Tuesday, September 30, 2008

CA: NY Times has editorial on Proposition 8

On Monday Sept 29, The New York Times had four editorials, none of them directly about the Bailout Controversy. The third editorial was called “Preserving California’s Constitution,” with link here.

The editorial refers to Proposition 8 on the ballot in California in the Nov. 4 general election, trying to implement a constitutional amendment overturning the California Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage. The editorial notes that governor and former movie star Arnold Schwazenegger opposes the amendment. The Times writes “it is our fervent hope that Californians will reject the mean-spirited attempt to embed second-class treatment of one group of citizens in the State Constitution” and goes on to mention equal protection of the laws.

The editorial mentions the “familiar argument that same-sex marriage undercuts marriage between men and women” and notes that despite the legal status of gay marriage in California now, (traditional) “marriage remains intact.”

The elevator speech version of the “argument” is familiar. But what it really means is that traditional marriage is predicated on the idea to that a married couple has the power socialize people within the family, not only as children but as adults, towards meeting the emotional and sometimes financial needs of other financial members. Married people can have children and sometimes expect others to help raise their children, and can now (as is becoming apparent with the growing eldercare crisis and the likely enforcement of filial responsibility laws in the future) obligate adult children to take care of them. Married people with children expect preferential treatment in the workplace, at the expense of the childless. The financial and emotional “perks” of marriage are part of what makes it rewarding enough to remain not only faithful but “active” when the couple itself faces hardship. In that sense, marriage law today in most states makes second-class citizens out of the unmarried, as a potential resource available for expropriation. That is what the California State Supreme Court meant. Does anyone get this?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

CA: "No On Proposition 8" Website set up

Activists in California have set up a website called “No On Proposition 8” to raise money and provide information about the referendum Nov. 4 which would implement the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, overturning the California Supreme Court opinion in May.

The link is here and the byline is “No on 8: Don’t Eliminate Marriage for Anyone.”

The site has news stories on Proposition 8 and on celebrity or corporate support for defeating it in California.

There is always a possibility that the undesirable vote (“yes”) is more likely to be made by a voter unfamiliar with the issue.

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund advised its mailing list of the website today.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Clay Aiken will make a big announcement in People Magazine Wed.

American Idol singer Clay Aiken (age 29) will say that he is gay in an interview to be published online around 4 AM PDT on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008 by People Magazine. Perhaps this story will take people's minds off of Wall Street, the stock market and bailouts.

Reuters is carrying the story (and it is very slow to load this evening!) here. The New York Daily News "gossip" is also carrying it (link) in a brief by Patrick Hugeunin.

However, Aiken has fathered a child by Jaymes Foster, who apparently was a surrogate mother. One could say, he has answered one moral question (by taking the "risk" of fatherhood) and created another (people who follow the gay marriage debate know that that is).

Aiken rocketed to fame by finishing second alongside Studdard on "American Idol" in 2003. He often sung outside in New York City on Good Morning America and could raise the roof with his songs. Some of them have interesting or perhaps ironic titles, like “Measure of a Man.”

He was raised apparently in a southern Baptist culture in North Carolina, and had he not won, he might have become a special education teacher. He did a lot of volunteer work with autistic children, and his book “Learning to Sing” discusses many sensitive points. On one substitute teaching assignment, I brought his book into the teacher's break room, and one teacher (reading the Book of Mormon) strenuously objected.

Wikipedia gives a lot of details about his charity work.

Aiken has always refused to discuss his private life until now. Recently, the usually lean and geeky star has looked a bit bloated, by his own admission, from anti-depression medications. Perhaps the public statement will relieve his mind and be good for his own health and energy.

In practice, it is rather common for younger celebrities (even when straight) to appear in “gay” establishments without attracting any particular notice, especially those that cater to supposedly “mixed” crowds (the “Gay Nineties” in Minneapolis has had that reputation).

