Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Outright International Reacts to President Trump at UN General Assembly

On September 18 and 19, President Trump addressed world leaders at the opening of the 72nd Session of the General Assembly in New York. Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, reacted to President Trump’s address:
Time and time again, President Trump has threatened to curtail the United States’ obligations to the international human rights system and to the United Nations itself. In his remarks today, the word he said most often - sovereignty - underscored that his political agenda promotes political isolationism and undermines the global cooperation that protects vulnerable people from natural disasters, corrupt governments, and civil war.

As an organization that serves as a watchdog on the UN, we know that sovereignty is a term loaded with negative meaning. Sovereignty is often an excuse for States to ignore their obligation to protect the human rights of individuals, especially those that are most marginalized and vulnerable.

Reform in President Trump’s words is code for stripping the human rights system of much-needed resources. We believe the only reform that is truly needed puts LGBTIQ people and all vulnerable groups at the center of UN governance, human rights, and programs. The reform and resources we need would elevate the rights of the world’s most marginalized, open space for meaningful civil society participation, and invest in climate justice.

Nick Jonas - Find You

Find You (Official Video) by Nick Jonas on VEVO.
Grammy nominated and Multi-platinum-selling Island/ Safehouse Records recording artist Nick Jonas released the accompanying music video for his new single, "Find You" today. The video, directed by Emil Nava (Ed Sheeran, Selena Gomez, Calvin Harris) was shot in Pismo Beach, California.

Nice To See StevieB: I Need a Beret

By StevieB

I once again find myself in that seemingly unending process. Attempting to find college classes that sync up. Sync up with each other (as in two on a Monday / Wednesday schedule) and match my work schedule.

In case you haven’t enrolled in university classes in a bit, there is a website that attempts help you make informed choices. For say…. Philosophy. Entering the course title lists 145,393 differing choices of classes. The built in metrics engineering knows what time of day you need to take for your degree, then only gives you dates and times that could not possible be more inconvenient. I need an evening class entitled Ancient Philosophy that starts at 8am, or after 3:45pm on either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. This means that all Ancient Philosophy classes are held sharply at 11am or 1pm. These class times are designed to bring about the most irritation to my work schedule. Well, and to jive with the professors schedule.

Okay, yes. Philosophy professors need to sleep late. We all know they spend the late-night hours inside coffee shops debating whether “the greatest minds are capable of the greatest vices as well as of the greatest virtues”… or not. Their worn out berets covered in lint from the sagging headliner of their 1980 Toyota Cressidas. So I understand that mornings would be out, but no classes after 1pm? Do Serving shifts at The Olive Garden start that early? 

I feel like I am attempting to pull a Da Vinci Code as I match coded messages from beyond the mists of time. Will I actually find a couple of classes that are available together and doesn’t have be leaving work from 11:30am until 1252pm twice a week? Probably not. This is why people drop out of college and become Servers at Olive Garden…. Or if they’re Professors.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Health, Human and Civil Rights Advocates Warn Trump HHS Will Weaken Health Law’s Nondiscrimination Provision

Even as another attempt surfaces in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut Medicaid funding, the Trump administration is working to revise a provision of the law (Section 1557) that outlaws discrimination against sex and gender identity in federally funded health programs.

In a media briefing call today, experts from the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Partnership for Women & Families, and the National Women’s Law Center explained why the nondiscrimination provision, Section 1557, of the ACA is integral to the law and how revising it will limit access to comprehensive health care for women and LGBTQ persons.

An audio recording of the call is available here. Following are quotes from the groups’ speakers:

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said, “Section 1557 is key to ensuring that all Americans can lead healthy lives, free of discriminatory barriers, and enjoy the benefits and protections of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1557 builds on longstanding federal civil rights laws, and is the first federal civil rights law to prohibit sex discrimination in health care. Attempts to weaken those protections is a direct assault on all the communities the rule protects, including people of color, women, people with disabilities, seniors, people whose primary language is not English, immigrants, and LGBTQ individuals. All individuals need to be protected from discrimination in health coverage or care. We expect the Department of Health and Human Services to fully enforce the law.”

Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO, National Women’s Law Center said, “No one should be denied health care or health insurance because of his or her sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers and health care providers to treat women and LGBTQ individuals fairly. We will fight the Trump Administration’s efforts to take us back to a time when there were few protections against the discrimination patients experienced at the hands of insurance companies and health care providers.”

