Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Morning Sweep

UPS has changed its mind and decided to provide benefits to its gay employees who are in civil unions in New Jersey. According to a UPS spokesperson, "In the course of...discussions, at least in the case of New Jersey, it became clear that the state is treating civil union partners as if they are married partners.” When was that ever unclear?

A bizarre lawsuit filed against the state's Human Rights Division by three staffers claims that white gay men have been given preferential treatment over women and people of color.

Liz Benjamin thoroughly covers the dynamics at play in today's special election for Paul Tonko's seat in the 105th Assembly District.

The L.A. Times features an extensive piece about young gay athletes, with a handful of high school and college students discussing how the atmosphere is changing in the locker room.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Morning Sweep

There will be a special election for the 105th Assembly seat (Albany area) tomorrow. The seat was formerly held by Democrat Paul Tonko, who voted in favor of the marriage equality bill on June 19. Although the Albany Times Union endorses Edward Kosiur (D) for the seat, it points out specifically that his position for civil unions and against marriage equality demonstrates a "lack of leadership." We will miss Assemblymember Paul Tonko--and wish him well in his new role as a member of the Spitzer Administration.

Gay rights activists protested the arrival of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in San Francisco, demanding that the multinational body take a more active role in ending violence against LGBT people around the world.

A showdown is looming in Florida over its constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. The language of the amendment may also jeopardize domestic partner benefits for straight couples.

Vermont, which already provides civil unions for gay couples, is now looking into legalizing same-sex marriage.

Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson contributes a piece to the Huffington Post calling for more leadership from the Democratic presidential candidates. In it he points out that all lawmakers in state legislature races who have supported same-sex marriage legislation have been re-elected--and that the vast majority of those who were openly in favor of marriage during races for open seats have won.

In its review of "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry" Reuters suggests that Hollywood is simply evolving " to keep up with the times" because support for same-sex marriage is steadily growing nationally.

Colombia looks to be moving forward in granting legal recognition to its same-sex couples.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Summer Recess

Sunset over Fire Island Pines Harbor

It's summer recess at the Pride Agenda, which means that there will be little (if any) posting on The Agenda for the rest of this week. The Morning Sweep and all regular posting will resume on Monday, July 30.

Feel free to leave us a message while we're out.

Morning Sweep

New York Magazine this week features a long article on gay men who lead double lives: married (to a woman) with children on the one hand, and meeting up secretly with men on the other. Says one: "Without Craigslist I would probably just be a normal married guy who occasionally flirted on the subway."

The Glens Falls Post-Star goes in-depth with Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, the lawmaker and mother of a gay man who made perhaps the most memorable and convincing argument in favor of the marriage bill during the June 19 debate on the Assembly floor.

New Jersey governor Jon Corzine is getting involved in the mess caused by the numerous instances of unequal treatment under the state's civil unions law.

“I refuse to label people. We’re all just people made out of the same old dirt, and God didn’t make any junk.” Tammy Faye Messner died on Friday at the age of 65.

The U.N.'s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) voted to recognize two gay groups after dramatic opposition from some not-so-gay-friendly countries.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Morning Sweep

Tammy Faye Messner appeared on Larry King Live last night and talked briefly about her connections with the LGBT community (via Queerty).

Gay City News takes Logo and HRC to task on their selection of Joe Solomonese and Melissa Etheridge as moderators for the Aug. 9 presidential debate. Instead, claims the paper, one or two of LGBT community's talented journalists should have been given the role.

A columnist for the New York Blade has ten questions that she would like to ask Democratic presidential candidates.

The NYCLU/Pride Agenda sponsored a Hudson Valley community forum in White Plains yesterday to discuss the LGBT community's victories and the challenges that lie ahead.

