Time: The Gay Mafia That's Redefining Politics (Oct 31)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday, Oct. 31, 2008
The Gay Mafia That's Redefining Politics
By John Cloud / Beverly Hills

A few weeks before Virginia's legislative elections in 2005, a researcher working on behalf of a clandestine group of wealthy, gay political donors telephoned a Virginia legislator named Adam Ebbin. Then, as now, Ebbin was the only openly gay member of the state's general assembly. The researcher wanted Ebbin's advice on how the men he represented could spend their considerable funds to help defeat anti-gay Virginia politicians.

Ebbin, a Democrat who is now 44, was happy to oblige. (Full disclosure: in the mid-'90s, Ebbin and I knew each other briefly as colleagues; he sold ads for Washington City Paper, a weekly where I was a reporter.) Using Ebbin's expertise, the gay donors — none of whom live in Virginia — began contributing to certain candidates in the state. There were five benefactors: David Bohnett of Beverly Hills, Calif., who in 1999 sold the company he had co-founded, Geo-Cities, to Yahoo! in a deal worth $5 billion on the day it was announced; Timothy Gill of Denver, another tech multimillionaire; James Hormel of San Francisco, grandson of George, who founded the famous meat company; Jon Stryker of Kalamazoo, Mich., the billionaire grandson of the founder of medical-technology giant Stryker Corp.; and Henry van Ameringen, whose father Arnold Louis van Ameringen started a Manhattan-based import company that later became the mammoth International Flavors & Fragrances.

The five men spent $138,000 in Virginia that autumn, according to state records compiled by the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project. Of that, $48,000 went directly to the candidates Ebbin recommended. Ebbin got $45,000 for his PAC, the Virginia Progress Fund, so he could give to the candidates himself. Another $45,000 went to Equality Virginia, a gay-rights group that was putting money into many of the same races.

On Election Day that year, the Virginia legislature stayed solidly in Republican hands; the Democratic Party netted just one seat. But that larger outcome masked an intriguing development: anti-gay conservatives had suffered considerably. For instance, in northern Virginia, a Democrat named Charles Caputo (who received $6,500 from Ebbin's PAC) had beaten a Christian youth minister, Chris Craddock, by an unexpectedly large margin, with a vote of 56% to 41%. Three other candidates critical of gays were also defeated, including delegate Richard Black, who had long opposed gay equality in Richmond. Black had had no single donation as large as the $20,000 that Ebbin's PAC gave his opponent. "This was my ninth election campaign, and it wasn't unusual to have homosexuals involved," says Black, who now practices law. "But it was different, certainly, in degree. There had not been a concerted influx of money from homosexuals as a group before."

The group that donated the money to use against Black and the others is known as the Cabinet, although you won't find that name on a letterhead or even on the Internet. Aside from Bohnett, 52; Gill, 55; Hormel, 75; Stryker, 50; and Van Ameringen, 78, the other members of the Cabinet are Jonathan Lewis (49-year-old grandson of Joseph, co-founder of Progressive Insurance) and Linda Ketner, 58, heiress to the Food Lion fortune, who is running for Congress against GOP Representative Henry Brown Jr. of South Carolina.

Ketner's is something of a long-shot bid — her district has been reliably Republican for years — but recently Congressional Quarterly described her "suddenly strong run" against Brown as "the biggest surprise" in this year's House races. Ketner, who was invited to join the all-male Cabinet as a way of diversifying it, declined to discuss her role in the group.

Among gay activists, the Cabinet is revered as a kind of secret gay Super Friends, a homosexual justice league that can quietly swoop in wherever anti-gay candidates are threatening and finance victories for the good guys. Rumors abound in gay political circles about the group's recondite influence; some of the rumors are even true. For instance, the Cabinet met in California last year with two sitting governors, Brian Schweitzer of Montana and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, both Democrats; political advisers who work for the Cabinet met with a third Democratic governor, Wisconsin's Jim Doyle. The Cabinet has also funded a secretive organization called the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), which a veteran lesbian activist describes as the "Gay IRS." MAP keeps tabs on the major gay organizations to make sure they are operating efficiently. The October 2008 MAP report notes, for example, that the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force fails to meet Better Business Bureau standards for limiting overhead expenses.

According to the online databases Opensecrets.org and Followthemoney.org, the seven members of the Cabinet have spent at least $7.8 million on political races since the beginning of 2004, although their true level of giving is doubtless far higher, since Followthemoney.org — which is run by the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics — does not capture all contributions to PACs (for instance, the Cabinet money that went to Ebbin's PAC in 2005 doesn't show up on the website). The Cabinet spends at least as much each election cycle as does the PAC run by the Human Rights Campaign, the world's largest gay political group. And yet the Cabinet has operated in stealth, without accountability from watchdogs. (The Cabinet does not subject itself to MAP analysis.)

