Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dominican Republic: Cardinal calls gays "maricones"

In an article published yesterday in El Nacional on the views of Dominican Republic Cardinal Jesús López Rodríguez the lead issue was whether political figures should disclose where they get their earnings. The Cardinal supported the idea and said that it would bring transparency to politics in the island. Good thing!

But the paper also says that the Cardinal used the interview to reiterate the Catholic church's opposition to making abortion legal (he argued that access to abortion would promote promiscuity among youth by making it easy for them to get rid of unwanted pregnancies).

No big surprise there.

He also criticized those who promote condom use as a prevention tool against pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases saying that all they were doing was working on behalf of the condom companies (he argued that that condoms did not provide 100% protection because sperm was 500 times smaller than condom fibers and that they could easily get through, language that comes from a 1993 research paper that has been soundly challenged).

No big surprise there, either.

Still, the good Cardinal didn't stop there and, for someone like me who has grown used to anti-gay religious leaders sweetening their anti-gay language in fuzzy-wuzzy "love the sinner, hate the sin" rhetoric, something else he said literally made my jaw drop.

According to El Nacional, the Cardinal, arguing that fidelity should be at the core of education efforts to stem pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases "explained that for those reasons the Catholic church was opposed to promiscuity between 'heterosexuals and maricones' because sex had to be of the moment and between a man and a woman."

Now, mind you, the Cardinal could have easily said 'homosexuals' or 'gays' but he specifically used the word "maricones" meaning 'faggots' which I find shocking coming from the Dominican Republic's top religious leader.

Then again, this is the same Cardinal that has made the following comments about gays in the past:

On the presence of gays in Santo Domingo's historic colonial district: "They should stay in Europe or the United States, we don't need that social trash, we don't need it" and "Take all of them away... We cannot allow that this place, the historical center of Santo Domingo, be converted into the patrimony of foreign and Dominican degenerates" (AP, April 7, 2006)

On whether gays should serve in the military: "The moment it is allowed that a general can marry a lieutenant, the line of command immediately fails... Not only [am I against] the inclusion of these type of people, if the fact is that they are already in they should be thrown out, because if it's allowed they will have to renounce one of their key principles, which is discipline" (Clave Digital, November 28, 2006).

Arguing that the United States and its tolerant policies were to blame for the Catholic church's child sexual abuse scandals and stating his views on the ordinance of gay priests: Referring to what he called "hombres flojos" [weak men] and "amanerados" [effeminates] the Cardinal said "I am not involved in this topic, discussing the silly things that people make up: If someone is effeminate or whatnot. Those who are effeminate have to go elsewhere. I don't want them anywhere near a place of responsibility. I don't want them in the cleric. Honestly, I don't have interest in them" (Reuters, April 30, 2002).

Considering these views, I guess it was only a matter of time until the word "faggot" rolled off the Cardinal's tongue as effortlessly as it did earlier this week. It still doesn't fail to be shocking to me.

UPDATE: A religious-themed blog, Secretum Meum Mihi, aks why other media who reported on the Cardinal's statements did not mention his usage of the word 'maricones.' They wonder if El Nacional is at fault for erroneosly attributing the usage of the word to the Cardinal.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pooh-ness in NY, Carebear-ness in Hawaii, Balloons over Kentucky, a music CD is launched

UPDATE: Love in Bardstown, KY (thanks Jake):
Pooh-ness in New York: Carebear-ness from Kawika in Hawaii: Reason? One year since this...

Kawika also has this...

From Steven Mackin's mom, Sheila, on Sunday's balloon memorial in Bardstown, Kentucky:
"I thought of you when we released our balloons. About 50 or more people were there. Wouldn't Steven have loved being the center of attention once again."

From StompOutCancer.com: After months of amazing work, also on Sunday, Jake A. Wheat announced the release of
"Indie Music Unified presents Stomp Out Cancer, Vol. 1" - in Steven's honor. All proceeds will go towards efforts to fight Ewing's Sarcoma. You can listen to snippets and, if interested, purchase it here.

