NEWS -- 2010.06.02.Wednesday
- 1) Comment
2) There Are No Homophobes in Foxholes
3) Gay Pioneer Leonard Matlovich First TV Interview - May 26, 1975
4) Presidential Proclamation--Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month
5) Anti-Gay Bigotry Is A Trick To Deceive The Naïve
6) Prospective Catholic Priests Face Sexuality Hurdles
7) High Court: Justices to consider 'funeral protests' in free-speech case
8) Education key to reuniting gay son, parents
9) Outed senator easing stance against gay rights
10) McDonalds has produced a gay ad in France:
11) BP's new plan risks worsening oil spill
12) Environmentalists' nemesis Richard Pombo returns to politics
Wednesday's comment --->
HP to lay off 9,000.
All I hear is more and more lay-offs. I thought the "recession" was suppose to be over.
And oil flows.
There Are No Homophobes in Foxholes
Tony Auth editorial cartoon:
Gay Pioneer Leonard Matlovich First TV Interview - May 26, 1975
The fight for gay equality in the military is first brought into American living rooms by "CBS Evening News" legend Walter Cronkite introducing an interview with the first servicemember to challenge the ban, Leonard Matlovich.
Though Leonard was an experienced public speaker, he seems shy and uncertain in the brief interview because it was both his first appearance on national television and because he had such short notice that the interview was going to happen. After the story of his unprecedented test case broke that morning on the front page of the "New York Times," he got a call that CBS had chartered a plane to fly to Hampton, Virginia, where he was stationed at Langley Air Force Base, to interview him.
And, also because of what was happening behind the scenes that CBS, and the world at that time, didn't know. He had immediately called his mother in Florida to tell her that they finally had to tell his conservative Air Force vet father the two things he hadn't yet been told: that his only son, winner of a Purple Heart and Bronze Star, was gay AND threatening to sue his beloved Air Force.
He was shocked when his mother told him that it was too late. A syndicated version of the NYT's story had appeared in their local morning paper. His father read it, locked himself in his bedroom in which he cried for two hours, and, after exiting, never wavered in his support for Leonard. When next they met, he hugged his son for the first time since Leonard had been a child.
For more information: www.leonardmatlovich.com
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 28, 2010
Presidential Proclamation--Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month
As Americans, it is our birthright that all people are created equal and deserve the same rights, privileges, and opportunities. Since our earliest days of independence, our Nation has striven to fulfill that promise. An important chapter in our great, unfinished story is the movement for fairness and equality on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. This month, as we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBT Americans, we renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists.
LGBT Americans have enriched and strengthened the fabric of our national life. From business leaders and professors to athletes and first responders, LGBT individuals have achieved success and prominence in every discipline. They are our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters, and our friends and neighbors. Across my Administration, openly LGBT employees are serving at every level. Thanks to those who came before us the brave men and women who marched, stood up to injustice, and brought change through acts of compassion or defiance we have made enormous progress and continue to strive for a more perfect union.
My Administration has advanced our journey by signing into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which strengthens Federal protections against crimes based on gender identity or sexual orientation. We renewed the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides life saving medical services and support to Americans living with HIV/AIDS, and finally eliminated the HIV entry ban. I also signed a Presidential Memorandum directing hospitals receiving Medicare and Medicaid funds to give LGBT patients the compassion and security they deserve in their time of need, including the ability to choose someone other than an immediate family member to visit them and make medical decisions.
In other areas, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a series of proposals to ensure core housing programs are open to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. HUD also announced the first ever national study of discrimination against members of the LGBT community in the rental and sale of housing. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services has created a National Resource Center for LGBT Elders.
Much work remains to fulfill our Nation's promise of equal justice under law for LGBT Americans. That is why we must give committed gay couples the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple, and repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. We must protect the rights of LGBT families by securing their adoption rights, ending employment discrimination against LGBT Americans, and ensuring Federal employees receive equal benefits. We must create safer schools so all our children may learn in a supportive environment. I am also committed to ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" so patriotic LGBT Americans can serve openly in our military, and I am working with the Congress and our military leadership to accomplish that goal.
As we honor the LGBT Americans who have given so much to our Nation, let us remember that if one of us is unable to realize full equality, we all fall short of our founding principles. Our Nation draws its strength from our diversity, with each of us contributing to the greater whole. By affirming these rights and values, each American benefits from the further advancement of liberty and justice for all.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2010 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon all Americans to observe this month by fighting prejudice and discrimination in their own lives and everywhere it exists.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
from Wayne Besen, June 2, 2010 --->
While being gay is normal and natural, homophobia is not. It is often a sickness or a deliberate distraction designed to deceive the naïve. And, nations with leaders that are homophobic often scream "perversion" as a smoke and mirrors diversion. It is time people woke up and realized that when someone is rabidly anti-gay they usually want you to look the other way.
Anti-Gay Bigotry Is A Trick To Deceive The Naïve
Posted June 2nd, 2010 by Wayne Besen
It was once a speculative cliché to say that rabidly anti-gay individuals were actually closeted, self-loathing homosexuals. But thanks to an avalanche of hypocrites, the notion is quickly becoming a truism.
