Saturday, July 25, 2009

NY Senator proposes interim measure for DADT, staying discharges

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has proposed an amendment to the next (2010) Defense Authorization bill that would stay discharges under “don’t ask don’t tell” for 18 months. However the bill was shelved apparently for lack of support. The Washington Blade story by Chris Johnson (July 25) is here.The bill would buy time for Congress to consider Patrick Murphy’s full repeal, and give the Pentagon law time to figure out how to implement a fair policy that allows gays to serve more openly, like NATO allies. But there’s a good question as to whether an interim step is a good idea.

The original DADT had been passed on Nov. 30 1993 as part of the 1994 DOD authorization bill, and the Pentagon implementation came out in Feb. 1994

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gay sailor murdered at Camp Pendleton

According to an AP story on AOL today (July 24) the US Navy says it is pursuing murder charges against Petty Officer Jonathan Campos of Lancaster CA for the shooting death of Seaman August Provost of Houston TX on June 30, as Provost stood guard at Camp Pendleton, CA. The Navy says that there is no evidence that Provost ever filed a harassment report, but the practical reality (and "chilling effect") of "don't ask don't tell" is that gay sailors or soldier rarely do.

The link for the story is here.

SLDN has a brief story on the incident here.

Of course, what comes to mind is the death of Barry Winchell at Fort Campbell, KY in 1999, the subject of a Showtime film “Soldier’s Girl”.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

DC allows lesbian partner automatic parentage after insemination birth

According to “DC Wire” on page 8 (Metro) of the Thursday July 23 Washington Post, lesbians will not have to have written consent of their domestic partners to appear on the birth certificates of children born to women out of surrogate fatherhood or artificial insemination. A law allowing this took effect in Washington DC Saturday July 18. A similar law takes place in New Mexico Jan. 1, 2010.

The DC legislation is called the Domestic Partnership and Judicial Determination Parentage Act of 2009.

The story is online in the “Voices” section of the Post here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Maryland clothing store gets "protests" over displaying and selling gay-marriage-friendly T-shirt

ABC affiliate station WJLA in Washington DC (actually Arlington VA) is reporting that threats were made against an apparel store in Silver Spring, Maryland (it is also reported to have a store in Georgetown in DC) for window-displaying and selling a T-shirt that says “Legalize Gay: Repeal Prop 8 Now”. The language on the shirt obviously refers to gay marriage and to the Proposition 8 referendum in California in Nov. 2008 that overturned the state supreme court decision that had earlier required the state to recognize gay marriage.

The link for the detailed story is here. The television station carried the story on its 6 PM evening news segment, just before ABC Nightly News. According to WJLA, the store says that it does not respond to such tactics.

Silver Spring is an important (and historic) suburb, with a high-rise business center, north of Washington DC, generally thought to be politically and socially liberal as a whole, and this incident seems like an anomaly. The AFI Silver Theater holds many important film festivals there, and the Discovery Channel is located nearby.

Some people do seem unnerved by the idea that the social prestige and reassurance they get from old institutions can be challenged by sharing the rights and benefits with others.

Update: July 23

NBCWashington provided an even more detailed story by Matthew Stabley here. The station has a T-shirt picture on the story with the caption "We're trying to trick violent same-sex marriage opponents into smashing their computers."

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Let them Serve": Let Obama pressure Congress now to end "don't ask don't tell"

Today, Monday July 20, the Washington Post has a major editorial urging Congress to take action to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell”. The editorial discusses the efforts of Congressman Patrick Murphy, and points to the website “Let Them Serve”. The editorial (link here) is titled “Marching Orders: Ending ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ will take an act of Congress – and voters actively pushing for it”. Notice the grammatical gerund construct (the Post didn’t put the word “are” before “actively”). The Post also mentions the legal analysis from the Palm Center saying that Obama could lift the ban by Executive Order – although we saw that suggestion with President Clinton in 1993. There’s some praise for the attempt of Defense Secretary Gates (Republican, no less) to end the discharges after forced outings. The Post, however, agrees with the President that changing policy "legally" probably (or even certainly) requires Congress, and the courts probably have done all they can. But -- and so -- in the long run, this, like so many things, requires political will – and the ability of voters to look into their own lives.

