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Anderson Cooper 360: Blog Archive – Michigan attorney general defends employee’s right to blog – CNN.com blogs

Posted: October 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A painfully hypocritical double-standard is on display in Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox's office as he refuses to discipline assistant AG Andrew Shirvell for waging a bigoted campaign against the first openly gay president of the University of Michigan's student council. Mr. Shirvell has called the student "Satan's representative" and runs a blog where he posts pictures of the student with nazi insignia scrawled across his face.

A State Attorney General has legal grounds disciplining employees for engaging in "conduct unbecoming" of public officials. But while Cox rightfully defended Shirvell's actions under the First Amendment, he also called "conduct unbecoming" an "empty vessel," with no meaning. This would certainly shock Melissa Petro, a tenured teacher who may face the loss of her job for "conduct unbecoming" of her role after blogging about being a former sex worker.

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"It’s a good day," sex workers say in wake of Ontario court decision – Latest News Roundup

Posted: September 28th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Candian sex workers won a victory against anti-prostitution laws in Ontario today as provincial court struck down a number of key provisions in "Section 213(1)(c), which makes it illegal to communicate for the purposes of prostitution; Section 210, which makes it illegal to run a common bawdy house; and Section 212(1)(j), which makes it illegal to live off the avails of prostitution," according to a report at Xtra.ca.

Sex worker rights activists said they were pleased because the laws made it illegal for them to work indoors where they are safer. "While prostitution in itself is not illegal, just about everything related to it is illegal," Stacey Ashley notes in a report at CTV Winnipeg. While the government is "seriously considering" an appeal, Sex Professionals of Canada, plaintiffs in the case, said they would fight the appeal, and would start raising funds.

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Civil rights victory: DADT smacked down by judge in Maj. Margaret Witt case – National liberal | Examiner.com

Posted: September 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

A second legislative victory for gay rights was won as America's homophobic Don't Ask, Don't Tell law was again ruled unconstitutional. Despite the law's name, even if you're never asked and you never tell you can still lose your career in the military. That's what happened to Maj. Margaret Witt in 2006, whose case formed a legal precedent around DADT when Judge Ronald Leighton found her discharge legally binding. On Friday, however, "Judge Ronald Leighton ruled in favor of military nurse Maj. Margaret Witt, and said that she was constitutionally entitled to be reinstated to the military," Jean Williams reports.

"It has been an anti-noble lie that gays and lesbians are a threat to military morale," Williams writes, noting Leighton "looked into the case and focused on Maj. Witt’s individual record" instead of looking only at DADT myopically. Leighton's decision expressly opposes claims that gay service-members reduce unit morale or cohesion.

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On Faith Panelists Blog: The lady doth protest too much – Debra W. Haffner

Posted: September 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

"It doesn't surprise me to see attempts to control people's sexual lives emerge in Tea Party candidates' platforms," Debra Haffner writes at the Washington Post. Issues of sexual freedom have long been a cash cow for social conservatives. "I predict we will see more Tea Party candidates start playing into some conservatives' anxieties about all things sexual in the coming year."

So what are these sexual anxieties? Christine O'Donnell has the full package: "In a 1996 interview, she spoke out in an MTV documentary against masturbation, wrongly stating that the New Testament is against it. […] In 2002, she said that 'condoms will not protect you from AIDS.' In a 2006 interview, she said that homosexuals suffer from an identity disorder. A few weeks ago, she said that she opposes abortion except if the woman is going to die, in which case her family should decide which life to save."

That's what we call really, really big government.

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What’s With All the Emasculating Campaign Rhetoric? — Daily Intel

Posted: September 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

America's culture war between social conservatives trying to co-opt feminism to support anti-women policies and social progressives who think that's pretty low is back in full swing so it comes as no surprise that, in this year's midterm elections, many shoddy candidates are using gender-policing language prominently in their campaigns. Dan Amira compiles not 1, not 2, not 3, but 5 blatant national examples of emasculation rhetoric.

The sexist rhetoric is strongest, obviously, from the Tea Party favorites, such as Sarah Palin's endorsement of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer's for having the "cojones" that she thinks President Obama lacks (and somehow Palin is still against trans equality?), Carl Paladino's similar jab at Andrew Cuomo, and Christine O'Donnell's urging for her establishment Republican opponent Mike Castle to "get [his] man-pants on." Although only slightly more subtle than the blatant racism the Tea Party embodies, the sexist views are also clearly just under the surface.

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Carlos A. Ball: Why Bathrooms Are a Civil Rights Issue

Posted: September 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

What does the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the women's movement, and the Americans with Disabilities Act all have in common? Toilets! In a succinct and thought-provoking analysis, law professor Carlos A. Ball notes that in each "of these civil rights struggles, there were conservative critics who dismissed bathroom-related advocacy by minority groups as unnecessary and even silly." What's more, he points out that the very same pattern is playing out right now about one of the most important civil rights acts of our time: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

If enacted, ENDA would prohibit employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. So it should be unsurprising that Republican gubernatorial candidate for Massachusetts poo-pooed ENDA as "the bathroom bill." But there is a serious issue behind all this mocking and, as Mr. Ball illustrates, it's because bathrooms are so often on the front lines of civil rights struggles.

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AMERICABlog Gay: BREAKING: Judge rules DADT is unconstitutional

Posted: September 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips today said the US military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy has a "direct and deleterious effect" on military readiness after reviewing evidence in a 2 week long federal court case. Proving that the world is never black or white but shades of gray, the lawsuit was issued by the right-wing gay advocacy organization, the Log Cabin Republicans. Yes, the very same group whose Minnesota chapter distributed "Drill, Baby, Drill!" condoms in that state's Pride Parades. Good on them!

Judge Phillips' 86 page decision ruled DADT violated both the 1st and 5th amendments to the Constitution, citing the defendant's failure to meet the Witt standard. She also issued an immediate injunction halting its enforcement. The Department of Justice will have an opportunity to appeal.

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SPOTLIGHT: Lifting the lid on Project Acumen’ | An Anthology of English Pros

Posted: August 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Recently, project Acumen, by Association of Chief Police Officers in the UK, put together a report called "Setting the Record," which sought to discover how many sex workers, and particularly migrant sex workers, in the UK were "vulnerable" or "trafficked." Naturally, there were immediately headlines all over the Internet saying things like "1 in 10 Sex Workers Trafficked," with the number of trafficked workers being reported as anything from 2,600 to 12,000. Because, of course, most media sources want to get something published more than they want to read through appendices. Stephen Patterson of An Anthology of English Pros, however, did read through the whole thing. What he has to say about it not very surprising to us at Kink On Tap, but I bet it would surprise the heck out of a lot of the people reading the mainstream coverage of the report.

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Wikileaks founders arrested for rape (EXPRESSEN)

Posted: August 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

It's no real surprise. When an individual becomes dangerous enough to a group in power, that group will try to discredit the individual in any way possible. That appears to be what happened to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was arrested in absence (not physically detained) in Stockholm, Sweden, for rape allegations put forth by two unnamed women between the ages of 20 and 30, according to a report by the Swedish-language tabloid Expressen. Assange is the most public figure in numerous international scandals, the most recent of which is the largest US military secrets leak in history.

The rape allegations were announced after Assange gave a lecture in Sweden about the "victims of war," including "truth." There were few details released and police have stated only that there is "probable cause" for the arrest, but no evidence yet.

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Update: Sure enough, Expressen’s headline is now spreading to international news outlets, including CNN. Considering that election fever is just starting to infect America, this story, which may very well capture headlines for quite a while, seems well-timed to shift the focus of public debate away from the real issues—you know, that whole war thing—and onto Assange’s personal sexuality. A tried-and-true political tactic: when you can’t win, misdirect!

Update: Just one day after the charges were filed, Swedish police have canceled the arrest on Julian Assange and have withdrawn the charge of rape, according to a report by Charles Hoskinson. However, a second charge, sexual molestation, still stands. Clearly, sensitive issues are at play here so we may never know the truth, and the suspicious timing should raise eyebrows. That said, regardless of whether there was a rape or not, I hope that the Swedish police followed due legal process.

Indonesia Botches Porn Blockade, Shuts Down Regular Sites – XBIZ.com

Posted: August 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Back in 2008, to the cries of "Thank you, God!" Indonesian parliament members passed a draconian anti-pornography law. Last month, they announced their (now legal) intentions of blocking all online pornography during the holy month of Ramadan, when the religious are expected to refrain from any immoral acts, including viewing porn. (Only during that one month, I wonder?)

Unsurprisingly, the country-wide filter ran into a snag as 30 websites, including news portals, were also blocked—unintentionally, according to Indonesian Information Minister's spokesman Gatot Dewa Broto. "The speed of the operation was so huge, we hit the wrong ones," he explained, but touted that the operation had successfully shut down 80% of its intended target. The blockade is being implemented with the cooperation of the country's 300 major Internet service providers.

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