Archive | July, 2011

Rabidly Anti-Gay Rocker/Radio Host Sues MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for $50 Million

27 Jul

Bradlee Dean

Anti-Gay, Anti-Muslim bigot, Christianist radio host and Michele Bachmann BFF is really upset that Rachel Maddow quoted him directly and played audio of an anti-gay, anti-muslim diatribe he went on. So he’s suing her for $50 million (but it’s not about the money).

Bradlee Dean, who we’ve discussed here before has some deep ties to Republican and Tea Party presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. Dean, a heavy metal Christianist rocker and preacher for the “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide Ministry,” has decided to sue MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for a segment she did on Dean, his anti-gay rants and his ties to political candidates in his home state of Minnesota. In the segment, she plays a clip from his radio show where he says:

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow

“Muslims are calling for the execution of homosexuals in America…they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination…If America won’t enforce the laws, then God will raise up a foreign enemy to do just that. That’s what you’re seeing today in America.”

Maddow followed that clip by reading a disclaimer that had been posted on Dean’s Ministry’s website claiming:

“We have never and will never call for the execution of homosexuals.”

Check out Maddow’s report here, where she follows with another clip from Dean’s show where he claims that “on average, [gay people] molest 117 people before they’re found out.”

So as a journalist, Maddow fairly reported the bigot’s response. So why is Bradlee Dean suing?

Here’s the statement from Dean and his anti-gay lawyer, Larry Klayman:

Despite the very clear disclaimer by Bradlee Dean on his ministry’s website and elsewhere regarding the false accusation that he was calling for the execution of homosexuals, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and others seized on and accused Dean on her show of supporting the killing of homosexuals, as is the practice in some radical Islamic countries. This seriously has harmed Dean and the ministry, who pride themselves on respect and love for all people…

The lawsuit is filed by attorney Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, in DC Superior Court and seeks in excess of $50 million in damages. However, money is not the issue. “This case is filed as a matter of principle,” stated Klayman. “We need more Bradlee Deans in the world and hateful left wing television commentators must be made to respect not only his mission but the law,” he added.

Here’s Bradlee Dean’s video calling out Rachel Maddow – please note that he leaves out the part where he referred to the people who executed homosexuals as “more moral” than American Christians.

There’s some excellent reporting over at Mother Jones on this topic. Be sure to check out their whole story.

WE WON (for now)! NARTH Can No Longer Provide Continuing Education in CA

26 Jul


After a quick and successful campaign and a Change.org petition started by this blog, we are very proud to announce that the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) has had their accreditation pulled.

NARTH was on a list of several hundred organizations which could have provided continuing education credits for Licensed Educational Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Licensed Clinical Social Workers to renew their licenses. This essentially meant that NARTH could be responsible for helping to train the people who have to counsel LGBT youth and families.

For those who don’t know, NARTH is a hateful organization which provides conversion or “ex-gay” therapy for their clients. This form of therapy has been not only disproven as being effective, but many who go through it either commit or attempt suicide. As stated in the note above, this form of therapy has been debunked by  the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Counselors Association.

The organization responsible for accreditation of these groups is the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. We put in several calls and sent over 1,100 signatures to demand NARTH be removed from the list. The Sacramento News & Review reports that BBS Spokesman Russ Heimerich said that NARTH was removed from the list as of last week due to “delinquent fees.” In the meantime however, Heimerich said that the Continuing-Education approval process is on the agenda for the next board meeting in September. He also noted “We certainly do believe that there is a lot of room for improvement.”

The following statement was sent to Talk About Equality in response to our Change.org petition:

This is in response to your recent email to the Board of Behavioral Sciences (Board) in which you expressed concerns that the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) appears on the Board’s approved continuing education provider list.

California Code of Regulation, Title 16, Section’s 1887.4 through 1887.14 specifies the requirements to become a Continuing Education Provider. A Continuing Education Provider must ensure its coursework is relevant to a licensee’s practice and is related to direct or indirect patient care. The Board does not have the ability to deny any application that meets these requirements.