Cabinet spending shows up in races all over the country where pro-gay candidates have a good shot. For instance, Bohnett, Gill and Van Ameringen have given $143,000 this year to New York Democrats, who are within two seats of controlling the state senate. A Democratic New York legislature would likely approve equal marriage rights.

The Cabinet's Gill and Stryker have seen their money achieve remarkable results in their respective states, Colorado and Michigan. Stateline.org (a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts) reported that in 2006, Stryker gave "at least $6.4 million to candidates or political committees in at least a dozen states, including Michigan, where he can boast that Democrats gained a majority in the state house for the first time in 12 years." Some Cabinet members also donated tens of thousands of dollars in certain Iowa and New Hampshire races in 2006, when Democrats regained control of both states' legislatures. Those states' Democratic majorities now ensure that, among other things, efforts to amend the Iowa and New Hampshire constitutions to ban same-sex marriage will fail.

And yet the Cabinet is noteworthy not only because its treasure begets political influence but also because its very existence shows how dramatically the culture wars — and liberal politics as a whole — have changed in the past decade. Next summer gays will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the 1969 Manhattan demonstrations that began when cross-dressers angry about police raids at the Stonewall bar began throwing bottles and punches. Today, though, the street movement is basically defunct. And increasingly, the center of gay power is moving out from Washington toward the interior — toward powerful foundations like those run by Stryker in Kalamazoo and Gill in Denver. Since the beginning of 2001, Stryker's foundation, which is called Arcus and has offices in both the U.S. and the U.K., has given away $67 million, about three-quarters to gays and about one-quarter to apes. (Stryker, who got a pet monkey as a gift when he was young, is a major donor to the conservation of ape habitats.)

The Cabinet is emblematic of a larger shift on the left since 2004 in the direction of big-money politics, a shift most clearly seen in Barack Obama's refusal of public financing for his campaign. The Cabinet is only one of several flush, members-only liberal groups that have formed since 2004, the most famous (and richest) being the Democracy Alliance, whose sponsors include billionaires George Soros, Peter Lewis (father of Cabinet member Jonathan) and Pat Stryker (sister of Cabinet member Jon).

That raises questions: What does a civil rights movement look like in an era of massive wealth? Can you still inspire a grass-roots movement when all the street troops know that the billionaires can just write bigger checks? And is it possible that the left has become a movement as coldly obsessed with money as it always assumed the right was?

Gays may see the cabinet as powerful, almost numinous, but its own members see themselves as largely unorganized and highly independent. "It's a group of people who like and respect each other and their opinions," Ray Mulliner, a longtime Hormel adviser, told me recently. "It's nothing more than like-minded donors getting together to share strategies." When I mentioned that similar organizations on the right had received press scrutiny — I was thinking of the Arlington Group, a coalition of movement conservatives — Mulliner angrily rejected the comparison: "You have no reason to be curious about this. You're going to write a piece that's going to start a fire that needs to get put out, and it's going to cost a lot of money to put it out," he said.

The Cabinet first came together three or four years ago, according to Van Ameringen, as a "meeting place" for donors who wanted to use their money with greater strategic acumen. Gill got the idea for the group after he and Lewis attended a Democracy Alliance meeting. The donors felt they could accomplish more for gays if they shared information rather than operate as "silo" givers. Some members were frustrated that the established gay movement in Washington hadn't made greater progress in a society rapidly coming to see homosexuality as a mere variation rather than a moral degeneration.

Today it's difficult to find a gay organization that has not enjoyed the Cabinet's largesse. In 2007, for example, Stryker's Arcus Foundation gave away $11.8 million as part of its Gay and Lesbian Program. The money reached both big-name groups like the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (which got half a million dollars) and little organizations like the Actors Theatre Co. of Grand Rapids, Mich., which got $25,000 to produce a play called Seven Passages: The Story of Gay Christians.

The web of connections among the Cabinet members is complex. All the other members have donated the maximum amount allowed to Ketner's congressional campaign. Gill, Lewis and Stryker employ political advisers — respectively, Denver attorney Ted Trimpa; Paul Yandura, who worked in the Clinton White House's political-affairs office; and Lisa Turner, a former political director for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee — who regularly speak with one another and with others who work for Cabinet members.

There's nothing illegal about the Cabinet's coordination of its members' giving, according to Lawrence Noble, campaign-finance expert with the Washington-based firm Skadden, Arps. The contributions would be illegal only if the members agreed to give up control of their donations entirely or coordinated them directly with a campaign. There's no evidence of either; several people associated with the Cabinet made clear that its members make their donations without anyone's review. And yet as the National Review's Byron York has pointed out, Americans were horrified to learn during Watergate that Richard Nixon's friend Clement Stone had donated an outrageous $2 million in cash to the President's campaign. Cabinet members have spent at least five times that amount in various races in the past four years; the Soros-backed Democracy Alliance has spent probably 50 times that amount.

Still, it's hard to argue that the left in general and gays in particular should sit on their hands while foes outspend them. Strategically, the Cabinet makes sense; most people who defend its secrecy offer a Machiavellian understanding of ends and means. "I could lose a lot of sleep about it, and I do wonder why they have abandoned [gay] organizations that have a 35-year track record in order to have their own operations," says a seasoned Washington gay activist. "But if that's the way the rules of the game are being played, I need to maneuver within what the realities are."

The larger question is what role wealthy groups like the Cabinet will have in reshaping the politics of the left. There's been a great deal of (largely self-congratulatory) talk among liberals about the progressive movement's success in using new technologies to harness the netroots, to use the fashionable liberal argot. But there has been less reflection about what impact the great gobs of Sorosian money will have on the movement. Michael Fleming, a Los Angeles political macher who advises Cabinet member Bohnett, worries that rank-and-file gay people — the ones who might have picked up a rock at Stonewall — are increasingly relying on billionaires to cut checks. "Where is the outrage?" he asks.

The answer is that outrage has given way to smugness, the kind of self-satisfaction conservatives displayed after electoral successes in 1980 and 1994. Groups like the Cabinet and the Democracy Alliance suggest a new kind of moneyed progressivism, one that shows little of the class discontent that animated earlier strains of leftist thought. Is this a sign of maturation — throwing off radical excesses — or capitulation, a surrendering to the idea that efforts to reduce the power of money in our democracy have failed? Probably a little of both.

For its part, the Cabinet seems poised to prod the gay movement into being sleeker, faster, more tactical. When the remaining veterans of Stonewall march down Fifth Avenue next summer, those shimmeringly romantic, slightly foolish days of 1969 will have never seemed so distant.

TNP: HIV Postive? You Deserve It (Oct 30)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

'HIV-positive? You deserve it'

Infected man's mum slams him when he reveals condition. He now hides it from friends and colleagues.

Sat, Nov 01, 2008
The New Paper

By Benson Ang

HE is gay and HIV-positive.

In 2004, one evening during dinner, he broke the news to his family. His mother and elder brother were present.

He was advised by his doctor to break the news to his family so that they could react appropriately in case of an emergency.

James (not his real name), 38, said he was shocked by their reaction at the dinner table.

His dejected mother, in her 70s, first stared at him and asked: 'How did this happen?

He replied: 'Through sex.'

She shot back: 'Then, you've only yourself to blame.'

His brother kept silent throughout the conversation.

There was a deafening silence for the rest of the dinner, interrupted only by his mother's questions regarding the illness.


From then on, his family members were so frightened of the virus that they even washed and stored the plates and utensils he used separately and kept them in a different place.

James, who works in the service industry, said: 'I know that sharing cutlery cannot transmit the virus. But because they had not much knowledge of this, I just played along to reassure them.'

This less-accepting attitude towards HIV-positive people was revealed in a recent Health Promotion Board (HPB) survey. This is the first large population-based survey of its kind, according to HPB.

Since the first HIV case in Singapore was detected in 1985, only one person has dared to come out as HIV-positive. The late Paddy Chew went public with his condition in 1998 and eventually died in 1999.

Which goes on to show that even after 10 years, the stigma associated with HIV patients still hasn't gone away.

Said James, who works in the service industry: 'It was a double whammy - telling them that I was gay and HIV positive.

'I think my mum was just devastated and traumatised. It took several months before she came around to accepting my condition.'

A year later, he moved out of his family flat to his own three-room flat.

It took his family about two years to come to terms with the illness and be comfortable with mixing their cutlery with his.

His mother began talking to him more frequently and things went back to normal.

He said he tested positive for HIV in 1996 through unprotected sex with a former lover.

So how did he manage to keep this secret for eight years? He said: 'This is nothing. People have kept secrets for their whole lifetime.'

The only people who know about his illness are his family, partner, and the HIV-positive people he came to know through an Action for Aids (AfA) support group. James joined the group in 2002 when he started on his medication.

Why did he take six years to start on medication when he knew he was already HIV positive?

He said: 'I felt healthy and was ignorant of the disease at that time.

(Page 1 of 2)

'It was only when I had a chest infection in 2002 that reality hit me.'

He said he has not revealed his condition to any of his friends and colleagues, despite having lived with HIV for 12 years.

He said: 'Singapore society is still very unaccepting of gay people, let alone those with HIV.'

So why isn't he revealing his status?

He says he is just being 'practical', since in Singapore, there are no laws protecting HIV-positive people from discrimination by their employers.

This was verified by three lawyers The New Paper spoke to.

James said that employers who may not know much about HIV may just terminate such employees out of fear.

He claimed that some of his HIV-positive friends told their bosses about their condition, and ended up being sacked 'for the minutest reason'.

He takes anti-retroviral drugs at home instead: twice daily - in the mornings and evenings - to combat the spread of the virus.

