Friday, June 30, 2006

US Reps to Putin: We Condemn Moscow Gay Bashing

I am not in the habit of sharing press releases from politicians on my blog, but this one from Barney is well worthing posting, in full.

What a great treat it is that as the USA begins the 4th of July weekend and celebration of America's founding, dozens of our congressmembers are signing their names to a statement standing up for gay rights and deploring the attacks on our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Moscow in May.

I offer heartfelt gratitude to Barney and his staff, not to mention the signatories, for speaking out about gay issues beyond America's borders.

Barney, thank you.

Barney Frank
Congressman, 4th District, Massachusetts
2252 Rayburn Building · Washington, D.C. 20515 · (202) 225-5931

For Immediate Release
Contact: Daniel McGlinchey 202.225.3548
June 30, 2006


With Russian President Vladimir Putin about to step onto the international stage as his country prepares to host the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg next month, a bipartisan group of U.S. House members today focused attention inside Russia as they condemned the recent anti-gay violence that occurred during the country's first gay pride festival in the Russian capital.

Joining international criticism of the brutal attacks against gay and lesbian marchers by skinheads and radical nationalists in Moscow last month, 50 federal lawmakers today sent a letter to Putin denouncing the violence and criticizing the actions of Moscow's mayor, which they believe helped stoke an atmosphere of hostility against gays.

Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov officially cited the threat of violence when denying the parade permit, but his subsequent public statement that "such a parade is inadmissible in our country above all for moral reasons," as well as the deputy mayor's description of gay festivals as "propaganda of immorality," revealed entrenched anti-gay animus. Some religious leaders also led a pressure campaign against the march, with the leader of Russia's Muslims calling for a "violent mass protest," adding that "if they come out into the streets anyway, they should only be beaten up."

In their letter to Putin, the U.S. lawmakers say, in part, "We believe that the mayor's public statements and his banning of the parade itself -- as well as the fact that provocative and violently anti-gay statements by religious leaders and others went unrepudiated by elected officials -- helped create a situation in which violence against gay and lesbian people was in fact more likely to happen, if not inevitable."

Calling violence against people based on sexual orientation outrageous and unacceptable, the lawmakers urge Putin to "publicly make clear this sentiment to those who would seek to do harm to gay and lesbian individuals, to public officials and civil leaders who provoke or inadequately respond to such violence, and to the gay and lesbian citizens of Moscow and beyond who deserve to live, gather and associate without fear of violence."

Putin has always been silent on gay issues, and the Kremlin has maintained its reticence even in the wake of the recent attacks.

"It would be particularly appropriate," added Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), "for President Putin to speak out against these attacks and help prevent future abuses now that Russia holds the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers within the Council of Europe, a body dedicated to defending human rights and promoting rule of law."

The letter was organized by Cong. Frank, the senior Democrat on the Committee on Financial Services, and was signed by a number of leading House members on international affairs and human rights issues, including Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the second ranking Democrat in the House; Tom Lantos (D-CA), the senior Democrat on the International Relations Committee; Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) and Nita Lowey (D-NY), the chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively, on the House Appropriations subcommittee on foreign aid; James Leach (R-IA), a senior Republican on the International Relations Committee; and Chris Shays (R-CT) and Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of a subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations.

A copy of the letter is attached.

June 30, 2006

His Excellency Vladimir V. Putin
President of the Russian Federation
4 Staraya Square
Moscow 103132 Russia

Dear President Putin,

We write as members of the United States Congress to express our dismay over the riots and violence against gay and lesbian marchers in Moscow during a gay pride parade in late May.

It seems to us evident that any government of the people would seek to protect all people, so we were very disappointed that Moscow mayor Luzhkov claimed in denying the parade permit that he would not be able to ensure the safety of the marchers.

We believe that the mayor's public statements and his banning of the parade itself -- as well as the fact that provocative and violently anti-gay statements by religious leaders and others went unrepudiated by elected officials -- helped create a situation in which violence against gay and lesbian people was in fact more likely to happen, if not inevitable.

In fact, given reports that some police stood by while gay and lesbian marchers were attacked, it is difficult for us to believe that the police were unable to protect the marchers, but instead were simply unwilling to do so.

We hope you agree that violence against people based on sexual orientation -- people who are doing no harm to anyone else - is outrageous and not acceptable. We urge you to publicly make clear this sentiment to those who would seek to do harm to gay and lesbian individuals, to public officials and civil leaders who provoke or inadequately respond to such violence, and to the gay and lesbian citizens of Moscow and beyond who deserve to live, gather and associate without fear of violence.


Stockholm, Marseilles Join July 19 Vigils for Gay Iranians

I've been informed by Doug Ireland in NYC that two more cities have been added to the expanding list of cities participating in the July 19 actions and vigils for gay Iranians.

Doug has received word from veteran global gay activist Bill Schiller in Stockholm that a vigil will happen in that city at the Iranian Embassy, and Doug has also heard from Louis-George Tin, leader of IDAHO, International Day Against Homophobia, that an event will take place in Marseilles, location and time to be determined.

These cities have been added to the updated list. If your city is not on the list, how about organizing a vigil or speak out where you live? There is plenty of time before July 19 to pull together an event. Send me an email if you need assistance in organizing something on that day.

Location: To be announced
Time: To be announced
Contact: To be announced

Location: Iranian Embassy
Time: to be announced
Contact: Bill Schiller and Tupilak,

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Tehran Gays Light Candles on July 19; Sacramento Vigil Announced

The following statement was issued today by Mr. Arsham Parsi, spokesperson for the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization, after I requested he work with me to find a way for gay and lesbian Iranians, and their allies to participate in the July 19 day of global actions, that does not jeopardize the lives and liberties of gays and lesbians in Iran, and we agreed on a simple idea: the lighting of candles.

"Individual gays and lesbians in Iran, in the privacy and safety of their homes, on July 19, will light candles in solidarity with the global vigils for the two gay teenagers hanged in Mashad," Parsi commented. "Even though they can't gather in public to demand respect of their human rights, gay and lesbian Iranians will participate in the worldwide action by lighting candles, symbolizing freedom and democracy."

Mr. Arsham Parsi, an Iranian gay man now living in Toronto, where he will stage a vigil on July 19, place and time to be announced, said on behalf of his group PGLO:

“We enthusiastically support the call for demonstrations on July 19, and we are very grateful to our brothers and sisters around the world for organizing these demonstrations for beleaguered Iranian gay people, who retain hope for change."

Tehran now becomes the eighth city participating in the July 19 action.

And thanks to veteran observer of the right wing fundamentalist network and gay activist Jerry Sloan, an event will take place in Sacramento, at the Lambda Community Center, 1927 L Street. If you live near Sacramento, the ninth city to participate, please join Sloan for his vigil.

The following listings have been added to the updated list posted here.

Location: Lambda Community Center, 1927 L Street
Time: To be announced
Contact: Jerry Sloan,

Location: Not to be announced
Time: All day and evening

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Gay Iranian Leader's Plea: Toronto Vigil Help Needed

This plea for help comes from our friend, the very brave gay Iranian leader Arsham Parsi, who recently moved to Toronto. He needs help organizing a vigil on July 19 in his new city. If you live in Toronto and can assist Arsham to get the ball rolling up there, please contact him directly. His email is at the end of his appeal. Let's all pitch in and do what we can for Arsham and gay Iranians on the day of global actions.

My name is Arsham Parsi -- I am a gay Iranian refugee, recently granted political asylum in Canada, and I am the human rights secretary of the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization (PGLO), the largest gay Iranian group with some 29,000 people on our mailing list both inside and outside Iran.

I am writing to request your help on behalf of gay Iranians. July 19 is the first anniversary of the execution by public hanging of two gay Iranian teenagers, killed by the Islamic Republic of Iran because they were homosexual. Demonstrations and vigils are being organized all over the world on July 19 at the call of, and sponsored by, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the Paris-based International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), the British gay rights group OutRage, and the PGLO.

