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Last Saturday, thousands of people – gay and straight – joined together across more than 50 cities in the U.S. and Canada and kissed their loved ones, in public.

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In, a celebration and affirmation of the right of ALL people to kiss their loved-ones in public, was a triumphant success. In five short weeks, we took an idea I had in response to repeated reports of same-sex couples being harassed, detained, and even arrested – for kissing – from concept to completion.

The goal was simple: raise awareness across America that kissing in public is not illegal or immoral, that no one should be intimidated or incarcerated – regardless of their gender, or their partner’s, for sharing a simple kiss. Mission: Accomplished!

Mission accomplished, yes. But problem solved? No way.

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In received tremendous coverage in the media. Immediately after my July 13 call for a nationwide kiss-in, the press got hold of the story and ran with it. But on July 31, a same-sex couple was thrown out of a San Francisco wine bar – for kissing. Adding insult to injury, they claim they were called “faggots,” and “perverts.” Remember, this was in San Francisco!

In Springfield, Maryland, a lesbian couple was asked to leave the Tastee Diner on August 12, just three days before the Kiss-In, after they shared a kiss and a gentle embrace. They were told it was a “family establishment” and their actions might make some of the customers “sick.”

The day after The Great Nationwide Kiss-In, the AP ran a story about the Kiss-In, the Mormon Church, and their image problem with gays, titled, “Gay marriage fight, `kiss-ins’ smack Mormon image.” A friend wrote me he saw the AP headline on the news ticker in Chicago. One more small step in raising awareness.

The August 15 Kiss-Ins were as large as 200+, and as small as three. They were held in big cities and small ones, in red states and blue. They were organized by gay couples and straight couples. Which was also the point: having people see that a gay couple kissing is no different than a straight couple kissing. Side by side, we really do look the same. Because we are.

The beauty of the Kiss-In also was its simplicity, and its ability to be shaped by the local organizers. Most importantly, Kiss-Ins were held where people wanted them badly enough to do the work to hold them. And the areas that have proven to be less “tolerant”of same-sex couples were the areas that really stepped-up. We had four Kiss-ins in Texas (where two of the same-sex kissing incidents that inspired The Great Nationwide Kiss-In took place,) ten in California (one of which included actor Hal Sparks,) and two in Georgia. All told, The Great Nationwide Kiss-In was held in over 50 cities, across 24 states, plus D.C., Saipan, a U.S. territory, and Canada, making us an international LGBTQ event!

We even had Kiss-Ins in West Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and, yes, Utah.

The Salt Lake City Kiss-In was one of the largest, with more than 200 attending, proving that despite the reign of the Mormon Church, despite the fact that there had been several earlier kiss-ins over the past month in response to the highly-publicized arrest of a same-sex couple there on July 10, the good citizens of Salt Lake are unwilling to grow complacent. (Note to 2010 vs. 2012 ballot debaters, given the ten Kiss-Ins we held in California, I would say California is aching for equality.)

Some more good news: The Fayetteville, Arkansas Kiss-In had 100 attendees. That’s Arkansas!

Was The Great Nationwide Kiss-In well-received? Absolutely! Did we have our share of detractors? Absolutely!

As I wrote here, on Bilerico just one day before the Kiss-In, the Religious Right was “warning” people about The Great Nationwide Kiss-In, and threatening to protest our events. Well, there was one protest, in North Carolina. Suffice it to say, we changed more hearts and minds than they did.

And yes, we had our share of detractors from within the LGBTQ community too. A few folks wrote us, furious, demanding we let them protest in front of Mormon temples. We refused. By design, The Great Nationwide Kiss-In was not a protest, it was a celebration. And educational celebration, but a celebration just the same. Which is part of the reason we were able to get so much support and so many people (over 5000) to sign up. There’s a time and place for everything. The Great Nationwide Kiss-In is not a place for protest. It would have been counter-productive to celebrate our demonstration of love with a demonstration of hate.

In five short weeks, along with the tireless efforts of my Co-Founders: Willow Witte, the Director and Co-Founder of Join The Impact, and David Mailloux, who writes DYM-SUM, The Great Nationwide Kiss-In changed hearts and minds, and kept the focus on gay rights in the lull of summer. (As I wrote here in “Fill The Void,” keeping the focus on gay rights this summer was another one of my goals.) We worked hard. We had fun. Most importantly, we succeeded in bringing people of all backgrounds and beliefs together, united in the belief that something so simple yet important as a kiss could be such a simple yet powerful metaphor for equal rights and recognition for all.

Will we do it again? Yes! That’s a promise – sealed with a kiss!

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In: SANTA MONICA

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In: DENVER

The Great Nationwide Kiss-In: CHICAGO

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Pete Buttigieg Nails Trump for His Ugly Comments About Wounded Vets



During his Sunday morning appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called out Donald Trump over reports he told military leaders he didn’t want wounded vets to be seen by the public while he was president.

In a recent Atlantic profile of General Mark Milley, the retiring military office recounted the former president telling him “no one wants to see” wounded soldiers, with Milley adding he found Trump’s attitude to those serving their country “superficial, callous, and, at the deepest human level, repugnant.”

Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan during his 8 years while in the Naval Reserve, was asked by CNN host Dana Bash about the former president’s apparent distaste for service members.

“I want to ask you about a new Atlantic profile that says that then President Trump complained to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley after an Army veteran who lost a leg in combat sang at an event at the Pentagon,” Bash prompted her guest. “Trump reportedly told Milley, ‘Why do you bring people like that here, no one wants to see that, the wounded.'”

“After that article came out, Trump attacked Milley on social media, kind of a rambling post, but suggested that milley deserved the death penalty. You’re a veteran– what’s your response?” she asked.

“It’s just the latest in a pattern of outrageous attacks on the people who keep the country safe,” the Biden administration official replied.

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to run for office?

After pointing to fellow vets who suffered horrific injuries, he added, “These are the kind of people that deserve respect and a hell of a lot more than that from every American, and definitely from every American president.”

“And the idea that an American president, the person to whom service members look at as a commander in chief, and the person who sets the tone for this entire country could think that way or act that way or talk that way about anyone in uniform, and certainly about those who put their bodies on the line and sacrificed in ways that most Americans will never understand, and I guess wounded veterans make president Trump feel uncomfortable.”

Watch below or at the link.



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‘Scared to Death’: Trump’s Prison Panic Admission Means He Knows He’s Doomed Says Legal Expert



Reacting to a report that Donald Trump has been quizzing his attorneys about what type of prison he likely will be sent to, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner stated that is not only an indication that he knows he’s going to be convicted but also an admission of guilt.

Speaking with MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart, the attorney was asked about a recent Rolling Stone report about Trump’s prison panic.

As Rolling Stone reported, Trump asked if he’s “be sent to a ‘club fed’ style prison — a place that’s relatively comfortable, as far these things go — or a ‘bad’ prison? Would he serve out a sentence in a plush home confinement? Would government officials try to strip him of his lifetime Secret Service protections? What would they make him wear, if his enemies actually did ever get him in a cell — an unprecedented set of consequences for a former leader of the free world.”

POLL: Should Trump be allowed to run for office?

According to the attorney, Trump is revealing himself by asking for so many details.

“What does this tell you about Trump’s mindset?” host Capehart asked.

“It tells me he is scared to death” Kirschner quickly answered. “It tells me he has overwhelming consciousness of guilt because he knows what he did wrong and he knows he is about to be held accountable for his crimes. So it is not surprising that he is obsessing.”

“If he was confident that he would be completely exonerated, would he have to obsess about what his future time in prison might look like?” he suggested. “I think the last refuge for Donald Trump can be seen in a recent post where he urged the Republicans to defund essentially the prosecutions against him. which, to this prosecutor, Jonathan, smells a lot like an attempt to obstruct justice.”

Watch below or at the link.


Image via Shutterstock

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‘Vulgar and Lewd’: Trump Judge Cites Extremist Group to Allow Drag Show Ban



A federal judge in Texas known for a ruling that attempted to ban a widely-used abortion drug is citing an extremist anti-LGBTQ group in his ruling allowing a ban on drag shows to stay in place.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a former attorney for an anti-LGBTQ conservative Christian legal organization, and a member of the Federalist Society, in his 26-page ruling dated Thursday cited the “About” page of Gays Against Groomers to claim, “it’s unclear how drag shows unmistakably communicate advocacy for LGBT rights.”

Judge Kacsmaryk, appointed by Donald Trump twice before finally assuming office in 2019, suggests the First Amendment does not provide for freedom of expression for drag shows, calls drag “sexualized conduct,” and says it is “more regulable” because “children are in the audience.”

READ MORE: ‘The Public Deserves to Know’: Abortion Pill Banning Judge Redacted Details About Millions of Dollars in His Stock Portfolio

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern adds, “Kacsmaryk’s conclusion that drag is probably NOT protected by the First Amendment conflicts with decisions from Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Montana which held that drag is constitutionally protected expression. It also bristles with undisguised hostility toward LGBTQ people.”

Calling the judge “a proud Christian nationalist who flatly refuses to apply binding Supreme Court precedent when it conflicts with his extremist far-right beliefs,” Stern at Slate writes that Kacsmaryk ruled drag “may be outlawed to protect ‘the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.’ In short, he concluded that drag fails to convey a message, while explaining all the reasons why he’s offended by the message it conveys.”

Stern does not let Kacsmaryk off the hook there.

“From almost any other judge, the ruling in Spectrum WT v. Wendler would be a shocking rejection of basic free speech principles; from Kacsmaryk, it’s par for the course. This is, after all, the judge who sought to ban medication abortion nationwide, restricted minors’ access to birth control, seize control over border policy to exclude asylum-seekers, and flouted recent precedent protecting LGBTQ+ equality,” Stern says.

READ MORE: Far-Right Judge Under Fire for Failing to Disclose Interviews on Civil Rights – but LGBTQ Community Had Warned Senators

“He is also poised to bankrupt Planned Parenthood by compelling them to pay a $1.8 billion penalty on truly ludicrous grounds. And he is not the only Trump-appointed judge substituting his reactionary beliefs for legal analysis. We have reached a point where these lawless decisions are not only predictable but inevitable, and they show no sign of stopping: Their authors are still just settling into a decadeslong service in the federal judiciary.”

West Texas A&M University President Walter V. Wendler penned the letter that sparked the lawsuit.

Titled, “A Harmless Drag Show? No Such Thing,” Wendler wrote: “I believe every human being is created in the image of God and, therefore, a person of dignity. Being created in God’s image is the basis of Natural Law. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, prisoners of the culture of their time as are we, declared the Creator’s origin as the foundational fiber in the fabric of our nation as they breathed life into it. Does a drag show preserve a single thread of human dignity? I think not.”

Journalist Chris Geidner concludes, “It’s an extremely biased ruling by a judge who has established that he does not care about being overturned — even by the most conservative appeals court in the nation.”

READ MORE: ‘Corruption of the Highest Order’: Experts ‘Sickened’ at ‘Definitely Bought’ Clarence Thomas and His ‘Pay to Play’ Lifestyle



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