Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 in Review

The last 365 days have brought me from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to the New York Blade, EDGE Publications, and even the Advocate. What a year it has certainly been! These 10 stories helped shape the year that will soon pass into the annuls of LGBT history and time...


The House passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in November without gender identity and expression. The Human Rights Campaign stood alone as the only national LGBT rights organization to back the transgender-exclusive bill despite repeated pledges and assurances to the contrary. This nearly unilateral endorsement sparked widespread outrage among local, statewide and national LGBT activists and their allies. The HRC's own credibility remains the most glaring casualty of this very public schism which exposed an ever-growing rift between the lobbying organizations and those on whose behalf it repeatedly claims to advocate.

Logo/HRC Debate

The Logo and the HRC-sponsored Presidential forum in Los Angeles in August made history as the first televised event to feature leading Presidential candidates responding to questions about marriage for same-sex couples and other LGBT issues. The composition of the panel -- HRC President Joe Solmonese, lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge and journalists Jonathan Capehart and Margaret Carlson -- sparked controversy alongside the separation of the candidates themselves during the two-hour forum. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson rather tragically asserted homosexuality remains a choice. But the forum, despite its problems, will go down in the history books as a watershed moment in the movement for LGBT rights in this country.

Campaign 2008

The Logo and HRC forum is one small sliver of the broader Presidential campaign which captivated and even galvanized LGBT politicos, activists and reporters alike throughout the year. Congressman Dennis Kucinich [D-Ohio] and former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel [D-Alaska] remain the only leading White House hopefuls to support full marriage for same-sex couples while a number of leading LGBT figures, such as New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, have backed U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton [D-N.Y.]

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former U.S. Sen. John Edwards [D-N.C.], came out in support of same-sex nuptials in June while U.S. Sen. Barack Obama [D-Ill.] sparked controversy in October with his "Embrace the Change" tour in South Carolina that included self-described "ex-gay" gospel singer Donnie McClurkin.

Republican White House hopefuls have also faced scrutiny. Social conservatives remain largely skeptical of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's previous support of civil unions and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" during his previous Senate and gubernatorial campaigns in the Commonwealth. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani continues to back away from his previous pro-LGBT overtures during his two terms in City Hall while former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee sparked widespread consternation earlier this month after previous comments suggesting Washington should isolate people with HIV and AIDS came to light.

Stay tuned...

International LGBT Human Rights Abuses

LGBT people in Iran, Russia and other countries around the world face continued oppression and even death in 2007. The Iranian government executed Makwan Moloudzadeh, 21, on Dec. 5 on charges he had sex with boys as a young teenager. This executions comes on the heels of the arrest of more than 80 people who attended a birthday party in the city of Isfahan in May

Ultra-nationalists, members of the Russian Orthodox Church and others attacked LGBT activists and politicos with eggs, stones and fists as they attempted to hold a gay Pride celebration in Moscow in May. British gay activist Peter Tatchell, German MEP Volker Beck and Right Said Fred front man Richard Fairbrass were among those attacked in the Russian capital is Moscow police apparently failed to respond to the assaults. Mayor Yuri Luzhkov repeatedly described the march as "satanic" and banned the march but openly gay Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe was among those who condemned the violence.

Marriage Advances

New Jersey became the third state to extend civil unions to same-sex couples after a bill Gov. Jon Corzine signed into law took effect in February. New Hampshire lawmakers passed a similar bill in April that allows gays and lesbians to enter into civil unions beginning on New Year's Day.

Oregon and even Iowa saw advances towards full marriage for same-sex couples while Massachusetts lawmakers killed a proposed state Constitutional amendment to ban gay and lesbian nuptials in the Commonwealth in June. The vote came more than three years after same-sex couples began to legally marry after the landmark Goodridge decision.

GOP Hypocrites Fall Hard

It remains a fact that hypocrites often fall hard; but no scandal seemed to generate more jokes (or grimaces) than the arrest of U.S. Sen. Larry Craig [R-Idaho] inside a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport after he allegedly solicited an undercover police officer inside a restroom in June. Craig, who repeatedly supported the Federal Marriage Amendment and other anti-LGBT legislation, plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge but maintained he is 'not gay.' Bloggers, such as Michael Rogers, and newspapers, including the Idaho Statesman, brought evidence to light which seemed to suggest otherwise based on interviews with escorts and others who claimed the anti-LGBT social conservative slept with them. Craig remains in the U.S. Senate despite his announcement to resign shortly after his arrest came to light.