Additional stuff:
  • Steven Mackin's MySpace page here
  • Steven Mackin's LiveJournal page here
Reminicences: Miss you boo!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Machochip delivers! Maximo! Al ataque!!

"His golden dream is to live in Spain because marriage exists NO MATTER THE GENDER!" are the first words that you hear from the MC in the YouTube video above as he introduces Maximo, the "exotic" Mexican wrestler! Of course, we had already introduced you to Maximo back in July when he was featured in the pages of a Sports Illustrated Latino. But now Machochip, a new sports blog from the makers of Guanabee, has unearthed the video above.

It's actually quite funny with Maximo shrieking every time he gets hit and fainting whenever a wrestler takes off his shirt. Unfortunately his unorthodox high kicks are not enough to beat the muscle-bound and saintly The Seducer who seems to bring his hands together in prayer every time he scores a victory against a rival.

The match, of course, is brought to you by Corona.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Updates: Gay Mexican denied US asylum, Alvaro Orozco, bi-national couples

Political asylum denied to Mexican gay man: In this week's Gay City News, Arthur Leonard describes the failed attempt by a Mexican gay man to gain political asylum in the United States based on sexual orientation.

Leonard writes "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, based in New York City, has ruled in an unpublished decision that the current level of anti-gay persecution in Mexico is not sufficient to justify granting a withholding of removal for a gay immigrant who claimed to fear persecution if returned to that nation."

But what strikes me, once again, is the mistakes made by the applicant in submitting his claim: 1. He applied after the statutory 1-year window of opportunity imposed by the US on asylum seekers and 2. He had no legal representation at the asylum hearing (he argued that his attorney failed to show up but my experience is that an applicant can ask for the interview to be postponed if his attorney is not present - though I'm not sure if this varies from court to court). The fact that he had not personally experienced past persecution while living in Mexico, though sometimes surmountable in an asylum claim if you present evidence, did not help his case.

Alvaro Orozco: Speaking of asylum, this time in Canada, there has been no better luck for Alvaro Orozco, the young man from Nicaragua that was ordered deported back in August after courts originally questioned whether he was truly gay. His attorneys tried to get a stay of removal earlier this month but the courts refused to grant it. A new order of deportation was handed down on October 4th.

Oh, Canada! But not all news from Canada have been as dire. Emilio and Tom, friends of mine whose bi-national immigration story I've featured here from time to time, can breathe a sight of relief: On October 11th they became permanent residents of Canada, or, as Tom put it on their blog "We finally made it after 20 months of waiting and Emilio is now officially safe from US tyranny!"

Understandably, they are looking forward to the move up north even though it will be sad to see them go (we promise a visit or two).

Tom and Emilio are featured in "Through Thick and Thick" so the news might be a spoiler of sorts if you haven't watched it. Below is a YouTube preview of the Sebastian Cordoba documentary. More on the issues faced by same-sex binational couple in the US at the Immigration Equality website here.

Oh, Argentina? Speaking of same-sex binational couples, former New York Blade editor and current blogger Chris Crain, who already changed his country of residence to Brazil in order to live with his Brazilian partner, Anderson, recently wrote on his blog that their next place of residence will be Argentina after options to remain in Brazil dried out. Ultimately, though, Chris says that, like Tom and Emilio, they might take a look at Canada as an option as well.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cuba: Independent reporter says a gay rights organization has been launched

In an article posted online on Monday at the anti-Castro portals Payolibre.com and at BitacoraCubana.com, Manuel Guerra Pérez, a reporter for the newly formed Associated Free Agency (ALAS), writes that a new gay rights organization called the Cuban Movement for Homosexual Liberation (MCLH) was launched at a ceremony that took place in Havana's Arroyo Naranjo neighborhood which involved twenty or so participants [NOTE: Pictured are members of ALAS, the journalist association, not of MCLH, the gay rights organization].

Leannes Imber, identified as the president of the new organization, said that the inaugural ceremony began with the group singing the national Cuban anthem as a symbol that gays and lesbians are also part of the Cuban society.

Imber said "The organizers of this movement will denounce the cases of repression and human rights violations to which [gays] are subjected by the government of this island."

