Monday, March 31, 2008

SF Chronicle Piles on Embattled
Lesbian Pol Carole Migden

Career politician Carole Migden is someone I've never supported nor voted for. She's just too slimy, for a politician regardless of gender and sexual orientation, on many ethical choices in my opinion. But for decades San Francisco voters have elected her over and over, many times in races where she's faced zero competition.

And for most of her elections and tenure in various offices, the SF Chronicle has rarely held her to account, nor has the paper always reported on her ethical lapses, which are legend in Northern California. Today's Chronicle, with three separate things on her latest troubles, seems like compensation for the years of treating her with soft cushy gloves over the course of her political tenure.

Starting in the national news section, the Chronicle notes she didn't get the state Democratic Party's endorsement over the weekend:
State Sen. Carole Migden's growing campaign finance problems caught up with her Sunday when delegates to the California Democratic Party's convention overwhelmingly refused to endorse her for re-election.

Migden, who's locked in a tough three-way race with San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno and former San Rafael Assemblyman Joe Nation for the San Francisco/Marin County/Sonoma County Senate seat, managed to grab the local endorsement Saturday after a raucous campaign that saw chanting crowds of competing supporters marching through the San Jose convention center.

While the convention delegates typically quickly ratify the local endorsements, Leno, who has been running against Migden for more than a year, managed to collect more than enough signatures Saturday night to force the entire convention to vote on the endorsement.

That was bad news for Migden. While the former San Francisco supervisor has plenty of friends in her district from her years as local party chair and her time in the state Assembly and on the state Board of Equalization, her history of driving problems and financial troubles didn't play well with delegates from elsewhere in the state. [...]
Then in the Chronicle political gossip column in the local section, readers are again told about her troubles at the state Democratic convention:
Not only was the rejection an embarrassment, but the vote also cut off one of the last big sources of money the embattled Migden was counting on in her two-front fight against fellow Democratic rivals Leno and former Assemblyman Joe Nation.

Migden - who is running third in the polls - was already under the gun after the state's Fair Political Practices Commission nixed her using $1 million in the June primary that she had raised in earlier races.

Migden and her allies in the state Senate had hoped to make up the campaign cash loss by indirectly pumping about $1.5 million into the race through the Democratic Party. But they needed the party endorsement for the play to work, and Leno pulled out all the stops to block it. [...]

Either way - Leno comes out ahead.
And finally, in the only editorial in the Chronicle today, Migden is slammed for many misjudgments, including a federal lawsuit that could undo state law holding political to fair practices regarding their campaign funds:
Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, is facing two formidable challengers in the June primary, Assemblyman Mark Leno of San Francisco and former Assemblyman Joe Nation of Marin County.

But long after the Democratic nomination for Senate District 3 is settled, the most significant legacy of this hotly contested primary may be what it does to some of the most well-established principles of California's campaign finance laws.

If Migden prevails, she could have an extra $647,000 to pour into the homestretch of her race against Leno and Nation. But to do so, Migden and her attorneys will have to blow up a 27-year-old state law that regulates what departing legislators can do with "surplus" campaign funds. [...]

Tuesday's hearing will be on Migden's lawsuit against the FPPC, in which her attorney argues that the requirement that she needed to transfer the funds to a new account before leaving the Assembly was "arbitrary." She also contends that restrictions on the use of her surplus funds violate her First Amendment rights to communicate with voters.

Each argument is nonsense. [...]

Migden's characterization of the restrictions on surplus funds as a First Amendment issue is simply absurd. Americans do not have a constitutional right to spend money that is not, by definition, their own.

This case is worth watching, beyond its ramifications on Migden's re-election. We trust the U.S. District Court will see through her arguments of desperation to uphold these basic tenets of modern campaign finance law.
Whether she's behind the wheel operating a motor vehicle erratically and jeopardizing other people on the road, or misusing hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars, Migden is the epitome of a corrupt, out-of-control politician who should retire from public office. That is very likely to happen after June's primary.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

600 Polish Intellectuals Apologize
to US Gays For Prez's Homophobia
(Brendan Fay at Warsaw's airport, surrounded by Polish media.)
Lots of news to share today from Poland about US gay couple Brendan Fay and Tom Moulton's visit to Warsaw, but before we get to the news, I have to pose some questions.

When was the last time hundreds of American intellectuals signed a letter opposing the homophobic policies of George W. Bush? What about even dozens of intellectuals collectively standing together for gay equality? I can't recall such things happening here. Is my mind forgetting a recent occasion when American thinkers did something comparable to what Polish intellectuals did this weekend?

