Category Archives: News

What the Hell, Alabama?

From AL.com by Mike Cason

A bill to eliminate marriage licenses in Alabama and instead have couples file an affidavit that probate judges would record as part of a marriage document moved a step close to becoming law today.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill by Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range. Albritton has tried to pass similar bills since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015.

After the Supreme Court decision, probate judges in some Alabama counties stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether because they did not want to license same-sex marriages. Albritton said his bill would eliminate the discrepancy.

“This will allow everyone to be married in their home county,” Albritton said.

Current law says couples wanting to get married must obtain a license from a probate judge. The law says probate judges “may” issue licenses but does not require them to.

“There’s still counties that will not issue marriage licenses,” Albritton said. “They take the word may to the extreme, if you will.”

Albritton did not know exactly how many but said there were probably about seven such counties.

Albritton’s bill said probate judges “shall” record each marriage if couples provide the proper documentation. That includes affidavits saying they are of legal age, are not already married, are not related and are competent to enter a marriage.

“I would suggest this is the end of the state telling people who they can and cannot marry. A license is permission,” Albritton said.

His bill would also eliminate the requirement in current law to hold a ceremony to “solemnize” a marriage. Current law requires the minister, judge, retired judge or person otherwise authorized to perform a ceremony to sign the marriage license before it is recorded as a certificate or marriage.

The committee approved the bill on a voice vote today. Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Pleasant Grove, voted against it. Coleman said she opposed the bill because of its origins, the resistance of some probate judges to licensing same-sex marriages after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

“I do remember the original dialogue where it came from,” Coleman said. “So that was my no vote. It was still one of those kind of protest votes against what I felt was the original reason why we were here with this bill in the first place.”


Yesterday

Yesterday was not a good day. First of all, for the past few days, I’ve had a toothache when I lie down at night. It doesn’t really hurt any other time. Sunday night, the pain stopped and I thought all was okay. Then on Monday night, the pain was back. I didn’t have a choice but to call my dentist and make an appointment. Luckily, they were able to get me in right away. They did an x-ray of the tooth. Underneath the filling I just had done a few weeks ago, there was s huge cavity that had grown into the pulp of my tooth. The only way to eliminate the pain is to do a root canal. However, I have to wait until April 30 to do anything about it. So that’s how my morning started out.

Then I got two emails. One asked me to do an oral history on a 90-year-old alumnus. The problem is not doing an oral history; that is still part of my job description. The problem is when he’s in Vermont, I am not. So it looks like I may have to go to New Jersey for the interview. The trip may or may not involve a funeral.  In the second one, the speaker I had hoped to get for an event in November can’t make it for the dates we need. This is my third try at a speaker. So I am back to square one. We do have an alumnus who is the head of a major Washington museum whom my boss is trying to get instead. It turns out, though, he has to go through our Development Office first. That’s just one more delay.

I also realized how much I still have to do before I leave for Alabama on Sunday.

On top of all that, I had a migraine for most of the day.


Tumblr Bans Adult Content

Tumblr will permanently ban adult content from its platform on December 17th in a move that will eradicate porn-related communities on the platform and fundamentally alter how the service is used. The ban includes explicit sexual content and nudity with a few exceptions. The new policy’s announcement comes just days after Tumblr was removed from Apple’s iOS App Store over a child pornography incident, but it extends far beyond that matter alone. “Adult content will no longer be allowed here,” the company flatly stated in a blog post published on Monday

Banned content includes photos, videos, and GIFs of human genitalia, female-presenting nipples, and any media involving sex acts, including illustrations. The exceptions include nude classical statues and political protests that feature nudity. The new guidelines exclude text, so erotica remains permitted. Illustrations and art that feature nudity are still okay — so long as sex acts aren’t depicted — and so are breastfeeding and after-birth photos.

After December 17th, any explicit posts will be flagged and deleted by algorithms. For now, Tumblr is emailing users who have posted adult content flagged by algorithms and notifying them that their content will soon be hidden from view. Posts with porn content will be set to private, which will prevent them from being reblogged or shared elsewhere in the Tumblr community. Users have a chance to appeal Tumblr’s decision in situations where they think there’s been a mistake, and the platform admits there’s a chance that the automated tools it’s using could make errors. It’s a process that could take a while, as a bulk of Tumblr posts feature explicit content. Users who run adult blogs can also export their content before the change takes place in order to save what they have.

Explicit blogs will be allowed to remain on the service, but they’ll be heavily censored for all visitors. Here’s Tumblr’s FAQ:

What if my blog (not to be confused with posts) was marked as “explicit” before December 17, 2018? 

