LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA – The Long Beach Police Department celebrated a major milestone Thursday with the promotion of its first female deputy chief of police in the department’s 103-year history.
Cmdr. Laura Farinella officially became deputy chief at a swearing in ceremony held in the Long Beach City Council Chambers, a ceremony that drew more than 200 people including former members of the Long Beach Police Department.
In addition to Farinella’s promotion, five other LBPD employees rose through the ranks. They are: Cmdr. Michael Beckman; Lt. Donald Wood; and Communication Center Supervisors David Barrow, Leslie Griggs and Melina Runnels.
Four other officers were awarded the department’s newly designed Purple Heart medal, which was given to all 19 members of the force who have earned the distinction since the department began issuing the purple heart in 1988.
The newly designed medals were given out to most of the 19 officers at the LBPD’s annual awards ceremony in June. The officers who received their medals Thursday, including retired Officer Roy Wade who was shot in the line of duty in 2006, were unable to attend the June ceremony.
Family and friends were on hand for all the officers and employees honored Thursday.
But only Farinella received a loud cheer when Police Chief Jim McDonnell announced her name; a showing of the devotion and respect McDonnell said Farinella has earned throughout her 21 years on the force.
McDonnell said the promotion of Farinella was a wonderful achievement not only for her, but for the department and he was especially proud of the new deputy chief.
“As she’s risen through the ranks she shined in every position she’s taken,” the chief said after the ceremony.
However, as significant as it is to have the first female deputy chief, McDonnell said he has always and will always see Farinella first as a police officer.
“I would focus not so much on her being a woman, but on her being a great cop,” he insisted.
The new deputy chief told the Press-Telegram in an exclusive interview Wednesday that she is looking forward to her new duties as head of the Support Bureau and she is ready to make changes if needed.
During her tenure with the LBPD, Farinella has worked in various capacities in patrol, including the East and North Divisions. As a commander she oversaw the Gangs and Violent Crime Division, which includes Homicide, and she has been McDonnell’s chief of staff for the past year-and-a-half.
Though all her experience is important, her most recent role proved extremely valuable in prepping for her new job, she said.
“Every day is like being in school and learning from (the chief) … and the other deputy chiefs as well,” Farinella said. “All of us work as a team.”
As McDonnell’s chief of staff Farinella worked long hours and often on her days off. It was a tough job to juggle with two children, Emily, 13, and Charlie, 7, and her wife of 21 years, LBPD Child Abuse Detective Dawn Collinske.
“I’m very lucky,” she said of Collinske. “It’s fun, it’s nice to have longevity … it’s nice to be with a cop, she understands the business.”
In addition to becoming the first female deputy chief Farinella is also the highest ranking openly gay or lesbian officer on the force.
She said she was proud to serve as a role model for everyone in the department and the city, but she also realizes the importance of representing Long Beach’s large gay and lesbian community.
The deputy chief will continue to serve on the chief’s Gay and Lesbian advisory group, and has provided a valuable link to the community, she and McDonnell said.
“Long Beach is a model of diversity,” the chief said Thursday.
“We have so many different groups of people … and they all have their own unique qualities and issues,” he noted. “We need to make sure that everybody feels as though they are respected and being served in the best way we can.”
With Farinella’s promotion, East Division Cmdr. Lisa Lopez is slated to become the chief’s new chief of staff.
Lopez will take over once she is done training at the FBI’s national academy, McDonnell said.
“Lisa will do a great job,” the chief added Thursday. “But I will miss Laura.”
from The Press-Telegram
Archive for September, 2011
LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA – The Long Beach Police Department celebrated a major milestone Thursday with the promotion of its first female deputy chief of police in the department’s 103-year history.
The Warriors hired a gay man as their chief operating officer, and fans of the team will have some serious questions and concerns, such as:
– Can Rick Welts help us get a rebounder who is taller than 6-6?
– Will he recognize and exploit the genius of Jerry West?
– Can Welts save us from the $10 beer?
The part about Welts being an openly gay exec in a manly-man’s manly sport is interesting and noteworthy, but is it big news? Only in that it’s not big news.
If Hollywood wants to make a movie about the drama in the wake of Welts publicly announcing his homosexuality in May, when he ran the Phoenix Suns, a studio would have to hire the same “Moneyball” writers who converted a genial and capable manager (Art Howe) into Shrek’s creepy evil twin.
Welts said Tuesday that the reaction directed at him since he came out has been 100 percent positive. Zero response from homophobes and wackos.
“It sounds not even possibly true,” he said, “that of thousands of e-mails and hundreds of letters … I haven’t had one negative reaction. I was prepared for something very different.”
