Friday, July 30, 2010

On Friday night in DC, Cobalt Blue rules.

Well, on Friday nights, in Washington DC in 17th St, the Cobalt rules now. The crowd builds up pretty early, by 11 PM.

I didn’t know that disc jockeys play real vinyl records instead of CD’s or MP3 files. But the records were red vinyl, back from the days of old fashioned record collecting.

The dance floor has more seats around it again. The scene looks better.

And it was a dry, almost September-like night in Washington, after all the storms.

Not many people had followed the Nationals, minus Strasburg, on their blackberries. The team had won tonight.

Update (Aug 28):

Cobalt DC's website is back up, link here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Log Cabin director points out how DADT threatens national security

Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper has an important op-ed on p 21 of the July 22 Metro Weekly, “The Right Side of History: ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is a threat to the Constitution and National Security”, link here

Cooper points out that the lying and subterfuge encouraged by DADT could lead to security compromises and blackmail, an idea that used to be the “old chestnut” (those were Dick Cheney’s words) of security policy v. homosexuality. I had to deal with it as a civilian employee of the Navy in 1971-1972, despite my uneventful two years as a draftee in the Army.

The other part of the security argument is, of course, the loss of talent, especially in language translation. It’s even conceivable that with no DADT, 9/11 might have been prevented.

Cooper discusses and compares the military policy with the way “telling” is handled in civilian areas with high security clearances, where it is encouraged, and where gay discrimination has supposedly been eliminated. I wonder if the new USA network series “Covert Affairs” (my TV blog, July 16) will get into this subject.

It would be good to review a story by Katherine Shrader about the Bush administration and security clearances for gay civilians in the Washington Post, March 17, 2006, here. (“The Bush administration said security clearances cannot be denied "solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual." But it removed language saying sexual orientation "may not be used as a basis for or a disqualifying factor in determining a person's eligibility for a security clearance.")

Back on August 4, 1995, August Purdum ran a New York Times story “Clinton ends ban on security clearances for gay workers” link here.

For a really detailed earlier discussion on the ban and the indirect effect on civilians, see Jun 26, 2008 on this blog.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

CNN reviews immigration situation for gay couples

Adrianna Hauser of CNN has a report on a gay couple in New York. Both were born in Argentina, but only one is a US citizen. His partner’s visa allows him to stay in the US only 6 months.

Whatever state a gay couple lives in (allowing marriage or not), federal immigration law does not allow same-sex marriage the “privilege” of bringing a same-sex couple alien into the country. A New York congressman wants to change that. On the other hand, “conservatives” like Maggie Gallagher insist that “immigration is a privilege”, not a right and a lot of people would like to come into the country in a variety of domestic situations.

The argument would seem to resemble that regarding the lack of survivorship social security benefits for gay partners.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pentagon survey for "don't ask don't tell" repeal called offensive

Kevin Naff has an op-ed in the Washington Blade for July 16, “Pentagon troop survey is outrageous, offensive,” link here.

We don’t need to belabor this too much as to why, but the questions, partially about “privacy” (as Senator Sam Nunn and professor Charles Moskos saw it in 1993) and about “family values” are indeed a bit like “leading the witness” in court.

Sribd has a photo copy of the survey (PDF) here.

Perhaps this is a case of “self-serving” logic. One can take a good concept (“privacy”) and take it to its “logical consequences” and reach anti-social results. In arguments with my father as a teen, I used to call this “going to the root”.  Sometimes rigorous logic tramples on common sense.  You learn that in the Army.

When I was substitute teaching and found myself “ambushed” by certain special education assignments that could have resulted in my being asked to give intimate care, I resisted and then refused to accept certain kinds of assignments because of similar “reasoning.” I had gone out of the way to out myself publicly and make a political case, so could I be violating some kind of standard of consent (at least from parents)? One or two lawyers I asked thought that I could be; I posted such online and it caused a ruckus in the school systems. It’s true that the “don’t ask don’t tell” law says that the military lives with restrictions that “would not be acceptable in civilian life” but the distinction is not always clear cut. Had there never been a DADT law on the books, I might have become a regular teacher (math) in retirement after all.

Update: later today

The New York Times has an important article on p 13 Sunday July 18, by Tamar Lewin, "A hot line grapples with evolving appeals for conscientious objector status", link here.  The article presents J. E. McNeil on a G.I. Rights hotline. "The legal standard, she said, is that the person must be conscientiously opposed to participating in war in any form, based on a sincerely held religious, moral or ethical belief. And the person must have had a change of heart since joining the military, when the person signed a form saying he or she was not a conscientious objector and did not intend to become one." Later, Bob Jolly from the BY Area GI Rights network is quoted as saying, "Mr. Jolly said opposition to homosexuality would not be a valid ground for a conscientious objector discharge, whatever happens with “don’t ask, don’t tell.” ; “It’s like when blacks and whites were integrated in the armed services,” he said. “They have to learn to live together."

The CO idea really is offensive, to me at least, a lot more than the survey itself.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Log Cabin DADT challenge: USAF officer says he was outed by snooping of personal emails

A former Air Force officer, Michael Almy, testified at the trial in Riverside CA challenge to the military “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, that he had kept his private and “professional” lives separate but when someone snooped at personal emails from Iraq, he was outed and then relieved at his duties.

Admittedly, he had used a military computer, but when deployed to a combat area (Iraq) it is impossible to carry on reasonable personal communications without military computers, and some personal use is normally permitted (even blogging in some cases).

The AP story by Julie Watson was reported by The Washington Post July 16 (link), along with another article explaining that Log Cabin Republicans believes that repeal of the policy should be a multi-front approach involving all branches of government, including the judiciary.

