Saturday, April 25, 2009

Miss CA USA. My take.

Ok, by nature of my involvement in pageants, and additionally my platform, I have been receiving lots of emails, questions, etc. about the Miss California USA saga. So here are my thoughts -- and in the most raw way possible, copied from daily emails to my mom as I think more and more about the situation:
_______________________ e-mail #1

JoJo, (yeah, that's what I call my mom, Jo Ellen)
I've been receiving lots of notes and comments about the Miss CA USA ordeal.  I'm going to blog about it.  I'm also going to write Miss CA about it.  Although I think she poorly delivered her opinion, as did most of the contestants, at least she stated it.  I would be hypocritical to slam her for stating an opinion because what I stress to people is the importance staying true to yourself and your opinions.  I do NOT however respect the judge Perez Hilton calling her a "dumb b***h" for answering as she did.

There has been major press about the fact that the question should NEVER have been asked because it's too controversial. Katie talked about it on Fox & Friends yesterday and they asked her, "Would a question like that ever be allowed in Miss America?"  I hope so!   I don't think there was anything wrong with asking the question.....people have just as strong of feelings on this topic as the war or the bail out, and this is one of the top stories in every form of media.

_______________________ e-mail #2

I am disappointed in a few things here. This was a step in the wrong direction for equality. I found this NY Times article, and I agree completely with the fact that this whole issue forced two steps backward and only one step forward (and not for a good reason.)

<-- public statement against marriage equality (obvi.)
<-- the gay backlash (led by Perez Hilton) of indecency doesn't reflect well on supporters! It's reverse discrimination!
--> put Miss USA back on the map, in the media....brought attention, that's for sure! And Katie was able to speak on the news to set the record straight of the difference between Miss USA and Miss America.

Highlights from the NY Times article:

All of us have a belief system, whether it is informed by our faith or a secular world view. The freedom to share those even unpopular positions is what makes this nation great.
The crime here is not that people have opinions we disagree with. The crime is treating those who disagree with us with the same incivility that they treated us to.
He also said Miss USA ought to be someone who represents all the people and views of America — and that personally opposing gay marriage disqualifies her on that measure. What Mr. Hilton doesn’t seem to grasp is that if she were in favor of gay marriage, her views still wouldn’t “represent all Americans.”
Miss California’s answer to the political question asked of her by a judge was moving to the audience and the millions of new fans she now has for a simple reason: Her words were marked by genuineness, decency, a clear effort at civility, and great personal courage. The ugly response of her critics, especially Perez Hilton, is demeaning — but not to Carrie Prejean.

So the bottom line is that no matter what your opinion, if you are able to present it with respect of opposing views, express it! The key is the respect (and appropriate grammar and public speaking skills will only help validate you). This whole ordeal presents an opportunity. It is a chance to open the discussion about gay rights, but also to break the stereotype of pageant girls who only want world peace and live perched on the fence in the middle, crown shining on her head. I'll soon post proof that the question IS asked in MAO and it can be embraced when presented with integrity.

But for now -- I need some sleep because.... MISS NY ORIENTATION IS TOMORROW!! yipeeee!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Go Gov Patterson!

First of all a quick note, in reference to my past entry "Who's cool? Iowa, Vermont or North Dakota?" Vermont is climbing the coolness ladder! They passed gay marriage in Vermont and added VT to the list that Iowa also victoriously joined. Look's like our eyes are on Maine next! ... and New York! which leads me to....


He said it! New York Governor Paterson: “We want marriage equality in New York State” Today, Governor Paterson proposed marriage equality to NY legislature. He also said:

"This is a civil rights issue. For too long gay and lesbian New Yorkers, we have pretended that they have the same rights as their neighbors and their friends. For too long, we have allowed the perceptions that gay and lesbian New Yorkers have the same privileges as their own straight brothers and sisters or mothers and fathers; that is not the case. Too many cannot even make medical decisions. For too long many can’t even cover each other under insurance policies or health benefit plans….All have been the victims of what is a legal system that has systematically discriminated all of them."

HERE is the official announcement from the Human Rights Campaign. And for a more conversational explanation, visit the Back Story Blog.

Sponsors + a Teen!


First of all, I apologize for the delay - life's a little crazy right now and I've been out of town celebrating my grandma's 80 great years with 26 family members! A few weekends ago I headed out for my double-dose of the LIRR – once to Hewlett and once to Cedarhurst. The first outing was Saturday to visit some of our sponsors. At Menekshe Boutique, I met Sharon and Judy and her adorable son! The dress store has been a great sponsor of Miss Jubilee for the past few years, offering gowns and cocktail dresses for the Miss NY week. I found a summer cocktail dress - coming June 2009! Judy also helped measure me for my custom evening gown and we awkwardly recreated the moment her in this photo :) After that we headed over to Elizabeth Drucker Skin Care Salon and Day Spa, who is our sponsor for make-up and hair consultation. I look forward to my consult soon - and perhaps a facial!

I headed back to the city for a fantastic night of fun with new Miss NY friends and then it was back out to LI in the morning. Sunday marks the day of the new addition to the Miss Jubilee family - Nirvanna Lildharrie, Miss Jubilee Outstanding Teen 2009! We had a small luncheon of family and friends at La Viola, also one of our sponsors, to crown and honor Nirvanna. She's full of energy and enthusiasm and will be a wonderful asset to not only the Miss Jubilee program, but also the Miss NY Organization! The Outstanding Teen program really is a fantastic addition to the Miss America Organization and I love the friendships that grow from the Miss/Teen interaction and involvement. It truly is an opportunity to be a role model and have a direct influence on someone's life. Congratulations, Nirvanna!


Friday, April 3, 2009

Who's cool? Iowa, Vermont or North Dakota?


On a scale from zero to fantastic, Iowa gets the fantastic vote, Vermont gets an optimistic six and North Dakota takes the zero spot.

I could just say... "What SHE said. Iowa is baller. obvi." and you could click on Leigh-Taylor's blog (and then bookmark it as many have), but I'll fill you in too. Today was a milestone for gay marriage. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. This is huge, not only because there are now three states (Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa - with Cali in there briefly) that support same-sex marriage, but because this ruling brought the fairness and equality into the center of the United States - into the midwest, no longer leaving gay marriage as an issue on the coasts.

The official ruling states: Consequently, the language in Iowa Code section 595.2 limiting civil marriage to a man and a woman must be stricken from the statute, and the remaining statutory language must be interpreted and applied in a manner allowing gay and lesbian people full access to the institution of civil marriage.

Lambda Legal, based here in NYC, in addition to other political advocacy groups, was the foundation who created the active push that ended in a 7-0 unanimous vote to bring marriage equality to the Iowa Constitution. In addition to the link above to the Human Rights Campaign blog, HERE is the official release from the HRC national headquarters.

And to make it even more official, here's the text I received from my sister, Hannah: Iowa's supreme court ruled today that classifying marriage as being between one man and one woman was unconstitutional :o) I think it's pretty cool that this is the kind of stuff that my family texts about. I'm lucky.

In other news, Vermont is super close to following in Iowa's [wonderful] footsteps. Nine years ago, Vermont became the first state to recognized same-sex benefits with civil unions. A bill is being presented for marriage equality that Governor Jim Douglas intends to veto. However, the House is then planning an override and they are basically 5 votes short of a successful override. Click HERE for more info and a link to contact the Vermont legislators.

And how about a collective "boo." Today, the North Dakota House voted against the anti-discrimination bill - which, if that is confusing for you, could be interpreted as 'voted in favor of discrimination.' Senate Bill 2278, which sought to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in matters of employment, public accommodations, housing, state and local government services, insurance and credit transactions. (I didn't write that... it was right HERE) Equality isn't lost or considered a failure in ND, we are just hitting some stumbling blocks. Pull it together ND. I hope that the progress in Iowa and Vermont will continue to motivate those who are fighting for equality in North Dakota.