Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Catholic group in Illinois would close down rather than comply with laws on non-discrimination against gays as parents

MSNBC and the New York Times have a story by Laurie Goodstein to the effect that affiliates of Catholic Charities in Illinois are closing down rather than comply with state laws not to discriminate against same-sex couples (or gays) in placing children for adoption or into foster care, link here.  The Catholic bishops say that the state limits "freedom of religion".

I remember a conversation in the spring of 1980 at Catholic Charities on Oak Lawn Ave in Dallas about the Cuban refugee issue at the time, when the counselor said that my statement that I am gay "ended the discussion".

The media (as with NBC Washington's "Wednesday's Child") is increasing pressure on the public for people to adopt, and gays and lesbians definitely get a mixed message.  In Minnesota, I recall bus stop signs encouraging singles to adopt.

Monday, December 26, 2011

GOP Congressman urges LGBT people to get "thicker skins" on bullying

The HRC, in an email regarding candidates it supports, mentioned its opposition to Rep. Steve King (R-IA) saying that LGBT people need a “thicker skin” about bullying.  The link is here.  King was also "upset" about the developments on gay marriage in Iowa. 

I guess for King, double standards and hypocrisy are SOP. 

I googled around for some other reports of “thicker skin” comments and found one back in 2009 about a teacher in Illinois disciplined for an anti-gay slur.  But a right wing column weighed in against the student affected and then ranted about how homosexuality is God’s chosen “trial” assigned to some people, as if they get to decide what everyone’s “dues” are to be, with the link on Blogger (by Alvin McEwen) here

I usually don’t get into campaigns for or against specific candidates for their $$$, that’s not my calling in life or “gift of the Spirit”.  But the HRC story, in my Gmail, certainly caught my eye today.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

UK lifts gay male blood donation ban; US keeps ban despite rapidly rising need for blood, especially for bone marrow transplants, as medical technology advances quickly

Recent media stories about donated blood shortages, particularly related to increased needs because of increase ability of medicine to perform bone marrow transplants (as reported by the NBC Today show regarding NIH), have renewed interest in looking at the FDA ban on accepting blood donations from MSM (effectively, “gay men”) since 1983. 
The ban would apply even to those negative for HIV antibodies and antigens. 
The government says that HIV is still about sixty times as prevalent among gay men as the general population. 
It’s not clear this is reliable, but the success of many medications (such as protease inhibitors, especially newer ones) is making the problem less visible to the public. 
The FDA bans donations for only a year after heterosexual contact with someone with HIV. 
The Red Cross urges a policy of a one-year wait after an MSM event. 
The December 5, 2011 USA Today story is here

Britain lifted the automatic ban on gay male donors in September 2011, story .

Thursday, December 22, 2011

NBC News reports repeal of DADT going well

NBC Nightly news offered a three minute report on the first year after the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was passed, and three months after official certification.
 In Norfolk, VA at the Navy Base (not the bastion of social liberalism, in Pat Robertson country), two lesbian soldiers had a party on ship.  One young man came out to his parents from Afghanistan and his YouTube video went viral.  The ability to speak freely about the matter on social media has become an important aspect of the repeal. 
Without social media (particularly Facebook and its insistence on Zuckerberg’s own theory of integrity), and without the persistence of self-published bloggers  (who just wouldn’t go away) like me for years – I wonder if the repeal could have happened. 


The Dec. 26 issue of the Washington Times plays devils advocate with an article by Rowan Scarborough, "Three months on, 'don't ask' repeal gets mixed reviews", link here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Town DC light on Christmas decorations; Manning case takes a gender-bending twist

Well, Merry Christmas!
Last night, the Town DC did not have Christmas decorations downstairs (even though Dec. 17) but did have a snowflake pattern of decorations on the upstairs disco. 
A young man downstairs said he recognized me from Dallas (where I traveled recently – perhaps he had been at the Station 4) and asked how old I was. How boorish!  I said “I won’t say”. He said it was remarkable that I was still “clubbing”.

There was a lot of attention to Metro Weekly's Cover Boy vote, won by Tyler Coffery (link).  There was the usual audience contest, not synonymous. 

