Tuesday, May 31, 2016

2016 Pride Month Proclamation From President Obama: "LGBT Individuals Deserve To Know Their Country Stands Beside Them"

The White House has just released the text of President Obama's presidential proclamation acknowledging June 2016 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month:

Since our founding, America has advanced on an unending path toward becoming a more perfect Union. This journey, led by forward-thinking individuals who have set their sights on reaching for a brighter tomorrow, has never been easy or smooth. The fight for dignity and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people is reflected in the tireless dedication of advocates and allies who strive to forge a more inclusive society. They have spurred sweeping progress by changing hearts and minds and by demanding equal treatment — under our laws, from our courts, and in our politics. This month, we recognize all they have done to bring us to this point, and we recommit to bending the arc of our Nation toward justice.

Last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing marriage equality in all 50 States was a historic victory for LGBT Americans, ensuring dignity for same-sex couples and greater equality across State lines. For every partnership that was not previously recognized under the law and for every American who was denied their basic civil rights, this monumental ruling instilled newfound hope, affirming the belief that we are all more free when we are treated as equals.

LGBT individuals deserve to know their country stands beside them. That is why my Administration is striving to better understand the needs of LGBT adults and to provide affordable, welcoming, and supportive housing to aging LGBT Americans. It is also why we oppose subjecting minors to the harmful practice of conversion therapy, and why we are continuing to promote equality and foster safe and supportive learning environments for all students. We remain committed to addressing health disparities in the LGBT community — gay and bisexual men and transgender women of color are at a particularly high risk for HIV, and we have worked to strengthen our National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce new infections, increase access to care, and improve health outcomes for people living with HIV.

Despite the extraordinary progress of the past few years, LGBT Americans still face discrimination simply for being who they are. I signed an Executive Order in 2014 that prohibits discrimination against Federal employees and contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. I urge the Congress to enact legislation that builds upon the progress we have made, because no one should live in fear of losing their job simply because of who they are or who they love. And our commitment to combatting discrimination against the LGBT community does not stop at our borders: Advancing the fair treatment of all people has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and we have made defending and promoting the human rights of LGBT individuals a priority in our engagement across the globe. In line with America’s commitment to the notion that all people should be treated fairly and with respect, champions of this cause at home and abroad are upholding the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights.

There remains much work to do to extend the promise of our country to every American, but because of the acts of courage of the millions who came out and spoke out to demand justice and of those who quietly toiled and pushed for progress, our Nation has made great strides in recognizing what these brave individuals long knew to be true in their hearts — that love is love and that no person should be judged by anything but the content of their character. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, as Americans wave their flags of pride high and march boldly forward in parades and demonstrations, let us celebrate how far we have come and reaffirm our steadfast belief in the equal dignity of all Americans.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2016 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fortieth.

Lead Singer Of Christian Band EVERYDAY SUNDAY Comes Out As Gay

Trey Pearson, front man for Christian rock band Everyday Sunday, has come out in a heartbreaking open letter to his fans.

Via the Washington Post:

To my fans and friends:

Most of us reach at least one pivotal moment in our lives that better defines who we are.

These last several months have been the hardest — but have also ended up being the most freeing months — of my life.

To make an extremely long story short, I have come to be able to admit to myself, and to my family, that I am gay.

I grew up in a very conservative Christian home where I was taught that my sexual orientation was a matter of choice, and had put all my faith into that. I had never before admitted to myself that I was gay, let alone to anyone else. I never wanted to be gay. I was scared of what God would think and what all of these people I loved would think about me; so it never was an option for me. I have been suppressing these attractions and feelings since adolescence. I’ve tried my whole life to be straight. I married a girl, and I even have two beautiful little kids. My daughter, Liv, is six and my son, Beckham, is two.

I had always romanticized the idea of falling in love with a woman; and having a family had always been my dream. In many ways, that dream has come true. But I have also come to realize a lot of time has passed in my life pushing away, blocking out and not dealing with real feelings going on inside of me. I have tried not to be gay for more than 20 years of my life. I found so much comfort as a teen in 1 Samuel 18-20 and the intimacy of Jonathan and David. I thought and hoped that such male intimacy could fulfill that void I felt in my desire for male companionship. I always thought if I could find these intimate friendships, then that would be enough.

Then I thought everything would come naturally on my wedding night. I honestly had never even made out with a girl before I got married. Of course, it felt anything but natural for me. Trying not to be gay, has only led to a desire for intimacy in friendships which pushed friends away, and it has resulted in a marriage where I couldn’t love or satisfy my wife in a way that she needed. Still, I tried to convince myself that this was what God wanted and that this would work. I thought all of those other feelings would stay away if I could just do this right.

When Lauren and I got married, I committed to loving her to the best of my ability, and I had the full intention of spending the rest of my life with her. Despite our best efforts, however, I have come to accept that there is nothing that is going to change who I am.

I have intensely mixed feelings about the changes that have resulted in my life. While I regret the way I was taught to handle this growing up, how much it has hurt me and the unintentional pain I have brought Lauren, I wouldn’t have the friendship I now have with her, and we wouldn’t have our two amazing, beautiful children. But if I keep trying to push this down it will end up hurting her even more.

I am never going to be able to change how I am, and no matter how healthy our relationship becomes, it’s never going to change what I know deep down: that I am gay. Lauren has been the most supportive, understanding, loving and gracious person I could ever ask for, as I have come to face this. And now I am trying to figure out how to co-parent while being her friend, and how to raise our children.

I have progressed so much in my faith over these last several years. I think I needed to be able to affirm other gay people before I could ever accept it for myself. Likewise, I couldn’t expect others to accept me how I am until I could come to terms with it first.

