Monday, December 31, 2012

Marriage is threatened by economics, not by gays, according to conservative columnist

A column by Jennifer Rubin, originally in the Washington Post but widely republished (such as here) makes the point that social conservatives who are concerned about the decline of marriage ought to work on the economics of marriage.

Instead, they wasted their time and their own “social capital” on the idea that gay marriage “dilutes” the social prestige of traditional marriage and makes traditional marriage less exciting and passionate for couples, a bizarre argument that still might have a grain of reality.

She talks about the “marriage penalty” and the enormous loss of disposable income to couples raising families.  And she talks about working women (the Betty Friedan scenario) and the need to postpone having children for career and education, leading to older parents.  The New Republic recently addressed this issue (Internation issues blog, Dec. 21).  And she notes that the “Obama economy” of extended family household and gay marriage may indeed start to reverse the trend of people living alone and becoming (as Jonathan Rauch wrote in the 1990s) “accidents waiting to happen”.

As someone on CNN said Saturday, “once I had kids, I didn’t go to movies much”.

Yet marriage, and having kids, involves taking risks that to some people seem counter to a “personal responsibility” society known to libertarianism (and to South Park).

People accomplish a lot on their own these days.  But sustainability concerns in the future could change that irrevocably. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Year-end odds and ends: Maine, Maryland gay marriage; break-dancing; self-defense

Maine’s law allowing same-sex marriage goes into effect today (Saturday, December 29, 2012), and the Huffington Post is reporting on the marriage of Donna Galluzzo and Lisa Gorney, link here. Later reports indicate a very early marriage was between Steven Bridges and Michael Snell (New York Times, p. 18, Dec. 30, AP story, here

In Maryland, the first marriage ceremonies can take place Jan. 1, and it has been reported that Maryland will allow joint-filing by same-sex couples for state income tax year 2013. When you consider piggyback taxes in Montgomery County, some Washington DC suburbs have the highest state and local income taxes in the nation.

Last night, the Cobalt DC had a brief “break dancing” show on the small stage behind the renovated dance floor.  This is true athletic  “break dancing”. The endpoint is Cirque du Soleil. 

Given recent vitriolic “debate”, it may well to mention that the libertarian side of the gay community (like GLIL, Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty 15 years ago) has long argued for the right to self-defense, particularly on the streets, and hence the term “pink pistols”.  In Dallas, people used to carry mace or pepper spray for self-defense walking through dark Oak Lawn streets to bars; in Washington, it’s banned.  


Thursday, December 27, 2012

South Africa may be ahead of the US legally on equal rights

Bill Keller has an op-ed in the online New York Times (just digital, not print – although one subscription can cover both) “Out in Africa”, about the legal climate in South Africa toward gays.  The link is here

The social climate in America is better, he says (although the school bullying problem remains), but the legal climate in South Africa has turned around completely on recognizing equal rights, especially to marry, back in 2005.

Much of the rest of Africa is horrible, he says.  And be blames a minority of American evangelicals for inflaming the legislative situation in Uganda.

He is also critical of President Obama for his “willingness” to leave gay marriage to the states. Back in the 1990s, that might have been seen as progressive (even as DOMA was passed).  Times can change relatively quickly.  It took 17 years for Bowers v. Hardwick to be reversed.  

I remember back in 1980 that Rev. Joan Wakeford jointed MCC Dallas (Metropolitan Community Church of Dallas, then in its older building on Reagan St. in Oak Lawn) as an associate pastor (joining Rev. Don Eastman), from South Africa.  That was seven years before the film "Cry Freedom" would appear.  Wakeford's own message could be quite demanding.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

DC laws make it too easy to close bars because of nearby crimes they cannot prevent

The Washington Blade has run an op-ed by Mark Lee, “D.C. Police Lanier missteps on bar closures”, link here

The article discusses laws in Washington DC that allow police to close a bar for 96 hours when there is a violent incident on the premises or sometimes within 1000 feet of the premises (like an adjoining street).  The  DC ABC Board also may decide not to reinstate a liquor license when that period expires.

It isn’t necessary to go into Cathy Lanier’s leadership here.  There have indeed been some horrible crimes in Washington DC in recent months.  (For example, a young married father was beaten into a long-lasting coma in the SE Capitol Hill area after leaving a tavern near Nationals Park.) But the obvious problem is that a business could be closed permanently because of behavior outside of its premises that it has no way to prevent, behavior almost certainly not even caused by patrons or associates of the establishment. As with a movie theater, for example, there is also obviously no certain way to prevent someone from entering a business intending to do harm;  club owners do not have the resources of the TSA.  The entire policy seems to show a disregard for “due process” with respect to property rights.

The op-ed mentions a couple of clubs in the U Street corridor, rapidly changing with gentrification and real estate development, that were affected by the policies.  Neither of these were “gay” clubs in the usual sense, and I have not heard of any incidents at gay establishments in recent years.  But obviously policies like these indirectly  put a cloud on the future of all such businesses in the city.

I have seen brawls of fights in gay bars only twice since 1973, when I first started going to them.  One happened in London (England) in 1982, and another in Wailuku, Hawaii in 1980.  These seem to be rare events.In Minneapolis, around the early part of the previous decade, there were one or two bouncers who would refuse to admit patrons or eject them when they showed the slightest evidence of stumbling.  

When I moved to Dallas, Texas at the beginning of 1979, police entrapment in gay bars was sometimes a problem, and didn’t stop until 1981, when a defendant was acquitted by a duly skeptical bench judge.

The Blade tweeted this article Christmas Day. (Someone was "working" the holiday!)  The issue may tend to attract even more media attention, given the recent national attention to the weapons debate.  

Update: Jan 4. 2013

The Washington Post has a story by Peter Hermann, Jan. 2, "Lanier steps up use of power to close D.C. bars; Businesses suspended 15 times in 2012; Opinions split on cheif's use of emergency order", link here.  Police say that altercations outside bars have often started inside them.

It's important to remember that open businesses on a city street generally make it safer for pedestrians, as ordinary street crime will be less on streets that have a lot of normal foot traffic.  Most street crime in cities takes place on residential streets away from businesses that are open at night.  In Washington DC, there are more police cars near bars just to catch people walking to cars under the influence.  Closing bars because of problems near their premises may not make sense for public safety in the long run.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Conscience Provision" is now a big problem -- an indication of progress in just a few years

I haven’t reported a lot on the repealed “don’t ask don’t tell” policy recently. Obama’s victory in the general election has made the issue less critical on my own plate, as there is no credible danger of un-repeal.
Still activists are complaining about the “conscience provision” that Congress is including in the Defense Authorization bill, a detail totally obscured in the major media by much more pressing concerns like the Fiscal Cliff and (I think) sensible gun control. 

