Saturday, July 31, 2010

Argentina: "And now I pronounce you..."

There are some great images and videos coming my way today from the marriage ceremonies between same-sex couples that have been taking place in Argentina.  From the most recent wedding that took place in Rosario just a couple of hours ago to the first wedding between a gay couple after the marriage equality bill was signed into law which took place yesterday morning, here they are in descending order time-wise...

Rosario, this afternoon: Martín Peretti Scioli y Oscar Marvich were among several couples who took to the courts over the last few years to ask for the right to get marriage.  In their case, a court ruled against them in 2008 but this time they were back with two hundred of their closest friends in what was described as massive scene.   

After the vows, the couple danced a waltz in front of their guests and cut a wedding cake.  The above images were captured during the ceremony by Pablo Czentorycky, who tweeted them at @pablitocz. The video came my way later.

Santa Cruz, this morning: Claudia Baéz and Cristina Medina received their appointment for the civil court for 7:30 in the morning earlier today.  The women became the first lesbians to marry since passage of the law as well as the first couple from the southern Argentinean region of Patagonia.

They had thought about holding a ceremony outdoors, possibly with the imposing beauty of the southernmost point's glaciers as background, but the quick turn around between the marriage license petition and the date for the wedding forced them to arrange a low-key affair.  Jornada says the couples' witnesses included both of the brides' mothers, a close friend of Cristina's and Claudia's son.

The video above shows the absolute joyfulness of their vows and love for each other despite it's low resolution.

Mendoza, a little bit past midnight: Eight days ago, when Giorgio Nocentino and Jaime Zapata visited their local civil court and petitioned for a marriage license, little did they know that they would be granted what was then the first place in line to get married as a gay couple in the entire country.  That date was today, July 31st, although no specific time was indicated at the time.

Briefly, for a few days, the couple became media darlings despite being a bit camera shy. In that respect, it didn't help that both
men were born in Chile and naturalized citizens of Argentina, which drew additional international media attention, including heavy coverage from the Chilean press.  Initially they expressed shock at the attention and said they weren't seeking to be famous nor did they want to become activists.  They said they simply loved each other but, most of all, they wanted to make sure that after 23 years of being together they could finally gain some security as partners.

As the week went along, though, you could see them warm up to being part of history and, when two couples beat them yesterday to the title of first couple to marry, you could sense their disappointment. Up until last night, before their wedding, they were still arguing that theirs was the first legal marriage between two people of the same sex (there has been a muted debate in media as to whether yesterday's weddings were, indeed, valid, as most had reported that couples could only start getting married today, on the 31st).

As you can tell by the video, most of that was forgotten and the ceremony was pure emotion. An employee of the court decided to surprise the men by singing a song before the vows were taken.  The men look as if they cannot believe whet is happening as they make the vows and sign the civil marriage registry.  And that brief shot of the two men overcome by emotion as they look over the crowd and the crowd just stands there and applauds is just amazing.

They also expressed being at peace with being first or second or third to marry. "To be first or second doesn't correspond to a particular preference," Zapata said, "we are just happy about this transcendental achievement".

Buenos Aires, yesterday, 9am: In some ways Alejandro Vanelli and Ernesto Larresse were the ones who began the marriage ball rolling when they requested a marriage licence from a civil court on June 13th, 2007, and were denied the right.  By then, Buenos Aires was known as the one city in Latin America that had approved a limited civil union law but the couple wanted nothing less than marriage.

Alejandro, a renown showbiz talent manager, and Ernesto, an well-known actor didn't care if it hurt their careers. They joined efforts by the Argentinean LGBT Federation (FALGBT) to push for marriage equality at a time when many said it would be impossible and did, indeed, push forward. They even participated in several of the organizations marriage equality media campaign ads, including this one, and helped FALGBT to gain incredible support from respected actors, musicians and performers.

"What we liked the most was to begin, together, another one of the marvelous adventures we have had in our lives," Alejandro told La Nacion, "In this case, it was to work jointly with young people, without support, without lobby, common, simple folk, who sought equal rights."

So pardon them if the video of their marriage ceremony not only looks like a celebration of their love but also a media event or one big photo op: That was exactly the point.

The couple, guided by the FALGBT and its president Maria Rachid, knew the exact place and backdrop they wanted: The ceremony was held at the exact same civil court where the couple had been denied the right to marry three years ago.

It was also, to their knowledge, the first time a gay couple would be getting married after passage of the law - except...

Santiago de Estereo, yesterday morning, 7:30 am: José Luis David Navarro and Miguel Ángel Calefato also went to their local civil court last week and, to their huge surprise, got the winning ticket, as it were.  A civil court in the northern locality of Santiago de Estero scheduled their marriage ceremony for July 30th at 7:30 am, making them the first gay couple who were able to marry in the country after passage of the law.

