Thursday, October 22, 2009

Invocation to Archangel Michael to Intercede for LGBTs Worldwide

Oh Great, Ancient Michael, our Archangel who attracts the hearts of God's Legions of Helpers throughout all the worlds and dimensions, both seen and unseen!

We, LGBT Americans are suffering terribly from the effects of forced separation from our foreign spouses and partners.

Intervene for us and unite us with our loved ones!

Homosexual, bisexual and transgendered people throughout America and the world have been suffering endlessly for centuries from cruel and deadly oppressors who have controlled our world religions and societies for millennia.

Intervene on our behalf!

Our religions were causes founded by the Spiritual Suns of humanity, Who were born into the world to bring Love and Justice, and yet the Founders were immediately delivered into the hands of the same ecclesiastical and political authorities who continue to oppress us and dim human civilization.

Free the earth of all parasitic influences!

Until now, the world's religions have not brought unity, justice or peace! They have largely failed us.

Sweep away the superstition and perversity from religion so that we can have peace!

Let's not forget that humanity's Teachers were were spit on; they were beaten, exiled, imprisoned, and murdered. Their oppressors spit on us, beat us, exile us, imprison us and murder us.

Shield and free us!

The world's LGBT people need your swift intercession.

Unite and protect our families!

Rip the mental and legal chains that our enemies have wrapped around us, and set us free!

And remove our perennial oppressors from their power and influence, forever!

We rest in your strong arms, and await your intervention.



It Takes Two Guys to Tutor a Young Sparrow to Sing

It may take a village to raise a child, and apparently it takes at least two adult birds to teach a young song sparrow how and what to sing.

In the first study conducted in the field to examine how juvenile song birds learn their repertoire, University of Washington researchers have learned that eavesdropping on the singing conversations between two adult sparrows appears to be a key event in song learning. The results are being published Oct. 21 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The Royal Society is the British version of the National Academy of Sciences.

Scientists study how song birds acquire their songs because the process has parallels with human language learning. In each case eavesdropping seems to play a role.

The researchers used radio telemetry to track the young song sparrows (Melospiza melodia) and monitor responses to recorded bird songs played over two speakers. Only male birds were studied because female sparrows generally do not sing.

“We measured how close the juveniles came to the speakers, how long it took for them to approach and their overall movements. They generally moved closer, faster and farther when they heard recordings of two adult male sparrows interacting than when they heard recordings of a solo sparrow singing,” said Christopher Templeton, a UW biology doctoral student and lead author of the study.

The research stems from an earlier UW laboratory study that showed young sparrows acquire more of their songs when they eavesdrop on two birds than when they interact with a tutor. That research was headed by Michael Beecher, a UW psychology and biology professor, who is a co-author of the new paper.

For the field study, the researchers radio tagged 11 male sparrows in Seattle’s undeveloped Discovery Park. These birds were about two months old and had not yet begun to sing. The park has a year-round resident population of approximately l50 breeding pairs.

To test a young bird’s reactions, it was first located by its radio signal and then the speakers were placed about 50 yards from the animal’s location. Finally the bird was exposed to five minutes of pre-recorded song, either from pairs of song sparrows, a sparrow and a chickadee (effectively a solo sparrow) or a pair of chickadees (the control condition). All of the sparrow recordings were from birds that were no longer alive, so that the songs the young birds heard were not familiar. Chickadees commonly live in the same habitat as song sparrows, so sparrows are familiar with their songs.

That the juvenile birds approached the simulated interaction of two song sparrows but largely ignored the solo singing of a song sparrow lends support to the social eavesdropping hypothesis proposed by Beecher. This theory says young birds learn to sing by eavesdropping on singing between adult birds, rather than listening to a single bird or directly interacting with an adult.

“They seem to be learning how to sing and interact by eavesdropping on interactions. This way they can learn shared songs, which will be important for their future success. Having shared song is the basis of song sparrow communications,” said Templeton.

“By listening to two birds, the juvenile can also learn how the songs are used, something he can’t learn by listening to a single bird. The young bird could do this by directly interacting with a mature adult bird, but that is risky because he might be chased away or beaten up.”

