iOS app Android app More

Michelangelo Signorile   |   February 3, 2016   11:15 AM ET

“I’ve been surrounded by ‘the life' my whole life,” acclaimed actress Debi Mazar told me in an interview on SiriusXM Progress. By “the life,” she meant queer life, as she discussed her role in Darren Star’s TV Land hit, “Younger,” playing a lesbian artist who lives in Brooklyn. And she highlighted “the life” when she talked about her longtime friendship with Madonna, who, of course, has been a gay icon since the ‘80s.

“I’ve played lesbian and transgender [roles],"Mazar said while discussing her character Maggie in “Younger,” which also stars Sutton Foster and Hillary Duff and returned for a second season last month. “Playing a lesbian is like playing a straight person. Who you make love to or who you have an affair with is really irrelevant -- whether you have a penis or a vagina or boobs or pecs, whatever. It is what it is.”

And her husband, celebrity cook Gabriele Corcos, with whom Mazar has co-hosted several cooking shows on The Food Network and The Cooking Channel, including the upcoming "Extra Virgin, Americana" (due in March), couldn't be happier that Mazar is playing a lesbian on TV.

“He prefers that I’m not making out with guys on a regular basis,” she explained, laughing. “So he gets to see me make out with cute girls, and he’s like, 'Yeah!'… [Last week’s episode] opened with me having sex. It was post-coital actually. I was like, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’’ My husband was like, ‘Yeah!’ I get so awkward watching myself.”

Mazar, who also starred in HBO’s “Entourage,” and whose breakout film was Martin Scorsese’s legendary “Goodfellas,” famously got her start appearing in (and doing make-up for) Madonna’s early videos in the ’80s.

Mazar, who is still close friends with Madonna, praised the Material Girl's devotion to LGBT rights over the years.

“I think Madonna has a big platform,” she said. “At the end of the day, she has a huge platform to say what she wants. I remember for us, as young girls, we were faced with the crisis of AIDS in the ‘80s and a lot of our friends started dropping, HIV turned into AIDS, we lost so many people. So we were able to get out there, you know, having a fan base, and being able to advocate, you know condom use, safe sex."

She then added, "[Madonna] was able to advocate feminism and strength and freedom -- push freedom of speech, push people’s buttons...There was that raw sexuality. The acceptance of a lot of the gay genre, of homoerotic imagery, Tom of Finland... She was inspired."

Also on HuffPost: 

Gays For Trump: How The Log Cabin Republicans Were Deluded By A Demagogue

Michelangelo Signorile   |   February 1, 2016    8:46 AM ET

Back in December, the Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) were absolutely giddy about the idea of Donald Trump as president.

Yes, he'd called Mexican immigrants "rapists." Yes, he'd made vile remarks about women. And yes, he'd said Muslims should be banned from entering the country. But as far as the gay GOP group was concerned, compared to most of the other GOP candidates, with their fire and brimstone, Trump was including gays in the straight white men's club merely by seeming to accept the Supreme Court's ruling on marriage equality, even if he disagreed with it. So, everyone else be damned.

Gregory T. Angelo, president of LCR, told Reuters in December, "He is one of the best, if not the best, pro-gay Republican candidates to ever run for the presidency."

"He's been to a gay wedding, he's friends with George Takei," Angelo explained to Chris Matthews a few days earlier on MSNBC. (Takei, by the way, has repeatedly lambasted Trump for his rhetoric.) "His record doesn't bear out that that would be an enemy to the gay community."

But only a month later, Trump happily accepted the endorsement of evangelical leader and Liberty University president Jerry Falwell, Jr. -- about as close to an "enemy to the gay community" as you can get -- and Falwell now energetically campaigns for Trump. And then this past weekend, courting evangelicals in Iowa, Trump said he will work to reverse the Supreme Court's marriage equality ruling, promising to put "certain judges on the bench" to make it happen.

And suddenly, LCR has gone silent on Trump. Woops!

But they've not been silent on Hillary Clinton. In fact, the group launched an ad over the weekend that attacks Clinton as someone who hasn't been there for the LGBT community "when it counted" and which promotes... Bernie Sanders!

Yes, the Log Cabin Republicans really think LGBT people should support democratic socialist Bernie Sanders and want him to win the presidency, right? Yeah, and Donald Trump is not a fascist.

LCR, in fact, got dumped by Trump as soon as Trump saw that many evangelicals would back him even though he's thrice married, can't quote bible verses accurately and owns and operates casinos. And now, trying to nail that vote down further -- and knowing that he'll need that constituency in South Carolina and beyond -- Trump has thrown gays under the same bus he threw Latinos and Muslims.

It doesn't matter what Donald Trump really believes -- or whether he went to a gay wedding, a Mexican wedding or a Muslim wedding. He will say whatever it takes to get elected, knowing there are so many people so driven by anger and cult of personality that they'll support him, and he has no problem whipping up hate against other people in the process, emboldening those who discriminate. When Kim Davis wouldn't give out marriage licenses in Kentucky last year, Trump said that it "was not the right job" for her and that the Supreme Court ruling must be accepted.

But at the Values Voter Summit a few weeks later he flip-flopped entirely, telling me in an interview, "I haven't been opposed to her stand and think it's fine."

The idea that any LGBT people could support Trump while he demagogues other minorities is not just sad; it's repellant. But the Log Cabin Republicans' thinking that he'd actually be "good for the gays" was also just plain deluded.