Described as an unassuming and discrete couple, they didn't make a fuss about their marriage ceremony and only invited close friends and family.  Only a few local newspaper reporters got wind of the wedding and captured pictures of the ceremony but no television cameras showed up.  By the time word traveled that a gay couple had gotten married in Santiago de Estereo, some national and international media had already reported Vanelli and Lerresse as being the first couple to marry, including CNN International.

The couple does plan to take full advantage of a honeymoon trip paid by the Mexico City government which announced they would cover all costs for the first couple who got married in Argentina.  Mexico City was the first municipality in Latin America to pass a marriage equality law last year and authorities wanted to offer a good-will gesture to unite that Mexican milestone with the Argentinean one.

Tierra del Fuego, December 29, 2009:  And so, those above were the first five same-sex couples who got married in Argentina after President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner signed the marriage equality bill into law.  That does not mean that they were the first Argentinean couples to be allowed to marry.

As we have written previously, that honor will always remain with José Maria Di Bello and Alex Freyre (above) who also went to the courts to ask for permission to get married and were also denied. Except, with the help of the FALGBT, they appealed those decisions and ultimately got the go-ahead in November of 2009.  As HIV prevention activists and HIV positive themselves, the couple made plans to marry on December 1st, World AIDS Day, as a symbolic act but they were thwarted when a Buenos Aires court put a stay on the nuptials.

It was through the FALGBT that the couple found a willing civil servant in the southernmost area of the Americas, Tierra del Fuego, when the couple shocked the world with the announcement that they had gotten married on December 29th, 2009.

Recently, the couple attended the World AIDS Conference in Vienna and, on their way back, they stopped in Italy where they celebrated their long-delayed honeymoon.  Back in Buenos Aires as of this weekend, Alex spent some time this afternoon sending some "honeymoon photos" he took at the Vatican, some more profane and hilarious than others, including the "safe" ones I've chosen to post above and below.  In the signs they are holding above, the text says "Alex and José in our honeymoon" in the first one and "Adam and Eve" on one side and "...also Adam and Steve!" on the other.

A sign in a third photo, posted below, reads "Latin America: The same rights with the same names/ The same love".  Alex sent these through his Twitter account. He can be reached at @AlexFreyre .

The others: Like Alex and José Maria, there are another 9 or 10 couples who won the right to marry through the courts before the national marriage equality law was signed into law.  Of those couples, most were able to find a court officer to marry them but most also faced court appeals which froze the status of their marriages.  Alex insists that now that marriage equality is the law of the country, all those marriages are now valid but I haven't seen any media discussion about their validity.  Then again, Alex was cool as a cucumber even as the marriage bill seemed doomed in the Senate just days before it voted and kept telling everyone who would listen that he was certain it would pass.  And now he insists he is 100% officially and legally married to José Maria at this very moment.  We'll take his word for it.

As for those words in the sign they are holding on that last photo, there is no way but to think back to that one amazing ad asking people to imagine what the day after the Senate vote - July 15th, 2010 - would be like if they approved the marriage equality bill...

Friday, July 30, 2010

The official Spanish-language definition for "marriage" will be changed to reflect new gay reality

Darío Villanueva, the Secretary of the Real Académia Española (RAE), has said that the 2013 edition of their influential "Dictionary of the Spanish Language" will reflect the reality that gay couples can get married in several nations and localities throughout the world.

In an interview published yesterday ("RAE: Dictionary will include 'matrimonio homosexual'", EFE), Villanueva said specific changes to the dictionary's entry for "matrimonio" were still making their way through a lengthy approval process but stressed they would "appear without a doubt" [matrimonio is the Spanish word for "marriage"].

From the article:
The approval - in 2005 - of the law in Spain that allows marriage between same-sex people - Argentina has also joined in this current month -  led the Academy to consider "the need to modify the meaning of the word 'marriage' to reflect 'that reality which the law has created'".
Based in Madrid, the RAE has been the Spanish kingdom's regulatory body for the usage of Spanish since the early 1,700's, and stands today as the lead regulatory body for the language throughout the world.

Villanueva said that one of the points to be ironed out before publication is whether the final text would explicitly name the countries and localities which allow gay couples to marry.  

"Marriage" vs. "Homosexual Marriage": In it's heading and text of the article, EFE specifically states that the RAE will include the term "homosexual marriage" in it's 2013 edition but that's not so clear to me from Villanueva's quotes.

If that's the case, I am more than certain that LGBT-rights advocates throughout the world will raise the issue that "marriage" in itself hasn't changed and that, instead, some countries and localities have allowed their gay citizens to have access to the institution of marriage.  Furthermore, while a human being can be described as being "gay", a noun such as "marriage" doesn't really have a sexual identity.  Expect a clarification to come soon from RAE or from EFE.