Last month, the nation alternately cackled and cringed when virulently homophobic "researcher" George Rekers was photographed at Miami International Airport with an attractive hustler he met on RentBoy.com. The good doctor, who had testified in court against LGBT people adopting children, said he only hired the young escort to "lift his luggage".
Before the laughter over the Rekers ruckus subsided, another anti-gay phony was unmasked for his baloney. Activist Mike Rogers outed Congressman Mark Kirk, (R-Illinois) after the closet case voted against the repeal of Don't Ask/Don't Tell. According to Rogers:
"Kirk voted against repealing Don't Ask Don't Tell, despite his being a closeted gay man in the military. As a Commander in the Navy Reserves, Kirk has voted to keep a policy that if he were investigated under he would be tossed."
Prior to his unconscionable vote, Kirk (pictured) had a relatively respectable record on LGBT issues. However, in his bid for the U.S. Senate, Kirk veered to the right, which included posing as a homophobe. Now that he has been exposed as a fraud, one wonders if the Tea baggers will still consider him their cup of tea.
Another maxim that appears to be accurate is the one that says, "those who have genuine family values never utter the words 'family values."
Seriously, how bored with your spouse, dissatisfied with your life, and spiritually empty do you have to be to unctuously parade your family as a prop on the public stage?
The most recent lowlife squirming under the family values banner is Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) who announced that he would resign from Congress because he had an affair with a woman on his staff. He follows in the footsteps of Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.). When will voters finally wise up to these religious racketeers who sell a morality mirage?
Just as gay-obsessed anti-gay activists are often gay, and holier-than-thou politicians are likely to be having sex with everyone but their spouses, one should also be leery of nations prone to attacking their LGBT citizens. While these countries pose as beacons of the biblical banner, their professions of piousness often mask moral mayhem. It seems that almost every anti-gay nation is an authoritarian, cesspool of corruption.
Jamaica, for example has been called one of the most homophobic lands on earth. The island's Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, said he would not have an openly gay person in his cabinet. Yet, it appears he, and nearly every other politician in Jamaica, is in cahoots with local mafia dons who deal in death and drugs.
A story in Tuesday's New York Times discusses this unseemly "arrangement":
In fact, money has flowed into those communities for decades, thanks to an arrangement in Jamaica in which politicians and dons share power. Through extortion and the drug trade, the dons provide security, and by steering contracts and other pork to the neighborhoods, the politicians count on the continued loyalty of voters.
Where are all the outspoken fundamentalists who ferociously condemn gays and make a big show about Jamaica's values? We keep hearing how this island is a pristine "Christian Nation", but where are the Christians when you need them to stand up to endemic corruption?
It seems these self-righteous cowards attack defenseless sexual minorities, while turning a blind eye to the most sordid transgressions of scripture. While the epidemics of murder and theft genuinely affect their families - gay people do not. Yet, the misled masses in Jamaica choose to focus on a non-issue like homosexuality, while disregarding factors that have kept their children mired in poverty and pain.
Jamaica is not alone in using LGBT people as scapegoats to distract the public from naked political power grabs. Zimbabwe's brutal dictator, Robert Mugabe, (pictured) practically wrote the playbook on using gays as political pawns when he once said they were worse than pigs and dogs. Uganda's president Yoweri Musevini has clung to power for twenty-four years and uses gay people to sidetrack citizens who might otherwise be upset that he has squelched democratic reform. In Northern Ireland, anti-gay conservative parliament member, and the 58-year-old wife of the Prime Minister, Iris Robinson, had an affair with a 19-year-old male lover.
While being gay is normal and natural, homophobia is not. It is often a sickness or a deliberate distraction designed to deceive the naïve. And, nations with leaders that are homophobic often scream "perversion" as a smoke and mirrors diversion. It is time people woke up and realized that when someone is rabidly anti-gay they usually want you to look the other way.
New York Times
May 30, 2010
Prospective Catholic Priests Face Sexuality Hurdles
By PAUL VITELLO
Every job interview has its awkward moments, but in recent years, the standard interview for men seeking a life in the Roman Catholic priesthood has made the awkward moment a requirement.
"When was the last time you had sex?" all candidates for the seminary are asked. (The preferred answer: not for three years or more.)
"What kind of sexual experiences have you had?" is another common question. "Do you like pornography?"
Depending on the replies, and the results of standardized psychological tests, the interview may proceed into deeper waters: "Do you like children?" and "Do you like children more than you like people your own age?"
It is part of a soul-baring obstacle course prospective seminarians are forced to run in the aftermath of a sexual abuse crisis that church leaders have decided to confront, in part, by scrubbing their academies of potential molesters, according to church officials and psychologists who screen candidates in New York and the rest of the country.
But many of the questions are also aimed at another, equally sensitive mission: deciding whether gay applicants should be denied admission under complex recent guidelines from the Vatican that do not explicitly bar all gay candidates but would exclude most of them, even some who are celibate.