Blogs that have been either self-flagged or flagged by us as “explicit” per our old policy and before December 17, 2018 will still be overlaid with a content filter when viewing these blogs directly. While some of the content on these blogs may now be in violation of our policies and will be actioned accordingly, the blog owners may choose to post content that is within our policies in the future, so we’d like to provide that option. Users under 18 will still not be allowed to click through to see the content of these blogs. The avatars and headers for these blogs will also be reverted to the default settings. Additionally, posts from these blogs are kept out of search results.

Since Tumblr was founded in 2007, it has largely turned a blind eye to adult content. The company has tried to shield it from public view through Safe Mode and more stringent search filters. But in recent months — and under the ownership of Verizon’s Oath unit — it began to consider removing content more aggressively. “We’ve given serious thought to who we want to be to our community moving forward,” CEO Jeff D’Onofrio says in a blog post. “We’ve realized that in order to continue to fulfill our promise and place in culture, especially as it evolves, we must change.” D’Onofrio says Tumblr weighed the pros and cons thoroughly before making its decision. It also decided not to remove explicit accounts because it wanted to give these accounts a chance to post appropriate content instead.

Under Oath, Tumblr has been cleaning up its platform more rapidly than it had done in previous years. In August, Tumblr announced new community guidelines that banned revenge porn, hate speech, and posts that glorified school shootings.

If users mourn the loss of adult content on Tumblr, D’Onofrio claims they have many other solutions. “There are no shortage of sites on the internet that feature adult content. We will leave it to them and focus our efforts on creating the most welcoming environment possible for our community,” he said. That argument will do little to curtail anger over this decision from people who have used Tumblr as a safe place to enjoy, share, and discuss their preferred flavor of porn and adult content.

Ask Tumblr to reverse this extreme censorship:

https://www.change.org/p/tumblr-com-allow-nsfw-content-on-tumblr


Inappropriate? Indecent? What do you think?

A man claims he was sexually harassed at a New York City gym when three men in a steam room with him dropped their towels and started pleasuring themselves.

The alleged victim has filed a lawsuit against the fitness chain Equinox, after claiming he was enjoying an afternoon steam at the location on Broadway in Gramercy Park last November.

‘I’m relaxing, I’m sitting in the corner, it’s very meditative,’ the man, identified in court papers as just GB, told the New York Post.

‘The steam clears… And I look across from me. This gentleman, sitting pretty close, his towel is open, his legs are spread and he’s looking right at me, and the guy next to him was rubbing [the man’s] inner thigh.

‘He’s looking right at me, his towel’s off, and he’s masturbating.’

GB, who is a straight single father, told the paper that he then looked around and realized the third man in the steam room at the time was also masturbating.

He then said he panicked and thought he wouldn’t be able to escape – worried the three men might overpower him and sexually assault him.

The alleged victim then quickly left the steam room, dressed and went to the front desk to report the incident, but said staff members didn’t take any action.

He said the incident left him ‘shaken up.’

GB also alleges in the Manhattan Supreme Court Filing that Equinox ‘has known for as much as 10 years prior that similar wrongful acts were occurring in its steam showers.’

In a recording, taken by GB and obtained by the Post, the manager of the fitness chain location acknowledged it was a problem.

‘It’s something that every gym in New York City, not just Equinox, has an issue with,’ the manager can be heard saying.

The gym, where memberships cost upwards of $200 a month, told the Post it ‘thoroughly investigates’ complaints.

A spokeswoman for the location said staff ‘did exactly what in this case,’ adding ‘we maintain a zero-tolerance policy for any inappropriate behavior in our clubs.’

But GB claims the gym refused to revoke the masturbators’ memberships.

From UK Daily Mail


From WBHM in Birmingham

The Southeast is home to roughly 35 percent of LGBT people in the U.S., the largest LGBT population in the country, according to data compiled by the Williams Institute at UCLA. This find might seem surprising to some since most Southeastern states have few or no policies protecting LGBT people. A team of researchers in Georgia are seeking to learn more about the lives of LGBT people in the South. Eric Wright, who chairs the sociology department at Georgia State University, says there are a number of reasons why so many LGBT people call this region home.

“One of which is that the cost of living generally speaking is lower in the U.S. South than in other parts of the country,” he says. “There’s also been what some researchers have called a reverse migration, particularly of minorities.”

That means many Southern LGBT people who migrated to more progressive areas of the country are returning to the Southeast. To find out why so many call this place home, Wright and his research partner, Ryan Roemerman with the LGBT Institute created what they call the Southern Survey. It’s a comprehensive study that seeks to examine the lives of LGBT people across 14 Southern states.

