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Friday, October 30, 2009

Argentine Congress Considers Same-Sex Marriage

The Associated Press just reported that Argentina may ready to become Latin America's first nation to legalize gay marriage.

Gay and lesbian activists think so — and they have a growing number of supporters in Congress, which opened debate Thursday on whether to change dozens of laws that define marriage as a union between a "man and woman."

"We can't expect social equality if the state is legitimizing inequality," said Maria Rachid, president of Argentina's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Federation. "We now have the social and political context necessary to change the law."

It remains to be seen whether they have enough votes to overcome opposition from religious groups. The Roman Catholic Church remains a driving force in Argentina, where presidents were required to be both married and Catholic until a 1994 reform.

Some Catholic and evangelical Christian groups have accused the government of trying to subvert the natural order of life, promote perversions and destroy the family as an institution.

"This should not be understood as the denial of anyone's rights," said Archbishop Jose Maria Arancedo of Santa Fe, who took a gentler tone in a recent radio address. "It's possible both to be progressive and to defend the family, founded on the institution of marriage."

Argentina's capital established its gay-friendly reputation in 2002 by becoming the first Latin American city to legalize same-sex civil unions. Four other Argentine cities later did the same, and such unions also now are recognized in Mexico City and some Mexican and Brazilian states. Uruguay alone has legalized civil unions nationwide.

Canada is the only nation in the Americas where gay marriage is now legal; in the Spanish-speaking world, only Spain has taken this additional step.

The capital's civil unions law was initially celebrated as a huge victory for gay and lesbian rights, but such partnerships don't confer many rights exclusive to married couples, such as the right to adopt children in the name of both parents, to enable a partner to gain citizenship and to inherit wealth or be included in insurance policies.

"A civil union is a link that grants certain rights, but not those available to a married couple, which only a national law can grant," the bills' co-sponsor, Rep. Vilma Ibarra, told The Associated Press. "This is the first round in a long process, but it is already a success to have it out there."

Rep. Julian Martin Obiglio is among lawmakers who would rather expand the rights that apply to civil unions than alter the definition of marriage.

"I don't think the term should be the same for a union between a man and a woman and two people of the same sex," Obiglio told The AP.

Rachid said more than 20 lawmakers have signed on as supporters of same-sex marriage, and they believe they have enough votes in committee for a full vote in the lower house. It would then go to the Senate.

Rachid and her partner, Claudia Castro, were among the first same-sex couples in Buenos Aires to form a civil union — and the first to test Argentine law by applying for a marriage license in 2007. Their suit over the denial is pending at the Supreme Court.

"The opinion of religious leaders who dictate how other people should lead their lives should apply only to those who share their creed, and not to the rest of society," Rachid said during an interview with Castro in the Buenos Aires apartment they share with their dog, Lola.

"We don't need a law to define us as a couple — we've already been a couple for more than 10 years," Castro added. "We just want to have equal rights."

If the law passes, they plan to be first in line for a marriage license.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Girl-on-Girl Dodge Ball Tournament

If you live in the Bay Area and enjoy watching GirlonGirl Dodgeball, then don't miss the Annual GirlonGirl Dodgeball Tournament & Fundraiser for Bay Area Women's & Girls Athletics.

This is a women only event for women who are 21 and over. Men may not attend.

When:
Saturday, November 7th
7:00 PM - Doors Open
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM - Team Check-in & Warm-ups
9:00 PM - Games Begin


Where:

The Craneway Pavillion
1414 Harbour Way SouthMarina District
Richmond(http://www.craneway.com/)

Ticket & Registration Information
Online: http://girlongirldodgeball.eventbrite.com/
Buy tickets online for $12 entry all night long.
Door: $12 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM / $16 after 10:00 PM
Cash & Credit Card Sales Accepted All Night Long
No Ins & Outs

Register to play in the tournament:
E-mail: girlongirldodgeball@hotmail.com

Come support our cause as a spectator of our drunken playground!
Women of all ages, orientation, color and shapes are welcome!

About The Drunken Playground -
6x6 teams + two full courts simultaneously playing!
More referees! Live, computerized, projected brackets!
Trophies & $600 to the championship team!!

Arm Wrestling
Push-up Queen Battle!
Prizes for Best Dressed Team and Craziest Fan Club!

The Main Stage
Live Performance by the Bay Area's own HOT TUB!!
If you haven't seen these ladies perform live, you don't want to miss them! They're blowing up & about to set it off!!

Celebrity Bay Area DJs
Celebrity Bay Area DJ's rotating all night long
- Christie from Wild 94.9
- DJ Malik from the Real World
- DJ Olga T (http://www.djolgat.com/)
- DJ Val G (http://www.djvalg.com/)


- Motive (http://www.djmotivedoesit.com/)

Additional Information
- Four Full Bars - Cash & Credit Accepted - 21 & Over Only)
- GirlonGirl Dodgeball Apparel
- Smoking Area
- Dancefloor
- Plenty of Safe Free Parking
- Amazing Bay Views!

President Obama Signs Hate Crime Bill into Law

On Wednesday President Obama signed a law that makes it a federal crime to assault an individual because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

The expanded federal hate crimes law, hailed by supporters as the first major federal gay rights legislation, was added to a $680 billion defense authorization bill that Obama signed at a packed White House ceremony.

The hate crimes measure was named for Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who died after being kidnapped and severely beaten in October 1998, and James Byrd Jr., an African-American man dragged to death in Texas the same year.

Shepard's mother, Judy, was among those at the ceremony that also included Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Attorney General Eric Holder and leading members of Congress and the Pentagon, who were on hand for the appropriations bill signing.

To loud applause, Obama hailed the hate crimes measure in the bill as a step toward change to "help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray."

He cited the work of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and others "to make this day possible."

Later Wednesday, Obama stood with Shepard's parents and relatives of Byrd at a separate White House event honoring passage of the expanded hate crimes law.

