Thursday, March 05, 2009

Someone I'd like to introduce...

Andrew Sullivan...

He's gay. He's British. He's a Catholic. He's a conservative (nobody's perfect).

He's also a helluva writer.

To-wit:

Restoring Federalism In Marriage Law

The issue behind the new challenge to DOMA is a pretty simple one, as Kenji Yoshino explains. On what grounds does the federal government not simply recognize the marriage laws of the various states? By what reasoning does the federal government recognize all the civil marriages legal in, say, Alabama, but not all of the civil marriages legal in Massachusetts? We know the real reason: a view that homosexuals need to be discriminated against in the law in order to "protect" society from their wicked attempts to live with and care for one another. But the reason on federalist grounds is non-existent.

My own marriage license, for example, is not distinguishable from any other license issued at the same time in Massachusetts. And yet some of those other licenses allow a spouse to get social security benefits and to sponsor a non-citizen for citizenship. I'm legally married in Massachusetts and yet have no right to citizenship on those grounds. Someone who showed up on the Ptown ferry a month ago, and fell in love with an opposite-sex spouse would be eligible to become a citizen relatively soon. I've been here for 25 years and still have no right to stay here indefinitely. The clear meaning of DOMA, of course, is that a gay relationship, however long-lasting or real, is always inferior to even the most temporary straight hook-up. Or to put it another way: the reason we grant citizenship to good faith non-American spouses is because we recognize the human cruelty of forcing a human being to pick between their country and the person they love. But gays, according to DOMA, deserve the cruelty - and many are indeed forced to live abroad or leave their relationships behind.

But leave the inhumanity aside for a moment. On what conservative, federalist grounds do the feds refuse to acknowledge state autonomy in the area of family law? And why should the federal government not do what it always did in these matters: just accept the differing judgments of the states? As long as a civil marriage is valid in a state, it should be recognized by the feds. Why would a real conservative object to that?


To answer that last question, I hate to break it to Mr. Sullivan, but he's the last "real" conservative left.

Scratch that. Mr. Sullivan doesn't realize it, but he's a closet liberal at heart.

And In Case You Forgot About The Mormons....

Think things were getting too quiet in LDS land when it comes to their homophobic agenda? Think again, cupcake.

Mormon Machine Cranking Up Against Illinois Civil Unions Bill
Jim Burroway
March 3rd, 2009
Note: When this was first published yesterday, the post title indicated that this was a BTB “exclusive.” This morning (March 4), I’m now seeing other versions of the email on the web with the sender’s name and email included. Since I had originally redacted that name and email, it’s clear that others have independently received copies of the same email. I am therefore restoring the email to its original form with the info included.

***

The Illinois House will begin considering another Civil Unions bill this week. Introduced by Rep. Greg Harris on February 20, HB 2234 has been assigned to the Youth and Family Committee, which will hold a hearing on Thursday. We’ve received word that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has engaged its private communications network to bombard state legislators with phone calls in opposition to the bill.

In a private email sent out to LDS members of at least one ward in Illinois, church members are being encouraged to call their representative to voice their opposition to the bill, which would provide same-sex couples with recognition and limited protections under Illinois law. But the official LDS-sanctioned email to members is loaded with much of the same misinformation that was present in the campaign against California’s Proposition 8.

***
From: Kristy Combs
Date: March 3, 2009 12:27:59 PM CST
Subject: Civil Union bill scheduled for a hearing Thursday - calls needed

This message has been authorized for sending by Bishop Church.
The Civil Union Bill (HB 2234) has been scheduled for a hearing in the Youth and Family Committee this week on Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. in Springfield. If the bill is voted out of committee, it becomes eligible for a vote before the full Illinois House of Representatives. This bill will legalize civil unions in the state of Illinois, and will treat such civil unions with the same legal obligations, responsibilities, protections and benefits as are afforded within marriage. In other words, civil unions will be different in name only from marriage. As has already been seen in Massachusetts, this will empower the public schools to begin teaching this lifestyle to our young children regardless of parental requests otherwise. It will also create grounds for rewriting all social mores; the current push in Massachusetts is to recognize and legalize all transgender rights (An individual in Massachusetts can now change their drivers license to the gender they believe themselves to be, regardless of actual gender, which means that confused men and women are now legally entering one another’s bathrooms and locker rooms. What kind of a safety issue is this for our children?). Furthermore, while the bill legalizes civil unions, it will be used in the courts to show discrimination and will ultimately lead to court mandated same-sex marriages.

It's a badly kept secret that in my own home state (Colorado) there's a rather large LDS community, and I have to confess that I know quite a few members of the LDS church, some of whom I can honestly say I know like they're family.

Having made that confession, I'd like to say that the Mormons I know reject this mindless, homophobic bigotry, that they're embarrassed by the machinations of the LDS church to persecute homosexuals and interfere with marriage equality and the sex lives of consenting adults whom they don't even know, and that they're by and large a tolerant, respectful, non-dogmatic, non-judgmental, nice group of people who give the term "Christian" a good name.

I'd LIKE to say that, anyway...

Prop 8...LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLLLLE!!!!!

Something tells me this is going to start evolving into a "Sex And Law" blog...not that I mind, it just sounds kinda geeky in a sex-fiend kinda way...

Anyhoo...

First, the NY Times piece on the big Prop 8 showdown in the California Supreme Court...

California Court to Weigh Gay Marriage Ban
By JESSE McKINLEY and JOHN SCHWARTZ
Published: March 4, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — Under intense pressure from both sides in the debate over same-sex marriage, the California Supreme Court will hear arguments Thursday on the ballot initiative passed by voters last November that outlawed such unions.