Considering Cuba's well-reported persecution against gays and lesbians in the past, there has been mounting evidence that the country's leadership has been changing its ways and being more inclusive and welcoming. But who knows how they will react to an organization that might challenge their record of human rights abuses against gays and lesbians from within?

In related news, an article posted yesterday in MartiNoticias, says that the Cuban government has finally allowed "Los Siete Contra Tebas" - by Cuban playwright Antón Arrufat - to be staged in Habana after being banned for almost forty years.

Arrufat tells MartiNoticias that he never knew the exact reasons why the play had been banned but that he believes it was part of the government's "witch hunt" against dozens of intellectuals and artists who happened to be gay which lasted for decades.

As for ALAS reporter Manuel Guerra Pérez - who reported on the new gay rights organization and who made a living as as a school custodian - he was fired on October 2nd, according to his ALAS colleague Katia Sonia Martin Veliz.

She implies that the firing was related to his journalistic activities and says that his supervisors criticized his "questioning attitude" and "untrustworthiness." Miami-based blogger
"anti-establishment attitude."

UPDATE: In a new article by Richard Rosello posted on Bitacora Cubana on October 25th, the name of the leader of the organization is corrected (Leanes Imbert Acosta) and a contact e-mail is given for the organization ( libresparasiempre@yahoo.com ).

As long as we're butching it up: MachoChip is here

As long as we're butching things up here at Blabbeando with posts about rugby and all that manly stuff:

The good people at one of our favorite blogs, Guanabee, have launched a new Guanabee-like blog called MachoChip that will take a look at "Fútbol, Lucha Libre, Bullfighting, and Mixed Martial Arts" (or what us immigrants call deportes).

And, while the editors take a strong ironic stand that this won't be 'homo' stuff (and they sure like looking at Playboy centerfolds together), why do I think that sooner than later we'll start seeing rippling muscles, torn boxing shots and images of brutes beating each other up erotically? Oh, wait! They are already doing that.

I mean, I'm not saying that they'll ever match JockoHomo who never ceases to amaze with his take on sportastic situations, but welcome to the blog roll nevertheless.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

My New York: Gotham Knights reach rugby championship

For a while there, John almost managed to convince me that I should join the Gotham Knights Rugby Football Club. That's until cooler heads prevailed and I decided that if I had survived almost four decades without breaking a bone (well, not counting a finger), why start now?

Still, that's no reason why I shouldn't be happy for John and the team as the Knights are METNYRFU Division III championship-bound (boy, that was a mouthful)!

As you might know, the Knights are the local predominantly gay rugby team and - as John says over on his blog - the fact that they have reached the championship seems to be pretty historic:

"I do believe - I may be wrong here and I am sure as this entry gets read and spread that someone will correct me if I am - that Gotham is now the first predominantly gay rugby team in the US to compete for its Union championship."

Well, hooray!

Next stop, the championship: The Knights will travel to Montclair, New Jersey, on Saturday Oct. 27 for a 1:00 PM rematch with Montclair RFC for the union championship. Montclair bested Gotham 26-15 last month. Directions to Codey Field can be found here.

Then it might get even more complicated because both teams, by reaching this championship, also secured spots in a larger playoff next spring and - if they win that - the national playoffs for Division III. BUT, let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we.

Tomorrow on Oprah: Gays Around the World

It's rare for a highly-rated national television show in the United States to turn its attention to the situation for gays and lesbians throughout the world so when word spread that talk show host Oprah had invited Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil from India as one of the guests for a show on the topic, I wondered who else would be invited and which issues would be addressed (I also wondered if this Joe.My.Blog post had anything to do with this particular show but that just means I read too many blogs).

Well, the show has been taped and will air tomorrow (check local listings).

The webpage for "The Oprah Winfrey Show" has this teaser: "One guest was arrested and spent a year in jail. Another says she was so fearful, she moved to a different country. And, a prince's secret was so taboo, it ripped his royal family apart. A look at what it is like to be gay around the world."