In a complicated case involving gay parenting, the Ireland Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a sperm donor who doesn't want a lesbian couple to move with their son out of the country.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Lt. Gov. Paterson and Sen. Stewart-Cousins at yesterday's Fall Dinner Kick-Off

Pride Agenda board member Alfredo Paredes with Lt. Gov. David Paterson and State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Lt. Governor David Paterson was the guest of honor at our Fall Dinner Kick-Off reception last night, which was held at the home of Pride Agenda board member Sam Rosenblatt in Tribeca . The event officially begins the ramp-up to our biggest fundraiser of the year, the Fall Dinner, which last year brought in more than $1 million dollars. Most of the money raised at the event goes towards our legislative advocacy work and support for candidates who are committed to winning equality and justice for LGBT New Yorkers.

Paterson had just assumed role of Senate Minority Leader when the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) passed in 2002. Last night he commented that the passage of that bill was one of his proudest moments. He restated his commitment to making sure that marriage for same-sex couples is law in New York State in the very near future. He also shared a personal story about his uncles—a gay couple who had a tremendous positive impact on him as a child.

Sen. Stewart-Cousins with an aide and Pride Agenda board member Reggie Shuford

State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (Westchester) was a surprise guest at last night’s event. She also spoke about her strong support for all of the issues that are important to the LGBT community. Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle made it clear that our community would be behind Senator Stewart-Cousins as she prepares for reelection in 2008.

This year’s Fall Dinner is Thursday, October 11.

Morning Sweep

It looks like the Hate Crimes bill has been indefinitely delayed. The Defense Authorization bill (which included the Senate's hate crimes legislation) was pulled from the floor yesterday.

Lots of talk in the New York political blogs about who is targeting who for elections to the State Senate in 2008.

Yasser Arafat died of AIDS, according to a French medical report. It's believed that he contracted HIV from one of his many sexual encounters with men.

The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin has a "pro and con" reader response section on the question of whether or not New York State should allow same-sex couples to marry. It seems that pro-gay marriage Binghamtonians (?) greatly outnumber those in the anti group.

Syracuse's News 10 covers the Soulforce group traveling through Central New York and the Hudson Valley, lobbying NYS lawmakers to support and pass the marriage bill.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Snapshot: The Friedman-Zwerin family

Joshua, Jeff and Andy

Jeff Friedman is a former lawyer turned stay-at-home dad. He and his partner Andrew Zwerin met in 1984 as high school students and have been together for more than 22 years. They currently live in Rockville Centre, NY with their son Joshua. The Friedman-Zwerin family became involved as community activists with the Pride Agenda in February of 2007, but have been active as “out” parents in their Long Island town since adopting their son four years ago. The following is an account of the Friedman-Zwerin family in Jeff's words.

I never had the chance to register at Fortunoff's or even Target for that matter. I never had the chance to stand up before family and friends and thank them for attending my wedding celebration. More importantly, I never received that license which would officially acknowledge our relationship and declare our union as real and worthy of protections. And yet, what I have received over the last two decades is something much deeper. I have been blessed with the greatest gift of all-LOVE.

For me, it all started when I transferred into an eleventh grade chemistry class. The teacher instructed me to sit next to “Mr. Zwerin”, who sat in the far back corner of the class. Mr. Zwerin, or Andy, as everyone else knew him, was a cute boy with big blue eyes. I vividly remember the light blue Ocean Pacific pants he was wearing that first encounter. Most of all, I remember the feeling that came over me in a somewhat euphoric way just from being near him. We instantly became best friends. Andy and I went everywhere together. We became known by our group of friends as “JeffandAndy”, as if it were one word. Looking back, it was in these early days of our relationship when our souls started to become one. It was sometime after the first five or six months from our first meeting that we became more then friends. I had just turned 17 and I knew with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

With that epiphany came more questions. How was I going to tell my mom and dad, my family or our friends that we were gay? I wanted to be a parent and everyone in the LGBT community was talking about AIDS, not parenting. We chose to focus on living our lives and not about answering questions. Our senior year in high school--although closeted--was the foundation of our life together. Our daily conversations concerning our goals and aspirations were only stymied by our youthfulness. After we both were accepted at The State University of New York at Albany, it seemed natural to everyone that we would room together. Our conversations
continued in Albany and so did our closet. It was here that we made our first real home together. I learned how to cook and Andy learned how to use a fire extinguisher.