Out-serve and SLDN have this press release on the matter (link).

Lgbtqnation reprinted this story from the Washington Blade by Chris Johnson, link

Here’s an earlier story about a gay marriage in Tucson after the repeal of DADT. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gay marriage as a fundamental right should not be seen as counter to "the common good"

As I noted on my main  (“Bill Bousha”) blog today, a liberal pastor in Arlington VA Sunday, speaking in part about the recent school tragedy in Newtown, CT, said that people should give up some of their “cherished rights” (or “fundamental rights”) for the good of others, or at least deploy their rights in a way that doesn’t harm others.

In the LGBT area, I have some reservations when I hear a statement like this, at least in its first formulation.  Social “conservatives” use the “common good” to shoot down the idea of equal rights of gays and lesbians to marry the adult partners of their (consenting) choice.  They say that if heterosexual marriage is not revered in a special way as an institution (to the point that the unmarried sometimes sacrifice for it), then men and women will have less incentive to marry or to stay married long enough to raise children.

Younger heterosexual adults are certainly backing away from that view.  But we should remember that in earlier decades, there was a similar attitude to allowing gays to engage in their own chosen sexual behaviors with other adults in private.

Given the modern debate on sustainability (ranging from climate change to “demographic winter” and an aging population), we may see a renewed emphasis on the idea that raising children is everyone’s responsibility.  President Obama has even hinted at this interpretation in his remarks about Newtown. Given that the evidence of biological explanations for same-sex attractions in otherwise fully “normal” (I hate to punt to that word) adults, the policy debate will have to gravitate to looking at how gay people should be involved in family responsibility, ranging from eldercare to adopting children or helping raise other people’s children.  This debate is coming and needs to happen.  I don’t think we should deliberately conceive children (in surrogacy) with the intention of taking them from their mothers.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Washington Post offers a couple of letters on gay marriage: tribal, v. libertarian arguments

The Washington Post offers a couple of letters to the editor today on gay marriage, following an op-ed Dec. 12 by Dana Milbank on Justice Scalia’s behavior on gay issues.  The link is here.  

One of the writers mentions the idea that the purpose of marriage used to be, to advance the future interests of the “tribe” or “family”.  Therefore, no society would seriously give legal recognition to a union that has not potential to bear children, even in form.  (Actually, that’s not completely correct historically; go back and read Boswell, or note the reader's comments below, as about Native Americans). 

The writer notes that modern individualism finds some aspects of traditional marriage law discriminatory.  To put it bluntly, the law winds up asking some people who don’t procreate to help support the sexual passions of those who do, making them feel like second-class citizens.  That’s no longer acceptable in modern thinking about individual rights.

We can get into discussions here about what it means to “live in a community”, etc.  That’s for another day.  But it does get back to the idea of “differential sacrifice” that some churches are starting to talk about.
The writer returns us to the libertarian idea that marriage should be a private contract, and need not have any interaction with the state.  That is simpler than creating different kinds of marriage or civil union in the law – but even gay activists have been saying there is only “Marriage”.  (Remember, “Piddle, twiddle, resolve!” – Chris Crain in the Washington Blade in 2004).  All of this calls to mind Gene Cisweski’s op-ed “License Expired” in GLIL (Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty) newsletter “The Quill”, which I at one time edited, back in 1996.  

Wipedia attribution link of Scottsbluff, NE.  I visited the area in  August, 1994, on the very day that I decided to write my  first “Do Ask Do Tell” book. I actually met a gay Marine officer that evening in the motel in Cheyenne, WY. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Without marriage equality, same-sex couples sometimes face a labyrinth of complex tax laws

It’s been a long time since I’ve read much of the details on who same-sex couples manipulate their finances to work around discriminatory tax and estate laws.  There have, over the years, existed a number of law practices that specialized in these problems.  I remember reading about all of this on a flight back in 2006.
Personally, over the years, I didn’t consider the issue as important in a prospective practical sense. I always believed that if I started a relationship, both myself and the other person would remain economically “self-sufficient”.  That’s the case today with a lot of heterosexual couples (too many, some “natural family” propronents claims).  Of course, the main question is “What if …”, say, there is at least a tragic accident.  I also would tend to see the base exemption (probably $3.5 million for 2012, depending on what Congress does  -- it might even go back to $1 million even in 2013) as generous enough.

But there are complicated questions.  They can occur with securities that have appreciated, real estate, and closely held businesses.  In individual situations, these have the potential to be very damaging.
There is a good reference from Williams Institute at the UCLA Law School that makes for good reading on the topic, here. It's called "Federal Tax Disadvantages for Same-Sex Couples" by Michael Steinberger of the Williams Institute, 2009. 

There are a lot of “mouthful “  buzzwords here, such as “EGTRRA” (the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act of 2001, and “QFOBI”  (Qualified Family-Owned Business Interest).   There are a lot of important specific observations, starting with the fact that the full surviving legal spouse exemption for married couples didn’t start until 1981 (Ronald Reagan).   There are “stepped-up basis” considerations in dealing with inherited securities that sometimes could hit same-sex surviving partners hard.  There are rules involving family farms or ranches and participation in closely-held family business.  UCLA points out that children of surviving same-sex spouses can lose out when “inheriting” closely held businesses and wind up having to sell them, often to established corporations (based on earnings-related valuations) to pay taxes.  The rules are very complicated and change from year-to-year (far too much for generalize blogs to follow), so couples need professional legal and tax advice on these matters.  It can also matter if you live in a community property state.

UCLA points out that federal recognition of same-sex marriage would not have a quantitatively noticeable effect on revenue, even given the dire nature of the federal “Fiscal Cliff” and debt ceiling negotiations.   The effect could increase, however, if estate and indirect inheritance taxes are tightened for everyone in the future, an idea that some people on the political Left want.

The article also lists the 23 states that have some estate (before payout) and/or inheritance taxes. 
Michael Gray from Santa Clara University and Patricia Cain from Iowa discuss the issue on Gray’s “Financial Insider” column.

Note the mention of the requirement for a gift tax return to the IRS for gifts over $13000.  I haven't heard this. 

It’s worth saying that in practice, wills from same-sex couples have sometimes been challenged by blood family members. 

