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UPDATE: SCHOCKED! CBS Journalist Outs Anti-Gay Republican Congressman

4 Jan
Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) poses for Men's Health

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) poses for Men’s Health

It’s one of the worst-kept secrets in Washington, D.C.. From the teal belt, white pants and pink gingham shirt, to his topless photos adorning the cover of Men’s Health to the TMZ video of him “sightseeing” in a gayborhood, we’re truly Schocked that a noted CBS journalist has outed the Illinois Congressman.

The LGBT community frequently has conversations about the value of outing a person and while many disagree with it as a tactic for creating change, most are on the same page that a person who acts hypocritically has made their own bed.

The HBO documentary “Outrage,” made by Talk About Equality friend, Mike Rogers – reveals boatloads of information about several electeds in DC and their hypocritical voting records vs their sexual orientation. The film was made before GOP Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) graced the halls of the Capitol, but many sitting Senators and Congressman were targets of the film.

Mike Rogers was criticized when the film was released, that nearly all of the film’s focus was on Republicans, with very little attention paid to Democrats. Rogers aptly responded that the Democrats on the hill weren’t acting hypocritically – voting against their own community’s rights and protections.

In comes Itay Hod, an openly gay journalist for CBS whose friend’s roommate is seeing Rep. Schock. Through a “hypothetical” presented on Hod’s Facebook page, a story is told of Hod’s friend walking in on his roommate and the Congressman in the shower together.

Technically speaking, Hod’s post is hearsay and rumor. There is currently a big argument going on around whether or not this outing is at all newsworthy as there’s no evidence presented. Granted, no one’s ever felt the need to present evidence that Schock is heterosexual either – so the double standard here and the hypocrisy of Schock’s voting record should these allegations be true means that this is entirely newsworthy to us.

Check out the post below:

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL)

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL)

“people always say, no one has the right to out anyone. that coming out is a private matter. i disagree. as you can imagine, not a very popular opinion. but bear with me.

here’s a hypothetical: what if you know a certain GOP congressman, let’s just say from Illinois, is gay… and you know this because one of your friends, a journalist for a reputable network, told you in no uncertain terms that he caught that GOP congressman and his male roommate in the shower… together. now they could have been good friends just trying to conserve water. but there’s more. what if this congressman has also been caught by tmz cameras trolling gay bars. now what if you know that this very same guy, the darling of the gop, has also voted against repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, opposed the repeal of doma, is against gay marriage; and for the federal marriage amendment, which would add language to the us constitution banning gay marriage and would likely strike down every gay rights law and ordinance in the country?

Are we still not allowed to out him?

let me ask another question… doesn’t the media have an OBLIGATION to expose his hypocrisy? if he had done something so hypocritical and he wasn’t gay, wouldn’t we demand journalists do their job? but they can’t… because we won’t let them. you’re not allowed to out ANYONE, we tell them.

we’ve created a situation where even though news organizations know this guy is gay, they can’t report it because he hasn’t said so on twitter.

if we keep saying that being gay is genetic; ergo, it’s no different than having blue eyes or blonde hair… than why are not allowed to mention it? why do we need anyone’s consent to talk about their sexuality? are we not allowed to say someone has blue eyes until they post a fb message telling us they are in fact blue?

we’ve been so effective at convincing everyone that outing people is a crime against humanity, that we’ve made it impossible for any network or news organization to talk about this “hypothetical” gay republican congressman and his hypocritical vote against gay rights. they won’t touch it for fear of retribution from GLAAD or HRC. (in fact when my friend’s network interviewed said hypothetical republican, he talked about wanting to find a nice woman to marry… and the network aired it… knowing it was a lie…

so, forgive me if I don’t subscribe to the notion that you’re not allowed to out anyone… in fact in some cases, i’d celebrate it. but I’m crazy that way.”

UPDATE: It seems Rep. Schock has just privatized his Instagram account which was just hours ago open to everyone. This may or may not have something to do with an AmericaBlog post titled “Aaron Schock’s 7 Gayest Instagram Posts of 2013.

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NOM’s Anti-Gay No-Show Band “Apologizes” (to volunteers)

30 May

dsc_0493A few months ago, my now-husband and I were involved in helping to organize the United for Marriage rallies at the Supreme Court. Our events, in support of equality for all Americans brought thousands to the steps of the highest court in the land and brought together over 150 different organizations in solidarity.

The first day of the rally, the virulently anti-gay group, The National Organization for Marriage had scheduled a rally to fight marriage equality. Their (sparsely-attended) rally was a topic of much discussion leading up to the events.

