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Sean Sala to lead USS Harvey Milk Commissioning Project:

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Sean Sala accepts national position to lead USS Harvey Milk Commissioning Project

Originally seen at: TalkHillcrest.Blogspot.com

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     Nationally-known LGBT Military activist Sean Sala has accepted the position to lead a national coalition to continue the call for the commissioning of the first US warship named after the late civil rights leader Harvey Milk.

     During his time in the Navy, Milk served as a commissioned officer and a Navy diver. Sala will be working with The International Imperial Court Council, the LGBT Historic Task Force and The Harvey Milk Foundation on this project along with a list of honorary co-chairs such as Zoe Dunning, Iraq War Veteran Staff Sergeant Eric Alva, Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk, long time civil rights activist and San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, and Congresswoman Susan Davis who has served as on the House Committee of Veterans Affairs.

     This beginning of this project comes right behind the recent groundbreaking of the first US postal stamp featuring Harvey Milk, which will be unveiled at the White House on May 22. The Postal Stamp project was spearheaded by The International Imperial Court Council, The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and the Harvey Milk Foundation – the same organizations who are spearheading the project for the commissioning of the USS Harvey Milk.

     “I am honored to receive this position and I look forward to continuing the project with these incredible Civil Rights leaders and organizations,” said Sala. “I encourage active duty military, veterans and elected officials to write Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and endorse this historical project.”

     Mabus can be contacted at 1000 Navy Pentagon Washington, DC 20350-1000.

 

Some advice for tax day

Monday, April 14th, 2014

The Internal Revenue Service of the US Government would like a word with the great people of Pennsylvania. It is time to pay your taxes, filetaxes your forms, and wait patiently as millions of electronic bytes and bits zoom to IRS processing centers. They want to collect the money that the government needs to support the work that it does. Everything from building roads and bridges, to funding for school programs, to paying for our military is paid out of the coffers of the US Treasury. The PA Department of the Treasury and local tax administrators want their cuts too. All across the US, April 15 is known as the day we pay our fair share. Do we in the LGBT community receive back the same amount of funding for our tax payments that straight people do, and if not, what can we do to make changes in our tax code to provide fairness and equality?

Unlike states that provide marriage equality, Pennsylvania lacks marital equality for income tax purposes. I recommend consulting a tax preparer or a Certified Public Accountant before proceeding head long into taxes this year if you have married in another state such as New York, Maryland, or any of the other states that allow it. I also encourage you to document all your expenses, your shared property, and plan for this day. Perhaps this advice should have come earlier in the year, but then we are creatures who tend to put off until the last minute what we prefer not to do.

You can take other important steps this year too. First, you can write to your Pennsylvania legislators and demand that they pass HB and SB 300. Those bills will end discrimination for all public accommodations. They will put to rest any fear of discriminatory legislation being passed that would further harm the LGBT community. Second, you can write to your federal legislators, especially Senators Casey and Toomey. Demand that they pass ENDA and the Respect for Marriage Act.

Third, you can join organizations such as ME4PA, MEUSA, Equality PA, Keystone Progress, and other local organizations that are fighting to end discrimination and pass marriage equality. Offset your taxes by making contributions to these organizations. Your money will help finance the work that we do to spread this message. What can you do? Spread the word that we exist and attend our rallies and other events all across PA. Go to Pride Festivals and join in the fun. You don’t have to show your pride just at the bars and nightclubs…go to a gay-owned coffee house for an evening, or invite friends over to discuss what action you can take.

In any event, my taxes for 2013 are filed, and I can put this column to rest. Have you filed your taxes? What steps will you take to make your life better?

USA, Indiana: Judge Grants Request for state to Recognize Massachusetts Couple’s Marriage

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Indiana

An Indiana judge has ruled that the state of Indiana must temporarily recognize the marriage of a lesbian Massachusetts couple. U.S. District Judge Richard Young in Evansville granted an emergency request for the marriage of Amy Sandler, and Niki Quasney to be recognized by the state of Indiana. The order only lasts 28 days, in which Judge Young is expected to hold a preliminary trial. Quasney was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009, and is terminally ill.

 

“They have to be treated as any other married couple,”  said Judge Young on Thursday.

 

“We are so thankful that we can move forward and concentrate on being with each other. Our time together and with our daughters is the most important thing in the world to me,” said Quasney shortly after the ruling was made.