Scientific studies have found no link between sexual orientation and abuse, and the church is careful to describe its two initiatives as more or less separate. One top adviser to American seminaries characterized them as "two circles that might overlap here and there."
Still, since the abuse crisis erupted in 2002, curtailing the entry of gay men into the priesthood has become one the church's highest priorities. And that task has fallen to seminary directors and a cadre of psychologists who say that culling candidates has become an arduous process of testing, interviewing and making decisions - based on social science, church dogma and gut instinct.
"The best way I can put it, it's not black and white," said the adviser, the Rev. David Toups, the director of the secretariat of clergy, consecrated life and vocations of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. "It's more like one of those things where it's hard to define, but 'I know it when I see it.' "
Many church officials have been reluctant to discuss the screening process, and its details differ from diocese to diocese. In the densely populated Diocese of Brooklyn, officials are confident of their results in one respect.
"We have no gay men in our seminary at this time," said Dr. Robert Palumbo, a psychologist who has screened seminary candidates at the diocese's Cathedral Seminary Residence in Douglaston, Queens, for 10 years. "I'm pretty sure of it." Whether that reflects rigorous vetting or the reluctance of gay men to apply, he could not say. "I'm just reporting what is," he said.
Concern over gay men in the priesthood has simmered in the church for centuries, and has been heightened in recent years by claims from some Catholic scholars that 25 percent to 50 percent of priests in the United States are gay. The church has never conducted its own survey, but other experts have estimated the number to be far smaller.
The sexual abuse scandal has prompted some conservative bishops to lay blame for the crisis on a "homosexual subculture" in the priesthood. While no one has proposed expelling gay priests, the crisis has pitted those traditionalists against other Catholics who attribute the problem to priests, gay and straight, with dysfunctional personalities.
In 2005, the Vatican sidestepped that ideological debate, but seemed to appease conservatives by issuing guidelines that would strictly limit the admission of gay men to Catholic seminaries.
The guidelines, which bolstered existing rules that had been widely unenforced, defined homosexuality in both clear-cut and ambiguous ways: Men who actively "practice homosexuality" should be barred. But seminary rectors were left to discern the meaning of less obvious instructions to reject candidates who "show profoundly deep-rooted homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture."
Though some Catholics saw room in that language for admitting celibate gay men, the Vatican followed up in 2008 with a clarification. "It is not enough to be sure that he is capable of abstaining from genital activity," ruled the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, which issued the initial guidelines. "It is also necessary to evaluate his sexual orientation."
Some seminary directors were baffled by the word "orientation," said Thomas G. Plante, a psychologist and the director of the Spirituality and Health Institute at Santa Clara University, who screens seminary candidates for several dioceses in California and nationwide.
Could a psychologically mature gay person, committed to celibacy, never become a priest? Dr. Plante said several admissions officers asked. Could the church afford to turn away good candidates in the midst of a critical priest shortage?
The Vatican permits every bishop and leader of a religious order to make those decisions, which vary from stricter to more liberal interpretations of the rules. But the methods of reaching them have become increasingly standard, experts say.
Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, a psychologist at Catholic University who has screened seminarians and once headed a treatment center for abusive priests, said the screening could be "very intrusive." But he added, "We are looking for two basic qualities: the absence of pathology and the presence of health."
To that end, most candidates are likely to be asked not only about past sexual activities but also about masturbation fantasies, consumption of alcohol, relationships with parents and the causes of romantic breakups. All must take H.I.V. tests and complete written exams like the 567-question Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, which screens for, among other things, depression, paranoia and gender confusion. In another test, candidates must submit sketches of anatomically correct human figures.
In interviews by psychologists - who are usually selected because they are Catholic therapists with religious views matching those of the local church leadership - candidates are also likely to be asked about their strategies for managing sexual desire.
"Do you take cold showers? Do you take long runs?" said Dr. Plante, describing a typical barrage of questions intended both to gather information and to let screeners assess the candidate's poise and self-awareness - or to observe the tics and eye-avoidance that may signal something else.
In seminaries that seek to hew closely to the Vatican rules, a candidate may be measured by the extent to which he defines himself as gay.
The church views gay sex as a sin and homosexual tendencies as a psychological disorder, but it does not bar chaste gay men from participating in the sacraments. That degree of acceptance does not extend to ordination.
"Whether he is celibate or not, the person who views himself as a 'homosexual person,' rather than as a person called to be a spiritual father - that person should not be a priest," said Father Toups, of the bishops' conference.
Beyond his assertion that "I know it when I see it," no one interviewed for this article was able to describe exactly how screeners or seminary directors determine whether someone's sexual orientation defines him. Some Catholics have expressed fear that such vagueness leads to bias and arbitrariness. Others call it a distraction from the more important objective of finding good, emotionally healthy priests.
"A criterion like this may not ensure that you are getting the best candidates," said Mark D. Jordan, the R. R. Niebuhr professor at Harvard Divinity School, who has studied homosexuality in the Catholic priesthood. "Though it might get you people who lie or who are so confused they do not really know who they are."