That doesn’t mean that the haters aren’t out there, but gradually they are being rendered impotent and irrelevant.
Thanks to courageous folks like Welts, we’re getting closer to the day when a player, a coach or a sportswriter who decides to come out of the closet will rate nothing more than a mention in the game notes, under the updates on ankle sprains.
Even more important is the effect that Welts’ coming out has had on other gays. One bit of news from Tuesday’s news conference was that while Welts was hired to help build a winning team, he is also determined to continue as a leader and voice for the people to whom he is a champion.
“Frankly,” Welts said Tuesday, “I do feel some obligation at this stage of my life to take that platform that’s been created and do something good with that, because I’ve been given that.”
Just don’t forget about the beer.
from The San Francisco Chronicle
Phoenix Suns President And CEO Rick Welts Resign
Fox and HBO lead the broadcast and cable networks, respectively, with the most lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender characters on television, according to the “Where We Are on TV” report released today by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The 16th annual survey shows that LGBT characters account for 2.9 percent of scripted series regulars on the broadcast networks, which is down from a high of 3.9 percent last fall. Cable, too, has fewer portrayals: There are 29 LGBT characters on mainstream cable networks this year, which is on par with last year but down from a high of 40 in 2008. Additionally, GLADD notes that it counted 25 recurring characters on cable.
In the broadcast realm, Fox — with very gay-friendly shows like Glee — leads the way with 6.8 percent of its characters being LGBT, or eight out of 117 series regulars. It’s a marked improvement from 2007, when Fox featured not one LGBT character as a series regular.
For the first time in six years, ABC is not the champ among its broadcast competition, coming in second, as its percentage of LGBT portrayals dropped from 7.2 percent in 2010 to 3.4 percent this year. (R.I.P. Brothers & Sisters.) NBC comes in third, with three regular LGBT characters, or 1.9 percent of its 154 regulars. CW comes in fourth, with just one portrayal, for 1.5 percent of its 67 characters. Meanwhile CBS is in last place for the fourth year in a row: Only one of the network’s 134 series regulars is LGBT for a whopping 0.7 percent. (Apparently, though, the network will have more LGBT representations via recurring characters.)
HBO’s True Blood — which was singularly the most gay-friendly show on television last year — and Showtime’s Shameless tied for the most LGBT characters of any shows across television, with a total of six on each. On cable as a whole, HBO features the most with 11 LGBT characters, seven of which are series regulars. Rival Showtime also makes a great showing, with 10 total characters, followed by ABC Family, FX, and TeenNick with four characters each, and TNT and BBC America with three each.
As a part of the report, GLAAD also studied other characteristics of the series regular characters on broadcast television and found that five of the 19 LGBT characters (or 26 percent) are of color and none are people with disabilities. Also, not one LGBT character on the broadcast networks is black or transgender.
from Entertainment Weekly
TOLEDO, OHIO – The ongoing and sometimes contentious debate in churches regarding homosexuality is back in the public eye in oversized print, thanks to 10 Toledo-area billboards proclaiming competing messages.
After Toledo’s Central United Methodist Church posted a single roadside billboard in late April that said, “Being Gay Is a Gift from God,” the Rev. Tony Scott of the Church on Strayer felt compelled to offer an opposing point of view.
The Maumee megachurch this week bought nine billboards that proclaim, “Being Gay is NOT a Gift from God — Forgiveness, Love, and Eternal Life Are.”
“I love everyone. There’s nothing on that billboard about hate,” Mr. Scott said in an interview. “I’m getting hate mail from lesbian and gay people, but my point is that I love them too much to let someone believe a lie. I love this city too much to let a lie be sown.”
Lynn Braun, chair of Central UMC’s lead team, said she was not surprised that another church is advertising a different theological opinion.
“I’m somewhat surprised it didn’t happen earlier,” she said. “We felt it important to express our faith this way. I think people have the right to express their faith the way they see fit, and I think it helps the community to know where churches stand.”
Central United Methodist recently replaced its original billboard with one facing southbound traffic on I-75 near Willys Parkway that says, “Creating a Space for All God’s Children Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.”
In recent years, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church, and the United Church of Christ have all approved the ordination of homosexual clergy and the blessings of same-sex unions. The United Methodist Church, Central’s denomination, has not.
There has been no debate about same-sex marriage at the Church on Strayer, which belongs to the Church of God, Cleveland, Tenn.
“There has never been a discussion relative to any attempt at misinterpreting the Bible,” Mr. Scott said. “What the gay organizations have done is they have misused the biblical passages, according to the experts.”