Being closeted had collateral consequences. We never had the need, albeit the courage to walk into a gay bar. Andy didn’t really drink and neither of us was interested in going out to “meet” anyone. We had each other and that was all we needed. Not going out to “the bars” also meant that all of our friends were straight—and looking back I think that almost all of our friends suspected we were gay. Our “closet” was mostly in our head.

For us, not taking part in the LGBT community was merely a reality and not a point of contention. We were young, had each other, and were fulfilled. We were in love and closeted. I remember the conversation we had in Albany when we were trying to come to terms with our being gay. The words gay and parent seemed to be mutually exclusive to us. To admit that we were gay meant the improbability of becoming parents. For me, my closet door would not open until I came to terms with that perceived reality. We knew our relationship was special but we didn't think it would survive. As college was coming to an end so to, we thought, might our relationship.

I drove out to Ohio to attend law school. This was a difficult time for me. I left Andy in New York because we did not have the courage to be who we were. It took Andy only four weeks before he flew out to see me. That weekend after Andy left, I knew our relationship would last forever. It was now just a question of how. There were many trips back and forth between New York and Columbus that year. It took being apart for just nine months before Andy officially moved into an apartment with me in Columbus. As I was attending law school, Andy was getting his masters in computer science. We tried the gay bar scene for the first time and concluded that gay or straight we were not much into bars. We also started to come to terms with the fact that we were gay. By the time I completed law school I better learned not only who I was but also what I wanted to accomplish in life.

When we came back to New York I knew we needed to start opening the closet door. I could not see myself without Andy. We had been joined together in our own “holy” matrimony years earlier and we now needed to allow our family and friends to fully participate in our lives. As we moved into to a small two bedroom apartment in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn, we began the process of informing family, friends and co- workers that we were gay and a couple. Almost everyone had already figured that out. We had apparently outed ourselves by the way we lived our lives--by our actions and not our words.

Our professional lives grew as well. I became a partner in a small law firm and Andy was being rapidly promoted in his job in the IT department at a division of Time Warner. We purchased a co-op in Brooklyn Heights, and then a lake house in Pennsylvania that we use as a second home. We also started to travel the world. Although we still almost never went to gay bars in New York, we have managed to see them in such places as Hong Kong, Bali, Buenos Aires, Rio, Mykonos and London. As the years passed, we did everything we set out to accomplish. It was time for the family we created to expand.

The process of adoption had its emotional highs and lows. We were fortunate to work with an agency that was quite accepting of our family. We were unsuccessful in our quest to adopt a child in both Guatemala and Russia. Those rejections, besides taking time and money, were emotionally difficult. We also discovered problems with adoption in the U.S. It appeared that we were being discriminated against because of the fact that the biological mother or father can require that prospective parents be a married couple. As most LGBT people cannot marry, we were not considered qualified to be on the list of potential parents. The whole process of adoption took us years. By the time we were informed about our son Joshua, we were just about ready to give up.

The day we found out about Joshua was hectic. I was running around doing some last minute packing for a trip we had planned to San Francisco. The trip was going to provide us the opportunity to recharge and to discuss our options about the future of our family without children. It was 2:30 pm when I received the phone call from our adoption coordinator informing me that that a young woman was on the way to the hospital to be induced. We would be the parents of a boy sometime the following morning. We had always assumed that we would have at least 60 days notice before becoming parents--not just 17 hours. After my sister helped us quickly order an entire baby's room worth of stuff, with car seat in hand we made the trip to the hospital where we would meet our son. The second I held Joshua in my arms I knew he was ours. Without a single medical record on hand to make an informed decision, we took Joshua into our family. I think it was the proudest day of my life. Being successful in our careers was insignificant when weighed against the rewards of adopting. I never believed a gay couple, us, JeffandAndy would ever be parents. What a successful, unbelievable, unimaginably joyous day in our lives.