"And not the least irony here," he added, "is that these new regulations are being enforced in many cases by seminary directors who are themselves gay."
It is difficult to gauge reaction to the recent guidelines among seminary students and gay priests. Priests who once defended the work of gay men in the priesthood have become reluctant to speak publicly.
"It is impossible for them to come forward in this atmosphere," said Marianne Duddy-Burke, the executive director of DignityUSA, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics. "The bishops have scapegoated gay priests because gays are still an acceptable scapegoat in this society, particularly among weekly churchgoers."
Seminary officials of the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Archdiocese of New York would not permit a reporter to interview seminarians. But the Brooklyn diocese did allow a reporter to talk to its psychologist, Dr. Palumbo, and its director of vocations, the Rev. Kevin J. Sweeney, whose incoming classes of three to five seminarians each year make him one of the more successful vocation directors in the country. Half of the nation's seminaries have one or two new arrivals each a year, and one-quarter get none, according to a recent church study.
Father Sweeney said the new rules were not the order of battle for a witch hunt. "We do not say that homosexuals are bad people," he said. "And sure, homosexuals have been good priests."
"But it has to do with our view of marriage," he said. "A priest can only give his life to the church in the sense that a man gives his life to a female spouse. A homosexual man cannot have the same relationship. It's not about condemning anybody. It's about our world view."
My comment --
Living proof that nobody knows how to lie and bear false witness like a conservative religionist.
High Court: Justices to consider 'funeral protests' in free-speech case
By ROBERT BARNES
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 31, 2010; A13
Albert Snyder, an industrial equipment salesman from York, Pa., says he was once a quiet guy who had no taste for the limelight. Now he has a Web site and interviews scheduled back to back. The most important person in the Senate is rallying support for him, and 48 states and the District of Columbia have come to his aid.
Snyder and his late son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, killed in Iraq, have become the public faces of more than 200 families that have seen funerals of loved ones picketed by members of a tiny church who say the deaths of U.S. soldiers are God's retribution for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.
The collision of privacy rights and the Constitution's protection of free speech will be heard by the Supreme Court in the fall. Snyder's lawyer, Sean Summers, recently filed his brief to the court, and the fortuitous deadline for others to support Snyder is the day after Memorial Day.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) for once found common ground with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on the issue. Reid held a news conference with Snyder Friday to say 42 members of the Senate had signed on to an amicus brief to condemn the actions of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., and its founding pastor, Fred W. Phelps Sr.
"Respondents were and are free to convey their repugnant message in virtually any public manner they choose," the senators said in a brief written by former Clinton administration counsel Walter E. Dellinger III. "But they were not free to hijack petitioners' private funeral as a vehicle for expression of their own hate."
Likewise, there has been a rush of state attorneys general to sign on to an efforts led by Kansas Attorney General Steve Six to argue that there is no protection for what they say was targeted and harassing speech aimed at Snyder. More than 40 states have laws restricting funeral protests, which are not at issue in the case.
Despite the political firepower, First Amendment specialists think Albert Snyder has a difficult case to prove to a court that has been particularly outspoken on government attempts to regulate speech and has accepted two privacy cases for the term that begins in the fall.
George Washington University law professor Daniel J. Solove, the author of "Understanding Privacy," said he finds it "perplexing" that the justices took the case. The message of Phelps and his followers is "stupid and obnoxious," Solove said, but seems to fit squarely into the kind of unpopular speech that the Constitution protects.
The church maintains that its protests are not aimed at the dead -- there was no particular reason to select Matthew Snyder's funeral for picketing -- but at the actions of the living.
A sampling of the signs carried at Snyder's 2006 funeral at St. John's Catholic Church in Westminster, Md., included "God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11," "Semper Fi Fags," "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "Priests Rape Boys." The demonstrators abided by the law and stayed away from the funeral itself.
Albert Snyder sued Phelps, and Snyder argued at trial that the demonstration invaded his privacy, caused emotional distress and violated his rights to free exercise of religion and peaceful assembly. He said a treatise posted on the church's Web site specifically mentioned Matthew and his family.
A jury awarded Snyder more than $10 million, which was cut in half by the judge and then overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond. A three-judge panel said that although Phelps's rhetoric was offensive, it was protected as speech concerning issues in the national debate.
"Notwithstanding the distasteful and repugnant nature of the words being challenged in these proceedings, we are constrained to conclude that the defendants' signs . . . are constitutionally protected," the court said. It added that the signs contained "imaginative and hyperbolic rhetoric intended to spark debate about issues with which the defendants are concerned."
Virginia and Maine are the two states not supporting Snyder. Brian Gottstein, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), said that the state has a law against funeral protests and that his office fears the precedent that Snyder's case could set.
"We do not think that regulation of speech through vague common-law torts, like intentional infliction of emotional distress, strikes the proper balance between free speech and avoiding the unconscionable disruption of funerals," Gottstein said.