Noting reports of 12,000 crimes based on sexual orientation over the past 10 years, Obama called the bill another step in the continuing struggle for protecting human rights.

"Because of the efforts of the folks in this room, particularly those family members standing behind me, the bell rings even louder now," Obama said. When he finished his remarks, he hugged the weeping relatives as the audience applauded.

Several religious groups have expressed concern that a hate crimes law could be used to criminalize conservative speech relating to subjects such as abortion or homosexuality. However, Holder has said that any federal hate-crimes law would be used only to prosecute violent acts based on bias, not to prosecute speech based on controversial racial or religious beliefs.

Former President George W. Bush had threatened to veto a similar measure, but Obama brought a reversal of that policy to the White House.

When the bill won final congressional approval last week, Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese called the hate crimes measure "our nation's first major piece of civil rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people."

Earlier this month, Obama told the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest gay rights group, that the nation still needs to make significant changes to ensure equal rights for gays and lesbians.

"Despite the progress we've made, there are still laws to change and hearts to open," he said in an address at the group's annual dinner. "This fight continues now and I'm here with the simple message: I'm here with you in that fight."

Among other things, Obama has called for the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military -- the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. He also has urged Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and pass the Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act.

The Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage, for federal purposes, as a legal union between a man and a woman. It allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. The Domestic Partners Benefit and Obligations Act would extend family benefits now available to heterosexual federal employees to gay and lesbian federal workers.

However, some advocates for stronger rights for the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community have complained that Obama's administration is moving too slowly on his legislative promises.

Opponents of the expanded hate crimes bill challenged the need to specify one particular community in federal legislation. They contended that existing federal hate crimes laws were sufficient to protect the rights of people based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

More than 77,000 hate-crime incidents were reported by the FBI between 1998 and 2007, or "nearly one hate crime for every hour of every day over the span of a decade," Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee in June.


Source: CNN

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Results from the 14th Annual Gay & Lesbian Tourism Study

Community Marketing, Inc., (CMI) the San Francisco-based LGBT research and communications firm, surveyed over 5,000 LGBT consumers about their past year travel patterns and future plans in its 14th Annual Gay & Lesbian Tourism Study, the largest study of its kind. CMI will release full the results of the survey at the International Conference on Gay & Lesbian Tourism, Boston, Nov 1-4.

The tourism industry’s longest-running and most representative survey on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) travel indicates growth opportunities for destinations and hotels to market themselves regionally for “staycations.” The survey found tremendous growth in regional vacations over the past 12 months, but the growth was most pronounced to destinations that were drives of two to six hours away from home. The study also found small increases for vacations within the travelers’ own cities.

When asked to specify how many regional drive vacations (including at least one night in a hotel) were taken, 65% took a longer regional drive vacation of more than two hours, with 42% who took a regional drive vacation where the drive was two hours or less, and 14% took a trip where they stayed in a hotel in their own city. This trend should benefit resort destinations like Palm Springs that are close (but not too close) to major metropolitan populations, and major cities like Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC, which are all close to each other, trading stays among LGBT residents. “Gay and lesbian staycations ought to be a focus for tourism offices and hotels looking to make up for decreased long-distance arrivals,” said Thomas Roth, president of Community Marketing.

With regard to restaurants, the study found increased interest by LGBT tourists to seek out independent neighborhood restaurants as a preference over upscale and chain restaurants. 78% indicated they visited neighborhood restaurants while traveling, while 29% indicated they visited high-end establishments.

Overall, LGBT leisure travel was only slightly down over the past 12 months, but held reasonably steady despite the recession. “Less affected by economic downturns than their mainstream counterparts because the majority are dual-income-no-kids consumers, LGBT leisure travelers remain a important niche market for tourism and hospitality,” Roth said. However, business travel among gay men and lesbians saw substantive decreases, mirroring trends in the mainstream business travel market.

Other topics covered in this year’s study are comparisons of past years’ visits with next year’s plans, types of vacations, motivations for travel, research and purchasing resources, and more. To obtain a complimentary copy of the 14th Annual Gay & Lesbian Tourism Study abstract when released in November, please sign up for CMI’s email announcements.

CMI’s annual Gay & Lesbian Tourism Study partners include IGLTA (International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association), ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents), USTOA (United States Tour Operators Association), CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), DMAI (Destination Marketing International Association), NTA (National Tour Association) and Travel Weekly.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lesbian & Gay Couples Face Big Disadvantages in Retirement

A new study released this past week details the inequalities faced by same-sex couples in employer-sponsored retirement plans. Without legal recognition of their relationships under federal law, the report concludes, lesbians and gay men have less retirement income and are disadvantaged in their ability to pass on savings to their families after their death. The study, called "The Impact of Inequality for Same-Sex Partners in Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plans," provides the first detailed demographic portrait of older same-sex couples. It was released by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law with funding support from Merrill Lynch in conjunction with National Save for Retirement Week.

"The findings show that, in particular, female same-sex couples have far less retirement income than different-sex married couples," says study author Naomi Goldberg. Key findings of the report include:

Lesbian couples over 65 have almost 20% less income than heterosexual married couples. Only 50% of lesbian couples have at least one member eligible for an employer-sponsored retirement plan. That compares to 56% of heterosexual married couples and 79% of male same-sex couples. Older same-sex couples receive less income from traditional retirement sources such as retirement, survivor, and disability pensions, than older heterosexual married couples. Men in same-sex couples earn less than their heterosexual counterparts, but appear to work for more years.

The study also analyzes the ways in which elderly lesbians and gay men are disadvantaged when their partner or spouse dies. Upon death, unlike married different-sex couples, 401k balances and remaining assets cannot be passed tax-free to the surviving same-sex spouse or partner. In particular, these studies conclude:

Even in states where same sex couples can marry, private employers can discriminate against same-sex married couples for the purpose of welfare and pension plans because of the reach of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA); thus, same-sex couples typically cannot avail themselves of pension survivor benefits. Surviving same-sex spouses or partners are unable to access social security spousal or survivor benefits. As a result, they lose out on an estimated $5,700 each year in benefits. Because same-sex surviving spouses cannot have the balance of their dead spouse's 401k transferred directly to them, they must begin making withdrawals immediately- often resulting in a higher tax rate and missing out on potential earnings and the ability to withdraw when they are really needed.