I know I have a long way to go. But if this honesty with myself about who I am, and who I was made by God to be, doesn’t constitute as the peace that passes all understanding, then I don’t know what does. It is like this weight I have been carrying my whole life has been lifted from me, and I have never felt such freedom.

In sharing this publicly I’m taking another step into health and wholeness by accepting myself, and every part of me. It’s not only an idea for me that I’m gay; It’s my life. This is me being authentic and real with myself and other people. This is a part of who I am.

I hope people will hear my heart, and that I will still be loved. I’m still the same guy, with the same heart, who wants to love God and love people with everything I have. This is a part of me I have come to be able to accept, and now it is a part of me that you know as well. I trust God to help love do the rest.

– Trey

It remains to be seen if this will damage, or possibly end, his music career in the Christian music realm.

(h/t Boy Culture)

Mother Of Little Boy Who Fell Into Gorilla Habitat Defends Her Parenting Skills

The mother of the 4-year-old boy who fell into the gorilla habitat at the Cincinnati Zoo, which led to the death of 17 year old gorilla Harambe on Saturday, took to Facebook to defend herself.

As most folks now know, the little boy crawled through a barrier and fell into a moat, where he was picked up and dragged around by the 400-pound, male gorilla. Deciding a tranquilizer dart could make the gorilla more agitated, the decision was made to shoot and kill the animal.

As the story went out via the media, lots of folks expressed the idea that the mother bears some responsibility for not watching her four year old more closely. If she had, the gorilla would not be dead.

In a now-deleted Facebook post, the mom, Michelle Gregg, slapped back at those she felt judged her parenting skills.

“I want to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers today,” she wrote. “What started off as a wonderful day turned into a scary one. For those of you that have seen the news or been on social media that was my son that fell in the gorilla exhibit at the zoo. God protected my child until the authorities were able to get him. My son is safe and was able to walk away with a concussion and a few scrapes...no broken bones or internal injuries.”

“As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen but I am thankful that the right people were in the right place today. Thank you to everyone that helped me and my son today and most importantly God for being the awsome [sic] God that He is.”

Witnesses have been quoted as saying they overheard the boy tell his mother he wanted to go into the enclosure with the gorillas. So the idea that he wanted to get closer must not have been a surprise to the mother.

You'll note Ms. Gregg takes no personal responsibility at all for the fact the boy crawled into the habitat. None.

Cute Straight Guy Explains Why He Goes To Gay Bars

I've posted videos by popular YouTuber (and LGBT ally) Chris Thompson before, and always like his point of view.

Apparently, I missed a recent video he shared where he mentioned going to a gay bar (did I mention he's openly heterosexual?)

It seems he got some backlash from some folks who didn't like the idea of a straight guy in a gay bar.

So, Thompson is back with this explanation as to why he hangs at a gay bars occasionally.

For the record, I have NO problem with straight dudes in gay dude bars. None.

Happy 40th Birthday Colin Farrell

Uber-talented actor and marriage equality ally Colin Farrell turns a very sexy 40 years old today.

Let's just take a moment and enjoy the view, shall we?

Donald Trump Rails Against "Sleaze" Media

In what was supposed to be a press conference about his fund-raising for veterans, GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump went on an angry rant against the press, calling out reporters as "sleaze" for not giving him enough credit for raising money for veterans.

“Instead of being like, ‘Thank you very much, Mr. Trump,’ or ‘Trump did a good job,’ everyone said: ‘Who got it? Who got it? Who got it?’” Trump said. “And you make me look very bad. I have never received such bad publicity for doing a good job.”

ABC News' Tom Llama earned the badge of "sleaze" for asking how much money Trump raised for veterans.

"What I don’t want is when I raise millions of dollars, have people say this sleazy guy right over here from ABC, he's a sleaze in my book — you're a sleaze because you know the facts and you know the facts well," said Trump pointing to Llama.

Llama took the attack in stride on Twitter:

From Talking Points Memo:

During the Trump Tower press conference, Trump announced that he raised $5.6 million for veterans groups, down from the $6 million he originally said that he raised for veterans group at the January fundraiser he held in lieu of attending a Fox News debate.

But since his initial claim, it's been unclear just how much Trump raised, how much he personally donated to veterans groups, and which groups received donations as a result of the fundraiser. Trump on Tuesday characterized the number as "almost $6 million."

Throughout the press conference, Trump railed against the press for looking into the details of his fundraiser.

"The press should be ashamed of themselves," he said, telling reporters, "You make me look very bad."

Trump said that he wanted the donations to veterans groups to be "private" and that he didn't want "credit" for the money he raised, and said he was forced to reveal details about the fundraiser because of the press. He also said that it took time for him to send donations to veterans groups because he had to vet the groups.

"The press is so dishonest and so unfair," he lamented.

Viral Video: Giant Gator Strolls A Florida Golf Course


Comic book fans have no problem with many of their favorite heroes being gay. But when their stories get translated to the silver screen, their sexuality gets a make-over. Why exactly is that?

This trailer calls for studios such as Marvel and DC to include diverse characters in their films and give LGBT kids a hero they can look up to.

Via press release:
Why are LGBT Superheroes missing or desexualised in hollywood blockbusters?

Iceman, Mystique, Catwoman and many other well known superheroes are written as LGBT in the comic books, only to then appear as straight when they hit the big screen.

Launching in partnership with MCM Comic Con today and following #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend trending last week, this trailer gives fans the first opportunity to see LGBT superheroes accurately brought to life.

“This project has been been completed created by volunteers,” said Director Mike Buonaiuto. “We hope that we can demonstrate to the studios that there is a huge audience for accurate LGBT portrayal on the big screen, and it won’t deter cinema­goers to buy tickets.”

Adele To Filming Fan: "You Can Enjoy It In Real Life"

California Gov. Brown Endorses Hillary Clinton Ahead Of CA Primary

California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an open letter announcing his endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president in advance of the California primary which will be held one week from today.

