Monday, June 29, 2009

Police "inspection" of Fort Worth gay bar reminds me of outright police harassment in Dallas in 1980, when I lived there

CNN is reporting in a video that a few patrons of a new gay bar, the Rainbow Lounge, in Fort Worth Texas were injured, one severely in the ICU, when police “inspected” a bar that had been open only a short while. Media reports indicate that the purpose of the "raid" was an ABC liquor inspection.

The “raid” was the subject of a pride march in Dallas yesterday.

I lived in Dallas from 1979-1988. In 1979 and 1980, police sometimes made false arrests in gay bars in Dallas, charging people with public lewdness. Charges were sometimes dropped, but others were plea bargained, and one man was threatened with jail if he didn’t leave Dallas. Many of the arrests were traced to one police officer by the Dallas Gay Alliance, at the time led by Bill Nelson and Terry Tebedo (who also operated the Crossroads Market on Cedar Springs – with several very cuddly cats – for years). Finally one particular defendant (a computer operator for ARCO) fought the charges and won in court, and the harassment stopped.

In 1982, Judge Jerry Buchmeyer overturned the Texas sodomy law 21.06 in the Baker v. Wade case, but his ruling was vacated by the Fifth Circuit. All of this is overridden by Lawrence v. Texas in 2003.

Attribution link for Wikimedia Commons picture of downtown Fort Worth with Tandy Center here.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

On Stonewall Day, an existential exchange on a libertarian gay listserver

Today, Saturday June 27, is said to be the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City. In New York, Pride March would always be held the last Sunday in June, and it would first be called "Christopher Street Liberation Day" for some time.

So, today (Saturday) there was a posting on the GLIL (Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty) in a thread called “Canterbury is sufficiently gay” to the effect that conservatives were not always antithetical to individual gay rights, and California governor Ronald Reagan’s opposition to the Briggs Initiative (that would have banned gay teachers) in 1978 was mentioned. (I almost moved to LA at the end of 1978.)

I wrote something like this:

“I remember the CA Briggs Initiative of 1978, the news of it when I lived in NYC. I remember Reagan's opposition. I think it makes an interesting comparison to DADT today. The military can set an example (a bad one) for other areas.

“What strikes me in the past few years about the debate over "marriage" is that some people (the Maggie Gallagher crowd) feel that the social approbation that they get in their communities (and the "power" over people in their own families) helps feed the passion of marital relations -- committed over a long time "in sickness and in health" etc. They try to get out of arguments about "equality" and "justice" by saying that it's about "living in a community." And, yes, I remember well Gene's "Licensed Expired" from the 1990s.

“I’ve had some reason to "live this" and I am being forced to understand what it really means "to them." It just doesn't mean that to me.

“I ran into some of the same issues as a substitute teacher -- where I was expected to "play family" or pretend to be an "authority figure". I have no interest in being a family or political authority or power figure. (Sort of like soap operas -- Days of our Lives, etc.) Actually, the Supreme Court decision (Souter) about the Safford case in AZ Friday relates distantly to what happ ened to me as a sub -- and supports what I did (or, that is, didn't do).

“Anyway, a lot of this stuff (the writings of Roback Morse, Gallagher, etc) is hard to get until you see it and have to "live it".”

In fact, AOL took forever to show this in my “sent” queue, so I actually rewrote it from memory and sent it again.

This peculiar existential interchange occurred the day after “My Sister’s Keeper” premiered.

It does follow the tone of the forums that we used to enjoy back around 2000 on “Independent Gay Forum” (link).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Obama, Democrats catching heat on gay issues

The “conservative” newspaper “The Washington Times” is reporting gleefully today, Friday, June 26, in a front page story by Christina Bellantoni, “Gay Democrats close wallets to Obama; DNC funds threatened”, link here. Some are presenting Obama’s inertia on repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” as a potential national security issue. Missed intelligence may have contributed to 9/11, the argument goes.

A typical blog (from the San Diego News Network), according to the WT, is a column by Stampp Corbin, “The DOMA brief ruined everything”, link here. Corbin writes “Next week, I am boycotting the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council Democratic National Committee event honoring Vice President Biden to drive home my discontent.”