Pederastia, Sodomia, Espray: The changes to the 2013 edition of the RAE's dictionary are part of 2,996 amendments or additions planned for the print edition. Among them are changes to the definition for the Spanish words for "sodomy" and "pederasty" to clarify that the practices are not exclusively linked to homosexuality and the addition of terms and definitions for words such as the verb abducir ("abduct") and the noun espray (an anglicism stemming from the word "spray").

Gay couples begin to wed in Argentina after passage of historic marriage equality law

The Argentinean House of Deputies passed a marriage equality bill on May 5th, the Senate passed the bill on July 15th, President Cristina Férnandez de Kirchner signed the bill into law on July 21st, and, this morning, two gay couples became the first to become married in civil matrimony under the historic law. 

It had been a race to the altar for several couples who wanted to be first and asked for a turn to marry at civil courts throughout the country.   

As of yesterday Alejandro Vanelli and Ernesto Larresse (pictured above) were set to be the first ones in line to make history in Buenos Aires after being together for more than 34 years. But it was Juan Carlos Navarro and Miguel Angel Calefato, together for 27 years, who surprised everybody and beat them to the clock when a civil court in the province of Santago de Estereo allowed them to tie the knot an hour earlier (Towleroad has photos of the happy couple). 

Neither couple holds the title of the first gay couple in Latin America to get married - or Argentina for that matter.  That honor will always belong to HIV/AIDS prevention activists Alex Freyre and José María Di Bello who married in Tierra del Fuego on December 28th, 2009, when an Argentinean court ruled that denying them the right to marry was unconstitutional. That marriage was challenged in court and placed on stand-by while the legislature debated the marriage equality bills.  Alex tells me that now that the bill has been signed into law, their marriage is currently valid.

 Below, footage from CN5 of this morning's civil marriage ceremony between Alejandro Vanelli and Ernesto Larresse which took place in Buenos Aires...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When Latino pop stars turn their back on our rights

Yesterday something seemingly innocuous rubbed me off the wrong way on Twitter.  Well-known Mexican actress and singer Laura León was being interviewed live on Chicago's Homofrecuencia when she made the following comment, in Spanish:
For me, [the LGBT community] has given me their all, they are very creative people" [italics mine].
Or at least that's what she said in Spanish according to what a friend who was listening to the show and reporting about it on Twitter.

Nothing wrong with that, right? But if gays being creative creatures is a pretty harmless stereotype, when you hear one Latina starlet after another use the exact same phrase in Spanish to describe why they love the gays it can get pretty damn annoying.  Specially when they are promoting a tour of gay venues, as Ms. León was doing (there are shows in Chicago tomorrow, in Hollywood on Friday and in San Diego on Saturday).

To Ms. León's credit, she apparently went on to say she supported marriage rights for gay couples in Mexico, so her love for the gays might go further than appreciating us as a pretty creative bunch. It's certainly leagues ahead of Mexican singer Paquita La Del Barrio who famously said she, too, respected the gays, but argued in the same breath, that orphans would be better off dead than be adopted by a gay couple

Pretty innocuous stuff, no? 

Yup, I wasn't even going to write about it - except for something posted earlier today at the politics blog of the San Francisco Chronicle ("Star endorser at Latino 'values' event to help Fiorina -- the 2008 Queen of SF Gay Pride Parade?").

From that post:
That "Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles" fundraiser in Los Angeles to reach conservative Latinos, celebrate "Tus Valores" (Your Values) and help U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina had an interesting twist: among the star celebrity backers in the lineup was Mexican-born telenovela star Karyme Lozano -- who also happens to be the crowned Queen of the 2008 San Francisco LGBT Pride events and parade.
And, who brought Ms. Lozano to San Francisco to receive said crown from the San Francisco gays in 2008? Why, it was Granada Entertainment, the same organization who organized Laura León's gay bar tour this week!
The Chronicle goes on to quote a passage from a Wikipedia entry for Ms. Lozano which apparently has been deleted since it was quoted by the paper.
Karyme Lozano, after the death of her father, is dedicated to promoting values and defend their Catholic faith, his testimony has joined the many who leave everything to follow Christ and make Him known. He has served on several Catholic Congress in the U.S., Central and South America and has initiated pro-life action with Eduardo Verastegui by standing outside a clinic near downtown Los Angeles, handing out pamphlets, trying to stop women from obtaining health services such as contraception, pap smears, and abortion.
Ah, Eduardo Verastegui, that other Mexican-born singer / actor who became the Latino face for the successful homophobic Prop. 8 campaign in California back in 2008.

