I have never been one for long, drawn-out goodbyes, but I continue to struggle to find the appropriate words to adequately describe the last seven years and three months that I have lived in the greatest city in the world.
A few moments stand out—covering the protests over the 2004 Republican National Convention, working on Fire Island for six summers and riding my then-roommate Christian’s bicycle over the Williamsburg Bridge to get to my Midtown office during the 2005 Transit Strike and interviewing same-sex couples who married on the day the state’s marriage equality law took effect in July. Other perhaps less obvious moments also come to mind. These include walking through Chinatown on a Saturday afternoon, taking the subway to Rockaway Beach, strolling through the Union Square Farmers Market with a $1.25 bag of broken pretzels and simply admiring the Manhattan skyline from the roof of my building here in Bushwick on a balmy summer night.
I have had the distinct pleasure of knowing some of the most kind and generous people I have ever met in my life here in New York. I have also had the distinct misfortune of knowing some of the most self-centered and morally bankrupt people I have ever met in my life here in New York. And while the city and some of those within it have not always proven particularly kind to this New Hampshire native, I will close this chapter of my life in a few hours with absolutely no regrets.
Thank you, New York.
Friday, September 30, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was among the officials who distributed flyers at a Brooklyn intersection earlier on Tuesday, Sept. 27, about a reported anti-gay attack earlier this month.
Police say Julius "Stinky" Wright sexually assaulted a 24-year-old while shouting anti-gay slurs at him on Myrtle Avenue around 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 5. Wright allegedly stole the victim's cell phone before he asked him about his sexual orientation as he pretended to hold a gun.
Photos by Robin Levine.
Police say a 21-year-old man used anti-gay slurs against a man as he sexually assaulted him on a Brooklyn street earlier this month.
Julius "Stinky" Wright allegedly approached the 24-year-old man on Myrtle Avenue around 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 5. WABC reported the New York Police Department said that Wright stole the victim's cell phone before he asked him about his sexual orientation as he pretended to hold a gun. Wright allegedly proceeded to sexually assault the victim while shouting anti-gay slurs at him.
WABC reported that the man was treated at Woodhull Medical Center and released.
"We must put an end to the intolerance that breeds this hatred, said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Councilman Albert Vann in a joint statement they released after news of the attack broke late on Friday, Sept. 23. "New York City prides itself on diversity and acceptance of all its residents and this act goes against the very fiber of what our city stands for."
Quinn, Vann and City Councilwoman Letitia James plan to distribute flyers about the incident to passersby on the corner of Myrtle and Throop Avenues at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Monday, September 26, 2011
A Gallup poll has found that a record 81 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with how the country is being governed.
The survey noted that 65 percent of Democrats and 92 percent of Republicans have a negative view of the federal government. Congress' approval rating was only 15 percent in the poll, while 57 percent of respondents have little or no confidence in the federal government's ability to solve domestic problems. Fifty-three percent of respondents indicated that they have little or no confidence in their
Meanwhile, the business of government and those who seek to become a part of it continued over the weekend.
Businessman Herman Cain scored an upset victory in the Florida Republican straw poll on Saturday, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won a similar content in his native Michigan on Sunday, Sept. 25.
President Barack Obama told those who gathered at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, that they essentially need to stop whining and help him pass the American Jobs Act. Lady Gaga was among those who attended a fundraiser for the president at the Silicon Valley home of Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sanberg on Sunday.
Meanwhile, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace that the 2012 presidential election is "ours to lose." He stressed that Republicans need a viable candidate who can defeat Obama. And this partisan ranker continues amid the possibility of a federal government shutdown over funding the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
New York City officials late on Friday, Sept. 23, condemned a reported hate crime against a gay man who was walking home in Brooklyn earlier this month.
The man was walking in Bedford-Stuyvesant at 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 5 when he was attacked. The man's assailant or assailants reportedly used anti-gay slurs during the attack.
“We are disgusted and horrified to hear about this incident. Hate crimes hurt everyone, and any act of violence against one member of the LGBT community is an act of violence against us all," said New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and City Councilman Albert Vann in a joint statement. "Too often we hear about acts of violence committed against LGBT people in our city. We must put an end to the intolerance that breeds this hatred. New York City prides itself on diversity and acceptance of all its residents and this act goes against the very fiber of what our city stands for."