Transgender Immigrant with HIV Dies in Federal Custody

Victoria Arellano's tragic and untimely death during her incarceration at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in San Pedro, Calif., in July remains one of the most under reported stories of 2007. Arellano, 23, died after ICE officials allegedly denied her medication to temper HIV-related side affects during her more than two-month detention at the Southern California facility. Bienestar and other organizations across the country have rallied behind Arellano's family, who plans to file a lawsuit against ICE and other officials in the coming year. It is also worth noting that Arellano was the third detainee to die in San Pedro since 2004.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell's Legacy

The so-called anti-gay industry arguably continues to lose its clout among political, social and even economic spheres and it lost one of its founders in May when the Rev. Jerry Falwell suddenly died from a heart attack.

Falwell publicly launched his anti-LGBT career in the late 1970s with his support of Anita Bryant's efforts to repeal a South Florida gay rights ordinance. He routinely enraged LGBT activists with his categorization of AIDS as God's condemnation of homosexuality and his assertion gays and other progressives caused the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks. Falwell also denounced Tinky Winky based on his belief that the purple Teletubby was gay. Absurd? Absolutely. But the outspoken minister certainly secured his influence on the social, political and even economic fabric of this country for more than three decades.

Isaiah Washington Sparks Controversy, Debate on Hate Speech

Former "Grey's Anatomy" star Isaiah Washington sparked widespread outrage among several LGBT activists and organizations after he used an anti-gay slur during an interview with reporters after the Golden Globe awards in January. He reportedly used the same slur against openly gay co-star T.R. Knight during a confrontation in Oct. 2006.

GLAAD and the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network immediately blasted Washington. He soon apologized for the slur and agreed to appear in a PSA. The incident, which both organizations repeatedly milked for their own purposes, received widespread coverage throughout the first half of 2007. ABC decided not to renew his contract on "Grey's Anatomy" in June despite his very public 'mea culpa.'

Ahmadinejad Denies Homosexuality

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of the world's great provocateurs in 2007 but his denial of homosexuality in Iran during a speech at Columbia University in September sparked widespread ridicule among observers -- and especially those in attendance.

The story would remain purely comical if it were not for the fact LGBT Iranians face widespread oppression, persecution and even death in their own country. Boy in Bushwick blogged about Ahmadinejad's speech under the headline "Iranian President Mocks Reason at Columbia." Words often speak for themselves.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Reflections Upon Recent World Events

As Boy in Bushwick reflects upon the year that has soon to pass, the news of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's assassination in Rawalpindi yesterday came as a shock. She was, arguably, as corrupt as any politician in her country she hoped to replace next month. But Bhutto was a beacon of hope for many Pakistanis who sought a better future for themselves and their country.

Her assassination is probably not a shock to observers and even close advisers who repeatedly warned her that her life was in danger. Bhutto is now a martyr for the cause for which she and her supporters fought so hard. Let us hope that Pakistan does not descend into further chaos or even civil war. This path would go directly against Bhutto's life and legacy.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Holidays from Snowy New Hampshire

The more than two feet of snow on the ground here in Manchester, New Hampshire, is slowly melting on this Christmas Eve but the pre-primary campaign remains in full-swing. The Concord Monitor issued its anti-editorial of former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney yesterday while holiday ads featuring U.S. Sen. Barack Obama [D-Ill.] and his family, U.S. Sens. Hillary Clinton [D-N.Y.] and John McCain [D-Ariz.], former U.S Sens. Mike Gravel [D-Alaska] John Edwards [D-N.C.] and former Congressman Ron Paul [R-Texas] are among those running on local television. My personal favorite remains that featuring former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Santa Claus wishing New Hampshire voters a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season.

I can't help but conclude the former federal prosecutor is not on Chris Cringle's 'nice list' this year with the indictment of former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, revelations he used public security funds while in Southampton on weekend trysts with his then-mistress (and now third wife) Judith Nathan and scrutiny over his private business dealings. Giuliani may be able to charm many Americans with his (real or perceived) leadership on Sept. 11 but serious questions remain about his professional and personal conduct to which a good PR team or even Kris Kringle arguably cannot find a solution.

Here's to a happy holiday!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Troubles at IN Newsweekly

The fallout over the IN Newsweekly staff revolt continues to unfold as contributors and even a former long-time editor bring their concerns about HX Media's failure to pay, editorial considerations and other issues to light. Below is a recap of the letter former editor-in-large Fred Kuhr and others sent to IN Newsweekly editor William Henderson, HX Media CEO Matthew Bank and others associated with both letters with embedded links (above) to additional postings and other information. Stay tuned...