Update: Sept. 24

The People story is online now. The title is "Clay Aiken: I'm a Gay Dad", by David Calpan, posted precisely at 7 AM EDT. The link is here. He says something like, "I cannot raise a child to lie or hide things." Do tell.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gays and eldercare responsibilities: a law professor makes a bald speculation in a book

Yesterday, on the books blog (check my Profile and the archives), I reviewed a book by American University Washington College of Law professor Nancy D. Polikoff. The title “Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage: Valuing All Families Under the Law” sounds self-explanatory, and indeed answers the “marriage culture” issue in a manner similar to a GLIL editorial called “License Expired” in 1995.

But I wanted to focus on one naked speculation that took me back. Yes, I know where she is coming from, but I want to expand that further, beyond the book review. The sentence occurs on p. 151, when she is talking about eligibility for benefits for supporting other dependents outside of legally recognized marriage. She writes, “A gay man with no partner may be the one among his adult siblings best suited to move in with, support, and care for an aging parent or grandparent.” (Emphasis is mine.) My goodness, including grandparents is a bit gratuitous, isn’t it? What came to mind immediately is “family slave” situation with a young heterosexual woman (Renee Zellweger) in Carl Franklin’s 1998 movie “One True Thing” (novel by Anna Quindlen) where she gives up a relationship and career to take care of her cancer-stricken mother (Meryl Streep), when her father (William Hurt) singles her out for the sacrifice. I’m also reminded of a couple of episodes in TheWB’s “Seventh Heaven” where young medical intern Matt (Barry Watson) is criticized for ignoring his “family” (younger siblings) when he is too busy with medicine.

Yes, the negative buzzwords and interpretations (for Polikoff’s hypothesis) float around in the head. “Second class citizen” is the obvious term. Someone’s life is to be expropriated for another’s benefit because it is not as “worthy” as the lives of the siblings, not because of “choices” that the individual made, because of what he didn’t do. Of course, a few generations ago, we had many unmarried people without children (especially women), and generally they stayed home and looked after their parents without question.

I wrote a post on my retirement blog today suggesting that this is a good reason for some single persons (gay or not) to consider buying homes capable of accepting other dependents, so they maintain sovereignty over their own lives. Such persons may suddenly wish they were married with children themselves, so that they would have a domain of their own to help them retain a sense of equality with others. Suddenly, they are forced to fight and “compete” for the welfare dependent others (such as elders) when they had no choice or did nothing to create the problem, rather than for goals chosen by them. They may be expected to “play family” when in fact, caring for an elder is not the same thing as raising children and doesn’t command the same respect or deference from others. This is really a very serious issue, and everyone seems to miss it. By the way, my retirement blog (again, check the Profile) has a lot of posts about the growing and complex business of long term care insurance, which can become important to adult children, especially those who are themselves childless, and who could some day be held to state filial responsibility laws. The idea that adults can be forced to support others (not their own children) in situations that they could not prevent or did not cause can have profound implications on our moral debates in areas like personal responsibility and sexual morality.

Nevertheless, I have to admit we have a serious disconnect in how we think about personal responsibility. We have grown accustomed to think of everyone as separately accountable for what he or she does, and the modern economic world (including the workplace) tends to demand that. We think of family problems as private matters, to be resolved by the parents themselves, as not our business. And for some time during the boom years of the 90s we could afford to look at it that way. Not now, though. We are constantly reminded of the vulnerability of our “independence”: 9/11, natural disasters, global warming, pandemics (besides HIV), demographics (people living much longer while frail with fewer children), and the latest financial crisis. Autonomy is a bit of a mirage.

Then, it makes sense to admit that responsibility for others comes from events a bit more complicated than just “choosing” to procreate. (I’m setting aside the arguments about immutability; they can be worked back in later.) Anyone is a product of the world that brought him up, and putatively he may owe something back. So it makes sense to say that anyone should be able to face being asked to do caregiving, or to participate in raising other people’s children.