In working with GoodAsYou.org’s Jeremy Hooper, we immediately went on the lookout to find out just what they were planning. Jeremy did some incredible work to research the musicians slated to perform at the anti-gay event. One group backed out nearly immediately after being informed of NOM’s history and the truth behind their work. Another group, a band named “Ultramontane” was nowhere to be found. After some further research, we discovered “Ultramontane” was actually just 3 out of the 5 members of the band, Scythian.

NOM's "March for Marriage"

NOM’s “March for Marriage”

As we reported on this and as Scythian quickly removed all their online properties and social media to avoid the frustration of equality-minded fans, the two musicians who’d decided not to take part were left to deal with all the questions. To this day, 2 months later, the three bandmates who refused to do so much as state why they’d decided to support a hate group, have yet to make a public statement.

In the meantime, Josef Crosby and Andrew Toy have publicly and eloquently stated their support for equality.

The band is now back together after taking a bit of a hiatus while this all “blew over.” A rogue fan group upset about the band member’s actions started their own Facebook group. Many who belong to the group are also volunteers for the band’s “Street Team,” selling t-shirts and such at concerts.

It turns out the other three band members made a statement on their Street Team Facebook group back in April. I can’t help but feel a little amazed at how they manage to make themselves out to be victims or martyrs here – although that seems to be the main talking point of anti-gay Christianists nowadays. The truth of the matter is they never actually showed up to perform at the  anti-gay rally (something drummer Andrew Toy had no idea of even a week after the event). They explain why:

6a00d8341c503453ef017ee95bd88c970d“First of all, we wanted to let you know that we did not play the March for Marriage. Though still firm in our stance on traditional marriage, based in our deeply held faith as Catholics, upon researching the event, we decided that we did not want to be involved given its highly politically charged nature. Admittedly, there was some naivete involved on our part in accepting to play, and this was all a learning experience for us.

Those of you who civilly disagreed with our stance, we thank you for the respect you accorded us. You are true ambassadors of peace and much needed in this world. And we thank those who have respectfully shown support for us and assured us of their prayers.

We must say that we were deeply saddened by the ugly nature of the attacks leveled at us for expressing our convictions. We were especially alarmed when members of our family fell under these vicious attacks, wherein they were disparaged for their stance and wherein their personal information was disseminated. For this reason, as you might imagine, we were left with no choice but to shut down the main band page as we could not control what was posted. We choose not to respond in kind, and offer our prayers for those people, confident in the hope that love conquers, indeed has conquered all. We can’t help but believe that most of the ugly posts were not made by Scythian fans but by outsiders.

As far as the street team group goes, we wanted to address some of you who felt hurt in the past weeks. Due to the ugliness encountered, the band members stepped away entirely from the medium of Facebook, very much shaken by the ugliness that can be encountered through it. In the weeks since the turn of events, all administrative activity was taken care of by our friend and assistant. If some of you felt marginalized, we sincerely apologize. If there was any offense taken at her actions, please understand that she was in a difficult position, with no playbook in hand, and that if she erred, her actions were motivated from a place of protecting us. She too was shaken by what happened on the main page. We ask you for your understanding and forgiveness.

In all, this was a very disturbing and trying experience for us, and we hope to move on from it. Though tried by this experience, we sincerely believe that people can disagree and still have respect and love for each other. We hope you can understand where we are coming from and help us move on too. Our plan is to get the main Facebook page up and running soon. Stay tuned.”

Keep in mind this message was not sent to fans, but to volunteers they need to help promote their shows and sell their merch. The band has yet to actually publicly address why they chose to align themselves with an anti-gay hate group.

Gallup Poll shows there are still a lot of closeted LGBT people.

15 Feb

There’s an interesting new Gallup study out today that needs to be taken with a box of salt.

aaron-schock-picnic-belt-photoIt seems they went around asking people if they “identify” as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The numbers are not surprising, but as anyone who lives in Washington D.C. will tell you, being gay and admitting you’re gay are two very different things. Having lived here almost two years now, I am completely convinced there are more closet gay people in this town than anywhere else in the U.S.. I’m not sure how we could find out via a Gallup study just how many there are, but one need only walk down K Street to figure out it’s a number greater than 1 in 10.

D.C. wins the contest with 10% of the population admitting to being gay. With North Dakota (a state I’m still not sure exists) coming in dead-last with a depressing 1.7%.

While it is indeed a good sign that this many people would come to terms with themselves enough to tell a stranger calling on the phone that they “identify” as LGBT, we really need not consider this study as an actual headcount of who is LGBT in our country.

6a00d8341c730253ef017ee887fb10970d-500wi

Gap Shows Paul Ryan the Door

5 May

Congressman Paul Ryan

Earlier this week, an interesting item showed up on Queerty. It seems Gap, Inc., a longtime friend to the LGBT community was hosting a fundraising breakfast for anti-gay Congressman Paul Ryan.

Ryan is best known for his budget which would drastically cut medicare, social security, possibly double interest rates on student loans and allow for the 1% to divide the country’s wealth gap even further.

Ryan also carries an anti-LGBT voting record, including a vote to enshrine anti-gay discrimination in the US Constitution by prohibiting marriage equality and a vote to prohibit DC gay parents from adopting children.

While the fundraiser had been announced and the location was part of the invitation (Gap, Inc. Headquarters in San Francisco), we researched further and discovered a more interesting story.

When word first began getting around about the fundraiser, LGBT people started making calls to Gap, Inc. to complain about the company’s seeming endorsement of the anti-gay candidate. Considering most of my own wardrobe comes from Gap subsidiary, Banana Republic, it was also important to me.

On Friday afternoon, I contacted Gap, Inc. and was sent to literally dozens of different voicemail boxes. I left messages for two different people in their media relations department and then looked back to the invitation from the event, posted at San Francisco Chronicle. A contact number for Paul Ryan’s event planner was listed on the invite, so I thought I’d try them. I spoke to Kristin Hueter, who effusively spoke about the event as one of her firm’s most successful. She told me that they were no longer going to be using Gap, Inc. Headquarters because the event sold-out and had become far too large for that location. She assured me that it was no longer an issue, and it seemed that the story I was going to post had become a non-story.

An hour later, I received a call back from Edie Kissco from Gap, Inc. I’d left a lengthy message for her outlining what I hoped to speak with her about and the moment I answered the phone she said “Let me just start by saying that the Paul Ryan event will no longer be taking place at Gap, Inc. Edie went on and told me that Gap, Inc. had contacted the organizer and asked them to find a new location.” Another call from Gap, Inc. comes in, this time from  Stacy Rollo – also in media relations. I told her what Paul Ryan’s event planner relayed to me and she responded

“That is absolutely untrue…we did not know when the event was booked that it was a fundraiser for Congressman Ryan. Once we heard what this event would be, we immediately contacted the planners and asked them to find a different location.”

Gap’s Edie Kissco followed up via email:

“Gap Inc. is not hosting or organizing a fundraiser for Congressman Ryan.  The fundraiser is a private event, and the location of the event has been moved.  To say that Gap Inc. was or is hosting a fundraiser for Congressman Paul Ryan is factually incorrect.”

“Gap Inc. and our brands have a very strong record on LGBTQ community issues as shown by our perfect rating by the Human Rights Campaign annual Corporate Equality Index for seven years in a row.  In addition, we are proud of the “Be One” Gap brand ads featuring a gay couple sharing a Gap t-shirt. This ad is part of a “Be Your Own T” campaign which expresses different personalities, heritages, styles and passions.   (Incidentally, the men in the ad are a real couple).”

For your viewing pleasure, here’s the billboard unveiled yesterday in Los Angeles:

Gap’s “Be One” Campaign (photo by Chris Votaw)

Rachel Maddow, Come To Our Wedding!

9 Apr
Image

Laura Hatalsky & Lanae Erickson (photo courtesy Lanae Erickson)

My friend Lanae, who plays violin with the Capital City Symphony and is one of the coolest LGBT activists I know, is getting married on April 28th.

Little did she know when she and her fiancée Laura were planning her wedding, that the one and only Rachel Maddow would be visiting DC at the time. Their friends are now angry with them because like any good lesbian, they are fans of Ms. Maddow…and will now have to miss her DC appearance.

Rachel is currently on a book tour, promoting Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power. As a huge non-lesbian fan of Rachel Maddow myself, this book explores much of what she frequently reports on and is clearly fascinated by – America’s use of military might. If you’ve watched her show on MSNBC, you’ve probably caught one of her many fascinating stories about F-22 fighter jets, weapons of mass destruction or highly enriched uranium. And while never advocating the use of these things, her near-obsession with weapons and the history behind them is always evident.

While I’m personally still waiting and hoping for a personalized, autographed copy of her book, and her DC book-signing is sold-out, I’m thinking there’s another way to meet her.

Rachel Maddow

Lanae and Laura have put together a special little invitation for Rachel. And while I’m not technically “invited” to the wedding, I will more than likely be crashing if Rachel Maddow decides to go.

I asked Lanae, what they would do if Rachel actually showed up. At first they thought of having her sign their ketubah (which is kind of a Jewish pre-nup that gets signed by friends and family at the wedding), but they decided that would be a bridge too far. So they’d be really happy with a signed program and a Maddow signature cocktail.

So, how about it Rachel?

Ten States* Where I Can Get Married?!?

25 Jan

There is a whole lot going on around marriage equality in this country right now and it seemed like as good a time as any to review what’s going on! As of right now, as I’m planning my wedding, there are 7 places I can get married. Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont (gotta love New England), Iowa, New York and Washington D.C.. While 7 weddings would be fun, wouldn’t 10 be funner?

Washington State: Our friends in the northwest are poised to become the 7th state to legalize marriage equality! The measure was proposed by Democratic Governor Christine Gregoire and immediately, we began counting the votes. In the past few weeks, it was seeming more and more likely as we counted. Then after several undecideds had taken a stand on the right side of history, we stood just one vote shy before stating conclusively that we could win this. Then Democratic Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, after having taken time to listen to her constituents and consider her own beliefs and values, she announced that she would be supporting the bill.

“For me personally, I have always believed in traditional marriage between a man and a woman,” Ms. Haugen said in a statement. “That is what I believe, to this day. But this issue isn’t about just what I believe. It’s about respecting others, including people who may believe differently than I. It’s about whether everyone has the same opportunities for love and companionship and family and security that I have enjoyed.”

A vote there has not yet been scheduled, but when it passes, opponents are expected to challenge it with a voter referendum in the fall.

Maryland: The Free State has grappled with marriage on several occasions before. In 2004, a lawsuit was filed by the ACLU and Equality Maryland on behalf of 10 gay and lesbian couples. The suit claimed that the anti-gay marriage law on the books was unconstitutional because it discriminated based on sex. The judge found in favor of the plaintiffs, but her decision was immediately taken to appeals, where it was overturned.

Anti-gay legislators spent the next few years going crazy, trying to pass additional amendments to the constitution to make sure the discrimination was enshrined in their laws. They even went so far as to have the judge who first found in favor of the plaintiffs impeached for her decision.

Then last year, a new marriage equality bill was widely expected to pass. With Catholic Governor Martin O’Malley announcing he would sign it into law, things looked good. The Senate (which was seen as the biggest hurdle) passed the measure and then it was sent to the House. That’s when the religious groups and the out-of-state National Organization “for” Marriage jumped in and began lobbying legislators to vote against it. The bill was sent back to committee as it was clear it would not pass if brought for a vote.

This month, a new bill which contains the most explicit religious protections of any in the nation, was introduced by the Governor. Keep your fingers crossed!

New Jersey: Having moved from New Jersey to DC just this past year, I have particular interest in this race. You see – when anti-gay Republican Governor Chris Christie was elected, it was made clear that NJ would not be seeing marriage equality anytime soon. Christie made an election promise that he would veto any marriage equality bill that landed on his desk.

In recent weeks though, as discussions of a marriage equality bill made their way around, Christie seemed to hedge. There were some thoughts that he might let the bill pass without actually signing it. There’s a rule that says if it sits on his desk for 30 days without him signing it, then it becomes a law. But just in time for the debate to start, Christie announced he would stick with his homophobic decision to veto the bill should it be given to him.

But then this happened. State Senator Steve Sweeney was asked by a reporter why they were still going through with a debate and vote if the Governor had already promised a veto? What followed was one of the most poignant and clear arguments I’ve ever heard from a legislator:

Reporter:Senator Sweeney, would you comment on this veto promise of the Governor as to what the point is of even going through this exercise?Senator Sweeney: The point of going through a fight for civil rights? Are you kidding me? For standing up for people to give them the same rights? I’m offended by that.

The Governor’s a governor. He’s got his opinion. But there are many Republicans — because I’ve spoken to them — that want to vote for this bill. Now, if the Governor wants to stifle and silence his colleagues that’s one thing, but he’s not going to stifle or silence us. Someone has to stand up for equality and fairness.

You know, I apologized in the past, but I’m telling you right now, I’m fighting to get this done. And if we have to go for an override we’ll work every angle we possibly have to. But right now it’s about getting it onto his desk.

And it’s offensive for anyone to think, why bother if the Governor doesn’t want to do it. Well guess what? He’s wrong on this one.

You know his announcement today was to try to put a damper on what we’re trying to do. It’s not happening. We’re not walking away, we’re not backing down, we’re not giving up. This is about civil rights, period.”

* – About the asterisk – While Washington D.C. is not technically a state, it is still a US locale where I can get married. Some of you may not realize that D.C. has no representation in the Congress or Senate, which means we are fighting the same thing the U.S. fought in the American Revolution. We still pay local and federal taxes but have no representation. For more information on this, visit DC Vote.