Thursday, September 21, 2017

Philippines' House Of Representatives Overwhelmingly Approves LGBT Rights Bill


Excellent news from the House of Representatives in the Philippines which has overwhelmingly approved a bill that would protect the rights of the LGBT community.

From ABS-CBN.com:

Lawmakers voted 198-0 in favor of House Bill No. 4982 or the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression Equality (SOGIE) bill.

The measure prohibits and penalizes discriminatory acts by a fine not less than P100,000 and not more than P500,000, or imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years, or both.

It mandates existing women's desks in police stations to be renamed as Women, Children, and LGBTQ++ Protection Desks, to attend to complaints.

The measure also orders establishments to make available their existing toilets with facilities designated for persons with disabilities as gender-neutral toilets.

It also prohibits publishing information seeking to reveal a person's SOGIE without their consent.

A similar bill is working its way through the Senate.

4th Annual Broadway & Ballet HERO Awards


I'm excited to see my longtime friend Rachelle Rak being honored at this year's Broadway & Ballet HERO Awards.

I've known Rachelle, a force of nature, for 30 years. And the LGBT community could not have a more staunch ally :)

Via press release:

HIV Experience Resources Organization (HERO) is proud to present the fourth annual Broadway & Ballet HERO Awards on October 16th at 8pm at Stage 48, 605 West 48th Street. This year’s honorees are Broadway star and legend Rachelle Rak, and ABT principal and international ballet star, James Whiteside. Receiving the John Adams HERO Award for best Broadway debut is the star of Wicked, Michael Campayno, and the 2017 HERO Partner Award will be presented to The Jed Foundation (JED) for protecting the emotional health of teens and young adults, helping them grow into healthy thriving adults.

This spectacular event will feature 15 original performances and a cast of over 30 stars from the worlds of Broadway and ballet including: (honorees) Rachelle Rak (Fosse, Sweet Charity, Broadway Hero Awardee), Michael Campayno (Wicked, John Adams HERO Awardee), ABT Principal and International ballet star, James Whiteside (Ballet Hero Awardee), Casey Trenary (ABT Soloist), Michael-Leon Wooley (Little Shop of Horrors, American Buffalo, The Princess and the Frog), Michael Cusumano (All Shook Up, Chicago, American in Paris), Patrick Boyd (Grease, The Wizard of Oz, Gypsy, Touch: A Love Story), Sean Stewart (American Ballet Theatre), Alina Faye (American Ballet Theatre alumni), Jose Sebastian (American Ballet Theatre), Luis Villabon (A Chorus Line), Morgan Stinnett (soloist with Connecticut Ballet, member of Ajkun Ballet Company), Cristy Candler (Rock of Ages, Chicago), Georgina Pazcoguin (New York City Ballet Soloist), Brandon Leffler (Wicked, On The Town, Cinderella), Chris Messina (Jersey Boys, A Bronx Tale), Jesse JP Johnson (Wicked), Neil Starkenberg (Mamma Mia), Travis Nesbitt (Alter Boys), Seeley Stephens (American Idol Finalist), Evan Lacombe (The Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall), Gabrielle Salvatto (Ballet West Demi Soloist), special performances by principal dancers from Ballet West, Olympic Gold Medalist in Gymnastics, Icaurs-Ioannis Melissananidis, The Boy Band Project, the dance department of Pace University with an opening number choreographed by Madeline Rodrigue, and more!

The show will be hosted by Matty Maggiacomo (Television Journalist and Brand Manager of Barry’s Boot Camp), with technical direction from Tommy Mazza, produced by Stephen Leff. Sponsors include; Logo, NewNowNext.com, Biem- Biemteam.com (mobile phone STD care), DRA (Dancers Responding to AIDS), Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and Hugh Hysell- TheMenEvent.com. Tickets are $25 for General Admission and $100 for VIP Seated and are available at www.hivhero.org.

