Monday, April 30, 2012

NYC Queen Christine Exits Presser;
Heckler Exercises 1st Amendment Right

(Video credit: Colin Campbell of Politicker.)

My late mentor Marty Robinson, who got his start in gay politics when John Lindsey was mayor of New York City, always used offer this advice to me: "Politicians. Use 'em or abuse 'em." Today I would add that goes double for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender politicians.

Like their straight counterparts, gay Democrats looking to make a career out of feeding at the public trough and staying in elective office - any elective office will do - our community's career politicians ultimately fear democracy and the people, unmuzzled. Gay politicians desperately want to be crowned queen and will go to great lengths to not hear from opponents.

Prime example on Monday was New York lesbian Democrat and speaker of the the City Council Christine Quinn, huffily exiting a presser after a constituent exercised his First Amendment rights for a few seconds. Why, Miss Thing was just aghast at someone speaking truth to power about her buddy Mayor Mike Bloomberg being "Pharaoh Bloomberg" and she put on airs of being offended.

Guess she missed the memo about free speech and the right to call people names. 

If the Victory Fund, the Human Rights Campaign and scores of other Gay Inc entities and donors have their way, Quinn will be the first lesbian and woman mayor of the Big Apple. And she'll be lording it over everyone that she will not suffer the mildest of truth speaking at her pressers, if the voters of the five boroughs decide they want Bloomberg Light and elect Queen Christine in 2013.

Here's what had this to report on the interruption:

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn stormed off stage at a rally in support of the living wage bill outside City Hall Monday after she was interrupted by a supporter who referred to the mayor — an opponent of the bill as — "Pharaoh Bloomberg." [...]

"Now, look. That's not appropriate," Quinn said, turned around at the crowd.

"You stand here talking about democracy and wanting people to listen. In democracy, people have the right to have different views and they do not, we do not have the right to then call them names. So I would just ask, if that's what this press conference is about then I'll go right back inside and continue the work of business. But this is not democracy — calling people names who don't agree with you. So whoever said I'd ask that you apologize."

Quinn turned back to the podium, then said, "Congratulations on the bill. I'm not going to participate in name-calling." [...]
SF Chronicle:
Susan Sontag's Closet Shredded

(Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark.)

She may have been a ferociously public intellectual of uncompromising honesty, often staking out the most avant-garde of cultural and political thinking, but when it came to being genuine about the lesbian side of her life and how it influenced her writing Susan Sontag was an emotionally stunted closet case. Why was she afraid to admit her wide and varied sexual intimacies?

I don't know the answer, but it was quite satisfying to this queer old dude who assisted in pioneering the practice of outing in February 1989 (!) before the tactic even had a name when I publicly demanded Oregon GOP U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield come out of the closet and generated media attention that named him, to read the review in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle book section of "As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh", comprised of Sontag's notebooks and journals.

Penned by Nancy D. Kates, who is currently working on a documentary about Sontag, the review shreds Sontag's closet and does what the mainstream and literary media should have done when she was alive - name names and give readers the facts. So much criticism was leveled against Sontag while alive about innumerable matters, except when it came to being a bisexual. Better late than never to have the mainstream media shed honest light on the issue.

My gratitude goes to Kates for her entire review and I hope her "Regarding Susan Sontag" film also delves into Sontag's same-sex affairs:

In life, she remained closeted, only begrudgingly admitting to bisexuality shortly before her death. The closet represents the great irony of Sontag's life, which was full of public courage on political issues, and yet virtually no disclosure when it came to her same-sex relationships. The diary opens with Sontag's 1964 breakup with Cuban American playwright Maria Irene Fornes, details the relationship with her friend and sometime lover Eva Kollisch and continues through Sontag's years with French actress and film producer Nicole St├ęphane. Above all is what she once called "the maelstrom of C." - Sontag's stormy late '60s relationship with Italian aristocrat Carlotta Del Pezzo. [...]

Curiously, while Rieff's introduction points out his mother's admiration for numerous male artists and intellectuals and her two serious relationships with men in this era - painter Jasper Johns and poet Joseph Brodsky - it entirely omits the many women Sontag admires, loves, pines for and is heartbroken over for hundreds of pages. [...]

"I'm good at understanding things-+ ordering them-+ using them," she confesses. "But I'm not a genius." Genius or not, she succeeded brilliantly as an essayist, perhaps, in small part, because of her homosexuality. Queers, like all minorities, traffic in codes, forced to negotiate between the larger culture and their own subjective realities.
UK Foreign Office Issues
Gay Human Rights Report

Just yesterday, I blogged about the U.S. State Department's annual survey of human rights practices and how it was supposed to be released on February 25, and is now two-months overdue. The survey does a very impressive job of including matters of concern to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I was unaware that the United Kingdom's Foreign and Commonwealth Office would today put out its annual human rights report, which contains a single overview of highlights of LGBT issues around the world. Thanks to an alert from Boris Dittrich, a gay advocacy staffer at Human Rights Watch, to the Euro-Queer listserv I learned about the report.

As we wait for the State Department to publish their 2011 human rights survey, which I hope happens in a matter of days, let's go over key excerpts from the FCO survey's section devoted to LGBT concerns:

The Government is committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as an integral part of its wider international human rights work. It is our view that to render consenting same-sex relations illegal is incompatible with international human rights law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Despite this, same-sex relations continue to be criminalised in over 70 countries, and discrimination and violence against LGBT people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity continues, including in countries where legislation exists to protect LGBT people. [...]
In November, the Government launched its first ever action plan to advance transgender equality, Advancing Transgender Equality – a plan for action, which includes international commitments to advance transgender equality through the UN. [...]
For example, to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, our Embassy in China raised awareness of LGBT rights through a media and online digital campaign. In Hungary our Embassy hosted the LGBT Business Forum, which brought together different groups and companies to share experience and explore initiatives that could be implemented in the workplace to support their LGBT employees. The Embassy issued a joint statement with several like-minded embassies in support of the Budapest Pride Festival and flew the rainbow flag during the Pride March. [...]
The UK played an instrumental role in building international support for the UN statement on “Ending acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity” in March. The statement was issued on behalf of 85 countries worldwide – the highest ever number of signatories to a UN statement on this issue. [...]
There were positive developments during 2011 to advance the rights of LGBT people in some countries. For example Liechtenstein, Sao Tome and Principe, Nauru, Seychelles and Brazil launched or announced plans to introduce legislation to further recognise same-sex relations. The United States of America repealed the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for homosexuals serving in the US military.
However, we do have concerns about developments in some countries. In Russia we have worked with the EU and Council of Europe to lobby the government against introducing a law banning literature promoting homosexuality. In Cameroon we were instrumental in EU efforts to raise human rights concerns with the government, including for minority groups such as LGBT people.
In Nigeria we have urged the government not to introduce legislation criminalising same-sex marriage. We are also concerned to see the return in early 2012 of a Private Members Bill which would strengthen the anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda. We have lobbied strongly against the bill and continue to do so. [...]