Mr. Scott, who has been pastor of the 2,500-member church since 1974, said marriage is defined in the biblical book of Genesis and its story of Adam and Eve.
“God’s definition of marriage is that he plumbed him and he plumbed her so that the two of them could procreate. Anything relationally between the sexes that does not have that potential, and that opportunity, does not come from God,” he said.
Central, which has about 40 members and meets in Collingwood Presbyterian Church in the Old West End, was the first Toledo church to join the Reconciling Ministries Network, a United Methodist group that supports gay rights and welcomes lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgender persons.
The Rev. Bill Barnard, Central’s pastor, said the most surprising thing to him about the Church on Strayer’s billboards was the financial commitment.
“My first thought was, ‘Wow, nine billboards! That’s quite an investment,’?” Mr. Barnard said. “We just have one, and that’s an investment for us. They must be really serious about this.”
His second reaction, he said, was sadness.
“A lot of people talk about the gay lifestyle as if it were a choice, and seem to relate it to behaviors like stealing or something that will be fairly identified as sinful,” Mr. Barnard said. “Well, sexual identity is part of the way we’re put together. It’s not a choice. Whatever scientific resources you consult, that question’s answered.”
Mr. Scott strongly disagrees. “All behavior is a choice. You choose your behavior. There are no credible tests that I have ever seen that say it’s genetic,” he said. “Why is it when you find twins where one is straight and one is gay you don’t use the same principle of science? If it’s genetic it would be one way or the other.”
Mr. Scott said many people have been “delivered” from homosexuality, both at his church and at Mt. Paran Church of God in Atlanta.
In 30 years of counseling people, he said, he has never met a gay person who was happy with his or her sexual orientation.
“I’ve never had a gay person look me in the eye in a counseling session and say, ‘I was born gay, God made me gay, and I’m glad I’m gay,’?” Mr. Scott said.
The Rev. Cheri Holdridge, pastor of the Village Church and former pastor of Central United Methodist, said it’s logical that gay people would be unhappy at the Church on Strayer.
“I’m sure there are gay people in his church who are unhappy because they’re being told that they’re choosing to be gay. The American Medical Association says they’re not choosing to be gay, that it’s genetic. We have a difference of opinion on some things. By the way, I have a list of happy gay Christians who would like to make an appointment with Tony Scott.”
Dan Rutt, a member of Central United Methodist, said he believes his church’s billboards have achieved the goal of promoting public discussion and dialogue.
“We certainly are aware that people disagree.
“We clearly believe that being gay is a gift from God and obviously other people believe that it is not. I’m pleased to continue the dialogue. But it would be nice to talk face to face instead of billboard to billboard.”
from The Blade
New “Two and a Half Men” star Ashton Kutcher made a big splash Sept. 19 when the hit CBS sitcom returned sans Charlie Sheen — and sans clothes for Kutcher too.
The actor’s debut on the show ended with him revealing he was buying the newly deceased Charlie Harper’s home, while in nothing but his birthday suit. (Hey, the posters did tease that “all will be revealed …” during the premiere!) Now, a source with ties to “Men” has revealed to Life & Style that the actor really was revealing everything on set. “Actors usually wear underwear in front of the studio audience, but not Ashton,” the source told the magazine. “He walked around buck naked take after take.”
But the nudity wasn’t a one time deal. The source pointed out to Life & Style that the story line for Kutcher’s character, heartbroken Internet billionaire Walden Schmidt, calls for quite a bit of nakedness. “Now everyone in Hollywood is clamoring for tickets to the tapings,” the source said.
“Two and a Half Men” airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBS.
from The Clicker
Thousands of Utahns stripped down and stepped out on Saturday as part of the Utah Undie Run, a rally its organizer called a protest against Utah being so uptight.
“I think so many people have all these misconceptions about Utahns because the angry, uptight ones are so vocal. And I’d like to see that change, even just a little. I am so sick of hearing all the crazy things Utah is known for, like the liquor laws, and don’t even get me started on Prop. 8,” Nate Porter said. “I want to show a more interesting side of Utah.”
Participants were asked to arrive at the Gallivan Center fully clothed and then strip down to their underwear and, if they chose, donate their clothes to the homeless. Participants were encouraged to advocate for the cause of their choosing during the rally; voter registration was also available at the event.
The run started at the Gallivan Center then went to the state Capitol and back where the after party with food and entertainment was scheduled to go until 10 p.m.
Porter said at least 12,000 people have indicated on Facebook they planned to participate.
from The Salt Lake Tribune
A lesbian actress who starred in “The L-Word” said she kissed a girl – and got escorted off of a Southwest Airlines flight on Monday for doing it.