And even people not in relationships are indirectly affected by marriages of others, because they are often called upon to sacrifice or support them (relatives or children) -- the "family slave" problem.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Epigenetics may provide a biological explanation of sexual orientation

There’s more attention to the complicated biological concept of   (Wiki reference) epigenetics as related to homosexuality. 
The studies mainly concern the epigenetic relationships between mothers and sons, and fathers and daughters.

Since the mother has a second X chromosome, some of the information on the second chromosome seems to control how genes on the other chromosome may be turned on or off.  This information is called “epimarks”.   A epimark might be viewed like a chemical catalyst, or an extra ingredient in a recipe needed to make some process work.  Epigenetics could explain how certain traits that would seem to defeat reproduction (in the normal sense of evolution) persist at a constant rate in most populations (maybe 3-5%).  There are also some indications that female relatives of homosexual men have more children than average, so the markers still might increase reproduction in a family as a whole.  It is relatively common in biological communities that not all individuals reproduce equally well.

The story was covered on CNN by Anderson Cooper’s AC360 Wednesday, and there is a detailed story in the New York Daily News by Christine Roberts, here.  

The epigenetics might act by suppressing or inhibiting a natural “instinct” to reproduce, and allowing the intellect , cognition, or  “brain belief” to take over sexual interest.  The personality could find other processes, like upward affiliation or idealization, more rewarding than just the idea of a future lineage.  In any case, in men at least, the process has absolutely no effect on physical appearance or strength or normal competitive and cognitive capacity. It seems to be like a “plug and play”.  A video with Lesley Stahl gives more perspective than the other:

The video above makes some interesting, and complicated observations about identical and fraternal twins.  It also says that the exposure of the hypothalamus to testosterone, before birth, might be related to sexual orientation and take place as a result of epigenetics.  It’s also true that the likelihood of male homosexuality increases with older brothers (of right-handed “pitchers”).   A first born son has a 2% chance (I was the 2%, but I do bat right-handed).  The mother’s body seems to remember carrying previous sons.  It may be important, in order to have long-term reproductive advantage,  to have at least one heterosexual son (first born) to have a lineage, but not to have more.  As “unfair” as it sounds, a family could be better off if not every subsequent child reproduces.  Nature is not fair to individuals; human culture needs the political will to be so.

A  West Palm Beach FL television station WPTV picked up on the story, but then went off on another tangent about  protecting the  “religious rights” or people and counselors in the “ex-gay therapy” debate (as in California), piece by Gabe Lyons, here.

The epigenetics can raise another debate about ethics: the idea of expecting “differentiated sacrifice” among citizens in a democracy, as in the posting about the LDS teachings on Dec. 6.  But this loops back into the observations already noted about birth order.

There’s an interesting question for sports, going back to Chandler Burr’s book “A Separate Creation” in the 1990s.  Is there a connection between handedness and sexual orientation.  Any connection and being able to switch-hit (or not to).  It’s an interesting question for sports, because professional baseball, statistically, needs more left-handers and switch-hitters than pure right-handers.  
National Geographic had a segment on epigentics and sexual orientation concordance among identical twins back in 2009, here. The video makes the interesting point that a fetus starts out female, and the hypothalnus presumes eventual attraction to males.  It requires reception of testosterones specifically by catalysts in the hupothalmus to develop attraction to women.  This may not happen all the time even when the rest of the body is masculine, even in identical twins, especially with latter-born sons. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Virginia university volleyball coach says he was fired for being gay; Obama's not protecting federal contractors said to be a factor

Lou Chibbaro, Jr. reports in The Washington Blade, Dec. 7, about the firing of a “gay coach” at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.  The person is James Finley, former women’s volleyball coach at VCU.  The link for the story is here

He says he would have been more likely to get his job back had President Obama issued an executive order banning discrimination by federal contractors.  Would such an order encompass jobs not specifically subsumed by the contracts?

Finley says he was removed to be replaced by someone who could publicly represent the university better,  This seems bizarre, given the media attention recently to Penn State,  

There is some uncertainty as to whether Virginia (state run) colleges and universities have yet adopted non discrimination policies.  Most readers know about my own expulsion from William and Mary in the fall of 1961.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The "sissy boy syndrome" has indeed become another "old chestnut"

I’ve often written (perhaps pontificated) that I was physically “weaker” than other boys as I grew up, and that this experience did influence my ultimate sexual orientation and interest.

In past decades there was a lot of discussion of the so-called “sissy boy syndrome”, with controversial dissertations or books by George Alan Rekers (1972) and later Richard Green (1987), who authored “The ‘Sissy Boy Syndrome’ and the Development of Homosexuality”.  Some of this attitude was present in the horrible 1968 book “Growing Up Straight” by Peter Wyden - an opus that panders to all the obvious stereotypes, about "being sexually normal" and about being physically undeveloped..  (There was also a book called “Facts of Life and Love for Teenagers” by Ellen Ruth Duvall, in the family den bookcase during my high school years but removed by my parents after the William and Mary debacle in 1961.)

I have, particularly in recent years when I was looking after my mother in her last months, often believed that had I been more physically “competitive” when growing up, I would have come to value the idea of having my own lineage and would have tried to marry and have children.  (That could have gone very wrong, as I explained toward the end of my posting on my “BillBoushka” blog Dec. 4, 2012.) 

The concept of “sissy” was tied to a value system of earlier decades that imposed the needs of the group on the individual.  In the days that there was a male-only draft, physical “cowardice” was considered a character defect.  (Check the work on Wikipedia.)  Too much self-interest or self-preservation in the face of the social expectations (and sometimes dire needs) of the group was a bad thing.  Younger adults and teens raised in upper income homes today probably are not aware of how this value system used to work and was tied to biological gender, but I had to “live it”.

But is it true that homosexual men are in general “weaker” than heterosexual men?  My experience, since my “second coming” in the early 1970s, says, definitely, “No!”  Actually, this may have been true somewhat in the 1950s, but after Stonewall that was definitely no longer the case. 

“Gay male culture”, both in porn magazines popular decades ago, and in publications like “The Advocate”, stressed physical fitness as part of attractiveness.  (They used to prefer the white race, too, but that started to change about fifteen years ago.)  That may have been a particularly good thing to help the community see itself through the HIV crisis starting in the 80s. Socially, though, it might have contributed to an edgy value system that we sometimes call “body fascism”.  But really women have to live with the same thing in the straight world.