Sunday, April 29, 2012

State Dept's Human Rights Report
was Due on Feb 25: Why the Delay?

Back in April of 1991 when George H.W. Bush was still president, I was one of three activists to meet with Tom Williams at the State Department about the annual global human rights report for the previous year that he was responsible for writing. Margaret Cantrell, Barrett Brick and I sat down with Williams to thank him for one gay citation and a separate AIDS citation, both mentioned in the section on Denmark.

We urged Williams and the department to include additional such citations in the future and provided him with a year's worth of foreign LGBT and HIV reporting by reporter Rex Wockner, because he welcomed such evidence that could lead to expanded inclusion of our concerns in future reports.

Since that time, because of the commitment of many State Department staffers and activists in the United States and around the world, regardless of who's been president, the annual human rights reports have grown to regularly reference hundreds of advances and setbacks for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV positive people. Frequently, when the reports are published, the LGBT and HIV citations generate news domestically and abroad bringing additional much-needed visibility.

These reports are required as part the Foreign Assistance Act which mandates that the survey be provided to the U.S. Congress by February 25.

For some reason, under President Obama and Secretary Clinton, the release date for the reports is not at all consistent and for the past two-years the State Department has missed the February 25 deadline. The 2010 survey came out in April, the 2009 edition was available in March, whereas the 2008 survey was published on February 25.

Over all, Obama and Clinton along with analysts and staffers in the State Department's human rights bureau and numerous ambassadors and embassy officials, have offered tremendously frank and effective advocacy and visibility regarding gay and AIDS human rights matters.

Whatever the reasons for the delay of publishing the 2011 report, it behooves all human rights groups and advocates to push the Obama administration to immediately release latest report and to explain their tardiness in violation of federal law.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Obama Omits Kameny from 
Medal of Freedom Honorees

(Kameny shaking the President's hand in June 2009, in the Oval Office. Credit: The White House.)

In death, I thought gay pioneer Frank Kameny would be palatable to President Obama when deciding this year's Medal of Freedom recipients. Well, our Less-than-Fierce Advocate-in-Chief announced the latest batch of awardees yesterday and Kameny's name was omitted.

My thinking was that the White House would not risk giving this gay icon the award while he was alive, because he might go off-script at the reception and ceremony for the  honorees and say something to anger the administration, but once he had passed on Obama would give him this award. I was wrong.

Our lame Democratic Party gay leadership at the Human Rights Campaign issued a release lauding Obama choosing longtime gay ally and labor advocate Dolores Huerta as a recipient, and failed to express disappointment that Kameny was not posthumously selected along with Huerta. Foolish of me to even think HRC could praise the president, salute Huerta and advocate for Kameny getting the Medal of Freedom if Obama is reelected.

It's disappointing to see over at the American Foundation for Equal Rights site, that president Chad Griffin who soon takes the helm at HRC, also failed to say he and his group would have liked for Obama to also honor Kameny. Huerta is a member of AFER's board, and she certainly is worthy of the medal, but I would have been impressed if Griffin broke with the Gay Inc/HRC tradition of not using every opportunity to advance gay heroes and issues with the White House.

Not only is it a shame Obama didn't award Kameny the Medal of Freedom in 2012, it's equally troubling that HRC and AFER expended no energy and resources fiercely advocating on Kameny's behalf.

Kameny and his legacy more than deserve the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gay Man Convicted of Killing
HIV Poz Partner with a Golf Club

 (The late Stuart Mark. Credit: The Winnipeg Sun.)

Earlier this month in Canada, a jury found a gay man guilty in the brutal killing of his HIV positive partner. The case has received minimal attention here in the United States, with the POZ magazine newsfeed being the only domestic outlet to report on it. 

I want to say how important it is for HIV positive people to disclose their sero-status to all potential sex partners before engaging in sexual activities. At the same time, it's equally important for HIV negative individuals to practice safe sex, regardless of whether they know their sex partner's HIV status.

While the dead man's behavior was irresponsible, it was no excuse for his lover to end his life. A tragic situation all around, and if there is any good to come of it, let's hope it leads to better disclosure practices by HIV positive folks and enhanced education for HIV negative individuals to engage in sexual intimacy that does not place them at-risk for contracting HIV, regardless of their partner's disclosure or lack of it, or his sero-status.

Everyone needs to have sexual risk boundaries and take personal responsibility for not transmitting or contracting HIV.

From the Winnipeg Sun story about the conviction:

A jury has convicted Michael Pearce of manslaughter in the beating death of his gay lover Stuart Mark.

Jurors deliberated less than three hours before reaching a verdict about 3 p.m. Thursday.

Mark, 36, was found beaten to death in his Alfred Avenue home in January 2007. Jurors clearly rejected Pearce’s claim police coerced him to falsely confess to the killing.

Prosecutors alleged Pearce beat Mark to death with a golf club after Mark disclosed he was HIV positive.

Jurors heard police had no forensic evidence connecting Pearce to the killing. Pearce was interviewed several times and passed a polygraph test before he came to police in July 2007 and said he might have more information about the killing. It was during that final lengthy interview — recorded on video — that Pearce told police he may have attacked Mark with a golf club. [...]

Crown attorney Dale Harvey said Pearce clearly identified where police found Mark’s body — something only his killer would know.

If Pearce wasn’t responsible for the killing, he had no reason to approach police for that final interview, Harvey said. [...]

There is no minimum sentence for manslaughter. The maximum sentence is life in prison. Pearce remains free on bail. He will return to court for sentencing July 3.

