Sunday, January 30, 2011

CobaltDC throws "Winter Blue Ball" party with Shift DC

On Saturday, Jan. 29, I tried CobaltDC’s “Winter Blue Ball” party with ShiftDC .  The group Shift is apparently identified with a style of disco music, which is not the same as Taylor Swift or Kelly Clarkson on Sirius XM, although both of the latter would work well in disco.

It really got packed about 12:30 PM.   There were plenty of party crowns to go around, along with Aquarian tinsel, and globes hanging from the ceiling like inhabited planets in a nearby solar system. A Metro Weekly photographer was there, and captured me; so I hope my aging face appears in next weekend’s issue.  I told him about my “Do Ask Do Tell” book and blogs and connection to “don’t ask don’t tell” repeal  and mentioned Oprah's recent excursion into the use of the "do ask do tell" phrase. I also suggested that he Google “Shy and Mighty” (which belongs to someone else, but it sounds catchy and trademarkable  -- in any case, several items, like “Antennae”, are definitely disco-danceable).

Once again, like much of February last year, in-town DC streets have lots of snowbanks around, and little all-night parking.  You need a working Metro (without single tracking) and plenty of cabs to get around for “clubbing”.

The Shift Party is supposed to happen every last Saturday night, but this month there were five Saturdays.  I don’t know what happened the fourth Saturday. The third Saturday has become a “ladies’ night” (remember Ladies’ Day at the old Griffith Stadium with the horrid Washington Senators?  Note that the San Francisco Giants play the Nats here April 29-May 2, early, so that’s the chance to see Tim Lincecum pitch.) 

Shift has it's own little YouTube video. 

It did get "wild at heart" last night. 
The "got it" count was 4, by my reckoning.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Point Foundation announces its awards ceremony in April

The Point Foundation communicated a press release to me, at this (website adr) URL.

Andy Cohen (of Bravo) and Margarethe “Grethe” Cammermeyer (an early warrior to overturn the military gay ban and author of “Serving in Silence”, which became an NBC movie in 1994, will be honored at New York’s Point Benefit on April, 2011. Kelly Ripa (of “Live with Regis and Kelly) will host.  The event honors the “Courage, Legend and Inspiration Awards.”

The Point Foundation is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting group for LGBT students.  I received the email with the press release from Cynthia Sun of the Point Foundation yesterday. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lifting "don't ask don't tell" logically demands debate on federal recognition of gay marriage

Kerry Eleveld, Washington correspondent for The Advocate, contributed an op-ed Friday in the Washington Post, “Next up for Obama: Marriage inequality for gay Americans”, link here

Eleveld points out logical inconsistencies in the end of “don’t ask don’t tell” and a position that as recently as 2008 actively supported civil unions only, a concept or construct not recognized by the military.  The end of DADT logically requires a discussion of the federal recognition of gay marriage rights. Of course, you can put this logic into contraposition (remember that in Plane Geometry?) and go back to “dire” predictions in the dissent in the 2003 “Lawrence v. Texas” opinion. But slippery slopes shouldn’t stop you from doing the right thing; you just need the right kinds of skis (“graduated length method” of gay rights). So goes "The Gay Agenda". 

Friday, January 21, 2011

IA: new anti-gay-marriage amendment; HUD takes on bias; military ban was very expensive

According to a story by Jason Hancock in the Iowa Independent, a resolution has been introduced in the Iowa House to implement a state constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman. The text of the brief amendment is here.    Four Republicans did not sign on. The newspaper story is here

Ed O’Keefe has an important story in the Washington Post today about new Housing and Urban Development rules prohibiting lenders and property owners from asking about same-sex relationships in determining eligibility for HUD-related housing. This sounds like a retreat to the “privacy” paradigm. The link is here.  The proposed new rule is “Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity, link here. The story cites instances of bias found in Michigan in 2007.