***
And for all the passion surrounding the issue of same-sex marriage, the question before the court is one that may seem technical, even dry: Does the initiative approved by Californians merely amend the State Constitution or, as gay rights groups hope the court will rule, revise it?

Under California law, an amendment is a matter that the state’s longstanding initiative process deals with routinely. A revision, however, entails a fundamental change to the Constitution, and requires approval of either two-thirds of each house in the Legislature or a constitutional convention. That could be much harder to achieve than passage in a referendum.

What elevates the ban on same-sex marriage to the level of a fundamental rewriting of the Constitution, opponents of Proposition 8 argue, is that it denies a right — the ability to marry — that the California Supreme Court earlier last year called inalienable. To take away that right now, they argue, would violate federal and state constitutional guarantees of equal treatment.

Secondly, I found a good piece in Salon interviewing Dennis Herrera, one of the anti-Prop 8 lawyers who brought the suit.

What are the key arguments that will be made in the legal challenge to Proposition 8?

Well, for us, it's really quite simple. We're saying that the process for putting Prop. 8 on the ballot was fundamentally flawed; the proper procedure was not a constitutional "amendment" but a constitutional "revision." For the electorate to change the nature of the equal protections clause of the California Constitution, it would require a constitutional revision. That means that you need a two-thirds vote of the Legislature before you can even put it on the ballot -- that's not what happened in November. Prop. 8 was instead treated as a constitutional amendment and brought directly to the voters.

Prop. 8 also drastically altered the structure of state government; it stopped the courts from applying the equal protection clause of the California Constitution to a protected class of citizens, those being gay folks.

The whole article is really worth reading.

The upshot is that for the forseeable future, marriage equality will not be won at the ballot box. It's got to be mandated by the court system through the Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution and of the various state constitutions. It's not simply a matter of "choice" as the Holy Terrors like to argue, that people opt to be gay and that therefore, it's okay to discriminate against them.

(As a side note, what if people's choices with regard to ...say...religious faith were subject to the same analysis? Oh, that's right. There's a Constitutional amendment protecting THAT sort of choice. But I digress).

The upshot is that even if it were a matter of choice (which it isn't, nor should it be), certain choices must nevertheless be made free from the threat of discrimination by the majority. It was the same when it came to the equal rights of women, of the civil rights of non-white citizens.

I hate to sound like I'm promising boredom for non-law geeks out there, but this is something else to which close attention must be made.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Something for the Law Geeks...

THIS is ultimately what's going to kill the homophobic anti-marriage equality movement.

GLAD challenges federal DOMA
by Ethan Jacobs
associate editor
Tuesday Mar 3, 2009
***
GLAD plans to file suit March 3 in the Federal District Court of Massachusetts, challenging provisions in section three of DOMA that bar the federal government from granting certain protections to legally married same-sex couples.

***
"Our legal argument is that [the portions of section three targeted in the lawsuit are] a violation of our federal government’s guarantee to treat citizens equally by refusing to recognize the marriages only of same-sex couples, and that principle of equality should apply in other contexts if we’re successful," said Wu.

In a nutshell, the plaintiffs will be challenging the Federal Defense Of Marriage Act on the grounds that while their marriages are legal in Massachusetts, the Federal law blocks their rights to government benefits because DOMA deprives them of equal protection under the laws.

At last! I've been ranting about this issue for years. No matter how badly the marriage equality movement wants majority support, it's not going to come via the ballot box.

1. It's got to be through the court system, the same way Brown v. Board of Education was necessary to free up the logjam when it came to civil rights on the basis of race.

2. It can't be done on a state-by-state level. True equality has to come through the Federal legal system.

My only concern is that by the time the case makes its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, will President Obama have had enough time to appoint truly progressive justices to hear the case?

Watch this one.

The Evil, The Mean, The Stupid

Nice to know Colorado doesn't have a monopoly on asshole legislators...

Their rhetoric is ramping up...


Buttars broke vow of silence, senator claims
By Ben Winslow and Clayton Norlen

Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009 1:19 a.m. MST

Controversial Sen. Chris Buttars was stripped of his Senate committee posts not because he went on an anti-gay tirade in an interview with a documentary filmmaker but because the West Jordan Republican broke a deal with Senate leaders not to talk about gay issues.

That's what a Senate colleague revealed on a conservative radio program Saturday.

"I have to tell you publicly that most of what Sen. Buttars said — I agree with," Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, said on the weekly radio program "Inside Utah Politics" on KTKK-AM

***
Buttars was stripped of his leadership posts in the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Judicial Confirmation Committee on Friday, in response to a storm of controversy surrounding the outspoken senator. In an interview with documentary filmmaker Reed Cowan about California's Proposition 8 on gay marriage, Buttars compared gay-rights activists to Muslim terrorists and called them "the greatest threat to America going down."

Terrorists, Nazis, the worst of the worst. In a way, this is good news, as it's an indication these homophobic assholes are getting desperate. They've got to demonize their opponents, but when it comes right down to it, it's going to fail. Why? Because the enormous majority of people who know gay people know they're not anything remotely resembling evil. So when these homophobic assholes keep shooting off their mouths about the evils of homosexuality, most folks are going to see them for the bigots that they are.

Hope so, anyway.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Who Watches The Most Porn?

I laughed so hard at this item I damn near pissed my pants!!

Porn in the USA: Conservatives are biggest consumers
16:18 27 February 2009 by Ewen Callaway

Americans may paint themselves in increasingly bright shades of red and blue, but new research finds one thing that varies little across the nation: the liking for online pornography.

A new nationwide study (pdf) of anonymised credit-card receipts from a major online adult entertainment provider finds little variation in consumption between states.

"When it comes to adult entertainment, it seems people are more the same than different," says Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School.