How Indiana, Incredibly, Is on the Road Again to Passing Discriminatory Anti-LGBT Laws

Michelangelo Signorile   |   January 26, 2016    1:35 PM ET

Unbelievably, Indiana Republicans, who last year were at the center of a national firestorm over an anti-LGBT Religious Restoration Freedom Act (RFRA) -- and were forced to retreat on it in large part -- are at it again. This time it's even worse, with a series of bills that include what one activist called a "Super-RFRA," which would repeal and replace the watered-down RFRA that was passed last year in response to the controversy. Business leaders were out front last year -- corporations like Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Angie's List -- threatening to pull out of the state and support national boycotts. But this year, so far, the response from local and national corporations has been tepid.

Republicans are beginning debate this week on the bills, two of which ironically follow up on vows to protect LGBT people, but with dangerous, far-reaching religious exemptions. One bill excludes protections for transgender people altogether, as "bathroom panic" is rearing its head in Indiana as it did in Houston. GOP Governor Mike Pence, who backed down last year in the face of humiliating national interviews and big business threats, seems perfectly content to encourage the bills, fearful for his political career. In his State of the State address earlier this month he said "religious freedom" needed to be prioritized over LGBT rights and that "no one should ever fear persecution because of their deeply held religious beliefs." It sounded alarms among LGBT activists.

The conundrum for Pence and business leaders is this: The governor, who has been a pro-business Republican in addition to being a religious conservative, is in a tight re-election race year this, against a Democrat he beat by only 3 percentage points in 2012. The passage of laws protecting LGBT rights this year -- and beating back anti-LGBT laws -- is a test of how committed business leaders really are to promoting LGBT rights by pressuring Pence and the GOP. And so far the response is not encouraging. From the Indianapolis Star:

Will they go to the mat for LGBT Hoosiers and push to advance civil rights legislation, even if it means handing a potential political advantage to Pence's union-backed opponent, Democrat John Gregg? "I'm not going to take a stab at that question," said Kevin Brinegar, president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, which supports LGBT protections. "I'll pass."

If Pence doesn't get evangelicals out to vote by supporting anti-LGBT legislation -- or does anything remotely to help the LGBT community -- he could lose, which business leaders would see as a loss for them too, at least in the short term. This is where it becomes clear that big business is a fair-weather friend. It can seduce people into thinking it cares about civil rights but the bottom line, of course, is what it cares about most.

But business leaders have got to know that, ultimately, if Pence wins by promoting homophobic laws, it's a long-term loss for them. The majority of Indiana residents support LGBT rights. And a recent survey showed that convention planners and tourists around the country still view the state as anti-gay from last year's debacle. A new survey from Visit Indy to be released this week reveals Indiana lost at least $60 million due to the RFRA controversy last year. That number will likely pale in comparison if the state passes anti-gay laws this year, or even has a flashpoint around the issue in the national media. More businesses will stay away from Indiana, and the pressure will only build on businesses in the state.

Pence is a true believer, a religious conservative who lashed out when the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down, fought to uphold Indiana's ban on marriage equality and lamented the Supreme Court's decision last year striking bans across the country, even as he's at times stated he supports equality. So it's hard to believe his heart will be in doing anything for the LGBT community, and moving into the future. Business leaders have got to bite the bullet and let him go.

How an Early Endorsement From Largest LGBT Group May Reveal Hillary Clinton's Worst Fears

Michelangelo Signorile   |   January 21, 2016    9:23 AM ET

This week the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBT group, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. It was a bit of a shocker not because HRC endorsed a Democrat -- the group has only endorsed Democratic presidential candidates, as the GOP has always been hostile toward LGBT rights -- but that it occurred before even one vote has been cast in the Democratic primaries and while two hugely gay-supportive candidates are so close in the polls in the first contests.

In 2008, HRC endorsed Barack Obama, but not until June, when it was clear he would be the nominee. (For 2012, the group endorsed the president, who had no major challenger, in May of 2011). In 2004, HRC also endorsed the Democratic nominee, John Kerry, in June, after all the votes in the primaries were in. And it's very first endorsement of a presidential candidate, Bill Clinton, came in June of 1992.

Only in 2000 did HRC endorse far earlier in an election in which a Democrat was not up for re-election, backing Vice President Al Gore in February. But that was after the only other major candidate in the race, former New Jersey Democratic senator Bill Bradley, who stirred the pot for that time when he said he backed adding LGBT protections to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, had lost the Iowa caucuses (held in January then) in a crushing defeat, and lost the New Hampshire primary on February 1. Looking terrible in the polls of states ahead, it was all but assured Bradley would lose the nomination.

Bradley certainly had an impact on the race and on LGBT rights in the fall prior: Though Gore didn't agree with Bradley on amending the Civil Rights Act (and many in the Democratic establishment came to Gore's defense on that, including openly gay congressman Barney Frank), Gore broke with his president, Bill Clinton, in December of 1999, a month before the Iowa contest, stating that he opposed and would work to eliminate the "don't ask, don't tell" law that Clinton had signed. That came about within days of of an interview I conducted with Frank, in which he called on Gore to make the shift amid Bradley's courting of the gay vote, a competition that was well-noted:

Candidates Bradley and Gore have been competing intensely over recent months for the gay vote. Both have made appeals before gay audiences, visited with gay organizations, and sought financial and volunteer support from gays nationwide. While Bradley supports more sweeping gay rights proposals than does Gore, the vice president has embraced the community while in office, and recently appointed a lesbian rights activist as manager of his presidential campaign.

