While Florida and Pennsylvania Make Voter Registration Harder, New York Makes It Easier Online

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While other states have made registering to vote harder, New York State has actually made it a lot easier
The states of Florida and Pennsylvania have been trying to make it harder to register to vote in 2012. While the former's efforts have been stalled somewhat and the latter's have been upheld in court, New York State has taken the radical step of actually making it a bit easier to register to vote.

As Governor Andrew Cuomo noted in a press release yesterday, New York State has "launched a sweeping new initiative to expand access to voter registration and streamline DMV services by allowing New Yorkers, for the first time ever, to apply to register to vote, or update their address or party enrollment, through a secure online site."

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Maria Montealegre Finds Shelter (Sort of), Public Advocate, Councilmember Robert Jackson Say Help Is On Its Way (Update)

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El Diario
95 percent of the Montealegres belongings
"The whole marshal encounter was surreal," Andres Mares Muro said about Maria Montealegre's eviction that went down late afternoon this past Monday. "She vomited afterwards, her kids wept lots."

Muro, a former staff member of the Mirabal Sisters Cultural and Community Center in Hamilton Heights, has been helping Montealegre, and her family, throughout her housing/eviction situation since the beginning, exchanged texts with the Voice throughout Monday evening informing us that after going to various shelters, and being turned away, Montealegre and her kids ended up in a Queens motel.

After we reported that neither Mirabal, Public Advocate, Urban Justice Center, Housing Preservation Department, nor Councilmember Robert Jackson, did little to help Montealegre avoid eviction or attain housing--let alone take over 1985 Amsterdam Ave. or hold Moshe Samovha accountable for his multiple housing violations, we got some angry phone calls. More »

What Does Being LGBT (Or Wanting to Get Gay Married) Have to Do with Gambling?

Like GLAAD promoting a telecom merger, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force has wound up in the dubious position of weighing in on gambling, a not terribly LGBT-specific issue.

Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed has been beating down the path of a fascinating story over this past week, exploring how and why the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force has gotten involved with the issue of gambling in Maryland. His latest post reports that an anonymous source funded a gaming mailer sent to Maryland Democrats on behalf of the task force's lobbying arm.

We feel like we've been to this rodeo before. In our Voice Pride Issue feature, we asked, "What does a telecom merger have to do with fighting gay defamation?" as we reflected upon how and why the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) supported a proposed AT&T merge with T-Mobile. And now, we must ask, what does being LGBT have to do with gambling in Maryland?

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Maria Montealegre Evicted Today, a Lot of "Community," but Little Help

Steven Thrasher
Maria Montealegre, the tenant at 1985 Amsterdam Avenue who was assaulted by her landlord and evicted after helping organize neighbors, has been evicted today. A marshal showed up roughly around 4 this afternoon, leaving 95 percent of her, and her family's, belongings on the sidewalk.

A bevy of people from "community groups" -- mostly from the Mirabal Center -- came to a press conference outside her building. Despite the presence of many people in yellow Mirabal shirts, no one had a real plan in place, nor anywhere for Montealegre and her four kids to go tonight.

And though Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Councilmember Robert Jackson's offices seemed like they might get heavily involved in recent days, neither were there today.

In fact, almost everyone who has ever said they were trying to help Montealegre is doing little more than to wait for her to actually get evicted, put on the street, and to be put into the homeless-shelter system after she's actually homeless.

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The Voice Talks To KNPR About the 37 Reasons Why We Hate Las Vegas [AUDIO]

Steven Thrasher
Reason No. 19 to hate Las Vegas: even the pools are designed to TAKE YOUR MONEY
We must admit: when KNPR, the NPR affiliate of Las Vegas, contacted us and asked, "Do you want to come on the air to talk about '37 Reasons Why An Unapologetically Judgmental New Yorkers Hates Las Vegas'?" we were a tad nervous. In fact, the polite, kind and good-natured people at KNPR's State of Nevada almost made us feel guilty for writing the anti-Vegas screed. (Well, almost.)

We went on the air with them on Friday to talk about our list and to try to be a little less screechy about why we didn't like the city. Some of the reasons are pure snark ("No. 10: There are 31 flavors of Cirque Du Soleil, all peddling the same shit with a different soundtrack") while others are more serious ("No. 32: When you realize an entire "city's" "economy" is based on this madness, it makes sense why it spent 22 straight months as the metro area with the highest rate of home foreclosure").

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Former President of the National Association of Black Journalists: NABJ As Only Group to Block LGBT Journo Group is 'Urban Myth' (Plus: Audio from the Michelangelo Signorile Show)

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"UNITY" has been a bit fractured ever since the National Association of Black Journalists pulled out
Earlier this week, the Voice went on SiriusXM's Michelangelo Signorile Show to talk about our experiences at the UNITY convention.

