Breaking ground in South Africa with a traditional Zulu gay wedding


Melanie Nathan | Oblogdeeoblogda | April 07, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 9.53.58 AM South Africa is a leader in the world of equality, enjoying an all inclusive constitution, where same-sex marriage is legal and discrimination against LGBTI people outlawed. However that has not stopped homophobia and fear to embrace LGBTI South Africans as fully equal.

This video  and the report of the marriage that followed, shows an extraordinary example of new-found acceptance, as a small community embraces a young gay Zulu couple, about to embark upon, not only a legal marriage, but also a traditional marriage.

As reported from South Africa:

Two young men tied the knot in a rare South African gay wedding in KwaDukuza (Stanger) on Saturday.In what was described as the town’s first gay marriage, Tshepo Modisane and Thoba Sithole, both 27, walked down the aisle in front of 200 guests at the Stanger Siva Sungam community hall.

The wedding was a jubilant, exciting affair, attracting even uninvited members of the local community.

Thoba, a Joburg-based IT specialist, is from Shakaville, KwaDukuza and Tshepo an audit manager at PwC. They have known each other for years and dated on and off, before stabilising their relationship.

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 10.04.02 AMNow that they are wedded, they will take on the double-barrelled surname of Sithole-Modisane.

The couple appeared to enjoy the support from the community, family and friends.

The couple are reportedly planning to have children through a surrogate.

“Family is important to us and that is the number one reason why we want to have children,” said Thoba.

“We also want our children to grow up in an environment where they are loved greatly by both parents who appreciate them.” (SA Report)

This wedding will go down in history as one of the most significant events in South African LGBTI history, as it breaks unknown barriers in the face of last year’s assault by the Zulu traditional chiefs, who sought to remove sexual orientation as a protected class from the South African Constitution. The South African gay community held numerous protests against the move and it was thwarted.

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Gay-hating Pastor Scott Lively finds new foothold in Oklahoma


Cathy Kristofferson, April 07, 2013

Oblogdeeoblogda (c)

Oblogdeeoblogda (c)

A year ago last April, some of us, ever vigilant on “Scott Lively Watch” and his rein of hate towards the gay community, were poised to warn those next in his path. So when we noticed that the anti-gay pastor was scheduled to do a 3-day training at Draper Park Christian Church Oklahoma City entitled “THE L.G.B.T. LONG CON– Its mission to neutralize Bible-based Christianityhow it’s been done before & is succeeding now; & what you must do about it, ” the flares were fired and Kathy Baldock, the evangelical leader of Canyon Walkers Ministry, commented:

“As unaware and passive Christians sit in the isolating confines of their church homes and potlucks, the “ugly Jesus” is aggressively attacking. … By the end of Sunday night, April 29th, Scott Lively will have indoctrinated more people with fear and lies, cleverly duct taped together with some verses from the Bible.  His unholy war of sacred discrimination will inflict new damage to the gay community and the church in Oklahoma.”

Well, her prediction seems to have come true as one year later we see the result with the announcement that Oklahoma is giving rise to “Oklahomans for the 1st Amendment”. 

It wasn’t hard to figure out who was responsible when the WND article announcing the group was entitled “FED-UP CHRISTIANS OUT TO DEFEAT ‘HOMOFASCISM’”.

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Salon LGBTQ Launches First Conference for Gay and Lesbian Bloggers and LGBT Social Media Power Influencers


Tallahassee, FL (PRWEB) April 08, 2013

Salon LGBTQ, the first national conference for LGBTQ bloggers and digital content creators, will launch on October 17, 2013 at the Renaissance Midtown in Atlanta. Conference tickets for the LGBT social media conference (http://SalonLGBTQ.com) went on sale today.

The conference for gay and lesbian bloggers celebrates the diverse voices in LGBT social media with a premium offering of speakers, interactive sessions and networking opportunities. Salon LGBTQ will support development within the increasingly important gay, lesbian, trans and queer social media sector.

“This year is a defining moment of power and influence for LGBT social media leaders,” said Salon LGBTQ founder and business strategist Deb Rox. “The Salon is a must-attend event for any LGBTQ blogger or social media professional leveraging online platforms to create change, build community, share content or craft professional advancement, as well as for marketers who want to reach loyal LGBT audiences and their allies.”

Trend Watch: 2013 is The Year of LGBT Social Media Power

LGBT issues are emerging as 2013’s social media story of the year — just look at the more than 2.7 million avatar changes made in support of marriage equality as reported by Facebook. “Bloggers and social media leaders­ fan the flames of awareness about LGBT issues,” said Rox. “The power of the queer blogosphere to catalyze our own demographic as well as to inform and provide thought leadership for our allies has never been more evident.”

Companies are taking note. Brands like Target, Google and JCP have been joining travel, food and beverage brands in courting the increasing social power of the demographic with advertising and sponsorship dollars. It’s a worthy investiment, as the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community is a massive market with over $790 billion in buying power in the U.S. according to a 2012 study by Witeck Communications. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, because gay consumers also have influence with straignt friends and family members as well as with allied supporters.

Best Gay and Lesbian Bloggers Prepare to Gather for the First Time

Salon LGBTQ will provide two days of sessions and parties for publishers of all types, ranging from those who cover travel, food, entertainment and lifestyle topics, to gay and lesbian parent bloggers, to social issue and political writers and group publications.

This gay and lesbian social media conference meets a notable gap in the technology conference industry. While other niche conferences serve different communities, no large-scale open registration event has been held with an LGBTQ focus despite the immense power and reach of online gay and lesbian blogs and publications. Salon LGBTQ will provide training, parties and networking opportunities to support the continued strength and growth of the queer blogosphere.

For more details and to register to attend Salon LGBTQ, please visit: http://www.salonLGBTQ.com

About Salon LGBTQ: Salon LGBTQ is the annual conference for LGBTQ bloggers and social media influencers. The first and only event of its kind, Salon LGBTQ will gather over 250 attendees at its inaugural event in October in Atlanta. The conference for the queer blogosphere was founded by noted lesbian blogger Deb Rox (http://DebontheRocks.com).

About Deb Rox: Deb Rox blogs for BlogHer.com and Babble.com and at her own site Deb on the Rocks (http://Debontherocks.com). She is founder and principal at Platform (http://platformunlimited.com), a provider of business development and strategic communication consulting for digital publishers and brands and is President of the Board of Directors for Violence UnSilenced, (http://violenceunsilenced.com) an online speak-out forum.

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Dutch Pride flags at half mast, thousands set to protest Putin visit


Cathy Kristofferson | Oblogdeeoblogda | April 08, 2013

Update from Amsterdam press conference: When asked today about whether gay rights are violated in Russia, in true bigot form Putin responded with a comparison to pedophilia:

“Can you imagine an organization promoting pedophilia in Russia? I think people in many Russian regions would have started to take up arms. The same is true for sexual minorities: I can hardly imagine same-sex marriages being allowed in Chechnya. Can you imagine it? It would have resulted in human casualties,” he said.

Today is one of those days I wish I was ‘where the action is’.  And today that would be Amsterdam.  Ever since his visit was announced – to mark the 400 years of friendship between Russia and the Netherlands – gay right’s activists have been up in arms.

putinPutin’s Russian government is poised to bring in new legislation which will make it a criminal offence to hold public events such as Pride celebration or to spread information (‘promote’) about homosexuality to minors. The bill passed easily in January and will be back for a second reading later this year.

Rainbow flags are flying at half mast and over 3,000 people have signed up to demonstrate the dinner he will be attending.  The demonstration will include a performance by a local drag queen who will perform a re-written ‘Rasputin‘:

‘There lives an evil man in Russia nowadays. He supports a law against lesbians and gays…’

We will post pictures here of the awesomeness as they become available:

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DOMA Packs a Particularly Potent Punch at Tax Time


John M. Becker | Bilerico | April 8, 2013

Unless you happen to be married to a citizen of a foreign country, re-entering the United Statesafter a trip abroad, adopting a child, or dealing with the death of a spouse (and if you are, my condolences), if you’re one half of a legally married same-sex couple there’s a very good chance that this time of year – uncle_sam_marriage_discrimination.jpgtax time – is the time you and your spouse most acutely feel the sting of marriage discrimination.

If you live in a non-marriage equality state, you know how degrading it is to have to check the box next to the word “Single” on your federal and state tax forms.

If you happen to live in one of the six states where marriage equality is the law of the land – or any of the five non-equality states that allow same-sex couples to file jointly – you’re at least spared the indignity of your state government pretending that you and your soulmate are legal strangers. But due to the discriminatory “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA), the federal government is forbidden from recognizing the marriages of same-sex couples.

For the moment, at least, your legal marriage does not exist in the eyes of the United States of America. And while state-level marriage equality or relationship recognition is unequivocally a good thing, same-sex couples know that the dissonance between state recognition and federal non-recognition can create some pretty major headaches during tax season.

I’m not going to spend any time going into detail about the tax-specific ways that DOMA penalizes same-sex couples – many others have already very capably done so. (Check out these two informative articles from the New York Times, for example.) But I am going to take a minute to share a brief personal story about the impact DOMA has had on my husband Michael and me this past year.

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Amid Criticism, Pentagon Is Seeking Overhaul of the Court-Martial System


MC1Chad J. McNeeley/Department of Defense, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s request to Congress comes after scrutiny of the military’s handling of sexual assault cases.

 | New York Times | April 8, 2013

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon announced Monday that it would ask Congress to overhaul the court-martial system used to prosecute the nearly 5,000 service members annually accused of crimes, scaling back the power of senior commanders to overturn convictions and dismiss charges.

The proposal comes amid sharp criticism from advocacy groups and Congress over how the military has handled a series of sexual assault cases, including a decision by an Air Force commander, Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin, to dismiss the conviction of Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, who was found guilty in November of aggravated sexual assault and sentenced to one year in military prison.

“These changes, if enacted by Congress, would help ensure that our military justice system works fairly, ensures due process and is accountable,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement. “These changes would increase the confidence of service members and the public that the military justice system will do justice in every case.”

Mr. Hagel said that the Pentagon would ask lawmakers to scale back the power of the convening authority — a commander who exercises significant control over courts-martial in a system that dates to the British Empire. The commanders decide whether to approve charges for trial, select the jury and negotiate plea deals, and they can overturn guilty verdicts or reduce recommended sentences.

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Early Line for 2016 Shows a Vice President Who’s Not the Favorite


Cliff Owen/Associated Press

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. at the Kennedy Center last week.

 | New York Times | April 8, 2013

WASHINGTON — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. showed up late at an event last week, saying he was delayed because “the president keeps those meetings going longer.” But he walked into a Hillary Clinton crowd. Outside, supporters hoisted signs urging her to run for president. Inside, she was greeted as a hero.

Not that Mr. Biden was an afterthought. He had plenty of friends in the room. But at the Kennedy Center, where women’s achievements were being honored by an organization Mrs. Clinton helped found, even Mr. Biden recognized that the best applause line belonged to her. “There’s no woman like Hillary Clinton,” he said. “That’s a fact.”

Mr. Biden faces a situation unique in the annals of modern American politics. He is the vice president, the highest-ranking member of his party interested in running for president, yet he is not the heir apparent. While every sitting vice president who sought it in the last half-century captured his party’s nomination, Mr. Biden would start as the underdog if he ran against Mrs. Clinton, the former secretary of state.

“It’s no secret that he’s thinking about this,” his son Beau, the attorney general of Delaware, said in an interview. “I’m glad he’s thinking about this. But he hasn’t made up his mind.”

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Zambian Police Hunting Homosexuals and Arrest HIV/AIDS Activist


Melanie Nathan | Oblogdeeoblogda | April 09, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 12.23.08 AMThis evening, prominent HIV/Aids activist Paul Kasonkomona was picked up from Muvi TV station in Lusaka’s mass media area by Woodlands police for questioning after his appearance on a live program called ‘The Assignment’.

This followed his appearance on Muvi Television to discuss the importance of access to health for sex-workers, prisoners and LGBTI people. A week to this day,  he had appeared on the same program to discuss  the contentious issue of gay-marriage raised by the recent purported reports of 4 gay couples who had allegedly appeared at Lusaka’s Civic Centre to register for marriage during the Easter period, going by the names Ritch Hemman, 64 and George Nsama, 26, Clive Reeves, 48, and Bruce Lianda, 22, Jones MacPherson, 36, and Sylvester Sichilima 30 and Humphrey Ray, 53 and Caleb Muswema, 34., a story allegedly told to the Daily Mail by Lusaka City Council marriage registrar, Henry Kapata.

But a few non-governmental organizations which campaign for the rights of LGBTIs has implored Zambians to critically reflect on human rights and for Christians to redefine their roles. It’s against this back ground that HIV/Aids activist Paul Kasonkomona has constantly made appearances on national television to garner support for LGBTI rights leading up to his detention at Woodlands Police in Lusaka today.

As the drama unfolds, Police have launched a man hunt for LGBTI activists and have called on the general populace to report any suspected homosexuals to the police for further investigation. To this effect, the LGBTI community in Zambia is existing under extreme fear and pressure and so far, suspected plain clothed police visited homes and offices of some LGBTI organisations in an attempt to destabilise their work.

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South African Arts Academy guilty of human rights violations by claiming gay cure


Melanie Nathan | Oblogdeeoblogda | April 09, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 12.51.40 AMIn January we reported that an Arts School in Bloemfontein, South Africa, claimed in its prospectus that it could cure homosexual students. We reported that a “South African Christian arts academy, Creare Training Centre may be breaking the law by advertising that it can “cure” homosexual students, and that if a homosexual refuses such, they can be expelled.”  Then our BLOG challenged the director when he tried to deny it, and we exposed the offending literature in their written prospectus.   Now they have been found guilty of Human rights violations under South African Law.

The Bloemfontein Arts Academy, Creare Training Centre, has been found guilty of human rights violation. The SA Human Rights Commission spokesperson Isaac Mangena issued a statement:

“The Creare Training Centre is violating the rights to equality, dignity, religion, freedom of association, freedom and security of the person, and education as enshrined in the Constitution,” .

The justice ministry had asked the commission to investigate claims of unfair discrimination at the Creare Training Centre in Bloemfontein in January.

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Social Security: Can Democrats Save Obama From Himself?


Robert Kuttner | Huffington Post | AlterNet | April 8, 2013

President Obama picked the very day that new job creation collapsed to propose a deflationary budget deal featuring cuts in Social Security and Medicare. This is perverse economics and worse politics, on several grounds.

The economy created just 88,000 jobs in March, down from close to 200,000 in other recent months, for one main reason: The January 2 budget deal and the March 1 sequester that hiked taxes on working people and cut public spending.

In the January deal, payroll taxes on working people were raised by some $120 billion. The more highly publicized tax hike on the top one percent raised less than $65 billion. The sequester added another $85 billion of budget cuts. The combined economic contraction will be about $270 billion this year, and according to the Congressional Budget Office the result will be to cut economic growth roughly in half.

But the deal that Obama is trying to coax the Republicans into accepting would cut the budget at this rate for an entire decade. The economics are just insane. There is no evidence that banks are waiting to lower interest rates (which are already rock bottom) or businesses waiting to invest, pending progress on a grand budget bargain. Businesses are hesitating to invest because customers don’t have money in their pockets — and a deflationary budget deal will only make the economy worse.

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