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Gay Marriage to be Debated in French Constitutional Council

January 21st, 2011

From PinkNews.co.uk

A lesbian couple will see their challenge to reverse France’s ban on gay marriage discussed by the country’s highest authority this week.

Corinne Cestino and Sophie Haßlau launched the bid in May 2010 at the Tribunal de Grande instance of Reims to question the constitutionality of France’s position on gay marriage.

The couple, a pediatrician and an English teacher, have four children and live together in a village outside Reims. They entered into a PACS, a civil union, ten years ago.

On 16 November, the Court of Cassation referred the case to the highest constitutional authority in France, citing an “issue of constitutionality”, on Articles 75 and 144 of the Civil Code, which exclude the civil marriage of same sex.

The high court recommended that the issue be forwarded to the Constitutional Council, as gay marriage is “now the subject of wide debate in society, in particular because of the evolution of manners and recognition of marriage between same sex legislation in several foreign countries.”

Gay marriages are recognised in Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

Last year, the Constitutional Council did not issue a decision on discrimination based on sexual orientation in adoption cases, stating that this would have been political, and an issue for the country’s legislature.

Emmanuel Ludor, the couple’s lawyer, said: “They want to get married because they consider it an essential tool for building a family.”

A statement from the Council is expected on 28 January.


Maryland Poised to Legalize Gay Marriage

January 13th, 2011

Gov. Martin O’Malley, (D) Maryland

Proponents of gay marriage in Maryland seem confident that enough support exists in the state legislature to legalize gay marriage in the state during the upcoming legislative session.  If successful, Maryland would become the sixth state where gay marriage is legal, following Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington, D.C.  Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley has publicly stated that he would sign a marriage bill into law.

For all intents and purposes, gay marriage already exists in Maryland, as Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler last year issued an opinion that recognized out-of-state gay unions, essentially allowing Maryland residents to take a quick train down to D.C., get hitched within the district, and take their marriage back to their state to be recognized.  With full legalization within the state, lawmakers are not recognizing gays and lesbians to the fullest extent of the law, but they’re also keeping some very lucrative marriage money at home.

There is, of course, opposition.  Several moderate Democrats and Republicans oppose any sort of endorsement of gay rights.  In an interesting twist, however, the most vocal opposition comes in the form of a compromise from Senate Minority Leader Allan Kittleman (R-Howard), who wants to do away with civil marriage altogether in the state and leave it as a religious institution.  Sen. Kittleman has announced that he plans to introduce a bill that would create civil unions for both gay and straight couples, offering the same rights as marriage.

“Civil unions would grant the same rights as marriage, but just shift the role of something that is viewed as a religious institution to something more secular,” Kittleman said. “I just really believe, it is more the libertarian in me, that government needs to be out of something that is religious. The disagreement we have in society on gay marriage is from the religious aspects of it.”

Since the federal government doesn’t recognize civil unions, however, that would leave straight couples in the same position that gay couples have been in for years – essentially with nothing.

Thankfully, proponents of gay marriage in Maryland are not interested in compromising.

“We’ve taken those small steps forward. It’s time to live with the promise that is marriage equality. No other institution provides the legal protections,” said Morgan Meneses-Sheets, executive director of Equality Maryland, the state’s largest LGBT rights group.

Sen. Kittleman may not even have the support of his more conservative fellow Republicans, who have voted against a succession of bills expanding gay rights in the past.  But even former Senator Alex X. Mooney, now the state Republican Party’s new chairman, sees little hope in derailing a gay marriage bill.  Another Republican operative went so far as to state, “When you see a freight train, you don’t stand in the way of it.”

“We’ve been marching in this direction for a while now,” said Democratic state Delegate Heather Mizeur.  “It just took a little while to get us there, but we’re seizing the moment. It’s our time.”