Recently, HRC chair Joe Solmonese wrote to President Obama on the “formality” of writing a rather silly brief (with some unfortunate metaphos) defeinding DOMA. Oh, it’s like a formality, the dem’s say. Here’s the letter.

But then “Gay Patriot West” identifies Solmonese as the “Hypocrite of the Week” and says “For all too long, Solmonese has gotten away with putting loyalty to the Democratic Party and his left-wing allies ahead of honest advocacy for the gay community” (link).

It’s interesting to watch the “Left” unravel as the supposed bastion of gay rights. Let The Washington Times have some fun with this, particularly over a weekend. (It doesn’t print on Saturday.)

Update: Sunday, June 28

The New York Times has a "political memo" by Adam Nigourney, "Political Shifts on Gay Rights Lag Behind Culture", link here. The president met with 250 gay leaders in the White House on Monday June 22.

Update: Monday, June 29

The New York Times reports that President Obama has asked the LGBT community for credit for progress made, here. The story is by Sheryl Gay Stohlberg and the title is "On Gay Issues, Obama Asks to Be Judged on Vows Kept". Obama still "promises" to address the military gay ban.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Barney Frank to introduce a version of ENDA including gender identity protection

U.S. Representative Barney Frank has introduced (or will introduce) a version of ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) that includes protection for trans-gendered individuals. A typical story, by Lisa Keen, appears in the Windy City Times, here. The June 23 story in the Washington Blade is here.

The 2007 versions in the 110th Congress (including 3685, that did not include transgender protection) were discussed by LLDEF here. Open Congress has a discussion of the 110th Congress Baldwin Amendment, which would provide protection based on gender identity here.

I’ll add more specific references as I find them.

A version of ENDA (for civilian jobs) was originally introduced in 1993, about the same time that the military gay ban was being debated,

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Clinton's Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff urges end of "don't ask don't tell"

Retired General John A. Shalikashvili (Clinton’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1993 to 1997) has an op-ed in the Washington Post, June 19, “Gays in the Military: Let the Evidence Speak”. The link is here.

The general refers not only to militaries of major allies but also to the experience during the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991, when the “old ban” implemented in 1981 (the “123 words”) was in force but was effectively suspended. In deployment, it is apparent that Americans of this generation do not regard the presence of gays as intrinsically detrimental to their sense of dignity or privacy, an argument made by Nunn in 1993. Furthermore, the military has the ability to implement whatever Congress and the President order it to do.

President Obama is hearing more about this all the time, as with a Palm Center study recently showing that he has the legal authority to rescind DADT now. We will hear something soon about this from the president, I think.

The is a LTE on the op-ed in the Post today, June 24, called "same old arguments."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Is government health care constitutional? Compare to past arguments on gay rights and sex laws

Check this analysis by David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey in the Monday June 22 Wall Street Journal, "Is Government Health Care Constitutional?: The right to privacy conflicts with rationing and regulation," link here. He talks about the Griswold v. Connecticut case in 1965 (involving contraception) and of course Roe v. Wade (abortion). He does get around to Bowers v. Hardwick and Lawrence v. Texas. But I can imagine a connection. In Texas in 1983, in the early days of the AIDS epidemic before HIV (then called HTLV-3) was identified, some right wing elements (the notorious “Dallas Doctors Against AIDS”) tried to introduce into the Texas legislature a state law (HR 2138) that would, among other things, keep gays from working in food preparation or in health care, let alone the military. It’s a scary metaphor. I was living in Dallas then and remember those days all too well.

Attribution link for Wikimedia Commons picture of downtown Dallas.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

TN lesbian challenges "paramour clause" that separates her from partner and minor children

Ellen Friedrichs of AlterNet has a column “15 Shocking Tales of how Sex Laws Are Screwing the American People,” (“in the land of the free, the freedom to express your sexuality can land you in prison) and particularly galling is #11, about a lesbian partner who was forced out of a Tennessee home because her partner had minor children.