Now let's get to the gay news from Poland this morning. From the German Press Agency news wire:
Warsaw - Polish intellectuals publicly apologized Friday to a gay US couple for being offended by the anti-gay propaganda of Polish President Lech Kaczynski. Kaczynski on March 17 used images of the wedding of Brendan Fay and Thomas A. Moulton, a gay couple from New York, in a TV speech warning against gay rights as enshrined in the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights.

According to the paper Dziennik, 600 signatories - among them writer Olga Tokarczuk and sociologist Ireneusz Krzeminski - signed a letter saying they were embarrassed by Kaczynski's speech, assuring the US-couple of their support and solidarity.

Poland's president warned that the adoption the charter by Poland could undermine Catholic morals and strengthen the rights of displaced ethnic Germans. [...]
This story is from the Polish Radio network:
A gay couple from New York, Brendan Fay and Thomas Moulton, whose images were used in a recent TV address by Polish President Lech Kaczynski, have arrived in Warsaw. Brendan Fay is to meet tomorrow with Ryszard Kalisz, a leader of the leftist coalition in the Parliament. He will also address a press conference at the Centre against Homophobia. [...]

In a Sunday TV debate, a leader of the ruling Civic Platform said the government is against the legalization of gay partnerships. A leader of the leftist coalition spoke in favour of such a move.
And finally, TVN 24 Polish News has posted a video of the media frenzy that greeted Brendan and Tom upon arrival at Warsaw's airport. Click here to view the video and read the story, in Polish, about the couple's visit.

Here's an excerpt from the print story, with a quote from Brendan, saying something pro-gay, I'm believe, and translated into Polish:
Brendan Fay i jego mąż przylecieli do Polski. Geje, których wizerunki wykorzystano w prezydenckim orędziu, postanowili wyrazić solidarność z polskimi homoseksualistami. Fay chce także spotkać się z Lechem Kaczyńskim.

- Jesteśmy tu by wyrazić solidarność z gejami i lesbijkami w Polsce oraz ustosunkować się do prezydenckiego wystąpienia - powiedział zaraz po wylądowaniu na warszawskim Okęciu Fay. Jak mówił, on i jego partner chcą zapoznać się z sytuacją homoseksualistów w Polsce i "usłyszeć ich historie". - Chcę także podzielić się z nimi naszą (historią) - tłumaczył. [...]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Polish TV Flying US Gay Couple to Warsaw
I received word tonight from Tomasz Szypula, spokesman for the Campaign Against Homophobia, one of Poland's gay political organizations, that Brendan Fay and Tom Moulton, the US gay couple whose wedding is being used by Poland's president to spread hate and fear of same-sex loving people, are traveling to Warsaw this weekend.

To get more information on their trip, I called Brendan at home. He gave me the scoop. He have been invited by a Polish TV network to come and appear on a program, all expenses paid by the network. Brendan and Tom touch down in Warsaw on Saturday morning.

In addition to being guests on the TV show, they will be meeting with gay activists and with the staff of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights,
and also attending church.

I think just the fact that Polish TV is picking up the tab to bring a gay married couple from the US to Warsaw to address the president's outrageous demonizing of their wedding vows will be news, but if it isn't, I'm sure the press will be mightily interested in covering gays, both Polish and Irish-American, going to Catholic church. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I don't think there are many openly gay Catholics participating in worship services in Warsaw.

To reach Brendan and Tom during their trip, use this email address: . And I'm working on getting the cell phone numbers of Polish gays who speak English and will be networking with the couple, so bloggers and reporters can speak with them and write about all the actions that will be happening over the weekend.

The US couple return home on Wednesday, and will surely get much-needed rest after a whirlwind trip to Europe, standing in solidarity with Polish gays on the streets and in the churches and legislative chambers.

A word about Lukasz Palucki, the young gay activist in the photo below. He's been a enthusiastic organizer in the demonstrations for Iranian gays and other calls for global gay advocacy. He send thanks to all who've expressed solidarity with gays in his country. Lukasz is a committed and dynamic human rights supporter who needs our support. Click here and visit his blog.

[UPDATE: March 28]

An email arrived overnight from a Polish gay leader who speaks English, providing me with his phone number, which is the contact phone number for Brendan and Tom, during their Warsaw visit. I'm honored to play a small role in making this weekend a success for the Polish gay community.

My name is Greg Czarnecki from the Campaign Against Homophobia. I'm working together with Tomek Szypula on the "issue" related to Fay, the presidential address and Fay's visit to Poland.

I want to thank you for writing your piece on your blog about us. Please feel free to contact me as well on this issue as we imagine we'll have a very busy and action-packed days ahead of us!