Saturday a couple of major stories about Bradley Manning surfaced -- even on my cell phone as I was there.  The contrast between the frivolity of events at the disco and the gravity of the issue was striking at the moment I saw the story.  One story is a Daily Beast story about why so much material is classified to begin with this link.
More curious is the military courts-martial defense strategy to bring up Manning’s gender identity, which should not be confused with sexual orientation. The CNN story is by Larry Shaughnessy, here
The case is important for gays in the military in the sense that if a GOP candidate wins the election in 2012, he or she could try to manipulate the appearance of this case to try to justify reimposing the military ban – with asking.


Freddie's Beach Bar in Arlington is indeed well decked out for Christmas.

Monday, December 12, 2011

CNN airs interview with Tyler Clementi's parents

Tyler Clementi’s parents spoke to CNN, the AC360 program tonight, to correspondent Jason Carroll.  The defendant in the criminal case, Dharun Ravi, has refused a plea bargain that would avoid jail time if convicted, so there will be a trial in northern New Jersey in February. 

The parents have created a Tyler Clementi Foundation, link here.

During the broadcast, Tyler’s room at his parents’ home was shown, still as it was, as were very brief clips of his violin playing. 

Friday, December 09, 2011

Eighth grader's video on being bullied gets national attention via Lady Gaga

ABC Good Morning America covered the story of Jonah and his YouTube video about getting bullied.
Perez Hilton and Lady Gaga came to his support.  The latest story is that Nick Jonas had provided a cover for Lady Gaga’s song “Born this Way”, link here.

Here’s a site to download Lady Gaga’s song to iTunes; I think it’s 99 cents and legal, here.   

Jonah said that the bullying had started in First Grade.  After Lady Gaga’s support, the principal of his middle school (he is now in 8th grade) finally agreed to do something about the problem.

My own experience with the teasing was its worst from third grade through ninth grade. In senior high school (which for me stared in 10th grade, at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington VA) it stopped completely. 

Remember, about this time last year, the Senate was holding its hearings on repealing "don't ask don't tell".  Certainly, over the years, the military gay ban contributed to a climate that seems to excuse bullying.  But it hasn't gone away that quickly.  As a substitute in northern Virginia, I saw very little bullying (outside of some special ed situations) compared to the rest of the country. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

On ABC, "traditional girl" gets first dates to get free meals -- bringing back all the old questions about gender roles

Thursday morning, ABC GMA presented the tall tale of a young woman who would date as many young men (on first dates, after finding them on as possible to get dinner bought, and get free meals.  “I’m a traditional girl” she said. 

When I had my spell of heterosexual dating in the fall of 1971, we didn’t go Dutch, and I found the whole thing a bit of a performance.  Oh, yes, after seeing “Sunday Bloody Sunday” (United Artists, dir. John Schelsinger, rather startling at its time for depicting a love triangle with a “gay” corner , review), I made a point of walking on the outside (street) side going back to the car with my female date – whose father had at one time tried to offer me a sandwich.  

And then, when I got into the whole William and Mary expulsion and NIH therapy thing in 1962 – it is still striking to me today how disruptive it was to “them” that I wouldn’t go along and indulge their world of gender roles.  It was more of a problem for them that I did NOT share their passions and impulses, than it would have been had I been “normal” and caused a pregnancy – and attendant responsibility. How ironic.  I had become the alien anthropologist, the detached observer, motivated by a world of fantasy capable of judging the fitness of every single male for continuing the species – while not sharing their risk of creating responsibility.    If I wasn’t “competitive” enough to function in a social group as a proper male, so weren’t a lot of other males. This whole idea was very disturbing to them.  But in those days, families were bigger, external threats were real, constant labor was needed to secure the family, and everyone had to share it.  It wasn’t surprising that all of this got tied to gender roles and then longterm martial sexuality, which socialized everyone else. 

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Major League Baseball adds protection from sexual orientation discrimination to CBA

Major League Baseball has agreed to add protection from sexual orientation discrimination to its agreements for players and employees.  The wording of Article XV Section A now will read “The provisions of this agreement will apply to all players covered by this agreement without regard to race, religion, color, national origin, or sexual orientation.”