In December 2008 a Knoxville paper reported an AP story “Divorced mother appeals to let partner stay at night”, regarding the partner of Angel Chandler, who was a divorced mother with kids. The link is here. The legal concept was called the paramour clause. Alternet writes “and now people wonder why Proposition 8 matters” (if the lesbian couple could legally marry, the clause could not apply).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

HRC denies softpedalling repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"; GA dad wins right for his kids to see his "gay friends" in court

Some gay media sources claim that HRC chief Joe Solmonese advised Presidet Obama’s white house to soft pedal repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” while focusing on hate crimes and general employment protection. Solomnese denies it, but admits that repealing DADT might be harder to do politically than some of the other objectives, and, reading between the lines, sounds concerned about another 1993 backlash from Congress. In the mean time, more gay servicemembers get discharged, the military loses critical language and intelligence skills, and in some cases gay civilians may feel deterred from pursuing some tangentially related occupations (whether legally necessary or not). The Queerty story is here.

Then, check out this court fight in Georgia where a divorced gay father had been ordered not to let his kids see his gay friends, absent any evidence at all of “misconduct”. Unbelievable today. The father won in court (that is, before the Georgia Supreme Court). Here is the Southern Voice link. Could this sort of outrageous stereotyping be an indirect result of military anti-gay policies?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Obama will extend benefits (just some!) to domestic partners of federal workers (incl. DOD civilians); announcement due June 17

Scott Buttermworth has a story in the “Voices” section of the Washington Post late Tuesday June 16, that President Obama will extend federal benefits to unmarried domestic partners of federal workers, including same-sex partners.

The measure would apply to the Defense department’s civilian workers but not to members of the Armed Services in uniform (sometimes they do the same jobs).

The link for the story is here. The president’s announcement will occur tomorrow, Wednesday June 17.

Update: June 17

President Obama's order extends primarily to unpaid family leave (not very effective) and some long term care insurance. The presidents says that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, signed by President Clinton, prohibits his offering federal health insurance and retirement benefits to unmarried or same-sex domestic partners. The CNN story by Kristi Keck is here.

But then Andrew Sullivan provided Reuters with a story "Obama extends benefits, promises more to gays" here. That's an odd and disturbing (if you think about it) title, suggesting that gays are another victimized group to be bartered against others (like unions). I didn't see this item on Sullivan's "Daily Dish" on the Atlantic, unless I didn't look hard enough. The Reuters story does indicate that the president will urge Congress to repeal those portions of DOMA that he believes to prohibit health insurance and retirement benefits for unmarried domestic partners.

Monday, June 15, 2009

DC Board turns down referendum on "external" gay marriages

Tim Craig reports in the Tuesday, June 16 Washington Post that the District of Columbia Board of Elections and Ethics has turned down a proposal to hold a referendum on the new DC law recognizing external same-sex marriages from other states. The story is “Same-Sex Marriage Gains Traction: D.C. Board Says No to Referendum,” link here.

The Board has two members, and ruled that it is bound by a 1977 District of Columbia law protecting gays and lesbians from sexual orientation discrimination. That’s an odd year, when Anita Bryant went on her tirade in Florida, and wound up no longer the orange person.

Update: July 1, 2009

Keith L. Alexander has a story in The Washington Post, "D.C. SUPERIOR COURT
Judge Declines to Stay Law on Gay Marriage", link here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Capital Pride 2009 launches with JR's Block Party

Capital Pride 2009 (link) kicked off last night with the annual parade, for which I was late. There is another slideshow of the even already up, here. There’s plenty about the DC Council gay marriage vote this past spring.

The JR’s bash on 17th Street seemed to be the largest ever. The music back at the beer stand in the back of the lot was tinny, shrill and so loud it must have deafened the bartenders. But away from the back, it was a great party.

The Cobalt had a good party, with the dance floor filling up by about 11 PM, much earlier than usual.

Today the festival takes on Pennsylvania Avenue today June 14 from 11 AM – 6 PM between 3rd and 7th Streets – on a day that there will also be an anti-Iran protest in DC.

Second picture: SLDN booth at Capital Pride today, signing petitions to overturn "don't ask don't tell."