Phone: +48 504 503 527

Gregory Czarnecki
Koordynator projektu/Project Coordinator
Monitoring Dyskryminacji Osób LGBT w Polsce/Monitoring LGBT Discrimination in PL
Kampania Przeciw Homofobii/Campaign Against Homophobia

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hillary Missing From
Clinton Oral History Project?
As bloggers, pundits and reporters wait to see if Hillary Clinton keeps her promise to finally release her tax returns in the coming week, and we anticipate learning what is the returns, I had a look today at the latest IRS 990 filing, for FY 2006, for the William Clinton Foundation, just to see what his foundation reported to the federal tax authorities.
First off, I was surprised to see a total of $135.8 million reported in the direct public support category, because it's a significant increase from the same figure in 2005, which was $80 million, and represents a 40% jump in donations. That's quite an expansion of revenue for a non-profit.
Secondly, I noticed the list of groups that received funding from the foundation included a $192,200 grant to the Oral History Project on the Clinton Presidency, housed at the University of Virginia.
Putting aside snarky thoughts about Monica Lewinsky's, um, contributions to the project, I visited the project's web site.
The Clinton Presidential History Project involves an extensive program of in-depth oral history interviews with key individuals in and outside the White House during the Clinton years. To date we have held interviews with more than seventy individuals, among them Samuel Berger, Warren Christopher, Lloyd Cutler, Thomas Foley, John Hilley, Harold Ickes, Christopher Jennings, Mickey Kantor, Anthony Lake, Jack Lew, Mack McLarty, Roy Neel, Leon Panetta, John Podesta, Janet Reno, Alice Rivlin, Lawrence Stein, and Lawrence Summers.

Very impressive list of the big power-wielders from the Clinton administration, but one name I expected to be on it is missing -- Hillary's. I don't know if she's been interviewed for the project and the foundation simply left her off the list, or if the project only involves White House staff and cabinet appointees. Just seems odd Hillary's name is not on the list, but I should be careful not to read too much into the omission.

Miller Center transcripts will be released after the interviews are completed several years hence . . . A complete listing of the transcripts will appear on this web site at the time of release.

Regardless of Hillary not being on the list of people interviewed thus far, it seems totally in keeping with Bill and Hillary Clinton's allergies to basic transparency standards, like the failure of not providing their recent tax returns for public inspection, that more than seven years after they left the White House, completed oral interviews with staff have not been transcribed and shared with the public.

And forget about the Clinton Foundation allowing itself to be pinned down with a firm date, heck, even a year, of when they intend to have the transcripts ready for release.

Sure would be great of the foundation, and the Clintons, to make transparency a key component to Hillary's bid for the Oval Office.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Solidarity With Polish Gays;
Photos Needed
At today's Easter service at my house of worship, St. Francis Lutheran Church, I asked for volunteers to be photographed holding sign reading "Solidarity With Polish Gays" during coffee hour after mass.
Now is the time to show all of Poland that Polish gays enjoy the solidarity of friends and supporters in the US, and one way to engage in solidarity is through sharing pictures on the web, I said to the congregation.
During coffer hour, friends approached and asked to have me snap photos of them holding the signs, and I happily obliged. Apologies for the few fuzzy images. My camera malfunctioned, but regardless of them being slightly out of focus, I've included them.
On Monday, March 24, one of the American gays in the video, longtime activist Brendan Fey, and Polish gay leader Danial Domagala will appear at a news conference at the New York offices of Human Rights Watch, an event which should generate media attention domestically and abroad.
And this week could turn into one in which gay people and human rights supporters express public solidarity with Poland's very brave gay community, with the participation of just a handful of people.
I'm asking everyone to create a sign, in any language, with the simple yet powerful message of "Solidarity With Polish Gays!" Then gather with friends, take a great photo of yourselves with the message, and send me one photo, which I'll add here.
Let's all show our gay family in Poland, and the country's divisive and homophobic politicians, widespread support for Polish gays and their struggling campaign for acceptance, equality and basic human love.
So send me a photo, please!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sup. Mirkarimi: Persian New Year Party,
Tonight at SF City Hall
(Dancers performing at the 2007 Persian New Year party in the rotunda of SF's City Hall. Photo courtesy of Luke Thomas, of Fog City News.)
There's always an art reception and party on the third Friday of every month at Ross Mirkarimi's office in City Hall. Ross, who's of Russian and Iranian heritage, a leader in the Green Party and a straight man who stands in solidarity with gays and lesbians in Iran.

He easily and graciously rings together a beautiful tapestry of different citizens at the parties. I try to make it to as many of his reception as possible because of the mix of people, the arts, and lots of political banter.
But tonight's reception is a tad out of the ordinary and more special for people like me who want to learn more about Persian culture, in that it falls near a major holiday for Iranian people. I'm going to Ross's party tonight and it will be the first time I'm joining in a celebration of Persian New Year, and I hope it's the first of many for me.

