Month: April 2010

AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania

When I think of fundraising, I don’t think about books, or book reviews, or the difference between e-books and print books. I think about helping groups or organizations that are committed to important causes. I have a few causes that are close to my own heart, and the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania is one of them.

Without the help of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS wouldn’t get the necessary legal counsel they need. And it’s not just an LGBT issue anymore. This affects everyone across the board. So I wanted to post some general info about them, to help promote the cause and to inform any readers in PA who might be in need of legal counsel and can’t afford to hire an attorney on their own. I’ll be posting more in the future on this topic, but here’s a general description of what they are all about.

Below is some basic info from their home page, and here’s their link: http://www.aidslawpa.org/alpp_history.htm

The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania is a public-interest law firm founded in 1988 by Temple Law School graduate David W. Webber to focus on AIDS-related discrimination cases. At that time, before the Americans with Disabilities Act, no laws protected people with HIV/AIDS from discrimination, so Webber relied upon laws that prevent a worker from being terminated except in cases of incompetence or other non-AIDS-related causes. Webber led the organization before handing the reins to Nan Feyler, now chief of staff in the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Current executive director Ronda B. Goldfein took over in 2000.

Now with a staff of 14 and a team of Drexel Law student-interns, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania is still the nation’s only independent public-interest law firm dedicated to AIDS and HIV. The organization serves all of Pennsylvania from its home base in Philadelphia. It has risen to the defense of more than 30,000 people free of charge, and has educated more than 32,000 others on AIDS-related legal issues.

In every corner of the commonwealth, information has been shared with doctors, dentists and other health-care providers; outreach workers; peer counselors; medical students; law students; college students; lawyers; people living in homeless shelters; the newly diagnosed, as well as long-term survivor support groups.

Each year, the nonprofit AIDS Law Project receives about 2,000 calls for assistance at its home office in Philadelphia. The agency also educates the public about AIDS-related legal issues, and works at local, state and national levels to achieve fair laws and policies. In 2009, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania represented 1,343 people in 1,713 legal matters.

Insurance Appeal, a Friend with HIV/AIDS, and a Happy Ending

Those who have been following me since last November, know that I’ve been working as legal power of attorney for a good friend who is HIV positive. He’s disabled and can’t work. For the past two years, he’s been receiving disability from an insurance company. In November, the insurance company canceled his long term disability and said he was ready to go back to work.

So he asked me to help him appeal the case, which I did. And then I hired an attorney to help because I didn’t want to take any chances. This is someone who is truly disabled, and I thought it was important to make sure everything was done correctly.

And this week, after six months of dealing with a grueling appeal, my friend was notified that his disability has been reinstated. Though we went through tons of paperwork while filing the appeal, I took my friend to an IME (insurance medical exam) that was set up by the insurance company a few weeks ago. This doctor works for the insurance company, and all she had to do was go over his past history and give him a basic exam and she could see he was in no condition to work.

It’s a happy ending, yes. My friend is finally able to relax for the first time in months. But it would have been so much easier all the way around if the insurance company had just set up the IME six months ago.

Wishing Brett Michaels a Fast Recovery

It’s no secret that I’m a pop culture junky. I can’t get enough of it. I follow all the entertainment blogs, the art blogs, and even publishing blogs that I think are remotely related to anything pop cultural.

Many of my books revolve around pop culture themes, dealing with entertainment, from the television industry to the modeling industry.

And Brett Michaels is probably one of my all time favorite stars. I’ve been a fan of his for years, and in recent weeks I’ve been enjoying him on Celebrity Apprentice. So when I heard about his emergency appendectomy, I was shocked. And then when this latest problem happened with a brain hemorrhage, well, it was hard to believe. You never think people like Brett will get sick.

He’s doing better now, but he still has a way to go.
So Brett, your fans are pulling for you. And there’s an invisible candle burning here on this blog until you’re well again. We know you’re going to beat this and we know you’ll be back to your old self soon.

Nice Review: THE GHOST AND MR. MOORE

MRS. MUIR, REDUX, March 9, 2010
By
M. H. SMITH “mykelsf” (SACRAMENTO, CA USA) – See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: The Ghost and Mr. Moore (Kindle Edition) A re-telling of “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” with a gay lead. This was a fun read with an almost identical story to the original Mrs. Muir movie. A lonely parent of one child, a housekeeper, a dog, a New England sea cottage and a damn fine looking, however dead, sea captain haunting the home. Updated to modern times and told with a lively cast of extra characters, it still stuck true to the formula. Mr. Moore ‘ghost-writes’ a book narrated by the Captain in order to save his home and never gives up on the love between them. The ending, although known to anyone who saw the movie, was sweet and tender nonetheless. An old story, to be sure, but re-told with wit and a deft hand with the narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

STARbooks Press is Having a Spring Sale This Week

I’m in a few of the STARbooks Press anothologies. Two of my favorites are UNMASKED: EROTIC STORIES OF GAY SUPERHEROS, and UNMASKED II: MORE EROTIC STORIES OF GAY SUPERHEROS. These are two books where I have two short stories (one in each book), and these stories won’t ever be released anywhere else. So if anyone is intersted in reading them, you can find them at STARbooks Press.