The New York Daily News story is here.

The Agreement document PDF is here and the new language should appear on p. 52 at any time. 

The National Football League recently added a similar clause to its Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

Thursday, December 01, 2011

World AIDS Day -- US is behind the 8-ball

On World AIDS Day, CNN has a report on ADAP, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, and the long waiting lists in some states, such as Florida.  In other states, like Ohio, the waits are shorter because the qualifications are more restrictive. 

CNN’s link is here.  

The Syracuse newspaper blog discusses a CDC contention that the US is lagging some other advanced countries in anti-HIV treatment, and , among the 1.2 million people in the US infected, only about 28% have the virus stopped and in full remission.  Here’s their link.

Treatment typically costs about $50000 a year. But side effects (including skeletal muscle deterioration and the “protease paunch”) have become much more manageable in recent years. Many HIV-infected people stay at work indefinitely, sometimes for decades, and others cannot know they are infected unless they are told. 

In the meantime, the shift in attention for care shifts from PWA’s (as in the 1980s and 90s) to the elderly, particularly those with Alzheimers, with unmarried or childless people, often LGBT, doing much of the caregiving. Alzheimer’s is the next gigantic public health problem on the horizon. 

PWA’s, as well as people on chemotherapy or the very elderly, could be at additional danger because of an increasing trend among parents not to vaccinate children.

Dec. 1, World AIDS Day, marks the beginning of meteorological winter; but in the northeast (as well as LA with the Santa Ana winds) a warm autumn continues.  It’s not very Christmas-looking.

Monday, November 28, 2011

DOMA challenges federalism, could still encourgage employment discrimination; amicus brief in MA

As part of a libertarian effort to discredit government mandated benefits and regulations as a drag on the economy, the Storey Institute has written a posting about the indirect costs of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), here.  Employers would have to pay slightly higher salaries to employees in a same-sex marriage to overcome the higher taxes on partner health benefits (when they are exempted to opposite sex partners) which could lead to reluctance to hire employees involved in same-sex marriage in states that recognize it.

The issue here is that the federal government is not fully recognizing some state prerogatives (as defining marriage law) as was accepted under federalism. 

But even I at one time thought it was better to let states “experiment” without impinging federal law, because I thought that progress in gay marriage could occur gradually, state by state, which has in a sense happened. 

 Otherwise there might be no progress at all—the “all of nothing” or “no part credit” problem. 

Moorfield Storey’s blog post is here.

The story appeared on the listserver for GLIL (Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty) on Yahoo! today. 

Here’s an amicus brief for the Challenge to DOMA in the First Circuit (Commonwealth of Massachusetts v. US Dept of Health and Human Services), link .

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Society's double standards, old boy networks, and homophobia

Today, Andrew Sullivan appeared on Chris Matthews, and made the comment that one of Sandusky’s victims at Penn State was being bullied for allowing himself to become the “cause” of the fall of Penn State football.  This sounds like “string logic” carried into moral absurdity as far as possible. But it also illustrates how deeply divided our society still can be when it lives by “double standards” (or frankly contradictory standards) of conduct. Doing what is right as an individual is not always what expresses loyalty and cohesion for the group.Sullivan’s Daily Dish has a blog entry  (“Is Penn State only a symptom?” )that refers to a few other commentaries on the “old boy network” problem, link here.

But there is more than just the “old boy” problem.  People in larger groups tend to assume someone else will act, or that the “crowd” or “herd” (even “nerd herd”) knows more than the individual. On Nov. 17, Washington Blade Editor Kevin Nash gave an example of a political science professor at Penn State who opened a classroom window on a subzero day, and found everyone afraid to ask her to close it (see Nov. 24 here). 

There is a natural tension between individual self-compass and sharing the values of a group.  That’s a definite quandary for society, because shared purpose is important for sustainability.

