(Fatima, Portugal) Pope Benedict XVI has called abortion and same-sex marriage two of the most “insidious and dangerous” threats facing the world today.
Benedict made the comments Thursday to Catholic educators, social workers and others after celebrating Mass before an estimated 400,000 people in Fatima, one of the most important shrines in Christianity. He was interrupted by applause several times.
Benedict’s visit to Fatima was the spiritual centerpiece of his four-day visit to Portugal. It was cast by Vatican officials as evidence that Benedict had turned a page in weathering the clerical sex abuse scandal that has dogged him for months.
The pope returns to the Vatican on Friday after celebrating Mass in Porto, the country’s second-largest city.
I have a lot of opinions. I am sure that we all have a lot of opinions. Why in the world would a big army open up the question of whether to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to soldiers?
I was never provided an army-sponsored chance to express my feelings on the Iraq or Afghanistan war. I have never been asked to discuss my feelings on anything, really. I was told that the Army isn’t a democracy and was not able to voice my opinion on anything or anyone I may have had to share my bay, chu, or tent with.
Recently I read that the first submariner females were graduating the naval academy. I missed my chance to comment on that idea. I missed my chance to comment on many things, apparently. It’s not like the Army has a Facebook page designed for servicemembers to comment on how they feel about each sex, each creed and each race. Why is the gay community singled out as a group that it is ok to comment on? Why haven’t I heard much of an uproar against this idea?
Each stage of integrating women and African-Americans throughout the years was undoubtedly met with plenty of opinionated military personnel at all ranks. They made movies such as “GI Jane”and “Men of Honor” to show the opinions and the battles that segments of the population face to be treated equally. There was never a suggestion box for soldiers to place their comments expressing their willingness, or lack thereof, to serve next to others. Integration happened and you had to suck it up and drive on.
I am extremely worried that this process will be used to develop excuses to keep the gay military ban from being repealed. At best, it seems to be a method of garnering support for more separate-but-equal laws like those used outside of the military for marriage and adoption.
I find nothing positive or pleasurable in the idea of being “free” to be a target for discriminatory policies after I am allowed to be out. I would rather stay mute on some important parts of my life and serve than serve while constantly evaluating any new rules or laws that set me apart as something other than a soldier.
Oh, and next time they want to bail out banks… I would like to comment on that too.
‘Michael Duffy’ is the pseudonym of a soldier who formerly served in Iraq.
(Washington) Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan returned to Capitol Hill Thursday to meet with senators who are key to her confirmation.
The solicitor general, preparing for meetings with Republicans and Democrats, including one who has opposed her in the past, said she’s beginning to get accustomed to the delicate ritual of closely watched courtesy calls she must make in the run-up to her summer confirmation hearings.
Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, her first visit of the day, asked Kagan whether she’s “getting used to this little routine.”
“Just barely,” Kagan responded with a smile.
Kagan, 50, called on eight senators Wednesday and plans meetings with another seven today. That includes one former foe, Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., who as a Republican voted last year against confirming her to her current post.
Kerry said he was “very proud” of Kagan, adding that she has “quite a road yet to travel.”
In closed-door meetings, Kagan has assured senators that she’s up to the job of being a justice, seeking to counter GOP criticism of her lack of experience as a judge or courtroom litigator. President Barack Obama tapped Kagan this week to succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
Kagan has gotten off to a fast start on Capitol Hill. Shuttling from office to office Wednesday, she stayed quiet in public but fielded questions in private about her resume, opinions and legal philosophy.
Kagan, a former Harvard Law School dean, defended herself against Republican doubts about her fitness to be a fair justice. She said she’d be “faithful to the law,” according to Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who said he asked her whether she could be impartial given that she’s identified with “liberal” positions and has clerked for two judges he called “activist.”
Sessions, the top Republican on the Judiciary panel that will hold Kagan’s confirmation hearings, said he’d do his best to give her a “fair” hearing, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the committee chairman, said he’d guarantee a process where senators could ask “all relevant questions.”
Republicans are questioning whether Kagan can be impartial in light of her political views and current position on Obama’s team. And they have harshly criticized her decision while at Harvard to bar military recruiters from campus because she disagreed with the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay soldiers.
GOP senators say they want to see documents from her time serving in Bill Clinton’s White House to get a better understanding of her fitness for the Supreme Court.
“I think all the documents that are producible should be produced,” Sessions said. “The American people are entitled to know what kind of positions she took, and what kind of issues she was involved with during her past public service.”
Democrats praise Kagan as a highly qualified, sharp legal mind who will bring an important perspective from outside the federal bench to the job of justice.
