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Dear South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade organizers...meet Arizona

Posted by David Zimmerman February 28, 2014 08:17 AM

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Dear South Boston St Patrick’s Day organizers,

You might have seen a news story this week taking place in Arizona. It involved a piece of legislation called SB 1062, also known as the ‘Restoration of Religious Freedom Act’. The senate bill allowed for business owners in Arizona to deny services to certain citizens if those citizens lived a life that conflicted with the business owners religious beliefs. If signed into law an Arizona business owner who is a devout Catholic could have, for example, denied services to a gay or lesbian person. There are other examples as well.

When the Republican-led legislature in that state passed SB 1062 it created an immediate and widespread uproar. Corporations doing business in Arizona, including Apple, Marriott and others, urged Governor Jan Brewer to veto the bill. So did several prominent politicians (included Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jeff Flake – both also Republicans), as well as the National Football League and Major League Baseball.

Television pundits from across the globe began a full scale assault on the bill. Even Fox News weighed in saying this was a bad piece of legislation…that is saying something!

This bill was, in essence, legalized discrimination. They must be crazy in Arizona right? Too much sun maybe? Imagine being mocked by the entire country? Told that your views were archaic and out of touch. Called “morally repugnant” by none other than John Stewart. The U.S. does not allow for discrimination of this kind, we’re better than that was the prevailing opinion.

Unless of course it’s the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the last bastion of Massachusetts-led, religious-based discrimination. Our own very special version of archaic and out of touch thinking. How dare gays and lesbians be allowed to march in your parade, you say.

“Saint Patrick was a Catholic archbishop and is a Catholic saint,” said C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic League, in a statement Thursday. “How do you honor a Catholic saint by providing a platform to those who express pride in rejecting Catholic morality? And who castigate that morality as bigotry, hatred and homophobia?”

Well Mr. Doyle, how about we ask the organizers of the St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin? You know, the place where it all began. Apparently they have no problem at all reconciling your dilemma. They openly welcome gays and lesbians to take part in their parade and celebration.

By the way, have you taken a quick peek around Southie lately? In case you haven’t noticed it has become one of the hottest up-and-coming ‘gayborhoods’ in the region. There are Southie-based LGBT neighborhood groups such as One Southie and others. And along with this new influx of young straight and gay residents Southie has seen an incredible growth of beautiful new residential buildings, new restaurants and more.

Kudos to Mayor Menino and now Mayor Walsh for doing the right thing.

No gays and lesbians allowed huh? Can you imagine if someone in Boston ever put up a sign that read “No Irish Need Apply”? Oh wait…


For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world visit Boston Spirit's Fab 5.


Should A & E have suspended Phil Robertson for anti-gay comments?

Posted by David Zimmerman December 19, 2013 10:17 AM

I think we can all agree, some people are gay, some are not. Some people support and/or ‘tolerate’ the LGBT community some do not. One of the great things about this country is that we are free to have our own beliefs and opinions. That goes for Phil Robertson too.

In case you haven’t seen the story, Phil Robertson of the TV show Duck Dynasty took part in an interview with GQ magazine recently. In the article Robertson goes on a bit of an anti-gay rant. Suffice to say that Robertson, a born-again Christian, is not a supporter of the gay community. As a result of the article A & E has now suspended Robertson indefinitely from the show.

In the wake of the suspension there has been the expected response from both sides of the aisle…those who agree with A & E and those who don’t. For example, Sarah Palin does not agree with the decision to suspend Robertson stating, “Free speech is an endangered species. Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.” Wilson Cruz – speaking for GLAAD – falls on the side of A & E stating “What’s clear is that such hateful anti-gay comments are unacceptable to fans, viewers, and networks alike. By taking quick action and removing Robertson from future filming, A&E has sent a strong message that discrimination is neither a Christian nor an American value."

On the social media front a change.org petition to get Robertson reinstated on the show has already received more than 20,000 signatures and a Facebook page supporting Robertson has more than 35,000 ‘likes’.

As the publisher of an LGBT magazine I am obviously biased, no news there. I also realize that there is a large portion of society that does not agree with the “gay lifestyle” or the “gay agenda” ... whatever term they wish to use. And, believe it or not, I am OK with that too. To each his own. In the words of Pope Francis “who am I to judge.”

Robertson’s comments, however, went beyond respectable dissent. They were crass, ignorant and disrespectful. In the article Robertson compares homosexuality to polygamy, adultery, bestiality, and terrorism. Yes, apparently he feels that homosexuals and terrorists belong in the same conversation. That’s where Robertson lost me, as well as the decision makers at A & E. Just as Robertson is entitled to his opinion, management at the network is entitled to theirs as well, and they have made it clear where they stand on the issue, stating:

“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series ‘Duck Dynasty.’ His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the L.G.B.T. community.”