Having Joshua eventually meant moving from our apartment in Brooklyn to our home in Rockville Centre, a suburban community in Nassau County. Joshua gave being “out” a new meaning. I thought I was fully out until I witnessed my son outing us to everyone. The employees at the local grocery store, the cashier at the Rite Aide, the rabbi, the nice lady at the mall, the teachers, the administrators, the sanitation workers, all have been told by Joshua that he has two daddies and no mommy. He is also very proud of that accomplishment.

Being a stay at home parent is nothing like I expected it would be. No one ever warned me how much laundry there was. No one ever warned me of the somewhat protected and exclusive woman's group called the “soccer moms”. It has been somewhat of a challenge breaking into a domain that has traditionally been held by women. Gender role discrimination was something of a shock to me. However, raising Joshua is not only my most important task--it is the one I enjoy most. To watch your child develop on a daily basis is so amazing and mere words can not describe it.

We have also started to connect with the greater LGBT family. I knew the LGBT community has always been there for us, what I didn't know is how accepting and warm it is. We have become ground breakers and outspoken regarding LGBT issues in our small conservative town. We have been the first openly gay family at the doctor's office, the school, the camp, the temple, and in the neighborhood. We have been educating by our mere presence. News flash: there actually are healthy, well-rounded families headed by same-sex couples. And we are a living example.

Last year, at 38 years old and with no prior signs of problems, I experienced a sudden heart attack. This was a real shock. My “husband” of then almost 21 years filled out the papers at the hospital, but he was still unable to sign them. At such a stressful time in Andy's life, he should not have been confronted with this form of discrimination. How harsh to inform us that our relationship is not worthy of the same respect that married couples share. I have never witnessed a hospital worker ask a wife to prove her relationship with her husband; they just sign the paperwork. Yes, we each have a health care proxy, but we do not always carry it around. It was a good thing that my mother lives nearby and was able to sign all the necessary papers.

As my health has improved and another year has passed I still am in awe with how truly blessed I am. All of my adult life, the past 22 years, I have spent with the man who still gives me that euphoric feeling when I am near him. I have also been blessed with a beautiful son, who is now almost four. Every time we celebrate a holiday at home with our extended family it makes me smile. I still don’t have the china from Fortunoff’s that I wanted. But more significantly, I know I have the life I’ve always dreamed of having.

This is the first in a series of “snapshots” of LGBT New Yorkers and their families.

Morning Sweep

The Republican-controlled State Senate--which is the only remaining legislative body needed to pass the gay marriage bill--is going on the attack against Democratic State Senators as a preemptive strike in their struggle to hold on to their majority.

One Republican (mostly anti-LGBT) State Senator from Queens who barely held on to his seat in 2006 is starting his re-election bid early.

Ft. Lauderdale's Stonewall Library has finally found a home. The library, which is one of the country's largest collections of LGBT writings, had been under attack from the city's mayor. (An anti-gay mayor in Ft. Lauderdale? What's next...an anti-Semitic Brooklyn borough president?)

Gay veterans are touring the U.S. to promote the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." The Seattle Times writes about its city's participants.

The leaders of Britain's two major parties are locked in a game of oneupsmanship over gay rights. We wish we had that problem.

The West Village is about to lose another one of its institutions.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Morning Sweep

Michael Rogers (via Huffington Post) points to the outpour of support for Mike Gravel from LGBT bloggers in a piece that talks about the emerging power of the LGBT netroots community.

The New York Times writes about gay Native Americans who have left reservations and moved to cities (in this case, New York City) to find acceptance.

Washington lags far behind Wall Street when it comes to providing LGBT people with equality.

Detailing the pain and struggle that binational same-sex couples face, the LA Times discusses another way in which tens of thousands of gays and lesbians are discriminated against in this country.

A court in Oregon ruled that gay and lesbian couples should not be treated any differently than straight couples when it comes non-biological parental rights.

It looks like Bill Richardson will also participate in the Logo/HRC debate.

