Monday, May 30, 2011

President refers to DADT repeal in appointing new JCS chief, but won't veto House bill; Presbyterian Church releases new rules for ordination

Today, President Obama announced his new selection for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey. In his holiday remarks (broadcast Monday morning on CNN from Arlington Cemetery), Obama reiterated his own and the chief’s commitment to the idea that everyone could serve with integrity, obviously a reference to the certification of the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell”.  However, the president apparently will not try to veto the additional strings being put on the repeal process by the recent House hearings.  

In the weekend’s Washington Blade, Chris Johnson reports on a Marine Corps training session as very much a non-event, link here.The Blade also did a Q&A (by Phil Reese) with CNN weekend anchor, African-American Don Lemon.

And Sunday, May 29, I picked up a hard copy of the memo “Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approves change in ordination standard”, by Sharon Youngs, dated May 10, 2011, from the 219th General Assembly in 2010. Here’s a web link to what looks like the same material, url. The memo says "'Submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ' replaces 'fidelity and chastity'". 

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"Truck Stop" aka "District" fits -- is tucked away in the DC Adams-Morgan kesparate

To me, the Adams-Morgan kesparate within Washington DC invokes the "sinful" mood of Yzordderrex more than Patashoqua; it’s noisy, messy, busy, dangerous, and I suppose wonderful. If you get out at Dupont Circle, you probably gain about 250 feet in elevation before you arrive at a new club, the “Truck Stop”, way up on 
18th Street, near the end of the 2400 block. Outside, there is a sign “District” (without the “9”, as in the South African movie, although it’s the sort of place where extraterrestrials from Clive Barker’s novels would show up. To the uninitiated, the club seems hidden away, as in Josh Groban's song. 

The club is up two flights of stairs, then opens up, with two upper level lounge areas up two different staircases, a well segmented space for a club. It’s four flights total to get to the deck, where a supper of delicious frankfurters, fries, and cole slaw.

Most of the people (from whatever Dominion of the Imajica) were on the deck, even on a hot, humid evening. In DC, you can still smoke in outside areas, although that didn’t seem to be so much in evidence. 
As for discos, I think most people like the smoking ban and clean air now in the big spaces Friday and Saturday nights.  I don’t think it hurts the clubs.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A gay officer reports on the "training" in DADT repeal.

Here’s a nice little commentary from Time Magazine, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: A Gay Officer Witnesses It’s End”, by Officer X, link here.  Andrew Sullivan noted this article in his “Daily Beast” and “The Dish” blog for the Atlantic, here. The “training” in the repeal is a sham, as the officer notes, and certainly sounds condescending. Imagine, as the officer relates, even having to listen to it if you’re gay.

In the meantime, SLDN is reporting that the Senate may be more hospitable to orderly progress in certification of the repeal than the House was recently.

Update: May 26

The Washington Blade reported today that the House passed the bill reported earlier that complicates the certification requirement for the end of "don't ask don't tell".

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Arizona: ABC presents gay male couple with 12 adopted children

ABC "Good Morning America", on Thursday May 18, presented the story of Steven and Roger Ham who have adopted twelve children, and cared for others in foster care, in Arizona.  Many states (including Virginia – up in the air now) don’t allow gay (or not legally married) couples to adopt but some will allow singles to adopt.

They started in 2003, intending to adopt a girl, but got a boy with five siblings. 

The film was shot on a Sunday, with the kids having a full day of outdoor activities.  (One threw up!)
George Stephanopoulos hosted the story.

Wikipedia attribution link for p.d. picture of Mogollon Rim (site of the Travis Walton 1975 abduction).     I visited the area in Dec 1975

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

University of Minnesota law professor writes perspective on the "How the law accepted gays"

Dale Carpenter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota in my favorite city Minneapolis (yes, a big state school right in a major city), has an important piece in the New YorkTimes  April 29 (paywall subscription required), “How the Law Accepted Gays”, link (website url) here. Lambda Legal  (url) links to the article now.

He goes back to the days of Frank Kameny, who was fired from a civilian government job in 1957 when he was “outed” and then suddenly confronted by a visit from investigators.  He traces the changes in Civil Service rules in 1973, the APA ruling, and the gradual challenge to sodomy laws, with the loss in “Bowers v. Hardwick” in 1986 (which might not have happened if one justice’s assistant had been out), to “Lawrence v. Texas” in 2003, to the fights over fay marriage and gay parenting today. And the debate over gays in the military has moved from one about privacy (ironic in both directions) to honesty and openness, and even shared sacrifice in a post 9/11 world. 