Surveys show that voters support ending the DADT policy, although there seems to be some superficiality in the way the question as posed, as if we were talking about a separate “category” of beings. The existential arguments will surely return.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

California judge limits college speech codes supposedly protecting LGBT people

The World Net Daily, which appears to be “conservative”, has a story by Drew Zahn “FAITH UNDER FIRE: Homosexclamation! Christian student fights prof, wins big: Judge rules college can't censor religious speech for being 'offensive.' The Los Angeles City College was reportedly ordered to remove from its sexual harassment policy a ban on speech “offensive” to gays and lesbians. The issue reminds one of the college “speech code” problem that John Stossel has sometimes covered. The link for the story is here.

The WND had a whimsical story based on “March of the Penguins” where a male couple nesting and protecting eggs was broken up by a “chick” here. It reminds one of the home-raised male cheetah in the film “Duma” that didn’t understand his wild nature until he saw a female in estrus.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Episcopal church in US reverses ban on gay bishops

George Conger, in a supposed special to The Washington Times on Wednesday July 15, reports “Episcopal Church ends its ban on gay bishops; Reversal defies the archbishop”, link here.

The U.S. Episcopal Church reversed a “ban” on gay bishops from 2006 after the controversy incurred in 2003 over the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson from New Hampshire, at a convocation in Minneapolis that I recall (I was living there then).

There is some concern that the action could cause the U.S. Church to break away from “the Church of England”. I had a friend in the “conservative” wing of the Episcopal church around 1989.

Update: July 16

George Conger has followed up with another story on p A5 today in The Washington Times, "Episcopal bishops approve same-sex blessing; draft requires further authorization, was shelved in 2003". The draft was approved at the meeting of the Episcopal General Convention taking place in Anaheim, CA.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) helps lead fight to repeal "don't ask don't tell" in Congress

Today, Sunday, July 12, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer interviewed Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA) about ending “don’ ask don’t tell”. Murphy pointed out that about 13000 servicemembers have been “fired” (as SLDN terms it) since the DADT law was passed at the end of 1993. He says he served in Iraq himself in the military in the 2nd Airborne, and said that younger servicemembers are not distracted by the idea of gays in the ranks (in response to Blitzer’s question about unit cohesion).

He said that President Obama has been speaking to the Defense Secreatary and joint chiefs quietly about the problem, resulting in interim steps like dealing with the forced outing issue. But he said that Obama is mindful that Congress did pass the 1993 law, and is working with Congress quietly to get the votes to overturn it.

Rep. Murphy has a story about DADT on his own website, “Rep. Patrick Murphy, Veterans Announce Efforts to Repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Congressman Takes Lead on H.R. 1283, Military Readiness Enhancement Act, to Overturn Policy", link here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Town DC disco is friendly to the Washington Nationals -- who finally win one big

Well, it pays to mention the Nats at the Town DC when the Nationals actually win, which is rare. Tonight, I pulled up their 13-2 clobbering of the Houston Astros on my Blackberry, showed it to one of the drag queens, and she actually announced to the crowd, as part of the "show". The Nats are all of 26-60 now, on target to lose about 118 games this year.

But you don’t tell the drag queens that you just had your 66th birthday. That’s a good way to lose your shirt on stage.

The show goes to midnight now, and the midsummer crowd after Pride builds up more slowly. The music – it’s so much hip hop with so little melody that the dancing is much less “dirty.” Bring back the 80s, please.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

NBC-Washington offers sarcastic "op-ed" on gay "marriage" in Maryland

A somewhat sarcastic editorial appears on the NBCWashington (NBC4) site, dated July 1, “New Gay Marriage Thing Takes Effect in Maryland: Hint, it’s not marriage.” The link is here. There is a picture with the tag “will these gay robots ever get married in Maryland.”