"The bulk of these inequalities are a direct result of the Defense of Marriage Act, which forces the federal government to treat same-sex couples differently than married couples when it comes to retirement savings or estate taxes after death," said Goldberg.

"Even without repealing DOMA, Congress could address these inequalities similar to the way it allowed same-sex partners to rollover the balance of their dead spouse's 401ks in 2006. While not perfect, the Pension Protection Act has at least moved same-sex couples closer to equality in the treatment of their retirement assets."

The full report is available at www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute/home.html.

The Williams Institute advances sexual orientation law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates it to judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public. A national think tank at UCLA Law, the Williams Institute produces high quality research with real-world relevance.size:78%;">SOURCE: Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vagina Mints...Really???

Being a lesbian blogger I tend to read other lesbian Blogs, one of them being Geek Porn Girl, who’s author happens to be an acquaintance of mine. I always enjoy her erotic stories and insightful articles and fun comic strips. And earlier this week she was blogging about a product called Linger, a special mint for women. But this mint isn’t the kind you put in your mouth... nope, this one goes somewhere else…yes, I do mean your vagina!

Linger's website states that this product is "A small, naturally sweetened flavoring, free of artificial dyes, which was created to flavor the secretions of a woman when she is sexually aroused." And I was soooo disquested by this product and its marketing, that I had to blog about it myself.

First I need to start by saying, “ what the hell is wrong with the way women taste naturally?” I mean as long as your woman is practicing good basic hygiene, then there should be no problem. And second, anyone who has ever used a sweet flavored lube or sugary substance of any kind while having sex and has subsequently suffered a yeast infection, knows what a terrible idea it is to put a sugary mint inside themselves.

Jen Phillips at Mother Jones, recently received a press kit for Linger and after some investigative work, she found that Linger was being distributed by a company called Admints, a company that makes trade show mints. And the Linger samples that were sent to her were actually the exact same shape, taste, and ingredients as Admint's regular trade show mints.

So how can they get away with passing off regular trade show mints as special vaginal flavoring mints? Well, the directions never actually tell you to put the mints in your vagina, and on the box of mints they added a label that says "for novelty use only."

Charlie Glickman, who is the education program manager at Good Vibrations, says this is common practice in the sex product industy. And by adding that statement on the label, it gives manufacturers some cover in case something goes wrong. "They could say, 'It's just a novelty toy. You weren't actually expecting to use this were you?'"

So please be warned, the primary ingredient in Linger Mints is sugar, which is not safe for your vagina. It throws off your pH and will often cause a yeast infection, which I guarantee will be anything but a pleasant experience. And ladies, please understand, no matter what the various marketing products out there say (i.e. douches, deoderant pads and sprays, etc.), there is nothing wrong with the way you smell, or taste for that matter. So if your significant other is complaining about the way you taste" down there," then send me an email, because I can think of quite a few people I know who would happily take on that task for them!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lesbian Horoscopes for November 2009

BY FLASH SILVERMOON

"....and it's strange...you got to pick up every stitch..must be the season of the witch!?"
Nothing stranger than our weather as the South is still hot and the North had its first snow!
I always find that as November unfolds, some of the chaos and challenges of October seem to resolve themselves however, this November will bring in a whole new set of challenges.

Saturn, the 3 ringed planet that is the task master and teacher, the planet of focus, rules, contraction, obstruction, as well as longevity, will shift from the earthy Mercury ruled-sign of Virgo to the Venus ruled sign of Libra.

Whenever these distant planets shift signs, you can bet that the world and your lives will manifest signatures of such shifts as well. We will retro back to Virgo on April 8 til July 22 which will probably see the final version of Health Care Reform pass into law.

With the Sun in Scorpio for the first part of the month, some of these energies may feel hidden at first but for sure they will be simmering in hot water by the time Sagittarius rolls around.

Saturn in Libra, the sign of relationships, will surely bring the issues of Gay Marriage, as well as Equal Rights, front and center at long last. Saturn is the Law, and Libra is Equality, so I think this will be the time when Equality for All could become the Law of the land. One would have thought that this was our birthright. There can be a global feeling and need for all to GET ALONG.

Libra is the sign of the Peacemaker and hopefully we will actually see our Nobel Peace Prize winning Prez get us out of some wars and enable us to work with a peacetime economy.
Whether it be the relationships of countries or the relationships between people, we will all be seeing what will and what will no longer work for us. Yes Libra is the Peacemaker yet more wars are fought under Libran aspects because most issues revolve around fairness and equality. You know if you have always let her decide on the movies and restaurants or better still the terms of the relationship itself, this may be the time when that lack of fairness begins to wear thin and a new regime will begin or the relationship could be in big trouble. Sometimes Librans can be fence sitters because they really want everyone to like them and when treaties and relationships are bound together by needs and truths that are silenced, sooner or later that dam will burst and problems that seem "Out of the Blue" arise.

In the outer world, we could well see treaties between various countries come apart. In short the rules of the game are changing and relationships will either attain some balance or they will end! This theme will be manifesting more and less through the next couple of years as Saturn makes its way through lovely Libra so this is just the beginning of this topic and we will discuss this theme more fully in future columns.

