Friday, June 30, 2017

News Round-Up: June 30, 2017

(via Instagram)

Some news items you might have missed:

• Actor Tyler James (above) is primed and ready for the holiday weekend. #dang

• People tried (and failed) to make #HeterosexualPrideDay a "thing."

• A Los Angeles radio station "Music Coordinator" named Kylie emailed pop-mega-star Annie Lennox to let her know she has "potential." May I remind you...?

• As Pride Month comes to and end, take a look at these photos from Prides all over the U.S. - Anchorage, Alaska; El Paso, Texas; and Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.

• Jay-Z's mom comes out as lesbian on the rapper's new "4:44" album.

• Ok, I may need a second after seeing New England Patriots' Julian Edelman's ESPN Magazine "Body Issue" cover...

Daily Dog: Dog Sits In With Vienna Chamber Orchestra

My favorite viral video today: check this slow moving dog wandering on stage, takes a look-see and then sits down with Vienna Chamber Orchestra in Ephesus, Turkey.

Talk about no stage fright...

Top 10 Cities For LGBTs

Housing aggregator Nestpick has commissioned surveys and boiled down the data to determine the Top 100 Cities For LGBTs around the world.

For a city to rank strongly as an LGBT destination, we determined that it must have a vibrant gay dating scene, a lively alternative nightlife, open minded citizens, and low levels of hate crime.

We also took into account the national laws affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, such as the right to get married or adopt children.

Once the data pointed to the top 100, polling was done with LGBTs in each of those cities with at least 2,500 people taking part in each city. Overall, at least 200K folks offered their thoughts.

Click here for the top 100 along with each city's score, but for now let's count down the top 10.

Any surprises here?

10. San Francisco

9. New York City

8. Barcelona

7. Brighton

6. Berlin

5. London

4. Tel Aviv

3. Toronto

2. Amsterdam

And the top city on the planet for LGBTs is...

1. Madrid

It's no wonder that World Pride 2017 chose Madrid, Spain, for the huge pride festivities going on right now.

Trump Considers Plan B: Repeal Obamacare Now, Replace Later

Throughout the 2016 campaign and after his election, Donald Trump has told Americans that he would lead Congressional Republicans to "repeal and replace" Obamacare.

Many times, on camera, he said it would be simultaneous, or at least on the same day or week. Specifically, he told us that it wouldn't be months apart.

But today, we get this from Trump:

Now, while he considers this option, let's take a trip on the "way-back machine."

Check the 1:50 mark:

According to CNN, just repealing the Affordable Care Act without no replacement would have a devastating effect.

That move would probably leave 18 million more people without coverage in the first year after its enactment and 32 million more by 2026, according to a Congressional Budget Office report that looked at an earlier GOP bill to repeal Obamacare.

It would also cause premiums on individual market policies to increase by up to 25% the first year and to nearly double by 2026.

All this would happen mainly because the individual mandate -- which requires nearly all Americans to get coverage or pay a penalty -- would be repealed. But some insurers would also likely pull out of the market, the CBO said. The remaining carriers would likely raise rates dramatically because the remaining enrollees would tend to be older and sicker.

Morning Joe Hosts Allege White House Offered To "Spike" National Enquirer Story For Apology

In the aftermath of President Trump's "bleeding badly from a face lift" tweet about MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski, she and fiancรฉ Joe Scarborough both penned an op-ed for the Washington Post and spoke on the air this morning about an alleged offer from the White House.

According to the two MSNBC hosts, if the pair would call and apologize to Donald Trump for their less-than-glowing coverage over the past several months, Trump would call his good buddy who owns the National Enquirer and get a negative story about the hosts "spiked."

NY Magazine reporter Gabriel Sherman says he has the inside scoop:

According to three sources familiar with the private conversations, what happened was this: After the inauguration, Morning Joe’s coverage of Trump turned sharply negative. “This presidency is fake and failed,” Brzezinski said on March 6, for example. Around this time, Scarborough and Brzezinski found out the Enquirer was preparing a story about their affair. While Scarborough and Brzezinski’s relationship had been gossiped about in media circles for some time, it was not yet public, and the tabloid was going to report that they had left their spouses to be together.

