Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mainstream denominations facing real tests of faith on gay marriage; "Equality" concept seems to be taking hold

Today, I visited a different church than usual, the Mount Olivet United Methodist Church in Arlington VA.  During the message today, the pastor, Tim Craig, referred to gay marriage as a current issue of controversy in the church, and to his conviction that “one person’s relationship shouldn’t be more valuable than another’s.”  He also referred to the idea of “common good” as an idea that can be made monolithic (without referring specifically to Rick Santorum and his monoculuralism).

He did talk about the concept of “momentum” with an amusing allegory, baseball (no, he didn’t mention the Nats’ Bryce Harper).  A “double play” in baseball is an example of momentum, when there is a force at any base.  So is playing the outfield deep.  I sat there thinking about boyhood, when we designed “backyard baseball” to work with fewer players, so we added the idea of forceouts at any base to keep the scores reasonable.

Last night Town DC featured “Drew G” and the “Dirty Pop” party with the “College Dudes”.  There a bit of primary color in the costume dress. 

The crowd was really packed upstairs after about 12:30 AM.  Unfortunately, I could see on my smart phone that the Washington Nationals had blown a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth on a wild pitch, on the night of Bryce Harper's successful debut. 

How do "the kids" text with thumbs while holding drinks and dancing at the same time?  I can't do all that. 

Once in a while, someone will approach me.  Sometimes, it is someone I would not necessarily "want".  Up to a point, that can become a disturbing question of karma.

The Sunday New York Times has a detailed article in the Review section on p 12 by Richard M. Ryan and William S. Ryan about homophobia, suppressed homosexuality, and strict upbringing. here

The Huffington Post reports on another bullying case in Utah leading to a teen suicide, even after the movie "Bully" had started, link here

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Fundraising address for Maryland, Washington state equality campaigns; NC referendum May 8

I wanted to post the full fundraising pitch at the close of the HRC reception Friday, April 27, 2012. Persons were urged not to leave a rather full reception until they had donated to the Maryland and Washington state initiative to defeat the (likely) referendums on same-sex marriage this November.  There were desktop computer stations available.

I do all my donation at home online, and much of it goes through a Trust.  As a “journalist”, I don’t get involved in “recruiting people” to contribute to anything.  Because then I would have to do it for everything.  And I did have another “event” in Georgetown to get to, nearby.

There are two relevant videos.  They  emphasize the way the future for real people can be affected by the outcome of the votes in November.

Closing Remarks:

Earlier (Chad Griffin):

Update: May 6

Remember, North Carolina has a referendum Tuesday May 8 on a state constitutional amendment that, like Virginia's Marshall-Newman, would ban civil unions, but this would also extend to heterosexual civil unions. See this story in the Southern Pilot, link

Friday, April 27, 2012

HRC honors Maryland, Washington governors in Marriage Equality reception

Today, late in the afternoon, the Human Rights Campaign held a reception, a Celebration with Marriage Equality Champions. 

Gov. Chris Gregoire of Washington spoke first, representing the success of Washington United for Marriage (link), which got the marriage law passed in February.
Gov. Martin O’Malley spoke for Equality Maryland (or “Marylanders for Marriage Equality”), link, for a marriage law passed and signed in a public ceremony March 1 (which I reported).   

Joe Solomese introduced the new HRC president Chad Griffin.

At the end of the event, there was a pitch to help both state organizations, as above, because both face referendums in November. The point was made that many lives can be affected by these referendums, especially for future generations. 

Gov. Gregoire stressed that after the referendum her state will have demonstrated that the people really want marriage equality and that the political process will prove it.

She also said she was a Catholic and has thought through the issue of separation of church and state. She says the Church can teach what it likes within its own membership. 

HRC had computer stations set up to process the donations, and used a mixture of an IBM terminal, Dell computer, and Apple Safari browser!

HRC also served extensive hors d'oeuvres, including Maryland crabcakes.

Here is an excerpt from Gov. Gregoire's remarks:

And from Gov. O'Malley:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Peace Corps walks a fine line about "openness" for LGBT volunteers

Yesterday at Julius’s in NYC, I picked up a copy of “Gay City News” and found a front page story about the Peace Corps and gay volunteers. The link is here.

The piece is by young volunteer Tymon Manning, and is called “Lending a Hand in Peru, Returning to the Closet”.

The Peace Corps has apparently never had a “ban” on gays like the military, but it has to walk a tightrope between non-discrimination and advising volunteers to keep a low profile on personal matters that, rightfully or not, could disturb members in host countries because of different cultures.

Manning writes about the “machismo” of Peruvian and much of third world culture.  He mentions the phrase “mas o menos” as an allusion to the idea of being “less of a man”.  He did not encounter any personal problems with his hosts, who sometimes teased him for being “skinny” although in the pictures he looks quite strong and well muscled.

After my own layoff at the end of 2001, I looked into the Peace Corps in 2002 and visited a couple of information meetings in Minneapolis.  It seemed from the application form that the Peace Corps wantd to see evidence of extensive volunteerism and socialization from volunteers. It didn’t pursue it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Greenwich Village bars recall the good old 1970s for me; there's hidden musical talent everywhere

My old haunts in NYC seem a lot like they were in the 1970s, just more high tech.

Julius’s (one of the oldest gay bars in the Nation) now entertains us with high definition baseball, giving a tour of the Minnesota Twins’s new ballpark at Target Center, one of the most interest outfields in MLB. The brass dachshunds are still on the floor.  When the stucco 1826 building it is in was renovated, it was taken apart and put back together piece by piece. This is a place where "The Bugler Boy" gets played as background music, and where the cheeseburgers are delicious, and inexpensive by NYC standards. The bar says that in 1966, demonstrators came in and challenged the bar to serve "known homosexuals" when New York City had been trying to "eliminated" gay bars for the 1964-1965 World's Fair.  The demonstration helped end the practice of closing bars without "Mafia protection" as was widely rumored in the early 1970s as I "came out" a second time!
Stonewall Inn, during the week, seems to be a women’s bar,  with some karaoke upstairs. 

Boots and Saddle was one of my favorites when I lived in NYC in the mid and late 1970s.  I played on its softball team in 1978, in a field on Leroy Street that was so small that “over the fence” was just a double.  I remember getting a clutch single in a game Sunday night on Pride Day 1978, during an eventful period in my life personally.

Last night, Boots and Saddle had a “Mr. Boots and Saddle” contest as a kind of masculine “drag show”.  The winner had the odd sculpture in the  hair on the back part of his scalp to show musical treble clefs.  Don’t know where he shines as to musical talent (piano or otherwise).  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Equality Forum to host Summit in Philadelphia in early May

The Equality Forum has announced detailed plans for The Global LGBT Summit, to be held in Philadelphia, PA May 3-6, 2012.  The featured nation is Israel, and there is an Equality Dinner Saturday night at the National Museum of American Jewish History at 101 South Independence Mall East.

The link for the Forum is here.

There is also a Gay and Lesbian Art Exhibit at the Open Lens Gallery, 401 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia.

CNN has run PSA’s or spots for the event this weekend. 

Picture: Independence Hall, October 2006, when I was there for the COPA trial.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Eusociality is not necessarily hostile to gay "individualism"; medical emergency at a bar

I’ll be reviewing Edward O. Wilson’s “The Social Conquest of Earth” soon on my Books blog, but I wanted to point out quickly that his ideas about “group selection” and “eusociality” don’t at all imply a negative attitude toward LGBT people or subculture as somehow overly individualistic.

On p. 253, he does take up the Vatican idea that all sexuality must be linked to openness to procreation and taking on responsibility for the next generation. He first discusses that notion with respect to contraception.  Women, through evolution, developed a way to enjoy pleasure outside of reproductive function, so that, he argues, men would have an incentive to stay with their partners long enough to raise children (that is, for a couple decades).  Of course, logically Wilson’s argument doesn’t exclude the Catholic idea that one should be open to procreation whenever it is possible.

He then makes kindly remarks about homosexual capacity (and refers to “homophobia” as such), which seems (if you think about it) to be hardwired, too.  He says that “committed homosexuality … is heritable” – that’s the immutability (aka equal protection) argument.  He then does make the “altruism” argument that is not really new, but perhaps casts it in a new light. That is, society as a whole needs enough men and enough women to develop certain sorts of personality and intellectually creative traits that the group as a whole benefits in terms of culture, and development of these traits requires openness to some homosexual expression.  That’s pretty much a restatement of the Rosenfels Polarity Theory.

Part of the problem comes about in whether procreation is an “individually selfish” or a “group altruistic” activity.  In modern society, it switches back and forth between both.  Some people see having children as an expression of who they are; others see potential dependents as economic “burdens” and hindrances to other kinds of self-fulfillment.  The latter is obviously a great concern in Vatican thinking.  To the extent that raising a new generation and taking care of a previous one are common responsibilities, no one should get out of participating in them.  But then this turns the spin into saying something like, no one should get out of the military draft if defending the country is needed (hence the wrap around on “don’t ask don’t tell”).

My own take on this is that I don’t sense a reproductive urge (or potential biological progeny) as part of myself; I have become aware of it intellectually, partly when forced to (as an only child, I let the lineage of my parents expire), and also my “future” as I grow older, elderly. I di feel like I kibitz (to borrow a term from chess tournaments) the “desirability” of other (males) who do want to continue the species.  In an abstract way this may be good, that somebody “keeps ‘em honest” or helps set “higher standards” for the people of the future, or it may tend toward a belief in eugenics, a dark side.  When people don’t directly harm others, we’re not supposed to interfere with their lives, unless they are evading responsibility or following a path that is inherently attractive to others.  If a tendency is “heritable”, then it isn’t like to become copied by too many others.  But even if a tendency expresses or is predicated upon a desire that, if it could be carried out, could have a negative impact on the futures of many other people, then society is likely to want to oppose it.  That’s the impression that I got from my NIH days in 1962. Again, such a (visually based) “interest” is not likely to be copied.

In sum, though "eusociality" (as Wilson describes it), is not hostile to the "individualistic exceptionalism" and hyperselectivity often found in the gay world.  In fact, individual diversity is itself a component of group well-being.  

Last night (to change the subject), I visited Remington’s in the SE Capitol area of Washington DC.  It’s “the” country-western bar, not my personally favorite type (unless it’s big on the scale of the “Roundup” in Dallas, which mixes its menu with more conventional disco on Saturday nights).  I went upstairs for a while to see the Karaoke, and when I came downstairs, there was a critical medical emergency somewhat away from the dance floor.  Since 1973, this has never happened when I personally was in a bar, although I have read about it happening somewhere once a year or so.  (In London, I saw a fight in a Soho bar in 1982.)  The dancing was still going on but soon stopped, and emergency personnel arrived.  Afterwards, people just gradually started to filter out downstairs.   The “lesson”: listen to Sanjay Gupta on CNN.  Be very careful with alcohol and certain prescription drugs (let alone illegals).   Even with a young person the combination just could cause a cardiac arrest.  Will bars some day be required to have defibrillators on site? 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Boy Scouts expels den volunteer mother because she is a lesbian; petition circulated

The Boys Scouts of America is back in the news.

A lesbian (Jennifer Tyrrell) with partner and a son in Cub Scouts was removed from a "volunteer" position about a year after joining because she was gay.  Her story and petition (emailed to me) are here.

The incident occurred in Bridgeport, Ohio.

In 2000, the Supreme Court, using largely "libertarian" arguments about private organizations, upheld the BSA's right to exclude gays in the James Dale case, which involved actual scouts as members, instead of scoutmasters and volunteers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To me, "due process" arguments have always sounded more convincing that equal protection (and immutability) in "equality"

One time, back around 1983, I was having Sunday night dinner in a restaurant on Cedar Spring, the Bronx, in Dallas, “between games” of a chess doubleheader in my apartment for a tournament in the Dallas Chess Club.   In the conversation, he said with a degree of surprise, “you aren’t gay, are you?”  Then, “you chose to be gay.”

He was so stunned that he lost the second game of the doubleheader to a simple trap (the first game had been drawn).  

Later, though, he would get over it and nominate me to the chess club board. 

The moral of that story, for me, is that I’ve never been too happy with relying on the “immutability argument”.  I even agree that in some sense it’s scientifically true (as in Chandler Burr’s “A Separate Creation” and 1990s Atlantic article).  But if behavior were somehow subject to legal or social censure, genetics alone wouldn’t matter so much with other issues (largely having to deal with food or substance abuse, and we don’t need the details right here to make the point).

The immutability argument has made it easier to use “equal protection” arguments, particularly in gay marriage litigation all over the country (not just California).

And Sandra Day O’Connor turned to it in her own opinion in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003.

Judge Anthony Kennedy, however, found a fundamental liberty interest, protected by the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, not so much in the “act” itself but in the psychological processes surrounding it (call it “The Polarities” if you like), as quoted in Duke Law School’s excerpt from his majority opinion here

I am still, after all these decades, impressed with the notion that “sodomy laws” may have been a crude and canard-filled way of communicating the notion that raising the next generation is everyone’s pre-existing responsibility, and that “choice” has (or had) nothing to do with it.   

Related posting: March 29

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

FDA still insists on keeping blood donation "lifetime deferral" for MSM; Andrew Sullivan, HIV, and the green card issue

The “Health & Science” section of the Washington Post today, Tuesday, April 17, 2012, leads off with a disturbing story by Laura Ungar, “FDA still says gay men can’t donate blood”.  Online, the title is more equivocal, “With better HIV tests, should FDA ends its ban on gay men giving blood?”, link here

MSM with even one applicable contact since 1977 are banned.  Lesbians are not.   Lesbians, in fact, have fewer STD’s than active straight women. But  those who have performed sex for money or injected substances are also banned.   But incidents of “one-night-stand” heterosexual encounters don’t disqualify.