Let us not forget the beautiful Full Moon in solid Taurus on Nov. 2 which could be a very stabilizing influence. I find this to be the best Full Moon for a Prosperity Ritual. I will be doing one here and you can see a full description of this ritual on my BLOG Flashes of Insight on my website www.Flashsilvermoon.com

I would have to say that this will be good prep for the Holiday Season because on Nov 15 til the end of the month, Saturn and Pluto will square each other and those two planets together in hard aspect can mean harder times for the world. It can tend to create a situation where our survival issues are threatened. Keep your ears to the ground on that one. I don't like to be a gloom and doomer as it only serves to inflate the fear mongering that is used to scare us into settling for fabricated desperate solutions. I prefer hope and evolving consciousness which supports working together to create good and sustainable solutions. We could also see more sharing of power and resources as this will be a path of enlightened self interest.
With Jupiter still nestled close to Neptune and Chiron alternative solutions for healing and energy are not only possible but necessary as these aspects can also bring trouble with toxins and disease.

Everything that we need to heal ourselves can be found in nature somewhere so it is important for us to make that effort and not just"drink the koolaid" of the AMA who sit with needles poised to maybe heal what they probably created!! Oops did I say that??

Ah my Pluto transit is loosening my lips ever more to their radical edge where I am most comfortable living. Funny I must be picking up the style of Sagittarius as I move to the later days of the month. Sagittarians will boldly go where angels may fear to tread and often say things that a wise Scorpio would just keep to themselves.

All and all a fascinating month ahead with many opportunities for growth and elevation. Shed the fears, find your smoothest road and see it opening wide before you with all of your wildest dreams fulfilled!


ARIES - Seems like a whole lot of shakin' will be going on. Hope its not the EARTH? Don't get me wrong, I love live action as long as my feet have something solid underneath. I don't know about any of you other signs but I am feeling like making a big fire. Seems like a lot of good things can happen around a fire.

TAURUS - I love my Full Moon. It's my favorite time of the year when it's just cool enough to really want to cuddle up with something warm and delicious. You know, like me . Good food, good woman, and something sensual in the tune department. Set the mood for the time of your life.

GEMINI - I am finally feeling like I can slow down enough to read the pile of books that are towering over my bed at this point. What to do? Long conversations, hours of reading, meeting new friends, posting on FB, or should I Twitter? OK so what if I am an information junkie at times, I am cute and so interesting. Where would networking be without people like me anyway.

CANCER - Any good excuse to nest works for me and I am ready. Hard to get too comfortable though feeling all the shifts in the Universe. I mean the world for me is like a gigantic full wave water bed. Something moves in Nepal and I feel it in my left foot. Joy breaks out as a well needed rain heals the draught in Texas and I feel it. So, I work on my own environment making it as peaceful as possible.

LEO - Oh Cancer you call me a drama queen! Honey you put me to shame. I just know all will be well wherever I am and that's all there is to it. When you radiate, it makes it really hard to absorb any one's crap. Try it you may find a whole new experience. Works for me anyway and comes so naturally.Let the Sunshine In.

VIRGO - OMG!! Is Saturn really going to take its 3 ringed hoof off of my neck for 6 months? I'll take it. What a relief! I mean I have gotten used to a certain level of frustration and restriction. Some of it really has been useful but hell i am so ready to feel free, to bust my world wide open and take that leap of faith that i have been contemplating for the last 2 years.

LIBRA - Gulp! I guess it's my turn to toe the line. Hopefully this new dance with Saturn will not make me even less decisive. I do want a real relationship with integrity first with myself and then with another. In the meantime, perhaps Saturn will help me shape my creative bursts and not stifle them.

SCORPIO - Why talk so much about it, just do it, feel it and let your essence emanate from your pores. Draw people in so that they see the real you, don't give it to them all at once, who can handle all that? That's the way I do it. If you don't know what to say, just sit there and look mysterious and brooding. Works every time and adds to your intense persona. Muy caliente'

SAGITTARIUS - Shaking the remnants of Pluto's backtrack off of my wings. Thought I was done with that driven feeling but I guess there was a little bit left to kick loose. The cosmos are calling and a quick ride on my magic carpet would be the perfect solution to soaring air fares. I need the exotic and perchance the erotic to soothe my weary soul.

CAPRICORN - Thanks Saggie so glad to have old Pluto kicking me from the underworld once again. I know there are some deeper aspects of myself that I need to explore in order to let go of my baggage and Yes, I will feel much better as that is accomplished but you can't fault me for not wanting to go there just yet. Any chance I can book a seat with you Sag on that carpet of yours.

AQUARIUS - My menage e trois with Jupiter,Neptune and Chiron seems to be lasting all year. Granted it gets stronger and weaker and some days I feel as inflated as Jupiter, full of positive intentions only to feel them dissolve in a few days when Neptune has her way with me calling me like a siren to her undersea reams. After that I am dazed and confused and just when I think this will drive me bonkers, Chiron shines its healing light and i am flooded with wisdom but geez, what a process.

PISCES - I feel for ya my Uranian sister, but then I feel for everybody and everything and since Uranus has been in my sign lo these many years,I never know just what feeling is going to come flying out of the ethers to throw me headlong into a new direction. Since I have had 26 degrees of this wild ride already, I have become adept at free style body surfing the white water but it can be hell on the physical body I can tell you that!

In case you haven’t noticed, this is not your Mama’s Astrological report. I deliberately let the signs talk right to you, giving them a voice that really tells it like it is!

If you know your Rising sign, your reading will be more accurate if you read the passage for that sign as well as your Sun sign.

For deeper questions and readings of an Astrological or Psychic nature, feel free to check out my website.

BLESSINGS FLASH SILVERMOON

Sunday, October 18, 2009

BBC unveils a new drama about Anne Lister, "the first modern lesbian"

The life and times of Anne Lister, a woman who is often considered "the first modern lesbian", is to be the subject of a new BBC drama based on her sexually explicit diaries.

Lister had written about her life and travels in a four million-word collection of diaries prior to death at age 51.

The majority of Lister's diaries were deciphered in the 1930s, as she had developed special encryption to exchange letters with her first lover, Eliza Raine and the married Marianna Belcombe Lawton, with whom she indulged a 16 year long relationship.

