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This and that in the mailbag - open thread

Friday, November 17, 2006

The traveling sucked today. My flight was delayed for two hours, so I sat in RDU flipping through the election issue of Newsweek, walking around, killing time. I was on Continental for the first time in years; it is the only airline that still serves more than a tiny sack of trail mix these days. I got a little tray with some parmesan/gouda cheese food spread and some table water crackers (that was fine), a vacuum sealed package of nasty looking salami slices (no way I was eating that), trail mix (ok), and plain M&Ms (nope).

Oh -- they confiscated my tube of Vaseline lip gloss during the liquids and gels sweep in security. I forgot it and it was in one of my carry-ons. That reminds me of the last trip and a story I forgot to tell you all.

When I went to DC for the CNN gig, I had a ludicrous experience in the airport on the way there -- the new TSA rule is that you can bring liquids and gels on only if they are 3 oz or less and can fit in a ziploc bag.

I had a couple of items in there since I was traveling light, and I think I had a gallon size ziploc bag in my carry-on with: a stick deodorant, a small tube of toothpaste, a toothbrush, and a 3 oz. bottle of Dr. Bronner's liquid peppermint soap, and hand lotion. The Dr. Bronner's I had in a separate, really small ziploc (smaller than quart size) within the larger bag, just in case it might leak.

I get to the counter where you're supposed to show them any liquids or gels and I pull out the ziploc. The TSA worker says "you can't take that." I ask why. He says only quart-size ziplocs are allowed. I stare at him dumbfounded and point to the bag and said "the items I have would fit in a quart bag." He tells me it doesn't matter.

So I take out the tiny ziploc with the Dr. Bronner's in it and add the toothpaste and hand lotion, leaving only the toothbrush and deodorant in the gallon bag and hold it up to him and ask "will this work?"

He then lets me through. Insane.

***

Anyway, a lot has piled up in the mailbag while I was in transit here to Houston.



* Soulforce is looking for young folks to participate in round 2 of its Soulforce Equality Ride. Earlier this year, the project visited 19 Christian and military universities who ban the enrollment of LGBT students. I was contacted by Katie Higgins, Director of Operations for Soulforce Young Adult Activism, and she described the effort.
We seek dialogue at each of these schools and that process has already begun for the 2007 Ride. Last week over 100 letters were mailed to the presidents of schools we could possibly visit and their responses have started to come back in: Yellow Baptist College in Montana wrote back, 'No thank you.' , Union University in Jackson, TN told us that our attempt to visit their school last year has sparked many debates and discussions on the issue and that there is no room for us to come on their spring schedule this year. Well, I say to them that there is no room for their bigotry on my schedule, so we'll see you soon. Not all of the schools have had that same reaction though, some have already started the process of building a day with us that will host school-sponsored Equality Ride events.

We need Equality Riders. I am asking for 50 of my peers to step up and answer the call to activism that has been twitching in the back of their minds. The Soulforce Equality Ride is an all-expense paid journey into the hearts and minds of America that will bring the Riders and the students of these schools to a deeper understanding of themselves and their surrounding world. Equality Riders are quite often the first open and affirming LGBT and allied voices that have ever been heard on thess campuses.

We will fly Riders out to Austin, TX at the start of 2007 for a five day training and then back out to Minneapolis, MN in March for the start of the Ride. One bus will travel east (and to the deep south) and the other west, covering more ground than 2006 and talking to even more students.
Here's how you can apply to be a rider.

* Peterson Toscano alerted me to bleatings by "ex-gay for pay" Randy Thomas, Exodus International's Director of Membership on the Adam Carolla show. Apparently Thomas is claiming that no one is forced into these pray away the gay camps.
Randy: We provide help for those who have unwanted homosexuality live their lives in a way congruent with their faith.
Carolla: So you have to not want to be gay. You can't be wrestled in by a family member. You have to want to be in this program.
Randy: Absolutely. We respect a person's right to self-determination.
You might recall the story of sixteen-year-old Zach, who was forced last year by his parents into Exodus's Love in Action/Refuge program. How does Thomas square that with his comments?

* Daniel at Ex-Gay Watch passed on this batsh*t insanity about Crazy Pat Robertson's "Bible-Based Foreign Policy Expertise."
Now how about this as a solution? Why not, if George Bush wants to get clever, why not go to the Syrians and say 'OK, Mr. Assad, we're going to work out a merger between Syria and Iraq. The only requirement is that you make peace down here with Israel, that you get your hands off Lebanon, don't try to interfere the affairs of Lebanon. And in the process, you're going to have access to these huge oil fields in the north and in the south [of Iraq]. And to the Iraqis, you're going to have a port on the Mediterranean that you don't have, and you will have a big territory This could isolate Iran.
* The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy has a new report up, "And Justice For All? Litigation, Politics, and the State of Marriage Equality Today," by Suzanne B. Goldberg of Columbia Law School, that you can download.

* Autumn points to a new slur that's sure to catch on with the transphobes -- transvestitutes. Apparently this was coined by Atlanta's Midtown Ponce Security Alliance, the security council of the Midtown Neighbors Association. The group's president, Peggy Denby, defends the term, saying she simply wants trans prostitutes out of the neighborhood. From Diana Bagby's editorial in the Southern Voice:
Even the security alliance's official October 2006 safety report states: "Sgt. Miller stressed that the transvestitutes on our streets are dangerous and one should exercise caution around them. Most of them are doing so to support a drugs habit, making them irrational and potentially violent. They also carry blades and pepper spray, and are quick to attack residents when challenged or observed (especially when taking pictures or observing with binoculars)."
* Joe My God has a post up thanking escort Mike Jones, who took exposed hypocrite Ted Haggard -- and there's a way to PayPal to hat tip Jones, who is, as you know, unemployable since that outing. The unlikely hero's also received death threats (probably from some of those "good Christians) because of what he's done.

* Wingnuts launch a campaign against Library of Congress for accepting papers of pioneer gay activist Frank Kameny (see Towleroad). Apparently Porno Pete got his knickers in a twist over it as well. Look at the hysterical title of his screed: 'Gay' Hero Frank Kameny Calls Believers "Christianofascists"; Library of Congress Honors "Gay Is Godly" Atheist.

* Speaking of the leather-loving one, Peter is trying to help out a petition effort to stop a screening of Brokeback Mountain at Seton Hall University, a Catholic institution. The TFP Student Action group's "urgent action" item directed to Msgr. Robert Sheeran, the president of Seton Hall is sad; it's almost as if PP wrote it himself.
Dear Msgr. Sheeran:

I am shocked the Seton Hall Arts Council plans to show Brokeback Mountain on November 20. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops classified this pro-homosexual film as "morally offensive."

The film approves same-sex relations, adultery, nudity, profanity and drug use. It is a blow to the Catholic identity of Seton Hall University, to America's Christian roots, the institution of the family and very foundations of morality and society.

I will be deeply hurt as a Christian if Brokeback Mountain is not canceled at Seton Hall University, a Catholic institution. Together with thousands of TFP Student Action members, I prayerfully urge you to cancel the film. Thank you.
* A couple of you sent in this one: Homosexual Animals Out of the Closet. The University of Oslo's Natural History Museum, in Norway, has an exhibit of 51 species of of animals where homosexuality has been documented (out of 1,500 species where it has been observed). In the same vein, a gay penguin book blows a few minds in an Illinois school (it also sets off the Freepi).