By 1978, I had played one game on a gay softball team in New York City (where, in Greenwich village, like on Leroy Street,  the outfields were not large enough). In Dallas, in 1984, I tried to play regularly in an Oak Lawn gay bar league (for JR’s) but did not “make the starting lineup” and play consistently.  The athletic ability seemed to be par with the “mainstream” world.  Timothy Kurek describes gay softball in Nashville in his book “The Cross in the Closet” (book reviews blog, Nov. 26, 2012).

Around 1990, I started going on hikes and even weekend trips sponsored by the DC area’s LGBT group “Adventuring” (link here ).  There is a similar group in the Twin Cities (MN) called “Outwoods”.  I even led some of the smaller trips (like a scramble on Dolly Sods in W Va, or a lazy ride up the Cass Mountain Railroad nearby.)  I found on a few of the more strenuous hikes (like one particular climb in West Virginia on a 4000 foot peak near Seneca Rocks) that I did not keep up well with others.  I was a little surprised, even when I was in my late 40s.  In September 1992, on a bike trip in Delaware, I fell behind (in heavy rain) and was lucky to hitch a ride back to the rendez-vous  at Millington MD in a pickup truck.  There is a cultural group in DC called “Chrysalis” which has sometimes been called “Adventuring for sissies”. 

After I returned from Minnesota in 2003, I didn’t become active again in Adventuring for a variety of reasons, but keeping up physically would be one of them.

I note well, also, that the gay disco floor is the one area of society where obesity (so much maligned by the “health nut” crowd in the medai as taking over  America) has been “left behind”.  I’ve noticed another oddity.  Gay discos seem to contain a higher than statistically expected number of very tall men (say, over 6 feet, 4 inches, in both Whites and Blacks but not Asian), sort of the outfielder or pitcher look.  Any possible accidental tie to genetics?   

Hollywood has certainly long gotten over the old stereotypes.  In the soap opera “Days of our Lives”, the two leading gay characters Will (Chandler Massey) and Sonny (Freddie Smith) are presented as strong and forceful, with Sonny as one of the most stable people in the show. 

There is no question, we will learn of more openly gay players in MLB and even the NFL sometimes.  
All of this feeds back into the never-ending use of a crutch – that sexual orientation is immutable.  The Mormon Church recently woke up the weakness of claiming it was a “choice” (see posting Dec. 6).  But depending on immutability or “Axiom of Choice”) arguments is dangerous and leaves intellectual holes on either side of this issue.   So now religious groups and cultural conservatives are more willing to face, at a certain intellectual level, the need for people to make differentiated “sacrifice”.  Indeed, the interpretation of the idea of “fundamental rights” in our country did not preclude this expectation in the past.  We all know that the Supreme Court moved away from this in the 17 years between “Hardwick” and “Lawrence”.  There’s also a 1981 opinion on the books that allows a male-only draft (again, specialized exposure to sacrifice and aversion of cowardice), but were this to be challenged now, maybe the Court would change its mind.  This is all a healthy discussion we need to have, in many other areas besides gay marriage. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gay marriage starts in Seattle, WA state; MD, ME to follow shortly

In Washington State, numerous same-sex marriage ceremonies took place Sunday. Dec. 9, with apparently over 130 weddings in Seattle. 
The Huffington Post has a detailed story here.

In Maryland, couples can now register but recognized ceremonies cannot occur until Jan. 1, 2013. 
Same-sex marriages in Maine can start Dec. 29, Reuters story here

I can remember, back in 1997, that allowing states to experiment with marriage but not requiring or expecting federal recognition was considered a progressive view.  In those days, Hawaii and Vermont had been the states in play.  That was the case as I wrote my first “Do Ask Do Tell” book.  Times changed even more quickly – and suddenly – than I would have expected, most of the shift actually during a Republican administration.  The Internet – and the free speech cases (like COPA) have more to do with it than more people realize. 

Goodness – remember Santorum’s laughable amendment attempt in the summer of 2004? It was all on C-span.
Wikipedia picture of Spokane WA (my own visit, July 1990, right along this highway. going to Idaho, to spy on redneck country!)

Friday, December 07, 2012

US Supreme Court to hear Proposition 8, DOMA cases

The United States Supreme Court has granted review of Hollingsworth v. Perry in the California Proposition 8 case, and of United States v. Windsor in the Defense of Marriage Act. Key issues could be the interpretation of the 14th Amendment and due process, as well as equal protection. . 

AFER (American Foundation for Equal Rights) has a link for the download of the certiorari order, here.

The Supreme Court has also said that it must consider first whether the Obama administration’s unwillingness to defend DOMA itself has applicability in deciding the case.  A key concept may be equal protection.   

The Court will feel challenged to keep its questions within the parameters of constitutional law and not social policy, in a time when political processes and even referendums are gradually shifting in many states toward supporting full equal rights for gays, including marriage and parental rights.   

AFER issued a corrected press release, but I can’t tell what changed. 

Writing in the Washington Post (Dec. 8), Robert Barnes notes that the Ninth Circuit (and, apparently. circuit judge Stephen Reinhardt earlier) had overturned Proposition 8 on constitutionally narrow grounds, that "taking away a right by a majority from a minority" was not permissible.  The link for the Post story is here

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Mormon church now says that people do not choose same-sex attractions

A major religion story in the Huffington Post today reports that the Mormon Church is now saying that same-sex attraction is not a choice.  However, it still teaches that acting on the action is a sinful choice, and therefore implies that people inheriting same-sex attractions must face making emotional sacrifices that others won’t have to make.  In other words, life isn’t “fair”.

But the church reportedly says that it considers the “love the sinner, hate the sin” approach of some protestant evangelicals presents unacceptable contradictions and paradoxes.

The Huffington story is here.

The Church has a website on the issue here, with brief videos. 

The LDS Church (as do many religions) says that scripture dictates that sexual activity should occur only between a man and a woman in marriage (open to having biological children if possible).  The indirect result of such a teaching would logically mean that some people would have no access (or only very compromised access) to adult sexual experience.  The only logical reason for expecting such a disproportionate sacrifice would be that the welfare of the group as a whole depends on maximizing (and perhaps indirectly safeguarding) the experience of procreation and family around it, including the ability of the family to find places for those who do not procreate.  An open society would see this as a “rationalization” for  unacceptable “second-class-citizenship” or even servitude, but religious communities often are less concerned about this notion.   Sometimes religions teach that different individuals are often called upon to make greatly variable and seemingly unequal sacrifices for the good of the group. 