Judith L. Lichtman, senior advisor, National Partnership for Women & Families said, “The Affordable Care Act’s section 1557 was a historic step forward for our nation. It is the first federal civil rights law ever to broadly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded health programs. It also prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, disability and age. It is a game-changer that, over time, holds the promise of helping reduce the disparities that plague our health care system. Losing it would be every bit as devastating to efforts to advance fairness and equality in this nation as anything President Trump has done. We will fight hard to protect section 1557. We are absolutely determined not to return to the days when there was no recourse against sex discrimination in health care.”

Harper Jean Tobin, policy director, National Center for Transgender Equality said, “We hear almost every day from transgender people facing discrimination in health care – being told ‘we won’t treat people like you,’ or denied coverage for medications and treatments provided to others. Section 1557 has helped us make tremendous progress, with HHS resolving many cases of harmful discrimination against patients. So while the full impact of a repeal is impossible to predict, one thing is clear to us: no one should face discrimination when it comes to health care.”

Mara Youdelman, managing attorney, D.C. office, National Health Law Program (NHeLP) said, “The Affordable Care Act’s nondiscrimination provision is integral to fighting against discrimination in the health care system. This discrimination has produced inequities that will take decades to overcome. If the Trump administration changes the rule, it will weaken if not eliminate protections for women, patients with limited-English proficiency, and members of the LGBTQ community. This revision would undermine the intent and purpose of Section 1557. Such an action would also add to the Trump administration's string of depraved efforts to sabotage the ACA.”

NHeLP, founded in 1969, advocates for the rights of low-income and underserved people to access quality health care.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals.

The National Center for Transgender Equality is the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people.

The National Partnership for Women & Families is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy group dedicated to promoting fairness in the workplace, access to quality health care and policies that help women and men meet the dual demands of work and family.

The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s equality and opportunity. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women.

DNC on Senate Republicans Blocking Gillibrand/Collins Amendment to the NDAA

In response to Senate GOP leadership’s decision to block a vote on a bipartisan amendment to delay Trump’s transgender military ban, DNC spokesperson Joel Kasnetz released this statement:

“Last night, Republicans picked bigotry over security, and cowardice over taking a stand. By squashing even this incremental attempt to defend transgender members of the military against Trump’s offensive executive order, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republican leadership are destroying lives and disrespecting the people who keep them safe.

“We know Trump’s order, if implemented, could result in capable service members being discharged because of their gender identity. That is unacceptable. Democrats believe all capable Americans should be able to serve our country openly and we demand respect for all members of our armed forces.”

Discriminatory Ban Already Harming Transgender Troops and the U.S. Military, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN Tell Court

Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN yesterday asked a federal court to halt immediately all steps taken to implement the Trump Administration’s discriminatory plan to ban transgender individuals from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services.

“Before the President’s vicious attack on transgender Americans, transgender service members had been serving openly and proudly in every branch of the U.S. Military for more than a year,” Lambda Legal Senior Attorney Peter Renn said. “Since the President’s tweets, and his mandate for the Pentagon to implement his ban, those same service members have been branded as unfit to serve – to do the jobs they have been doing successfully – simply because they are transgender. That harm is real, it is palpable, and it is discriminatory.”

“It is unacceptable to destroy the careers of patriotic and courageous members of the U.S. military,” said Peter Perkowski, Legal Director for OutServe-SLDN. “This ban must be stopped dead in its tracks before it goes any further so that these brave men and women can focus on their real jobs – protecting and serving the country they love.”

Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN filed a motion for preliminary injunction on Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The motion asks the court to preliminarily enjoin the government from taking actions inconsistent with the military policy that existed prior to July 26, 2017, under which transgender service members were allowed to serve openly, and transgender Americans seeking to join the military had a path forward for doing so.

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN are now representing nine individual plaintiffs, all of whom are transgender, and three organizational plaintiffs – the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Seattle-based Gender Justice League, and the American Military Partners Association (AMPA).