Newsflash: Whole Foods likes gay people.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Morning Sweep

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, in its "Giving Back" column, profiles a community activist who is making a difference in the lives of LGBT people.

Elizabeth Edwards once again speaks out for gays and lesbians in condemning the murder of a gay man in Sacramento by a group of homophobic Russians. She also said that her husband would "would help repeal more than a thousand laws that discriminate against same-sex couples."

HRC reconsiders its participation "policy" and invites pro-marriage candidate Mike Gravel to the Aug. 9 debate that it's co-sponsoring with Logo.

Deb Price writes that the LGBT community has good reason to be worried about the Supreme Court.

Being gay in Turkey is not as bad as it once was, but there's still a lot of work to be done in order to be sure that LGBT are treated equally in the world's most progressive Muslim country.

Being gay in Turkey Hollow, on the other hand, is a different story...

Friday, July 13, 2007

Soulforce in NYC and Protecting the lawmakers who stood up for us

Joe Tarver attended last night's PFAW/Soulforce-sponsored panel discussion with Danny O'Donnell and Tom Duane. He had the following to report back:

Last night as a prelude to Soulforce’s Right to Marry campaign, People For the American Way (PFAW) and Soulforce NYC sponsored a discussion with State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell to talk about the progress and prospect of marriage equality in New York. Gay City News Editor in Chief Paul Schindler moderated the discussion.

PFAW’s office in Manhattan’s Flatiron District was packed with more than 100 people who came to hear Duane and O’Donnell and meet some of the Soulforce students and activists who will be fanning out across New York in four separate contingents starting this Sunday. With the Assembly passing marriage legislation on June 19, the mood was upbeat and celebratory. Several LGBT community allies were there, including the Upper West Side synagogue B’nai Jeshurun, staff from the office of U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler and, of course, PFAW.

Assemblymember O’Donnell talked to us about what it meant as a gay man to lobby his fellow Assemblymembers for the ability to marry his longterm partner John Banta. He stressed how his being able to make the issue personal with his colleagues was a key reason 85 Assemblymembers voted to pass the bill. We agree. O’Donnell’s hard work and telling his personal story Assemblymember-to-Assemblymember made a difference in our community’s campaign to pass the bill.

O’Donnell reminded us all that, despite the victory, work with the Assembly must continue. Elections are next year and he urged everyone to remember those who supported us during the June 19 vote and to be there for them. He named four Assemblymembers who did the right thing and voted for the marriage bill despite knowing that there could be concern over their votes back in their districts: Assemblymembers Albert Stirpe, Jr. (D-North Syracuse), RoAnn DeStito (D-Rome), Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) and Janele Hyer-Spencer (D-Staten Island). These (and other) Assemblymembers should know that, come election time, the Pride Agenda will not forget their courage and leadership on this issue.

Senator Duane, who will be our community’s point person for the campaign to pass the bill in the State Senate, told everyone that it’s possible to get the current Republican Majority to take up the bill and pass it, but that it would be easier with a Democratic Majority in place. (The margin of Republicans to Democrats in the Senate is now down to a very slim two seats.) He emphasized how important it will be to continue building support for marriage with straight allies and highlighted how the Pride Agenda’s work building religious and labor support for marriage equality had changed the way the issue was viewed in Albany. Duane urged the activists in the room with Soulforce’s Right to Marry campaign to focus on the personal aspect of why marriage matters when they meet with elected officials across the state these next two weeks.

Both O’Donnell and Duane noted how much having Governor Spitzer’s support for marriage equality had shifted the political terrain in New York State on marriage equality.

For more information on Soulforce’s Right to Marry campaign and the kickoff this Sunday in Albany, go here. We’ll try to give you a few updates as they make their way through New York.

Morning Sweep

An opinion piece by a straight writer in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin hits the proverbial ball out of the park in its attempt to rationalize why allowing gay people to marriage is simply the right thing to do.

The New York Times profiles Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell--the openly gay sponsor of the marriage bill that recently passed in the NYS Assembly--for its "Public Lives" column.