In mid-April, Scarborough texted with Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner about the pending Enquirer story. Kushner told Scarborough that he would need to personally apologize to Trump in exchange for getting Enquirer owner David Pecker to stop the story.

The editor of the National Enquirer denies any knowledge of conversations between the White House and the Morning Joe hosts.

Here's the two hosts explaining on the air this morning:

Of course, Scarborough and Brzezinski knew exactly what they were doing in order to bait the Donald. He quickly dispatched this tweet upon watching the show this morning.

Legal expert Laurence Tribe chimed in on the alleged "blackmail:"

New Olympic Channel Series, IDENTIFY, Follows 5 Transgender Athletes

In 2016, transgender athletes could compete without undergoing surgery, welcoming a new age to the Olympic family.

Produced for the Olympic Channel by VICE Media, Identify is a new series following the inspiring journeys of five transgender athletes and how sport helped them find their true identity.

You can watch all episodes to date here.

(h/t Boy Culture)

Germany's Parliament Approves Marriage Equality By Vote Of 393 - 226

Germany's lower chamber of Parliament, the Bundstag, approved a measure by a vote of 393 to 226 to legalize same-sex marriage.

The vote came suddenly after Chancellor Angela Merkel softened her stance on the issue to allow a legislator's to "vote their conscience" on this last day of the country's legislative session.

Merkel herself voted against the measure, saying after the vote, "For me and the basic law, it’s about the marriage of a woman and a man. That’s why I voted against it. I hope that the vote today shows not only the mutual respect for different opinions but that this also leads to more peace and social cohesion as well.”

More from the New York Times:

“If the Constitution guarantees one thing, it is that anyone in this country can live as they wish,” Thomas Oppermann, the parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, said in opening the floor debate. “If gay marriage is decided, then many will receive something, but nobody will have something taken away.”

“It’s very positive for the self-esteem of gays and lesbians; it’s very important for people coming out, knowing that they have this equality; and it sends a clear message to any homophobic refugees coming to Germany: We have equality here,” said Arnd Bรคchler, a counselor and addiction therapist at Berlin’s gay counseling center.

Approval of same-sex marriage in Germany could build momentum for similar legislation in other German-speaking countries, like Austria and Switzerland, said Katrin Hugendubel, advocacy director of ILGA-Europe, a gay and transgender rights group. She said the developments in Germany illustrated the difference that opposition parties could make.

The measure now goes to the upper house of Parliament, The Bundesrat, which has approved marriage equality before. The legislation will then be signed into law by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Polls show upwards of 80% of Germans support marriage equality.

Germany joins more than a dozen European countries that have approved same-sex marriage.

In 2001, Germany approved civil unions which conferred some but not all rights of marriage.

Conservatives in the country's government have blocked the issue from coming to a vote in Parliament.

Congratulations Germany!

Texas Supreme Court: No Inherent Right To Marriage Benefits For Same-Sex Couples

The Texas Supreme Court ruled today that just because the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 Obergefell decision made same-sex marriage legal across the country, that doesn't mean a guarantee of equal spousal benefits.

Which is bullshit.

From the American-Statesman:

A unanimous Texas Supreme Court concluded Friday that there is no established right to government-provided spousal benefits in same-sex marriages.

The 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established the right to same-sex marriage did not decide all marriage-related matters, leaving room for state courts to explore the decision’s “reach and ramifications,” the all-Republican Texas court said.

Supporters of gay marriage have vowed to appeal such a ruling to the federal courts, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court clearly stated that all marriages must be treated equally.

“The Texas Supreme Court’s decision this morning is a warning shot to all LGBTQ Americans that the war on marriage equality is ever-evolving, and anti-LGBTQ activists will do anything possible to discriminate against our families,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and the advocacy group GLAAD.

There are 9 Republicans and zero Democrats on the Texas Supreme Court.

To be clear, there is no ambiguity regarding the SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality. Married same-sex couples are due the exact rights, privileges and benefits as opposite-sex married couples.

The SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges ruling clearly says the Constitution “entitles same-sex couples to civil marriage ‘on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.’”

This week alone the U.S. Supreme Court slapped the state of Arkansas for trying to deny same-sex parents' right to have both their names on a child's birth certificate. And, SCOTUS did so without even hearing arguments.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

News Round-Up: June 29, 2017

(image from Nashville Pride via Instagram)
Some news stories you may have missed:

• Pride Month 2017 is winding down, but it's not over. World Pride this weekend in Madrid, Spain! #ColorMeJealous

• A new study shows 30% of lesbian couples still face rejection by wedding vendors. A huge majority of respondents said they’d be more likely to book a vendor that’s not only LGBT-friendly, but actively caters to the LGBTQ community. #MoneyTalks

• By a vote of 157-55, Serbian lawmakers have chosen 41-year-old out lesbian Ana Brnabic to become the nation’s first openly gay head of government.

• Former Fox News host Greta Van Susteren is now "former MSNBC host" as the political TV talker tweets she is "out at MSNBC." In a world of liberal anti-Trump fury, her nascent show never caught on. Ari Melber, the network’s chief legal correspondent, will take over the 6PM time slot.

• Speaking to federal prosecutors at a Justice Department hate crimes summit in Washington, D.C. today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he will "aggressively" prosecute anti-transgender crimes. “We have and will continue to enforce hate crime laws aggressively and appropriately where transgendered individuals are victims,” the attorney general said. #ColorMeShocked

• For a little #TBT action and out music, let's go back to this interview from my podcast with Tony Award winner Billy Porter regarding the release of his awesome album, Billy Porter Presents The Soul of Richard Rodgers.

Hit the play button below to hear several tracks from the collection as well as Billy's inspiration for the project.

Wyoming Towns Hold First Ever Pride Celebrations Nearly 20 Years After Matthew Shepard's Death

Almost 20 years after the violent murder of Matthew Shepard, Wyoming towns Laramie and Casper both held their first Pride events just a week apart.

The first Casper Pride celebration was held from June 8-11 and included a free film festival, "Pride in the Park" festival, a drag revue (held at straight bar Backwards Distilling Co. as there are no gay bars within 50 miles of Casper), and yes, a Pride march on the same day as millions of Americans observed the Equality March in Washington, D.C.

Just a week later, 115 miles down the road, Laramie also held its first Pridefest on June 23-24.

Speaking to Wyoming Public Media, Pridefest organizer Robert West called the event a "momentous occasion."

“There is still this perception Wyoming represents what happened 20 years ago with Matthew Shepard. And I think Laramie and Wyoming have a long ways to go to be fully inclusive and accepting of LGBT people, but it’s important that this Pridefest is happening in Laramie to show that there has been movement; there has been growth,” West said.

“While this is a great time to celebrate with our potluck in the park and our drag show and our dance night, those are great events and they’re definitely important, it’s also important to know where we come from. And to know that violence against queer bodies and LGBT people is a still a huge reality not only in Wyoming and America but across the world,” said West.

(h/t NewNowNext)

Gay Couple PJ & Thomas Host HGTV's "Down To The Studs"

HGTV recently aired the pilot episode of Down to the Studs, hosted by adorable married couple PJ & Thomas McKay, who have previously referred to themselves as "Property Lovers."

The house-flipping couple, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, team up with Thomas's sister Sydney and PJ's friend Tania to renovate and restore homes to new glory.

Thomas and PJ are the first gay couple to host a show on HGTV, and along with solid, common-sense home renovation skills, it looks like they'll be offering viewers healthy, everyday visibility for LGBTs.

The pilot episode aired last weekend as test run, and PJ and Thomas reached out to their Instagram followers to show their support for the fledgling series by sharing the hashtag #HGTVDowntotheStuds.

While there's no word if the series will be picked up, PJ & Thomas have shared that the next airing of Down to the Studs Monday, July 17th at 1pmET on HGTV!

Stay tuned.

You can follow the boys on Instagram here, and on YouTube here.

A post shared by PJ McKay and Thomas McKay (@pjandthomas) on

Netflix Announces Two Hour "Sense8" Finale Movie

After cancelling fan-favorite sci-fi series, Sense8, in early June, an outpouring of support from around the world has moved the the streaming service to announce a 2-hour finale movie.

Variety reports:

In a video posted on social media, the characters from the series reunite and sing along to the song “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes. Midway through the video, the following words appear onscreen: “It’s happening. Two-hour finale episode. Tell your cluster.”

In addition, series co-creator Lana Wachowski posted a statement online that reads in part, “The passionate letters, the petitions, the collective voice that rose up like the fist of Sun to fight for this show was beyond what anyone was expecting.”

“It is my great pleasure as well as Netflix’s (believe me, they love the show as much as we do but the numbers have always been challenging) to announce that there will be another two-hour special released next year,” she continued. “After that…if this experience has taught me anything, you NEVER know.” You can read the full statement below.

The streaming service canceled the series after two seasons at the beginning of June, making it one of the few Netflix originals to get cancelled.

The series had been especially embraced by the LGBT community for not only it's message of connectedness, but also the inclusiveness of the diverse casting and storyline which included both an openly gay couple and a lesbian/transgender couple.

A post shared by Sense8 (@sense8) on

Out Short Film: "No Place Like Home"

I encourage you to stop for just a few minutes and watch the captivating 7 minute short film, No Place Like Home by David Velduque, starring Marius Praniauskas.

The official synopsis:

No Place Like Home is the story of Niko, a guy who enjoys his life and his sexuality at it's full potential.

Suddenly he will have to go back home to his country in eastern Europe to take care of his ill mother.

Nothing is what it seems and soon he will realize what is really going on.

A breathtaking roadtrip about the discrimination and violence against the LGTBIQ community around the world.

As World Pride begins in Madrid, Spain, it's important to remember LGBTs around the world face terrible violence and discrimination.

Trump Mocks MSNBC Host's "Bleeding" Face-Lift, GOP Senators Beg Trump To End Undignified Tweets

President Trump went after “Morning Joe” co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough this morning in a pair of tweets, mocking Brzezinski of “bleeding badly from a face-lift” when she and finance Scarborough visited Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in December.

This is where I should probably remind that First Lady Melania Trump's public platform is to combat cyberbullying. Ironic, no?

This new low caused even Republican senators to finally speaking out about the undignified and disgraceful tweets.

Seth Meyers Mocks Fawning Fox News Hosts And Trump's Fake TIME Magazine Cover

Late Night with Seth Meyers' "A Closer Look" segment ticks off pretty much every funny thing to laugh about Donald Trump this week.

From fawning Fox News hosts to that now-infamous "fake news" TIME magazine cover that hangs in about 8 Trump golf clubs, plus Trump butt-boy Sean Hannity making sure the world knows about that secret dossier that "talked about Trump, at a Ritz-Carlton, in Moscow, with two prostitutes urinating on his bed.”

Great work there, Sean.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Internet Asks: Did Chicago Cubs' Albert Almora Flip Trump The Bird?

The internet is all abuzz today wondering if Chicago Cubs outfielder Albert Almora surreptitiously flipped President Trump the bird during the Cubs' White House visit today.

Almora told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I had two fingers out. I’d never do that to the president of the United States.”

SBNation zoomed in, and it's all a whole lot of nothing. Just an optical illusion. You can see his index finger outside of his pocket.

At ease, kids, at ease...

Burn Of The Day: Susanna Reid To Piers Morgan

Sen. Sherrod Brown Proposes Senate Resolution Recognizing June As LGBTQ Pride Month

Ohio Senator Sharrod Brown shared the news today that, with no presidential proclamation acknowledging June as LGBT Pride Month, he has proposed the first-ever Senate Resolution for Pride Month.
Sen. Sherrod Brown
This year, the White House broke with an 8 year tradition and did not issue a presidential proclamation acknowledging June as Pride Month.

So I'm proud to lead the first-ever Senate Resolution recognizing June as LGBTQ Pride Month.

And today, I'm equally proud that so many of my colleagues heartily agreed to cosponsor. An outpouring of support for the LGBTQ community.

We must always stand with our LGBTQ friends and neighbors – not just during the month of June, but year round. -SB

You may recall that while the White House didn't find the time to issue an LGBTQ Pride Month proclamation, the folks there did name June as “National Homeownership Month”, “National Ocean Month”, “African-American Music Appreciation Month” and “Great Outdoors Month."

Brown tagged an impressive 23 U.S. Senators along with his message as co-sponsors for the proposal.

You can see the proposed resolution below.

News Round-Up: June 28, 2017

(via Instagram)

Some news stories you may have missed:

• I don't know about you, but I'm feeling the "dude and dog" days of summer. See what I did there...?

• Britney Spears is pissed off people don't think she sings live in her concerts. Honey, shush...

Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson was ejected from a Department of Justice LGBT Pride event saying the event was closed to the media. Similar events were open to press throughout the Obama administration.

• Netflix is currently developing a 10-episode sequel of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City with original 1993 series stars Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis set to star.

• A new poll from Quinnipiac University shows 63% of Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of the Senate Republicans' healthcare bill, while only 16% approve.

• Check out this thrilling new trailer for the upcoming Hugh Jackman musical flick, The Greatest Showman, due in theaters this December 25. Also starring in the original musical are Michelle Williams, Zac Efron and Zendaya. The original score features songs by the Academy Award winning lyricists of La La Land.  I expect the featured song, "This Is Me," to take off as a new anthem for everyone who finds pride in who they are.

Being LGBT-Inclusive Is Good For Business

(graphic via Ogilvy)

A new survey from Ogilvy indicates that being LGBT-inclusive is very good for business.

According to the resulting data, 64% of folks who identify as LGBT allies, and 48% of Americans overall, say they are more likely to spend money with businesses and brands they see as LGBT inclusive.

When asked if "LGBT inclusive brands are good for the economy," 85% of LGBT allies say "yes," and 65% of all Americans agree.

Additionally, an antagonistic or non-supportive stance by a company toward the LGBT community could influence nearly half of Americans and a majority of allies to a spend their consumer dollars elsewhere.


Germany Schedules Vote On Marriage Equality For Friday

Chancellor Angela Merkel

Wow, this happened fast.

According to the AP, the German Parliament has scheduled a vote to legalize same-sex marriage this Friday.

In the wake of Chancellor Angela Merkel's recent comments indicating she could see legislators viewing the issue as a "decision of conscience," Parliament's legal committee has approved the vote.

Merkel has announced she will allow the vote to occur without any "party whip" and to vote their conscience.

Marriage equality is expected to pass easily according to sources.

Germany has allowed same-sex couples to enter into civil partnerships since 2001.

Donald "Fake News" Trump Displays Actual Fake TIME Magazine Covers At Golf Resorts

The man who yells "fake news" has been decorating his golf clubs with literal fake news.

At least five Trump golf clubs have fake TIME magazine covers displayed touting the success of Donald Trump's former reality show, The Apprentice.

Hilarious. And embarrassing.

Maybe this is why he cries "fake news" so often. He's been creating it for years.

The Washington Post reports:

The framed copy of Time magazine was hung up in at least five of President Trump’s clubs, from South Florida to Scotland. Filling the entire cover was a photo of Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash!” the big headline said. Above the Time nameplate, there was another headline in all caps: “TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS . . . EVEN TV!”

This cover — dated March 1, 2009 — looks like an impressive memento from Trump’s pre-presidential career. To club members eating lunch, or golfers waiting for a pro-shop purchase, it seemed to be a signal that Trump had always been a man who mattered. Even when he was just a reality TV star, Trump was the kind of star who got a cover story in Time.

But that wasn’t true.

The Time cover is a fake.

There was no March 1, 2009, issue of Time magazine. And there was no issue at all in 2009 that had Trump on the cover.

In fact, the cover on display at Trump’s clubs, observed recently by a reporter visiting one of the properties, contains several small but telling mistakes. Its red border is skinnier than that of a genuine Time cover, and, unlike the real thing, there is no thin white border next to the red. The Trump cover’s secondary headlines are stacked on the right side — on a real Time cover, they would go across the top.

And it has two exclamation points. Time headlines don’t yell.

“I can confirm that this is not a real TIME cover,” Kerri Chyka, a spokeswoman for Time Inc., wrote in an email to The Washington Post.

You may recall that during a speech in January addressing CIA staff, Trump declared he had been on more Time covers than anyone else: “I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine."

Actually, that's incorrect, and kind of ironic given Trump's current FBI investigation status.The record holder is President Richard Nixon.

Of course, the Trumpster had to deny and deflect via Twitter this morning:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

White House Press Corp Slaps Back After WH Spokesperson Calls Reporter "Outrageous"

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

After White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused the media of nitpicking small missteps by the White House without holding themselves to the same standard, The Sentinel's Brian Karem could no longer hold in what many in the press corp have been thinking.

“You are inflaming everyone right here right now with those words. This administration has done that as well….Any one of us are replaceable, if we don’t get it right, the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us. You have been elected to serve for four years at least, there is no option other than that,” said Karem.

“We are here to ask you questions, you are here to provide answers. And what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say, ‘See, once again, the president is right and everybody else is just fake media.’ Everybody in this room is only trying to do their job.”

I personally find Sanders the definition of deplorable. Look at her face above. So very condescending.

House Of Representatives Unanimously Passes Resolution Condemning Torture & Killing Of Gay Men In Chechnya

After months of news that gay and bisexual men of Chechnya were being rounded up, tortured and, in some cases killed, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution condemning the actions of the Chechen government.

Via press release:

The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus commended the House of Representatives for passing H.Res.351, a bipartisan resolution condemning the detention, torture, and murders of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. H.Res.351 was introduced by LGBT Caucus founding member and former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27) on May 23rd and passed in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 25th by unanimous voice vote. H.Res.351 has 83 bipartisan cosponsors. H.Res.351 passed by voice vote.

“I’m proud that the House passed this strong resolution condemning the recent violence targeting gay men in Chechnya. Now, it’s critical that we do more to ensure those fleeing horrific violence can relocate somewhere safe,” said LGBT Caucus CoChair Rep. David Cicilline (RI-01). “This is an important step, but there is much more work left to be done.”

“We will continue to stand united with the LGBT community and shine a bright light on these atrocities, which are encouraged by the evil Putin regime in Russia, in order to help ensure that those who are responsible for these crimes are held to account for their despicable actions,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27)

“The People’s House has now made its collective and unanimous voice known: the situation in Chechnya cannot stand,” said LGBT Equality Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47). “We as a nation must lead the world in acting. It is our duty and responsibility to be the beacon on the hill that leads the way. It is now up to President Trump, Secretary of State Tillerson, and our United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley to follow through on the consensus of the House and bring as much domestic and international political pressure as possible on the Russian government to rein in these deplorable human rights violations.”

Lacking Votes, Senate Republican Healthcare Bill Put On Hold

Per the Associated Press, the Senate Republican healthcare bill, lacking votes, is on hold until after the July 4th recess.

At last count, at least five Republicans Senators (Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Susan Collins, Dean Heller, Ron Johnson) have publicly stated they can't vote for the healthcare legislation put forward by a group of 13 GOP senators.

With a scant 52 member majority, the Republicans can only lose two votes and still pass their bill.

Years and years of grousing about Obamacare, promises of immediate "repeal and replace" thanks to the election of Donald Trump, and the Republican party controlling the House, Senate and White House - but these folks can't get their act together to do anything.