December 8, 2007

Mr. Matthew Bank
HX Publications
230 W. 17th Street
New York, NY 10011

Dear Mr. Bank,

We would like to request a meeting with you to discuss our concerns about IN Newsweekly.

Increasingly, over the past several months, we have become worried about the paper's content, its overall focus, and future direction. We believe the overall quality of the publication, its journalistic standards, has suffered serious damage. Nothing less than its reputation and standing within the New England region is at stake.

For example, IN used to feature coverage from all six New England states. Now we're down to two - Massachusetts and Rhode Island - and on a hit- or - miss basis. Essentially, the paper has written off a considerable chunk of our geography, which was a distinct strategic advantage.

Perhaps some historical context will be helpful. For decades, Boston has been a two gay newspaper town. And IN's position is unique. Under two previous editors, In Newsweekly, over time, carved out a reputation for balanced, fair, accurate, in a word – quality, journalism. Editors and writers were not beholden to factions or cliques of individuals or groups. Nor did the reporting and opinion fan flames of controversy, with sensational coverage or “gotcha” journalism.

In Newsweekly is all about journalism, not LGBT activism, although the paper's opinion pages – praised in the past for having four full pages of columns and commentaries, never shied from staking out strong local, regional, and national stances. In sum, the paper's tone and content gave the LGBT community a voice it can hear and over time came to trust.

As contributors, we search for the truth, are respectful, and seek to minimize harm. We are professionals.

Current staffers are also professional in their Herculean efforts to meet deadlines, get the product out the door, onto the streets, and up on the web. Given diminished financial and human resources, we are amazed that they are still able to produce a weekly paper.

Nonetheless, we are very concerned about the paper's most recent focus on nightlife/arts coverage, with a dramatic departure from local reporting on hard news. For years, Chuck Colbert, perhaps the paper's most seasoned reporter and columnist, covered religion, politics, and government. Because of freelance budget cuts - we are told - he now pens only a one full-page weekly column.

Don't get us wrong: Colbert Reports is a good idea, one that developed from a collaborative conversation between writer and editor. But the under utilization of a talented and popular journalist is a disservice to readers who read IN precisely for the local angle and news content.

Editor-at-Large Fred Kuhr, another popular and widely read journalist, once contributed editorials, music reviews, and other features on a regular basis. Now, Fred only writes a column every few weeks.

From our many years of experience, we know that gay New Englanders are not predisposed to read out-of-towners. We acknowledge Washington and New York as major media centers. But more than enough happens in LGBT news, religion, government, politics, and community events throughout the region to fill a weekly issue to the brim. To rely on nationally syndicated writers or Associated Press stories is to relegate IN to irrelevancy and obscurity. Local readership simply will not take the paper seriously anymore.

The year 2008 is a presidential election year. Right now, candidates are out and about all over New Hampshire in search of votes, including LGBT support. Because of our regional strategic advantage, IN could be all over presidential politics. We are not, and that is a missed opportunity.

The front page of the current issue (December 5) features stories on gay friendly holiday shopping and Absolut vodka. While those stories do have a place in the paper, we cannot understand how they merit placement on the front page.

Meanwhile, the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective held their annual fundraiser, which attracted 450 people and benefited HIV/AIDS programs. The story ran as a “brief.” Surely that story merited serious consideration for page one.

In Rhode Island, an openly gay man, Frank Ferri, won election to fill a vacant seat in the state House of Representatives. Again, the victory ran as news brief. Yet, Mr. Ferri is the nation's first legally married (same-sex) person to win elective office. That's not only news: the story is big news. Joe Siegel is a resident of the Ocean State and is more than capable of covering that state's significant LGBT community.

Steve Desroches, our Provincetown correspondent, left the paper in August. Paul Olsen, our longtime Vermont correspondent, is gone. Maine receives little if any coverage. Yet Ogunquit is a major tourism draw, and Portland has a large active gay community.

In Connecticut, New Haven and Hartford have substantial gay communities.

For years, freelance correspondents have been the backbone of In Newsweekly's regional success story. Why have so many been left to fall by the wayside?

Several weeks ago, we learned of yet more severe budget cuts for freelance writers — down to $200 a week from a paltry $400 beforehand. That drastic cut comes after a series of other reductions.

In the current issue, however, we find advertisements for a nightlife editor and an assistant to the business manager.