In another effort to streamline, PlanetOut, Inc. announced that it will be closing its international offices.

The Matthew Shepard Act (hate crimes bill) has been introduced in the U.S. Senate alongside other amendments to the defense authorization bill.

A little bit of news analysis: right now it's unclear as to whether or not the strategy of mixing the legislation into a wider debate on U.S. presence in Iraq will ultimately result in the bill's passage. It could prove to be either a politically expedient move or one that ultimately results in a presidential veto, should Bush be unhappy with what certain parts of the bill say about curtailing the Iraq mission. Regardless, right now this strategy gives the bill its best chance for passage.

You can do some lobbying of your own here.

Some people are not happy that Mike Gravel, a pro-marriage (and darker-than-night horse) presidential candidate, was not invited to participate in HRC/Logo's gay debate.

Here's the police report that was filed after Florida Republican state representative Bob Allen was detained for soliciting an undercover officer for oral sex.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Morning Sweep

Gay City News wonders how to keep Democratic presidential contenders accountable for the many promises that they seem to be making to the LGBT community during the 2008 election.

A Republican Florida state representative was nabbed by an undercover cop for solicitation (of the male-to-male variety). He also happens to be the co-chair of John McCain's Florida campaign operations. Naturally, he's denying everything.

The Colorado Springs Independent profiles Tim Gill's (and his foundation's) involvement in helping to elect LGBT-friendly lawmakers in state legislature races.

Fifty prominent straight Oregonians are publicly voicing their support for two significant pro-LGBT bills that are under attack from anti-gay groups.

The American Public Health Association opposes Pres. Bush's selection of Dr. James Holsinger as the next U.S. Surgeon General because his views on homosexuality "put his political and religious ideology before established medical science." This is only the second time that the group, which is made up of 50,000 public health officials, has opposed a Surgeon General nominee.

The New York Times also opposes the Holsinger nomination.

Michael Moore on his gay following, big pharma and HIV/AIDS, and possibly making a movie about gay rights (or the lack, thereof).

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Jose Peralta's response to "Courtin' Trouble"

Remember that ignorant little piece that Errol Louis penned in the Daily News a couple of weeks ago about gay marriage possibly leading to polygamy and incest?

Assemblyman Jose Peralta (Queens) wasn't very happy about what Louis had to say and sent a response to the Daily News. It never ran, but we have a copy of it:

"Now that the New York State Assembly has passed legislation providing same-sex couples with access to marriage, opponents are trying to scare New Yorkers about what this means by using the worn-out slippery slope argument that this will lead to incest and polygamy. We heard it on the floor of the Assembly during debate on the bill and we heard it in this newspaper just a few days ago.

As a person of color, I have to say that it is disturbing to hear the same ugly and untrue arguments being used today by defenders of the status quo that were used forty years ago when people of different races wanted to marry.

When a mixed race couple went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1958 to be allowed to marry in the famous Loving v. Virginia case, the voices of doom were saying the same thing. They said this would weaken the family, be bad for kids and be the end of civilization as we know it. They talked about bestiality being next. Never mind that there was no evidence to back any of this up, they still put it out there to scare people.

Our vote on marriage was about nothing more than a vote to allow two adults who are in love and of the same sex to be able to marry. No legislature is compelled to say what was done for one particular set of circumstances must be done for another. We looked at the facts regarding same-sex relationships and deliberated over what would be the best public policy decision to reach. That debate might be very different for a different set of circumstances.

Allowing same-sex couples to marry is about far more than live-and-let-live. There ARE same-sex couples living in New York and they ARE raising children – tens of thousands of them. Extending marriage and the literally 1,324 laws and statutes related to it that are designed to protect those families is not about making these families feel good. It is smart public policy to take an institution that has been used to protect opposite-sex couples and their children and apply it to same-sex couples and their families. The institution I’m talking about is marriage. It provides a healthy and necessary framework for two people to take care of each other and should be extended in this case to same-sex couples.

