Starbucks holiday cup sparks social media buzz over lesbian hands theory

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Starbucks’ annual holiday cups are causing controversy once again, but this time the scandal involves two people holding hands.

The rest of the pair’s bodies aren’t shown on the cup, which features other holiday doodles like a Christmas tree and presents, leading some people to speculate they are the hands of a lesbian couple.

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Starbucks’ holiday campaign includes lesbian couple

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Starbucks is getting into the holiday spirit with an inclusive holiday campaign featuring a lesbian couple.

In the ad “Giving Good Starts with You,” a hand starts to illustrate doodles as the video reads “the holidays mean something different to everyone.”

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The Fitness Marshall looks to take over the world one cardio-filled dance video at a time

By : Jeremy Williams
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Caleb Marshall is your typical Mid-Western, gay millennial. He loves his boyfriend Cameron, he loves his Starbucks coffee and he loves him some Britney Spears. Marshall stands out in his sometimes overly criticized generation as the fun-loving, energetic and infectious online persona known as The Fitness Marshall.

Dressed in his is trademark camo pants and black tank top, Marshall uses his part Richard Simmons/part Energizer Bunny character of The Fitness Marshall to motivate his millions (that’s right, millions!) of online viewers to dance, have fun and get in shape.

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Malaysia, Indonesia Muslim groups call for Starbucks boycott

By : Wire Report
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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) – Muslim groups in Malaysia and Indonesia have called for a boycott of Starbucks because of the coffee chain’s support for LGBT rights.

Malaysian group Perkasa, which supports a hard-line form of Islam and nationalism, this week called on its more than 500,000 members to stay away from Starbucks coffee shops. This week and last, leaders of Indonesia’s second largest mainstream Muslim group, Muhammadiyah, with an estimated 29 million members, denounced the chain.

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Lady Gaga releases rainbow drink line with Starbucks for charity

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL GAY MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Lady Gaga has teamed up with Starbucks to release a line of rainbow drinks that will raise funds for the singer’s Born This Way Foundation from June 13-19.

The “Cups of Kindness” campaign will donate 25 cents from each colorful drink sold at participating stores.

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Leslie Jordan to bring ‘Straight Outta Chattanooga’ to TIGLFF

By : Jeremy Williams
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Leslie Jordan is the small-in-size, grand-in-stature comedic actor whom you have seen in nearly everything on television since the ‘90s. From American Horror Story to his Emmy Award winning turn in Will & Grace, he’s the big mouth full of Southern charm.

Now on the road with his new one-man show Straight Outta Chattanooga, Jordan’s star is burning brighter than ever, and the belle of the ball is bringing that show to the Tampa Theatre for the Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Oct. 5.

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Words to Live by: Aging gracefully

By : Rick Claggett
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Rick Claggett

Rick Claggett

By the time this article publishes, I will be 41. I’ve never been the type to dwell on age, well, not my own age. “I won’t fight aging,” I told myself. I will age gracefully. No plastic surgery, no covering up gray hair. Of course I made these promises when I had no wrinkles and my hair was a solid dark brown. Now I stare in anguish at the wrinkles near my ear and do my best to hide the variety of “Just for Men” products in my bathroom.

But aging gracefully isn’t just about your appearance; It’s about your way of life.

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Starbucks raises gay flag above headquarters to honor Pride month

By : Staff Report
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Starbucks raised the gay flag above their Seattle headquarters in honor of National LGBT Pride month.

The flag will remain through the weekend as the city celebrates Seattle Pride.

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Transgender activist new face of Clean & Clear

By : Jeremy Williams
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Jazz Jennings, a 14-year-old transgender activist, has been named one of the faces of the “See The Real Me” campaign for Clean & Clear skincare products.

Clean & Clear, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, said on their YouTube channel, “Although middle school was hard for Jazz, her experiences haven’t stopped her from wanting to show the world her true self.”

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Target publicly endorses same-sex marriage

By : Wire Report
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Target Corp. is adding its name to a legal defense of gay marriage, joining other large companies that have taken a stand on same-sex unions.

Target says it signed a court brief backing marriage equality in a pending case. Starbucks, Intel and Apple have publicly backed gay marriage advocates in court cases or ballot issues.