First U.S. GLBT History Museum Opens in San Francisco

January 12th, 2011

The GLBT History Museum, the first museum dedicated to GLBT history in the U.S. and only the second in the world, will celebrate its official opening on January 13th in San Francisco.  Located at 4127 18th Street in the Castro district, the museum is the culmination of a long-time dream of the GLBT Historical Society.  The opening marks the Society’s 25th anniversary.

“A quarter century after the founding of the GLBT Historical Society, we’re proud to open a museum to showcase our community’s history,” said Paul Boneberg, executive director of the Historical Society. “The GLBT History Museum is in the heart of the Castro, a neighborhood visited not only by locals, but also by tens of thousands of tourists every year who come in search of queer culture. At our museum, they’ll discover treasures from our archives that reflect fascinating stories spanning nearly a century of GLBT life. We have gone all out to create a museum as rich, diverse and surprising as the GLBT community itself. Whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or straight, visitors are sure to be moved, enlightened and entertained.”

The 1,600-square-foot museum chronicles the evolution of what organizers call the liberation of the gay, bisexual, and transgender community.  It will feature two debut exhibitions: In the main gallery, “Our Vast Queer Past: Celebrating GLBT History,” curated by historians Gerard Koskovich, Don Romesburg and Amy Sueyoshi; and in the front gallery, “Great Collections of the GLBT Historical Society Archives,” curated by Paul Boneberg.

The exhibit space was made possible by a generous lease from the Walgreens Corporation, and funding has come from Levi’s, the City of San Francisco, Castro district merchants, and numerous other sponsors and individual donors.

Whether you live in San Francisco or you’re just visiting, please take the time to support America’s first museum dedicated to celebrating our history.

For more information, visit their website: http://www.glbthistory.org/museum/.

For a gallery of photos from the museums exhibits, visit here (if you’re on Facebook).


Renewed push to legalize gay marriage in RI

January 6th, 2011

R.I. Governor Lincoln Chafee

From the Associated Press

PROVIDENCE, R.I.—Two days after new Gov. Lincoln Chafee called on legislators during his inaugural address to swiftly legalize gay marriage, a pair of lawmakers say they’ll introduce bills to do just that.

Rep. Art Handy, D-Cranston, and Sen. Rhoda Perry, D-Providence, said they would reintroduce bills Thursday legalizing same-sex marriage. The bills died last year in the House and Senate.

The legislation has been introduced several times in recent years, but failed as it faced opposition from Republican Gov. Don Carcieri and previous legislative leaders. Democratic House Speaker Gordon Fox, who is openly gay and a co-sponsor of the bill, became House speaker last year.

“I think the fact that we have a governor that’s enthusiastic about the legislation makes a huge difference,” Handy said.

Perry said in previous years, she has only been able to round up two or three co-sponsors on her bill, but this year, she has seven.

“I’m far more sanguine than I’ve ever been before, because a lot of people didn’t want to put themselves in the spotlight when the governor was going to veto it,” she said.

In the House, Handy said he had lined up at least 27 co-sponsors. There are 75 members of the House and 38 members of the Senate.

Chafee, a former Republican U.S. senator who became an independent in 2007 and was sworn in as governor on Tuesday, has been a longtime supporter of legalizing same-sex marriage. He said during his inauguration address that he hoped Rhode Island would “catch up to her New England neighbors” on the issue. Such unions are legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire, although the Republican legislature there plans to consider bills to repeal it.

Democratic Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed personally opposes gay marriage, but when asked Thursday whether she would block such a bill, her spokesman, Greg Pare, said she would not.

“As with any bill, it would go through the normal committee process,” he said.

Perry said a key question in the Senate is who will be on the judiciary committee. Four members of that committee did not return this year, and committee assignments have not yet been made. The legislation must pass through that committee to get to a floor vote, where it can pass with a simple majority.

Kathy Kushnir, executive director of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, a group that advocates to legalize same-sex marriage, said their cause had been “frozen out” under Carcieri, and called it a great thing for the state that the new governor supports legalizing gay marriage. She said they had spoken with Paiva Weed about the issue.