Third picture: The Washington Nationals will have a "gay day" but their record is 16-45. And now they face three games in Yankee Stadium. Manny Acta has to go!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Greenwich CT enjoys gay marriage boom; DC considers referendum

The New York Times today ran a story by Lisa M. Foderaro about the newest mecca for gay marriage, Greenwich, CT, near the New York State line, while New Yorkers wait for the legislature to play out its own battle on gay marriage within the state. The story is here. Gov. Patterson has issued a directive that same-sex marriages from other states will be recognized in New York (link). Is border town Greenwich enjoying a gay marriage economic boomlet? Greenwich is already the "hedge fund capital of the world" and was stung by the Madoff scandal.

Tim Craig reports in the Metro section Thursday in The Washington Post that the DC election board is considering whether to put to referendum a measure preventing the District from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. The link for the story is here.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

What happens to gay siblings asked to raise children in a state that bans gay adoption?

Over the years, a few states have banned or tried to ban adoptions by gay people (sometimes even foster care). The most notorious example is provided by Florida, as fought by Rosie O’Donnell, with the current adoption ban struck down in state court as unconstitutional in December and still in litigation. (See this blog, Dec. 28, 2008).

A question comes to my mind about this. Sometimes a family experiences a tragedy in which both parents die in an accident, and an unmarried and possibly gay single sibling is available to raise the children. Sometimes custody is awarded in wills, and sometimes a financial bequest is predicated on the willingness to raise the children. What happens in these cases if the sibling is “publicly” gay and lives in a state banning gay adoption? Does anyone know? I’d love to get an answer in a comment if someone can weigh in.

The situation (with “straight” unmarried adult siblings) was dramatized in the Aaron Spelling WB series “Summerland” in 2004 and with the movie “Raising Helen” and even “Saving Sarah Cain”.

It’s more common that people wind up raising “other people’s children” than we think (a point noted by Phillip Longman in his discussions of low birth rates in the upper middle class).

Monday, June 08, 2009

Supreme Court declines challenge to "don't ask don't tell"

Early Monday the Supreme Court declined to hear the case of Army Capt. James Pietrangelo II, who had challenged the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in an appeals court in Boston. The Yahoo! copy of the AP story by Laura James is here.

The Supreme Court orders on the cert denial appear here (case 08-824). The SLDN press release on the denial is here.

The White House has not yet been willing to intervene to stop discharges under “don’t ask don’t tell”, but analysis by the Palm Center, discussed here Saturday, says that the president has the legal authority to do so.

Later on Monday, Anderson Cooper interviewed Army Lt. Dan Choi (a skilled linguist) on his 360 program about Choi's discharge and about the Supreme Court non-action. The AC360 blog entry is here. Choi said that people join the military because they want to be part of something with goals greater than what they can accomplish with their own choices.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

PlanetOut weighs in on Internet behavior and "gays"

PlanetOut has a perspsective “Are Gays Meaner Online”?, without naming personal authorship, which explores the fact that you need an Iron Man body suit to write for the web; you have to sacrifice readers to get new ones. The article mentions anonymity as one reason, but that doesn’t really apply just to gays (any longer). The link is here. This is becoming a tremendous cultural conumdrum with implications everywhere, including "online reputation defense." And Internet behavior will certainly become an important detail to be resolved in lifting "don't ask don't tell" for the military.

I get nasty comments sometimes, on occasion emailed separately, usually based on misreading something I have written. Sometimes the tone of an angry comment is that I’m an “enemy of the people” – you know how the extreme Left can think – and it seems John Stossel (the libertarian ABC news reporter) stimulates the same kind of anger with his show “You can’t even talk about that.” And my reaction to a few of these comments is “Give me a break.”

Yes, we live in a competitive society with a system that sometimes seems selfish. True. Sometimes we don’t feel the shoes that others walk in or have to take on the responsibilities that were dumped in their laps. Not everything in life is about choice and responsibility, although we wish it were so.