Leisha Hailey took to Twitter to call for a boycott of the carrier after a flight attendant told them other passengers had complained after witnessing the affection.
Her first tweet said: “I have been discriminated against.” She later added, “Since when is showing affection to someone you love illegal?”
Southwest Airlines Co. responded on its website that Hailey was approached “based solely on behavior and not gender.” The airline’s four-sentence response said passengers were characterizing the behavior as excessive.
A discussion followed on the flight, and the airline said it “escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground.”
Hailey was a musician before joining the cast of the Showtime drama featuring the lives of lesbian friends and lovers living in Los Angeles. She played the character Alice Pieszecki.
The actress and her unidentified girlfriend were on a flight from Baltimore to St. Louis. The kissing occurred in the air and a discussion followed when the plane landed.
Hailey said the encounter between the couple and a flight attendant was recorded.
A message seeking comment from Halley’s spokeswoman, Libby Coffey, was not immediately returned.
Southwest’s website says it is the official airline of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Herndon Graddick, senior director of programs at GLAAD, said in an email that “GLAAD contacted Southwest to call for additional actions beyond tonight’s statement that ensure all customers feel comfortable and welcomed while traveling.”
Earlier this month, the Dallas-based airline kicked off Green Day’s lead man Billie Joe Armstrong for wearing his pants too low. The Grammy winner was escorted off a plane after failing to follow a flight attendant’s directive to pull the pants up.
Southwest also removed director Kevin Smith from a flight last year because he didn’t fit properly in a single seat. His first tweet read, “Dear (at)SouthwestAir I know I’m fat, but was (the) captain (…) really justified in throwing me off a flight for which I was already seated?”
Halley is preparing to launch a 21-city tour to promote breast cancer awareness.
from The Associated Press
The culture war over gay rights has entered the impersonal world of e-commerce.
A handful of advocates, armed with nothing more than their keyboards, have put many of the country’s largest retailers, including Apple, Microsoft, Netflix and Wal-Mart, on the spot over their indirect and, until recently, unnoticed roles in funneling money to Christian groups that are vocal in opposing homosexuality.
The advocates are demanding that the retailers end their association with an Internet marketer that gets a commission from the retailers for each online customer it gives them. It is a routine arrangement on hundreds of e-commerce sites, but with a twist here: a share of the commission that retailers pay is donated to a Christian charity of the buyer’s choice, from a list that includes prominent conservative evangelical groups like the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.
The marketer and the Christian groups are fighting back, saying that the hundred or so companies that have dropped the marketer were misled and that the charities are being slandered for their religious beliefs.
The national battle was ignited in July by Stuart Wilber, a 73-year-old gay man in Seattle. He was astonished, he said, when he learned that people who bought Microsoft products through a Christian-oriented Internet marketer known as Charity Giveback Group, or CGBG, could channel a donation to evangelical organizations that call homosexual behavior a threat to the moral and social fabric.
“I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding, Microsoft,’ ” he recalled, noting that the software giant — like many other corporations accessible through the commerce site, including Apple and Netflix — was known as friendly to gay causes.
In July, Mr. Wilber went to a Web site that helps groups and individuals circulate petitions, called Change.org, and started one, asking Microsoft to end its association with what he called “hate groups.” By that night, 520 people had signed, with their ire copied to Microsoft officials — and Microsoft had quietly dropped out of the donation plan. Much to Mr. Wilber’s surprise, this would be the start of an electronic conflict that has put hundreds of well-known companies in an unwelcome glare.
On one side are angry gay-rights advocates and bloggers, wielding the club of the gay community’s purchasing power.
On the other side are conservative Christian groups that say they are being attacked for their legitimate biblical views of sex and marriage, as well as a Web marketing firm that feels trampled for providing consumers with free choice.
Caught in the middle are companies, including such giants as Macy’s, Expedia and Delta Air Lines, which have the dual aims of avoiding politics but not offending any consumers. In this case, they have been pressured to make a choice that may involve little money either way but that could offend large blocs of consumers.
“This is economic terrorism,” said Mike Huckabee, the former pastor, governor and presidential contender, who is a paid CGBG consultant. “To try to destroy a business because you don’t like some of the customers is, to me, unbelievably un-American,” he said in an interview.
CGBG, a for-profit company formerly called the Christian Values Network, resembles hundreds of so-called affiliate marketers, which retailers use to bring customers to their own Web sites. The affiliate receives a commission on any sales, and CGBG allows buyers to send half that commission to any of the Christian charities on its list.
