Monday, December 11, 2006

Halloween Racial Incident, Long Beach, California

On Hallowen eve, 2006 in the affluent area of Bixby Knolls located in Long Beach, California a racial incident tinged with gender overtones took place. Three young women, 19, 20, and 21 respectively were beaten brutally by a group of African American teens. The only trigger seemed to be that three young white women walked by a group of Black male youths who made suggestive gestures and remarks which were not reciprocated. Nearby a group of African American teen girls were standing. When the women came back from seeing a nearby "haunted house" they were beaten by a number of the teen women and several of the Black males joined in the melee. One young woman was severely injured ( receiving a severe type of eye injury). The eye injury may have been as a result of being purposely hit on the head with a skateboard by one of the teens, other things like branches were also used to hit the young women, all three were badly brutalized. Several African Americans witnessed the incident including an 18 year old woman who came out of her house and saw the event. I think she tried to intervene and so did a 35 year old African American man who drove by the scene and most likely prevented a homicide or several homides from happening that particular night.

As a resident of Long Beach and a long time activist and supporter of civil rights, I was apalled by these macabre events which as a sociologist I first thought might have been the result of collective behavior, some type of mob behavior I thought fueled by an underlying rage festering against white people who might be seen as privileged or as a threat to the Black teenage girls that stood around that evening. I understand the young African American women involved in this terrible scene were top athletes and several had scholarship to attend good colleges. I do no know enough of the details to come up with a good analysis of what caused this disturbing behavior. I don't think at this point anyone has a good handle on the event. I am certain the incident and its aftermath will be researched in depth at a future point in time with many interviews of those involved or witnessing what transpired.

The real question is where does the City of Long Beach and its residents go from here. We already have a Human Relations Commissiion and a City Dignity Officer who has been involved. We have City Council people and a Major who cares about all the resident of Long Beach. One aspect that is disturbing is some of the parents of the accused parties are twisting and trying to spin the incident to make it appear that the kids who were arrested are not the real culprits and that many innocent ones got away. Newspaper articles from the LBReport to Press-Telegram to LATimes pointed out that several of the witnesses including at least one victim identified the accused by clothing and specific jewelrly that they wore as well as other identifiable evidence i.e type of car the people got into etc .

Some persons within the African American community are doing the OJ thing again taking sides based on race rather than objectively taking in the specific sequence of events and circumstantial aspects of the proceedings. Usually I would be on the side of the minority group individuals accused of these crimes. I would be suspiciously eyeing every move the prosecution and police have made. One should be ever vigilant. But there seems to be no malice here on part of the most affected parties. Though the relatives of the accused raise all kinds of objections and rationallizations, I think they have little case to stand on. Obviously, the suspects are innocent until proven guilty and they have not been found guilty yet.

Fear has been expressed that a guilty verdict could result in race riots and violence that the Long Beach community as far as I can tell is not prepared to face. If the trial is handled fairly and I think it will be and if calm heads rule all around, the outcome may not be as grim as some might suspect. The sad truth though is Long Beach is an economically and racially divided city, not just divided and segregated between poor and affluent, Black and White but also by many other kinds nationalities and ethnic grops including Latinos from Central America and Mexico, Cambodians, Mung, Filipinos, Indians and many other groupings, Poverty and terrible pollution from the Long Beach Ports and truck traffic is actually killing many among our midst expecially those living in the poorer neightborhood of Long Beach. It is not a pretty picture. The new Major Bob Foster is trying to call attention to these issues.

It is clear Long Beach has started paying attention to all these issues including the race issue very late in the day. The Long Beach City schools have been fighting an uphill battle to deal with racial fallout among the students for decades. It just seems like too little too late. I think some major offensive on the part of city officials has to take place not just more window dressing. I hope some Black leaders will come to the fore and make some sense of all this mess. Leaders of all races should come together and then work in their communities and send powerful messages that this kind of violence directed at any particular racial group will not be tolerated. Racism can no longer be tolerated in this city on any level. This has to be as true for our police, fire, schools, government, public services, parks.Each one of us has to personally take responsibility to educate the young and be involved with youth in a way that prevents this festering hatred from becoming the disease that it is. I know this is easy to say and harder to make happen but we have to try. Any ideas of what we can do? Volunteer to mentor a young person, volunteer for a reading program, work on a project that helps young people in an interracial type setting. Please add your ideas.

Sharon Raphael
Long Beach

Saturday, December 09, 2006


Old Lesbians Organizing for Change Gathering: Leave No Old Lesbian Behind

Old Lesbian Organizing for Change Gathering: Leave No Old Lesbian Behind Conference was held August 17 to 20, 2006
at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel in Durham, North Carolina.

I had an exhilarating and inspiring time meeting 125 other Lesbians over the age of sixty and a few women under that age who accompanied a 60 year old or came for special sessions like the intergenerational session or the banquet/dance we had on Friday evening preceding the opening session of the conference the next morning. The keynote speakers Mandy Carter and Suzanne Pharr started off the first morning with a bang presenting a conversation about race and class. Alix Dobkin singing performances were brilliant, reminiscent of her work in the 70's but even better. Alix is a provisional member of OLOC's Steering Committee. There were sessions on creative writing run by Ida Redd from the Mother Tongue Theatre Group. I participated in that group and we did a live perfromance after writing our thoughts in sessions. Cathy Cade ran a creative session showing her special format on how to do your own memoirs. Mina, my spouse, and I attended the memoir session. There was a session on Disability which focused on dealing with organizations, a major panel on Ageism and Lesbophobia: Look Us in the Eye of which I gave the introduction. You can find my written version of the introduction to that session inserted below this article.

There were great videos shown at the event including Donna Cassyd and Leslie Sloan's video titled High Heels on Wheels which is about roller derby women who were Lesbians in the 50's and sixties and a few who still skated in the nineteen eighties. I bought the video from South Carolina which was created to fight the insidious consitutional amendment petition which plans to do away with the right to ever marry for same sex couples in South Carolina. I showed that video to my class at Cal. State U. Dominguez Hills and it was well received. Cathy Cade's fun and well done video on The Dyke March in SF was also shown. There was also a session on Legal Issues presented by Joyce Pearson, our OLOC paralegal friend who works for the National Center For Lesbian Rights organization and an attorney also came to speak on this panel.

We had a hospitality suite where some women played cards and ate free food and many of us hung around the hotel lobby in between sessions just kibbitzing and having a good old time relaxing. Old Lesbians also enjoyed the hotel pool and spa area in the evenings. There was a silent auction which raised about $1200.00 for the organization. Arden Eversmeyer gave a session on doing oral herstories ( how to interview) which is an important part of the OLOC mission keeping a record of who we were and where we are going now. Arden and Charlotte are a couple from Houston who add style and a touch of Southern class to the Gathering. They have given lots of energy and attention to OLOC over the years. Shaba Barnes gave a moving memorial service for the Lesbians of OLOC who have gone before us. We each dropped a petal from a rose into a vase with water as the names of departed were read. It was a moving service with a slide show presentation of the departed which was created by Mary and Margaret, a couple who also have given much of themselves to making OLOC have a strong and dynamic presence.

Because The Gathering was held in the South the majority of the attendees came from the surrounding areas in North Carolina and other states. I understand there were something like 32 states represented and one person came from Norway. The Southern women seemed especially appreciative of OLOC's efforts. I heard that on the evaluation sheets many said they had never experienced anything like this before and that they really loved being at the event. I ditto their enthusiasm for the event. I always enjoy OLOC happenings and hope I can continue to come to OLOC Gatherings and related meetings in the future.