Also, last night, at Town DC, they DJ upstairs played “Jai Ho” (Be Victorious) from Slumdog Millionaire, although an adaptation, rather than the Pussycat Dolls version (Youtube, from Universal Music Group -- sorry, it’s not embeddable). And the “break dancing” in one case got ultimately intimate – that doesn’t happen all that often. Dev Patel was nowhere to be seen.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

President Obama should issue XO lifting "don't ask don't tell" according to Palm Center and HRC paper

The Human Rights Campaign is organizing an effort to persuade President Obama to issue an Executive Order to lift the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy regarding gays in the military.

The Palm Center is Santa Barbara, CA has a press release here.

The Palm Center publishes a PDF making the legal case that President Obama can suspend the policy (it uses the “stop-loss” orders of the Bush administration as legal precedents), but admits that Congress will need to act later, and many details of conduct rules (like with the Internet) would need to be developed. Here is the URL. The official name of the paper is "How to End 'Don't Ask Don't Tell': A Roadmap of Political, Legal, Regulatory and Organizational Steps to Equal Treatment". The paper suggests that the president does not need to seek permission of military leaders to end the policy. The paper refers to a number of professional studies and surveys, including foreign militaries and especially the 1993 Rand Corporation study, to argue that there will be no adverse effect on unit cohesion.

Curiously, the HRC website this morning does not yet include this development among its “latest news”. Perhaps it will appear there Monday morning.

The Palm Center is a component of the Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research at the University of California at Santa Barbara. I visited the institute an Aaron Belkin in Feburary 2002.

Attribtion link for Wikimedia Commons picture of the USCB campus

Also, look at the SLDN petition and CNN video of USAF Lt Col Victor Fehrenbach, who was forcibly outed in May 2008 (ironically in Boise, ID) and then processed for discharge under DADT. He says there has been no effect on unit cohesion while he stays in his unit.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Marriage experience, even in same-sex marriage, will help adult children deal with eldercare demands

There’s another good argument for legalizing same-sex marriage that get overlooked, surprisingly, by the gay lobby. As the population ages, more and more childless people are pressed into eldercare (and that may happen as assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and home health agencies become overwhelmed by demand) and also into other family situations, such as raising siblings’ children after family tragedies. Some states, strapped by the financial crisis, are likely to start enforcing their filial responsibility laws.

Some who has his or her own adult relationship, with some legal recognition (and I understand that the president prefers to leave it up to the states and tends to prefer civil unions) is more likely to be able to be open to the personal intimacy and attention that this kind of care requires, without feeling undermined by the process. It is much healthier when someone has his or her own adult life first, including relationships. It’s surprising that this point doesn’t get made more often.

Of course, such an argument assumes that the individual is open to committed intimacy with someone in the first place, and moves beyond the world of fantasy.

I think that the California Supreme Court hinted at this in its original May 2008 opinion.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

NH governor signs gay marriage law; will states have economic boomlet from same-sex marriage?

On the day that New Hampshire’s governor signed same-sex marriage into law, Newsweek writer Rachel F. Elson wrote an article about the potential mini-windfall for business in states that have legalized it, no small matter during a recession with crunched budgets (that, ironically, could cause more childless people to have to pay for parents’ care in the future). The HTML title for the article is “The Potential Gay Marriage Windfall” and the formal title is “Gay-onomics and the Marriage Debate: Despite the tough economic times, no one's talking about profiting from the legalization of same-sex weddings. Perhaps they should be.” The link is here.

The Reuters story (Andrew Manuse) about John Lynch’s signing of the bill in New Hampshire today is here.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Cheney supports states' adoption of same-sex marriage

The Los Angeles Times reports that former Vice President Dick Cheney supports same-sex marriage as long as it is implemented by states rather than by the federal government. That is, Cheney supports a state's right to implement gay marriage. Jimmy Kimmel says it took 10 minutes on the waterboard.

The link for the June 2, 2009 wire service story is here.

Apparently Cheney would oppose a federal constitutional amendment now, which the Bush administration had tried to push in the summer of 2004 after the Massachusetts decision.

Perhaps the experience of his own daughter has an influence.

Back in 1992, Cheney had been asked about the military gay ban, which he called "an old chestnut" but still supported. But even then he said that it should not affect civilians or security clearances (which it inevitably will). He has not yet been reported to have changed his mind on "don't ask don't tell" but that would now make a good question.