In July, as word of Mr. Wilber’s victory spread virally, Ben Crowther, a college student in Bellingham, Wash., started a similar Internet appeal to Apple, which would soon succeed after drawing 22,700 signers. Roy Steele, who runs a gay-rights Web site in San Francisco, picked up the crusade, directly contacting about 150 companies listed on the e-commerce site.
AllOut.org, a gay-rights group in New York with hundreds of thousands of e-mail-ready members, focused on the travel industry, helping to push Avis, Westin Hotels & Resorts, Expedia and many other hotels and travel agencies to disassociate themselves from CGBG.
Close to 100 companies have left the charity arrangement, though most refuse to discuss the matter. These have become the objects, in turn, of a countercampaign from the Christian groups — “Please Don’t Discriminate Against My Faith” is the heading of a sample letter — and of high-level entreaties from Mr. Huckabee and other Christian leaders.
A few companies that briefly left the network have been persuaded to rejoin, including Delta, PetSmart, Sam’s Club, Target and Wal-Mart.
“People have been misled. The retailers are not donating to anyone; they are simply paying a commission to get traffic,” John Higgins, the president of CGBG, said in an interview.
He said CGBG focused on Christian consumers and marketing through large organizations like Focus on the Family because it saw an untapped commercial opportunity.
“Retailers should keep their doors open to everybody,” Mr. Higgins said. He also complained that some competing e-commerce sites included the same conservative groups on charity lists but had not been subjected to similar attacks.
Beyond condemning the advocates’ efforts as an infringement on consumer freedom, Mr. Huckabee said it was offensive to apply the “hate group” label to organizations that are legal, peaceful and promote biblical values.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled the Family Research Council a hate group for “regularly pumping out known falsehoods that demonize the gay community,” said Mark Potok, a project director at the law center — and not, he said, because the council calls homosexuality a sin or opposes gay marriage. The falsehoods, he said, include the discredited claim that gay men are especially prone to pedophilia.
The Family Research Council has accused the law center of “slanderous attacks.”
Advocates insist that their push is not anti-Christian. “It has nothing to do with biblical positions,” said Mr. Steele, the blogger. “It has to do with the fact that these groups spread lies and misinformation about millions of Americans.”
The discomfort of retailers has been evident in their varied responses. Expedia, in an e-mail to AllOut.org in August, confirmed that it had withdrawn from the network. “Expedia values diversity in its employee base and customer base and does not support discrimination of any kind based on sexual orientation,” the message said.
Barneys New York said it had left CGBG because of the site’s support for groups that promote discrimination.
But Microsoft, though it led the way with its swift response, has never said a public word about it, nor has Apple been willing to do more than confirm that it no longer is associated with CGBG.
This summer, Macy’s told Change.org that it had left the network because “Macy’s serves a diverse society” and is “deeply committed to a philosophy of inclusion,” but the retailer declined to comment for this article.
In a statement explaining why it had returned to the network, Wal-Mart and its sister company Sam’s Club said their marketing affiliates included “more than 43,000 diverse organizations” that “serve a wide range of interests with diverse viewpoints.”
Delta changed course “because of the letters we received from several faith-based leaders,” including Mr. Huckabee, said Chris Kelly Singley, manager of corporate communications. “This was important to them, and we were willing to reconsider,” she said, adding that Delta had a history of supporting gay and lesbian causes.
“We don’t want to engage in a political debate,” Ms. Singley said. “And we just thought we were flying airplanes.”
from The New York Times
LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA – On December 17, 2010, shortly after 8:00pm, officers from the Long Beach Police Department responded to a vandalism call at the Gay and Lesbian Center in the 2000 block of 4th street. The preliminary investigation revealed that a male pulled up in front of the location, exited his vehicle, and threw a rock through the window then drove away.
Approximately fifteen minutes later a second window-smash vandalism was reported two miles away at Ripples Bar in the 5100 block of East Ocean Boulevard. The investigation led to a third vandalism reported from The Dolphin Bar in the city of Redondo Beach with similar circumstances and suspect description.
The investigation included search warrants, multiple interviews and follow up investigation by Long Beach Violent Crimes Detectives and resulted in the arrest of 23-year-old Olivier Rodrich Saintvictor, of Rancho Palos Verdes. On February 8, 2011, felony vandalism charges with a special allegation for the hate crime were filed by the Torrance District Attorney’s office.
On Tuesday, September 20, in Torrance Municipal court Defendant Olivier Rodrich Saintvictor pleaded no contest to felony vandalism charges with a hate crime allegation and also agreed to pay restitution to the victims.