Rachelle Rak

"Nicknamed “Sas”, Rachelle began her dance training at the age of 2 under the direction of her mother, Rosalene, at the Rosalene Kenneth Professional Dance Studio in Pittsburgh. She is labeled a Triple Threat on Broadway for her immeasurable talent in dance, singing, and acting. Rachelle was presented with an award by Dance Educators of America for her contribution to the world of dance. She has had a huge impact on the Broadway Community. A few of her impressive credits, include leading roles in: “Fosse”, “Sweet Charity”, “Flashdance”, “The Jack Cole Project”, “Chicago”, “A Chorus Line”, “Catch Me If You Can”,” Cats”,” Starlight Express”, “West Side Story”, “Smokey Joe’s Café”, “Trip of Love”, “Thou Shalt Not”,” Oklahoma!”, “The Look of Love”, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, “Sessions”, and “An Evening at the Carlyle." Choreography credits include Norwegian Cruise Lines, Off Broadway: "An Evening at the Carlyle” and "Sessions”-Additional Choreography, Lifetime: “Dance Moms”, Fringe Festive “Vote the Musical” Benefits: “Broadway Bares”, Concerts: Staging for Cheyenne Jackson-Carnegie Hall. Her One-woman show “I’m In” Le Poisson Rouge, Nightclub shows “The Love Fest”, “Splash Around The World”, “VaVoom,” and web series on Broadway.com” I Love Rak n Roll”.

James Whiteside

James Whiteside joined the corps de ballet of Boston Ballet in 2003 and became a second soloist in 2006. He was promoted to first soloist in 2008 and to principal dancer with Boston Ballet in 2009. Whiteside then joined American Ballet Theatre as a Soloist in September 2012 and was named a Principal Dancer in October 2013. Whiteside’s repertoire with Boston Ballet included Principal roles in George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, Coppélia, Ballo della Regina, Rubies, The Four Temperaments (Sanguinic), Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Who Cares?, Serenade, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Symphony in 3, and La Valse; Maina Gielgud’s Giselle; Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker and Swan Lake; John Cranko’s Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet; Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty and Raymonda Act III; Antony Tudor’s Dark Elegies; Jirí Kylián’s Bella Figura, Sarabande, Petite Mort and Sechs Tänze; Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room; Mark Morris’ Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes. He created roles in Jorma Elo’s Brake the Eyes, Plan to B, Carmen, Slice to Sharper, and In On Blue; Helen Pickett’s Eventide and Etesian; and Mark Morris’ Up & Down. His repertoire with the American Ballet Theatre includes Principal roles in La Bayadere, Cinderella, Le Corsaire, Don Quixote, The Dream, Giselle, The Nutcracker, Raymonda Divertissements, Romeo and Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Sylvia, The Tempest, and Manon, as well as roles in Bach Partita, Gong, Theme and Variations, Duo Concertant, Fancy Free, Chamber Symphony, Sinfonietta, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, In the Upper Room, With A Chance of Rain, and Symphony in C.

Michael Campayno

A Pittsburgh native and recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon School of Drama, Michael Campayno made his Broadway debut in Wicked in the role of Fiyero. He debuted on television as Rolf in NBC’s live telecast of The Sound of Music starring Carrie Underwood and can be heard on the cast recording. His stage credits include Carnegie Mellon University productions as well as productions at Pittsburgh CLO; he also played Lancelot opposite Robert Sean Leonard in Camelot. Film: Cheerleader.

About JED

JED is a nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. JED partners with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention programs and systems. JED equips teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other and encourages community awareness, understanding, and action for young adult mental health. Learn More at jedfoundation.com

About HERO

HIV Experience Resources Organization (HERO) is a completely volunteer-based non-profit 501(3)(c) organization founded in 2009 by Michael Cavnaugh, former vice president of Event Presentation at Madison Square Garden. HERO helps people find the most pressing, up-to-date information available critical to their health, including sharing extensive video coverage from current national and international AIDS conferences. HERO’s websites, HIVhero.org and HEROnews.org, provide local, national, and international resources and interactive tools which provide assistance in finding doctors, getting medication, mental health counseling, housing, financial assistance, medical insurance, and much more. It also serves as a portal site providing free content and video production, promoting the services, activities, and fundraising efforts of many community/partner organizations, including red carpet coverage of high profile events and one-on-one interviews. Seen throughout their video archive and messaging, HERO founded the #condomsarehot movement, with the help of stars such as Angela Lansbury, Matt Bomer, Mary Louise-Parker, Rosie Perez, David Hyde Pierce, Bebe Neuwirth, Blythe Danner, and many more to build more awareness for sexual health and STD prevention.

Minnesota Judge Kicks Lawsuit By Wedding Videographers Who Wanted Only Straight Clients

Angel and Carl Larsen
A Minnesota couple wants to go into the wedding video business, but don't want anything to do with gay or lesbian weddings due to their deeply held religious beliefs.

In fact, they took the extraordinary pre-emptive step of suing the state over Minnesota's Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, saying the law was "unconstitutional."

