All posts edited by Madeline Ricchiuto.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What We Can Learn About Labels From Tom Daley's 'Coming Out'

So, exciting news! For those of you that don't know - Tom Daley has 'come out'! You know that really cute British diver? Yeah, that one... He came out the other week - posted a video online and it was really exciting for so many people around the world. Because of all the media attention, he has probably given lots of people some courage or comfort, and maybe even influenced some to come out themselves. Unfortunately, all the attention also means that there are so many things that people said or did that were negative. Some of those need to be addressed.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

FCKH8 - An Open Letter

I'm sure that many of you have heard of the company and activist organization called the FCKH8 Campaign. They are an organization that aims to fight homophobia in the USA and around the world. They are widely known and seen because of their abrasive approach to the issue of equality and tolerance.

Below is a letter sent by my partner and colleague Jesse Bachir. Jesse is an activist and an academic in law at Durham University and also contributes to the blog Inherently Human.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Trans* Rights - Disclose Your Gender History or it May Be Rape

The idea of transgender rights is not all that new. In many civilizations transgender, genderqueer, and in general gender minorities have been treated in certain specific ways. These customs may or may not have been codified into written laws but they can be seen as conventional laws or practices. However it is relatively new to our society and as such, there are no rules on how treat individuals who defy our gender norms and it seems that the law is struggling to keep up.

In the United Kingdom there has been a flurry of recent cases (here, here, and here) that all have to do with gender representation and how it affects sexual activity. Particularly, these cases revolve around issues of consent. These cases are important because they are setting the legal precedent for future cases, and unfortunately it seems that they are finding it to be a criminal offense to have sex with someone without disclosing your 'gender'.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Asexy and Who Cares?

This week is Asexual Awareness Week, I keep seeing posts on the internet, mostly Tumblr, about how a lot of Asexuals felt like they were "broken" before they learned of the more clinical term, and of the supportive online community. The Asexual Visibility campaign has been gaining a lot of traction. Seems like every few weeks there's another article somewhere about it. Which is cool. More people knowing about it means fewer people think that they're "broken". Trust me, I've been there and it sucks.

But the fact remains that the Asexual Visibility movement doesn't have a goal to attain other than visibility and general acceptance. Both of those are admiral, lofty and ambiguous as they may be. It could be argued that Aces don't need to worry about visibility, that they don't need to campaign not to have sex. And many Asexuals would agree. They don't bother to come out, since it only affects themselves.

Monday, October 21, 2013

New Jersey - Gay Marriage...What Now?

As I hope many of you have heard, earlier today New Jersey became the 14th state to allow same sex couples the right to marry! After many years of hard work by organizations like Garden State Equality, the courts ruled that same sex couples were being denied an equal right and ordered marriages to start today October 21st. 

After petitions from both Governor Christie and many in the state legislature, the Supreme Court of New Jersey decided to consider the appeal filed by the State before today. Friday afternoon they finally released their decision to allow the marriages to start and refused Christie's appeal for a stay. It was an exciting moment and it led to even more exciting moments all day today as couples from all across the state- previously denied the joy and privilege of being married- finally realized their dreams.

What's Wrong With Being Poly? Nothing!

In modern Western society, we've seen a great emphasis placed on marriage. Lately, with all the talk surrounding the marriage equality movement, it has become a very divisive issue in the public consciousness. In engaging in the ongoing public debate, an extremely common argument made is that allowing same sex couples would lead to all sorts of things like people marrying objects or people marrying animals OR people marrying more than one person.

So the first two make absolutely no sense whatsoever, as neither objects nor animals can consent so...that is really a non-issue. Despite this whole argument being a "slippery slope" fallacy, I would like to take this opportunity to challenge our boundaries on the third.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Blurred Lines Debate and Miley Cyrus

So I have been off the grid for a lot of the summer. Been busy doing some campaigning in my home state back in the U.S., but now I'm back and I have this thing that I absolutely must address: I'm sure most, if not all, of you have heard about this song by now (I am very late to this party) - "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke and features TI and Pharrell. It was and still is a pretty popular song. For those of you who are fans please listen to what I am saying.

