In response to calls from Egale Canada and Stop Murder Music (Canada), iTunes has removed controversial murder music from its North American markets. Anti-gay tracks by popular dancehall artists Buju Banton, Elephant Man and T.O.K are no longer available on the iTunes site.
"This is an historic victory for the LGBT community here in Canada and in the Caribbean," says Akim Larcher founder of SMM (Canada), "iTunes is exercising its corporate responsibility by pulling this murder music and raising the bar for other retailers and distributors to do the same."
The decision comes as a result of calls from Egale Canada and SMM requesting the removal of lyrical content which openly calls for the violence and murder of gays and lesbians. "We are extremely pleased with this decision," said Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada, "we have also contacted HMV, Archambault Inc, and Amazon.ca and we are optimistic that they will follow iTunes lead."
iTunes has removed entire albums including compilation albums which contain the artists in question. Apple's iTunes is the leading on line distributor of music in North America.
Egale Canada advances equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified people and their families across Canada. Stop Murder Music (Canada) advocates against anti-gay lyrics targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified communities.
My take: If the Canadians can do this up north - why are we Americans not doing enough, even though Jamaica is near our shores? It is bad enough the Canadians have better health care - but now they even have more effective activism. And, if George W. Bush keeps melting the polar ice caps, they will soon have better weather. Wake up folks, let's do our part in stopping the culture of anti-gay murder in Jamaica.
California: The Huffington Post reports that the California Supreme Court may overturn Proposition 22, a referendum passed in 2000 that prohibits gay people from marrying. The article suggests that the court may also come out in favor of same-sex marriage as early as May 23.
Anticipating a favorable ruling, the right wing is working to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban gay marriage. However, these efforts were set back when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pledged to fight against the potential measure and called it "a total waste of time" at the Log Cabin Republicans National Convention.
The Log Cabin Republicans deserve credit for getting the governor's stance on the record. With the latest poll showing only 51% of Californians against gay marriage, Schwarzenegger's support will likely embolden moderate fence sitters to side with equality.
If same-sex marriage becomes a reality in America's largest and most influential state - and is not overturned by a Constitutional Amendment - it will be the biggest earthquake to hit in years. The sheer number of couples who will marry (and divorce, it is California, after all), will forever change this debate. It will cause a legal mess, as many of these married couples - often with children - migrate to states that still discriminate. The consequences of such relocations will force the entire country to grapple with this issue. No longer will the debate be theoretical, but will focus on the discrimination endured by families whose married status vanishes the moment they cross state lines.
Florida: Now that "The Terminator" has spoken, it is time for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to come out against a state constitutional amendment that would prohibit same-sex marriage. Florida's GLBT advocates need to remind Crist that in 1978, Gov. Ronald Reagan opposed the Briggs Initiative, which would have banned gay and lesbian schoolteachers. The actions by Reagan and Schwarzenegger - certainly not considered wimps - ought to give Crist the political cover to stand for justice.
Love Won Out: In 1998, fifteen socially conservative groups launched a huge "ex-gay" advertising campaign that was billed as the "Normandy Landing in the cultural wars." The attack began with full-page ads in The New York Times and USA Today. Now, ten years and several scandals later, it appears that the right wing may be reconsidering its strategy.
My organization, TruthWinsOut.org, joined local organizations at the Billy DeFrank Center in San Jose to counter Love Won Out, Focus on the Family's ex-gay road show. The anti-gay conference only drew 700 participants, down from past events, which drew thousands of mainly confused parents who were dealing with children who had come out.
More important, this was the second consecutive symposium where Focus on the Family chose not to market to the general public. As in Memphis, the group's usual "ex-gay" billboards did not hover over major highways. The group also did not solicit press from major media outlets until days before the event. Instead, they concentrated their marketing efforts in right wing churches.
The subdued atmosphere of Love Won Out follows a decision by the largest "ex-gay" group, Exodus International, to recall their Washington lobbyist. It is too early to know if the right wing is rethinking the ex-gay issue or simply regrouping to launch another major ad blitz. Perhaps, the twin disasters of Sen. Larry Craig and Rev. Ted Haggard may have severely eroded the already shaky credibility of the ex-gay industry.
The Pope: Speaking of fading road shows, the Pope is in town. On the way over, the Pontiff told us that he is "ashamed" of pedophile priests. I am glad he made it over here in a "timely" fashion to inform us that sexual abuse is wrong. Unfortunately, until the Vatican allows priests to marry, accepts openly gay clergy and admits women to the priesthood, the abuse will continue. Offering regret without reform is a farce.
Presidential Race: The presidential race is getting ridiculous. To win the Oval Office, one has to pretend he or she isn't a product of the Ivy League and has ambitions of joining a bowling league. Obama's critics are attacking him because in San Francisco he rightfully characterized some people as "bitter" and said they "cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
This happens to be a true statement. Many blue collar Americans have helped to create their depressed reality by voting against their economic interests. They have consistently chosen conservative politicians who talk like "common folk" but vote for aristocratic policies. When you elect people who choose finance over farming and mutual funds over manufacturing as the base of our economy, don't blame the immigrants, liberals or homosexuals when your jobs are overseas.
The campaign reached a new level of absurdity when "John McMansion," the Republican presidential nominee, who owns at least eight homes and is one of the wealthiest men in the U.S. Senate, said Obama's comments were elitist.
A traveling national conference billed as an event "to provide help for those struggling - and those whose loved ones struggle - with unwanted same-sex attractions," drew about 700 people to a Mountain View church on Saturday.
The gathering at the evangelical Christian church, Abundant Life Christian Fellowship, also drew a small protest by members of the Bay Area's gay and lesbian community incensed by the conference topic, the longstanding controversy on whether gays can be "converted" - or turned into so-called "ex-gays" through a Christian "step out" program.
Wayne Besen, executive director of Truth Wins Out, a New York City-based non-profit that tracks the "ex-gay" issue, led the protest of about 25 gay men and lesbians outside the church.
"It's false advertising," said Besen, author of a book, "Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth."
"There's no one there who's going to be ex-gay," he said.