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From Smart Alex:

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Mitch Hedberg – Sandwiches

You Darn Kid - Hats

Mitch Hedberg and the ducks

Mindfuck house

Katt Williams – Weed

I drew this - bigotry

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Heroic Bulgarians deliver message of tolerance
despite right-wing hatred and violence.

Aksinia GenchevaViolence erupted in Sofia at the first Bulgarian pride march on Saturday, leading to the arrest of 88 people, including Boyan Rasate, leader of the Bulgarian National Union.

Bulgarian gay rights organization Gemini organized the event, which drew between 150 and 200 participants and about 1000 observers, including protesters, journalists, and police. Gemini’s Executive Director, Aksinia Gencheva, noted that the first gay pride march in Ireland drew only five participants. Gencheva said Gemini had received letters of support from the British Embassy, the Council of Europe, the Party of European Socialists, and many other organizations and gay rights supporters.

Patriarch MaksimThe parade was opposed by the leader of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Maksim, 93. Maksim, who has been a bishop since 1956, was named Patriarch in 1971 and successfully fought back from a challenge to his authority in the 1990s resulting from accusations that he had been uncanonically appointed Patriarch by the Communist Politburo. The Patriach wrote an open letter to the Mayor of Sofia urging him not to “participate in the fruits of darkness, but counter them,” and demanding that he stop “this shameful and undignified march.” Metropolitan Neofit of Rousse also issued a statement opposing the parade and calling homosexuality a sin.

The Chief Mufti of Bulgaria, Mustafa Alish Hadji, weighed in, too, calling homosexuality “a disease” that “desecrates Bulgarian society and threatens its future” and denouncing gay attempts “impertinently to change the public opinion, and the moral, religious, and traditional values of the Bulgarian society through public happenings like gay parades.”

Boyan RasateBoyan Rasate’s group, the Bulgarian National Union, had proclaimed a “Week of Intolerance” preceding the parade, and had hosted a forum on “How to fight and minimize the damage from homosexuality and pedophilia in Bulgaria.” The group also conducted a campaign against the parade, spreading posters all over Bulgaria saying “Be Intolerant, Be Normal.”

The Bulgarian National Union was formerly affiliated with the right-wing Bulgarian National Attack movement, but split from that group after a power struggle between Rasate and Attack’s leader, Volen Siderov, in late 2005 and early 2006. Both the National Union and Attack are nationalist groups, saying Bulgarian identity is threatened by minorities, including Roma (Gypsies), Turks, Jews, and homosexuals. After the arrests, Attack declined to support Rasate directly, but issued a statement that the police exceeded their authority and claimed that over a hundred protesters were detained and beaten by police.

The city refused to prevent the pride march, but the route of the parade was changed twice, and police put strict security measures in place. Police arrested two minors for throwing a Molotov cocktail with the slogan “Death to Gays” at the beginning of the parade. Violence broke out when protesters armed with brass knuckles, clubs and fireworks tried to rush the marchers; the Ministry of the Interior said 88 people were arrested in all.

Bulgarian Pride, 2008

Gemini had declared a policy of non-violence at the parade, urging participants not to respond to any provocation or attack. Marchers carried a banner with the parade’s motto, Me and my family. Some carried a banner saying, “Be careful who you hate ― it may be someone you love!” In spite of the violence, marchers continued on the Red House for a rally after the parade. Some marchers remained at the Red House for up to 18 hours after the rally, fearful for their safety if they left.

Boyan Rasate has been one of the country’s most vocal critics of homosexuality. Interviewed at the parade before his arrest, Rasate said, “I don’t approve of this parade and we will do anything to prevent it.”

“What do you mean by ‘anything’?” asked the reporter.

“I mean anything,” Rasate replied.

After one of his supporters threw a smoke bomb at a policeman, Rasate was wrestled to the ground by a group of policemen and dragged into the back of a police van, shouting, “Don’t hit me, you scumbag! Don’t hit me! Don’t hit me! Don’t hit me!” According to some reports, his little daughter, whom he had brought with him to the parade, was left alone and helpless after his arrest. Police held Rasate for 24 hours before he was released on 500 leva bail. (500 leva = US$403.50 = €255.67.)

“Bulgaria is in the EU now,” said one participant. “People have to accept us like normal human beings. We are not criminals.” Some participants suggested they should have a parade every month or even every week to get the message of tolerance across.

Boyan Rasate at the parade (with English subtitles):

Read more:

BGO Gemini (Bulgarian gay organization)

BGO Gemini history – 1992-2006 (Video)

BGO Gemini’s MySpace

Rightist Extremists Call for Anti-Gay Measures in Bulgaria (Novinite, 22 June 2008.)

Bulgarian ‘Week of Intolerance’ Targets Gays (BalkanInsight, 23 June 2008.)

First Sofia Pride needs adequate protection (Amnesty International, 27 June 2008.)

Bulgaria Head Mufti’s Office Protests Against Gay Parade (Novinite, 27 June 2008.)

88 held during gay parade in Sofia today (FOCUS Information Agency)

About 60 arrested at Bulgaria’s first gay parade (Reuters, 28 June 2008.)

60 people arrested for disrupting Bulgaria’s gay pride march (AFP)

Leader of Attacks against Sofia’s Gay Parade Freed on Bail (Novinite, 29 June 2008.)

Гей парадът започна с арести (Gay parade began with arrests) (News.bg) (Photos)

„Атака”: Полицията превиши правата си на гей парада (“Attack”: police exceeded their rights at gay parade) (News.bg)

Website of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church

Патриарх Максим писа на кмета Борисов да спре гей парада (Patriarch Maksim wrote the mayor to stop gay parade) (Dnevnik)

Митрополит Неофит: Гей парадът е грях (Metropolitan Neofit: Gay parade is a sin) (Pravoslavie.bg)


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(Sort of)

On Friday, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), meeting in San Jose, voted to drop an ordination requirement that clergy observe “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.” This is the third time the General Assembly has tried to lift the ban on gay clergy; previous attempts in 1997 and 2001 were turned down by the presbyteries.

The General Assembly declined to change the PCUSA’s definition of marriage as a covenant between “a man and a woman.”

There is one concrete change coming out of this General Assembly, though. The assembly voted to allow candidates for ordination to register a conscientious objection to the clause excluding sexually active homosexuals. Each presbytery and church council can now decide for itself whether such a conscientious objection disqualifies that candidate from ordination. As a result, PCUSA presbyteries can now ordain sexually active homosexuals if they want.

This last change puts the PCUSA ahead of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States. The ELCA doesn’t officially allow the ordination of gay clergy, but leaves it to the bishops’ discretion whether to allow gay clergy to serve. Last year’s ELCA Churchwide Assembly urged the bishops not to defrock gay clergy.

The PCUSA is by far the largest U.S. denomination of the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition, more than ten times the size of the next largest Presbyterian denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America. The United Church of Christ, which includes many former Reformed congregations, first allowed gay clergy in 1971, and now allows gay clergy in all but one regional association, though each congregation is free to make its own decision.

The United Church of Canada, which includes many former Presbyterian congregations, first allowed gay clergy in 1988, and some clergy now celebrate marriages for same-sex couples. However, like the United Church of Christ, the United Church of Canada maintains a congregational polity that allows a more conservative position on the local level.

Read more:

Presbyterian leaders OK gay clergy (Los Angeles Times)

Presbyterian assembly votes to drop gay clergy ban (Associated Press)

PCUSA Assembly Approves Deleting Gay Clergy Ban (The Christian Post)


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In a video posted Thursday — sorry, I’m a little slow — Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks remarks on John McCain’s secret meeting with gay Republicans.

They don’t even want to meet with you in public. How can you still vote for them? It’s really … I don’t understand how gay Republicans live with themselves. I really don’t get it, man. You’ve gotta really have some cognitive dissonance going on there, for that to make sense in your head.

No kidding. I don’t get it either. Watch the video:

See also: Gay Patriot’s report on John McCain’s secret meeting the Patrick Sammon of the Log Cabin Republicans.


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Michelle ObamaPolitirazzi calls Michelle Obama a “new gay icon” in connection with her address to a gay Democratic group yesterday. Mrs. Obama was the keynote speaker at a fundraising dinner in New York for the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Council of the Democratic National Committee (the GLLC). I can’t find any video of the speech, but word is that she bowled them over, receiving a standing ovation from the 200 or so well-heeled donors. Reuters quotes her as saying:

Barack believes that we must fight for the world as it should be, a world where together we work to reverse discriminatory laws like DOMA and ‘don’t ask, don’t tell. The world as it is should be one that rejects discrimination of all kinds. …

Nothing we have to do over the next four or eight years is going to be easy. There will be powerful forces who believe that things should stay just as they are, that everything is fine, and that’s where you all come in.

Your voices of truth and hope and of possibility have got to drown out the skeptics and the cynics.

Politirazzi, noting that Elizabeth Edwards has spoken in favor of same-sex marriage and that even Laura Bush and Lynne Cheney have publicly opposed a constitutional amendment to ban it, says Michelle Obama’s “style is second to none and based on what we’ve seen from other politician’s wives in the past, it’s a safe bet that Michelle Obama will have no problem being as full throated in support of LGBT equality, as her husband is calculating, on the issue of gay marriage.”

Well, I hope so. Michelle has the brains, the personality and the looks to be just about any kind of icon she wants, so if she wants to be a gay icon, I imagine the community will warm up to her pretty quickly.

Read more:

Michelle Obama speaks to gay Democrats (“Tales from the Trail” blog on Reuters)

Obama’s wife says he’ll fight for gay equality (Associated Press)

Michelle Obama: New gay icon (Politirazzi)


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Jerusalem Open House

Following considerable controversy leading up to the Jerusalem Pride and Tolerance Parade, the parade went off on Thursday without the violence and outrage of previous years. Religious people have been indignant over the holding of a pride march in Jerusalem, on the grounds that homosexuality is offensive to Jews, Muslims and Christians and a pride march has no place in the holy city.

Executive Director Yonatan Gher of Jerusalem Open House, the group that organized the event, had been meeting with haredi leaders to try to negotiate a peaceful day. The haredi (often referred to as “ultra-Orthodox”) decided to bow out of the controversy this year. They said a local event wasn’t as objectionable as the World Pride event in 2006, and anyway, they didn’t want to give the march any publicity or expose their young people to homosexuals even for the purpose of protesting. The banner was taken up by followers of the late terrorist Rabbi Meir Kahane, along with the municipality of Jerusalem, who urged the High Court to ban the parade. The High Court rejected the request. Ha’aretz reported:

During the hearing, Justice Ayala Procaccia said that “a proper balance must be maintained between the desires of the gay/lesbian community to march, and the feelings of the city’s residents – it is important that such parades become a matter of routine instead of causing a commotion every year.”

There were 2,000 police officers providing protection this year, down from 10,000 last year, and while there were a few protesters, there doesn’t seem to have been any violence. Only one person was arrested. Maybe the “holy city,” which seems to simmer constantly with religious hatred, can fit one more group into its cauldron of resentment after all.

A side note: The Group Against Fags Conference ― I mean, the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) ― a conference of anti-gay Anglicans, just happened to schedule its own event in Jerusalem at the same time as the Pride and Tolerance Parade. “It’s neither natural, nor acceptable from the Christian point of view,” sniffed the Rev. Melvin Tinker. Anti-Gay Anglicans pride themselves on their “global” perspective, having in many cases been forced to turn to Africa to find bishops sufficiently homophobic for their tastes.

Read more:

Jerusalem Open House (English version)

Pride in the capital (Jerusalem Post)

High Court rejects petition asking to ban Jerusalem Gay Pride parade (Ha’aretz)

Gay parade sashays through capital (Jerusalem Post)

Anglican rebels clash with gay march (BBC News)


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