On Tuesday, June 7, I have decided to cast my vote for Hillary Clinton because I believe this is the only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump.

I have closely watched the primaries and am deeply impressed with how well Bernie Sanders has done. He has driven home the message that the top one percent has unfairly captured way too much of America’s wealth, leaving the majority of people far behind. In 1992, I attempted a similar campaign.

For her part, Hillary Clinton has convincingly made the case that she knows how to get things done and has the tenacity and skill to advance the Democratic agenda. Voters have responded by giving her approximately 3 million more votes – and hundreds more delegates – than Sanders. If Clinton were to win only 10 percent of the remaining delegates – wildly improbable – she would still exceed the number needed for the nomination. In other words, Clinton’s lead is insurmountable and Democrats have shown – by millions of votes – that they want her as their nominee.

But there is more at stake than mere numbers. The Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has called climate change a “hoax” and said he will tear up the Paris Climate Agreement. He has promised to deport millions of immigrants and ominously suggested that other countries may need the nuclear bomb. He has also pledged to pack the Supreme Court with only those who please the extreme right.

The stakes couldn’t be higher. Our country faces an existential threat from climate change and the spread of nuclear weapons. A new cold war is on the horizon. This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun. Hillary Clinton, with her long experience, especially as Secretary of State, has a firm grasp of the issues and will be prepared to lead our country on day one.

Next January, I want to be sure that it is Hillary Clinton who takes the oath of office, not Donald Trump.

It's worth noting that Brown is also a Superdelegate, so that's one more delegate in her column, no?

Monday, May 30, 2016

North Carolina: Crowd Goes Wild As Gay Couple Renew Marriage Vows At Edward Sharpe Concert

Rather than cancel their scheduled concert in North Carolina, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros took a different approach to protesting North Carolina’s HB 2,

Frontman Alex Ebert told the crowd of 2,500 that although he had to miss his friends’ wedding, wouldn't it be a good idea if he could help them renew those vows in front of the audience?

He then invited those friends, Dan Mathews and Jack Ryan, on stage to do just that.

And the crowd goes wild!

Ebert told Rolling Stone,  “HB2 was passed by an immoral minority – North Carolina has many thriving, creative, modern communities. We were tempted to cancel the show, but decided at the last minute to rally the crowd instead by renewing the vows of our good friends onstage.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders Sidesteps Question Whether He Would Consider VP Spot

Sen. Bernie Sanders talks to Meet The Press host Chuck Todd about his path to the Democratic nomination, and whether he would consider being Hillary Clinton's running-mate if she were to ask.

“I’m knocking my brains out to win the Democratic nomination,” Sanders said. “That’s where I am right now. What happens afterwards, we will see. But right now, my focus is on winning the nomination.”

Folks are calling that a "side-step," but in truth, what other answer could he really give at this point?

This Is An Ad For Sunglasses

(via Ray Bans Tumblr page)
Those are some niiiiiiice sunglasses.

What If We Abolished The Practice Of SuperDelegates?

Depending on the day, I can't tell if Sen. Bernie Sanders doesn't like the concept of Superdelegates or if he does.

Throughout the campaign he and his surrogates complained how having Superdelegates "rigs" the system. He did this mainly because he didn't have many, and Hillary Clinton did.

He called for abolishing the idea.

NOW, however, his only possible path to the Democratic nomination is to somehow convince those  Superdelegates that have declared their support for front-runner Hillary Clinton to switch their allegiance to him.

Because folks always jump off the winning team?

The fact is, even if we didn't have Superdelegates, Hillary would still be ahead of Bernie by 250-300 delegates depending on how you changed the rules.

The system isn't "rigged" in Hillary's favor. Sanders knew and competed with the same rules she did.

She just showed more class when faced with the inevitable math in 2008 when she found herself in a similar situation running against then-Senator Obama.

I hope, once we get past June 7th, Sanders doesn't choose to drag the drama out all the way to the Democratic convention. It will only hurt the party and help Donald Trump.

Memorial Day 2016

Today is Memorial Day here in the USA. I urge everyone to take a moment and reflect on who and what we are remembering today.

The last Monday in May has been observed nationwide as a day to remember and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in our military since 1868.

Originally called "Decoration Day" (as flowers were used to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers), the date of observance was chosen not as the anniversary of a particular battle, but because it would be the optimal date for flowers to be in bloom.

The name "Memorial Day" was adopted in 1882, but not officially declared by Federal law until 1967.

As he has for the past 7 Memorial Day observances, President Obama laid a wreath today at the Tomb of the Unknowns to honor members of the military who died serving their country.

Speaking to a large crowd, Obama called for Americans to honor the fallen by caring for those they leave behind - their families and their battle buddies who come home.

"We need to be there not just when we need them, but when they need us," Obama said of the nation's veterans.

HBO's John Oliver Asks "How Is This Not A Thing?"

Taking the week off for Memorial Day, HBO's John Oliver of Last Week Tonight flips the script on their usual "How is this a thing?" segment and wonders aloud "How is this NOT a thing?"

What kind of "things" would Oliver like to see invented? How about a biodegradable tread mill, car keys that cry if you attempt the leave the house, or bread pants?

(h/t JMG)

Bill Kristol Hints At "Impressive" Independent Entering White House Race

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol teased the Twitterverse yesterday, saying there will be an independent candidate entering the race for the White House — “an impressive one, with a strong team and a real chance.”

Donald Trump did not take kindly to that.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Cincinnati: Zoo Staff Shoots Gorilla After 4-Year-Old Enters Gorilla Habitat

According to the zoo staff, a tranquilizer dart would not have taken effect immediately. And the gorilla, in an agitated state, could lash out at the nearest thing to him in defense, which might have been the little boy.