The caregiving she is talking about here is quite different in quality from the volunteer buddy work that the gay community developed in the 1980s with the AIDS crisis (Whitman Walker, GMHC, Oak Lawn Counseling Center, etc). With eldercare one is dealing with a blood relative who may live a long time, become very dependent and need to be pampered, never get better, and who may have a strained relationship with the gay male caregiver, at least in Polikoff’s scenario.

What seems to be at issue is emotional loyalty. Stable traditional marriages are often buttressed on the belief that the parents own a lifetime lien on the blood loyalty of their adult children, who will value the family for its own sake. That gets tied back into the socialization patterns and value systems that make long standing monogamous marital intimacy “worth it” for many couples. Gay men, in particular, seem to have rejected what they perceive as gratuitous, automatic emotion within the family, in exchange for the right to choose intimacy on their own terms, often outside the limits of family manipulation. They may or may not have rejected conventional courtship and familial behavior partly out of discomfort with having to “compete” with other males (for the "privilege" of dominion over future family members). In the grand scheme of things, this hyper-individualism can leave other family members (especially elders) feeling abandoned. It seems as unfair to those parents or other potentially dependent family members as more conventional marital infidelity would be,

Ted Koppel’s special on China pointed out that homosexuality and gay discos in are tolerated there, but many men there believe they must go back into the closet at 30 and marry to be able to fulfill the expectations of “filial piety” in their culture.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

SLDN offers link to send question about "don't ask don't tell" for presidential debate soon

SLDN reports that Barack Obama and John McCain will debate at 8 PM on Friday September 26, 2008. SLDN (Servicemembers Legal Defense Network) is providing a link for visitors to send a question to debate moderator Jim Lehrer about “don’t ask don’t tell.”

The link is here.

The script contains a suggested letter but then suggests use of your own words and experiences.

The talking points (quoted from the link, and I am going to say this is “fair use”, in order to make the point about “firing” uniformed servicemembers in the Armed Forces of the United States) included:

(1) Over 12,500 service members who have risked their lives for our country have been fired because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
(2) Among those fired were nearly 60 Arabic linguists, at a time when our military is already stretched far too thin.
(3)As moderator of the 1st presidential debate, please ask Senator Obama and Senator McCain to go on the record about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

The question I sent (through the link and the web page that follows, to Mr. Lehrer) is as follows:

For Mr. McCain:

“Doesn’t the “don’t ask don’t tell” (as well as the earlier policy of “asking” and excluding gays) slander gay people and imply to the public that GLBT are not “morally” worthy of participating in defending freedom and perhaps not fit in other sensitive areas, like caring for children? I ran into this concern as a substitute teacher. Does the ban affect GLBT in civilian areas? Isn’t this a good reason to lift the ban?”

The title of the question is “Effect on gay civilians”.

I hope someone else will ask what would happen to “don’t ask don’t tell” if there ever were a military draft. Remember that all young men (but not women) within a certain age range must still register with Selective Service.

Picture: The Amistad (a slave ship from the 19th Century) on display at National Harbor on the Potomac River near Washington DC.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Gay Republican speaks out in the gay press

I noticed with great interest the viewpoint article by Los Angeles attorney and writer B. Daniel Blatt in The Washington Blade in the Sept. 12, 2008 issue, on p 26 in print, link here. The title is “Proud to be a Republican” and it adds the byline “it’s easier to be gay among conservatives than to be conservative among gays.” Perhaps true.

He discusses his visit to the Republican convention in St. Paul, and the recognition of his blog, Gay Patriot (it calls itself "The Internet Home for the American Gay Conservative"). I had mentioned it, I see, on an April 30 posting on this blog. Let me say that technically it sets a great example, because it shows how effective Wordpress can be in categorizing and organizing diverse materials in a database. I have some of my materials on Wordpress, but much less of it.