The individual plaintiffs include six current service members and three individuals who wish to enlist. The current service members are: Staff Sergeant Cathrine (“Katie”) Schmid, a 33-year-old woman and 12-year member of the U.S. Army currently serving in Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, who has applied to become an Army Warrant Officer; Petty Officer Terece Lewis, a 33-year-old woman and 14-year member of the U.S. Navy serving on the U.S.S. John C. Stennis out of Bremerton, Washington; Lindsey Muller, a 35-year-old woman and seventeen-year member of the U.S. Army serving in Seoul, South Korea; Phillip Stephens, a 29-year-old man and five-year member of the U.S. Navy serving at Eglin Air Force Base near Valparaiso, Florida; Megan Winters, a 29-year-old woman and five-year member of the U.S. Navy serving in the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C.; and a sixth individual who remains anonymous. The three plaintiffs who seek to join the military are: Ryan Karnoski, a 22-year-old Seattle man who currently works as a social worker and wishes to become an officer doing social work for the military; Conner Callahan, a 29-year-old man who currently works in law enforcement in North Carolina; and Drew Layne, a high-school student from Corpus Christi, Texas, who is 17 years old and, with parental support, wants to join the Air Force.

“It is impossible to overstate how important it was when the Pentagon lifted the ban on open service, when I and other transgender service members were finally able to live and serve as our true and authentic selves,” Phillip Stephens said. “To read those tweets, to have the rug pulled out from under us, to be branded unfit to serve was devastating, not just for me, but really for the U.S. Military and military readiness as a whole.”

On July 26, President Trump posted a series of tweets in the early morning hours announcing that, “The United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” The tweeted ban was swiftly and widely condemned by more than 56 retired generals and admirals and a large percentage of Republican and Democratic U.S. senators and representatives.

Despite that criticism, the White House proceeded to issue a memorandum directing the military to continue the ban on enlistment by those they learn are transgender, even though our armed forces currently are facing recruitment challenges, including in high demand positions like linguists, health care providers, social workers and aviators. The enlistment ban also bars transgender members of the military currently serving openly, such as Staff Sergeant Schmid, from obtaining appointments as officers.

The memorandum further orders the return to past anti-transgender policies affecting continued service and medical care of those known to be transgender after the development of an implementation plan by the Secretary of Defense. The Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN lawsuit against President Trump, the United States of America, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and the U.S. Department of Defense is based on the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection, due process and free speech for all.

The government-commissioned RAND study released in May 2016 determined that the cost of providing transition-related care is exceedingly small relative to U.S. Armed Forces overall health care expenditures, that there are no readiness implications that prevent transgender members from serving openly, and that numerous foreign militaries have successfully permitted open service without a negative effect on effectiveness, readiness, or unit cohesion. Based on that study, the Pentagon lifted the ban on open service by transgender men and women in July 2016.  

The Lambda Legal attorneys working on the case are: Peter Renn, Jon W. Davidson, Camilla B. Taylor, Tara Borelli, Natalie Nardecchia, Sasha Buchert, Kara Ingelhart, and Carl Charles. They are joined by co-counsel Peter Perkowski of OutServe-SLDN. Also on the legal team are pro-bono co-counsel at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Newman Du Wors LLP.

Statements from Organizational Plaintiffs
“We know from our members about the fear and uncertainty created first by President Trump’s tweets and now the memo,” said Danni Askini, Executive Director, Gender Justice League. “Current transgender service members and those wanting to enlist are now in a constant state of limbo as the result of a hateful and counterproductive policy. We are hopeful the courts will uphold their duty to our ideals and halt this policy by granting the requested injunction.”

"The thousands of transgender troops currently serving their country deserve immediate clarity and protection from the discriminatory whims of this president," said HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride. "No service member should be forced to fear for their future for one more day due to Donald Trump's unconstitutional order. We hope the court will recognize the urgency and severity of the situation and ensure that the promise made to these service members - that if they are willing and able to serve, they will be allowed to do so - is protected."

AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said: "After the Defense Department assured transgender service members it was safe to come out and serve openly, President Trump is now singling them out for blatant discrimination. This shameful assault threatens the service member and his or her entire military family. As the nation's largest organization of LGBT military families, we are proud to be represented by Lambda Legal and Outserve-SLDN in our lawsuit challenging this unpatriotic and shameful transgender military ban. Any qualified American, regardless of their gender identity, should be able to serve their country."

Superfruit releases 'Future Friends' album + new music video for "How You Feeling?"

Pop duo Superfruit - comprised of Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying, both founding members of 3x Grammy Award-winning, multi-platinum group Pentatonix - have released a physical and digital version of their debut - Future Friends - today via RCA Records. The album combines their previously released Future Friends - Part One and Future Friends - Part Two (also out today) with two extra tracks.
Alongside the release of Future Friends, Superfruit has released a one-shot music video for "How You Feeling?" The duo has now released videos for the first 8 tracks from the LP.  A music video for "Hurry Up!" will be released next Friday

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SELF EXCLUSIVE: Samira Wiley opens up about her marriage, roles, and being a role model

SELF sat down with Samira Wiley, who is nominated for an Emmy for her incredible work in Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, for a shoot and intimate chat, and nothing was off limits; from her marriage to the warning The Handmaid’s Tale offers about some of the issues we’re facing in our society today, and her thoughts on being a role model.

