Writer for ‘Orange Is the New Black’: Show helped me realize I was gay

When “Orange is the New Black” writer Lauren Morelli started working on the series, she didn’t realize how much it would also script her future.

As Morelli wrote in an essay for Mic.com in May, writing for the Netflix hit helped her realize that she was gay — even though at the time, she was married to a man. When production began on “OITNB,” Morelli had been wed for five months.

“I realized I was gay in fall 2012, one of my first days on the set,” Morelli wrote. “It wasn’t so much one thing, but the sum of many small details: how uncomfortable I felt around groups of lesbians or how I considered myself … a ‘not very sexual person.’ When considered alone, these seemed like little quirks that made me me.”

But on the set of “OITNB,” where she helped shape the story of main character Piper (Taylor Schilling) and her relationships, “these small moments came into sharp relief,” Morelli continued. “I was finally forced to consider a question that had never, ever occurred to me before … am I gay?”

That answer, she discovered, was yes. Watching a love scene that she’d written between Piper and Alex (Laura Prepon) unfold in front of the cameras, Morelli said she found her emotions paralleling the show. “I’d found a mouthpiece for my own desires,” she wrote in her essay, “and a glimmer of what my future could look like.”

According to TMZ, Morelli and her husband of two years, Steve Basilone, have now amicably split and have jointly filed for divorce. The OITNB writer is also reportedly dating one of the show’s stars, Samira Wiley, the actress who plays Poussey and who sometimes pops up in Morelli’s Instagram feed.

“I went through it all on set: I fell in love with a woman, and I watched my life play out on screen,” Morelli wrote on Mic.com. “This is my story, which is messy and nuanced and a constantly moving target, but one I’m grateful for.”

(Courtesy of CNN.com)

Writer for ‘Orange Is the New Black’: Show helped me realize I was gay was originally published on Lesbian News

Web censor lifts ban on gay content for millions of users

Symantec, the software firm behind Norton AntiVirus, routinely allowed customers to filter out LGBTI websites

One of the biggest web filtering services in the world has announced they are scrapping a system that allows Symantec has allowed access to LGBT web siteshomophobes to block access to ‘gay and lesbian’ content.

Symantec, the online security firm behind Norton AntiVirus, has routinely been filtering out LGBTI websites offering news, charity and support as they consider them to be essentially the same thing as child porn.

The fourth-largest software company in the world, they say the ‘lifestyle-sexual orientation’ category will now be steadily removed from its databases.

‘Making this change was not only the right thing to do, it was a good business decision,’ said Fran Rosch, executive vice president, Norton Business Unit, Symantec today (16 September).

‘Having a category in place that could be used to filter out all LGBT-oriented sites was inconsistent with Symantec’s values and the mission of our software.’

While Symantec will allow customers to set their search to block offensive websites, there will no longer be an option to block websites just because they have LGBTI content.

The AP reports the firm’s shift came after customers at Au Bon Pain cafe and bakery set up a campaign after they found the free Wi-Fi was blocking access to LGBTI charities.

GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said the change proves that ‘Symantec gets it’.

‘It’s time that our software reflects our values, and that means filtering out discrimination,’ she said.

Earlier this year, following pressure from Gay Star News, Dell scrapped their own filtering system that allowed the blocking of LGBTI websites.

(Courtesy of GayStarNews.com)

Web censor lifts ban on gay content for millions of users was originally published on Lesbian News

Sara Gilbert: My Wife and I are Having a Baby

Sara Gilbert found an amazingly awesome way to tell her co-hosts and the audience on “The Talk” that she and her wife, Linda Perry, are having a baby.

Sara Gilbert is perhaps best-known for playing Darlene Conner on the ABC sitcom “Roseanne,” and for her role as Leslie Winkle on “The Big Bang Theory.” But Gilbert is also the co-host and executive producer of CBS’ “The Talk.”

“The Talk” this week has a segment called “Face You Fears,” during which randomly assigned co-hosts have to face their greatest fears on live TV. Gilbert was supposed to become the stuffing for a bed of nails sandwich to help her through her fear of being hurt.