The New York Police Department's Hate Crimes Task Force continues to investigate the incident.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum told Fox News' Megyn Kelly earlier on Friday, Sept. 23, that he "condemns" those who booed the gay soldier who asked about the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' during last night's Republican presidential debate.
LGBT and pro-DADT repeal activists immediately blasted Santorum after he said he would reinstate the Clinton-era policy if elected president.
“No service member defending our freedoms in Iraq should be booed for expressing his or her views as an individual," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "I regret that this brave patriot was not defended last night in Orlando and that no candidate spoke up to say ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal has been settled by Congress and our nation’s senior military leaders – and is supported by more than eighty percent of the American people.
The Human Rights Campaign announced on Friday, Sept. 23, that it will honor New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg at its national dinner in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 1.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver the keynote address. Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, who announced her U.S. Senate campaign earlier this month, is also scheduled to speak.
Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has become the first Republican to co-sponsor a bill that would repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
"I co-sponsored the repeal of DOMA because I firmly believe that equality is enshrined in our constitution and in our great democracy," said Ros-Lehtinen in a statement released by Log Cabin Republicans early on Friday, Sept. 23.
New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who introduced the Respect for Marriage Act in the House in March along with several other Democrats, applauded Ros-Lehtinen.
“Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen has long been a tremendous ally in the world’s struggles for freedom and against oppression and discrimination," said Nadler. "She is widely recognized as a champion of human rights and human dignity. Her support reminds us that the march to repeal the discriminatory DOMA is not a partisan issue."
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.,) Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced a companion DOMA repeal bill in Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the measure in July.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said during the Republican presidential debate in Orlando, Fla., earlier on Thursday, Sept. 22, that he would reinstate the ban on openly gay and lesbian servicmembers if elected president.
"What we're doing is playing social experimentation with our military right now, and it's tragic," said Santorum in response to a question from Stephen Hill, a gay soldier stationed in Iraq.
GOProud urged Santorum to apologize to Hill in a statement it released shortly after the debate ended.
“That brave gay soldier is doing something Rick Santorum has never done – put his life on the line to defend our freedoms and our way of life," said the conservative gay organization. "It is telling that Rick Santorum is so blinded by his anti-gay bigotry that he couldn’t even bring himself to thank that gay soldier for his service."
R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, also blasted Santorum.
"Santorum's shameful response to the combat soldier's question regarding open service was incoherent and out of touch. America's uniformed leaders support gays and lesbians serving alongside their colleagues with dignity and respect. Santorum's divisive and homophobic remarks do not befit a commander-in-chief." said the Iraq combat veteran who is currently an Army Reserve officer. "Americans want to hear about how our next President is going to cut our national debt, advocate for a confident foreign policy and most importantly help let the private sector thrive to create jobs."
Change.org has also launched a petition that urges Santorum to "immediately apologize" to Hill and "all soldiers that he insulted by insisting they had no place in our armed services."
"'Don't ask, don't tell' is history now, and these brave men and women do not deserve Senator Santorum's disrespect nor his bigotry," reads the petition.
The repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' became official on Tuesday, Sept. 20.
The National Organization for Marriage announced on Thursday, Sept. 21, that John Eastman has been appointed chair of the organization's board of directors.
Eastman, the former dean of the Chapman University Law School, is the founding director of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. NOM President Brian Bond described Eastman as "one of America's foremost constitutional scholars" who has proven himself as a "fierce advocate for families and religious liberty."
"As a legal scholar, he has participated in dozens of cases before our nation's highest courts, including the United States Supreme Court," added Bond in a statement that announced Eastman's appointment. "When important constitutional principles are on the line, people frequently turn to John Eastman to advocate a conservative, pro-family position. He will be a great asset to NOM."
Eastman succeeds Maggie Gallagher as chair of NOM's Board of Directors.