However, there are some trends to be seen in the data. Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds.
***
The biggest consumer, Utah, averaged 5.47 adult content subscriptions per 1000 home broadband users; Montana bought the least with 1.92 per 1000. "The differences here are not so stark," Edelman says.

Number 10 on the list was West Virginia at 2.94 subscriptions per 1000, while number 41, Michigan, averaged 2.32.

Eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states gave their electoral votes to John McCain in last year's presidential election – Florida and Hawaii were the exceptions. While six out of the lowest 10 favoured Barack Obama.

Old-fashioned values
Church-goers bought less online porn on Sundays – a 1% increase in a postal code's religious attendance was associated with a 0.1% drop in subscriptions that day. However, expenditures on other days of the week brought them in line with the rest of the country, Edelman finds.

Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don't explicitly restrict gay marriage.

To get a better handle on other associations between social attitudes and pornography consumption, Edelman melded his data with a previous study on public attitudes toward religion.

States where a majority of residents agreed with the statement "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage," bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed. A similar difference emerged for the statement "AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behaviour."

"One natural hypothesis is something like repression: if you're told you can't have this, then you want it more," Edelman says.


What really cracks me up is the fact that these conservative states, (ignorant about most things, especially about things related to sex), are just as ignorant about online porn! With sites like RedTube, PornHub and Youporn, you don't even have to pay anymore!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Visit Colorful Colorado Anyway....Most Of Us Aren't Homophobic Assholes

I'm a Coloradoan born and bred. I love my home state. I've got a "Native" bumpersticker on my truck, I know all the words to "Rocky Mountain High," and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else.

The Centennial State actually has a lot to be proud of when it comes to sexual freedom. Ours was the first state to give the vote to women. (Actually Wyoming did it first, but Wyoming was a territory at the time). Colorado also was the first state to legalize no-fault divorces and abortions. The cities of Boulder and Denver were among the first in the country to push anti-gay discrimination legislation.

Yeah, we've also got that ugly Amendment 2 mess in our history, and we're also responsible for James Dobson, Focus on the Family, Ted Haggard, and Marilyn Musgrave. Still, all in all, Colorado's a great place to live.

Buuuuut...

this is mindblowing.

GOP gay-rights foe says homosexuality is a sin like adultery, murder

February 23, 2009 - 4:46 PM
JOHN SCHROYER
THE GAZETTE

DENVER • Debating a gay-rights bill on the floor of the state Senate on Monday, a Republican lawmaker took the rhetoric to new heights by equating homosexuality as a sin with murder.
"I'm not saying this (homosexuality) is the only sin that's out there," said Sen. Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley. "We have murder. We have all sorts of sin. We have adultery. And we don't make laws making those legal, and we would never think to make murder legal."
Other Republicans said the bill, which would allow partners of gay state employees to be covered by health care benefits, is an attempt by Democrats to chip away at a constitutional amendment voters passed in 2006 defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

***

Renfroe called homosexuality an "abomination" and an "offense to God" and argued that God created men and women so they would procreate.

He compared the nuclear family structure to the Holy Trinity and, quoting the book of Genesis, said women had been created to be "helpers" for men.

Senate Democrats defended the bill as a matter of equal rights. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Jennifer Veiga, D-Denver, is openly gay.

"You say, up here at this microphone, that God created us in a certain structure," Veiga said.

"I will stand here today and tell you that God also created me. And the last time I checked, I am who I am, people."

And then there's this...

Schultheis: HIV testing for pregnant moms rewards ‘sexual promiscuity’
By Ernest Luning 2/25/09 1:05 PM

Democrats were outraged Wednesday morning when Republican state Sen. Dave Schultheis said he planned to vote against a bill to require HIV tests for pregnant women because the disease “stems from sexual promiscuity” and he didn’t think the Legislature should “remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior.” The Colorado Springs lawmaker then proceeded to cast the lone vote against SB 179, which passed 32-1 and moves on to the House.

***


Not content to be a world-class asshole, Sen. Schultheis decided to go for galaxy-sized status later in the day.

UPDATED: State senator: HIV babies are punishment for promiscuous moms

By Wendy Norris 2/25/09 4:25 PM

State Sen. Dave Schultheis restated his opposition to a bill requiring HIV tests for pregnant women by claiming that infected babies would cause families to “see the negative consequences of that promiscuity.”


The Colorado Springs Republican with a penchant for foot-in-mouth moments tells The Rocky Mountain News in a follow-up story to Wednesday’s Senate floor controversy:

“What I’m hoping is that, yes, that person may have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby and when they grow up, but the mother will begin to feel guilt as a result of that,” he said. “The family will see the negative consequences of that promiscuity and it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior.”
Yes, Schultheis really said he is “hoping” people “have AIDS, have it seriously as a baby …”


So let me say on behalf of the enormous majority of Coloradoans who AREN'T fucking idiots, please don't hold the supreme, cruel stupidity of two shit-for-brains knuckle-dragging buttheads against the rest of us.

We're really a very nice place to live.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Yes, now time for the gratuitous nudity...


Almost a month away. Sorry about that. Here's my penance this time.

You'd think this was all part of my fiendish plan to find reasons to post nudie pics.

"Ignorance Only" Idiocy From Texas...where else?

OMFG!!!

Why am I not surprised that this is coming from the state that gave us our former President?

From the website of the Texas Freedom Network

Texas has long been held up as the poster child for abstinence-only sexuality education. In fact, Texas consistently leads the nation by a wide margin in federal abstinence education dollars more than $18 million in 2007 alone. What has not been known until this study, however, is what public schools are actually teaching students about sexuality education in their classrooms. And the news is not good.