Specifically, the change in the law has to do with state inheritance tax code that now will sometimes benefit some domestic partners. Read the article for details.

But Newell went out on a limb in characterizing Maryland as the “most Democratic-voting state in the nation” that should have “nine different ways for gay people .. to adopt children, including those – yours! – that haven’t even been put up for adoption!” I don’t know what Newell means by that.

Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is quoted as having said that Maryland ought to recognize gay marriages performed in other states, just like the District must according to its new law. “Full faith and credit” marches on.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Massahusetts sues fibbies over DOMA

Denise Laovie has a major AP story tonight, reporting that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is suing the federal government over the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, signed by "republicrat" President Clinton. The link for the story is here.

The suit makes equal protection arguments regarding Medicaid benefits and regarding veterans’ burial.

A group in Boston called Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders had filed a challenge to the law in March 2009.

One could say, that some social "conservatives" have gotten what they wished for: a constitutional challenge to DOMA -- something predicted as far back as Scalia's dissent in Lawrence v Texas.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Washington Times letter says "go back to asking"

The Washington Times, on Monday July 6, ran a “Letter of the Day” from Wayne L. Johnson, retired Commander, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Navy, “Asking about ‘don’t ask don’t tell”. The letter says that the 1993 law gives Gates no choice but to enforce the policy literally, apparently even when a servicemember has been “outed” by a third party. The letter claims that the only alternative for secretary Gates is to go back to the pre-1993 policy (as of 1981) of “asking” every recruit at accession. The 1993 law sort of said “ask if necessary,” as Andrew Sullivan once pointed out in The New Republic. Newt Gingrich once proposed "going back to asking" in 1995. The link for the letter is here. This letter does throw some cold water on the debate.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Maine faces Prop-8-style fight; read story of 91-year-old activist

All indications are from press reports that gay marriage opponents are pressing for a Proposition 8-style referendum in Maine this fall, as opponents hired a “hit man” from the California campaign. I guess partisanship really matters for some jobs (how would ENDA work here?)

But rather than give just another blog reference to another referendum, let’s point out a story “91 years young and ready for marriage equality”, about a 91 year old activist for equal rights in Saco Maine. The story, written by Sam Parker June 8, is here.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

"Gayby Boom": about children of gay parents

On Monday June 29, CNN ran a story by John Blake, “Gayby Boom: Children of Gay Couples Speak Out”, link here.

The article suggests that because of peer pressure among kids, children of same-sex couples live in a more “closeted” manner than their parents.

According to CNN, these six states still have laws against gay adoptions: Florida, Mississippi, Arkansas, Utah, Nebraska and Michigan. However Florida’s has been overturned.

Research suggests that the sexual orientation of people raised by same-sex couples is not statistically affected.

At the time I worked on my first book in the 1990s, gay parenting was trailing other issues (gays in the military, gay domestic partnerships and marriage) in terms of public attention, despite a couple of books from Alyson: “Heather has two Mommies” and “Daddy’s Roommate”.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Defense Secretary says he will review how DADT is enforced, particularly after "forced outings" by (disgruntled) third parties

CNN is reporting that Defense Secretary Robert Gates, held over from the Bush Administration (not exactly like a hit movie) will take a look “administratively” at the way “don’t ask don’t tell” is enforced. Particularly, he says he will look at whether the law would require separation hearings when a discreet servicemember is outed by a third party, particularly a third party with a vendetta (a favorite word in “Days of our Lives”).

Gates says that his agreement to look at the policy, probably an interim measure prodded by the president after a meeting with gay leaders, does not indicate that he has the legal authority to change the way the policy is enforced without the action of Congress. But the February 1994 administrative rules adopted by the Pentagon would tend to suggest some flexibility, in view of President Clinton’s original “don’t pursue.”

One obvious area to look at would be Internet outing, as on social networking sites like Myspace or Facebook. It sounds like common sense that military commanders would need to have social networking and blogging policies anyway for general security issues outside the scope of (just) DADT.

The link for the story, by Pentagon reporter Barbara Starr, is here.