Tuesday, January 31, 2012

MD: Gay marriage opponents take to the streets, but 50% of state support marriage rights now; NJ: Christie has started a controversy

WJLA aired a video showing demonstrations (in Annapolis) against the proposed law allowing same-sex marriage in Maryland, as long as excerpts from the legislative session where the governor Martin O'Malley explained how this year’s bill is different – it allows stronger protection for religious groups that don’t want to perform the ceremonies.  O'Malley's main argument is that children of same-sex couples should not face discrimination. 

The Washington Post has a detailed story today by John Wagner and Peyton M. Craighill, showing that popular support for allowing same-sex marriage in Maryland has actually risen to 50%, link here

The New York Times ran an important editorial Monday about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a gay marriage bill likely to pass the legislature in Trenton, link here.  It’s questionable whether a veto could be overridden.  Christie wants a referendum, apparently one which would follow the pattern of many other states with a constitutional amendment defining marriage (AP  story ).  New Jersey does recognize civil unions (Wikipedia link).   Christie had previously made some apparently unfortunate metaphors in comparing the gay rights movement of the past to violent episodes in the civil rights movement.  It’s not clear whether any amendment would affect civil unions.

Christie has generally been considered a moderate Republican, but not too much on this. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

In Texas, employment discrimination seems alive and "well"

There are still some employment cases at public institutions. Lambda Legal is reporting on a case of an instructor, Jacqueline Gill, at Tarrant County College, Hurst Campus, near Ft. Worth Texas, who was told, when not being allowed for a permanent position,  that  “Texas and Tarrant County College do not like homosexuals”, link (website url) here.  The case is "Gill v. Devlin and Howell". 

The Dallas Voice has followed a story of a teacher Nichole Williams who claimed she was fired from a charter school, Life School Waxahachie, because she is a lesbian.  She settled with the school as related in a story on the Voice Jan, 2011 here. I remember seeing this story in my visit to Dallas in November. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Student article against gay adoption creates a First Amendment fight

The Huffington Post has a story about a legal fight after a Wisconsin high school removed (from its student school paper) an op-ed against allowing gay couples to adopt children by a student, according to an anti-bullying policy.

The story by Laura Hibbard is here.

One issue is that the student’s piece quoted the familiar passages from Leviticus.  The article also talked about “abomination” in the context of a “Christian society”.  Is this an example of “fighting word”?  Or is it completely protected by the First Amendment?

One irony of all this is apparently there are so many children needing adoption.  These kinds of arguments cut both ways.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Minnesota gay marriage battle comes back to court; Santorum misplays the "equality card"

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (story by Kevin Duchshere and Abbey Simmons, with video included) that a lawsuit challenging Minnesota’s laws banning gay marriage will go to trial rather than be dismissed.  The story and video is here (may require paywall subscription).   The suit had been filed by three same-sex couples.   At the same time, social conservatives (as exemplified by Michele Bachmann) are aiming to get a public referendum.  (I lived in Minneapolis from 1997-2003.) 

Cheryl Wetzstein ("Reproduction rules") has a somewhat detail story in the Tuesday Washington Times here

When it comes to abstract or ideological arguments about equality, Rick Santorum has put his foot in his mouth (again), now saying that “equality doesn’t come from Islam” (of course not), “but from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”, ABC News story ("The Note") here

Why does “equality” as HRC promotes it matter, in practice, even to people who live their lives pretty much alone and do OK?   Well, without it, others will come knocking on the door and demand that you “sacrifice” for their purposes.   That brings back the “second class citizens” theory.

If Romney and Gingrich destroy each other (which is happening now), Santorum could really get in to the nomination.  And his statements do not bode well for LGBT people.  I’m less worried about Gingrich (despite his 1995 statement about “asking” on the military gay ban) and even less about Romney (“nice try”).  But maybe I should be.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Funds being raised for "Second Class Citizens" documentary

Here is a seven minute preview of “Second Class Citizens”, a documentary by Ryan James Yezak.  The trailer has its own name, “The Gay Rights Movement”.