Just Say Don’t Know: Sexuality Education in Texas Public Schools conclusively demonstrates that Texas is failing families and students when it comes to sexuality education. Classrooms are perpetuating a “conspiracy of silence” that robs young people of the reliable information they need to make responsible life decisions. Even worse, the information students do receive about sexuality and health is often grossly distorted or simply wrong.
From the report's executive summary.

Finding 1:
Most Texas students receive no instruction about human
sexuality apart from the promotion of sexual abstinence.
Materials returned for this study demonstrate that
abstinence-only programs have a stranglehold over
sexuality education in Texas. More than 96 percent of
school districts – with more than 3.7 million students
– fail to teach any medically accurate information on
responsible pregnancy and disease prevention.

Finding 3:
Sexuality education materials used in Texas schools
regularly contain factual errors and perpetuate lies and
distortions about condoms and STDs.
Regardless of one’s personal opinions about sexuality
education, we should all be able to agree on this point:
students should not be taught incorrect information
in school. Unfortunately, the numerous examples of
blatantly incorrect and misleading information in
classroom materials make clear that many Texas public
schools fail this most basic test.
Sexuality Education IN Texas Public Schools

TYPE OF FACTUAL ERROR % of Texas School Districts
Errors of any type: 41.0%
Errors related to…Condoms 40.1%
All STDs (including HIV and HPV) 38.9%
HIV (exclusively) 23.6%
HPV (exclusively) 20.9%

Condoms
Inaccurate information about condoms is the most
common type of factual error in sexuality education
materials used in Texas, occurring in 40.1 percent of
school districts. Most examples share a common purpose
and likely effect – discouraging young people from using
condoms. While many districts utilize materials that
exaggerate condom failure rates, some districts provide
more extreme examples of condom-bashing. This
student exercise used in one Central Texas school district
provides an example:

Giving a condom to a teen is just like saying, “Well
if you insist on killing yourself by jumping off the
bridge, at least wear these elbow pads – they may
protect you some.” (page 21 of report)
STDs
An astounding 38.9 percent of districts utilize
curriculum materials or presentations that contain
inaccurate information about sexually transmitted
diseases. Instruction about HIV and human
papillomavirus (HPV) is especially prone to error or
misrepresentation in Texas classrooms, though no STD
is exempt from distortion.

A number of abstinence-only curricula repeat the
decades-old and widely discredited canard “HIV is
so small it passes through a condom.” The FACTS
curriculum (used in 20 districts) provides one common
version of this argument:

Any imperfections in the contraceptive not visible
to the eye could allow sperm, STD or HIV to pass
through the latex…If a sperm cell can get through,
how much more can the HIV virus only 1/450th the
size of a sperm! (page 20 of report)

Numerous materials falsely teach students that condoms
do not provide any protection from HPV. For instance,
the WAIT Training program (used in 53 districts)
dictates that students “be told that condoms do not
appear to provide any protection from HPV, (which
causes 99% of all cervical cancer).” (page 22 of report)

Other Errors
Some of the “facts” in Texas sexuality education
materials simply defy description or categorization. One
example is this strange statement from the Wonderful
Days abstinence-only program (used in three districts):
“If a woman is dry, the sperm will die. If a woman is
wet, a baby she may get!” (page 24 of report)

The full report is here.Is it too late to ask Mexico if they still want Texas?

Monday, February 02, 2009

The LDS Church and Prop 8....shhhhhhh!!!

One of the biggest non-secrets of the recent election campaign is the fact that the Latter Day Saints sank big bucks into defeating Proposition 8 in California.

We're just now starting to get an idea of how many bucks.

Mormons admit larger role in California's Prop. 8 campaign

By Shane Goldmacher | Sacramento Bee
The Mormon church has revealed in a campaign filing that the church spent nearly $190,000 to help pass Proposition 8, the November ballot measure that banned gay marriage in California.

The disclosure comes amid an investigation by the state's campaign watchdog agency into whether the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints violated state laws by not fully disclosing its involvement during the campaign.

While many church members had donated directly to the Yes on 8 campaign – some estimates of Mormon giving range as high as $20 million – the church itself had previously reported little direct campaign activity.

But in the filing made Friday, the Mormon church reported thousands in travel expenses, such as airline tickets, hotel rooms and car rentals for the campaign. The church also reported $96,849.31 worth of "compensated staff time" – hours that church employees spent working to pass the same-sex marriage ban.

"As I read this report, it seems to raise more questions than it answers," said Fred Karger, who filed the initial complaint against the church with the Fair Political Practices Commission in November.

Karger, the founder of Californians Against Hate, a group that opposed the measure, said he believes the church was involved financially long before the first expenditure it listed in September.

"I think there is still a lot of missing parts of the report because we know they've been active since June," Karger said.

Mormon church officials could not be reached Saturday for comment.

Roman Porter, executive director of the FPPC, confirmed that the agency was investigating the complaint against the church but declined comment on specifics.

Not sure what good all this will do. It's about as difficult to ding a church for violating campaign laws as it might be to part the Red Sea. This is just an interesting illustration of the lengths to which the Holy Terrors are willing to go to shove their noses into other peoples' businesses. It's also a demonstration that as the power of the Dobsons and Robertsons (hopefully) fades, the LDS church seems willing to step in and fill the vaccuum. Don't be surprised to see Mitt Romney announce he'll be taking on President Obama by the end of 2010.

Bring it on, bitch.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Another new missive from the Sheriff...

More news...

Officials: Obama to reverse abortion policy

By LIZ SIDOTI and MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writers Liz Sidoti And Matthew Lee, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON – In a long-expected move, President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order ending the ban on federal funds for international groups that perform abortions or provide information on the option, officials told The Associated Press on Friday.