These demonstrations are intended to help call attention to the homophobic reign of terror which the fanatical religious regime in Iran is inflicting on its lesbian and gay citizens, and as testimony of the solidarity of Western gays with their persecuted Iranian sisters and brothers.

You can read about these planned July 19 demonstrations by clicking here.

I need your organization's help, or any individual's help in organizing demonstrations and vigils here in Canada. Because I am only a new resident of your beautiful and free country (I've only been here two months), I do not have the knowledge or the contacts necessary for me and the handful of my gay Iranian friends already refugees here in Canada to organize such a vigil or demonstration by
ourselves alone.

We gay Iranians urgently need your help. Can you contact me by e-mailing me at -- or, since time is of the essence given the rapid approach of July 19, it is even better if you can telephone me here in Toronto at 416-985-PGLO.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation in standing up for persecuted gay Iranians, and I look forward to speaking with you and working with you.

Sincerely Yours,
Arsham PARSI
Persian Gay & Lesbian Organization
IGLHRC Organizes July 19 NYC Action at Iran's UN Mission

The momentum by US gay groups and individuals to organize actions to remember Iran's hanging of two gay teenagers last summer and support Iranian gays and lesbians continues to grow.

I received a call from friends at IGLHRC informing me they're organizing a protest at Iran's mission to the UN on July 19. Yes, we now have our seventh city on the growing list of places where actions are scheduled.

Below is the editorial that will appear in Gay City News tomorrow, announcing IGLHRC's coming on board and urging all New Yorkers to show up at Iran's mission in three weeks.

I am also linking to Doug Ireland's latest column on Iran that will be in the same issue of GCN, which he is sharing on his blog. It's terrific recap of the tragic hangings and efforts to help our Iranian brothers and sisters.

From GCN:


Over the past year, Gay City News has devoted considerable space to reporting and documenting the horrific reign of terror that the Islamic Republic of Iran is inflicting on its gay and lesbian citizens. This campaign includes Internet entrapment, blackmail to force arrested gays to inform on others, torture and executions of those found guilty of engaging in "homosexual acts" and of gays who have been forced to confess to "crimes" they never committed.

As Doug Ireland reports on this page, July 19 marks the first anniversary of the inhuman public hanging of two gay teenagers—an act that symbolizes the anti-gay brutality of the Tehran regime.

Gay City News urges New Yorkers to join those around the world who will be protesting on July 19 in solidarity with gay Iranians, and endorses those demonstrations and vigils worldwide.

We urge all New Yorkers, gay and straight, to join the demonstration organized here by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in front of the Iranian Mission to the United Nations at 622 Third Avenue, at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 19. Gay City News believes that it would be shameful and tragic if—in the city where the modern gay movement began with the Stonewall Riots 37 years ago—the LGBT community remained silent and immobile in the face of the lethal wave of anti-gay repression unfolding in Iran.—The Editors

Follow this link to the list of seven cities now participating in the July 19 actions. I will update this page when more cities get organized.

DC's July 19 Vigil for Gay Iran Organized by New Republic's Anderson

I am very pleased to announce that a sixth city, Washington, DC, has been added to the list of cities organizing events on July 19 to commemorate the two gay teenagers hanged by Iran last summer, and to support gays and lesbians and human rights advocates inside Iran.

Rob Anderson, a writer at the New Republic and a gay man, has stepped forward to pull together an action on July 19 in the nation's capitol, in Dupont Circle at 5 pm at the fountain in the park.

You may recall that Anderson last October wrote a profound article for the New Republic about Iran's gay population and how US gay groups are not doing all they can to assist gays and lesbians in Iran.

If you haven't read Anderson's excellent column, you should, if only to see how little has changed in the months since he wrote it. And if you did read it, check it out again because it is still very relevant. Click here to read it.

Here is the updated list of cities participating in the July 19 actions:

Location: Homo-Monument
Time: To be announced
Contact: Mike Tidmus,

Location: House of Commons, Committee Room 12
Guest Speakers: Chris Bryant MP, Jean Lambert MEP, Iranian gay activist, Simon Forbes and Peter Tatchell
Time: 6:30 pm
Contacts: Peter Tatchell,
& Brett Lock,

Location: Town Hall Square
Time: To be announced
Contact: Andrew Sullivan,

San Diego
Location: U.S. Federal Building
Time: 4:00 pm
Contact: Michael Mussman,

San Francisco
Location: Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Michael Petrelis,

Washington, DC
Location: Dupont Circle Fountain
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Rob Anderson,

There's still plenty of time for other cities and activists to join us on July 19. Why not organize an event in your city?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Iran: Stop Killing Gays & Kids!

19 July 2006 = International Day of Action Against Homophobic Persecution in Iran

(London – 26 June 2006) To mark the first anniversary of Iran's hanging of two gay teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, gay campaign groups OutRage! and IDAHO, International Day Against Homophobia, have declared 19 July 2006 an International Day of Action Against Homophobic Persecution in Iran (IDAAHOPI).

They are calling for worldwide protests against the “murderous homophobic Iranian regime” and “in commemoration of Asgari and Marhoni, the two gay teenagers executed in the city of Mashhad on 19 July last year.”

Shocking new revelations concerning the executions follow below.

Photos of the hanging of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni can be found here.

Here is the updated list of cities participating in the July 19 actions. The time for each event is local time. Please link to this page for updates on the day of protests:

Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Location: Homo-Monument(Keizersgracht canal near Westerkerk)
Time: 9 pm
Contacts: René van Soeren of COC,, Mike Tidmus,

Brussels, Belgium
Location: Brussels Stock Exchange
Time: 8:00 pm
Contact: Stephen Barris,

Chicago, Illinois
Location: Millennium Park (Pritzker Pavilion entrance)
Time: 5:30
Contact: Gay Liberation Network,

Dublin, Ireland
Location: Dublin City Centre, The Central Bank, Dame Street
Time: 5:30 pm. Speakers to include gay Senator David Norris
Contact: BeLonG To Youth Project,

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Location: To be announced
Time: To be announced
Contact: Michael James,

London, United Kingdom
Location: House of Commons, Committee Room 12
Time: 6:30 pm
Contacts: Peter Tatchell,
& Brett Lock,

Marseilles, France
Location: Le Vieux Port
Time: 7 pm
Contacts: Philippe Colomb, , and Hussein Bourgi

Mexico City, Mexico
Location: Contempo Cine, Londres 161
Time: 7:00 pm
Contact: Enkidu Magazine,

Moscow, Russia
Location and Time to be announced in Moscow at the last minute, to prevent disruption by fascists or police
Contact: Nicolas Alexeyev,

New York, New York (Action #1)
Location: Iranian Mission to the U.N., 622 Third Avenue (at 40th St)
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Andy Humm,

New York, New York (Action #2)
Location: LGBT Community Center, 208 W. 13th Street
Time: 6:00 pm
Contact: Lisa Levy,

Provincetown, Massachusetts
Location: Town Hall
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Andrew Sullivan,

San Diego, California
Location: U.S. Federal Building, 880 Front Street
Time: 4:00 pm
Contact: Michael Mussman,

San Francisco, California
Location: Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Michael Petrelis,

Seattle, Washington
Location: Seattle Central Community College Plaza, Pine and Broadway
Time: 7:00 pm
Contact: George Bakan,

Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Location: Calvary Cathedral, 500 S. Main Avenue
Time: 9:00 pm
Contact: Kathy Knobloch,

Stockholm, Sweden
Location: Iranian Embassy, Elfviksvägen Västra Yttringe gård Lidingö
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Bill Schiller,

Tehran, Iran
Location: Not to be announced
Time: All day and evening
Contact: Arsham Parsi,

Toronto, Canada
Location: University of Toronto Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Arsham Parsi,

Tulsa, Oklahoma
Location: Tulsa County Courthouse Place
Time: 8:30 pm
Contact: Laura A. Belmonte, Ph.D., President, Tulsa
Oklahomans for Human Rights, mobile 918-906-2134

Vancouver, Canada
Location: Vancouver Art Gallery - Robson Plaza
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Contact: Finn Kovaltsenko,

Vienna, Austria
Location: Office of IranAir, A-Wien 1010 Opernring
Time: To be announced
Contact: Kurt Krikler,

Warsaw, Poland
Location: 22 Królowej Aldony Street
Time: 9 P.M.
Contact: Lukasz Palucki,

Washington, District of Columbia
Location: Dupont Circle Fountain
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Rob Anderson,

The demand of the global 19 July protests is:

Iran: Stop Killing Gays! Stop Killing Kids!