This is not really a dig at Granada Entertainment.  For years now, they have made a business of bringing popular Spanish-language pop music stars to their gay fans in the United States and there is certainly no way for them to know which of the stars that agree to perform at gay bars will turn their back on the gays in the future.  Among others they've brought to Latino gay clubs throughout the United States are also gay-friendly Fey, La India and Gloria Trevi.

But sometimes I feel our community confuses the fact that it's all about the business of getting their gay money rather than the performer's true support for the community and our rights - and it frustrates me to no end that performers such as Verastegui, Lozano and Paquita and Yuri can simply use the community to advance their careers and then turn their backs on us in hurtful ways.

Worse still is that they know they can get away with it.  Ms. Paquita "Let the baby die rather than be adopted by a gay couple" La Del Barrio? Why, she'll be performing at New York City's Madison Square Garden on October 16th as if nothing had happened and it wouldn't surprise me to see more than a few gay fans in the stands. And yes, before her mouth got her into trouble, Paquita also was crowned Queen of the gays during one of her US tours.

As for the group calling for the $1 million dollar Fiorina fundraising drive? The Los Angeles Times calls The Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles "hard to trace" but names some of its founders and I'm not sure some of them could call themselves Latino without making people laugh.

The great Jeremy Hooper at Gay As You digs in deeper:
This Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles coalition is an outreach of the American Principles Project, and this Fiorina effort is the work of APP's action arm, American Principles in Action. Robert George is the founder of APP/APIA. The same Robert George who -- wait for it, wait for it -- CO-FOUNDED NOM! So essentially we have NOM signing on as one of two sponsors (the Susan B. Anthony List being the other) of a pro-Fiorina effort that was setup by their own founding chairman and current prominent spokesperson!
So where's the money coming from? That we can't answer. But we do know that this Partnership for Conservative Principles is not a Latino coalition that just so happens to put some focus on gay issues. In fact, it seems to be a largely gay-interested coalition (marriage in particular) that just so happens to put particular focus on Latinos! 
Got that? The so-called "Latino" partnership is an outreach arm of the non-Latino APP and the main force behind it, as well as it's lead board member, is the non-Latino Robert George who also happens to have been the founder of the incredibly homophobic National Organization for Marriage.

Note to Karyme Lozano: You are being used as a tool. I hope, down the line, Laura León stops at expressing platitudes about the gays and doesn't join Lozano and Verastegui in stabbing our backs.


Monday, July 26, 2010


Last week, some anonymous person sent me a number of low-quality clips from a television show called "José Luis Sin Censura".

The show, which thankfully I've never seen in my life, is apparently broadcast in some of the major US television Latino markets, including New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and Houston.

Think of a smuttier "The Jerry Springer Show" with no concern shown for FCC fines, particularly in their demeaning portrayal of gays, lesbians, women and transgender folk.

I have compiled the six or seven clips I was sent and uploaded them as a single clip on YouTube.  I believe the clips come from two separate shows...

Looking for additional info online, I was happy to see that the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) was already on the case.  An excerpt from their June 18th statement:
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) asks you to join calls for the reality talk show José Luis Sin Censura to immediately stop using defamatory terms and apologize to viewers. The terms “maricón” and “puñal,” which in English translate to “fa**ot” were chanted by audience members on the June 8 segment of the program. The same pattern occurred on the June 10 segment of the show, when audience members chanted “puto,” a word that also means “fa**ot” in many Spanish-speaking countries.
GLAAD reached out to executives of the company that produces José Luis Sin Censura to express our concerns, but the company has not responded.  The show is produced and distributed by Burbank, CA-based LBI, Liberman Broadcasting Inc. José Luis Sin Censura airs daily on Estrella TV in Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Houston and other large Latino markets. By one estimate, Estrella TV reaches about 70% of the nation’s Latino households and millions of Latinos nationwide.
The show’s format pits guests against one another in combative situations. This often leads to violence, which audience members are encouraged to cheer and sends a message that violence against LGBT people is okay.
They urge people to take action NOW and express their outrage.

I was also glad and not surprised to see that the amazing Jeremy Hooper of Good As You was on the case as well. He's got additional damning footage of the show on his blog.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

IGLHRC gains consultative status in the UN, Venezuela only country in America to vote 'No'

Yesterday, I was thrilled to hear that the US-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) had gained consultative status by the United Nations (Official press release here).

This came at the end of a prolonged fight to block the accreditation by leaders and representatives from some of the most homophobic nations in the world as well as fundamentalist religious institutions.

"Today's decision is an affirmation that the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have a place at the United Nations as part of a vital civil society community," said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Executive Director. "The clear message here is that these voices should not be silenced and that human rights cannot be denied on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity."

In the United States Republican Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) had urged other countries to vote against accrediting IGLHRC.

Today, they'll be glad to know they were on the same side as Venezuela.

Yes, of the thirteen nations that voted against the measure, the only country in the American continent was Venezuela.Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations Jorge Valera (pictured) has yet to explain his vote as does the government of Hugo Chavez.

An aside: Yesterday the White House released a brief statement by President Barack Obama, welcoming the news:
I welcome this important step forward for human rights, as the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission (ILGHRC) will take its rightful seat at the table of the United Nations. The UN was founded on the premise that only through mutual respect, diversity, and dialogue can the international community effectively pursue justice and equality. Today, with the more full inclusion of the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, the United Nations is closer to the ideals on which it was founded, and to values of inclusion and equality to which the United States is deeply committed.
Hm, it's not the International "Lesbian and Gay" Human Rights Commission. They switched those two words around, and also got the acronym wrong. It's not "ILGHRC" , it's "IGLHRC". Oooopsie! A good thing, though, for the president to recognize the great news.

UPDATE: Thanks to Gerónimo Desumala, who left a comment on this post, here is a link to a description of the vote at the United Nations as well as the debate that preceded and followed.

A Venezuelan delegate stated the 'no' vote was not based on the nature of the agency's work but, instead, on procedural issues...
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, Venezuela’s delegate said her country’s Constitution forbade discrimination on grounds of economic or social status.  Venezuela had voted against the granting of consultative status to the organization for reasons of procedure, not because it had substantive objections to that organization’s work.  The examination of applications for consultative status was the responsibility of the Non-Governmental Organization Committee.

She said the Council did not have enough information to make a clear, objective opinion on the issue and it should, thus, respect the Committee’s recommendations.  Any decision adopted regarding the consultative status would establish a negative precedent, opening the door for any State to selectively bring the Council’s attention to applications for consultative status based on national interest.

Friday, July 16, 2010

"We all have the same rights" says NBA player about marriage equality law in Argentina

Emmanuel Ginóbili, an Argentinean basketball player who plays in the United States for the NBA's San Antonio Spurs has backed this week's historic marriage equality law in Argentina during a press conference in his country of birth.

"I am completely in favor of the marriages," he said to a number of reporters covering his arrival in Argentina, "I think we all have the same rights, although when it comes to adoption, I don't feel able to give an opinion".

That comes from an article posted online last night and published in today's edition of El Sol ("Manu on gay marriage"), The paper calls him the best Argentinean basketball player ever.

Survey after survey leading to the vote showed that Argentineans, on the whole, were OK with the recognizing same-sex partnerships but did not feel comfortable about granting them adoption rights.

In Argentina, gays can actually adopt children, even before the marriage bill passed, but opponents of the marriage equality bill sought to derail it by offering an "alternative" civil unions bill which would have banned gay couples from adopting.  Ultimately that bill never reached the senate floor on the day of the debate due to parliamentary rules.


UPDATED SECTION: I've got my hands on a video of the press conference and Manú Ginóbili's full statement:

Reporter: You've been told, pardon me, about the polarization of the country and, in addition, yesterday there were two protests in the country which have divided society - and different personalities have expressed what they think about gay marriage, yes or no. Do we have your opinion?
Manú: I am in favor of gay marriage - eh - specially of the rights - eh - needed by people who are equal before the law - eh - and it doesn't affect the rest of society... it doesn't, if they are gays... yes? let them be and do whatever they want, I am in favor, and it seems to me...
Reporter: What about adoption?
Manú: Adoption is much more delicate, I don't feel I have the qualifications, I don't know which studies have been done, if there is any background info.  I know that, I believe - I don't know, as an outside observer, without knowledge of what scientific data there is out there - that it should be better for a baby to be born with two dads than in an orphanage.

What's truly bizarre about this is another internationally renown athlete also spoke to reporters and said almost the exact same thing...

That actually is a clip of the popular Argentinean television soap opera "Botineras" in which actor Cristian Sancho plays a world renown soccer player nicknamed Flaco who falls in love with a teammate and comes out as being gay for fear of being outed.  I wrote about the groundbreaking storyline back in April ("Soccer players in love"). This particular episode aired earlier this week just before the senate gave the go-ahead to marriage equality.

As for Cristian Sancho, the actor, he has said that, as a straight man, it has been the role of a lifetime to be able to play Flaco.

The full article is only available on newsstands, but that's him posing for the current edition of the gossipy magazine Caras in which he also graces the cover. Yup, he is wearing a corset.

The cover reads "The leading man of 'Botineras' supports gay marriage and says he now has male and female fans".