Saintvictor is expected to be sentenced on October 11 and could be facing up to nine years in state prison.
from The Long Beach Post
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WASHINGTON – Two days after repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gays serving openly in the military, the Obama administration was in court Thursday opposing a lawsuit seeking full severance pay for those dismissed under the law.
The American Civil Liberties Union is seeking class action status for 142 people who only got half pay after their discharge because of being gay. But the Justice Department asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to dismiss the case.
Judge Christine Odell Cook Miller said she probably will let the case continue and questioned why the government wouldn’t pay now that the law has changed.
“Your timing is exquisite – two days after the policy goes into effect eliminating `don’t ask, don’t tell,’ here we are,” she said as she took the bench.
“I would consider this to be an unenviable argument to have at this time,” she told the government’s attorney later.
The case was filed by the ACLU on behalf of former Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard Collins of Clovis, N.M. He was honorably discharged in 2006 after nine years of service when two civilians who worked with him at Cannon Air Force Base reported they saw him kiss his boyfriend in a car about 10 miles from the base. The decorated sergeant was off-duty and not in uniform at the time, according to the lawsuit.
In an interview Thursday, Collins said he and his partner, who are still together, always have been discreet about showing affection in public. “That one time I just happened to lean over and kiss him on the cheek,” he recalled. “He said something sweet.”
The Air Force paid Collins $12,351 instead of the $25,702 he expected after his discharge.
Separation pay is granted to military personnel who served at least six years but were involuntarily discharged, part of an effort to ease their transition into civilian life. But the Defense Department has a list of conditions that trigger an automatic reduction in that pay, including homosexuality, unsuccessful drug or alcohol treatment or discharge in the interests of national security. That policy went into effect in 1991, two years before “don’t ask, don’t tell” became law.
The suit argues it is unconstitutional for the Defense Department to unilaterally cut the amount for people discharged for homosexuality.
The administration is not defending the merits of the policy. Instead, Justice Department lawyer L. Misha Preheim argued the defense secretary has sole discretion to decide who gets what separation pay and the court cannot rewrite military regulations.
Miller said she would issue a ruling on the government’s motion to dismiss by Oct. 15 after full review of the Justice Department’s arguments, but her preliminary decision was to deny the motion. She warned Preheim and a uniformed Air Force attorney also at the defense table that they should be prepared for the case to move forward. She said it’s probably appropriate to certify it for class action status, if the government really thinks it’s worth it to continue fighting the case.
“I can’t believe this is something the military wants to revisit now,” she said.
Joshua Block, attorney with the ACLU lesbian gay bisexual and transgender project, said class action would cover 142 people who got half pay for being discharged for homosexuality in the past six years – the time period covered by the statute of limitations – for a total payment of $2.1 million. Miller, first appointed by President Ronald Reagan and reappointed by President Bill Clinton, questioned why for that amount of money the government would want to wade back into the “don’t ask, don’t tell” debate.
Collins, who is 35 and works for his partner’s business, said he has talked to recruiters about going back into the military now that the policy has been abolished. But he’s leaning against it since he’d have to go back in at his old rank after missing out on promotions in the past few years. And if he did re-enter, he said he’d be wary of openly discussing his relationship.
“Even though `don’t ask, don’t tell’ has been rescinded, I wouldn’t go out there and flaunt it,” he said. “Even though that policy is gone, you are still going to have discrimination from people.”
from The Associated Press
UNITED KINGDOM – More than 500 children have been born to lesbian couples since a change in fertility laws two years ago, government figures suggest.
However, no details were collected for homosexual men, who have also been given the new legal right to register as parents of children born to surrogate mothers.
The research, from the Office for National Statistics, found that same-sex couples who entered civil partnerships were less likely to “divorce” than their heterosexual counterparts who are married.
The Labour government reformed the law to introduce civil partnerships in 2005, giving same-sex couples legal rights akin to those enjoyed by married couples for the first time.
The Coalition intends to go further and introduce new laws to redefine “marriage” so that homosexual couples can choose to take up exactly the same status as their heterosexual counterparts. A consultation on marriage reform is expected to be published next spring.
Under the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, two women in a same-sex couple are able to register a birth in the UK.
From September 2009 until the end of 2010, 499 children were registered as having two women as their parents. The majority of these couples were in formal civil partnerships at the time.
No figures are available yet for newborn babies registered to lesbian couples in 2011 and the ONS did not collect details for homosexual men who re-register themselves as the parents of children born through surrogate mothers.
The study found that there was growing public acceptance that same-sex couples should be given legal rights similar to marriage.
However, there was less support for the idea that same sex couples should be allowed to adopt children.