Sharon Raphael
Long Beach, California

Friday, August 04, 2006

Panel on Ageism and Lesbophobia: Look Us in the Eye

Panel on Ageism and Lesbophobia: Look Us in the Eye

Introduction by Sharon Raphael, Ph.D.

To be Presented Saturday August 19th in Durham, North Carolina
at The Sheraton Imperial Hotel

For Old Lesbians Organizing For Change Conference
“Leave no Old Lesbian Behind”

OLOC is in an unusual position to carry on the tradition of its founders and early pioneers, women like Barbara MacDonald, Baba Copper, and Shevy Healy who saw prejudice toward old people from the unique position of being feminists and lesbians. Standing outside the traditional heterosexist fold, these women were able to see the importance of resisting steroetyped ideas of what old women and in this case what old Lesbians should be and do with their lives in spite of the great obstacles involved in living in an ageist and sexist society. The purpose of this panel is to challenge and encourage all of us to continue to fight lesbophobic, ageist, and sexist thinking and behavior that might get in the way of our leading fulfiling and creative lives.

These are some of the traps we can fall into that can keep us from being the old Lesbians we would like to be, free to make our own choices about our destinies and purpose in life.

One big trap I would like to mention is the Invisibilty Trap. It has been pointed out by observers of aging that old people in general are not seen as sexual beings, the idea of sexuality and oldness does not sit well with younger people because they are under the assumption that oldness and sexuality are mutually exclusive. Women with grey hair and wrinkles tend to all be viewed as helpless grandmotherly figures. Thus it is easy for Lesbians who fit the bill of looking like the stereotype of being seen in the same mold. Of course, looking at women in this sexist way is not good for heterosexual women either but it places a special burden on the old Lesbian. It is the burden of invisibility.

Some old Lesbians use this burden to their advantage avoiding a kind of visibility that might make them in certain situations vulnerable to Lesbophobia. On the other hand, consistently avoiding visibility as Lesbians can work at cross purposes with the identity we have about who we are and how that identity may affect what we want to do with our lives in later life. Each Lesbian must choose for herself how far up the visibility road she wants to go. It is important to be “out” to family and friends for many reasons. The most important reason is integrity, standing up for oneself. Other reasons are more practical and may help simplify our lives in the long run. For example, letting family know it is your significant other or domestic partner or even an ex lover who is next of kin, not them.

Another trap to avoid is confronting the ageism that exists in the
LGBT community itself. Although changes have taken place in part as a result of the work OLOC has done on this isssue, there is a need for old Lesbians to resist and be aware that younger Lesbians and Gay men and others in our community do have prejudices and fears about aging that spill out and sometimes affect our lives in negative ways. Sometimes in group settings we are not treated as equals. Barbara McDonald in her book Look Me in the Eye drew our attention to the practice of younger Lesbians putting us on pedestals and using us as the Mothers they would have wanted, a practice that keeps both young and old from having equal and healthy relationships. There is also the habit of making old Lesbians into “keepers of the wisdom” which in and of itself may not be a bad thing but when emphasized as though as though it is our only saving grace this form of objectification becomes another obstacle to achieving integration and equality in the LGBT community.

The Sexism in our Society is a trap that is hard to overcome but not hard to fight against and be aware of. Women have second class status and Lesbians even less status; therefore if you add the category “old” to that you are talking about triple stigma and then add a few other categories i.e. race, class or disability you can see the stigmatization factor becoming very weighty indeed. One reason we form groups like OLOC is to change the way society sees these stereootypical ways of classifying people. Part of this sexist pattern can be seen within the field of practicing gerontologists whether gay or straight, when they institute program and services which do not fit the profile and needs of strong independent minded old Lesbians and instead relegate old women in general to traditional grandmother roles i.e. taking care of infants in an intergenerational setting or always involving them in food preparation.

Lesbophobia is an ism that affects us most profoundly as we grow older and old. It is the reason many Lesbians avoid institutions that serve older adults out of fear of either being discovered or being mistreated or both. Not having the safeguards of marriage equality affects the security for those of us who have partners. Discrimination against Lesbians in assisted care and nursing facilities has been documented. Although new housing options are available within the LGBT community, many of these new living places are too expensive for low income or low middle class old Lesbians which forces most old Lesbians to think about subsidized housing or Medlcare subsidized nursing or home care where staff is usually not sensitized to the needs of lgbt seniors and if they are this does not mean that the old people in the beds or rooms next door or down the hall are free from homophobic beliefs.

Lesbophobia is a problem that is not only an issue for the outer world but is also an issue that we as old Lesbians must confront in our own internal selves. OLOC has been seen as a visionary group of old Lesbians who fight ageism but I see OLOC as bigger than that and as a group of old

Lesbians who see the connections between Lesbophobia and Ageism and who must fight both isms on the same front. Lesbophobia and Ageism have the same enemy and come from the same diseased root that foments narrow minded ideas about what women and men can do and cannot do. Lesbophobia and Ageism result from anti feminist views that put people in straitjackets and restrict our views of our own humanity. Our job should be and has been to some degree of integrating who we are and what we want.

OLOC is a Lesbian organization that affirms aging and helps us identify in a positive way with the term OLD which is a powerful idea, a very feminist idea, and an idea that is very unpopular out there in the outer I guess we could call it the so called “real world” but that is relative.

OLOC needs to affirm the term LESBIAN in the same way as we affirm and take on the word OLD. Just as it was true that it was Lesbians who gave the much needed woman power to many aspects of the feminist movement, it is OLD Lesbians who are intellectually in the vanguard of not only truly understanding what ageism does to old women but are acting as role models for what to do to avoid the pitfalls of ageism. But the problem is that old women are not listening to us to any large degree in part because of their own Lesbophobia which we must fight not only for our own self interest but also in order to be heard.

OLD Lesbians Organizing for Change has a unique opportunity to share what we have learned with the wider world but the first step must be to educate and change ourselves. That first step should be an acknowlegement that we are fighting two isms Ageism and Lesbophobia on one front. Stepping up to the challenge means not allowing ourselves to fall into the invisibility or ageism trap within our own community, continuing to fight sexism and seeing the connections between feminsim and the fight against ageism. Once we have integrated all these ideas on a personal level, we can then reach out to the wider world and make a big noise collectively and as individuals.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Article on Andrea Yates

Great article!!! Explains the events and distorted thinking and self doubts that let up to the the homicide of the 5 children by Andrea Yates.

Rigid Christian Sex Roles Hurt Andrea Yates

Run Date: 03/20/02

By Anne Eggebroten
WEnews commentator

The author argues that the Christian fundamentalist beliefs that enshrine male control over women played a role in the destruction of the Yates family and that Christian fundamentalist religions should preach a gospel of equality between the sexes.

Editor's Note: The following is a commentary. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the views of Women's Enews.

(WOMENSENEWS)--Various players in the Andrea Yates tragedy have attracted national scrutiny: the psychotic mother, her five drowned children, her husband, psychiatrists and family members.

Each one, no doubt, played a role in the ultimate tragedy. However, there's one more character, without which the long, sad story would not have happened: a conservative Christian culture that continues to empower abusive husbands while telling women they belong at home with their children--as many children as God and their own fertility provide.

Before marrying Russell Yates, Andrea Kennedy was a successful young woman working as a post-operative nurse. She enjoyed regular swimming and jogging and was from a Roman Catholic family.

When Yates and Kennedy decided to marry, both felt that contraception was wrong. Accepting "as many children as God sends" is still the ideal being urged upon Christians by the Roman Catholic Church and by many small, independent biblical churches, entrapping women like Andrea Yates, who had five children and one miscarriage during her eight years of marriage.

