Friday, November 30, 2007

World AIDS Day 2007

In the 26 years since scientists first spotted AIDS in America, millions of dollars have been poured into outreach efforts aimed at keeping young people clear of HIV, the virus that causes the disease.

But on the eve of United Nations World AIDS Day, a disturbing statistical fact has emerged in this country: The number of newly infected teens and young adults is suddenly on the rise.


And the question is, why?
.....

But there has been a recent, troubling spike in new infections among gay men, young and old alike. According to the CDC, the rate of new cases of HIV infection linked to male-male sex held steady at around 16,000 cases between 2001-2004, then suddenly jumped to 18,296 in 2005.
.....

"In gay magazines, you now see [ads with] buff, handsome men climbing mountains, with some kind of quote about how 'I'm not letting HIV get in my way,'" Johnston said. "It sends the message that you, too, can be hot, buff and handsome, even with HIV."

Chono-Helsley agreed. "It's always these bright, healthy vibrant young men in these ads," she said. That could spur young gay men to relax their guard and take more risks, thinking that if they do contract HIV, "I only have to take a pill," she said.

The reality of living with HIV in America is much different, however, even when medication is working. According to Johnston, the side effects of powerful HIV-suppressing drug cocktails include fat redistribution (including unsightly "humps"), insulin resistance, higher cholesterol, increased risks for heart disease, and dangerous liver toxicities.

There's also the fear that, someday, HIV will develop mutations that render these drugs useless, triggering the re-emergence of AIDS, she said.

Did you catch that? "In gay magazines, you now see [ads with] buff, handsome men climbing mountains." Do sites such as manhunt.net, gay.com, and others basically do the same thing? Are these sites helping AIDS spread?

How many times have you logged out of MySpace and seen an advertisement for manhunt.net? When you visit these sites, you’ll find pictures of naked men wanting nothing more than a “hookup.” These sites would not survive if people didn’t use them. What does this say about the value sexual relations told in our society today? How do we change it to help our community?


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

HRC playing "catch-up" with the "Wal-Mart issue"

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) appears to be playing catch-up with the “Wal-Mart issue.”

The Human Rights Campaign is giving Wal-Mart (WMT) a red "do not buy" rating in its new consumer guide, bestowing a lump of coal on the retail giant just in time for the holiday shopping season. Citing Wal-Mart's refusal to offer domestic partner benefits to its gay and lesbian workers, the HRC said Tuesday that the USA's biggest private employer has "more work to do in furthering equality." It advised gays and their supporters to shop elsewhere.

Wal-Mart rated a red 40 on a scale of 100, down from a yellow 65 in 2006. It was among 54 companies that scored 45 or lower in HRC's 2008 Corporate Equality index, which assigns ratings to 519 large companies.

Also in the red: Toys R Us, RadioShack (RSH) and AutoZone (AZO).

Wal-Mart rival Target (TGT) rated a "green" 80, meaning that "consumers should make every effort to support these businesses." Last year's guide was downloaded from the group's website (www.hrc.org/buyersguide) more than 250,000 times.


But, we covered this story back in July:

If you shop at Wal-Mart you can find the same (or better) prices at Meijer, K-Mart, Family Dollar, Kroger, or Save-A-Lot. Stop shopping at Wal-Mart! Forget about the so called "convenience" of "everything" being in one store, it is time for the gay community to stand their ground against Wal-Mart.Let us forget for a moment that this company destroys the "American Dream," exploits their employees, and contracts labor for less than $1.00 per hour in other countries.

Let us not forget that Sam Walton, Wal-Mart's founder sit on the Board of Directors of Winn-Dixie for nearly a decade (thereby learning the grocery business) and opened the first Supercenter (with groceries) less than a year after Winn-Dixie retired him. Let us not forget that Wal-Mart targets other stores to run them out of business: K-Mart, Winn-Dixie, Sloan's (Lexington), Rose's, Kroger, Toys "R" Us, Publix (Florida), Food Lion, A&P, Grand Union, Colonial/Big Star and Piggly Wiggly, and Target.

As it stands Wal-Mart remains the only national discount chain that does not offer partnership benefits (both Sears Holding Company and Target offer same-sex domestic partnership benefits). Wal-Mart also has the dubious distinction of being one of the few companies to ever pull back a GLBT initiative.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Last years protests; Thanksgiving

Have a great holiday everyone!