Does Robertson deserve to be suspended by A & E? Everyone can have their own opinion on that question, just like we can all decide whether or not to watch his show. One thing is clear, Duck Dynasty probably shouldn’t count on many viewers from the LGBT community going forward…not to mention they probably also just lost the terrorist, polygamy, and bestiality communities too.

For all of today's top stories from the LGBT world, check out the Fab 5 on BostonSpiritMagazine.com

How about a lapsed Catholic for pope?

Posted by Jim Lopata March 9, 2013 10:48 AM

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Dressed as Pope John Paul II for Halloween, 1978.

By James Lopata

I have a photo of me dressed as Pope John Paul II from 1978. 

Sometimes I laugh when see it. Other times, not so much.

It was a great time to be Catholic then. In the vibrant post-Vatican II parish where I was raised, we sang, we danced, we waved daffodils and launched multi-colored balloons at Easter. There was a spirit moving all over. 

It strikes me as funny that, as a baptized Catholic male, I am technically eligible for the position of pontiff, even though I haven’t attended Mass in several years.

Funny, yes, but even more, sad.

The desire to have much of anything to do with the Catholic Church that I loved so much has departed. I know I am not alone. According to the Holy See's own statistics, there are millions of lapsed Catholics all over the world.

Using the Vatican's Statistical Yearbook of the Church, Catholic News Service noted that although the total Catholic population is up 29 percent from 1990 to 2010, confirmations are up only 10 percent, and first communions are actually down 5 percent. These figures demonstrate that the faith is in global retreat.

FULL ENTRY

'The ultimate anti-gay marriage ad'

Posted by Jim Lopata March 5, 2013 09:37 AM

Are you worried about that gay marriage may destroy straight marriage?

In a YouTube video, comic Brandon Muller imaginations what scary conversations may be occurring in the homes of straight couples everywhere.

Check out his video, The Ultimate Anti-gay Marriage Ad, which says it is "Paid for by the coalition of people whose lives are ruined whenever other people are treated equally."

FULL ENTRY

Would Martin Luther King Jr. have supported the gay rights movement?

Posted by David Zimmerman January 20, 2013 08:22 AM

As we ready ourselves to celebrate what would have been Rev. Martin Luther King’s 84th birthday an article in Huffington Post by local Rev. Irene Monroe asks the question ‘Would King, a champion of civil rights, have been a vocal supporter of equal rights for the lgbt community?’

Writes Monroe:

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Day 2013, we no longer have to hold King up to a godlike standard. All the hagiographies written about King after his assassination have come under scrutiny as we have come to better understand all of him: his greatness and his flaws and human foibles. As I comb through numerous books and essays, learning more about King's philandering, his sexist attitude toward women at home and in the movement, and his tenuous relationship with the openly gay Bayard Rustin, I am wondering whether King really would be a public advocate for LGBTQ rights.

Monroe goes on to report that King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, while speaking to Lambda Legal, an organization of lawyers supporting lgbt rights, stated they she felt Dr. King would have been a supporter of the cause. "I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King's dream to make room at the table of brother and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people," said Scott King.

Monroe, however, appears less convinced and goes on to offer up recent examples via other members of Dr. King’s family:

King's youngest and only living daughter, Rev. Bernice King, who has been rumored for years to be a lesbian, as well as his niece, Alveda King, have historically thought otherwise. In 2004 the cousins, along with thousands of protesters, participated in a march against same-sex marriage in Atlanta. In January 2005 Newsweek asked Alveda, who has aligned herself with the religious right and frequently wields her family name and her voice against LGBTQ rights, whether Martin Luther King would be a champion of LGBTQ rights. "No, he would champion the word of God," she replied. "If he would have championed gay rights today, he would have done it while he was here. There was ample opportunity for him to champion gay rights during his lifetime, and he did not do so." She added, "My cousin, the Rev. Bernice King, has said that she knows in her sanctified soul that her father did not take a bullet for same-sex marriage."

And finally there is this, from Bayard Rustin, whom many considered to be Dr. King’s chief strategist and most trusted advisor:

Martin Luther King, with whom I worked very closely, became very distressed when a number of the ministers working for him wanted him to dismiss me from his staff because of my homosexuality. Martin set up a committee to discover what he should do. They said that, despite the fact that I had contributed tremendously to the organization ... they thought that I should separate myself from Dr. King. This was the time when [Rev. Adam Clayton] Powell threatened to expose my so-called homosexual relationship with Dr. King.
(In an effort to marginalize Rustin, several people conjured up rumors of a homosexual relationship between Rustin and King)

Rustin offered to resign and King did not reject the offer. "Basically [King] said I can't take on two queers at one time," according to one of Rustin's associates.