It’s interesting and disturbing that Justice Scalia tried (in his 2003 dissent) to rewrite the debate as “from one of a small and despised minority to one of an elitist legal corps disparaging ordinary Americans.”

It seems as though the cultural battle is shifting to looking at how “common responsibilities” will be shared.  As Jonathan Rauch once wrote (in the 1990s), if gays win marriage, will they (we) really use it? Same for parentage.  The symbols for equal rights meet the practical need to take up responsibility. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

In New York State, many Republicans are supporting gay marriage; proves Log Cabin's point

Top GOP business and political leaders, as well as libertarians and independents, are helping bankroll fundraising efforts to win legal gay marriage in New York State, according to a New York Times story on Saturday by Nicholas Confessore and Michael Barbaro, link here

In a distantly related story, the Log Cabin Republicans met April 28 to May 1 in Dallas (link), and have this YouTube video from Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

More on the House Armed Services Committee Hearnings

Chris Johnson has a detailed discussion on the Washington Blade of the three amendments accepted by the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday.  The link is here

The most innocuous was to try to accept the “old” DOMA definition of marriage (as one man and one woman, biologically) for DOD purposes.  Another was to ban gay marriages on military installations. The Navy recently had backed away from a contingent plan that would allow same-sex marriage in Navy chapels, but would have allowed chaplains not to perform marriages that conflicted with their own religious conviction.  Ed O’Keefe and Craig Whitlock had written a story on this matter just before the hearings in the Washington Post, here. The issue has become legally controversial because the Obama administration has said it cannot continue to defend the constitutionality of DOMA.

 It strikes me that it would be a long time before such a ceremony is likely to occur in practice. 

The main provision would require service-level “certification” from the individual service chiefs over the “Nunn-Moskos” concerns, now so hackneyed. 

Also, check Rep. Andrews yesterday on CSPAN, "if you love your country, who you love in your private life is irrelevant".  We actually tried to say things like that back in 1993. What happened?  CSPAN link (website url) here. (From Twitter by Rep. Andrews.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Senate Armed Services Committee meets, overwhelmed by other matters besides "unrepeal"; Presbyterian Church may allow active gay clergy

You can watch the House Armed Services Committee hearings now, and the wayward attempt to “unrepeal” the “don’t ask don’t tell” repeal may come up, link here

If you are a visitor familiar with the issue and have a good relationship with your Representative, this would be a good time for an email letter on the issue.

It does sound as if the Committee is really much more concerned about other matters, like whether Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are safe, given Pakistan’s “performance” recently.  It should be concerned about these questions.

I can only say that Senator Levin from Michigan was right, prospectively: there are gay men who certainly could have passed the Navy Seals physical, and who could have been part of the team on May 1.  We just don’t know who was on the team and will never know.

The AP is reporting that the Presbyterian denomination, in a Minneapolis meeting, has effectively removed the requirement that legally unmarried clergy remain abstinent, paying the way for gay clergy. The story (with details about  various denominational votes)  is here. The story is by Rachel Zoll. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

VA: Poll finds Virginians split on gay marriage, but support increases; repeal of Marshall-Newman would be tough

Rosalind S. Helderman and Jon Cohen have a front page story in the Washington Post May 10, “Poll: VA. about evenly split on gay marriage; increase in acceptance marks big change since approval of ban in ‘06”, link here. The article refers to the Marshall-Newman Amendment which defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman in the Virginia constitution (ironically, its Bill of Rights).  It would be very difficult to repeal the amendment as a practical matter, even given the polls.  The amendment might have some beneficial side effects; for example, it might have a bearing if someone tried to challenge Virginia’s filial responsibility laws.

Virginia is one of 34 states where only legally married adults and single adults can adopt children, and the Virginia Board of Social Services recently declined to bar sexual orientation discrimination by adoption agencies. The poll found that 35% of respondents believed that same-sex couples should not adopt children.   

Monday, May 09, 2011

TN proposes bill banning mention of "gay" before ninth grade in public schools

The Huffington Post is reporting on a bill in the Tennessee state senate that would prohibit mention of homosexuality (even as sexual orientation) in public schools before ninth grade. The link for the story on the “don’t say gay” bill is here.

What happens if a gay teacher who has students at level less than ninth grade is easily found on the Internet, in blogs by search engines, or Facebook. Does that count as mention?

On the other hand, California would require teaching of the gay civil rights movement in public schools (Washington Blade, sidebar, p. 10, national news, May 6).