But Gilbert declined to take part in the challenge — for an excellent reason.

“I’m actually not going to do the dare,” Gilbert, choking up, tells her co-hosts, who include Sharon Osborne.

“I’m going to tell you guys why. I, we found out about the dares this week, I was scared to do it, I really do believe in facing your fears and doing things that make you uncomfortable, but,” Gilbert says as she starts to cry, “I actually can’t do the dare because I’m pregnant.”

Her co-hosts, and the audience, jump up in applause and scream for joy.

Sara Gilbert and the hosts of The Talk

Watch — it will make your day.

Gilbert married former 4 Non Blondes front woman and producer Linda Perry in March.

The couple got engaged in April of last year. Gilbert, who is 39, has three children from previous relationships. Perry is 48 and this is the first marriage for each of them.

(Courtesy of thenewcivilrightsmovement.com)

Sara Gilbert: My Wife and I are Having a Baby was originally published on Lesbian News

Appeals Court Appears Ready To Strike Down Idaho, Nevada Same-Sex Marriage Bans

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is the fifth federal appeals court to hear arguments on same-sex couples’ marriage rights this year.

9th Circuit of Appeals9th Circuit Court of Appeals

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals appeared poised to strike down bans on same-sex couples’ marriages in Idaho and Nevada in nearly two hours of arguments on Monday.

All three judges hearing the cases — Judges Stephen Reinhardt, Marsha Berzon, and Ronald Gould — appeared ready to rule the bans unconstitutional as violating equal protection guarantees.

As with other appellate courts to hear marriage cases this year, the court did note that the judges expect the matter to be headed to the Supreme Court. When Monte Stewart, the lawyer arguing in support of both Idaho and Nevada’s bans, questioned the court’s view of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in last year’s case striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, Reinhardt retorted, “I think you’re going to have an opportunity to find out what Justice Kennedy thinks.”

Although not as fireworks-filled as the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals arguments over Indiana and Wisconsin’s ban, the arguments Monday at the 9th Circuit were, in a way, even more lopsided. This was so because of the judges on the panel, all of whom have written or joined significant gay rights opinions previously, and because of a decision from the 9th Circuit earlier this year in which the court held that sexual orientation discrimination claims would face additional scrutiny by the court.

In that case — SmithKline Beecham v. Abbott Laboratories, a case about whether potential jurors could be dismissed solely for being gay — the 9th Circuit held that sexual orientation-related discrimination is subjected to heightened scrutiny. In equal protection claims, courts use heightened scrutiny to help decide whether people claiming governmental discrimination should succeed in their claim. If intermediate scrutiny applies, for example, then the state law or practice in question must advance an important governmental interest. If no heightened scrutiny applies, then courts only ask whether the law has a “rational basis.”

Notably, two of the judges from the SmithKline Beecham decision, Reinhardt and Berzon, were hearing Monday’s marriage cases. In the livestreamed arguments on Monday, though, all three judges and the lawyers for the same-sex couples appeared to agree that heightened scrutiny applies here under the SmithKline Beecham precedent and that such bans are unconstitutional under heightened scrutiny.

Berzon additionally took some time to ask about the argument that such bans also are sex discrimination, saying that she could not understand why other courts had been so skeptical of the sex discrimination argument and stating outright that such bans clearly are sex discrimination.

The judges asked lawyers Deborah Ferguson, representing Idaho couples, and Lambda Legal’s Tara Borelli, representing Nevada couples, about the specifics of the equal protection claims, but appeared to be settled on the issue, at least as to sexual orientation discrimination. They focused their questions to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, though, on whether the judges needed also to decide the question of whether the bans violate same-sex couples’ fundamental rights.

Stewart, the lawyer for Idaho and for the coalition that backed Nevada’s marriage ban, argued in defense of the bans and faced an uphill, if not hopeless, task. He focused on arguments he has advanced in his writings and in defense of Utah’s marriage ban about the distinctions between “genderless marriage” and “man-woman marriage” — and Nevada’s and Idaho’s claimed right to prefer to highlight their support for “man-woman marriage” through a marriage definition that excludes same-sex couples.

