Taking Children From Their Homes: Russia Introduces Bill To Remove Gay Parenting Rights

“Waves of protests surrounded Vladimir Putin’s return to power as Russia’s President in March 2012. Since then, parliament has passed so many new laws restricting civil liberties that some people now call it the ‘mad printer.'”

– Amnesty International Wire (Amnesty.org)

Russia’s Civil Liberties Record: Getting Worse and Worse In Word & Deed

“Everything you add to the truth subtracts from the truth.”

                                                                          – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

According to the Associated Press, Russian State Duma Deputy Zhuravlev (Putin’s United Russia Party/parliamentary caucus) is introducing a law making “nontraditional sexual orientation” viable grounds to remove child custody for LGBTQ parents.

In the draft bill for this proposed new law, Zhuravlev wrote:

“Following the letter of the law that forbids propaganda of non-traditional sex to minors we must restrict such propaganda not only in mass media but also the family… if one of the child’s parents indulges in sexual contact with persons of the same sex, the damage to the child’s psyche is immense as a mother or father serves as an example for their offspring.”

Additional grounds for denial or revocation of parental custody include alcoholism, drug abuse or any amount or type of drug use deemed inappropriate, which has nothing at all to do with gender, sexual orientation or law-abiding families established in-place, having committed none of these substance-related offenses.

Here we see yet another instance of punishing allies in addition to homosexual persons, as once passed, this bill would affect families and children who aren’t even LGBTQ-identified. Custodial rights could then be revoked if both or either parent were gay (out or not), so if two parents happen to have an understanding in their relationship, share post-divorce custody, etcetera, the parent who happens to be gay can be penalized, or a child can be taken away from one or both parents for any so-called ‘homosexual-affiliated’ reason(s).

As it is already illegal to mention homosexuality around children or to advise or counsel LGBTQ or questioning youth. This recent unfortunate move is thought to be the next step in Russia’s plans to eradicate gay tolerance, inclusiveness or protections altogether for LGBTQ persons, friends, allies or families.

At this point, though the bill is to be debated before it is formally passed, it seems such motions are little more than a formality. Russian lawmakers keep clinging to the through line that their anti-gay motions and laws are being instituted to protect the children, rather than being anti-gay.

Putin has already banned LGBTQ people residing in other countries from adopting Russian children, and as of this writing, the Russian government is also considering reinstating a gay blood donor ban.

Though boycotts and protests are occurring worldwide, even Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge is throwing his hands up in the air, saying Russia will not change their minds or policies in terms of its anti-gay legislation, and Rogge’s sharing little more on the matter.

Rogge told the press, “…one should not forget that we are staging the games in a sovereign state, and the IOC cannot be expected to have an influence on the sovereign affairs of a country.”

Activists, lawmakers, PR representatives, athletes, spokespeople and officials can make all the claims they want leading up to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, but we won’t know who’ll be arrested or how LGBT people or allies will be treated (both on arrival, during the events and while attempting to leave Russia) until it’s too late.

Many LGBTQ folks (like Johnny Weir) are Russophiles and/or have Russian spouses or partners. Have you been to Russia? Did you love it? If so, how do you feel now that Russian policymakers are passing all of these awful anti-LGBT laws?

 

Pa. Registar of Wills Marries Same-sex Couples Against State Ban

State Attorneys for Health Department Suing

Pennsylvania is one of thirty-five states to hold a 1996 ban on same-sex marriage by either state law or constitutional amendment. But this current Pennsylvania law similar to the one that in late June overturned DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) defining marriage as a union only between a man and a woman. It also prohibits Pennsylvania from recognizing same-sex marriages in other parts of the country.

In Defiance of State Law

However, that hasn’t stopped D. Bruce Hanes,the Montgomery County Register of Wills from issuing marriage licenses, although they have no legal effect, to same-sex couples.  As Register of  Wills, Hanes is also a clerk of Orphans Court, and is responsible for issuing marriage licenses and administering adoptions.

In the first week after the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA, Hanes gave out more media interviews than same-sex marriage licenses, according to an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on July 24.  To date, however, he has issued more than 100 licenses to gay couples and is now being faced by lawyers who filed in Commonwealth Court for “separation-of-powers for the state Health Department and Governor Tom Corbett.”

Causes to Punish

Shortly after Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced in a July 11 press conference that she would not defend the state’s gay marriage ban after the American Civil Liberties Union announced its lawsuit, on behalf of Pennsylvania’s gay plaintiffs, Hanes started issuing licenses.

The filing lawyers argued that county officials who flout the law “may be guilty of a misdemeanor for each act of neglect or refusal.” The Corbett administration wants a judge to order Hanes to immediately cease giving licenses to gay couples. It is afraid also that same-sex couples may apply for benefits only reserved for married couples.

“Ours is a government of laws, not one of pubic officials exercising their will as they believe the law should be or will be. Only the courts can declare a law unconstitutional and suspend it.”

Chaos Ahead?

Hanes, according to Bruce Castor, Republican County Commissioner, says “Mr. Hanes has overstepped his authority dramatically.”  A Democrat, Hanes, 66, feels he “is doing the appropriate thing at the particular time in our cultural background,”according to Harvey Portner, a Cheltenham Township Commissioner.

Defended Him As A Person Despite His Actions

Described as a popular, avuncular-type man with a Romantic streak, Hanes spent more than a decade as Co-Chair of the Cheltenham Democrats. It’s unusual for a register of wills to be a lawyer, but Hanes’ first deputy Joan H. Nagel said he brought needed skills to the office: “he’s very organized and methodical.”

Hanes believes it’s unconstitutional to pay attention to someone’s gender and will continue to hand out marriage licenses as he is determined to do what he thinks is right:  upholding the Constitution of the United States of America.

 
  

Fork on the Left, Knife in the Back: Why Michael Musto Was Never Really “Fired”

“For better or worse, I’ve always tried to march to my own drum

and tell it like it is, while preserving some integrity and style.

God, I’m fabulous!”

-Michael Musto

 Sorry…Perez Who?

Gay gossip columnist and author Michael Musto is unstoppable. However catty his remarks are (he is, after all, famous for creating the word “celebutard,”), this cat always seems to land on his feet (for nine whole lifetimes).

You would think reporters like him were the kind that “Der Bruno” parodies (http://www.aceshowbiz.com/news/view/00025569.html). Musto’s career has been anything but a fly by night affair, or gossip for gossip’s sake. His voice is pointed and distinct, steeped in his own philosophy and musings, and his words come across as being fully fearless.

Ever the consummate party goer, the Columbia University grad began his career by being famous for being famous. You can be as talented as the myriad other geniuses flanking you left and right in this world, but without any buzz, making a name for yourself and your work is infinitely more difficult.

That’s why, mere nanoseconds after it was confirmed Musto was laid off from his position at The Village Voice (“restructuring” was cited), he fired up his telltale tweets, and the WTFs and DM offers came rolling in.

One of the many highlights came from Andy Cohen who tweeted, “The Voice, though? “What’s the point of the Village Voice without @mikeymusto!?! #institution #NYCIcon”

Musto was not the only one fired (http://www.altweeklies.com/aan/restructuring-at-the-village-voice/Article?oid=7079465), and many of the publication’s most prominent editors resigned from the paper to protest the mass-layoffs. Still, the Musto firing was among the most shocking.

“So many people have come out to offer their love (and opportunities),” Musto told Gawker. “I’ll update you on all my new beginnings. My brand will be feistier than ever.”

The “La Dolce Musto” columnist wrote a touching farewell letter to his followers, ending:

“It was a helluva quarter-plus century of partying and protest. I have treasured my time there and have loved guiding you through some of NYC’s (and the world’s) dizzying highs and lows. I am reachable through Facebook and twitter (@mikeymusto).THANK YOU, PEOPLE!!!”

Named as one of the “Out 100’s”  most influential LGBT personalities, Musto’s fans who know him from TV may not realize: the reported clocked 30 years of journalism time at The Village Voice alone—all the while writing tomes both praising and burying celebrity culture, giving cultural commentary about GLBT culture, dish and dignity, and providing seasoned, sharp soundbites for myriad broadcasters around the world.

For anyone in the publishing industry, such a stint is a miracle, as is thriving as an out, gay journalist hobnobbing with celebs and still making time write that next great scoop.

Michael Musto created so much gossip that finally he became it (for 0.5 seconds). For all who knew him, it was immediately apparent the layoff seemed to be out of the blue and felt out-of-pocket.

Don’t you worry about Mike—Mike’s runnin’ shop in NYC. Still writing, still jet-setting, and still “bringing the fab” to nightclub events in the city (http://54below.com/wordpress/?artist=michael-mustos-disco) and beyond.

In essence, Michael Musto was never really fired, because he’s what you’d call in queer speak, “one of the legendary children.”

Musto was never really fired—because his only full-time job, boss and brand is Michael Musto.

 Michael Musto is now a columnist for The Advocate, Out Magazine,  Gawker, and select other publications.

So, uh…got any gossip?

 

1st UN Public Education Campaign Launched

Free and Equal Worldwide Campaign Promotes Equality for LGBT People

The recent surge in anti-gay violence in Africa as well as Russia has sparked the United Nations’s first global outreach campaign to promote tolerance and greater equality for GLBT people around the world.

Launched on July 26, 2013, the campaign called Free and Equal is aimed at changing public attitudes on issues that have divided the member states of the United Nations. Less than half of the U.N. ‘s 193 member states have documented their support of gay rights or opposition to laws criminalizing homosexuality. Yet, today more than seventy-six countries still criminalize consensual sex. In all areas of the world, violence against LGBT persons has been recorded. However, an increasing number of UN member states as well as UN agencies voiced concern about the recent abuses of LGBT rights.

Details About the Effort

The multi-media campaign to alter existing views will use videos, social media, celebrity appearances, a new website, fact sheets, and celebrity announcements. It is being orchestrated by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights that has a mandate to ‘protect and promote all human rights for all human beings’  and is being funded by outside contributors, not the United Nations. To execute the effort, the U.N. will be partnering with The Purpose Foundation that has extensive experience with human rights-related campaigns.

Purpose of the Free and Equal

Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, announced the intiative in South Africa, her mother country.  “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world in which everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights – no exceptions, no-one left behind,” said Pillay. “Yet it’s still a hollow promise for many millions of LGBT people forced to confront hatred, intolerance, violence, and discrimination on a daily basis.”

Recent Attacks

In the past few weeks, a gay activist in Cameroon was tortured and murdered. Uganda has a “kill the gays” bill, Montenegro’s first pride celebration met with violence, and Putin in Russia approved an anti-gay crackdown that will impose hefty fines for holding gay pride rallies or providing information about the gay community to minors.  And those are just the highlights!

Dignitaries Back Effort

Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a leader of the end- the- apartheid movement in South Africa in the 1980s, states that “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven…I am as passionate about this (Free and Equal) campaign as I ever was about apartheid.  For me, it is at the same level.”

Former South African President Nelson Mandela said that ” education is the best weapon against prejudice.”

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon declared “Let me say this loud and clear: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are entitled to the same rights as everyone else.  They too are born free and equal.  I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in their struggle for human rights.”

 

 

 

Modern Family Star Becomes Modern Family

Jesse Tyler Ferguson Marries Justin Mikita

Modern Family’s Emmy-nominated Jesse Tyler Ferguson who plays uptight lawyer Mitchell Pritchett, in real life, married a lawyer and long-time beau Justin Mikita on Saturday, July 20 in downtown Manhattan.

Details of the Wedding Verified by Ferguson’s Rep

Their wedding was officiated by Tony Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner of Angels of America and Lincoln fame. The ceremony took place downtown at 82 Mercer and was attended by over 200 guests, including the cast of Modern Family, Zachary Quinto and celebrities in the fashion world such as Isaac Mizrahi. The after-party was held at the Crosby St. Hotel.  The rehearsal dinner was at Harding’s Restaurant. All wedding festivities took place in New York.

Why? As guests on The View one day after Proposition 8 in California was declared unconstitutional last June, in the state in which they live, Ferguson and Mikita told their hosts that they planned to marry in New York where gay marriage is legal and where they were treated as equals.

 The Couple Ties A Double Knot 

Ferguson, 37, and Mikita, 27, have been dating for two years.  Red-headed Ferguson and swarthy Mikita became engaged last September in Mexico.  The couple on You Tube announced that they had formed a foundation called Tie the Knot.org. that benefits marriage equality.  It’s a site selling a stylish collection of unique bowties with the profits going to organizations that fight for marriage equality. Wedding guests were asked to donate to the organization rather than sending traditional wedding gifts.

Next month, Montana-born gay rights activist Ferguson, on the day that New Zealand’s gay marriage law becomes official will host a wedding aboard an Air New Zealand flight.

The Bluebird of Happiness Tweets

The day after he married, Ferguson tweeted that he “never been happier.” Two days after he married, he tweeted again “Top of the world. Top of the Cake.”

 

Attorney General in Pa Won’t Defend Gay Marriage Ban in Court


Leaves Job To Republican Governor Tom Corbett

Kathleen Kane, the Attorney General of the state of Pennsylvania, said on July 11, 2013, that she will not defend the state’s gay marriage ban in court.  Under Pennsylvania law, it’s the Attorney General’s duty to defend the constitutionality of state laws.  But the law also says that the Attorney General may allow lawyers for the Governor’s office or Executive Branch agencies to defend a lawsuit if it’s more efficient or in the state’s best interest.

Kane’s Decision Not To Defend the Ban

I cannot ethically defend the constitutionally of Pennsylvania’s (law banning same-sex marriage) where I believe it to be wholly unconstitutional,” Kane, the first Democrat and woman to be elected to Attorney General, said.

Kane will instead leave the defense to the state’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett who wants to keep the ban that the American Civil Liberties Union is trying to strike down in the federal lawsuit, known as Whitewood v. Corbett. On behalf of twenty-three state residents, the suit was filed on July 9, 2013.  The plaintiffs are ten couples and one widow who lost her same-sex partner after twenty-nine years together, and two children of another such couple.  Collectively, they want the state to recognize their out-of-state marriages or want equal protections granted to straight married couples. This is the first known challenge to the state lawwhich effectively bans same-sex marriage.

Pennsylvania’s History with Gay Marriage

Pennsylvania is the only eastern state that doesn’t allow same-sex marriage or civil unions. The state law defining marriage as a civil contract in which a man and a woman take each other as husband and wife was passed in the legislature in 1996.  Trends in Pennsylvania show increasing support for same-sex marriage.  A Quinnipiac University Poll of 1,221 registered voters in Pennsylvania found that forty-seven percent favored same-sex marriage.

Comments From Party Chairmen

Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn applauded her ” courageous and firm stand against a law with little merit.”  However, GOP Chairman Rob Gleason vehemently disagrees and attacked Kane, voted into office in 2012,, as “blatantly politicizing the Attorney General’s office.”

Brian Sims’s Testimony

Openly gay State Representative Brian Sims tweeted “ Attorney General Kathleen Kane, if you were a man, I’d marry you.”  He went on to say….”when the U.S. Supreme Court declared the federal DOMA unconstitutional, the decision thrust many states, Pennsylvania included, into the national spotlight.  Kane has decided that continuing to defend the Common’s DOMA has no legal merit.  Kane’s announcement is a step in the right direction to address the legal inequalities impacting LBT Pennsylvanians.  The truth of the matter is, our Commonwealth currently does not have a single LGBT civil right.”

First Openly Gay Soccer Player Gets Ovation on Field

rogers0527

Robbie Rogers Signed with Los Angeles Galaxy

In February, soccer player Robbie Rogers announced on a blog post that he was gay.  Following that big news, he decided to step away from the game.  He could not imagine that he could be himself on and off the field.

Fans Prove Rogers Wrong

However, on May 26th, Rogers, 24, walked onto the soccer field to a loud ovation to play on the LA Galaxy’s team against the Seattle Sojourners for a 4-0 victory.  A mid-fielder, formerly with the Columbus Crew, he had trained on the field as a youth.

During March, in Portland, Oregon, Rogers spoke to a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teenagers.  After that experience, Rogers realized that playing soccer not only fulfilled him, but also offered him an opportunity to do something more.”

“That Nike camp made me feel a little soft,” he said. “It taught me I needed to man up a little bit.  It’s easy to play a sport that you love and be a role model for people.  It’s a perfect situation for me.”  Now, Rogers realizes that he was too apprehensive about the effects of his coming out. “Oh, my gosh, so much easier,” he reported. ”That’s the no.1 lesson of all this.  I don’t know what I was so worried about.”

Those Who Egged Rogers to Return to Soccer

Rogers was encouraged to return to his sport by his agent and former teammates and friends. With N.B.A. player Jason Collins’s coming out last month, along with the release of “42,” a movie about Jackie Robinson, Rogers felt compelled to play soccer again.  He was granted permission to work out with the Galaxy, his hometown team. A talented wing who almost made the 2020 World Cup Team, Rogers said he would return to Major League Soccer only if he could play for Galaxy, near his hometown in Huntington Beach, California.

Rogers’s Effect on the Field

Galaxy initiated discussions with the Chicago Fire, who held Rogers’s rights.  A trade was made with Chicago native, Mike Magee, Galaxy’s lead soccer goal scorer.  According to Jim Buzinski, founder of Outsports.com which tracks gay sports issues, while” Rogers’s gay legacy will be significant –he’ll go down in history as the first to play in a game, but if this were the Spanish League, the English Premier League or the Bundesliga, there would be more impact.  That’s where the best players in his sports are, not the M.L.S.”

Despite several Galaxy players’ opinions that Rogers would have no problems on the field from other players, the league has suspended and fined players for using homophobic slurs twice in the last two months.

Commented Galaxy star Landon Donovan:  “everyone wants it to go a certain way on the field, but in my opinion it’s already a success whether he plays 1 minute or 1,000 minutes or 10,000 minutes. It’s already a big step in the right direction for our society as a whole.  I’m proud to be part of it.”

 

 

 

Thousands Condemn Murder of

aerial-lower-manhattan1
Earlier this week thousands of people marched in Manhattan, New York to denounce a stark increase in violence against the gay community in the city and specifically the brutal aggressive shooting on of Mark Carson last weekend.

Openly gay Mark Carson was shot in the face after being followed and subjected to homophobic verbal abuse and slurs in through New York’s Greenwich Village. Witnesses claim the man charged with Carson’s murder, Elliot Morales, asked him “Do you want to die here?” and “What are you, gay wrestlers?” before shooting him in the face.

New York City Police Department chief Ray Kelly said, “It is clear that the victim here was killed only because, and just because, he was thought to be gay,”

Many are shocked by the crime, believing New York, which legalised same-sex marriage in 2011 was a safe place for gay people to live. Indeed the area of Greenwich Village is a well gay friendliness and acceptance. “There aren’t supposed to be anti-gay hate crimes taking place almost in the shadow of the Stonewall Inn,” said political analyst Richard Socarides.

On Monday, thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the shooting. Some of those present carried placards dedicated to “gay angel Mark Carson” whilst some others chanted slogans like “Hate No, Gun Control Yes” and “Homophobia’s got to go”.

The New York Police Department have said anti-gay bias crimes in the area have risen sharply compared to the equivalent period last year, from 14 incidents to 24. However the figures may not tell the whole truth for many believe that only a few anti-gay crimes are actually reported to the police for a number of reasons, not least the fear of not being treated fairly.

Morales has yet make a plea and is currently being held in custody without bail.

Pay With Pride

PRIDE CARD

Paying with Pride.
Now there is a new way to pay that shows you have PRIDE! A new vibrant, bright, gay rainbow payment card is available for those that want to pay with pride! You see, Pride is about far more than a day of parades and parties, it is a state of mind, a state of living that you carry around with you everyday, so why not show that pride with something useful and handy to have – the new Pride and Gay Street Debit Visa cards.

These Debit Visa cards give you all the perks of both a credit card and a checking account – but without the fees – regardless of your credit standing. What is more, you can use either card wherever the Visa sign is accepted – anywhere in the World! You can also use the card to withdraw funds at literally thousands of ATM machines, so you’ll never be far away from your money. Adding funds to the card could not be easier, you’ll be able to conveniently load money with Western Union, PayPal, bank transfers, MoneyPak, direct deposit of wages or federal benefits payments. It is a 24/7/365 card so it’s always available whenever you need it. These two cards offer you everything you could possibly need, with no minimum balance or bank history requirements, also your

history requirements, also your LGBT Pride or Gay Street Prepaid Debit Visa card is FDIC insured for the full balance on the card with zero liability protection – just like other credit products. So now you’ll be able to carry the card that affirms your pride with The LGBT Pride and LGBT Gay Street Prepaid Visa Debit card from CARD.com.

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Gay-Rights Issue to Immigration Reform Bill Is At a Standstill

reform
May Become a Senate Showdown

An amendment sponsored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) would allow U.S. citizens in long-term relationships to sponsor foreign partners for green cards (as opposite sex married couples are allowed by law). Out of the 300 proposed changes that have been filed by Judiciary panel members, this amendment, seems to be causing the most controversy.

Leahy has two amendments: One would implement the Uniting American Families Act; the other would exempt immigration law from the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that could be struck down by the U.S Supreme Court next month anyway.

Democrats

Gay-rights groups want President Obama to offer more support to immigrants in same-sex marriages.  Equal treatment for same-sex couples was included in the president’s principles for comprehensive immigration reform last January. Yet, the President could do much more to advocate for amendments sponsored by Senator Leahy. Obama has said that “protection for same-sex bi-national couples is “the right thing to do” yet does not say that it has to be part of immigration reform. Through an executive order, it’s speculated that Obama could extend equal treatment to same-sex couples under immigration law.

The lead author of Senate immigration reform legislation and a co-sponsor of Leahy’s Uniting American Families Act, which would extend equal immigration treatment to long-term same-sex couples is Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dick Durbin, D-Ill. are the two Democratic members of the bill-writing group known as “Gang of Eight.” The eight senators have committed to join together to defeat amendments from either side that could derail the bill. Schumer and Durbin have not said how they will vote.  Durbin, Senate Majority Whip, said the bipartisan coalition did not agree to add the gay partner amendment.

One of Leahy’s amendments would implement the Uniting American Families Act; the other would exempt immigration law from the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that could be struck down by the U.S Supreme Court next month anyway.

Republicans

The Democrats are in a tough place.  They are being forced by Republicans to choose between delivering a win for gay families and maintaining bipartisan support. They don’t want to tell gay rights advocates that the amendment may not get a vote in the Judiciary Committee and take the blame.

If the amendment gets into the immigration bill, it could endanger the whole comprehensive immigration reform plan.

The four Republicans among the eight senators who  wrote the immigration bill have said that such a provision could cost their support and kill the bill. Said Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., “if that issue is injected into this bill, this bill will fail.”

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) commented on May 13, 2013 that “if the Judiciary Committee tries to redefine marriage in the immigration bill they will lose me and many others.”

Also opposed are religious groups such as the Southern Baptist Convention that have backed the immigration reform

A Stalemate?

Gay-rights advocates said on May 15, 2013, they didn’t know when Leahy will offer his amendment to require equal treatment for same-sex couples.  One source predicted it would come late in the markup of the bill, which is expected to span a couple of weeks, but before the Memorial Day recess.