If you identify as a feminist, or just as a person who is against rape, or against violence against women, or just in general think that consent is a needed for sex to happen between two people, you should not like this song! Its catchy. I'll admit to being lured in by its beats and listening to it before I knew the message behind it.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pride - Is It Needed Now?

This past June was Pride month in the United States and during that month Pride festivals were held all around the country. In addition, the Supreme Court of the United States decided to strike down DOMA as unconstitutional - and so this year's festivals after that decision were probably some of the biggest and most attended in a long time. This also means that they have and will get a lot of attention. There seems to be a lot of confusion on what exactly Pride is, what it stands for, and its purpose so hopefully I can explain some of that here.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Extreme Porn and the Law - What Can Be Done and What Should Be Done

Yesterday, I attended a seminar at Durham University on extreme pornography and the law. Speakers and attendees came from all over the UK, coming from universities, rape counseling centers, or as people who had interaction with the UK laws on extreme porn.

The seminar started by exploring some of the ways the current laws for England and Wales, set out in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 (CJIA), are misunderstood or misapplied. Professor Erika Rackley discussed the failure of the law to include images portraying rape under the umbrella of extreme porn.

Following Rackley there was a presentation by Simon Walsh, a barrister in London, and his interaction with the extreme porn laws. His presentation highlighted how easily the current laws are able to be misused and abused. His case exemplified how such laws can be used as a malicious attack on sexual minorities.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

MichFest, Safe Spaces, Transphobia?

For some of you who haven't heard, there is a yearly event in Michigan for women. It's called the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (MichFest). This festival attracts women from all around the country to celebrate their womanhood. It started in 1976 and has been running every August since. The festival not only is a gathering for music though. It is a gathering of feminism and learning and bonding. There are many group activities and everything is done by women; set up, break down, organizing, planning, everything.

That everything is done by women is an important thing to note. It's part of what makes this event such a powerful statement. Women can, and do, do everything that men can. Women are powerful. The exclusion of men in this is done purposefully to empower women. I have been told that is a great experience.

Monday, April 22, 2013

'Real Beauty' - Dove and Body Image

As I'm sure many of you are aware, Dove has recently released a video that has been called the 'Real Beauty Campaign'. This video has sparked much discussion and controversy among women, feminists, and society. Its impact seems to be spreading quite rapidly thanks to social media outlets.

I'd like to explore this idea of what 'Real Beauty' is and how it can be applied in a positive way towards not only women but society. Lets start off by noting that this campaign isn't something new; its been developing since way back in 2004. There have been many adverts and events held in this campaign's name but this recent video has received some of the most attention.

Friday, April 5, 2013

FEMEN - Feminism?

In light of the recent protests staged by FEMEN against islamism, I thought I'd do an exploratory post on the situation. For those of you who don't know what sparked the series of protests: on April 4th, a young woman in Tunisia posted a photo with the words "I own my body; it’s not the source of anyone’s honor" written on her bare chest.

The head of Tunisia's Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice has reportedly called for Tyler to be stoned for the above action and since Tyler has 'gone quiet', many feared for her safety. From that fear, this backlash against Islamism and demand for her 'release' was sparked.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Prop 8 Today - US Supreme Court

Today is a historic day for the US as the Proposition 8 case will be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

This issue, although more popularized than in the past, is still quite controversial. The Proposition 8 case is about whether or not states, specifically California, have the authority to deny marriage to same-sex couples.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Steubenville Rape Case - Rape Culture

As I'm sure many of you have heard there has been a recent case decided in Ohio regarding two young men who had sex with a 16 year old girl while she was essentially unconscious. In case you haven't here is a quick summary of what has happened: Last summer, two young men (16 and 17) were out partying, and were allegedly seen dragging a 16 year old girl's body from party to party and committing sexual acts with her. One of the young men even took a video.

The two boys have been found guilty as of late, and the story has received national attention. This national attention, however, has its own consequences. While it encourages a conversation about rape and rape culture, it also exposes many of the attitudes we have about rape. This case in particular shows a worrying unwillingness to hold certain people accountable, and a desire to sweep personal liberties and justice for rape victims under the rug.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

White People Are Being Systematically Disenfranchised

The Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) was a source of great controversy on Friday. Apparently after a presentation called 'Trump the Race Card', given by K. Carl Smith of the Frederick Douglass Republicans, an attendee commented on how he was proud of his people (white, southern) and how he feels they are being 'disenfranchised' (as well as some other very astonishing things). See the video below:

Huge Advancements in the Battle Against HIV/AIDS

I'm not sure how many of you have heard but there have been some amazing advancements regarding HIV prevention/treatment this month! This is especially good news and I thought an appropriate thing to blog about considering my past posts on sex education in the US (you can see them here and here).

Early in March, a baby in Mississippi was declared 'functionally cured' of HIV after being treated with a high does of antiretrovirals. This child is considered only the second person in the world to be cured of HIV. The first patient was a man named Timothy Brown, who received a blood marrow transplant (to treat his leukemia). Timothy received marrow from a person who is HIV resistant and thusly his blood cells became HIV resistant as well (the new ones produced by the marrow for those not scientifically inclined).

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

US Sequester, Economy, Etc. - Idea

So I know I already wrote a post on this but after some time thinking about this I thought I'd put out an idea to all of you wonderful people. We all know that the US economy is in a bind. It has been for quite some time now. I think it is fair to say the economy is in a better state now than it was 4 years ago (if you disagree...well I'm sorry). That being said, the US economy is no where as strong as I believe it could be.

Does anybody remember the reports from a few years ago that said that we (the US) were in almost as bad shape as The Great Depression? Since then it seems that we were not quite as bad off, but certainly we were in terrible shape. And people are still in 2013 saying that we are having the worst economic recovery since then.

Sex Education in the US - A Summary

Sex education in the US has been an area of interest of mine for some time. When I was studying Social Justice at Rutgers I was curious to find out the correlation between sex education practices and results such as teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and transmission of other STI's. 

Looking at the recent CDC Surveillance report, I noted in another post that it seems that the South has a higher preponderance of HIV transmission. I also noted that there seems to be a correlation with the extensiveness of sex education (many southern states don't have mandatory sex education or STI prevention, or birth control methodologies taught). 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

US Economy, Revenue, and Taxes

As almost everyone has probably heard, the sequester cuts have taken effect in the US. This has spiked an increase in attention to tax policy, because President Barack Obama and the Democrats have said that they will not accept any policy that does not have in it tax increases on the wealthiest of US citizens. Republicans on the other hand have said that they do not support any measure which attempts to raise taxes, especially on the rich because the Republicans consider them the job creators.

This is a major divide in US politics, and an extremely polarizing issue. This isn't anything new, but is being put particularly in the spotlight because of these recent events. I think now is a very good time to share some very important facts about the current state of the economy. Particularly in reference to the distribution of wealth and how this is or should be reflected in the revenue and tax policies. For starters why don't we start with the following video :

Is Internet Access A Human Right?

A relatively new (new as in modern) idea is starting to emerge in the world. With the advancement of society and technology, we are forced to face challenges with our rights. The internet is a very new advancement and a revolutionary one in human history, but how does this advancement play into our rights?

When this question is brought up there are many differing opinions but it can be boiled down to a more simple question. The first question that should always be asked is do we have a right to access the internet? This question is vital because it can, like the internet itself, be completely revolutionary to a society.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Israel introducing buses for only Palestinians?

Starting on Monday buses running from the West Bank into central Israel will start having different lines/buses for Palestinians and Israeli's. According to reports, the Afkim company will start running Palestinian only lines to prevent Palestinians boarding with Jewish passengers.

These lines, which again begin on Monday, are not being called segregated buses by Transportation Ministry officials (for obvious reasons). Instead the lines are said to be there to 'relieve the distress of Palestinian workers'. Specifically the ministry said, "The two new lines that will be run as of tomorrow (Monday) are intended to improve the services to Palestinian workers that enter Israel via the Eyal Crossing."

Grindr - Degrading?

Since my last post on Grindr, I have received some feedback about people who think Grindr is just degrading to anyone who uses it for hookups. This they say is regardless of their sexual orientation. In regards to the app, one person had this to say "In my opinion its disgusting and just another way to find a hookup, and everyone that I known to use it only uses it to hook up with other men. Needless to say, Im not a fan." The same person clarified, after a response from myself, saying "What I'm saying is its degrading to use if you're using it for hook ups (which most do); no matter what your sexuality is."

Now I am not one to say that nobody can hold this opinion. You certainly can. And I won't say that you can't or try to force you to not hold this opinion, but I think it is an interesting point of discussion. I find it particularly interesting because there are even those who are feminists who hold similar views. The general view seems to be that these apps when used for hooking up is degrading.

HIV Infection Rate: New Report

The CDC's newest HIV Surveillance Report is the first to allow researches to map the HIV infection rate across the whole United States. It was added to the list of characteristics that would be examined in the CDC's report. The report also takes things such as sex, race, age, sexual practices, and drug us (needle use) into account.

The data from this new category shows an interesting trend. It seems that HIV/AIDS infections are highest in the geographical region identified as the South. It's important to not that high infection rates are not limited to the South but are more prevalent there. The CDC reports infection rates (per 100,000 population) of HIV (any stage) in 2011 as "In 2011, rates were 20.9 in the South, 18.1 in the Northeast, 12.0 in the West, and 9.3 in the Midwest."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

SCOTUS and Marriage Equality: Westboro Baptists Gives Their Two Cents

So I know I already did a post about the many many briefs that have been filed with SCOTUS about their upcoming cases on marriage equality, but today I found out that the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) submitted their own brief to the court. Let's have some fun and analyze just a bit of it!

The brief starts off by clarifying that it is being filed in support of no party. It says specifically, "The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas respectfully submits this amicus curiae brief in support of no party, but in favor of reversal." I already have to pause and laugh. If they are supporting reversal is that not supporting the appellant? That is what they are there for and that's what WBC is pushing for. Seems like support for the appellant to me.

South African Police: Authorities or Vigilantes?

I recently read an article about reports police abuse in South Africa. The article, from UK newspaper - The Guardian, used a website called South Africa's Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to show a number of violations of people's rights by South African Police.

Within a week of each other two constables appeared in court facing charges of rape. The first appeared on February 21, where it has been reported that he raped his former girlfriend after driving her and some of friends home from a tavern. They were using a state vehicle and after dropping off the friends, the victim was let outside the vehicle to pee. Allegedly there was "a chase", and afterwards the victim was assaulted, raped, and was threatened with death when she refused to get back in the car.

The second victim had been arguing with her sister prior to the police being called. The police handcuffed and brought the woman to a field where the constable allegedly raped her. The accused is out on bail for R1,500, or £150 ($225).

Friday, March 1, 2013

Voting Rights Act on Trial

This past Wednesday the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments surrounding the Voting Rights Act. For those of you who don't know this particular law, it was enacted in 1965 to battle racial discrimination at the voting booth. The act functions such that the government can be held liable for abridging a person's right to vote based on their "race or color." Section 5 of the act states:
"Whenever a State or political subdivision with respect to which the prohibitions set forth in section 4(a) are in effect shall enact or seek to administer any voting qualifications or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on November 1, 1964, such State or subdivision may institute an action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment that such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, and unless and until the court enters such judgment no person shall be denied the right to vote for failure to comply with such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure."

Massachusetts School Directive on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youth

On February 15th the Massachusetts Department of Education issued an 11 page directive on the proper ways to go about addressing having a transgender student. The directive was made in response to the 2011 antidiscrimination act that took effect in the summer of 2012 and questions from those who weren't sure how to handle children who don't confrom to society's gender standards.

The directive has come under fire recently because it instructs schools to allow students who are biologically male but identify as a girl to use the girl's locker rooms, bathrooms, etc. Fox's Bill O'Reilly addressed the directive in a segment on February 26th.


Trans Expulsion in California Raises Many Questions

It has come into the public eye recently that a California school, California Baptist University (CBU), expelled a student because she is transgender. As is usually the case, it may not be a simple as that but that certainly seems to be the case.