Stewart argued that Idaho’s ban is key to the state sending a message about the importance of a man and a woman to parenting, claiming that the contrary message of allowing same-sex couples to marry would be that “fathers are not a necessary part of marriage.” Berzon, however, shot back that Idaho’s ban and Stewart’s arguments in its defense were “using another group as a scapegoat … including the children” of those couples in order to send a message.

The two cases were paired with a case about whether a lower court ruling against same-sex couples in Hawaii was moot and should be vacated after the state passed marriage equality. Same-sex couples and Gov. Neil Abercrombie argued the lower court ruling should be vacated, while opponents of marriage equality argued the case should be held until a state-court challenge to Hawaii’s marriage law is decided.

Monday’s arguments made the 9th Circuit made it the fifth federal appellate court to hear arguments over marriage bans this year. The 4th, 7th, and 10th circuit courts of appeals all have ruled states’ bans are unconstitutional in Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin, and Oklahoma and Utah, respectively. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in early August over Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee’s bans and has not released a decision. The 5th and 11th circuit courts of appeals have cases pending before them in Texas and Florida, respectively, but no arguments even scheduled.

State or local officials in Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia already have asked the Supreme Court to hear their appeal of the appellate decisions — with the same-sex couple plaintiffs in those cases agreeing the justices should take their respective cases. The justices could act on the petitions as soon as later this month when they return from their summer recess.

(Courtesy of BuzzFeed.com)

Appeals Court Appears Ready To Strike Down Idaho, Nevada Same-Sex Marriage Bans was originally published on Lesbian News

Two women in their 90s get hitched after 72 years together

(Photo credit: Thomas Geyer)

(Photo credit: Thomas Geyer)

Vivian Boyack, age 91, and Alice “Nonie” Dubes, age 90, have been together for 72 years, and this weekend they tied the knot. As the reverend who performed the ceremony in Davenport, Iowa said, “This is a celebration of something that should have happened a very long time ago.” What does it take to sustain a relationship since circa the middle of World War II? A lot of love and work, according to Boyack. “We’ve had a good time,” Dubes says.

(Courtesy Feministing.com)

Two women in their 90s get hitched after 72 years together was originally published on Lesbian News

Angelina Jolie’s Ex-Girlfriend Gets Married

Angelina Jolie is married, and so is her ex-girlfriend, Jenny Shimizu.

Shimizu recently wed brand consultant Michelle Harper, according to Us Weekly. On Wednesday, photos of Harper wearing a voluminous wedding dress on Aug. 22 in the Soho neighborhood of New York City surfaced via Splash photo agency.

Shimizu, a former Calvin Klein model, met Harper in 2012 at a party, per a New York Times profile on Harper, a club kid-turned-businesswoman.

The two were recently featured in Vogue magazine wearing what Harper described in a June Instagram post as some “cray fun wedding garb.”

Shimizu and Jolie dated the 1990s after meeting on the set of 1996’s “Foxfire.”

“I probably would have married Jenny Shimizu if I hadn’t married my husband [Jonny Lee Miller],” Jolie told Girlfriends magazine in 1997. “I fell in love with her the first second I saw her. Actually, I saw when she was being cast in ‘Foxfire,’ and I thought she had just read for my part. I thought I was going to lose the job. I said to myself, ‘Oh, my God, that’s Legs.’ She’s great. We had a lot of fun.”

After failed marriages to Miller and Billy Bob Thornton, Jolie wed Brad Pitt on Aug. 23. The stars began dating in 2005 and have six children.

(Courtesy of HuffPost.com)

Angelina Jolie’s Ex-Girlfriend Gets Married was originally published on Lesbian News

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg to officiate another same-sex wedding

Ceremony to take place at a time when number of potential marriage equality cases that might go before the high court grows

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an associate justice of the US Supreme Court, is set to perform yet another same-sex wedding ceremony this weekend – her fourth.

Ginsburg, 81, will be conducting the ceremony of her former law clerk, Danny Rubens, and his fiance Danny Grossman.

It was 13 months ago that Ginsburg performed her first same-sex wedding ceremony and she told the Washington Post at the time: ‘I think it will be one more statement that people who love each other and want to live together should be able to enjoy the blessings and the strife in the marriage relationship.’

