Tag Archives: anderson cooper

Obama: NRA pushed ‘conspiracy’ theory that ‘somebody’s going to come grab your guns’

President Barack Obama mocked conspiracy theorists and tore into the National Rifle Association for pushing “imaginary fiction,” as he described his plans to tighten gun control rules as modest first steps toward tackling gun violence in America.

In a prime-time, televised town hall meeting last week, Obama fielded tough questions from high-profile gun control opponents and supporters alike, often answering with sympathy and without confrontation as he tried to reassure Americans there is a middle ground on a fiercely divisive issue.

The town hall featured several well-known figures in the gun debate. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in 2011, stood as her husband, Mark Kelly, asked Obama about confiscation theories. Taya Kyle, whose late husband was depicted in the film American Sniper, asked the president about why he doesn’t highlight falling murder rates. Cleo Pendleton, whose daughter was shot and killed near Obama’s Chicago home, asked about his proposals to stop gun trafficking across state lines.

Kimberly Corban, an NRA supporter, told Obama she’d been raped by an intruder and now feels that owning a gun “seems like my basic responsibility as a parent … I refuse to let that happen again.”

Obama didn’t hold back when asked by CNN moderator Anderson Cooper about the notion that the federal government — and Obama in particular — wants to seize all firearms as a precursor to imposing martial law. He blamed that notion on the NRA and like-minded groups that convince its members that “somebody’s going to come grab your guns.”

“Yes, that is a conspiracy,” Obama said. “I’m only going to be here for another year. When would I have started on this enterprise?” Obama defended his support for the constitutional right to gun ownership while arguing it was consistent with his efforts to curb mass shootings. He said the NRA refused to acknowledge the government’s responsibility to make legal products safer, citing seatbelts and child-proof medicine bottles as examples.

Taking the stage at George Mason University, Obama accused the NRA of refusing to participate in the town hall despite having its headquarters nearby.

“Since this is a main reason they exist, you’d think that they’d be prepared to have a debate with the president,” Obama said.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said beforehand that the group saw “no reason to participate in a public relations spectacle orchestrated by the White House.” Several NRA members were in the audience for the event, which was organized and hosted by CNN. And the NRA pushed back on Twitter in real time, noting at one point “none of the president’s orders would have stopped any of the recent mass shootings.”

The White House has sought to portray the NRA, the nation’s largest gun group, as possessing a disproportionate influence over lawmakers that has prevented new gun laws despite polls that show broad U.S. support for measures like universal background checks. Last year, following a series of mass shootings, Obama pledged to “politicize” the issue in an attempt to level the playing field for gun control supporters.

The American Firearms Retailers Association, another lobby group that represents gun dealers, did participate in the forum. Asked how business had been since Obama took office, Kris Jacob, vice president of the group, replied: “It’s been busy.”

“There’s a very serious concern in this country about personal security,” he added.

Obama’s actions on guns have drawn major attention in the presidential campaign, with the Democratic candidates backing Obama and the Republicans unanimously voicing opposition. Donald Trump, addressing a rally in Vermont just as Obama was holding the town hall, said he would eliminate gun-free zones in schools on his first day if elected to the White House.

“You know what a gun-free zone is for a sicko? That’s bait,” Trump told the crowd.

Obama’s broadside against the NRA came two days after his unveiling of a package of executive actions aimed at keeping guns from people who shouldn’t have them. The centerpiece is new federal guidance that seeks to clarify who is “in the business” of selling firearms, triggering a requirement to get a license and conduct background checks on all prospective buyers.

The plan has drawn intense criticism from gun rights groups that have accused the president of trampling on the Second Amendment and railroading Congress by taking action on his own without new laws. Just after his 2012 re-election, Obama pushed hard for a bipartisan gun control bill that collapsed in the Senate, ending any realistic prospects for a legislative solution in the near term.

Ahead of the town hall, Obama put political candidates on notice that he would refuse to support or campaign for anyone who “does not support common-sense gun reform” — including Democrats.

All the candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination support stricter gun laws, so Obama’s declaration in a New York Times op-ed isn’t likely to have an impact on the race to replace him. Instead, it appeared aimed at Democratic congressional candidates from competitive districts who might want Obama’s support on the campaign trail this year.

Round 1: Democrats to debate in Vegas

What happens in Vegas on Oct. 13 surely won’t stay in Vegas. The first Democratic presidential primary debate will be held in the Nevada city and, if the audiences for the early Republican debates are indicators, 22 million people will be watching.

Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee will be on the stage for the two-hour debate.

And Joe Biden could join in the CNN-Facebook debate — the first of six on the Democratic side — even if he doesn’t enter the race until Oct. 13. Biden has met the minimum polling threshold set by CNN — averaging at least 1 percent in three polls despite not having declared his candidacy. So he would only need to file with the Federal Election Commission to participate.

Anderson Cooper of Anderson Cooper 360 will moderate, with CNN political correspondent Dana Bash and CNN español anchor Juan Carlos Lopez providing additional questions and anchor Don Lemon delivering questions submitted on Facebook.

Cooper last moderated a presidential debate in 2012.

The Democratic National Committee has sanctioned six presidential primary debates, four of them before the Iowa caucuses in February 2016.

At least two vice chairs of the national Democratic Party, along with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, O’Malley and Sanders, have called for more debates. Clinton has said she’s open to more.

Party donors and activists also want more debates, including billionaire Tom Steyer, who has called for a forum to focus on climate change and the environment.

“Since the candidates — and the Democratic Party — understand that climate change is our greatest threat, they must allow voters the opportunity to hear a thoughtful and robust discussion — not just a single question — about their plans to solve this issue,” read a statement from Steyer’s NextGen Climate.

Meanwhile, GOP presidential candidates are preparing for a third debate on Oct. 28 in Boulder, Colorado. Since the second debate, the crowded field has narrowed by one with the abrupt departure of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

The remaining candidates face a set of possibly more stringent requirements for inclusion in round three — to be held by CNBC. Bobby Jindal, Lindsey Graham, George Pataki and Rick Santorum likely won’t make the cut. It is uncertain whether Rand Paul, John Kasich, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee will participate. And, had Walker not suspended his campaign, he likely would have missed the cut.

Prime-time politics

The first Democratic presidential primary debate will be at 8 p.m. Central time on Oct. 13 on CNN, CNN en Español, CNN International and streamed on CNNgo. Westwood One will broadcast the debate on the radio.

Hillary Clinton to receive award from Elton John AIDS Foundation

The Elton John AIDS Foundation will honor former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton with a new award in October.

Clinton will receive the foundation’s first Founder’s Award. A statement on the foundation webiste said a 2011 speech in which Clinton asserted that gay rights were human rights helped to envision a world without AIDS.

Others to be honored incllude celebrity chef Sandra Lee, business mogul Ronald Perelman and founding board member Howard Rose.

The awards will be presented at an annual benefit on Oct. 15 in New York City with Anderson Cooper hosting.


Hillary Clinton’s Human Rights Day speech: 

Good evening, and let me express my deep honor and pleasure at being here. I want to thank Director General Tokayev and Ms. Wyden along with other ministers, ambassadors, excellencies, and UN partners. This weekend, we will celebrate Human Rights Day, the anniversary of one of the great accomplishments of the last century. 

Beginning in 1947, delegates from six continents devoted themselves to drafting a declaration that would enshrine the fundamental rights and freedoms of people everywhere. In the aftermath of World War II, many nations pressed for a statement of this kind to help ensure that we would prevent future atrocities and protect the inherent humanity and dignity of all people. And so the delegates went to work. They discussed, they wrote, they revisited, revised, rewrote, for thousands of hours. And they incorporated suggestions and revisions from governments, organizations, and individuals around the world. 

At three o’clock in the morning on December 10th, 1948, after nearly two years of drafting and one last long night of debate, the president of the UN General Assembly called for a vote on the final text. Forty-eight nations voted in favor; eight abstained; none dissented. And the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. It proclaims a simple, powerful idea: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. And with the declaration, it was made clear that rights are not conferred by government; they are the birthright of all people. It does not matter what country we live in, who our leaders are, or even who we are. Because we are human, we therefore have rights. And because we have rights, governments are bound to protect them. 

In the 63 years since the declaration was adopted, many nations have made great progress in making human rights a human reality. Step by step, barriers that once prevented people from enjoying the full measure of liberty, the full experience of dignity, and the full benefits of humanity have fallen away. In many places, racist laws have been repealed, legal and social practices that relegated women to second-class status have been abolished, the ability of religious minorities to practice their faith freely has been secured. 

In most cases, this progress was not easily won. People fought and organized and campaigned in public squares and private spaces to change not only laws, but hearts and minds. And thanks to that work of generations, for millions of individuals whose lives were once narrowed by injustice, they are now able to live more freely and to participate more fully in the political, economic, and social lives of their communities. 