Jason Chaffetz Calls For $2,500 Housing Stipend For Congress

Rep. Jason Chaffetz

As Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) prepares to exit Congress at the end of this week, he told The Hill on Monday that U.S. Senators and House representatives, who are paid a minimum of $174K annually to serve in office, should receive a $2,500 per month housing allowance.

“I really do believe Congress would be much better served if there was a housing allowance for members of Congress,” Chaffetz told The Hill in an interview in his Capitol office, where he sleeps whenever he’s in Washington. “In today’s climate, nobody’s going to suggest or vote for a pay raise. But you shouldn’t have to be among the wealthiest of Americans to serve properly in Congress.”

“There are dozens upon dozens of members living in their offices, and I don’t know how healthy that is long term.”

While Chaffetz said $174,000 a year is a “handsome” congressional salary, he explained that subsidizing lawmakers’ housing costs in the pricey D.C. metro area could actually save taxpayer dollars. If he had a proper home in Washington rather than a cot in his office, Chaffetz said, he wouldn’t need to fly home every week on the taxpayers’ dime, and his wife, Julie, could visit more often.

A 2017 Kiplinger report ranked Washington as the sixth-most expensive city in the country to live.

A $2,500 monthly allowance would cost taxpayers about $30,000 a year per lawmaker, or roughly $16 million a year for all 535 members.

Chaffetz says with a mortgage back home in Utah, a son in law school, his oldest daughter in college and another daughter heading for college soon, he couldn't afford to rent a place in Washington, D.C.

Word is that Chaffetz has already inked a deal for a high-paying job as a political analyst for Fox News.

World Opinion Of U.S. President Drops Precipitously Under Donald Trump

Click image to enlarge

According to a new survey of 37 countries by Pew Research Center, the world's confidence that America's President will "do the right thing" has dropped precipitously.

From the survey:

Although he has only been in office a few months, Donald Trump’s presidency has had a major impact on how the world sees the United States.

Trump and many of his key policies are broadly unpopular around the globe, and ratings for the U.S. have declined steeply in many nations.

According to a new Pew Research Center survey spanning 37 nations, a median of just 22% has confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs.

This stands in contrast to the final years of Barack Obama’s presidency, when a median of 64% expressed confidence in Trump’s predecessor to direct America’s role in the world.

Over 40,000 respondents were polled in the survey.

When asked to describe Donald Trump's character:

• 75% said “arrogant”
• 65% said “ignorant”
• 62% said “dangerous”

So. Much. Winning.

Click image to enlarge

Going Viral: NYC Police Officer's LGBT Pride Facebook Post Inspires Thousands

I commented somewhere recently that while I do sometimes post stories of what seems like bad judgement by a handful of police officers, I don't hate cops. One of my best friends was a police officer for two decades.

I know there are great cops in the world. And just to prove it, here's one now.

A New York City police officers' Facebook post from Sunday, wherein he shares the pic above and the message below, has gone viral.

Going only by "Big Fat Loser," (the officer chronicles his weight loss on the account), he writes:

I'll be out there working at Pridefest today wearing this shirt under my uniform for a lot of reasons.
For my step brother.
For my priest.
For my aunts who died before they could be legally married.
For my cousin.
For all of the cops I have worked with over the years, including one of the best partner's I've ever shared a sector car with.
For my classmate in High School who's parents made him sleep in a tent in his yard.
For the man who cried on my shoulder about losing his partner on 9/11.
For every call I went to where someone got kicked out of their house or who's family just didn't understand.
For anyone who's had to hide who they are.
I've got your back.
Love is Love.
#loveislove #pride #pride๐ŸŒˆ #prideparade #nypd #igotyou #freehugs

(h/t JoeMyGod)

Germany's Chancellor Merkel Signals Possible "Conscience Vote" On Same-Sex Marriage

Chancellor Angela Merkel
Via The Guardian:

Angela Merkel has signalled a change in her party’s opposition to gay marriage after stating MPs should be allowed a free vote in the German parliament.

Speaking at an event organised by the magazine Brigitte, the German chancellor said she felt aggrieved that debate was mainly carried out along party lines and that she hoped it would be “headed towards a conscience vote”.

It is widely believed the Bundestag would legalise gay marriage in a free vote on the issue.

Germany is one of a few western countries where same-sex marriage is still not legal. Civil partnerships have been allowed since 2001, but Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union has resisted calls to open up marriage to same-sex couples.

The centre-right CDU, which has been governing as senior partner in a coalition with the centre-left SPD since 2013, has said it prefers to amend legislation so couples in a civil partnership have the same tax status and adoption rights as married couples.

Coming less than three months before federal elections, Merkel’s comments could take the wind out of her critics’ sails and open her party up to the widest possible range of post-election coalitions.

UPDATE: Check out the tweet below from Martin Schulz, leader of the Social Democratic Party, the second largest party in parliament:

Monday, June 26, 2017

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Marches In Toronto Pride Parade And LGBTs Everywhere Go Wild

While President Trump may be ignoring Pride Month, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rocked the world as he marched in Toronto's Pride Parade this past weekend.

Let's check the boxes in this one pic (above):

1. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
2. At Pride
3. Wearing rainbow socks
4. High-fiving a little girl dressed as Wonder Woman
5. Rainbow flag Canadian maple leaf on his left cheek

And the crowd goes wild...

Congressional Budget Office: Senate Republican Healthcare Bill Would Increase Uninsured By 22 Million

The numbers are out from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office regarding the current Senate Republicans' healthcare bill:

CBO and JCT estimate that enacting this legislation would reduce the cumulative federal deficit over the 2017-2026 period by $321 billion. That amount is $202 billion more than the estimated net savings for the version of H.R. 1628 that was passed by the House of Representatives.

The Senate bill would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million in 2026 relative to the number under current law, slightly fewer than the increase in the number of uninsured estimated for the House-passed legislation. By 2026, an estimated 49 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.

Bolding is mine.

The bill also calls for cuts to Medicaid to the tune of $772 billion over the next ten years.

And premiums for a 64-year old with middle income go from $6,800 under current law to $20,500 under the Senate Republicans legislation.

Click image to enlarge

So, good news for those conservatives looking to see deficit reduction, but 22 million uninsured isn't much better than the 23 million uninsured predicted for the House Republican healthcare bill.

Happy Marriage Equality Day! Support Reaches All-Time High Approval Of 62%

Hubby Michael and I getting married a second time in Palm Springs in 2008

Today is the 2nd anniversary of the historic Obergefell v. Hodges ruling from the Supreme Court which brought marriage equality to all fifty states. I think it was one of the happiest and joyful days of my life.

And, according to a new Pew Research poll, support for same-sex marriage among U.S. adults has reached an all-time high of 62%.

Pew has been tracking the opinions of Americans on marriage equality for two decades and found the biggest jump in support came during this past year with a 7-point uptick in support.

Terrific to see these numbers today, but there's still work to do on LGBTQ rights.

We need to see The Equality Act passed into law. The legislation would ensure no one could lose their job, their home, or be denied services because of who they are or whom they love.

The bill has been introduced in Congress and enjoys bipartisan support, 242 members of Congress and more than 90 corporations now back the legislation. But sadly, it's not enough. It's highly doubtful the current Republican-controlled Congress will pass the bill.

Behind The Scenes Of ESPN Body Issue Photo Shoot

Out Olympian Gus Kenworthy

Check this sneak peek into the nude photo shoots for ESPN's upcoming Body Issue featuring out Olympic Freeskier Gus Kenworthy, New England Patriots’ Julian Edelman, Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez and the US women's hockey team.

In one clip you can hear the hunky Kenworthy exclaim, “Oh my god, what did I sign up for? I have to get naked right now?”

It's not as though nudity is something new to Gus. You know what I mean if you follow his Instagram account ;)

Happy Monday!

New England Patriots' Julian Edelman
Dallas Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott