Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sen. Joseph Lieberman promises to introduce repeal of "don't ask don't tell"

On Feb. 23, 2010 Senator Joe Lieberman published on his own blog his intention to introduce a bill into the US Senate to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell”. The blog post on “Joe’s Corner” is here. Actually, it’s tricky because that’s a re-post of an editorial from “CT-Post” (Connecticut Post), with the article (“Credit Lieberman on the repeal effort”) here. The editorial says bluntly “That means security suffers for the sake of discrimination.”

It will be interesting to see how he networks with Carl Levin, who suggested a return of the draft after 9/11. Lieberman has always been a hawk on national security.

The bill will not have an "S" number until actually introduced.

Update: March 3

Here is Senator Joseph Lieberman's press release on his introduction of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act of 2010, link here, cosponsored by Carl Levin. There is a link to a PDF file copy of the bill on his website.

I still can't find the S. number. It was 357 in 2009.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Maryland recognizes out-of-state same-sex marriages; soon Maryland couples can marry in DC

Tara Bahrampour connects the dots were her lead Metro Section story in The Washington Post today, “Gays laud marriage decision in Maryland: But opponents vow to fight recognition of same-sex unions from other places,” link here.

Thursday, Feb. 25, Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) announced that the Free State would honor same-sex marriages from other states or jurisdictions, and ordered state agencies to give gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Add things up, and it may well work out for couples to go to Washington DC soon to marry and have rights recognized in Maryland. That is – if things hold together in DC. Washington is supposed to allowing the performance of same-sex marriages next week.

Late Friday a DC Appeals Court ruled that the DC law allowing gay marriages could go into effect; an attempt to stay it failed.

Please navigate (through Blogger Profile) to the "Bill's TV News and Reviews" blog for Friday Feb. 26, for description of the "Marriage Trial" website regarding the Proposition 8 trial in California. The case is Perry v. Schwarzenegger.

Update: Feb. 27

The Washington Post has an editorial on the Maryland situation, "Lawfully wedded: The Maryland attorney general takes a step in the direction of gay marriage", link here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

HR 3001 is the "Ending LGBT Health Disparities Act"

While surfing today trying to find the eldercare CLASS Act, I came across HR 3001, the “Ending LGBT Health Disparities Act” introduced into the 111th Congress by Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-WI. The govtrack reference is here. The bill would expand the definition of “spouse” for Medicare purposes (phasing out the 24-month waiting period for hospital insurance benefits) and would protect veterans from any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in their access to health care.

Curiously, in 2007 HR 3001 had been the number for the earlier version of the CLASS Act, improving funding for home care for seniors.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Two generals (Army, Air Force) now question Mullen's position on lifting "don't ask don't tell"

The New York Times reported, on p A11 Wednesday Feb. 24, in a story by Thom Shanker, that some generals are still wary of repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” during two wars. The story title is “2 Generals Wary about Repealing Gay Policy: Army and Air Force Chiefs Express Concern About a Change as 2 Wars Rage,” link here. This top brass was George W. Casey, Army Chief of Staff, and Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff. This challenges the position of Admiral Michael Mullen, JCS Chief in earlier Senate Armed Services Committee testimony, and could weaken the position of some that the policy should change if the military brass says it’s OK. Sen. Carl Levin. D-MI, suggests possibly suspending enforcement of the policy in most circumstances while a change is considered.

Monday, February 22, 2010

GOProud draws angry speech at CPAC convention in Washington: (some think "gay conservative" is an oxymoron")

Well, the American Conservative Union CPAC (link) drew some denouncement, at least from Ryan Sorba of California Young Americans for Freedom (almost a "sic" here), for allowing a gay conservative group GOProud (not GOPride) to have a presence at its convention (Conservative Political Action Conference) this past weekend right here in Washington DC. The story by Eric Kleefled appears at TPM here.

The speech included a mashup of “natural rights” v. individual rights when he said "civil rights are grounded in natural rights and natural rights are grounded in human nature". There were lots of boos. At least there wasn't the ritual clapping which is the British forum for disapproval.

To some, “gay conservative” sounds like an oxymoron. In fact, a reviewer on Amazon wrote about me with respect to my 1997 book, “he tries to identify himself as both a conservative and a libertarian. In fact, he's neither.” (I like her term "monument to convolution".) Andrew Sullivan had made the case for a nexus between gay rights and conservatism back with his 2006 book “The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How to Get It Back”.

The connection is the concept of “personal responsibility” and a willingness not to demand preferences from others just based on membership in an oppressed group. (Escape from the ideology of preferences goes both ways!) But of course, any thinking about personal responsibility expands to concerns over inequality (we start out at different places in line), hidden sacrifices, and unequal exposure to risks and uncertainties. That takes us back to the “social conservative’s” concern for the family: at least, the “egalitarian” (it turns out) idea that everyone should have some family responsibility, even if he or she doesn’t have children (often enough, people have to raise other people’s children or take care of family members). This makes the gay marriage and gay adoption issues critical, but not for the reasons usually stated. The “equal risk” issue brings back the “don’t ask don’t tell” problem, and reminds us of an era when we had conscription and unfair deferments. But socially conservative thought sometimes transcends any pretense of equality: lately we have been seeing more emphasis that the “family” should be reborn as the central focus of consciousness, rather than the individual, because it is only the “family” that can survive, vicariously at least. (As in Carlson’s “manifesto” “The Natural Family” (2007; books blog, Sept. 18, 2009).)

As of this writing, the most recent posting at Gay Patriot on the CPAC convention seems to be here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hawaii back to square one on civil unions; remember Hawaii on the gay marriage debate in the 1990s?

Remember how Hawaii was one of the early states with battles over gay marriage back in the 1990s? (In my first book, I characterized the debate as “percolating”.)

Lambda Legal, in a story here announced on Feb. 1 that it was joining with the ACLU of Hawaii to take legal action after the Hawaii house killed a civil unions bill passed by the state senate.

And this just about the provisions of rights in “civil unions” without the M word. In 1998, Hawaii amended the state constitution to give the legislature the right to limit marriage to a man and woman. It all seems ironic, given where the debate had been back in 1995, when I was starting my first book.

Wikipedia attribution link for pictures of lava flows.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Catholic Charities of DC transfers out foster care over gay marriage law

As a result of Washington D.C.’s new “gay marriage” law, Catholic Charities its entire foster care program in Washington to the National Center for Children and Families.

Catholic Charities, which receives $20 million from the District of Columbia, has said that the new law could make it impossible for Catholic Charities to remain a city contractor out of “conflict of interest” – because of the teachings of the Church.

An excerpt from a new Washington Post story appeared on a site called “Race42012”, here.

Update: March 2, 2010

Catholic Charities has changed plans. As of today, no new employees get any spousal benefits (heterosexul or not) and existing employees cannot add spouses. William Wan has the Washington Post story "Same-sex marriage leads Catholic Charities to adjust benefits", link here.

Update: March 6, 2010

Here's horrible story from California "Catholic School Forces Lesbian Mother Off PTA Board Over Prop. 8", since she attended a "No on Prop 8" rally with her son, link here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Israel's military may set an example for repeal of "don't ask don't tell"

Newsweek (Feb. 15, 2010, p. 13) offers an interesting perspective on gays in the Israeli military by Yoni Schoenfeld, now openly gay and a major with over 16 years in the Israeli Army, “Asking and Telling in Israel”, link here. Schoenfeld also points out that military service in Israel is compulsory (a point made emphatically in the 1993 Rand Report) and that he entered the military in 1994, “just a year after the government decided that gays could serve openly in the military.” He also writes “The thought of living a lie while serving – of not being able to share one’s personal life – is hard to bear.”

Yet today The Washington Times kept out its thawing icewater jug with a Rowan Scarborough article “Views on gays in the military: Now the top brass must tell”, link here. For the chairman of the JCS to say that we don’t need the ban is not enough; now they want to poll the troops.

Picture: Where the Campaign for Military Service (on Mass. Ave. in Washington) was located in 1993, during the Clinton debates.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Reagan-Bush era DOJ attorneys argue that "don't ask don't tell" is doomed legally, now that JCS has said it is not necessary for "unit cohesion"

Two attorneys who served in the Department of Justice under presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush present an interesting argument about “don’t ask don’t tell” on p A21 of the Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010 Washington Post. The attorneys are David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey, partners at Baker & Hostetler. The story title is “Don’t ask don’t tell: the end is near”, link here.

Their argument is simple. Since the Pentagon JCS brass now says that “unit cohesion suffers from the presence of openly gay men or women in the ranks”, the government no longer has a rational basis for making gay people unequal to everyone else in the military. The government also may have no rational basis to regulate private homosexual conduct that is out of sight and not comingled with fraternization. Supreme Court writings in both Lawrence v. Texas (2003) and Romer v. Evans (1996) apply.

Unit cohesion was indeed the centerpiece of the argument for DADT in 1993. The argument also, in the initial stages, incorporated the idea that servicemembers have no privacy (not completely true), and that the military can have rules that would not be acceptable in civilian life. The latter part is largely true (and codified into the 1993 law), but a law like this can still have dangerous effects on civilians, through the “Law of Unintended Consequences”. My own story (detailed elsewhere on the web) makes a case in point.

It’s interesting to speculate on the relevance of this piece to the gay marriage debate, and the Proposition 8 case in California, and a complicated legal battle in Washington DC. There is an underlying existential similarity between the concepts of “unit cohesion” in the military issue and “family” in the marriage issue (even as Rosie O’Donnell puts the concept out in her recent HBO film).

It’s good to see “conservative” lawyers from the GOP era arguing for the end of DADT. Log Cabin may well take credit.

Vashti Murphy McKenzie, a Bishop from the African Methodist Episcopal Church, also has a blog entry on the Post today on ending DADT.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sundance has new film on involvement of Mormon Church in Proposition 8

Red Flag Releasing, apparently a new small film distributor, has picked up “8: The Mormon Proposition” (directed by Reed Cowan and Steven Greenstreet) at the Sundance Film Festival, according to this link on an ABC station, and this link at Screen Daily.

Minority Films provides this trailer, and the rhetoric is quite strong on both sides. There are clips where Mormon officials look as though they are depicting gays as the “enemy”, a position that reminds one of the witch hunts and McCarthyism of the 1950s. A gay spokesperson says that what the Church wants is a theocracy, not a democracy.

The film is reviewed on the "Bill's Movie Review Blog" on June 20, 2010. The older YouTube video here "upWb2jBk5xw&hl" was removed by the YouTube user; see the movie review for a newer one.

The American News Project offers a free 7 minute film on YouTube by Steve Greenstreet “Prop. 8: Did Mormons Go Too Far”? here. There is a lot of discussion of whether churches can “hide” their contributions for their political agenda, and on the legal issues, both federal and state (within California) regarding church contributions to political causes intended to perpetuate discrimination.

I will review the (feature) film on my movies blog as soon as I am able to see it (either at a theater like Landmark, at Reel Affirmations, on Logo, or on Google Sundance if the film becomes available. PCWorld has an article (by Seth Weintraub_ on the beta test of this new subscription service for Sundance films, but I will have to look further to see if I can find it.

The main site for the film seems to be this. Also visit a site “Mormons for 8” here, which tries to identify Proposition 8 donors.

If a viewer finds the film as available for viewing (even for pay), please let me know (email or comment).

Monday, February 08, 2010

Wall Street Journal runs op-ed opposing lifting the military gay ban -- using the old 1993 arguments

The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed Feb. 3 by Mackubin Thomas Owens, an editor of Orbis, journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, “The Case Against Gays in the Military : Open homosexuality would threaten unit cohesion and military effectiveness”. The link is here. The article is by subscription. On Monday, Feb. 8, the WSJ ran a number of LTE’s, tending to disagree with Owens and support lifting the ban.

Owens seems to be resurrecting the old argument about homosociality, and the idea that “Phiia”, a social bond between members of a unit, would be corrupted by favoritism and “eros.” Of course, with women sharing responsibilities in almost all evils, one could twist his argument into something like “heterosexuality is incompatible with military service.”

We saw all these arguments back in 1993 - extending Nunn's "they have no privacy" and "when you state your status, you have described your conduct." The WSJ is known for fiscal conservatism only -- is this an aberration? (Remember, Foster Winans -- "Trading Secrets" (St. Martins, 1989) worked there.)

So buy the WSJ subscription (online $109 a year) to read it. Seriously, more newspapers are going to start to require subscription to see a lot of their content. Reader beware, decide if it is worth it.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

CBS rejects gay dating ad for Super Bowl, however ....

The Advocate has reported that CBS rejected a $2.5 million spot ad from gay dating service called Mancrunch. The story is here. CBS is indicating that the denial was related to payment issues and not to content. CBS did accept a Focus on the Family ad. There was a great gayish (Pepsi or Coke?) spot with a “cute” man on safari, attracting the admiration of wild animals, including a hyena.

LGBT viewers will probably find the 30 second commercial funny rather than “erotic.” It is not explicit enough to violate FCC network standards. The price tag shows how expensive super bowl ads are. It also relates speculation on how much money online dating services claim to make.

As for the game, New Orleans turned it into a late rout, 31-17, over the Colts, with the help of an unusual onside kick and later a catastrophic interception. Oddly, the Saints just barely got past the Redskins 33-30 during the season.

Picture: My own trip to N.O., late Feb., 2006

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Media covers subteties of Senate Armed Services Committee debate on DADT; LCR claims credit

The New York Times has a lot of coverage today about the military gay ban hearings Tuesday (I’m glad they haven’t started their 2011 charging policy yet), with an op-ed column by Maureen Dowd, “Defending the Long Gay Line” (perturbing the name of a 1955 movie “The Long Gray Line” about West Point and the introduction of the forward pass in football). The link for the column is here.

Ezra Klein takes up John McCain’s recalcitrance here in the Washington Post in his blog. Ironically, Log Cabin Republicans are taking credit for putting a lot of public pressure on Congress and the administration, with the only active court case right now, in its Feb. 1 statement, here.

The major news stories have covered other aspects of lifting the ban, such as the possibility of same-sex partner benefits in states that recognize same-sex marriage. There is also a proposal from Carl Levin (D-MI) to order suspension of discharges under the law, with a rider on this year’s Defense Authorization Bill. There is also the likelihood that Gates can order suspension of discharges based only on unsolicited information from third parties or found by happenstance, as on the Internet. Gates has expressed interest in reviewing the detailed recommendations in the 1993 Rand Study ordered by the Clinton Administration, but not implemented. Some supporters of DADT point to the "findings" in the 1993 law and claim that these have not changed.

The Washington Times, as usual, has its ice water jug, in its begrudging story by Sara Carter, “Gates to Hill: Pentagon to Ease Gay Ban: Both sides unhappy with plan,” link here.

Colin Powell, who has supported DADT and in 1993 made a meager threat to resign of Clinton's first plan to lift the ban, came out (no pun) today in favor of ending DADT.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

JCS Chief stuns Senate Armed Services Committee: repeal don't ask don't tell

The hearings in the Senate Armed Services Committee, the JCS chief Mike Mullen said it is time to scrap don’t ask don’t tell. “Men and women lie about who they are to defend their fellow citizens,” and seemed to suggest that the need to repeal the ban is the “worst kept secret in the military.” Gates said it could take two years to make the change. He said he had served with gays in 1968 (when I was in Basic). John McCain accused Gates of playing politics. 69% of the public agrees that gays and lesbians should be able to serve.

NBC Nightly News made a comparison to Truman's integrating the military in 1948 (covered in the HBO film "Truman" in 1996 with Gary Sinese).

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Larry King Live will report on the DADT hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee at 9 PM EST Tuesday Feb 2 on CNN.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Washington Post: Congress should repeal "don't ask don't tell" and do it now!

The Washington Post has an important editorial Monday Feb. 1, “Repeal ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’: President Obama wants it done; now it’s up to Congress to follow through”, link.

To quote the president from the State of the Union speech:

"This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. It's the right thing to do." The Post adds, “The ball is now in Congress's court.”

Patrick Murphy has 187 sponsors in the House. He needs 218 votes for passage.

The Washington Times, as usual, threw cold water on lifting the ban with its Monday morning headline (of its $1.00 international paper) "Tough fight set for gays in military; Obama wants ban repealed, but House and Senate not sure", link here, detailed story by Rowan Scarborough. By the way, you can tell by looking at the names of story writers at the Washington Times who survived their 40% job cuts recently during their "restructuring."

Picture: from Eisenhower farm in Gettysburg PA