And STARbooks is having a sale right now. Here’s the basic info, and below that is a link to the web site.

ANNUAL SPRING SALE IS UNDERWAY!
FOR OUR WEBSITE MEMBERS ONLY:
TAKE 20% OFF EVERYTHING! ALL SHIPPING DEALS STILL APPLY!

#1 Fictionwise Bestseller Sub-Genre List: From STARbooks Press to E-book Stand Alone

This stand alone keeps surprising me. When I found out that it was #1 on the fictionwise bestseller list for fetish erotica, I was a little stunned. I’d never thought of it as a fetish book. I always thought of it more as a quirky erotic love story, where two people meet by chance and begin a new relationship. But I guess it could be considered a fetish story, and I’m thrilled people have received it so well. http://www.fictionwise.com/servlet/mw?t=sub_browsebook&catid=39

No More Tim Urban?

Was I shocked last night. Seriously. With about three or four average contestants left on AI, Tim Urban is the one who went home last night? I didn’t think he’d go to the final two (I think Bowersox will win), but I was hoping he’d at least survive the next two or three weeks.

Unfortunately, Tim Urban was one of the few reasons I watched the show this season. The quirky, cheesy Ford commercials they force the contestants to do had reached the level of intolerance for me. And when they sing those awful group songs, I just switch to another channel until they are over. But more than that, the songs these contestants are choosing this year are the worst in the history of the show.

I have a feeling that American Idol has seen better days, and now it’s time for Glee to take over.

Equal Rights for Same Sex Couples

The following story has been going around the Internet all week. It’s a sad story, but there are parts of it I don’t understand. I’ve personally had legal power of attorney for a few people. I’ve been posting about helping a friend with HIV get his disability back for the last six months, and I’ve been his legal power of attorney throughout the process. And as legal power of attorney, I’ve had full control of the case. I have not experienced any discrimination and I’ve been treated with complete respect. So if these guys in the story below had all their papers together, and at least one was of sound mind and body, I don’t understand how their legal papers were not recognized. Maybe it’s a California thing? I don’t know. But I do know that I’ve never had any problems as power of attorney.

Aside from these questions about the story below, it’s time for gay and lesbian couples to have the equal rights they deserve. They should have the same rights straight couples have, without having to go out and get all kinds of legal documents to maintain their lives.

There is nothing more personal than how we wish to spend our final years. After decades with our loved ones there should be no dispute that we should get to spend our final moments together.

Unfortunately Sonoma County, CA treated Harold and Clay as if they were strangers.Harold was 88 and Clay was 77 when their 20 year relationship was assaulted by Sonoma County. Harold’s time here was coming to an end. He was ill and life was further complicated when he took a tumble down the stairs of their home. Harold was taken to the hospital.

Like most same sex couples who are committed to taking care of each other in sickness and in health, Harold and Clay set up legal documents prior to their personal crisis that were supposed to tell authorities to honor their relationship. Clay should have been able to visit Harold in the hospital and make decisions about his care. Instead, the county and health care professionals refused to let Clay even visit Harold in the hospital.

Tragic as that was, the county was not done with this family. More brutality than any government should inflict on a family — they separated Clay and Harold by placing them in different nursing homes. Remember, Clay was in good health. He was involuntarily committed.Kate Kendell, the National Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, a national legal organization committed to advancing the legal and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people wrote for the Bilerico Project:Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf.

Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.What happened next is even more chilling.Without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will.

The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold’s lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property.

The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.Clay was eventually released from the nursing home following a lawsuit. A further lawsuit is pending against Sonoma County, the auction company, and the nursing home. A trial date is set for July 16, 2010.As important as this lawsuit is, there is nothing any government, court, or lawyer can do return the dignity and respect Harold and Clay were deprived. No authority will be able to return the last few months of Harold’s life, or the chance for Clay and Harold to embrace each other one last time.

We need full legal recognition for same sex couples — in name and law — in every state in this country. We need it now.

New Cover: Strawberries and Cream at the Plaza and Dawne Dominique

I saw this new cover art for a stand alone that hasn’t been released yet and couldn’t help posting about it. Dawne Dominique did the cover art, and she worked hard on this one. Very hard. And I can’t tell her how much I appreciate it. This stand alone e-book is a little different for me. It’s not an erotic romance this time. It’s just a nice simple love story about two gay men who meet by chance and fall in love. I’ll post more. But I wanted to thank Dawne first. It’s always a pleasure working with her. Check out her web site and see what I mean. Just looking over her work is fun.