Co-authors of the study are Caglar Akcay, a UW psychology doctoral student, and Elizabeth Campbell, a research technician. Funding for the work came from the National Science Foundation, the American Museum of Natural History, American Ornithologists’ Union, the Animal Behavior Society and the UW Royalty Research Fund.

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It's time to pass the Uniting American Families Act

"There is no lawful manner for a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to apply for a family-based visa for his or her partner if they are of the same sex. Our laws break apart these couples for no reason other than that they are of the same gender. This is unjust, cruel and unnecessary."

By Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)
- 10/20/09 07:38 PM ET

In many respects, Greg and Jaime of New York City are like millions of other American families. They met at a mutual friend’s party in 1998 and have built a loving, stable life together over the past 11 years. They live in a pre-war apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and share a love of New York City, travel, dining out and hosting friends for dinner. Jaime has worked for nearly 10 years in the financial services industry. Like so many others in this economic downturn, Greg lost his job in January. If their life sounds unremarkable so far, that is because it is.

What is remarkable is that soon they may be forced to choose whether they will separate or leave the United States in order to remain together as a committed couple.

Greg and Jaime are both men, and Jaime, who was born in Argentina, is not a U.S. citizen. Because they are not a heterosexual couple, current immigration law does not allow Greg, who is a U.S. citizen, to sponsor Jaime for lawful permanent residence. When Jaime’s visa expires, in order to live together lawfully, they may have no choice but to leave the United States. This would mean abandoning their friends, Greg’s extended family and Jaime’s career. And then, where could they live together with immigration rights as a gay couple? Not Argentina.

Another couple, with the U.S. citizen a native of Vermont and his partner a Brazilian national, made this hard choice recently. The U.S. citizen was forced to sell his Vermont family farm and move to London in order to be able to live with his partner without violating immigration laws.

These couples are not alone. There are an estimated 36,000 other couples in America that face the same tortured predicament, in which one member of a same-sex couple is not a citizen and cannot be sponsored by his or her U.S. citizen partner for residence. There is no lawful manner for a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident to apply for a family-based visa for his or her partner if they are of the same sex. Our laws break apart these couples for no reason other than that they are of the same gender. This is unjust, cruel and unnecessary.

It is not only same-sex couples that are harmed by this harsh and discriminatory system. Innocent children suffer when one partner loses his or her lawful immigration status and families are torn apart by deportation of the non-citizen partner. Almost half of gay or lesbian bi-national couples have children.

Extended family, communities and employers are also affected when these couples are needlessly separated. At a time when our economy is suffering, it makes no sense to drive skilled workers away or put unnecessary strains on hardworking Americans.

Moreover, in a society where a premium is placed upon strong, stable and intact families, it is strikingly backward for the United States to have a policy that destabilizes American families. The principle of family unification is a hallmark of American immigration policy. We must apply this principle to lesbian and gay couples too.

This issue is about civil rights, not about same-sex marriage, domestic partnerships or civil unions. To fix this problem, we need not re-open same-sex marriage laws; we simply need to modify our immigration laws to treat bi-national couples equally. Nineteen other countries, many of which are our closest allies, provide immigration rights to same-sex couples. The United States can and should follow suit.

We have introduced legislation to right this wrong — the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) of 2009. This bill would grant same-sex couples the same immigration benefits — and responsibilities — as opposite-sex couples, under the same existing legal framework. It is cosponsored by 22 senators and 117 members of the House of Representatives and has the support of a diverse coalition of businesses and civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, the American Bar Association and the Anti-Defamation League.

We must change the law to end the gratuitous cruelty being imposed on Greg, Jaime and the thousands of other couples just like them around the country. We urge Congress to incorporate UAFA into the forthcoming comprehensive immigration reform. No immigration reform we enact can be truly comprehensive unless it also addresses this deprivation of the civil rights of bi-national families. There is no rational reason to continue this discriminatory treatment. It is long past time that Congress did something about it.

NOTE: Greg and Jaime are a genuine couple. Their names were changed to protect their privacy but all details are accurate.

Leahy chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. Nadler is a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Readers are asked to add their comment to Senator Leahy and Representative Nadler's article on The Hill. Comments can be added here:


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hundreds of Thousands of LGBT Americans March on Washington, DC to Demand Full Civil Rights

WASHINGTON – Thousands of gay rights supporters marched Sunday from the White House to the Capitol, demanding that President Barack Obama keep his promises to allow gays to serve openly in the military and work to end discrimination against gays.

Rainbow flags and homemade signs dotted the crowds filling Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House as people chanted "Hey, Obama, let mama marry mama" and "We're out, we're proud, we won't back down." Many children were also among the protesters. A few counter-protesters had also joined the crowd, which stretched several blocks by the afternoon.

Jason Yanowitz, a 37-year-old computer programmer from Chicago, held his daughter, 5-year-old Amira, on his shoulders. His partner, Annie, had their 2-year-old son, Isiah, in a stroller. Yanowitz said more straight people were turning out to show their support for gay rights.

"If somebody doesn't have equal rights, then none of us are free," he said.

"For all I know, she's gay or he's gay," he added, pointing to his children.

Some participants in the National Equality March woke up energized by Obama's blunt pledge to end the ban on gays serving openly in the military during a speech to the nation's largest gay rights group Saturday night.

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Sunday that Congress will need to muster the resolve to change the "don't ask, don't tell policy" — a change that the military may be ready for.

"I think it has to be done in the right way, which is to get a buy-in from the military, which I think is now possible," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

Obama's political energies have been focused on two wars, the economic crisis and health care reform, though he pledged "unwavering" commitment even as he wrestled with those problems.

March organizer Cleve Jones, creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt and a protege of gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, said he had initially discouraged a rally earlier in the year. But he and others began to worry Obama was backing away from his campaign promises....[Continue story here]


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Love Between German and Pole Survives Decades of Iron Curtain Separation

By VANESSA GERA, Associated Press Writer

MIESZKOWICE, Poland – For five decades, she kept his picture in her wallet — a black-and-white snapshot of a handsome young Polish man with brooding eyes.

The unlikely love story of Elvira Profe and Fortunat Mackiewicz began in the chaotic aftermath of World War II, as Poland's borders were redrawn by the victorious Allies and millions of Germans were expelled.

It blossomed even as their people seethed with mutual hate and endured some of the past century's most tortured upheavals, and survived the Cold War that drove them apart. Now, in this 70th year since World War II broke out, and 20th year since the Cold War ended, they are married in a love affair that has triumphed against all odds.

In January 1946, Profe was one of the few Germans left in this town that became part of Poland after the Nazi defeat. She was sickly and malnourished from a nearly a year spent in a Soviet forced-labor camp in Siberia. Mackiewicz had resettled here after the swath of eastern Poland where he lived was handed to the Soviets.

When they met, it was hardly love at first sight.

The once privileged daughter of a factory owner was by then a stick figure weighing just 33 kilograms (75 pounds). Her back was damaged by heavy labor and, at age 20, she was already sprouting gray hairs.

She had returned home from Siberia to the town she knew as Baerwalde and which now had a Polish name, Mieszkowice, and her family was having to beg for bread and milk. One day, at her family's bidding, she knocked on Mackiewicz's door. His family was kind to her; they had heard her parents never mistreated Poles.

When Mackiewicz, then 25, first saw her his first emotion was enormous pity.

"She was just a toothpick," he recalled recently, holding up a single finger.

The first time he kissed her, it was on the forehead, a gesture of compassion.

Their love took its time. She would spend entire days with his family, helping to milk their cows and carry hay. He would walk her home. "We were friends first. Friendship, great friendship, trust. And then in the end — love," Mackiewicz said.

If their romance developed slowly, it was about to come to an abrupt end. And it was their decision to marry that tore them apart.

When Mackiewicz went to the town hall seeking permission to wed, the authorities reacted with horror. Her father was not just a German, he was a German capitalist — a double sin in the eyes of the Polish communist bureaucracy.

They ordered Profe's family to leave town.

As Elvira and Fortunat — whom she affectionately calls Fortek — said their goodbyes in front of her father's factory, they...[Elvira and Fortunat's life story continues here]