This weekend’s wedding takes place as the number of potential same-sex marriage cases that might go before the high court continues to grow. So far, cases in Utah, Virginia, Oklahoma, Indiana and Wisconsin are among the possibilities.

Ginsburg had said earlier this year that she believed the court will take on a same-sex marriage case either next year or by 2016 at the latest.

Ginsburg was one of the four justices who last year gutted the Defense of Marriage Act and allowed to let stand a federal court ruling that declared California’s Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

(Courtesy GayStarNews.com)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg to officiate another same-sex wedding was originally published on Lesbian News

6 Favorite Queer Joan Rivers Moments

Our hearts collectively broke earlier today when we learned that Joan Rivers passed away at the age of 81.

The gay icon reportedly stopped breathing during a procedure on her vocal cords at a clinic last week and had been in and out of intensive care since the incident.

While remembering Rivers’ groundbreaking career, it must be noted that her contributions to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and queer visibility were massive. In honor of the legendary comedian, we present to you six of our favorite queer moments from Joan Rivers’ life. Our thoughts are with her family and friends.


Joan Officiates A Gay Wedding

Last month Rivers officiated a gay wedding at New York’s Plaza Athenee — and it wasn’t her first. In 2013 the comedian also presided over a King Kong-themed ceremony on top of the Empire State Building. “Every wedding I officiate has a cover charge and a two-drink minimum,” she joked.


Joan On Kissing A Woman

In early 2013, Rivers opened up on NBC’s “Today Show” about a recent kiss she shared with a woman. “It was in the moment,” Joan explained. “I like her very much. It’s like the Katy Perry song, ‘I Kissed a Girl.’ I don’t know if I liked it or I didn’t like it. I woke up this morning with an incredible urge to play golf.” She later told HuffPost Live, “I wasn’t for her. To be rejected by both sexes? That’s a heartbreak!” You could always keep us cracking up, Joan.


Queer Visibility On ‘The Joan Rivers Show’

Rivers used her talk show, “The Joan Rivers Show,” in the ’90s to provide visibility to the LGBT community in a way that had rarely been done before. In this clip, the gay icon hosted a segment with Leigh Bowery, Michael Alig, James St. James, Ernie Glam and Amanda Lepore — the Club Kids and some of the most prominent queers in the community at the time.


Joan’s Public Love For The Gay Community

Rivers has never been a stranger to expressing her deep affection for gay men and the gay community as a whole. While discussing the Occupy Wall Street movement, the self-described “queen of the gays” once joked, “Gay men have better bodies, on the whole. That’s number one, and number two: They care more about what they look like. Very seldom will you find a gay schlep. This is why there are no gay protesters in Zuccotti Park. Because there’s no place to change, and no closets.”


Joan Congratulates Anderson Cooper On Coming Out

Always one to cheer on queers on their journey to becoming their authentic selves, Rivers publicly congratulated CNN’s Anderson Cooper following his coming out. “I am thrilled that Anderson Cooper finally came out, because this explains why he never tried to date me,” Rivers joked. “I saw him as the perfect package. I would have loved Gloria Vanderbilt as a mother-in-law. This explains everything.”


Joan Gets In Bed With Bianca Del Rio

In one her most recent installments of her web series “In Bed With Joan,” Rivers cozied up with “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season six winner Bianca Del Rio. With the “queen of mean” and the “Rolodex of hate” together under the sheets, literally anything was possible.

(Courtesy of HuffPost.com)

6 Favorite Queer Joan Rivers Moments was originally published on Lesbian News

Appeals Court Strikes Down Wisconsin, Indiana Gay Marriage Bans As Unconstitutional

CHICAGO (AP) — A U.S. appeals court issued a scathing, unequivocal ruling Thursday declaring that gay marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana were unconstitutional, on the same day that 32 states asked the Supreme Court to settle the issue once and for all.

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago was the fourth to hear arguments on the issue. The decision from a normally slow and deliberative court was released a little more than a week after oral arguments.

The unanimous, 40-page decision from a three-judge panel blasted the states’ justifications for their bans, several times singling out the argument that only marriage between a man and a woman should be allowed because it’s — simply — tradition.

There are “bad traditions that are historical realities such as cannibalism, foot-binding, and suttee, and traditions that … are neither good nor bad — such as trick-or-treating on Halloween,” the ruling says. “Tradition per se therefore cannot be a lawful ground for discrimination — regardless of the age of the tradition.”

It also laid into another argument from the states that gays should not be allowed to marry because, on their own, they can’t procreate, saying that rationale “is so full of holes that it cannot be taken seriously.”

Wisconsin Attorney General General J.B. Van Hollen said he would appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Also Thursday, Massachusetts and 14 other states where same-sex marriage is legal filed a brief asking the justices to overturn other states’ bans on gay marriage. Meanwhile, Colorado and 16 other states that have banned same-sex marriage filed a separate brief asking the court to rule one way or the other to clear up a “morass” of lawsuits.

Since last year, the vast majority of federal rulings have declared same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. Supreme Court justices typically take up issues only when lower courts disagree. But in this case, states are asking the court to settle the issue nationwide once and for all.

The Wisconsin and Indiana cases shifted to Chicago after the states appealed lower court rulings tossing the bans.

The court’s decision won’t take effect for at least 21 days, said Camilla Taylor, a lawyer for Lambda Legal who argued on behalf of Wisconsin plaintiffs. That should give the states time to ask the Supreme Court to put it on hold, she said.

Between the bans being struck down and a 7th Circuit order reinstating them as the appeals process ran its course, hundreds of gay couple in both states rushed to marry.

Gay couples heralded Thursday’s decision.

“I have hope that we’re going to be able to live in Wisconsin with full equality, that we won’t be considered second-class citizens,” said Roy Badger, of Milwaukee, who sued with partner Garth Wangemann to overturn Wisconsin’s same-sex marriage ban.

In Indiana, some couples gathered at an office of the American Civil Liberties Union — whose lawyers represented many of the plaintiffs — after they received an email from one attorney proclaiming, “WE WON!!!”

But other people were unhappy.

“Marriage policy should be about protecting the established needs of children and society, not affirming the variable desires of certain political activists,” said Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana.

The decision came unusually fast for the 7th Circuit — just nine days after oral arguments. The court typically takes months on rulings.

Judge Richard Posner, an appointee of Republican President Ronald Reagan, wrote the opinion. During oral arguments, Posner fired tough questions at the bans’ defenders, often expressing exasperation at their answers.

The other two judges on the panel were 2009 Barack Obama appointee David Hamilton and 1999 Bill Clinton appointee Ann Claire Williams.

The ruling echoed Posner’s comments during oral arguments that “hate” underpinned the bans.

The opinion repeatedly mentions the issue of tradition, noting that some, such as shaking hands, may “seem silly” but “are at least harmless.” That’s not the case with gay-marriage bans, the court said.

“If no social benefit is conferred by a tradition and it is written into law and it discriminates against a number of people and does them harm beyond just offending them, it is not just a harmless anachronism; it is a violation of the equal protection clause,” the opinion says.

A constitutional amendment approved in 2006 by voters banned gay marriage in Wisconsin, while state law prohibited it in Indiana.

The next appeals court to take up the question will be the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit, which will hear arguments Monday on gay marriage bans in Idaho, Nevada and Hawaii.

(Courtesy of HuffPost.com)

Appeals Court Strikes Down Wisconsin, Indiana Gay Marriage Bans As Unconstitutional was originally published on Lesbian News

CVS Health Releases Awesome Gay-Inclusive Ad

CVS is rebranding — and they want you to know that your family is welcome, no matter what that family may look like.

Ever since CVS stopped selling cigarettes and renamed itself CVS Health, the pharmacy giant has been extremely public about its commitment to the health and well-being of all customers. Now, the chain has released a new advertisement that showcases a broad range of families and individuals, including a gay couple (look for them around 0:23).

(Courtesy of HuffPost.com)

CVS Health Releases Awesome Gay-Inclusive Ad was originally published on Lesbian News