So, if you're in the area of San Francisco's City Hall this evening, come by Ross's digs and have some fun!

Here's the lowdown:
Third Friday Art Party: Celebrate Persian New Year with Supervisor Mirkarimi

This event is free and open to the general public.

What: Nowruz Deed-o Bazdeed Celebration
When: Friday, March 21st, 5:30pm to 8:00pm
Where: Supervisor Mirkarimi's office
Room 282 at City Hall
Van Ness Ave. between McAllister and Grove Streets

Please come to the first annual Nowruz Deed-o Bazdeed with Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi at his office in San Francisco City Hall. Deed-o Bazdeed means to exchange visits with friends and family signifying the first12 days of the Persian New Year celebration. On Friday March 21st, we will serve Chai (tea) and Shirini (Persian Sweet) while visiting each other in the customary tradition of Nowruz.

The event also features the art work of three popular Iranian Artists representing Iranian themes and the Persian New Year: Nasser Ovissi: Born in Tehran, 1934, Ovissi is one of the most popular painters inside and outside Iran; Zaman Zamani is one of the most popular mixed media artists inside and outside Iran; and Mohammad Hourian: Born in Hamedan, Iran, the capital of ancient Persia, 1955.

Mr. Hourian was the youngest artist to be elected to the Iranian National Academy of Fine Arts, at age 20. The works of these artists will be on display for one month.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gay HRC PR Boss Gives Maximum
to Candidate HRC

The Human Rights Campaign, an organization seen by many gay voters and pundits as the gay wing of the Democratic Party, is officially neutral in the 2008 presidential race and hasn't yet endorsed either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama for the White House.
Given that former HRC executive director Elizabeth Birch campaigned for Clinton in New Hampshire this year, and powerhouse HRC board member Hilary Rosen, former head of the Recording Industry Association of America, has endorsed and donated to Clinton, and a high number of other leaders of the group have followed Birch and Rosen's example, it's easy to see why HRC, the group, is seen as being in candidate HRC's pocket.
Now, add another name to the list of HRC's top executives who've donated money to Clinton's campaign.

David M. Smith, the organization's vice president of programs, including their enormous communications department, recently contributed the maximum allowable donation for the primary race -- $2,300 -- to Senator Clinton. Smith's monetary gift for Clinton was made on January 15, according to newly released Federal Election Commission files.
With Smith's large donation in mind, I just don't see how HRC can claim their 2008 presidential operations and media advocacy, two fields controlled by Smith, are not biased in favor one Democratic candidate over the other.
The Smith donation to Clinton is one more piece of evidence, in my eyes, that HRC is a group that very much would like to see her win the nomination.
There's nothing wrong with a gay advocacy organization and the staffers supporting their favored candidate for the White House. I simply wish HRC would come out of the closet about being Hillary Clinton backers.
Smith, David M
Washington , DC 20002
Human Rights Campaign/Communication

Gay Families Needed for White House
Easter Egg Roll
It's that time of the year again when gay families participate in a great American tradition -- Easter candy hunting and egg rolls on White House lawn. Just like kids with straight parents who attend the festivities, the children from gay families will soon be visiting their dentists after eating so many sugary treats, but I digress from my main point, recruiting gay families for the event:
The Family Equality Council is excited to encourage you to be a part of a White House tradition by participating in the White House Easter Egg Roll on March 24, 2008. [...]
The day is full of activities, candy, and family fun. As many of you already know, in 2006 Family Equality Council participated proudly into this tradition with hundreds of LGBTQ parents and their children—while all wearing colorful leis around their necks. This event got incredible media coverage and gave America to see the beautiful reality of our families. [...]
With your help, on March 24th, LGBTQ-parented families will fill the White House Lawn, rolling eggs side by side with our fellow citizens.
So how can gay families get tickets for this fun-filled day? The Office of First Lady Laura Bush provides the answer:

The National Park Service will distribute free tickets on two dates for entry to the South Lawn. The majority of tickets will be available beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 22, and a small allotment of tickets will be available beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, March 24. The tickets, which are timed for entrance, will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion (southwest corner of 15th and E Streets). A maximum of five tickets will be issued per person. Children of all ages are welcome to attend, as long as there is at least one child seven years old or under and no more than two adults per group. Tickets are required for every attendee, including small children, to enter the White House South Lawn. No tickets are necessary for access to the events on the Ellipse.

For the most up-to-date information on the Easter Egg Roll and other public events at the White House, please call the Visitors Office 24-hour information line at (202) 456-7041.