An earlier Winnipeg Sun article provided additional details, including the injuries that lead to the demise of the death man:

"I was just so angry that he didn't tell me, 'cause we fooled around. And then he tells me he has AIDS," Pearce tells Winnipeg police Detectives John O'Donovan and Chad Depencier. "I was just kind of terrified at that whole fact and angry. We got into an argument," Pearce said. "I can't believe that my actions actually killed somebody," he later says.

Prosecutors allege Mark, 36, was beaten to death after telling Pearce, with whom he had been in a "casual homosexual relationship," that he had HIV. The Crown contends Mark was beaten on his head with a golf club and stabbed, but concedes there are no witnesses, DNA or forensic evidence linking Pearce to the killing.

SF Supes Public Comment Vid:
Kill Homos, a Tinfoil Hat & Jesus

One of the highlights of the weekly Board of Supervisors' Tuesday meetings is the time reserved for public comment. Citizens are given two-minutes to address the politicians, and everyone watching on the city's cable access channel or via the web. The majority of speakers are smart, make cogent points and use their two-minutes wisely.

The meeting this past Tuesday had only three or four intelligent speakers, with a few very wacky and entertaining people getting up at the microphone to address the Supervisors at the end of public comment. Here's the pertinent vid excerpt from SF Gov TV:

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Among the goofballs was a man who talks about the Ethics Commission hearing on Monday regarding the removal of Ross Mirkarimi as sheriff, and segues into how two supervisors should also be brought before that commission for ethical violation. Does he name the supervisors? No, but he assures everyone that watching the old TV show "The Untouchables" will provide clues. For extra chuckles, he requests a sympathy statement regarding the passing of Davey Jones from the Monkees.

The next speaker was a Christian fundamentalist labeling the supervisors "ministers of God" and says they're all pro-homosexual. He then lambastes them for being pro-homosexual and reminds everyone that the Old Testament called for executing homosexuals. Who knew America's Bible belt extended to San Francisco?

After this guy, a young woman tried to talk about benefit corporations or districts, a matter previously voted on at the board, so the president kept interrupting her to say since they had already dealt with the issues, the rules disallowed her to speak on the matter.

The following speaker wore a tinfoil hat and posed the question of why this was so. He said it was the only way he could object to medical experiments that were being forced upon him. His photograph alleging showing dangerous lesions at the center of his brain was projected for all to see, before he ended with a demand for police action about the wrongs done to him.

Our final member of the public to address the supervisors told how a judge had denied his request to change his name. What new name did he want? None other than that of Jesus Christ. Oh, brother.

Only in San Francisco, kiddies. Only here can you watch and listen to such nutty and laughable comments from the general public on a weekly basis.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NYT: What Fierstein Wore at His
First Meeting With 'Torch Song' Director

Whenever the credits rolled at the end of an episode of "All in the Family", I always wondered if the director Paul Bogart was related to Humphrey Bogart. He wasn't. Paul Bogart passed away on Sunday in North Carolina at the age of 92, and the New York Times obituary said he was born with the surname Bogoff, which his family had previously changed from Bogoslavsky to sound more American.

If gays remember him at all it may be as the director of the film version of drag artiste, writer and actor Harvey Fierstein's Tony Award-winning play "Torch Song Trilogy". I had the distinct pleasure of catching the show early in its Broadway run at the Little Theatre, which I think is now named the Helen Hayes Theatre. If memory serves, the cast at the time included Estelle Getty and Fisher Stevens.

Bogart helped bring "Torch Song" to the screen, with the pre-AIDS backroom sex included and a fine cast that included high-wattage names Anne Bancroft and Matthew Broderick, not to mention a black gay character and an aging drag queen, played by Ken Page and Charles Pierce respectively.

The Times relates the amusing tale of Bogart's initial interaction with Fierstein, that illustrates while Bogart may have been straight he had the necessary moxie to deal with the diva at the center of the story they were to put up on the silver screen:

Newsweek in 1989 reported on a meeting he had with Harvey Fierstein about possibly directing Mr. Fierstein’s “Torch Song Trilogy” as a movie. It had been a success on Broadway, where it ran from 1982 to 1985, but Mr. Fierstein, who both wrote and starred in the play, had delayed making a movie version. “Torch Song” told of the life and loves of a New York drag queen, and no director had seemed quite appropriate, until he met Mr. Bogart, who he said “seemed so naturally unafraid” of the material.

Mr. Fierstein may have been persuaded by what happened when they first met. He was wearing a see-through, floor-length black bathrobe. Mr. Bogart took one look and said, “This is our first meeting; don’t you think you should cover your breasts?”
SF Ex: Union Rules Jeopardize
Pro-Gay Flag Lowering on May 17?

Last week, Dan Schreiber of the SF Examiner penned an excellent story about efforts by the small and no-budget Gays Without Borders to participate in a global day of LGBT solidarity and activism, by lowering the United Nations and American flags at the centrally-located UN Plaza, pictured above.

Schreiber reports that a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works told him the fee to lower the flag was due to union rules. I'm as pro public union as the next guy, but reading how union rules mandate hefty costs and a required number of hours in order for the public to access flagpoles on public property disgusts me. It's this kind of crap that creates animosity toward public unions.

Our plan to lower the UN Plaza flags would take no more than 10-20 minutes for a DPW worker with a key to insert into the control box, bring the UN flag down half-way, then another 10-20 minutes to do the same with the Stars and Stripes. Twenty-four hours later, the process would repeat itself to raise the flags back to their normal positions.

I'm pleased that DPW's spokeswoman says there's potential wiggle room on the fee. Let me also say that my member of the Board of Supervisors, Jane Kim, in whose district lies UN Plaza, is assisting us with finding a way around the four-figure cost. My hope is that Supervisor Kim and her colleagues will collaborate with Gays Without Borders, DPW and union representatives to fly the flags at half-mast without gouging activists.

From the Examiner, bolding added:

If you want to fly a flag at half-staff for an occasion in San Francisco, it could cost up to $1,500. Local blogger and LGBT activist Michael Petrelis found that out the hard way when he asked The City’s Department of Public Works to do that [UN Plaza] to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17.

“I mean, c’mon,” Petrelis said. “If San Francisco, of all cities, can’t find a way to lower two flags for 24 hours to honor dead gay people from around the world, what does that say about San Francisco?”