Board licensees are permitted to take continuing education coursework from an array of providers such as an accredited or approved school, or an association, health facility, governmental entity, educational institution, individual, or other organization that offers continuing education courses that meet that meet the law’s requirements.  Further, if a Board Continuing Education Provider approval has expired, the provider may not present a course for continuing education credit for licensees of the Board.  Our records reflect that NARTH’s provider approval expired on October 31, 2010. Accordingly, our continuing education provider list has been updated to reflect provider’s with non-expired approvals.

The Board previously identified concerns with the Continuing Education Program.  A discussion about continuing education and possible regulatory changes will be an agenda item for the Board’s September Licensing and Examination Committee meeting.  Additionally, the Board will discuss the concept of a continuing competency model at its October Policy and Advocacy meeting.  Both meetings will in Sacramento, California.  All of the Board’s meetings are public meetings. The agenda and meeting materials will be published on the Board’s website atwww.bbs.ca.gov  ten days prior to the meeting.

Thank you for contacting the Board with your concerns.

Sincerely,

Kim Madsen

Executive Officer

Avenue Q’s Rod, Ricky & Kate on Gay Republicans, Puppet Presidents and Michele Bachmann

26 Jul

Avenue Q's Rod and Ricky

On Sunday, July 24, 2011, thousands of gay and lesbian New Yorkers legally tied the knot. Among those celebrating marriage equality were cast members from the hit Broadway (and now off-Broadway) musical, Avenue Q.

In this video, recorded before Rod and Ricky took the proverbial plunge, they expound on their thoughts on gay Republicans, the future of puppets in the Oval Office and…Michele Bachmann. Please watch, enjoy and share!

Exclusive: Avenue Q’s Rod & Ricky – The Full Wedding Video!

26 Jul

Having discovered that there is only one video of Rod and Ricky’s wedding out there – (and that video is only of a pre-ceremony rehearsal), we realized we had to post this video of the entire ceremony!

Kate Monster, Ricky and Rod (Photo by Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com)

As we posted here earlier, two cast members from the Broadway (and now off-Broadway) hit, Avenue Q were married on Monday outside the NY City Clerk’s office. We posted some photos here yesterday and there are some incredible pics over at BroadwayWorld.com as well.

Please check out our video of the entire event, followed by some beautiful coverage by the Family Equality Council of the special day.

 

Avenue Q’s Rod & Ricky Tie the Felt Knot in NYC

24 Jul

I was honored to attend the wedding of Avenue Q’s infamous Republican showtune-loving puppet, Rod and his partner of nearly 8 years now, Ricky. We were happy to get a brief interview with the couple that we will be sharing later, but in the meantime, please enjoy some photos of their nuptials.

Rod says, “To have this finally happen for us — especially so soon after Will and Kate — is unbelievable to me.  I realize there are a lot of broken hearts out there now that Ricky and I are off the market — step back, all you chorus boys! — but I’ve known since Day One that Ricky is the husband for me.  He’s the furry fellow I want to spend my life with both on and off the stage.”

Now in its 9th year in New York — and with productions in countries around the world — AVENUE Q is a three-time Tony Award-winning musical about people and puppets fresh out of college in search of their purposes in life, living as neighbors in an outer-borough of New York City.

In AVENUE Q, Rod, a Wall Street banker, and Ricky, a “Chelsea boy,” meet through an online personal ad placed by Rod’s best friend and slacker roommate Nicky.  It is love at first sight.  And the rest is soon to become history!!

Also in attendance at today’s marriage ceremony was Amy Hausman, an All Peoples Wedding Officiant for the Starlight Rainbow Wedding Initiative and AVENUE Q’s Jennifer Barnhart, Jed Resnick and Howie Michael Smith.

Thousands of New Yorkers put a ring on it!

24 Jul

This morning in New York City, close to 700 couples made history by being the first gay and lesbian couples to marry in the state.

Talk About Equality and the Family Equality Council were there to document these marriage pioneers!