Virginia's decision was disappointing for Snyder, as was news he received from the appeals court this month: It said he owes the church $16,500 in legal fees.
Snyder said he was only vaguely aware of the protests at military funerals until the protest came to him. He still gets emotional recalling that day.
"All we wanted was a private funeral for my son," he said. "They turned it into a three-ring circus."
Lots of comments at
Education key to reuniting gay son, parents
By DANIEL SHOER ROTH
Today there are classes for everything -- computers, languages, cooking and even training a pet.
But who educates parents to love and care for their children?
Maybe the child has a learning problem and his parents want him to be a mathematical genius or has a weight problem and they want him to be an Olympic gymnast. Perhaps it bothers them that he is left-handed or has brown eyes and they would have preferred him with blue eyes.
I've been quite upset thinking about this issue since the parents of Omar Bonilla, a Colombian-American teenager, threw him out of their house for being gay.
While leaving a son homeless for being himself seems heartless, there is something I am quite certain of: The Bonillas deep down must love their son.
I imagine they may be confused, terrified of their neighbors' gossip, and perhaps they have not been adequately educated on the topic of sexual orientation. Bonilla tells me his parents are deeply religious and believe that ``being homosexual is a sin and that I am going to die.''
``My dad called me and told me I had two hours to pack my things and leave, because he had not raised a fag,'' the teenager said last week.
Sadly, Bonilla, a 19-year-old student at Flanagan High in Pembroke Pines, is not alone in experiencing such rejection. Too often, parents reject a child for being different or simply not meeting expectations.
This drama began recently when Bonilla ran to be the prom queen and made it to the finals.
School administrators said they feared for his safety and prohibited him from wearing his sequined blue dress to the prom. He was later suspended from school for allegedly parking in a visitor's space and was barred from attending his prom. Yet it didn't take him long to make his dream come true; he was chosen as the queen of the Pridelines Youth Services gay prom.
OPENED A WOUND
Being honest with his parents, however, opened a wound that will never totally heal, though he believes it will not affect him: to be abandoned and rejected by them.
``They cling to their culture and their religion and do not accept anyone who is different,'' Bonilla said. ``If they really loved me, they wouldn't have thrown me out.''
His parents could not be reached. Bonilla, who was staying at a friend's house told me, ``I need help.''
Terilee Wunderman, a psychologist who has worked in the state foster-care system, explained that there is not much anyone can do to improve communication between a child and his parents if the parents ``refuse to learn.''
``But I've seen that, with time, sometimes years later, parents gradually come around and, if they get enough support, can reach a point of accepting a relationship with a child,'' Wunderman said.
Let's be clear: Parents of gay children are not the only ones who abandon and disinherit their children. There are those who sever all ties permanently because their offspring married someone of another faith or race. Others abandon their flesh and blood over political beliefs and alcohol or drug problems. Others write off their children for joining the military or because they're taking sides in a bitter divorce.
Parents have even thrown children out because they got a tattoo, pierced their noses or shaved their heads.
Parents are, above all, human beings, and they generally give their best to their children, with no intention to hurt them. Their actions respond mostly to prejudices instilled in them by religious beliefs or societal stereotypes.
TRAINING FOR TEACHERS
Schools are not prepared to address these issues, either. Teachers and administrators are not always trained with enough sensibility and they fail to maintain effective communication with students and their parents.
The good news is that there is a solution. It's called education.
I suggest Bonilla's parents reach out to their local chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, an organization that aims to bridge the gaps of understanding that can sometimes tear families apart.
Losing their son is too high a price to pay to stay entrenched in their convictions.
My comment ---
The major problem, however, is that many (most) bigots REFUSE to listen to anything positive about persons born with homosexual orientation.
San Francisco Chronicle
Outed senator easing stance against gay rights
Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
(06-01) 04:00 PDT Sacramento - --
State Sen. Roy Ashburn has begun taking some tentative steps toward backing gay rights, a little less than three months after the Bakersfield Republican was outed after a drunken driving arrest near the Capitol.
He vowed at the time to continue his staunch opposition to the expansion of gay rights - he has one of the strongest anti-gay records of any lawmaker - saying that is how his constituents would have him vote.
But since then, Ashburn has held several meetings at the Capitol with a major gay rights organization that he previously avoided, and on Thursday made an unusually personal speech that showed he is re-evaluating his thinking on some issues. Senate colleagues say he seems happier.
"I would not have been speaking on measures dealing with sexual orientation - ever - prior to the events that have transpired in my life over the last three months," Ashburn said on the Senate floor, surprising some of his colleagues. "However, I am no longer willing or able to remain silent on issues that affect sexual orientation (and) the rights of individuals. So, I am doing something that is quite different and foreign to me and is highly emotional."
Ashburn was arrested March 3 on suspicion of drunken driving after reportedly spending the evening at a Sacramento gay club, and pleaded no contest to the charge in April. Several days after he was arrested, he confirmed that he was gay during a radio interview, during which he also pledged to continue his voting record against gay rights.
