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Law.com – Judge OKs Law Requiring Pornographers to Keep Age Records

Posted: July 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

A challenge to amendments in federal law that requires anyone who posts sexual imagery to keep records of models, broadly known as "2257 record keeping requirements," was struck down by US District Judge Michael M. Baylson this week. The challenge was brought to court by The Free Speech Coalition and backed by the ACLU, the EFF, and the American Center for Law and Justice, who complained that millions of Americans who behave flirtatiously on social networking cites "could now be prosecuted for failing to keep extensive records of their own age and identity." The plaintiffs argued that "consenting adults have the right to engage in such sexually explicit expression…and the law would chill that speech," Shannon P. Duffy reports.

In defense of the statute, Judge Baylson "said the government has promised that it will not target such expression and must be taken at its word." The plaintiffs are not so confident the government should be so trusted.

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Federal judge blocks elimination of domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian Arizona state employees | San Diego Gay & Lesbian News

Posted: July 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Federal judge blocks elimination of domestic partner benefits for gay and lesbian Arizona state employees | San Diego Gay & Lesbian News

Arizona, in its shining, enlightened governance, has been temporarily blocked from enacting "a provision eliminating domestic partner health benefits for gay state employees…while retaining spousal health benefits for heterosexual workers" introduced in September "as part of a last-minute budget deal." In his ruling, Judge John W. Sedwick wrote, "there is 'an inherent inequality' in allowing some employees to participate fully in the State's health plan, while expecting other employees to rely on other sources, such as private insurance or Medicaid."

State attorney Charles Grube argued "maintaining the same benefits for gay employees that their heterosexual co-workers will continue to receive would endanger other state services." Y'know, just like how the Catholic Church can't offer benefits for anybody if gays can marry.

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AVN – All Charges Dismissed Against Stagliano and Companies

Posted: July 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

In the case of John "Buttman" Stagliano vs. The United States of America, all 7 8 counts of obscenity charged against Stagliano (a pornographer, husband, and father) have been dismissed under Rule 29 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Judge Richard J. Leon described the prosecution's evidence as "woefully inadequate" after the federal government's star witness made a liar out of prosecutor Pamela Satterfield, the judge, or himself.

Plainly, this means the government never met the burden of proof, they never had a case, and they wasted American taxpayer's money on a 2-year investigation and a trial catering to misguided anti-porn activists' wet dreams. But if you think they'll stop their crusade, remember they're still getting bills passed through the back door. (Pun intended.)

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French National Assembly approves ban on face veils – latimes.com

Posted: July 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on French National Assembly approves ban on face veils – latimes.com

In what I hope will be judged by history as one France's most idiotic moves ever, "The French lower house of Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a ban on wearing face-covering veils in a public place," Alison Culliford reports. "[T]he ban would affect only an estimated 1,900 of the millions of Muslim women in France," like Kenza Drider, an outspoken critic who said, "The government can accept my decision or not, I am not an outlaw. If I’m fined by the police, I will take it to human rights in the name of my freedom."

French politicians are calling the ban a victory for "values of freedom against all the oppressions which try to humiliate individuals." Y'know, like the freedom to choose one's own clothing. If the new ban survives a test of constitutionality, wearing a veil (a niqab) and "covering one's face in a public place will be subject to a fine of about $185 or community service."

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Groups Sue Mass. Over Newly Expanded Obscenity Law : NPR

Posted: July 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Groups Sue Mass. Over Newly Expanded Obscenity Law : NPR

Won't somebody please think of the children? That's the reasoning behind a hastily-drafted, newly passed Massachusetts law at the center of a lawsuit filed by the "ACLU, The Association of American Publishers, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and other groups," according to the Associated Press. After a "ruling in a case in February…found that the state's obscenity law didn't apply to instant messages," this new law "added instant messages, text messages, e-mail and other electronic communications to the old law," criminalizing any such communiqué that may be "harmful to minors."

The lawsuit "argues that the changes amount to 'a broad censorship law that imposes severe content-based restrictions' on the dissemination of constitutionally protected speech," including "information about contraception, pregnancy, sexual health, literature and art." Haven't we seen this before?

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Closed Court, Miller Time, and Joey Silvera’s Solidarity – Reason Magazine

Posted: July 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Closed Court, Miller Time, and Joey Silvera’s Solidarity – Reason Magazine

An important trial is pitting a politically outspoken pornographer, John Stagliano, against a gauntlet of questionable legal ethics. "The case against Stagliano concerns the selling of movies performed by consenting adults to entertain adult DVD viewers who have chosen to watch these films," Richard Abowitz reports. Using taxpayer money to get obscenity convictions for consensual erotic labor is bad enough, but Judge Richard Leon "is putting great effort into limiting public access to how justice is being administered in this case. […T]he strategic placement of monitors outside public sightlines reeks of the abandonment of the presumption of innocence." The case is being prosecuted with familiar anti-porn activist rhetoric. If Stagliano's relatively tame productions can earn years in prison, don't think you're safe from such anti-porn zealots.