It was certainly an example of why it's important for a minority group to hold out on an endorsement and let the candidates compete and get better and better on the issues. Had Bradley not come out for amending the Civil Rights Act in September, Gore may not have come out against DADT in December. (And it made sense to back Gore right away when it was clear he would be the nominee.) Similarly, in 2008, as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama fought it out in state after state until the very end, they made many promises to LGBT voters, hoping to secure their votes and financial contributions. After Obama became president, activists pressured him and held him to the promises that he made in the thick of that battle.

But here we are less than two weeks from Iowa, and Senator Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire, looking like he will take one or both. He has many LGBT donors and supporters, many of whom are HRC contributors who are, judging from Twitter, bewildered and angry. As I wrote last fall, Sanders has a stellar gay rights record, having been one of only a small handful of federal legislators to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act (when he was in the House), and he's been out front in this campaign. Last spring Sanders called for amending the Civil Rights Act to include LGBT protections -- 14 years after Bill Bradley did, but several months before Hillary Clinton did -- and he backed open transgender military service before Clinton too. Sanders wasn't always supportive of marriage equality, even when he voted against DOMA -- though he likes to cloud that fact and his own past now -- but he certainly was publicly for marriage equality several years before Clinton.

As I've also written, Hillary Clinton has responded to criticism by some LGBT donors and activists who were frustrated by what they saw as slowness on her part to publicly speak to the issues, and in recent months she released a robust, far-reaching and more detailed plan to foster LGBT equality. That's a great thing. And it's not unfair to suggest that Sanders' presence and his record had some effect.

So why didn't the largest LGBT group keep it going? Why didn't they keep both candidates competing for the LGBT vote and promising more on a range of issues, from fighting to implement the teaching of queer history in schools to taking on issues uniquely affecting LGBT seniors and LGBT people of color? Why not push Sanders more, hoping to get him to speak out more, dangling that endorsement in front of him -- he could, after all, become the Democratic nominee -- and why not do the same with Clinton?

The only answer to that question has to do with access to the White House, and perhaps what the Clinton campaign may have said to HRC, and to Planned Parenthood, the Brady Campaign on Gun Violence and other groups that have endorsed early, about the kind of access they might get -- and what they might not get if they didn't endorse now. (Let's also not forget that Chad Griffin, HRC's president, worked in Bill Clinton's administration, and raised much money as a bundler for Obama's and Clinton's campaigns.) And it is a campaign that needs those endorsements now, calling in its chips, as Bernie Sanders and his insurgency has taken the Clintonites by surprise. What seems like an early burst of enthusiasm from a group that hasn't ever endorsed any seriously contested presidential candidate before any votes took place may actually be an indication of the fear and loathing inside the Clinton campaign.

How Ted Cruz Might Actually Support 'New York Values' and Gay Marriage More Than He Lets On

Michelangelo Signorile   |   January 15, 2016    3:41 PM ET

Ted Cruz has been attacking "New York values," something he declined to describe at first, saying people across the country would simply "know" what he means, until Thursday night's GOP presidential debate, when pressed to give more detail. He then said, "Everybody understands that the values in New York City are socially liberal and pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage. And focus on money and the media."

That was rich considering how much he and his wife Heidi -- a Goldman Sachs investment manager for several years -- love that New York money, and thus support the very values to which he's pointing. Not only are some of his biggest campaign contributors Wall Street financiers, like the hedge fund operator Robert Mercer, who backed Cruz with $11 million (and who lives on Long Island) but as the New York Times reported yesterday, Cruz and his wife took an undisclosed loan from her employer, Goldman Sachs, to fund his first Senate campaign, in addition to one from New York-based Citibank.

But it gets richer: Just a few months before Cruz took that Goldman Sachs money, Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of the New York-headquartered investment banking firm, had been given an award by the Human Rights Campaign, because Blankfein and his firm had become leaders on marriage equality. Goldman Sachs wasn't just another "pro-gay" company -- it was one that had been a driving force on influential Wall Street for LGBT equality. Goldman had long provided full benefits for domestic partners, and since 2002 had even paid for gender confirmation surgery for transgender employees. Blankfein used all of his clout to pressure the New York legislature in 2011 to pass a marriage equality bill, which it did with four critical Republican votes. He signed a letter urging legislators to vote "yes" and urged other chief executives to put the pressure on as well.

Ted Cruz claimed his failure to disclose the loan to the Federal Election Commission was a "paperwork" mistake, but it's obvious that disclosing that he took a loan against his assets rather than actually liquidating those assets -- as he and his wife claimed -- would have messed with the narrative that he and his wife sacrificed all that they had. Their money actually made more money for them, staying invested during the time the loan had been drawn.

As commentators have discussed, disclosing the loan also would have sent the wrong message to the tea party at the time when Cruz was running as a tea party darling. Banks were being bailed out, angering tea party activists, and Goldman had been at the forefront of the firms whose reckless actions led to the mortgage crisis.

But what's been less noted is how the religious right, another force behind Cruz, would have responded if it knew at the time that Cruz was taking a loan from a company that had helped make marriage equality a reality in June of 2011 in New York State, less than a year before Cruz took that loan. Much of Cruz's campaign has been based on his supposedly uncompromising evangelical beliefs, including opposition to gay marriage. His father, Rafael Cruz, is a a pastor and leader in that movement, with a new fire and brimstone book out. Certainly any card-carrying evangelical opposed to marriage equality should have been loudly lambasting Goldman Sachs at that time -- and even now -- and should have been boycotting it rather than taking a loan from it. And let's not forget that Cruz had no problem being hosted at the Manhattan home of two gay hoteliers in New York last year who introduced him to some funders -- until the news got out and Cruz ran for cover.

While he put out a statement typically attacking the Times for reporting on the event and reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage, a Cruz aide, clearly worried about how evangelicals would respond, told CBS News that "in retrospect, knowing what we know now, we might have chosen a different venue."