Gloria Chan, a spokeswoman for Public Works, said union contracts require station engineers to lower the flags and be compensated at $90 per hour for a minimum of four hours, no matter how long the task actually takes . . . [that] could be up to $135 per hour for two four-hour sessions — one to lower the flags, and one to re-raise them — for a total of $1,080. What makes up the remaining cost is unclear.

Chan said Petrelis was provided with a fair, “across-the-board” cost for the activity, but considering the circumstances, the department plans to work with the inquiring group — Gays Without Borders — to lower the final bill.

Petrelis . . . noted that the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution in March to recognize the day. Chan said it remains unclear if Gays Without Borders would still have to cover the cost of the flag lowering in the case of a citywide recognition of the day, but that details are still being considered.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On the Mend:
Pneumonia, Levofloxacin and Me

It's been a week since I was released from the respiratory ward at Davies Hospital and you can imagine how much pleasure it gives me to report that I am truly on mend. After a week of the levofloxacin antibiotic regimen, and using the albuterol inhaler, this nasty bout of pneumonia is practically all gone.

I want to share ten random thoughts generated from this health scare episode, before slowly getting back to normal blogging, political advocacy and living the gay life in San Francisco.

1. Many thanks to all of you who either sent emails or old-fashioned get well cards on recycled paper, or left voice mail messages wishing me a speedy and fully recovery. Receiving all that love and goodwill greatly helped elevate my mood.

2. My boyfriend Mike deserves a medal, maybe two, for his not just his unstinting tending to my needs but also for his natural upbeat nature. He found ways to make me laugh and smile, even when the pneumonia was kicking my tush.

3. I spoke with my regular physician yesterday. The results of the regular blood draw from early April, about nine-days before I went to the emergency room, showed a slight increase in t-cells, up to 425, my HIV viral load remained undetectable and all other reading were good to excellent. So how the hell did I catch pneumonia? 

The hospital physicians and my doctor said as bad as this regular pneumonia was, it was not pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), now known as pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia. They say I had community acquired pneumonia, meaning I didn't get infected in a healthcare facility.

As a person with AIDS, even with good blood numbers, I was still at-risk from factors such as the weather and being around people with pneumonia germs.

4. I count my blessings that during my hospitalization, every time the nurses or doctors came into my room, before they touched me they either donned gloves or used Purell on their hands. Let me express gratitude to the staffers for doing all in their power to prevent me from getting a staph infection.

5. During one unpleasant coughing fit, I thought about my old friend and fellow activist Tommi Avicolli Mecca. He suffers from asthma and I experienced a small bit what he and other asthmatic folks endure. I wouldn't wish that frightful gasping for air on anyone.

6. Before I turned the corner and genuinely felt improvement, Mike claims he came home from work and found me watching the 1960s "Beach Blanket Bingo" movie on TV and I was mumbling, "Forget Fellini, Kurosawa and Bresson!" What I said over the bongo-playing was "Pasolini, Truffaut and Dreyer forever!"

7. It was beneficial to regaining my wellness to Skype with my blood family back East. Is it just me, or do you also find it easier to laugh when looking at people on the screen and not just speaking on the phone?

8. Today is my final day of levofloxacin and I can't wait to start drinking eating probiotic foods such a cabbage and yogurt, most likely not at the same time. ;-)

9. Just a reminder that May 17 is IDAHO, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and I expect to soon help my colleagues in Gays Without Borders make this year's event in San Francisco our best yet. 

10. My doctor says I can begin to ride my bike again at the end of the week, as long as I continue to improve. The first place I want to go to on my bike is to an acupuncture clinic.

Let me end by wishing you and yours the best of health, and a joyous spring.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Greetings from the Pneumonia 
Ward at Davies Hospital

Forgive the gallows humor of my headline, but after the past 7-8 days of battling pneumonia I need to give myself even a small reason to laugh at the medical situation challenging my immune system.

Last Saturday, after a few days of what I thought was just a spring cold and nasty bout of laryngitis making it near impossible to speak above a raspy whisper, I was online for barely an hour, grew so bored and tired I shut off the computer. Today is the first time since then that I've had any interest communicating via the web or reading my favorite news sites.

Late Sunday morning my partner Mike took me to the emergency room at California Pacific Medical Center's Davies Campus in the heart of the Castro district. I was quickly examined by a few nurses before getting chest x-rays and having blood drawn, and Mike and I waited for the doctor on duty to deliver the results.

When the doctor told us the diagnosis was pneumonia and that he wanted me checked into the hospital for two-nights, my fevered brain was scared. I thought hospitals were reluctant to admit patients for overnight stays in these cost-cutting healthcare times, and that hospitals would rather load patients up with treatments and send them home.

I was soon put on intravenous antibiotics and a saline solution, as the doctor for the third floor of the North Tower where respiratory patients are treated and housed interviewed me. She slowly explained the treatment and care protocol to Mike and me, and assured us the pneumonia would be cured in due course.

For three days, the doctor and caring, dedicated nursing and housekeeping staffers tended to this "problem patient" who complained when necessary. Every effort was made to lessen the fevers, coughing and frightening wheezing, and thankfully there was no other patient sharing the room, enduring my medical problems.

Much of the time an oxygen tube pushed air up my nostrils, and I was given frequent treatments of Albuterol inhalation aerosol. What a trip that was! They place a green mask over your nose and mouth, you breathe in the Albuterol and get a few hour of breathing without a hacking cough.

There were a few occasions when I thought about the foolish bug-chasers, men who actively seek to contract HIV. What the eff is wrong with them? Who in his right mind would want to be infected with HIV and place themselves at higher-risk for even the "regular" pneumonia attacking my lungs? If you know such a man, smack him upside the head until he gets some sense.

Now that I'm back at home, taking everything slow and easy, and again amazed at my wonderful companion Mike and his healing love, I want folks to know my body and mind are on the mend. I am taking my drugs as instructed and heeding Mike's advice.

And now, it's time for a bowl of Mike's vegetable soup and nap. All prayers and wishes for wellness are welcomed and appreciated. Be sure to take care of yourself and your health too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

FEC File:
Ann Romney = Executive of Romney for President

Longtime Democratic strategist and former chair of the board of directors for the Human Rights Campaign Hilary Rosen sparked a controversy last night on CNN, when she said Ann Romney had "never worked a day in her life." The Mitt Romney campaign wasted no time firing back, saying the presidential candidate's wife worked plenty as a mother of five boys.

