
"The latest laws against so-called gay propaganda, first in the regions and then on the federal level, have essentially legalized violence against LGBT people, because these groups of hooligans justify their actions with these laws," [said Igor Kochetkov, head of the Russian LGBT Network]. "With this legislation, the government said that, yes, gays and lesbians are not valued as a social group. It is an action to terrorise the entire LGBT community."
"There's more aggression and it's becoming more dangerous on the streets," Andrei tells me. "Many gay people have changed how they dress, they've removed earrings, changed their hairstyles, to avoid having problems. Even back in the USSR, where homosexuality was a criminal offence, gays were treated better than they are now in Russia. Ordinary people see us as criminals. They hate us."
There is evidence of that attitude in a series of shocking videos posted online by a Russian vigilante group. In one, a man is being forced to drink urine to "cure him" of being a homosexual. Then a metal bucket is placed over the man's head and hit with what looks like a baseball bat and a police truncheon. Attacks like this, filmed and posted online, are being carried out across Russia by an ultra-nationalist group. It claims its objective is to name, shame and punish suspected paedophiles. But from the tone of the videos the encounters come across as homophobic attacks. In another online clip, a woman armed with a gun and dressed in camouflage jokes that she's "out on safari" hunting for paedophiles and gays. She starts shooting towards an imaginary "rainbow target." The woman's name is Yekaterina. We track her down in St Petersburg, where she heads the local branch of the vigilante group "Occupy Paedophilia."
"Our priority is uncovering cases of paedophilia," Yekaterina explains to me. "But we're also against the promotion of homosexuality. And if along the way we encounter people of non-traditional sexual orientation, we can kill two birds with one stone."
In Russia gay-rights activists believe such aggression is a direct result of the controversial new law signed by President Vladimir Putin. The legislation bans the spread of information about "untraditional sexual relations" to anyone under 18. It portrays homosexuality as a danger to children and the family. "The law itself is not a danger in terms of its application. But it's a great danger in terms of what kind of opinions it shapes," believes Anastasiya Smirnova of the human rights group Russian LGBT Network. "It entitles people to mob rule, to organised violence against those they perceive to be dangerous to society, to families and to children. People take over the role of the authorities to react against what they think is a violation."
The Guardian reports that various, independent anti-gay vigilante groups are coalescing into a national movement. Most of the people being kidnapped and assaulted—and outed—are teenagers.
Says one of the authors of Russia's anti-gay laws:
"Why should we respect all your traditions and you not respect ours?" asks St Petersburg MP Vitaly Milonov, one of the architects of the legislation. "Aggressive pushiness to accept your values is unfair. We don't tell the Queen of England not to sign a law on same-sex marriages in your country. We have no right to do that, because we respect your independence. Why do you not accept ours?"
This is the exact same argument made by the apartheid-era government of South Africa: How we treat "our" blacks is our own business, we don't tell you how to treat your minorities, we respect your independence and you should respect ours, these are our traditions. The world rejected those arguments and fought back against the South African government with boycotts, protests, sanctions, and divestment campaigns. And it worked.
Dr. Sherman Leis bills himself as "one of the world's leading transgender surgeons." Also, when I was a kid, he once put a couple plastic stitches in the bridge of my nose (freak golfing accident), and he did a lovely job. So I was interested to read what he had to say about what Chelsea Manning faces in her transitioning process.
Recently, many in the news media reported about Bradley Manning identifying as a transgender woman and wishing to be called Chelsea Manning. Many of the stories seemed to imply that a wish and a name change is all that’s needed for a transgender person to transition. This over simplification is likely to create a misleading impression among those unfamiliar with transgender people and the transitioning process, even trivializing the heart-rending journey that often begins with coming to terms with the fact that one is born of a gender in the wrong body and the search for balance.
Observed Dr. Sherman Leis, one of the world’s leading transgender surgeons and founder of The Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery, “If only saying so could make transitioning happen. Gender dysphoria is a serious human condition. If more people could understand the heartache endured by so many pre-surgery transgender people, we might dramatically reduce the extraordinarily high suicide rate among this group. So powerful a fix is transgender surgery that once it happens, this rate drops to near normal and most transgender people become relatively happy, normal people. If only we could make transitioning available to all who need it.”
I've posted Dr. Leis' whole press release after the jump, in which he outlines the process his patients go through. It's not particularly detailed from a surgical perspective, but it's a good starting point for those who want to understand the various steps.
