Monday, December 10, 2012

Kissing Gay Couple Claims Charlottetown Bar Discriminated Against Them, While Marching To Mark Human Rights Day Members Of Ukraine LGBT Community And Allies Attacked By Ultranationalists, Illinois Governor Quinn Says He Wants Same Sex Marriage Bill Moves Through Assembly In January, Gay Student Asks Justice Scalia To Defend Statements Equating Laws Banning Sodomy With Those Barring Murder, Calls That Sports Radio Hosts Be Suspended For Vile Anti-Transgender Remarks, Gay Couple Wins Amazing Race, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Annie Leibovitz Lists Manhattan Property For $33 Million

In Prince Edward Island, two gay men claim they were singled out for kissing at a Charlottetown bar, but one of the owners says it's all a misunderstanding. CBC News reports that the two men say they were on the dance floor of Jack Cameron's Nightclub and Eatery on Friday night when they kissed. They say co-owner Gordie Cameron pulled them aside and told them to stop. The men, who asked to remain anonymous, say they were told the bar has a new policy against kissing on the dance floor, but other straight couples were kissing and weren't told to stop. "Targeting one gay couple and no straight couple puts a bad image on him. It's just sad to see that on Prince Edward Island. We have a larger population of homophobic people," one of the men said. CBC News agreed not to name him. The men posted their story on Facebook. It wasn't long before hundreds of posts appeared on the bar's Facebook page and some personal pages, accusing the bar and Cameron of being homophobic and discriminatory. Cameron posted a reply. He admitted that he asked the men to stop kissing, but said there was no animosity and he bought them each a drink. He said he never kicked them out. "I am not homophobic. Calling me homophobic is untrue and uncalled for. For these guys to play that card is unfair not only to me, but also to my staff and our customers. I have been the subject of libel and defamation in return for trying to provide customer service," he wrote. Cameron said he set out to change the reputation of the bar when he became the night-time manager two months ago. The bar, called The Dirty by some, was known for what Cameron called "sometimes excessive" intimate acts on the dance floor that upset customers. "My actions were performed as a business-owner trying to make changes. Such overt behaviour would normally be reserved for the privacy of your bedroom. Being at ‘The Dirty’ does not give you the right to act inappropriately. It’s unacceptable, and will not be tolerated at Jack Cameron's," he wrote. Cameron said he has told at least a dozen couples – both gay and straight – to stop kissing. He said if he missed any Friday night, it was simply because he didn't see them. Cameron said all the negative comments directed at him and his staff forced him to close comments on the bar's Facebook page. The two men say they dispute Cameron's side of the story, and add that neither they nor their friends will be returning to the bar.

Saturday, several members of Ukraine’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as well as their supporters, were allegedly beaten by ultranationalists while taking part in a rally to commemorate international Human Rights Day. Many in the march of some 100 people, including human rights activists and LGBT sympathizers, were protesting a law that bans the “promotion” of homosexuality. One participant sustained a broken nose, while others were sprayed with teargas. Police detained six people. Ihor Mykhalko, Kyiv police spokesperson, said all six people detained on December 8 are accused of using teargas for hooliganism purposes. “This is a petty crime. There has been no court ruling yet as far as I know,” Mykhalko told the Kyiv Post. He refused to identify the persons detained are members of any organizations or political parties. The LGBT community blamed the nationalist Svoboda Party. However, the party – led by Oleh Tyahnybok – denied involvement in the attacks. Svoboda won 38 seats in the 450-seat parliament in the October 28 parliamentary election. “Three girls from the Svoboda Party approached me and my colleague who were holding banners and attempted to tear up the banner. Although the police kept us in the circle, they let these girls in because they had journalist IDs,” said Timur Lysenko, one of the activists of Insight, an LGBT non-profit group. Witnesses said that a young man carrying a rainbow flag – a symbol of gay pride in the LGBT community – was also attacked. “One of the women used teargas and then immediately a young man rushed to the place where the sound equipment was stored and started to smash it. In a moment, police got involved, a fight broke out and people got detained,” said Kostyantyn Reutski, a human rights activist who took part in the protest. Lysenko and his colleague, along with the women who allegedly attacked them, were detained by the police, along with three other people. Sergiy, a man who said he was assaulted spoke on condition of anonymity because he still fears for his personal safety. “I and three friends went to a cafe after the protest and right near the exit we were attacked by a group of men,” Sergiy said. The attack was swift and the group of attackers dispersed quickly, he said. Sergiy is now recovering at home with a broken nose and reported his case to the police. Sergiy said he’s “a left movement activist” and came to support the LGBT community. “I have never been attacked before, but it has happened to people I know at these kind of events,” he said. Svoboda denied involvement in the march, however. “On Saturday Svoboda Party had a general meeting which lasted from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm There was no other official event that day,” said Yuriy Syrotyuk, a spokesperson for Svoboda. He added Svoboda’s journalists were not seen in the pictures of people seen attacking anyone and were “probably just covering the event.” He said the party is looking into the incident. Syrotyuk added that Svoboda supports “traditional Ukrainian family values.” Lysenko says nationalists always show up at their protests, and they recognize many provocateurs by their faces. “Previously they were mostly young men. Now more and more women are being used so that they will be less suspicious to the police,” said Lysenko. Being openly gay in Ukraine continues to prove dangerous. Members of the LGBT community are often attacked. On May 20, Svyatoslav Sheremet, leader of the Gay Forum of Ukraine, was attacked when the activists tried to organize Ukraine’s first gay pride parade in Kyiv. Pictures of a group of men assumed to be neo-Nazis beating Sheremet circulated widely in major world media outlets. The incident drew attention to the problem of homophobia in Ukraine. Ukraine’s legislature might make it even more difficult to be gay in Ukraine. A draft law deemed “homophobic” by the LGBT community and human rights organisations passed the first reading in parliament on October 2, as 289 lawmakers voted in favor. The draft law makes it illegal to talk about homosexuality in public and in the media. Also illegal is the import, distribution and broadcast of video, photo and audio products that “encourages homosexuality.” Anyone who does risks being jailed for up to five years and fined for up to Hr 5,000 should the law pass a second reading and is signed by the president. The law was bashed by the Amnesty International, the European Union, the United Nations and human rights activists in Ukraine. While attacks on LGBT activists are not rare, police hardly ever detain attackers and even less frequently charge anyone with more severe hate crime laws. Sheremet’s May attackers were never found.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says he hopes a bill allowing gay marriage in Illinois moves through the General Assembly next month. Lawmakers gather January 2 for what promises to be a busy lame duck session that includes considering a bill allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver's licenses and a pension overhaul. New lawmakers are sworn in January 9. Earlier this year, legislators filed the "Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act." It eliminates the part of state law that explicitly prohibits gay marriages and would offer same-sex couples the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples. Quinn said Monday that lawmakers should study the issue carefully. He signed a bill last year legalizing civil unions, but 25 gay couples are suing over the state's gay-marriage ban.

Monday, United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia found himself defending his legal writings that some find offensive and anti-gay. According to the Associated Press, speaking at Princeton University, Scalia was asked by a gay student why he equates laws banning sodomy with those barring bestiality and murder. ‘‘I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective,’’ Scalia said, adding that legislative bodies can ban what they believe to be immoral. Scalia has been giving speeches around the country to promote his new book, Reading Law, and his lecture at Princeton comes just days after the court agreed to take on two cases that challenge the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Some in the audience who had come to hear Scalia speak about his book applauded but more of those who attended the lecture clapped at Hosie’s question. ‘‘It’s a form of argument that I thought you would have known, which is called the ‘reduction to the absurd,'’’ Scalia told freshman Duncan Hosie of San Francisco during the question-and-answer period. ‘‘If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder? Can we have it against other things?’’ Scalia said he is not equating sodomy with murder but drawing a parallel between the bans on both. Then he deadpanned: ‘‘I'm surprised you aren’t persuaded.’’ Hosie said afterward that he was not persuaded by Scalia’s answer. He said he believes Scalia’s writings tend to ‘‘dehumanize’’ gays. As Scalia often does in public speaking, he cracked wise, taking aim mostly at those who view the Constitution as a ‘‘living document’’ that changes with the times. ‘‘It isn’t a living document,’’ Scalia said. ‘‘It’s dead, dead, dead, dead.’’ He said that people who see the Constitution as changing often argue they are taking the more flexible approach. But their true goal is to set policy permanently, he said. ‘‘My Constitution is a very flexible one,’’ he said. ‘‘There’s nothing in there about abortion. It’s up to the citizens. ... The same with the death penalty.’’ Scalia said that interpreting laws requires adherence to the words used and to their meanings at the time they were written.

A gay rights website is calling for the suspension of two sports talk radio hosts for what it says were "disgusting" comments. Outsports.com, which says its "mission is to build the broadest, deepest, most informative and most entertaining gay sports community," says that Washington, D.C., area radio hosts Andy Pollin and Steve Czaban should be suspended for on-air remarks made in discussing this USA Today Sports Media story about Gabrielle Ludwig, 50, a transgender playing basketball on a women's junior college team. The hosts, on an ESPN affiliate, issued a short apology Monday for remarks that included Czaban saying "whatever you've got to do to scratch that inner itch and quell those inner demons, that's fine. But don't go playing sports then. (And don't say) I've got the rights of everyone else." The pair remain on-air, but the site argues they should be suspended because "these are disgusting remarks ... meant to demean another human being who has broken no laws and no rules." Chuck Sapienza, vice president for programming for the station, AM 980, Monday said that Pollin and Czaban had "made remarks that were extremely insensitive and their actions were dealt with internally in a swift manner. Due to the language of their contracts we are not allowed to comment publicly on any disciplinary actions."