Opposing 'don't ask'
But on Thursday, Ashburn argued for a resolution calling on Congress to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays and lesbians serving in the military, voting for the measure that he had opposed twice, most recently last year.
"The current policy of 'don't ask, don't tell' is clearly out of date and discriminatory," he said. "I rise in support of this resolution because it calls upon our nation's best instincts and seeks to correct a basic discrimination that is hurtful to people and our country."
But Ashburn voted against another measure that would state explicitly in law that people opposed to performing marriages for same-sex couples for religious reasons would not be forced to do so, and that religious organizations would not lose their tax-exempt status if they did not hold such marriages.
Ashburn said he liked that idea, but the bill, which passed without his support, also inserts the word "civil" before references to marriage in state code.
He called it "troublesome" and noted the vote on Proposition 8 last year, the legal challenges to that proposition that outlawed same-sex marriage and the likelihood that the issue would return to the ballot in future years. He said passing the bill would create "a confusing, untenable situation," though he added that it was "with great difficulty" that he urged the Senate to reject the bill.
In 2005, he helped lead a rally in Bakersfield opposing same-sex marriage, but last week he said "gay marriage is a very complicated issue."
The changes, though minor, have caught the attention of advocates for gay rights.
"Just like everyone else, we were surprised to see these statements come out of his mouth," said Charles Moran, spokesman for the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP organization.
Changing policy views
Ashburn, a divorced father of four, is the highest-ranking openly gay Republican in California, and while Log Cabin officials have yet to meet with him, Moran said his speech may be the impetus for that.
"Here is somebody who is open and out of the closet and has truly changed their policy position," Moran said, though he added that while gay people have wide-ranging views on marriage, "I still think he may have a long way to go and that's what was demonstrated in his marriage vote."
Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, the author of the marriage legislation, said he did not understand Ashburn's logic in voting against the bill.
Leno, who is gay, said he hopes Ashburn's being out during his remaining few months in office "will be an opportunity for his leadership not only in his district but also in his caucus to bring some rational thinking and light to the subject of LGBT civil rights." Ashburn is termed out of office at the end of this year.
Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, wrote the "don't ask, don't tell" resolution, and said she thinks Ashburn's openness will spur change in the Republican caucus. Kehoe, who is a lesbian, said Ashburn has told her he feels like a weight has been lifted off him and that he is even contemplating attending the San Diego gay pride event in July.
Gay rights group
Ashburn also has held several meetings with Equality California, the state's largest gay rights group, in the past few months. Ashburn indicated he was "open to learning more about legislation and considering our bills on their merits," said Vaishalee Raja, spokeswoman for Equality California.
Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has been friends with Ashburn for years. The relationship started over a mutual interest in advocating for mental health services, and since Ashburn publicly acknowledged his sexual orientation, Yee said his friend and colleague is more relaxed and seems happier.
"I think whenever you're truthful with yourself, that's a good thing," said Yee, who is straight. "The coming out process is an enlightening process, so I think he's coming to terms with his sexual orientation and that's what you're seeing now."
Ashburn has also been publicly talking about the changes in his life, though he was unavailable to be interviewed for this article. He told a columnist at the Bakersfield Californian that he had stopped drinking alcohol and that he was sorry for many of his votes against gay rights legislation.
He also said he was reassessing much of his life. "I'm taking care of a lot of old baggage," the newspaper quoted him as saying.
E-mail Wyatt Buchanan at wbuchanan@....
This article appeared on page C - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Gay McDonald's ad in France:
The oil news gets worse daily. No end in sight. --->
BP's new plan risks worsening oil spill
A maneuver that includes severing a leaking pipe from the well may increase the flow as much as 20%. Officials also say there is no immediate remedy to plug the well until August.
By Margot Roosevelt and Tina Susman, Los Angeles Times
May 31, 2010
Reporting from Los Angeles and New Orleans -
BP's plan to sever a leaking pipe as part of an effort to cap its runaway well in the Gulf of Mexico could increase flow by as much as 20%, and the oil giant has no remedy to stop up the well until August, Obama administration and company officials said Sunday.
The risky maneuver, part of an attempt to contain the gusher and divert the oil through a pipe to the surface, could begin Monday or Tuesday.
Administration and BP officials on Sunday sought to shift attention from last week's failed attempt to choke the well by focusing on expectations that a new cap could divert much of the leaking oil from the fragile ecosystem of the gulf.
But behind those assurances was the frank admission that the disaster response has fallen back to containment and surface cleanup, not closure, until a relief well reaches the gushing well bore in August and enables engineers to install cement plugs.
"We're now going to move into a situation where they're going to attempt to control the oil that's coming out, move it to a vessel, take it onshore," White House energy advisor Carol Browner told NBC's "Meet the Press." "Obviously that's not the preferred scenario. We always knew that the relief well was the permanent way to close this.. Now we move to the third option, which is to contain it."
Browner and BP Managing Director Bob Dudley said a tighter fit and use of warm fluids could prevent a repeat of the first containment effort, which was clogged when methane hydrates congealed inside a containment dome, blocking the flow to the surface and making the dome buoyant.