As we noted, this was the first UNITY without the official participation of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). It was also the first UNITY with the participation of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA). Many members of NABJ still attended, including NABJ president Gregory Lee, who we interviewed.

NABJ's departure from UNITY and NLGJA's inclusion were not directly related to each other. Yet as we wrote, there was the appearance that the two were linked because of the timing, and there were feelings of unease between some members of both groups (particularly in that the name was changed from "UNITY: Journalists of Color" to simply "UNITY: Journalists").

We also reported that several people at UNITY told us that, though NABJ had not departed because of NLGJA, they had been the only group to vote, in the past, against NLGJA joining. (In the embedded audio of our post, current NABJ president Gregory Lee addressed this.)

But two other reputable sources contacted us to counter this claim. We updated our last post with a note from John Yarwood, former UNITY board member, to say it was not mathematically possible for NABJ to be the sole group to have blocked NLGJA.

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"Access: Use It to Give Voice to the Voiceless (and Hell to the Powerful)," An Address to the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association

Video courtesy of James Schmitz/Inner City Media.

On Friday, August 3, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association named me NLGJA Journalist of the Year 2012. The above video shows CNN's Miguel Marquez presenting the award to me in Las Vegas before I addressed NLGJA's annual gala with my acceptance speech, "Access: Use It to Give Voice to the Voiceless (and Hell to the Powerful)." Below are my prepared remarks, which do vary a bit from how I actually delivered them.

Good evening.

I want to first say what an honor it is to appear right after Chris Geidner, my homo journo brother from another mother. We're exactly the same age - ok, he's a month, to the day, younger than me - and I've been blessed to repeatedly cross paths with him on this amazing journey we've both been on during the past couple of years. Although I admire Chris greatly for the quality of his work, I admire him even more for wearing an open heart of gratitude on his sleeve in appreciation of the privilege we all have in doing this work. And it is a privilege; it's a gift. He understands how blessed each one of us in this room is who gets to earn their bread as a journalist.

Congratulations on your well deserved recognition.

Now, as for the rest of you, my fellow homosexual journalists: I'd like to talk to you tonight about the word access. I've been thinking about that word a lot lately, and I'll start with a kind of coming out story, regarding something I haven't admitted publicly before.

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37 Things For An Unapologetically Judgmental New Yorker To Hate About Las Vegas

Steven Thrasher
No. 13: There are actually LINES to PAWN YOUR SHIT
The Voice just returned from a trip to Las Vegas. While we enjoyed the UNITY 2012 and NLGJA conferences, we were disturbed by the "city" itself. Here are 37 reasons why we hated it, presented in no particular order, except that No. 37 is the most insidious.

1. The architecture of confusion reigns supreme, so that you never have any sense of direction, time, or space

2. Carrot Top

3. There is more than one Hard Rock Cafe

4. There's a pyramid with THREE different Starbucks inside of it

5. There is little difference between the strip and the airport, but the airport is better. (While both have slot machines and trap people inside a closed system, the airport has better, cheaper and healthier food options.)

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Gregory Lee, President of National Association of Black Journalists, On the NABJ/UNITY Split, Money, and NLGJA [AUDIO]

Steven Thrasher
Gregory Lee (foreground) of NABJ in a heated exchange with LZ Granderson of ESPN and Mark Whitaker of CNN

Updated below, with a message from former UNITY board member John Yearwood.

Greetings from New York, New York (the city, not the casino) as the Voice has returned from the 2012 UNITY convention in Las Vegas.

The elephant in the room for UNITY, as CNN Worldwide Managing Editor Mark Whitaker acknowledged in UNITY's first panel, was the absence of the National Association of Black Journalists.

For many years, multiple groups of minority journalists (NABJ, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association, and the Native American Journalists Association) would meet every four years in what became the largest "Journalists of Color" convention in the world (and the largest gathering of journalists, period, in the United States). But in a highly public battle, NABJ decided it would not participate in UNITY 2012 about a year ago.

Meanwhile, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association joined UNITY a few months later. The formal name "UNITY Journalists of Color" was changed to simply "UNITY Journalists."

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The Voice Talks Chik-Fil-A on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show [AUDIO]

Steven Thrasher
Hotel view from UNITY 2012 as we called in to WNYC
Greetings from Las Vegas, where we are attending the UNITY 2012 journalism diversity conference, along with meetings of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

We called back home this morning to talk to Brian Lehrer on WNYC about Chik-fil-A, the exciting fast food poultry arena for debating gay marriage that's sweeping the nation.

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