Mind you, the couple didn't even have any gay or lesbian customers.

From the Star Tribune:

In a 63-page ruling, Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim wrote that a provision of the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) prohibiting discrimination by businesses was not unconstitutional. Tunheim rejected the couple’s argument that the law amounted to “a state effort to stamp out expression opposing same-sex marriage.”

Carl and Angel Larsen sued the state’s commissioner of human rights and attorney general in December in an pre-emptive effort to avoid penalties for turning away same-sex customers.

The Larsens, who use their Telescope Media Group to promote their Christian beliefs, want to go into the wedding film business, but serve only heterosexual couples.

The Larsens had wanted to post a notice on their website saying that they serve heterosexual couples only but the judge was not having it and kicked the lawsuit to the curb.

Judge Tunheim said that was "akin to a ‘White Applicants Only’ sign."

“Posting language on a website telling potential customers that a business will discriminate based on sexual orientation is part of the act of sexual orientation discrimination itself,” Tunheim wrote. “As conduct carried out through language, this act is not protected by the First Amendment.”

Judge Tunheim suggested that the plaintiffs post language on their site expressing opposition to same-sex marriage, but not say they wouldn't serve gays.

Expect these folks to appeal the ruling to the 8th Circuit. Bet on it.

Alabama Senate Contender Roy Moore: "Homosexual Conduct Should Be Illegal"

Roy Moore

Roy Moore, former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and current U.S. Senate candidate, said in a 2005 interview that "homosexual conduct" should be illegal.

While it doesn't come as a surprise (Moore was ousted from his position on Alabama's high court for failing to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling which made same-sex marriage the law of the land), this is exchange was Moore's most direct public response to the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling which struck down anti-sodomy laws.

From CNN:
Moore, a hardline conservative Christian and former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, made the comments in an interview with liberal commentator Bill Press on C-SPAN2's After Words. Moore appeared on the show to publicize a book he had just written about his expulsion from the court for refusing to take down a monument to the Ten Commandments.

During the interview, Press asked Moore if he believed homosexual conduct should still be illegal after the 2003 landmark Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas that struck down a state law banning sodomy, rendering similar laws across the country unconstitutional.

"What I think is that it was illegal under the law, that the Supreme Court usurped the role of the legislature and ruled something about our moral law that is improper, and that's what we're finding the Supreme Court and the federal district courts are doing daily," Moore responded. "They've usurped the moral prerogative, now, if you want--"

Press cut in, saying, "I don't understand your answer. I think it's a yes or no. Do you think that homosexual--homosexuality, or homosexual conduct should be illegal today? That's a yes or no question."

"Homosexual conduct should be illegal, yes," Moore answered.

In that same interview, Moore also compared gay sex to bestiality.

Press asked why the government should ban what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own homes, Moore compared gay sex to bestiality.

"Just because it's done behind closed doors, it can still be prohibited by state law. Do you know that bestiality, the relationship between man and beast is prohibited in every state?" Moore asked.

"Did I ask you about having sex with a cow?" Press responded.

"No you didn't," Moore said.

"Or a horse, or a dog?" Press asked.

"It's the same thing," Moore said.

"No, it's not. You mean homosexuality is the same thing as bestiality?" Press asked.

"It is a moral precept upon which this country was founded," Moore said.

CNN also points out similar comments Moore made in a 2015 YouTube interview with user Lone Star Q. During that interview he was asked if he still thought homosexuality should be illegal.

Moore was direct, saying, "I think homosexuality should be illegal," Moore said. "Sodomy was declared illegal by the United States Supreme Court in 1987, it said there was no right under the constitution to enlarge the fundamental rights of homosexuals."

Moore currently leads in the polls in Alabama even though Donald Trump is backing Moore's opponent, place-holder Sen. Luther Strange.

Arizona Supreme Court: Married Same-Sex Couples Should Have Equal Parental Rights


Good news from The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) regarding McLaughlin v. McLaughlin where the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that a woman was the legal parent of the child she and her same-sex spouse conceived through assisted reproduction during their marriage.

Via press release:

As the Arizona Supreme Court recognized, the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Obergefell v. Hodges and Pavan v. Smith require states to treat married same-sex parents and married different-sex parents equally under the law. The Arizona Supreme Court explained, “It would be inconsistent with Obergefell to conclude that same-sex couples can legally marry but states can then deny them the same benefits of marriage afforded opposite-sex couples.”