Still, it seems incredible that the emotional health of partners of a traditional marriage could depend on a belief that others not inclined toward marriage must abstain from sexuality entirely.  It's the idea that "I can play by the rules if everyone else has to, because then the world means something."  Can this make sense?   What would Dr. Phil say about this sort of thinking?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Man in Iowa had been sentenced to 25 years after protected sex for HIV transmission

I received a copy by mail today of Lambda Legal’s magazine “Impact”, with a cover picture of Nick Rhoades, a defendant in Iowa sentenced to 25 years in prison for “criminal transmission” of HIV after having protected sex in 2008.  His partner complained that he had not informed the partner that he was HIV-positive, and the state apparently holds that transmission was still possible even with a condom. Because of protease inhibitor treatments, his viral load was undetectable.  His partner did not become infected.

The link for the story is here

Rhoades spent nine months in maximum security, including six weeks in solitary confinement.

The sentence has been reduced to time served and probation, but Rhoades has also been listed as a sex offender, which defeats the purpose for which a list like that is normally intended.

It may be a crime to have sexual contact (including heterosexual) with another consenting person even with protection without informing the person of HIV+ status in up to 37 states and territories.  In some states, the laws could involve other infectious agents, like Hepatitis B and C.

Lambda argues that such laws discourage people from getting tested.

The magazine covers other cases, especially for lower income same-sex couples, and I’ll report on these later. 

Wikipedia attribution link for Des Moines aerial picture.  I made many visits to the area 1997-2003.  

Sunday, December 02, 2012

West Point has its first two gay weddings

According to gay media, the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY has actually hosted two gay weddings.  The first ever in the Chapel was between Penelope Gnesin and Brenda Sute Fulton. But there had been a smaller “private” wedding between two of Fulton’s friends at an undisclosed small venue on campus.

All of this has occurred slightly more than one year after full repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. Three or four years ago, we might never have imagined we would be here.

Fulton, 53 is the first openly gay member of West Point’s Board of Visitors. 

A site called “Queerly” has a detailed news story here

The Associated Press has a story on ABC News here.

My own parents visited West Point on a second honeymoon in the early 1940s, before I was born. I was last there in July 2011.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

No word yet from Supreme Court on hearing DOMA, Prop 8; Nevada judge condones indirect prejudice in marriage law

First, let’s cover the obvious.  Friday afternoon, Nov. 30, a conference day at the Supreme Court, without indication as to whether the Court will take up any one of the ten cases involving same-sex marriage. The most likely to be taken are DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) and California Proposition 8.  But we could learn something Monday morning, December 3.

Lyle Denniston’s comments on the Supreme Court blog are here.

Pete Williams, of NBC, gives some analysis.

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Yesterday, a federal judge (a Bush appointee), Robert Jones, upheld Nevada’s law against recognizing same-sex marriage.  The Washington Blade story by Chris Johnson is here.  The story quotes the opinion, which has some interesting language.  The judge recognizes that same-sex families exist, and may be necessary when “traditional biological families fail”.  Question, is “failure” just part of natural diversity?  Moreover, when a same-sex partner is raising children (because, perhaps, of this “failure”) why not give it the same benefits for the sake of the kids.   In my own first “Do Ask Do Tell” book in 1997, I had even proposed recognizing marriage only when there are actual dependents in the family to raise or take care of.

The second quote gives a bald-faced statement that heterosexual couples may be less likely to get or stay married if the legal preference for maintaining the procreative model is removed.  It talks about out-of-wedlock children, but isn’t a child of a “common law” (not formally sealed) couple still effectively being raised in a conventional family?  (I know of  “libertarian” heterosexual couples with kids who do not want formal recognition for philosophical reasons.)   The judge seems to be suggesting that most men probably won’t make and keep the emotional commitment of heterosexual marriage unless some power and social perks come with it. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Middle school teacher in Michigan suspended for playing "gay song" in class, and someone is "offended"

A middle school drama teacher in Michigan, Susan Johnson of South Lyon,  was suspended after she played a supposed “gay song” in class and at least one student was “offended by it.”

The Huffington Post story is here.  The section of the site is called "Gay Voices". 

That reminds me of a major incident when I was subbing myself in 2005, and I told an interning teacher  privately about my website (because of a controversy that day in a local newspaper), and I got a call from an assistant principal when I got home that she had been “offended” by it.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

LGBT equality and sustainability: What did they want from me then? And now? Watch for those spin-down tornadoes!

Today, the buzzword for LGBT people is “equality” – in opportunity, benefits and responsibilities.  It wasn’t  always so. A few decades ago, during my own coming of age, it was about being left alone at all, about “private lives”.  There has indeed developed a progression that many younger LGBT adults probably don’t fully grasp. They didn’t experience the changes in focus; older men did.

A couple of geographical metaphors come to mind as a prelude.  One of these is to recall what you see when driving west from Kansas into Colorado.  For a while, you see only flat plains.  Then the mountains gradually grow on a distant horizon, and change your perception about what matters.

Or consider weather.  The recent superstorm Sandy had two components: a tropical “core” or eye, and a huge surrounding field more like a cold “Noreaster”.  The storm represented two interrelated meteorological issues, that overlapped but weren’t equivalent.  Or think about what happens along a cold front dragged by low pressure.  At some point, there is a sudden wind shift, a change in priorities, sometimes causing local spindowns like tornadoes.  Low pressure systems are like illustrations of self-serving, circular reasoning in social and political issues, spinning forever, going nowhere.

“Gay rights” (to use the term loosely) overlaps but does  not maintain congruence with the broader questions about hyper-individualism, and whether our western society can sustain itself forever without strong expectations of social capital and cohesion.  There’s your hybrid storm. And as social attitudes toward LGBT people (to use the term with laxity, again) develop, there are sudden changes (like microbursts in thunderstorms) about what should be expected of “us”.