Yes, every mother is a working woman just raising a kid regardless of having work outside of the home and I think Rosen has given the American electorate another chance to debate women's issues, while comparing the Democratic and Republican policies that affect women.

I want to add my two cents about Ann Romney and how in addition to being the mother of her boys, she's also been an executive for a short time in recent years according to Federal Election Commission records.

During 2007, she made two donations to Republican James Ogonowski's bid for the U.S. Congress and the FEC records show she listed her occupation as an executive of Romney for President. For all of her many other donations, her occupation is given as homemaker.

I'm pointing out what Ann Romney's FEC file shows regarding her having two occupations listed so we all have a fuller picture of the woman who wants to be First Lady in January 2013.
SF Wants $1,500 to 
Lower UN Flag for Day Against Homophobia

(United Nations Plaza, with San Francisco's City Hall in the background.)

If I weren't still suffering laryngitis from a nasty spring cold, I would have screamed like a queen when reading how much the San Francisco Department of Public Works wants to charge Gays Without Borders to lower the United Nations and American flags at UN Plaza on May 17, which is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, IDAHO.

In late March, I blogged about a unanimous vote at the Board of Supervisors backing a resolution from openly gay Supervisor David Campos directing DPW to lower the flags and to also have IDAHO officially recognized for the first time by City Hall as a day of significance.

Yesterday, I received this email from DPW's community liaison Greg Crump regarding who would be the point-person on the project, the cost involved and whether we could tape a sign to the flagpoles explaining why the flags were lowered, bolding added:

I have the information that you are asking for:

1. Yes, please contact me with questions leading up to your event. I will do my best to assist with your inquiries in a timely manner.

2. The costs incurred by DPW for raising and lowering the flags at UN Plaza amounts to $1,467.90 ($733.95 to lower the flags and the same to raise them again).

3. I do not believe it is permissible to affix signs to the flag poles on public property. [Public Works Code 5.6 link to code] Perhaps there are other messaging options to help explain why the flags have been lowered.

Hope this helps. Thanks for your patience, Michael. 

Almost $1,500 to lower and raise two flags? Seems an excessive amount to pay to have a DPW employee show up at UN Plaza on May 17, spend a few minutes inserting a key into the control boxes and lowering the UN and American flags to half-staff, then elevating them the next day.

I will get in touch with Supervisor Jane Kim today because UN Plaza is in her district and she is also my supervisor. Maybe she can lobby DPW to waive that four-figure fee. With IDAHO a little more than a month away, I am cautiously optimistic that a resolution can be worked out among the stakeholders - Gays Without Borders, DPW, the Board of Supervisors - that lowers the flags without gouging activists.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Full Text: 
Russian Federation's Anti-Gay Statute in English

Last week I asked the good people at Coming Out in Saint Petersburg about their local anti-gay law and the text of it in English. They shared the actual language and I posted it here. I also requested the text of the national anti-gay statute, and Coming Out's Polina Savchenko sent the English wording of it, which I'm posting today.

Many thanks to everyone in Coming Out for their continuing efforts challenging these laws, and for providing social services and cultural events for the LGBT people of Saint Petersburg.

Here's the full text of Russia's anti-gay law:

On Introducing Amendments to the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences

The Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences (Collection of Laws of the Russian Federation, 2002, No. 1, Article 1, No. 30 et al.) shall be amended as follows:

1) add Article 6.13.1 reading as follows:

"Article 6.13.1. Propaganda of homosexualism among minors

Propaganda of homosexualism among minors -

is punishable by an administrative fine for citizens in the amount of four thousand to five thousand rubles; for officials –forty thousand to fifty thousand rubles; for legal entities – four hundred thousand to five hundred thousand rubles";

2) in Article 28.3, Section2, Clause 1 figures “6.13” shall be changed to “6.13.1”.

President of the Russian Federation

to the Draft Federal Law “On Amendments to the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offences”

Propaganda of homosexualism in Russia took a wide sweep. This propaganda is delivered both through the media and through active social actions that promote homosexualism as a behavioral norm. It is especially dangerous for children and youth who are not yet capable of a critical attitude to the avalanche of information that falls upon them every day. In this regard, it is necessary to primarily protect the younger generation from the effects of homosexual propaganda, and the present bill pursues this goal.

Family, motherhood and childhood in the traditional, adopted from the ancestors understanding are the values ​​that provide a continuous change of generations and serve as a condition for the preservation and development of the multinational people of the Russian Federation, and therefore they require special protection from the state.

Legitimate interests of minors are an important social value, with the goal of the public policy toward children being to protect them from the factors that negatively affect their physical, intellectual, mental, spiritual,and moral development. Paragraph 1 of Article 14 of the Federal Law № 124-FZ of24.07.1998 “On Basic Guarantees of Child Rights in the Russian Federation” directly states the obligation of public authorities of the Russian Federation to take measures to protect children from information, propaganda and campaigning that harm their health and moral and spiritual development.

In this connection it is necessary to establish measures to ensure intellectual, moral and mental security of children, including the prohibition onto perform any act aimed at the promotion of homosexuality. By itself, the prohibition of such propaganda as an activity of purposeful and uncontrolled dissemination of the information that could harm the health and moral and spiritual development, as well as form misperceptions about the social equivalence of conventional and unconventional sexual relationships, among individuals who, due to their age, are not capable to independently and critically assess such information cannot be regarded as violating the constitutional rights of citizens.

Given the above, a bill suggesting amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences was prepared to introduce administrative responsibility for propaganda of homosexuality among minors. In this case, administrative responsibility is established not for the sheer fact of the person’s homosexuality, but only for propaganda of homosexualism among minors.

This bill imposes the right to make records of administrative offences for public actions aimed at propaganda of homosexualism among minors on the law enforcement officials (the Police), and trial of cases of administrative offences– on the judges.

Monday, April 09, 2012

FL Prosecutor
in Trayvon Case = McCain & Rubio Donor

(Screen capture of Corey's FEC file. Click to enlarge.)