It would certainly be interesting to know what evangelicals think now of Cruz taking a loan from Goldman Sachs rather than railing against the firm at the time for contributing to what Cruz claims is "the very definition of tyranny." Maybe gay marriage -- and New York values -- are not tyrannical enough to turn money away.

Here's Why It's Important That Kim Davis Was At The State Of The Union

Michelangelo Signorile   |   January 13, 2016    1:23 PM ET

President Obama's State of the Union address was a clarion call to the American people, warning that the forces of intolerance and bigotry are out there, trying to exploit our fears and have us turn to the dark side.

The president was mostly referring to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and other GOP candidates, but one person served as the specter of bigotry right there in the chamber: Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who was jailed after refusing to issue marriage licenses after the Supreme Court's historic ruling on marriage equality. She was there as the guest of anti-gay Republican congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio. She later told reporters she was there to "encourage Christians."

Davis sat there as the president heralded the fact that "we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person we love." And she was there when the president spoke hopefully about the future, about "voices Dr. King believed would have the final word --  voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love." Examples of those voices, the president said, included "the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he's been taught."

It was one of the few times in which the president has spoken about gay people beyond the issue of rights and rather about the day-to-day struggles and the pain of living in the closet. It was an emotional connection. In addition to being the president, Obama is a father who has himself evolved. Now he was empathizing with a father who indeed evolves because of his love for his son. And the president acknowledged the "courage" of that son for coming out in the face of the bigotry that continues to be ever-present.

Kim Davis hardly applauded or showed any emotion throughout the president's entire speech. But her stone-faced silence was enough to show us that those who will try to take away LGBT rights that have been won -- and prevent further rights that are desperately needed -- are out there, planning and plotting, and proud to show their faces to "encourage" others who would discriminate.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, at least 27 states are likely to consider anti-LGBT bills in 2016, coming off of the major loss of an anti-discrimination law at the ballot in Houston last November. In Indiana, Governor Mike Pence seems to have forgotten about the firestorm last year over the discriminatory Religious Restoration Freedom Act that the GOP legislature passed (and which was revised after negative media attention). Pence outraged LGBT activists this week when he said in his State of the State address, "I will not support any bill that diminishes the religious freedom of Hoosiers or interferes with the constitutional rights of our citizens to live out their beliefs in worship, service or work." It was, to many, a shot across the bow against any broad protections for LGBT people without religious exemptions. He may be counting on the media's fickleness, since the kind of firestorm that erupted last year has yet to transpire again, and other states passed anti-LGBT bills last year under the media's radar.

So, we should actually be thankful to Kim Davis for attending the State of the Union. She was yet another indicator that those who, as the president said last night, "scapegoat fellow citizens," are gathering their forces, telling Americans to "respond to the changes of our time with fear" and to "fear the future." Much of the president's speech was about the forces of abject bigotry on the current political stage and how we can't underestimate them. Kim Davis's presence in the chamber served to underscore his warning.

Michelangelo Signorile   |   January 12, 2016   10:30 AM ET

Jackie Biskupski made history last week as the first openly gay or lesbian person sworn in as mayor of Salt Lake City, seat of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), which has a notorious history of working against LGBT rights in Utah and across the country, and which also has much political power in her state.

Now Biskupski is poised to make greater history in pressuring the Mormon Church on its anti-LGBT policies, which came into stark relief again in recent months when LDS church leaders threatened to excommunicate those church members who’d entered into same-sex marriages and decided it would ban their children from being baptized in the church.

“Salt Lake City has always been much more progressive than the rest of the state, even though we have a very conservative home base here for the LDS Church,” Biskupski, a Democrat, said in an interview with me on SiriusXM Progress. “I think as a community, though, what we’re finding with my election is that there just are not the barriers that the country maybe thinks there are with the LDS Church being located in our city. So, those relationships just continue to evolve in a very progressive and positive way and I'm pleased with that.”

Though the Mormon Church signaled a possible shift earlier in 2015, backing a limited LGBT anti-discrimination bill which includes broad religious exemptions — a far cry from when it was a driving forcing in helping to pass Proposition 8 in California in 2008 — shortly before Biskupski’s election win in November, it stunned many members with the new anti-gay policy. 

The move caused a ferocious backlash — in Utah and across the country. Biskupski, as mayor-elect, sent a letter to LDS church leaders and met with church officials in December.

“My message in my letter was one of hope that this policy would be one that could be reviewed sooner than later and reconsidered," she said. “Because it really is damaging, and what we saw, kind of a ripple effect from it, was an exodus of LDS church members who just could not wrap their brain around it: 'Why would we have a policy that had a negative impact on children through no fault of their own or are part of a family that we aren’t seeing eye-to-eye with?' That didn’t sit well with the members— a lot of members, anyway."

Biskupski, who became the first openly gay elected official in Utah when she was elected to the Utah Legislature in 1998, used her own story, as the newly elected Salt Lake City mayor who happens to be a lesbian mom (and who recently got engaged to be married), to try to persuade Church officials.

"My son is growing up in this community," she explained. "He is six and at some point if he wanted to be baptized into the LDS Church I would not get in his way. I would want to support him and his choices. And that was something I said: ‘Do not hold his seeking of spiritual guidance against him simply because of who I am and my sexual orientation.’”

She expressed hope that she and others were heard, and that the Church will reconsider the policy.