Domaine Javier
In early 2011 Domaine Javier, was accepted to CBU's nursing program and was receiving two scholarships. In April 2011 Domaine appeared on an episode of MTV's "True Life" titled, "I'm Passing as Someone I'm Not" (the name of the episodes is an issues in and of itself) and revealed that she is transgender.

Enforced Disappearances in Mexico?

While inquiring into the cases of missing persons in Mexico, the US based organization Human Rights Watch claims to have found evidence of likely enforced disappearances in a recently released report. The organization was looking into the disappearance of 249 persons of which they found that in 149 of said cases the police or military were reportedly involved.

Reportedly many of the cases take place when men/husbands went out for groceries and never returned or were taken in the night. Many were said to be last seen being stuffed into the back of some kind of official vehicle (military of police).

This is a worrying report. While it has been reported for some time that Mexico has been involved in some shady business regarding human rights, such as extrajudicial killings, this report is said to be one of the most significant attempts to identify problems within the government to date.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

American Sociological Association Destroys Position Against Same-Sex Parenting

Earlier today the American Sociological Association (ASA) filed a brief to the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. In the brief the ASA focused on same-sex parenting and clearly states that children fare just as well when raised by same-sex couples. The ASA states, "When the social science evidence is exhaustively examined -- which the ASA has done -- the facts demonstrate that children fare just as well when raised by same-sex parents. Unsubstantiated fears regarding same-sex child rearing do not overcome these facts and do not justify upholding DOMA and Proposition 8."

US Marriage Equality: Getting Support from All Sides

In case you, my valued reader, were not aware the US is on the verge of having a major step taken in the battle for marriage equality. While it is no sure thing, with all the recent reports of whats been happening there's seems to be an atmosphere thats well prepared for a step forward.

Today has presented the world with a truly great thing. Today President Barack Obama filed an amicus brief to the Supreme Court regarding the case for marriage equality and Proposition 8. In case you didn't know the specifics, Prop 8 was a ballot measure in California that removed the (already judicially given) right to marry a person of the same sex. The measure was challenged and struck in all the lower courts and has been appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is not only considering Prop 8 regarding marriage equality though. There have been many cases brought up throughout the country surrounding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a piece of legislation signed when Clinton was in office, that prohibits federal recognition of same sex partnerships as marriages and the subsequent rights that entail from such a status.

Grindr - Only for gay men?

I read an article today on PinkNews written by a gay man and his view of Grindr. More broadly he discusses his views on Questioning and Bisexual men and their use of the mobile dating application. For those of you who are straight and don't know what Grindr is, or anyone else who isn't sure about what it is, its a mobile dating application that specifically caters to gay men. On the app you create a profile and can upload a picture and put a short description about yourself and basic stats. Like many of these kinds of things the app is regularly used as a hook-up app, although thats not to say that people don't also use it to find dates. Here is a video by DaveyWavey (I love him) as quick introduction to the app:

NOM Spokesperson on being friends with LGBT people and Tyler Clementi

Maybe some of you remember this; just before thanksgiving NOM spokes person, Jennifer Roback Morse, released a video on NOM's Ruth Institute warning those in college settings to avoid being friends with LGBT youth.

Now Morse has apparently reversed her position on the issue. Apparently earlier this month Morse spoke to students at Iowa State University and encouraged them to be friends with those who are 'confused' (she doesn't recognize that there is a different sexual orientation from heterosexual) so as to save them from being lonely and confused.

Feminists Shouldn't Be Funny or Sexy?

The Guardian, a UK newspaper, has had a few new posts about Feminism. Particularly these posts are dealing with how feminism has evolved and what the core values/emotions behind such a movement should be. Elli Mae O'Hagan contends that feminism at its roots comes from anger. Anger from oppression and that this anger should be 'harnessed to create something better'.

"At its core, feminism should be angry" - Ellie Mae O'Hagan

O'Hagan in her narrative disapproves and faults those who try to push feminists ideals through mediums such as humor. According to O'Hagan when turning to humor and other mediums such as shows like Sex and the City are attempts to appease the masses. This is problematic in O'Hagan's view because as a feminist it is generally accepted that Patriarchy is what rules the masses and so to play into the masses is simply to play into the patriarchy that you are trying to dismantle.


VAWA was passed today in the House INCLUDING the LGBT and Native American provisions from the Senate! Woohoo!!

Homelessness, A Tragedy

This is an interesting and thought provoking photo. Just looking at the photo how true do you think that poster is? In my experience it certainly seems true. I've lived and been in NYC plenty and been to many major cities in the US (Chicago, Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, Berkley, Ann Arbor, Houston, etc.) and there are homeless in all of them.

Obviously there are more in some places than others but they are there regardless of where you are and regardless of where you are people tend to have the same reaction to them. People are disgusted, or look down on them, some pity, and some empathize, but most commonly people just ignore them. Selective attention is a powerful thing and that seems to be exactly what people have when walking around these places that are literally littered with homeless.

London Ex-Gay Ad Fiasco - Back Again

The prosed ad campaign.

Today Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, today is being taken to court over a decision made last May concerning ads that were to be posted on buses in London. Maybe some of you heard about this or were following the turn of events back then. If not and you want a rundown on what was happening you can see a story on it here and here.

The decision to not allow the advertisement to run on the London buses is being challenged as an infringement on the group's free speech. Specifically they are calling it a 'stifling' of their free speech, and a worrisome turn towards 'reverse discrimination'.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Feminism and Pornography: Can the two be reconciled? - An open discussion

Today, I attended a discussion/seminar on Human Rights at Durham Law school in the UK. The seminar started off being about discourse surrounding abortion and specifically how Human Rights discourse can help or affects such things.

This has been a major feature in recent political and theoretical discussions due to the tragedy that occurred in Ireland recently (if you aren't sure what I'm talking about click here). The discussion was of course very interesting, but the topic of conversation slowly evolved from an issue of abortion to that of pornography, prostitution, and the like. It came about when discussion started revolving around the idea of autonomy. However an interesting question was posed, one that I know is controversial among feminists and I have seen and heard arguments from both sides of the issue.

Law and Sexuality: A Theoretical Exploration - Part 1 Defining Terms/Concepts

Often times the law does not reflect academic results. This is especially true when it comes to mental disorders and issues of psychology. A big area that the law doesn't seem to recognize or understand fully seems to be the idea of human sexuality. Human sexuality is complex, and our understanding of it ever growing, but it seems difficult for the law to keep up with developments in the academic fields.

Sexuality is first broken down into three main categories:
Sexual Identity, which constitutes one's inner feelings about themselves in relation to others and even their bodies. It incorporates the biological aspect of sex, but also things around intercourse.
Sexual Expression, is similar to identity in that it also incorporates biological sex and intercourse, but as the name implies it is more about how such things are expressed. It seems to be a more physical whereas sexual identity is more internalized and metaphysical, and has to do with self association.
And then Gender. Gender has to do with ones social role and social identities.

Each of these categories are part of sexuality as they have to do with how you relate to yourself and others sexually, as well as your sexual desires and actions. Each aspect can be broken down into other aspects that address such desires and relations more specifically.

Same Sex Cohabitors 'Less Healthy' Says Study

A study released in the March issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior says that same sex couples who are cohabiting are not as healthy as their heterosexual married peers. The author of the study Hui Liu is a Professor at the Michigan State University of sociology. 

It is generally accepted that people who are married have a higher level of health than those who are not married. Using this Hui Liu produced a study that took into account the self reported health of individuals. The data comes from the 1997 to 2009 National Health Interview Service. Participants were aged from 18-65 and came from different racial/ethnic backgrounds. The study used 1,659 cohabiting same-sex males and 1,634 cohabiting same-sex females. These people were compared to different-sex married, different-sex cohabiting, unpartnered, divorced, widowed, and never married people.

Marriage Equality in Illinois Expected

Earlier today the Illinois House Committee voted to send the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act to the full House for a vote. During the day there was testimony from 5 people in favor of the bill and 4 dissenting testimony. The 11 person committee voted 6-5 to send the bill to the House. A very close call! Representative Greg Harris (D-Chicago) is sponsoring the bill and said "the prospectus is very good" that the bill would pass in the House.

This is the same bill that was passed on Valentines day in the state Senate (yay for love!). With the predicted passing in the House the Democratic Governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, has pledged to sign the bill. If and when this legislation goes through Illinois would become the 10th state to have marriage equality.

For more reading: Click Here and Here

VAWA Update

Earlier today the US House of Representatives announced it would be taking up the Senate's version of VAWA for a vote instead of the proposed limited version put forward by House Republicans. This means that the Senate's version of the bill will be brought to the floor for debate and amendments. It has also been stated that as an alternative to the Senate bill the more limited version will be voted on as an amended version. This means that the Republican proposal may still be passed, but only if the Senates bill, and any added ammendments, is not passed itself. This is a BIG DEAL people!

Not only will lesbians and transwomen be included under the bill but it also give Native Americans the right to prosecute those who abuse Native American women on their land. One point of contention is whether or not this particular section is constitutional or not. Some Republicans hold the position that it isn't. I have not looked into it so I will refrain from commenting (however you can find more on this topic here).

For more information on VAWA and what it does: Click Here and Here

Gay Rights in the Wrong Places?

Gay Rights. Whats the first thing you think of? If your in the US, I'm betting its either 'marriage' or 'bullying' and if you're in the UK, I'm sure it's 'marriage'. Marriage, an important issue for sure to many people; but more and more I have hear rumblings of discontent from those in the community. Don't get me wrong, most I talk to think marriage is something that homosexuals ought be able to do, but many are starting to question whether or not that should be the priority or where we put the spotlight for our movement/community.

A More Inclusive Acronym? LGBTQ, GSD, GSM

For many years now the term LGBTQ has been used to describe movement for gay rights. Originally the acronym had no T or Q and many over the years have added to the acronym. Letters get added for various different things. A basic rundown would be this Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Intersex, Questioning, Queer or LGBTTIQQ.

There are those who add more letters, "A's" for Allies, or Asexual (or both), P's for Pansexual, and almost countless others. However there has been a growing movement that rejects this idea of just adding more letters to this already seemingly long acronym. A more inclusive term, if you will. An advocacy group called Pink Therapy in London posted a video discussion about how and why the current acronym may not be ideal for such a movement.

The Price of Activism

So there have been a lot of rustled feathers over Seth MacFarlane's behavior at the golden globes. I figured, I might as well jump on the bandwagon.

First things first, I didn't watch the event myself (its not really something I find entertaining) but I have seen plenty of accounts of what was said. I take particular outrage with the trivialization of rape culture and the blatant disregard of women as sexual objects. I won't go into too much detail but his song referenced not just movies but scenes that were depicted as, or just after, violent. So not only was MacFarlane making women out to be nothing more than sexual objects but he also trivializes rape in the process.

VAWA - We're at it again

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been something of a catalyzing issue as of late in US politics. For those who aren't already aware, the act goes to protect women from domestic violence and abuse, and other crimes against women; seemingly a non-polarizing issue.

Originally passed in 1994, the bill needs to be reauthorized by Congress to stay in effect. This bill has been updated with the times to include language that would specifically include lesbians and transwomen for protection. With this proposed change in the bill it was passed in the Senate with support by both parties.

After reaching the house however, it seems Republicans are not having the new support offered for gender and sexual minorities. The bill was introduced on Friday February 22, 2013 which removed the specific language that would include lesbian and transwomen under the bill. While this removal does not specifically make such parties to be unprotected, it opens the doors for states which receive funding under the act to not offer protection or deny protection to such parties.

Is this idea of protection from violence and crime something that should be limited because of ones sexual orientation? Is it something that should be limited because one is transgender or transsexual or some other kind of gender minority? I would think that even those who don't agree with such practices would agree that they shouldn't be subject to violence, that they should have protection codified in the law, and that they should have a means of compensation. If we can agree on that (which I think isn't too radical an idea) then why should we exclude such groups from VAWA?

Read more here.