I’ll mention one moment that I haven’t thought about, discussed by attorney Lisa Bloom, the “gay panic defense”.

It opens with the notorious 1967 one hour CBS show by Mike Wallace, “The Homosexuals”, when Dean Rusk, Secretary of State, said, “when we find homosexuals in our department, we discharge them.”  It mentions past adoption bans in Florida and Virginia, and the MSM blood donation ban, as well as lesser known points in the saga of “don’t ask don’t tell”, including Bill Clinton’s 1993 “open statement” quote from his July 19 speech.  I made a lot of that one phrase in my own book.

(Note, I also passed this along in Facebook, and got a warning from McAfee on the generated “clicktotweet” link at the end of the embed.  I would suggest simply tweeting the Youtube link manually.)

Kickstarter has a fundraising post, with a “deadline” of March 9, 2012, here.  Yezak says he must raise $50,000 (to qualify for investor money?)  I’m not sure this is the best way to fund independent film (the deadline part of it, at least), but that is the way this project has been set up.  $138000 has been pledged by over 3300 backers.   The link has a shorter trailer where Ryan himself speaks and makes his own pitch.

Filmmaker Gode Davis had a similar effort (no deadline) with his “American Lynching”; I am not sure what will happen to that project given his passing and will check into it further, as well as into this project.  Ryan, in his trailers, has mentioned a number of subtle points already that many gay rights activists typically overlook. 

There's another shorter video called "It's Time to Think Different" here.

I'll pass along a major contact for the fundraising:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rosie O'Donnell slams politicians for gay-baiting to "win votes" (interview with Piers Morgan)

Last night, Rosie O’Donnell, while now discussing her newfound heterosexual interests, told Piers Morgan on CNN that the United States is backward, and that it should not be acceptable for politicians to slam gays to get votes.  This no longer happens in other western countries, she said.   CNN’s report on the interview is here. O'Donnell hit particularly hard the idea that LGBT people are seen as less "morally worthy" or as "second class citizens" to be expropriated from at will.  (See next post.) 

Politicians are playing the “scapegoat” game.  Knowing that many families are struggling, it’s easy to point at people who appear not to take on the same level of responsibility in their intimate relationships (having and raising children).  But appearances are deceptive. 

For example, Rick Perry recently told a teenage girl that he was against “gays in the military” simply because “homosexuality is a sin” and then got into the canard of “hating the sin but loving the sinner”, link here on “Mediaite”. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Are gay men less likely to be overweight? Maybe

I say a story on AOL this morning, “Gay Men Don’t Get Fat”, that is, a book by that title by Simon Donan,  from Blue Rider Press, with the link on dot249 here  (requires javascript to run). 

I you look around a gay disco dance floor, “thin” is definitely in.  But that’s probably true of any disco. It sounds like a bizarre thing to notice in these days when the media harps on obesity, particularly in schools.  

I have heard of studies that claim that gay men typically weigh about 1-2% less for any given height than the general population.  That could be due to lack of marriage (usually -- that's changing) and having someone to cook for.  (They used to say, "wait until he gets married" about developing beer guts.)   I've heard of anecdotal remarks that gay men may be taller than average (genetic concordances of some kind?)   On any large disco, it seems like there are always a few men say 76 inches and taller.  That's not just in Minnesota (the Saloon and the 90's), either.  

On the other hand, there is a story in Science Daily to the effect that gay men are more likely to have eating disorders. 

I remember being finicky as a child.  I didn’t like “lumpy” food or “breakfast in restaurants”.  (One of the worst was in some town on the Virginia-North. Carolina border when I was about 8.)  After a stomach upset (a tendency which I outgrew completely as an adult  -- no “Carnage” or “Bridesmaids” please), father always fixed poached eggs. 