“She brings to this court that kind of intellect and those values that can make a positive difference for the future of the court,” said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois.
(Los Angeles) A gay rights group is demanding an apology from Newsweek magazine for a recent story that the group says suggested gay actors can’t play straight characters.
“An actor’s personal life should not be a factor in their believability in a role,” said Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. “That would be tantamount to audiences not buying Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl as lovers in their upcoming film ‘Killers’ because the two are happily married to different people in real life.”
GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro said the magazine has not offered the apology sought by the group, but that the topic was discussed with Barrios and Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Milk,” during a Q&A with Newsweek on Wednesday. He said he believed that discussion would be published in the next issue.
Some Hollywood stars blasted the magazine and writer Ramin Setoodeh for an April 26 story that said it was OK for straight actors to play gay roles, but “it’s rare for someone to pull off the trick in reverse.”
In the story, Setoodeh criticized Sean Hayes’ latest leading-man performance on Broadway, writing that the openly gay actor “comes off as wooden and insincere, like he’s trying to hide something, which of course he is.”
Ryan Murphy, creator of the hit Fox series “Glee,” called for a boycott of the magazine until it apologizes to its gay readers, Hayes and “and other brave out actors who were cruelly singled out in this damaging, needlessly cruel and mind-blowingly bigoted piece.”
Kristin Chenoweth, who stars opposite Hayes in “Promises, Promises” on Broadway, defended her co-star and denounced the Newsweek article in a letter to the editor.
“No one needs to see a bigoted, factually inaccurate article that tells people who deviate from heterosexual norms that they can’t be open about who they are and still achieve their dreams,” she wrote.
Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, however, defended the magazine and its writer in an essay published Wednesday by The Huffington Post website.
Sorkin blamed the tabloid-fueled drive to know every detail about performers’ personal lives and the institutionalized homophobia found in the American military, and national marriage and adoption laws.
Newsweek did not respond to a call and e-mail seeking comment Wednesday.
It’s Kagan. I’m sure the Republican opposition is in full research mode this morning. President Obama picked U.S. solicitor general Elena Kagan  to be an associate Justice of the Supreme Court. As the dean of Harvard Law, Kagan challenged the Solomon Amendment , an attempt by Congress to deny federal funds from colleges and universities that barred military recruiters from their campuses.
RIP Lena Horne . The legendary singer died last night. Her career covered it all, from musicals , Gap ads, and Sesame Street . In everything, she had no peer. Goodnight sweet princess.
Lacrosse player comes out. No one on the team cares. Andrew McIntosh  is a co-captain of the Oneonta men’s lacrosse team. He came out and there was no backlash. A sign to gay athletes that the tide is changing.
Rekers’ book cover explains a whole lot. I’m stealing this from the Unzipped  boys. Everyone has been having good chuckles over the George Rekers ‘ bought boy drama. Side note: looks like Rekers  is a stingy john, which is low class. Being good to your rent boy is a sign your mom raised you right. Anyway old man Rekers is an author of note. His book is called “Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Identity.” Here is the cover. I’m saying nothing. Nothing.
Betty White on Saturday Night Live . I know people go crazy over White’s work in The Golden Girls —morning Angel — but she earned my love in The Mary Tyler Moore Show . Her character Sue Ann Nivens was pitch perfect. Did you watch SNL? What did you think? From all accounts it was a good show, but it is SNL. The bar is low.
Sometimes the law disappoints. Like most of you I’m ticked at the jury in the Hakim Scott  trial, one of the men involved in the murder of Jose Sucuzhanay. Maybe I need to remove these rose colored glasses, but I’m going to give the jurors the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully he will see a full 25 years for his dreadful crime.
Gay sex is nasty, but be nice to those who practice it. Hope College’s Board of Trustees  is a firm believer in the “love sinner, hate the sin” ideology when the matters are the gay. Of course it’s rare to see much love whenever this line is thrown out.
A victim of history and time? Look at this article on Clay M. Greene , the Sonoma County  man whose relationship has gone national. He insists he and Harold Scull were just roommates and not married. This makes sense. For the 78 year old, to be gay is to be silent. Sonoma County officials maintain everything they did was because of physical abuse against Scull. Of course they filed no criminal charges.
(Schofield Barracks, Hawaii) Army Secretary John McHugh said Friday the military is considering a system for soldiers to anonymously express their opinions about its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gay troops.
The Pentagon will make a recommendation on changing the policy by the end of the year, McHugh said. Soldiers’ would make their comments ahead of that recommendation, he said.
“We’re trying to do this in the quietest way possible, and by that, I simply mean not to sensationalize it, to try to really assess the soldiers’ opinions,” McHugh said at Hawaii’s Schofield Barracks. “Anonymity, of course, is an important aspect.”