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Starbucks raises grande-sized flag over headquarters for Seattle Pride

By : Staff Report
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In honor of the 40th anniversary of Seattle Pride, Starbucks raised an 800-foot Rainbow flag over their headquarters in Seattle.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz attended the June 23 raising of the flag. Officials from Seattle Pride were overjoyed to see the declaration of support.

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Supreme Court cases ignite support for marriage equality. Will the justices take note?

By : Tom Dyer
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On March 26-27, gays and lesbians throughout the nation were glued to their computers and cell phones watching for first reports on the landmark same-sex marriage cases being argued at the U.S. Supreme Court.

At issue on the first day was whether Proposition 8, passed by a narrow majority of California voters in 2008, could ban same-sex marriages after they had been declared lawful by the state’s highest court. On the second day the justices considered whether the federal government, by virtue of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, can deny federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

The Supreme Court has already decided both cases. The nine justices met in secret on March 29 – no clerks or staffers allowed – to cast their votes. A first draft of the majority opinion in each case is likely in the works. And although pro-gay legal experts are optimistic, we won’t know the outcome until the court announces its decisions in late June – on the eve of St. Pete Pride.

But what became clear during the last week of March 2013 is that LGBT equality – full, uncompromised, marriage-based equality – has finally reached critical mass as both political reality and cultural imperative.

“This is a watershed moment,” said Orlando attorney and LGBT advocate Mary Meeks. “Whatever comes out of the Supreme Court cases, it will almost certainly be good.”

NowWeWait_21WaysShift in Public Opinion
Four years ago, when super-lawyers David Boies and Ted Olson announced they would take their constitutional challenge of Prop. 8 all the way to the Supreme Court, optimism among LGBT activists was hardly universal. Voters in state after state were banning same-sex marriage, and no federal judge had yet overruled them. Skeptics said the legal maneuver was premature and risky “Hail Mary” pass that could sacrifice precious ground that had been gained.

But in four short years the tide has turned. Same-sex marriage is now legal in nine states and the District of Columbia. In March, President Barak Obama expressed unequivocal support for same-sex marriage. According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, almost 60% of Americans of all ages now support marriage equality. For those under 30, the number jumps to more than 80%.

And in the remarkable weeks before and after the Supreme Court cases were argued, there was a tidal wave of altered opinion. Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton released a video endorsement of marriage equality. Husband Bill Clinton, who had signed DOMA as President, renounced the law. Republican Senator Rob Portman movingly announced his change of heart regarding same-sex marriage after his son came out to him. Portman was soon publicly joined by a dozen more Senators, including Florida’s Bill Nelson, bringing the total number supporting marriage equality to 53.

Most remarkably, even strident conservative pundits seem to have thrown in the towel. Political advisor Karl Rove has softened his stance. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly recently characterized opponents of same-sex marriage as “bible thumpers.” And radio personality Rush Limbaugh admitted last week that “there’s going to be gay marriage at some point nationwide.”

Protests, in front of the Supreme Court and in Tampa, were large, loud and confident. A simple idea by the Human Rights Campaign to “Turn Facebook Red” resulted in more than two million users changing their profile photos to a crimson symbol of equality and turning the ubiquitous social media site into a striking political statement.

Equality Florida joined 27 organizations in 23 states in submitting an “amicus brief” or advisory opinion to the Supreme Court. A group of Republican leaders also filed a brief, as did a coalition of 300 leading corporations including Disney, Apple, Starbucks, Marriott, Morgan Stanley and Nike.

“When the Supreme Court hears these marriage equality cases, they’ll know that millions of fair-minded Floridians are demanding equal treatment under the law for themselves and their fellow Americans,” said Equality Florida executive director Nadine Smith.

NowWeWait_WhatTheySaidCollective Moral Judgment
At the Supreme Court, a standing-room-only audience heard compelling and confusing arguments. Pointed questions from the justices at times elicited gasps and highlighted rapidly evolving perspectives on same-sex marriage.

The California case was brought by two same-sex couples, both together for more than ten years, whose marriages were nullified by Prop. 8. The DOMA case originated in New York, where plaintiff Edie Windsor was forced to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes after her partner of 40 years died. The couple was married in Canada, and the marriage was legally recognized in New York. But because of DOMA, Windsor was denied the unlimited marital exclusion on estate taxes.

In both cases, federal District and then Circuit courts found the different treatment of opposite and same-sex couples unconstitutional. And in both cases, the government entity charged with defending the laws in court – the State of California for Prop. 8, and the Justice Department for DOMA – refused.

Prop. 8 was championed in court by its sponsor organization, ProtectMarriage.com, which argued that courts should not lightly interfere with citizen referendums, and that restricting marriage was defensible as a means of protecting children and traditional families. The more conservative justices appeared to agree.

“You want us to step in and render a decision based on the effects of [same-sex marriage], which is newer than cell phones or the Internet?” asked Justice Samuel Alito. “We do not have the ability to see the future.”

But Justice Anthony Kennedy focused on harm done to existing families by Prop. 8.

“There are some forty thousand children in California…that live with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?” he asked.

The difficult task of defending DOMA was left to the Republican Majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, whose attorney claimed that it was necessary to enforce uniformity in federal law, and that social issues of this kind are best left to the political process.

“You don’t doubt that the lobby supporting enactment of same-sex marriage laws in different states is politically powerful, do you?” Chief Justice John Roberts asked the attorneys seeking to overturn DOMA. “As far as I can tell, political figures are falling all over themselves to endorse your side of the case.”

But in a dramatic moment, Justice Elena Kagan resurrected at least one motive for DOMA – and the same-sex marriage bans that presently exist in 39 states.

“What happened [when DOMA was passed] in 1996 – and I’m going to quote from the House report here- is that, ‘Congress decided to reflect an honor of a collective moral judgment and express moral disapproval of homosexuality,'” Kagan scolded. “Is that what happened?”

And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg created laughter when she acknowledged the more than 1,100 federal benefits resulting from marriage, and the impact of DOMA.

“You’re saying [that in states where marriage is legal] there are two kinds of marriage: the full marriage, and then this sort of skim-milk marriage,” Ginsburg observed.

Heightened Scrutiny
Predicting the result of the two cases is irresistible – and almost impossible, given the myriad options available to the court.

According to Meeks, much depends on the level of scrutiny the court applies to Prop. 8 and DOMA.

“If the court applies a heightened scrutiny, as in sex discrimination cases, then defenders would have to demonstrate that the laws are ‘substantially related’ to an ‘important governmental interest,'” Meeks told a crowded gathering at The Center on March 27. “That’s a much greater burden than just demonstrating that the laws have a ‘rational basis.'”
In the Prop. 8 case, the court could find a ‘rational basis’ for the ban, reverse the Circuit court and uphold Prop. 8. Few think this is likely.

They could also rule that ProtectMarriage.com has no standing – no personal stake in the outcome – and thus dismiss the case, leaving the Circuit court ruling intact and making same-sex marriage legal in California, but nowhere else. The same result would occur if the court ruled that California could not withdraw same-sex marriage once it had been made legal by the California Supreme Court.

Or the justices could rule that states like California that offer civil unions while withholding full marriage deny same-sex couples equal protection under the law. If they do, same-sex marriage will become legal not only in California, but also in the seven remaining states that allow “everything but marriage” civil unions (Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois, Oregon, Nevada and Hawaii). This is the incremental result advocated in a brief filed by the Obama Administration. It advances marriage rights in states inclined toward full equality, while leaving governance of marriage laws to the states.

Or applying heightened scrutiny, the court could rule that there is no ‘important governmental interest’ supporting California’s ban on same-sex marriage and that all such bans – including the one in Florida – violate the Constitution. Many experts believe that even the most liberal justices will shy away from such a sweeping ruling, fearing a Roe v. Wade-type backlash against the court. But others argue that gay rights have been vetted in ways unlike abortion rights.
There are fewer potential outcomes in the DOMA case, but they could be equally tectonic.

It is considered unlikely that the court will dismiss the case because House Republicans lack standing. Also unlikely, given the tenor of questions from the justices, is that they would find DOMA supported by the Constitution.

Most experts think they will find the 1996 law unconstitutional, thus giving same-sex couples in nine states and the District of Columbia access to more than 1,100 federal laws and benefits. The ruling would have no impact in states that ban same-sex marriage. The next round of litigation would likely arise when legally married same-sex couples seek federal benefits even though they reside in states that deny marriage equality.

We will all watch these two landmark Supreme Court decisions with great hopefulness. But also with the knowledge that neither Prop. 8 nor DOMA would pass in our present day world.

Happily, it is a world in which even Rush Limbaugh can be prophetic.