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Maine Congressman and Gubernatorial Candidate Announces He is Gay

November 5th, 2013 Comments off
Image via Facebook.

Image via Facebook.

Maine Congressman Mike Michaud who is challenging Maine’s Governor Paul LePage announced that he is gay. Despite running in over a dozen elections, the representative said that his sexuality has never been questioned. “I ran for office 17 times and it’s never been an issue. However, someone or some group definitely tried to make it an issue in this campaign, and I decided to put it right out there on the table,” he told the AP. The 58-year-old has kept such a tight lip on his private life that not even his mother was aware of his orientation. Hoping to silence what he called “whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls,” Michaud came out publicly in an op-ed piece. “It was a difficult decision to tell my sister and my mother,” Michaud said. His announcement may be ultimately help his campaign by attracting more liberal voters concerned about both his “blue dog” image and his votes on abortion, according to the AP. This announcement may also see the influx of donations from gay rights groups. The coming out now brings the total of gay and lesbian congressmen to seven and only one senator, while there are currently no openly gay governors.

Air Safety Erodes Due to Government Shutdown

October 3rd, 2013 Comments off
Image via Passport

Image via Passport

The government shutdown is certainly putting a damper on travel plans. Not only has the shutdown forced the temporary closure of several National Park Service-run landmarks and national museums, but it has rendered air travel unsafe, as nearly one-third of the Federal Aviation Administration employees have been furloughed as a result of the political standoff. This mass furlough includes nearly 3,000 aviation safety inspectors responsible for ensuring that airlines maintain safely functioning planes and adhere to federal regulations. “There is no one doing this job now,” Kori Blalock Keller, a spokesperson for Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union, told Forbes. “A lot of times, our inspectors catch little things and correct them before that plane takes off again,” he added. In the meantime, airlines will be policing their own operations.

While FAA officials note that there should be little notable change in Transportation Security Administration and air traffic control operations, many of these employees are working without pay and several air traffic control trainers and other vital support staff specialists have been furloughed. “This is akin to a surgeon performing an operation without any staff to prep the room, clean the equipment or provide support during the surgery,” Paul Rinaldi, President of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association said in a statement.

“Safety is our top priority,” the FAA announced in a recent statement, “If the furlough extends longer than a few days, we will incrementally begin to recall specific employees back to work to meet continuing safety needs.” That awaits to be seen. In the meantime, airline passengers lives are at risk.

No Pay for Congress Until They Fund The Government

October 1st, 2013 Comments off
Photo Art by RCA

Photo Art by RCA

Are the Republicans holding America hostage until they can get their way? This is un-American, and harmful to the country. They must be held accountable for their actions. They need to fund the government now. Until they do, they should not be allowed to leave the Capitol building. And until the 800,000 furloughed workers get paid, Congress should not be paid!

Enough is enough, America will not be held hostage by these thugs in Washington who call themselves Congressmen.

Tell them what you think. Here is a link to their phone numbers. Call them today and tell them to “Stop Holding America hostage!”

US Government Shutdown Will Impact Travelers

September 27th, 2013 Comments off

 

Image via PASSPORT

Image via PASSPORT

Another day, another government shutdown.

Congress is struggling to pass a federal budget before October 1st, the date on which the government would effectively shut down unless measures are taken to enable its continued operations sans budget.

A new fiscal budget year starts on the first of October. Lacking an approved budget, Congress usually steps in with a temporary spending plan to allow the government to continue its work. This has not yet happened.

If it doesn’t happen in the next few days, a third of government workers will be on mandatory furlough as of October 1st. This means headaches and delays of all sorts, but “the closure of national parks, all 19 Smithsonian museums in Washington, and US consulates around the world” will have the most direct impacts on frequent travelers as reported by Travel Mole. 

Senate Approves First Openly Gay Circuit Court Judge In History

September 24th, 2013 Comments off
Screen Cap via CSPAN2 via Buzzfeed.

Screen Cap via CSPAN2 via Buzzfeed.

Today the United States Senate made history by voting 98 to 0 to confirm Todd Hughes to serve as a judge on the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The vote, makes him the first openly gay person to serve as a federal appellate judge. President Obama nominated Hughes, who is currently a Deputy Director in the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice, in February and his nomination was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in July by a voice vote. “Judge Hughes is a remarkably qualified jurist who has served his country tirelessly, and today that commitment to service made history,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “As an openly gay man takes to the federal appellate court bench for the very first time, barriers to achievement for the next generation of LGBT young people are crumbling every day.” Hughes graduated from Duke University School of Law and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Robert B. Krupansky on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.The Federal Circuit is based in Washington, D.C. and, uniquely among federal appeals courts, has nationwide jurisdiction in a variety of subject areas, including international trade, government contracts, patents, trademarks, certain money claims against the United States government, federal personnel, veterans’ benefits, and public safety officers’ benefits claims.

Thousands Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s Historic March

August 28th, 2013 Comments off
Obama Speaking. Screen Shot via YouTube.

Obama Speaking. Screen Shot via YouTube.

