Thursday, August 28, 2014

Student Fired From University Job Last Year After Coming Out Says Things Have Changed: 'Life Is Absolutely Fantastic'

Last year, Stephen Lovegrove was fired from his position as a resident assistant at Charleston Southern University after coming out. He had been inspired by Macklemore's performance of "Same Love" at the 2013 VMA's to spread a message of acceptance as someone both gay and Christian; when the school found out about a series of videos he had created about the subject, he was subject to immediate discrimination. 

One year later and Stephen's quality of life is on the mend. 

GLAAD reports:

Earlier this week, Stephen sent GLAAD a one-year update, noting how much his life has changed for the better after leaving Charleston Southern University. He writes:
One year later, I am happy to report that my life is in a very different place. I am at a new university that is truly diverse, and absolutely loving it. Actually, I’m the director of Safe Zones, a program we have to create a more inclusive school for LGBTQ students. I also host a YouTube talk show and have spoken with lots of different guests about issues of sexuality and spirituality. Best of all, I get to volunteer with Human Rights Campaign in a program with a youth center helping homeless LGBTQ youth in my city. And I’m in talks for a new independent reality show portraying characters who are young queer individuals grappling with love and spirituality in their college years. 
Life is absolutely fantastic. :D I am still speaking out about employment discrimination and other issues faced by the queer community. My story always gets people attention and helps them understand all the work that still needs to be done. We are all in this movement together.
MTV also did a follow-up interview with Stephen about his life now, the initiatives he feels passionately about, and his initial inspiration, "Same Love."
That song helped me believe that I could love another human being, that my love was good and real and equal to every other human being.
Here's to a bright future!

Two Countries, Two Vastly Different Phone Bills

If your monthly cellphone bill seems high, that may be because American cellphone service is among the most costly in the world. A comparison of two similar plans, one in the United States and one in Britain, reveals a marked difference.

Both plans include a new iPhone 5S with 16 gigabytes of memory. Both require a two-year commitment and allow unlimited voice minutes and unlimited texting. The plan offered by the British provider, Three UK, offers unlimited data and requires no upfront payment. With Britain’s 20 percent tax included, the plan costs 41 pounds a month, or $67.97 at current exchange rates.

The plan provided by the American carrier, Verizon Wireless, has an upfront cost of $99.99 and then $90 a month, not including taxes. Spreading the upfront cost over 24 months and adding 17 percent tax — typical for the United States — comes to $109.47 a month. But while the British plan includes unlimited data, the American plan does not. It includes two gigabytes a month, with an additional gigabyte free during an introductory period.

To put that in perspective, two gigabytes of data allows streaming about 15 minutes of music a day and watching about 10 minutes of video a day, according to the Verizon Wireless Data Calculator. If you run over, you’ll see it on your bill.

So why the $41.50-a-month difference in price? Several factors are involved, but an important one is regulatory policy. Britain has forced companies to lease their networks to competitors at cost. The United States has not, allowing a formidable barrier against competitors.

“The United States lacks meaningful competition in its cellular market sector, which leads to higher cell plan prices than a growing list of other countries,” said Sascha Meinrath, founder of the Open Technology Instituteat the New America Foundation.

In a 2010 study, the institute found that the minimum cost of a complete cellphone package, which features voice, data and text, was $59.99 a month in the United States, compared with $32.40 in Britain.

“Over the next decade,” Mr. Meinrath said, “U.S. consumers may overpay by over a quarter of a trillion dollars for worse levels of service than customers in other countries receive.”

August Abs!

Emails Reveal School Lied About Canceling School Musical For 'Homosexual Themes' - VIDEO

Emails procured through Pennsylvania’s “Right To Know” law confirm that South Williamsport Jr/Sr High School cancelled a production of Monty Python’s Spamalot because it included a same-sex wedding, reports Think Progress.

The uncovered emails show that despite the school’s attempt to claim otherwise, the only justification for the cancellation given by Principal Jesse Smith was the play’s “homosexual themes.”

Records also prove that contrary to claims made by school district Superintendent Mark Stamm that the musical had not actually been canceled because it was only “under consideration,” Principal Smith had already signed a check for nearly $2,000 to order the licensing rights for the play last May.