Now, there is still, as you all know, much more to be done to secure that commitment, that reality, and progress for all people. Today, I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many parts of the world today. In many ways, they are an invisible minority. They are arrested, beaten, terrorized, even executed. Many are treated with contempt and violence by their fellow citizens while authorities empowered to protect them look the other way or, too often, even join in the abuse. They are denied opportunities to work and learn, driven from their homes and countries, and forced to suppress or deny who they are to protect themselves from harm. 

I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time. I speak about this subject knowing that my own country’s record on human rights for gay people is far from perfect. Until 2003, it was still a crime in parts of our country. Many LGBT Americans have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and for some, including many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences. So we, like all nations, have more work to do to protect human rights at home. 

Now, raising this issue, I know, is sensitive for many people and that the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious beliefs. So I come here before you with respect, understanding, and humility. Even though progress on this front is not easy, we cannot delay acting. So in that spirit, I want to talk about the difficult and important issues we must address together to reach a global consensus that recognizes the human rights of LGBT citizens everywhere. 

The first issue goes to the heart of the matter. Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same. Now, of course, 60 years ago, the governments that drafted and passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were not thinking about how it applied to the LGBT community. They also weren’t thinking about how it applied to indigenous people or children or people with disabilities or other marginalized groups. Yet in the past 60 years, we have come to recognize that members of these groups are entitled to the full measure of dignity and rights, because, like all people, they share a common humanity.

This recognition did not occur all at once. It evolved over time. And as it did, we understood that we were honoring rights that people always had, rather than creating new or special rights for them. Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights. 

It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave. It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments, or when people are murdered after public calls for violence toward gays, or when they are forced to flee their nations and seek asylum in other lands to save their lives. And it is a violation of human rights when life-saving care is withheld from people because they are gay, or equal access to justice is denied to people because they are gay, or public spaces are out of bounds to people because they are gay. No matter what we look like, where we come from, or who we are, we are all equally entitled to our human rights and dignity.

The second issue is a question of whether homosexuality arises from a particular part of the world. Some seem to believe it is a Western phenomenon, and therefore people outside the West have grounds to reject it. Well, in reality, gay people are born into and belong to every society in the world. They are all ages, all races, all faiths; they are doctors and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes; and whether we know it, or whether we acknowledge it, they are our family, our friends, and our neighbors.

Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality. And protecting the human rights of all people, gay or straight, is not something that only Western governments do. South Africa’s constitution, written in the aftermath of Apartheid, protects the equality of all citizens, including gay people. In Colombia and Argentina, the rights of gays are also legally protected. In Nepal, the supreme court has ruled that equal rights apply to LGBT citizens. The Government of Mongolia has committed to pursue new legislation that will tackle anti-gay discrimination.

Now, some worry that protecting the human rights of the LGBT community is a luxury that only wealthy nations can afford. But in fact, in all countries, there are costs to not protecting these rights, in both gay and straight lives lost to disease and violence, and the silencing of voices and views that would strengthen communities, in ideas never pursued by entrepreneurs who happen to be gay. Costs are incurred whenever any group is treated as lesser or the other, whether they are women, racial, or religious minorities, or the LGBT. Former President Mogae of Botswana pointed out recently that for as long as LGBT people are kept in the shadows, there cannot be an effective public health program to tackle HIV and AIDS. Well, that holds true for other challenges as well. 

The third, and perhaps most challenging, issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens. This is not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation. Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition. But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it’s criminal. Likewise with slavery, what was once justified as sanctioned by God is now properly reviled as an unconscionable violation of human rights. 

In each of these cases, we came to learn that no practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us. And this holds true for inflicting violence on LGBT people, criminalizing their status or behavior, expelling them from their families and communities, or tacitly or explicitly accepting their killing.

Of course, it bears noting that rarely are cultural and religious traditions and teachings actually in conflict with the protection of human rights. Indeed, our religion and our culture are sources of compassion and inspiration toward our fellow human beings. It was not only those who’ve justified slavery who leaned on religion, it was also those who sought to abolish it. And let us keep in mind that our commitments to protect the freedom of religion and to defend the dignity of LGBT people emanate from a common source. For many of us, religious belief and practice is a vital source of meaning and identity, and fundamental to who we are as people. And likewise, for most of us, the bonds of love and family that we forge are also vital sources of meaning and identity. And caring for others is an expression of what it means to be fully human. It is because the human experience is universal that human rights are universal and cut across all religions and cultures.

