We appear to be entering our annual December GLBT news lacuna, when juicy legal and political stories mysteriously vanish from my email, to be replaced by tidbits and trivia. Why does this always happen? Maybe it‚Äôs me.
But maybe not. Take a look at the top stories from a ‚Äúgay lesbian‚ÄĚ Google News search this morning (Wednesday).
‚ÄúGay Lesbian and Transgender Rights in Africa Remains a Slow Process.‚ÄĚ No, it‚Äôs not tidbits or trivia, but it‚Äôs not exactly surprising. I‚Äôd be more interested in a story titled: ‚ÄúGay Lesbian and Transgender Rights Catching Fire in Africa!‚ÄĚ
Number two from the Canadian press is: ‚ÄúGays and Lesbians need safe place to get help for substance abuse.‚ÄĚ Uh huh. Personally, I feel very comfortable asking for assistance in my local Twin Liquors store.
The third one concerns gay and lesbian consumers of American-made luxury cars in the Netherlands. Four, from the Times of India, reports on the rise of gay and lesbian parents. Five discusses a five-year plan to reduce violence against gays in New South Wales, and we finally find a hard news story in eighth position, where we learn that the Jefferson County (Kentucky) Board of Education voted 4-3 to ‚Äúextend employment, discrimination and harassment protection to gay, lesbian and bisexual workers.‚ÄĚ
I think it‚Äôs great. But for us non-Kentuckians, it definitely falls in the tidbit category.
So how does one compose a 2,000-word news column without the key ingredients? Much as a fine chef concocts a gourmet feast out of canned sardines, rice-a-roni and rotting vegetables, we must reach into the back of our news cabinets and use a little imagination.
Say It‚Äôs So, Trent!
But first, I do have one piece of gossip for you! Nevermind that it is likely not true, it is totally unsubstantiated, it comes from a blogger with a history of getting things wrong, and his main source is a reported plagiarist. That said, the Internet rumor mill is linking Trent Lott with a gay escort, suggesting that the veteran Mississippi Senator is retiring in the middle of his term in order to avoid a Larry Craig-esque scandal.
The blog in question is Big Head DC, authored by Rob Capriccioso, who earlier posted an erroneous report that Sam Donaldson‚Äôs phone number was in the DC Madam‚Äôs little black book. Maybe that was Rob‚Äôs only mistake ever, but anyway. This time, Rob has been in contact with a San Antonio rent boy who goes by the name of Benjamin Nicholas. According to the emails that Rob has made public, Rob contacted Benjamin on a tip and asked him if he had vacationed in the same location as Lott on one or two occasions.
Instead of blowing him off, so to speak, Benjamin allegedly replied: ‚ÄúTrent is going through his fair share of scrutiny right now, and I don‚Äôt want to add to it. All I can say at this point is ‚Äėno comment.‚Äô It‚Äôs the professional thing for me to do.‚ÄĚ
Um, actually. The professional thing to do is say: ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt know what you‚Äôre talking about. I‚Äôve never met Trent Lott.‚ÄĚ Or even better, ‚ÄúWho is Trent Lott?‚ÄĚ
When pressed, Benjamin told Rob: ‚ÄúYes, I was contacted by Gawker this morning. [Gawker blogger Nick] Denton is a friend of mine. He‚Äôs hot to get an exclusive interview about the possible relationship between the two of us, but I politely declined. As I said before, Lott has quite a bit on his plate right now, and I don‚Äôt really want to add fuel to the embers.‚ÄĚ
Then, after Rob posted his expose, Benjamin wrote back: ‚ÄúSenator Lott and I have no current affiliation with one another. I‚Äôm sure he would appreciate no further scrutiny. There‚Äôs no story here Rob.‚ÄĚ
No current affiliation? Is Benjamin a moron or does he really think these winking denials do anything but promote the story? Eventually, Benjamin, who also has a blog, put up this statement on his own site: ‚ÄúIt looks like a Washington DC-based blog called BigHeadDC is making claim that there was (or is) a working relationship between myself and Senator Trent Lott. There are falsely pieced together quotes that serve no purpose other than to sensationalize a completely fabricated scoop. I will continue to offer a great sense of confidentiality to the people I see. I have not, nor have I ever seen or had contact with Senator Lott. It‚Äôs as simple as that. It never happened.‚ÄĚ
Meanwhile, word has it that Benjamin has stolen pieces by other writers and posted them as his own work online, a detail that if true, does not speak well of the man. And finally, do you remember when Hustler publisher Larry Flynt offered a million bucks to anyone who had solid evidence of hypocritical shenanigans from celebrity conservatives? Well, in view of the Lott gossip, Hustler announced the following:
‚ÄúHustler magazine has received numerous inquiries regarding the involvement of Larry Flynt and Hustler in the resignation of Trent Lott. Senator Lott has been the target of an ongoing Hustler investigation for some time now, due to confidential information that we have received.‚ÄĚ
Woah! What does that mean?
Bend Me, Shape Me, Anyway You Want Me
Doncha love it?
Speaking of disgraced Republican Senators, there is a talking Larry Craig action doll available online, that sounds like the gift for the man who has everything. The 12-inch figurine is dressed in a T-shirt that reads: ‚ÄúI am not gay.‚ÄĚ When you press his little button, the toy proclaims: ‚ÄúThank you all very much for coming out today. I will read a statement. ‚ÄėI am not gay. I never have been gay‚Äô‚ÄĚ Oh, and the Craig doll has bendable limbs for easy posing.