“We are confident that she takes this issue seriously,” she said. “We are hopeful that she will not stand in the way of this legislation.”

Kushnir said she hoped for a hearing in the House this month.

Chris Plante, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, Rhode Island, which opposes legalizing same-sex marriage, asked why lawmakers are taking the unusual step of introducing legislation so early in the session, which started Tuesday.

He said they were trying to “force it down Rhode Islanders’ throats” and called instead for a ballot initiative that asks voters to decide. That alternative is unpalatable to many supporters of same-sex marriage, who say it’s a civil rights issue and shouldn’t be subject to a popular vote.

But Plante said it was because supporters know voters don’t want it.

“They don’t want it to go to the people because they don’t have the numbers,” he said.

He also said that even with Fox behind it in the House, it would not be an easy road there for supporters of the bill.

“On a floor vote, when our assembly men and women have to say yea or nea, I think the numbers are a lot closer,” he said.


Obama Signs Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

December 22nd, 2010

YouTube Preview Image

After passing the House and Senate last week, President Obama today signed the repeal of the 17-year-old ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, bringing to a symbolic close the discriminatory military policy responsible for the discharge of over 17,000 gay and lesbian service men and women.  Gays and lesbians currently serving in the military are urged to not come out yet, however, as DADT is still considered the law of the land.

The bill stipulates that DADT will only be discarded after the president, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, certify that changing it will not hurt the armed services’ readiness, morale or cohesion. After a 60-day review by Congress, the Pentagon is to develop procedures for ending it altogether, a process that could take months or years to complete.

However, Obama said he had “spoken to every one of the service chiefs and they are all committed implementing this change swiftly and efficiently.” He promised, “We are not going to be dragging our feet to get this done.”

Obama continued, quoting Adm. Mullen, “Our people sacrifice a lot for their country, including their lives. None of them should have to sacrifice their integrity as well.”

Watch the video to see a beautiful speech, an emotional ceremony, and the beginning of a new era for gays and lesbians.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repealed!!

December 18th, 2010

December 18, 2010 is an historic day.  The 17-year-old discriminatory ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy has – at long last – been repealed.

Full reporting from The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Saturday struck down the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, bringing to a close a 17-year struggle over a policy that forced thousands of Americans from the ranks and caused others to keep secret their sexual orientation.

By a vote of 65 to 31, with eight Republicans joining Democrats, the Senate approved and sent to President Obama a repeal of the Clinton-era law, known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a policy critics said amounted to government-sanctioned discrimination that treated gay and lesbian troops as second-class citizens.

Mr. Obama hailed the action, which fulfills his pledge to reverse the ban. “As commander in chief, I am also absolutely convinced that making this change will only underscore the professionalism of our troops as the best led and best trained fighting force the world has ever known,” Mr. Obama said in a statement after the Senate, on a 63-33 vote, beat back Republican efforts to block a final vote on the repeal bill.

The vote marked a historic moment that some equated with the end of racial segregation in the military.

It followed a comprehensive review by the Pentagon that found a low risk to military effectiveness despite greater concerns among some combat units and the Marine Corps. The review also found that Pentagon officials supported Congressional repeal as a better alternative than a court-ordered end.

Supporters of the repeal said it was long past time to end what they saw as an ill-advised practice that cost valuable personnel and forced troops to lie to serve their country.

“We righted a wrong,” said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the independent from Connecticut who led the effort to end the ban. “Today we’ve done justice.”

The Senate engaged  in an emotional back and forth over the merits of the measure as advocates for repeal watched from galleries crowded with people interested in the fate of both the military and immigration measures. “I don’t care who you love,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said as the debate opened. “If you love this country enough to risk your life for it, you shouldn’t have to hide who you are.”

Mr. Wyden showed up for the Senate vote despite saying earlier that he would be unable to do so because he would be undergoing final tests before his scheduled surgery for prostate cancer on Monday.

The vote came in the final days of the 111th Congress as Democrats sought to force through a final few priorities before they turn over control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans in January and see their clout in the Senate diminished.