"If it's a snug fit, then there could be very, very little oil. If they're not able to get as snug a fit, then there could be more," Browner said of the new cap. "We're going to hope for the best and prepare for the worst."
Dudley, in his round of appearances on Sunday's talk shows, expressed greater confidence in the new cap.
"We feel like the percentages are better that we'll be able to contain the oil," he told Fox News. "The question is how much of the oil will we be able to contain and the objective is to try to collect the majority through this vessel."
At the administration's insistence, Browner said, BP is drilling a second relief well in case the first fails to reach the well. The drilling could have the same challenges that the blown-out well faced - loose formations that caused a loss of drilling fluid, and at least one case of a pipe segment getting stuck, along with expensive instruments inside it, that had to be abandoned, according to BP documents.
In BP's new effort, robots would use a diamond saw to cut the leaking and crumbled riser pipe cleanly from atop the failed blowout preventer and then install a cap to allow much of the oil to be pumped up to a ship on the surface.
Dudley told Candy Crowley on CNN's "State of the Union" that the pipe was not restricting much flow, so severing it should not greatly increase the volume of oil spouting from the well.
"There may be a small increase," he said. "But we should not expect to see a large increase, if any, by cutting this off and making a clean surface for us to be able to put this containment vessel over it."
Dudley said on ABC's "This Week" that BP "learned a lot" from the earlier containment failure, and this time it plans to pump warm seawater and methanol down the pipe to prevent the gases from freezing.
Browner said on CBS that Energy Secretary Steven Chu and a team of scientists on Saturday essentially put a halt to BP's attempt to cap the spewing well with a process known as "top kill," which injected drilling mud and other materials to try to counter the upward pressure of the oil. The administration team worried the increasing pressure from injecting heavy drilling mud could worsen the leak.
Drilling experts have warned that high-pressure injections could cause a catastrophic collapse of well pipes and leave an open crater that would be impossible to cap.
Asked whether U.S. officials told BP to stop the three-day-long top kill attempt, Browner said, "We told them of our very, very grave concerns" that it was dangerous to continue building up pressure in the well.
Meanwhile, BP chief Tony Hayward, on a tour of a company staging area in Venice, La., sought to refute multiple reports from scientists that vast plumes of oil from the spill are spreading underwater.
Hayward said BP's sampling showed "no evidence" that oil was massing and spreading across the gulf water column. "The oil is on the surface," he said. "Oil has a specific gravity that's about half that of water. It wants to get to the surface because of the difference in specific gravity."
Scientists from the University of South Florida, University of Georgia, University of Southern Mississippi and other institutions have detected what they believe are vast swaths of underwater hydrocarbons, including an area about 50 miles from the spill site and as deep as 400 feet.
Samples they collected are being analyzed to see whether the hydrocarbons they detected come from BP's well.
Hayward said the company was focusing its cleanup efforts on skimming and burning the surface oil, dispersing it and setting up booms along the coast to absorb and block the scum. He said the company was narrowing its response to the oil spill to the Louisiana coast and bulking up cleanup forces there for a fight that could last months.
Despite fears, little oil has washed up on the shores of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, although scientists have indicated plumes could approach Mobile Bay, Ala.
With more than half a million gallons of crude oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico daily, Sunday's messages were hardly reassuring to Louisianans who are bearing the brunt of the spill.
In New Orleans, some 200 protesters, summoned by Internet social-networking, gathered across the street from St. Louis Cathedral to express frustration over BP's cleanup efforts. In the rain, clutching homemade signs that read "BP oil pigs" and "Kill the well now," they applauded speakers demanding the ouster of BP and other oil giants from the gulf region and more vigorous efforts to save turtles, dolphins, birds and other wildlife.
Patrick Brower, 32, wearing a beige shirt that read "Make Wetlands, not oil," voiced the concern of many Hurricane Katrina veterans, saying he feared the advent of a new tropical storm season, which starts June 1. "We could have oil in the city," he said.
Librarian Danielle Brutsche, 37, whose shirt read "Our addiction to oil is killing us," also raised the Katrina parallel. "It's like a nightmare you can't wake up from," she said.
Actor Tim Robbins, who has been filming a movie in New Orleans, did not speak to the crowd, but he said on the sidelines that a flight he had taken over the spill area about 10 days ago had convinced him that the problem was far worse than most people imagined. "We got down below 3,000 feet and saw huge, huge globs of oil about to hit Raccoon Island," he said.
But this being New Orleans, and Memorial Day weekend, the crowd was smaller than the one up the street crammed into Cafe du Monde to eat beignets.
Times staff writers Nicole Santa Cruz in New Orleans and Jim Puzzanghera in Washington contributed to this report.
My comment --->
Of all the thousands of under-the-sea oil wells, all it takes is one -- ONE -- to create a disaster. Humans are greedier than they are smart. The smart ones get fired. The greedy ones get bonuses.