Any policy change would have to come from Congress. Until then, federal law prohibits service members from discussing their sexual orientation. President Barack Obama supports lifting the ban.
McHugh spoke to reporters alongside Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, who recently urged troops to lobby to keep the ban on openly gay military service. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told Mixon in March that his actions were inappropriate.
Mixon didn’t discuss the issue on Friday.
McHugh stopped in Hawaii at the end of a seven-day tour through Alaska, South Korea and Japan – his first trip to the Asia-Pacific theater since he was confirmed by the Senate in September.
His visit coincided with Friday’s announcement that about 800 soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division’s headquarters will be deployed to central Iraq by the end of the year.
The deployment doesn’t alter the United States’ commitment to withdraw all combat forces from Iraq by the end of August, and withdraw all soldiers by the end of next year, McHugh said.
“They fully expect to adhere to the stated drawdown deadline,” he said. “Until something different happens, that is, I think, our very achievable goal.”
The deployment will focus on empowering Iraqi security forces and continuing the country’s development, said Maj. Gen. Bernie Champoux, commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division.
Gay legal activists are applauding President Obama’s second nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court : Solicitor General Elena Kagan. But it could hardly be described as a standing ovation.
Former Clinton White House aide Richard Socarides called Kagan a “brilliant, pragmatic progressive interested in listening to all sides and building coalitions.”
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Executive Director Kevin Cathcart called Kagan “a strong position” in opposing the military’s ban on gays but noted that Obama administration has also “taken legal positions on ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’ with which we strongly disagree.”
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese applauded her selection as fulfilling Obama’s promise to promote “diversity” on the court.
If confirmed, Kagan would become only the fourth woman ever named to the court –out of 104 justices in the history of the court.
Kagan is of particular interest to the LGBT community. While serving as dean of Harvard Law School, she took sides with gays against military recruiters because the military would not abide by the school’s non-discrimination policy. That policy prohibited recruiters who discriminated based on sexual orientation.
Kagan clerked for one of the Supreme Court’s staunchest liberals, Thurgood Marshall, and was a research assistant for one of the greatest legal defenders of gay civil rights, Laurence Tribe.
Single and 50, she was also the subject of a CBS News website blog report last month which claimed that, if named to the court, Kagan would be the “first openly gay justice.” But Kagan has not publicly identified with any sexual orientation, and the White House moved quickly to say the report was “inaccurate.”
The president announced his selection at a 10 o’clock press conference this morning.
Socarides called Kagan “one of the smartest people I know” and “someone the country will come to like and respect.”
“Her thinking is well within the mainstream,” said Socarides, and “very much in keeping with Obama’s overall philosophy…. Pretty much a home-run appointment.”
Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights called Kagan “well-qualified” and said members of his organization “strongly support increasing the number of women on the court.”
Lambda’s Cathcart said he did not expect Kagan “to answer questions about how she would rule on specific issues such as these that will come before her.” But he said Lambda does “expect that she will respond to questions about her judicial philosophy and her understanding of core constitutional principals of equal protection and privacy that are so crucial to the civil rights of people who face discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and/or HIV status.”
Long-time gay legal activist Paula Ettelbrick, an adjunct professor of law at New York University Law School, said Kagan’s nomination is “most historic” and that “it moves women’s representation on the Court to a more meaningful plurality.”
Mainstream news organizations immediately set about assessing her odds for confirmation. MSNBC speculates both conservatives and liberals could criticize her. Commentator-reporter Chuck Todd said conservatives would fault Kagan over her opposition to military recruiters at Harvard. He said liberals could fault her for defending some policies put in place by the administration of President George W. Bush.
In introducing Kagan to the press conference Monday morning, Obama praised Kagan for having sought conservative views to balance liberal views at Harvard. During her confirmation process for Solicitor General last year, the Senate Judiciary Committee received letters in support of Kagan from such well-known conservatives as former Solicitor Generals Charles Fried and Kenneth Starr, and such well-known liberals as Eleanor D. Acheson.
Her confirmation as Solicitor General was opposed, as expected, by some ultra-conservative groups, including Concerned Women for America, who faulted her for opposing military recruiters, as well as Focus on Family and more than a dozen other groups who said she could not be counted on to defend “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”
Kagan, an attorney, has never served as a judge but is widely respected as a legal scholar.
NCLR’s Minter said, “Because she has not served previously as a judge, it will be important to hear more about her judicial philosophy and whether she has a strong commitment to enforcing constitutionally protected rights and liberties. “
Given that she filled out the Senate Judiciary Committee’s lengthy questionnaire just last year, the vetting of her by various senators should go fairly rapidly.