It represented a significant victory for the White House, Congressional advocates of lifting the ban and activists who have pushed for years to end the Pentagon policy created in 1993 under the Clinton administration as a compromise effort to end the practice of banning gay men and lesbians entirely from military service. Saying it represented an emotional moment for members of the gay community nationwide, activists who supported repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” exchanged hugs outside the Senate chamber after the vote.

“Today’s vote means gay and lesbian service members posted all around the world can stand taller knowing that ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ will soon be coming to an end,” said Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran and executive director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and his party’s presidential candidate in 2008, led the opposition to the repeal and said the vote was a sad day in history. “I hope that when we pass this legislation that we will understand that we are doing great damage,” Mr. McCain said. “And we could possibly and probably, as the commandant of the Marine Corps said, and as I have been told by literally thousands of members of the military, harm the battle effectiveness vital to the survival of our young men and women in the military.”

He and other opponents of lifting the ban said the change could harm the unit cohesion that is essential to effective military operations, particularly in combat, and deter some Americans from enlisting or pursuing a career in the military. They noted that despite support for repealing the ban from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, other military commanders have warned that changing the practice would prove disruptive.

“This isn’t broke,” Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, said about the policy. “It is working very well.”

Other Republicans said that while the policy might need to be changed at some point, Congress should not do so when American troops are fighting overseas.

“In the middle of a military conflict, is not the time to do it,” said Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia.

Only a week ago, the effort to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy seemed to be dead and in danger of fading for at least two years with Republicans about to take control of the House. The provision eliminating the ban was initially included in a broader Pentagon policy bill, and Republican backers of repeal had refused to join in cutting off a filibuster against the underlying bill because of objections over the ability to debate the measure.

In a last-ditch effort, Mr. Lieberman and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a key Republican opponent of the ban, encouraged Democratic Congressional leaders to instead pursue a vote on simply repealing it. The House passed the measure earlier in the week.

The repeal will not take effect for at least 60 days while some other procedural steps are taken. In addition, the bill requires the defense secretary to determine that policies are in place to carry out the repeal “consistent with military standards for readiness, effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention.”

Because of the uncertainty, Mr. Sarvis appealed to Mr. Gates to suspend any investigations into military personnel or discharge proceedings under the policy to be overturned in the coming months.

Mr. Lieberman said the ban undermined the integrity of the military by forcing troops to lie. He said 14,000 members of the armed forces had been forced to leave the ranks under the policy.

“What a waste,” he said.

The fight erupted in the early days of President Bill Clinton’s administration and has been a roiling political issue ever since. Mr. Obama endorsed repeal in his own campaign and advocates saw the current Congress as their best opportunity for ending the ban. Dozens of advocates of ending the ban — including one wounded in combat before being forced from the military — watched from the Senate gallery as the debate took place.

Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who is chairman of the Armed Services Committee, dismissed Republican complaints that Democrats were trying to race through the repeal to satisfy their political supporters.

“I’m not here for partisan reasons,” Mr. Levin said. “I’m here because men and women wearing the uniform of the United States who are gay and lesbian have died for this country, because gay and lesbian men and women wearing the uniform of this country have their lives on the line right now.”



New York’s Jumeirah Essex House Hotel

December 10th, 2010

New York’s Jumeirah Essex House Hotel Reaches Out to the Gay Traveler

Reposted from TripOutGayTravel.com

by John Polly

Looking to stay swanky in NYC? The Essex House on Central Park South is welcoming LGBT travelers with stylish, open arms!

The afternoon glow of Central Park and the historic Essex House rising above the trees.

You know you’re going to enjoy a hotel stay when on a gorgeously sunny fall day, after stepping inside from the storied and shiny bustle of Central Park South, being met by the concierge in the richly yet tastefully styled lobby (mind that huge towering flower arrangement in the center of the room) and sailing up 38 floors in a handsome wood-paneled elevator, you find yourself being greeted by name at the door of your suite by your own besuited butler.