The fourth issue is what history teaches us about how we make progress towards rights for all. Progress starts with honest discussion. Now, there are some who say and believe that all gay people are pedophiles, that homosexuality is a disease that can be caught or cured, or that gays recruit others to become gay. Well, these notions are simply not true. They are also unlikely to disappear if those who promote or accept them are dismissed out of hand rather than invited to share their fears and concerns. No one has ever abandoned a belief because he was forced to do so.

Universal human rights include freedom of expression and freedom of belief, even if our words or beliefs denigrate the humanity of others. Yet, while we are each free to believe whatever we choose, we cannot do whatever we choose, not in a world where we protect the human rights of all. 

Reaching understanding of these issues takes more than speech. It does take a conversation. In fact, it takes a constellation of conversations in places big and small. And it takes a willingness to see stark differences in belief as a reason to begin the conversation, not to avoid it. 

But progress comes from changes in laws. In many places, including my own country, legal protections have preceded, not followed, broader recognition of rights. Laws have a teaching effect. Laws that discriminate validate other kinds of discrimination. Laws that require equal protections reinforce the moral imperative of equality. And practically speaking, it is often the case that laws must change before fears about change dissipate.

Many in my country thought that President Truman was making a grave error when he ordered the racial desegregation of our military. They argued that it would undermine unit cohesion. And it wasn’t until he went ahead and did it that we saw how it strengthened our social fabric in ways even the supporters of the policy could not foresee. Likewise, some worried in my country that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would have a negative effect on our armed forces. Now, the Marine Corps Commandant, who was one of the strongest voices against the repeal, says that his concerns were unfounded and that the Marines have embraced the change.

Finally, progress comes from being willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. We need to ask ourselves, “How would it feel if it were a crime to love the person I love? How would it feel to be discriminated against for something about myself that I cannot change?” This challenge applies to all of us as we reflect upon deeply held beliefs, as we work to embrace tolerance and respect for the dignity of all persons, and as we engage humbly with those with whom we disagree in the hope of creating greater understanding.

A fifth and final question is how we do our part to bring the world to embrace human rights for all people including LGBT people. Yes, LGBT people must help lead this effort, as so many of you are. Their knowledge and experiences are invaluable and their courage inspirational. We know the names of brave LGBT activists who have literally given their lives for this cause, and there are many more whose names we will never know. But often those who are denied rights are least empowered to bring about the changes they seek. Acting alone, minorities can never achieve the majorities necessary for political change. 

So when any part of humanity is sidelined, the rest of us cannot sit on the sidelines. Every time a barrier to progress has fallen, it has taken a cooperative effort from those on both sides of the barrier. In the fight for women’s rights, the support of men remains crucial. The fight for racial equality has relied on contributions from people of all races. Combating Islamaphobia or anti-Semitism is a task for people of all faiths. And the same is true with this struggle for equality.

Conversely, when we see denials and abuses of human rights and fail to act, that sends the message to those deniers and abusers that they won’t suffer any consequences for their actions, and so they carry on. But when we do act, we send a powerful moral message. Right here in Geneva, the international community acted this year to strengthen a global consensus around the human rights of LGBT people. At the Human Rights Council in March, 85 countries from all regions supported a statement calling for an end to criminalization and violence against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. 

At the following session of the Council in June, South Africa took the lead on a resolution about violence against LGBT people. The delegation from South Africa spoke eloquently about their own experience and struggle for human equality and its indivisibility. When the measure passed, it became the first-ever UN resolution recognizing the human rights of gay people worldwide. In the Organization of American States this year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights created a unit on the rights of LGBT people, a step toward what we hope will be the creation of a special rapporteur.

Now, we must go further and work here and in every region of the world to galvanize more support for the human rights of the LGBT community. To the leaders of those countries where people are jailed, beaten, or executed for being gay, I ask you to consider this: Leadership, by definition, means being out in front of your people when it is called for. It means standing up for the dignity of all your citizens and persuading your people to do the same. It also means ensuring that all citizens are treated as equals under your laws, because let me be clear – I am not saying that gay people can’t or don’t commit crimes. They can and they do, just like straight people. And when they do, they should be held accountable, but it should never be a crime to be gay. 

And to people of all nations, I say supporting human rights is your responsibility too. The lives of gay people are shaped not only by laws, but by the treatment they receive every day from their families, from their neighbors. Eleanor Roosevelt, who did so much to advance human rights worldwide, said that these rights begin in the small places close to home – the streets where people live, the schools they attend, the factories, farms, and offices where they work. These places are your domain. The actions you take, the ideals that you advocate, can determine whether human rights flourish where you are.

And finally, to LGBT men and women worldwide, let me say this: Wherever you live and whatever the circumstances of your life, whether you are connected to a network of support or feel isolated and vulnerable, please know that you are not alone. People around the globe are working hard to support you and to bring an end to the injustices and dangers you face. That is certainly true for my country. And you have an ally in the United States of America and you have millions of friends among the American people.

The Obama Administration defends the human rights of LGBT people as part of our comprehensive human rights policy and as a priority of our foreign policy. In our embassies, our diplomats are raising concerns about specific cases and laws, and working with a range of partners to strengthen human rights protections for all. In Washington, we have created a task force at the State Department to support and coordinate this work. And in the coming months, we will provide every embassy with a toolkit to help improve their efforts. And we have created a program that offers emergency support to defenders of human rights for LGBT people. 

This morning, back in Washington, President Obama put into place the first U.S. Government strategy dedicated to combating human rights abuses against LGBT persons abroad. Building on efforts already underway at the State Department and across the government, the President has directed all U.S. Government agencies engaged overseas to combat the criminalization of LGBT status and conduct, to enhance efforts to protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers, to ensure that our foreign assistance promotes the protection of LGBT rights, to enlist international organizations in the fight against discrimination, and to respond swiftly to abuses against LGBT persons.

I am also pleased to announce that we are launching a new Global Equality Fund that will support the work of civil society organizations working on these issues around the world. This fund will help them record facts so they can target their advocacy, learn how to use the law as a tool, manage their budgets, train their staffs, and forge partnerships with women’s organizations and other human rights groups. We have committed more than $3 million to start this fund, and we have hope that others will join us in supporting it. 

The women and men who advocate for human rights for the LGBT community in hostile places, some of whom are here today with us, are brave and dedicated, and deserve all the help we can give them. We know the road ahead will not be easy. A great deal of work lies before us. But many of us have seen firsthand how quickly change can come. In our lifetimes, attitudes toward gay people in many places have been transformed. Many people, including myself, have experienced a deepening of our own convictions on this topic over the years, as we have devoted more thought to it, engaged in dialogues and debates, and established personal and professional relationships with people who are gay. 

This evolution is evident in many places. To highlight one example, the Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexuality in India two years ago, writing, and I quote, “If there is one tenet that can be said to be an underlying theme of the Indian constitution, it is inclusiveness.” There is little doubt in my mind that support for LGBT human rights will continue to climb. Because for many young people, this is simple: All people deserve to be treated with dignity and have their human rights respected, no matter who they are or whom they love. 

There is a phrase that people in the United States invoke when urging others to support human rights: “Be on the right side of history.” The story of the United States is the story of a nation that has repeatedly grappled with intolerance and inequality. We fought a brutal civil war over slavery. People from coast to coast joined in campaigns to recognize the rights of women, indigenous peoples, racial minorities, children, people with disabilities, immigrants, workers, and on and on. And the march toward equality and justice has continued. Those who advocate for expanding the circle of human rights were and are on the right side of history, and history honors them. Those who tried to constrict human rights were wrong, and history reflects that as well.

I know that the thoughts I’ve shared today involve questions on which opinions are still evolving. As it has happened so many times before, opinion will converge once again with the truth, the immutable truth, that all persons are created free and equal in dignity and rights. We are called once more to make real the words of the Universal Declaration. Let us answer that call. Let us be on the right side of history, for our people, our nations, and future generations, whose lives will be shaped by the work we do today. I come before you with great hope and confidence that no matter how long the road ahead, we will travel it successfully together. Thank you very much.

GLAAD honors Anderson Cooper, ‘Smash,’ ‘Good Morning America’

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation-GLAAD presented 16 of its 2013 media awards at a ceremony in New York City. A highlight of the evening March 16 was Madonna presenting CNN’s Anderson Cooper with the Vito Russo Award.

Madonna, wearing a Boy Scout uniform – with a wide-brimmed hat , cargo shorts and fishnet stockings – and not looking at all butch, announced the award to Cooper, who came out as gay this past year. In the presentation of the award, the pop star and newsman kissed, an act that has become a tradition for Madonna at awards ceremonies. She also famously kissed Britney Spears and  Christina Aguilera.

GLAAD also presented the Ally Award to film director Brett Ratner and premiered a public service announcement campaign helmed by Ratner. The GLAAD “Coming Out for Equality” PSA series features straight celebrities and athletes coming out for equality and calling for other Americans to speak out.