And in these days of high TV production costs, it seems like the networks are turning to cooking shows as they cancel soaps.  Remember “Homemaker’s Exchange” in the 1950s?    

Picture: retrospect, Baltimore Pride, 2011

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blade reports on some unfortunate incidents in DC community

The idea of a “gay gang” sounds like an oxymoron, but Lou Chibbaro, Jr. has  (in the Jan. 13 Washington Blade, p. 4) a brief story about a youth gang that committed various pickpockets around the Verizon Center that has changed its ways and will go into an entrepreneurial venture with fashion, link here

Last summer, someone attempted to pickpocket me in the area.  They didn’t get anything. I reported the incident to Metro Transit police.

Chibbaro also reports an incident at Remington’s (SE of Capitol, CW bar), apparently Jan. 6 or 7, where a patron was disturbing others on the dance floor, and then punched the manager when the latter tried to intervene. The person has been charged with misdemeanor assault.  To my knowledge, such incidents in DC gay bars are rare.   But a few straight bars in Washington DC have (unfairly, I think) lost liquor licenses because of violence outside their premises, which might not even have started in the bars, so any incident like this is unwelcome.  I did see a fight in a gay bar in Soho in London in 1982.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

OK: legislator wants to apply repealed DADT to state national guard (had failed in VA)

It’s happened again.  Lightning strikes twice in about the same place.  This had been tried in Virginia, but now Oklahoma representative Mike Reynolds introduced a bill in the legislature saying that no one ineligible to serve under the now repealed DADT law (10 United States Code 654 special enclosure) may serve in the Oklahoma national guard.

Oklahoma may be OK when it comes to a person’s right to defend his or her home from invasion, but not at gay rights. 

David McKean, legal director at SLDN, has some analysis of why this would not survive court challenge here, in a column “Can they do that?”.  

The bigger challenge could come in 2013 if a GOP candidate hostile to gays (particularly Santorum) wins the presidency.  He could not only unrepeal the repeal, he could send the military back to asking, to the 1981 Old Ban. Newt Gingrich actually proposed that in 1995 or 1996, and Keith Meinhold, then in the fight, sent out emails warning of possible "forced outings".  

Remember, in the 90s, Greta Cammermeyer ("Serving in Silence", a book and TV film) had been a medical officer in the Washington State National Guard.  The Lambda Legal link on Cammermeyer v. Perry is worth a visit, here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Girl Scouts' admission of transgendered members creates a flap selling cookies

Remember the James Dale case before the Supreme Court around 2000 concerning his exclusion from the Boy Scouts?  The argument was what private organizations may do, and then what they may do if they take public funds.

Recently, there’s been quite a twist.  Some people have wanted to boycott girl scout cookies from troops that accept transgender members.  For example “Addicting Info” has this story by Justin Rosario here

Slate has a similar story  by Amanda Marcotte.

Washington DC station WJLA-7 (ABC) has a poll on the question, and every single comment made there has been flagged by someone as “abuse”. 

My own mother, in Ohio in the 1920s, belonged to Camp Fire Girls.  

And yes, I have often bought girl scout cookies, usually at work from parent-coworkers.  Selling food or beverages informally is a basic business; the very first "Apprentice" show with Donald Trump featured selling lemonade!

Update: Jan. 17 

The Washington Times actually ran a commentary on this, and it's pretty silly, by Cathy Cleaver Ruse, "Say no to Girl Scout Cookies; left wing political agenda undermines girls, families", link here.  It's striking to me how people think that they're own ability to have and keep the marriages they say they want are undermined by what distant other people choose to do.  

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

MSN runs story on how men and women are so biologically different; what about LGBT?

Well,, MSN has a story today by Anna Breslaw, “Men and Women are different species”, link here.  If so, immutability arguments about homosexuality become even more frail.  