Here‚Äôs how the vendor, Stupid.com, puts it: ‚ÄúSenator Larry Craig is having a bad year - In June he was arrested for Lewd Conduct after hitting on an undercover police officer in an airport Men‚Äôs Room. In September he resigned from the Senate, then in October decided NOT to resign. AND NOW HE IS A TALKING DOLL!
‚ÄúWe‚Äôd feel sorry for the guy if he wasn‚Äôt so.... to use our favorite word... STUPID!‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs s steal at $34.99.
Speaking of shopping, you should know that there are good places to shop and bad places to shop. The Human Rights Campaign has a whole list of bad places and bad products; evil places like Wal-Mart, Toys R Us and Auto Zone, where gay and lesbian employees languish in a haze of workplace discrimination and may not insure their domestic partners. (Sorry darling. You‚Äôre not getting the spark plugs. Will diamond earrings do?)
Nearly 200 companies, by contrast, received a perfect ‚Äú100‚ÄĚ score on HRC‚Äôs 2008 Corporate Equality Index, and thus we are given the green light to purchase their offerings. For some reason, the HRC Web site keeps knocking me off when I attempt to research those companies, but by all means go see for yourself.
Meanwhile, Focus on the Family has its own list of retailers who have substituted the generic ‚Äúholidays‚ÄĚ for the word ‚ÄúChristmas.‚ÄĚ Yes, it‚Äôs the War on Christmas, joined by dozens of America‚Äôs leading companies, including the Gap, Lane Bryant, Eddie Bauer, and the winner of this year‚Äôs ‚ÄúChristmas Avoidance Award,‚ÄĚ Pier 1 Imports. I have nothing against the use of the C-word, but on principle I plan to frequent the fine stores that have earned the enmity of the insidious Bible thumpers over in Colorado Springs.
I guess I better check their rankings in the HRC ‚ÄúBuying for Equality‚ÄĚ guide before I do anything. Or maybe I‚Äôll just screw em all and get talking Larry Craig action figures for all my friends.
Transitioning Out of HRC
While we‚Äôre on the subject of HRC, I see that two transgender members of the HRC Business Council have resigned in protest of the group‚Äôs willingness to support a gay-only nondiscrimination bill in Congress. Donna Rose and Jamison Green dropped off the Council last Tuesday, citing ‚Äúthe lack of credibility that HRC has with the transgender community at large, and HRC‚Äôs apparent lack of commitment to healing the breach it has caused.‚ÄĚ
And by the way, I‚Äôve seen no action on the Employment Nondiscrimination Act in the Senate, have you? The weak version of the bill passed the House in early November after triggering a storm of intra-community controversy. And to what end? Time will tell.
In other trans news, Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm has issued an executive order adding gender identity to discrimination protections offered to state employees. And transman Andrew Gomez has been voted Homecoming King at Pasadena City College.
OK. My news list is getting a little thin. Want to know what I‚Äôve got left?
I knew I could count on your enthusiasm!
First, in Rhode Island, pro-gay progressive candidate Frank Ferri won a special election to fill the Congressional seat of former Rep. Peter Ginaitt. Yay!
Second, the Virginia man who had a vanity license plate that read ‚ÄúPOOFTER‚ÄĚ has won his battle with the state DMV, and will be allowed to keep his POOFTER plates. Hurrah! The DMV had threatened to pull the plates under the theory that the quaint Britishism was a derogatory slur against gay men. And since when does Virginia care about the psychological well being of its gay male drivers?
By the way, Mr. POOFTER, aka David Phillips, is reportedly a former trick of Larry Craig‚Äôs.
I have a story about an FBI investigation into a death threat against Jerry Falwell by gay activists. The investigation found no evidence of a serious plot. Hence, I found no reason to pursue the item. I also could not find a gay angle to the Labour victory in Australia, although it‚Äôs nice that conservative John Howard is about to be replaced as Prime Minister by the far less conservative Kevin Rudd.
And in U.S. Supreme Court non-news, the justices have declined to review a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that turned thumbs down on a Bible display in a Houston area courthouse. That‚Äôs good news for those of us who gag on having our mouths forced open so our throats may be stuffed with blatant Christian paraphernalia. I don‚Äôt even mind the occasional cross or seasonal creche. But if I recall correctly, this display was an unobtrusive tribute to a local businessman, up until some fanatic in charge decided to spruce it up, put a light in it to illustrate the Bible and make a big deal out of the damn thing. That‚Äôs when local secular humanists decided to object, and that‚Äôs why the courts ruled in their favor.
Finally, I have a piece from 365Gay.com out of Pal Beach, Florida (of course I mean Palm Beach, but I like the typo). At any rate, the powers that be at Palm Beach Community College have decided to withhold staff domestic partner benefits, but have initiated pet insurance for all staff starting next year. As of Jan. 8, employees can insure their cats for $15 to $18 a month, and cover their dogs for $22 to $28.
According to the newswire, Pal Beach benefits are not subsidized by the college, but paid for by the staff. Hence domestic partner benefits would not come out of the college budget, but would simply provide partners with the opportunity to lower their heath care rates by diving into the Palm Beach Community College insurance pool. In other words, the college trustees had no reason whatsoever to reject partner health insurance. None.
As for the pet program, it just adds insult to injury.