Jim Henson Company And Chick-Fil-A: ‘Muppets’ Makers Sever Ties With Anti-Gay Fast Food Chain

Last Friday, the company behind beloved shows such as “Fraggle Rock,” “Labyrinth,” and “The Muppets,” severed ties with Chick-Fil-A due to the fast food chain’s CEO’s opposition to same sex marriage.

According to “Muppets” fan site ToughPigs.com, The Jim Henson Company had partnered with Chick-Fil-A to feature Jim Henson’s Creature Shop toys — “essentially a plastic tube with cut-out features for customizing your own puppet” — in their kid’s meals from mid-July until August 18th.

However, on Friday, the Jim Henson Company posted the following statement to their Facebook page:

The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors. Lisa Henson, our CEO is personally a strong supporter of gay marriage and has directed us to donate the payment we received from Chick-Fil-A to GLAAD. (http://www.glaad.org/)

via Jim Henson Company And Chick-Fil-A: ‘Muppets’ Makers Sever Ties With Anti-Gay Fast Food Chain.

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Republicans for marriage equality? Maine and beyond – Pollways – BDN Maine Blogs

With Mainers to vote on whether to allow same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses in November 2012, a group of Maine Republicans has stepped forward to announce their support. Some changed their minds and were greeted with a certain consternation or at least apprehension from their fellow partisans.

How does this relate to national dynamics?

The national Republican party includes many strong social conservatives. Particularly since 1980, the religious right has been a solid element of the Republican coalition. Nationally, many Republican politicians have supported — and continue to support — restrictions on gay rights, abortion and even birth control.

However, the Republican party has long included a libertarian strand and those Republicans have supported (some degree of) equal rights for gay and lesbian people. For instance, Senator (and 1964 presidential nominee) Barry Goldwater, said of military service, “Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar” and “You don’t need to be ‘straight’ to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.”

Also moderate Republicans — like Maine Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe — have been relatively supportive of gay rights, both as concerns service in the military and marriage. In 2006. both voted against proceeding to a vote on a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and woman. More recently, both supported ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). There are fewer moderate Republicans than before, but they are still part of the party.

Republicans have became more supportive of gay rights. On gays and lesbians in military service, Republicans shifted from a strongly anti-gay stance to, by May 2010, 60% support for repealing DADT.

But what about marriage equality?

National data show that, as public opinion has shifted on marriage, Republicans have not changed very much.

Public opinion on same-sex marriage has moved a great deal. Now national polls find over 50% support. Much of that change comes from younger age groups and there are clear differences by different generations. If one looks at particular age groups over time, it’s clear that opinion within age groups has also changed and has become more supportive of marriage equality.

But the partisan patterns — at least in national polls — show much greater change among Democrats and independents than Republicans.

via Republicans for marriage equality? Maine and beyond – Pollways – BDN Maine Blogs.

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Michelangelo Signorile: Sally Ride, American Hero: This Is What a Lesbian Looks Like

Sally RideIn what is perhaps a stellar example of the new trend in coming out quietly, Sally Ride, the first American woman to rocket into outer space, came out as a lesbian in her obituary, a day after her tragic death due to pancreatic cancer. She now makes history not only as the first American woman in space, aboard the space shuttle Challenger, but as the first openly gay or bisexual person (while the obituary referred to a relationship with a woman for 27 years, it’s possible, since Ride was once married to man, that she identified as bisexual or without a label) to fly in space as well.

While the news of her death at the age of 61 after a 17-month battle with cancer is immensely sad, and while it would have been terrific if she came out while alive, Ride’s posthumous coming out is a wonderful gift to America’s youth. And it’s what we needed right now. If astronauts are among the ultimate heroes and examples of American ingenuity, fortitude and bravery, then with that one line in her obituary — survived by “Tam O’Shaughnessy, her partner of 27 years” — Sally Ride dispeled all the ugliness foisted on this country in recent weeks by the Boy Scouts of America, Chick-Fil-A and Jennifer Carroll, Florida’s GOP lieutenant governor, who, denying charges that she had sex with another woman in her office, claimed women who look like her are not involved in same-sex relationships (and refuses to apologize).

Yes, Lt. Governor Carroll, you are right. With your bigotry and cowardice, you are are not what a lesbian looks like.

via Michelangelo Signorile: Sally Ride, American Hero: This Is What a Lesbian Looks Like.

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NYC Same-Sex Marriages Generate $259 Million in Economic Impact

Mayor Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta and New York City Clerk Michael McSweeney today announced that one year after the enactment of the Marriage Equality Act, same sex-marriages in New York City have generated an estimated $259 million in economic impact and $16 million in City revenues.

At least 8,200 same-sex marriage licenses were issued in the first year, accounting for more than 10 percent of the 75,000 marriage licenses issued in New York City since July 24 last year. The economic impact survey was conducted by NYC & Company and the City Clerk’s Office and found same-sex marriages generated significant additional revenue for New York City’s tourism industry with more than half of same-sex couples holding wedding celebrations in venues across the five boroughs. More than 200,000 guests traveled from outside of the City to same-sex marriage events and more than 235,000 hotel room nights were booked at an average daily room rate of $275. The announcement was made at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau, where the Mayor and Speaker also were joined by Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell, City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry, and Nic Faitos, Senior Partner of Starbright Floral Design, a small business that has seen a rise in revenue the last year.

“Marriage equality has made our City more open, inclusive and free – and it has also helped to create jobs and support our economy,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “New York has always been a great place to get married and since the passage of the Marriage Equality Act, we’re welcoming more and more couples, their families and friends from around the country and the world.

NYC Same-Sex Marriages Generate $259 Million in Economic Impact.

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US pledges extra $150 million to combat AIDS – Health – AIDS – NBCNews.com

Science now has the tools to slash the spread of HIV even without a vaccine — and the U.S. is donating an extra $150 million to help poor countries put them in place, the Obama administration told the world’s largest AIDS conference Monday.

“We want to get to the end of AIDS,” declared the top U.S. HIV researcher, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health.

How long it takes depends on how quickly the world can adopt those tools, he said — including getting more of the millions of untreated people onto life-saving drugs that come with the bonus of keeping them from infecting others.

“No promises, no dates, but we know it can happen,” Fauci told the International AIDS Conference.

Some 34.2 million people worldwide are living with HIV, and 2.5 million were infected last year.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the goal is an AIDS-free generation. That would mean no babies would be born infected, young people would have a much lower risk than today of becoming infected and people who already have HIV would receive life-saving drugs so they wouldn’t develop AIDS or spread the virus.

“I am here today to make it absolutely clear the U.S. is committed and will remain committed to achieving an AIDS-free generation,” Clinton told the more than 20,000 scientists, people living with HIV and policymakers assembled for the conference

via US pledges extra $150 million to combat AIDS – Health – AIDS – NBCNews.com.