“The LDS church continues to evolve as the world evolves,” she said. “We have to remember, too, that the leadership of that Church is from a much different generation than I am from. I can only second guess what goes on. But I have to believe that as we are evolving in our world, and in our community, and in our country, that they’ll continue to evolve as well. And that change will happen. It has been [happening]. When I was first got elected [to the state legislature in 1998] what was in the LDS handbook that we would get every two years as a legislator — the language was so different than it is today when it comes to people who identify as LGBT. So I think we’re moving in the right direction.”

CorrectionAn earlier version of this story stated that children of LGBT Mormons could not "ever" be baptized by the Church. However, upon reaching age 18, if the child decides to get baptized and has publicly disavowed same-sex marriage, they are eligible. This has been corrected. 

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore: Laws Are Superseded By God

Michelangelo Signorile   |   January 7, 2016   11:29 AM ET

The chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, is once again trying to ban marriages for gays and lesbians in his state, handing down an order directing probate judges to stop issuing licenses. But Moore is offering convoluted legal reasoning to mask his true belief: That only his God can decide who gets married.

Moore blocked gay marriages before, claiming his state had sovereignty, but eventually backed off after legal challenges. Now he's come up with a new legal argument: That the Obergefell decision only applies to the marriage bans challenged in the states in that case, which reached the high court: Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio. Thus, he claims, it's yet to be seen whether it applies in Alabama.

This would of course be equivalent to saying that Loving v. Virginia, the case that struck down bans on interracial marriages in 1967, only applied to Virginia, or Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down sodomy bans, only did so for Texas. We could in fact pick case after case in which the Supreme Court did not specify that the ruling only applied to the locality in question and say the same thing. In other words, Moore's argument is ludicrous.

And it's actually cowardly for Moore, who has proudly offered his true reasoning in the past: He doesn't believe the Supreme Court has the authority to hand down such decisions because the high court is subject to God's law, which he believes bans marriage for gays and lesbians.

As I wrote last February when Moore halted marriages then, he told me all of this in a couple of interviews in years past.

"Are laws themselves superseded by God?" I asked him in an interview on my radio program in 2011. "I think you're correct in saying that," he answered. "This is a Christian nation by the fact that 90% of the churches in America are Christian churches and it's certainly founded upon Christian principles. The supreme law of the land is the Constitution of the United States which recognizes many of those principles. Our freedom to believe what we want comes from God. When it comes from God, no man or no court, can take it away. That's a God-given right under the Declaration of Independence, which is law itself."

At the time, Moore had been mulling a presidential run and was giving a lot of interviews. He'd been chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court previously, from 2001 to 2003, and had been famously removed from the court by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary after he refused to follow a federal ruling -- which went up to the Supreme Court -- that he had to remove a Ten Commandments monument he'd placed in the courthouse rotunda. He spent the next few years staging a comeback, running for governor twice (and losing) and talking up the possible run for the presidency. He was eventually elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court once again in 2012.

In 2002, Moore wrote a 9-0 decision in which the Alabama Supreme Court gave custody of three teenagers to their heterosexual father rather than their lesbian mother after the parents divorced.

"Homosexuality," he wrote in the decision, is "an inherent evil, and if a person openly engages in such a practice, that fact alone would render him or her an unfit parent." Moore went on to say that homosexuality is "abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature."

When I asked Moore where in the law or in the Constitution it stated such things, he said, "I quoted the law. The [British] common law designated homosexuality as an inherent evil. The Constitution is predicated on the [British] common law. I'm quoting the history of the [British] common law upon which our Constitution is based."

Moore said that even after the ruling by the Supreme Court in 2003 that struck down sodomy bans across the country, it wouldn't change his view or his decision on that lesbian custody case.

"What the court said is that you couldn't punish [sodomy] criminally," he said. "The court did not say that sodomy or homosexuality had any kind of public right."

It's interesting that he didn't say that the sodomy decision only applied to Texas, the state that was challenged in the case -- as he is saying now about Obergefell -- but instead claimed some other twisted reasoning. His legal arguments are a mish mash and inconsistent because they are cobbled together to fit his agenda at a given moment. They mask what is Moore's only truly consistent belief: That his God and his bible determine American law.

Also on HuffPost:

Michelangelo Signorile   |   January 6, 2016    1:18 PM ET

Cheyenne Jackson, currently co-starring in "American Horror Story: Hotel," which returns tonight on FX, has had a multi-faceted career on Broadway, in films, on television and as a recording star. Still, the intense sex scenes in "Horror Story" — in which his character, bisexual fashion icon Will Drake, marries the Countess, played by Lady Gaga — were something new to him. And he was a bit nervous.

“It was the first time I’d ever done that,” he said in an interview with me on SiriusXM Progress, about his role in the fifth season of Ryan Murphy’s "American Horror Story" franchise. “I had to look to [co-star] Matt Bomer, who’s done a lot of nudity — who’s nude a lot [in 'American Horror Story'], as he should be [laughter]. But you know, Matt is just so very pragmatic about it. He’s like, 'Well, here’s my costume,' and holds up his little string that we put on to cover our junk. But it’s part of the deal. It’s how it goes. I had to sign my first nudity rider — at 40. I was like, ‘Man.’ But you know, that’s what you do. “

It was in fact the scenes with Gaga in "Horror Story" that helped prepare Jackson for the sex scenes in the upcoming film adaptation of the Off-Broadway musical Hello Again with Audra McDonald. After a day of shooting, he recently posted a photo of himself and McDonald on Instagram, with the caption: “Love this lady…Had rough fake sex with this lady all day.”

“It’s kind of a crazy part of my job,” he said in our interview. “But it’s been really fun. And Audra was totally down. And the show, Hello Again… is all about sex. And it’s all about these desires and how they manifest between these relationships with people, so you kinda gotta go there. It was my time with Gaga on "Horror Story" that prepped me to do the stuff I did in the movie.”

”For a gay dude,” he joked, “I’m getting a lot of pussy.”

Of those first sex scenes with Gaga, the quips kept coming. “Yeah, it was hard. it was scary,” he said, adding, “Well, it wasn’t hard, but you know.”

“The first time you do it, it’s totally bizarre,” Jackson further explained. “And there’s 50 people standing around and you’re simulating a sex act…Luckily [Lady Gaga is] so comfortable with her body. She’s very free and she takes care of you in the scene. She wants you to be your best and to be comfortable, which is so great. I wasn’t expecting that. She was definitely taking care of me and making sure that I felt comfortable and good. And so, it made it easy. So then, after six hours of doing it, you know, you don’t even reach for your robe between takes. You’re just like, ‘Eh, fuck it.'”

Michelangelo Signorile   |   December 23, 2015    1:01 PM ET

George Takei, currently starring in the Broadway musical "Allegiance," inspired by his own family’s struggles as Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II, opened up about the enormous conflict he felt early on in his career being gay but remaining closeted. It wasn't until 2005 that the legendary actor who played Sulu in the original 1960s' "Star Trek" series came out.

“My father told me about American democracy,” he said in an interview with me on SiriusXM Progress. “And he said you have to be actively engaged in the political process to make our democracy work. So I’ve been doing that my entire life. Civil rights movement. The peace movement during the Viet Nam conflict. The movement to get an apology and redress for Japanese-Americans. But I was silent on that one issue that was closest to me.”

Takei said he watched the career of closeted gay Hollywood heartthrob Tab Hunter, whose life was the subject of the recent documentary, "Tab Hunter Confidential," quickly unravel after he was targeted with innuendo by a tabloid in the 1950s. That, he said, instilled him with intense fear as a teenager.

“[It was] most excruciating for me, because I wanted to be an actor,” he said. “And if I wanted that career, I had to be closeted. Because when I was a teenager, there was a heartthrob named Tab Hunter. People today might not recognize that name. He was a blond, stunningly handsome boy next door. All American movie star guy. Every other movie coming from Warner Brothers studio starred Tab Hunter. But Confidential magazine exposed him as gay. And suddenly he faded."

Takei said his father hadn't been keen on his acting at first, and it took a lot to get his support. So coming out would have added a lot more complications.

“I had convinced my father to let me pursue this career, and I passionately wanted it,” he said. “And here was this conflict in me and I hadn’t shared it with my father. And it was excruciating to always have your guard up. Particularly because being an actor you’re public and visible. I could be seen coming out of a gay bar. Who could have seen me?…So you’re always on guard. You're always, you know, insecure. And that affected my life very much. And it was such a relief to be out and not be looking over your shoulder, tightly gripped all the time.”

Also on HuffPost: 

Michelangelo Signorile   |   December 21, 2015   11:11 AM ET

Patti Davis, daughter of former President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan, blasted the current GOP's field of 2016 presidential candidates, and claimed her father would be similarly "appalled."

In an interview with me on SiriusXM Progress, Davis said her father, who was shot in an attempted assassination by John Hinckley Jr. in 1981, would not be able to imagine today’s gun violence. Davis also noted that in stark contrast to current GOP presidential candidates and most Republican leaders, her mother, Nancy Reagan, was “very happy” about the Supreme Court’s historic decision on marriage equality.

A long-time liberal who disagreed with her father’s views during his presidency, Davis became estranged from the former president, but the two reconciled in later years, an experience she recounted in her 2004 memoir, The Long Goodbye.

Responding to a question about Sen. Ted Cruz often positively invoking her father’s name on the campaign trail and during debates, Davis said, “It may be this week he’s doing it more than the others. But they all kind of do it. But yet, they are so not like him. My father would be so appalled at what’s going on. He would be so appalled at these candidates. I don’t think he would be a Republican. And if another Ronald Reagan came along right now, I don’t think the Republican Party would accept him.”

Her mother, Davis said, responded favorably to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling and also appears to have a dim view of the current presidential candidates.

“She was very happy about that decision,” Davis said of Nancy Reagan. "I don’t talk to her too much about politics currently. She’s 94 and I think she has the right to live out the rest of life with a little bit of peace, which cannot be found in the current political scene. But you know, I don’t think she’s too happy about anybody on the current roster right now. I mean, there’s nobody presidential. Not in that group anyway."

Asked if Jeb Bush, whose family was tied to the Reagan family for 8 years in the '80s while Jeb’s father served as Reagan's vice president, was presidential, Davis responded, “Well, I don’t think he’s presidential, do you?”

Davis also imagined her father’s views about the GOP resistance to gun legislation today and the current climate of gun violence, given Reagan's support of laws restricting guns.

“He came out for the Brady bill in, I think, it was 1991,” she said of the bill that mandated federal background checks and eventually became law in 1993, named for Jim Brady, Reagan’s former press secretary who was paralyzed after being shot during the assassination attempt on Reagan. Reagan also supported the ban on assault weapons, passed in 1994, and which Congress and President George W. Bush allowed to expire in 2004. “I don’t think he’d ever be able to conceive what’s going on now,” Davis observed, “the amount of gun violence or weaponry.”