Slippery slope arguments are never based on fact. They are about hysteria. With this change in marriage, people ask, what other changes will we be forced to face? For better or worse, marriage has always been about change. From polygamy in biblical times -- to consolidation of power and prevention of war in medieval times -- to the inferior status of married women in more modern times -- to the ban of interracial marriage just decades ago -- society has always asked what model of marriage best fits the needs of that time.

The question is now being asked about two people of the same-sex, and I for one have provided my answer on the basis of equality, justice, family protection and good public policy. The restriction on same-sex couples marrying in New York should end. That does not put New York sliding down a slippery slope to anything else. It only answers the question for my gay and lesbian constituents and the gay community across the state."

Jose Peralta
New York State Assembly
39th District


Morning Sweep

Lots of buzz this morning about Logo/HRC's "gay debate" on Aug. 9. More here, here, here and here.

The American Psychological Association is set to review the effects of "reparative therapy," which attempts to change an individual's sexual orientation. Most experts believe that the APA panel will find that such therapies are damaging and harmful.

Straight couples in Florida are worried that a proposed amendment to the state constitution (narrowly defining marriage and forbidding any other alternative) will threaten their domestic partnerships. A bipartisan advocacy group has been organized to fight the amendment.

A court battle in Michigan is proof that marriage amendments also jeopardize domestic partner benefits.

¡No me digas! Bill Richardson used the "m" word.

GLAAD gives "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" two snaps up. Towleroad notes that the movie is getting mixed responses from the LGBT community.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Logo, HRC to host first-ever presidential debate (discussion) on LGBT issues

So far Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards have committed to participating. This is a groundbreaking event--never before have top-tier presidential candidates come together during a primary season to discuss LGBT issues.

Joe Solomonese (HRC's Exec. Director) and Melissa Etheridge will moderate/emcee the August 9 event, (a lesbian in our office wonders why the male is a political figure/advocate and the female is an entertainer...) which will be broadcast live on Logo from Los Angeles.

Republicans are also invited to participate.

Read the press release here (via Queerty)

Pride in Our Union

We posted yesterday on DC37's support of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) and the marriage equality bill. We ran this full-page ad today in The Chief (a highly regarded newspaper for civil employees), noting the bredth of union support for LGBT issues:

(click on image to view larger version)

Almost 1,000,000 New Yorkers are represented by unions listed on this page. To borrow a oft-used labor phrase: stronger together.

Morning Sweep

Equality Florida is encouraging Floridians to send the mayor of Ft. Lauderdale a roll of toilet paper to "help him wipe his dirty mind clean" (according to Exec. Dir. Brian Winfield) after making comments about the need to prevent "homosexual activity" in the city's public restrooms.

The AP profiles Lucas Silveira, the transgender lead singer of the Toronto-based band "The Cliks."Check out the video for their catchy single "Oh Yeah" here.

On the "family values" front: according to GOP Senator David Vitter from Louisiana, marriage is between one man and one woman...and apparently one (so far) prostitute.

In the ubiquitous 20-cover Bono issue of Vanity Fair, Brad Pitt discusses gay rights with South Africa's Anglican Archbishop (Emeritus) Desmond Tutu.

Queerty takes a look at gay and lesbian asylum-seekers looking for refuge in the U.S.

Monday, July 9, 2007

DC37 supports marriage equality, GENDA

DC37, New York's largest municipal employee union, last week passed resolutions that express the organization's support for the marriage equality bill and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).

This adds about 120,000 more members to the overall number of New Yorkers represented by unions in support of marriage equality, making the total somewhere close to 970,000. (read the marriage resolution here)

Unions supporting GENDA (so far) represent approx. 320,00 New Yorkers.

Morning Sweep

The AP reports that UPS has refused to recognize New Jersey's civil unions as the same as marriage, and therefore will not extend spousal benefits to same-sex partners with civil unions. UPS does offer benefits to same-sex couples in Massachusetts who are married, proving again that civil unions are not understood to be an institution equal to marriage in the eyes of many entities.