O’Keefe also has a story reporting that the military spent over $193 million on discharging and replacing gay soldiers from 2004 to 2009 under “don’t ask don’t tell”, over $52000 per soldier.  At least 39% of the discharges involved critical skills in infantry, intelligence and languages. The link is here

Picture: Random resort shot, at Bethany Beach DE as I recall (Aug 2010)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gay couples in the South are more likely to be raising children than elsewhere in the US; Supreme Court turns down challenge to DC gay marriage law

The New York Times on Wednesday, Jan. 19, has a front page story “Gay Parents are thriving in the South, Census says”, and online the story is “Parenting by gays more common in the South, Census says”, link (website url) here.  

The story refers to a study at UCLA based on officially published aggregate data from the 2010 Census and various surveys.  Gary Gates spoke about the study for UCLA to the times.

The results of the study sugget that gay men sometimes have children from heterosexual marriages, and sometimes continue to have custody.  Gay parents are likely to be from racial or origin minorities.  Gay couples in the South may more likely to be raising children than those in the Northeast or West Coast. Perhaps there is more social pressure to have a lineage in the South. The story focused on Jacsonville FL (which I last visited myself in 1993).

Non-white women and women of Hispanic origin are more likely to bear children than non-minority women, the story notes.

The issue of gay parenting is becoming double edged.  Laws outlawing gay adoption or foster parenting have been challenged and struck down in some states (including Florida, where Rosie O’Donnell tried to adopt). But arguments about “sustainability” are leading to the notion that child-rearing is now a responsibility that ought to be shared by everyone.  The notion is also linking up to eldercare, as extended families may be better able to deal with this growing challenge.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case requiring Washington DC to hold a referendum on gay marriage, Christian Science Monitor story here

Picture: Atlanta Pride on Peachtree St, June, 2004. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

CA Congressman Duncan Hunter wants to stymie DADT repeal by requiring combat service chiefs sign-off

Duncan Hunter, conservative GOP Congressman from southern California, wants to stymie the “don’t ask don’t tell” repeal by requiring all four service branch chiefs to sign off on it individually.
Hunter’s statement (on the “DADT Report”) on his own website is dated Nov. 30, 2010 (17 years anniversary of the date of its passage) and is here

A story by Carlos Santosky was published in “On Top” Magazine (a rather explicit title for a publication) today, here.   saying that the bill jeopardizes the whole DADT repeal because Amos of the Marine Corps is unlikely to sign off in such circumstances, and Army and Air Force chiefs have expressed some concerns.  There is a “lowest common denominator” logic to all this.  You can’t say you’re “equal” if somebody else has to take all the risks to protect you.

However CNN tonight maintained that the legislation, probably due to be introduced Tuesday (after the MLK Holiday) is unlikely to go anywhere.

Today, I mentioned my own involvement in the whole DADT fight in my Mother’s memorial service, in my “Bill’s Drama and Music News and Reviews” blog, available through the Blogger profile.  Maybe the fight is not quite over. You never know who is in the audience when you have a public speaking engagement.

“Public speaking is easy” ( from “Laugh a Little, Cry a Little”, 1998).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Louisiana registrar refuses to recognize NY same-sex adoption, case en bancc in Fifth Circuit; UCMJ 125 needs repeal

A registrar in Louisiana refused to issue a birth certificate to a boy showing two men as adoptive parents, in a case where the boy had been adopted by a male couple in New York.  The men are Oren Adar and Mickey Smith.

The case will be heard in the Fifth Circuit Jan. 19.  In 2009, Judge Jay Zainey had ruled against the Louisiana registrar, and a three judge panel in the Fifth Circuit had agreed. Now a full en banc hearing will take place.

Lambda Legal’s writeup of Adar v. Smith is here

The adoption cases are interesting in a moral sense.  The media has been pressuring the public to be much more interested in adopting disadvantaged children, as in NBC-Washington’s “Wednesday’s Child” series.  
Back in the 1990s, Jonathan Rauch used to write, if gays win marriage (and adoption and parenting rights), they need to “use” them and take more responsibility. 

Back in 1985, the Fifth Circuit had upheld Texas statute 21.06 on the grounds of "promoting morality", in a reversal of Dallas judge Buchmeyer's 1982 decision in Baker v. Wade.  Of course, Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 overturned all that. 

