Thursday, February 26, 2015

Same-sex couples may be able to have their own biological children in the future, according to Cell Press study

Liz Neporent, of Good Morning America, reports that same-sex couples may one day be able to have their own biological children, eliminating an existential argument against gay marriage and even homosexuality itself, story here.   It would sound more probable for female couples than male.

I couldn’t find the article on the Cell Press Journal yet, but it should appear soon.  And then, will it be behind an expensive paywall for scientific journals (the Aaron Swartz issue)? 
Surrogacy happens a lot now, as reported on CNN some time back, and in the series “The New Normal” (Sept. 12, 2012).

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Russian anti-gay law contributes to hundreds of asylum requests per year in US

The Washington Blade has a story by Michael J. Lavers about a Russian lesbian who move to Baltimore from Moscow in October, link here. The story did not give last names, and did not say how the couple was supported or how any efforts for political asylum might be progressing.
The story suggested that the Obama administration could freeze the US assets of Russian officials under the Magnitsky Act, for human rights violations as well as aggression in the Ukraine.  The woman in the story was born near the Ukraine border.
Radio Free Europe reports that applications for political asylum from Russia jumped 15% in 2014, with 969 seekers in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2014, story here
It is hard to see how the people are funded or housed once they are here.  Nobody discusses that, and policymakers won’t mention it.  

Monday, February 23, 2015

Gay marriage debate creates new norms for "conformity"

Here’s an interesting perspective on free speech surrounding gay marriage and other issues from a high school senior in southern Minnesota, more or less around the Northfield area (St. Olaf’s and Carlton colleges), link here.   The essay, by guest columnist Jenna Cox in “SouthernMinn” is “Non conformity become conformed”. 
Note how the changing popularity of a new view of civil rights makes speaking out against it make the speaker, formerly in the majority, be perceived as a formerly privileged millstone. 
Of course, the same trend has occurred with others issues, including race. 
There is a tendency for people to demand that others “belong” and have “real life” responsibilities for others (and have to act on these responsibilities, right or wrong) before they are to be heard.  
I found this post on a Facebook posting by Philip Chandler, who runs the blog “Gay Equality and the Law” here.  
Picture: near Rosemount, MN, where I once spoke at the Dakota Unitarian Fellowship. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Challenging the immutability argument (or at least over-dependence on it) again

I recall having dinner at a restaurant in Dallas in early 1984 with a fellow chess player, having drawn him in the first game of a Sunday doubleheader, when I told him I was gay, after he challenged me.  Then he retorted that I must have chosen it.  But he wasn’t “prejudiced”.
The Washington Post today has an op-ed by Brooklyn (Park Slope) writer Sally Kohn, “I’m gay, and I want my kid to be gay, too”, link here. The speaker challenges the hegemony of immutability, the “born that way” argument, or at least relying on it, even now as the Supreme Court considers one of its most critical cases ever (at least since 2003).
I can remember, back at the Ninth Street Center, back in the 1970s, that it was sometimes said, in the Paul Rosenfels Community, as it has since come to be called, that it one could rightfully choose to be gay.
I’ve never been very comfortable with depending on it.  It sounds too much like race, joining up with a group to claim victimhood.  Also, there are (other) “behavior inclinations” (there’s no nice way to say it) that do indeed have directly negative consequences, like a proclivity toward drug and alcohol dependence, where there is pretty clearly some genetic influence, but that doesn’t change the pressure to treat it.  So we won’t to see that applied to sexual orientation.  We don’t want to see a prenatal genetic test for sexual orientation (“Twilight of the Golds”).  At least I don’t.  Conservatives reach their own wall on that one.
For all those years where what we wanted was privacy and to be left alone, we did depend on the victimless crime argument.  HIV gave social conservatives some ammunition for a while in the 1980s (until their medical speculations were debunked), but what I always wondered was, back at the time of my William and May expulsion and NIH “hospitalization”, why did you make my private life your business? 
It’s true that I’m an only child, so there is lineage death, and that’s one thing. But the main concern seemed to be not so much my direct “conduct” but what the effect on others would be if my propensities (the military debate of 1993, again) were viewed as morally legitimate (in any religion).  While the drive for intercourse might be inborn in most men, the capability “stay with it” – one partner – and raise kids for decade, given the cost and risks, and distractions as partners get older and face random calamities (or maybe sacrifices, like from war or hostility) could be jeopardized if other (“people like me”) were allowed to “get out of things.”  That is very much the idea I grew up with.
Metro Weekly reports that Erik Erickson, conservative blogger for “Red State News” and Fox, compared gay activists to ISIS, in this story. No debate on fundamental postulates allowed.  Immutability became the equivalent of the “Axiom of Choice” in mathematics, and that is ironic.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Arkansas voids local ENDA-like laws; Pentagn points gay chief of staff; Oregon has bisexual governor

Arkansas has passed a bill to rescind all local laws protecting LGBT persons from discrimination, unless the state later passes such a law.  Josh Israel has a story in ThinkProgress here.  It wasn’t immediately clear if the scope of the law is limited just to LGBT issues.  The governor, Asa Hutchinson (R) was expected to sign it.  But in 2014 Jan Brewer (R) had vetoed a similar law in Arizona.  Wal-Mart, headquartered in the state, does protect its own employees.
The Washington Blade is reporting the name of a gay man, Eric Fanning, as civilian Pentagon Chief of Staff, story by Michael Lavers here. Fanning had been Air Force undersecretary.  I had long wondered, during the days of DADT, about indirect effects on civilians, which were an issue for me (remember that it took until 1995 for Clinton to protect civilians with high level security clearances). 
And Kate Brown, bisexual, is the nation’s first “openly” gay governor, Oregon (story in LA Times here).  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Army will go slow on discharging transgender soldiers; also, a grammar and spelling lesson

The Army will take the lead among the services and require more procedure before discharging a transgender soldier for that reason.  US Today reported this development  in a story by Tom Vanden Brook February 16, 2015, here. At least one senior civilian official in the Department of the Army must approve the discharge.  The other services have not yet announced similar measures.
But technically, a medical ineligibility ban on transgender soldiers in the US military continues.

Vox has an article by German Lopez, explaining why the correct adjective is (grammatically) “transgender” and not “transgendered”.  I’ve often misspelled this.  Making it a participle makes it sound like “blacked” or “colored”.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Some people still mistreat kids of same-sex parents

Here’s a case where a mother won’t let her daughter go to a friend’s house because the friend has two moms. The Washington Post story by Steven Petrow is called “Civilities”   And here we go, judging the kids by what we think of their parents.  No wonder some kids take this as a license for bullying. 
I suppose the parent is wondering what the child will think of her own family given knowledge that there are same-sex parents around