“Welcome to the Essex House, Mr. Polly. My name is Annette, and I’ll be your personal butler during your stay.”

I like this already.

Annette is a smart-looking woman in a tuxedo who ushers me into room 3810, which is a large suite bigger than most New York City 1 or 2 bedroom apartments. Gently, yet expediently Annette gives me a thorough tour of the suite… There’s a spacious and warm living room area, a dining area, and on offer there’s complimentary fruit, a bottle of wine, mineral water, and a fun and crafty plate of gourmet chocolates with the hotel’s signature rooftop “Essex House” sign constructed in miniature–in chocolate.  Then come the two bathrooms–one half-bath off the living room, and the master bath which is along the long hallway which leads to the big corner bedroom with windows facing south and west, delivering staggeringly fabulous views of midtown Manhattan, the West Side, the Hudson River and yes, a sizeable portion of the southwest corner of Central Park.

The view from my corner suite looked a bit like this. Hello, New York!

“Thanks Annette, I’ll be fine…” I say calmly, while inside I’m like “Wooooooooohooo! Swankiest NYC hotel room everrrr!”

Of course, before graciously taking her leave, Annette had clued me in to the whereabouts of the hotel’s fitness center and the spa (both on the 3rd floor), the in-house dining options, the business center and basically laid out the ground rules that if I were to need anything at all, she could make it happen.

Left alone in my suite, I snap some pics, text them to a friend or two with messages gasping “Check out this amazing room and view!!!” and other gushing missives. I’m very glad to be someone who covers travel right now. A night in one of New York City’s finest historic hotels situated grandly on Central Park South? Yes, please. I mean, I live in New York (Williamsburg, Brooklyn to be precise) and this experience is already renewing my excitement about how thrilling and indulgent a “visit” to Manhattan can me.

Being the only Jumeirah property in the United States (though more are expected to become part of this world-renowned luxury collection of hotels based in Dubai) the Essex House is smartly eager to welcome LGBT visitors, and I’m here to sample a bit of what they have to offer. And so far I’m impressed. As my overnight visit progresses, so does my appreciation.

After dropping my overnight bag and swanning about the four or five rooms which will be my home for the next 24-hour visit, I head down to the lobby for a glass of champagne and official welcome from the hotel’s general manager, the head of marketing and social media, and one of the concierge/front desk staffers who whisk me and a few other guests on a tour of the lobby, a breezy stroll through the spacious and handsome lobby (Afternoon tea is being served; there are ornate fashion and shopping-themed pastries and sweets on offer!) and around the hotel’s park-front restaurant, South Gate where we’ll be dining tonight. The room is a mix of bright white furnishings, handsome wood tables, a dazzlingly cool geometric mirror-block sculptural wall and just a stylish and airy upbeat vibe.

Along the tour, the Essex House’s in-house art curator Katherine Gass joins us to introduce us to the hotel’s unique collection of art in its public spaces. Turns out the Essex House has a thriving art program and relationship with New York City’s art community, interacting with the city’s museums and galleries, sponsoring major events like the Armory Show (a huge annual showcase of contemporary art) and even boasting its own artist-in-residence series where prominent contemporary artists come and spend time in the hotel, and are given housing and space to create new works–some of which in turn, end up gracing the public spaces of the hotel.

A bit of the Essex House lobby with Mark Innerst’s gorgeous painting of Columbus Circle in the background.

Notable results of this fruitful and smart art program are hanging prominently in the Essex House lobby. I was enthralled by Mark Innerst’s stately and evocative painting of Columbus Circle in the lobby lounge, as well as Atta Kim’s rich and lush pair of very large long-exposure photographs of Central Park presiding over the central lobby area. Both renowned artists now have thriving, ongoing relationships with the hotel which lures their patrons and artful colleagues to the hotel as guests. Savvy, eh?

After getting a quick tour of the fascinating and fun archival photographs of Central Park and New York City which line the hallway leading to the main elevator bay, our tour ascends upstairs to get a glimpse at several of the rooms. No surprises. They’re handsome, well-appointed, very spacious by New York hotel standards, and the park-facing rooms and suites boast staggeringly gorgeous views of Central Park that are the stuff that romantic comedies and swoony New York-based Cinderella stories are made of.

What’s quickly becoming clear as we tour along is that while the vibe and quality of accommodations and services at Essex House are top-notch, five-star luxury caliber, the value is pretty impressive. The most basic rooms here begin in the $400-range, which is pretty much standard for rooms at lesser places in Manhattan. Here, you’re pretty much on par with the quality of a Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton, but for notably less.

A room with a view.

And arf! Dogs are welcome, too. In fact, in the past few months, Essex House has rolled out the canine-sized red carpet with its festive and innovative Pet Program, which lets dogs check in alongside their masters, and get royal in-room treatment that includes perks such as a “Canine Turndown Service” which includes their own customized bedding, food, and water bowls (all provided by the hip Greenwich Village pooch emporium, Wagwear), gourmet homemade treats, and more all at no extra charge. Pups and their owners can all live the good life on Central Park South.

Our tour wraps, I return to my suite. I get cozy in my big king bed, snag a rare afternoon nap, and still have time for a stroll through the park and the shops at Time Warner Center just barely over a block away, and then it’s time for cocktails and drinks at South Gate. The hotel also offers MP3 Central Park Walking Tours of the art and architecture in the park; you just download them and go. Bike rentals, car service, recommendations of shopping or sights to see… Obviously, they’ve got it covered.











The evening begins with cocktails at long tall communal bar table in the regally lit, lively yet not deafening bar area of the restaurant. I try a Strawberry Fields Caipirinha (a nod to what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday this year), while my colleague Justin downed a tasty Dark & Orangey (similar to a Dark & Stormy but fruitier). All were fantastically crafted, delicious, and flavorfully fabulous.

We spend a few minutes perusing South Gates’ clever and fun-to-play-with iPad wine list (They nailed this first. Well done, guys.), a fun techie toy that’s somehow glamorous, playful, savvy, and informative all at once. Of course, when we sit down to dinner, we just let handsome sommelier Olivier Dufeu guide us.

The star chef presiding over the kitchen at South Gate is Kerry Heffernan, who has credits such as Restaurant Bouley and Eleven Madison Park under his belt. The menu at South Gate changes offers seasonally-inspired Modern American fare, and Heffernan partners with local organic farms, fishermen and shellfish harvesters to keep it fresh daily. Our menu was a bright and fantastic litany of tastes, starting with hamachi served with apples, apple cider, lovage, tarragon, and a fine celeryroot remoulade. Then came a uniquely savory but light and creamy lobster flan with grilled shrimp, followed by amazing short ribs, which weren’t large but packed a rich flavor—flanked by “allspiced” squash, “mustardy” mustard greens and côte de boeuf. It all ended with a chocolate pot de crème and almond nougat glace double whammy.

And really, the room was a swank mix of well-appointed guests, New Yorkers splashing out, good-looking thirtysomethings joining for drinks and bar bites, all complemented by the warmth and stylish vibe of the sexy upscale atmosphere. Maybe it was the perfect selection of wines tainting my view, but as the courses progressed, I was having one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in New York in the past year.

Just a small sliver of the wine offerings at South Gate.

After dinner, our group hit the town. Or the bars of Hell’s Kitchen at least. And if you’re a gay traveler familiar with New York, you know that the nearby midtown/Hell’s Kitchen nightlife scene is thriving. Over the course of the night we hit the lively, bubbly, 20- and 30-something packed Bartini, where cute lads bounced around to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga; Club 57 at Providence, more of a multi-leveled velvet rope dance-palace full of boys in their best designer tees (and which frequently boasts visits from pop stars like Kelis or Kelly Rowland); and then the jovial and jam-packed neighborhood bar Posh, with gays of all stripes slurping down cheap drinks and making new friends. There are other hotspots all within prancing distance: Therapy, The Ritz, Barrage, the cheerily divey Ninth Avenue Saloon and to soon-to-open Industry offer up socializing and sass nightly. (Check out the local scene bible Next Magazine for the latest.)

A late night turned into great sleep back in the suite (Best bed and linens ever.) and with morning came a quick peek into the Essex House’s grand Presidential Suite on the 26th floor — also with unreal Central Park views, huge stunningly stylish bathrooms with vast tubs and state-of-the-art shower situations, big beds and every luxe amenity imaginable.

And just when it all should have been too much and our gang was prepping for check out, I managed to prolong my decadence a couple of hours more by scheduling a late check-out and visits to The Spa at Essex House. A 90-minute massage and a 75-minute Sodashi Man facial treatment, I emerged a glowing, relaxed, blissed-out, new-and-improved me.

Yes, the Essex House staffers were making sure that my experience there went off without a hitch. The service was attentive and on-point, but never egregious, and with numerous staffers in-house who are gay and making executive decisions, they’re more than equipped across the board to welcome gay travelers to their upscale slice of New York City in a way that’s savvy, smart, luxe, and stylish but not at all stuffy.

Really. I think you’d rather like it here.

Jumeirah Essex House Hotel, 160 Central Park South, New York, NY 10019
http://www.jumeirah.com/JumeirahEssexHouse

To book your stay at the fabulous and gay-friendly Jumeirah Essex House Hotel, give us a call at Get Gay Travel, 1-800-711-6029


 

“TSA Pat-downs Promote the ‘Homosexual Agenda,’” says Crazy Person with Power

December 3rd, 2010

Did you know that just by traveling on an airplane you are doing your part to promote the radical ‘Homosexual Agenda’?  Or so claims Eugene Delgaudio, an elected official on the Loudon County Board of Supervisors in Virginia and president of the conservative non-profit Public Advocate of the U.S., in a widely distributed email.  Delgaudio criticizes the TSA’s non-discrimination policy, calling it “the federal employee’s version of the Gay Bill of Special Rights”, and states – in what is surely a bit of deeply repressed wishful thinking – that “the next TSA official that gives you an ‘enhanced pat down’ could be a practicing homosexual secretly getting pleasure from your submission.”

No stranger to nonsense, Delgaudio previously railed again the ‘Homosexual Agenda’ back in April in a steamy piece of homoerotic pulp fiction political fundraising letter where he recounted a visit to some sort of…homosexual petition factory:

“One stormy night I drove to a mailshop hidden deep in a nearly deserted stand of warehouses. I’d heard something was up and wanted to see for myself. As I rounded the final turn my eyes nearly popped. Tractor-trailers pulled up to loading docks, cars and vans everywhere and long-haired, earring-pierced men scurrying around running forklifts, inserters and huge printing presses. Trembling with worry I went inside. It was worse than I ever imagined. Row after row of boxes bulging with pro-homosexual petitions lined the walls, stacked to the ceiling. My mind reeled as I realized hundreds, maybe thousands, more boxes were already loaded on the tractor-trailers. And still more petitions were flying off the press.”

Well, I guess he caught us.  And if you would like to catch Mr. Delgaudio, feel free to contact him at the District Supervisor’s office at eugene@joineugene.com or (703) 421-4599, or at the Public Advocate office, 703-845-1808.

Or if you’d like to speak to Mr. Delgaudio in person, just check the security line at any major U.S. airport, where you’ll find him refusing a full-body scan, breathlessly awaiting his ‘enhanced pat-down’.

Illinois Passes Civil Union Legislation

December 2nd, 2010

From Lambda Legal and ChicagoPride.com:

After passage in the Illinois House on Tuesday by 61-52, the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act has passed through the Senate by a vote of 32-24.  Governor Pat Quinn has promised to sign the bill, ensuring legal protections for same-sex couples across the state, including provisions for hospital visitation and healthcare decision making.

“Same-sex couples in Illinois, many together for decades, will finally have the legal protections to take care of each other and their children,” said Jim Bennett, Regional Director of Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office in Chicago. “Same-sex couples and their families faced a range of barriers to things that other couples take for granted, including spousal health benefits and hospital visitation – the goal of this law is to correct those problems. While all couples deserve the right to marry, all of us in the Land of Lincoln can be proud of this important step forward.”

The bill does not recognize same-sex marriages, but will provide the same spousal rights to same-sex partners when it comes to surrogate decision-making for medical treatment, survivorship, adoptions, and accident and health insurance.

The vote reflects public opinion in Illinois that same-sex couples need recognition under the law. An October 2010 poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute of likely Illinois voters shows 67.5% approve of civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples.

DADT News

November 30th, 2010

Lots of news from the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell front, and all of it good!

From the Associated Press:

Recommendations: Repeal of Military Policy on Gays

A Pentagon study released Tuesday found that gays could serve openly in the military without hurting its ability to fight.

Some specific recommendations by the Defense Department if Congress repeals “don’t ask, don’t tell:”

- No new standards of conduct are needed. The report found that issues of sexual conduct and fraternization can be dealt with using existing rules and regulations, including the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

- No separate bathing or living facilities should be provided for gays. While some troops suggested it, the report recommended against it because doing so “would be a logistical nightmare, expensive and impossible to administer.”

- Expansion of some spousal benefits. Existing marriage laws prohibit many but not all military benefits to same-sex partners. For example, gay troops should be able to direct that their partner receive benefits related to life insurance, saving plans and hospital visitation rights, the report found.

- Equal opportunity to re-enlist. The report says gay troops kicked out of service under “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be allowed to reapply under the same criteria as others seeking re-entry into the armed forces.

- No special protections for sexual orientation. The report does not recommend that sexual orientation be placed alongside race, color, religion, sex and national origin as a class eligible for various diversity programs and for resolving complaints.

- No special arrangement made for those with religious or moral objections to serving alongside gays. The report notes that people of differing moral values and religious convictions already serve together.

(AP) Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) today released a statement regarding the Pentagon’s report on gays in the military:

“For years, Senators have said they’d lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military when the military signaled the time had come.

“When the architect of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ General Colin Powell, said the time had come, they said they wanted to hear from the current brass.

“When the current brass and the Defense Secretary said the time had come, they said they wanted to hear from the troops.

“Well, the military has spoken again, and an overwhelming number currently serving have said the time is now.  Not in 10 years, but now.

“ The service members on the ground have confirmed that a change in policy will do nothing to affect unit cohesion or their ability to carry out their mission.  End of story.

“ Just like we did after President Truman desegregated the military and after the path was cleared for women to serve, we’ll someday look back on this policy and wonder what on earth took Washington so long to fix it.”

From the Religious News Service:

Religious Groups Support Repealing Military Ban

As the Pentagon readies a long-awaited survey of military personnel on lifting the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy, a new poll suggests broad support across religious groups for allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly.

The Pentagon report, expected to be released Tuesday (Nov. 30), will include a survey of some 400,000 military personnel, and will be key for the Obama administration, which is hoping to push a repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell through Congress before the end of the year.

Only 27 percent of Americans oppose lifting the ban, according to a poll released Monday (Nov. 29) by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Almost every religious group surveyed supports lifting the ban, according to the Pew poll. Only white evangelicals (48 percent) came close to having a majority opposed to open gays and lesbians serving in the military. White mainline Protestants (62 percent), black Protestants (52 percent) and Catholics (66 percent) all favor allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly.

And while 40 percent of weekly churchgoers favor maintaining the ban, an equal percentage favors lifting it. The Pew survey is based on telephone interviews conducted November 4-7, among a national sample of 1,255 adults 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the survey overall is 3.5 percentage points.


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