When I wrote my first “Do Ask Do Tell” book in 1997, I presented what seemed like a pivot in understanding anti-gay attitude – playing up the metaphor of Ayn Rand’s character Wesley Mouch. On page 14 of the Introduction I wrote, “cultural conservatives see gays as freeloaders, who ‘cheat’ by leading adult lives that apparently allow them to spend all of their resources upon themselves without the adaptive psychological sacrifices (particularly from men) necessary to become providers of wives and children. They really don’t care what gay men ‘do’ …, as what they  ‘don’t do’ to validate the supposed male responsibilities , domain over, and protection of women and children.”  I played up the last scene of Titanic, released about the same time. There was indeed, in this formulation, a certain emphasis on economic mapping:  in the 1990s, as the debate on gay marriage (and civil unions) was just starting (lagging just beyond gays in the military), it seemed that gay people, who were still usually single, seemed to have a lot more disposable income than “families with children” – despite the supposed discriminatory treatment in taxes and benefits (offset by the “marriage penalty”).  What we knew intellectually but hadn’t personally yet experienced yet was the notion that the sharing and sacrifice expected in family life went way beyond economics (the emotional aspect became the distant mountain range in a Tolkien landscape).   I have covered (on a posting here Oct. 8, 2012) why in 1993 I perceived the issue of gays in the military (leading to “don’t ask don’t tell”) as a test of the way individuals in a democratic society share risks and common obligations – and the marriage and parenthood issues would quickly follow.

Of course, such a viewpoint assumes that people wouldn’t take the risk of having families if they could do well in expressive life without doing so.  I believe that cultural conservatives fear that this is so.  We see everything, from women who “want it all” to women who feel that motherhood has been undermined by individualism.  It’s easy to see how gay equality tracks closely to economic equality for women in general.  Looking ahead to modern concerns over sustainability, this anticipates the “demographic winter” beyond those mountainous, barely visible horizons.

Indeed, LGBT people – particularly the men – had developed a segregated (separate and not quite equal) existence since the time of Stonewall.  You lived your own life, usually in a large city, and it was your own circumstances (job, expression, and love life) that mattered, not the rest of the world.  You lived in an urban exile, in an enclave, which you hoped to maintain stability and an employment base.  And big cities in the 70s were starting to unravel.  The “real life world” of families was fleeing to more distant suburbs, borrowing too much money, spreading out, and employers followed.  The male community would be seriously challenged politically by AIDS (below) but the same pattern survived into the 90s, until about the time of Bill Clinton.
But some of the worst homophobia, that affected me, lived during earlier generations, before many of the challenges of the post-modern world were even known.  So, I ask the question, in the world as it was in 1961, why would the College of William and Mary chase me down , get me to admit being gay, and toss me out?  What did “they” really want?

 I could say that it’s procreation: it’s as simple and difficult as that. We all know those Vatican pronouncements to the effect that "reproduction rules." But it struck me as indeed a paradox (and a first “wind shift”) that it was a bigger problem, to hint that you would probably never father any children at all than to get a girl into trouble (the “opposite” sin  -- in the soap “Days of our Lives”, the kid Will Horton accomplishes both).   In my circumstances the idea was even more pressing – I am an only child.  That means that my parents’ marriage dead-ends with no lineage into the future.  In fact, it is indeed this belief system that is driving vicious anti-gay laws in Uganda now.  The outcome – my parents put me through college education at home (with work) under strict supervision – may have turned out well, and positioned me to lead “a  different life” when the world became tolerant enough (by about 1970) – but I lost my best chance to become socially competitive as a college-aged man.

The world in the 1950s  (maybe “According to Garp”) had evolved as a hierarchal society, built from old families and “tribes”, often abused by leadershi[p. In earlier times, a “tribe” or extended family indeed was very concerned about its collective future.  Any individual challenge to this future “human capital” (which used to have direct economic significance on the family farm) could not be tolerated.  It was not acceptable to pursue ends that implied that future children would not be born, or that the optimal familial environment for raising them (if somehow conceived anyway) could be compromised.  Of course, the understanding of the subtlety of nature and biological communities could eventually be shown to be incomplete.  What was previously thought as “illness” was later understood as a mere variation of nature;  “treating” if might serve tribal goals but not be right for the individual.  Not many people then understood “polarity” as a key concept that swallowed “gender”.

Part of the common good in those days was the capacity of men to collaborate to defend their women and children. On the surface, people thought that homosexuals would compromise the forced intimacy that becomes necessary in military life.  This all was found to be a most unreliable idea when there was a draft, and when the debate on the military ban broke open in 1993, the whole idea of "privacy" turned into a more subtle point about "unit cohesion" -- an idea that can become important again with regard to sustainability. 

When I was an inpatient at the National Institutes of Health in the latter half of 1962, I was confronted with my first couple of windshifts.  My “problem” was not homosexuality – but then it was.  Why were the therapists so concerned about what “part-objects”  excited me sexually?  It was all too passive a process. They quickly assessed me as a bookish, self-preoccupied boy (maybe the foreshadow of the modern nerd, but then very much the “sissy boy”) who hadn’t measured up when compared physically to other boys. But then why were they so surprised that I (having lived through physical body shame) wasn’t interested in girls, whom I saw just as “weak” and “dependent”, but instead affiliated upward, to more competitive male companionship?  Two micro tornadoes in my storm tracker count already. I had a feeling that they saw me as having access to secret reactive pleasure that could tempt anyone, since sexual drive tends to take on an existential importance within the "brain belief system".  

The NIH experience underscored another aspect of “individual rights” as we perceived them in the early 1960s, before the Civil Rights movement. You could summarize it with Judge Robert Bork’s phrase, “Freedom to do what?”  The therapists were concerned about what emotional benefit I gained from my fantasies.  If these fantasies could take on a sadistic (however defensively motivated) character, then others had a valid reason to be concerned about my future intentions and purposes. If this became an acceptable way for people to develop when unconventionally challenged, indifference could beget hostility, and social and political stability could be undermined, as it has before in history.  

But I can certainly read between the lines as to what "they" really "needed" or wanted from me.  I needed to belong to the group, to a family, to have its best interests at heart, become socialized.  My homosexuality was seen then as a failure to join in the daily life of family, to having the skills to step in and take care of other people when necessary.  In larger families, people were expected to learn to take care of younger siblings, or even (as adults) step in and raise their kids after family tragedies.  I had no sense of that.

The “wind shifts” in moral expectations do help explain why people look to religion to solve moral paradoxes that come up in contemplating human ends and behaviors.  What happens is that they look to religious establishment figures to interpret scripture to achieve some circular end.  (Pastor Rick Warren talked about this on Piers Morgan when he said that scripture has civil, ceremonial, and moral aspects, and only the last part matters now.) There is a new windshift in the “love the sinner but hate the sin” paradox.  If someone is a “sinner”, he must become unworthy of real affection from others.  This situation becomes so psychologically threatening that the person himself becomes the object of hate, and then bullying.  Pretty soon the next paradox occurs – people for get about the charity inherent in “natural family” life and turned to focus on social combat.  People simply need to find others to feel superior to (as a gay prosecutor in the Midwest explains it). 

