Friday, January 30, 2015

Coca-Cola Teams Up With Michael Sam For Positive Message For Internet

Today, if you put yourself out there in the big, wide world, it's very possible you're going to encounter some trolls and haters. Folks who, because they feel safe in their parents basement behind a computer screen, think they have a right to comment, crucify and bring you down.

Michael Sam has experienced firsthand how the Internet has grown increasingly negative.

Watch as Sam teams up with Coca-Cola to channel negativity into positivity and provides great advice for how to #MakeItHappy.

Tune in to the 2015 Big Game to watch Coca-Cola’s commercial. More positive messages from Coke partners here.

NFL Addresses Domestic Violence In Chilling Super Bowl PSA

Whoa. Powerful.

The NFL and the No More campaign (which works to combat domestic violence and sexual assault) teamed up for this PSA to run during the Super Bowl.

The premise comes from a story shared on Reddit last year by a former police dispatcher who once took a call from a domestic abuse victim who pretended to order a pizza in order to get police to her home without tipping off her abuser.


Mittens Will Not Run In 2016

On a conference call this morning, Mitt Romney told donors he will NOT run for the 2016 GOP nomination.


Romney has spoken to supporters on a conference call, reading a statement explaining his decision. “It is best to give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee,” he said. “I believe that one of our next generation of Republican leaders, one who may not be as well known as I am today, one who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started, may well emerge as being better able to defeat the Democrat nominee. In fact, I expect and hope that to be the case.”

It seems in exploring the landscape Mittens found many of his major donors had moved on to Jeb Bush.

Twitter responds:

Official Portrait For NASA Astronaut Leland Melvin

The official portrait for NASA astronaut Leland Melvin.

How awesome is that?

Dogs Rule.

Two and A Half Minutes Of West Side Story Awesomeness

I'm in the middle of working with a terrific cast and creative team of West Side Story in San Diego. Great talent, and of course, amazing material.

I found this today, and it captures how I feel about the creative journey here in SD.

If this doesn't make you smile, nothing will.

Happy Friday!

Super Bowl Commercials: First TV Spot For "Avengers: Age Of Ultron"

Directed by Joss Whedon, the sequel to 2012's Marvel's The Avengers, Age of Ultron stars Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr.

The movie hits theaters May 1st.

ExxonMobile Ends 17 Year Drought On LGBT Protections

After seventeen years of failed attempts, ExxonMobile's board of directors has finally approved adding "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to ExxonMobile's list of protected classes.

Trust and believe, however, that the change doesn't come from a sincere change of heart.

President Obama's July 2014 announcement that federal contractors would have to make such additions and changes to corporate policies in order to do business with the federal government.

However, we get there, though, is still a win.

Expect several anti-gay pundits to moan and whine about this later today.

(via JMG)

Mitt Romney Will Share 2016 Thoughts On Conference Call Today

Bloomberg reports that Mitt Romney is apparently set to share his next steps regarding the 2016 GOP nomination for prez today:

Late Thursday evening, Romney’s political operation sent scores of supporters an email under his name inviting them to join a Friday morning conference call to be led by Romney himself for “an update.” The email was signed “All the best, Mitt.”

Those who have been helping Romney make up his mind say there are three factors in favor of a run, and two factors against. The main rationale on the “go” side is Mitt and Ann Romney’s strongly held conviction that no one in the current field would make a better president. Critics in both parties and the press may scoff at this view, but the Romneys believe it to their core and thus feel Mitt has an obligation to his country to once again shoulder the mantle.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Virginia Ordered To Pay Over $520K To Marriage Equality Lawyers

The state of Virginia has been ordered to pay $520,000 to the lawyers for two same-sex couples who successfully challenged the state’s gay marriage ban.

The law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher will receive $459,000. Shuttleworth, Ruloff, Swain, Haddad & Morecock will receive $61,000.

Court papers show that attorneys logged 2,372 hours on the case. Their fees will be paid by the state Department of Treasury’s Division of Risk Management.

Virginia's same-sex marriage ban was found to be unconstitutional last February. After unsuccessful appeals and SCOTUS refusing to review the ruling, it was a done deal.

In many states, the winning side of a lawsuit may ask for compensatory fees from the losing side.

Hope the tax payers of Virginia don't mind losing those funds to a bigoted argument.

p.s. You will note, the sky has NOT fallen in Virginia since the passage of marriage equality.

Fort Worth To Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

Every now and then, I really love being surprised.

And by that, I'm referring to my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, which announced recently that it will be extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in other states.

The city currently offers health insurance to same-sex partners; however,  by deciding to begin treating them as spouses, those married will now be eligible for other benefits, including pension plans. The change means the city will adhere to IRS rules issued in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Windsor v. United States.

From the city's employee newsletter:

The City of Fort Worth will be extending spousal benefits to same-sex couples beginning Feb. 1, 2015.

This change will allow the city to follow the IRS's definition of "spouse" as defined for federal income taxes in the granting of survivor benefits.

Since the city's retirement ordinance does not specifically define "spouse," surviving spouses in a same-sex marriage will be eligible for survivor benefits if the survivor can prove, through documentation, that they were legally married to the employee/retiree in a state where same-sex marriage is legally recognized.

(via Towleroad)

American Family Foundation Denounces Hate Speech By Bryan Fischer

Yesterday, I posted about the "firing" of Bryan Fischer by the SPLC-certified hate group, American Family Association.

It seems the "firing" was more a transparent strategy to distance itself from the hateful rhetoric of Mr. Fischer; however, while he is stripped of his former title, he continues to host the organizations daily radio show and write for the AFA blog.

Ergo, he is still part of the organization.

Today, in a letter to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the AFA presented a laundry list of claims by their radio host Bryan Fischer and demanded that such bile-bearing hate speech not be attributed to their organization in the future.

The American Family Association's list:

• AFA rejects the idea expressed by Bryan Fischer that "Free exercise of religion" only applies to Christians. Consequently, AFA rejects Bryan's assertions that Muslims should not be granted permits to build mosques in the United States;

• AFA rejects the ideas expressed by Bryan Fischer that the violent expulsion of Native Americans was divinely ordained and that, "Superstition, savagery and sexual immorality" morally disqualified Native Americans from "sovereign control of American soil."

• AFA rejects the ideas expressed by Bryan Fischer that "we" need to clamp down on immigration because Hispanics are socialist by nature and vote Democratic because it allows them to "benefit from the plunder of the wealth of the United States."

• AFA rejects Bryan Fischer's characterization of minorities as "people who rut like rabbits."

• AFA rejects the statement by Bryan Fischer that, "Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews."

• AFA rejects the policy advocated by Bryan Fischer that homosexual conduct should be illegal.

• AFA rejects the notion advocated by Bryan Fischer that, "We need an underground railroad to protect innocent children from same-sex households."

• AFA rejects Bryan Fischer's statement that, "If Hillary Clinton becomes president In 2016, she will not only be our first female president, she could be our first lesbian president."

In light of this notice, do not continue to charge AFA with the statements by Bryan Fischer that we have repudiated. When identifying "hate groups" in the context of training military or law enforcement personnel, do not put AFA in a false light by quoting Mr. Fischer's statements that we have repudiated.

The SPLC responded in this manner:

Without ending Mr. Fischer’s talk show, without apologizing for the bigoted statements that he, Mr. Wildmon, and others associated with the AFA have made, and without making it crystal clear that the AFA will not tolerate any such statements in the future, the AFA’s 11th-hour disavowal of Mr. Fischer appears to serve only one purpose: to give the AFA a degree of plausible deniability while it continues to spew hateful rhetoric. It’s a shell game and a transparent one at that.

However, after the years of hate speech by Fischer, I'm more inclined to think along the lines of my friend Joe Jervis at JoeMyGod:

To the AFA's request we say FUCK THAT. Bryan Fischer is paid by the AFA, his office is staffed by the AFA, and his vile words are broadcast nationwide every motherfucking day by the AFA. As long at that continues to be the case, the American Family Association OWNS every fucking word that Bryan Fisher spews.

North Carolina: GOP State Senator Introduces Bill To Allow Officials to Opt-Out Of Duties

Yesterday was the first day at work for the new state Assembly in North Carolina, and already high level Republican members have filed legislation that would allow state officials from performing same-sex marriages.

Republican state Senator Phil Berger filed a bill that would allow magistrate's the ability to "opt-out" of performing same-sex marriages (and assistant and deputy registers from issuing marriage licenses) based on "sincerely held religious objections."

To avoid the appearance of discrimination, however, such recusal would last at least six month AND those individuals would have to opt-out of any marriages, straight or gay.

Via Citizen-Times:

What we're talking about is trying to protect or at least recognize and provide an accommodation for people who have sincerely held beliefs that are protected by the First Amendment," Berger said in an interview with The Associated Press. "So what we're trying to is find a balance."

Democratic lawmakers and the gay-rights group Equality North Carolina said at a news conference such a recusal measure is discrimination in disguise against gays and lesbians.

"In North Carolina, gay marriage is legal and the magistrates who have sworn to administer these laws must do so equally and for everyone," said Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg, a former assistant district attorney. He added that as an appointed prosecutor he couldn't choose or refuse to prosecute anyone based on personal religious beliefs.

Opponents of the bill say the legislation's ulterior motive is clear - to discriminate against a group of citizens. Plus, it opens the door for public officials to find other ways to avoid public duties.

Former Ford Worker Fired For 'Homosexual Behavior Leads To Death' Comment

Last summer, Ford Motor Company shared it's anti-harassment policy in a company newsletter.

Offended by the pro-LGBT stance, Thomas Banks, who worked for Rapid Global Business Solutions, says he found Ford's conflicted with his seriously held religious beliefs. He then submitted his thoughts on the subject to Ford:

“For this Ford Motor should be thoroughly ashamed. Endorsing and promoting sodomy is of benefit to no one. This topic is disruptive to the workplace and is an assault on Christians and morality, as well as antithetical to our design and our survival. Immoral sexual conduct should not be a topic for an automotive manufacturer to endorse or promote. And yes-this is historic-but not in a good way. Never in the history of mankind has a culture survived that promotes sodomy. Heterosexual behavior creates life - homosexual behavior leads to death.”

For the violation of company policy, he was terminated.

Now he is suing both his former employer and Ford Motor Company for what he says is "religious discrimination." (Interestingly, he twice says he was "invited" by Ford to comment on the policy.)

Ford issued this statement on Wednesday: “We have not yet seen the complaint, however, we believe this matter ultimately is between the individual and their agency employer. Ford’s anti-harassment policy was created to foster a respectful, inclusive work environment for all, and we expect employees and agency personnel to act in accordance with this policy.”

And RGBSI, the agency that contracted Banks to Ford, released this statement: “RGBSI is an equal opportunity employer that supports an inclusive work environment and respects the rights of all individuals. We have no comment as to the particular facts of this case since this is a pending legal matter.”

You can read the complaint here.

See the news report below from ABC affiliate WXYZ in Detroit:

New Music: 2Cellos featuring Lang Lang "Live And Let Die"

From the new album by 2Cellos - Celloverse.

The sexy men of 2Cellos welcome guest Lang Lang for their take on the James Bond movie tune, "Live and Let Die."

I love what these guys do with so many songs we love. And the passion they bring to their play.

I've written about them before here and here.

Find the new album for purchase or download here.

Hate Group Leader No More - Bryan Fischer Fired By American Family Association

For years, readers have seen me posted about the outrageous and hateful things that have spewed forth from Bryan Fischer - now formerly of the hate group, the American Family Association.

It seems all things must come to an end something, as the AFA announced tonight that Bryan Fischer is no longer the spokesman for the organization; the position he has held for years.

From the clip description:

Rachel Maddow tonight broke news that the American Family Association has officially fired notorious evangelist Bryan Fischer after a controversy involving the RNC and Israel. Fischer is notorious for having some––well, let’s not sugarcoat it––crazy views on gays, “homofascists,” more crazy views on gays, and… yeah, basically a lot of gay stuff.

Fischer is so out there, he concocted some insane conspiracy theory last year that the only reason Shepard Smith wasn’t freaking out about Ebola is because he wants to support President Obama‘s big government gay agenda.

At issue this time is an RNC trip to Israel that was apparently being paid for by the American Family Association, of which Fischer is the director of issues analysis.

Or, rather, he was. Until today.

Maddow quoted AFA President Tim Wildmon as dismissing Fischer as “just a talk show host” who is no longer associated with the AFA. When asked specifically what bothered him about Fischer, he cited “the soundbite quotes, you know, the Hitler and the homosexuality one… we reject that.”

I invite you to watch the video below where Rachel Maddow explains how this impacts the Republican National Committee and Israel.

Ding, dong, the witch is dead, which old witch? The wicked witch...

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