No word from the White House on whether lesbian moms Mary Cheney and Heather Poe will be bringing their 10-month-old son Samuel David Cheney to the Easter egg roll. It would be a step forward for all LGBT families if the Cheney/Poe family were part of the egg roll.
The director of the visitor's office, Amy Allman, will be hosting an online "Ask the White House" session tomorrow. I've submitted an advance question to her and hope you'll do the same. Click here to submit a question.
Let's use this opportunity to promote the very worthy cause of full and equal treatment in American life for gay families.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

NY Governor Paterson's Wife's
Blue Jacket Revealed Affairs?
If there's a law requiring politicians' wives to wear pale blue jackets at news conferences when their husbands' disclose extramarital affairs, gay liaisons, or arrests for pursuing bathroom sex, someone forget to explain the law to Michele Paige Paterson, newly-minted First Lady of New York.
When her husband, David Paterson, the Empire State's new luv guv, admitted on Tuesday at a press briefing that he and his wife had both engaged in romances outside of their heterosexual marriage vows, Michele dutifully stood at his side wearing a deep black jacket.

But look at her outfit on Monday, when her husband was sworn in as governor.

The image above very much reminds me of the attire worn by Silda Spitzer, Suzanne Craig and Dina McGreevey when they faced the cameras and scandal-hungry reporters with their husbands. Notice a striking similarity in these photos?

I'm sure Michele Paige Paterson dressed in her pale blue jacket on Monday simply because she liked it. But do you think with the power of hindsight, we can see her blue jacket as a possible pre-emptive signal? Only political fashionistas know for sure.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Polish President Injects Married
US Gay Activist into EU Legal Battle
(Brendan Fay, on the left, marrying his
partner Tom, on the right.)

The longtime gay American activist of many righteous causes and previous media attention, Brendan Fay, originally from Ireland, is making international news today because his gay wedding is of concern to the president of Poland.
This is the first alert I received on Brendan's latest campaign via the Gays Without Borders group on Yahoo from Lukazd Palucki, a young Polish gay blogger and advocate:
Yesterday Polish president Lech Kaczynski sent a video to Polish TV where he said that he will NOT support "Lisbon Treaty" (this document will change rules in UE). He said that this "Lisbon Treaty" will push Poland to "gay marriages".
1. This treaty (unfortunately) won't change anything with gay civil partnership law.
2. Few months ago Lech Kaczynski said that this treaty is his great success (now he change his mind because his twin brother's party is in opposition).
But this is not the end. Kaczynski used in this video photo of two gays during civil marriage ceremony. It was ceremony in Canada, Toronto. (This is not even connected with Europe). Today all Polish media wrote that one of this gays (citizen of USA) is very angry that Kaczynski use this video without his permission.
The second thing I received today related to Brendan and the trouble and attention his gay wedding is attracting by head of a European country, came from a reporter in the U.S., who I quickly put in touch with Brendan:
My name is Marcin Poznan and I am a reporter at the "Polish Daily News" which is a Polish-language newspaper published in New York.
Recently, pictures Mr. Fay's marriage in Toronto were used without his knowledge to illustrate anti-gay statements in Polish president's public address. In my opinion this is an outrageous act by Polish authorities.
I know that Mr. Fay is planning to submit an official protest at Polish consulate in New York. I am hoping you will be able to put me in touch with him. We will gladly interview him and publish the content of his written protest.
I am looking forward to your help.
And the day closes, after doing a Google news search for stories on Brendan, with a story from Warsaw on the Agence France-Presse wire.
The AFP headline alone, Gay Spouse Outraged by Polish President's Use of Wedding Video, did much to advance global gay equality, by using the term gay spouse in such a matter-of-fact manner and without quotation marks.

A gay man from the United States on Tuesday voiced outrage against Poland's President Lech Kaczynski for publicly using a video of his marriage to bash the EU's proposed charter of rights.

"Of course I am outraged that the president and his party would use images of Tom and I, of a very sacred moment for us as a couple," Brendan Fay told Poland's commercial Radio Zet broadcaster.

Kaczynski used a prime-time televised address Monday to argue the EU's proposed Charter of Fundamental Rights, linked to the bloc's crucial reforming Lisbon Treaty, could allow homosexual marriage in Poland, a devoutly Catholic country.

A video of the couple's marriage in Toronto, Canada was broadcast nationwide to illustrate Kaczynski's presidential address. Fey and his spouse were not identified by name in the broadcast.

"It is very sad for me when leaders of a nation such as the president of Poland urge people not to support the Lisbon Treaty because of the possibility of recognising equally same sex couples and our families," Fay told Radio Zet. [...]

Poland's liberal Prime Minister Donald Tusk also slammed the president's address Tuesday.

"To scare Poles by saying that homosexuals and Germans pose a threat to the EU is stupid, indecent, contrary to our fundamental interests and very damaging to Poland's image abroad," Tusk said. [...]