In her sexually explicit diaries, Lister referred to orgasms as “kisses”, and marked her diary with a cross to indicate each time she had experienced one.

An October 1820 entry in her diary revealing her attraction to the same sex, read: ‘I love and only love the fairer sex and thus beloved by them in turn, my heart revolts from any love but theirs.’

In another excerpt from the same year Lester said: ‘Yet my manners are certainly peculiar, not all masculine but rather softly gentleman-like. I know how to please girls.”

Maxine Peake, whose previous role include Myra Hindley, is set to play the Anne Lister in special for BBC Two. The film is expected to get underway next month at Listers 19th century home Shibden Hall near Halifax which she shared with her “wife” - another local heiress named Anne Walker, with whom she underwent a same-sex marriage ceremony.

If your interested in reading more about Anne Lister, an author by the name of Helena Whitbread invested six years exploring and decoding Lister's diaries. In her book, I Know My Own Heart: The Diaries of Anne Lister 1791-1840, she offers the diaries a fascinating story about the "everyday" life led by an early 19th century lesbian.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Real L Word Now Casting!

Want to be a part of a groundbreaking show produced by a TV Dream Team?

THE REAL L WORD: Los Angeles is now casting.

Are you and your friends proof the The L Word exists in real life?
The L Word was a runaway iconic hit, affecting millions of lives – imagine what the real life version will do!

From Showtime, Golden Globe winner Ilene Chaiken (The L Word) and Magical Elves (Peabody Award-winning Project Runway & Emmy-nominated Top Chef) comes a documentary series about the real lives of lesbians.

THE REAL L WORD: Los Angeles will follow a group of real-life, high-profile, left coast lesbians as they go about their daily lives, at work and play. The producing team plans to show viewers that the cast can be every bit as glamorous, fashionable, fabulous and even as cutthroat as their celebrated-but-fictional counterparts.

They are currently seeking ladies from all walks of life to be the pioneering voices in this series. However, you must be based in the Los Angeles area or moving there soon.
We want all types, from the power of Bette to the mojo of Shane.

Are you and your partner about to adopt? Do all the bouncers in WeHo know your name? Do you consider your friends family? Are you coming out of the closet and want to help others by sharing your journey? Are you or someone you know moving out to the more Sapphic-ly welcoming culture of L.A.? Are you a card-carrying 'power lesbian'?

Whatever your story, whatever your situation - they want to hear from you!

Please email casting@magicalelves.com; tell them about yourself, and be sure to include a recent photo.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

International Drag King Community Extravaganza Heads to Tuscon



The 11th annual International Drag King Community Extravaganza (IDKE XI) will take place from October 21-25, 2009 in Tucson, Arizona.

IDKE is five days of drag king and gender performance culture, featuring workshops, performances, youth activities, an art & film festival and special keynote speaker Kate Bornstien.

The mission of IDKE is to bring together drag kings, queens, burlesque, and other types of gender performers (fans too) as a community to share ideas, techniques, and experiences in performance.

Schedule of events:

*Wed 10/21: 12-4 Art @ Dinnerware Gallery. 8pm BRU Kick Off Show @ The Surly Wench Pub.

*Thurs 10/22: 12-4 Art @ Dinnerware Gallery. 2-6 Films @The Screening Room. 6pm Art Reception@ Dinnerware Gallery. 8pm Meet & Greet @Hotel Congress. 11pm Optimist Dance Part @ Hotel Congress.

*Fri 10/23: 9-4 workshops @ Hotel Arizona. 12-4 Art @ Dinnerware Gallery.12-4 Films @The Screening Room. 430pm Youth Dragdom @ The Screening Room. 8pm Dragdom @ The Rialto Theater.

*Sat 10/24: 9-12 workshops @ Hotel Arizona. 12-2 keynote speaker Kate Bornstein. 12-4 Art @ Dinnerware Gallery. 2-6 Films @The Screening Room

8 pm Showcase @ The Fox Theatre. 11pm Showcase after party @ the Starlight Ballroom.

*Sun 10/25: 9-1pm Brunch @ The Tucson Museum of Art. 2-6pm Art @ Dinnerware Gallery. 2-6pm Films @The Screening Room.

Costs associated with attending the event: Full conference price $135 (excludes kick off show and burlesque), some events are no cost.

Visit website for full details at www.idkexi.com.

Defying Inequality: The San Francisco Concert


If you live in the San Francisco/Bay Area, love music and support LGBT Equality, then head over to the Palace of Fine Arts on Monday, October 26th for Defying Inequality: The San Francisco Concert.

This concert will be featuring celebrity performances and appearances by the cast of WICKED and other many other celebrity guests.

The concert will begin at 7:30 pm and the Post-Event VIP Carnival will begin at 9:30 pm.

For more information or to buy tickets, check out their website at http://www.defyinginequality.com/sanfran/

Monday, October 12, 2009

California Governor Signs 3 LGBT Bills

I am happy to announce that Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law three historic LGBT rights bills today that were sponsored by EQCA:

The Harvey Milk Day bill, authored by Senator Mark Leno, will honor the slain civil rights leader with the nation’s first “day of special significance” for an openly LGBT person in the country;

The Family Protection and Marriage Recognition Act, also authored by Senator Leno, underscores that same-sex couples married out of state are entitled to full recognition in California, and

The LGBT Domestic Violence Programs Expansion Bill, authored by Assemblymember John A. PĂ©rez, will expand funding for LGBT domestic violence programs in California.

Three more steps toward LGBT equality in California!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Domestic Violence: Abuse in Lesbian Relationships

Article from Womensweb.com

Violence against women in now recognized as a significant health issue. Abuse in lesbian relationships must also be recognized as a major health concern in our communities. Victims of abuse may be affected sexually, physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

Although violence against lesbians occurs in other contexts (e.g., lesbian bashing and heterosexual rape), this article focuses on abuse in intimate relationships. Although the principles presented in this article apply equally to these contexts, this article also presents additional dynamics in cases of abuse against lesbians outside their intimate relationships. It provides guidelines for lesbians, friends, and helping professionals responding to lesbian abuse.