Zoo experts across the country acknowledge the gorilla was at no fault in the incident. But, in considering the risk of harm to the little boy, most experts feel the right decision was made.

Witnesses says they overheard the boy repeatedly saying he wanted to go into the gorilla habitat, and his mother kept telling him 'no.'

How hideous that a mistake by this little boy - or perhaps his mother who clearly wasn't watching her child closely enough - resulted in the gorilla losing his life.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson Becomes 2016 Libertarian Presidential Candidate


Fly Lands In Donald Trump's "Hair" - Becomes Internet Star

From: ABC7 News:

While speaking to the crowd at the Anaheim Convention Center, a fly landed in Trump's distinctive hair.

Trump continued to speak, appearing to not notice the fly or simply choosing to ignore it.

The insect seemed very comfortable, making no attempt to fly away in the midst of the high-powered campaign event.

(h/t LGBTQ Nation)

Marco Rubio Apologized To Trump For Making Fun Of The Size Of His "Hands"

CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday morning’s State of the Union asked Sen. Marco Rubio about the moment Rubio's presidential campaign seemed to "jump the shark" - when Rubio raised the issue of Donald Trump’s penis on the campaign trail, and thereby causing it to be read into the historical record at a subsequent debate.

Rubio revealed that he apologized to Trump for the incident, because “that’s not who I am”: I apologized to him for that. I said “I’m sorry I said that, it’s not who I am, and I shouldn’t have done it.”

(h/t JMG)

That Time Art Garfunkel Almost Got A Beat-Down From Shonda Rhimes

Tony Award nominee Leslie Odom Jr. tells The Tonight Show's Jimmy Fallon about the night when TV wonder-producer Shonda Rhimes almost threw down with Art Garfunkel during a performance of Hamilton.

I've Really Got To Get Back To The Gym

(via BosGuy)

Creator Of Bernie Sanders/DMX Video: It Was "A Social Experiment"

After a lot of folks (including me) were fooled by a faked video of Sen. Bernie Sanders entering a campaign rally to the strains of a homophobic rap song by DMX, Matt Rettenmund at Boy Culture received the following statement from Edwin Acuna, who copped to creating the video:

So long story short, this was a social experiment, and everyone seem to fall for it. Im a Bernie supporter but one of the main things that I set to prove is the medias ability to rewrite headlines and make everything seem twisted. The video was a joke at first, I imagined a 70 year old man walking out to a song that has a hard intro (subtract the homophobic lyrics, which is why it isn't in the video) but as i thought about it, i knew everyone would go nuts, i just want to give a major shout out to boy culture for keeping a level head about the situation. The video was faked, if you're going to support a candidate dont do it cause of a viral video, and if it sparks you're interest, let the flame burn a lot longer than just voting and walking away, we as american citizens have more power than we think, and to all those people thinking they got a 1up on Bernie….I say this:

(image via Edwin Acuna)

Salon received a similar statement from Acuna:

“To make a long story short, It started off as a goof, and turned into a social experiment. Literally everyone and their mothers went nuts, using it for their own agendas to prove that some how Bernie Sanders was anti gay all along, I chose that song because I knew it would shake up both ends of the spectrum. So I want to ask everyone, The younger folks out there, I really do appreciate the immense love everyone gave Bernie Sanders, but please think more about the political process and get involved instead of having to have a viral video to motivate you to make a move and vote. To those Hilary supporters, I hope you feel at a lose for words and I say that with all due respect, I respect your stance but Id like to ask you how it feels to believe you almost had a 1up on Bernie and a reason to shame him only to come up short? Just like you all accused the Bernie supporters of being senseless for following this man coming out to a DMX you too are a victim of blindly believing everything you see on the internet. With that said, I hope everyone remembers what memorial day is all about and RIP to all my dead soldiers, its more than just a 3 day weekend. God bless america.”

After all that word salad, I still don't see how fooling folks with a fake video would somehow be a help to Sanders.

I think the guy meant to fool folks and got busted, and then tried to spin it as a "social experiment."

Saturday, May 28, 2016

UPDATE: Sanders Campaign Says Anti-Gay "Rap" Intro Video Is Faked

UPDATE: Looks like I, and many major LGBT bloggers got punked. And I have to say, my first instinct was to ignore the story. But major sources I trust posted it, so I jumped. My bad.

The Sanders campaign, speaking to Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade says the video is a fake.

Warren Gill, a Sanders spokesperson, said when asked by the Washington Blade to comment on whether the candidate would condemn the music the video “has been doctored.”

“Someone ripped the music from this video and placed it over Sanders’ entrance,” Gill said.

The campaign shared footage with the Blade of a video it says is from the same rally in which no homophobic music is played, but the same two individuals who introduce Sanders are dressed in the same clothes as they greet the candidate on the stage.

First, Sen. Bernie Sanders got in hot water with the LGBT community over misrepresenting his meeting with HIV/AIDS activists.

Now, he has further inflamed LGBT activists over video footage showing him entering a campaign rally this week to the strains of DMX's "Where The Hood At?"

Why the fury? Isn't rap cool?

Mmm, maybe not so much when it's a homophobic/transphobic track that calls out "homo thugs" and more.

Check the lyrics to the song:

Man, cats don't know what it's gonna be
Fuckin with a nigga like me, D-to-the-M-to-the-X
Last I heard, y'all niggaz was havin sex, with the SAME sex
I show no love, to homo thugs
Empty out, reloaded and throw more slugs
How you gonna explain fuckin a man?
Even if we squashed the beef, I ain't touchin ya hand
I don't buck with chumps, for those to been to jail
That's the cat with the Kool-Aid on his lips and pumps
I don't fuck with niggaz that think they broads
Only know how to be ONE WAY, that's the dog
I know how to get down, know how to BITE
Bark very little, but I know HOW TO FIGHT
I know how to chase a cat up in the tree

The clip below shows Sanders entering the rally accompanied by the song. The clip cuts out before the homophobic lyrics.