 

There are currently four lawsuits against Indiana’s statue regarding marriage, which defines marriage as between one man and one women. The same-sex marriage controversy began when the Indiana house introduced HJR-3, which would have permanently altered Indiana’s constitution to define marriage between one man and one women. The bill was pushed off until the next legislative session, with neither side totally satisfied. One of the major opponents of the bill, Freedom Indiana, hailed it as a victory for LGBT follower across the state.

 

There is speculation about this case, and others like it, going to the supreme court, however that has not yet been determined indefinitely.

My name is Prometheus. I’m a guest blogger for Purple Unions, and a Hoosier. I use the alias “Prometheus” because I’m still in the closet to most of my family, including my parents. Please comment and share this blog to show your support!

Keep being awesome, guys!

-Prometheus

Help a Queer Artist Go on Tour to Capture LGBT Portraits

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Ashley Kolodner has launched a Kickstarter page to fund a great LGBT visibility project:

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The Project:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1878936840/gayface-1st-class-1st-edition-portrait-book

As a queer woman and an artist, I want to give the LGBTQ Community a platform to express their voice’s and their truths. I want to show the many faces of this community, the diversity and the strength it takes to be who they are each day. In 2011 I started GAYFACE as a personal project but by 2012 the project started to gain recognition which moved me emotionally to pursue a dream of giving back to the community.

Through these photographs I’m capturing personalities and in that split second of the shutter clicking, I feel one with the subjects. I hope that these photographs bring awareness, a human connection and invoke emotion.

This project celebrates the color, vibrance and diversity of a community that for decades as been in the dark.

My mission through GAYFACE: 1st CLASS, and the accompanying ALLYFACE photo series is to unite and empower the full-spectrum of the LGBTQ community and our allies. In doing so we will give this community a voice through the pages of this first edition portraiture book.

GAYFACE:1st Class has been published in over 70 plus publications world wide and I have no intention of loosing steam. Just to name a few: Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, The Advocate, Serius XM Radio, Autostraddle, MetroSource Magazine, After Ellen, Fast Company, Posture Magazine, She Wired, Philadelphia Magazine, DC Pride, Chicago Pride, One Equal World, Co-Exsist, Dot249 and USA News.

GAYFACE: 1st Class has also had the pleasure of collaborating with some of the LGBTQ’s and Allies New Yorks leading forces in the community such as : Whitney Day, The Brooklyn Pride Community Center, Janet Mock, Dapper Q, Murray Hill and Amy Quinn, Trevor Project, Peaceman Foundation, Inside Out, Soul Side Out, Born this way.

About the book:

A simple concept and experience can have a great impact on your confidence and self-perception. GAYFACE uses simple diptych portraits to capture the beauty and diversity of individuals in this community through fine art photography. These portraits and the stories that the subjects share document the LGBTQ community from the inside.

Along with the portraits, the book will contain individuals sharing their own intimate stories allowing the world to get a first hand glimpse into their lives. Throughout this process each individual has the option to identify there own sexuality as they wish. GAYFACE:1st class refrains from the use of labels, and wants to break down the stereotypical boxes that society puts us in.

The book will also contain LGTBQ friendly owned restaurants, bars, parks, coffee shops and art galleries collected from the individuals we shoot throughout our travels. This information creates a platform for others to share their experiences and gives our readers an in-depth look into their cities, neighborhoods and backyards.

In addition, we will give an overview of the history of the LGBTQ community and the civil rights movement, highlighting the community’s struggles and triumphs.

Where we’ve been and where we’re going

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Your support will allow us to expand our collection of 230 portraits taken in five cities by allowing me and my team to travel to more isolated communities and diverse populations. We plan to travel to at least 28 states to take 2,000 portraits. We have mapped out our route and have started booking photo shoots across the country, but need your support to make this portraiture book possible.

After the tour

After my team and I cross the country documenting our community and our allies, we’ll return to Brooklyn to compile our images, stories, history and guide. We will then begin the editing process for the book, to be Published!

Spread the Word!

After pledging your support, please help to spread the word about this project by sharing this link with your contacts.

Thank you for your support!

Risks and challenges

One challenge we face is finding places to shoot in the 28 different states. We are confident this will not be hard since we have already begun speaking with humans throughout the nation. Many individuals have reached out personally to extend help in many ways.

One of the risks that we might encounter is individuals who have different views of this project. With that in mind in certain areas we will be making sure to create a secure environment for all participants involved.

