Friday, October 30, 2009

Bea Arthur leaves $300K to gay youth

Bea Arthur, the wonderful stage and television actress who died in April of this year, "included a $300,000 donation to New York's Ali Forney Center, an organization supporting homeless LGBT youth, in her will" according to this piece on CNN online. Young gay kids all too often find themselves homeless as they are rejected and abandoned by their own families. This bequest will certainly go a long way.

This is the spirit of meeting a Challenge

The Austin LIVESTRONG Challenge, organized by the Lance Armstrong Foundation, took place last weekend. The stories of inspiration, sense of community, and feeling of accomplishment are coming back as the participants settle back into their regular lives. Among the accounts of that weekend is one by a man named Brendan as summarized in his entry on his Go By Bike! blog. He shot video of the ride itself, with a particularly inspiring moment at about the 11-minute mark in this video:

Livestrong Challenge 2009 from Brendan on Vimeo.

For me, this exemplifies the notion of facing a personal challenge, whether related to cancer or not, and conquering it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

At last, an online merchant who "gets it"

I ordered a bike jacket and pair of shoes from Zappo's on Monday, my first ever transaction with this company. Free shipping, free returns for up to a year from purchase, and a wide selection of shoes and other clothing all lured me to try Zappo's. I was really surprised to see that I could expect to receive my delivery the day after my order. Unfortunately, there was a snafu with UPS, which reported the item as delivered Tuesday morning but which had not actually delivered the package to my house. With some trepidation born of past lackluster customer service interactions with other online vendors, I called Zappo's to get to the bottom of why a package marked delivered was anything but.

I expected to have to wait forever on the phone, or not have access to a live agent, or to be pushed back to UPS. None of that happened. I was connected to a live agent almost immediately who promptly apologized for problem (even though it was UPS' fault), filed an investigation with UPS, and put in a rush replacement order. That investigation must have awakened the folks at UPS because somehow the package appeared on my doorstep a few hours later. Another quick call to Zappo's to request that they cancel the replacement order was met with thanks for letting them know and some friendly banter with the customer service rep. Why can't all online vendors be like them? I suppose brick-and-mortar stores should hope this approach — easy returns, live agents, respect for the customer — doesn't catch on in the online world. I'll definitely be buying from them again and can only hope that Amazon, which has purchased the company, doesn't change their business model.

My friend and fellow cancer survivor Frank pointed me to an article in The New Yorker about their business model: Zappos, the online shoe shopping utopia:

Incidentally, the bike jacket — a Pearl Izumi Elite Barrier Convertible — fit perfectly and will help me to keep on biking in cold weather. I opted for the Screaming Yellow color (more like a neon chartreuse) should help keep me visible to even the most absent-minded cell-phone-using careless drivers on the road. It was nice knowing that even had it not fit, I would have been able to return it hassle- and cost-free. Two thumbs up for Zappo's.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

"Ready for Another March?" I am!

Writing in The Advocate, writer and Sirius radio broadcaster Michelangelo Signorile suggests in his article "Ready for Another March?" the need for continued marches like the recent National Equality March if the LGBT community doesn't see concrete action on our issues (ENDA, DOMA, DADT). Obviously this doesn't at all replace the need for lobbying and direct contact with our elected representatives. But this is something I've been thinking of since my partner and I participated in the march earlier this month. This country has never seen fundamental correction of past injustices without people taking to the streets and making noise in every way possible (e.g. the suffrage movement and the African American civil rights movement). I'm ready.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"What do you think I fought for in Omaha Beach?"

Andy Towle has blogged about an 86-year-old World War II veteran speaking about why he supports gay equality. Maine is in the midst of voting on ballot Question 1, an initiative which, if approved, would overturn the recently enacted same-sex civil marriage law and would thus deny lesbian and gay couples the right to equal state protections afforded by civil marriage in Maine. In his testimony, apparently recorded during public hearings held in April before passage of the same-sex marriage bill in Maine, this hero of World War II cuts to the core of the matter and speaks to his own experience: "My wife and I did not raise four sons [so that] three of them would have a certain set of rights but our gay child would be left out." My partner and I have contributed to the "No on 1" campaign and urge all our friends to do the same. It's about fairness, something I would hope we all can support. Watch the video. It's that moving:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Yet another gay bashing, this time in Oklahoma

The past several days have seen a lot of news of vicious attacks on gay men and lesbians. Andy Towle reports on the latest crime, committed against a young man in Tulsa, OK. More graphic images of the sawing, stabbing and punching inflicted on Brandon Patrick are available as well.

While these crimes are horrific by themselves, what is all the more chilling is the common theme running through them: These are crimes motivated by hatred towards the lesbian and gay community and having the effect of terrorizing that entire community. At the federal level as well as in most states, crimes committed against LGBT individuals are not considered hate crimes even when motivated by hate and promoting fear in the LGBT community at large. Furthermore, these crimes are all too often not investigated and/or prosecuted to the extent they should be as a result of the homophobia present in the local police forces and prosecutors' offices across this country. Please call your US Senators to ask them to support the Matthew Shepart Act recently passed by the House of Representatives but awaiting consideration in the Senate. It would give prosecutors added tools to punish, and by so doing, deter hate crimes committed against our community and its members. Democrats: If You Are NOT on This List Then Not One Penny! Democrats: If You Are NOT on This List Then Not One Penny!