"My original intention in co-founding the National Organization for Marriage was to launch a politically sophisticated national activist organization to fight for the views of millions of Americans who believe that marriage is and should remain the union of husband and wife," said Gallagher, who will remain on NOM's Board. "I think it's fair to say that NOM has been launched, and is now far more successful than even I dreamed (and I dreamed big!) I'm grateful to NOM's President Brian Brown for leading this organization, and the addition of an eminent public intellectual like John Eastman to the NOM team is a great sign as we move forward to the battles ahead."
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry earlier today introduced a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in the housing and credit markets.
The Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) Act would amend both the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Credit Act to ban anti-LGBT discrimination.
"Housing discrimination against LGBT Americans is wrong, but today in most states there isn't a thing you can do about it," said Kerry. "This legislation would end discrimination that continues to hurt people."
New York Congressmen Jerrold Nadler, Steve Israel and Edolphus Towns and U.S. Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.,) Bobby Scott (D-Va.,) Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced a companion bill in the House.
“LGBT Americans, non-traditional families, and the disabled should not be subjected to housing discrimination at the hands of the unscrupulous or bigoted,” said Nadler. “This legislation will ensure that the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act are actually protecting all Americans and guaranteeing people of any sexual orientation, gender identity, marital and familial status, and source of income the right to the housing they choose.”
A new Gallup poll indicates that more than 50 percent of Americans blame President Barack Obama for the country's economic woes.
Fifty-three percent of Americans blame Obama for the state of the economy, while 69 percent of respondents said former President George W. Bush is responsible for the current economic malaise in the country. Obama has a 42 percent approval rating in Gallup's daily tracking poll on Thursday, Sept. 22.
Gallup also found that 62 percent of registered voters would definitely vote for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. Fifty-four percent said they would vote for Obama, while 53 percent would support Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The Human Rights Campaign announced earlier on Wednesday, Sept. 21, that President Barack Obama will deliver the keynote address at its annual National Diner in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 1.
“We are honored to share this night with President Obama who has a tremendous record of accomplishment for LGBT people,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “On the heels of the end to ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ we look forward to celebrating our victories and redoubling our efforts for the fights that remain ahead.”
Obama delivered the keynote address at HRC's National Dinner in 2009, while senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett spoke to the gathering last year. Then-President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address at HRC's National Dinner in 1997.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Sept. 21, President Barack Obama urged countries around the world to protect the rights of their gay and lesbian citizens.
"No country should deny people their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but also no country should deny people their rights because of who they love," said the president during his speech. "Why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere."
Obama delivered his speech a day after the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' became official.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Maine Sen. Susan Collins held up a postcard she received from an anonymous gay soldier in Afghanistan over the summer as she applauded the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell' at a Capitol Hill press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 20.
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.,) Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.,) Chris Coons (D-Del.,) Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.) joined openly gay and lesbian servicemembers and LGBT activists at the press conference.
The repeal of the military's ban on openly gay and lesbian servicemembers officially took effect at midnight on Tuesday, Sept. 20.
I shot this video at Town in Washington, D.C., as revelers celebrated the end of "don't ask, don't tell" at the exact moment the repeal of the Clinton-era law took effect.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Will the end of 'don't ask, don't tell' prove a campaign issue in 2012?
President Barack Obama signed the repeal bill into law late last year, so it would appear in his best interest to point that out to skeptical LGBT donors ahead of the presidential election. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has already done so, citing the end of "the discriminatory 'don't ask, don't tell' law" as one of her legislative accomplishments in a fundraising appeal she sent to supporters earlier on Monday, Sept. 19.
Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown is among the six Republicans senators who supported the repeal bill. Log Cabin Republicans will honor Brown and Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who also backed the measure, at their national dinner in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday Sept. 20. Elizabeth Warren announced her Senate campaign on Sept. 14.
Congressmen Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Sept. 15 to postpone the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell,' but appears as though this plea will fall on deaf ears. The vast majority of Americans remain focused on the economy, jobs and the national debt. The question of whether gays and lesbians can openly serve in the military does not factor into this bread and butter equation.
In other words, it appears unlikely that the sky will fall onto the campaign trail or anywhere else for that matter on or after Sept. 20.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Nearly everyone in Cherry Grove, N.Y., turned out for Robert Scherffius and Victor Alfieri's wedding on the beach on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Scherffius and Alfieri, who met in New York City 58 years ago, are among the five same-sex and heterosexual couples who were married in the Grove on Saturday.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch announced earlier today that he will not seek a fifth term as governor of the Granite State.
Lynch, who was first elected in 2004, made the announcement at a Manchester elementary school. Lynch's announcement came a day after a House subcommittee approved a bill that would repeal New Hampshire's marriage equality law.
Lynch signed the measure in June 2009, but the National Organization for Marriage attacked his pro-marriage equality stance ahead of last November's election. Republicans swept statewide contests, but Lynch was re-elected for a fourth term with 52 percent of the vote.
House Speaker John Boehner will swear in Congressman-elect Bob Turner in the House of Representatives at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15.
Turner, who succeeds former Congressman Anthony Weiner, defeated state Assemblyman David Weprin by a 54-46 percent margin in a special election in the Ninth Congressional District on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The Associated Press has declared that Republican Bob Turner has defeated New York State Assemblyman David Weprin in the race to succeed former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
With roughly 70 percent of precincts in New York's Ninth Congressional District reporting as of late on Tuesday, Sept. 13, Turner defeated Weprin by a 53-47 percent margin.
Weiner resigned in June after lewd pictures and text messages he tweeted and sent to women became public.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
The bill to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act has 122 cosponsors with Rhode Island Congressman Jim Langerin and Minnesota Congressman Tim Walz announcing their support earlier on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
“As the march toward full equality for LGBT Americans is seeing some real, concrete progress, the movement to repeal DOMA is steadily growing stronger and more robust,” said Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.,) who introduced the Respect for Marriage Act in the House in March. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.,) Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced an identical measure in the U.S. Senate.
“Getting married to my wife Gwen and building our life together was the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Walz. “I simply cannot imagine why we would want to ban our fellow Americans from that commitment. Martin Luther King Jr. once said ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ I believe that arc is getting shorter and I look forward to a day in my lifetime when Americans are not discriminated on based on who they love.”
The White House announced in July that President Barack Obama supports the DOMA repeal bill. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Respect for Marriage Act on July 19.
Is the Tea Party a Ponzi scheme?
More than a few progressive Democrats may have already come to this conclusion, but Republican presidential candidates who participated in last night’s debate in Tampa certainly went out of their way to curry favor with Tea Party voters. Some had more at stake than others.
“I know we can do so much better in this country,” said Minnesota Congressman Michele Bachmann in her introduction. “That’s why I’m the chief author of the bill to repeal Dodd-Frank, the bill to repeal Obamacare. And that’s why I brought the voice of the Tea Party to the United States Congress as the founder of the Tea Party Caucus.”
Bachmann described herself as “the leading voice in the wilderness of Washington all summer” against raising the country’s debt ceiling, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry continued to take more wind out of her sails as he fended off attacks from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Congressman Ron Paul on the economy, taxes, Social Security and immigration. She found her Tea Party mojo, however, when she blasted Perry over his executive order that requires HPV vaccines for girls as young as 11.
“I’m a mom. And I’m a mom of three children. And to have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong,” said Bachmann. “That should never be done. It’s a violation of a liberty interest.”
Rhetoric and strategic one-liners aside, last night’s debate raises the obvious specter of whether the Tea Party will emerge as a tangible force in 2012. Voters will obviously answer this question at the ballot box, but today’s special election in New York’s Ninth Congressional District for could potentially prove a harbinger of things to come.
Monday, September 12, 2011
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty endorsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for president on Monday, Sept. 12.
Pawlenty praised Romney as a candidate with "unique qualifications to confront and master our severe economic predicament" in a letter to his supporters. He also lauded Romney's "abiding faith in our country's exceptional historical position as a beacon of freedom." (Pawlenty announced this endorsement a day after the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.)
"Romney is running for president because he is deeply committed to our country, troubled by its current condition, and I believe he can turn it around," said Pawlenty.
Pawlenty ended his own White House bid last month after he finished third in the Iowa straw poll. Republican presidential candidates will participate in their next debate tonight in Tampa, Fla.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Does former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman signal the return of the moderate Republican?
He and the seven other Republican presidential candidates certainly clashed on the economy, jobs, Social Security and other bread and butter issues during last night’s debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., but Huntsman provided a potentially uncomfortable reality check for his more well-known GOP opponents who actually need to court mainstream voters to defeat President Barack Obama.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum seemed an oddly placed sidebar to the Texas-sized showdown between Congressman Ron Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry—the Emergency Alert System alerting Washingtonians that the District of Columbia and surrounding areas were under a flash flood warning actually pre-empted Santorum’s comments on immigration. Romney tried to sow his own Tea Party bonafides while refusing to explicitly own the populist label.
"If we're going to win in 2012, we've got to make sure that we have somebody who can win based upon numbers of the math that will get us there," said Huntsman, referring to Perry’s comments about climate change and evolution. "And by making comments that basically don't reflect the reality of the situation, we turn people off."
The next debate will be in Tampa, Fla., on Sept. 12.
Monday, September 5, 2011
Hurricane Irene certainly made her presence known on Fire Island last weekend, but she could not spoil the unofficial last days of season for those who are fortunate enough to summer on the beach.
This past weekend also marked the end of an era for this reporter. After six seasons with the Fire Island News, it is highly unlikely that I will return to the beach for a seventh. I am not a person who particularly enjoys long and drawn out goodbyes, but it was certainly emotional to leave Ocean Beach earlier this morning. Memories, anecdotes and people from the past six years who come to mind are simply too numerous to list. That said, however, the beach and those who define it will remain with me forever.
Here is my last official correspondence that ran in this season's last edition of the Fire Island News that hit the beach last Thursday, Sept. 1.
I have never been one for long, drawn-out goodbyes, so I hope that our loyal readers will understand my desire to keep this final official correspondence of sorts short and to the point.
This issue could very well prove my last as managing editor of the Fire Island News. I am moving to Washington, D.C, at the end of this month. While I am certainly looking forward to living in the nation’s capital with my beloved partner Andrés, it is profoundly bittersweet to think that I may very well not return to the beach in the spring.
It is impossible to list all of the anecdotes, memories and mishaps that come to mind when I think back on the six seasons I have worked on Fire Island, but a handful deserve some sort of honorable mention. These include watching the sun rise while dancing among thousands of revelers at the Pines Party, climbing to the top of the Lighthouse, covering the Invasion in something that resembles full drag while wearing six-inch heels, knocking on the door of an Atlantique hostel on a rainy early May afternoon wearing a shredded trash bag looking for Ocean Beach after I had just walked through the village on Midway, dancing the night away at Cherry’s or simply enjoying a leisurely hour on the beach in Robbins Rest.
Fire Island can certainly prove a difficult and treacherous place to live, work and play as Hurricane just proved to us all. This truly unique place and those who define it, however, have allowed this humble journalist from New Hampshire to come of age amid the backdrop of one of the world’s most spectacular natural settings.
In closing, I think back to a phrase that repeatedly popped into my mind a couple of weeks ago ahead of Ascension weekend in the Pines: You belong on Fire Island if you feel you belong on Fire Island. The beach and those who continue to define it will remain with me forever.
Brooklyn politicians have expressed outrage after police officers detained City Councilmember Jumaane Williams earlier today during the annual West Indian Day Parade.
The Daily News reported that New York Police Department officers handcuffed and detained Williams and Kirsten John Foy, director of community affairs for former City Councilman and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, around 1:30 p.m. De Blasio told the Daily News that officers threw Foy to the ground before they handcuffed him. The New York Times further reported that officers detained Williams and Foy when they tried to use a sidewalk that had been cordoned off by the NYPD to walk to an event at the Brooklyn Museum.
“It’s broad daylight, they get thrown to the ground, they both get arrested,” de Blasio told the Times. “If that’s what happens to an elected official and a senior appointee, imagine what happens to a general member of the public.”
An NYPD spokesperson told the Times that "an unknown individual" had punched a police captain before the incident. Congresswoman Yvette Clark and Assemblyman Hakeen Jeffries were quick to blast the officers' actions.
Williams, who is an outspoken critic of the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy, is expected to discuss the incident at a press conference on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 6.