It seems as though the primary traits listed for men and women are a bit (to use a favorite vocabulary word form George Gilder), “fungible”.  For example, a man might be “rule-conscious” and “vigilant” and “utilitarian” but not be “dominant”.  Welcome to the world of the psychological polarities of Paul Rosenfels.  Either men or women can be psychologically masculine or feminine, and either can be objective or subjective.  We already have a cube of eight possible combinations.  In this mathematical scenario, opposites may attract.   But a submissive male may enjoy the domination of someone he idealizes, and that could be another male (psychologists call that “upward affiliation”).   That context understood, there’s no reason relationships can’t be lifelong and provide a parental environment for children in the home.

I thought I would pass along this Washington Post blog posting by Mark Driscoll, "Why men need marriage", although it sounds like it could have been written by George Gilder in the 1980s, link here. His metaphor about trucks is interesting, if misstated.  

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Santorum's views on "rights" v. "privileges" become a canard, possible effect on gay issues for military, marriage, parenthood, even privacy, if he were elected

“Freedom to Serve” tweeted these remarks by surprising GOP candidate Rick Santorum. Yes, there were boos at the end of his comments, but they were underwhelming.

Here, Santorum describes serving the military as a “privilege” and the same for “marriage”.  Society has special rules and offers special benefits, Santorum says, for the “common good”.

Santorum’s philosophy has been said to be related to the Catholic idea of “subsidiarity” (Issues blog, Jan. 4).
The problem is, “subsidy” comes at ultimate or eventual expense to others.  Santorum says rights and privileges are different, and he won’t take away anyone’s “rights”.  But some things are not “rights” if they seem to point to individual excess when viewed against common welfare, he seems to say.  (He has questioned the decision in Lawrence v. Texas.)  Ultimately, his ideas invite intrusions back into the personal lives and spaces of people.  Further, in a sense, fitness for military or similar service is arguably a moral obligation (it was, at least for men, when I grew up). Fitness to take care of other generations and a personal stake in future generations could be viewed as a moral obligation.  The Vatican’s ideas about moral teachings reflect that belief.

Santorum is “scarier” right now than any other candidate.  (Gingrich has been perceived as scary, but in a different way; Bachmann is out.) Romney seems to be willing to leave his religion at home when in office, at least so far.

The economy does seem to be improving slowly, with better employment prospects for many people, and that development bodes better for Obama’s re-election. But, economic problems in Europe or China or oil prices due to Iran could wind up having a real impact on the rights of gay people starting in 2013. 

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Town DC is packed, crowd seems "new"; New Years Eve goes rather quietly; Hawaii, Delaware allow same-sex civil unions

This year,  I tried the TownDC’s New Year’s party, a personal first (Cobalt in previous years). Bought the ticket online from a service website in FL; it winds up saving “just’ $2.50.  Used Metro this time, all went pretty smoothly.

I got there about 10:40 PM and it was already packed downstairs. The drag show, featuring Lady Gaga songs and maybe “Sister Act”, was brief and over by 11.  I was downstairs during the countdown.

Upstairs, where neon rings were getting circulated, was also packed.  The crowd seemed to start thinning a little around 1 AM. 

Apologies, if I was a bit boorish on brushing off one unwelcome kiss (not a “Judas Kiss”).

There were some guys, a little zonked, who definitely needed to take advantage of the free taxi service. I hope they did.

One highlight came around 12:30 AM with song "HELLO" and the "short film" that goes with it. 

Outside, we saw the entrepreneurial free market work the way it should. In front of the Nine bar, a Pizza truck pulled up at 1:30 AM as a huge line developed for food. 

In coming days, I've have to answer a disturbing and snarky LTE in the Washington Times from Dec 30 (once the LTE appears online and I can do some "fact checking"). In California, school systems have to teach some history of the gay movement. 

Also, Hawii and Delaware today joined the list of five states that allow same-sex civil unions (six allow gay marriage). Hawaii calls it "partners in life". Josh Levs of CNN has the story: