Saturday, August 29, 2009

Senator Kennedy had championed gay equality; repealing DADT will be harder without his leadership


The media has commented that the late Senator Edward Kennedy championed equal rights for gays, carry on the tradition of JFK that had started with civil rights by race and nationality. A typical article is in Top Magazine, published Aug. 27, here.

He opposed Robert Bork’s (“Slouching Toward Gomorrah”) nomination to the Supreme Court.

Today President Barack Obama alluded to Senator Kennedy’s support for equality at the funeral when he mentioned "the servicemember who is discriminated against or excluded because of who she loves".

An article by Patricia Murphy in Politics Daily (“Without Kennedy, Gays in the Military looks for a champion”) notes that, without Senator Kennedy’s activity in the Senate during his illness, movement in the Senate to help support the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” has stalled somewhat, with the reference here.

Friday, August 28, 2009

DC protects ex-gays from discrimination, but there is a "catch"


The Washington Blade reports on Aug. 28 that a DC Superior Court Judge had found in June that people who see themselves as ex-gay are protected from discrimination by DC law regarding sexual orientation.

However the judge also ruled that the National Education Association did not violate the law by not allowing representation to PFOX, Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays in 2002.

The NEA was held free to oppose representation of groups whose views strongly contradicted its own mission.

The link for the story is here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Baltimore's Grand Central holds White Party


Last night (Aug. 22), the “Grand Central” (link)) on Charles Street just north of Mt. Vernon Square in Baltimore, MD held a “White Party”. The doors opened at around 10, and the crowd built up quickly, with some 80s music mixed in. Not everyone was suggestive of “The Woman in White” (a famous British mystery); there were shirts like “Fight for Peace”. I didn’t recognize any “mainstream” celebrities getting into trouble.

Next door, early at least (11-ish), the Hippo seemed slow, compared to visits in the past, perhaps because of competition.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lutheran group accepts gays in committed relationships into ministry


The New York Times has a story today by Michael Luo and Christina Capecchi, “Lutheran Group eases limits on gay clergy,” link here, an action taken in Minneapolis by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The group is willing to accept gays and lesbians in committed relationships that are “publicly accountable” according to the laws of the state in which they live (probably that would marriages in states that recognize gay marriage). One wonders about a gay person simply still “single” – does it mean abstinence until (gay) marriage?

Attribution link for picture of Lutheran Brotherhood headquarters in Minneapolis.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Conservative solicitor from Bush administration will argue for gay marriage


The New York Times led off today with a front page story by Jo Becker, “The Road to championing same-sex marriage: latest role for Olson, so obvious to him, surprised many,” link here. . The online title is “A conservative’s road to same-sex marriage advocacy” which reminds me of the title of my 1994 Quill essay “A Conservative’s Approach to Individual Rights and Responsibilities.”

The attorney is Theodore B. Olson, known for Bush v. Gore in 2000. A challenge to California’s Proposition 8 is taken as the most important case of his career. According to the article, his approach is analytic and based on equal protection. It divides people into classes (one of which comprises those same-sex couples who married before Nov. 4, and another same-sex couples who want to marry, and another opposite sex couples). It also appeals to Lawrence v Texas, apparently acknowledging Scalia’s dissenting comments that the reasoning of the opinion could lead to forced recognition of gay marriage. It overrides the 1970 Supreme Court refusal to take cert on a marriage case, and also looks at the 1996 Romer v. Evans case on Colorado Amendment 2.

Here is Log Cabin Republicans 's "Case for Marriage Equality", link.

I think that the Phillip Longman crowd (previous post) could be brought on board with gay marriage on the idea of equal responsibility for sharing intergenerational risks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fight for equality affects all LGBT people, not just couples and soldiers


With all this talk of “equality” for gay people in relationships (the gay marriage issue), and for gay servicemembers (repealing the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for the military), it’s important to bear in mind that these issues affect “singleton” and civilian gays indirectly and are important to everyone.

We’re seeing eldercare become a bigger issue, with LGBT and single or childless people drawn into it, and faced with the possibility that some states will start enforcing filial responsibility laws (leading to labyrinthine complications). I think that "established" gay media stays away from discussing filial responsibility out of fear of inadvertently nudging states toward enforcing it (it goes way beyond the issue of asset giveaways to parental impoverishment and sometimes presumes that the most available adult child is automatically responsible for a disabled parent). Furthermore, in this media-saturated quick information age, we’re learning about the need for adoptive parents like we’ve never seen before. And parents, who have an investment in lineage, often think nothing of expecting all their adult children be able to step in and raise their grandchildren if tragedy befalls one of their kids with a family. Hollywood seems to know this better than do the politicians: think of movies like “Raising Helen” and the TV series “Summerland”).