Within the video, photo shoot and feature, Samira let’s her natural laughter and happiness, and vulnerability take center stage:

· On being a role model as a black, gay woman: "It can feel overwhelming sometimes, representing so much for so many people at such a crazy time. But I feel like as artists, we have a responsibility to represent the times we live in," Wiley tells SELF. "When you have a platform and so many people looking up to you, I feel like it's your responsibility to step up to the plate."

· On “The Handmaid’s Tale” and what it means in today’s climate: "We started filming before the election, and sure, we still felt like what we were doing was relevant and timely," she tells SELF. "But once the election happened we were like, holy shit, our responsibly now is so much more to make sure that we present this with excellence so that people will pay attention."

· On playing two gay characters back to back: "I love Poussey, and I love Moira, and I'm so honored to be able to play these women who shed light on what it's like to be a woman today," "After I was done with /react-text react-text: 277 OITNB /react-text react-text: 278 I was like," and here Wiley adopts a booming, stentorian voice, "You are going to play someone hetero!" But "She (Morelli, a huge Atwood fan) was like, 'Do not walk away from this.' And it was good advice. Really good advice," Wiley says, adding about her wife,

· On her marriage: "I love having someone on my team. Also, the other day, she bought me a really dope tracksuit."

· On coming out: "I was 20 when I came out to my parents," Wiley says. "As soon as I finished telling them, my dad opened his arms, and I think he literally said, 'Great. Come give me a hug.'" · On growing her family: Wiley says she "definitely wants to be a mother…”

First Look: Tom of Finland

Check out the new 'Tom of Finland' trailer - it looks great! The movie will open theatrically in NYC on October 13 and in LA/SF on October 20 with a national release to follow.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Statement on Passing of LGBTQ Heroine Edith Windsor

Victory Institute President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills released the following statement in response to the passing of Edith Windsor, plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor:

“Our fierce heroine Edith Windsor devoted her final years to her people – the LGBTQ community – and will be remembered as a seminal figure in our inevitable march toward equality. Edith felt deeply the injustice of being denied the right to marry her partner of more than 40 years, and she committed herself to fighting back with determination and a smile. I will never forget Edith standing on the steps of the Supreme Court, describing marriage as more than just rights and benefits but also as ‘magic’ – a powerful recognition of indescribable love. Edith opened the door for all LGBTQ Americans to experience this magic – and we are forever indebted to her because of it.”

Monday, September 11, 2017

WalletHub Study: Colorado Ranks in the Top 15 Happiest States in America

With the U.S. ranking No. 14 on this year’s World Happiness Report, down one spot since the previous edition, and research proving that money up to a certain dollar amount can contribute to happiness, the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2017’s Happiest States in America

To determine where Americans have the highest satisfaction with life, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states across 28 key indicators of happiness. The data set ranges from emotional health to income level to sports participation rate.

Happiness in Colorado (1=Happiest; 25=Avg.)
  • 26th – % of Depressed Adults
  • 1st – Adequate-Sleep Rate
  • 21st – Volunteer Rate
  • 21st – Separation & Divorce Rate
  • 12th – Income Growth
  • 29th – Safety
Source: WalletHub

Logo's NewNowNext Adds LGBT Columnist Michael Musto to its Masthead with Weekly "Musto Unfiltered" Column

Logo announced today that award-winning writer Michael Musto will join the network’s digital site NewNowNext as a weekly columnist. Titled “Musto Unfiltered,” the weekly column will bring readers a regular taste of Musto’s humorist take on the personalities, issues and gossip affecting the LGBT community.

“Michael Musto is a legendary columnist and we are so excited to have his wit and humor at NewNowNext,” said Matthew Breen, editorial director of NewNowNext. “Michael’s column is a refreshing new voice for our readers, and is just the latest in the continued growth of NewNowNext.”

“I am thrilled to be joining the excitement at NewNowNext, where I will serve an up-to-the-minute array of hot topics, interviews, and opinions," said Musto. "I will celebrate the underdog—but I will also take no prisoners. As Cher says, ‘Keep your eyes open, b’tch.’” 