The Church Dictates a Woman's Place

The church also told Andrea that she belonged at home with her children. She stopped working after the birth of her first child and gave up exercise, according to a January report by Time magazine. When her older sons were of school age, she did not give herself a break; instead she began home-schooling. Conservative churches press mothers to do this because they view public school as lacking in Christian values. Some, and perhaps many women, are being crushed by an increasingly heavy burden.

Another belief in the chain that helped drag Andrea down was that a woman should submit to her husband as decision-maker. As Time reported, Russell Yates was head of the household, and a traveling evangelist taught them that God created man to "dominate."

Feminist scholars of the Bible, however, have been finding a biblical basis for equality in marriage since the early 1970s, in books such as "All We're Meant To Be" by Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty (1974), "Women and Men in the Bible" by Virginia Mollenkott (1977), and "Heirs Together" by Pat Gundry (1980). But there are still many women who have not heard the good news.

When Russell wanted to move out of their four-bedroom house into a trailer, and then into a bus-turned-motor-home, Andrea sold the furniture and went along with the plan. By June 1999, she was caring for four children in the bus, which was only 350 square feet. The conditions of her life were unbearable and to challenge them would have been to oppose God's will. A psychiatrist provided medication, but no one was giving her other choices. Finally Andrea's parents convinced Russell to let his family move into a three-bedroom home.

Another sign of Russell's heavy control--dominating just as the traveling evangelist told him was his right--was that he allowed only one friend to visit Andrea, according to the Time report. She was a prisoner in her own home, without even the resources of friends at church because her husband had not found a church he liked.

The traveling evangelist had beaten her with sharp words; Russell belittled her often, according to Time. Andrea was absolutely convinced that she was a lousy mother and had failed her children. When she was interviewed after the murders, an officer asked how long she had considered this act. "Since I realized I have not been a good mother to them," she answered, quoting Matthew 18:6, which states that a person should be flung into the sea rather than cause a child to sin. She felt that drowning her children would guarantee her own execution and also free the children from further pain.

Churches Should Appoint Women in Leadership Roles

The swift, cruel verdict in the Yates trial ignores all these factors that contributed to the tragedy. We may not be able to help Andrea at this point, but we must reach out to other women caught up in similarly desperate circumstances.

Feminists in various Christian churches have been actively pursuing this task for about 30 years, including some working specifically on fundamentalist churches. For example, the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus was founded in 1974 to change the inequality of women within conservative Christianity. Since unsuccessfully lobbying for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, the caucus's newsletter and other educational materials have encouraged churches to take on women pastors and appoint women to other leadership roles. The caucus has also worked to ensure that women and men have equal say in decision-making within the family and in their contributions to the upkeep of the household. Another group, Catholics for a Free Choice, is spreading the good news that controlling our fertility is within God's will.

We all need to spread the word. Otherwise more mothers will suffer as did Andrea, who believed she had failed, and inevitably the children will suffer as well at the hands of overwhelmed parents and caregivers.

Anne Eggebroten is the author of the book "Abortion--My Choice, God's Grace."

For more information:

This article is adapted from a longer piece
"A Biblical Feminist Looks at the Andrea Yates Tragedy":

Evangelical and Ecumenical Women's Caucus:

Catholics for a Free Choice:

Send this stor

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

World News

The Times
July 20, 2006

Britain fears assault on Hezbollah will backfire
By Bronwen Maddox, Foreign Editor

BRITAIN fears that Israel’s assault on Hezbollah is failing to cripple the guerrilla group and that continued bombardment will bring huge civilian casualties in Lebanon for little military gain.

The rising concern that any further Israeli military action could intensify the crisis, expressed by senior officials yesterday, strikes a much more urgent tone than the American position, which accepts a continued Israeli campaign to crush the Shia militant group.

Yesterday was the heaviest day for civilian casualties since Israel’s bombardment began last week, with at least 63 killed and scores more wounded. A total of 315 Lebanese, mostly civilians, have been killed and hundreds injured since the start of the Israeli offensive.

Last night dozens of planes dropped 23 tonnes of explosives on what the Army said was a bunker in south Beirut used by Hezbollah’s leadership. The group said none of is leaders where killed in the attack.

A senior British official said: “Our concern is that Israeli military action is not having the desired effect. We’re not seeing the level of impact [which Israel and its allies would want].” Hezbollah was “still highprofile in southern Beirut”, even if its claims to have lost only three fighters underplayed the damage done. “We’re not seeing any large-scale destruction of Hezbollah rockets,” the official added, “and we don’t know where they are.”

Israel claimed yesterday to have destroyed half of Hezbollah’s rockets, which the guerrilla group has been firing steadily across the Lebanese border. “We have already destroyed around 50 per cent of the rockets and missiles that Hezbollah had,” General Alon Friedman told army radio.

The Israeli action had “disrupted Hezbollah but there’s not much more they can do with an extensive campaign”, a British official said. “We are concerned that continued military operations by Israel will cause further damage to infrastructure and loss of civilian life which the damage to Hezbollah will not justify.”

But the need for Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, to appear tough at home might tempt him to continue even when the military value was slight, officials suggested.

The Bush Administration, by contrast, has given Israel a green light to continue its attempt to crush Hezbollah.

Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, is now expected to visit the region on Sunday in a sign of greater US engagement, that will be welcomed by European governments. Today, at the UN Security Council in New York, Britain will push for a set of “guidelines for the next phase” which go further than the G8 summit managed last week. “We do need a plan, partly to give Israel a reason to stop its military action,” the official said. Britain and the US also want to show Iran, Hezbollah’s backers, that it cannot ignite such conflicts.

But the meeting will expose differences within the council — and between Britain and the US. There are deep disagreements about how to respond to the crisis, which began nine days ago with Hezbollah’s kidnapping of Israeli soldiers.

The heart of the British plan is the proposal, promoted by Tony Blair at the G8 summit, for an international force in southern Lebanon to allow Lebanese security forces to regain control from Hezbollah. The US has been sceptical of the idea. Britain has also been anxious about the lack of urgency shown by the US, reflected in the nine days that it has taken to assemble the Council.

On Tuesday, Dr Rice said that there should be a ceasefire “as soon as possible when conditions are conducive to do so”, words widely interpreted as licence for Israel to continue.

France, which backs the notion of an international force, also wants the Council to call for a ceasefire, a demand on Israel which the US and Britain are unlikely to accept.

The first sign of British frustration at the US position came during the summit when, in an unguarded conversation with Mr Bush, Mr Blair revealed his anxiety about the need for urgent intervention. The Prime Minister suggested that he could visit the region immediately if a trip by Dr Rice took too long to arrange.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

All-Out War in the Middle East

I am reluctant to give any political view on the present Middle East conflict as I am not that educated about the historical detail or political implications for Israel or Palestine or the Middle East in general. As a progressive Jew, up to now I have mostly resisted taking sides and If there has been a side to take I have empathized with the plight of the Palestinians, although with some reservations and concerns that when push comes to shove I realize the Arab world in general would not be at all unhappy if the State of Israel disappeared off the face of the earth.

Keeping the above in mind, I pose the question Has Ehud Olmert gone too far this time? Perhaps, Ohlmert has something to gain from trying to take out the insurgent forces of both Hamas and Hezbollah, although it is doubtful that simply killing some of them will accomplish this. On the other hand, I am very disappointed to know that after Israel in good faith pulled out of Gaza and earlier Lebanon that both places have become the site for militants to send missiles into Israel. I am particularly disturbed that after Israel pulled settlements out of Gaza that instead of the Palestinians replacing the settlements with their own housing they instead allowed Hamas insurgents to set up military type installations so these missiles could be lobbed into Israel causing many casualties and much destruction.