Fears about coming forward and discussing abuse

Until fairly recently, violence in lesbian relationships has been a taboo subject and one best kept "behind closed doors". Only in the recent past have women begun to name and discuss their abusive relationships. One reason is that, until recently, abuse has been hidden. However, additional factors have made it more difficult for lesbians to discuss abuse in their relationships.

For many lesbians, a same-sex relationship is a positive alternative to heterosexual relationships. It's often assumed that women interact in a caring and supportive fashion and that as a result, they cannot be abusers. Consequently, it's commonly thought that abuse occurs only in heterosexual relationships. Consider also society's prejudices and misconceptions about lesbians. There is fear that open discussion will generate even more negative images and notions about the lesbian community.

The larger social context

In speaking about violence in lesbian relationships, we must always consider the larger social context of lesbians' lives. Violence against lesbians may stem from hatred of women (misogyny) and fear of homosexuals (homophobia). It can also be linked to other forms of domination within society, such as racism and classism. These can provide the framework that allows abusive relations between people.

For instance, in our society, women often report feeling devalued or commodified—feeling like little more than sexual objects or property. Because they are seen as sexual deviants threatening the social and moral fabric of society, lesbians are often ostracized and discriminated against.

Where heterosexist and misogynist views exist, anger, fear, and rage can be misdirected at partners who have come to represent those things we've been taught to hate in ourselves. Like others in our society, lesbians are a product of their upbringing; they could have been been exposed to unhealthy patterns of dealing with conflict and anger. They may have learned about relationships from abusive families and may not have learned how to behave appropriately in an intimate and caring relationship.

Violence and violent patterns may be learned. A person who has learned violent patterns may use violence as a means to gain and maintain control of another person. Therefore, as a result of societal influences, abuses of power, ownership, and control can exist in lesbian relationships.

Types of abuse

As seen, abuse is a pattern of behavior in which physical violence and/or emotional coercion is/are used to gain and maintain power or control in a relationship. Abuse may be continuous, or it may be a single incident of assault. Abuse may be physical, sexual, psychological/emotional, or ecomonomic. It can include threats, the destruction of property, and/or stalking/harassing behavior. (See Types of Abuse for more information and concrete examples.)

Prevalence of violence

At present, there are no reliable statistics clearly demonstrating the scope of lesbian abuse. Although studies have attempted to identify the incidence of lesbian violence, there has been little consistency in the results. Therefore, lesbians must often rely on anecdotal reports to fully appreciate the scope of abuse within the lesbian community. Some report having been subjected to psychological and emotional abuse. Others report physical or sexual assault. Unfortunately, few victims of abuse seek counseling or legal/medical services. It seems even fewer turn to police, shelters, or distress lines, believing social service workers, health care officials, and police need to become educated in order to address the issue properly and appropriately.

Why does lesbian abuse happen? Myths and facts

Although there are many explanations as to why abuse occurs in lesbian relationships, these are often myths fueled by stereotypes, fear and prejudice. Below are some common myths:

  • Myth: Lesbian relationships are never abusive.

    Fact: Although it's commonly thought that lesbians are caring and supportive to one another, violence does exist in some relationships.

  • Myth: Lesbian violence occurs only in "butch" and "femme" relationships. The "butch" is the batterer and the "femme" is the victim.

    Fact: Regardless of the fact that most lesbians do not assume explicitly butch-femme roles, the roles themselves do not automatically dictate who has more power or the desire to exercise more control in the relationship.

  • Myth: Abuse between lesbians is mutual. Both partners contribute equally to the violence.

    Fact: This myths assumes that lesbian relationships are always equal partnerships. In violent relationships, there is often a perpetrator and a victim. A perpetrator cannot be distinguished by any features such as size, height, or age. Defending oneself against an attacker must be examined closely as it may be mistakenly construed either as initiating or equally contributing to abuse.

  • Myth: Abusive lesbian relationships involve apolitical lesbians or lesbians who are part of the lesbian bar culture.

    Fact: Violence in lesbian relationships is not limited to any particular "type" of lesbian. Abuse transcends race, class, age, political affiliation, and interests.

  • Myth: Lesbian violence is caused by substance abuse, stress, childhood violence, or provocation.

    Fact: While these factors may account for an abuser's patterns of abusive behavior, there is no simple cause-and-effect relationship. Abusers have choices and can control their behavior. Abusers must assume responsibility for their actions; there's no excuse or justification for violence.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Support Rises for Civil Unions for Gay Couples

The Associated Press reported today that an increasing majority of Americans favors allowing same-sex couples to obtain most of the same rights as married straight couples, but only 39 percent support legalization of same-sex marriage, according to a poll released Friday. The Pew Research Center said support for civil unions has risen to 57 percent, up from 54 percent a year ago and 45 percent when the question was first asked by Pew in 2003.

Views on legalizing same-sex marriage remained almost unchanged from last year, with 53 percent opposed and 39 percent in favor, the center said.

Supporters of same-sex marriage were divided over the best way to pursue legalization. Forty-five percent of those surveyed favored pushing hard to legalize it as soon as possible, while 42 percent said pushing too hard for swift legalization might trigger a backlash against gays and lesbians.

There was more support for same-sex marriage among women, adults under 30 and college-educated people.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Vermont, and will begin in New Hampshire in January.

A November referendum in Maine will determine the fate of a same-sex marriage bill passed by the Legislature in May, and the City Council in Washington, D.C., is to vote soon on the issue.

This article appeared on page A - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gay Rights March to End a Century of Persecution

By Margot Canaday, Philadelphia Inquirer

This weekend, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans will march in the nation's capital. They won't be marching for marriage rights alone. They'll be marching for complete federal equality - an end to second-class citizenship.

