Saturday, April 30, 2011

CobaltDC has "Meltdown" event with ShiftDC to start May Day

CobaltDC had its ShiftDC event April 30, merging into May Day, with a theme based on Japan.  Terlihe Internet announcement indicated that the party was partially at least a benefit for Japan in the wake of the earthquake; it was called “Meltdown”.  The Blogger announcement is here

There was plenty of Japanese décor and primary-color hats (I don’t know the term).  I put on a yellow one for a while.


Another sartorial them that showed up was “It Gets Better”, which Ellen DeGeneres has promoted on her daytime show (after the Tyler Clementi  tragedy). The link for the "It Gets Better Project" is this.  The upstairs was packed by about 11:30, as usual (it's a relatively small dance floor).  It’s funny, I met someone else with a Blackberry (like the president’s); it seems that the Blackberry is out of fashion now on dance floors given iPhones, etc. 

As for the “meltdown” theme  (referring to the catastrophe at the coastal nuclear power plants in Japan caused by the tsunami following the March 2011 earthquake, widely covered by mainstream media like CNN), discos sometimes make light of tragedies, even at benefits. In Berlin, Germany, in May, 1999, I went to the Connection Disco and downstairs found a prison exhibit making light of the Holocaust.  Twitter wasn’t around then, but a tweet about it wouldn’t have sounded so nice. (Just read Anderson Cooper’s tweets about behavior he finds objectionable at the partying going on right now at the “heterosexual” celebration in Britain.)  I met a nice graduate student from Britain (born and raised in Leipzig before the wall fell) that night.  Later on that vacation, I took a night (Eurailpass) train (from Berlin) East to Krakow and did make a personal visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau site, which takes about half a day. It is quite an experience to remember for the rest of one’s life. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Former West Point cadet cannot be readmitted because certification of DADT repeal is not complete

The AP has a story about former West Point cadet Katherine Miller. She had left the United States Military Academy under “don’t ask don’t tell” and was recently denied readmission because the repeal hasn’t been certified yet.

She is graduating from Yale and moving on with life.

The Academy says it cannot legally readmit her now, but would if allowed to do so later, based on her record and performance.

If she does not ever return, it will be one more example of the axiom that bad policies have real consequences for real people, and lead to losses for society as a whole.   

I would have to say that about my own coming of age.

Wikipedia attribution link for p.d. picture of first female graduates of West Point, 1980/

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Washington Blade reinvents itself again, and gets a great nod in the Wall Street Journal

The Washington Blade will commence its makeover with this Friday (April 29) edition, just in coincidence with a very famous heterosexual wedding across the Pond, perhaps.

Sarah E. Needleman wrote a synoptic story for the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, and the Blade tweeted it. The title is “Blade Rises from the Ashes” (not like the University of Phoenix), link here

Remember that in November 2009 the Blade, as were all other gay papers owned by Windows Media, was suddenly locked out on a Monday morning by a bankruptcy.  I went to one of the wigwams that week at the Hard Rock Café downtown. But by Friday it had a small print edition as “DC Agenda” (guess what the “agenda” is – marriage equality).  Kevin Nash and two other principals formed Brown, Naff & Pitts Omnimedia Inc, and bought the paper out of bankruptcy, including the right to use the trademarked Blade name.
 OK, here's a competitor (from 2010 Pride):

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Constitutional lawyer resigns from law firm over pullout from DOMA "defense"

A constitutional lawyer, Paul D. Clement, resigned from his law firm King & Spalding after the firm announced it would pull out of defending the government’s position on the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The Washington Times carried a front page news story Tuesday, by Cheryl  Wetztein here.

Mr. Clement denied that his personal views on the issue had any effect on his decision. He said that a trial lawyer’s career is predicated on defending the positions of others regardless of personal conviction. That’s certainly an interesting and controversial point for a writer like me.  

DOMA seems much more controversial today (to me, at least) than it did when President Clinton signed it in 1996 without that much pressure. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

SLDN's "Times Square Clock" on "don't ask don't tell" repeal and certification

SLDN  (Servicemembers Legal Defense Network) has a “The Clock Is Running” tweet right now, rather like the National Debt Clock. It’s the days, hours, minutes and seconds since President Obama signed the “conditional” repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”.


From the point of view of my own karma, going back to my own expulsion from a civilian college (William and Mary) for admitting “latent homosexuality” back in 1961 to my own incident-free Army service, this is some denouement. Or, as they say, in the movies, payoff.  And I do want to take my own “Do Ask Do Tell” title to the movies. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

House Armed Services Committee Chairman wants to complicate the certification process for repeal of DADT


Buck McKeon (R-CA) wants to introduce and support legislation that would require each individual service chief to certify that his branch was ready for “open service” before the complete repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”. Chris Johnson has a major story in the Washington Blade April 19 here , where the story says the legislation would “disrupt” the repeal. McKeon is House Armed Services Committee Chairman.  Recently, the Committee held oversight hearings on the certification process, reported here April 8.

C-SPAN has a recent newsmakers interview with McKeon, where he claims that he has nothing against gays, but is concerned about the other troops.  He also politicizes it, complaining that the repeal was pushed through a lame duck session of a "Democratic Congress". Odd reasoning indeed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

House Judiciary Subcommittee challenges Maggie Gallagher on DOMA

The House Judiciary  Subcommittee on the Constitution questioned Maggie Gallagher, chair of the National Organization for Marriage, on DOMA and on whether it makes members of same-sex unions second class citizens or whether it would matter if it does, on Friday April 15.

Chris Johnson has a major story in the Washington Blade, here

Gallagher said that preservation of an “ideal” should not stigmatize families that do not live up to it. But she also said, “Marriage is the union of husband and wife for a reason: these are the only unions that create new life and connect those children in love to their mother and father.” 

The subcommittee page for the hearing is here  and it has sublinks to testimonials by Gallagher, Carlos Ball, and Edward Whealan.

Logic can be merciless. If marriage confers privileges upon those who enter and stay in it, those who do not must subsidize it. Sometimes this causes sacrifice from them, or for others to treat them with less regard or be less willing to listen to them.  In a practical sense, marriage equality may affect singles and those not in relationships as much as it affects same-sex couples.
 
One could say that marriage (or what some social conservatives like Carlson and Mero call the "natural family"), as an institution, bridges the spheres of individual rights as we normally perceive them today and large concerns about community sustainability and shared purpose, which throughout history has often caused unequal sacrifices from individuals.  But is she willing to really say that?  Other writers, like Jennifer Roback Morse, has said as much, for example, that the "laissez-faire family doesn't work".

Is that concern about "second class citizenship" that led me to focus on the military gay ban back in the early 1990s, based on the history of my own life.  


Saturday, April 16, 2011

LLDEF files challenge to DOMA

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (LLDEF) has a writeup on the case “Golinski vs. United States Office of Personnel Management and John Berry, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in his Official Capacity”, link here.  LLDEF has filed an amended complaint challenging the constitutionality of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act (1996).   This was done after a complicated series of events where a federal judge dismissed an earlier spousal benefits discrimination complaint and invited a direct challenge to DOMA.
Pictures: Party time, no relation to case. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Male soldiers perceived to be gay still sometimes are targeted for attacks (Newsweek story)

Newsweek runs a horrific story on p 40 of the April 11, 2011 issue, “The Military’s Secret Shame”, by Jesse Ellison, link here

This article deals with male-on-male attacks within the military, which may happen more often against those perceived to be gay, because the DADT policy (or previous “absolute ban”) would protect the perpetrators, who are more interested in power and control.

When I was in basic training in 1968, during perhaps the second week, I was “approached” by a man who had maxed the PCPT test.  I rebuffed him, and nothing happened; but if he had persisted, I probably would have been “blamed.” 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

TownDC has an "outed sailors" party upstairs

I didn’t encounter TownDC’ progressive dinner party (I got there about 11), but upstairs (which didn’t open until midnight), there was a kind of “repeal don’t ask don’t tell” party, with many men dressed as sailors, but in shorts – gams in good condition only, please. (It was still around 50 degrees and dank outside.)  There was also a huge UFO hanging from the ceiling, something right out of Spielberg’s “CEIII”, as well as some dancers made up as Avatars (but silver rather than blue).   The message: maybe the purveyors of NBC’s “The Event” aren’t wrong, and our next battle will be extraterrestrials. Or maybe tomorrow’s military will wonder about unit cohesion on a spaceship with a 6 month journey to Mars. How does DADT play out in the space program now? I wonder.