The new law, which passed in New York and was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo 30 days ago, has broken the barrier to equality for thousands. Couples of every age, size and shape were lined up starting in the early hours this morning, to finally gain legal recognition for their partnerships. We spoke to couples who’d been together for 2 years and couples who’d been together 42 years – who’ve been patiently waiting for this sunny Sunday morning at the New York City Clerk’s office.

Please enjoy some photos from today’s day downtown, followed by a special reception held by Governor Andrew Cuomo at New York’s Dream Hotel. At the reception, the governor honored several individuals and organizations who joined together to eventually win the fight for marriage equality. And finally this evening at the LGBT Center of New York, several organizations including Empire State Pride Agenda, Transgender Legal Defense Network, Human Rights Campaign and Freedom to Marry hosted an enormous wedding reception for today’s newlyweds. Several elected representatives responsible for the passage of marriage equality and special guest, George Takei helped ring in the celebrations!

Also check out this video we put together about Gabriel and Dylan, one of New York’s first married gay couples. More photos, video and information on how to get married in New York available at FamilyEquality.org :

Miami-Dade Schools Increase Protections for LGBT Students, Staff

21 Jul

Save Dade's CJ Ortuno (Photo by Jamie McGonnigal, EqualityPhotography.com)

According to a press release from Talk About Equality friend, CJ Ortuno at SaveDade.org, Miami-Dade Schools have just announced increased protections for LGBT students. Three years after having passed the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act,  which prohibits the bullying or harassment, including cyber bullying, of any public K-12 student or employee, Miami-Dade County Administration amended their policy to be explicitly inclusive of students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT). The policy will now include “sexual orientation and gender identity” providing clearer protections for LGBT students.

“For the past year we’ve focused on strengthening Miami-Dade’s anti-bullying policy as a way to create a climate where bullying a student because of their real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity is no longer tolerated,” said C.J. Ortuno, executive director of SAVE Dade. SAVE Dade worked with their partner the ACLU of Florida in developing the policy’s new language.

According to GLSEN’s 2009 National School Climate Survey 7,261 middle and high school students found that nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students (84.6%) experienced harassment at school in the previous year. Miami-Dade County provides significant support through public school programs and nonprofit organizations for LGBT students.

“SAVE Dade’s contribution is to strengthen policies in hope that it provides some clarity for adults and students on the frontlines of bulling – if a teacher knows and understands that gay students are explicitly protected from bullying, it could result in a report that saves a young person’s life,” said Ortuno.

The new policy updates will go into effect Friday, July 22, 2011. An English version will be posted on the school board’s website at that time, with Spanish and Creole versions to follow.

The new policy language will read:

“Bullying, Harassment, Cyberbullying, and Discrimination (as referred to and defined herein) encompasses, but is not limited to, unwanted harm towards a student or employee based on or with regard to actual or perceived: sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability (physical, mental, or educational), marital status, socio-economic background, ancestry, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, linguistic preference, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or social/family background. This policy prohibits bullying or harassment of any student by any Board member, District employee, consultant, contractor, agent, visitor, volunteer, student, or other person in the school or outside of the school at school-sponsored events, on school buses, and at training facilities or training programs sponsored by the District.”

 

Immediate Arrest of All Homosexuals in Ghana

21 Jul

According to MyJoyOnline, a Ghana news source, The Western Region Minister Paul Evans Aidoo has ordered the immediate arrest of all homosexuals in the region.

He has enlisted the services of the Bureau of National Investigations in addition to landlords, tenants and anyone else who can “provide reliable information which will lead to the arrest of homosexuals.” According to their report:

“Only yesterday, the Christian Council of Ghana capped months of protestations against the practice of homosexuality with a strongly worded message against the practice and courting Ghanaians not to vote for any politician who believes in the rights of homosexuals.”

“The Western Region has been a beehive of activities linked with homosexuality. A recent media report claimed the Western and Central Regions together have a total of about 8,000 homosexuals and lesbians.”

“That report sparked a series of religious demonstrations with the Moslem and Christian communities in the region hitting the streets to protest what they claim is an ungodly and demonic act.”