Liberal groups welcomed the decision while abortion rights foes criticized the president. Known as the "Mexico City policy," the ban has been reinstated and then reversed by Republican and Democratic presidents since GOP President Ronald Reagan established it in 1984. President Bill Clinton ended the ban in 1993, but President George W. Bush re-instituted it in 2001 as one of his first acts in office.

The policy bans U.S. taxpayer money, usually in the form of U.S. Agency for International Development funds, from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counseling or referrals about abortion. It is also known as the "global gag rule," because it prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that lobby to legalize abortion or promote it as a family planning method.


It mentions later in the article that both President Obama (damn, it feels good to write that) and Secretary of State Clinton promised to rescind the policy during the election campaign.

Mind-blowing shit, here...a politician promises to carry out a responsible policy with regard to sexual freedom, and then he follows through.

Wow.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Just to be absolutely clear...

It's official policy now...

Reproductive Choice
Supports a Woman's Right to Choose: President Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority in his Adminstration. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in that case.

Preventing Unintended Pregnancy: President Obama was an original co-sponsor of legislation to expand access to contraception, health information, and preventive services to help reduce unintended pregnancies. Introduced in January 2007, the Prevention First Act will increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims.

There IS a new sheriff in town.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

As A Public Service...

I feel compelled to dispel an ugly (okay, not ugly at all, very lovely, in fact) rumor...



This is a photo circulating the net which is allegedly of the latest pop icon, Katy Perry, buck nekkid...





















And this is unmistakeably the singer of the mega-hit "I Kissed A Girl"





















After careful examination, I have concluded that the former picture is in fact not of Ms. Perry, not unless she recently had both a nose job and a boob job. My sources inform me that Ms. Perry has a size 32 D bust, and in my expert opinion, (okay, so I'm not really an expert on women's breasts, but I'm definitely an enthusiastic amateur), the aforementioned former beauty is at least a 34.

Now, if the divine Ms. Perry wishes to forward her own nude photos for comparison of said breasts, I'll be more than happy to conduct a rigorous analysis.

Just doing my duty as a citizen...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One more thing and then I'll call it a day...

Voting for marriage equality doesn't hurt...

From Freedomtomarry.org

January 12, 2009


PRESS CONTACT:
Evan Wolfson, Executive Director
212-851-8418
Mobile: 646-263-5552
evan@freedomtomarry.org


New York, January 12, 2009 — Contrary to some political expectations, voting to support the freedom to marry and opposing anti-marriage measures helps rather than hurts politicians, a new study unequivocally shows.

For many years legislators across the country have voted on laws aimed at ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Others have been asked to vote on state constitutional amendments aimed at discriminating against same-sex couples and their children by denying them the freedom to marry and other legal protections.

A review of all of these votes from 2005 to the present shows that legislators who vote to end marriage discrimination for same-sex couples are consistently re-elected. The success of more than 1,100 state legislators who voted to support the freedom to marry stands in bold contrast to the commonly held belief that supporting marriage equality ends political campaigns and careers. In fact, these legislators are re-elected no matter what party they represent or if they changed their vote from opposing to supporting marriage equality. Even better, legislators who run for higher office win after voting in favor of marriage for same-sex couples.

Just something I found interesting. Okay, enough about marriage equality for a while. Time to get back to some good old fashioned porn!

From the Rockbound Shores Of Maine...

I don't like just blogging about gay marriage. There are lots of other sexual-freedom-oriented issues out there to discuss, but I admit gay marriage is the one getting most of the press lately. It's the hot issue, so to speak.

Anyway, on to the good news.

For Immediate Release: 01/13/2009
Contact: Betsy Smith, Executive Director, (207) 939-7779

EqualityMaine Announces Bill for Civil Marriage Equality
At a State House press conference today, EqualityMaine and several coalition partners unveiled a bill that would extend civil marriage rights to same-sex couples in Maine.

The bill, titled "An Act to Prevent Discrimination in Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom," is sponsored by Sen. Dennis Damon (D-Hancock).


Even though the bill hasn't even been submitted to the Maine legislature yet, what makes this good news is the language that EqualityMaine is using.

"An Act To Prevent Discrimination In Civil Marriage and Affirm Religious Freedom."

The emphasis is mine. Rather than raise the issue of gay marriage as a matter of making a new right, EqualityMaine is raising it as an issue of correcting an old wrong. It's what linguists like George Lakoff call "framing the debate."

Simply put, (and Dr. Lakoff is much better at explaining all this than I would be, you really ought to read his books) half the battle in politics is the words and phrases that are used to describe the issues being discussed. For example, people who are in favor of Roe v. Wade don't call themselves "pro-abortion", they call themselves "pro-choice." Those who oppose Roe v. Wade aren't "anti-abortion" or even "anti-choice," they're "pro-life." Each side is attempting to make the debate not about abortion itself, but about choice versus life, and each side is likewise emphasizing the "pro" angle of their argument, conversely trying to "frame" the other side as being "anti" or negative in their position.

But I digress. Anyway, EqualityMaine seems to have gotten the hint that the debate about gay marriage needs to be framed as a civil right of which homosexuals have been deprived. Which I've been advocating for some time.

From EqualityMaine's website:

Why do you call it "marriage equality" instead of "gay marriage"?Because we're not talking about creating a separate institution called "gay marriage." We're talking about providing equal access to the existing institution of civil marriage.

They're also taking the right tack when it comes to the issue of religious objections to marriage equality.

How would marriage equality affect my church?
That’s entirely up to your church. Remember, the issue is civil marriage, not religious marriage ceremonies. Religious institutions are not required to perform civil marriages, and may set their own boundaries for marriage. Some faith leaders will not perform marriages for people who have been divorced, for example, or for people of different religions.

