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For Love Of Country, And Each Other


      Boy oh boy, after this week is it ever time for a feel-good news story. Here’s one from the "Weddings" section of the New York Times-- the section usually filled with debutantes, Ivanka/Jared clones, and trust-fund twenty-somethings.

      First active duty, same-sex wedding in the chapel at West Point.

      Here’s hoping that such “firsts” become rarer as time goes by, and that weddings like this are no longer news.

      For Love of Country, and Each Other

      By 1/19/2018

      Apache helicopters — the kind of aerial weaponry immortalized in Hollywood tough-guy films such as “Rambo” and “Black Hawk Down” — are among the Army’s most revered killing machines, and those who fly them across enemy skies “have an attack mentality,” said Capt. Daniel Hall, a 30-year-old Apache helicopter pilot based at Fort Bliss, in Texas.

      “That attack mind-set is shared by the entire Apache community,” Captain Hall said. “It’s a real macho thing.”

      As he spoke, Captain Hall was flanked by Capt. Vincent Franchino, a 26-year-old fellow Apache pilot who is also stationed at Fort Bliss, where they are both a part of another community: the group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender soldiers who serve there.

      “It’s been a bit of a bumpy road for us,” said Captain Franchino, who married Captain Hall on Jan. 13 in the Cadet Chapel at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., where they are believed to be the first active-duty, same-sex couple to exchange vows at the legendary Army post.

      The Rev. Dawn Sangrey, a Unitarian Universalist minister, performed the ceremony before 150 guests, many in Army service uniforms.

      The couple, beaming in their own immaculately pressed blue mess uniforms, the most formal threads in the Army’s wardrobe, were celebrated by a saber-arch salute as they departed the chapel.

      “We’ve experienced everything from people feeling awkward around us to being called faggots while holding hands and walking down the street, stuff like that,” said Captain Franchino, who was born and raised in Stony Point, N.Y., the youngest son of Holly Franchino, a retired pharmacist, and Robert Franchino, a retired sergeant with the Police Department in Clarkstown, N.Y.

      “But despite what we’ve been through,” Captain Franchino added, “nothing was worse than having served during the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ years.”

      The emotions and romantic feelings felt by Captains Hall and Franchino, as well as scores of others from the L.G.B.T. military community, were hamstrung by “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a policy that went into effect in October 1993 under President Bill Clinton; it forbade any homosexual or bisexual member of the military from disclosing his or her sexual orientation or from speaking about any homosexual relationships, including marriages.

      “Through mutual friends at West Point, we had each learned the other was gay, and though we were attracted to one another, we couldn’t say or do anything about it,” said Captain Hall, who grew up in Chattanooga, Tenn., the only son of Kyle Hall, a middle school mathematics teacher, and Stephen Hall, the vice president for nylon polymer strategic development at Koch Industries in Wichita, Kan., where his parents now live.

      “It’s really frustrating when two people have feelings for each other but are not allowed to act on them,” Captain Hall added. “We were serving under a policy that was telling all of us — perfectly capable soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines — to lie about ourselves.”

      Captain Franchino said that lying was much better than the alternative.

      “We couldn’t tell the truth for fear of what would happen to us,” he said. “So we put it in our minds that we were never going to say we were gay, we were never going to get made fun of, and we were certainly never going to get kicked out of the Army.”

      The first time they met was on a Friday afternoon at West Point in August 2009.

      Captain Franchino was taking part in an annual tradition during Ring Weekend in which freshmen (known as plebes) get a chance to retaliate against their often overbearing senior cadets (known as firsties) by doing all they can to delay the departure of those seniors, who are trying to hurry home after the ceremony to spend a weekend with their families.

      It took Captain Hall, swarmed by plebes, a full hour to cross the final 100 yards to his room. When he got there, he had no idea that four more plebes were waiting patiently to jump out of hiding spots in the room in an effort to scare him and further delay his weekend. After the first three plebes had departed, Captain Hall assumed he was alone, but as he prepared to leave, he was ambushed by Captain Franchino, who had been hiding under the bed.

      “When I came out from under the bed, Dan was so startled, he jumped over his desk,” Captain Franchino said, laughing.

      Captain Hall said he remembered thinking, “This guy has a lot of guts, and he’s kind of cute too.”

      They went their separate ways, though neither veered too far from the other’s line of vision. In January 2010, they selected each other as a partner in a mentorship program that allowed seniors to offer instruction to freshmen who were following similar career paths.

      By April of that year, it was clear to their fellow cadets that a spark had been ignited, but under the rules, there could be no flame.

      “You could tell that there was this chemistry, this unspoken communication between them,” said Capt. Owen Waits, a close friend to both who was a senior cadet at that time and later married Captain Hall’s sister, Lauren.

      “It was kind of strange because you knew that there was this whole aspect of their feelings and personalities that were being suppressed,” Captain Waits said. “But that’s just the way it was.”

      But in September 2011, it was that way no longer. Congress repealed “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and Captains Hall and Franchino were soon celebrating their new sense of freedom.

      “Vinny came out with a big splash to everyone on Facebook, posting all of these pictures of himself and Dan kissing and hugging, and I thought it was so brave that he did that,” said Captain Franchino’s uncle, Charlie Franchino, of Brooklyn, who is also in a same-sex marriage and was often the shoulder that his nephew leaned on when struggling to keep his sexuality a secret.

      Mr. Franchino said he also stepped in to “help ease the shock that was initially felt by Vinny’s parents.”

      “My brother’s a cop, he’s a tough guy, and so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy for him and his wife to handle this news,” Mr. Franchino said. “But whatever initial shock they had, they got over it quickly and immediately embraced Dan.”

      That evidence was on display during the couple’s reception at the elegant Skylands Manor in Ringwood, N.J., a 44-room Tudor revival mansion perched high in the heavily wooded Ramapo Mountains along a stretch of long and winding country roads snaking through Ringwood State Park.

      “Speaking from my heart, I love Dan,” Holly Franchino said during the cocktail hour.

      Her husband, Robert Franchino, added of their new son-in-law: “They are two peas in a pod.”

      “You can see the chemistry between them,” he added. “Without a doubt, Vinny is absolutely a happier person today than he was before he met Dan.”

      The grooms and their mothers share a dance.Credit Danny Kim for The New York Times

      The relationship has not always been so accepted or in tune, including beginning with their first date in February 2012 in Washington.

      “That’s where some guy called us both fa*gots,” Captain Franchino said.

      But they had a bigger problem to deal with, as Captain Hall, then in flight school at Fort Rucker, in Alabama, learned he was being deployed to South Korea, along with his Boeing AH-64 Apache, a four-blade, twin-turboshaft attack helicopter equipped with a 30-millimeter M230 chain gun, as well as Hellfire missiles and Hydra Rocket Pods.

      Upon hearing the news, Captain Franchino was not feeling quite as macho as Captain Hall. Just five months removed from “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the young soldier was on edge.

      “I was so worried about Dan, it was really nerve-racking,” Captain Franchino recalled. “At the time, there was just too much pressure involved, we were both very nervous about the long-distance thing, so we both thought it was best to just step away.”

      They began dating other people but had a change of heart and got back together in November of that year.

      Three years later, their relationship was on more solid ground, so Captain Franchino was in a better place emotionally to hear the news that Captain Hall was being deployed to Kuwait.

      A year after that, Captain Hall was flying his Apache above war-torn Iraq.

      “We’ve just grown accustomed to being apart at times,” said Captain Franchino, who spent all of 2017 deployed in Germany and several countries in Eastern Europe. “It’s a part of who we are, a part of what we do, so we simply accept it.”

      Captain Hall, who said he plans on “leaving the Army after spring,” also said that his military stint, especially the time he spent in the cockpits of Apache helicopters, “has brought a lot of excitement to my life, and so has Vinny.”

      But when pressed, Captain Hall refused to say which of the two has brought him more excitement.

      “Don’t ask,” he said with a wink and a smile. “I won’t tell.”


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      Protecting The Right To Refuse Treatment To LGBT Patients. Because Jesus.


          How to create a license to discriminate in one easy lesson.

          From Politico:

          Trump to shield health care workers who claim moral objections

          Dan Diamond and Jennifer Haberkorn - 01/16/2018

          The Trump administration is poised to overhaul the HHS civil rights office as part of a broader plan to protect health workers who don't want to perform abortions, treat transgender patients seeking to transition or provide other services for which they have religious or moral objections.

          Under a proposed rule — which has been closely guarded at HHS and is now under review by the White House — the civil rights office would be empowered to further shield these workers and punish organizations that don’t allow them to express their religious and moral objections, according to sources on and off the Hill. That would be a significant shift for the office, which currently focuses on enforcing federal civil rights and health care privacy laws.

          HHS did not respond to multiple requests for comment. However, HHS’ leaders have repeatedly criticized the Obama administration for rolling back regulations dating to the George W. Bush administration that legally insulated health care workers while affirming their religious freedoms.

          Roger Severino, the Trump administration appointee who now leads the HHS civil rights office, has repeatedly stressed that strengthening conscience protections for health care workers is a top priority for his office.

          That's alarmed advocates for LGBT patients, who say they're already fighting to overcome stigmas and discrimination and who warn that the policy shift will only worsen their situation.

          "This is the use of religion to hurt people because you disapprove of who they are," said Harper Jean Tobin of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "Any rule that grants a license to discriminate would be a disgrace and a mockery of the principal of religious freedom we all cherish."

          However, advocates of conscience protections say that new accommodations for caregivers are long overdue. "Conscience violations continue to occur, and it is critical that the administration responds appropriately," said Melanie Israel of The Heritage Foundation. "Ensuring that HHS funds do not support morally coercive or discriminatory practices or policies in violation of federal law should not be remotely controversial.”

          The pending rule, which could be released as soon as this week, has been described to POLITICO as establishing a new division of the HHS civil rights office that would conduct compliance reviews, audits and other enforcement actions to ensure that health care providers are allowing workers to opt out of procedures when they have religious or moral objections. The new division would be a third, co-equal branch with the office's existing two divisions that focus on federal civil rights laws and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

          The office would also conduct outreach and technical support to help others who are seeking to strengthen protections for workers with religious and moral objections to certain procedures.

          The civil rights office continues to have broad authority to interpret existing statutes, which could allow it to substantially expand the scope of current conscience rules without an act of Congress — a key tool in the administration's push to shield these workers, according to individuals who have been briefed on the office's plans.

          Patient groups and legal organizations vowed to challenge HHS if providers are allowed to deny care based on criteria like a patient's gender or gender expression. "Should the administration choose to move forward to implement a discriminatory policy, we will see them in court," Louise Melling, of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

          The new rules — a priority for anti-abortion groups and supporters — could come just days before Friday’s March for Life, the annual gathering in Washington marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Republicans have typically timed votes on anti-abortion legislation to the event, the nation’s largest anti-abortion rally.

          So-called conscience protections have been politically controversial since shortly after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973.


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          If Looks Could Kill


              Carson Jones is my hero of the week.

              Here's the pic of Carson, the gay son of newly-elected Alabama Senator Doug Jones, watching his dad get sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence.

              The eyes seem to be saying something I can't quite put my finger on.

              Or maybe he just thinks Mike's hot...

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              Pedophilia Or Young Love?


                  The Oscar buzz around Call Me By Your Name has brought out the expected debate about how and whether young people should have sex, and when we all ought to be shocked, shocked about it.

                  The kickers in this case include a 7-year age difference between the parties having the aforementioned sex.

                  And the fact that they're both male.

                  It's a good movie, if a little slow, based on a novel I enjoyed. But the quality of the film may be overshadowed by controversy. The story involves love, or at least sex, between a 17-year-old and a 24-year-old. There are calls for a boycott from the usual suspects, complete with scary warnings about "normalizing homosexual pedophilia".

                  So I'd like to ask:

                  • Is it OK for 17-year-olds to have sex with and/or date people over 18? If so, how about 16-year-olds? 14? Please remember the responses to Roy Moore.
                  • Does it make a difference if there is a large age difference? Why? Again, please remember the responses to Roy Moore.
                  • Does it make any difference if the parties are of the same gender? To some it sure as heck does, which is why I have posted this under the LGBTQ section.

                  Thanks for any comments.

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                  Neighbors Greet Vacationing Mike Pence With 'Make America Gay Again' Banner


                      Yes, indeed, it would be wonderful if America were made gay (as in happy) again, a welcome change to the pall of gloom currently hanging over the country.


                      'Vice President Mike Pence was welcomed to Colorado with snow-dusted pines, cool mountain air and a bright rainbow banner with the words, “Make America Gay Again.”

                      'Neighbors who live next door to the Aspen property where Pence and his wife are staying on vacation hung the flag on a pillar fronting the two homes’ shared driveway, according to the Aspen Times.

                      '“You couldn’t miss it,” Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Buglione told the newspaper.

                      'Pence is a a long-time opponent of LGBTQ rights. As a member of Congress, he supported “conversion therapy” and said gay marriage would signal “societal collapse.” And as governor or Indiana he signed a law that allowed businesses to discriminate against LGBT people, only to reverse course in the face of widespread criticism.

                      'The LGBTQ banner was hung by the daughters of the couple who live next door, along with one of their girlfriends, according to the Aspen Times. The parents reportedly brought chili and corn muffins to officers and Secret Service agents guarding the home where the vice president is staying.

                      '“They’ve been really nice to us,” Buglione told the publication.'


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                      Having Older Brothers Increases Men's Likelihood Of Being Gay


                          I don't know where to place this post so I did it where I thought it would make the most sense so forgive me if I am wrong.

                          Where is all this bull coming from , oh yeah scientists came up with that and now we have to believe them okay so people who have a younger brother he might just be gay is that it?

                          What about the sisters the same counts for them doesn't it , now it is fine with me if there are gay people in my family infact there are several but not my younger brother and I think it is a lot of bull that scientist came up with that.

                          I believe that they need to come up with more concrete proof that it is so before they open their mouth be cause not many people will like that statement they made that their younger brother might actually be gay.

                          I know many of people who say that if their child would be gay they will disown them and that brakes my heart because there is nothing wrong with these people they are people just like we are with the only different they love their own gender .

                          Having older brothers increases men's likelihood of being gay

                          Gay men are more likely to have older brothers, and scientists think they know why.
                          Gay men are more likely to have older brothers, and scientists think they know why.

                          • Scientists say mothers who have more than one boy had higher concentrations of a certain protein
                          • Earlier studies have noticed that gay men often have older brothers

                          (CNN)If you're a guy with an older brother, there's an increased chance you're gay.

                          Scientists have noticed this pattern in previous research, but now they think they have a biological explanation as to why, and it starts long before birth. The results were published in the journal PNAS on Monday.
                          The researchers say that if their findings can be replicated, we may know at least one of the biological reasons some men are gay.
                          Many factors may determine someone's sexual orientation, but in this case, researchers noticed a pattern that may be linked to something that happens in the womb. The phenomenon is related to a protein linked to the Y chromosome (which women do not have) that is important to male brain development.
                          Researchers think it's possible that when a woman gets pregnant with her first boy, this Y-linked protein gets into her bloodstream. The mother's body recognizes the protein as a foreign substance, and her immune system responds, creating antibodies. If enough of these antibodies build up in the woman's body and she gets pregnant with another a boy, they can cross the placental barrier and enter the brain of the second male fetus.
                          "That may alter the functions in the brain, changing the direction of how the male fetus may later develop their sense of attraction," said study author Anthony Bogaert, a Canadian psychologist and professor in the departments of psychology and community health sciences at Brock University.
                          Earlier research has shown that the more older brothers a boy has, the more of a chance that boy will be attracted to men. A 2006 study showed that with each brother, the chance that a man will be gay goes up by about a third, but the researchers didn't determine why that was.
                          Bogaert and his co-authors tested a small group of 142 women and 12 men ages 18 to 80 and found a higher concentration of antibodies to the protein, known as NLGN4Y, in blood samples from women than from men. They found the highest concentration of antibodies to the protein in women with gay younger sons who had older brothers, compared with women who had no sons or who had given birth to only heterosexual boys.
                          The study builds on research Bogaert and his co-authors have been exploring for more than 20 years. Since their initial research that noted the trend, other research -- although not all studies -- have detected the phenomenon, even across cultures. One found that a man's chances of being gay increased even if he was raised apart from his older brother.
                          Researchers did not see a similar pattern in families with adopted brothers, so scientists started to think there must be a maternal developmental explanation. The research does not give a biological explanation for why some men may be bisexual or may not be attracted to anyone at all, nor can it give a biological explanation for gay only children, gay oldest sons or women who are attracted to women.
                          J. Michael Bailey, a professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, thinks the latest research is important. "It is significant, and I believe science granting agencies should put a high priority into additional research to see if this is true," he said.
                          Bailey was not involved in the new study but has worked on studies that have found genetic factors that may explain some differences in sexual orientations.
                          Follow CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter

                          See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

                          Bailey's latest paper, published this month in the journal Nature Research, looked at people's genomes and found several regions with single-letter DNA changes that were more common among gay men than straight men and may be relevant to the development of sexual orientation. Bailey believes this new study may be even more significant than general genetic findings if the findings can be replicated.
                          "Our studies only show that there may be genes that matter in sexual orientation," he said. "It is not like this study, that shows there is a potential specific mechanism by which sexual orientation may have changed prenatally. This is important work and fascinating if it proves to be true."

                          Clarification: A previous version of this story referred to higher concentrations of the protein instead of higher concentrations of antibodies to the proteins when describing the findings of the study.

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                          The Wedding Cake Case: Majority Appears To Favor Discrimination


                              Oral arguments were heard today in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. At least one observer felt the five conservative justices seemed to favor the baker.

                              Looks like Kennedy is set to be the swing vote again, and this time, particularly focusing upon the State of Colorado's ruling in the case that required the baker to provide comprehensive anti-discrimination training to his employees. Kennedy commented that such a requirement meant the baked would “have to teach that state law supersedes our religious beliefs.”

                              If state law does not in fact supersede religious beliefs, then believe me, I've got my Jesus Says Speed Limits Are Only For Unbelievers bumper sticker printed up and ready to paste on.

                              Just for fun, here's a pic of one of Masterpiece Cakeshop's heterosexual wedding cakes. Not sure if you have to pick it up from behind to determine its gender, but it looks pretty darn tasty anyhow.


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                              State Dept (Rex Tillerson) Says Discrimination Against Trans Is Bad



                                  I do wish Tillerson would use his influence a little more forcefully here, if he really believes this...because things have become a NIGHTMARE here in America for trans. Between Trump and Pence and Sessions, I am beginning to wonder if I will ever know true equality.

                                  And quite frankly, with his supporters the way they are, I fear for the very real safety of my sisters and brothers...and even my own self.

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                                  The Lengths That They Will Go...


                                      Amazing, how far they will go to refuse to correctly use female pronouns when referring to Danica.

                                      Danica again proves she is better than all of them...because Danica knows what I know. They are NOT defining her with this action, but they sure are defining themselves!!

                                      I say...please proceed, Governor!

                                      I really believe, in a free country, the transgender issue should totally be a non-issue. After all, what freedom is more fundamental and basic...than the freedom to define one's own self?

                                      This is the very definition of self-determinism. The question remains...do we have that right or not in America? Or are our choices limited by what is arbitrarily acceptable to someone else? If the latter, then we already do not live in a free country.

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