Let us not forget to avoid Wal-Mart. Remember the protests that happened there last year (
story), and Wal-Mart ultimately caved to their demands (read Wal-Mart shuns gay groups).

If you have not reviewed or signed-up to be part of our new
Kentucky Healthcare Equality initiative, please do so.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

London Editorial: When I meet my Maker

I couldn't resist posting an editorial from a newspaper in London sent to me by Dean Byrd, a member of Kentucky Equality Federation's Advisory Council:




I think that just about says it all (condemn what you don't understand or can't tolerate).

FYI to the author: I am a gay Christian, and when I meet my "maker" I will also smile, knowing I was made in his image.....I lived truthfully and never turned my back on anyone in need; I didn't judge people, and I fought my entire life for the liberties and freedoms of the persecuted.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Governor Fletcher's legacy and his final desperate acts to remain in office

With Governor Fletcher still lagging behind in the polls he resorted to posting the Ten Commandments in the Capital yesterday labeling himself “a man of values.” This is funny coming from Fletcher, a man who apparently has no care values of his own. Fletcher’s values consist of a crude calculation of how he can remain in office. His flip-flops on important issues are by now, legendary.

Fletcher began attacking the homosexual population of Kentucky soon after he was indicted to appeal to the right wing:

  • Intolerant Fletcher says that since Kentucky has a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, it also includes banning health insurance, inheritance, and hospital visitation rights to same-sex couples. Funny, I don’t recall those items being included on the 2004 Constitutional Amendment.
  • He refused to veto unconstitutional funding to the University of the Cumberlands, leading Kentucky Equality Federation to hold a protest outside the Governor's Mansion during the Governor's Annual Derby Breakfast (that brings approximately 15,000 people to Frankfort from around the nation).
  • Governor Fletcher also rescinded an executive order Governor Patton had established protecting LGBT people from discrimination in government.
  • Earlier this year Fletcher called the General Assembly into special session to (among other things) ban domestic partner benefits at Kentucky educational institutions even though he reappointed Regents to the Board that supported offering them.
  • His latest aggressive tactic against the gay population includes trying to “scare” voters into voting for him, asking them whether they "want a governor who'd like Kentucky to be another San Francisco."
Ernie, politicians can learn so many things from your world famous flounders. The legacy of the Fletcher Administration will be "what not to do." Hopefully, First Lady Glenna Fletcher gave a “heads up” to staff to begin packing for an evacuation of the Mansion.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

The "Gay Issue" to Governor Fletcher and the Kentucky GOP

According to today’s Herald Leader, the Republican Party of Kentucky and soon to be ex-Governor Fletcher called tens of thousands of voters since Friday asking them whether they "want a governor who'd like Kentucky to be another San Francisco."

But, that’s not all:


Then, last night, Fletcher's lieutenant governor candidate Robbie Rudolph echoed that to a crowd of more than 200 GOP faithful in Lexington. "Do you want a couple of San Francisco treats or do you want a governor?" he asked.

Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, called it Rudolph's "Rice-a-Roni speech."

I take genuine offense to the comments made by the Republican Party of Kentucky, Governor Fletcher, and running "mate." Their comments prove their hatred of homosexuals, and that they have no intention of allowing a “fair and equal Kentucky” so long as they are in office.

The Republicans, along with Fletcher, are at Battle Stations right now, with all hands on deck using buckets to pitch water out of a ship that is submerged.

We don’t want it to be like San Francisco here; just fair. We also want someone running the commonwealth who hasn’t been indicted, doesn’t think he’s above the law, and doesn’t flip-flop on issues.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Westboro Baptist Church ordered to pay $11 Million!

Many would call this justice:

The verdict against Fred Phelps and his daughters pleases Julie MacKenzie of Colorado, whose son's funeral was picketed by the hate group.

"I think it's great," MacKenzie said Wednesday. The November 2005 military funeral in Greeley for her 20-year-old son, Tyler MacKenzie, was targeted by Phelps' group.

"Our Constitution guarantees the right of free speech, but there's also a responsibility for that right," she said. "You've got to accept the consequences of your actions."


Kentucky is no stranger to the “Phelps Clan” (story). Phelps and the church first came to national attention when he organized a protest by his followers outside the 1998 funeral for Matthew Shepherd, the gay college student who was beaten to death in Wyoming.

Church members routinely demonstrate at the funerals of people with AIDS and most recently at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq.

The Kentucky House and Senate passed a law to restrict funeral picketing, a law later struck down in court after being challenged by the ACLU.