Currently in Ghana, homosexual sex between men is illegal while sex between females is legal. And naturally there are no legal protections for same-sex couples, nor against discrimination in Ghana. Back in September, 2006, an LGBT rights conference scheduled to be held in Ghana was banned by the Ghanaian government.

A Change.org petition has been started asking The President of the United States Barack Obama, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Donald G. Teitelbaum, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, and U.S. State Department Johnnie Carson. We’ve also contacted the incredible International LGBT Rights organization, ALL OUT to see what else is being planned to stop the arrest and possible extermination of homosexuals in Ghana.

PHOTOS: DOMA Repeal’s First Senate Hearings

20 Jul

photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com

This morning, i had the distinct honor of joining the Family Equality Council at the very first Senate hearings on the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which was signed into law in 1996. This was my first time attending a Senate hearing and I wanted to walk you through what happened and my impressions along the way.

There was a long line of people waiting to get in to the hearing room, but luckily, we had reserved seats and were able to head in first. Looking around the room as it filled up was a who’s who in the LGBT rights movement – Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign, Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, Rea Carey from the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and many other important names and faces in our movement.

Seated in the first row, in front of us were representatives from those who oppose equality for LGBT people. Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family, Austin Nimmocks of the Alliance Defense Fund and Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Chairman Leahy (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

Chairman Leahy quickly called the hearings to order and the first panel spoke to their experiences with DOMA. The panel was made up of House members primarily speaking about their constituents. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights legend – made several references to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as the comparisons between the Black Civil Rights movement and the LGBT Civil Rights movement today. he referred to DOMA as a “stain on our democracy.” He wrapped up by saying “These are our brothers and sisters, we cannot turn our back on them; we must join hands and work to create a more perfect union.

Over the course of the rest of the testimonies, I found myself listening more intently to the reasoning of those who stand against equality than those telling our stories. I think this is just because I’ve heard a lot of our stories in person (and even told a few), but to hear bigots spread lies in front of the US Senate was an experience I will never forget.

Rep. Steve King (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

Rep. Steve King, the only anti-gay member of the first panel reiterated statements we’ve heard before. He spoke of the number of states where anti-gay referendums were passed, where the rights of a minority were voted on by the majority. He said that marriage equality would “demean” the institution of marriage. Also stated that same sex marriage would eventually lead to marriage between family members. And he wrapped things up by saying no court has ever found DOMA to be unconstitutional – he apparently never heard of the 14 times it has been in court and has been found to be unconstitutional.

The next panel featured non-members of Congress and was the first to tell first-person accounts of how DOMA has negatively affected our families. The primary focus of testimony from our side was on healthcare and tax law – many cited that same-sex married partners are frequently left out of hospital visitation protection and that the federal tax laws do not protect legally married same-sex couple and their families.

Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

Focus on the Family’s Tom Minnery complained about traditional marriage being destroyed. He kept referring to “mountains of evidence” that state children are better off with opposite-sex parents. I can’t help but note that while we tell our stories about how we are hurt by this bigoted law, during the entire hearing, no one mentioned how straight families are hurt by gays getting married. Minnery went on to complain about 8th graders who were “forced” to deal with the fact that gay people exist.

Now comes the good part. The members of Senate are now allowed to question members of the panel. The first question came from Chairman Leahy. He asked Minnery to answer a simple question. After Minnery’s claims that children are far better off with opposite-sex parents and that his most important reason for being there was to protect children, Leahy asked if children of same-sex parents are better off for not receiving the same benefits that children of opposite-sex parents? He needed to explain the question 4 times before Minnery finally agreed that DOMA is indeed hurting children of same-sex parents.

Sen. Al Franken (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

Following that, Al Franken asked for a specific example from Minnery’s “mountains of evidence” claiming that children of opposite-sex parents are better off than those of same-sex parents…in Minnery’s written testimony, he cited a study by the Department of Health and Human Services. Franken pulled out the study and let’s just say my favorite sentence of the day was – “I….checked the study out.” and instead of paraphrasing the whole thing here, please watch – and please keep in mind that ti’s fairly verboten for the audience to laugh, applaud, etc during these hearings:

 

So there was that.