Along the lines of the discussion of defunct sodomy laws, it's important to remember that the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) Article 125 is still on the books, and it may be a difficult repeal in this Congress, although there seem to be new constitutional grounds for striking it down (an earlier attempt in US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces had failed, United States v. Marcum). Lou Chibbaro has a detailed story in the Jan. 13, 2011 Washington Blade here.

Picture: unrelated, this time, an Orioles baseball game in 2010. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Benton's "Gay Science" has important installment on homosexuality and social "non-conformity"

The Falls Church News Press (VA) has run a series called “Gay Science” by Nicholas F. Benton.

I can recall a friend in graduate school coming to Pride in Minneapolis, Loring Park, Libertarian Party Booth, with a copy of Nietzche’s “The Gay Science” as required philosophy reading.

The Metro Times runs his series as an advertisement paid for by the Nicholas F. Benton Foundation (best link seems to be this ).

But one of his best installments is Episode 13, “Gay Sensibility and Constructive Non-Conformity”.   He argues that there is a logical nexus between non-conforming sexual orientation (perhaps gender identity, too), and resistance to being expected to compete according to society’s norms.  He writes, in particular,

“Conformity is the bane of our, or any, age. In our times, young people are tracked almost like chattel into social expectations that lock them, with few variations, into routinely mundane and mediocre lives to reinforce the powers that be. Not a totalitarian system, this is the norm for our democracy, and it is done through our ruling class' vast resources of social engineering.

“Boys play sports to ready themselves to fight and die in wars. Girls play with dolls and cheer boys on the sidelines of sporting events, groomed to comfort the fighting men and have their babies.

“Alternatively, today's young are groomed to attend college, become steeped in student loan debt, to find a job to pay it off, afford marriage, buy a house and have children. By their early 20s, they're set in cement, locked in at an early age, with few inspired or motivated to buck the trend.”

It’s interesting, his insight that this paradigm is “the norm for our democracy”. Paragraph 2 here generates the link between “don’t ask don’t tell” and the former military draft, and the idea that it could come back some day.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Arizona passes emergency funeral protection zone legislation to keep Westboro protests at bay

Arizona has passed a law establishing “funeral protection zones” to prevent a group from Fred Phelps’s Westboro Baptist Church from protesting at funerals associated with the tragedy in Tucson on Friday.

Although, as the news has unfolded, the incident appears to have no relationship to the gay community, Phelps was still going to protest a funeral of a child victim claiming that Loughner had been sent as God’s punishment for sin. Controversial Arizona governor Jan Brewer signed the emergency legislation, which could face First Amendment challenges.

I have a family service soon, and I guess Phelps could target me (for becoming publicly involved in repealing “don’t ask don’t tell”, among many other things) if he wanted. It seems that no one is immune, and his minions roam the countryside and cityscapes. My attitude now is, let him. He (and his “family church”) can protest all he wants and make a fool of himself in public.

Politico has the news story here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Prosecutor in Michigan goads DUI defendant into ex-gay program when arrested while leaving gay bar

Alternet has an almost unbelievable story about a young man in Michigan who (as recently as 2007) went through an ex-gay program (called “Teen Challenge”) as a “condition of probation” from a county prosecutor to get out of a DUI charge when leaving a gay bar. Because of family hostility, he had spent ten days in jail unable to post bail.

The story, by James Voss, is titled “Truth wins out: What happened when fundamentalist Christians tried to “cure” me of homosexuality.

The student had dropped out of a Bible college, North Central University and had been brought up in a Pentecostal church.

The motive for the “conversion” seems to be nothing more than purely religious ideology. However, one of the tracts did claim that homosexuality was harmful to “the extended family”, which, in a sense, perhaps it is. (For example, imagine the "Raising Helen" scenario so popular with Hollywood. When married parents have multiple children, and one of them gives them grandchildren, and then something tragic happens, they expect the siblings to be able to step up and raise the grandchildren, even though they did not "procreate" them.)  It also spoke vaguely of “society at large” and claimed that only 2% of homosexual men survive to 65. (I guess I’m one of the 2%, then.)