Also on HuffPost: 

Dear Media: Stop Using the Term 'Radicalized' Unless You Apply It to White Christian Extremists, Too

Michelangelo Signorile   |   December 10, 2015   11:56 AM ET

The double standard can't be more jarring: For days television networks and media outlets have been parroting the FBI in telling us how the San Bernadino shooters were "radicalized" at this or that time, or speculating on their "radicalization" and how it occurred. This terminology, when applied exclusively to terrorism inspired by a distortion of Islam, is discriminatory, and furthers the very anti-Muslim bigotry that Donald Trump and much of the GOP presidential field promote. The implication is that there are two kinds of Muslim: Radicalized - even if there's an acknowledgement that they represent a small minority, though often there's no such acknowledgment -- and non-radicalized.

The further implication is that any Muslim can become radicalized if x, y, and z happens -- a trip to Saudi Arabia, a text message with this or that individual, engaging with certain people on a Facebook page, etc. And yet, for several weeks not only have many in the media been reluctant to label Robert Dear, who carried out the Planned Parenthood attack in Colorado Springs, as a terrorist, but there's no discussion of him being "radicalized" by extremist Christianity. He expressed support for the Army of God, a Christian extremist terrorist group that has taken responsibility for the killings of doctors who provide abortions and whose members have killed others in the name of stopping abortion, such as Atlanta Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph, who also bombed a lesbian bar in that city. Dear declared in court yesterday that he is a "warrior for the babies." How much more radicalized can you get?

Dylan Roof became immersed in the deep cult of white supremacy that has been nurtured by groups like the Ku Klux Klan -- which also describes itself as a Christian group -- and many other groups for decades in this country, and surely he was radicalized to the point of carrying out a massacre in a South Carolina church. And yet, no one in the media has used the word radicalized to describe him.

Instead, white supremacist and Christian extremist killers are described as "lone wolves" or "deranged" or any number of other benign terms. The standard reply from those on the right -- or even many in the media defending themselves --is that there isn't a well-organized, large presence of established Christian extremists comparable to ISIS or its global threat. But putting aside for a moment the fact that more people in this country have been killed since 9/11 from right-wing terrorists than Islamic terrorists - 48 to 45 -- scale should not be what defines a terrorist or radicalization or what inspires it.

When presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee attended and spoke at a conference organized by Pastor Kevin Swanson, who advocates execution for homosexuality -- as Rachel Maddow noted, the conference was "a 'kill the gays' call to arms" -- not only did much of the media ignore Swanson's blood-curdling speech, but certainly none compared Swanson with any of the individuals who inspire people to kill in the name of Islam. Just days before the Planned Parenthood shooting, Ted Cruz accepted the endorsement of an activist who called for the execution of doctors who provide abortions and now runs the very well-organized extremist anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. "In addition to our personal guilt in abortion, the United States government has abrogated its responsibility to properly deal with the blood-guilty," Troy Newman wrote in his 2003 book, Their Blood Cries Out. "This responsibility rightly involves executing convicted murderers, including abortionists, for their crimes in order to expunge bloodguilt from the land and people."

Surely that kind of language radicalizes extremists, no matter how Newman now tries to deny it. Individuals like Newman, Swanson and many others have been mainstreamed into the Republican Party. My hunch is that many in the media are too cowed by the GOP and the right, as they often are, fearful of the backlash they'll receive if they use the word "radicalize" in connection with Christianity. But if they're loathe to use the word regarding Christian-extremist-inspired killers, there is a simple solution to avoid the demonization of all Muslims: Stop using the term when discussing killers inspired by an extremist interpretation of Islam.

Also on HuffPost:

Michelangelo Signorile   |   December 9, 2015   11:40 AM ET

Jonathan Groff is back on Broadway as King George in the musical phenomenon, "Hamilton," after a short leave while he made the wrap-up special of the now-canceled HBO series, “Looking." In an interview with me on SiriusXM Progress, Groff talked about everything from Beyoncé's backstage "Hamilton" visit to “the most intense sex scene” yet in the upcoming “Looking” film. 

Groff, who came out several years ago, was enthralled by Beyoncé, who vowed to steal the actor's walk after visiting the cast backstage.

“I was just so excited that she and Jay-Z were even in the audience,” Groff told me. “She spoke very specifically to everybody about their performances and things that she noticed, and whatever, and she specifically talked about this walk that I do when I walk out onstage, and [she] imitated it. And then she talked about this exit move I do. And what was amazing about it was just knowing that Beyonce is watching. It makes sense because she’s Beyonce, and like, she’s incredible, to put it mildly. And just to know that she’s watching with such careful -- she’s really watching. When she goes to see something she’s really watching the nuance and the things that she was picking out in all of our performances were very specific…[Beyoncé and Jay Z] were so generous and so cool backstage. They say, ‘Never meet your idols,’ or whatever, but those two were just amazing.”

About the promised “most intense” sex scene yet in “Looking,” Groff quipped, “You know, we just strap on those anal covers and go to town, like we always do!”

Groff’s character in the series, Patrick, is a gay man who hasn’t had much experience in love and sex in the beginning of the show, which was canceled after two seasons. The film special brings the San Francisco-set series to a conclusion, and Groff says that at the top of the film we see a “different” Patrick who has “grown up a bit.” He won’t say who the sex scene is with, and would only describe it this way: “Patrick has had a lot of sexual hang-ups. And now he doesn’t.”

Regarding the steamy sex scenes he had in the two seasons of "Looking" -- several with his high-tech company boss, Kevin, played by gay heartthrob Russell Tovey -- Groff said, “we laugh a lot,” and noted that that he’s had the good fortune of doing sex scenes with people with great hygiene.