Monroe concludes by recalling a letter she wrote to an associate on the topic, "I agree that you have to wonder whether King would support LGBTQ rights today, even if he felt he couldn't in the 60s. You'd like to think he would given his courageous stands otherwise. I now believe that not only would King not have supported LGBTQ rights but his relevance on social issues would have continued to wane considerably had he survived.”

Rapper Jay Z supports same-sex marriage, says to those who don’t 'It’s discrimination, plain and simple'

Posted by David Zimmerman September 8, 2012 09:00 AM

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Rapper and media mogul Jay-Z spoke recently about the topic of same-sex marriage and whether or not he thought that President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage will cost him votes in the upcoming election. The rapper was very clear that he is a supporter of same sex marriage as well as the President.

On the topic of same-sex marriage:

I’ve always thought of it as something that is still holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their business, they can choose to love whoever they love. That’s their business. It’s no different then discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.

Regarding whether or not the President’s views will cost him votes in the upcoming election:

I think it’s the right thing to do, so whether or not it costs him votes … it’s really not about votes, it’s about people. So whether or not it costs him votes, it’s the right thing to do as a human being.

Any chance we can get Jay Z on the phone with Stevie Wonder????

New Report Claims that LGBT Workers in the Public Sector Face High Rates of Discrimination

Posted by David Zimmerman August 30, 2012 01:55 PM


A report released recently by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and the American Federation of Sate, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) entitled “Gay and Transgender Discrimination in the Public Sector,” reveals that LGBT people continue to experience high rates of employment discrimination and are often not afforded equal benefits on the job. In addition, it details why workforce discrimination poses significant problems for state and local governments, public sector employees and taxpayers.

According to the report;

Only 43 percent of state employees work in a state with a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Only 31 percent work in a state with a law also prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. This means that the majority of Americans working for state governments still do not have statutory protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. When it comes to benefits, a majority of state employees do not work for a state that offers equal partner health insurance. Only 47 percent of state employees with same-sex partners have access to equal workplace benefits, compared to 53 percent who do not.

AFSCMA claims that approximately one million LGBT employees work in the public sector for local, state or municipal government.

In a statement by Lee Saunders, president of AFSCME, “The discrimination that LGBT public sector workers still face is deplorable. While some states have passed laws prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, a majority of state workers can still be legally fired for being gay. No worker should be subjected to these high rates of harassment or be forced into unemployment, deprived of health insurance for themselves and for their families. This is a wrong that we need to right, right now.”

AFSCME describes itself as “the nation’s largest and fastest growing public services employees union with more than 1.6 million active and retired members.”

The Center for American Progress describers itself as “an independent nonpartisan educational institute dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action.”

Should gay conversion therapy be illegal? California asks.

Posted by Jim Lopata August 22, 2012 03:42 PM

Californians are clashing over whether or not to ban gay conversion therapies for minors. A bill is moving forward in the state’s legislature that would make it a crime for medical professionals to offer services to change a person’s homosexual orientation to a heterosexual one.

Many arguments line up in the usual for-and-against manner, but some points being expressed are more equivocal.

TO BAN

In the ‘ban’ camp are mostly Democrats who support the bill. These proponents note that reparative therapies have proven ineffective at best and dangerous at worst. They include the bill’s sponsor, Calif. state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and James Guay, a San Francisco-based therapist who testified in favor of the legislation by explaining how the "ex-gay" therapy he had as a child led to a mental breakdown, according to a HuffPost Gay Voices article that can be read here.

OR NOT TO BAN

In the ‘don't ban’ category are many Republicans who oppose the legislation primarily on the grounds that it deprives mothers and fathers of their parental rights. "The default of this Legislature is to assume authority over parents by getting invested in issues of medicine, which is something it is not qualified to do, especially regarding matters of medical decisions made between parents and children," said Orange County Assemblyman Donald Wagner, (R-Irvine) in an article in the Orange County Register, which can be accessed here.

THAT IS THE QUESTION

Then there are some in the ‘not-totally-for-or-against’ bloc who have expressed more nuanced concerns. Many of them find common ground with Democratic state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach). By most accounts Lowenthal is a friend to the LGBT rights movement. He voted in favor of a bill that required gay history be included in the state’s education curriculum, and he has been a supporter of marriage equality. But Lowenthal has some reservations about the conversion therapy legislation. He told the Los Angeles Times (in an article that can be read here) that he has heard concerns from some professionals that the measure may be “overly broad and might prohibit their ability to engage in discussions about sexuality.”