In emails sent last June, Smith said that he was concerned about “a gay wedding being performed.” Musical director Dawn Burch replied, “I am fully aware of their place in the script and am not certain what offense they create,” noting that marriage equality had recently arrived in Pennsylvania.

Smith then explained that he was “not comfortable with Spamalot and its homosexual themes” because “this type of material [would make] it very hard” for families to attend. He added that he did not “want students to have to choose between their own personal beliefs and whether or not to take part in a production.”

When Burch wrote to Stamm that she found it “extremely disappointing that homosexuality would be the basis of not approving a show,” noting that “this is how we raise children to be haters,” the superintendent replied that he was familiar with Smith’s objections and stood by them.

Last year, a high school in Ottumwa, Iowa said that students could not perform The Laramie Project, Mois├ęs Kaufman's play about the hate crime murder of gay Wyoming teen Matthew Shepard, because it is "too adult."

Queen pardons gay codebreaker Alan Turing

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II this week granted a Royal pardon for internationally acclaimed British codebreaker and computer scientist Alan Turing, who took his own life in 1954 after being convicted two years earlier of having consensual sex with a 19-year-old male.

The pardon came more than a decade after gay activists and straight allies lobbied the British government for a posthumous pardon for Turing, saying his conviction on a charge of “gross indecency” was an injustice even though gay sex was considered a crime at the time under British law.

“Alan Turing was a remarkable man who played a key role in saving this country in World War II by cracking the German Enigma code,” The Telegraph newspaper quoted British Prime Minister David Cameron as saying.

“His action saved countless lives. He also left a remarkable national legacy through his substantial scientific achievements, often being referred to the as father of modern computing,” the newspaper quoted Cameron a saying.

Cameron was referring to Turning’s groundbreaking work for one of Britain’s intelligence agencies during World War II in which he applied his own research on information processing – considered a forerunner to modern computer science — to devise a means of breaking the code used by German submarines to attack and sink British ships.

Turning, who continued his research after the war, is widely considered by computer experts to have developed the foundation for high tech devices such as smart phones.

A British Broadcasting Company history report on Turing’s life says Turing was arrested, tried and convicted in 1952 on the homosexuality related charge. Other news reports from the British press say the arrest came after Turing called police to report that a 19-year-old male with whom he at one time had a relationship broke into his house.“He made a huge impact on the world he lived in and left a legacy for the world of today and tomorrow,” The Telegraph quoted Iain Steward, a Conservative Party member of the British Parliament, as saying. “This Royal pardon is a just reward for a man who was stripped of his honor, his work, and the loyalty he showed his nation.

The admission prompted police to file the gross indecency charge. Authorities later gave Turing a choice of imprisonment or hormonal treatment to eliminate his sexual drive that activists have called “chemical castration.” Turing chose the latter.

The conviction, among other things, resulted in Turing being stripped of his security clearance, preventing him from continuing his work on code breaking and related fields for one of his country’s top intelligence agencies.

He was found dead on June 7, 1954. An autopsy and toxicological tests showing he died of cyanide poisoning. A half-eaten apple was found next to his bed, according to the press reports.

A June 2012 BBC report says the apple wasn’t tested to determine if it was laced with cyanide, as had been speculated since the time of Turing’s death, and that it might be possible that the death was an accident. The BBC reported that Turing had been using cyanide for experiments he had been conducting at his home.

A spokesperson for the British Embassy in Washington said the Queen announced last December her intent to grant Turing the pardon. The spokesperson, James Harris, said the Queen put the pardon in place officially on Tuesday, Aug. 19.

“Now know ye that we, in consideration of circumstances humbly represented to us, are graciously pleased to grant our grace and mercy unto the said Alan Mathison Turing and grant him our free pardon posthumously in respect of the said convictions,” the pardon states.

Six Reasons Why Today’s Libertarian Movement Is Not At All Pro-Gay

Rand Paul
Thanks to a New York Times Magazine article by Robert Draper, there’s been a lot of buzz lately about the libertarian tidal wave that’s allegedly poised to wash over the American landscape. Draper argues that young people are much more accepting of the libertarian get-rid-of-all-government argument and that Rand Paul is set to harness that energy all the way to the White House.