Some groups, like OutRage! in London, are also urging:

1. End all executions in Iran, especially the execution of minors.

2. Stop the arrest, torture and imprisonment of Iranian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and repeal the Iranian penal code’s criminalisation of same-sex relationships.

3. Halt the deportation to Iran of LGBT asylum seekers and other victims of Tehran’s persecution.

4. Support Iranians struggling for democracy, social justice and human rights.

5. Oppose foreign military intervention in Iran; regime change must come from within – by and for the Iranian people themselves.

“OutRage! believes the queer rights struggle in Iran should be part of - not separate from - the broader democratic and human rights struggle,” said Peter Tatchell, spokesperson for OutRage!

"When protesting against the executions last year, we received strong support from the Iranian women’s movement and from Iranian political dissidents and labour movement activists. Linking up with these progressive social forces within Iran is the key to advancing LGBT human rights in that country. We urge lesbians and gays, and our straight allies, to organise protest actions on 19 July in cities all over the world. Protest outside the Iranian Embassy. Bombard the Iranian Ambassador with protest letters, faxes and emails,” urged Mr Tatchell.

Louis-Georges Tin, coordinator of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), who is also calling for global protests, added:

“Something special has happened since 19 July 2005: an international movement is emerging in solidarity with the two boys and all the victims of Iran’s homophobic regime. The political and religious authorities in Iran should understand that their homophobia is now regarded as an international scandal. On 19 July, we are standing for life, for liberty, and for love. We are standing in commemoration of Mahmoud and Ayaz and all the victims of Tehran’s homophobic tyranny. We also stand in hope, looking forward to a better future for the gays and lesbians of Iran," stated Mr Tin.

The US coordinator of the 19 July protests, Michael Petrelis of SanFrancisco, said: "Only one American city joined last year’s the international protests against Iran's hanging of the two gay teenagers. This year, gays in at least three US cities will take to the streets on July 19. We hope more cities will join us and organise vigils for gay and lesbian Iranians. American gay rights organisations should devote more energy to tackling homophobic persecution beyond our borders. The protests on July 19 are a step towards greater US support for the global struggle for queer freedom," concluded Mr Petrelis.

In the UK, email, phone, fax and write your protests to the Iranian Ambassador:

Tel: 020 7225 3000
Fax: 020 7589 4440

Iranian Ambassador
Embassy of Iran
16 Prince’s Gate
London SW7 1PT

Further information from OutRage! in London: Brett Lock 0770 843 5917

New revelations about the execution of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni in the Iranian city of Mashhad on 19 July 2005, based on research by Simon Forbes of OutRage! and information from contacts inside Iran:

“A year-long investigation into this case has revealed that the regime’s allegations against the two hanged youths, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, are riddled with contradictions, implausibilities and outright lies,” according to Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.

“At first it was claimed by Iranian officials that they were aged 18 and 19, then that they were 19 and 21, then aged 18 and 20, and finally they made the claim that they were both above 18 at the time of their alleged crimes.

“However, the best evidence is that both youths were aged 17 when they were executed and therefore minors, aged 15 or 16, at the time of their alleged crimes. This execution of minors is in flagrant breach of international agreements the Tehran regime has signed.

“The method of hanging was specifically designed to cause a slow, painful death by strangulation.

“Concerning their crimes: at first it was claimed that they committed one rape and were child molesters, then that they had committed several rapes. By the autumn of 2005, the supporters of the regime were spreading rumours that they were serial child killers.

“Local sources in Mashhad state that Mahmoud and Ayaz were lovers, not rapists or child abusers – contrary to the homophobic propaganda of the Iranian regime and its western left-wing and Islamist apologists.

“Witnesses report seeing them together and obviously in love at a private party in 2003.

“Mahmoud and Ayaz were charged with the capital crime of homosexuality after a disapproving family member reported their relationship to the police.

“At least one, and possibly both, of the hanged boys were members of Iran’s persecuted Arab minority. Racism appears to have played a part in the stereotypical way they were portrayed by the regime as being ‘underclass’ thieves and hooligans.

“Informants inside Iran make it clear that the boys were of good character and that they came from decent, law-abiding families whose fathers had good jobs.

“The execution of Mahmoud and Ayaz conforms to a pattern of state torture and murder of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people by the Iranian clerical regime.

“In recent years, public executions for consensual gay sex have been rarer than in the past; apparently because the regime does not want to draw attention to its failure to eradicate same-sex behaviour in the ‘Islamic paradise’ of Iran.

“In publicised executions of gay couples, the men are often accused of the kidnap and rape of a younger male. All such allegations need to be treated with extreme scepticism, as they tend to follow a suspiciously stereotypical formula.

“By instituting charges of kidnap and rape, the Iranian authorities apparently hope to discredit the victims, discourage public protests and deflect international condemnation. They calculate that there will be little Iranian or international sympathy for people hanged for crimes like abduction and sexual assault,” said Mr Tatchell.

How about organising a protest in your city?

Friday, June 23, 2006

(Dick, Mary, Heather & Scooter)

Cheney Raises $ for Antigay IL Pol; Mary Silent

Dick Cheney, father of a lesbian whom he professes he loves, traveled to Chicago today to speak at a fundraiser GOP House candidate Dave Mcsweeney, who's running for Illinois' 8th congressional district seat.

Here's a little bit of what the veep had to say:

I'm delighted to join you in giving strong support to Dave in his campaign for Congress. He has deep roots in this part of the country. He's a person who clearly speaks with conviction. He's an active citizen, a common-sense conservative. And he knows the issues, he understands the needs of the eighth district, and he's perfectly in tune with the values of the people who live here. This is the kind of man who belongs in the United States Congress, and there's no doubt in my mind that Dave is on the road to victory on the 7th of November. (Applause.)

It's important that we elect public servants like Dave because these are times of incredible consequence for our nation.

Mcsweeney may be all those things claimed by Cheney, but there's one position the candidate holds, and it renders Mary Cheney and her partner Heather Poe second-class citizens, something the veep forgot to mention.

Yes, Mcsweeney favors denying Cheney and Poe equal marriage rights, and he wants a constitutional amendment passed keeping those two lesbians, and all gays and lesbians, from getting hitched.

Hey Dick, what does it feel like to cut your occasionally pro-lesbian conscience to suit this year's homophobic GOP congressional fashions?

And I have a question for Mary: Why do you suffer laryngitis when your father stumps and raises money for Republican candidates who endorse bigotry against you and Heather?

Oh, and the veep mentioned 9/11 seven times in his speech today, showing how he and the GOP continue to use the tragic events of that day for monetary and partisan political purposes.

Cheney Ducks Gay Questions, Plugs Mary's Book on CNN

Kudos to CNN's John King for raising questions yesterday in his interview with Dick Cheney about same-sex marriage and his views on the subject, which are at odds with how Bush and the GOP look at gays and lesbians getting hitched. Cheney, who had no problem answering questions about Iraq, the insurgency, other global issues, the supposedly less-than-tough Democrats, etc., etc., avoided addressing the gay questions.

From the White House transcript:

Q Let me ask you another question. Your daughter recently wrote a book in which she discussed her role in your campaign but, also, her decision, some time ago in her life, to come to you and Mrs. Cheney and disclose that she was a lesbian. And she has issues with the Republican Party on the issue of same sex marriage, and she wrote this, "If the Republican Party fails to come around on this issue -- same-sex marriage -- I believe it will find itself on the wrong side of history, and on a sharp decline into irrelevance."

Do you agree with your daughter Mary on that?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I've got great love and affection for my daughter, obviously. I think it's a very good book, and I'd recommend people read it.

