Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Around The Nation

First Openly Gay Legislators Sworn In To Florida Legislature
Rep. Joe Saunders, (L) Donald Rupe, (R) via Facebook
TALLAHASSEE, FL -- On Tuesday newly elected Florida State Representatives, Democrats David Richardson,(State House District 113) and Joe Saunders (State House District 49) took their oaths of office along with 50 other lawmakers.  
Richardson and Saunders are the first openly gay state lawmakers to be sworn into the Sunshine State's legislature.
Representative Saunders was accompanied by his partner, Donald Rupe.
Saunders and Richardson took their oath with more than 50 state legislators in the capitol building in Tallahassee.
"Standing there with him was a dream realized and a memory I'll have for the rest of my life," Saunders told the Orlando Sentinel. Florida has never had an open LGBT Legislator. 
Michael Kenny, the Executive Director of Florida Together, a statewide LGBT equality rights coalition commented:
"For the first time in the history of our state - we have an openly gay State House Representatives.  David Richardson will not only be representing the residents of State House District 113 in Miami Dade County - he will be the voice for all of Florida's LGBT residents." 
"Congratulations to Joe Saunders on his victory as State Representative in District 49. There is no doubt that the people of Florida will be well served by Joe Saunders being in the legislature."
"Before you can participate in the conversation, change hearts and minds, and impact policy, you must first have a seat at the table.  Until today, LGBT Floridians were shouting from the spectators section."

New York
Sesame Street Elmo Puppeteer Kevin Clash Resigns After Another Accusation Of Underage Sexual Abuse 
Elmo Character & Puppeteer Kevin Clash
NEW YORK, NY -- Longtime Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash resigned Tuesday afternoon from Sesame Street Workshop after a lawsuit was filed in New York District Court by 24-year-old college student claiming that Clash engaged in sexual acts with him over a two-week period while he was underage. Appearing before a press conference Tuesday, Cecil Singleton said he had met the actor and puppeteer on a gay chat line and had sexual encounters with him over a two-week period while he was still underage. Singleton also claimed that he had no idea at the time what Clash did for a living.
Announcing his decision Clash said in a statement,
“Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work ‘Sesame Street’ is doing and I cannot allow it to go on any longer. I am deeply sorry to be leaving and am looking forward to resolving these personal matters privately.” 
In a statement to the press the Sesame Workshop said:
"Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. Kevin Clash has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, and none of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. 
Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us want, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street. This is a sad day for Sesame Street."
During the press conference, Singleton’s attorney, Jeff Herman, said he had been contacted by two other potential victims and expected additional legal actions to follow. The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $5 million. 
Clash’s exit followed claims made last week that began by a man in his early 20s that he had had a relationship with Clash when he was 16. Clash denied the charge from that man, who has not been publicly identified, calling it “false and defamatory.” Clash, the 52-year-old divorced father of a grown daughter, acknowledged that he is gay during last week's episode. The day after making the allegations, Clash’s accuser recanted describing his sexual relationship with Clash as adult and consensual.
Clash, who started with the puppet Elmo in the 1980's, turned Elmo into a major source of revenue for Sesame Workshop driving the one-half to two-thirds of the $75 million in annual sales for the Sesame Street toy line.
Clash has served as the senior Muppet coordinator and Muppet captain and over the past nearly three decades has won 23 daytime Emmy awards and one prime-time Emmy.
It remains unknown who might take over performing as Elmo, however, other Sesame Street puppeteers have been trained to serve as his stand-in. Sesame Workshop noted; “Elmo is bigger than any one person." 


Warren C. E. Austin said...

Elmo "may be" bigger than any one person; but, being singly responsible for bringing in 50 to 75 percent of the revenue stream associated with the entire toy line is no small achievement.

These under-age sex scandals are all so unfortunate; especially as the larger portion of them often seem to be financially driven and in no manner appear to be cathartic in scope.