The risks and challenges when publishing any type of book include the possibility of delay, but we will do our best to send the rewards to you at the estimate time. Unfortunately we can’t promise it will arrive right on time, but if there are any delays in production we will promptly inform you.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1878936840/gayface-1st-class-1st-edition-portrait-book

Are Dramatic Media Stereotypes Like Johnny Weir Undermining the Legitimacy of Gay Marriage?

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Hey there!

I wrote this blog for Pridezillas but felt it was an important one to share with my gay marriage watch audience too. Click here to find out what married gay men think about the battle for Birkins and Balencia playing out in the media.

Married gay man Terrel Fraser worries that stupidity in the media will add fuel to the fire of those who oppose same-sex marriage.

Married gay man Terrel Fraser worries that stupidity in the media will add fuel to the fire of those who oppose same-sex marriage (pictured with husband Joe Flowers on left).

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. She is also the star of TLC’s reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” . Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands. Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events. She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004. Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas. She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada. Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop). Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!  Follow Sandy on Twitter @SandyMalone_ and @WeddingsinVQS and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SandyMaloneWIV.

Seriously?

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Seriously?Here’s the the latest in our ongoing series of some of the crazy things the anti-gay, anti-marriage equality folks are saying and doing around the world.

Gays Don’t Fight Fair
Indiana State Senator and Tea Party member Mike Delph is complaining about losing the battle to get the anti marriage equality bill on the 2014 ballot, saying “opponents of traditional Judeo-Christian values don’t fight fair or with honor. They fight to win, and to date have been very successful.” Like marriage equality opponents have fought fair, using children as a shield and piling lies upon lies to get these things passed?
full story

Graham Crackers Are the Snacks of Satan
American Decency Association board member Steve Huston is freaking out about Honey Maid’s new gay-friendly ad campaign. “…it’s a matter of an evil agenda which is being pushed upon America and around the world. Satan continues to attack God’s design and skew it to his own workings.” Just wait until he sees that rainbow oreo cookie!
full story

Transgender Bill Will Let Men Attack Women in Bathrooms
Washington Times senior opinion editor Emily Miller is warning of dire consequences should a bill protecting bathroom access for transgender citizens become law. “The most dangerous impact of this new law is that a man cannot be stopped from going into a women’s bathroom, locker room or pool changing room… this law that endangers every single female.” I’ve got news for you, Ms. Miller – those public restroom doors are not locked – any man who wants to can already enter to assault a woman. It’s just a smoke screen meant to drum up fear and opposition.
full story

Homofascists Have Long Knives and a Pride Necklace
Matt Barber is ever so pissed that Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich stepped down in the face of opposition to his anti gay marriage stance, saying “Christians, buckle up. Your whole world is about to change. The Rainbowshirts are emboldened and they’ve broken out the long knives. ‘Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence’ – Psalm 73:6.” Mr. Barber, he wasn’t fired. He stepped down. Unlike the legions of LGBT workers who are fired every year, including several prominent cases in Catholic schools this year. So let me get this straight – it’s just dandy for a school to fire someone for being gay. But when someone can’t stand the heat for being anti gay and resigns, that’s the “gaystapo” with their “long knives”?
full story

Marriage Equality Round-Up 3/31/14

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Gay Wedding - HandsHere’s our daily quick round-up of the marriage equality and LGBT rights stories that don’t warrant a full posting on the blog, or that we just didn’t have time to add. We’re able to get more news and analysis to you this way every day – enjoy!

Malta: The country’s civil unions bill is expected to pass soon. full story

Mexico: Marriage equality in Mexico City has sparked a revolution across Latin America. full story

UK: Actor Ricky Gervais shot back at anti marriage equality trolls on Twitterm saying “You can’t take equality ‘too far’.” full story

UK: Our Gay Wedding: The Musical will hit British screens tonight. full story

USA: The soap opera Days of our Lives will have its first gay wedding in April. full story

USA: After it was revealed that new Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich donated money to the Prop 8 Campaign, Mozilla put out a statement saying it supports marriage equality. full story

USA, Iowa: The state is celebrating the five year anniversary of marriage equality. full story

USA, New York: LGBT activists protested in front of a church whose sign advocated stoning gays, and whose pastor has called gays “homo demons”. full story

USA, Oklahoma/Utah: Much of the legal battle over marriage equality is centered on kids. full story

USA, Wyoming: Wyoming Equality held a panel discussion of marriage equality in Laramie on Thursday. full story