A preview available for viewing here reveals that - in addition to the interview with Prince Singh Gohil - she will also interview former NBA player John Amaechi (he was born in the US to a Nigerian father and English mother and raised in the UK), an Egyptian gay man and the great Staceyann Chin (originally from Jamaica, now living in the United States, pictured above).

The tag line in the preview asks: "What if the freedom to be yourself came down to where you lived?" so I assume the focus of the hour will be on international human rights violations against gays and lesbians around the world.

If that's the case, while it's great for Oprah to cover these issues, I would be disappointed since it is only half the story as there have also been tremendous advances in the LGBT rights movement in other parts of the world and, particularly, Latin America.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

African-Americans and Latinos are more comfortable expressing their gay identity than whites

Over the years I have told anyone who would listen that the perception of the Latino gay community as being less willing to identify as gay or be comfortable with their sexuality - at least in the larger urban areas of the United States - did not match my perception of the community. This often seemed to fall on deaf ears.

Now, a new national demographic study released by the marketing groups New American Dimensions and Asterix Group seems to confirm some of my observations.

Among their findings:

"African-Americans and Latinos were more comfortable expressing their gay identity than whites, although their gay identity was not the most important part of who they are. And, while whites were more likely to be in live-together relationships than Latinos or blacks, they were less likely to include children in their family plans."

Today's San Jose Mercury News has a story on the findings and the Asterix Group has a downloadable condensed research report.

That version of the report also reveals that while "two thirds of gays and lesbians report experiencing stereotyping and discrimination," the feeling is more prevalent among whites than blacks and Latinos. A possible reason, the report notes, is that whites are "less likely to have been the subject of discrimination based on ethnicity."

Of all the groups that were studied, Hispanics ranked the highest in "recognizing and accepting the influence of gay identity" and also ranked as the ethnic group that was the "most comfortable about their gay identity."

They also were the most likely to prefer hanging out at "completely gay parties and bars" and were the group least likely to say that they felt discriminated for being gay.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Congressman Barney Frank: Add the T back to ENDA

News release from Barney Frank
Congressman, 4th District, Massachusetts
2252 Rayburn Building * Washington, D.C. 20515 * (202) 225-5931
October 19, 2007

CONTACT: Joe Racalto 202-225-5931
Steven Adamske 202-225-7141


Congressman Barney Frank is urging his colleagues to vote for the
amendment to be offered by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin to include
transgender individuals in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act when it
is considered on the House floor.

"The decision to offer such an amendment came out of a Caucus which
Chairman George Miller held of the Democratic Members of the Education and
Labor Committee. After some discussion, it became clear that offering
such an amendment would offer us the best chance to achieve Speaker
Pelosi's goal of adopting in the House the most inclusive ENDA bill for
which majority support existed.

"I argued in favor of transgender inclusion when I testified on the
original legislation on September 5, but many of us believed that sending
the full inclusive bill to the floor would open the door to a series of
demagogic procedural moves that would have endangered our chances of a
passing any bill at all. The discussion held by the Democratic Members of
the Education and Labor Committee, Congresswoman Baldwin and myself
resulted in this approach and I believe it meets the goal of giving people
the opportunity to support a fully inclusive bill while avoiding the
potential parliamentary death traps that would otherwise have resulted.
I will on the floor of the House be repeating essentially the arguments in
favor of transgender inclusion which I made in the September 5 hearing,
because we will now be able to do that in a procedural setting that allows
us to maximize support for an inclusive bill without endangering our
chances of getting any bill at all."

[A Lisa Keen article for Bay Windows posted on Wednesday gives some background as well as provides some nuance to today's press release from Congressman Frank's Office]

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez wants trans inclusion in ENDA

So, here's the thing...

As you know, I haven't been blogging much and people "in the know" have probably also noticed that I've been staying away from the ENDA fight - as big as pissing match as it's become (if you have to ask, Google the words "transgender" and "ENDA" and hit the 'News' button or - better yet! - simply click

Well, staying away no longer! Since this whole shindig began I was a bit frustrated that the Latino LGBT leadership in the US didn't have a voice in this but, then again, I figured it was up to the younger generations to stand up if they wanted a say. Ultimately - as Al Pacino said in The Godfather, Part 3 - "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!"