Apparently, in the article, he goes into his portrayal of a masculine gay man in one of the most homophobic sports in the world and his attempt at also giving his character some feminine traits.  The pull quote from the article?

"You have to be very manly to accept masculine femininity".

For more of Mr. Sancho you can read a post I wrote also back in April about his naked photo shoot for a gay magazine called Romeo.

And, as an extra, I'll also post the groundbreaking scene that ran on the show on April 9th, 2010. It was the first time the two teammates slept together. I find it beautifully handled and erotic, even if a bit NSFW. It does make you wonder, though, how those hair curls stay in place...

Video: Brutal murderer Jacobo Piñero walks out of jail a free man

In the midst of all the celebration about the huge marriage equality win in Argentina, on Monday I also wrote a disturbing post ("Outrage in Spain: Man held in brutal murder of gay couple is set free after 4 years in prison").

Basically, I said Jacobo Piñero (right) walked out of jail a free man when a court in Vigo, Spain, invalidated a 20-year conviction for arson.

Last year, a jury in Vigo absolved all charges against him and almost set him free. The arson charge was tacked on at the last minute by a judge who could not believe the jury would set him free.

What did Piñero do other than set an apartment in fire? Well, let's revisit another post I wrote a year ago ("Spain: Outrage at aquittal of man who stabbed gay couple 57 times and set their bodies on fire").

Hm, the title certainly gives it away but it doesn't nearly describe the violence this man committed against that gay couple:
27 year old Isaac Ali Dani Peréz Triviño was born in Spain. 32 year old Julio Anderson Luciano was born in Brazil. They lived together in the Spanish province of Vigo and were planning to get married.

Both were stabbed to death by Jacobo Piñeiro Rial in their apartment in the early morning of January 13th, 2006. The bodies showed a total of 57 stab wounds, according to forensics.

After killing them, Piñeiro took a shower and cleaned himself up. He filled a suitcase with some of their belongings to make it look like a robbery and then spilled clothing all over the place. He poured alcohol over everything, including his victims' bodies, turned on the gas spigot on the stove, and set everything on fire. The local fire department said that little evidence would have survived if it wasn't for their prompt response to the 5-alarm fire [...] There are no independent witnesses, but police and forensic experts say that the murder rampage began around 4:00am. Apparently, Pérez Triviñio was stabbed first but did not die. Piñeiro then stabbed Anderson Luciano twice while in the couples' room, and 22 more times as he followed his victim out of the room, into a corridor and out to the living room - where he died.

Pérez Triviñio, in the meantime, had locked himself in the room and records show that he was able to call local authorities. The call was cut short when Piñeiro was able to break back into the room and finish him off by stabbing him 35 more times.

In the living room, he tied Anderson Luciano's hands and put a blanket over his body; in the bedroom, he placed a blanket over Pérez Triviñio's head, tied a cable around it, and tethered it to a bed post. He then emptied closets and threw clothes all over the apartment, poured alcohol and set everything on fire.
The fire department arrived soon after Piñero left the apartment and different leads led to his capture.  He was held in police custody for three years until the trial took place last year.  The reason he almost walked out of the courtroom despite confessing to the murders was that he claimed he went temporarily crazy when the couple made sexual advances towards him. The jury bought the gay panic argument and nearly set him free.

Following worldwide outrage about the verdict (and the fact that a man might be convicted for setting an apartment on fire but not for stabbing two men 57 times) a higher court said it would consider an appeal of the verdict and eventually overturned it.  They also set a new trial date for September of this year.

At issue, though, is that penal laws in Spain limit the time someone can be held in custody without being sentenced to four years and, since a court had invalidated his conviction, and Piñero had been held in custody since he was arrested in 2006, the four years were up.

On Monday, Piñero walked out of jail a free man. At least until the new trial.  Here is the video. Truly disturbing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

FUCK YES! Marriage equality in Argentina

"Igualdad!, Igualdad!, Igualdad!"

Initial reports:

Rex Wockner: Argentina legalizes gay marriage
Joe.My.God.: Argentina's Senate APPROVES Marriage Equality 33-27!!!
Rod2.0: Argentina Approves Gay Marriage After Emotional, All-Night Debate

Facts you didn't know about tonight's historic marriage equality vote in Argentina