Lesbian DA Endorses County Clerk that tried to ban Gay Marriage in CA:

Monday, March 24th, 2014

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Originally seen on TALKHILLCREST.BLOGSPOT.COM

To the honorable Bonnie Dumanis:

I am writing this open letter to the District Attorney of San Diego Bonnie Dumanis in response to a recent announcement that she has once again endorsed San Diego County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg for the office of San Diego County Clerk.  The statement is as follows:

“The Assessor is a key member of the leadership team at the County and an assessment on recording fees at his office helps fund the District Attorney’s real estate fraud prosecutions.  I provided my endorsement of the Assessor long before the filing of a petition with the State Supreme Court over same sex marriage.  At the time, I voiced my disappointment and concerns directly to Mr. Dronenburg, who assured me his actions were not anti-gay, but rather an attempt to clarify the law. As a member of the LGBT community, I continue to be a strong supporter of equality and same sex marriage.”

First and foremost Mrs. Dumanis, I have the upmost respect for you as an individual. I have observed your dealings through many of the dramatic and tough issues our city has faced and you always challenge things head on as you have always committed to do. I consider myself a political independent and although I don’t see eye to eye with you on every issue I believe in what unites us, rather than divides us. This could have been one of those letters headlined with an extreme hyperbole statement that called into question your integrity as a person, or personally attacked you. This could have been a letter that attacked your political party, or personal political views. Yet I will do none of it. I respect you as a person. I respect the fact that you ran for District Attorney as an open lesbian and shattered the glass ceiling for GOP women in San Diego. I respect that you stood with me at a rally downtown before the overturn of the Defense of Marriage Act. Too many times we see in the political world a disagreement and we personally attack each other. I have seen, read and heard of things you have done for the LGBT community years before I even lived in San Diego, (dare I say born.) I look to you as a strong LGBT leader committed to LGBT Equality.

Therefore I am asking you to recant your recent endorsement of County Clerk Ernest Dronenburg.

I know how you and your spouse were brought through the madness of the courts through all of the ups and downs of Proposition 8. As you have stated before at many events I have seen you at, you love your wife and you love your family. You stand by equality under the law. Yet other LGBT families who have that same love were denied and turned away, all at the request of the County Clerk. He caused this political mayhem. His actions were even condemned by the office of Supervisor Ron Roberts office as “divisive.” It is clear what Ernie has said to you and the entire LGBT community, just as it is clear to Ron Roberts. It is manipulative at best.

It is no secret to any San Diegan what Mr. Dronenburg has done. I spent almost three months investigating statements he has made on why he did what he did, to only find conflicting statements over and over again in his legal case and out of his own personal mouth. I know you stand by the LGBT community. Yet, I can say at large, working specifically on this issue, the LGBT community was deeply wounded by what he did. After almost 50 years of struggle, he attempted to dismantle that work. After recent struggles to bring down DOMA and Prop 8, his political stunt would have negatively affected not the lives of 5, 10 or 20. It would have negatively affected the lives of millions of LGBT citizens in the state of California.  Such a direct onslaught at our community is not just unacceptable. It is monstrous. It shows zero empathy for millions of people and thousands of LGBT troops and their partners serving in the United States Military – serving in San Diego and abroad.

 

His office is plain and simply a non-partisan one. When I stood on the steps of the Clerk’s office, I called both parties to bring in a candidate that will treat everyone with equal treatment. Ernie has stated time and time again that nobody was negatively affected by what he did. Yet I have spoken to many LGBT citizens and couples who were turned away or caught in a limbo, not because of the Supreme Court’s clear ruling, but because of his heartless stunt. Does fiscal policy trump human rights? I would dare say no. No matter what he says, the contradictions in his statements have spoken for themselves. The alliance with Charles Limandri spoke for itself. Nobody is fooled. I know you stand for the right thing. I know when you have dealt with criminals in the past that would dare give you the run around about the truth, you’ve been tough on crime. Should we not demand the same of our elected officials? Especially the ones who have clearly abused their office?

I once again stress, this is not about party; this is about the right thing. As an Iraq War Veteran deployed three times overseas, who has fought for this Country. He has violated the oath he swore to uphold and he continues to offer innuendo to the gay community and to taxpayers.