(h/t Aaron Baldwin)

Sen. Bernie Sanders Calls Out #ChickenTrump Over Debate Snub

On last night's edition of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," Sen. Bernie Sanders was feeling a different kind of "burn" after the possibility of a debate with presumptive GOP White House nominee Donald Trump fizzled.

“First he said he would do it,” Sanders said. “Then he said he wouldn’t do it. Then he said he would do it. Then he said he wouldn’t do it. So I would hope that if he changed his mind four times in two days, [he’d] change it a fifth time. You know, Trump claims to be a real tough guy, pushes people around. Hey, Donald, come on up. Let’s have a debate about the future of America.”

HIV/AIDS Activists Angry Over Bernie Sanders "Misrepresenting" Meeting

HIV/AIDS activists are royally pissed off at Sen. Bernie Sanders after the Sanders team issued a press release suggesting a meeting held between the activists and Sanders focused on his endorsement of a California ballot initiative that could lower prices for tax-payer supported HIV/AIDS treatment and drugs.

Via Sanders' press release:

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday met with national HIV/AIDS advocates to discuss the epidemic and his support for a California ballot initiative to lower prices for taxpayer-supported AIDS treatments.

“Let me thank you for the work you do,” Sanders said at the conclusion of the meeting. “The issues you have raised are enormously important and effect millions of people in this country and more around the world.

“I look forward to continuing to work with you,” the senator added at the meeting hosted by Danny Glover, the activist and actor.

The ballot proposition Sanders supports – the California Drug Price Relief Act – is supported by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and National Nurses United, both headquartered in Oakland, California. The measure would prohibit the state from paying more for a prescription drug than the lowest price paid for the same drug by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. It would make sure that state taxpayers will no longer be ripped off by pharmaceutical companies that charge exorbitant prices for AIDS treatments and other prescription drugs. “We think it’s a great start and we applaud the people of California for standing up to the pharmaceutical industry,” Sanders said afterward.

Sanders’ proposal to provide Medicare-for-all universal health care would also benefit the 1.2 million Americans with HIV/AIDS.

At the meeting, Sanders noted that he has introduced a plan to lower costs for HIV/AIDS drugs. His measure would establish a prize fund to provide incentives for drug makers to develop new treatments. Unlike the current system that lets drug makers charge the highest prices in the world for medicine sold in the United States, medical breakthroughs made under the prize fund system would make the new drugs available to the public at affordable prices.

Sanders also agreed to set a national goal of ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S. by the year 2025 so that HIV is no longer a public health threat to any community in the U.S. and that people with HIV are able to live long, healthy lives.

Sanders also has called for expansion of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program which provides HIV-related services. The senator also promised to push for stronger civil rights protections for people living with the disease.

Longtime HIV/AIDS Activist Peter Staley issued this angry statement after the press release from Sanders:

Feeling used and abused by the Sanders campaign right now. They just issued a press release making it sound like our meeting was about his endorsement of AHF’s drug pricing ballot initiative in CA.

Senator Sanders never brought the issue up during our meeting. WE brought it up near the end, only to tell him that we had been flooded with messages from all the leading AIDS organizations in CA with deep concerns about AHF’s initiative — they are worried it could actually negatively impact access to AIDS drugs.

Those groups have tried to reach the campaign with these concerns but had hit a brick wall. We asked Sanders to designate someone in his campaign to talk with these groups, and he agreed to this.


His campaign should not have issued a press release implying this was a major topic of discussion at the meeting, and that there was general agreement on the Senator’s position on this. Anything but.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Radio Show: Political Activist Aaron Baldwin On The Current Presidential Campaigns

Check out my latest radio show on BlogTalkRadio:

Aaron Baldwin, San Francisco based LGBT/political activist, joins Randy to talk about the current state of the 2016 presidential campaigns and more.

While Donald Trump has the GOP nomination in hand, there are a few state primaries left for the Democrats including delegate-rich California and New Jersey on June 7th.

Currently leading in the polls for those states, when will Hillary Clinton finally close out the Democratic nomination?

What new twist will Donald Trump throw in the mix?

Aaron doesn't hold back when sharing what he thinks, so tune in to hear his thoughts on this unpredictable presidential race.

Hit play below, or you can click the download button and listen when convenient. You can also download for free via iTunes.

THIS Guy Is Ready For The Weekend

Donald Trump Says Debate With Bernie Would Be "Inappropriate"

Running out of cash in the days running up to the California Democratic primary on June 7th, Sen. Bernie Sanders threw a 'hail Mary' in his attempt to debate GOP nominee Donald Trump.

Trump appeared to take the bait at the time, but later said he was joking.

But Sanders has run full steam ahead hoping for the exposure in lieu of buying expensive TV time in California.

Trump finally put the idea to rest today with this statement:

“Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher,” Trump said.

“Likewise, the networks want to make a killing on these events and are not proving to be too generous to charitable causes, in this case, women’s health issues. Therefore, as much as I want to debate Bernie Sanders – and it would be an easy payday – I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”

Moments before Trump's statement was released, Sanders' campaign team told the media that ABC and CBS had offered to make multi-million dollar donations to get the right to air the proposed debate. ABC later confirmed that, but CBS says they made no commitments regarding charitable donation.

Additionally, technology company Traction and Scale offered $10 million to help make the debate happen.

I think most folks never believed Trump would really debate with Bernie.

Senate Democrats Growing Weary Over Bernie Sanders' Trump Debate

Some Senate Democrats are groaning over Sen. Bernie Sanders recent attempt to debate presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump in advance of the California primary on June 7th.