Musto famously wrote the long running “La Dolce Musto” column in the Village Voice and his work has also appeared in The New York Times styles section, Paper Magazine, and Musto was selected to the Out100 list, has won seven Glam Awards as “Best Nightlife Writer,” and has written four books, including the seminal non-fiction guide Downtown and the roman-a-clef Manhattan on the Rocks.

Musto is a recurring panelist on Logo’s campy cinephile series Cocktails & Classics, and is a rotating co-host of the nationally syndicated Theater Talk series devoted to the world of stage.

Wilder Daze Hopes His New Song 'Tie-Dye' Will Become an "LGBTQ Anthem"

Wilder Daze has released his latest single “Tie-Dye” in anticipation of the release of his debut record Golden Hour - out September 22nd. Partially inspired by the tragic shooting at Orlando’s PULSE nightclub last year, “Tie-Dye” is an anthem that celebrates diversity and individuality within and beyond the LGBTQ community. The single is the latest release off the much anticipated album, a debut that’s been cultivated over the past year.

As a whole, Golden Hour tells the story of Wilder moving from a troubled childhood in the suburbs of Washington DC to New York in his late teens, with the dream of becoming a star – only to become intensely (but often joyously) distracted by love. He chronicles the way this relationship changed him and, after coming out of it, remembers all that it was about and the many lessons he learned along the way. He bookends the album with “Sip on a Sunset,” a song about leaving the past behind to embrace a better future, beginning dramatically with the sounds of rain, a car door slamming and an engine humming; and the title track “Golden Hour,” about finding the light at the end of a dark tunnel, emerging from a post-breakup depression and opening up again to love and romance. “Once I realized that writing and singing was what I really loved, I felt more and more like rebelling against how people saw me, against my nature,” Wilder says.

Holocaust survivor will speak at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities

The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities and Chabad of NW Metro Denver will host the special event Surviving Auschwitz’s Angel of Death, an evening with child Holocaust survivor Rabbi Nissen Mangel, on September 25, 2017. Rabbi Mangel was only 10 years old when he came to Auschwitz, and survived to become a world -renowned scholar, author, speaker and philosopher.

The youngest inmate of the notorious Nazi Auschwitz, Rabbi Nissen Mangel survived against all the odds to become a world-renowned scholar, speaker, and philosopher. He endured seven concentration camps, the final death march, and ultimately survived three encounters with the infamous Dr. Mengele, also known as the "Angel of Death." Rabbi Mangel will share his extraordinary story of survival, faith, and triumph. Highlighting the presentation will be writing the first few letters of a new Torah scroll that will be dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. The hand-written Torah will take a year to finish and then will be used by Chabad of NW Metro Denver.

"This educational Holocaust lecture is really critical for people of all ages to hear," said Rabbi Benjy Brackman, executive director of Chabad of NW Metro Denver. "In the past six months, there have been a number of incidents in our community of anti-Semitism, showing us how we are unfortunately forgetting the effects of bigotry and hate." Rabbi Brackman urges parents to bring their teenage children for this historic event and allow them to absorb the story and the lessons of the Holocaust.

Reserved tickets range between $25 and $35, and $10 student tickets can be purchased with a valid ID directly through the Box Office. VIP tickets, including a reception and an opportunity to meet Rabbi Mangel, are $80 or $150 for a couple. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Arvada Center Box Office at 720-898-7200, or online at

Nice To See StevieB: Godzilla

By StevieB
I made Mike and the boyfriend, Naveen, sit through a Godzilla movie yesterday. It was Godzilla Versus Mothra. No, Not the awesome classic 1964 version. It was an odd sort of remake from 1983. I am finding that both on Hulu and Netflicks, first run classic movies are disappearing faster than King Ghidorah into deep space. (That’s fast). It is exceedingly tough to find and good classic movie. Even ITunes is losing its collection.

Now, I have said many times that I have horrible taste in movies. When Mike the roommate, and/or Naveen settle down with me to watch a movie I wince at the thought of watching any mainstream movie. I will watch it. But, the sound of my eyes rolling may interrupt the experience. I understand that there is a given small amount of 1950’s – 1970’s Science Fiction movies in the universe. This means that my choices are limited, but even with such a small genre you would think that platforms such as Hulu or Netflicks would have a wider selection. Or… still have a wide selection. Because they did. Before they got cool.