I don't think the president of Poland could have found a better gay advocate to do battle with than Brendan, and I'm grateful Brendan is such a fierce fighter for solidarity with Polish gays and lesbians, full equality and democracy for all.
Click here to watch the Polish president inject a loving gay wedding ceremony into his misguided and hateful campaign of discrimination.
State Dept Human Rights Report
Expands Gay/HIV Citations
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance is a local advocacy organization based in Washington, DC, and in addition to creating change at the municipal level, members of the group also devote substantial amounts of time and energy to global gay issues.
Back in 1991, the then-president of GLAA, Barrett Brick, along with Margaret Cantrell and myself representing ACT UP/DC, held a meeting at the U.S. State Department headquarters with the author of that year's annual human rights report.
We asked for the meeting because of a single gay-specific reference, and we wanted to learn how to coordinate with the department to expand gay references in future reports. Needless to say, because of many advocates and organizations, the gay citations have greatly increased since then.
For the past couple of years, GLAA's vice president for political affairs, Rick Rosendall, has culled every gay and HIV/AIDS reference from the yearly human rights survey, and posted them on the GLAA site. So now people interested in these references, instead of having to read through every country's section, can locate all of the pertinent references on a single web page.
Here is a note from Rick about the increasing number of country reports that mention gays and people with AIDS in the yearly survey, with a link to the 2007 extracts:

I have gone through the individual pages of the U.S. State Department's
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007 (released on March 11), and extracted the LGBT- and HIV/AIDS-related items into a single file organized alphabetically by country.

Here's the link.

In the Related Links box on the upper right of that page you will also find links to the similar extracts I did for the previous two years, as well as to relevant web sites.

As usual, I will write a column discussing highlights in the next week or so, but I wanted to post the extracts as soon as possible.

As one indication of progress in the State Department's information gathering on LGBT- and HIV/AIDS issues: In the reports for 2005, I found relevant items under 105 countries. For 2006, the number rose to 142 countries. For 2007, the number has risen to 189 countries (by my quick count).

I just printed a copy, and at 9-point type for the body text the extract goes to 81 pages. This is far less than the thousands of pages of the full State Department Country Reports.
I want to offer lots of well-deserved praise to Rick, for he has done all gay and human rights advocates a tremendous and valuable service in extracting the citations and making them available on GLAA's easy to navigate site.
The many gay and HIV/AIDS items in the latest report are crucial to helping LGBT people fleeing persecution in their native countries gain asylum in more gay- and HIV-tolerant nations, and can be used by local and global advocates to generate much-needed attention on the setbacks and advances of human rights practices for gays and AIDS patients around the globe.
I hope other bloggers, along with gay and mainstream reporters, use the publication of the new State Department report and GLAA's extracts as the hooks for blog entries and stories about what's included or omitted this year.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Columbia Professor: Iran Charging

Gays with Rape, Pedophilia

An important article for everyone concerned with human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran appeared on March 6 in the Columbia Spectator, but I don't think it received the attention it justly deserves in the gay and human rights communities, which is why I'm sharing excerpts here.

It's not simply that the professor is talking about the incredibly rich and somewhat accepting attitude of gays in Persian culture and life that is noteworthy, but rather it is her stating how Iran's government is going after gays and under a variety of charges.

This is something to always bear in mind when reports surface out of Iran these days of pending executions and trials involving gays, even when our brothers and sisters may not always be charged with gay-specific crimes.

From the Spectator story:

Five months after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Columbia there are no homosexuals in Iran, Dr. Janet Afary argued otherwise Wednesday evening in the International Affairs building.

“Are There Homosexuals in Iran?” was one part of a five-lecture-long series on Iran organized by the School of International and Public Affairs and the Middle East Institute of Columbia University. It was planned in response to both University President Lee Bollinger’s wish to increase campus awareness on the Islamic Republic of Iran and the recent rise in student interest in Iranian issues. [...]

In his speech, the Iranian president denied that there are homosexuals in Iran. Although later reports pointed out that this translation is not entirely accurate, his comment was one of the most quoted of the event.

Afary, who has a doctorate in modern Middle Eastern history from the University of Michigan, has done extensive research on Iran-related topics for her upcoming book, Sexual Politics in Modern Iran. [...]

Her lecture focused mainly on the evolution of the culture and tolerance of homosexuality in Iran. She began by discussing the rich history of Iranian homosexual relationships dating back to medieval Persia, where older men of high status would couple with younger, lower-class men. Such relationships, she said, were recognized and even condoned, as long as they were kept discreet and did not interfere with socially recognized marriages.

Although Islamic law has always explicitly prohibited homosexuality, actual social practices have not always strictly adhered to it, and homosexuality has been thoroughly documented in both European memoirs and Persian accounts.