“So, when you first get there and you take off the robes and you’re in your weird little dick sock and your anal cover, there’s usually some, like, laughter,” he explained. “And then we sort of talk about what is happening in the scene. And we sort of do a rehearsal with our shorts on or whatever. And then we do it. I find [sex scenes] really fun and enjoyable and funny and weird and hilarious and a great opportunity to share a lot about characters. And there’s no words, so it’s an interesting thing to act. But I’ve never done a sex scene with someone who smells bad or I didn’t like something about them. That would be terrible. That’s the benefit I’ve had. I’ve never done a sex scene with someone that has not been so respectful and great about smelling fine and making it as palatable as possible.”

Also on HuffPost:

How These Gay and Bisexual Members of Congress Sold Out Desperate LGBT Syrian Refugees

Michelangelo Signorile   |   November 25, 2015   12:57 PM ET

"Our people are being thrown off buildings and they're stoned to death," Neil Grungras, the executive director of the Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration, told me this week, speaking about the plight of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the grip of ISIS in Syria. The photos and videos of gruesome atrocities committed against them have gone viral around the world, with reports of men executed on the charge of engaging in sodomy. Michael Lavers at The Washington Blade has done a great deal of reporting on this ghastly reality, quoting leaders of LGBT refugee support groups and others who discuss blood-curdling reports of violence by ISIS, including one report about a transgender woman who was hung from her breasts.

"You couldn't get more desperate," Grugras said. "You couldn't get a situation that's more shouting for justice." Those LGBT Syrians that do make it to Turkey or elsewhere as refugees seeking permanent, new homes, find themselves with little support, he said, facing rampant anti-gay discrimination, police brutality and poverty, often forced into sex work and put in dangerous situations.

These stories are among the many reasons why an intense backlash continues against gay and bisexual Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. House -- Jared Polis of Colorado, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona -- who cowardly voted last week with the GOP and 44 other Democrats for the SAFE Act, a bill that, according to many refugee experts, would effectively shut down an already overburdened vetting process for Syrian and Iraqi refugees that takes up to two years. Polis, the first openly gay parent in Congress, was working overtime on Twitter and Facebook, clearly on the defensive and definitely not realizing the backlash would be so massive. Over the weekend, Maloney, the first openly gay person elected to Congress from New York State, tried to explain himself to AIDS activist Peter Staley, who lambasted Maloney on Facebook. But it was to no avail as Staley meticulously took apart Maloney's distortions and rationalizations, while others jumped in to take Maloney to task.

Sinema, the first openly bisexual House member, is perhaps the greatest hypocrite of the three: She represented refugees in the past as an attorney, and in 2007 defended an Iraqi refugee whose vetting was taking two years, claiming he was being discriminated against based on his nationality. Last week she faced headlines back in her home state, noting her "surprising" vote, or simply laying it out in more stark detail: "After Kyrsten Sinema's Vote on Syrian Refugees, Social Media Explodes With Outrage."

All three of these House members know that the bill pushed by the GOP leadership was intended to exploit fear and hysteria in the wake of the Paris attacks. While each of them disingenuously claims that the bill doesn't seriously impair an already onerous process -- defying refugee experts, the White House, the vast majority of the Democrats and even many Republicans who proudly voted for it -- some of their defenders on social media and elsewhere acknowledge that the bill is terrible but say that the three should be given a pass because they're either in tough districts, have faced hard elections or could be taken down by a Republican easily. The bill, they claim, has no chance of passing, with Senate Democratic leaders vowing to block it, so why force these legislators to take a hit?

But that is the most cynical kind of politics, especially on a vote like this. Sinema and Maloney have many right-wing votes under their belts which they can pull out come election time, including votes meant to damage or destroy Obamacare. It's also a lie, since Maloney has often voted against the interests of people in his district and for Wall Street tycoons and big banks, which have showered him with a lot of money for his campaigns. For co-chairs of the LGBT Equality Caucus -- which all three claim to be -- to stand for anything less than equality in a moment like this is outrageous, and when it comes to human rights no one gets a pass. LGBT advocates didn't give a pass to any member of Congress who voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment -- though it had no chance of passing -- and they didn't accept their allies giving them a pass as well. The cultural and psychic impact of such votes is damaging, and gives power to the bigots in legislatures, in boardrooms, in classrooms and on the streets.

Worse yet, anyone who claims this bill, or some version of it at some time down the road, can't become law is a risk-taker of the highest order. Anything can happen in a moment of heightened fear, when Donald Trump and the GOP are whipping up hate. Three weeks ago, few of the 47 Democrats who voted for this bill would have been part of what is now a veto-proof majority in the House on the bill. Just last week Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York was wavering on the issue before coming around. There could be another attack, perhaps even in this country, and Senate Democrats could cave. Has everyone forgotten the Patriot Act?

Moments like this are a test of leadership. Yet the leader of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a group that helps elect LGBT politicians, refused to criticize, let alone dump, these three lawmakers after this shameful vote. Aisha Moodie-Mills, who previously worked at the Center for American Progress, said, "I don't have an opinion" on Syria, and said she didn't know much about the refugee situation. She then tried to claim the Victory Fund has no litmus tests for candidates, but in fact the group doesn't back anti-choice candidates even though there are LGBT people who morally oppose abortion. That's "about as deep in the weeds" as we get, she told Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade.

That's a pretty ridiculous statement since abortion is very much in the weeds -- like the deepest you can get. If you're going to have a litmus test for one group, why not others facing discrimination? The state group Equality California slammed the gay and bisexual lawmakers for feeding into "ignorance and fear." Other LGBT groups should follow suit. Equality should be the standard for anyone in the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. And Polis, Sinema and Maloney failed miserably at meeting that standard.