Organizer Cleve Jones sees Sunday's National Equality March as introducing a shift in movement strategy, from an emphasis on the patchwork progress made in states and localities to an unqualified demand for national equality. Such a move would hold the federal government more accountable not only for its current policies - some of which, such as the Defense of Marriage Act, interfere with progress on the state and local levels - but for its long history of anti-gay discrimination.

Few realize how long that history actually is, but federal hostility to homosexuality is at least a century old. Indeed, 2009 can be considered a centennial that offers another reason to march: 100 years have passed since federal officials first began to build a citizenship policy that excludes or degrades gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

In 1909, an immigration official named Marcus Braun sat down to type out a report warning of a "new species of undesirable alien" who he believed should be barred from entering the country: "the moral degenerate," or homosexual. The Braun report was a quiet, bureaucratic start, but it represents nothing less than the beginning of gay and lesbian expulsion from the rights and obligations of national citizenship.

After Braun stood up from his typewriter, the architecture of second-class citizenship for homosexuals was gradually constructed across the federal bureaucracy. By the middle of the 20th century, the U.S. government had distinguished itself from other Western democracies in its hostility to homosexuality.

Homosexual aliens were explicitly prohibited from entering the country and from naturalization. They were barred from serving in the military and fired from jobs in the civil service. Washington even tried to steer government benefits away from homosexuals by reserving the most generous benefits for married couples and by excluding homosexuals from programs such as the GI Bill.

And while states and localities generally policed homosexual conduct, the federal government often went beyond the issue of conduct to police homosexual status or personhood. To do so, federal officials used ill-defined and ambiguous concepts. The military's historical policy on homosexual tendencies, for example, punished the homosexual, as one man put it, "less for what he does than for who he is."

Once in place, federal exclusion has proven remarkably durable. Today, only its sharpest edges have been blunted.

The ban on gay federal employees has been lifted, but the community still has no umbrella of protection against employment discrimination comparable to that of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Congress ended its restriction on gay immigrants in 1990, but gays and lesbians cannot secure legal residency for their same-sex partners through marriage, as straight people can. The prohibition against openly gay personnel in the armed services is still in place. And Social Security and other federal benefits do not extend equally to gays, who are ineligible to receive benefits accrued by a life partner upon his or her death.

Furthermore, the 1996 enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act demonstrated that the federal government's backwardness goes beyond perpetuating retrograde policies to actually inaugurating new ones.

This is, of course, why gay activists have for so long directed their efforts toward making change at the state and local levels; that has simply seemed to be the best use of their time. Their victories there have been nothing short of astonishing. Gay marriage is now legal in six states, and many more have laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in housing, employment, and other areas.

I hope we not only continue to "fill in the map" on those issues, but also build on momentum coming out of the states to demand more change at the national level. My reasons for this are grounded less in contemporary political calculations than in the history of national citizenship, including this unhappy centennial for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. We merit the attention of federal policy makers - and our issues are not merely state and local matters - because of this long period during which the federal government has been not just an inadequate protector, but a key inflicter of our pain.

Consider the words of one young soldier accused of homosexuality who found herself in front of a military board facing an undesirable discharge. "I don't feel that I am being treated like an American citizen," she said. "I would like to know why."

The year was 1958, and this brave woman did not need the experience of 100 years of federal discrimination to motivate her very simple question. How many more years do we need to answer it?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Margot Canaday is an assistant professor of history at Princeton University and the author of "The Straight State: Sexuality and Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America." For more information, see www.press.princeton.edu.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

National Coming Out Day is October 11, 2009

Whether you're lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or not, be proud of who you are and your support for LGBT equality this National Coming Out Day.

Watch HRC's Conversations From the Heart videos, donate your Facebook status and pledge to have conversations from the heart with your friends and family for equality. A simple conversation can change the lives of people you care about.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Obama to take on military gay ban at `right time’

By The Associated Press
10.05.2009


(Washington) President Barack Obama will focus “at the right time” on how to overturn the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military, his national security adviser said Sunday.
“I don’t think it’s going to be – it’s not years, but I think it will be teed up appropriately,” James Jones said.

The Democratic-led Congress is considering repealing the 1993 law. Action isn’t expected on the issue until early next year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently wrote Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked to share their views and recommendations on the contentious policy. In Sept. 24 letters, Reid also asked for a review of the cases of two U.S. officers who were discharged from the military because of their sexuality.

“At a time when we are fighting two wars, I do not believe we can afford to discharge any qualified individual who is willing to serve our country,” Reid wrote.

Jones said Obama “has an awful lot on his desk. I know this is an issue that he intends to take on at the appropriate time. And he has already signaled that to the Defense Department. The Defense Department is doing the things it has to do to prepare, but at the right time, I’m sure the president will take it on.”

As a candidate, Obama signaled support for repealing the law. To the disappointment of gay-rights supporters, he has yet to made a move since taking office in January. The White House has said it will not stop the military from dismissing gays and lesbians who acknowledge their sexuality.

Last year, 634 members of the military were discharged for being gay, or .045 percent of the active-duty U.S. force, according to an Aug. 14 congressional report.

The largest number of gays who were ousted under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy came in 2001, when 1,227 were discharged, or .089 of the force.

The House is considering legislation to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” and allow people who have been discharged under the policy to rejoin the military.

Jones appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union."

GLBT History Month 2009 Icons Monday, October 5 - Sunday, October 11th

October 5th - Ruth Ellis
"I never expected I'd be 100 years old. It didn't even come to my mind."Ruth Ellis, who lived to be 101, was credited with being the oldest known lesbian and GLBT civil rights activist. More...




October 6th - Rainer Fassbinder
"I'd like to be for cinema what Shakespeare was for theatre, Marx for politics and Freud for psychology." Actor, director and screenwriter Rainer Fassbinder made over 40 films in his 15-year career. He is among the most important figures in New German Cinema. More...