The link is here.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

My visit to the Scorpio in Charlotte (a safe place for soldiers during "don't ask don't tell"?)

While in Charlotte, NC last week, I visited the Scorpio (link ) on a weeknight, Wednesday. People started arriving about 10 PM.

I had last seen the huge club in 1994. It still looked familiar, especially the outdoor patio area. The club is located NW of downtown, where 27 (Freedom Drive) meets I-77. The “Queen City” Dubai-like downtown is just out of sight from the club, which is in a ravine.

There seemed to be two big dance floors, on one level, and a pool room, and a visible makeup area for the performers (as if “Black Swan” were to play).

In the past, military men sometimes came to Charlotte from military bases to the East and South to escape the nosey NCIS investigators prone to look for cars with military license plates in gay bar lots (I have seen the Friends lounge (Facebook link) (in Jacksonville, NC, near Camp Le Jeune) from the outside once, back during a car road trip in 1992. In the 1990s (when I was writing my book), “everybody knew” that the Scorpio had a lot of military clientele.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

North Carolina county commissioner stirs controversy with Puritan-style remarks

A “Republican” Commissione, Bill James, in Mecklenburg County (Charlotte) made some particularly vitriolic anti-gay remarks recently, almost in ignorance (more than defiance) not only of the recent repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” but even of the 2003 “Lawrence vs. Texas” ruling by the Supreme Court. It's one of the most shocking statements made by a public official in recent times.

The main cable news channel in the area has the lead story and video (website url) here.

Other commissioners are now waking up to the libertarian argument that such behavior could drive business away from the area, especially after hard times associated with the financial collapse.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Justin Elzie's book explains how the military indeed "pursued" in the old days

I am reading Justin Elzie’s autobiography “Playing by the Rules” and expect to review it soon on my books blog.

Elzie had joined the Marine Corps in the early 1980s, and would advance to becoming an American Embassy Guard. He was visible during the early years of Clinton’s “don’t ask don’t tell, don't pursue” and actually served four years while openly gay while legal and administrative battles went on.

One thing that stands out: in the days before DADT, as well as, probably, afterwards, the military actively pursued some servicemembers (it did not when I was in the Army from 1968-1970, when everyone looked the other way). It used the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), staffed by civilian employees, to pursue Marines going to “off limits” gay bars near military bases in the South (particularly North Carolina), often tracking down license plate numbers in parking lots.  It's odd to expect civilian employees, supposedly protected themselves by a 1973 Civil Service ruling, pursuing gay sailors and Marines, a real ethical "conflict of interest".

David Mixner, author of "Stranger Among Friends" and provider of a Foreword for Elzie's book, had written (in his own earlier book) that the FBI had tried to set him up in 1969.

Picture: NCIS, Washington Navy Yard.

(Update: Jan. 9:  My review appears today on the Book Reviews blog.)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

VA Democrats want a state version of ENDA; New Years Eve is lively enough

Rosalind S. Helderman is reporting in the Washington Post New Year’s day that Virginia Democrats want to build on the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” to pass a state version of ENDA. Republicans say it is unnecessary. The story link is here. The Virginia ACLU says it would sue of Rep. Marshall’s plan to ban gays from the Virginia National Guard were to become law, and Bob McDonnell said that Virginia Guard should follow federal law for the military even if conservative politicians disagree with the repeal.

Last night, the Cobalt DC New Years Party (the first since the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell") was lively, but the Times Square celebration was only shown for a few minutes, and Anderson Cooper was missing. No, I didn't write and upload a java application to webcam the dancers and let the whole world vote on who was the "hottest."  But it's an idea.

Cabs were very difficult to find for safe travel home around 1:30 AM.

In 2011, Congress will have the right to review the repeal of the Ban for 60 days. It's not expected anything will "happen", even with the GOP "victories."  Log Cabin says it will stay the course in Court.