The New York Times has an interesting piece today about the old double standard, particularly as it applied to homosexuality in the old, pre-Stonewall days (and sometimes still does).  Baltimore native Dudley Clendinen has an opinion piece “J. Edgar Hoover ‘Outed’ My Godfather”.  Clendinen questions how far Hoover’s relationship with Tolson really went (as in the recent film), but Hoover definitely kept files on private lives and hunted down suspected homosexuals in government, at least through the 1950s.  (Yes, Hoover, the ultimate hypocrite, eptomized the "double standard".) It didn’t take too much to draw suspicion – not dating women (having “roommates” was common enough then, but still attracted negativity). The link is here. It has always struck me as an odd paradox that homosexuality was regarded by some as the ultimate sin and threat to society.  Why?  Someone like me could not be credible competition for someone’s wife or even girlfriend, or a direct threat to a marriage.   Someone like me was not going to create a baby and abandon it.  Was it because someone like me reminded other men that they could “fail physically” or experience real submission?  Was it because some who was perceived as unlikely to reproduce was a potential burden and drag on the family, or threat to its vicarious immorality? Was it because (as I experienced things during William and Mary and the aftermath at NIH) I was refusing to experience affection for or interest in less-than-perfect people when it would normally be socially expected?  Was my own personal “fantastic perfectionism” the penultimate threat? 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

VA: conservative control could become problematic for non-discrimination in schools; Black Friday; help for Occupy DC

Lou Chibbaro, Jr. had a major story in the Nov. 17 Washington Blade, front page, to the effect that Christian conservatives were back in control in Virginia state politics, story link here.

In the Virginia Senate there was a 20-20 tie, with the lieutenant governor having the ability to cast the “ping pong win” vote.  But one of the candidates who lost in the GOP was himself openly gay (Nov. 4).
Virginia, remember, passed the anti-gay-marriage Marshall Newman amendment in 2006. (There is a curious twist, that Marhsall-Newman could be construed as inadvertently nullifying some of the state’s filial responsibility law, never enforced; some day I’ll get into this.)  Now there are concerns that conservatives could try to ban “gay-straight” alliances in public schools  (some northern Virginia schools, in generally more moderate to liberal areas, have them), attempts to ban adoption by gay parents, or attempts to roll back anti-discrimination policies (with respect to sexual orientation) at state colleges and universities.  This last possibility is relevant to my recent visit to William and Mary (Oct. 21-22) as WM GALA celebrated its 25th anniversary. 

As for the clubs, it seems that Black Friday is as busy as any other weekend night (despite people leaving for a long weekend).  At least, the Cobalt was packed by midnight.  I overheard a conversation about an ongoing effort to supply meals to protestors at Occupy DC. I don’t know the specifics, but it’s good to hear that this is going on. 

I still have memories of Dallas.  The JR's Club in Dallas is four times the size of the same in DC. But that.s Dallas, where real estate is cheaper. 

Top two pictures: Old Dominion University, Norfolk; sorry for the technical glitch in the upper picture.

Friday, November 25, 2011

LCR on "It gets better". You have to make your own reality

A Washington Blade viewpoint by two people connected to Log Cabin Republicans on anti-gay bullying in schools deserves careful attention. The authors are Robert Turner, president of the DC Chapter of LCR, and Mike Hubbard, on the DC LCR board, with title “How does it get better? The answer isn’t so simple”, with link here .  In print, the piece appears on p. 20 Nov. 18.

The authors point out that gay teens often cannot get the support of their parents, who may see a kid’s homosexuality as an unfavorable reflection on their own marriage, or at least as not part of their vision of the “good life” for their “family”.  This is a frank and blunt assessment, but all too true.  People are influenced by the cultural norms passed down to them, and do not know how to make moral judgments of their own. 

The authors say that if you want your life to get better,  you have to take ownership of it – a pretty libertarian, Cato-Institute-like idea.  Play sports, or perhaps chess (keep up with those openings!), or perform drama or music, or compose, or write.  “Create your own reality”, a phrase which someone once announced was the essence of witchcraft.  And a lot of people don’t seem to get the opportunity, or even have the smarts, to do just that.

One observation that strokes me is that anti-gay bullying in public schools is being reported more just as, for grownups, gains occur: the repeal of "don't ask don't tell" for gays in the military, and progress across the nation on gay marriage and even gay parents.