As freelancers, we wait months and months for pay and back pay. We don't understand why HX lags so far behind in payment to us, while placing ads for permanent staffers. An ad ran for several weeks for a Boston-based writer to cover politics, government, and entertainment. We would like to know the reasons for this.

Now, we learn HX is hosting a 10-year celebration of quality journalism at the New York Blade. But we notice a parallel development between the NY Blade and IN: radical decreases in regional coverage, budget cuts for freelance writers, the shift in emphasis from solid news to entertainment: for those reasons and others, we are requesting a meeting with you and the local Boston staffers.

We look forward to meeting you in person for what we believe will be a mutually advantageous conversation.

Sincerely yours,

Chuck Colbert,
Fred Kuhr
Irene Monroe
Joe Siegel


Bill Berggren
Dean Burchell
William Henderson
Gary Lacinski
Karen Young

... More on IN Newsweekly and HX Media

The Christmas holidays have finally arrived in full force with a slew of holiday parties and festivities over the last few days... but yet more has emerged in the on-going saga between former and arguably soon-to-be-former IN Newsweekly contributors and their former (and soon-to-be-former) parent company IN Newsweekly.

HX Media reportedly owes former IN Newsweekly editor-at-large Fred Kuhr $2,000 in back pay while other writers who have ceased contributing to the weekly have indicated they plan to pursue possible legal action if they don't receive their back pay in a very expedient timetable. HX New York editor Brandon Voss and his assistant editor, Mark Peikert, are among those with bylines in IN Newsweekly's latest issue. It seems as though the resignations and decisions to stop contributing until back pay is paid continues to have an impact. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

IN Newsweekly Mess Continues to Evolve

Current and former IN Newsweekly contributors and editors have succeeded in getting the word out about their list of grievances with HX Media, their CEO Matthew Bank and editor William Henderson with hits on Qweerty, PageOneQ and other blogs.

Boy in Bushwick's sources indicate that the publisher of the Washington Blade plans to spend a week in Boston to observe the paper and hopefully attempt to resolve these issues. Bank has so far failed to respond to the letter contributors send to him earlier this month but the questions about editorial integrity, a significant shift from news to nightlife coverage and current postings for a nightlife editor and an assistant to the weekly's business manager -- with a $200 per week freelancers budget -- remain more or less unanswered.

Another interesting fact emerged when a source inside HX Media said the company recently relocated to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's former office on West 35th Street in Manhattan's Fashion District. Coincidence? Probably. But this move, along with a recent party thrown to commemorate the New York Blade's 10th anniversary, confirms to many observers that their priorities remain out-of-line. Their own track record in Boston and elsewhere arguably confirms this unfortunate reality.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

AIDS Organizations Increase Outreach to People Over 50

Most people admittedly probably don't want to talk about the sex lives of people over 50 outside of dated chicken hawk and troll cliches used by many within the gay community. A coalition of HIV and AIDS organizations hope to change this stigma with a new campaign designed to raise awareness of how the epidemic affects older gay men as I reported in earlier this week. It will appear across New York City but it remains a small part of an overall effort activists and service providers maintain is long overdue. Stay tuned...

With more and more Americans turning 50 each year, a growing number of people with HIV and AIDS are entering their golden years. HIV and AIDS service organizations are struggling to meet the needs of their aging clients.

The Gay Men's Health Crisis, Service & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America and the Brooklyn, N.Y., based-Griot Circle launched the Eldersexual Campaign in New York on Tuesday, December 11, 2007, as a way to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS among people over 50. The initiative features four separate advertisements that will run in 15 weekly and two monthly publications across the Five Boroughs. Thirty-nine telephone booths across Brooklyn and Manhattan will also display the ads.

GMHC Institute of Gay Men's Health director Dr. Bill Stackhouse told he remains confident of the campaign's success. "It's really about raising awareness and facilitating dialogue in New York City that HIV and AIDS is an issue for people over 50," he said. "It's a fun campaign with a gay sensibility -- adjusted to the general public."

Stackhouse further estimated that one-third of GMHC's total clientele are over 50 while SAGE executive director Michael Adams added that his New York-based organization serves more than 2,000 LGBT elders each month. "People, thankfully, are living longer lives," Adams said. "It's only natural we would be developing programming around HIV issues."