Last week, in the wake of the fight that erupted after the Washington Blade revealed that Congressman Barney Frank (a personal hero) had introduced a transgender-less ENDA bill (arguing that there weren't enough votes for a trans-inclusive bill and that it was better to go with an allegedly winnable trans-less bill), my good friend Gloria Nieto
from California (Miss Wild Thing, if you're nasty) reached out to me and asked if we should do something. I said yes but quickly became embroiled in work deadlines.

But yesterday came word that the bill would be marked up for a House vote today and - heck! - why not act?

So taking inspiration from another personal hero (Steven Goldstein from Garden State Equality in New Jersey and a letter he sent sent to NJ legislators) I quickly drafted a letter to California Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez, at Gloria's suggestion, and within a couple of hours gathered an impressive list of co-signers. Here is the letter we sent last night:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Dear Congresswoman Sanchez:

The U.S. House Education and Labor Committee, on which you serve, is scheduled to vote within the next two days on H.R. 3685, the version of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) that excludes gender identity protection.

As leaders of the Latino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community throughout the United States we respectfully ask you to vote against approval and – instead - insist on a committee vote in favor of H.R. 2015, the version of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act ( of this version of ENDAENDA) that includes gender identity protections which would make employment discrimination against transgender people illegal.

You might be aware that these bills have drawn a tremendous response from various local and national LGBT organizations and leaders - as well as non-gay allies – who overwhelmingly recognize that stripping away gender identity language from ENDA would leave the transgender community without protections against discrimination.

And, as often is the case in the Latino community, the heated dialogue that has ensued might be considered by some as something that might pertain to the LGBT community but might not be of concern to Latinos living in the United States.

Those of us who have signed this letter, believe nothing could be further from the truth.

Over the last few decades, the LGBT movement in the United States certainly has made tremendous strides towards being recognized as equal citizens and yet, what is little known is that the Latino LGBT community and our Latino straight allies have been an integral part of this civil rights movement.

During the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City, seen now as the launch of the modern gay rights movement, Sylvia Rivera emerged as one of the key figures standing up to discrimination during those fateful nights, along with other Latina women who happened to be transgender.

And, while it is unarguable that the general environment for gays and lesbians has greatly improved since the Stonewall Riots, thanks in no small part to Sylvia and other Latino transgender heroes, the same cannot be said for transgender people who are probably almost as vulnerable today as they were then.

Some in the gay community have argued that the ‘T’ as in “transgender” is not part of the gay community but, if you really think about it, when people discriminate against a person based on their perceptions of who we are as gays and lesbians, their discrimination is often based on their perception of gender roles and not only sexual orientation.

This is particularly true of the Latino community
which often confuses the issues of gender with sexual orientation as if they were interchangeable. Spanish language newspapers and television news often refer to transgender individuals as gays and gay Latinos are often asked what their gender role is in bed – whether a gay man is a “woman” in bed or a lesbian woman is “a man” – which speaks to how these issues are sometimes seen in the general Latino community.

Furthermore, for those of us who are transgender, have transgender friends and/or work with transgender communities, we are direct witnesses to how vulnerable the community is to being discriminated particularly in gaining employment.

For these and many other reasons, we know that it would be unconscionable to pass an ENDA bill that leaves the transgender community – and the Latino transgender community in particular – behind.

On behalf of the Latino LGBT leaders listed below in alphabetical order, we look forward to hearing from you. If you need additional information or would like to ask questions about this statement, please contact me at *****.