Since #MatrimonioGay is a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, here are some of the facts about tonight's historic marriage equality vote in the Argentinean senate you might know by now:
  • Right this moment the Argentinean senate is debating a marriage equality bill. The vote will probably happen early morning today.
  • The lower House of Deputies already passed their version of the bill which means that, if the Senate passes the marriage equality bill tonight, it will go to President Cristina Férnandez de Kirchner for a signature.
  • The president had already said that she would not veto the bill if it reached her desk but, for the most part, she had been absolutely mum on whether she supported the bill.
  • Last week things changed when Senator Liliana Negre de Alonso, a member of the ultra-conservative Opus Dei, pulled out a homophobic card out her sleeve and introduced a brand new "civil union" bill which she hoped would draw away votes from the marriage bill once it reached the senate and kill it. Negre de Alonso, who had previously stated she opposed marriage equality because she wanted to "protect the children", was also the president of the senate committee studying which version of the bill would reach the senate vote.
  • Meanwhile, while the Catholic church was dormant in the early stages of the legislative process, they certainly became active in the last few weeks. Increasing their fundamentalist homophobic ire, they vegan a campaign to motivate followers to oppose the bill, wouldn't you know it, "for the sake of the children". For the purported sake of the children they called the marriage equality bill  the work of the Devil and called for a Holy War to defeat the bill.
  • That's whats set President Kirchner off. Having left on a diplomatic trip to China last week and still away from the country tonight, she held a press conference and said the following...

W00t! That might be the strongest statement ever by a Latin American president on behalf of marriage equality and folk are right to say that not even Obama has been this forthcoming when it comes to the issue BUT you also have to realize that Kirchner was mum all along, even as the bill survived the House of Deputies, and only spoke up a couple of days before the vote. Some say it was a strategy to not associate the bill too strongly with the party in charge.

Those were the facts you might now. Here are the facts you might not know...
  • Opponents of the marriage equality bill who sought to draw away votes last week by introducing a bogus "civil union" bill apparently didn't realize that their bill would not be debated on the floor tonight anyway due to parliamentary procedure which says that new bills cannot be debated before 14 days after being introduced (or at least I believe that is the limit I heard). In addition the bogus "civil union" bill was thrown out of debate yesterday by a procedural vote, which means that today in the senate the ONLY bill that would be debated was the marriage equality bill.
  • There was a question earlier yesterday as to whether quorum would be reached for a vote. Proponents of the marriage equality bill also promised they would not bring the bill up for debate unless they had secured enough votes for passage of the bill. Apparently they did secure the votes because this afternoon quorum was reached and the Senate has gone into marriage equality debate mode since then.
  • The Parlamentario website, which has been tallying votes as the bill has moved forward, has the bill winning to night by one vote at this moment. The bill will win by simple majority or even if there is a tie. The president of the Senate is granted an extra vote in the case of a tie and he has said that, if a tie happens, he will vote in favor of marriage equality.
  • HUGE NEWS: For those of you who said that Ricky Martin's coming out was too little too late and didn't have any impact... coming out frees you to say what you believe. He actually tweeted the following (and made #matrimoniogay a trending topic on Twitter last night):

    Let's go #Argentina ! The same rights with the same name for everyone #GAYMARIAGE #HumanRights #MatrimonioGay #DerechosHumanos 
  • As for marriage equality activists in Argentina, the LGBT Federation of Argentina (FALGBT), led by amazing LGBT rights activist Maria Rachid, has launched two of the most amazing and effective marriage equality ads I have ever seen.
First, a sober look at how the Catholic church opposed a divorce law in Argentina using the same arguments they use today to oppose marriage equality...

Then there is this utterly amazing ad shooting for the heart...

Just amazing, don't you think? In the meantime, it gets crazier...
  • One of the leading newspapers in Argentina, La Nación, recently ran an editorial opposing the marriage equality bill ("Adoption and homosexual unions", July 15, 2010). To back up their anti-gay arguments, they quote "North Americam research in the hands of experts in charge of behavioral studies at the University of South Carolina". They don't name names but, of course, the only expert from USC publishing such studies is none other than Mr. "Lift-My-Travel-Bags-Rent-Boy" George Rekers.
  • In the meantime, House Deputy Cynthia Hotton, a leading anti-gay legislator, posted a YouTube diatribe against marriage equality for the sake of "the children" and used Moby's "Porcelain" as a backround song.
  • Moby's reaction
Oh, some people have drawn my attention to the fact that a homophobic ad campaign is using 'porcelain' needless to say we didn't approve this,
Tonight, there is still no word as whether marriage equality will become law in Argentina or not.

One extra video tonight showing the "love" that religious fundamentalists in Argentina show us gays. From a previous anti-marriage equality rally, "Cumbio goes to Hell"...

Later this morning: The final vote count in the Argentinean senate...


Monday, July 12, 2010

Outrage in Spain: Man held in brutal murder of gay couple is set free after 4 years in prison

Photo: Julio Anderson Luciano and Isaac Ali Dani Pérez Triviño (l-r) who were brutaly murdered in Vigo, Spain on January of 2006.