President Barack Obama gave the keynote speech atop the Lincoln Memorial to thousands of people marching to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic march on Washington where he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. The president discussed how far the nation has come in terms of civil rights and equality since that late-August day in 1963, but also how much still needs to be done to reflect King’s idealized world. “They did not die in vain,” he said. ‘Their victory was great. But we would dishonor those heroes as well to suggest that the work of this nation is somehow complete. The arc of the moral universe may bend towards justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own. To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency.” Famous faces such as Oprah Winfrey, Jamie King, and Al Sharpton appeared on stage and Leann Rimes and Natalie Grant both gave performances.

Another riveting speech came from former-president Bill Clinton who told the cheering audience “A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than buy an assault weapon…It is time to stop complaining and put our shoulders against the stubborn gates holding the American people back…We must push open those stubborn gates… While racial divides persist, the whole American landscape is littered with the dashed hopes of all races.”

Yesterday in a radio interview Obama commented on the current gay-rights moment. “Because they marched, America became more free and more fair – not just for African Americans, but for women and Latinos, Asians and Native Americans; for Catholics, Jews, and Muslims; for gays, for Americans with a disability. America changed for you and for me.” [DM]

Obama’s speech after the jump…

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Bradley Manning Will Face 35 Years in Prison

August 21st, 2013 Comments off
Image via Facebook.

Image via Facebook.

Whistle-blower Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was famously detained in isolation for long periods of time, has finally received his sentencing. Facing nearly two-dozen charges for releasing what is believed to be the largest leak of classified information in US history, Manning will serve 35 years in prison out of a possible 90. While this doesn’t seem like the best news, Manning, if he were convicted of aiding the enemy—which he was cleared of—could have easily faced life in prison.

Washington Post has a brilliant graphic breaking down Manning’s sentencing. 

GetEQUAL Texas Issues Travel Alert to San Antonio

August 20th, 2013 Comments off
Image via voteelisachan.com

Image via voteelisachan.com

GetEQUAL Texas has sent out a call to action against the city of San Antonio today for failing to provide a non-discrimination ordinance that would protect LGBT travelers from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

According to GetEQUAL: “Despite investing significant funding into its tourist industry, the City of San Antonio has continued to postpone a vote on this important non-discrimination ordinance. Although the San Antonio City Council has expressed an interest in revising the city ordinances to prohibit discrimination against LGBT travelers in public accommodations (i.e. hotel stays, restaurant visits, etc.), city officials have repeatedly delayed a vote on the ordinance amendments and those who support discrimination against LGBT people—such as City Councilwoman Elisa Chan—have been very vocal in their opposition.”

The call to action comes on the heels of a leaked recording of San Antonio Councilwoman Elisa Chan calling gays and lesbians “disgusting” when discussing a vote on the ordinance. “This is my philosophy, guys,” she says. “Whatever you want to do in your bedroom is none of my business, but do not impose your view on other people, especially becoming policy … because personally, I think it’s just disgusting just to even think about.”

 

First Openly Gay Man to Run for Political Office Dies

August 20th, 2013 Comments off
Image via Nate Gowdy via HuffPo.

Image via Nate Gowdy via HuffPo.

The first openly gay man to run for political office, Jose Julio Sarria, passed away yesterday. Before Harvey Milk, Sarria, ran for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961 where he was ultimately defeated, though, his campaign made history. Sarria, who was best known around San Frnacisco as Empress Jose I, The Widow Norton, was a colorful figure around the Bay Area. After taking the title of Empress he instated the Imperial Court System. Stuart Milk, Harvey Milk’s nephew wrote on Facebook saying: “He paved the way for my uncle, Harvey Milk, to run for public office by being the first openly gay man to put his name on the 1961 ballot and was right there to support Harvey’s first campaign in 1973.” [HuffPo]

 

Antwerp Belgium’s ‘To Russia with Love’ Kiss-In Sends Powerful Message to Russia

August 13th, 2013 Comments off
Photo by Passport.

Photo by Joseph Pedro.

It was the closing weekend of the World Out Games in Antwerp, Belgium where thousands of LGBT (and straight) athletes came to the Flemish city to compete, cheer, have fun, and party. And while the same week, a human rights conference was also held, the games were more jovial than political. That was until flyers quickly began being distributed calling for action against Russia. It read: “The laws that recently have been passed in Russia against the promotion of gay lifestyle condone the bullying of and violence towards LGBTQ people in an unprecedented way. This has to stop! People are being imprisoned for being who they are and for standing up for their friends and family.”

The flyers, called for a kiss-in and with athletes from over 20 countries, it wasn’t hard convincing people to meet up Friday evening in front of the country’s Russian embassy. A couple hundred men, women, and even children arrived under clear-blue skies on the posh embassy street to either swap saliva or (for those there alone: ahem—me) stand in solidarity. Members of teams from Mexico to Russia (who had a nice-sized delegation in attendance) came out as well as government officials like the Vice Mayor of Antwerp Philip Haylen and the organizer of St. Petersburg Pride.

When the music began, the crowd smooched and a powerful sense of unity was shown through loving eyes and wet lips. We all tied ribbons to the gates of the embassy and many waited around. Maybe to show more support, or maybe to find someone else to lock lips with. One can only hope, though, that next year, at the games in Sochi, all nationalities, races, religions, and sexual orientations will feel as welcomed and accepted as those here felt at the third-annual Out Games.

Gallery of photos after the jump…

Read more…