I did escape all this, by focusing entirely on myself as a young adult, and placing myself in an urban situation where I could find what I “wanted”. The succor of my own castle, after I adapted to separate city life as a young adult (and worked in an area that required “only” technical performance, not salesmanship or social persuasion) would seem to migrate toward atomized individualism (of the beginnings of the Reagan era) , to be threatened by AIDS.  I would not become infected myself, but have to deal with friends who became ill, and with a dire threat to our rights in Dallas, where I was living then.  It wasn’t just about “quarantine”.  The far right tried to push through an almost Ugandan bill in the Texas legislature, banning gays from most occupations (and remember the Briggs Initiative in California in 1978, before HIV, which had tried to impose a military-style ban on gay teachers). The far right (like a group called the “Dallas Doctors Against AIDS”) had promoted a theory  that the “chain letter” behavior in the gay male population had “amplified” a bizarre virus in such a way that it could mutate and threaten the general population.  Charles Ortleb’s rag “The New York Native” fed gasoline to the fire by speculating that AIDS had been caused by an arbovirus like African swine fever.  These sci-fi scenarios did not come to pass; there are many good reasons that make them unlikely. But today, we find similar discussions of public health in other areas, like bird flu and the agricultural practices of poor countries, and more recently, West Nile.  It’s not so easy to dismiss such hostile speculation completely.

In the 1990s, the idea of living privately and separately would start to break down, as new political debates about “equality”, previously thought inconceivable, arose, and communications developed with the Internet.   Previously, gay men had often scoffed at the idea of family and children as straight institutions; they had wanted to be left alone to follow their own scents.  Getting married and having children had come to be seen as a "private choice" that one took responsibility for, with little public consequence, almost an afterthought to one's own professional or expressive (or public) life.  That would change first with AIDS, where monogamy was suddenly a desired thing, and then with the more open communications in the 1990s.  The economic differences between families and singles (including most gays then) was one thing, but so were the emotional gaps.  The world was becoming wired together, and lives (and fates) were becoming more interconnected. 
What would make this real for me was my own experience with eldercare, which took a big jump in 1999 when my mother needed coronary bypass surgery, and might demand real changes in my own life.  I explained some of the details in the Oct. 8 posting.  In time, I did come back “home” to look after her care.  I also substitute-taught.  I found myself confronted with interpersonal challenges that I had not expected.  I was supposed to take initiative and bond with people who would in very recent years have rejected connection with me.  I found this new “wind shift” really difficult.  I began to grasp that most people made emotional connections with much less critical attitudes toward others than I had.  I was perceived as aloof (which I had thought was a good thing, and which some gay therapists – especially a boy friend in Dallas -- had thought of as good), but suddenly this closure was seen as self-serving.  I was unable to appreciate emotional bonding with anyone who would actually need to “depend” on me for very basic things – an idea that had crawled out of the woodwork at NIH. I had never experienced the idea that I should “protect” anyone socially since I had been a boy. But that sort of local compassion is supposed to make up the essence of "family", even for the childless. 

There is a policy aspect of eldercare – filial responsibility is legally driven in most states, and it confounds the idea that family responsibility waits until you procreate.  That can indeed have an effect on the debate about marriage.  It also plays into a basic aspect of conservative “ideology”: if people take care of each other personally (and this goes way beyond just the children you sire), then they don’t have to let the government intrude to take care of them.
But ethically it’s even more.  There is more that can be done to extend lives than there was when I was growing up, and there is more that can be done for the disabled.  But that demands more for others in the “society environment”  (a term from my old manuscript “The Proles”)  – both family, and strangers.  It is again another windshift.  In earlier times, the concern was more about the core of the family; the more dependent people stayed home (and depended on “family slaves” – unmarried women – to look after them)  and probably didn’t live as long.  But in the new world of longevity, family cohesion seems more critical than ever.  The right wing is correct to point out that lower birth rates and longer life spans are creating an sustainability issue, and that sheds light on why some smaller religious cultures place so much emphasis on families having children.

As a “singleton”, I benefited from global infrastructure.  That’s obvious from the way I have leveraged the Internet, but that was true in the decades before, where personal  geographical mobility was such a critical individual issue for me given the energy crisis as it was seen then.   But the infrastructure was stable and efficient enough (despite all the threats of disruption) that I could be effective on my own, without needing others except on my own terms.  Future generations may not be able to count on this.

That brings me to a couple more big points.  Yes, my own “life expression” is very dependent on the stability of a global technological infrastructure which can be destroyed or seriously disrupted by nature (superstorms or even solar storms) or by enemies (terror threats, including nuclear and EMP).   I would amount to nothing in a  post-technological world (like in the show “Revolution”) and that observation and indeed invite attacks; social isolation (the prevalence of individuals who don't contribute to "social capital")  gradually becomes a national security problem.  Indeed, one of the relevant issues of my earlier young manhood was the idea that I could have to live with people whether I wanted to or not.  In the Army, ironically, I had managed to do that once.  Another issue is that personal mobility and expression are vital to me exactly because I resist being “coerced” (by circumstance) into closeness with someone I would not choose.

 This begs the next obvious question: how does climate change play out with personal lifestyles?  Indeed, the disproportionate use of energy and emission of carbon by individual people in the west becomes a flash point attracting enemies and becomes unsustainable.  This certainly gets into an area that affects everyone – not just LGBT people (and again, I go back to the “hybrid storm” analogy).

But it does bear on the question of procreation. The climate change issue shows that we can no longer afford a world in which people believe it doesn’t matter what happens after they pass away.  That’s already apparent with other issues (like the national debt).  The new moral concept is “generativity”  -- that everyone has his own personal skin in the future that follows him.  The unborn get extended to the unconceived.

Of course, this bears on the current debate on gay marriage and parenting.  As in the past, one argument against these developments is the notion that the optimal environment for raising children – effectively a responsibility of everyone now – is undermined.  But the notion of “optimal environment” may need extension.  Is it better that millions of children (as reported on NBC Washington’s “Wednesday’s Child”) remain orphans or in poverty if they could be adopted by singles or same-sex couples?  I suspect that delving into that question would change the perception of “optimum” – with a dose of reality.  Maybe there really is a moral question about deliberately conceiving a baby with a surrogate and then taking it from its mother.  But another practical cultural question becomes this: if other forms of families are viewed publicly as strong and even “optimal”, does the lifelong bond of man and wife start to mean less?  People seem to fear this. I’ve always sensed that sexual morality has an unwelcome collective component: I can thrive under the rules if I believe everyone else has to follow them, too.