Stunning news: On January 13th, 2006, Jacobo Piñero stabbed Julio Anderson Luciano and Isaac Ali Dani Pérez Triviño  to death 57 times.  The victims were a gay couple. He then threw clothing all around the apartment, poured gasoline over everything and set everything on fire. Firemen arrived in time to quickly put out the fire and, within hours, leads led to Piñero's arrest.

When the case finally came to trial last year, Piñero stood up in court and confessed to the murders but a jury accepted a gay panic defense and found him innocent of every single charge against him, including murder and arson. It was the presiding judge who then stepped in to 'correct an error' and found him guilty of setting the fire ("Outrage at aquittal of man who stabbed gay couple 57 times and set their bodies on fire", March 2, 2009).

On April 3rd, 2009, the judged sentenced Piñero to twenty years in prison, the maximum term allowed by the law.

The acquittal on murder charges considering the extreme violence and gruesome details of the attack, drew orldwide outrage with several rallies throughout Spain demanding justice. A few LGBT advocates in New York also gathered outside the Spanish embassy in New York City.

Today Piñero walked out of jail a free man ("Man accused in double homophobic crime, goes free", Público, July 13, 2010).

At issue was an ruling earlier this year by a higher court which actually annulled last year's verdict and ordered a new trial.

Spain's penal laws limit the maximum time that a person can be held in custody without charges to four years in prison. The court ruled that, since Piñero had been held in custody from the day he was arrested in 1996, he could not continue to be held in prison unless he was found guilty of a crime on a later date.

The court ordered Piñero to hand in his passport, recognizing that there was a risk he might try to leave the country, and required that he meet with authorities every single day until the next trial. But they also turned down a request by friends and family of the murdered couple to require that Piñero use an electronic ankle bracelet to pinpoint his whereabouts at all times.

A new trial in the brutal murder has been scheduled for September 16, 2010.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The first and final gay pride march

Next year you'll probably find me marching at the Heritage of Pride march down 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Perhaps with the Queer New York Bloggers contingent. I keep getting invited and turning them down because I'm never around for pride weekend in New York. At least during the last couple of years.  Then again, I might have marched in my last gay pride march ever.

Truth be told, I've felt a bit prided out the last few years.  I see a rainbow flag and I cringe.  The thought of hours and hours of commercially sponsored floats carrying a seemingly inexhaustible number of go-go boys and drag queens dancing to the same Lady Gaga song doesn't seem as fresh to me as when go-go boys and drag queens were dancing to Madonna way back.  And watching some of the Latino groups spend all that money on the glorious feathered costumes and elaborate floats breaks my heart when I know how hard they work for the money, if only to blow it on a couple of hours in the sun.

Don't get me wrong! Some of my best friends are go-go boys and drag queens! They are also from Latin America! It's just that when the New York City Department of Health does a float promoting crystal-meth addiction awareness and sees the need to put 20 go-go boys dancing around the float to call attention to the message, well, there is something really wrong with the world.

In other words, I have turned into an old gay geezer.

So when I tell you that I marched at a gay pride march a week ago Sunday and that it was an incredibly moving experience don't just take it with a grain of salt. It was a revelation...

I mean, it wasn't just ANY gay pride. It was the 13th annual gay pride in the city where I was born: Medellín, Colombia... and the first time I ever participated in it.

I mean, this is the city I left in the late 1990's when I didn't think it was possible to live an openly gay life. It wasn't that there weren't any gay people in Medellín at the time. I remember summer romances with two Colombian soldiers, one of whom offered me one of his hollow-point rifle bullets as a keepsake when he found out I was leaving (I refused it, thinking it would explode halfway through the trip back to the United States).

I mean, I was 20 at the time.

I mean, that's Calle 13's "Fiesta de Locos" blasting out of the speakers ---- and every single person singing it!

I mean...

OMG! Never in a million years would I have expected all this 'Glee'ness to happen in Medellín. I was enthralled.

The march was actually one of two gay pride marches in the city that day. This particular one was pulled together by Edisón Arboleda of the LGBT-rights organization Corporación El Otro.  It got off to a slow start and it took ages to make our way downtown, amidst huge sudden downpours and a loss of marchers.

But, as marchers made it over the Colombia Street bridge and into the mostly empty industrial area of downtown Medellín, the march truly turned into one huge party.

I know it might seem like any pride march anywhere in the world to you  but it sent chills down my spine.  It still does as I watch these clips.

A few things I noticed: Only a couple of commercial floats, police turning away a number of drunk soccer hooligans shouting homophobic slurs as a few drag queens watched them being taken away, a march where participants and spectators were allowed free movement instead of penning people in as they do in New York, young queer folk everywhere, a cute photographer from El Tiempo and, yes, Lady Gaga.

I also took a few photos (and so did my brother).  And that was my gay pride this year. How was yours?