Don't forget: legally, "DADT" is still in effect. Discharges can still happen. 

Orange Line was packed as I came home at 2 AM, because of a show at the Armory (RFK).  And someone was whistling that catchy tune from “Hanna” on the Metro. 
Pictures (above): remember, on Pandora, the ideas about what "matters" won't be the same as ours. 

Also: Many of the Navy "uniforms" or other T-shirts last night had back-door pictures reading "COBALT DC" and "NELLIES".  

Any the exercise really got vigorous last night.  

If you want to see a lot of 30-inch waistlines (or even less  -- that "Andrew Garfield" look from Details, GQ or "Social Network"), go to a gay disco:

These camera's won't snap quickly in low light. As for "Yours Truly", it's more like 34 inches, but that keeps me off of "Sami's" program on NBC.

And now it's movietime. Sorry, no IMAX 3D. You have to go to AMC or Regal (or the Smithsonian, now that the government stayed open) for that. 

video

Friday, April 08, 2011

House Armed Service Committee holds DADT repeal certification hearing, publishes video on YouTube (2 hrs)

The House Armed Services Committee hearings on the certification of the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”, from April 7, 2011, appear on YouTube, 115 minutes in length.

Mr. Bartlett chaired. 

The general tone of the comments went something like this. “We all know that gays and lesbians serve in the military.  But the concern is the Law that requires us to discharge them if …”  As a whole, the tone of the service chiefs was pretty optimistic.

Generally, training is going smoothly. There is a small undercurrent of people who say they would want to leave, but it doesn’t sound significant. There was a comment that a small number of people from specialized units may have left.  But there was also a comment that more good people will serve.

One female member of the House insisted that the service chiefs did not have to certify the repeal, and asked about the right of chaplains not to perform gay marriages or preach doctrine they did not believe.

There was a discussion of the “lack of privacy”, particularly in the Marine Corps, the youngest of the services.  But I actually encountered this with college roommates back in 1961 at William and Mary (the civilian campus world has changed a lot since then; look at how Facebook got founded at Harvard).

There will be no provision to build separate barracks or personal facilities in the military.

There was a question as to whether LG personnel who had been discharged could return, and normal procedures would be followed to allow them to do so.

There was a comment that the repeal was passed in a “lame duck” session in December, whereas the “Democrat” Congress failed to pass the 2011 budget, leading to the threat of a shutdown this weekend that would delay military pay!

.

Here is the text of the letter from Gen. Casey. 

Speakers:

Majority Statements

·         Buck McKeon 
Chairman 
Full Committee 

Witness Panel 1

·         General Peter W Chiarelli 
Vice Chief of Staff 
U.S. Army
·         Admiral Gary Roughead, USN 
Chief of Naval Operations 
U. S. Navy
·         General James F. Amos, USMC 
Commandant 
U. S. Marine Corps
·         General Norton A. Schwartz, USAF 
Chief of Staff 
U. S. Air Force
The Washington Blade has a story by Chris Johnson on the hearings, dated April 8, here

The Metro Weekly has a story by Chris Geidner April 7, here


Thursday, April 07, 2011

UCLA reports on the percentage of gays and bisexuals; also UCLA reports on lesbians as parents


Carol Morello has a story in the Washington Post about the number of gay and lesbian people in the US, as self-idenfied, as about 9 million, or 3.5%.  The link is here.

But people who denied bisexuality and were exclusive homosexual were less than 2%.  It’s also likely that the percentage of males with no sexual interest in women is between 1.5 and 2%.

It would be interesting to survey the number of men who have married and had children and later came out.

The study came from the UCLA school of law.  I also found another study report which reports a study from UCLA (Nannette Gartrell) showing that lesbians may make better parents (of teens particularly) than heterosexuals.  Story on Prospect (“Do gays really make better parents?”) by Gabe Arana here. Indeed, "The Kinds Are All Right." 


Study reports disturbing findings about long term care facilities with LGBT people

“LGBT Long Term Care: Stories from the Field”, from the National Senior Citizens Law Center, is a short YouTube video with Phyliss Lyon. The video is offered along with the release of a report “LGBT Older Adults in Long Term Care Facilities: Stories from the Field”, link (website url) here.  The survey results, including reports of discrimination and restrictions for visitors, are disturbing. Lyon advises making a long-term care directive with an attorney early.

I’m already getting asked about purchasing LTC insurance by my bank. From a policy perspective, there could be an incentive to require childless people to purchase insurance if possible – and that means intrusive medical checkups. I don’t want to be hounded about my PSA number all the time. I think you can let it ride.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

VA governor considers allowing gay couples to adopt, despite "conservative" reputation

Virginia governor Robert McDonnell, already controversial as a “conservative Republican” who seemed willing to compromise equal rights for gays in Virginia with scrapes in the past, is now considering a change in regulations that would allow gay couples, not legally married (impossible because of Va.’s recent constitutional amendment -- Marshall-Newman) to adopt children.

Currently Virginia rules allow only singles (who can be gay) and legally married couples to adopt, but not cohabiting unmarried couples.

The Washington Post story by Anita Kumar appeared April 5, here

Of course, there is a debate.  Are two committed parents always better than one?  Do they have to be a “mother and father”?

Another part of the debate is whether faith-based "private" agencies can follow their own belief systems when placing children for adoption.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Board allows openly gay sailor to stay in

An administrative board voted last week not to discharge an “openly gay” sailor after a Myspace photo of his kissing another male surfaced. 

CNN has a story early Monday by Craig Johnson, about Petty Officer Second Class Derek Monaldo, 26, link here.

This is one of the first instances where an administrative hearing did not recommend discharge.  Technically, DADT remains in effect and soldiers and sailors can be discharged for statements until the repeal is certified. But indirect statements, such as those on social networking sites, may be interpreted less strictly than in the past, and discharges now have to go through the Pentagon. 

Before the debate on the ban started in 1993, Navy officials had looked the other way and pretended to perform investigations on Keith Meinhold, until he appeared on national television in May 1992, helping kick-start the debate before Clinton's election.
video

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Arlington VA Unitarian church hosts celebration of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" repeal -- but it could still slip away

On Sunday, April 3, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington and SLDN (Servicemembers Legal Defense Network) hosted “A Celebration of the Repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’” at 4 PM. The service was a mock funeral with a burial of the scroll of the litany of the 1993 law. Since I missed the anniversary dinner (March 20 here), this was my "make-up event". 

On Friday, April 1, SLDN attended an oversight hearing of the certification process, which it reported on here

Chris Johnson has reported in the Washington Blade that the repeal could be certified by mid-summer, link here

Three servicemembers gave perspectives on the repeal. Joan Darrah (Capt, USN, ret, almost 30 years service) led off with a story of how she was in a briefing room in the Pentagon seven minutes before it was destroyed on September 11, 2001. This is the stuff of movies (one of my screenplay scripts “American Epic” explores an idea similar to this).

Mile Rankin (also, Capt, USN ret) followed, and then Julie Hawkins spoke about her discharge in 1993 after a witch-hunt in Hawaii outed her (shortly before President Clinton announced “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue”).  She spoke about how a recent male Annapolis graduate and only an ensign conducted her investigation.

The music for the event will be covered on my “drama” blog today shortly. 
video

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Virginia B&B denies reservation to gay couple, then reverses policy

On March 22, the Washington Blade carried online a curious story by Chris Johnson about the initial refusal of a bed-and-breakfast in Fairfax, VA, the Stafford House, to accept a reservation from a same-sex couple, Russell Williams, 56, and David Schaefer, 54. The couple had been married in Boston five years ago.

 The couple was also told that unmarried heterosexual couples would also be denied reservations.

 After this earlier report Mar 22 in the Blade online (link), the business said it would accept same-sex couples (print article March 25 on scribd here, also by Johnson).
  
The establishment has a website and illustration of the property (website url) here

It's important to remember that libertarian positions say that property owners should be able to have whatever policies they like, and that market pressures (and social visibility) will usually force non-discrimination (which seems to have happened here). 

Also, Cobalt DC was a packed as ever for a Friday night April 1, on a cold night.  People actually become less “intimate” when the crowd is so thick. 

But the world is changing, partly because of eldercare and demographics (and Virginia has a filial responsibility law  -- my Retirement blog, July 12, 2007).  We’re heading toward a world where everybody has to be responsible for someone, regardless of choices.