Update: July 22 :

The Southwest Riverside News Network has a story "Canadian professor testifies at ‘Dont Ask, Don’t Tell” policy trial in Riverside: The nonjury trial got under way July 13 before U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips", link here. The professor said that if Canada sets an example, lifting the ban would be a "nonevent".  Blame Canada?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

DC Appeals Court blocks gay marriage referendum attempts; Argentina is first Latin American country to accept gay marriage

The District of Columbia Court of Appeals has turned down efforts by opponents of the DC gay marriage law to force it to a referendum. City officials had argued that the city had the authority to block measures creating discrimination, and the Court ruled that the City acted within its authority.

The link to the AP story on WJLA in Washington DC is here.

Argentina authorized gay marriage today, after a vote in its Senate, following an earlier vote in its house. sex civil union is legal in Uruguay, Brazil, some states in Mexico and Mexico City, and in Buenos Aries itself. But Argentina is the first country in Latin America to recognize gay marriage with all the same rights and responsibilities, including inheritance. What an advance since the days of “Apartment Zero”.

The AP story by Michael Warren is here.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A little morality play when clubbing (and maybe a lesson in "online reputation")

Well, I hadn’t been to TownDC for a while, and last night something weird did happen. Today is my birthday (I won’t give the years hear but the number is greater than for most men on the floor), and some people who remembered me from visits before did invite me to dance. Someone nearby asks my age – and I think about the birthday, although I don’t know how he knew. Then, in a “departure from norm” for dirty dancing, he pulls up my pantlegs, revealing balding gams. (I’ve never seen that done. Also, in after hours, when people don’t have drinks in their hands – more common in cities with earlier liquor curfews, the activity gets a lot more rambunctious, not the case here. I think in DC it’s 3 AM, isn’t it? This was around 1.

Well, I guess one does get known and recognized from the Internet, one’s blog posts and of course Facebook (I’m not that active on Facebook, even though I’m there), and Twitter (I’m no Ashton Kutcher on Twitter). I can imagine that maybe a few years ago one of them had encountered one of my screenplays on the Web, the one that caused a ruckus when I was substitute teaching (the “BillBoushka” blog July 27, 2007, also June 25). Then it all makes sense. All the reason and try to get out and edit and sell the screenplay(s).

By the way, there was another “birthday” conversation at The Boom in Minneapolis in October 2001, right after 9/11. A woman approaches me and asks me my birthday, and age. Then she says something like, “Scott’s boyfriend thinks you like him, and that’s a problem.” She used the term “senior moment” and then said I should just keep some distance. Weird!

Pictures: Baltimore pride. Problems with low light. Last night, I just had a single-use flash, that has to be developed, get the pictures later.

Last night, there was a particular patron wearing a white T-shirt with the interjection "Yeah" written on it. The recent book "The Facebook Effect" by David Kirkpatrick describes the social or conversational manners of the company's founder as using that word when disinterested, a manner that pleases some people and distracts others. The patron also had his face and hair done to look like the company's founder, although he was considerably taller. A cute way to costume onself without Halloween!


The "Yeah" guy (that's not "Yeth")
Joker #1 (The Sunfish cap is mine from a submarine boarding even tin 1993 when I was preparing to write about gays in the military);
Joker #2:  No, he's the same guy, with my glasses, too.  I don't bother with contacts, not vain enough (I can't afford to be.)

Friday, July 09, 2010

SLDN urges gay soldiers not to answer Pentagon survey, but DOD promises no PII will be used; LCR suit moves forward

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has been cool to lifting the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy but who has been willing to rein in on witchhunts, now is asking all servicemembers, including closeted gay and lesbian servicemembers, to respond to a survey regarding impending repeal of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. Ed O’Keefe has a story in the Washington Post Friday morning here.

But according to Pauline Jelinek of the AP, the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network warns LGBT military personnel to be wary about the survey and that DOD has not guaranteed legal immunity to servicemembers inadvertently outed by the process. SLDN reprinted the AP story here. SLDN’s own press release is here.  The Post story says that the survey is operated by a third party and does not include PII. On the other hand, there are anecdotal reports of self-outings on Facebook without resulting in discharges or action in some commands.

On July 6, a federal judge in California ruled that a suit by Log Cabin Republicans challenging DADT must go forward. The bench trial starts July 13, according to LCR's National Law Journal Story, here.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Federal judge in MA strikes down DOMA in two separate opinions, on 14th and 10th amendment grounds

A federal judge in Massachusetts (I could say, of course!) has issued two opinions striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which “Republicrat” President Bill Clinton, under some pressure, signed in 1996.

Judge Joseph Tauro found, in Gill v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management, that DOMA violates the Equal Protection Clause. (of the 14th Amendment, and also the 5th).

In Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. Department of Health & Human Services, he also ruled that regulating marriage is in the purview of the states, and that DOMA violates this (a tenth amendment ruling).

The Washington Blade story by Chris Johnson is here.
The text of the opinions is here.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Trangendered woman wins case against Georgia legislature

The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Georgia Voice report that a federal judge ruled late on July 2 that the Georgia General Assembly discriminated illegally against Vandy Beth Glenn, dismissing her from a job as legislative editor when she announced plans for gender change from male to female. The link is here.

In the past, in Florida a transgendered person was removed from position of mayor of a small town.

Picture: Atlanta Pride, 2004.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Domestic partners: Grossing up to offset extra income tax

The official corporate blog for Google has an entry today, July 1, Celebrating Pride 2010, with the link here.  I don’t recall seeing a booth or float for the company in either Washington or Baltimore; the company mentions Dublin and Pittsburgh.

The posting points to an HRC article on “Domestic partner benefits: grossing up to offset imputed income tax”, with link here.  This means paying more gross salary or wage to offset the extra income tax that results from the lack of legal marital status for the domestic partner. HRC offers a curious disclaimer that the article does not constitute “legal advice”.