Sincerely, Gloria Nieto


* Noel Alicea, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, New York, NY
* Marta Donayre, Love Sees No Borders, Sunnyvale, CA
* Andrés Duque, Mano a Mano, New York, NY
* Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, ALLGO statewide people of color organization, Austin, TX
* Nila Marrone, LATINO PFLAG - NYC, PFLAG for Families of Color and Allies in NYC (PFLAG is an acronym for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
* Lisbeth Melendez, political consultant, Washington, DC
* Gloria Nieto, former member of the Democratic National Committee, San Francisco, CA
* Pedro Julio Serrano, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Washington, DC
* Herb Sosa, Unity Coalition/Coalicion Unida, Miami, FL

* NOTE: Affiliations appear for identification purposes only, signatures do not imply that those affiliations endorse this letter unless otherwise indicated.
So that was the letter. And, today, a committee vote did indeed come and I am happy to say that, while the trans-less bill was sent out of committee for a full House vote, Congresswoman Sanchez was one of four Democrat Congresspersons to state that they were against stripping trans protections from ENDA (a Latina woman at that!). Incidentally, Brooklyn representative Yvette Clarke, an African-American woman, was also one of those four.

Sanchez released the following press release this afternoon:

Representing California’s 39th District


October 18, 2007


Congresswoman calls for inclusion of gender identity protections

Washington, DC – Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (D-Lakewood) issued the following statement when casting her vote today in the House Committee on Education and Labor against H.R. 3685, a narrow version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that excludes protections based on gender identity. Congresswoman Sánchez is an original cosponsor of H.R. 2015, the original version of ENDA that was introduced earlier this year and prohibits workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Congresswoman Sánchez joined three other Democrats in opposing H.R.3685 for similar reasons. The bill won approval by the Committee and is expected on the House floor next week. Congresswoman Sánchez is actively working to rally support for an anticipated amendment by Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) to add gender identity protections into the legislation.

“I am pleased that last month, the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on H.R. 2015, the original version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that was introduced earlier this year. I am a proud original cosponsor of that bill, which would prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I am disappointed that we're not marking up that bill today. Instead, we have a narrower, less inclusive version of the bill, which does not include gender identity.

“In the opening statement I submitted at last month's hearing, I said I was proud that as a member of this Committee, I was able to help make our employment laws consistent with our values.

“Unfortunately, this bill does not go far enough to enshrine American values into law because it fails to include protections to those who arguably need it most: transgender people, as well as those who don't conform to gender stereotypes. These are the most vulnerable people we sought to protect in H.R. 2015, the fully inclusive ENDA.

“I believe I am correct to say that it is an American value that it is unacceptable to deny someone a job, a raise, or a promotion for arbitrary factors beyond their job performance. And that is a value that holds true regardless of the worker’s real or perceived gender identity."
Still, the transgender-less bill now moves ahead to a House vote. Representative Tammy Baldwin says that she will introduce and amendment that would restore the gender identity provision that was removed a couple of weeks ago but it's unclear if this will be successful.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Is brown Jesus better than chocolate Jesus?

Dateline: San Antonio, Texas - Never mind that a brand new chocolate Jesus might actually see the light of day in a Manhattan gallery before Halloween (the old one was never unveiled at a planned exhibit back in April due to protests and was subsequently the gruesome victim of rat nibblings while being held in a dark Brooklyn storage room - the horror!). In any case, here comes Hispanic Jesus! Yay?

Yesterday hundreds of devoted church-goers in San Antonio, Texas, turned out for the unveiling of the city's "first Hispanic Jesus!" Praise the Lord!

Television reporter David Cruz described an "unmistakeable (sic) Hispanic appearance" (judge for yourself above) and I imagine for Latino kids growing up praising a Jesus that looks a bit like them - even if he's nailed to a cross - might be a good thing? I mean, I guess it's better than those 3-D images of Jesus with long blond hair and blue eyes whose stare follows you across the living room at many a Latin American living room (but probably not even close to representing the Middle Eastern man most probably portrayed in the Bible).

The difference? Well, brown Jesus has a loin cloth and was created by a believer. Chocolate Jesus doesn't have a loin cloth and was not necessarily created for a place of worship. Which is better? Only Jesus knows. What do you think?

Previously on Blabbeando:

Monday, October 15, 2007

IGLHRC says Venezuela should outlaw discrimination against gays, drops US LGBT asylum documentation program

IGLHRC supports some constitutional changes in Venezuela: Today, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), in collaboration with the Venezuelan gay rights organization Union Afirmativa, launched a letter-writing effort in support of "including sexual orientation as a protected category in the latest round of constitutional reforms."

This follows news that a legislative committee recommended that such language be included in a new version of the Venezuelan constitution currently under consideration.

Both organizations also asked the committee to go a step further and allow "that same-sex couples be granted constitutional protection by modifying Article 77, which addresses marriage and civil unions" as has been previously requested by Venezuelan activists (see bottom of this post).

National Immigrant Justice Center takes over IGLHRC's LGBT asylum documentation program: In the meantime, in related news, word also came today that IGLHRC will no longer have a program that collects documentation that might aid LGBT immigrants seeking political asylum in the United States. Instead the program will be adopted by an immigrant rights agency.

A press release from the National Immigrant Justice Center, a project of the Heartland Alliance, based in Chicago, IL (which is not found on their website) says:

The National Immigrant Justice Center, a partner of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, provides direct legal services to and advocates for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers through policy reform, impact litigation, and public education.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Tara Tidwell Cullen

Ph: (312) 660-1337

National Immigrant Justice Center to Document Critical Evidence for LGBT and HIV-Positive Asylum Seekers

CHICAGO- October 15, 2007 - The Asylum Documentation Program has joined the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC). The program, previously housed at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, collects and disseminates evidence to support cases of refugees seeking protection from human rights violations based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status.

“The National Immigrant Justice Center is proud to take on this program,” said Jonathan Eoloff, coordinator of NIJC’s National Asylum Project on Sexual Orientation. “Corroborating evidence is often required to support an asylum case, so this documentation is critical for attorneys and lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, and HIV-positive refugees seeking protection in the United States and elsewhere.”

The Asylum Documentation Program will:

• Research, monitor and collect data and documentation regarding country conditions related to persecution against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and HIV-positive individuals.
• Partner with asylumlaw.org and other LGBT and immigrant services organizations to disseminate country conditions information internationally to support applications for asylum, withholding of removal, and Convention Against Torture protection for LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants.
• Provide Know Your Rights manuals, pro bono attorney referral lists, and consultation to LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants who are detained throughout the United States by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
• Monitor detention conditions of ICE detention facilities that hold LGBT and HIV-positive immigrants and track statistics about the LGBT and HIV-positive detention population.

The Asylum Documentation Program will be based in San Francisco, California. Dusty Aráujo will continue as the asylum documentation coordinator and can be reached via e-mail at daraujo@heartlandalliance.org or at (415) 398-2759.
Blabbeando will continue to work with Dusty in gathering information on persecution based on sexual orientation throughout Latin America as we have done in the past now that he is based at the National Immigrant Justice Center.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Venezuela: Legislative committee says discrimination based on sexual orientation should be outlawed

[h/t: GNW] A legislative committee studying proposed changes to the Venezuelan constitution that would eliminate presidential term limits and lower the voting age to 16, among other changes, has also endorsed language outlawing discrimination based on sexual sexual orientation according to Bloomberg News.

In a statement
posted yesterday on the official Venezuelan national assembly webpage, committee member Celia Flores is said to have told a number of journalists - in an 'informal' meeting - that the move came in response to requests by 'several' gay organizations. Namely, the United Socialist Block of Homosexual Liberation, which met with Flores on July 9th.

"The discrimination and rejection," they told Flores, "are responses, in our judgement, to maintaining practices related to the capitalist logic, of the dominant class and their ideology of the normal."

The Socialist Block, formerly known as the Chávez ass-kissing Revolutionary Gay Movement of Venezuela, is mostly a one-man circus as led by Venezuelan gay advocate Heisler Vaamonde (pictured above). I'll give him props if the measure is adopted.


A year without Steven

El Steven Mackin? Still close to our hearts. On October 16th, 2006, Steven was still sending me text message shout-outs from the University of Louisville cancer center in Kentucky to which I naturally replied "Love shout-outs from people I know with last name of Mackin!"

This, a couple of days after I spent a full afternoon texting back and forth with the main man as he was being transported in an ambulance from the smaller Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville to a larger cancer center at Louisville University (the transfer decision came at the last minute and left him without anyone to accompany him during the ambulance ride - I was more than glad to be there for him).