Other awards included Outstanding Drama Series: “Smash” (NBC); Outstanding Documentary: “How to Survive a Plague” (Sundance Selects); Outstanding Reality Program: “The Amazing Race” (CBS); Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: “Being Transgender in America” Melissa Harris-Perry (MSNBC); Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: “Obama Endorses Marriage Equality” Good Morning America(ABC); Outstanding Newspaper Article: “Game Changer” by Andy Mannix (City Pages (Minneapolis); Outstanding Newspaper Columnist: Frank Bruni (The New York Times); Outstanding Newspaper Overall Coverage:  The Boston Globe; Outstanding Magazine Article:  “School of Hate” by Sabrina Rubin Erdely (Rolling Stone); Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage: The Advocate/Out; Outstanding New York Theatre: Broadway & Off Broadway:  The Whaleby Samuel D. Hunter; Outstanding New York Theatre: Off-Off Broadway  From White Plainswritten by Michael Perlman in collaboration with Fault Line Theatre

In the Spanish-Language category, GLAAD recognized: Outstanding Talk Show Interview:  “Entrevista con Orlando Cruz” Titulares Telemundo(Telemundo); Outstanding Magazine Article: “Amor genuino” by Cristina Saralegui (People en Español); Outstanding Digital Journalism Article:  “Operación tolerancia: la lucha contra la homofobia en los medios hispanos” by Lilia Luciano (voces.huffingtonpost.com); Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia:  “2013: Año clave para la comunidad gay” by Ramón Frisneda (ElDiarioNY.com).

Additional GLAAD ceremonies will take place in Los Angeles on April 20 in San Francisco on May 11.

Madonna to present Anderson Cooper with gay media award

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation says Madonna will present CNN’s Anderson Cooper with an award for openly gay media professionals.

GLAAD told The Associated Press on March 2 that the singer was chosen to give Cooper the Vito Russo Award at the 24th annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on March 16.

GLAAD president Herndon Graddick said Madonna and Cooper are longtime friends who have both used their careers to support LGBT people.

Cooper declined to speak publicly about his sexual orientation for years.

But last July he gave blogger Andrew Sullivan permission to publish an email in which Cooper said he is gay and “couldn’t be more happy.”

Russo helped found GLAAD and wrote a book about gay people in the movies called “The Celluloid Closet,” which has been adapted as a documentary.

GLAAD holds several media awards programs this spring, one in New York, one in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco.

Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Frank Ocean nominated for GLAAD media awards

GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, announced Jan. 16 the nominees for its 24th annual media awards.

The awards, according to GLAAD, “serve as a benchmark for the media industry and complement GLAAD’s work to bring LGBT images and stories to Americans.”

The nominees include:

• “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” starring Ezra Miller, Logan Lerman and Emma Watson.

• “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” starring Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Tom Wilkinson.

• “Cloud Atlas,” starring Ben Whishaw and James D’Arcy.

• The TV shows “The New Normal,” “Smash,” “Glee,” “Modern Family.

• The documentary “How to Survive a Plague.”

• An interview with Bishop Gene Robinson on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

• Oprah Winfrey’s hour-long visit with Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka.

• CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

• MSNBC’s “Melissa Harris-Perry.”

• Frank Ocean for his “Channel Orange” album.

The list also includes GLAAD’s first nomination for a PG-rated animated film, “ParaNorman,” which also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Feature Film.

Spanish-language nominees include Titulares Telemundo for an interview with openly gay boxer Orlando Cruz, news programs “Primer Impacto,” “Encuentro” and “People en Español.”

“Images and stories from the LGBT community continue to push support for equality to historic levels,” stated GLAAD president Herndon Graddick. “This year’s nominees enlighten and entertain, but also reflect a new American landscape where a growing majority accept and value their LGBT family, colleagues and friends.  Now more than ever, viewers not only accept gay and transgender characters and plot lines, they expect them – just as they both accept and expect LGBT people to be a valuable part of their everyday lives.”

The GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies will be held on March 16 at the New York Marriott Marquis; in Los Angeles on April 20 at the JW Marriott; and in San Francisco on May 11 at the Hilton San Francisco – Union Square.

Special Honorees for each city will be announced in coming weeks. 

GLAAD announced 120 nominees in 25 English-language categories, and 33 Spanish-language nominees in 8 categories. 

A list of GLAAD Media Awards nominees may be found here. 