In response to questions from the Judiciary Committee last year, Kagan said she views as “unjust the exclusion of individuals from basic economic, civic, and political opportunities of our society on the basis of race, nationality, sex, religion, and sexual orientation.” But she also said she was “fully convinced” she could defend U.S. laws even when they do not reflect her personal views, including the federal law which penalizes universities which ban military recruiters.
Kagan’s questionnaire also indicated that she delivered a welcoming address to introduce panel members at a Harvard University Gay and Lesbian Alumni event in September 2008. And in April 2006, she moderated a panel of the LAMBDA Student Organization concerning the “Relationship between Law Schools and the Military.” Such participation is fairly typical of law school deans and her list includes an even greater number of appearances before groups promoting civil rights for black law students.
Senators Orrin Hatch and Jon Kyl, two Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee who voted for Kagan as Solicitor General, issued statements
Monday morning saying their vote is not guaranteed for the Supreme Court appointment.
If confirmed, Kagan will become the third woman on the U.S. Supreme Court today and the second unmarried justice. Justice Sonia Sotomayor,
Obama’s first nominee to the Supreme Court, was married briefly but divorced in 1983.
A press release from HRC applauded Kagan’s “commitment to fairness and equality.”
“Specifically, we applaud Elena Kagan’s vocal opposition to the Solomon Amendment and the discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law.
HRC said it would continue examining Kagan’s record on issues that affect the LGBT community.
Kagan’s nomination is being made to fill the seat of retiring Justice John Paul Stevens, who announced his retirement last month.
The composition of the Supreme Court is increasing critical to the LGBT civil rights movement. Three important cases seeking equality in marriage rights are winding their ways to the high court and it seems nearly inevitable that the high court will choose to weigh in on at least one, if not all three. The court will also hear a case this fall that will determine whether a virulently anti-gay protest group has a First Amendment right to stage their demonstrations in ways that disrupt private funeral services.
While many nominees introduce close members of their family at the press conference, Kagan noted that her parents had already passed away and said she was “thankful for my brothers and other family and friends” for being there with her.
© 2010 Keen News Service
I’m sure this won’t surprise you, but George Rekers, the anti-gay advocate caught with a male “escort” is indeed gay – at least according to the escort, says the Miami New-Times.
“It’s a situation where he’s going against homosexuality when he is a homosexual,” Jo-vanni Roman, known as Lucien, told the New-Times. “In all honestly [sic], he should disassociate himself from these [antigay] groups.”
Roman said that he was hired to give Rekers daily rub downs in the nude.
Why is all of this important? Because Rekers – Baptist minister, psychology professor, has a “long, long record” of anti-gay work, doing research on why gays shouldn’t be able to adopt or marry (Washington Post  for the PDF).
Stephen Colbert had a great bit about all of this – see below for his in-studio, rentboy dance party:
The Colbert Report 
Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Alpha Dog of the Week – George Rekers 
Colbert Report Full Episodes 
Political Humor 
Fox News 
Kansas-based hatemongers from the Westboro Baptist Church plan to picket Constance McMillen’s graduation from her Mississippi high school.
Constance McMillen gained notoriety when she asked her school, Itawamba Agricultural High School, to allow her to attend prom with her girlfriend. She also wanted to wear a tuxedo instead of a prom dress.
According to a statement on the Westboro Baptist website , “The parents of Fulton, MS feign outrage that a filthy dyke wants to parade her ‘girlfriend’ around at their night of fornication called a prom. They had a duty to teach their children what the Lord requires of them. They shirked this duty.”
McMillen graduates May 22.
It’s Washington Blade. No, it’s DC Agenda . No, it’s Washington Blade, again.
The Washington Blade, Washington, D.C.’s 40-year-old LGBT publication, will be returning to newsstands on Friday under its original name. In November, Windows Media, which owned the Blade and a host of other LGBT publications across the country, went belly up , declaring bankruptcy and unexpectedly telling employees the publications would cease.
Immediately, former staffers of the Blade created DC Agenda, an online LGBT news site.
This week, DC Agenda’s owners announced a win in bankruptcy court that included being awarded the Blade name, all trademarks and copyrights and the entire 40-year archive.
DC Agenda surveyed readers on whether to return to the Washington Blade name. The majority of respondents favored the move.
“The power, effectiveness and strength of the Washington Blade came from the spirit and intensity of those who wrote the stories and worked with the local community,” publisher Lynne Brown told DC Agenda . “We now have the opportunity to both restore and refresh a powerful, venerable news gathering institution and to make the treasure trove of our vibrant gay rights and liberation movement history accessible to the public.