Remember in the theme song of the CBS sitcom Green Acres how Eva Gabor, as Lisa Douglas, bade goodbye to city life? That also seems to be the fate of a winner of a CBS reality series. Josh Kilmer-Purcell, who, with his fiancé, Brent Ridge, finished first on the 21st season of The Amazing Race on Sunday night, will be leaving his job at the JWT New York advertising agency, he said on Monday. He will be joining Ridge in Sharon Springs, New York, where the couple own a farm that has been the subject of another reality series, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, and a book, The Bucolic Plague. During the season, the couple were identified onscreen by CBS as “goat farmers.” (Each pair of contestants has a description superimposed onscreen when they appear.) In the closing moments of the final episode, when Kilmer-Purcell and Ridge won the $1 million prize, Kilmer-Purcell told Ridge that “winning this race will bring us together for the next 50 years.” Kilmer-Purcell has been living in the couple’s apartment in Manhattan while working as a creative director at JWT New York, part of the JWT division of WPP. He joined Ridge — who formerly worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia — on the farm on weekends. “I’ve been talking to JWT for a while” about leaving, Kilmer-Purcell, 43, said in a phone interview, particularly as the couple’s business centered on the farm — selling products like soap, linens, stationery and cookbooks — “has been growing.” If anything, competing in “The Amazing Race” may have delayed his decision to leave, Kilmer-Purcell said, because if he had announced he was leaving while the show was still weeding out contestants, others might infer that the reason was the couple’s first-prize finish. Kilmer-Purcell said he hoped to have his work at the agency wrapped up by the end of the year. “We want to make sure the transition is smooth,” he said. And “hopefully, when they need me on a project basis, I could still” return, he added. Kilmer-Purcell and Ridge, 38, who joined him for the phone interview, said they were hopeful that the outcome of The Amazing Race could lead to a third season for The Fabulous Beekman Boys. That reality series, about the couple’s life on the farm, ran for two seasons on the now-defunct Planet Green cable channel, which had been part of Discovery Communications. Reruns of the show, which ended in 2011, are now appearing on the Cooking Channel cable network, part of Scripps Networks Interactive. If there is a third season, Kilmer-Purcell said, he hoped it would be “a wedding season for us.” The couple have been together for 15 years. The first out gay couple to win a reality series competition, Chip Arndt and Reichen Lehmkuhl, appeared on The Amazing Race during Season 4, in 2003. The couple broke up soon after, however. When reminded of that during the interview, Kilmer-Purcell replied, laughing, “Reichen’s been reaching out to me all day.” More seriously, Kilmer-Purcell said he wanted to speak out in favor of reality TV. “Reality television gets a lot of bad knocks,” he said, because of series like The Real Housewives shows and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. “I’m proud that I’ve been able to be part of two shows that have had a positive impact,” he added. Kilmer-Purcell said he used vacation and personal time from JWT New York to film The Amazing Race during the summer with Ridge. The two, like all contestants on the show, were asked not to discuss the outcome with anyone until the finale was broadcast. In fact, the New York Times reporter who interviewed the two, met the couple at an event in September during Advertising Week New York and, indeed, they remained mum about the outcome — not even hinting that they had won. Ridge said he and Kilmer-Purcell had been reading reactions to their victory that are both positive and negative. Among the negative was Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly, who declared that the “wrong team” had won; he had been rooting for a team composed of two Chippendale dancers. Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell said they believed their careers in advertising, branding and media helped their game on The Amazing Race. “You have to be intuitive and strategic” to win the numerous competitions during the season, which pit the teams of contestants against each other, Kilmer-Purcell said. “We might not have had the muscle or youth on our side, but we were intuitive and strategic.”

Patrick Schwarzenegger, lunching with mother Maria Shriver, is suddenly shy.

Photographer Annie Leibovitz has listed her West Village compound for $33 million. Composed of three separate townhouses on a corner of Greenwich Street, the property is currently configured to include living space, offices and guest quarters. The buildings surround a slate patio and private courtyard garden. Inside the main home, there are wide-plank wood floors, high ceilings, a formal dining room and chef's kitchen. The building that includes Leibovitz's studio has a large reception room. The property includes 13 fireplaces in all and has a combined total of more than 10,200 square feet. "It's very rare to have something like this," says listing broker Paula Del Nunzio, of Brown Harris Stevens. "She created it." The brick buildings, in a Greek Revival style, date back to the 1830s. According to public records, Leibovitz, best known for her celebrity photographs, began assembling the property in 2002, purchasing the first two buildings for $4.2 million. She later purchased the third townhouse for $1.9 million. She has since gut-renovated all three homes. In 2009, Ms. Leibovitz faced a wave of publicity when a dispute over the terms of the repayment of a loan involved her townhouses and photo archives, which creditors claimed she'd put up as collateral. The matter was later resolved. Leibovitz is selling because she plans to move uptown to be closer to the school of her three daughters, according to Ms. Del Nunzio. Guida De Carvalhosa, also of Brown Harris Stevens, shares the listing.

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