The top coming-out stories of 2012

Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper has been presumed gay for many years now, but this year he made it official. “The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud” he wrote to friend and blogger Andrew Sullivan, who posted to the statement. Cooper is the sixth and best-known openly anchor in the cable news business – joining Don Lemon, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Thomas Roberts, Rachel Maddow and Steve Kornacki.

Paul Babeu

Although he still stands strong on immigration restrictions, Arizona’s Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu softened his views on LGBT rights after he was outed by a former lover ­– a Mexican national. The former lover told the press that the right-wing sheriff threatened him with deportation if he went public about their relationship. Babeu denied that allegation but acknowledged his sexual orientation. A backlash over the controversy forced Babeu to drop out of the congressional race in his conservative district. But he was reelected sheriff, likely the first out sheriff in his county.

Matt Bomer

Growing up, Matt Bomer always assumed he was gay but stayed safely in the closet. He auditioned for the school play and tried out for the football team – just for good measure. But no longer afraid of the extra attention, Bomer proudly thanked his wonderful family (husband Simon Halls and their 3 sons) at a Palm Springs Convention Center in 2012. Although he says coming out has made him a happier person, published reports say that it’s cost him film roles, including the lead in the upcoming film version “Fifty Shades of Gray.”

Anne Burrell

Food Network’s “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef” host Anne Burrell had a bit more than  her culinary secrets reveled this year. During an interview, Ted Allen of the show “Chopped” blurted out that Burrell was not only in a relationship with a woman, but a fellow top-notch chef. The news made Burrell the first openly gay Food Network star chef.

Sam Champion

After 14 years as the most recognizable weather man on “Good Morning America,” Sam Champion happily announced his recent engagement to Brazilian fine-arts photographer Rubem Robierb this year. With that announcement, the 51-year-old Champion became the first openly gay co-host of a network morning TV show. Champion and his intended plan to wed in a small ceremony on New Year’s Eve.

Orlando Cruz

Holding the No. 4 ranking in the World Boxing Organization’s featherweight category isn’t the only reason Orlando Cruz’s name is famous. In October, the 31-year-old Puerto Rican boxer became the first active, openly gay boxer.  Since the news went public, Cruz has received overwhelming support from his fellow boxers. Asked about his love life, the hard hitter responded that his mind is all about the fight: “The title belt is my new boyfriend,” he quipped.

Rep. Mike Fleck

Residents of Pennsylvania’s 81st Legislative District can rest easier knowing they have honest representation now that state Rep. Mike Fleck has come out. The announcement came as a shock to many of his constituents. The 39-year-old lawmaker had been married before and was known as a devout Christian. But Fleck assured his constituents that nothing has changed: “I am still a Republican,” he told press, “and, most importantly, I’m still a person of faith trying to live life as a servant of God and the public.” Only now without any secrets.

Kevin McClatchy

Former Pittsburgh Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy wanted to check another thing off his list before turning 50 next year: to finally come out. Back in 1996, when McClatchy was only 33 years old, he made history by becoming the youngest owner of a major league baseball team, despite the threat of being outed by someone upset over the deal. McClatchy called the blackmailer’s bluff and kept his secret while going on to own the Pirates for nine years. He now resides with his partner of four years, Jack Basilone.

Kristy McNichol

Better known to most as Letitia ‘Buddy’ Lawrence, from the TV show “Family,” Kristy McNichol returned to the spotlight this year for other reasons. The 49-year-old former actress announced that she had been living with her partner, Martie Allen, happily for the past 20 years. McNichol said she hoped the publicity surrounding her announcement would provide some support to young people struggling with coming-out issues.

Frank Ocean

Hip-hop artist Frank Ocean is no stranger to headlines. His name is often seen alongside those of artists like Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Beyonce. He’s also won titles such as “Best New Artist,” “Record of the Year,” and “Best Male Video of the Year.” But on Independence Day 2012, Ocean made headlines after posting a story on his website paying homage to his first love – a young man he met when he was 19. The hip-hop community rushed to his support and business continued as usual when he released the acclaimed “Channel Orange” album. The 24-year-old said his next challenge may be writing a novel.

Nate Silver

For years, he worked behind the scenes gathering statistics for a multitude of things, including a gig at OkCupid calculating the best night to have a successful ‘casual encounter.’ But Nate Silver gained attention for successfully applying a math-based forecasting system to baseball, and he became a household name for developing a formula that uses polls to predict election outcomes with astounding accuracy. The 34–year–old statistician writes a blog titled “FiveThirtyEight” for The New York Times, and he hit the bestseller list this year with his book “The Signal and the Noise.” Also this year, he was named OUT magazine’s “person of the year” after publicly coming out.  He described himself as “sexually gay but ethnically straight.”

Tammy Smith

Achieving a high-ranking position for a woman in the Armed Forces is difficult enough. But in August, Tammy Smith broke a glass ceiling when she was promoted to brigadier general, making her the first out gay general in the Army. Thanks to the repeal of  “don’t ask, don’t tell, Smith’s wife Tracey Hepner was able to maintain an Army tradition by proudly pinning the star of general on her wife’s uniform. Smith said she hopes the publicity surrounding her promotion encourages others in the military.

Lana Wachowski

The ending of their most recent work “Cloud Atlas” wasn’t the only surprise this year for fans of the Wachowski sibling’s films (which include “The Matrix Trilogy” and “V for Vendetta”). Lana Wachowski, formerly Larry, surprised fans by recently announcing her decision to live openly as a transgendered woman. Now 47 and sporting neon pink dreadlocks and a smile from ear to ear, Wachowski was radiant as she told her story to an audience at a Human Rights Campaign fundraiser in San Francisco.


Sherman Hemsley

Although he’s been gone from our living rooms for decades (unless you count re-runs), actor Sherman Hemsley, best known for his portrayal of George Jefferson on “The Jefferson’s”, lost his battle to lung cancer this year at age 74. Although his character was often loud and harsh, Hemsley was quite the opposite. “I don’t slam doors in people’s faces, and I’m not a bigot. I’m just an old hippie. You know – peace and love,” he said in an interview. As a result of pending lawsuits about his estate, it was made public that he had been residing with Kenny Johnston, a gentleman referred to as a “friend” for the past two decades. Little is known about their relationship, but this seems to confirm VH1’s 2007 description of Hemsley as their “top favorite allergy gay black actor from the past.”

Sally Ride

Known mostly as the first American woman in space, Sally Ride lived her post-astronaut days dedicated to space discovery, science, and helping young girls develop careers in math and science. It was only when she died of pancreatic cancer at age 61 that the world learned that she’d had a beloved partner – Tam O’Shaughnessy –for the past 27 years. The Ride name is familiar to the LGBT community: Bear Ride, Sally’s sister, is a high-profile lesbian ordained minister who is active in LGBT civil rights efforts. NASA recently named a moon landing site after Sally Ride, thanking her for always encouraging us to “reach for the stars.”

Local outings

Aaron Rogers

Madison radio personality Aaron Rogers (not to be confused with the football player) chose National Coming Out day to make a huge announcement on the air. With Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” playing in the background, the Z104 radio personality announced that from that moment on he would be living his life as an openly gay man. Although he had come out to his family almost five years earlier, Rogers had been keeping his orientation a secret from his fans.

JoCasta Zamarripa

State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa decided this was the year to do it. So in the middle of a primary election, the 36-year-old came out as a bi-sexual woman. Although rumors of her orientation circled her 2010 campaign, Zamarripa said she lacked the courage to face them head one. She says coming to terms with her sexuality was quite a journey – in her 20s she unable to even mention it in her diary, she confessed. She hopes by being confident and content with who she is, Zamarripa can inspire young people struggling with their identities.

Anderson Cooper’s talk show ending

Anderson Cooper’s daytime talk show will be wrapping after two seasons.

Warner Bros. said this week that the marketplace made it increasingly difficult for “Anderson Live” to “break through” to viewers despite format changes.

The show switched to live broadcasts in its second year but struggled to match the ratings performance of daytime frontrunners including “Ellen” and “Live! With Kelly and Michael.”

Newcomers, including Katie Couric, also made the talk show arena more competitive.

In a statement, Cooper, who came out as gay earlier this year, said he was grateful to Warner’s Telepictures syndication arm for the opportunity and proud of his staff’s work.

Cooper, who remains host of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” will continue with “Anderson Live” through summer 2013, Warner said.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper: ‘I’m gay, always have been’

CNN’s Anderson Cooper, in an email published to The Daily Beast, writes, “The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.”

Cooper’s statement comes in a conversation the CNN journalist has been having with blogger Andrew Sullivan about a cover story on gay celebrities in Entertainment Weekly.

Cooper said he hasn’t concealed his sexual orientation, but he’s tried to live a private life because a journalist should not be the story.

However, he wrote that he’s “begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something – something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.”

He also wrote, “I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don’t give that up by being a journalist.”

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