Q I'm going to make another attempt at it. The President urged the Senate to vote on this constitutional amendment. Senator Frist, a leader in the party, someone who may run for the presidency, brought this amendment up, is that a mistake?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I made my views known a long time ago, John, that I think that the fact that the states have traditionally been the ones that regulate marriage is a procedure that I think is the right way to go. I think that it ought to be a state matter, a state function. That's not new to anybody. The President sets policy for the administration, and I support the President.

How nice of Daddy Dick to shill for Mary's bomb of a book that has sold less than 6,000 copies. Even with such promotion by Cheney, don't expect Mary's book to rise on the best-seller lists.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

New Republic Kisses Gore's Butt; Omits Peretz Donations

I suppose the New Republic's editor in chief Martin Peretz deserves credit for disclosing his past financial support of Sen. Joe Biden in his essay today nominating Al Gore to be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008, but Peretz gets a few demerits for not disclosing his donations to Gore.
Pundits and political activists know Peretz and Gore have been pals for years, and the former vice president and the New Republic have long enjoyed a mutually supportive relationship. Nothing wrong with that, in my book.

So would it be so terrible for Peretz to have disclosed in his column that he's given a total of $16,250 over the years to Gore and his PACs?

Data about Peretz donations from the PoliticalMoneyLine:






To be fair, Peretz has also made contributions to dozens of Democratic candidates and PACs, and he's also made a donation or two to GOP politicians. And sure, Peretz is well-known in some circles as a journalist and publisher who also writes checks out to candidates he likes.

However, I believe he owes readers full disclosure and total transparency about his donations, especially to Gore when he's smooching his derriere.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Kramer: Nuremberg Trials for AIDS

My friend Larry Kramer sent me this advance copy of remarks he will deliver tonight at a talk sponsored by the NY Times. Larry has granted me persmission to post his speech and I ask that you read the entire essay. There's much truth-telling here, especially regarding the coverage of the Times.

Hey, Larry, here's hoping you get the crowd tonight, and Times editors and reports, riled up!

ACT UP! Fight Back! Fight AIDS!

by Larry Kramer
Remarks for the New York Times “Times Talks” AIDS at 25: What Next? Panel
The New School, Monday, June 19, 2006

AIDS has been a plague since 1982 although officially it never has been called one.

This panel has been summoned to talk about the future of what is incorrectly called a pandemic. But you don't learn much about how to live in the future until you understand the past. Surely Freud taught us this. Unfortunately the future and what is going to happen is obvious. Many millions more people will die, drug companies will continue their insatiable and never-ending evil greed, and governments, particularly our own, will not stop their base, mean behavior in the face of so much death. None of this will change, no matter how many panels or Bill Gateses there are. It is deeply disheartening that 25 years later the message remains the same. No, we must face up to the past and ask why this plague has happened.

From the beginning AIDS has been a disease inextricably and irretrievably bound up in the minds of the world with homosexuals. There is not one person in the world, even South African wives infected by their itinerant truck driver husbands, who, when hearing the word “AIDS” or “HIV” does not think the world “homosexual.” Homosexuals are hated everywhere in the world. That is why there is a plague. And why the plague will continue.

The mayor of New York when this plague started was a closeted homosexual. The ballet-dancing son of the President of the United States was thought to be a homosexual even by his father and mother, who had her own sexual proclivities to hide. The original Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that division of the National Institutes of Health which should have been responsible for HIV and AIDS, was a homosexual. His assistant was a homosexual. The editor in chief of the New York Times that covered this plague so abominably stingily and destructively was virulently homophobic. Even Mrs. Iphigene Sulzberger, the matriarch of the Sulzberger clan that owns the New York Times, became exceedingly unsettled when anything about homosexuals appeared in her paper. It is deeply disheartening that the actions of all of the above remain uninvestigated and unreported and unchallenged 25 years into 70+ million infections.

Dr. Alvin Friedman-Kien and Dr. Linda Laubenstein and Dr. Mathilde Krim and Dr. Joseph Sonnabend and Dr. Lawrence Mass were the only doctors I know of who warned outright and from the very beginning: a virus is at large and immediate caution is required by all. Their warnings were in no way heeded. Dr. Laubenstein was the only doctor anywhere in the world who said, bluntly and immediately, “stop fucking each other to death”; the director of her NYU Medical Center, Dr. Saul Farber, branded her a crazy person and put a cap on the number of patients she was allowed to admit. NO WARNINGS OF ANY SORT ever came from any official anywhere, in the New York government, in the San Francisco government, in the Federal government, in the NIH, in the Public Health Service. By the time the virus was actually identified, on the eve of 1985, pretty much every gay man in the world who had sex had been exposed to this virus or to someone who had been exposed to this virus.

We are currently witnessing endless commemorations of various aspects of HIV/AIDS, as it now is called. To commemorate something without even knowing and acknowledging its history and how the actions and inactions of individuals and institutions and governments caused and shaped that history is a harsh joke. This country still admits to shockingly little, even when it is staring us in the face. A formalized and honest process to establish the facts of this history must be initiated.

I do not expect the New York Times to own up to its own huge role in allowing this plague to progress any more than I expect the New York Times to honestly and completely own up to its repellant record of reporting the Holocaust. On this latter unbearably sad subject I refer you to Buried by the Times, by Professor Laurel Leff, (Cambridge University Press, 2005). As with AIDS, it should blow everyone's mind what this “newspaper of record” did not report about the Holocaust. Additionally, just prior to the Holocaust, the New York Times Moscow correspondent from 1921-1934, a most peculiar man named Walter Duranty, received a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for actually denying the gigantic famine and widespread starvation going on in Russia under Stalin's purges. He completely whitewashed Stalin. What is it about this newspaper that it is so cowardly in fully and honestly reporting the horrors of our times? It is no small feat to falsely report three of the biggest tragedies of the 20th Century. It makes one forever suspicious of the veracity and validity of their coverage of any of the world's horrors today. When the leading newspaper in the world behaves like this, setting the template for all other papers all over the world to follow, which they unfortunately do, how are we to have a true history of anything?

These are the writers who covered HIV/AIDS for the New York Times: Richard Flaste, Erik Eckholm, Dr. Lawrence Altman, Nicholas Wade, Philip Boffey, Gina Kolata, and Philip Hilts. Each was as bad as the others. How bad? Read my book, Reports from the holocaust, St. Martin's Press, for details on how badly this newspaper has reported AIDS. Kolata was so bad that ACT UP plastered New York and the Times building with stickers: “Gina Kolata of the New York Times is the worst AIDS reporter in the world.” They took her off that beat. But they never replaced her with a reporter who covers AIDS specifically. And the job they are doing is still awful. The New York Times has never, ever, covered the politics of HIV/AIDS, particularly in America, as they cover the politics of other serious issues. But then the politics of AIDS are inextricably embedded in all that I am writing about here. All grist for a Nuremberg Trials, no?

Yes, I would like to see something set up to document the real history of this plague akin to the Nuremberg Trials, which nailed Nazi responsibility for the Holocaust,. Why did or didn't Edward Koch do X? Why did or didn't Ronald Reagan do X? Ron Reagan, Jr.? Nancy Reagan? Dr. Richard Krause and Dr. Jack Whitescarver of the NIH? Abe Rosenthal of the New York Times? Sulzberger mother, son, and grandson of the New York Times? The drug companies that made Factor VIII? The list is an extensive and far-reaching one. Each one of many many people committed acts of inconceivable inhumanity that must be documented. Without such official documentation the politics of homo-hating and bigotry will continue to rule the world and this plague will never end.

The world does not know this and it should: HIV made its entrance into the gay population through infected Factor VIII as injected by gay hemophiliacs. Factor VIII is a treatment that prevents hemophiliacs from bleeding to death. It was available in trials beginning in 1975 and in distribution from 1978. It was manufactured and sold by these companies: Baxter Travenol Laboratories, Alpha Therapeutic Corporation, Armour Pharmaceutical Co. (a division of the Revlon Cosmetics Corporation), and Cutter Laboratories. Each single individual treatment of Factor VIII contains blood parts that have been spun down from the pooled blood of tens of thousands of people. This blood was collected from paid donors all over the world. Only one donor had to be infected for the whole vat of pooled blood to be infected. All of these companies came to know that the blood plasma they had bought all over the world and which they had used to make their Factor VIII was infected with what would become known as HIV. They did not heat-treat this blood, even though early methods to do so had been available since World War Two. Even when they possessed the knowledge that their product was infected these companies did not cease selling their Factor VIII. It will not be until 1987, in this country anyway, that Factor VIII would be completely cleared of poisons. (I am grateful to Pulitzer-prize winning science writer, Laurie Garrett, for first presenting this awful information in her book The Coming Plague, Penguin.) As I said, by then the gay population was well on its way to being wiped out. One single gay hemophiliac on infected Factor VIII having sex with only one other man on Fire Island in 1975 or so was all it took to get the whole chain rolling. Thanks, Baxter Labs, et al.

I have just discovered that the first cases of AIDS in America were not in gay men. Five cases of extreme immune deficiencies were discovered between 1975 and 1981 in HETEROSEXUAL WOMEN. They were reported by Dr. Henry Masur (et al) then of Cornell now of NIH. For puzzling reasons this report was not published until October 1982. Had this vital information been published, as it should have been, before the July 1981 New York Times report of “Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals,” (and let us not here parse Dr. Altman's repellently loaded and inaccurate constipated homophobic prose in that announcement), HIV/AIDS would not be forever labeled, with such disastrous results, as a gay disease. From this very first announcement in the New York Times, the gay population of the world has been and continues to be targeted for extinction.

Because the world hates homosexuals the world is dying and will continue to die from HIV/AIDS. This plague is the result of a series of individual acts of commission and omission, a huge number of them intentional, which killed people and were committed and continue to be committed by people who knew better. Many of the same people who were around in the beginning are still around committing the same actions today. Perhaps Nuremberg Trials would sort such awful behavior out.

It has proved impossible to get any reputable and honest historian or journalist to write about any of the above. Telling the truth about this plague has so far proved impossible.

Seventy million plus infections later HIV/AIDS is still not called a plague.

Sean Strub, Rodger McFarlane, and Will Schwalbe contributed information.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

SF Board of Supes Condemn Moscow's Antigay Violence

San Francisco's two gay members of the Board of Supervisors, Tom Ammiano and Bevan Dufty, introduced the following resolution on June 13, deploring recent violence perpetrated against gay people in Moscow and calling for acceptance of sexual minorities in Russia.

It pleases me greatly to report the full Board of Supervisors endorsed the resolution, which I hope sends a message to the Russian government and police forces.

Kudos to all of the Supervisors for looking beyond US borders when members of the global gay family are denied full human rights and calling public attention to antigay abuses. If only we had national gay organizations doing likewise, the lives of gays across the planet might improve and gay human rights widely respected.

From the SFGov site:

Board of Supervisors
City and County of San Francisco
Legislative Chamber - Second Floor
City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102-4689

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
2:00 PM

Item # 51:

Condemning the government sanctioned violence at Moscow's first Gay Pride celebration, and urging the Kremlin and Mayor Yuri Luzkhov to foster a culture of tolerance toward Russia's LGBT community.

Resolution condemning the government sanctioned violence and chaos which took place during Moscow's first Gay Pride march, and urging the Kremlin and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzkhov to work toward fostering a culture of tolerance in relation to the LGBT community in Russian society. 6/6/2006, REFERRED FOR ADOPTION WITHOUT COMMITTEE REFERENCE AGENDA AT THE NEXT BOARD MEETING.

Question: Shall this Resolution be ADOPTED?

Yes, it was adopted, unanimously.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

AFP: Photo of Cheney Nodding Off at Iraq Meeting

Remember the photos of Vice President Cheney's catching a catnap during the recent visit to Washington by the leader of China? Well, that wasn't the only time he needed forty-winks at an important public function. Seems likes Cheney had trouble keeping his eyes open during Bush's crucial meeting at Camp David on June 13 for the cabinet:

(Credit: AFP/Jim Watson)

Do you think he snores when he snoozes?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

MAD Skewers Daily Show, Stewart & The Iraq War

That usual gang of idiots over at MAD magazine have managed to put out their latest issue, which arrived in the mail today, and it's full of goofy liberal political skewering of a diverse group of people in the news. From Dubya and Cheney, to Hillary and Pelosi, and even Jon Stewart (!), no one is safe from the wicked barbs of MAD's cartoonists and writers.

MAD makes available online in PDF only the cover image and three pages from the actual print version, and this month one of the PDF pages includes this poke in the ribs directed at the Daily Show and host Jon Stewart:

(Click once on the image and you'll see the PDF version. Click again, and the image expands large enough to read the text.)

The July MAD also has a great two-page spread, Comparing the War in Iraq to Previous Wars, which is not posted on the web, so I've typed the text that accompanies some excellent satirical images.

The intro:

"Someone one said 'History repeats itself.' And this is certainly true. We just repeated what they said, thereby proving their point. Ironic, eh? It's also been said that 'Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it'! Remember that, we won't be telling it to you again! Our point is this: we're out of cliches about history, so why don't you just go ahead and read the following article. And if you find yourself re-reading it in the future, don't be surprised!"

The text of the comparisons, which carry much more political weight when viewed with the cartoons:

"Troops in WWI were defended by foxholes ... Troops in Iraq are defended by Fox News."

"During the Revolutionary War, a young woman named Molly became famous for her pitcher ... During the Iraq War, a dumb woman named Lynndie [England] became famous for her pictures."

"The Korean War was caused by post-WWII instability ... The war in Iraq was caused by post-9/11 gullibility."

"During Vietnam, drafter-dodgers abruptly fled the country ... During Iraq, draft-dodgers corruptly led the country."

"In WWII, the liberation of Paris caused songs and revelry ... In Iraq, the liberation of Baghdad caused bombs and rivalry."

"During WWII, the Reich blamed their problems on the Jews ... During Iraq, the right blames their problems on the news."

"A great image of the Revolutionary War is of Washington on a boat, courageously crossing the Delaware ... A grating image of the Iraq War is of Bush on a boat, outrageously lost and unaware."

"During the Gulf War, the Patriot missile was used to repel our enemies ... During the Iraq war, the Patriot Act is used to repeal our liberties."

So, what are you waiting for? Rush out now and buy the latest MAD magazine at your local newsstand!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Bush: "Strength of Character" Quote Repeated, Repeated, Repeated

Like something from minimalist composers Steve Reich or Philip Glass, two composers whose music I've listened to for years, a quote from President Bush yesterday during his p.r. stunt visit for a few hours to Baghdad sounded terribly familiar.

"I'm impressed by the strength of your character and your desire to succeed. And I'm impressed by your strategy," Bush said about Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.

A quick Googling of Bush's gushing praise returned these recent quotes from our fearless, but often tongue-tied leader.

BUSH: People are going to be amazed at her strength of character and her intellect. [...]

BUSH: But what also matters is the intangibles. To me a person's strength of character counts a lot. And as a result of my friendship with Harriet, I know her strengthen of character. [...]

BUSH: And people will get to see not only her strength of character but will get a sense of her judicial philosophy. [...]

Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference
Courtesy of FDCH/e-Media
Tuesday, October 4, 2005

The reason to honor Martin Luther King is to remember his strength of character and his leadership, but also to remember the remaining work. The reason to honor Mrs. Parks is not only to pay homage to her strength of character, but to remember the ideal of active citizenship.

Office of the Press Secretary
January 16, 2006

Remarks made by Bush at Georgetown University's "Let Freedom Ring" celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Every time I visit with President Uribe I am impressed by his strength of character and his belief in the future of his country. [...]

So Mr. President, thank you for your strength of character and thank you for your friendship and welcome here to the Oval Office.

February 16, 2006
President Bush Welcomes Colombian President Uribe to the White House

Sure, we all very well know Bush is not a particularly bright public speaker and he doesn't articulate his thoughts into words easily, but is it asking too much of his handlers and script writers to come up with a new way for him to say something nice about all the people who so impress him with their strength of character?

Let's hope the latest prime minister for Iraq possesses the strength of character the world saw in Dr. King and Mrs. Parks, and not the kind we saw in Harriet Miers.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

(Ex-Iraqi hostage James Loney, left, with his companion Dan Hunt. Photo credit: Joshua Meles, Xtra! )

Xtra!: Gay Ex-Iraqi Hostage Honored by Toronto Pride Committee

To me and my sometimes media-saturated mind, it feels like it was more than a year ago when two Canadian hostages from the Catholic Workers peace organization, one of whom, James Loney, happened to be gay, were rescued and news circulated around the world about their peace-making efforts and Loney's sexual orientation.

Actually, it was about three shorts months ago when this story was in the media, and now, we learn from Toronto's gay newspaper Xtra! that Loney and his longtime partner Dan Hunt will be honored next week with the Fearless Award from Toronto's Gay Pride committee for their commitment to peaceful advocacy.

From the Xtra! article:

By now, most everyone has heard the story of James Loney. A Canadian activist and Toronto resident, Loney travelled to Iraq in November 2005 on his third delegation to that country with the Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT). Four days into his trip, on Nov 26, he and CPT members -- American Tom Fox, Brit Norman Kember and fellow Canadian Harmeet Singh Sooden -- were kidnapped and held hostage by a group of Iraqis who called themselves the Swords Of Righteousness Brigade.

After four long months, and the murder of Fox, Loney, 41, and his two remaining team members were rescued by a multinational troop led by the British forces on Mar 23 of this year. He returned to Canada where he quickly became a media darling.

Yet there is a hidden piece to this saga. It's a love story really. It's a tale of two men, friends since the late 1970s and lovers for years, who were forced to hide their relationship in the face of intense media scrutiny for fear that the wrong word or a misplaced gesture would cause the kidnappers to kill Loney for being queer. [...]

In an effort to protect Loney's safety, the media, family, friends and CPT cooperated in not releasing any information about his sexual orientation. Hunt stayed hidden, always on the sidelines, never giving media interviews. Articles that Loney had written about their relationship were pulled from the Internet.

"On the second day of my captivity I thought, 'Oh shit, what if they find out I'm gay? What if they Google me?'" says Loney. He projected out a hope that someone at home would think to protect his orientation from being made public, but had a line in his head that he wanted to say if he ever got the chance to send a message publicly: "It's best that we not talk to Dorothy about this." [...]

Yet during Loney's captivity, Hunt was unable to share their love in public. The most frequently published photo of Loney -- the one with his head tilted a little to the side -- is actually a photo of the two of them with Loney's arm around Hunt. Hunt was cropped out.

"I had to utterly disappear, sort of erase myself," says Hunt. Though he had the support of family and friends, it was Loney's parents the prime minister called, not Hunt. [...]

In recognition of Pride Toronto's theme of Fearless, Loney and Hunt are being honoured as recipients of the Fearless award at its second annual gala on Tue, Jun 20.

"It's a healing thing to be seen and acknowledged after for me being in a tomb basically, being in a prison and in handcuffs. Being in terror of being discovered as being gay in that context," says Loney. [...]

I don't find it the least bit surprising that Loney has not quietly faded into the background on peace and social justice issues, even though it would be understandable if he took a break from his activism, after his hostage ordeal. Loney just yesterday was demonstrating for changes in Canada's terrorism statutes.

From the Globe and Mail story today:

[..] Another of Canada's terrorism-fighting provisions, the so-called security certificates that the federal government uses to deport non-citizens accused of terrorist ties, will be challenged at the Supreme Court today.

The five men targeted by such certificates had support yesterday from about a dozen demonstrators who gathered outside the building housing the Prime Minister's Office.

Among them was James Loney, the Christian Peacemaker held hostage earlier this year by anti-western dissidents in Iraq.

It's ironic, said Mr. Loney, that accused people can face indefinite detention in Canada and potential torture if they are eventually expelled.

"That must be terrifying," he said. "I think that would parallel the fear that I felt being in captivity."

Sounds to me like the Fearless Award for Loney and his partner Hunt is well deserved. Congratulations, men! Keep up the fine work.

Monday, June 12, 2006

AARP Mag: Cheney "Snapped My Garters" Says Powell

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is featured on the cover of the new issue of the AARP Magazine, all because he sat down for a wide-ranging interview with the publication for mature Americans.

Powell discusses the standard issues, his upbringing and family, relationship with Bill Clinton and George Bush, the blot on his record because of his speech at the UN that helped get us into the Iraq quagmire, oh and the matter of garters. You read right. Garters.

The former secretary talks about his relationship at times with Dick Cheney and he uses the quaint term "snapped my garters" to describe how Cheney would criticize Powell.

Honestly, I could have lived my life without visualizing Colin Powell wearing garters and Dick Cheney coming up to him and snapping his garters. Please, it was bad enough having to watch and listen to Powell perform the Village People's disco hit "YMCA." For all I know, he was wearing garters under his costume when he sang that golden oldie and getting a thrill from it all. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

From AARP Magazine:

Q: Your career was almost spotless. Does it bother you that your most recent public position was a low note? You've said it was very painful.

A: Yeah, it hurt. Let me point out that the same intelligence I provided that's subject to so much controversy—that's the same intelligence that the Senate and House used four months earlier to vote for a resolution. It's the same information the President thought was accurate after his director of intelligence told him it was a slam dunk. And it was the same kind of intelligence that President Clinton used to bomb Iraq in 1998. But nevertheless there was no spotlight on this issue like the spotlight I had on me at the UN. I wasn't alone in believing those stockpiles were there—our commanders believed they were there, and they were prepared to fight through chemical attacks to get to Baghdad—and our President believed it and Congress believed it. So when it turned out that part of that information was wrong, the spotlight was on me. And I'm disappointed. I'm sorry it happened and wish those who knew better had spoken up at the time. But there isn't anything else I can say about it. When people ask me, "Is this a blot on your record?" Yeah, okay, fine, it's a blot on my record. But do you want me to walk around saying I have a blot on my record every day? I have a blot on my record. There it is. It's there for everybody to see forever.

Yes, and it's quite a bloody red blot too, Mr. Powell. More from the interview:

Q: Okay. But during the first Iraq war you gave some advice and [then Secretary of Defense] Dick Cheney said, "You can't say that, you're not the secretary of state."

A: Yeah, but I did, and kept doing it.

Q: My point is that later, when you were secretary of state, he reportedly ignored your advice and did end runs.

A: That's his privilege as Vice President. He was tough, demanding, and when he thought I was out of line, he snapped my garters. I guess that's not a politically correct thing to say. But when he thought I was out of line he would pull me up short. But guess what? He was my boss! He's supposed to, and let me know where the line is.
(Our gay Russian brother Nikolai Alexeyev, on the left, attempting to stand up for tolerance and equality.)

Gay Russians Open Fiscal Books After Pride March Attempt

Doug Ireland, longtime gay journalist who does more to bring attention to foreign gay human rights abuses than some US organizations, writes on his blog today about the latest troubles facing Nicolas Alexeyev, one of the primary organizers of Moscow's recent attempt to stage a gay rights march last month.

Seems as though other gays in Moscow, led by gay bar owners, have hurled unfounded accusations at Alexeyev and his group:

Moscow Pride 2006 has just published the complete budget for its operations -- showing how it spent its money and where it came from. Nicolas Alexeyev and the Russian organizers of the events took out personal loans to help finance Moscow Pride, despie which it was forced to run up a substantial deficit of nearly 28,000 Euros. Publishing their budget and their sources of financing is a remarkable example of responsible organizational transparency (would that our U.S. gay organizations were as open about their spending.) This was a necessary step, since some gay bar owners with sinister motives have slanderously accused Moscow Pride organizers of pocketing some of the monies.

On the one hand, it's striking that gay struggles in many parts of the world have to contend with bar culture and the sometimes unsavory characters who own the establishments where we gather to socialize, and occasionally organize actions from. Or in the case of the drag queens and street activists at the Stonewall Inn way back when, bars have also been targets of our anger.

On the other hand, kudos to Alexeyev for answering his critics online and also posting a financial accounting of May's aborted gay rights parade. As Ireland points out, we could such accountability and transparency from American groups. Remember the all the questions raised about the Millenium March in Washington in spring of 2000? Some of the questions stilled have not been answered. Oh, well. Such is the American gay way of political organizing.

If our groups want to see how gays in other countries provide fiscal openness linked to parades and organizing, they should have a look at Alexeyev's site and the information shared. Good example of transparency we in the US might want to adopt.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Pet Shop Boys CD Marks Iran's Gay Hangings; Vigils Planned

There is nearly one month's lead time to mark the tragic public hangings of two gay teenagers in Iran last year, and I am organizing a vigil and speak out on Wednesday, July 19, at Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco, from 5:00 - 6:00 pm.

The purpose of the vigil is to demand Iran's leaders respect the human rights of its gay citizens, to remember Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, the two gays hanged and demand an end to the death penalty.

Please join me in publicly standing up on July 19 for gays in Iran and in exile, many of whom face state-sanctioned torture and execution.

If you live the San Francisco Bay Area, make a promise to show up at Harvey Milk Plaza on July 19.

And for people elsewhere around the world, consider organizing a vigil and speak out at your local Iranian embassy or consulate, if one exists where you live. For US gays, actions should be considered at the Iranian mission to the United Nations, 622 Third Avenue, in New York, and at the Pakistani embassy, where Iran maintains an interests desk, 2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW, in DC.

Regardless of whether you live near an Iranian government office, speak outs and actions should can also be held at gay community centers and bars and in gay neighborhoods.

On Wednesday, July 19, what can you do to show solidarity with our Iranian gay and lesbian brothers and sisters?

Send me an email and let me know what you and your local community will be organizing.

I've just learned tonight that the new album from the Pet Shop Boys, "Fundamentalism," includes a song dedicated to Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni. Let's use the song to build strong actions on July 19, okay?

Finally, the email snake below from UK activist and researcher Simond Forbes gives you a sense of where we are right now in getting our global gay act together, especially in the US which does far too little for foreign queers. Thank you, Simond, for motivating me to do something on the first anniversary of the hanging of the gay Iranians.

It's time for gays in US cities to get back in the streets and for our less-fortunate family members abroad.


June 11, 2006

Michael Petrelis organised a demonstration in San Francisco, USA last August against the hangings of Mahmoud and Ayaz (and the death penalty generally) and has been a strong supporter of Iranian LGBT people.

We were just wondering if other events can be organised on the same day in other cities in the world by the PGLO, by COC, by RFSL, by OutRage! by whoever. Of course the PGLO does not have much money and hopefully local groups in various countries will pay the costs of these events (the cost does have to be large though in each place).

As I said they do not have to be big events but they can all be linked together by a public statement of some kind saying what people are doing in different places like London, like San Francisco, like Amsterdam and other cities in the world (Toronto maybe?).

Do you think this is a good idea? An international protest for the anniversary?

Not just about this case - protests about LGBT asylum seekers, protests against other executions and so on. There could be quite a bit of press attention.

I noticed there was supposed to be something happening on the July 19th in the Netherlands according to the PGLO web site. The climax of an asylum campaign.

Farshad Hosseini wrote:-

"I believe the best starting point of the campaign is the 17th of May: the international day against homophobia. Then the 19th of July, the anniversary of the execution of the two gay teenagers in Mashhad, can be thought of as the peak of the campaign, and special events should be organised. We should name this day the international day against homophobia in Iran. Since the campaign starts in mid May and lasts for three months, it will end by late August." wrote:
Dear Simon,
Thank you for your mail, but I did not understand that how we can support and help you?

Sincerely Yours,
Arsham PARSI
Spokes Person &
Secretary of Human Rights Affairs
Persian Gay & Lesbian Organization

----- Original Message -----
From: Simon Forbes
To: ; ; ;
Sent: Thursday, June 08, 2006 7:25 PM
Subject: Fw: Iranian gay hangings anniversary 19th July

Salaam all

Michael Petrelis is asking if the PGLO would support this. Holding events in different places to mark the anniversary of the execution of Mahmoud and Ayaz. My report on the case can come out at the same time (people are more likely to read it at that time).

Events do not have to be very big. Maybe just a small event in each place but involving many cities in the world.

----- Forwarded Message ----
Sent: Thursday, 8 June, 2006 9:26:07 PM

In a message dated 6/8/2006 12:32:53 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

BTW Peter & co are going to launch my report on the case come the anniversary July 19th. He hopes to get a room in the Houses of Parliament but I'm not holding my breath.

Any chance of you organising some event in SF however small for the anniversary?

Do you have a good relationship with Jama by the way? (a key source in my thing)

Be good if it's an international thing. It think the Dutch are doing something.

San Francisco,CA

Thanks for asking if I can get an event organized for the first anniversary of Iran's hangings of the two teenagers.

I've been thinking we need to do something to remind the world of the hangings and I'd be proud to organize a vigil and press conference on July 19 in the Castro, especially if there will be similar remembrances elsewhere around the world.

Having more than a month of lead time would also help me get SF politicians to issue official proclamations and also to get the local community interested.

Maybe if we soon announce a few cities; London, Amsterdam, SF, are planning vigils on July 19, it may motivate gays in other cities to get something organized.

Can we count on an endorsement from the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization and other Iranian gay groups?

By the way, I really hope that gays in NYC and Washington get off their butts and do something on the anniversary. It still irritates me no end that last year when gays around the world were taking to the streets to protest the hangings, gays in NYC and DC did nothing.

I see no reason why gays in those two US cities shouldn't organize actions at the Iranian consulate to the UN in NYC and at the Pakistani embassy in DC, where the Iranian's maintain an interest desk.

I repeat, you can count on me to organize a vigil on July 19 for Iranian gays and against the death penalty.



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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

RawStory: FBI Releases Part of Cheney's File

From a story posted today at RawStory:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has refused to turn over 89 percent of Vice President Dick Cheney's FBI records in response to a request for the records under the Freedom of Information Act.

In all, the bureau has released 112 of 1061 pages reviewed during a two-year investigation following a request by San Francisco blogger Michael Petrelis. Petrelis filed the request prior to the 2004 election. Portions of nearly all pages released have been redacted. [...]

Read the full article at

Monday, June 05, 2006

(Neil Bush, doing what he can to destroy marriage.)

WPost: Neil Bush's Nasty Divorce, Sex w/Prostitutes

So President George W. Bush wants to do all he can to save the supposedly-imperiled institution of marriage from hedonistic homosexuals and our relationships? He's pulling out all the stops to amend the constitution to define marriage as an institution between one man and one woman.

Well, before he's allowed to enshrine his homo-hatred in to the constitution, and save his remaining years in the White House from irrelevance, I wish to remind him of his brother Neil's commitment to his own marriage, and the institution.

The Washington Post, in a somewhat gleeful profile back in 2003, spilled lots of beans on this Bush brother and his apparently normal heterosexual male behavior with his wife and his mistress. Remember these family values details in the Post?

Just how much fun was revealed in a deposition taken last March, during Bush's very nasty divorce battle. Asked by his wife's attorney whether he'd had any extramarital affairs, Bush told the story of his Asian hotel room escapades.

"Mr. Bush," said the attorney, Marshall Davis Brown, "you have to admit that it's a pretty remarkable thing for a man just to go to a hotel room door and open it and have a woman standing there and have sex with her."

"It was very unusual," Bush replied.

Actually, it wasn't that unusual. It happened at least three or four times during Bush's business trips to Asia, he said: "I don't remember the exact number."

"Were they prostitutes?" asked Brown.

"I don't -- I don't know," Neil replied.

"Did you pay them?"


Let me make sure I've got this right on the family values Bush crowd and their family members. It's okay for them to engage in sex with lots women who aren't their wives and to sex with those women, especially when it involves lucrative business deals, right? And when such activities become public as part of divorce proceedings, Dubya has nothing to say about the sanctity of marriage. Did Bush have laryngitis during Neil's divorce?

More from the Post:

Even before the voodoo story and the paternity rumor and the defamation suit about the paternity rumor, Neil Bush's divorce was a candidate for the Nasty Breakup Hall of Fame.

It all began in 2002, when Bush informed his wife -- via e-mail -- that he no longer loved her and wanted a divorce.

At least that's the way Sharon Bush told the story back when she was still talking to reporters. Neil has never discussed the divorce in public, except in that now-famous deposition, in which he described his marriage as "loveless" with "no affection" and "very little sexual activity over the past 10 or 12 years."

Sharon, 51, claimed she was shocked to learn that her husband of 22 years had taken up with Maria Andrews, 40, a volunteer helping Neil's mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, with her correspondence. Andrews is the ex-wife of a Houston oil executive and the mother of three children.

And I am shocked to learn the president's brother may have sired a child outside of his traditional heterosexual marriage. What is America coming to with such behavior by the Bush family?

Now that Dubya has made his speech today about the alleged need to write homo-hatred into the constitution, I hope he picks up the phone, calls Neil and asks how his latest marriage is going.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

BAR v SF Chron: Which Paper Quotes, Includes More PWAs?

Maybe I was being too naive, but I honestly expected San Francisco's Bay Area Reporter to give proper attention to the current needs and issues of people with AIDS when the newspaper put out its "AIDS at 25" edition. But after closely examining the latest BAR, I found just a single PWA quoted by name about anything related to delivery of services. That's right. In a city with thousands of PWAs, the leading gay paper had overwhelming difficulty finding a few to quote.

Let's go over the BAR's stories about AIDS in the city, starting with the lengthy cover article about possibly overhauling AIDS service organizations and how their deliver services, or not, to PWAs. The story starts off well enough, mentioning there are around 19,000 people living with HIV and AIDS, giving me hope some of those thousands will be featured. Two paragraphs later, we're told a "growing chorus of voices -- from the mayor and agency executives to donors and AIDS advocates -- is pushing AIDS service providers to seriously consider merging."

Hmmm, nice list of who's in that chorus, but one category of individuals is missing -- yep, actual clients of AIDS organizations, people with AIDS. And it isn't until paragraph 35 that the BAR brings in a PWA, Troy O'Leary, and quotes him by name. Before we read about O'Leary's concerns, we must first slog through thirty-five paragraphs devoted to the concerns of six or seven HIV negative politicians and bureaucrats. To the paper's credit, it also anonymously quotes a Latino PWA, after giving a small amount of space to O'Leary. Guess we know whose opinions matter more to the BAR when the story is about services for people with the disease.

The BAR has a puff piece about Mark Cloutier's first year as the new executive director of the SF AIDS Foundation and how his $170,000 annual salary may soon rise. Revenue is up to such a degree the agency has hired eight new staffers. No PWAs are quoted.

The BAR must think none of the thousands of foundation clients on the waiting list for a small housing subsidy have nothing to say about Cloutier's salary or anything else about the charity. Who is quoted about Cloutier's one-year tenure and the overall direction of the foundation? Why none other than Michael Weinstein, the director of the LA-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Sure, give Weinstein, from thousands of miles away, the opportunity to weigh in, but that shouldn't be reason to exclude voices of clients with AIDS who may have a complaint or two about how Cloutier spends his foundation's $21 million dollar budget.

As if that puffery isn't enough, the BAR also has a glowing article on the SF AIDS Foundation's week-long Life Cycle fundraising bike ride and the riders. Need I tell you no PWAs are quoted? I'm sure the foundation will be able to use this story to raise more funds.

But those two puff pieces on the SF AIDS Foundation weren't enough for the BAR this week. The op-ed column is by Cloutier of the foundation and is all about how great his organization, and its affiliate, the Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation, are. Of course, no PWAs are quoted by Cloutier, but he does mention his two foundations a total of fourteen times.

Why would the BAR devote two articles and the opinion column space to one group? The answer is found on page 13, where a full-page ad from the SF AIDS Foundation appears. It's long been known in San Francisco's gay and AIDS communities that if you want to guarantee positive coverage in the BAR, it really, really helps if you purchase full-page ads.

Previously, I blogged about this week's editorial, What about PWAs?, and how it doesn't include the voice of a single PWA, and it's worth mentioning again that the editorial forgot about PWAs, despite asking about them in her editorial's title.

Another article about the trials and tribulations of a different service agency, the AIDS Legal Referral Panel, is all about the executive director and what he says are the needs of his clients. No surprises here; no PWAs are quoted.

Interestingly, the headline for that article references the changing face of AIDS, but the BAR didn't run one photo this week of a person with AIDS and his or her face. The BAR's none-too-subtle message? The changing face of AIDS for BAR staffers means rendering PWAs invisible and silent.

Looking at the article on the gay sports movement and how it shines in the face of AIDS, the pattern of not quoting any PWAs continues.

What else? Well, the BAR published a round-up of events commemorating the 25th anniversary of the CDC's first report on the disease, and one of the events listed is for a candlelight vigil in the Castro. You'd never know from reading the BAR, but the vigil is being organized by two PWAs, Hank Wilson and Sister Kitty.

Speaking of long-term survivor Hank Wilson, the BAR runs a story about his work against poppers, under the headline, "Poppers war rages on the Net." A raging war? Who knew? Seems like the same debate about poppers is happening and the BAR may have been stuck for something else to write about in its "AIDS at 25" edition, and an update on Wilson's campaign on poppers was an easy article to churn out.

So how are PWAs doing on their cocktails? Are they pleased with the delivery of services? Do PWAs have any opinions regarding how service organizations spend their money? Do they feel salaries are too high and more money should be diverted to programs like rental subsidies? Is there any dissatisfaction among PWAs about medical care at SF General Hospital? Should more openly identified PWAs have top jobs at the organizations and seats on the boards of directors?

Do not look for answers to these and myriad other questions facing PWAs in the pages of the BAR. And don't think that this week's BAR and it's extensive HIV/AIDS coverage is really all that different from any other week.

And given that today's San Francisco Chronicle has a similar package of news articles, editorials, profiles and photos, the BAR's omissions stand out even more starkly.

Starting with the Chronicle's lead story, PWAs are prominently included in the coverage and pictures. Unlike the BAR, which quoted a single PWA in its cover story, the Chronicle quotes or features four in the photos! Bob Katz, Ross Woodall, DeShawn and Cynthia Bean.

Want to know how a few PWAs are surviving and thriving these days, and presently challenges to science? Read this Chron article and learn some things the BAR isn't interested in.

You can read lots more PWAs quoted and their concerns raised in the pages of the Chronicle by clicking here.

In closing, I wish to cast some shame on the BAR, a community publication, for how it largely omitted PWAs from the paper this week, while the corporate media giant, the Chronicle, managed to locate and include dozens of people living with HIV and AIDS.

It's time for the current staff at the BAR to update their Rolodex's and start putting more PWAs in their paper.

Friday, June 02, 2006

S.F. Has 8,600 PWAs, The Examiner Can't Find One

San Francisco Examiner

Dear Editor:

The latest AIDS statistics from our health department show there are more than 8,600 people living with AIDS in the city. (Source: SF DPH AIDS Epi Report ; page 9, table 9.)

And yet in your June 1 story about the city's official commemoration of the first medical reports twenty-five years ago about a strange new disease, not a single person with AIDS was quoted, raising a few questions.

Were any people with AIDS invited to speak? If they did talk, why did The Examiner not quote them?

As a person with AIDS it always saddens me when San Francisco news outlets and politicians do little or nothing to include people living with AIDS in events such as Mayor Newsom's ceremony at the Herbst Theater on June 1.

While there is nothing wrong with quoting three politicians, and thank goodness we have local politicians who speak out often on AIDS matters, I do wonder why you couldn't locate one person with AIDS to include in your story.

AIDS isn't over, not all people with the disease are dead and The Examiner should do more to make sure the voices of people with AIDS are heard.

Michael Petrelis
Ph: 415-621-6267