Marriage equality does not challenge the autonomy of religious institutions in any way. Advocates of marriage equality focus strictly on civil marriage, and leave decisions about religious marriage ceremonies to faith leaders
.

One of the great sleight-of-hand tricks the Holy Terrors are using on the subject of gay marriage (excuse me, Marriage Equality) is they're perpetuating the myth that in the U.S., the concept of marriage is inexorably tied to religious authority and what churches and scriptures and preachers believe is right and wrong.

Simply put, that's bullshit. Marriage is a civil institution. Marriages may be performed by members of the clergy, but it's not a requirement. For example, a justice of the peace may perform a marriage. Common law marriages exist in 11 U.S. states, which means that no ceremony is required at all, religious or otherwise. Certain religious groups may oppose elements of marriage and divorce, but they wouldn't necessarily hold sway when it came right down to the legal implications.

If two faithful married Catholics opted to get divorced, the Catholic Church might not be too happy about it, but the state wouldn't be obligated to abide by the Church's wishes and refuse to grant the divorce. By the same token, if a Catholic and a Jew opted to get married by a Justice of the Peace over the objections of both churches, those two crazy kids would be considered married by the state in which they lived.

I'll be closely following this one. I have high hopes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Book Review--XXX 30 Porn Star Portraits by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders



XXX: 30 Porn-star Portraits by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders
published by Bulfinch Press

This isn't the sort of coffeetable book you actually put on a coffeetable. At least, not the sort of coffeetables where anyone under the age of eighteen might happen by.

Mr. Greenfield-Sanders is famous for his celebrity portraits, usually taken with an enormous antique box-camera. This book features, as the title suggests, portraits of porn-stars of various vintages, in a unique format. Inspired by Goya's paintings, "Maja, Clothed and Nude," Mr. Greenfield-Sanders features two photos of each pornstar, one fully clothed, and the second of the pornstar in the same pose, only in the nude.

The effect is striking. I can't speak for the exact point at which Mr. Greenfield-Sanders was driving, but what moves me is the fact that the person or persons in the left-page photo (clothed) might be someone you see on the street or in the convenience store, and then the photo on the right page (nude) is clearly someone who has no reservations about being nude in front of other people. In fact, in some of the photos, (e.g. Brianna Banks, Belladonna, Sean Michaels) appear more comfortable in front of the camera with their clothes off than on.

That, I think is what makes this book interesting. It's not that these people are comfortable being viewed in the nude, it's that they're confortable being viewed DOING things in the nude, things most of us couldn't do with the lights off in the bedroom with the family dog present.

One of the side-effects of the porn pundit game is that in a way, the topic is wide-open; it's difficult to start a discussion group about the elements of porn punditry, erotica, and/or the politics of sex because it's just not discussed in "polite society." You don't get much opportunity to have critical discussions. Was "Asian Sluts And Black Cocks IV" a good example of gonzo-form cinematography or not?

Mr. Greenfield-Sanders' book is a good way to start a dialogue. The photos themselves are very well-done, even artistic in every sense of the word. The subjects are interesting, not just for the photos, but for the ease with which they're showing it all off.

And then there are the essays. Mr. Greenfield-Sanders has invited essays on the subject of porn from commenters as varied as Gore Vidal, Witley Striber, Salman Rushdie, and John Waters. We finally get the chance to have a sample of the sort of intellectual, artistic discussion of porn that some of us dream of, if not for the fact that most people still avert their eyes and turn three shades of red when someone even mentions the name "Jenna Jameson."

Great book, great photos, great essays, I highly recommend this one.

Just don't actually put it on your coffeetable.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Addressing The "Why?" Part II

Fear is a key element in the collective mindset of the Holy Terrors. It's true of virtually everything they believe and advocate, but I want to focus on fear as it relates to sex.

There's a general belief that the Holy Terrors are adamantly afraid of sex in general, but that's not really true. When you look at the specific range of sexual practices that meet with fierce opposition, one such practice remains untouched.

The Holy Terrors target elements of the sex lives of Americans in three general categories:

1. Sexual practices which prevent or discourage procreation (abortion, birth control, substantive sex education) or in which the chances of procreation are nil (sodomy [oral or anal sex], homosexuality),

2. Sexual practices which enhance the enjoyment of sex or otherwise make it appear more interesting or appealing (pornography/erotica, sex toys, "deviant" sexual practices such as BDSM or "swinging"),

3. Outside-the-bonds-of-matrimony sexual practices (pre-marital or non-marital sex, homosexuality again, swinging again, general promiscuity).

So what's left? What's an appropriate summary of the Holy Terrors' belief system?

Simply put:

Sex is a chore, a necessary burden, the only acceptable practice of which is to procreate, and only within the bounds of holy matrimony.

Furthermore, marriage is the only acceptable forum in which people may engage in sex, AND ITS PRIME FUNCTION IS FOR PROCREATION.

All that guff about love and companionship is a bunch of hooey. It's all about making babies, baby.

Think I'm exaggerating? Let's step back into the Wayback Machine to take a closer look at some of the anti-gay marriage rulings of state courts in New York and Washington.

Without getting into too much legalese, the New York and Washington high courts have gone on record as stating that marriage is an institution necessary to preserving and maintaining the "one-mother one-father" family unit for the raising of children. Love and affection? Meh.

And let's not forget my own post from earlier this month about New Hampshire.

Rep. David Hess in the last paragraph of the article. That speaks volumes.

(Hess said) "I think there is a significant difference between civil unions and marriage, which is a concept of tradition recognized all over the world. I think same-sex marriage goes beyond and is not needed.