He does not have full-blown Aids, but sometimes experiences side effects from his medication, such as nausea, diarrhoea and skin problems.

And although he shops, eats, sings karaoke and goes to the movies with his HIV-negative friends, most of whom are gay men, none know about his condition.

James said: 'I haven't got the guts to tell them. I just act buat-bodoh (blur) when the subject comes up, because I don't know if they can really accept it or not.

'I just don't see the need to tell them, especially since news tends to have a roll-on effect.'

James suspects that he contracted the disease through unprotected sex with a former lover.

'But I can't be sure, so I don't want to point fingers.'

A few months later, he became 'very sick', and had to be hospitalised for six days.

A blood test confirmed his HIV status.

Life goes on

'At first, I felt down. But life goes on.'

He says he does not want to 'perpetuate the cycle' with his current partner of three years, who is HIV-negative. They use condoms.

Prior to sharing his secret, James said he asked his partner leading questions to see how accepting the latter was of people with HIV.

James revealed the truth only when he felt it was safe, a few months into the relationship.

James said: 'My partner cried. But two weeks later, he told me, 'No worries. We will go through it together.'

'This made life much easier.'

Added James: 'I'll never have a job again if I were to come out publicly in Singapore. I'll have more to lose.'

This story was first published in The New Paper on Oct 30, 2008.

Pelangi Pride Centre presents "The Celluloid Closet" and "Sex Change Soldier"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Details at a Glance

Event: Screening of "The Celluloid Closet" and "Sex Change Soldier"
Date: Saturday, 08 Nov 2008 (081108)
Time: 4pm
Cost per person: $6 (cost of 2 drinks and finger food)
Venue: Pelangi Pride Centre

RSVP - This event is by invitation only.
LIMITED to only 30 pax, prior registration is required.
For an invite - please email [pelangipridecentre at yahoo dot com]
with your name (in full), contact number, the name/s of your guests.

AFP: Malaysian religious council issues ban on lesbian sex (Oct 27)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Malaysian religious council issues ban on lesbian sex

22 hours ago

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) — One of Malaysia's highest Islamic bodies has
banned females from dressing or behaving like men and engaging in
lesbian sex, saying it was forbidden by the religion.

The National Fatwa Council late Thursday issued its ruling following a
two-day meeting that discussed recent cases of young women apparently
behaving like men and exhibiting homosexual tendencies, state news
agency Bernama reported.

Council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin told Bernama many young women
admired the way men dress, behave and socialise, violating human
nature and denying their femininity.

"It is unacceptable to see women who love the male lifestyle including
dressing in the clothes men wear," Abdul Shukor was quoted as saying.

"(Masculine behaviour) becomes clearer when they start to have sex
with someone of the same gender, that is woman and woman," he said.

"In view of this, the National Fatwa Council which met today have
decided and taken the stand that such acts are forbidden and banned,"
he said.

Male homosexuality, considered against the order of nature, is illegal
in Malaysia but lawyers say female homosexuality is technically
permissible as there are no provisions for it under the law.

The Fatwa Council does not have jurisdiction in civil law, but the
ruling appears to be an attempt to push female homosexuality towards

Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, where more than 60 percent
of its 27 million people are Muslim Malays who practice a conservative
brand of the religion.

ST: Islamic clerics issue fatwa on tomboys (Oct 25)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oct 25, 2008
Islamic clerics issue fatwa on tomboys
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's main body of Islamic clerics has issued an
edict banning tomboys in the Muslim-majority country, ruling that
girls who act like boys violate the tenets of Islam, an official said

At a meeting on Thursday in northern Malaysia, the National Fatwa
Council forbade girls to behave or dress like boys, said Perak mufti
Harussani Idris Zakaria.

He said the council's ruling was not legally binding because it has
not been passed into law, but that tomboys should be banned because
their actions are immoral.

'It doesn't matter if it's a law or not. When it's wrong, it's wrong.
It is a sin,' he said. 'Tomboy (behaviour) is forbidden in Islam.'

Under the edict, girls are forbidden to sport short hair and dress,
walk and act like boys, he said. Boys should also not act like girls,
he said.

'They must respect God. God created them as boys, they must behave
like boys. God created them as girls, they must act like girls,' he said.

Council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin said the ruling was prompted by
recent cases of young women behaving like men and indulging in
homosexual behaviour, according to the national news agency Bernama.
He did not elaborate.

A well-known Malaysian Muslim actress caused an uproar last year when
she shaved her head bald for a film called Muallaf (The Convert).

Mr Harussani and other muftis urged Muslims not to watch the movie,
saying that the actress had violated Islam by making herself look like
a man.

It was not immediately clear what kind of punishment awaited those who
violate the tomboy edict, or fatwa.


Today Weekend: Malaysian clerics issue edict to ban tomboys (Oct 25)

M'sian clerics issue edict to ban tomboys

Weekend • October 25, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia's main body of Islamic clerics has issued an
edict banning tomboys in the Muslim-majority country, ruling that
girls who act like boys violate the tenets of Islam, an official said
on Friday.

The National Fatwa Council forbade the practice of girls behaving or
dressing like boys during a meeting on Thursday in northern Malaysia,
said Mr Harussani Idris Zakaria, the mufti of northern Perak state,
who attended the gathering.

He said an increasing number of Malaysian girls behave like tomboys
and that some of them engage in homosexuality. Homosexuality is not
explicitly banned in Malaysia, but it is effectively illegal under a
law that prohibits sex acts "against the order of nature".

Mr Harussani said the council's ruling was not legally binding because
it has not been passed into law, but that tomboys should be banned
because their actions are immoral.

"It doesn't matter if it's a law or not. When it's wrong, it's wrong.
It is a sin,"Mr Harussani told AP. "Tomboy (behaviour) is forbidden in

Under the edict, or "fatwa", girls are forbidden to sport short hair
and dress, walk and act like boys, Mr Harussani said.

Boys should also not act like girls, he said. "They must respect God.
God created them as boys, they must behave like boys," he said.

Council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin said the ruling was prompted by
recent cases of young women behaving like men and indulging in
homosexuality, according to the Bernama news agency. AP

HIV/AIDS Talk at Kampong Kapor Methodist Church

Women who Love Women Documentary Now Online!

Monday, October 20, 2008

If you missed the screenings at Pelangi Pride Centre, Singapore International Film Festival and Sinema, here's your chance to watch it!

Video at womenwholovewomensingapore.blogspot.com

Boston Globe: Connecticut Supreme Court legalises same-sex marriage (Oct 10)

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Boston Globe
10 October 2008

Connecticut Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage

By Michael Levenson and Andrew Ryan, Globe Staff

Connecticut became the third state to legalize same-sex marriage today
in a 4-3 decision by the state Supreme Court.

In an 85-page decision issued at 11:30 a.m., the court struck down a
law barring same-sex marriage, ruling that the state had "failed to
establish adequate reason to justify the statutory ban."

The justices noted in the majority opinion that they recognized "as
the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court did in Goodridge v. Dept. of
Public Health … that 'our decision marks a change in the history of
our marriage law.' "

The case, Kerrigan v. the state Commissioner of Public Health, was
brought by eight same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses by
the Madison town clerk. They argued that the state's civil union law
was discriminatory and unconstitutional because it established a
separate and therefore inherently unequal institution for a minority
group. Citing equal protection under the law, the state Supreme Court

"In accordance with these state constitutional requirements, same sex
couples cannot be denied the freedom to marry," said the majority
opinion, which was written by Justice Richard N. Palmer.

State Senator Andrew J. McDonald, cochairman of the state Assembly's
Judiciary Committee, said he believes that gay couples will be allowed
to marry in 20 days, barring attempts by opponents to delay the ruling
with procedural maneuvers. He said he expects the Assembly to update
the state's marriage laws when members reconvene in January, without
much opposition.

"I continue to expect a bipartisan effort to eradicate any remaining
vestiges of discrimination," McDonald said, hailing the ruling as a
"dramatic reaffirmation of Connecticut's commitment to civil rights
and equality for all of her citizens."

"The court has seen through many of the diversionary arguments of our
opponents," McDonald said, "and has firmly established that
discrimination in any context and in any form is unacceptable and

Peter J. Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of
Connecticut, which opposes same-sex marriage, blasted the ruling.

"The decision is an outrage," Wolfgang said in a telephone interview.
"It is essentially a handful of judges acting as if they were rogue
masters usurping the democratic process in Connecticut and radically
redefining marriage by judicial fiat."

Wolfgang said that "our only shot" to stop same-sex marriage is to
push for passage of a ballot question that will appear before
Connecticut voters next month.

Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell said in a statement that she would
abide by the decision even though she disagreed with the court because
of her belief that "marriage is the union of a man and a woman."

"The Supreme Court has spoken," Rell said. "I do not believe their
voice reflects the majority of the people of Connecticut. However, I
am also firmly convinced that attempts to reverse this decision --
either legislatively or by amending the state Constitution – will not
meet with success."

Connecticut joins California and Massachusetts, which became the first
state to allow same-sex marriage in 2004.

In a scathing 25-page dissenting opinion today, Justice Peter T.
Zarella wrote that "there is no fundamental right to same sex marriage."

"The ancient definition of marriage as the union of one man and one
woman has its basis in biology, not bigotry," Zarella wrote. "If the
state no longer has an interest in the regulation of procreation, then
that is a decision for the legislature or the people of the state and
not this court."

In a dissenting opinion written by Justice David M. Borden and signed
by Justice Christine S. Vertefeuille, the judges wrote that, contrary
to arguments made by the plaintiffs, Connecticut's civil union law is
not discriminatory.

"The development of the law in this state dealing with sexual
orientation demonstrates that the legislature had no intention, in
passing the civil union statute, to encourage discrimination against
or to stigmatize homosexuals," the judges wrote. "On the contrary,
that history supports the conclusion that the legislature has been
working toward the eventual passage of a gay marriage bill, and that
the civil union statute was an important step in that process."

In 2005, Connecticut became the first state to establish civil unions
without a court order, but that measure did not end the same-sex
marriage debate. The eight gay couples who were denied licenses sued
the state Department of Public Health, which oversees marriage

Following the governor's lead, there appeared to be little appetite in
the Assembly to fight the ruling.

State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, a Republican of Fairfield,
issued a statement today saying: "While I believe these decisions are
better left to elected representatives, it is ultimately the province
of the State Supreme Court to interpret our constitution. The Court
carried out that responsibility today and ruled that the institution
of marriage in Connecticut must include same-sex couples. Whether
people agree or disagree, we all need to respect the Court's decision
and abide by the ruling."

At the Family Institute of Connecticut, Wolfgang said that next
month's ballot question asked voters whether the state should hold its
first constitutional convention in 40 years. If the measure passes,
Wolfgang said, activists opposed to gay marriage will press the
Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment that would define
marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The measure would then
need approval from the voters, and the soonest it could be ratified
would be two years, he said.

"Our only shot is to get a yes vote on Election Day," Wolfgang said.
"That is our one opportunity to let people have the same remedy here
in Connecticut as they have out in California," where voters are also
scheduled to take up a ballot amendment next month that would ban
same-sex marriage.

Herstory Presents "Do You Know the Lyrics" (Oct 9)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

LOCATION : St James Power Station
3 Sentosa Gateway Singapore 098544
DATE : 9 Oct 2008
TIME : 9pm - 3am

@The Boiler Room
Herstory presents the first game show - DO YOU KNOW THE LYRICS? 6 Bold contestants take centrestage at The Boiler Room to challenge for $500 worth of CASH & Prizes. Come & support the contestants and watch them battle it out along side with Gino & Soul Kool Band. Semi Final round on 9 October at 11pm. See you @The Boiler Room!
Party Theme: Hip Hop & Funky!

Women's Nite 25th October 2008: So, what do you do?‏

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

You've heard such arguments before. You've heard that you:
grew up without a father figure
hate men
and threaten family values.

Ever felt the urge to fight such fallacies but don't know how? Come join us
at Women's Nite as we find out how to set the record straight.

Women's Nite October 2008
Saturday 25th October, 7pm
Venue (in Singapore) will be disclosed upon registration.

Limited to 30 invites, so please register with your full name, contact
number, the full name/s of your guests, if any, and the type of halal food
or drink you would be contributing to the potluck.

Although Women's Nite is open to women of all orientations, please let us
know if you are straight, or are bringing along straight guests, so that we
can be sensitive to the needs of all women present.

Please send your details to women.snite@gmail.com [women dot snite at gmail
dot com]

Registration closes at midnight 24th October 2008


About Women's Nite

Women's Nite provides a safe, neutral and alcohol-free space for lesbians
and bisexual women in Singapore to discuss the issues relevant to their

The event, held on the last Saturday of every month, was started in December
2003. Over a potluck dinner, we hold discussions on wide ranging topics like
self acceptance, homophobia, relationships and identity. We also invite
special guests to field questions on legal rights and sexual health, and
conduct art and dance therapy nights.

To check out the past months' events, or find out more, please go to
To get email updates on each month's event, please visit
women_snite to join our mailing list.

As far as possible, we would like to keep this space commercial free. To
advertise events and projects, please email us at

Today: Murder charge reduced against those in Orchard Towers brawl (Oct 7)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Murder charge reduced against those in Orchard Towers brawl
07 October 2008 2324 hrs (SST)

SINGAPORE: It was a night of revelry, as six friends – all gang
members aged from 17 to 28 – gathered at a pub in Orchard Towers on
November 23, 2007 to celebrate a birthday.

But the gathering ended in tragedy when a brawl broke out, and by 6am,
a 37-year-old stranger was pronounced dead after being kicked and
punched by the six friends.

The sextet – namely Ahmad Nur Helmy, Muhammed Ridhwan Mohammed Roslan,
Helmi Abdul Rahim, Ho Ching Boon, Lai Chee Kuen and Muhammed Suffian
Zainal – were collared in a matter of days after the incident, and
charged with the murder of Mr Suhaimi Sulong.

On Tuesday, they appeared at the Subordinate Court and pleaded guilty,
but to a lesser charge – voluntarily causing grievous hurt.

The charges were probably downgraded because the attack was not
premeditated, explained one lawyer.

With friends and family crowding the packed courtroom, all six
remained emotionless even as Deputy Public-Prosecutor (DPP) Samuel
Chua unveiled the gruesome details of the attack on Mr Suhaimi.

The fight took place at around 5am near Brown Sugar, a pub on the
second floor. According to court documents, the fracas began when Ho,
18, and Lai, who at 17 was underaged, left the pub after they spotted
police officers performing checks.

While they were waiting outside the pub for their friends to turn up,
Mr Suhaimi approached the duo and began making lewd comments and
offering sexual services. The teenagers decided to ignore him and head
back to the club.

At about 4am, Mr Suhaimi approached Ahmad Nur Helmy – the birthday boy
– while he was in the toilet, exposing himself to the 20-year-old in
the process. Angered, Ahmad summoned his friends and they confronted
the victim.

Eyewitnesses said the group began chasing after Mr Suhaimi while
shouting "jangan lari", which meant "don't run" in Malay. They also
asked Mr Suhaimi if he was a homosexual.

But when he didn't answer and tried to flee, Ahmad grabbed the
victim's T-shirt and began kicking and punching him.

Although the rest initially tried to break up the fight, they
eventually joined the fray and began throwing a volley of kicks on Mr

They then dragged Mr Suhaimi down to the first-floor entrance and
threw him into a taxi, court documents said.

By then, the victim was motionless and bloodied from the attack. He
had also sustained head injuries and was taken unconscious to the
Singapore General Hospital by ambulance.

The victim was pronounced dead at 6.02am and an autopsy later revealed
that he had died from blunt force injuries to his head and neck.

Over the next few days, police arrested his attackers. On November 27,
Helmi Abdul Rahim, 28, surrendered himself to the authorities.

The six men, all out on bail, are due to appear in court on October 28
for sentencing. All six face imprisonment for a term which may extend
to 10 years, and they may also be fined or caned.

- TODAY/so

Today: 'V' for Victory (Oct 5)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

`V' for victory
A lively, comedic takeon a quiet classic:
Mayo Martin

YOU'VE seen one, you've seen them all, the saying goes. Not so with
this version ofThe Vagina Monologues (TVM).

Despite this reviewer's initial doubts on the wisdom of choosing an
arguably over-exposed piece as an inaugural production for new
theatre company Zebra Crossing, director Loretta Chen has admirably
eschewed conventions for a unique take on TVM (which is not an easy
thing considering how notoriously hands-on the playwright Eve Ensler

Instead of three performers, there are nine. Sombre and minimalist?
No, thank you, we're having fun.

Hence, monologues are shuffled around, public service announcements
flashed onscreen along with video interviews of three prominent
theatre personalities on motherhood, a clinical "vagina workshop" is
re-imagined as an army bootcamp led by a hyperactive drill sergeant
with a French accent, shrill "schoolgirls" descend on the audience
waving their (unused) sanitary napkins, and, seemingly out of
nowhere, someone actually does a sexy pole dance. Naughty,
naughty ...

Barring uneven scene transitions, (opening night jitters, most
likely) TVM was without a doubt a lively theatrical ride. There was
a conscious effort to localise the experience, with phrases in
Tamil, Malay and Chinese dialects thrown around.

That said, the flashy approach tends to occasionally distract,
diffusing some of the more intimate, disturbing moments of what is
by nature a confessional piece of text.

Despite a few over-the-top moments, new talent Eleine Ng showed a
flair for the comedic with her scene depicting the various ways of

Soul singer Asha Edmund's own spiels on, er, hair "down there" and
how to pronounced "c**t" were tight and snappy. Transsexual Elnina
recounting a transformative experience was a bit too dramatic but
intense, nevertheless.

My favourite was veteran actress Loke Loo Pin deadpanning her way
through a monologue as a dignified old lady recounting her first
sexual awakening. Too shy to even say the word "vagina", she flashes
a "V" sign instead — which could very well stand for the
word "victory", too.

While Chen's approach was a little too much for a play whose power
lies in the intimacy that monologues offer, we're inclined to give
it a "V" sign for being fun and, more important, fresh.

The Vagina Monologues runs until Oct 12,8pm, at Drama Centre
Theatre,National Library. With 3pm matinees.Tickets from $17 to $57
at Sistic. Rating: R18.

ST: Joy and tears of being women (Oct 4)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Oct 4, 2008
Joy and tears of being women
From first menstrual cramps to love and sex, this feminist play is
fun-filled and thoughtful
By tara tan

Zebra Crossing
Drama Centre Theatre @ National Library
Last Thursday

This is Dim Sum Dollies-meets-Oprah - stories about love, family and
sex doused with tears and showered with laughter.

Eve Ensler's landmark play, The Vagina Monologues, played here by nine
women, is a series of vignettes that grapple with female issues from
domestic abuse to the first menstrual cramp.

Directed by Loretta Chen, this play had no qualms about its anti-men
slant: Father figures or male lovers are largely absent in this play.

Powerful feminist statements were made, such as chanting a certain
derogatory word (that rhymes with 'aunt') to reclaim it as a word of

Although the pacing in the first half was jerky, it hit a home run
with Loke Loo Pin's monologue, Because He Liked To See It. Playing an
elderly woman coming to terms with her vagina, a word she can't even
bring herself to say, Loke's deadpan humour - delivered with
impeccable comic timing - was a lethal combination.

Another very funny scene was between a lesbian sex worker (played by
Sabrina Chong) and a geeky girl on the cusp of sexual discovery
(Eleine Ng) with their inventory of orgasmic soundtracks.

In another scene, transsexual Elnina's brutally honest telling of the
trials and tribulations she endures was heartbreaking. The inclusion
of this monologue, taken from another of Ensler's plays, added a
significant dimension to this work.

Elizabeth Tan's young girl who goes through childhood sexual abuse but
finds salvation with an older woman in The Coochie Snorcher That Could
gave me mixed feelings, however.

Presented as a Dear Diary monologue, the text was hard-hitting but Tan
seemed joyfully detached from her past. Having said that, the actress
later put in an emotional turn in the role of an abused wife.

However, the series of short monologues sometimes felt too abrupt,
with its transitions shaky and irreverent. The music was also often
overly sentimental.

It did not seem as hard-hitting as previous versions staged in
Singapore. For instance, the scene dealing with genital mutilation was
played out with a video on butchery and accompanied with statistics.
In Li Xie's The Vaginalogue in 2003, which was based on the same play,
Li carved and sewed up a hunk of raw meat on stage, a visceral image
that is seared in my memory still.

Kudos to Chen for letting her nine performers' individual
personalities shine through. Most women would be able to identify
facets of themselves in them.

Also, intriguing directorial decisions gave this piece an added edge,
like how wealthy socialities laughingly exchanged stories of spousal
abuse at a lush party.

The Vagina Monologues is an enjoyable, fun and thoughtful production,
a should-see for women and their men.


watch it


R18 (Adult Content & Strong Language)

Who: Zebra Crossing
When: Till Oct 12, 8pm (no shows on Monday), Sat & Sun matinees at 3pm
Tickets: $17 to $57 from Sistic (log on to www.sistic.com.sg or call

RedQueen Celebrates 10 years!

*where - Pelangi Pride Centre
*when - 4th October 2008
*time - 8.30pm

*for women only

*by rsvp only

*please rsvp to [redqueen underscore at hotmail dot com] with your
full name and a contact number.


Herstory Newsletter

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Herstory @The Boiler Room
09 Oct 2008
Herstory presents the first game show - DO YOU KNOW THE LYRICS? 6 Bold contestants take centrestage at The Boiler Room to challenge for $500 worth of CASH & Prizes. Come & support the contestants and watch them battle it out along side with Gino & Soul Kool Band. Semi Final round on 9 October at 11pm. See you @The Boiler Room! You know you won't want to miss this.

Collect the NEW Herstory Party Card
Never miss a great party again with this newly launched Herstory Party Card.
Specially for all Herstory Parties Supporters, collect the NEW Herstory Party Card and claim your perks.

Herstory has lined-up a year's worth of great fun and surprises for you. Collect a stamp each time you attend our Herstory party. Every 3 stamps will entitle you to a FREE entry to our party. Get all 9 stamps and you will receive a fabulous mystery gift! (It's so good that you must own it, serious!)

Party on grrls, and we'll see you there.

Sign up for 1 Year of Herstory BLACK to receive:
Privilege online surfing @www.herstory.ws
Herstory Black Membership Card valid for 1 year
1 FREE Party Entry Pass
Roxy beach bag
LePride's Car Decal

Don't miss Herstory Grrls Only Party happening at ZOUK and The BOILER ROOM at St James Power Station on 2nd Thursday of every month.

Whether you want to sit and chat or dance and cruise, you're guaranteed to find something you'll like at Herstory Party. See ya..

Herstory - DO YOU KNOW THE LYRICS? starts at 11.00pm
Performance by Soul Kool Band at 11.30pm

Party Theme
Hip Hop and Funky!

Programme Highlights
Chillout 9pm-10pm
Showtime - DO YOU KNOW THE LYRICS? 11.00pm
Performance by Soul Kool Band at 11.30pm
Chart Topping Hip Hop and Sexy R&B Dance Music 12am-2.30am (by The Boiler Room resident DJ)
Pop Hits Dance Music till 3am (by The Boiler Room resident DJ)

Drinks Promotion
One for One on all standard housepour 9pm-10pm

No Cover Charge
Applies to all members/non members
Herstory Members - $5
Non Herstory Members - $10
Entry for men - Subject to Approval at Door ($15)
POLICY : Mainly womyn with men as guests

Table Reservations
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SMS: +65 91700517

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3 Sentosa Gateway
Singapore 098544

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