Via Politico:

“Bullshit,” said Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. “That confirms what we’ve been saying. Why would you expect Bernie should be considerate or be nice or be working to bring everyone together? Why? He’s not a Democrat.”

The party’s frustrations are boiling over with Sanders as the primary season winds down: Namely that Sanders seems unwilling or unable to admit that Hillary Clinton is on course for the nomination. The ire toward Sanders began earlier this year among the loudest Democratic cheerleaders for Clinton — and now it’s seeping into nearly the entire Senate Democratic caucus.

Lawmakers reacted with puzzlement, sarcasm and barely veiled anger as Sanders’ campaign and Trump himself played up an event that would exclude Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

“I don’t know why he would do that. I think it’s time to start to winding down the primary,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.). “It’s time to move on.”

“It’s peculiar,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). “It’s all about Bernie trying to get the advantage in California. It’s not going to work.”

David Schwimmer & James Corden "Drop The Mic" In Rap Battle

Last night on CBS' The Late Late Show, David Schwimmer and host James Corden threw down in a "Drop The Mic" rap battle, and some hilarious rhymes were dropped.

Corden began with this: "Millennials, let me introduce you to this guy. His name is David – he was famous in '95. He was on TV then. Now it's 2016, and he has no Friends."

Referencing Schwimmer's new role in The People v. O.J. Simpson against him: "He was a Kardashian on TV, but that was only for pretend. You played Robert, and that was a great combo. But you were so white, you shoulda probably played the Bronco."

Schwimmer was not intimidated, opening his salvo with this: "We all know as an actor your roles were all the same: the heavy best friend, the humorous side-kick with a belly so big you can't find your own –."

Along the way, the former Friends star took aim at Corden's weight ("They know me in Japan; they know you at In & Out"), and TV pedigree ("You're late night; I'm prime-time. You're cola, I'm fine wine.")

The battle looked like a draw until Rebel Wilson crashed the party with rap attacks for both Corden ("Carpool Karaoke, you think it's your big thing. But everyone is thinking, 'Shut up and let Adele sing.'") and Schwimmer ("David, your career – it's a huge mistake. It's like Ross and Rachel; it's 'on a break.'").

Some fun stuff here. You can watch the full battle royale below.

San Diego Padres Reinstate DJ Artform After National Anthem Debacle

DJ Artform, the man now famously responsible for the humiliating National Anthem incident involving the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego at the Padres’ Pride Night game has been re-hired by the team following an MLB investigation which found no “malicious intent” behind the error.

As many know by now, Artform was the man who hit "play" on a recording of the Star Spangled Banner this past Saturday for the Gay Men's Chorus. Unfortunately, he played the wrong recording - one of a woman singing the anthem. The men of the GMC felt humiliated as they could do nothing but stand center field as the full recording continued to play.

Artform has not only issued a heartfelt apology to all those involved, but went on talk radio to explain how the debacle occurred.

The Gay Men’s Chorus accepted Artform’s apology, and publicly asked the Padres to give him a second chance.

DJ Artform shared the news of his reinstatement with the Padres via Facebook:

Speaking from the heart got me this far, so I’ll speak from the heart again as this controversy comes to a close.

First and foremost, I would like to personally thank the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, MLB and the San Diego Padres for truly understanding what caused the error during the National Anthem. I’m extremely humbled and honored for the tons of support of individuals who truly know my character and for those who had no idea who I was but believed in me from the start.

I am extremely relieved that MLB’s thorough investigation concluded and found the truth behind this entire unfortunate event.

I would also like to thank the entire community for rallying behind me and signing the petition requesting reinstatement of my duties with the San Diego Padres.

I have spoken to an executive within the Padres and,while details have not yet been discussed, have accepted an invitation to return and again provides services to the team.

I truly hope we can continue to build bridges with and between the LGBT community and Major League Baseball, as well as athletics in general.

Once again, I am truly sorry for the incident that occurred and for all those negatively affected, the Chorus in particular. I’ve exposed my heart to the world and I appreciate you all rallying behind this San Diegan.


Furry Friday: Ben Cohen

We haven't seen much of LGBT ally and rugby icon Ben Cohen in some time. Long time readers know Ben frequently adorned the pages of The Randy Report, especially as he was launching his anti-bullying StandUp Foundation.

Ben announced he wasn't doing his annual calendar this year as he felt his body wasn't up to the visual.

I'm certain it was, and is :)

But let's celebrate a little Furry Friday with this gif from a couple of years ago.

(h/t kenneth in the 212)

Short Film: "If I Could Talk"

Beautiful short film by Shawn Welling.

From his official website:

Welling is an American photographer and film maker who began his career as a dance choreographer and theatre performer.

He is the founder and current sole owner of the Planet Funk Dance Academy in Houston, Texas. Planet Funk an organization whose dance teams have toured globally.

As a filmmaker, Welling features well know dancers in documentary,feature length, and web series films. Shawn Welling is winner of over 30 accredited IMDB Film Festival awards including awarded Best Film in 2009 and Best Director 2011 from Houston Press and the coveted WOD Industry award for Best Film Director in L.A.

This short film received just a little bit of acclaim last year:
2015, Best of Festival Award for "If I Could Talk" at Gulf Coast FF

2015, Audience award for Best Short Film for "If I Could Talk" at Charleston International FF

2015, Audience award for Best Short Film for "If I Could Talk" at East End Film Festival, UK

2015, Best Houston Production for "If I Could Talk" at WorldFest International FF

2015, Best Director Special Jury Award for "If I Could Talk" at WorldFest International FF

I'm kind of obsessed with his talent right now. Head over to his extensive website to learn more about him.

He's pretty easy on the eyes, too.

Submitted Without Comment

Via Mother Jones Facebook page:

Marco Rubio: "I Want To Be Helpful" To Donald Trump

After spending months attacking - sometimes to the point of belittling Donald Trump - Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has finally turned the corner, reworked the thoughts in his head, and is fully behind the Trumpster for president.

In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper, Rubio said, “I want to be helpful. I don’t want to be harmful, ’cause I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president.”

Once considered the great, young hope of the GOP, I think he looks a bit defeated still.

In related news, although Rubio has announced he will not seek reelection for his U.S. Senate seat in Florida, folks in the Sunshine State are worried the seat could flip.

And so, Republicans - including one-time foe Donald Trump - are urging Rubio to reconsider.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Kentucky Democratic Primary Results Confirm Hillary Clinton As Winner

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton

A "recanvass" of the Kentucky Democratic primary results shows that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did, indeed, win the state's contest according to Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.

From Politico:

"The unofficial winner of Kentucky's Democratic presidential primary remains Hillary Clinton," Grimes said at a press conference on Thursday. "The recanvass vote totals which were submitted to my office today will become the official vote totals. The Kentucky Board of Elections will certify on May 31st."

The recanvass was a review of voting machines and absentee ballots in all 120 of the state's counties.

In a statement, the Vermont senator said he accepted the results.

"We accept the results in Kentucky. We are very pleased that we split the delegates in a state with a closed primary in which independents cannot vote and where Secretary Clinton defeated Barack Obama by 35 points in 2008," Sanders said in a statement

"Dallas BBQ" Attacker Found Guilty; Faces 15 Years In Prison

Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin

Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin, 42, was found guilty of attempted assault in the first degree, and assault in the second degree for his participation in a brawl last year at a Dallas BBQ restaurant located in the Chelsea area of Manhattan

From the New York Post:

Lawyers for El-Amin argued during the one-week trial that he was trying to protect himself from Jonathan Snipes, 33, and his boyfriend Ethan Adams, 26.

“This is a case of self-defense,” Percy Diego Gayanilo said during the Manhattan Supreme Court trial. “We are only here because they arrested the wrong person.”

Snipes started the altercation May 5, 2015 when he slapped El-Amin in the face with his purse after he thought he heard him use a racial slur.

An all-out brawl ensued and Gayanilo claimed that El-Amin tossed the chair at the men after Snipes menacingly reached for a knife from a table. This was not corroborated by surveillance video or witness testimony.

Prosecutor Leah Saxtein argued that Snipes’ loud mouth and purse-slapping histrionics didn’t justify the vicious beatdown. She told jurors that El-Amin attacked the men out of rage, not fear.

“The defendant was angry, he was humiliated, and he wasn’t about to let these girly men get the last word,” she said.

El-Amin was convicted of four counts of assault and attempted assault. He faces up to 15 years on the top charge.

The District Attorney's office issued a statement that read in part:

“There was no justification for this brutal attack,” said District Attorney Vance. “Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin struck both victims in a public restaurant with a heavy wooden chair, knocking one of them unconscious. I commend the victims for their courage and my Office’s prosecutors for ensuring this defendant is held accountable for this horrific attack.”

Bernie Sanders Accepts Donald Trump's Offer To Debate

During an appearance by Donald Trump on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last night, the subject of a final Democratic debate came up.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign wants a one more debate with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton before the June 7th California primary. Clinton has declined.

So, Sanders sent a message via Kimmel to invite the Trumpster to a one-on-one debate before the California primary.

The Donald's answer? "Yes."

“If he paid a sum toward charity I would love to do that,” Trump said. “If I debated him, we would have such high ratings and I think I should take that money and give it to some worthy charity.”

Sanders immediately tweeted that he accepted the invitation, and today his campaign peeps are looking into moving ahead with trying to make it happen.

From The Hill:

Bernie Sanders’s campaign manager says “back-channel conversations” are underway with Donald Trump’s staff about setting up a bipartisan debate between the two presidential candidates.

“I think it would benefit voters from across the country and I have to believe it would be one of the most-watched debates in presidential politics,” Jeff Weaver said Thursday on MSNBC.

“Let's see if he has the courage to go one-on-one with Bernie Sanders,” he added.

The Sanders campaign is seeking to ramp up pressure on Trump to follow through on his Wednesday night remarks to late-night talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel.

“The senator wants to do it,” Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs told The Hill. “We’ll see if Trump meant what he said.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

A Trump official earlier Thursday characterized the mogul's remarks as “tongue-in-cheek.”

It's not clear to me if the DNC might have an issue with such a debate between candidates of the two parties when the Democratic candidate hasn't been officially chosen yet.

Update: Donald Trump told reporters today he would be willing to debate Sanders for $10 million for charity.

Broadway Revival Of CATS Announces Casting Of "Grizabella"

Pop star Leona Lewis will play "Grizabella, the Glamour Cat" in Broadway revival of CATS

From BroadwayWorld:

Producers The Shubert Organization and The Nederlander Organization announced today that chart-topping British pop star Leona Lewis will play the role of "Grizabella," the Glamour Cat, in the first-ever Broadway revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's record-breaking musical, Cats.

One of the biggest hits in theatrical history, Cats will return to Broadway this summer at the Neil Simon Theatre (250 W 52nd Street) with preview performances beginning Thursday, July 14, 2016, and an official opening set for Sunday, July 31, 2016.

"Leona has one of the greatest voices of her generation," said Andrew Lloyd Webber. "We are all hugely excited about working with her."

"It is an incredible honor to be asked by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber to join the Cats family," said Lewis. "I will never forget seeing the show as a little girl and how blown away I was by the magical experience of it. I am beyond thrilled for my Broadway debut to be in such an iconic show. To work with a team as legendary as those on Cats is an experience I will cherish every moment of. I cannot wait to see the audiences out in NYC!"