National Public Radio will continue for now to refer to Private Manning as “he,” according to a spokeswoman, Anna Bross. “Until Bradley Manning’s desire to have his gender changed actually physically happens, we will be using male-related pronouns to identify him,” she said.
What the fuck, NPR? This is some draconian bullshit, right here. Gender is not just physical. And anyway, the content of Chelsea Manning's underwear is none of NPR's business. Is an editorial board going to demand photographs of her crotch before they agree to switch pronouns? I can understand some news organizations having some difficulty yesterday as they transitioned from using "he" to "she" with Chelsea Manning. An announcement of this scale has never happened before, and I don't think it's happened to these kinds of reporters—the ones covering breaking national and international news (thanks to Chaz Bono, entertainment and gossip reporters are actually ahead of the curve on this issue). But for a whole organization to demand proof of a physical change in gender before they respect someone's wishes is more than just institutional ignorance; it's outright aggression.
Because Russia has promised us that they'll arrest straight athletes and visitors who support gay rights too—not just gay athletes and visitors—so it's all good:
In an astounding statement, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Count Jacques Rogge, claimed today that Russia will not discriminate against gays at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, even though the Russians just said the exact opposite in a new letter released to the Associated Press.
In the letter, the Russians are now claiming that their draconian new anti-gay law is not anti-gay at all. Why? Because it threatens to jail heterosexual Olympians too.
The Russians are now claiming, incredibly, that their “gay propaganda” law doesn’t discriminate against gays because it will also lead the incarceration of straight Olympians who say or do anything perceived as pro-gay.
Well, thanks for the clarification, Boris.
By that olympian logic... there was nothing racist about this because the Klan didn't discriminate between black and white Freedom Riders. They murdered them equally.
Bradley Manning came out as trans this morning:
Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army private who pleaded guilty to leaking government files to WikiLeaks and was sentenced on Wednesday to 35 years in military prison, said in a statement Thursday that “I am female” and wants to begin living life that way.
In a letter to supporters titled “The Next Stage of My Life,” Private Manning wrote, “I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition.”
The letter went on to request that Private Manning’s supporters “refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).” It was signed, “Chelsea Manning.”
A Broadway Cab driver accused of dumping out a lesbian couple on the side of Interstate 84—after he saw them holding hands, the woman claimed—has had his license revoked by the city agency that oversees taxis and other for-hire driving outfits.
The driver, Ahmed Egal, has 10 days to appeal the finding (pdf), which doesn't delve into the specifics of the complaint but accuses him of failing to uphold his main duty as a cabdriver under city code: taking passengers safely to their destination via the quickest route possible. The city's letter to Egal also says he lobbied a second cab driver not to pick up the women and that he repeatedly hung up on investigators and wouldn't acknowledge his duties under city code.
The city's Private For-Hire Transportation Board also sent a notice (pdf) to Broadway Cab, fining the company $1,000 for failing to promptly respond to complaints by the two women—directing them to leave a voicemail after they were forced from Egal's cab instead of sending another cab to pick them up.
The women, Shanako DeVoll and Kate Neal, went public about the July 25 incident on their Facebook pages late last month. They said they were taken home by a Portland police officer who responded to the scene, after they climbed up an embankment from Interstate 84. Egal called 911 to report that the women were drunk and wouldn't pay.
The city says it reviewed the 911 call, Broadway records, and taxi recordings. Egal's license has been suspended since the incident was reported. Broadway said, at the time, it was conducting its own investigation.
Though an appeal is possible, Kathleen Butler of the city's Revenue Bureau says they are few and far between.
As for how often a finding is reversed? "It's quite rare that a decision is overturned," she says.
A must-read piece in the New Republic:
Few, if any, of the people demanding a boycott have argued that this would “end” LGBT discrimination in Russia. Most of us understand that Russian antipathy towards LGBT rights is deep seated. In an article I wrote for Salon a few days ago, I also made the case that, at least in the short term, Putin stands to gain from all the outrage because it reinforces Russians' ideas about how unique they are and further underscores the country's independence from the West. This does not mean the calls for boycotts are useless. Labeling justifiable outrage and calls for justice as useless and counterproductive smacks of blaming the victim. It's not our calls for boycotts that may cause an increase in violence against the LGBT community in Russia, but rather the law which Putin signed in July—a law that has, in effect, codified Russian homophobia and stripped the Russian citizens of the one way that they could ever expect to effectively combat it.
Ioffe's assertions that American attitudes towards LGBT rights have only recently changed is true. In fact, the change has come at an astonishing pace. What she fails to mention, however, is that this change only happened because of gay visibility, starting with more and more gays and lesbians coming out to their friends and families. Prominent celebrities and politicians revealing their sexuality, along with LGBT characters in movies and on TV, helped de-stigmatize the gay community in the eyes of so many Americans, who began to see us less as predators and AIDS victims and more as neighbors, cousins, coworkers.
This is precisely what the Russian propaganda bill denies its citizens. By criminalizing speech advocating “non-traditional sexual lifestyles,” Russia has denied its LGBT citizens the same path toward progress that so many societies in the West have taken. Look no further than the many reported cases of Russians who spoke out against the ban before it was ratified and who were later fired from their jobs. This is the reality on the ground. And if the gays there cannot speak for themselves without fear of imprisonment, it is up to those of us outside to speak for them.
An anti-gay Mexican politician is arguing that marriage rights should be limited to couples who are capable of having sex face-to-face:
La diputada local por el Partido Acción Nacional en Puebla, Ana María Jiménez Ortiz, afirmó en un foro realizado en ese estado, la semana pasada, que "sólo debe considerarse como matrimonio aquellas relaciones en las que los integrantes sostienen relaciones sexuales mirándose a la cara", lo cual, según ella, "no ocurre entre las parejas homosexuales."
The local legislator for the National Action Party in Puebla, Ana Maria Jiménez Ortiz, said in a forum held in that state last week that "[you] only should consider as marriage those relationships in which the members have sexual relations looking at the face," which, according to her, "does not occur between homosexual partners."
"Before my role on Queer As Folk I didn't know gay men had sex facing each other. That was a big surprise."
Spotted by Colbert:
You go to jail in Russia for being gay. Someone better arrest those nesting dolls. They're ladies inside other ladies!
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) August 15, 2013
A top American distance runner dedicated the silver medal he won at the track and field World Championships in Moscow to his gay and lesbian friends, becoming the first athlete to openly defy Russia’s new anti-gay law that outlaws “homosexual propaganda.” Nick Symmonds won the silver medal in the 800-meters Tuesday, then broke a previous pledge to not speak out against the law while at the championships by telling a Russian news outlet that he had no choice but to say something.
“As much as I can speak out about it, I believe that all humans deserve equality as however God made them,” Symmonds told Russia’s R-Sport. “Whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights. If there’s anything I can do to champion the cause and further it, I will, shy of getting arrested.”
“I respect Russians’ ability to govern their people,” he added. “I disagree with their laws. I do have respect for this nation. I disagree with their rules.”
Symmonds’ statement is the first major test of the Russian law by an international athlete and could possibly land him in trouble with Russian authorities, who have already deported foreign activists who have protested the law, including four Dutch filmmakers recording a documentary about the activism against it.
Here's hoping the athletes heading to Sochi follow Symmonds' lead. John over at Americablog rounds up all the Russia news in his daily "Russian Gay Olympic Implosion Update" here. I wanted to draw attention to this interview with Alistair Stewart, Assistant Director The Kaleidoscope Trust, "a UK based charity working to uphold the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people internationally." Stewart discusses the legal situation in Russia, what the IOC should do, why there won't be a boycott of the Olympics itself, and the vodka boycott:
What is your view on the vodka boycott?
We are supportive of the vodka boycott. I completely agree that by itself it won’t change the Russian laws and consumer boycotts have a problematic history at best. You also have to be careful when you’re trying to target companies that may ostensibly appear to be Russian but are actually transnational and operate in a number of different territories. Where the boycott has been incredibly successful is in raising the profile of the issue. If it hadn’t been called for it would be unlikely that we would be discussing the problems and unlikely that it would be appearing in national newspapers or that Obama would be talking about it on late night television.
The boycott is working.
There's plenty of time to move the 2018 World Cup:
FIFA has asked authorities in 2018 World Cup host Russia for “clarification and more details” about a new anti-gay law, joining the International Olympic Committee in seeking answers from Moscow. Legislation prohibiting “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors” has provoked an international furor since President Vladimir Putin signed it off in June and sparked growing concern at the IOC ahead of the Sochi Winter Games next February. The two most influential organizations in world sports are both now asking Russia how the law would be enforced during their marquee events.
It's annoying how the IOC and now FIFA only seem concerned about the law being enforced during their events. The persecution of Russian LGBT people should matter to both groups—it should matter to the whole civilized world—before, during, and after the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 World Cup.
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