"Civil unions are not marriage, but a legal concept generated in several states. Same-sex marriage is contrary to Christian traditions and every religious concept of marriage between a man and a woman. Same-sex marriage is an oxymoron, because one of the primary functions of marriage is procreating."


Nice of them to state their agenda so bluntly, isn't it?

So, to recap: In the eyes of the Holy Terrors and their whores in the Republican Party, sex is a terrible burden upon mankind and it must be treated as such, because we can't have people going around having sex for fun now, can we? After all, sex's sole purpose is the making of babies and its sole acceptable forum is marriage. If we've got unmarried people making whoopie, or just as bad, married people treating sex not as a burden, but as a fun way to spend an evening (or morning, or lunch break or whatever...) then...what?

What's the big deal if people just want to have sex for fun? Married or otherwise?

I'm glad you asked.

More later.

Friday, January 09, 2009

And another thing...



Not that I'm apologizing for anything right now, I just had the urge to demonstrate one of those positive benefits...

Porn Industry In Crisis???

This is from the "Oh, Come ON!!!" section of the Post-Chronicle.

Published: Jan 9, 2009

Hustler's Larry Flynt and Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis Request Government Bailout of Adult (Porn) Entertainment Industry
by Press Release

As the 2009 AVN Adult Expo opens in Las Vegas this week, Girls Gone Wild CEO Joe Francis and HUSTLER magazine publisher Larry Flynt are petitioning the newly convened 111th Congress to provide a financial bailout for the adult entertainment industry along the lines of what is being sought by the Big Three automakers, a spokesperson for Francis announced today.

Adult industry leaders Flynt and Francis sent a joint request to Congress asking for $5 billion in federal assistance, "Just to see us through hard times," Francis said. "Congress seems willing to help shore up our nation's most important businesses, we feel we deserve the same consideration. In difficult economic times, Americans turn to entertainment for relief. More and more, the kind of entertainment they turn to is adult entertainment."

But according to Flynt the recession has acted like a national cold shower. "People are too depressed to be sexually active," Flynt says, "This is very unhealthy as a nation. Americans can do without cars and such but they cannot do without sex."

While not to the degree felt by banks and automakers, the Adult Entertainment industry has been hit by the effects of the economic downturn. DVD sales and rentals have decreased by 22 percent in the past year as viewers turn to the internet for adult entertainment. It is estimated that roughly half of all internet users visit adult sites, with the number of unique visitors to adult websites (including GirlsGoneWild.com and Hustler.com) has grown to more than 75 million per month.

But the "saltpeter" effect remains.

"With all this economic misery and people losing all that money, sex is the farthest thing from their mind," Flynt says, "It's time for congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America. The only way they can do this is by supporting the adult industry and doing it quickly."

"The popularity of adult entertainment in America has grown steadily for the past half century," Francis says. "Its emergence into the mainstream of popular culture suggests that the US government should actively support the adult industry's survival and growth, just as it feels the need to support any other industry cherished by the American people."

(emphasis added).

Frankly, I just think this is a stunt. There's no way Flynt and Francis really expect Congress to give money to the porn industry. Rather, they're actually trying to deliver an actually valid point.

Since industry bailouts seem to be the fad these days, why should banks and car companies be the only ones who get special treatment? Why not injections of money to support other industries as well?

Indeed, why not?

That's not to say the porn industry isn't facing hard times, just like any other, though.

Ever heard of Youporn or Redtube or Pornhub? Think youtube with...well...porn, and you get the idea.

Well, since all this explicit content is free, it's creating problems.

Porn Woes; Amateurs Displace the Kings of Porn
December 16, 8:04 AM
by Richard Wagner, Ph.D., ACS, Seattle Sex Examiner

Only a couple of years ago, 80 percent of a porn producer’s income came from DVD sales. Today, it’s down about 30 percent. And some speculate that sales could flat line in only a couple of years.

While porn consumers are on the rise; porn profits are tanking. What gives, Dr Dick? You might be asking. Good question. Probably it’s a constellation of causes. Over the last 10 years numerous upstart production houses have cut into the porn pie leaving an ever-smaller pie to go around.

But the bigger problem is American households are using broadband connections to the Internet in ever increasing numbers. 47% at last count and that number will continue to grow exponentially. This brings the immediate gratification of porn to hungry consumers via the web. Streaming media and download to own capability have choked the life out of the DVD. I mean, who schleps down to the local adult video store to buy or rent anymore? No one I know.

And while sales of internet-based adult entertainment grew 14 percent last year, to a whooping $2.8 billion, that figure would be substantially higher if there wasn’t for all the free competition. We can thank the “Tube Sites” for that. The proliferation of free sites allow anyone and everyone to post all the user-generated content he/she wants. And let's face it, there's nothing more compelling than watching the neighbors get it on, right?

***

The “Tube Sites” — YouPorn, PornoTube, Xtube, GayForIt, etc — that deliver the content didn’t invent internet porn, but they sure did make it exponentially easier to access. Most of the posted videos are very short, but the variety of the offerings is amazing. There’s gay stuff, straight stuff, and everything in between. It’s a smut bonanza, don’ cha know!

Some of the clips are indeed amateur videos, shot and uploaded by their exhibitionist creators. But, and here is the real problem for Pornville, a lot of the uploaded clips are copyrighted material ripped off from professional pornographers. The “Tube sites” are awash with scenes from high-end features. It’s true that some clips are posted by the porn companies themselves, as trailers for the full-length versions available on their own sites, but most are uploaded by users from their own collections. And that generates zero revenue for the kings of porn, which makes them very unhappy indeed.

Why should I care? You might be asking yourself right about now. Rapacious porn producers deserve what they get, right? After all they get fat on the backs (literally and figuratively) of the adult performers; and that ain’t right. Exploitation sucks…and not in a good way.