British Singing Sensation, Leona Lewis has sold over 20 million records worldwide, reached #1 in over 35 countries, and is a 3-time GRAMMY nominee, a 7-time BRIT Award nominee also has also been nominated for MTV VMAs, EMAs, Billboard and most recently in 2016 a CMT award for her performance of 'Girl Crush' with Adam Lambert. Leona became the first British female solo artist to top the US Billboard 200 album chart in more than 20 years. Leona is a vocal powerhouse who is renowned for her massive four octave mezzo-soprano vocal range and power.

New Poll Shows Trump Trails Clinton In Rust Belt States

BloombergPolitics poll shows Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by 7 points in Rust Belt states

A new poll by Bloomberg/Purple Slice shows Donald Trump is trailing Hillary Clinton 46%-39% in the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Political pundits have previously posited that these states would be crucial to a Trump triumph come November.

I'm getting all up in the alliteration here, aren't I?

Watch the Morning Joe folks discuss the new data below.

Hillary Clinton Plays "Who'd You Rather?" With Ellen

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton played a vice-presidential game of "Who'd You Rather?" with Ellen DeGeneres yesterday, and the choices got really tough.

“We’ll keep switching until you narrow it down,” DeGeneres said.

“This is very helpful,” Clinton said. “Don’t tell anybody because we want it to be a big surprise.”

Early match-ups were easy for Clinton (Joe Biden easily beat billionaire Mark Cuban), but then things got tougher as the choices ramped up to George Clooney, Beyoncé, Leonardo DiCaprio and First Lady Michelle Obama.

It was a fun segment. Nice to see the lighter side of Hillary here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Eleven States File Suit Against Obama Administration Over Guidance Protecting Transgender Students

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Eleven states led by Texas' Attorney General Ken Paxton have filed suit against the Obama administration regarding federal guidance that says transgender students are protected under Title IX - the federal law that bans discrimination in public education.

The Advocate has the details:

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, against the Justice Department, the Education Department, the Labor Department, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, reports The Washington Post.

The states joining Texas include Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia. The Arizona Department of Education, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, and school districts in Texas and Arizona are also plaintiffs in the suit.

The guidance issued by the Department of Education and Department of Justice detailed guidelines explaining the obligations that schools receiving public funding have to their transgender students.

These obligations include respecting the gender identity of transgender students by using the student’s preferred name and pronouns, and ensuring them access to sports teams, educational opportunities, and sex-segregated facilities that correspond with their gender identity, according to a letter sent Friday to public K-12 schools nationwide, as well as to colleges and universities that receive federal funding.

The letter from the Obama administration plainly defines a school’s responsibilities to its trans students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in schools that receive any public funding.

“This prohibition encompasses discrimination based on a student’s gender identity, including discrimination based on a student’s transgender status,” reads the letter. It goes on to explain that the federal agencies consider a student's gender identity to be the sole determinant of that student's sex, for the purposes of Title IX protections.

"This means that a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity," explains the letter, indicating that everyone has a gender identity, regardless of whether they identify as transgender or cisgender (nontrans).

The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement which read in part:

Today, HRC blasted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton regarding media reports that he will launch a shameful attack on transgender youth across the state and the nation. Paxton, who currently faces three felony fraud indictments for violating state securities laws, civil fraud charges, and a separate investigation from the Texas State Bar for encouraging clerks to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling on nationwide marriage equality, has repeatedly attacked LGBT people in an effort to score political points.

“Ken Paxton has already disgraced himself and his office by undermining the rule of law and shamefully encouraging state officials to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision last June. Now, he’s gone so far as to attack transgender youth, whom he has a responsibility to protect as Attorney General,” said HRC Communications Director Jay Brown. “Countless schools all across the country have policies in place that ensure transgender students are safe, protected from discrimination and can live authentic lives. Ken Paxton’s use of taxpayer resources to dismantle such protections is a reckless and expensive abdication of his responsibilities, and he should be held accountable.”

Zac Efron Covers Men's Fitness

Zac Efron is looking pretty jacked on the cover of Men's Fitness this month.

He's been fit a long time, but he put in for extra credit getting in shape for the upcoming Baywatch flick.


Vermont Becomes 8th State To Outlaw "Ex-Gay" Torture

Vermont becomes the 8th state in the U.S. to outlaw so-called "conversion therapy for young LGBTs.

From the Human Rights Campaign:

Today, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed Senate Bill 132 into law, making Vermont the eighth jurisdiction—behind California, New Jersey, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Washington D.C., and Cincinnati—to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of “conversion therapy.”

Senate Bill 132, which protects LGBTQ youth from mental health providers attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through practices that are linked to substance abuse, extreme depression, and suicide, was approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives in April. The law will go into effect July 1, 2016.

“We are thrilled that Vermont has joined the rapidly growing number of states leading the way to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy,” said the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Youth Policy Counsel Carolyn Reyes. “Vermont families can now have confidence that the mental health professional they turn to in times of uncertainty may not use their state license to profit from their children’s pain. Most importantly, Vermont children can now rest easy in the knowledge that they cannot be forced or coerced to undergo dangerous and discredited treatments to try to change who they are. Today brings us one step closer to the day when all LGBTQ youth know they were born perfect.”

Said HRC President Chad Griffin: “No young person should be subjected to this extremely harmful and discredited practice, which medical professionals agree not only doesn't work, but can also have life-threatening consequences. It is nothing short of child abuse. We thank Governor Shumlin and the Vermont State Legislature for prioritizing the well-being and safety of our nation's youth, and remain committed to working with our partners to ensure that this quackery is banned from coast to coast.”

Hand-To-Hand Balancing Gymnasts Are Hump Day Hunks

Check these two adorably hunky gymnasts - Mykola Shcherbak & Sergii Popov - who couldn't be more charming in this hand-to-hand balancing act at the Cirque Phénix in Paris (2011).

(tipped by my "anonymous" TRR reader)