Ed Whelan, who believes polyamory is a "project of the Left" (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

The next panel came in, which featured the aforementioned Solmonese,  Wolfson, Nimmocks and Whelan. The information that came out during these testimonies were for the most part, things we have heard before from both sides…and then came Ed Whelan. This was the only time all morning where there was an audible laugh from the audience at the testimony of a panelist. His full testimony (which does not include random quips he made like the one I’m about to reference) can be found here. After referring to the terms polyamory or polygamy at least nine times in five minutes, he then referred to polyamory as “a current project of the Left.” Because ya know…multiple partners are never mentioned in the Bible or the Book of Mormon…we just made it up. I think it was Dan Savage actually who invented it (apologies for the snark, it was just a bit much to listen to).

Another interesting thing to note from Whelan’s testimony is that he claimed heterosexual taxpayers would be forced to “subsidize” same-sex marriages because of having equal protection under tax law. It astounds me that he doesn’t seem to see the irony that LGBT folk have been subsidizing heterosexual marriages since the government first got in the business of giving tax credits to married couples.

New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer wrapped things up with a strongly-worded statement in support of the Respect for Marriage Act.

Sen. Charles Schumer (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

In closing, I’m very excited to attend another hearing like this. To see this at work and to see bigots called-out for their lies for the whole nation to see was empowering to say the least. I should also note that there were only two anti-gay Senators in attendance at this hearing – Sens. Grassley and Hatch (who didn’t say a word at the hearing). There were eight pro-equality Senators (Chairman Leahy, Sens. Feinstein, Franken, Schumer, Whitehouse, Klobuchar, Coons and Blumenthal) in attendance with one of our biggest champions (Sen Kirsten Gillibrand) sitting in the audience. If this was really so important to their constituents, don’t you think more Republicans would have shown up?

Enjoy some photos from today and thanks for following @TalkEquality on Twitter!

For an excellent blow-by-blow account of today’s hearing, check out Adam Bink’s Prop8TrialTracker.


HRC's Joe Solmonese (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

 

A family in support of DOMA repeal (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

 

Sen. Chris Coons (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

 

Sen. Durbin (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

Sen. Chuck Grassley (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

Sen. Feinstein (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

 

Rep. Nadler (photo by Jamie McGonnigal EqualityPhotography.com)

 

BREAKING: Obama endorses Respect for Marriage Act to repeal DOMA

19 Jul

The so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is on its last legs. The legislation, signed into law in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, has caused the breakup of hundreds of LGBT families across the country. Bi-national couples have faced deportation over DOMA, Federal courts have stripped legally married couples of their rights over DOMA and due to 14 recent federal court challenges, DOMA is crumbling.

The Respect for Marriage Act, the act that would repeal DOMA goes into Senate Judiciary Committee hearings tomorrow, and now that I live ten blocks from the Capitol, I’m very excited to be attending. I’ll be reporting on the happenings via twitter if you follow us @TalkEquality.

The exciting news today, via Adam Bink at Prop8TrialTracker with the Courage Campaign is that President Barack Obama has endorsed the Respect for Marriage Act. Adam outlines why this move is so historic:

“Why is this a big deal? Because the White House rarely, if ever, endorses legislation that hasn’t passed a house of Congress… and this one hasn’t even passed committee yet. It underscores the urgency of this issue, and it also generates huge momentum to our efforts to bring more Senators on board. How many pro-LGBT Senators are going to let President Obama be ahead of them on this?”

Obama campaigned on the idea that DOMA should be repealed, but his support for the repeal over the course of his term has been less-than lukewarm. His Department of Justice on several occasions defended the unconstitutional law. The first time it went to court during his presidency, the DoJ’s brief on the case offensively compared lesbian and gay relationships to incest and pedophilia. The LGBT community lashed back and since that time, Obama’s administration has done a 180 on the issue and has ended it’s defense of the homophobic law.

The fight over DOMA is going to be long and costly. House Republicans needlessly voted last week to re-affirm DOMA as the law of the land (a symbolic show of support they decided to spend time on instead of working to stop the economy from going into free-fall).

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