FULL ENTRY

Young Conservatives Support Marriage Equality

Posted by David Zimmerman August 17, 2012 02:29 PM


A group calling itself the "Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry" has made public a letter they sent to Robert F. McDonnell, Chair, Republican National Committee Platform Committee, urging the RNC not to oppose marriage equality at Committee's meeting next week.

The letter cites Ronald Reagan and Dick Cheney, among others, as part of the group's plea for equality. The authors of the letter describe themselves as "politically active young conservatives who believe strongly that support for the freedom to marry is in line with [their] core belief in limited government and individual freedom."

The full text of the letter is as follows:

August 15, 2012 The Honorable Robert F. McDonnell Chair, Republican National Committee Platform Committee Republican National Committee 310 First Street, SE Washington, DC 20003

Dear Governor McDonnell:

We, the undersigned, make up the leadership committee of Young Conservatives for the
Freedom to Marry. We understand that the Platform Committee will be gathering early next week to develop and finalize the document that will be submitted to the full convention later this month. We appreciate your considering our perspective on this matter.

We are a group of politically active young conservatives who believe strongly that support for the freedom to marry is in line with our core belief in limited government and individual freedom. As President Ronald Reagan said, it is the role of government to "work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back." We feel strongly that excluding committed same-sex couples from marriage does not mesh with those principles. To quote former Vice President Dick Cheney, "freedom means freedom for everyone."

We, as conservatives, have traditionally cited the importance of marriage because it contributes to society and promotes stability and shared responsibility. Marriage makes our nation stronger socially and economically by strengthening families and communities. Committed gay and lesbian couples share with other couples the importance of family and community; worries - like making ends meet or the possibility of losing a job; and hopes and dreams - like finding that special someone to grow old with, and standing in front of friends and family to make a lifetime commitment. Same-sex couples who want to make that commitment in life before family and friends should be able to share in that commitment under law through marriage. And, if we truly
believe in family values, then we must value all families.

On this cause, attitudes have shifted rapidly, and continue to shift towards support for the freedom to marry. Nationally, multiple public polls now show there's solid majority support for the freedom to marry. A May 2012 Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that among all Americans, supporters outnumber opponents 53% to 39%. That same poll shows that, among younger Republicans, support for the freedom to marry is approaching majority, with 46% of self-identified Republicans aged 18-44 in support and 46% in opposition. And according to veteran Republican pollster Jan van Lohuizen, only 29% of Republicans oppose any legal recognition for same-sex couples. The trend lines are clear—support for marriage will continue to grow on the right, with younger Republican voters leading the way.

Over the past several years, elected Republicans have played an increasingly important role in advancing freedom to marry legislation. Last year in New York, it was a GOP-led state Senate that moved marriage equality legislation. And earlier this year in New Hampshire, the overwhelmingly GOP controlled New Hampshire House voted down a repeal of the popular freedom to marry law in that state, by a lopsided 211-116 margin, with a majority of GOP lawmakers voting against repeal. To date, 197 Republican state legislators across the nation have stood up for the freedom to marry. And of course, no one doubts the Republican credentials of former Vice President Dick Cheney, former First Lady Laura Bush, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman. They are all supporters of freedom to marry.

We are not new to the political process and understand there are divergent opinions on the freedom to marry within the Republican Party. Yet in this environment with rapidly changing perspectives and discussions taking place around dinner tables throughout the country, we ask that the Party respect these differences by not opposing the freedom to marry in its platform.

Giving people more personal freedom is the foundation of the Republican Party, which, as the Party of Lincoln, has a proud tradition of expanding liberties. We respectfully request that the GOP honor that tradition as it considers how to address the freedom to marry in its plank.

Sincerely,

Leadership Committee,
Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry


Comprehensive survey of congressional positions on marriage equality released

Posted by David Zimmerman August 3, 2012 07:01 AM

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has released a Comprehensive Survey of Congressional Positions on Marriage Equality.

Among both the House and Senate, 181 members support marriage equality (34 percent). 234 have made statements against (44 percent) and 122 have an unclear or unknown position (23 percent). 36 Senators and 145 Representatives support marriage equality with 52 Senators and 182 Representatives opposed.

All 100 Senators, 431 sitting Representatives and 6 Delegates were asked whether or not they agreed with this statement: “Gay and lesbian couples should not be denied the ability to pledge their love and commitment through the civil institution of marriage. I believe that two committed adults of the same sex should be able to receive a government-issued marriage license, while religious institutions retain their right to determine which marriages they will perform.”

Among Democrats, support is at 72 percent with 9 percent opposed and 19 percent unclear or unknown. Only one Republican in Congress supports marriage equality – Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. Support is strongest in the East (58 percent) and the West (51 percent) and weakest in the Midwest (25 percent) and the South (15 percent). In states where gay and lesbian couples can marry, 69 percent of Senators and Representatives support marriage equality while 17 percent are opposed. And in the four states facing marriage-related ballot measures in November, 56 percent of leaders are supportive of marriage equality with 21 percent opposed.

Scores for the two Senators from Massachusetts (as well as all Representatives) can be found online simply by entering your zip code. Senator John Kerry scored 100% on the survey while Senator Scott Brown came in at 33%.

Recent Poll Results Show Progress for Marriage Equality

Posted by David Zimmerman July 19, 2012 12:30 PM

The Center For American Progress recently released the results of a wide range of polls surrounding the topic of marriage equality. The results, for those who support marriage equality, are very positive.

Among the many findings are that the majority of voters polled back the freedom to marry. The range of results is as follows:

*A Gallup poll found that 50 percent of respondents supported marriage equality
*An ABC News/Washington Post poll reported support for marriage equality at 53 percent
*An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll as well as a June CNN/Opinion Research poll found support one point higher, with 54 percent

All of these polls took place in May/June 2012

Other highlights of the report that the ‘enthusiasm gap’ (defined as those who feel ‘strongly’ one way or another, has also shifted:

The ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 39 percent of voters strongly support marriage equality, while only 32 percent strongly oppose. This stands in contrast to polling from just last summer, where the same poll found that 32 percent strongly supported equality and 36 percent stood strongly opposed.

As for results by age group:

A June 2012 CNN poll found that a whopping 73 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds support allowing same-sex couples to wed, far above the average of 54 percent for all respondents. In 2009 support among young people was just 58 percent, marking a substantial shift in favor of marriage equality.

62 Percent of Americans Support Same Sex Unions

Posted by David Zimmerman May 14, 2012 01:53 PM


The Human Rights Campaign released the results of a new poll conducted by CBS News and the New York Times. The results of the poll are encouraging for supporters of same sex marriage...the trend continues to shift:

From the HRC:

A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows that 62 percent of Americans support recognizing same-sex relationships via either full marriage equality or civil unions. That number jumped to 70 percent when asked of those aged 18-44 across parties. Independent voters back marriage equality and civil unions by a robust 62 percent. A Gallup poll released late last week also showed that a considerable majority of independents strongly backed President Obama’s support for marriage equality.

Martin Luther King's Dream Includes Gays

Posted by Jim Lopata January 12, 2012 09:52 AM

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Bayard Rustin at a news briefing on the Civil Rights March on Washington in the Statler Hotel, August 27, 1963. (Photo: Library of Congress. Photographer: Warren K. Leffler)

Martin Luther King's Dream Includes Gays

Martin Luther King's stance on LGBT justice? The debate rages on. No, King never spoke directly about gay rights, but his actions during the planning for the Great March on Washington in support of out homosexual Bayard Rustin say all that needs to be said.

By James A. Lopata

Just how much would Martin Luther King, Jr. support today's fight for LGBT justice?

A debate has been raging for years concerning this question. Leading the strongly pro-gay crusade is King's widow Coretta Scott King who defended her position in 1998, saying:

I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice. But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’ I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to make room at the table of brother- and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people.

In the opposing camp stands King's youngest daughter Bernice King who remarked in 2004:

FULL ENTRY

Catholic Loss of Innocents

Posted by Jim Lopata January 4, 2012 12:20 PM

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Detail from The Massacre of the Innocents at Bethlehem, by Matteo di Giovanni.

Roman Catholic Bishops and the Loss of Innocents

By James A. Lopata

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny child,
Bye, bye, lully, lullay.

FEAST OF THE MASSACRE OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS — On the date commemorating King Herod’s ruthless slaughter of young children who he felt threatened his authority, U.S. Roman Catholic bishops were defending the closing of foster care agencies in a New York Times article.

The prelates claimed that forcing Catholic Charities to consider the possibility that poor, marginalized children may find loving, healthy homes in households headed by same-sex couples threatens their religious freedom.

“In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” said Springfield, Illinois, Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki.

Poor, marginalized bishops. But what about the children?

FULL ENTRY
About the author: Boston Spirit Magazine’s daily blog brings you all of the information you need on New England’s LGBT community. In addition to highlighting local and national LGBT news, we will also highlight local leaders from the worlds of business, politics, fashion and entertainment and keep you up-to-date on all the latest events and parties, hot spots for travel, shopping, dining, and more!
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