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hundreds march in Queens against hate crimes

In support of gay-bashing victim Jack Price, who has been left in a coma because of a hate crime in Queens, hundreds of people marched through Queens on Saturday. On hand were a few supporters, yes supporters (!), of the assailants currently in police custody:Hundreds march in Queens against hate crimes :: EDGE New York City

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bangor Daily News endorses No on Question 1

The "Bangor Daily News" has endorsed a No on Question 1 vote in Maine and, by so doing, has backed same-sex civil marriage equality in Maine: No on Question 1 - Bangor Daily News

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Senator Udall calls Pres. Obama's bluff on Don't Ask Don't Tell

Courtesy of John Aravosis at AmericaBlog, here's the story and actual letter US Senator (D-Colorado) Mark Udall has written to President Obama requesting him to solicit input from the Secretary of Defense and the military establishment within thirty days to push forward the discussion on just how the elimination of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy should proceed. Udall rightly reminds the Obama that for sixteen years, dedicated men and women have been expelled from the armed forces, often after being subjected to what can only be described as a witch hunt, an injustice and a disservice to over-stretched armed forces that needs to end. Last weekend at the black-tie HRC dinner, Obama talked (as he is wont to do) very eloquently about the injustices endured by the LGBT community. Now here is an opportunity to turn that talk into action so that Congress can move forward in putting a repeal on his desk. Meanwhile, there is nothing to prevent him from putting a stop-loss order to suspend DADT so that more servicemen and women are not separated from the forces. The time for talk is long over. The time for action is overdue.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

This is what homophobia looks like

Jack Price, a gay man, was recently beaten by two attackers in Queens so severely that he now finds himself in a medically-induced coma. This is sadly not an uncommon event in this country. Surveillance video has come to light of the incident and warrants watching. It depicts what happens when two men, motivated by a hatred of gay people, proceed to act out on that hatred. By so doing, they harm not only the victim they attack but they also terrorize an entire community of gay people. This is a hate crime. Please call your US Senator to ask him or her to support the Matthew Shepard hate crimes bill recently passed by the US House of Representatives but awaiting passage in the Senate, where it is far from certain to be passed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More on the California ballot "initiative" to ban divorce

I blogged last month about John Marcotte's satirical effort at an initiative to ban divorce in California. After all, if preventing lesbians and gay men from getting married hasn't protected opposite-sex marriage in California (shocking, that), surely banning divorce would be a much more direct and successful means to that end. Here's an ad as part of this very tongue-in-cheek campain. The satire-impaired are warned not to watch:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This about sums it up...

There is so much that is wrong in the world and it's easy to be either complacent or cynical, to not care or to think things beyond hope. Effecting change is hard work, work it's tempting to leave to others. But the very least, the bare minimum that one can do is at least support those who seek to make the world a better place by joining in, standing up to be counted, and raising one's voice in unison with others. That's why I'm going to Washington, DC this weekend for the National Equality March. Not because I think it alone will wipe away all the hatred and oppression of lesbians and gay men and transgendered people in the United States. I'm not nearly that naïve. But this march is merely the beginning and the bare minimum of what we in this community need to do.

We need to make noise, be it on the phone talking to our representatives — yes, they're our representatives too just as surely as we pay taxes too — or in the streets or in the schools or in the workplace or in our families and among our friends. We each need to do this until this country wakes up to the fact that we are every bit as entitled to the same protections and responsibilities and, yes, respect that our straight friends, coworkers and family members take for granted.

We need to sensitize the people in our lives to stop hurting us by thinking our love somehow less than theirs, by voting for candidates who continue to maintain a body of tax and family law that oppresses us, by talking a lot about tolerance when what they should be doing is practicing respect. This is, sadly, a lifelong amount of work for anyone in the LGBT community who cares enough to want to change all our lives for the better. And it's work that won't get done simply sitting at home in front of the TV or going to a dance club all the while cynically putting down the efforts of well-meaning and hard-working lesbians and gay men to make a change. So this march isn't sufficient. But it sure beats sitting at home doing nothing and just feeling like a victim. Well-behaved and quiet people never effected any change worth a damn in this country's history. It's time to get vocal. That's why I'm going to Washington, DC and that's why I'm going to keep hammering away at issues that matter to this community until we gain full equality.

Pelosi Tells The NRCC Where Her Place Is

Pelosi Tells The NRCC Where Her Place Is

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Apple Quits Chamber Of Commerce Over Climate Change

Here's another reason why I've admired Apple as a company since my first Mac way back in 1984:

Apple Quits Chamber Of Commerce Over Climate Change

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