Angela B. Corey, the state special prosecutor investigating the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, announced today she is not using a grand jury in the case. The arrest and charging of Zimmerman, along with not facing any charges, are all options Corey has at her disposal after concluding the investigation.

For what it's worth, Federal Election Commission records reveal Corey in 2008 donated $500 to John McCain's presidential campaign, and $250 in 2010 to Marco Rubio's senatorial bid.

The donations are in no way a disqualifying factor, neither do they raise alarms just because Corey gave to two Republican candidates, but they nevertheless deserve some attention because the key law enforcement figures in the Martin murder should be thoroughly vetted and all potential conflicts of interest or overt bias need much sunshine.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Russian Gays Released After
Arrests Protesting New Statute

Translation of the sign: "What was that? Who's victory? Who's defeated?" Marina Tsvetaeva, from the poem "Under caress of an ivy plaid," devoted to her love Sophia Parnok. Credit: Maria Kozlovskaya.

 Cops questioning an activist. Credit: Polina Korchagina

Supporters of the protesters listen to a speaker. Credit: Natalia Tsymbalova

Members of the Coming Out advocacy group in Saint Petersburg are taking to the streets in creative ways, to send a message to the government and their fellow citizens that they are fighting against the new law prohibiting promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender propaganda. Full text of the law in English is here.

Coming Out designed some fabulous posters featuring iconic gay Russians including Peter Tchaikovsky, Rudolph Nureyev and Marina Tsvetaeva, and paid to have them plastered around the city but the outdoor advertising agency controlling billboards refused to display the posters.

The activist report that the signs were used for a public demonstration, and another act of civil disobedience happened on the street:

On 7 April at noon in front of the Oktyabrsky concert hall in Saint Petersburg a series of single person pickets were carried out. The pickets were dedicated to the Day of Silence. Seven people with sealed mouths took their turns protesting against discrimination and violence against LGBT people, against homophobia of the government which silenced and outlawed LGBT community with a new anti-LGBT law.

Vague wording of the law made police think over and discuss each slogan deciding whether it were a violation of the law or not.

Two protesters were arrested for “propaganda of sodomy and lesbianism” and after a few hours of detention were released. Both men were taken to the 76 police department of Saint Petersburg. The protesters must appear in court on 9 April.

Apart from the banners with slogans there were pictures of the famous poet Tsvetaeva and composer Tchaikovsky with quotes from their poems and letters which proved their homosexual love. Earlier one of the advertising agencies refused to put those banners in the city center on the advertisement stands fearing the fine of half a million rubles (equal of about 13 thousand euros). Around 30 people applauded to the brave picketing people expressing their solidarity and respect.
Full Text of St. Petersburg's
Anti-Gay Propaganda Statute in English

The horribly discriminatory and stigmatizing new anti-LGBT statute of St. Petersburg is a shameful blot against Russia's commitment to international human rights norms, and has been receiving proper attention from gay and straight Western news media outlets and bloggers. One thing I couldn't locate in the stories was the actual text of the statute in English or a link to it, so I contacted leaders at the Coming Out group in St. Petersburg.

Those leaders have spent months organizing against the new statute, and now that it's in effect, street protests are taking place and activists are engaging in civil disobedience. However, Olga Lenkova, communications director for Coming Out, took the time to send me the text in English. Thanks, Olga!

To better educate Westerners about the law, Coming Out has posted the English version here on their web site. Lenkova also said the Russian language version is posted here on the web site of the city's administration. Here's the complete text of the statute:

Adopted by the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg on February 29, 2012

Article 1

To introduce into the Law of St. Petersburg on March 12, 2012, No. 273-70 "On administrative offenses in St. Petersburg" the following changes:

1. Add Articles 7_1 and 7_2 reading as follows:

Article 7_1. Public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, transgenderism amongst minors

Public actions aimed at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, transgenderism amongst minors incur an administrative fine for citizens in the amount of five thousand rubles; for officials -- fifty thousand rubles; for legal entities -- from two thousand fifty to five hundred thousand rubles.

Note. As public actions at propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexualism, transgenderism amongst minors in this article should be understood activities on purposeful and uncontrolled dissemination of information in a publicly accessible way that can be harmful to the health, moral and spiritual development of minors, including forming in their mind a distorted perception of social equality of traditional and nontraditional marital relationships.

Article 7_2. Public actions aimed at propaganda of pedophilia

Public actions aimed propaganda of pedophilia amongst minors incur an administrative fine for citizens in the amount of five thousand rubles; for officials -- fifty thousand rubles; for legal entities -- from five hundred thousand to one million rubles.

Note: As public actions aimed at propaganda of pedophilia amongst minors in this article should be understood activities on purposeful and uncontrolled dissemination of information in a publicly accessible way aimed at forming in the society a distorted perception of the consistency with the social norms of intimate relationships between adults and minors.

Article 2

The law of St. Petersburg takes effect 10 days after the day of its official publication.

Georgy Sergeyevich Poltavchenko
Governor of St. Petersburg
Saint Petersburg, Russia
March 7, 2012

Feinstein Jokes About Marijuana,
as Feds Raid Dispensaries, Harm Patients

After eight-years of no raids under President George Bush against medical marijuana dispensaries in California, a program by federal prosecutor Melinda Haag with the blessing of the Obama administration in recent months has carried out a series of bust and closures of dispensaries across the state.

Hundreds of patients are harmed by the loss of dispensaries and established relationships with the caregivers, which at several of the closed venues included acupuncture and therapeutic massage practitioners. Dozens of workers have lost their jobs, are now either on unemployment or at-risk of losing healthcare benefits and their housing because of lost income.

And our federal representatives say nothing. Check out this April 5 editorial by Robert Gannon in the East Bay Express, calling for Haag to lose her job and the appalling lack of political leadership and opposition to the raids:

In fact, the silence from national Democratic leaders has been deafening. California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, along with House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have been overwhelmingly tight-lipped about the crackdown, even though it totally contradicts the will of California voters who have repeatedly endorsed the use and sale of medical cannabis. The absence of leadership among Democrats on this issue has been stunning.

Also on April 5, Feinstein appeared at a photo-op in San Francisco celebrating one-hundred years of Muni operating our local public transit system, particularly the fabled and famous cable cars. Speaking extemporaneously, Feinstein broached the subject of hemp's use in the cables, marijuana and obtaining legal hemp for Muni.