Older people face concerns about possible interactions with HIV and AIDS drugs and medications specific to treating diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases and conditions often associated with aging. Social security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits are other concerns with which SAGE and other HIV and AIDS service organizations assist their clients. "There are a whole range of issues that older people face," Adams said. "Some [are issues that] all older people face and some [are] particular to LGBT seniors. HIV is becoming increasingly another issue older LGBT people [face] -- it's becoming an increasingly important part of the mix."

Akira Ohiso, programming coordinator for the Ryan White Over 50 Program at Housing Works, agreed. His organization maintains an outreach program in the East New York section of Brooklyn that provides housing and other basic services to people with HIV and AIDS over 50 in the crime-ridden neighborhood. Ohiso further pointed to poverty and long-held attitudes, such as that older people are not sexually active, which he contends remain serious barriers to those seeking treatment. "There are still a lot of myths and biases towards the aging community," he said.

Activists also pointed out HIV and AIDS symptoms often mirror those commonly associated with aging. Corey White, an outreach coordinator with the Griot Circle, said this concern ranks high among the older men of color who attend the support group he facilitates. "Many seniors go without being treated because of the similarities of HIV and aging," he said. "That's occurring across the board."

White added that many Griot Circle clients are simply unaware of how to talk about HIV and AIDS with their medical providers or possible symptoms of which they should be aware. He also works with group attendees on how to receive adequate medical care. "[These are] some of the conversations we have in our group," White said.

The Boston-based National Association on HIV Over Fifty estimates that up to 15 percent of all AIDS cases in the United States occur among people over 50. Rates of infection were more than twice as high among older people than young adults between 1991 and 1995.

New York City Councilmember Maria del Carmen Arroyo [D-Mott Haven] proposed $1 million last year to fund training to teach medical providers how to treat older New Yorkers with HIV and AIDS and education initiatives at senior centers across the city. But activists maintain government officials can do more to curb HIV and AIDS among people over 50. "There hasn't been a lot of programming and funding put in place for older people," Ohiso said. "This is a vulnerable community within a vulnerable community."

Adams agreed. "The success is people are living longer and that's great news," he said. "But now [that we] have achieved success, we have to recognize this population needs HIV programming and support."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mike Huckabee Speaks Again

Shooting ducks in a barrel is an all too appropriate metaphor to use in describing how former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's previous statements regarding homosexuality, HIV and AIDS continue to come to light now that he is the front runner ahead of the Iowa caucuses. The latest assertion came from an Associated Press article in which the GOP social conservative maintains his support of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'

"I believe to try to legitimize that which is inherently illegitimate would be a disgraceful act of government," Huckabee said. "I feel homosexuality is an aberrant, unnatural and sinful lifestyle, and we now know it can post a dangerous public health risk."

Those within the movement for LGBT rights will undoubtedly continue to assert American voters rejected anti-LGBT rhetoric last November with the Democrats taking control of Congress. Huckabee himself will almost certainly try to claim these comments were taken out of context but the above statement cannot cloud his vile homophobic sentiments which are coming out now that he's on the campaign trail. Social conservatives may privately (or even publicly) rejoice. But most fair-minded people will hopefully reject them and any candidate who perpetuates them to court a small but vocal fringe group.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Yet More Political Double-Speak

You know it is the height of the pre-caucus and primary season when our so-called front runners are all to quick to 'clarify' statements from their political past. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who now leads Iowa polls ahead of its Jan. 3 caucuses, caused widespread outrage among LGBT activists this past weekend with his 1992 assertion that the government should quarantine people with AIDS during his failed U.S. Senate bid. The Republican social conservative denied he implied he would support isolating people with AIDS during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.

Not to be outdone by his GOP rival, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" he feels homosexual acts are sinful as opposed to a person's sexual orientation. [Boy in Bushwick openly asks whether Giuliani feels clandestine trips to Southampton to visit his now current wife with a taxpayer funded NYPD security detail falls into the same 'sinful' categorization.] I guess politicians will pull out all the stops in the name of political pandering... but a more accurate term is damage control on a national stage. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Where Do They Stand on HIV?

Almost every issue contains within it a certain degree of politics as voters prepare to cast the first votes in the 2008 election cycle in Iowa and New Hampshire. And HIV and AIDS is unfortunately no exception as depicted in my story posted earlier this week. Stay tuned...

With less than a month until Iowans cast the first votes in the 2008 presidential campaign, activists across the country continue to call upon White House hopefuls on both sides of the aisle to address the AIDS epidemic on the campaign trail.

