- The Washington Times - Friday, May 29, 2009

Gay marriage jeans

Levi jeans mannequins have some new threads, in the form of white ribbons subtly affixed to their shirts, pants and tied around their wrists as a sign of the company’s support for gay marriage.

The San Francisco-based retailer has become a high-profile member of the White Knot for Equality campaign, in which gay marriage advocates wear white ribbons because, according to the group, “everyone should have the right to tie the knot.”

Levi Strauss & Co. has a history of gay rights activism. It claims it was the “first major U.S. company” to give full medical benefits to same-sex couples in 1992.

In 2009, the retailer filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court stating its opposition to Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. It also donated $25,000 to the National Center for Lesbian Rights and $25,000 to the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center, according to a May 27 company announcement.

“The Levi Strauss Foundation and Levi Strauss & Co. have a proud history of promoting equal rights and fighting for social justice dating back to the 1940s, when the company integrated our sewing plants,” said Robert Haas, president of the Levi Strauss Foundation. “We’re making this commitment to these leading equal rights organizations because they are at the forefront of vital legal, public policy, community-building work to promote social justice. This is a critical time for businesses, community organizations and citizens to join together to achieve equal rights for all.”

College exemption

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which raised $143 million in revenue during the 2008 college basketball tournament, has become a lucrative business for many schools and people are starting to wonder whether university athletic departments should be able to maintain their tax-exempt status.

The Congressional Budget Office recently issued a report, at the request of Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. It explored the justification for existing tax preferences for college sports out of concerns “some activities undertaken by colleges and universities are only loosely connected to educating students and might be viewed as unrelated to the schools’ tax-favored purpose.”

It found that among Division I-A schools 60 percent to 80 percent of the athletic department revenue comes from commercial activities, a proportion seven to eight times more than the rest of the schools’ activities and programs “suggesting that their sports programs may have crossed the line from educational to commercial endeavors.”

The report advised Congress that if it believes college athletic programs are “primarily commercial” there would be rationale for eliminating or greatly reducing preferential tax treatment by limiting the deduction of charitable contributions, limiting the use of tax-exempt bonds or limiting the exemption from income taxation.

A Schwarzen-zinger

Yet another reporter has asked a high-ranking Republican whether conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh was “in charge” of the GOP.

But California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this time took an unexpected shot at the talk titan in his response

“They say that Rush Limbaugh is the 800-pound gorilla in the Republican Party, but I think that’s mean-spirited to say because I think he’s down to 650 pounds,” the governor cracked in his answer to CNN.com anchorwoman Nicole Lapin during a Web segment.

So-to-mai-yor

Troubled over the correct way to pronounce Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s last name? Just forget about putting the emphasis on the final syllable (as is done in Spanish) and say it as an English-speaker would, says National Review’s Mark Krikorian.

“One of the areas where conformity is appropriate is how your new countrymen say your name, since that’s not something the rest of us can just ignore, unlike what church you go to or what you eat for lunch,” he wrote on National Review’s blog the Corner. “And there are basically two options - the newcomer adapts to us, or we adapt to him. And multiculturalism means there’s a lot more of the latter going on than there should be.”

President Obama, who often makes the effort to use ethnic pronunciations, has said the name in the Spanish manner (so’-to-mai-YOR) and in the English way (rhymes with “Oscar Mayer”).

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at [email protected] washingtontimes.com


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