A columnist in USA Today suggests that, were he alive today, Martin Luther would have advocated for the acceptance of gays and lesbians.

Two men in Australia will be the first Jewish gay couple to have their marriage officially recognized by Jewish authorities in the country. (via Queerty)

The New York Times featured in its "Vows" section the lavish wedding of author Andrew Solomon and a Newsday entertainment editor John Habich, which took place in Britain (where it's legal to form same-sex unions).

The Advocate will be doing away with its "extra cover" that is meant to conceal the cover of the magazine for privacy. The majority of subscribers felt that the measure was unnecessary--and the publishers wanted to be more environmentally friendly. Out may soon follow suit.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Morning Sweep

John Kiley and Gene Silbert--who have been a couple for 54 years--are starting an organization that will grant scholarships to gay and lesbian student athletes who have given something back to their community.

The Advocate's Kerry Eleveld profiles dark horse (pro-marriage equality) Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel, who recently spoke to an LGBT audience at a Queerty-sponsored event. You can see his unorthodox campaign ad here.

Hillary caused a stir with a statistic she used about HIV/AIDS in a debate in front of Howard University students. And Barack Obama caused controversy when he made a joke about his own HIV test during the same debate.

The Washington Blade writes about LGBT organizations who have started blogging. The Agenda isn't mentioned, but I can understand that some blogs need more PR than we do.

Time Magazine examines the issue of gay couples adopting, citing a recent law passed in Colorado allowing for second-parent adoption for non-married couples.

Pam Spaulding reports on a NYC man who was fired from his job at a jeweler after coming out to his religious boss. She also cites the case as another reason for the passage of the federal ENDA--but we might remind her that New York also has a sexual orientation non-discrimination act, which already makes this action illegal under New York State law.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Morning Sweep

The only state with full marriage equality is getting on quite well, according to the Washington Post. Marriage equality opponents have thus far been proven wrong, as 10,000 gay couples have been married in Massachusetts and society has yet to crumble.

Oregonians reflect on a successful 2007 legislative session for LGBT rights, but are worried about a ballot initiative that may undo the progress.

...and, because it's a slow news day:

The Sex and the City movie is officially on.

Joe Bruno is not happy with the Times Union.

If you do happen to be at work today, HRC is encouraging you to take action for workplace equality and write to your U.S. Representative to get them to support the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). You can be fired from your job in 31 states if you're gay or lesbian, and in 39 states (including New York) if you're transgender.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Morning Sweep

In a highly charged column on the Huffington Post, Gabriel Rotello attacks the Andrew Sullivan-promoted theory of sero-sorting--a method of allegedly preventing the spread of H.I.V.

A bouncer at the Caliente Cab Company restaurant in NYC's West Village kicked a lesbian out of the women's restroom--and then forced her party to leave--because of her masculine appearance.

Ben Smith writes that gays and Indians are big targets for Democratic fundraisers this year.

Queerty tells us that Bill Gates is helping to bail PlanetOut out of their financial troubles.

An anti-gay man in Massachusetts is suing the state Supreme Court for including a question about gay marriage in the state bar exam, claiming that his ethical disagreement with the question resulted in his failure. Idiot.

***There will be no Morning Sweep tomorrow, July 4. I know, sad. But enjoy the fireworks!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Morning Sweep

The Economist's Lexington column this week features the "normalization" of gay America, also pointing out that the number of gay households is growing at five times faster than the population as a whole.

The Daily News writes on the importance of careful and detailed estate planning for gay couples.

Lebanon offers some hope for gay Arabs in the Middle East.

Deb Price notices that Republican presidential candidates seem to be out of step with mainstream America in their opposition to gay rights.

The Washington Post reports that the civil unions law in New Jersey is creating a separate and unequal institution.

The NY Post reports on the coming battle for the Senate majority in the 2008 elections, pointing out that Queens and Long Island are the two areas where Democrats hope to pick up the three seats needed to take control.