October 7th - Michel Foucault
"It's not enough to affirm that we are gay, but we must also create a gay life."Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, sociologist and educator who had a profound impact on academic thought. He is best known for his critical studies of psychiatry, the prison system and human sexuality. More...



October 8th - Harry Hay
"In order to earn for ourselves any place in the sun, we must work collectively for the first-class citizenship of minorities everywhere." In 1950, Harry Hay founded the Mattachine Society, an underground network for homosexuals. It was one of the first American gay organizations. More...



October 9th - Magnus Hirschfeld
"Soon the day will come when science will win victory over error, justice a victory over injustice, and human love a victory over human hatred and ignorance."Pioneering sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld devoted his life to the scientific validation and political liberation of homosexuals. He helped lay the groundwork for the modern GLBT civil rights movement. More...



October 10th - Zora Neale Hurston
"Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at de sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground."American author and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston is the author of "Their Eyes Were Watching God," a book heralded as one of the most poetic works of fiction by a black writer in the first half of the 20th century. More...


October 11th - Jasper Johns
"To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist." Jasper Johns is one of America's most successful and influential contemporary artists. His paintings and prints, often incorporating objects and symbols from popular culture, inspired a new generation of artists and laid the groundwork for the Pop Art movement. More...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Nevada's New Domestic Partnership Law

By ED VOGEL
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL CAPITAL BUREAU

Las Vegans Earl Shelton and Richard Kuta are not considered married, but they will have virtually all the rights of married couples as a result of Nevada's new domestic partnership law taking effect today.

"We feel sheer and utter joy about the law," said Shelton, publisher of QVegas, an information magazine for Southern Nevada gays and lesbians.

"Passing it was another footstep in the right direction."

About 700 same- and opposite-sex couples are scheduled to receive certificates today recognizing them as legal domestic partners. Shelton and Kuta will be among them.

Gay and lesbian couples look at today as historic in their quest to secure civil rights. Seven years ago, such a day might not have seemed possible after two-thirds of Nevadans approved the Protection of Marriage constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

"This is one of those situations that I never thought would happen," said Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, the only openly gay member of the Legislature. "Our society has moved forward."

With passage of Parks' bill, Nevada became one of 12 states that permit gay and lesbian couples to secure domestic partnerships. Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont allow same-sex couples to marry. New Hampshire will permit same-sex marriages starting Jan. 1.

Language in the enabling bill, Senate Bill 283, specifies that gay and lesbian couples in Nevada are not considered married, but enjoy other rights married couples have.

Those rights include the ability to make health care decisions for each other, hold community property and not be required to testify against a partner in court cases.

The law also states that companies that offer health care benefits to their employees may provide benefits to their domestic partners, though that is not required.

The Nevada domestic partner statute does not affect federal laws. That means a person cannot claim a partner as a spouse to file a joint income tax return or secure Social Security benefits of a deceased partner.

Secretary of State Ross Miller and Parks will be on hand at the state Capitol this morning and at the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas in the afternoon to hand out domestic partner certificates.

Most couples, however, are having them sent to their residences. The couples who will receive the initial certificates are those who pre-registered for domestic partnership between Aug. 24 and Sept. 24.

Richard Ziser, who led the drive in Nevada to define marriage in the state constitution as being between a man and a woman, said no decision has been made by his Coalition for Protection of Marriage organization to challenge the domestic partnership law.

Lawyers told him it would be easier to overturn the law through a public referendum rather by going to court. But public referendums require petition gathering, which is very costly, Ziser added.

Tod Story, a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Las Vegas, said passage of the domestic partnership law shows Nevada remains a "live and let live state."

He and his longtime partner will receive their domestic partnership certificate today.

"What same sex couples are trying to accomplish is equal rights," Story said. "We want to have the opportunity to have our relationships recognized by law and to be treated equally."

George Flint, the owner of a wedding chapel in Reno and legislative lobbyist for the industry, said his and other chapels will offer commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples.

"This is really a good thing for Nevada," Flint said. "When we have a commitment ceremony, they will first sign a statement that it is nothing more than a blessing, not a marriage. But it makes them feel good."

Flint expects as time goes on more opposite-sex couples will file for domestic partnerships.

Parks added domestic partnerships also will help older people, especially women, who live in the same home and may not even have a romantic relationship. Through domestic partnerships, they could make medical decisions for each other.

Miller said the 700 couples who so far have sought the certificate exceeded his expectations. It is about twice the number as in Wisconsin, a state with a domestic partner law and with a much larger population than Nevada.

"We really didn't know how many to expect," he added.

Nationally there are about 150,000 same-sex couples who reported last year that they were in a relationship akin to that of married couples, according to a recent U.S. Census Bureau study. Las Vegas lawyer Jim Shaw conducted about 12 seminars with gay and lesbian groups about the new law. He found people were eager to learn about it. The biggest questions were whether other states would recognize Nevada domestic partners and whether Nevada would recognize their civil unions, according to Shaw.

"There are a lot of uncertainties," he said. "There is no yes or no answer."

The domestic partnership law says Nevada won't recognize same-sex marriages from other states but will recognize unions similar to our domestic partnerships. For Nevada to recognize another state's domestic union, the law says, the couple needs to secure a domestic partnership in Nevada.

Reno employment lawyer Anthony Hall also expects litigation will eventually be filed regarding same-sex couples who are denied Federal Family Leave Act benefits. This federal law grants spouses up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for sick husbands or wives.

Although Nevada law does not give federal rights to domestic partners, the Family Leave Act itself states the leave will be granted by states to spouses according to how they define a husband or wife.

Hall said this could mean a case can be made that Nevada's domestic partners should receive family leave benefits.

"It is a big open question in employment law," Hall said.


Source: Las Vegas Review Journal

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October is GLBT History Month

Modeled after Black and Women’s History Months, GLBT History Month highlights annually the achievements of 31 gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender Icons—one each day—with a free video, bio, bibliography, downloadable images and other resources.


For details, check out the video below.





 

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