“One of the things that we want to be able to accomplish through this survey is to be able to provide our non-profit partners across the South with data that they can use for policy development, grassroots organizing and fundraising,” Roemerman says.

The survey is by and for LGBT people in the South. This may help them better understand individual needs of the community, such as housing for transgender people or health services for lesbians living in rural areas, Wright says . And, he says, it will also help decipher the needs of this community in different Southern states. According to the LGBT Institute, more than half of the 100 anti-LGBT bills proposed this year were drafted in Southeastern states.

The survey is open through this month and the team expects to release its findings early next year.


A Posthumous Wedding

Gay Man Makes History By Marrying Cop Killed In Terrorist Attack

Curtis M. Wong is the Senior Editor of HuffPost Queer Voices
A gay police officer killed by a gunman in Paris was married in a posthumous wedding that’s believed to be a historic first.
Xavier Jugelé, 37, was shot dead April 20 on the Champs-Élysées three days before the French presidential election. The Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack, which left two other officers wounded. The gunman, identified as Karim Cheurfi, was shot dead by security forces.
Though details of Wednesday’s nuptials are scarce, Etienne Cardiles married Jugelé in a ceremony attended by former French president François Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, The Guardian reports. It’s believed to be the first posthumous same-sex wedding to take place in France (where marriage equality has been the law of the land since 2013) and possibly the world, according to the BBC.
The U.S. does not recognize posthumous matrimony under federal law, but its origins in France can be traced back to 1803. The practice became particularly popular during World War I, when it allowed women to wed slain soldiers, thus legitimizing any children conceived beforehand and entitling them to a pension.
France’s current legislation allowing people to marry the dead dates back to 1959, when a woman named Irène Jodard requested permission from former French President Charles de Gaulle to wed her fiancé, André Capra, after he had drowned. Hundreds of people have since applied for post-mortem matrimony under the law, which requires applicants to send a formal request to the president, according to The New York Times.
Cardiles made global headlines when he delivered an impassioned eulogy at an April 26 memorial service for Jugelé, who had also been deployed during the Nov. 13 terror attacks in Paris.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m suffering without hate,” Cardiles said in the speech, which was transcribed by Time magazine. “This hate, Xavier, I don’t have it because it never existed in you… Because tolerance, dialogue and temperance were your best weapons. Because behind the policeman there was the man. Because you become a policeman by choice; the choice to help others and to fight against injustice.”
An associate described Jugelé as having been “really committed” to queer causes. Mickaël Bucheron, who is the president of Flag, a French association for LGBTQ police officers, said Jugelé had been active with the group for several years. “He protested with us when there was the homosexual propaganda ban at the Sochi Olympic Games,” Bucheron told The New York Times.
Here’s to hoping the union gives Cardiles some comfort following his tragic loss.


Only in Alabama 


Beauty and the Beast has a gay scene in it. If you didn’t know this by now, what rock have you been under? The thing is, an Alabama drive-in theater, the Henagar Drive-In Theater, refused to show the movie because of its gay scene. Tragic as that is, this story has a funny ending. The owner replaced Beauty and the Beast with a film called Fierce because, based on the film’s poster, she thought it was a Game of Thrones style film about dragons. By the way, Game of Thrones has many gay scenes, but that’s beside the point because Fierce is about drag queens. She replaced a movie that had a small gay scene with an explicitly gay movie. What a dumbass!

Henagar is not a place where I have been nor is it a place I’d visit. It’s up on Sand Mountain. Those people are bat-shit crazy. That’s where the snake handling churches are. If you don’t know about snake handling churches, these churches release venomous snakes into the congregation and only the holy won’t be bit. There also used to be a sign as you went up the mountain that told black people not to be caught on the mountain after dark, implying they’d never leave alive if they did. These are seriously fucked up people.


Just a Matter of Time

Ending guidance from the Obama administration, Trump’s new policy aims to allow states to establish their own rules for transgender students in some settings — such as requiring transgender boys to use the girls restroom — without objection from the federal government.

The Trump administration on Wednesday issued new guidelines that roll back an Obama administration policy that had been designed to reduce anti-transgender discrimination in public schools.

In issuing new school guidance, the Department of Justice and Department of Education sent a letter to public schools that said the departments “have decided to withdraw and rescind the above-referenced guidance documents in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved. The Departments thus will not rely on the views expressed within them.”

“Please note that this withdrawal of these guidance documents does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment.”