The audience chuckled at her remarks, but I don't find it the least bit amusing that Feinstein silently accepts what Haag and the feds are doing. Nothing would please me more than to see her face a serious challenger in her reelection bid.

You can view the full April 5 Muni event at the Mayor Ed Lee's page for his pressers. I've snipped-and-pasted the section of Feinstein's hemp comments and transcribed them:

Get Microsoft Silverlight

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein:

It's the last remaining cable system in the world. And the cable itself is very complicated because it is sealed at .. with hemp in the middle. And hemp, as you know, is of the marijuana family.

And there aren't a lot of legal hemp producers in the world. Remember Rudy? [SPEAKING TO CITY OFFICIAL]

So we had to find hemp to re-do the cable, which was done, and also restore those cable cars. And of great help during this time was my pal Charlotte Schultz.

Friday, April 06, 2012

AIDES Acts Up:
HIV & the French Presidential Election

My friend Olivier Jablonski, a radical queer and AIDS activist in France who has led many worthwhile campaigns for people with HIV/AIDS and effective prevention methods, is acting up with a new group called AIDES. His colleague Grace Cunnane contacted me today with great news and photos to share.

A few week ago, AIDES activists waged a multi-pronged awareness and outreach campaign across France, involving a number of tactics including one of my old favorites - gluing posters to billboards and other big public spaces. Over several days, activists pushed all candidates running for president of France and their parties to confront today's HIV agenda. Bon travail, mon amis!

I'm sharing the pictures I liked best and excerpts of explanations about what the folks were up to. All info is from the AIDES group's English language page, and all photos are credited to AIDES:

The French presidential election 2012: The countdown has begun! Condoms, antiretrovirals, harm reduction programs for drug users and other strategies to fight against HIV/Aids and viral hepatitis have already proven their usefulness; the new president of France will have to prove himself/herself in the same way in 2012. We already know how to put an end to these epidemics and AIDES will not fail to remind the candidates of this fact.

Wednesday the 21st March 2012. AIDES activists show up at the political rallies of the presidential candidates and with banners, human sandwiches, tracts and flyers make our demands known to the candidates and their followers.

Thursday the 22nd of March 2012.  AIDES organizes a public debate on drug policies with addictionologists, sociologists, health professionals and local politicians. During this encounter the local politicians discover that some harm reduction strategies can enable us to put an end to the epidemics which affect drug users. Concerned people tell their stories which are powerful and edifying.

Thursday the 22nd of March. AIDES activists from all over France, spend a night putting up posters of our latest awareness campaign : “Here are two ways to stop Aids. One has proven its usefulness. The other will have to do so in 2012 !”

Paris gets plastered!

AIDES Martinique advocates show off their posters.

Smoothing out the glue in Nancy.

Kiosks in Lyon got the AIDES treatment.

In Marseilles' central plaza, AIDES left a message for voters.

All parties, including the Greens, had AIDES added to their propaganda.

One more image from Paris, illustrating how AIDES redecorated the streets!

'Jesus Christ Superstar' Sing-Along
With Sisters For Trans March

My approach to the b.s. of the over-commercialized and politically-hollow of San Francisco's official Pride activities is to avoid them.

I found true gay liberation spirit though at last year's Trans March, seeing cherished friends and a few smiling adversaries, parading through the Mission with nary a banner for a beer company or corrupt bank. Shared lots of laughs with all the trans folks and their fans the Friday of Pride weekend and will be there again this year.

The 2012 edition of the march is nearing and that means funds have to be raised for the costs of putting it on, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are putting on their white-face and habits tonight to bring in some bucks.

Here are the details for tonight's event. Be there or be square! Oh, and don't forget the Hunky Jesus contest is on Sunday in Dolores Park.

Kick off the Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence Easter Weekend with this long-awaited one-night only musical and cinematic event.

Come sing along to your favorite tunes with the original Jesus groupies who Don't Know How To Love Him, who think he Must Die, and who want to know just What is That Buzz?

Jesus Christ Superstar, let us show you who your real groupies are!

What: Screening of "Jesus Christ Superstar" & Sisters' Sing-Along
When: Friday, April 6th
Time: 7 PM
Where: Victoria Theatre
Address: 16th Street Btwn Mission and South Van Ness

Ticket price: $15-$25 sliding scale. Proceeds from this event will benefit the San Francisco Trans March. Big thanks to our community partners: Frameline, Queer Cultural Center, San Francisco Trans March.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Pot Protesters Push Back
Against Oakland Raid by Feds: Vid

Looking over a good deal of the grassroots and mainstream media video and TV coverage from Monday, I am impressed with how mouthy and uppity the activists were - directly in the faces of the assorted federal law enforcement officials carrying out the raid on Oaksterdam University.

This vid is the most impressive of those I've seen. Give that assertive chick kudos for standing up to the agents.

If I had been at this scene and the authorities were armed and trying to drive a large vehicle away from the crowd, the last thing I'd be doing is getting pushy with the agents and blocking the vehicle. But thankfully the Oakland protesters had no problems making their deep displeasure known to the feds.

After watching the news two-days ago after another man with a gun went on a killing rampage at Oikos University, that left seven people dead, a horrible contrast was presented to the public.

We saw for the umpteenth time how easy it is for mentally unstable men to acquire guns and murder people, with little to no federal effort to prevent such men from obtaining the killing tools they desire. At the same time the rampage was happening, several federal agencies decided to bust a medical marijuana operation that has not killed a single person.

It's no pipe dream to consider how safe our streets and school could be, if only the federal law agencies and their agents put more of a priority on controlling guns and bullet, than on stopping citizens from growing and using cannabis.

What I don't understand is why my U.S. Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, are silent about the continuing cannabis raids, executed by the federal prosecutors like Melinda Haag who received their appointments with the blessing of Boxer and Feinstein.

Why are California's two U.S. Senators saying nothing about the raids and demanding that resources behind the busts get redirected to prevent gun deaths and violence?
Nurse Ratched Walks Hubby to Reiki

(Mike and I smiling for my sister Angela, who took the photo during our trip back East a few years ago.)

My husbear and life partner Big Mike is recovering quite well, after experiencing mild heart troubles and spending Sunday night in the hospital.

I am fulfilling my duties as Nurse Ratched and it's my belief that Mike is doing more healing from all the blood draws, injections, invasive procedures and delivery of other healthcare services than from his heart problems.

It's great to have him at home, taking it very easy and enjoying time off from his work down at the law firm.

Early Tuesday evening I walked with him over to the Immune Enhancement Project, so he could receive a much-needed Reiki treatment. When Mike returned home, he had that Reiki-bakey glow about him and I was so happy to see him extremely relaxed. More Reiki appointments coming up in the next few weeks for my man.

We want to say a big thank you, to everyone who's prayed for Mike and expressed their love and concern for him. Your prayers are part of the healing process and they're effective.

Now, if you'll excuse Nurse Ratched, she is off to the farmers' market at UN Plaza to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables for her patient.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Hubby's Heart Troubles,
The ER & 'The Deep Blue Sea'

[UPDATE: Mike is back home! He is doing great. Thanks for your prayers.]

Big Mike and had just left the theater last night after watching the wonderful new film by gay director Terence Davies, "The Deep Blue Sea", when he said he was experiencing what felt like early signs of a heart stroke. After we chatted and embraced, he soon was off in a taxi to the emergency room seeking medical care, and I bicycled home to worry about him.

Long story short, Mike thankfully didn't have a heart attack or stroke but definitely experienced sensations indicating stress on the heart. He was kept overnight, has endured numerous tests and procedures giving a basically clean bill of health, and in a few hours will be discharged and on his way home.

My husbear sounded quite upbeat in our phone calls, despite a lot of confusing reports and evolving diagnoses from the dozens of doctors, lab technicians and nursing staff. It sounds like the dedicated health care professionals throughout the California Pacific Medical Center system where he's been receiving services and care, have been wonderful and very attentive to his needs. Thanks, for taking care of my man!

Mike's brother Greg back in South Dakota asked about the movie we saw and said he expects a full review from Mike, and that his urgent care visit to the hospital is no excuse for not having a review ready to share. Greg and I shared a much-needed chuckle over the expected movie review.

We welcome your prayers for Mike's health and good humor.
'House of Pleasures'
Plays at SF Film Society Cinema

The new French film playing over at the San Francisco Film Society Cinema, "House of Pleasures", is one of the most anti-erotic films I've ever seen. Set in a Parisian bordello as the 20th century is dawning, we follow lives of the middle-age woman who owns the establishment and the younger women who live and work there.

Much of the film is shot in a style echoing the distinctive use of black shadows and backgrounds used by painter Edouard Manet, that is a terrific contrast to the rich, colorful outfits and adornments the working girls wear lounging around the parlor entertaining men of wealth.

Watching them go through their daily routines of intercourse then hygienic acts to ward off sexual infection, getting all dolled up with make up and perfumes, getting drunk on champagne or high on opium, we slowly learn the prostitutes are deeply in debt to the madame and why they little hope of a better life.

There was a strong glorification of the prostitutes as victims and borderline misogyny. One women suffers a brutal facial scarring by a customer that leaves her resembling Heath Ledger as The Joker in "Batman", who recovers from the ordeal then charges a higher price just to sit with men and talk to them.

The scenes leading up to the brutality, and its bloody aftermath, are shown a few times before the movie is over and I had to cover my eyes anytime there was a hint of those scenes about to unspool again.

While the production values are of the highest order and the acting is uniformly excellent, and the film held my interest, the story left a lot to be desired. No particular insight was gleaned after spending two-hours with these characters.

With thirty-minutes to go before the end, eight patrons trickled out of the theater and was curious what forced them to leave when they did. I spoke with a middle-aged woman afterward who gave the movie a big thumbs down.

"The film made me queasy," she said. "It was Euro-trash gussied up as art but it couldn't hide the hatred toward the prostitutes." I certainly understood where she was coming from with her comments.

The "House of Pleasure" plays through April 5 at the SF Film Society Cinema located on Post Street near Webster. Click here for ticket info and showtimes.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

NYT's Collins Can't Recall
if She Gave to Brady Center

New York Times opinion writer Gail Collins, pictured, on March 21 penned a great column, Pity the Poor Gun Lobby, deploring the insanity expanding the rights to carry arms and use them brought about through the corrupting influence of the National Rifle Association. She wrote:

This year, in search of new worlds to conquer — or at least to arm — a couple of states are giving serious attention to bills that would allow gun owners to carry their concealed weapons in places like day-care centers and school buses.

People, do you think there is a loud public outcry for more guns on school buses? I truly believe that this is all the product of a desperate N.R.A., trying to show its base that there are still lots of new battles to be won.

“I subscribe 100 percent to that theory,” said Brian Malte of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a group that is never going to suffer from a problem of not having anything left to work on. 

Allow me to disclose that I am a supporter of, but not a donor to, the Brady Center and their affiliated Brady Campaigns and was in full agreement with Collins' satirical slaps against the powerful NRA. Regardless of sharing her views on guns and controlling them, my curiosity led me to search Federal Election Commission for any contributions she may have made to the Brady Center.

Two donations from 1992 and 1993 from a Gail Collins totaling $550 of New York City, but the actual FEC filing with employment and street address details that could tell us if this is the same writer is not available online. I tried contacting Collins at the Times but had an incorrect addy, but I eventually communicated with the paper's spokeswoman Eileen Murphy who sent a note after speaking with Collins:

You are asking about something that goes back 20 years and Gail has no memory of these donations. 

OK, I'll accept that she has no memory of the contributions and it's surely within the realm of plausibility that there's another Gail Collins in New York City who made those donations.

However, I wish to point out what I wrote Collins and her colleagues. As a news consumer, I want all writers for the mainstream media - columnists and reporters - to not only disclose any recent political donations they may have made, but to also inform their audience of any such giving during their journalistic careers when writing about a person or entity whom they gave to.

And while the donations in question are from 20-years ago, it needs to be noted that Collins is committed to writing as often as possible about Mitt Romney once driving from Boston to Ontario with the family dog strapped to the roof. She has cited this episode dozens of times.

The Romney-dog-on-the-roof story occurred in 1983 - almost 30-years ago, 10-years prior to those FEC donations.

The Times shouldn't be the least bit dismissive of when the donations happened because of when they were made. Not when Collins is consistently referring to an episode nearly 30-years old.