Their plan to cut the pipe is easy to do. The hard part is making an attachment. With all that pressure -- oil coming out of the pipe -- they have a difficult task ahead of them. And if they fail, the cut will have allowed more oil to flow.
Sounds like someone wasn't paying attention -- just running to the bank with bonus checks.
How many more years will humans survive on this planet? How many more years do humans deserve to survive on this planet?
The incredible irony is that this is exactly what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of "your eternal life".
One of my correspondents sends this satire -- Actually they found Satan down there. He's planning the apocalypse on 21 December 2012. But they can't tell anybody -- it would cause too much panic.
San Jose Mercury News
Environmentalists' nemesis Richard Pombo returns to politics
By Paul Rogers
Posted: 05/31/2010 09:39:35 PM PDT
It's enough to give environmentalists fits.
Richard Pombo is back.
For 14 years, Pombo held a special place in the hearts of America's environmental movement somewhere next to Capt. Joseph Hazelwood of the Exxon Valdez and the hunter who shot Bambi's mother.
A Tracy cattle rancher whom President George W. Bush nicknamed "The Marlboro Man," from 1993 to 2007 Pombo represented the 11th Congressional District, which runs from Morgan Hill to Danville along the east side of I-680 and includes farm towns like Manteca and Lodi.
He introduced bills to expand offshore oil drilling, rewrite the Endangered Species Act, increase logging on public lands and limit federal agencies from restricting pesticides. He advocated more commercial whale hunting, and famously wrote in a 1996 book that environmental regulation "owes more to communism than to any other philosophy."
After environmentalists spent more than $1 million to help Democrat Jerry McNerney, a former wind energy executive, upset Pombo in 2006, green groups thought he was done.
But this week Pombo, 49, is sprinting to the finish line in a race to resurrect his political career. He's running in the Republican primary in what may be California's hottest congressional race of the June 8 election - a four-man contest to succeed retiring Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, in the 19th district.
The district includes Yosemite National Park and the fields of the San
Joaquin Valley, along with the Sierra Foothills, the north side of Fresno, parts of Modesto and Gold Rush towns like Jamestown and Sonora. It's a solidly Republican area, and the winner of the primary is expected to cruise to Washington, D.C., in November.
Pombo and the other three candidates, state Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced; former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson; and Fresno City Councilman Larry Westerlund, have similar positions on the issues. They all want lower taxes, an overturn of President Barack Obama's health care law, and new rules to waive the Endangered Species Act to allow more water to be pumped to farmers from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.
But Pombo, in his familiar cowboy hat, argues that if elected, he'd not only start with 14 years' seniority, but with insight into how Congress works, particularly when it comes to water and wildlife laws. If the GOP wins back the House in November, he notes that by January he could be chairman again of the powerful House Natural Resources Committee, pushing for the interests of farmers and other rural Americans.
"This is a tight race," he said. "The state, the Central Valley, doesn't have a lot of time. We're in trouble. We need somebody who is going to be effective immediately. That's what I bring to the table."
Environmentalists have energetically responded. The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund has spent at least $65,000 on radio ads calling Pombo "another corrupt politician." The Humane Society Legislative Fund has distributed thousands of mailers. And the League of Conservation Voters put Pombo on its "Dirty Dozen List," normally reserved for sitting members of Congress.
"Having Pombo represent a district that includes Yosemite National Park is like electing Godzilla as mayor of Tokyo," said Warner Chabor, CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters.
Pombo, who was named an "eco-thug" by the Sierra Club in 1996, shrugs off the opposition.
"It just shows I was the most effective fighting against them," he said.
The race has split the state's GOP establishment. Denham has the endorsement of Radanovich. Patterson has the backing of the Central Valley Tea Party. Pombo is supported by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay, and Rep. Devin Nunes, of neighboring Visalia.
Denham, 42, is an almond grower from Atwater who served 16 years in the Air Force and whose state Senate district runs from Salinas to Hollister to Modesto. He said he'll represent voters without the drama that Pombo brings. During the campaign, Pombo has caught controversy for once taking money from disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and also for billing taxpayers $5,000 after taking his family in 2003 on an RV trip of national parks.
"Democrats have not had the baggage or the ammunition to run against me," Denham said. "Richard Pombo has certainly given them a lot of material over the years."
Neither Denham nor Pombo lives in the district. The Constitution only requires House members live in the state they represent. Both have raised about $600,000. Pombo's major donors include Exxon-Mobil, BP, Arch Coal, the Safari Club and the head of Westlands Water District. Denham's include various Indian tribes, and prominent farm leaders like George Tanimura and Rick Antle of Salinas, and John Harris of Harris Ranch in Coalinga.
A SurveyUSA poll May 18 had Patterson at 29 percent, Denham at 28, Pombo at 18 and Westerlund at 6. Pombo said his polls show it closer.
"I would not dismiss Pombo," said Tom Holyoke, an associate professor of political science at California State University-Fresno. "He may have a chance. It would be wrong to count him out."
Contact Paul Rogers at 408-920-5045.
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