Afary emphasized that although homosexuality has increasingly been seen as a deviant behavior in Iran, Ahmadinejad’s presidency has marked a drastic shift in the attitude of the Iranian government toward homosexual “offenders.” According to her, Ahmadinejad’s Iran has been “actively pursuing” homosexuals and prosecuting them for crimes such as pedophilia and rape in order to provide additional reasons for entrapment and persecution.

“The state is trying to not recognize Iran’s gay community,” Afary said, “but time is not on their side. It’s inevitable.” [...]

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Queer Beat Poet Harold Norse's
North Beach Reading on March 16Harold Norse, the legendary queer beat poet, political activist and writer, will make a rare public appearance this Sunday, March 16, starting at 2:00 pm at the Beat Museum, 540 Broadway, in North Beach. He will be introduced by his good friend and fellow poet Neeli Cherkovski.
When Harold spoke last July at the Beat Museum, so many of his admirers came out to hear him that it was a standing room only occasion. I was there and the reading was truly a unique "only in San Francisco" event, brimming with colorful local characters proud of our off-beat culture and writers.
Come out this Sunday and join the special celebration of Harold's long life and many books. This icon of the queer community and literary world is a spry 91-years-old. He's also an entertaining story-teller and he deserves the veneration of an appreciative audience.
Here are excerpts from the Beat Museum's biography of Harold:
Born 1916, New York City. B.A., Brooklyn College 1938; M.A., New York University 1951. At age 22 in 1939 he became a member of W. H. Auden's inner circle, cited by scholar/critic Nicholas Jenkins in The New Yorker, April 1, 1996. William Carlos Williams called him "the best poet of your generation." The 10-year correspondence between Norse and Williams (1951-1961) was published by Bright Tyger, San Francisco 1990. [...]
That year City Lights published Norse's Hotel Nirvana: Selected Poems, establishing him among the leading Beat poets. He was nominated for the 1974 National Book Award.

Norse lived in the "Beat Hotel" in Paris, 1960-63, with William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso. There he wrote his experimental cut-up novel, Beat Hotel, published in German by Maro Verlag, Augsburg 1973, now in its 30th printing. [...]

With Carnivorous Saint: Gay Poems 1941-1976, Gay Sunshine Press 1977, Norse became the leading gay liberation poet. His Memoirs of a Bastard Angel (William Morrow), 1989, preface by James Baldwin, further established his reputation. [...]

Norse has produced 12 books of poetry and 3 of prose. He has received 2 NEA poetry grants and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Poetry Association.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

NYT Omits Rolling Stone's
Wenner's Obama Donations

(Rolling Stone's openly gay owner Jann Wenner.)

This excerpt is from a March 3 story in the New York Times on US Weekly, headlined "After Ribbing Clinton, Fawning Over Obama":
Hillary Rodham Clinton is a fashion victim, but Barack Obama? Oh, he’s a good dancer, a cool dad, a regular guy who likes ice cream and chili, and who happens to be a pal of Bono and George Clooney even though he isn’t impressed by celebrity.

At least, that’s the view from Us Weekly. [...]

So with Mrs. Clinton’s campaign complaining that she gets grilled by the media and he gets hero worship, is Us Weekly’s treatment a case of media bias? [...]

Us Weekly is owned by Wenner Media, publisher of Rolling Stone, which published a profile of Mr. Obama last year but has not had an article about Mrs. Clinton in this campaign. Jann S. Wenner, the company’s chairman, and Rolling Stone opposed the Iraq war, and people close to Mr. Wenner say he soured on Mrs. Clinton when she voted to authorize the war.
Not only did he sour on her, he sweetened Obama's campaign war-chest wish cash infusions.
What the Times omitted was mention of Wenner's $3,000 in donations to Obama in 2007:


Clinton and her team of media advisers aren't likely to see any favorable coverage on her in any of Wenner's publications in the near future. And the Times would have made a stronger argument for bias from US Weekly's owner, if it had reported on Wenner's FEC files.
New Gay Leather Bar Opening in SF
(The old My Place bar at 1225 Folsom Street, which will soon reopen as Chaps II.)
Gay bars have been dying ever since the New York City cops raided the Stonewall Inn back in June 1969.
In recent years, much cruising and social networking has migrated from the bars to the web, and some pundits point to the recent shuttering of gay bars in a few locations across America as proof that gay bar culture is supposedly dying.
But a new gay bar is soon opening for business in San Francisco, catering to the leather and S/M crowds. No date has been announced for the opening of Chaps II, but the bar owners have a help wanted ad in today's Bay Area Reporter.
New leather & gear bar opening in SOMA on Folsom. Hiring bartenders, bar backs, door/security. Accepting applications and conducting interviews on SATURDAY MARCH 8th from 10:30am to 4:30pm at 1225 Folsom between 8th & 9th. Must fill out an application & submit references. For more information email info(at)ChapsBarSanFrancisco(dot)com. An equal opportunity employer for all the gear pigs out there.
The owner of the new bar, David Morgan, is founder of the Men in Gear organization, and if you click here, you'll find lots of information on the organization and updates on the opening of Chaps II.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

No DPH Forum on Falling Gay STDs,
Appeal to Politicians for a Hearing

Supervisor Tom Ammiano
Supervisor Bevan Dufty
Assemblymember Mark Leno
Dear Supervisors Ammiano and Dufty, and Assemblymember Leno,
As you may know, the SF Department of Public Health recently reported that sexually transmitted diseases in the gay male community are dramatically declining, as are meth-related ER visits. Those declines come at a time when the city's gay HIV infection rate is certainly endemic and possibly going down. I think we can all agree the falling figures are welcome developments for overall gay health.
But despite the good gay health news, DPH has informed me they have no plans to hold public forums about the STD rates falling by double-digits. I believe such forums should take place to examine why the rates are dropping, congratulate gay men for bringing the declines about, and propose ways to keep the numbers going down.
In the course of 25-plus years of the AIDS crisis here, DPH has seized upon every increase in HIV or any STD, or signs meth abuse is rising, or indications safe sex practices are not effective at preventing infections, to issue alarming press releases and generate front-page news.
Of course, when the numbers are climbing, DPH pulls out all the stops to discuss the problem. Town hall meetings are held, full-page ads appear in the gay press, and the community is encouraged to speak with DPH and address the surging numbers.
But when there are several positive developments in the control of STDs and HIV, and an important meth-abuse indicator is plummeting, the gay community receives the silent treatment from DPH.
I am asking each of you to organize a joint local/state government hearing about the declines, with DPH HIV and STD prevention experts invited to testify, for several purposes.
First, to educate the gay community about the lowered infection rate. Second, to hear reasons why the rates are dropping. Are the declines due to effective social marketing, expanding testing, safer sex practices?
Third, we need a forum to offer much-needed positive reinforcement of the factors in the gay community responsible for the declines.
If I may digress for a moment, I'd like to raise the rhetorical question of what would Harvey Milk do about this situation? With the filming of "Milk" taking place on our streets and at City Hall, I've wondered if Harvey Milk would be satisfied with DPH's unwillingness to engage the community on significant and welcome developments regarding gay health.
Would he accept no public forums? Work to overcome DPH's business as usual complacency? I'd like to think he would use his position and clout to shine some light on the falling numbers.

Below is the email from DPH stating it will not be holding any forums on the drops.

I hope you all will help end DPH's silence on the decreasing STDs, HIV and meth-related ER visits.

Best regards,

Eileen Shields

Dear Ms. Shields,

The DPH preliminary STD stats for 2007 show remarkable declines, reported
in the January monthly STD report.

I have blogged about the falling STD numbers and the DPH monthly report on
my site.

My question for DPH is, will the STD branch or any part of DPH hold public
forums with the gay community about the declining infections rates, why the
fall is happening, and how to keep the numbers going down?

A reply is requested.

Michael Petrelis
There are currently no plans to hold public forums on the topic you have
identified. If and when that changes, we will disseminate this information

Eileen Shields
Public Information Officer
San Francisco Department of Public Health

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

DPH 'Bitch' Ad Increases Safe Sex,
With Fewer HIV Infections?

[One of the most offensive and insensitive HIV prevention campaigns launched over the past decade in San Francisco, has never been fully scrutinized and being dumped on the local community. As far as I can tell, DPH has not provided the community with any proof the ad campaign achieved temporary or lasting benefit to good public health. If DPH has any evidence showing epi effectiveness from the "bitch" campaign, I'll either share it here, or link to the data on the DPH's web site.]

Eileen Shields
Public Information Office
Dear Ms. Shields,
More than three years ago the department spent approximately $100,000 on a social marketing campaign directing women and gay men of color to not be "a bitch" when making decisions about HIV prevention, sexual practices and use of condoms.
Since many years have passed since the launch of the provocative and controversial ads run in local media outlets, I hope you can quickly answer these basic questions for me.
1) What were the measurable epidemiological outcomes of the ads?
2) Did HIV testing rates increase?
3) What about HIV infections among women and gays of color? Did their transmission rates decrease?
4) Is there any evidence to show condom usage in the targeted communities went up?
Additionally, I am requesting a copy of the "Don't Be a Bitch" social marketing contract between DPH and the Better World Advertising agency. Please provide me with the contract in electronic format.
I look forward to a prompt reply.
Best regards,
Michael Petrelis