I hear what you’re sayin' — what goes around, comes around. And I’d agree with you, except for one thing — Intellectual Property Rights!

Piracy is piracy, regardless if it’s happening off the coast of Africa or in your den. And when we play fast and loose with the property of others it makes it a whole lot more difficult to protect our own property.

Mr./Dr. Wagner has a point, the big issue is the matter of intellectual property theft, but as with his own example of what's going on in the music industry, the battle is already pretty much lost.

So what to do? I dunno. I just think it'll be interesting to watch. The porn industry has a habit of being ahead of the curve when it comes to technological advances so I'm sure that in a few years, they'll be right back on top.

And yes, while I DO think porn offers positive benefits to society, NO, I don't think my tax dollars need to rescue Flynt and Francis and their ilk. They're going to be just fine without me, IMHO.

Now, if they want to bailout the starving sex blogger industry, that's a different story.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Addressing The "Why?" Part I

One of the side-effects of the recent election (and especially the Proposition 8 mess in California) is that we're getting a lot of post-mortem analysis asking "Why?" Why do the neo-cons so vehemently oppose gay marriage? For that matter, why are they so dead-set against sexual freedom in general? For example, from L'Hote:

(the essay is short and worth quoting in its entirety)

Thursday, December 11, 2008
the hot stress injection

I think the idea that social or cultural conservatives are generally people who are afraid of sex is little more than a gross caricature. As I've tried to demonstrate, I equally think a lot of self-professed "sexually liberated" people are, in fact, the ones most likely to feel actual fear for sex, because their attempts to make sex mundane are usually about removing the danger, immediacy and emotionality of sex-- that is, the things that make sex so special in the first place. When I hear someone talking about a naked party, sometimes, they may just think that's a way to have a good time, although frankly I think the average naked human, even a particularly attractive one, isn't something you'd like to look at in most social contexts. Very often, though, I think people who are interested in naked parties or the like are people who are paradoxically terrified of sex. They're attempting to de-eroticize shared nakedness. That's not liberating sex from anything, it's robbing sex of its power.

I do think, however, that conservatives allow general unease and fear about sex to carry a lot of rhetorical water for them. It seems to me that often enough, conservatives can just sort of invoke sexual ephemera and conjure emotional reactions, out of proportion with what they've actually proved logically. We're evolutionarily and culturally cued to react to invocations of sex, and I wouldn't want to change that. But I think conservatives, when agitating against this or that current sexual practice, use that general sense of heightened emotionality or stress to rhetorical advantage in a way that doesn't actually benefit the conversation.

I'm not quite accusing James Polous of doing this here. My assumption is just that James is hearkening to previous posts where he's already laid the groundwork of why bisexuality is bad. James certainly isn't one to not do the necessary intellectual homework. But I would have appreciated a link to get at his actual arguments, here. Invoking the painfully obvious does us little good. James has a pretty strong case for the origins of bisexual affect, although I can't accept it on the grounds that I don't believe in one person or another judging the internal sexual and emotional content of another. More to the point, though, that doesn't get us anywhere about why this is all to our detriment as a society.

Of note here is probably my philosophical stance that the best, most humane and liberating framework for understanding human sexuality is to think in terms of sexual behaviors and not sexual orientations.

Update: Just about everyone in comments, or near enough, is telling my I'm a moron for this post. I don't know, I think I'm on to something here. Look I'm not saying "don't go to naked parties, it's immoral." I'm saying "I won't go to a naked party, because I don't think the people involved are accomplishing what they think they're accomplishing; and anyway, I want to keep shared nudity for sex, because I value sex."


The emphases are mine. While I appreciate the effort to come up with an explanation, I have to confess the analysis is off the mark, IMHO.

In the first place, while I'm speaking only anecdotally, I've found that the people whom I've encountered that Freddie DeBoer calls "self-professed sexually liberated" are not afraid of sex at all. If they ARE afraid, they're doing a damn good job of hiding it. Rather, these people, (and again, I admit I'm speaking only anecdotally, and only from personal experience) want to get over or have gotten over their fear of sex and instead treat sex as a mundane thing precisely because that's what it is, at least in their eyes. It must be stressed that being mundane makes sex no less important or significant than would be the mundanaeity of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Rather, in my opinion these people have in fact overcome their fear of sex, and are thus empowered. Rather than having the value of sex removed, they've had the SHOCK value removed.

Consider this website, one of my favorites, by NY photographer Jordan Matter

While he does all sorts of photography, Mr. Matter's main appeal, at least to me, is of all the nude and topless women he photographs in the streets of New York City.

For example:






Aren't all these women treating nudity as something mundane? Aren't they all therefore removing its shock value?

And aren't they all sexy as hell?

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think sex is powerful because it's dangerous, immediate, or emotional. It's powerful because it's SEX. It's one of the most basic, fundamental drives in nature. Its power is inherent. Sex doesn't need to be dangerous to be valuable. In fact, IMHO it's the element of danger that keeps people from enjoying its value as much as they might.

And that's what the Holy Terrors are fighting against. I do agree with Mr. DeBoer that the Holy Terrors and their whores in the government are exploiting that fear, but before we can address the "why" we should also consider the "how."

I just disagree with Mr. DeBoer's assertion that removing (or attempting to remove) the fear element leads to a bad result; that sex is "rob(bed) of its power."

On the contrary. Removing the fear element makes it more fun and alluring. In fact, Mr. DeBoer's position admits that in his eyes, the Holy Terrors have a case for treating sex as a bad thing. He admits the element of fear is great; so great in fact, that attempts to remove that element are counter-productive.

I take a different tack.

More later.