Housing Works, the Gay Men's Health Crisis and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago released the findings of a survey of 16 leading Democratic and Republican presidential candidates late last month ahead of World AIDS Day that asked them to detail their positions on federal funding of needle exchange programs, appropriations for so-called science-based prevention programs and other issues that are part of a comprehensive national AIDS strategy. Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton [D-N.Y.], former U.S. Sen. John Edwards [D-N.C.], U.S. Sen. Barack Obama [D-Ill.] and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich [D-Ohio] answered the questions. U.S. Sen. Joe Biden [D-Del.] provided a written statement, while the leading GOP candidates failed to respond. also details each candidate's positions on HIV and AIDS-related issues throughout their political careers.

"More than ever, the American public is calling for a meaningful health care reform which includes bold leadership in the area of AIDS," GMHC Chief Operating Officer Robert Bank said in a statement. "Voters need to know what the candidates will do to fight AIDS when determining their readiness to be president."

David Ernesto Munar, vice president of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, agreed. " wants to make sure that whoever moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January 2009 will make ending the AIDS epidemic a top priority," he said. "It's a matter of life and death."

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago, GMHC and Housing Works revealed the findings of their survey a day after Clinton announced her plan to combat HIV and AIDS in the United States and around the world during a campaign stop in South Carolina. It includes doubling the amount of money allocated to HIV and AIDS research at the National Institutes of Health to $5.2 billion annually and a pledge of $50 billion to combat the global epidemic by 2013.

Obama and Edwards announced their plans earlier this fall. AIDS Action Executive Director Rebecca Haag, who is also a member of Clinton's LGBT advisory committee, applauded the Democratic candidates' efforts to highlight HIV and AIDS during an interview with from the Democratic National Committee's fall meeting in Northern Virginia.

"I am very happy to report that every major Democratic candidate has come out in support of a national AIDS strategy," she said. "Each of the major candidates [Clinton, Obama and Edwards] has now issued their own platforms which go beyond the national domestic epidemic. From a presidential point of view, all Democrats are out on the trail talking about HIV."

More than an estimated million people live with HIV and AIDS in the United States while 40,000 people test HIV-positive each year. People of color comprise nearly half of all new infections while HIV and AIDS was the leading cause of death among women of color between 25 and 34 in 2004.

The National Black Justice Coalition will include HIV and AIDS-related issues in a voter guide it plans to disseminate ahead of the election. NBJC Chief Operating Officer Earl Plante stressed that a candidate's position on these issues could determine his organization's presidential endorsement. "We are willing and able and at their disposal to engage on the HIV and AIDS issue," he said. "We think it's long past due in terms of having a dialogue around increases in treatment, care, prevention and research."

Haag conceded Republican candidates have not given HIV and AIDS the same attention on the campaign trail as their Democratic counterparts. But she remains hopeful, however, that her organization and others across the country will continue to successfully raise these issues among all leading White House hopefuls.

"We have always had bi-partisan support for this issue," Haag concluded. "We believe the American people want this issue solved [and] we will continue to press the candidates."

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Another Mitt-Flop

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's so-called change of heart on marriage for same-sex couples, Don't Ask, Don't Tell and other LGBT issues have continued to dog him on the campaign trail. But add yet another Mitt-Flop to this impressive list of hypocritical campaign pandering with the news that he continued to employ a landscaping company at his Belmont, Mass., mansion which employed undocumented immigrants.

The Boston Globe reported that Romney fired the landscapers less than a week after he blasted former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's immigration policies in Gotham during his tenure in the 1990s. The newspaper raised these exact questions last December but Romney claimed in a statement released last night that he had only learned about the status of the company's employees from the Globe itself. Right Mitt! Politics remains, above all, local. Romney's continued double speak proves that he will do anything to secure a few votes on the campaign trail. He can try to smooth-talk people with his charisma, his Ozzie & Harriett-made photo ops with his family but his record and latest in a series of Mitt-flops speak for themselves.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Gay Muslim Comes Out at Islamic Scholar Conference

With all of the anti-Muslim rhetoric in the United States and around the world in response to terrorism and other issues, it remains admittedly refreshing to read about Suhail Abual Sameed's decisionto come out during an Islamic scholar conference in South Africa today.

Islam contains both conservative and progressive factions as does Christianity and any other organized religion in the world. The mainstream media seems to focus most of its attention on those within the Islamic tradition to commit acts of terrorism and oppression against women, LGBT people and even non-Muslims on behalf of Allah. Suhail Abual Sameed proves yet again that one can reconcile their faith with their sexual orientation.