What can I say? I miss Steven. Lots. Today my I-Tunes player brought up the "Field of Dreams" theme song that Steven had sent me a while back when he wanted to share one of his favorite compositions (I mean, he was a college band dweeb and all). It really got me big time.

Throughout the year I have been in touch with his mom, Sheila, and his sisters, Torey and Amy Jo. On Sunday, October 28th, the anniversary of Steven's death, they will gather together with other family members at the cemetery where Steven is buried and hold balloons with notes to Steven attached to them. They will release the balloons around 2pm, which is the estimated time at which Steven died a year ago on the 28th. I will probably do the same at Central Park here in New York.

If you'd like to send greetings to the Mackin family I urge to write directly to Steven's mom at shebrady@hotmail.com (not sure she'll get back to you but I am certain she will appreciate your thoughts and greetings).

In the meantime Jake Wheat at StreetBlast.com has put together a music CD in honor of Steven to raise awareness about Ewing's Sarcoma and how it afflicts younger people. I've already ordered my copy and you can order yours here (all proceeds go to Ewing's Sarcoma research).

For more on Steven you can read his amazing LiveJournal entries ("Things I've Found in My Butt").

There are also some image and video memorials here and here.

Update: "One Bardstown family turns mourning into celebration" (News Blaze, Oct. 15, 2007)

Previously on Blabbeando:

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My New York: Time gous by con Loli (Redux)

Grab on to something! Take a couple of deep breaths. Relax. Ready?

La Terremoto de Alcorcon is making their New York debut at Narcotheque this Saturday (at Fontanas bar). I won't be able to make it but you certainly can!

We usually don't promote bar night events here at Blabbeando but who can forget the immortal "Time gous by (con Loli)?"

I mean, it's totally ruined my appreciation for a certain Madonna track so much that I always skip it on the CD unless I wanna be overcome by an incontrollable fit of the giggles.

Who is La Terremoto? Hm, a little reminder below.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Homodeniers, theosexuals and questioning demosexuals, oh my!

A couple of quickies:

Syndicated cartoonist Mark Fiore has his lastest OpEd strip posted at the San Francisco Chronicle and it's a doozie: "Out of the Closet with right-wing Ralphie!"

And, speaking of bi-civil libertarians, Rex Wockner has an OpEd piece in today's Chicago Tribune on toe-tapper Senator Larry Craig ("Craig was Talking the Talk") in which he asks "What will it take to make this guy go away?"

It's the first time that Rex has been invited to write an OpEd for the Tribune. Over on his blog he writes why this is special to him. Congrats Rex.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Colombia: Constitutional Court grants social security benefits to same-sex couples

Last night Colombia's Constitutional Court, in a 7-2 vote, said that a person with social security benefits could provide access to those benefits - including health insurance benefits - to their same-sex partner. All that is required is to register the partnership as a union in a notary and then apply for the benefits, according to El Tiempo (Semana magazine also has an extensive online article here).

Renown Colombian gay rights advocate
Manuel Velandia Mora, writes in AG Magazine that couples can start registering their partners as soon as today and that no health service provider can turn down a valid petition for coverage. Leading gay rights organization Colombia Diversa has more information, in Spanish, here.

El Tiempo says that the court said that to deny access to social security benefits to same-sex partners would violate their right to dignified life and promoted an "absolute lack of protection for couples of the same sex."

In February, the court had already ruled in favor of
granting "patrimony" rights to same-sex couples in Colombia.

Slowly but surely, the courts in Colombia are bestowing equal rights to same-sex partners even as the legislature has sought to block the recognition of same-sex partnership rights (you might remember that a small conservative legislative block used
a last minute manoeuvre to sink a landmark same-sex partnership bill in June that seemed destined to become law).

Coincidentally, on Tuesday El Tiempo also reported that a new effort to secure passage of a similar bill in the current legislative session also
overcame its first test when it passed a first vote in a congressional committee unanimously. It now awaits three more debates before it can be signed into law, if approved by the different legislative bodies.

UPDATE: Reuters has the story in English and interviews my friend Virgilio Barco.