Except for this inconvenient fact: Polls show that young voters are the one segment of the population that actually favors more government and is most inclined to vote Democratic.

Draper does some fancy dancing around the topic of marriage equality, suggesting that support of it is somehow a sign of libertarian tendencies. In fact, there’s every reason to believe that the libertarian movement, at least as it is currently constituted, is not only not pro-gay, but actively hostile to LGBT issues. Here are six reasons that prove it.

1. Rand Paul. Let’s start with the standard-bearer for libertarianism, Sen. Rand Paul. Paul would have you believe that’s a moderate, when in fact he’s as homophobic as they come. He has repeatedly come out against marriage equality, going so far as to suggest that the Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA would open the way to marriage with animals. Paul told Draper that the GOP can’t “completely flip” on gay marriage. To which we say, why not? If you’re wrong, why wouldn’t you change? In Paul’s case, it’s because he doesn’t think opposition to marriage equality is wrong.

2. The role of the Christian right. The relationship between the religious right and the libertarian movement is tighter than you think. Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage says that his group’s opposition to marriage equality “is actually a libertarian argument.” Anti-gay theocrats like David Barton exert great influence in the world of constitutional conservatives (a self-identification libertarians prefer). “To the extent it has a mass base, it’s likely as much or more among conservative Christian soldiers who despise government so long as they don’t control it as among dope-smoking free-loving free-thinking anti-interventionist Reason readers,”columnist Ed Kilgore notes perceptively. (Reason is the magazine published by the libertarian Cato Institute.)

3. A philosophy that is conveniently homophobic. A lot of libertarians object to the government recognizing your relationship on philosophical grounds. One of the most revealing moments in Draper’s article is an exchange with Mollie Z. Hemingway, a senior editor at The Federalist. Hemingway thinks that the government has to be in the marriage business because the heterosexual relationship is “ordered to producing children.” But the government shouldn’t extend those rights to same-sex couples. Hemingway thinks that those folks “should be free to organize their own lifestyle,” as if your committed relationship was the same as taking up RV-ing.

4. Less government = less protection. If you really want to get government out of the way, that means it should be less involved (if at all) in protecting workers against discrimination, people with HIV from untested treatments or shielding LGBT students from bullies. Amazingly, the vast majority of people espousing these views don’t happen to fall into any of these categories to explain to us why these protections are superfluous from the victim’s perspective.

5. Religious liberty. Here’s where the libertarian argument is most often employed to ill purpose. The argument: the government should allow people to serve whomever they want, without fear of legal restrictions. If bakers want to refuse to bake wedding cakes for gay couples, fine. What better way to protect your freedom to discriminate than by passing laws to do so. Of course, a true libertarian would argue that people should be able to do as they please, but that more law is exactly the wrong answer. But more commonly the religious liberty argument is used to unite conservative evangelicals and libertarians. 

6. The funders are hypocrites. The Koch brothers (Charles and David) are the biggest funders of the libertarian movement. They help underwrite the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank, and have spent tens of millions of dollars promoting libertarian causes that happen to coincide with their financial interests (such as killing climate change legislation). David Koch has said “I believe in gay marriage.” Nowhere is that reflected in the candidates given money by the organizations with financial ties to the brothers. Instead, those organizations are donating to Tea Party groups or offering ad support for mouth-breathing House Republicans who will stop anything LGBT in its tracks. And then, of course, there’s Peter Thiel, the gay billionaire who funded presidential quest of Ron Paul, Rand’s even crazier father, a campaign which came with a long list of homophobic attendants.

Now, there is a spirited debate within the libertarian ranks as to many of these issues. Many libertarians are very supportive of the LGBT community and suspicious of the religious right. They are more interested getting government out of the way, whatever the consequences might be. But the libertarian movement that is capturing political attention today is much more a pick-and-choose type of philosophy: easy to agree with principles when they support what you want, and easy to discard them when they don’t.

In too many ways, it’s morphing into a different brand of anti-gay conservatism, when one is already far more than enough.

If Guy Best Friends Acted Like Girl Best Friends

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