Since they were introduced in 2005, some 42,778 civil partnerships have been formed in England and Wales, almost four times as many as had been expected to take up the new status.
The ONS said civil partnerships seemed to be more stable in the first few years after registration than marriages.
“Early figures suggest that marriages are more likely to end in divorce than civil partnerships are to end in dissolution,” the report said.
After four years, 5.5% of marriages had ended in divorce, compared with 2.5% of civil partnerships that had been dissolved, according to figures for 2010.
However, this picture may be “distorted” by the fact that a high proportion of the first wave of civil partnerships were formed by couples who had already been together for a significant time.
Public attitudes towards same-sex couples have become more accepting since the 1980s, when there was an increase in the numbers of people who thought homosexuality was “wrong”, coinciding with the peak of Aids campaigns and media interest.
The traditional views of older people have been replaced by the more liberal approaches of younger generations, and women tend to have more liberal views than men, the study said.
from The Telegraph
Ted Haggard’s life was already a sort of reality show.
Well, now it’s official.
Producers of “Celebrity Wife Swap” confirmed Wednesday that the former New Life Church pastor and his wife, Gayle, will appear in the new ABC reality series, on which they will swap partners (without sex) with actor Gary Busey and his partner and baby mama, Steffanie Sampson.
The show is scheduled to shoot Thursday at the GLBT Pride Center in Colorado Springs.
Haggard, of course, has become used to the media spotlight. He garnered national attention as the president of the National Association of Evangelicals and much more in 2006, after it came to light he’d had sex with and taken drugs with a male prostitute. Since then, he’s appeared in countless news reports and documentaries that were shown on TLC and HBO. He’s been featured on “Divorce Court” “Oprah Winfrey” and “Larry King Live.”
But an actual reality show? This would be new.
“Celebrity Wife Swap” is based on the British show of the same name and is similar to “Wife Swap,” an American TV series that provided hours of jaw-dropping culture clashes between ordinary families.
The premise is simple: Haggard and Busey will swap partners for a short time. The first couple of days, the men make the rules for their new “spouses.” After that, the women take charge. The fun could come from the conflict between Haggard and Sampson, who’s reportedly a spiritual woman but not a fan of organized religion.
On the surface, it might seem like an unlikely pairing, but there are several surprising parallels between Busey and Haggard. Busey is a born-again Christian and active minister with Promise Keepers, and Haggard has returned to the ministry as pastor of St. James, a new nondenominational Christian church in Colorado Springs.
Haggard refused to comment about the show.
Wanda Sykes has revealed to talk show host Ellen DeGeneres that she had a double mastectomy this year after doctors found evidence of early-stage breast cancer in her left breast.
As she explains on the program set to air on Monday, it all started with routine breast-reduction surgery. But then pathologists discovered that she had ductal carcinoma in situ, also known as DCIS.
“I was very, very lucky, because DCIS is basically stage zero cancer,” Sykes told DeGeneres.
The National Cancer Institute describes DCIS as a collection of abnormal cells inside the lining of a breast duct. “Many doctors don’t consider DCIS to be cancer,” according to this explainer, and some women would suffer no harm from it if left untreated. But in other cases, DCIS progresses and becomes invasive breast cancer – the dangerous kind. The problem is that there’s no way to predict which cases of DCIS are harmless and which will become life-threatening. However, experts agree that when caught at this early stage, the prognosis for women is “excellent.”
In Sykes’ case, she told DeGeneres that she didn’t want to take any chances, especially since cancer runs on her mother’s side of the family. Apparently, she did not reveal whether she has a mutation in her BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, which increases a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer from 12% to about 60%.
“I had both breasts removed, because now I have zero chance of having breast cancer,” she told DeGeneres.
Well, not exactly. A double mastectomy certainly reduces one’s risk of breast cancer, but it doesn’t actually eliminate it, according to the Mayo Clinic:
Prophylactic mastectomy is highly effective. Studies show it reduces the risk of developing breast cancer by 90 percent in moderate- and high-risk women.
Although a prophylactic mastectomy significantly reduces your risk of breast cancer, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll never develop the disease. Breast tissue is widely distributed on your chest wall. Sometimes breast tissue can be found in your armpit, above your collarbone or on the upper part of your abdominal wall, where it may not be detected at the time of your mastectomy. Breast tissue remaining in your body can still develop breast cancer, although the chances are slim.
If it seems like Sykes overreacted to her diagnosis, consider this study published this month in the American Journal of Surgery. Researchers from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center wanted to figure out why more and more women with cancer in one breast are deciding to have their healthy breast removed as well. (The official medical name for this is contralateral prophylactic mastectomy, or CPM.)
The researchers looked at the medical records of 110 women who had surgical treatment for breast cancer. One-third of them had some kind of BRCA mutation that put them at high risk of developing another breast cancer. For these women, a bilateral mastectomy is usually recommended even if one breast is still cancer-free.
An additional 6% of women had a BRCA mutation that hasn’t been linked to breast cancer risk, and the remaining 61% had typical BRCA genes. Yet 37% of these women chose to have both breasts removed. The stage of breast cancer at the time of diagnosis did not appear to influence their decision – women with early-stage cancers were just as likely to opt for a double mastectomy as women with more aggressive tumors. Age didn’t make a difference either. In fact, the only demographic trait that was associated with an increased willingness to remove a healthy breast was marital status, with 44% (23 out of 52) of married women opting for the double mastectomy but only 8% (1 out of 13) of single women making the same choice.
“It is unclear if CPM in women who test negative for BRCA mutations will improve long-term survival,” the researchers concluded. “These findings warrant further prospective trials.”
from The Los Angeles Times
FORTH WORTH, TEXAS – An honors student in Fort Worth, Texas, was sent to the principal’s office and punished for telling a classmate that he believes homosexuality is wrong.
Holly Pope said she was “absolutely stunned” when she received a telephone call from an assistant principal at Western Hills High School informing her that her son, Dakota Ary, had been sent to in-school suspension.
“Dakota is a very well-grounded 14-year-old,” she told Fox News Radio noting that her son is an honors student, plays on the football team and is active in his church youth group. “He’s been in church his whole life and he’s been taught to stand up for what he believes.”
And that’s what got him in trouble.
Dakota was in a German class at the high school when the conversation shifted to religion and homosexuality in Germany. At some point during the conversation, he turned to a friend and said that he was a Christian and “being a homosexual is wrong.”
“It wasn’t directed to anyone except my friend who was sitting behind me,” Dakota told Fox. “I guess [the teacher] heard me. He started yelling. He told me he was going to write me an infraction and send me to the office.”
Dakota was sentenced to one day in-school suspension – and two days of full suspension. His mother was flabbergasted, noting that her son had a spotless record, was an honor student, volunteered at his church and played on the school football team.
Officials at the high school did not return calls for comment. However, the Fort Worth Independent School District issued a statement that read:
“As a matter of course, Fort Worth ISD does not comment on specific employee or student-related issues. Suffice it to say that we are following district policy in our review of the circumstances and any resolution will likewise be in accordance with district policy.”
After a meeting with Pope and her attorney, the school rescinded the two-day suspension so Dakota would be allowed to play in an upcoming football game.
“They’ve righted all the wrongs,” said Matt Krause, an attorney with the Liberty Counsel. “This should have no lasting effect on his academic or personal record going forward.”
Pope contacted the Liberty Counsel immediately after her son was punished.
“I told the school that he should never have been suspended for exercising his Constitutional rights,” Krause told Fox News Radio. “The principal is sincere in trying to do the right thing and hopefully they will tell the teacher, ‘Do not do that anymore.’ He won’t be pushing his agenda.”
Krause called the incident “mind blowing” and said the teacher had frequently brought homosexuality into ninth grade classroom discussions.
“There has been a history with this teacher in the class regarding homosexual topics,” Krause said. “The teacher had posted a picture of two men kissing on a wall that offended some of the students.”
Krause said the picture was posted on the teacher’s “world wall.”
“He told the students this is happening all over the world and you need to accept the fact that homosexuality is just part of our culture now,” Krause said.
The school district would not comment on why a teacher was discussing homosexuality in a ninth grade German class.
“In German class there should be no talk of being pro-Gay or homosexual topics,” Krause said.
Dakota’s mother said she believes the teacher should apologize.
“He should never have been punished,” Pope said. “He didn’t disrupt the class. He wasn’t threatening. He wasn’t hostile. He made a comment to his friend and the teacher overheard it.”
“My son knows people that are homosexual,” she said. “He’s not saying, ‘I don’t like you.’ He’s saying, ‘I’m a Christian and I believe that being that way is wrong.’”
Krause said school leaders told Dakota that in the future he should be careful when and where he talks about his opposition to homosexuality – suggesting that he talk about such matters in the hallway instead of the classroom.
He said Liberty Counsel will monitor the situation to make sure there is no future retaliation. Meantime, Pope said her son will return to the teacher’s classroom.
“I’ve told him to treat this teacher with respect,” she said. “He is your elder. He is your teacher. What his beliefs are or what they are not – outside the school is none of our business.”
from Fox News