This letter is not to personally attack you or your office. This letter is not to demean you or use immature political tactics against you. This letter is a deep plea, for the bigotous actions of an elected official, who swore to serve all, to be met with justice at the ballot box and met with justice via his endorsements. If your name didn’t matter, if your endorsement didn’t matter, than there would be no call for you to recant; you are dear to our community and your voice matters to us all. Therefore on behalf of LGBT progression and rights, I ask that you join others who have said “enough” to candidates in either party, who will use the LGBT community, a political chip to gain a personal agenda.

I want to thank you so much as a Veteran, activist and as a citizen of San Diego for your service to our City. I want to thank you for standing with me that day downtown to call for the fall of DOMA and Prop 8. When other leaders ran the other way. I know you love the LGBT community. I do too. That is why so called “leaders” such as Dronenburg must be removed. I have been encouraged that the Lincoln Club has recently supported pro-LGBT candidates. I know many people within that club that fully support Equality. Yet Ernie is a confliction to the equal treatment standard. I hope a standard can be set that any candidate in either party will never again endorse a candidate that considers the LGBT community less that what we are; fully equal under the law.

When he called to stay gay marriage, it was not just an attack on me, the LGBT community or millions statewide — It was an attack on your family as well. Please do not let it be overlooked.

With deep respect I write you this letter and wish you “god-speed” in your guardianship over our city.

Respectfully,

Sean Sala

National LGBT Policy Activist

Marriage Equality Round-Up 3/23/14

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

Gay WeddingHere’s our daily quick round-up of the marriage equality and LGBT rights stories that don’t warrant a full posting on the blog, or that we just didn’t have time to add. We’re able to get more news and analysis to you this way every day – enjoy!

Kenya: While it’s illegal to be gay in Kenya, lawmakers just approved a bill making it legal for a man to take multiple wives without getting approval from his first one, putting the lie to the oft-repeated statement that gay marriage “leads” to polygamy. full story

Russia: Queerty says the invasion of Crimea shows that the gays were right and the religious right was wrong about Putin. full story

USA: Rick Santorum says he totally would have voted for Arizona’s Right to Discriminate bill. full story

US, Rhode Island: Openly gay House Speaker Gordon Fox has stepped down after the FBI conducted a raid on his home and office. full story

How can you be married and not married at the same time?

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

The time of year for all good citizens to focus on their federal and state income taxes has returned. As usual, tax taxesforms are due to the IRS by no later than April 15. Even if you file for an extension on the payments, the paperwork is due to the government by the third Tuesday of April this year. While most married opposite-sex couples will have no issues filing their taxes, same-sex couples face many obstacles. In states that have marriage equality, such as New York, Maryland, New Jersey, and Delaware, the matter is a simple one. File your income taxes as a married couple, filing either a joint return, or separate single returns, depending on your own unique circumstances. As a result of the US Supreme Court ruling in the US v. Windsor case last year, all legally married, same-sex couples living in states which honor such marriages can file their income taxes in the same way as opposite-sex couples.

However, if you happen to live in Pennsylvania or one of the other 33 states which does not allow marriage for same-sex couples, you will need to file your returns differently. First, file your federal return as a married couple, again deciding whether to file a joint return or two separate returns based on your unique circumstances. You will then need to file two separate forms for your state and local taxes as a single taxpayer. I realize that the numbers will be a mess, and filing for financial aid for college will become a nightmare without some guidance. Nevertheless, that is what the law proscribes.

With all that said, a suggestion was sent in to ME4PA to consider. Many people file their income taxes online using programs from TurboTax, H&R Block, and other companies. If you complete your own tax forms, and you file online, your federal information will carry over automatically to your state return. I found this to be true when working on my own taxes. The computer asked to whom I am married, but did not care about the gender of the person to whom I am married. In fact, the computer is not going to run a background check on my marriage license to determine its validity. As long as the names on the forms match the Social Security numbers, all is right in the world. So if Pat and Lou are getting married, that could be two women, two men, or one of each. The government would not know unless it conducted an audit. However, the chances of an audit are incredibly small; furthermore, the federal government will already recognize as married, a same-sex couple who marries in a state such as New York or New Jersey. In both those states, the marriage licenses and certificates do not denote the gender of the couple. Hence, the computer has no way of knowing for sure who is really married to whom.

Before acting on this idea, I strongly encourage consulting a qualified tax adviser or lawyer. Still, just because you are in a same-sex relationship in Pennsylvania or any other state that does not recognize same-sex marriage, does not diminish the fact that your marriage certificate deserves to be recognized, whether you are two men, two women, or one of each. No matter what choice you make on your taxes, just remember, file by April 15.