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FCC indecency rule struck down by appeals court – latimes.com

Posted: July 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on FCC indecency rule struck down by appeals court – latimes.com

"In a sharp rebuke of the Bush-era crackdown on foul language on broadcast television and radio, a federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down the government's near-zero-tolerance indecency policy as a violation of the 1st Amendment protection of free speech," Jim Puzzanghera and Meg James report. The NY State 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals "reversed the aggressive stance the [FCC] took starting in 2004 that found even a slip of the tongue that got by network censors was a violation" and "said that policy on so-called fleeting expletives was 'unconstitutionally vague' and created a 'chilling effect' on the programming that broadcasters chose to air."

Even Fox Broadcasting Co., the lead plaintiff against the government, praised the decision, while Democratic FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps said the ruling was "an anti-family decision." The case may wind up at the Supreme Court, but experts are unsure of the ultimate outcome. Personally, I say fuck all that censorship shit. Period.

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Update: As the FCC isn’t happy with the ruling, they’ve asked the court to reconsider, according to a report in the New York Times. We hoped the current administration was less anti-First Amendment. Perhaps that hope was misplaced.


End of gay teen Web site sparks privacy concerns | Privacy Inc. – CNET News

Posted: July 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on End of gay teen Web site sparks privacy concerns | Privacy Inc. – CNET News

User profiles from the now-defunct XY magazine, which catered to gay teens, are at the center of a serious privacy controversy. Declan McCullagh reports, "In February 2010, XY founding editor Peter Ian Cummings filed a personal bankruptcy petition in federal court[…]. The only significant asset Cummings listed is the 'customer list, personal data, and editorial and back issue files of XY Mag and XY.com.' Cummings says he believes that giving the information to his creditors violates California privacy law and the FTC Act, which prohibits deceptive business practices."

Nevertheless, creditors want this information collected, potentially violating the privacy of up to 1 million gay or questioning teens who subscribed to XY.com. Revealing their information could out them to parents or others. While the question of what to do with a bankrupt Internet company is not new, this is the first time data as sensitive as identifiable details of GLBTQ youth is up for grabs to the highest bidder.

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‘What Would You Do If a Gay or Lesbian Were In Your Shower?’ and Other Pentagon Survey Questions – Political Punch

Posted: July 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘What Would You Do If a Gay or Lesbian Were In Your Shower?’ and Other Pentagon Survey Questions – Political Punch

The Pentagon angered GLBT groups by spending $4.5 million on a survey they called "insulting" and "derogatory." In the survey, questions are "repeatedly phrase[d]…in terms of 'if' the repeal happens," Jake Tapper writes, despite Obama's announcements that the only question is when.

One "question asks troops 'If [DADT] is repealed and you had onbase housing and a gay or lesbian Service member was living with a same sex partner onbase, what would you most likely do?' Options range from 'I would get to know them like any other neighbors' to 'I would probably move offbase.'" Servicemembers United, a lobbying group, says "In questions about how the belief that a coworker was gay or lesbian impacted the unit's morale, the 'question and its accompanying answer choices…suggest a negative impact on morale. No options are given to express a belief in a positive impact on morale.'"

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Ugandan Gay Activist Found Beheaded :: EDGE Boston

Posted: July 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ugandan Gay Activist Found Beheaded :: EDGE Boston

This week, "some in Uganda are not waiting for the [Anti-Homosexuality 2009] bill to pass into law: a priest has vanished after delivering a sermon urging compassion for gays, and a young GLBT equality activist, who had also disappeared, has been discovered dead—his head severed from his body and thrown down a latrine." Although mainstream US media outlets have been silent on this issue, "[o]ne or more suspects had been arrested before the head’s discovery, according to a news report that has subsequently been posted at YouTube. The report noted that 'blood stained clothing' was discovered along with the head."

Killan Melloy reports, "The dismembered head of Pasikali Kashusbe, who, together with his partner—referred to only as "Abbey"—worked with GLBT equality group Integrity Uganda." Make absolutely no mistake: such horrors are partly the result of American conservatives' spewing hatred.

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Update: SayenCroWolf points us to this retraction by Box Turtle Bulletin: “We’ve worked hard at BTB in establishing our credibility, and I believe that a key component of that is also to maintain an atmosphere of transparency and accountability when we get it wrong. Along the way, I’ve learned that some sources on the Internet are trustworthy, and others are not worth the electricity it takes to power their servers.” It sounds like there’s still some mystery over what happened in Uganda but, either way, I’m really glad to see how quickly reputable sources can self-correct themselves when they receive new information. Good on you, BTB, and thanks to SayenCroWolf for the stunningly fast pointer, too!

Update: xMech points us to an even fuller explanation from Box Turtle Bulletin. Thanks!