I remained aloof and a singleton  (successfully and with a lot of stability) perhaps because no legitimate opportunity to connect was available.  Had gay relationships been acceptable when I was 18, would I have married and been able to adopt and raise children?  Maybe.  Would I have stayed with someone as he aged and no longer met my fantasies?  That sounds like a daunting question.  But a few ironic flash-back incidents in my life (some of them connected to the AIDS epidemic) do give me some confidence that I could have.  The irony in the story behind these sounds like a movie plot.

I haven’t said much about immutability, but depending on it as an “argument” has always sounded like a copout, evading any opportunity to get "the majority" to articulate what it wants and understand it.  Ultimately, people have to do “what they have to do” and have to be responsible for whether they “make it”.  It’s much more relevant to look at what people really expect of one another and sometimes people need to become coercive.  As for my part, I still wonder why I fell behind physically.  No clear medical explanation was available during the days of my coming of age, but it may be appropriate for me to find out now.

Ultimately, though, all these issues really do seem to have not so much to do with LGBT identity, but with personal freedom for everyone, and what people want to use it “for”.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ex-gay therapy group in New Jersey sued

JONAH (“Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuals”), a center in New Jersey that claims to be able to change homosexuals, is being sued for making false claims, as was reported on CNN tonight by Wolf Blitzer, subbing for Anderson Cooper. JTA has a story on the litigation here

The CNN report detailed humiliating therapy practices, similar to those reported before for other such centers.  The story by Alan Duke is here.

The CNN report reiterated the statements by the American Psychiatric Association and others which discredit the idea that homosexuality should be “treated” (to the obvious economic detriment of such “counseling services” or other practitioners like Joseph Nicolosi).  

Update: Nov. 29

Congresswoman Jackie Speier called for Congress to pass a non-binding resolution that states should ban reparative therapy for homosexuality. She did say that it is up to states to regulate "professional" services.  The link from her website is here

Sunday, November 25, 2012

For a disco in the country, try "The Lodge", in the Maryland Blue Ridge

It’s interesting to try something different.  How about a gay disco where, when you step out, you look into woods, and can look down a mountainside into a valley to a lighted town miles away. No, there’s no ski yurt for bunking overnight. But there were snow spits last nights as I drove up to “The Lodge” on US 40, way up the west slope of “South Mountain” (the Blue Ridge), probably at about a thousand feet elevation.

The venue is about two miles East of the intersection of US 40 with MD 66 (where there is a Sheetz), just off I-70; it is on the north side of US40 (and south of I70). The nearest small town is actually Boonsboro, and Myersville is off to the East, on the others side of the ridge crest. There is plenty of free parking on a gravel lot.

The disco used to be called “Deer Park Lodge” and an unlit sign of that name is still in a window.

The venue is spacious, and built like a log cabin (pun on the GOP) resort. The dance floor is modest.  There is a patio, and some separate spaces, including a small theater for the drag shows.

The theme last night was the not politically correct “cowboys and Indians”.  The dancers and drag queens were painted appropriately.

The crowd was pretty robust, for a holiday weekend.  I guess this is not the "Lodge" of "Twin Peaks"!

The website is this. The website has a page with some strict conduct rules, which may be explainable given the rural location.  The cover was $5 after 10 PM. 

Downtown Hagerstown, eight miles away, has some interesting spots.  One of these, according to a Google search, is Spin.  I poked my head in the door  (10 PM) and it was rather quiet, rather hard to assess, for me at least.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Uganda may vote on even more draconian anti-gay law, makes baldfaced statement about protecting collective cutlure (or "cult")

The White House and State Department have as yet made no comment on the even more draconian anti-gay bill in the parliament in Uganda, although it may make a statement next week.  Top Magazine has a story this morning here

The wording of the law is rather bald-faced in its purpose: protecting the “cherished culture of the people of Uganda” against “sexual rights activists”.  It minces no apologies about “group culture”, a notion that we find with the “natural family” movement on the right wing in the US.  Such writings become anti-individualist and express the importance of “shared goals”.  It isn’t too hard to see that such thinking, when carried to extremes leads to cults (like Waco, Jonestown or the FLDS in Colorado City), and when done by governments leads us toward states like Nazi Germany or North Korea.  It seems bizarre to brag about a culture that leads to such places.  It’s an easy play for power mongerers.  One aspect of Ugandan culture (note, how the word “cult” gets derived), however, is the belief that married parents have a “right” to lineage (and that unborn souls have a right to conception) and that homosexuals are “murdering” the lineage by refusing to procreate.  I experienced some of this a half century ago as an only child.

The CIA says that Uganda has a birthrate of about 6.14 children per female (4th in the world).  But it had 64000 deaths from HIV in 2009, 8th in the world (link). 

The law would sometimes impose the dearth penalty, make it illegal to rent to homosexuals, and even to fail to turn in homosexuals.  But even in the US, there used to be laws in some states making it illegal to serve alcohol to homosexuals (in Virginia) or even sometimes to rent to gays. 

The bill is reported to have passed a parliamentary committee and could come up for vote any time, as with this Towleroad report here.

CNN has a story and video about the upcoming vote here. CNN has been airing a report where reporters interview ordinary Ugandans on the streets of Kampala about the matter.  Many seem indifferent, but some say "gays have no place in our culture".  Very interesting.  Does that mean, "in our cult"? 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Four new LGBT members of Congress, one in Senate; did I spend my life on another planet except during holidays?

The Washington Blade has a detailed story on the plans for newly elected LGBT members of the House of Representatives.  These are Mark Takano (CA, who was a public school teacher for 23 years),  Kyrsten  Sinema (AZ), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY), and Mark Pocan (WI), who will take the seat left by Tammy Baldwin, who was elected to the Senate. The link for the story is here.  

The Blade also discusses the possibility of Obama's appointing John Berry as Interior secretary, and Fred Hochberg as Commerce secretary. 

And Ned Martel has an essay in the Washington Post Thanksgiving morning, “Thanksgiving is a good day to come out as gay or lesbian,” link here

I remember when I was “younger” and living in other cities (especially New York and Dallas), that the “Holidays” seemed like a time when I voyaged back to a “home planet”.  I was living in a parallel universe (for adults) most of the time.  

Update: Thanksgiving dinner at MCCDC in Washington:
Note the view from the sanctuary, which actually benefits from having leaves off the tree: