Monday, July 23, 2007

GLBT DIGEST July 23, 2007

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The Miami Herald

Posted on Mon, Jul. 23, 2007
Voter videos to drive in-your-face debate

When Democratic presidential candidates square off for a debate in front ofCNN's cameras today, don't strain your neck looking for Wolf Blitzer,Christiane Amanpour or any of the network's reporters. They won't be askingthe questions.

Those will come from animated computer programmers, off-camera gay soldiersand guys in Viking helmets.

The debate in Charleston, S.C., airing live at 7 p.m., will be the firstamong presidential candidates in which the questions are posed by actualvoters submitting videos through the Internet -- and journalists andpoliticians agree it won't be the last.

''It's here to stay,'' University of Virginia political scientist LarrySabato said. ''You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.'' Adds JonKlein, head of CNN's U.S. operations: ``What candidate could walk away froma chance to hear from actual Americans? What candidate wants to look afraidto do it?''

CNN and video-sharing website began asking voters to postquestions on the site earlier this month. As the deadline approached Sundaynight, more than 2,700 had been submitted. About 200 of them will go into apool CNN reporters and editors will use to grill the candidates today.

CNN and YouTube will also collaborate on a Republican debate with the sameformat on Sept. 17 in St. Petersburg. The website will begin collectingquestions for that date at 9 tonight.


Washington State Domestic Partner Law Takes Effect
by Newscenter Staff
Posted: July 23, 2007 - 9:00 am ET

(Olympia, Washington) Washington state's domestic partner law went intoeffect Monday, allowing same and opposite-sex couples to register theirrelationships and receive some of the state-sanctioned benefits of marriage.

People, mainly gay and lesbian couples, began lining up overnight at theSecretary of State's office. Other couples opted to register by mail.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed the legislation in April, nearly a year after thestate Supreme Court upheld Washington's ban on same-sex marriage.

The law gives couples who register hospital visitation rights, the abilityto authorize autopsies and organ donations and inheritance rights when thereis no will.

To registered couples must pay a $50 fee and be able to prove they share ahome, not be married or in a domestic relationship with someone else, and beat least 18.


The New York Times

July 23, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Birth Without the Bother?

Earlier this year in Gujarat, India, I came across a most unusual kind ofoutsourcing: womb-rental.

Americans looking for a surrogate mother to bear a child can save a fortuneand avoid regulations by paying an Indian woman $4,000 or $5,000 to carrytheir fetus. An embryo that has been created in vitro by the Americanparents is implanted in the Indian woman's uterus and she goes through thepregnancy and delivers the baby - and then hands it over to the Americans.

Ultimately, that kind of surrogacy could be mixed with genetic screening ofembryos - to weed out babies of the "wrong" gender or with the "wrong"characteristics - to save busy couples the bother of pregnancy or thenuisance of chance.

Yes, all this gives me the willies, too. So some of the most monumentaldecisions we will face in the coming years will involve where we draw theline making some genetic tinkering legal and some illegal.

One of the crucial evolving technologies is P.G.D., or preimplantationgenetic diagnosis. This allows a couple to test embryos that have beencreated in vitro when they are roughly three days old.


Think it's another quiet hurricane season? Just wait a few weeks
By Maya Bell
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
July 23, 2007

MIAMI -- Amid the storm that has swept through the National Hurricane Centerthis month over the future of its deposed director, there has been one thingmissing: an honest-to-goodness hurricane.

But Floridians shouldn't expect that to last.

With only two minor tropical storms so far, the 2007 hurricane season hasbeen quiet since it officially began June 1. But the slow start is typical,even for the above-average season that is still expected.

"Just because things are quiet on July 20 doesn't mean the active seasonwon't come true," Jack Beven, a senior hurricane specialist, said Friday."There have been plenty of active seasons where we didn't have any activitybefore August.

"Just look at 2004."


Victory for gay rights campaign as reggae star agrees to ditch homophobiclyrics

· Buju Banton signs pledge after years of pressure
· Song advocated shooting and burning homosexuals

Alexandra Topping
Monday July 23, 2007
The Guardian

One of the most notoriously homophobic figures in reggae and dancehallmusic has agreed to stop singing violently anti-gay lyrics. Buju Banton -whose 1990s hit Boom Bye Bye advocates the shooting of gay men - has signedthe "reggae compassionate act" set up by the gay rights campaign group StopMurder Music, after a three-year campaign to bring him into line, the groupwill announce today.

Banton is the latest in a series of high-profile artists, includingBeenie Man and Sizzla, to sign the declaration after worldwide protests fromgay rights groups resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of concerts andsponsorship deals, costing the artists in excess of £2.5m.

In signing up, Banton has agreed to not make homophobic statements inpublic, release new homophobic songs or authorise the re-release of previoushomophobic songs. The act states: "There's no space in the music communityfor hatred and prejudice, including no place for racism, violence, sexism orhomophobia."

It adds that reggae artists have always fought against injustices,inequalities, poverty and violence.

Peter Tatchell, of the gay rights group Outrage! which has coordinatedthe campaign, said the move was a big breakthrough in a battle that hasraged between gay rights activists and a number of dancehall artists for 15years. "Our No 1 priority is to stop murder music," he said.


The New York Times

July 23, 2007
Democrats Press House to Expand Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON, July 22 - After a rare bipartisan agreement in the Senate toexpand insurance coverage for low-income children, House Democrats havedrafted an even broader plan that also calls for major changes in Medicareand promises to intensify the battle with the White House over health care.

President Bush has threatened to veto what he sees as a huge expansion ofthe children's health care program, which he describes as a step "down thepath to government-run health care for every American." The House measurecalls for changes that the administration will probably find even moredistasteful, including cuts in Medicare payments to private health plans.

Like the bill approved last week 17 to 4 in the Senate Finance Committee,the House bill would increase tobacco taxes to help finance expansion of theChildren's Health Insurance Program.

House Democrats hope to portray the issue as a fight pitting the interestsof children and older Americans against tobacco and insurance companies. TheWhite House says the Democratic proposals would distort the original intentof the children's program, cause a big increase in federal spending andadversely affect older Americans who are happy with the extra benefits theyreceive from private health plans.


The New York Times

July 23, 2007
What Would a Diplomat Do?

When Condoleezza Rice took over as secretary of state, the (wishful)thinking was that the Bush administration would finally get into thebusiness of diplomacy. Ms. Rice can be as bullying and ad hominem as herboss, but she's also an achiever and trying her hand at persuasion wasprobably the only hope for salvaging the administration's failed foreignpolicies and her reputation.

Two and a half years later we're pleased to note a preliminary success forthe new era: North Korea's decision to shut down its plutonium-producingnuclear reactor in exchange for economic and eventual diplomatic payoffs.Ms. Rice managed to hold back the spoilers in the vice president's officelong enough for her negotiator, Christopher Hill, to do the deal theold-fashioned way: countless hours of negotiations and a willingness tocompromise with a leader President Bush once famously said he "loathed."

Unfortunately, in most every other area ad hominem and loathing stilldominate. And there is still a perplexing refusal to do the tedious butabsolutely essential diplomatic prep work.


The New York Times

July 23, 2007
How the Energy Dice Were Loaded

The names of some of the corporate big shots and industry lobbyists whohelped shape the deliberations and conclusions of the super-secret Cheneyenergy task force in 2001 are now beginning to surface, thanks to a formerWhite House aide who provided a list to The Washington Post.

It's interesting to discover that Kenneth Lay, Enron's chairman, was favoredwith two audiences. But the rest is sadly familiar. The task force, whichdeveloped a national energy policy, had all the time in the world for thebig energy producers - some 40 meetings with the oil, gas and coal companiesand their trade associations - but barely a moment for environmentalists.

It'shardly surprising that its report favored producers of fossil fuels at theexpense of conservation and alternative fuels.

What this list really does is remind us how and why this administration hassquandered six years that should have been devoted to finding innovativeanswers to the big questions of oil dependency and global warming.


The New York Times

July 23, 2007
Editorial Observer
Just What the Founders Feared: An Imperial President Goes to War

The nation is heading toward a constitutional showdown over the Iraq war.Congress is moving closer to passing a bill to limit or end the war, butPresident Bush insists Congress doesn't have the power to do it. "I don'tthink Congress ought to be running the war," he said at a recent pressconference. "I think they ought to be funding the troops." He addedmagnanimously: "I'm certainly interested in their opinion."

The war is hardly the only area where the Bush administration is trying toexpand its powers beyond all legal justification. But the danger of animperial presidency is particularly great when a president takes the nationto war, something the founders understood well. In the looming showdown, thefounders and the Constitution are firmly on Congress's side.



Does the religious majority rule?

With church-state issues, the answer is often 'yes.' In six communitieswhere public religiosity was contested in court, an unfortunate themeemerged: 'Insiders' who crossed the majority view quickly became 'outsiders.'

By Peter Irons

Every town and city has "insiders" and "outsiders." Insiders tend to havedeep family roots in the community, belong to its dominant religious groupand political party, and play active roles in civic affairs. Particularly insmall towns, insiders get upset when outsiders challenge the symbols thatreflect the majority's beliefs and values.

On the surface, Jimmie Greene and Louanne Walker both qualify as insiders inrural McCreary County, Ky., a stronghold of hard-shell Baptists androck-ribbed Republicans. They are, in fact, cousins whose ancestors settledin the Cumberland Mountains back in Daniel Boone's days. Jimmie and Louannegrew up together, attended the same elementary school and worshipped in thesame Baptist church. Jimmie served four terms as the county's "judgeexecutive," and Louanne has worked for 20 years in the welfare office.



Tops and Bottoms
by John Corvino

(Yes, this column is about exactly what you think, so readers squeamishabout such topics should find another page.)

Years ago I lived next door to a young born-again Christian rock singer (Iknow-it sounds like the premise for a sitcom). While Jason stronglydisapproved of my being gay, he was also fascinated by it, and he constantlyasked me questions.

One day I revealed to him that I had never had anal sex. His facebrightened. "That's awesome!" he shouted.

"Why, pray tell, is it awesome?" I asked.

"Because maybe you'll try it, and then realize you don't like it, and thenyou won't be gay."

For Jason, being gay meant liking anal sex. He found it strange that theequivalence had never occurred to me. For me, being gay means that I likeguys. It means that I like guys-I have crushes on them, I fall in love withthem (one in particular), I want to "get physical" with them. It doesn'tspecify how I should do this.


Important Court Victory in Florida!

Sunday, July 22, Fifth Circuit Court Judge Carven Angel issued atemporary injunction barring the State of Florida from carrying out theexecution of Death Row inmate Ian Lightbourne. The Judge stated thatit would be improper for the Governor to consider taking up a DeathWarrant at this time.

After hearing sworn testimony in the first courtroom review of theDecember 13, 2006 botched execution of Angel Diaz and the subsequentproposed changes to Florida's lethal injection protocols, Judge Angelfound that the Dept. of Corrections and the State of Florida areunprepared to carry out an execution of Death Row inmate IanLightbourne. Judge Angel said that the Governor must have confidencethat Florida's execution process is compatible with evolving standardsof decency that mark the progress of a maturing society and the dignityof man. The judge further stated that executions should be carried outin a manner that does not result in the unnecessary and wantoninfliction of pain and lingering death.


Detroit News

The Detroit News
Deb Price
Gays make a strong pitch for acceptance

"Well, darling, I've got some news for you," longtime AIDS activistCornelius Baker recalls being told.

On the other end of the phone was Brent Minor, president of a gay sportsgroup called Team DC. His exciting news was that a secret committee hadpicked Baker to be the first openly gay person to throw the opening pitch ata game of the Washington Nationals, the Major League Baseball team.

"We had a nice little giggle," Baker recalls.

But reality set in: Minor is athletic -- he once did an Olympic-leveltriathlon, which is a near one-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike ride and 6.2-milerun, in drag. Baker is not.

In fact, he'd never even touched a baseball. The last time he'd thrown asoftball was in sixth grade -- and that was underhand.

His historic pitch was to be a featured attraction at the Nationals' thirdannual gay-friendly "Night Out." The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington wouldsing the national anthem. Then with 2,000 gay and lesbian fans -- not tomention everyone else in the stadium and TV viewers -- watching, Baker wouldhave to perform.

He had 10 days to train. His boyfriend, Greg, sent him a YouTube video ofthe mayor of Cincinnati accidentally throwing sideways: "Don't let thishappen," Greg warned.

Baker traveled to Atlanta, where his coaches -- Greg and Greg's brother --made him practice for hours in the heat "with mosquitoes and no bug spray."

The National's "Night Out" game for which Baker was training was part of acrackerjack trend in Major League Baseball that started with the ChicagoCubs in 2001 and includes the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, SanDiego Padres and San Francisco Giants. (The Detroit Tigers apparentlyhaven't yet been asked to join in.)

Before he knew it, Baker was on the pitcher's mound to open the July 16contest between the Nationals and the Houston Astros. His mind was sofocused he couldn't hear the cheering fans.


National Gay News

Domestic Partnerships Risky for Military, Foreign Nationals
Sunday, 22 July 2007 16:16

Domestic Partnerships Risky for Military, Foreign Nationals

Tom Richardson and Salvador Valenzuela first marked their commitmentto each other with a city domestic partnership in Seattle. WhenMassachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriage, theymarried, and hyphenated their last names.

Now back in Washington state, the Richardson-Valenzuelas plan toregister for a state domestic partnership here, taking advantage of the newlaw giving same-sex couples some of the benefits that married heterosexualcouples enjoy.



National Gay News

National Media Cover Oust Naugle Effort

Unite Fort Lauderdale is organizing events to demand Mayor Jim Naugle'sresignation for his derogatory and divisive comments. On July 24, at 4PM,there will be a protest at Fort Lauderdale City Hall. CLICK ABOVE to checkout the list of national media coverage this is getting, plus useful linkspertaining to the event.


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