By a two-to-one margin, the House voted Friday to bar Medicaid and Medicare, the government insurance programs for the poor and elderly, from paying for Viagra and other medicines that treat sexual impotence in men.
"We provide drugs through Medicare and Medicaid that are lifesaving drugs; we don't pay for lifestyle drugs," Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, the chief sponsor of the measure said in The New York Times. Mr. King also said it was wrong to tell taxpayers that "we're going to take the money you earned on overtime to pay for Grandpa's Viagra."
Well, guess what? Grandpa votes. This is not an issue that many people will be vocal about, particularly in Red States. After all, few people besides Bob Dole have the courage to openly discuss such an issue.
However, Viagra has been a welcome lifeline to countless men across America. It has allowed them to reinvigorate their flaccid sex lives and restored intimacy in their limp marriages. This could really backfire on the GOP, as many hardcore Republicans secretly soften their support in the privacy of the voting booth. This certainly won't play well in the key swing state of Florida, where the average age is 175, and Viagra is more common than oranges and sunshine.
I find it ironic that family values politicians who want to preserve marriages are so quick to cut off a marriage-saver like Viagra. Following the Terri Schiavo debacle, I think the public really may soon wake up and realize that these primitive puritans want to control the lives and bodies of people from the cradle to the grave. Because they follow such a harsh version of religion, they hate pleasure and try to punish anyone who enjoys the finer things in life - such as sex with a member that actually works. Keep it up GOP - in the end it is your terrible party that will get stiffed.
I must sadly add, however, that in passing the invasive and cruel House bill, 100 Democrats joined with 185 Republicans to approve the measure, by a final vote of 285 to 121. These Democrats should be taken to task for their dumb efforts to show how conservative they are. What they did was not only draconian and backwards, it was bad for the Democratic Party that needs to distinguish itself from the blue nosed GOP. Keep it up Dems, and we will be in the minority forever.
Finally, is there any doubt that in the House, an institution full of old, crusty men, that many who voted for this bill are disgraceful hypocrites who take Viagra themselves? This reminds me of Rush Limbaugh condemning druggies while inhaling pain killers. Modern conservatives are nothing short of a miserable fraud.
The Hillsborough County Commission approved by a vote of 5 to 1, with one abstention, a hateful, disrespectful and discriminatory policy that orders the county government to "abstain from acknowledging, promoting or participating" in gay pride recognition or events." The measure was passed on June 15, after a Gay and Lesbian Pride Month display at the West Gate Regional Library in Tampa angered some busy body Neo-Puritans who had difficulty walking to another library stack, like normal people might do.
The commission also voted to require a supermajority vote of 5 to 2 to overturn the policy. It is clear that these five hillbillies are scared to let citizens read different points of view. If they did, they might realize that their right wing representatives were ignorant yahoos who degrade the county.
Here is my solution: Next time you visit Florida, skip Tampa and spend your hard earned tourist dollars in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Key West. These places not only respect diversity, they also have better beaches.
Focus on the Family's "Love Won Out" Conference is in Seattle this weekend. This traveling road show claims to help gays go straight through a combination of prayer and therapy. Yet there is a startling lack of "healed" homosexuals at these events. Instead of "cured" patients, one meets crushed parents desperately latching on to every promise offered by the "experts" at Love Won Out.
The producers of Love Won Out do not offer up compassion, sound science, or rational explanations. The goal of the conference is to perpetuate stereotypes and malign a minority, and mainstream newspapers and television news programs that allow themselves to be used to disseminate anti-gay propaganda are complicit. Love Won Out is a dangerous anti-gay experiment that is shattering lives and breaking spirits. That's the story that needs to be reported.
(A Caricature Of Karl Rove Who Makes A Caricature of Liberals)
At a fundraiser in Manhattan, GOP guru Karl Rove criticized liberals and questioned their patriotism. In the most politically opportunistic of ways, Rove maligned millions of people and divided this nation.
"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."
What might be the reason for this vicious and inaccurate historical revisionism? It seems like a naked political attempt to smear opponents and make it difficult for them to legitimately question any aspect of the way Bush has handled the war on terrorism. Perhaps, this is a calculated move by Rove to inoculate the administration against new charges that might come to light in the near future.
He is clearly framing the debate where critics are branded traitors. Anyone opposed to torture, is portrayed as wanting "therapy" for terrorists. Don't be shocked if a terrible report implicating the Bush Administration in horrific crimes is soon made available. Rove has clearly drawn the battle lines. Now, we must wait to see what the battle is that he is preparing for.
According to reports, authorities in Tennessee have begun a child abuse investigation of Refuge, a Memphis boot camp run by Love In Action Ministries, to "cure" teenage homosexuals.
Although the boot camp presents itself like a certified counseling group, Love in Action is not licensed by the Tennessee Departments of Health, Mental Health, Human Services, Child Services or Education, according to Rachel Lassiter of Gov. Phil Bredesen's communications office.
Time to lock the doors and close down this destructive dump.
First, I want to say that in some respects I am an Andrew Sullivan fan. At his best, he is an articulate spokesperson and a brilliant writer. On more than one occasion, he has obliterated gay rights opponents on television, helping to advance our cause. As an openly gay man living with HIV, Sullivan has also accomplished the remarkable feat of starting a wildly popular Blog with a sizable conservative following. For this, he deserves nothing but respect and admiration.
Unfortunately, his hypocrisy and irresponsibility often run as deep as his enviable talent. Sullivan has crossed the line, once more, with his breathtakingly reckless column in the Advocate Magazine where he glamorized HIV and made it seem about as burdensome as a hangover.
"I have never felt better. HIV transformed my life, made me a better and braver writer, prompted me to write the first big book pushing marriage rights, got me to take better care of my health, improved my sex life, and deepened my spirituality," writes Sullivan, in his typically persuasive prose.
Wow, what an advertisement for the bug! Where can I get that HIV? Sullivan makes it sound more like a panacea than a pathogen. The disease suddenly comes across as highly desirable, if not intoxicating - like a blissful combination of Viagra, Spanish Fly, Prozac and Ecstasy all rolled up into one. TO READ MORE CLICK HERE
After eight years of boycotting Walt Disney Co., the Southern Baptists voted to call it quits. Apparently, they had as much trouble keeping Southern Baptist families out of the theme parks, as they do keeping their ministers out of whorehouses.
The Southern Bigots originally launched their boycott because they were angry with Disney for offering benefits to same-sex partners. Of course, we can't argue with the Southern Baptist's logic. After all, we know Jesus would have joined them in their crusade to keep sick people from receiving medicine or having the loved one of their choice bedside at the hospital. The love they repeatedly profess often overwhelms me.
Unfortunately, while the boycott is over, the gay bashing isn't. The bigot's new target: Children. A resolution was passed urging local churches to infiltrate schools and indoctrinate children into a creed of intolerance.
"Homosexual activists and their allies are devoting substantial resources and using political power to promote the acceptance among schoolchildren of homosexuality as a morally legitimate lifestyle," the resolution states.
What else can we expect from a religious denomination that was founded to support slavery in the South? Could we expect less from a Church that recently passed a resolution that calls on women to "submit herself graciously"?
The Southern Baptist Convention is clearly a primitive organization that is bad for America. They have a legacy of hate and it doesn't appear that they have learned from their sins of the past.
Shoe giant and erstwhile human rights abuser Nike has done a really good thing that should be applauded. The company has endorsed two Oregon bills that would help gay people. One would further protect gay folks against discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, services, and education. The second, and bolder move, was Nike's decision to support a civil unions bill. I'm really glad Nike did this, primarily because I love their basketball shoes and this gives me an excuse to buy some brand new ones.
(Shawn O'Donnell Wants To Be Removed From This Phony Photo, But Exodus Won't Let Him)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tue., June 21, 2005
NEW YORK - Exodus International, a worldwide umbrella group for the ex-gay ministries, was accused today by former member Shawn O'Donnell of misrepresentation for continuing to post his picture on the front page of its web-site, even though he is now an out and proud gay man.
(Shawn O'Donnell) O'Donnell is included in a group photo at the top of their web site www.exodus-international.org - a photo that has also been used in the group's ads to show that that homosexuality can be cured. Exodus Executive Director Alan Chambers was recently contacted by O'Donnell, who politely asked him to remove or airbrush his likeness from the website. Chambers refused the request and continues to have O'Donnell's picture falsely representing the possibility of sexual orientation conversion.
"I am outraged and appalled that Exodus would mislead and deceive potential clients into believing that I have been healed," said O'Donnell, who was a part of Exodus for five years, leaving the group in 2002. "Exodus' arrogant refusal to remove my likeness has been a source of great anguish and pain, because I know it has surely led to further suffering by vulnerable people. I call on Exodus' sense of decency and fairness to restore my dignity by immediately removing my picture from the front page of their web-site."
Although O'Donnell is just one person in a group picture, he said that his inclusion still has an impact, because it gives people the impression that people can go from gay to straight, which is not what he experienced.
"I can honestly say that in five years, I did not meet one person that I believe had truly changed," said O'Donnell. "What Exodus is doing is damaging lives. They give false hope and when people fail to change they consider killing themselves, as I once did. The harmful work of Exodus almost killed me and I don't want others to suffer."
Wayne Besen, author of Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth, says Exodus has a moral responsibility to replace their group pictures each year. "As a result of the astronomical number of defections in Exodus, any group picture representing those supposedly cured is outdated within a year," said Besen.
"I am willing to bet that a high number of the people in that 1998 photo are now out of the closet and live openly gay lives. O'Donnell's experience speaks to the desperation of Exodus to find success stories where there are none to be found."
O'Donnell, who currently lives in Chicago, says he will dedicate himself to helping people escape the dead end of ex-gay therapy. This month, he appeared in a documentary, "Fish Can't Fly", which focuses on the stories of people who suffered through the ex-gay experience.
"I am committed to educating people about the destructiveness and depravity of these groups that lie to people susceptible to their false message. From my experience, Exodus is a sham and I wish they would stop representing me as a success story."
It often seems like the religious left won't realize it has a dog in the fight against fanaticism until the right's pit bulls are lunging at its timid throat. For too long, Christian moderates have been invisible, submissively surrendering and allowing the most destructive elements in America to claim the mantle of God. Fortunately, it appears that people of faith and reason are finally awakening from their long scriptural slumber.
It is absolutely shameful, but GOP demagogues are now accusing congressmen who want to stop harassment of Jews at the Air Force Academy of being anti-religious. It is clear that many leaders in the GOP believe that forced proselytizing is okay. They seem to think it is fine that Air Force cadets are called "filthy Jew" and made to take what are called "heathen walks" back to the barracks if they refuse to participate in group prayer to a fundamentalist God.
The American Medical Association should be applauded for agreeing, at its annual meeting in Chicago, to support legislation that requires pharmacists to fill valid prescriptions or to refer patients immediately to other pharmacies that will.
Personally, I think that making a person go to another pharmacy is still too much of an onerous burden on a customer. If a pharmacist is unable to fill prescriptions, he or she ought to find a new line of work.
If there were any remaining doubt that conservative ideologues are engaged in a putsch against the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), that uncertainty has abruptly ended. It was revealed today that CPB chief Kenneth Y. Tomlinson had surreptitiously hired right wing political operative Fred Mann, a former employee of a group tied to the American Conservative Union, to monitor PBS for supposedly liberal bias. Mann was hired for $14,170 without the knowledge of the CPB Board and was asked to furtively report on the political leanings of shows anathema to conservatives.
Among his warped findings was that Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., was a "liberal" because he had the temerity to raise thoughtful questions on the military debacle in Iraq.
Senator Frank Lautenberg rightfully called on Tomlinson to resign for "attempts to inject partisan politics into the Corporation for Public Broadcasting." Sadly, Tomlinson not only refused to step down, he furthered his reputation as a political hack by suggesting that Patricia Harrison, a former co-chairman of the Republican National Committee be named president of the CPB.
Tomlinson insists that Harrison needs to be hired in order to fend off threats from GOP congressional conservatives to cut CPB funds. Exactly, how stupid does Tomlinson think we are?
He is clearly in cahoots with congressional conservatives in an effort to sabotage PBS and stage a CPB coup. In this sleazy shell game, Tomlinson, himself a right wing conservative, pretends he is standing up to Congress, when he is really working with them. He underhandedly suggests that the only way to pacify Congress is to bring in more right wing ideologues. So, Tomlinson works from the inside, and conservative congressmen work from the outside to remake CPB in their right wing image. It is a scam and Tomlinson ought to slither away in disgrace.
Young Zach is still a captive at the bizarre Memphis ex-gay cult, Love in Action. In a 1997 interview with the Memphis Flyer, Love In Action's Director, John Smid, spoke of how he overcame homosexuality.
"I'm looking at that wall and suddenly I say it's blue," Smid said, pointing to a yellow wall. "Someone else comes along and says, 'No, it's gold.' But I want to believe that wall is blue. Then God comes along and He says, 'You're right, John, [that yellow wall] is blue.' That's the help I need. God can help me make that [yellow] wall blue."
You don't have to be a psychology major to recognize that Smid's metaphor for gay conversion is a dictionary definition of delusional: "a false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence."
When I give speeches across the nation on the bizarre methods of the ex-gay ministries, people often think I am making this stuff up. Sadly, the psychological voodoo these groups perform is way beyond my imagination. Amazing that primitive people still believe in this nonsense.