I knew Dan in the 1990s when we both lived in northern Virginia. I had networked then with Log Cabin Republicans. I gradually invested more of my time and “loyalties” in GLIL (Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty) and libertarianism. I would move to Minneapolis for six years, and that would become a whole personal history sequence that I’ve discussed before. On my own writings, I’ve dissected all points of view, and have come to regard myself pretty much as an Independent, perhaps Lieberman style. My own father was a Republican, and what I personally find with people today whom I know in the Party of Lincoln (even people employed by the RNC) is that they often note privately that the current administration is reckless and intellectually bankrupt, and that the party leadership needs to start over.

Dan notes that he is always well treated by everyone in the party. Well, so have I been. What I have a problem with is what I find in the Platform, if I have to stick to drawing existential conclusions from it. I noted (Sept 5) that the Platform wants to keep the military gay ban (it’s not clear if they would go back to formal “asking”). I think they know that this raises my “existential problem” so they make it clear they are against resuming the draft or imposing any kind of mandatory national service (deferring to the idea that freedom from involuntary servitude should be a fundamental right). The platform, on p 45, left side, calls for supporting abstinence-only education for teens. The logical or perhaps “existential” implication is that “sex is only for (heterosexually) married people” (like in an episode of TheWB’s “Seventh Heaven”) and that people disinclined to participate in heterosexual marriage are invited into second class citizenship in a global society. I’ve explained that in my blogs.

When you visit GayPatriot, take a look at the link (on the left, in the Wordpress “categories”) for “Dan’s Novel”. I read this entire document in print in 1997. I’ll say forget Hollywood’s Third Party Rule (or let me be the “Third Party” – I would enjoy working as a film agent) and suggest this would be a terrific film. I can imagine a screenplay (you know, “beginning, middle and end”) and picture in my own mind what a film would look like and visualize it playing at Landmark’s E Street very easily. Dan brings his literary and legal backgrounds together to create novel and perplexing situations while telling a compelling love story. I recall finishing reading the book over lunch in a Madison, WI isthmus coffee shop on my trip out to Minneapolis over Labor Day weekend in 1997 to start my "new life" and being quite moved.

Netflix offers a film "Gay Republicans," directed by Wash Westmoreland in 2004, from "World of Wonder" as a distributor.

I remember that former presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani (whom I would have preferred become the nominee, as would a lot of "moderate" Republicans) has mentioned the dangers of existential thinking in debates. My goodness, GOP personalities and bloggers have attracted so much media attention in the past two weeks that we have forgotten about the existence of Barack Obama. I suppose we could sign personal letters "existentially yours." Nobody would have done that in George Eliot's (to name of of Blatt's favorite novelists) Victorian England, in those days people really wrote letters instead of emails.

Friday, September 12, 2008

British writer offers comments about strict scrutiny, possibly important still in military cases

British writer Philip Chandler, who has lived and worked a long time in the United States, has written a most interesting posting about the role of “strict scrutiny” in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas opinion and the possible role such a holding could still have in military cases (regarding “don’t ask don’t tell”) in the future, even though so far all appeals courts have ruled for the government (keeping the issue out of the Supreme Court until now; note that Keith Meinhold’s win in the 9th Circuit concerned the old policy (“123 Words”) before “don’t ask don’t tell”).

Chandler says that the two circuits analyzed what the Supreme Court actually did with the 2003 opinion, rather than what it says it did. He mentions the Ninth Circuit in reinstating Witt v. Department of the Air Force, No. 06-35644, and that a divided First Circuit made a similar finding (referring to Roe v. Wade) also. The link is here in a posting Sept. 12 titled “The Importance of the Courts as the Elections Draw Near” in a Townhall blog called "Gay Equality and the Law."

The emphasis on fundamental liberty interests presumes an intellectual “bias” toward individual sovereignty, including that the individual should be absolutely accountable for the self insofar as avoiding harm to others. The courts have slowly moved in this direction, even though they often talk about “moral notions” of the past without explaining what that means – beyond religion, I think it has something to do with “karma.”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

LGBT servicemembers and 9/11

Capt. Joan E Darrah (US Navy Ret) has shared a personal story with SLDN supporters today. She was in a briefing room in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and fortunately left the room about ten minutes before the plane hit in the same area of the building. Seven of her colleagues were killed. She had not listed her same-sex partner on her emergency contact notification forms because of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. Had she been a casualty, her partner might not have known for hours. She also writes “Whenever my Admiral would call me into his office, I always feared in the back of my mind that somehow I had been been outed and was about to be fired. The constant fear of losing my career for something other than job performance is hard to quantify.”

SLDN now has a blog on this publishing service, here. The story today concerns the election of U.S. Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol Major General Amy Courter as its first female commander.

Picture: Pentagon in Arlington VA, west side, from the Air Force Memorial. I will visit the new Pentagon Memorial Project for 9/11 victims that opened today very soon.

Sept. 12, 2008

Here is the Memorial:

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sarah Palin's church and ex-gay ministries; are her own views more "libertarian"?

While major political campaigns are trying to leave the personal lives (and especially religious practices) of major presidential and vice-presidential candidates out of the public forum, some particularly ugly stories have emerged concerning the Wasilla Bible Church that Sarah Parlin attends features an ex-gay ministry. There are stories about a the church’s promoting a conference on an “upcoming Focus on the Family conference in Anchorage called Love Won Out.” The Time online reference from Sept. 2, 2008, in a story by Nathan Thornburgh, called “Mayor Palin: A Rough Road,” link here.

Most of us hope that Palin will distance herself personally from all this. (I won’t rehearse the problems with Barack Obama’s ex-pastor.)

The ex-gay demonstration is particularly upsetting because it panders to a particular belief held by many parents: that they need (and are morally entitled to) the “biological loyalty” of all their children, and that having that loyalty is an intrinsic part of how they experience their own permanent and monogamous marriage. Their marriage is what accounts for their kids’ existence and life, so the kids “owe” them this, right? In some ways of raw logic, that sort of thinking makes a disturbing kind of sense, but it is usually hidden by attempts to use “Scripture” as authority. There have been a couple of films (“For the Bible Tells Me So” about Christianity with the Bible, and “A Jihad for Love,” about Islam and the Koran), both from First Run Films, that demonstrate this point well. (Both films are reviewed on my movies blog, the latter film yesterday; check the profile.) That belief system now (since Lawrence v. Texas, at least) falls outside the way our legal system works (based more on individual “personal responsibility”), but many families have trouble getting that.

The news stories have also talked about the situations with Palin’s children. Yes, the details are personal and don’t need to be rehearsed repeatedly in the media. But, and I’ll try to say it as gently as possible, her having of the youngest child does make a subtle point. To wit, that is not the usual “right to life” argument made with respect to the possibility of detecting birth defects in utero with amniocentesis. Anyone can believe what they wish on that. But the very act of having children involves a “risk” in any particular case. When there are several children, the results of the “risk” are born by other family members as well as parents, and even by society. There is a moral question about how the childless should share the “risk” that is inherent in the existence of the world that they enjoy. That kind of thinking expands to a moral critique of "upward affiliation": to have some people excel in life, they must depend on others who don't, and their needs (secondarily) must be addressed with some conviction.

All of this said, Palin’s own statements so far suggest and individualistic, libertarian streak. (She is, in libertarian thought, free to attend any church she wants and practice any faith.) Let’s hope that this is how she will conduct her campaign and how she would conduct herself in the Oval Office, should she wind up in it some day.

Picture: The National Presbyterian Center in Washington DC, where, at least once in 1990 (maybe at other times) Love in Action sponsored a service.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Republican Party platform says affirms "incompatibility" of homosexuality with military service

SLDN (Servicemember’s Legal Defense Network) has informed its supporters of some very disturbing language in the Republic Party’s Platform:

"To protect our servicemen and women and ensure that America's Armed Forces remain the best in the world, we affirm the timeliness of those values, the benefits of traditional military culture, and the incompatibility of homosexuality with military service."

What are they proposing, returning to “asking”?

SLDN gives a link to contact the Republican Party leadership, here.

The language appears on page 5 of the Platform Document, here.

I grew up in a culture that had a military draft, complicated by controversial student deferments and, earlier, fatherhood and marriage deferments (that were eliminated). Sometimes people tried to feign homosexuality to get out of the draft. Many times the military took them anyway. But unsuitability for military service was at first considered evidence or moral unsuitability for participation in many other areas of life, especially those requiring function as a “male role model.” The military policy, although often not enforced, set an example for replication in many areas of civilian society where, for many years, it was actually worse than it was in the military. It is true that this “example setting” theory began to weaken because the credibility of American involvement in Vietnam came under pressure.

In my own life, this is still quite troubling to me today.

To be fair, I have to note that earlier on p 5 the Republican Party writes "The all-volunteer force has been a success. We oppose reinstating the draft, whether directly or through compulsory national service." Nevertheless, in my own personal story to this day, the secondary effect of the military attitude and policy, connected with ideas about gender obligations, has remained very significant in some other areas (as in my substitute teaching stint).

The official policy, formulated in 1982, long before “don’t ask don’t tell”, was stated in the notorious litany called “the 123 Words” as noted by Randy Shilts in his 1993 book “Conduct Unbecoming”.

“Homosexuality is incompatible with military service. The presence in the military environment of persons who engage in homosexual conduct or who, by their statements demonstrate a propensity to engage in homosexual conduct, seriously impairs the accomplishment of the military mission. The presence of such members adversely affects the ability of the Military Services to maintain discipline, good order, and morale; to foster mutual trust and confidence among servicemembers; to ensure the integrity of the system of rank an command; to facilitate assignment and worldwide deployment of servicemembers who frequently must live and work under close conditions affording minimal privacy; to recruit and retain members of the Military Services; to maintain public acceptability of military service; and to prevent breaches of security.”

Fordham University has a link explaining this statement here.
I’ve always thought that the last sentence of this 1982 policy is particularly circular in logical consequences. But that’s what I had to live with during my own coming of age.

Log Cabin Republicans has a story about Steve Schmidt’s speech here.

Patrick Sammon discusses LCR’s endorsement of John McCain in this CNN video on YouTube. He says that, despite the Republican Party leadership, most rank and file Republicans support equal rights for gays, and he says that 64% of Americans support the ability of gays to serve openly in the military. LCR maintains that gay equality cannot be obtained without working within the Republican Party as well as the Democrats. LCR members tend to be economically conservative, to favor capitalism and "personal responsibility" as opposed to more emphasis on government programs. Gay libertarians (like GLIL) take this belief system even further, into the area of its own ideology.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The closet and "second-class citizenship"

Okay, here is a take today on the whole “don’t ask don’t tell” attitude of society as a whole. It was “working” for the first decade or so after Stonewall, when “privacy” was the issue. Then the AIDS epidemic occurred, bringing out into the open the whole gay world in men, at least. It quieted down as the epidemic became more controllable and more a factor in other communities. But then, in the 90s, gays in the military and gay marriage or domestic partnerships emerged as live political issues. And with the advent of the Internet and World Wide Web, self-expression became a new norm of behavior.

It used to be “your private life was only your business.” Well, not exactly. The truth is that the social support of the traditional family (led by an opposite-sex legally married monogamous couple) is an important component of marriage, and of what many married couples expect. They tend to expect the emotional pamperings and public celebrations. Furthermore, they expect to gain a sphere of “power” from their marriage: at least with their own children, effective even after the children become legal adults. After all, parents have more children (with socially and legally supported marital sexual intercourse) and can create obligations for older siblings to care for them. Having kids involves biological risks that others in the family and surrounding community will have to share. That gets to be perceived as part of the whole communal “fairness” thing. That’s all subsumed by society’s “regulation” of sexuality through marriage.

So, parents need to be public about it. Their kids, after all, are a public statement of their “sexuality.” We’ve gotten so used to this that we hardly think about it consciously. But the public affirmation is an integral part of a marriage experience that keeps it active as the partners age or face “sickness and health”. But when a gay person is asked (as in the military, or even in publicly sensitive jobs or family contexts) to keep his sexual orientation secret (to protect the unchallenged psychological comfort of married couples and perhaps even his own parents), all of the sudden he realizes his whole life is kept subordinate to the needs of those who engage in socially and legally supported procreation, because those who do so really “need” the preferred treatment and pampering. (I am reminded of this when I see members of a local Mormon stake parade their babies outside next to a liberal church across the street.) In a global and very public (and communications driven) world, the gay person becomes a second-class citizen. “We” couldn’t exist without them, so we wait behind them in line.

No wonder, gay marriage, gay adoption, and lifting “don’t ask don’t tell” are seen as ways to raise one from second-class citizenship.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Gay marriage is a boon to Massachusetts economy, with out-of-state visitors

Gay marriage is helping provide an economic boost in Massachusetts. This is discussed in a story on p A3 of the Sept. 3, 2008 Washington Post by Keith B. Richburg. The title is “A milestone for Gays; a boom for Massachusetts; Nonresidents same-sex weddings bring economic boost”, link here.

One reason for the boon is the recent executive order from the new (after the Spitzer resignation) executive order from New York State governor David A. Paterson (Democratic) to recognize out-of-state marriages for same-sex couples.

Another is that Massachusetts repealed its 1913 segregationist “marriage tourism” law, actually intended to prevent interracial couples from coming to Massachusetts to marry from states that had driven them away with “Jim Crow” laws. It’s odd that past segregation could be used for a while to interfere with same-sex marriage.

Apparently visitors have to stay in the state three days to marry, increasing the economic boon.

Provincetown, on Cape Cod, seems to be booming all the time (as long as it stays out of hurricanes or “perfect storms”). I visited it with friends in 1976 (eventually to visit Mount Washington), but I had actually visited it in the 1950s during boyhood with a family, when it was very “different” from what it is today.

The reports on economic benefits to states with gay marriage might be helpful in defeating the referendum in California in November, trying to overturn the state supreme court ruling.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Town DC holds "Pride" fundraiser for Barack Obama

Last night (Sunday Aug. 31), Obama Pride (link) held a furndraiser at the Town DC disco at 8th and U Streets, NW in Washington DC, to support the presidential bid by Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, along with vice-presidential nominee Joseph Biden.

"Pride Barack Obama" has an issue fact sheet on GLBT issues. Obama favors repeal of "don't ask don't tell" and opposes a federal constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The link for the PDF issue sheet is here.

The event started at 9 PM and the crowd was well built up by 10 PM. Relatively few people used the secured parking ($15) and found parking on the street in a the Howard University area. There was a brief drag show downstairs at 11 PM, lasting less than thirty minutes.

The cost before 11 PM was just $10 and we had to sign donation forms to comply with campaign finance law. It appeared that people 18-21 were admitted.

The upstairs dance floor sported some new laser lighting, which may have been related to the campaign. The lighting seemed to concentrate on red and blue colors. On a Sunday night on a holiday weekend, the floor was pretty packed and lively by midnight. The crowd seemed larger than I would have expected, but some people may not have gone to Reboboth Beach because of the disruption caused by Bay Bridge repairs. The “puffy chair” lounge at the front of the upstairs was pretty full, too.

I’ve noticed something consistently at gay discos, and not just in Minneapolis before, where I might have expected it. A larger portion of men than statistically likely are very tall (over 6’ 4”). Is there a possible genetic correlation between tallness and some other conditions that make homosexual orientation in men more likely? Has there ever been a study like this? I don’t recall this in Chandler Burr’s work (“A Separate Creation” and the 1993 Atlantic article “Homosexuality and Biology”) mentioning this, although he did a lot of discussion of left-handedness. (A large percentage of US presidents have been left-handed.)

Second picture: from earlier event ("talent show") at Town DC Aug. 1