It is obvious that the U.S. has made a major blunder by not even attempting to control the situation. It is possible that the US strategy will be to support Israel from a distance and try to put the brakes on only when the powers that be see danger for our economic or strategic interests ahead. The US's military resources are obviously stretched thin by the Iraq War and also distracted by the Korean "nuclear" missile crises. But there is no excuse really for the shortsightedness involved in the US policy toward the Middle East which leads me to believe that it is not shortsighted but purposeful meaning the US would like to see Israel strengthen its defenses and power in the Middle East. The problem is the opposite may very well happen and things are already spinning way out of control or so it seems. It is a sad day for all concerned. I can only wish and hope for the safety of everyone including my own young relatives who live in Israel knowing full well that innocents will die and be maimed because the first instinct on both sides is revenge and destruction. It is a sad time.

Sharon Raphael

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Arkansas court backs gay foster parents

By ANDREW DEMILLO, Associated Press Writer 15 minutes ago

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansas cannot ban homosexuals from becoming foster parents because there is no link between their sexual orientation and a child's well-being, the state's high court ruled Thursday. The court agreed with a lower court judge that the state's child welfare board had improperly tried to regulate public morality. The ban also violated the separation of powers doctrine, the justices said.

The board instituted the ban in 1999, saying children should be in traditional two-parent homes because they would be more likely to thrive Four residents sued, claiming discrimination and privacy violations against homosexuals who otherwise qualified as foster parents.

The justices agreed Thursday, saying the ban was "an attempt to legislate for the General Assembly with respect to public morality." "There is no correlation between the health, welfare and safety of foster children and the blanket exclusion of any individual who is a homosexual or who resides in a household with a homosexual," Associate Justice Donald Corbin wrote in the opinion.

In addition, the court said, the testimony of a Child Welfare Agency Review Board member demonstrated that "the driving force between adoption of the regulations was not to promote the health, safety and welfare of foster children but rather based upon the board's views of morality and its bias against homosexuals."

The court also said that being raised by homosexuals doesn't cause academic problems or gender identity problems, as the state had argued. The ban had not been used since the lower court ruling in 2004, state Health and Human Services spokeswoman Julie Munsell said. She said the plaintiffs have not sought foster-parent status since then. The department didn't know whether any homosexuals have applied, she said.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union represented the plaintiffs in the case. Rita Sklar, executive director of the ACLU in Arkansas, said she was pleased by Thursday's decision. The unanimous ruling left open the possibility for lawmakers to pursue a ban through legislation or possibly give the board authority to do so. Sklar said the ACLU would be prepared to fight any legislative efforts to enact a ban, but said the court's ruling would make it difficult for lawmakers to justify such restrictions.

A Florida ban on adoptions by gays and lesbians was upheld in a federal court and the U.S. Supreme court rejected an appeal by the ACLU. Mississippi prohibits gay couples from adopting, but not gay or lesbian individuals. Utah bars any cohabiting couples who are unmarried — gay or heterosexual — from adopting or becoming foster parents.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Frontline's Show on Cheney's Iraq War

FRONTLINE presents
Tuesday, June 20, 2006, 9 to 10:30 P.M. ET on PBS

The Frontline Show titled "The Dark Side" showed how Cheney outsmarted the CIA and its former boss George Tenet and prodded Bush and his administration to wage war against Iraq using shoddy evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Former CIA officials who resigned or stayed on under duress spoke on tape about how Tenet knowing there was no strong or convincing evidence that Iraq was involved with Al Quada or that Saddam Husseing had WMD's traded his self respect and integrity for a place at the table in the White House. As one official put it and I am just paraphrasing " Tenet preferred being a player to telling the truth as he saw it to the President".

The show pointed out how power shifted from the CIA to the Pentagon which is under Cheney's command after Tenet's betrayal and the consequent series of resignations that emanated from the CIA after Bush made the decision to go to war with Iraq. CIA official left because they believed Bush should not be in power and that the War against Iraq was wrong. We must be living in strange times when the CIA looks less sinister and off base than those who run the White House. Hope the show run again soon and that the information from" The Dark Side" gets out to the public instead of just the garbage war propaganda we usually hear.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Community Gardens Bulldozed

Posted:  June 13, 2006  4:16 PM

The Farm is being Bulldozed! Let's not mourn but continue to fight for its life and the livelihood of the South Central Farmers!

Over 50 arrests have been made, a few demonstrators have suffered blows from batons and the bulldozers were sent in to demolish the blooming crops, indigenous plants and 14 years of love that have been put into the farm. We are continuing to stand strong with tears in our eyes. It is not over yet! The community cannot be defeated. Join us to peacefully protest the police attack on our community.

A candlelight vigil will be held tonight at 7:00pm as we have for 21 nights at the Farm. There is police perimeter set up so be respectful of that barrier for your safety and the safety of the rest of the community. We want safety for our families and the land to be returned to the community. We are gathered at the corner of 41st St & Long Beach Ave. Los Angeles, CA.
-please bring candles and supplies such as water or food to share as we have been dispossessed.
A demonstration at the mayor's house is also being organized simultaneously with the vigil at the Farm. Here's the info:
At 7pm tonight we will be gathering at Villaraigosa's
house in protest of the actions taken by the state
against the community today.

Bring banners, instruments, chants and signs.


When: 7pm today, Tuesday

Where: the "mayor's mansion"
605 S. Irving St., LA
(In Hancock Park near Wilton and Wilshire)


Thank you for all your support and dedication to the struggle of the South Central Farmers.
-South Central Farmers Support Coalition
Why the nation's largest community garden must become a Wal-Mart warehouse

Posted by Tom Philpott at 2:56 PM on 07 Mar 2006

The fate of LA's South Central Community Garden, the largest of its kind in the United States, looks fairly straightforward: It sits on private property, and its owner wants to sell it for development. The 300 or so families who garden there, most of whom by all accounts live under the poverty line, will have to find a new source of food. If the owner/developer, one Ralph Horowitz, has decided to erect a massive Wal-Mart warehouse there, well, that's just the way it goes.

However, an excellent article in Los Angeles CityBeat by Dean Kuipers shines an interesting light on this unhappy deal.

(Note: The gardeners, who recently received an eviction notice, have won a stay until March 13. I assume all L.A. greens -- including movie producers, Baldwin brothers, etc. -- will hop in their hybrids, rush over to the garden, and rally to its defense in the meantime.)

Like most urban community gardens, this one sprang up on land that no one much wanted originally. In the late 1980s, the city seized the land under eminent domain from an investment group led by Horowitz, Kuipers reports. Horowitz's investment company ended up receiving $4.7 million in compensation. The city's plan (alternative-energy fans take note): to build an incinerator to generate electricity by burning trash.

Most people don't like to live amid the stench of garbage, so the neighborhood successfully organized to stop that project. By the time of the Rodney King rebellion in 1992, the lot had become trash-strewn and abandoned. The city agreed to allow a soup kitchen to turn it into a community-garden plot. By all accounts, neighborhood residents rallied around the asset, turning it into a vital source of fresh food in an area with few grocery stores.

Here is how Kuipers describes it today, in an account that jibes with others I've read:

The contrast with community gardens elsewhere in the city is shocking. These aren't tiny weekend projects with a few tomatoes and California poppies. The 330 spaces here are large, 20 X 30 feet, many of them doubled- and tripled-up into larger plots, crammed with a tropical density of native Mesoamerican plants -- full-grown guava trees, avocados, tamarinds, and palms draped in vines bearing huge pumpkins and chayotes, leaf vegetables, corn, seeds like chipilin grown for spice, and rank upon rank of cactus cut for nopales. The families who work these plots are all chosen to receive one because they are impoverished by USDA standards, and use them to augment their household food supply. These are survival gardens.

But the birth of a thriving, productive community garden wasn't the only thing that changed in the area after the King riots. In the 1990s, the city of Los Angeles dropped a cool $2 billion building out the Alameda Corridor, "a modern rail and big-truck super-pipeline from the Port of Los Angeles straight through the warehouses of South L.A. and Vernon," Kuipers writes. And that made the once-depressed warehouse district an important hub for big-box retailers to organize the booming influx of goods from points west, including China. In turn, South Central land suddenly became very valuable.

In his dealings with the city in the 1980s, Horowitz had retained right of first refusal if the city ever decided to sell the land. In 2003, he successfully sued to force the city to sell it back to him for $5 million --a figure many observers find extremely low, given the city had a few years earlier valued it at $13 million. Since then, he's been wrangling to evict the farmers from the land, a goal he looks set to reach on March 13.

Let's think about this. The city of Los Angeles dropped $2 billion to beef up its port infrastructure, a move that brings undeniable benefits to import-minded big-box retailers and the consumers throughout the southwest who buy their gear. The great bulk of the jobs it creates, though, are of the low-wage, unskilled variety.

And what does South Central get? Some low-wage jobs, and the loss of a garden that neighborhood residents cleaned up and turned into a vital place when no one wanted it. In place of a food source, they get a warehouse that will distribute food (among other things) to other localities. Here we have another example of public policy -- and cash -- subsidizing global commerce and smashing local production, under a false "free-market" banner.

If the city has $2 billion to hand over to make things easier for big boxes, why can't it buy out Horowitz and turn the site into a permanent public farm?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Darfur and the Jews????!!!!!!!!!!

The article written below by Rabbi Ken Chasen raises a serious issue about genocide and how people, in this case, a taxi driver who recently was living in Darfur declared to be in the midst of a genocide can deny the truth. In this case, the truth denier used the age old device of blaming the Jews which diverts the person in question from facing the tragedy from which he is only slightly removed. So Sad.

Sharon Raphael

Jewish Journal
First Person - Will You Be at Peace?

by Rabbi Ken Chasen

I always knew that it would be very difficult to stop a genocide. I just never appreciated how difficult it would be merely to demonstrate against a genocide.

I was among a group of nearly 100 Los Angeles Jews who traveled to San Francisco on Sunday, April 30, to participate in the “Day of Conscience for Darfur” rally. In addition to being accompanied by more than 30 of my congregants from Leo Baeck Temple, I was delighted to be joined by a number of colleagues, including Rabbi Mark Diamond, executive director of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, and the board’s bresident, Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B’nai David-Judea Congregation.

The majority of us flew into Oakland that Sunday morning, and the rally organizers had arranged for us to be transported to the rally by bus — only the bus never arrived. Forced to fend for ourselves, we quickly filled every taxi we could hail, urging the drivers to take us to the Golden Gate Bridge on the double.

As my cab began to depart from the airport, I remember being stunned when the driver indicated that he did not know how to get to the Golden Gate Bridge. There was no time to lose, so I started to fetch directions for him on my mobile phone. But as I focused intently on my job as our cabbie’s navigator, I couldn’t miss the conversation that he was having with my fellow passengers.

The driver identified himself as a recent immigrant from Darfur. Incredible. When he learned we were headed to the rally, he shook his head slowly, asking, “Are you Jews?”

When we confirmed his hunch, he snickered and said, “That explains it.”

We couldn’t resist taking the bait: “What do you mean by that?”

“There is no genocide taking place in Darfur,” he replied. “I know. I lived there. This ‘genocide’ has been concocted by the Jews as a means of diverting the world’s attention from what Israel is doing to the Palestinians.”

As the conversation continued, he peppered his verbal assault with a few disparaging references to the “Israel Lobby,” insisting that the truth would soon come out.

It was a rather surreal circumstance from which to emerge on the Golden Gate Bridge with 5,000 demonstrators determined to save Darfur. The rally was filled with inspirational moments. We heard from impassioned Washington legislators. Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders implored us to stop the murders. Eyewitnesses to the slaughter relayed their heartrending accounts. African musicians filled the air with glorious song. It was an extraordinary day. But the episode in the cab served as a dark reminder of just how much vigilance it will take to stop this genocide before we are left to mourn it.

The 20th century offered repeated incontrovertible proof that launching a campaign against genocide, getting it to permeate the collective consciousness and mobilizing the masses to take action is a difficult challenge.

There are many, like our cabbie, who possess personal and political reasons to deny the atrocities, and their efforts are bolstered by the very banality of genocide. That is to say, genocide is not always especially newsworthy. Nothing new happened today in Darfur that didn’t happen yesterday ... and that won’t happen tomorrow.

This keeps a catastrophe like Darfur’s out of the news, fueling the lies of the deniers and the disinterest of the millions whose righteous indignation will be needed to motivate the world to take action.

With the notable exception of Nicholas Kristof’s venerable work in The New York Times, there is an embarrassing paucity of news about Darfur. Hundreds of thousands have been murdered, and millions have been displaced, but it is largely left to our imaginations to hear the cries of the victims. But if we listen closely enough, they can be heard. There are screams. Screams of women being branded and raped — right now. Screams of children being chased from their homes. Screams of men knowingly taking their final breath.

Just another day in Darfur.

Can we remain silent and live with ourselves?

We have a responsibility because we are neither the deniers nor the disinterested. There may not be enough news about Darfur, but we cannot claim that we are uninformed. Talking about the tragedy is not enough. Weeping about the tragedy is not enough. We must relentlessly urge our legislators to move the world to action. On Capitol Hill and at the White House, they count up our phone calls. That’s how they decide whether this genocide matters to us. That’s how they decide whether we want them to take life-saving action. Knowing this, calling daily isn’t too often.

As Jews, who know the scourge of genocide too well, we should each ask ourselves one question every day: “When this atrocity in Darfur is over, and the final losses are known, will I be at peace with what I did to stop it?”

During the week of the Darfur rallies in Washington and San Francisco, Jews all over the world were studying our famous command from the Holiness Code in the Book of Leviticus: “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.”

Five-hundred more will perish in Darfur today. When the killing is over, will you be at peace with what you did to stop it?

Ken Chasen is senior rabbi at Leo Baeck Temple in Bel Air.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Go to

Why We need Marriage Equality

1138 Federal Rights

It's all about who you marry. Here are 35 of the 1138 federal rights and privileges that the U.S. Government gives to unions of one man and one woman.

For more information, read the updated GAO report (PDF, 296 KB) with the full list of 1138 Federal statutory provisions "in which marital status is a factor in determining or receiving benefits, rights, and privileges." You can also view the original 1997 Report (PDF, 479 KB) created for Rep. Henry J. Hyde.

Access to Social Security after spouse's death
Access to health insurance through spouse's workplace
The right to custody of children after divorce
Visitation rights for non-biological children
Joint parenting rights, such as access to children's school records
Bereavement leave after death of a spouse
Burial determination after the death of a spouse
Domestic violence intervention
Sick leave to care for spouse or non-biological child
Legal validation of a long-term relationship
Ability to live in neighborhoods deemed "families only"
Access to life insurance in spouse's workplace
Access to survivor benefits in case of emergency
Access to spouse's crime victims' recovery benefits
Ability to file wrongful death claims
Right to shared property, child support, and alimony after divorce
Ability to file joint home and auto insurance policies
Joint rental leases with automatic renewal rights if spouse dies or leaves
Access to adopting children
Automatic inheritance of share assets after spouse's death
Automatic inheritance of retirement savings tax-free after spouse's death
Automatic exemption of property tax increases on shared assets gained after spouse's death
Ability to file joint tax returns
Access to tax breaks for married couples
Veterans discounts based on spouse's armed forces status
Assumption of spouse's pension after death
Ability to file joint bankruptcy
Ability to collect unemployment benefits after leaving a job to relocate because of spouse's job move
Ability to transfer property from one spouse to another without transfer tax consequences
Access to fostering children
Automatic next-of-kin status for emergency medical decisions and hospital visitation status
Immigration and residency priority for spouses from other countries
Ability to invoke spousal privilege in a court of law
Access to reduced rate memberships at health clubs, social clubs, organizations
Prison visitation rights

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Pic of Reggie at Machado Lake / go to

Update and Correction about Reggie The Alligator: Will He/She Become Legend

Since I wrote the article below on" I am in a Tizzy about Reggie The Alligator" I found out certain statement made in the article are not necessarily correct. For one, I stated that Reggie was seen sunbathing at the golf course next to Machado Lake. It turns out that a worker at the site likely saw an indentation in the ground that came from a trap that authorities had set for Reggie and interpreted that to mean that Reggie had made the impression. I also said that Reggie was out of hibernation. Experts doubt this statement and think from what I have read that he is probably still in hibernation.

This is all good news as I was concerned that if Reggie was freely roaming around a golf course he could do harm to someone especially if that someone harassed Reggie or tired to grab him. anyway it put my mind at ease for the moment. It will be interesting to see what happens next. Here is to the best of all outcomes for Reggie whatever that might happen to be. I know one thing for sure if Reggie never gets caught, he will become a legend in her/his own time and generations of kids and others will pass the story on as Reggie becomes part of the folklore at and beyond Machado Lake.

Sharon Raphael

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Monday, April 24, 2006

I am in a Tizzy about Reggie the Alligator

Yes, it is true. I am worried that Reggie, the alligator who was placed by his ex cop keeper many months ago in Machado Lake ( located next to a oil processing plant) in Harbor City, California may be captured by Steve Irwin or some other croc or alligator type rustler this spring. Reggie has already emerged from hibernation and has been seen sunning himself at odd hours on a golf course located next to the lake. It has been nice to fantasize about a wild creature being free and able to sustain himself in surroundings abundant with wildlife and and lots of under and near underwater spaces where an alligator can retreat from human observation. It is also true that I am aware there is the possibility; however small, that Reggie could be a danger to humans, children and/or small animals humans hold dear. It is amazing how one's imagination can be so captured by the figure of a young alligator hiding itself in a foreign land so to speak (After all California is not a place that naturally has this kind of water dependent reptile species). By the way, Reggie does not appear to harm the ducks and geese and other wild birds that float along the lake or hang on or near the lake all day because it appears alligators only eat at night.

It is not clear what happens at night though. And I shudder to think of it but like to fantasize that Reggie has plenty to eat, dark bobs of things that live deep in the lake like snakes and shellfish and other sorts of uncute creatures that do not waddle on the shore during the day. I know this is probably sheer fantasy and that it is wrong to think these other creatures deserve to die by a strange creature who is not supposed to be there in the first place upsetting nature's balance. Woe is me. I prefer to think of Reggie as a noble lone wolf facing the constantly impending nets and traps of the approaching inhumanity of humanity coming to get him. In spite of the polluted city and the negative image that Harbor City tends to have compared to some of the upscale communities that surround it, Machado Lake is a beautiful place, inundated with lily pads and undulating water reflecting the changing color of the sky in myriad ways.

Reggie, you know, actually has his own blog titled rather inaptly Monster at Machado Lake, a site where Reggie speaks for himself about his situation and keeps us abreast of recent Reggie news. Whoever writes for him (his mouthpiece) is very good at getting the reader to identify with Reggie as a free spirit we need to listen to and protect. I wonder who this person is? There is also a commercial aspect to the Reggie blog site where tee shirts and mugs with pictures of an alligator are sold and other items that appeal to Reggie watchers are sold. But the commercial aspect is not overwhelming and there is a logic to the whole pitch about turning the park and lake where Reggie resides into a tourist attraction leaving everything in place as it is in what has been a spot fairly neglected by almost everybody save for what used to be just the hungry for work immigrants and transients who spend their days around the park and lake where Reggie now lives ( there is an official place in the park where mostly Mexican immigrants wait for employers to pick them up for temporary jobs). Now since Reggie is there, young mothers also bring their children to look out over the lake to see if they can spot Reggie there. They are kept at a "safe distance" from the lake. Sign and barriers constructed in the park warn sightsee-ers and other not to go beyond a certain point. Interestingly, the signs do not say Warning, Alligator Lives Here. I think there is a sign now that says something about if you see an alligator let the park ranger know immediately. I think it is a new sign.

I tend to like being in the fantasy world most of the time, hoping against hope, that Reggie will always live in the lake. It would be nice to believe the powers that be will see the wisdom in turning the park into a place for alligator lovers and those who have heard of the Reggie lore come to get a glimpse of him (or could it be a her) basking unafraid floating with his/her head proudly raised outside the water for all to see. But deep in my mind not my heart I know probably this cannot be. For now I prefer to fantasize a little while longer. Long Live Reggie. May He/She Reign.

Sharon Raphael

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Read below. More Proof of Evolution.

Updated: 10:46 AM EDT
Fossil Called Missing Link From Sea to Land Animals


(April 6) -- Scientists have discovered fossils of a 375-million-year-old fish, a large scaly creature not seen before, that they say is a long-sought missing link in the evolution of some fishes from water to a life walking on four limbs on land.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

CSUDH LGBT Faculty and Staff Assoc.

CSUDH LGBT Faculty and Staff Assoc. Gay-Straight Alliance

California State University Dominguez Hills located in Carson, California (90747) part of the CSU system. For information on the Gay-Straight Alliance (the student group) contact or CSUDH In process of restarting the group.

Sharon Raphael

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,Transgender Faculty & Staff Association (LGBTFSA)

go to


CSUDH LGBTFSA was conceived in 2002 with the intent to provide a support network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Faculty and Staff on campus and with the hope that a LGBT student club would develop as a result of faculty and staff being more visible on campus.


CSUDH LGBTFSA is comprised of a group of LGBT persons and friends who come together on a regular (almost monthly) basis to socialize, exchange information, and to serve as a support group. It is our intent to provide a positive setting
where LGBT persons and non LGBT persons can learn about LGBT issues in a positive setting.

Examples of Activities:

LGBTFSA Sponsors luncheons and get togethers for its members and potential new members and Friends.

LGBTFSA Brings off campus speakers on campus to train faculty and staff about how to confront homophobia.

LGBTFSA has sponsored workshops where LGBT students,
faculty & staff can share information.

LGBTFSA networks with other offices at the university
and by our very presence makes visible the existence of LGBT concerns on campus.

Future Directions:

LGBTFS would like to hold more educational Forums
that Reach the entire campus community.

LGBTFS would like to enlarge its membership and spark
creation of a student LGBT or Gay-Straight Alliance on campus.

LGBTSA would like to have its own Pride Center or similar type office
on campus.

We are open to new ideas and encourage your involvement.

If you would like to join LGBTFSA Contact
Co-chair Sharon Raphael at
or Co-Chair Tomas Tamayo at
Our meetings are usually located in Welch Hall in the
College of Health and Human Services 3rd Floor

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Crowd of Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn Protest Over Arrest

Borough Park Arrest Sparks Protest, Street Fires
Residents Claim Ticket Blitz Reason For Animosity

Lou Young

Save It
E-mail It
Print It
(CBS) BROOKLYN The street fires in Borough Park on Tuesday night began near the spot where elderly Arthur Schick was pulled over for talking on his cell phone and somehow ended up under arrest.

Those who saw all or part of the incident insist the NYPD's behavior was excessive.

When CBS 2 arrived on the scene, Schick's Cadillac was still parked curbside near the bakery he once owned that still bears his name.

Police said he became uncooperative when they pulled him over, and that he and three others who tried to intercede were arrested. As crowds of black clad orthodox and Hasidic Jews shouted complaints about the arrest, police moved in and tried to clear the streets.

Firefighters did their best to get to the trash fires, pushing, shoving and shouting.

At one point a police cruiser was physically blocked from moving until riot officers cleared the protesters away.

Many in the crowd complained of strained relations with the local precinct. Some suggested an on-going parking ticket blitz has this community on edge.

News From the Gay Sports Movement

There are two competing gay sports events set for 2006--Gay Games VII in Chicago, and what are now called the OutGames in Montreal. The latter is the result of a split in the gay sports movement after the Federation of Gay Games and Montreal could not reach an agreement on a contract for Gay Games.

Proposed Gay Games Event Divides Town


CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (April 4) - Among the items on the City Council's agenda seems a simple matter: whether to give rowers a permit to have a boat race this summer on a small man-made lake.

Nam Y. Huh, AP

Crystal Lake, Ill., Mayor Aaron Shepley said he thinks the City Council will allow the rowing competition. Gay Games organizers would be treated like anyone else who has an event in the town, he said.

But because the rowers are gay - participating in something called the Gay Games - what would normally be a mundane debate about parking and street closures instead has become a heated battle between those who see the event as a threat to their small-town way of life and those who see such views as small-minded.

The City Council was scheduled Tuesday to discuss whether to allow the Olympics-style Gay Games to hold its rowing event in this 40,000-population suburb, about 50 miles northwest of Chicago.

Angry letters to the editor have frequently appeared in the local newspaper.

"Make no mistake: The purpose of the Gay Games is to legitimize homosexuality and make it appear as a wholesome lifestyle choice," wrote Tim Coakley, a critic of the games.

In the same day's paper, Perry and Christine Koste dismissed such views, asking: "How proud are we to live in such a narrow-minded, backward hateful community?"

"How proud are we to live in such a narrow-minded, backward hateful community?"
-- Perry and Christine Koste

The debate over the Gay Games was the subject of two city park district hearings last month. The full board ultimately voted to approve the race, sending it to the City Council.

If the City Council approves it, the race would only need permission from neighboring Lakewood, which also borders the lake, before the event can be held. Officials in Lakewood said they planned to approve the games.

One of the Gay Games' missions is to raise awareness about gays to reduce stereotypes - a point organizers discussed during the park district hearings, spokesman Kevin Boyer said.

"It is very difficult to disregard what these people said and just deal with how boats are unloaded and loaded," Boyer said. "You are going to say this is not right, and this is why the Gay Games are needed."

Most of the events for the Gay Games are set in Chicago. Organizers have said the weeklong competition set for July is expected to draw 12,000 participants, tens of thousands of spectators and pump more than $50 million into the economy.

The games, which started in 1982 in San Francisco, are held every four years and are open to gay and straight participants. Other sports include badminton, basketball, cycling, flag football and racquetball.

The furor in Crystal Lake about the games goes to the heart of why many people say they live such a community.

"There's no reason to start making things racy. If you want to go to Chicago to do that, that's fine. I'm not going to go there."
-- Sunita Stone

Coakley said one reason he and his family moved to Crystal Lake a decade ago was because "there is more of a family values kind of atmosphere" there.

It is the same with Sunita Stone. "There's no reason to start making things racy," she said. "If you want to go to Chicago to do that, that's fine. I'm not going to go there."

Such talk does not surprise Al Hunter, a Northwestern University sociologist who has studied local communities. Hunter said that as suburbs have grown, a number of businesses and industries have abandoned big cities in favor of outlying areas.

That means that as people work closer to home, they travel less to the city and identify less with it, he said. The Gay Games, he said, may feel like an outside invasion.

Mayor Aaron Shepley said the Gay Games organizers have made the event more about a statement on gays and lesbians and not rowing, thus putting Crystal Lake at the center of a debate about social values.

"To the extent that part of the agenda of promoters was to draw attention to a social platform, they've been successful," he said. "And to an extent, it's been at the expense of Crystal Lake's image."

Still, Shepley believes the City Council will vote to allow the rowing competition, and said Gay Games organizers would be treated like anyone else who has an event in the town.

"This is only an endorsement of the First Amendment and the anti-discrimination laws of the state," Shepley said. "That's all it is - following the law."

Talk About It: Post Thoughts

04/04/06 04:07 EDT

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Protest the anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner bill. Saturday, MARCH 25TH 10 AM Gather at Olympic and Broadway, march to City Hall

The organizers have announced that they are expecting that as many as 500,000 people might attend the protest in L.A.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network
LGAIN - An ASA Constituent Group

From back issues of

Programs for Older LGBT Persons at The Center, Orange County

Mina (my domestic partner) and I attended a social gathering of LGAIN (Lesbian, Gay Aging Interest Network of (ASA) American Society on Aging recently which took place at the Orange county LGBT Center in Garden Grove. We were impressed with the number of program geared toward lgbt older persons at the Orange County LGBT Center (The Center) . See below. For more information on LGain go to

The Center Orange County
12752 Garden Grove Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92843

Admin, Testing, & Sr. Services - Suite 106
Counseling - Suite 103
Programs - Suite 101

The Center OC Home
Thursday, March 16, 2006 9:43 PM The Center Calendar
Senior Survey

The Center Orange County Releases Report on LGBT Seniors.

Senior Services Program

Begun in 2004 with a grant from The California Wellness Foundation, The Senior Services Program is working to build a comprehensive program that provides support and advocacy for LGBT adults in Orange County who are age fifty and older.


* opportunities for seniors to meet & socialize
* information and referral on aging services and LGBT resources
* counseling and support groups


* for senior issues and concerns in the LGBT community
* for LGBT issues and concerns in the aging services community including training of service providers

Needs Assessment Survey

* conducted from mid-2004 through mid- 2005 to gain greater knowledge and understanding of the specific needs and concerns of Orange County’s LGBT seniors.
* the report, LGBT Seniors in Orange County, will be published in early 2006

The Senior Services Program at The Center Orange County is funded by a grant from The California Wellness Foundation (TCWF). Created in 1992 as an independent, private foundation, TCWF’s mission is to improve the health of the people of California by making grants for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention programs.

Seniors @ The Center

Click to find out more about these activites sponsored by the Senior Services program. Then stop by and have some fun, learn something, and make some new friends.

Senior Social Potlucks

Senior Seminar Series

Seniors @ Shanti

Seniors @ Seal Beach

Out on Thursdays

Senior Services Menu
» Home
» LGBT Seniors in Orange County - Survey Results
» MS WORD Survey Results
» PDF Survey Results

Senior Services Contacts

Perry Wiggins
Senior Services Manager

714.534.0862 x114

email: Click
Corporate Sponsors
American Airlines Rainbow Logo
Our Business ExtrAA#: 527589

Monday, March 06, 2006

Diana Ossana at CSUDH: pics from Brokeback Mountain Event on campus

President Lyons of CSUDH welcomes audience
sharon with drawing at event

lgbt fac and staff assoc. sponsored event
sharon with tomas tamayo

lui amador leading discussion

Friday, February 17, 2006

Picture of Felicity Huffman Playing in TransAmerica

TransAmerica: Felicity Huffman is superb.

Felicity Huffman is superb in the movie TransAmerica. All the actors are good and the movie is able to carry off a serious topic with humor. TransAmerica is a story about a not so young person who started out life as Stanley and is now calling herself Bree. Bree gets a call about her biological son and ends up bailing him out of jail played very successfully by Kevin Zegers.

They both end up taking a trip across America with the intent of finding a place for the son who doesn't know he is Bree's son. Bree gives the young man age 17 the impression that she is a Christian do-gooder just helping him out. It is a very funny device as Bree's character is in some ways tentative rather than devout, intelligent and curious rather than zealous. Bree is also depicted as feminine and precise bordering on fussy. She is afraid of snakes and doesn't like camping out which they are forced to do on at least one occasion. Meeting Bree's parents and her cynical sister is a highlight of the movie.

My feeling for TransAmerica is that it is delivered without sentimentality yet I experienced the entire movie in a very heartwarming way. Insight into the struggle of Transexuals is evident without hitting the moviegoer over the head with a hammer. I enjoyed the film immensely. Bree became a very real person to me. I feel she is out there somewhere living a good life, another person I know who I really respect and like. Kudos to all involved in the making of this film. Felicity Huffman definitely should win Oscar's Best Actress. I applaud and salute Bill Macy, Huffman's husband, for producing the film. Thank you.

Sharon Raphael

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Brokeback Mountain Event with Diana Ossana on Campus at CSUDH, Carson Ca.

Advertisement for Event my LGBT Faculty and Staff Group is sponsoring on my campus located in Los Angeles, County in Carson, California. Event is free. Parking is 3 dollars.

CSU Dominguez Hills Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Faculty and Staff Association Presents:

Is the success of Brokeback Mountain a sign of the times?

A dialogue with guest speaker and Academy Award Nominated Screenwriter/producer,
Diana Ossana.
Ms. Ossana will speak about her experiences in getting
Brokeback Mountain to the big screen.

When: Friday, March 3, 2006, 1-2:30 p.m.
Where: Claudia Hampton Lecture Hall, Welch Hall

Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry co-wrote the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain. Ossana and McMurtry won the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain. Ossana was also a producer for the film.

"A close friend of mine said to me once that people are mainly motivated by two emotions: fear and love...[Writing the script for] Brokeback Mountain was not a labor of love for most of us; it was a labor of great passion and belief." "Heath [Ledger] was asked by an interviewer recently if he felt brave taking on the role of Ennis. He replied, "Brave? Firefighters and policemen are brave. I’m just an actor, getting paid to act. I feel lucky to be involved with this project.” ---Diana Ossana, Advocate, January 2006
Co-Sponsors for this event are the College of Health and Human Services, the MultiCultural Center (MCC), the Office of Student Life, the Women's Resource Center & the Institute for the Study of Diversity and Internationalization. For more information please email:, or

Directions to the FREE LGBT event: Claudia Hampton Auditorium is on the first floor of Welch Hall (right across from the small food store), at CSU Dominguez Hills, 1000 E. Victoria St. in Carson, 90747. It's freeway close-- Avalon Blvd exit off the 91 freeway, 190th St. Exit off the 405. Look for the Home Depot Center on Victoria St. and turn right onto Tamcliffe Drive.. The parking lot is right near Welch Hall. Yellow
kiosks tastefully located on the perimeter of the parking lot sell permits; parking for non-CSUDH folks is $3.00. Go to for
detailed directions and map. Main campus number: (310) 243-3696

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Reactions to Memorial Service for Coretta Scott King

I spent a good part of the day watching the televised memorial service for Coretta Scott King, widow of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King. I guess I could say I was a King groupie of sorts in the sixties as I went to hear him speak whenever he came to Cleveland, Ohio where I lived. I also attended the 1963 March on Washington. It was a marvelous time to be alive. I also have visited the Center for Social Change in Atlanta where Martin Luther King lies in repose on a small raised platform surrounded by water. Coretta's life has been dedicated to keeping King's spirit and legacy alive all these years. Mrs. King it appears was also responsible in so many ways for her husband's great success. I understand she was his mentor in many respects.

The service for King was quite remarkable. Held in a tremendous church auditorium that seated 10,000 people. Among the guests were the entire U.S. Congress, four Presidents, two of whom, Carter and Clinton, owe their election in part to Coretta Scott King and Martin. The strange part of the service was the fact that George Bush and Laura Bush were there along with the Senior Bush not Barbara. After her inappropriate remarks about how uprooted people from New Orleans as a result of Katrina were improving their lives because of the charity of others or some such nonsense, I am glad she wasn't there. A number of the speeches honoring Coretta Scott King also took karem shots at Bush policies both domestic and foreign. Ted Kennedy received a very positive reception and zinged Bush several times, Rev. Lowery, Founder of Southern Christian Leadership Council, criticized Bush for spending money on war and not at home, and Bernice King also got some shots in of her own that seemed anti-Bush but also anti anyone who appeared to wander from her version of what she would call Christian or born again Christian values or so it seemed.

Maya Angelou both sang and sermonized poetically from the podium. She also criticized the terrible times we are in and called us all to action against the violence in the world we experience and that Mrs. King and her husband so reviled. Malcom X's daughter, Ms. Attallah Shabazz, stood out as an adept and thoughtful speaker who shared great emotions with us about her experiences with the King family and Coretta who seemed to be almost a mother figure in her life.

The two Clintons, Bill and Hillary, were a highlight of the event. Bill received wild applause from the audience everytime he said almost anything at first. It was hard for him to begin. He looked at Coretta's casket and said we must remember "There is a woman in there". He brought us back to reality after so many words spoken by others that made her seem so Godlike and back to the human experience which Bill is so good at revealing. It seemed as though Bill was launching Hillary's pollitical march toward the White House. I must say they were both eloquent and Hillary's speech seemed heartfelt. She seemed to identify with Coretta's devotion even sacrifice in helping someone to great heights not unlike herself in relation to Bill. But she went on to pay the highest respects to Coretta's courage against such great odds.

It was Bernice King's eulogy at the end that got me very confused and upset. I felt her sermonesque soliloquy was too personal, defensive, and cloaked in religious nonsense. I supposed it is sacrosanct to criticize her given her great grief and overwhelming loss which I am sure was real and heartfelt. It was Bernice's message though that concerned me. What was it we were to think. Bernice left me feeling sad rather than uplifted as she tried to symbolically explain why her Mother's last few days on earth, her moaning for three straight hours, the ovarian cancer, meant something about a struggle of good over evil or was it the other way around? For goodness sake, Coretta did not give up on life because she saw too much evil on earth. She was hardly one to give up on anything. Bernice just seems like a lost soul to me yet it is she is who in charge of a congregation and holder of the legacy. She did say a few things that made me think for a moment she was politically aware and then she just as quickly lost me as she would veer back to some kind of religious fantasy about the death of her Mother.

I was also touched by the eulogy by the woman who represented the American Jewish Committee and who so fondly remembered Coretta Scott King. The Jewish woman mentioned how faithfully Coretta kept in touoch with her and how she in effect remembered the Jewish people in her life which showed once again Mrs. King's great humanity. Today it is not always so popular for African Americans to support Jews even loyal civil rights supporter type Jewish people. Coretta Scott King spoke up for Gay rights and Marriage Equality. Her voice will be missed as we struggle for marriage equality. Several of the speakers brought up her support for Gay Rights in their speeches.

Sharon Raphael