That means that LGBT people can be nudged toward family responsibility (including Philip Longman’s “other people’s children”) whether they want to or not. As for the military, remember all the talk about almost-mandatory national service and even the possibility of restoring the draft. It’s called shared risk and shared responsibility. That’s all the more reason for equal rights before taking equal responsibilities.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

SLDN asks for discharged soldiers and sailors to submit stories


Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) is encouraging servicemembers discharged under “don’t ask don’t tell” to share their stories, including photo material, through this link on its website.

SLDN’s home page also has a link to find out if your congressman is on board for supporting the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”. It says that “we” need 218 members of the House of Representatives to cosponsor the latest bill implementing repeal.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Inclusive ENDA introduced in Senate for first time


Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) into the U.S. Senate (Aug. 5). Barney Frank had introduced a version in the House in June. Susan Collins (R-ME) is also a sponsor.

The bill appears to include trans-gender protections as well as sexual orientation protections. It would not, in and of itself, cover the US military, and it would not involve the “disparate impact” concept well known in race discrimination law.

Chris Johnson has an article in the Washington Blade, Southern Voice, and other Window Media publications here.

The HRC (in a "Back Story") says that this is the first time an inclusive ENDA has been introduced in the Senate. The story by Michael Cole is here. ENDA was originally introduced in the House in the spring of 1993, about the same time that the debate on gays in the military, started with Clinton, raged on.

We've come a long way from the days of Mattachine, and we have a way to go.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Obama's reticence on gay issues could make practical sense


James Kirchick has a challenging article on Obama and gay rights in the Sunday Aug. 2, 2009 Washington Post. That is, “Obama said, ‘I don’t’. He may just mean it.” The link is here.

The tone of the story is that both Clinton and Obama have backpeddled on gay marriage (Clinton signed DOMA in 1996) and gays in the military (Clinton signed on to “don’t ask don’t tell”, although he wanted to add “don’t pursue” which didn’t stick) to avoid letting gays become a wedge issue for Republicans to “exploit” (Armey and his “Barney F__”).

Indeed, it’s possible to catch gays in existential traps about the meaning of otherwise private desires, and try to trap them into serving the stabilizing collective ends defined by others. I’ve found that out the hard way. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

DCJCC and GLOE: alliance between Judaism and LGBT community in Washington DC


This particular Metro Weekly news story, back to April 2008, is a bit belated, but important to note: a certain alliance between Judaism and the LGBT community, whatever the interpretations of the Torah or some passages of the Old Testament. The article by Will O’Bryan is “A Warm GLOE: The J’ reaches out to the GLBT Jewish Community”. That’s the Stuart S. Kurlander Program for Gay & Lesbian Outreach and Engagement at the DCJCC, or District of Columbia Jewish Community Center at 16th & T sts. NW.

The link for the article is here. It discusses director Justin Lerner and committee member Yoni Block.

I grew up in the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, a few blocks down 16th St. in the direction of the White House, and in 1954-1955, while the “new” sanctuary was being built (under Dr. Edward Hughes Pruden), the congregation held worship services at the DCJCC.

Recenttly, a Sunday School lesson at FBCWDC did cover the Sodom and Gomorrah story. The "lesson" sidestepped the anti-gay interpretation and talked about hospitality -- itself an issue because the concept assumes there are limits to privacy and private property in a world filled with external threats and governed by an external diety. The story itself is bizarre, but the "Religious Tolerance" website has a pretty good summary here . Unfortunately, Judge Robert Bork titled one of his books in the 1990s "Slouching toward Gomorrah"! But from all the Old Testament "clobber passages" one gets the feeling that there is a strong component of loyalty to the "community" -- in this case, the Chosen People, which must express social solidarity (and obey Jehovah) to survive in a hostile world. Hendrik Van Loon's brief account in the 1920s "The Story of the Bible" doesn't go into the supposed gay angle at all, but makes a lot of Lot's wife and her turning into a pillar of salt for idle or voyeuristic curiosity (she was probably exposed to the blast of an explosion, perhaps nuclear).