And Baltimore Gay Life has a brief article by Maggie Beetz, “The joys and trials of gay parenting in a straight world.”  But many gay people are parents from earlier heterosexual marriages.  The link is here
Second picture: when I see a business sign like this on the street, my reaction is a word that sometimes got said in Army barracks back in 1969, long before the days people dreamed up of "don't ask don't tell". The word is "thmooth".  And maybe (according to Army buddies) inspired by Tiny Tim. I mean, "OGAB!"

Sunday, May 08, 2011

A visit to Baltimore's Grand Central near the Maryland Film Festival

After watching two films at the Maryland Film Festival May 7 at the Charles Theater complex, I walked up (past Pennsylvania Station on Charles and St. Paul Streets) the Grand Central and visited the club again. It now has a small third floor dance floor, which remains lighted.  On the first floor, the other dance floor seemed to be having a “ladies night” and the music sounded Aboriginal (Australian), and may have come from the Australian Shpongletron (or the native Corroboree dance, actually set to classical music by John Antill), which I discussed on my drama blog May 3 reviewing a show at the Club 930 in Washington.  That particular music encourages a very athletic style of less intimate dancing.

The quiet bar adjacent to the small upstairs dance floor was showing, on one flat plasma screen, a PBS POV airing of "A Film Unfinished", about the Holocaust.  It caught my eye because of the German text on the screen. I thought this was an odd thing to be showing at a bar, but it may have been by accident. 

The Grand Central (site), "The Distinguished Alternative", used to be called the Central Station.
On the way driving back from Baltimore, leaving the city, at 1:30 AM, I saw a homeless man walking in the traffic lane of busing Martin Luther King Driver, and then another man in a wheelchair, out in the middle of a 40 mph traffic lane. The Baltimore police let this go on?

Friday, May 06, 2011

Pete Stark introduces bill to end discrimination in adoption and foster care placement

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) has introduced a bill, the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act”, which would bar discrimination against prospective parents (as individuals or as couples) by sexual orientation, for both adoption and foster care placement.  Chris Johnson has a story at the Washington Blade on May 3 here.

The Huffington Post has a similar story here, noting that a number of states continue to make it hard for gays and lesbians to adopt.   And “ThinkProgress” has an article showing Stark’s bill as a reaction to Senator Santorum’s anti-gay adoption stance, here.  In Florida a few years ago, a gay male couple had provided foster care for several children with HIV but was not allowed to adopt them. 

Stark's announcement is here.

The bill has been introduced before, in 2009 and 2010. In 2010 it was HR 4806 and 3827.   In 2011 it's HR 1681, here on govtrack.  PFLAG's blog entry on the bill is here.

The 3827 bill in 2011 attracted some snarky comments on the Open Congress blog, here.

The next question would be, if LGBT people will the universal right to adopt, will there be pressure to use it?

Thursday, May 05, 2011

GOP may introduce an "unrepeal" or the DADT repeal around May 11

SLDN is still reporting on GOP attempts to dismantle the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” passed by the lame duck Congress last December. AmericaBlog reports on a new bill that may be introduced May 11, the language of which reiterates Sam Nunn’s old “privacy in the barracks” argument. The link is here.

It’s interesting to me that the late Charles Moskos, who had helped author the original 1993 DADT, backed away from these arguments after 9/11. However, some people may want to play up the “cohesion” environment, as motivated by the extreme conditions in some military units, such as the Seals and special ops that took out Osama bin Laden.

There can occur another danger, too. Remember how in 1995, New Gingrich wanted to “go back to asking”?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Mainstream newspaper editorials: Proposition 8 Judge does not need to vacate the ruling, does not have a "conflict of interest"

The media is filled with buzz about Judge Vaughn Walker, the judge who struck down California’s referendum-driven Proposition 8.  That is not only because the judge is gay, but because he is in a relationship and could stand to benefit economically by the ruling.

The Washington Post ran an editorial May 1, saying “there is no proof that Judge Walker reached these conclusions based on anything other than a good-faith interpretation of the law.” The link is here.   Sandhya Somashekhar has a detailed followup story in the Wednesday, May 4 Post, front page.  Generally, appeals courts are reluctant to vacate rulings because of supposed personal biases of judges allegedly linked to their own traits.

On May 3, the New York Times ran a similar editorial here (yup, you need to honor the paywall).

But conflict of interest in other areas of judiciary is showing up, as I noted in a story in my “BillBoushka” blog on April 25.  And back in the 1990s, I thought that continuing to work for a portion of a corporation that focused on serving the military while publishing my own book on “don’t ask don’t tell” (as it was then) was a conflict of interest, and transferred, leading to my move to Minneapolis.