Suzan McLaughlin and Kimberly McLaughlin were a married lesbian couple who had a child in 2011 using an anonymous sperm donor. After separating in 2013, Kimberly stopped allowing Suzan to see their child, and Suzan filed a legal action to be recognized as a parent.

Both the Arizona Court of Appeals and the trial court held that Suzan should indeed be recognized as a legal parent to her child. NCLR and Arizona attorney Claudia Work represented Suzan.

Since the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court marriage equality decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, numerous cases have recognized that married same-sex parents and married different-sex parents must be treated equally under the law.

In June 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Pavan v. Smith, another National Center for Lesbian Rights case, that Obergefell required states to treat married same-sex parents and married different-sex parents equally.

Arizona law assumes the man in a marriage is the father of any child born within 10 months of a marriage. But current laws don’t offer any protective rights to a non-biological same-sex parent in a married relationship where artificial insemination is used.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Scott Bales noted that the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling states that same-sex couples are entitled to civil marriage “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.”

Jimmy Kimmel Slaps Back At Fox & Friends Host: "Brian Kilmeade Is A Phony Little Creep"

Jimmy Kimmel
In the aftermath of Jimmy Kimmel's monologue on Tuesday addressing the lies that Sen. Bill Cassidy had told on his show about healthcare legislation, Kimmel found himself as the target of attacks by various far-right pundits and politicians.

Sen. Cassidy responded saying Kimmel "just doesn't understand," Sen. Lindsey Graham chimed in, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie found something to say.

But it was Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade mocking Kimmel as a member of the “Hollywood elite” that really raised Kimmel's ire:

“This is a guy, Brian Kilmeade, who whenever I see him, kisses my ass like a little boy meeting Batman. Oh, he’s such a fan. He follows me on Twitter. He asks me to write a blurb for his book, which I did. He calls my agent, looking for projects. He’s dying to be a member of the Hollywood elite. The only reason he’s not a member of the Hollywood elite is because nobody will hire him to be one.

“And you know, the reason I’m talking about this is because my son had an open heart surgery, then has to have two more, and because of that, I learned that there are kids with no insurance in the same situation. I don’t get anything out of this, Brian, you phony little creep. Oh, I’ll pound you when I see you. That is my blurb. That will be my blurb for your next book. ‘Brian Kilmeade is a phony little creep.’ That’s right.”



Kimmel also slapped back at Cassidy, Graham, and Christie during the segment.

This is excellent. Watch the entire monologue below.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Lewandowski: If Paul Manafort Or Roger Stone Colluded To Influence Election, They Should Go To Jail For Life

Corey Lewandowski
Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's first campaign manager for the 2016 presidential campaign, publicly announced Tuesday that if Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, or anyone connected to the campaign colluded to influence the 2016 election, he hopes they "go to jail for the rest of their lives."

From the Washington Examiner:

Lewandowski was responding to reports that Manafort, who became campaign manager after Lewandowski was fired, was wiretapped as part of a federal investigation into Manafort's dealing with Ukraine. Reports say the surveillance, obtained through a secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant, was in effect at a time when Manafort was in communication with President Trump.

"I think if anybody, and I've said this, if Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, or Rick Gates or Carter Page, or anybody else attempted to influence the outcome of the U.S. election through any means that's inappropriate — through collusion, coordination, or cooperation — I hope they go to jail for the rest of their lives. It's very simple. Our election process is too serious, our democracy is too important to allow people to try and try and have influence from the outside for their own gain," Lewandowski said during an event at George Washington University.

Lewandowski went on to defend Donald Trump saying he was by Trump's side for 18 hours a day for the first 18 months of the campaign and he never heard Trump mention "anything to do with Russia."

Trump Campaign Chair Manafort Offered Russian Billionaire "Private Briefings" On Presidential Campaign

Paul Manafort

The Washington Post is reporting that former campaign chairman Paul Manafort offered a Russian billionaire "briefings" on the state of the presidential campaign last July at the height of the election.

Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Paul Manafort made the offer in an email to an overseas intermediary, asking that a message be sent to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business in the past, these people said.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote in the July 7, 2016, email, portions of which were read to The Washington Post along with other Manafort correspondence from that time.

The emails are among tens of thousands of documents that have been turned over to congressional investigators and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team as they probe whether Trump associates coordinated with Russia as part of Moscow’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

A spokesperson for Manafort called the emails "innocuous."

No wonder the investigation is focusing on Manafort.
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