Originally issued last May, the Obama-era guidance told schools they “must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity.” While that was not a new position for the government under Obama, it was the most explicit interpretation of existing law, concluding that transgender students must be allowed access to gender-appropriate restrooms and locker rooms.

The government said at the time that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans sex discrimination in public schools, also bans transgender discrimination as a form of sex discrimination, and warned that schools breaking the rules could lose federal funding.

Despite the federal government’s position, states and local school districts could adopt their own transgender-inclusive rules — and those with existing rules will remain in place. Trump’s latest guidance also does not block individuals or advocacy groups from raising their own complaints in federal court that a transgender student’s rights have been violated.

James Esseks, who oversees the ACLU’s litigation on behalf of a transgender student in Virginia, told reporters on a call Tuesday, “Courts enforce Title IX and courts at the end of the day decide what the scope of Title IX is.”

Withdrawing the guidelines was widely expected, given Trump’s nod to state’s rights on the campaign trail, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer announcing that a new policy was imminent. The new guidance also dovetails with the Justice Department’s decision this month to step away from defending the guidance in a federal appeals court.

Still, a fight broke out between factions of the Trump administration, when US Attorney Jeff Sessions pressed to reverse the guidance and ran up against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to a New York Times report on Wednesday.

Both of their agencies, the Justice Department and Education Department, which issued the guidance last year, had to concur on any new guidance. Citing three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions as sources, the Times said Trump sided with Sessions after a meeting in the Oval Office, leading DeVos to capitulate.

At a White House Press briefing, however, Spicer played down those fractures Wednesday afternoon, noting that “there’s no daylight between anybody between the president, between any of the secretaries” and said DeVos was on board “100%.” While officials considered legal and procedural issues, he said, “where you might be hearing something” relates to timing and wording of the new guidance.

Spokespeople for the agencies did not respond to inquires about the new policy on Wednesday.

Overriding the old guidelines will likely have little short-term impact on schools — the old guidelines were suspended by a federal court last summer. Most immediately, the move could neutralize lawsuits from more than a dozen states that had challenged the policy and could be a factor in a case scheduled before the Supreme Court next month.

The new guidance was submitted to the Supreme Court on Wednesday night as an attachment to a letter announcing the move in that case.


Monogamy

After all this talk of open relationships and polyamorous love, a new study has just found that younger gay couples are trending toward monogamy once again. At least, according to a new study.

The study, titled “Choices: Perspectives of Younger Gay Men on Monogamy, Non-monogamy and Marriage,” was conduced by researchers Blake Spears and Lanz Lowen. They surveyed over 800 single, monogamously-coupled, and non-monogamously coupled gay men ages 18-40 years about their relationships. A handful of “monogamish” men were also interviewed.

More at: https://www.queerty.com/monogamy-making-comeback-among-younger-gay-couples-study-finds-20160922


Italy Finally Approves Same-Sex Civil Unions 


Italy’s parliament approved same-sex civil unions and expanded rights to unmarried heterosexual couples on Wednesday after Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called a confidence vote to force the bill into law.

Italy is the last major Western country to legally recognize gay couples and an original draft law had to be heavily diluted due to divisions in Renzi’s ruling majority. The bill had faced stiff opposition from Catholic groups who said it went too far, while gay activists said it was too timid While parliament was voting, gay rights groups gathered outside with a banner reading: “This is just the beginning.”

“Today is a day of celebration in which Italy has taken a step forwards,” Renzi said in a radio interview after the legislation was approved. The 41-year-old premier promised to prioritize legislation for gay rights when he took office in early 2014, but the bill has proven to be one of the most contested of a raft of initiatives he has pushed through parliament. The bill, originally presented in 2013, cleared its final real hurdle earlier on Wednesday with the confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies, which passed it by 369 votes to 193. The chamber then rubber-stamped the bill with a final ballot.

“There is still a long way to go for full equality but this is an excellent starting point,” said Gabriele Piazzoni, president of gay rights group Arcigay. The bill gives gay couples the right to share a surname, draw on their partner’s pension when they die and inherit each other’s assets in the same way as married people.

As a member of Arcigay (I got my membership when I was in Italy because many gay clubs require it), I am very happy that Italy has moved this far. The Catholic Church is a major force in Italy and has been a major opponent to gay rights. Italy still has more to do, but this is a step in the right direction.

Now is there a handsome Italian man who’d like to marry me and bring me to Italy? I’m a great cook. I’m smart, a good conversationalist (once you get me going), know a little Italian, and would make a wonderful house-husband for the right man. I spent a month in Italy doing research a few years ago and have always wanted to go back. I’ve always said that I’d love to live in Italy.


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