The article says that it takes about 12 days after an encounter with HIV for the best antigen tests to detect the virus now.

The FDA still says that MSM have an incidence of HIV infection 200 times that of first time blood donors, and 2000 times that of repeat blood donors.

The FDA calls the ban a “lifetime deferral”, a euphemism.  The Red Cross is on record as favoring re-evaluating and possibly lifting the automatic deferral.

The most recent FDA statement on the matter occurred in February 2012.

Update: April 22

Andrew Sullivan has a story about why it took him 18 years to get a green card: because of the ban on people with HIV on getting green cards, dating back to the 1980s, not repealed until 2008, link here.
This story was presented on Fareed Zakaria's GPS show on CNN today. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Lambda Legal litigates against, documents against assisted living facilities who turn down HIV+ residents

Lambda Legal reports that assisted living facilities often refuse to take in residents with HIV.  Lambda Legal is litigating against the Parkstone Living Center, Fox Ridge, in North Little Rock, AR, for refusing admission to Dr. Robert Franke, who, 75, is living with HIV.

Lambda’s page on the case is here

I know, from talking to assisting living facilities on behalf of my mother when she was still with us (until late 2010), that assisted living facilities will not accept a resident with active tuberculosis (which can still be asymptomatic and is detected by X-ray and skin test).  People with HIV may be more likely to have active tuberculosis (even the more common kind), even without many symptoms.  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Town does a "rite of spring" drag show, echoing the Cherry Blossom festival

Although I don’t know the Facebook lives of all the Town DC’s performers, I can say that the drag show April 14 was one of the best ever.  One of the performers was Raja, who is said to have won RuPaul’s drag race.  There was a “rite of spring” (without Stravinsky) costume contest of sorts.  I thought I spotted the “Cat Lady”, who had won a contest the night before at Morgan Spurlock’s “Comic-Con” premiere at Washington’s West End Cinema.  (For the uninitiated: the comic book convention, in San Diego, is basically a week-long drag show "for straights".)   Were some of the performers real females? No, there were no "soap opera style" lap dances. 

Upstairs, around 12:30 AM or so, “Kristine”, from Washington DC’s Cherry Blossom Parade, gave a “saxophone concerto” that might have been closer to the art of Bill Clinton than to  Villa Lobos, Debussy or Glazounov.  (Remember, on late night comedy Clinton was almost a concert-level artist in this instrument.) 

This year, of course, any thing based on cherry blossoms by mid April is a bit late.  They all came down with a "late frost" in early April after blooming too early.  

 I wonder if piano could work upstairs.  
Nobody mentioned that the Nationals have been winning.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Library of Congress employee sues for hostile work environment because of boss's proselytizing to him by email; White House turns down temporary ENDA XO

In an employment case at the Library of Congress that seems bizarre, Peter TerVeer has sued the government agency for being forced to work in a hostile work environment. He says he was discriminated against after complaining about his boss’s religious harassment, as evidenced by emails.

Station WJLA (ABC in Washington DC) has a story here. There is a video which right now would not connect and play.

United States Civil Service changed policies, which used to forbid homosexuals from working for federal government, in 1973, almost forty years ago.  Since then, agencies have put in anti-discrimination policies.  Even so, the Library has 180 days to respond.

The former “fed globe” site for gay federal employees doesn’t seem to work.  Does anyone know why? 

The Washington Blade also reports that the Obama administration has declined to issue an "ENDA executive order", which would protect federal contractors, at this time, link here

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Log Cabin Republicans issues statement on Santorum's "suspension"

Log Cabin Republicans issued a press release today after the “suspension” of the presidential campaign of Rick Santorum, link here

Log Cabin refers to Santorum’s “social politics” as “divisive”.  LCR says that it does not endorse during the presidential campaign process. It says it will have a presence at the 2012 Republican campaign in Tampa and make a decision on endorsement of Romney (or Obama) in due course.

It also refers to “moderate” and “younger conservative voters”.  How about libertarian?

Visitors might want to rent Westmoreland's 2004 60-minute film "Gay Republicans". 

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

LLDEF files suit over Ohio school district's banning pro-gay T-shirt

Lambda Legal is supporting a high school junior in Waynesville, Ohio (in SW Ohio), in his battle for his First Amendment rights to wear a T-shirt that says “Jesus was not a homophobe”, with the LLDEF summary papers here. (I think it used to be called "Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund" but I notice that now the group just calls itself "Lambda Legal". I'll use that name in the future.)

 Lambda Legal  has filed suit against the Wayne Local School District.

The principal of the school regarded the T-shirt as “sexual” in nature.
Waynesville is in SW Ohio, somewhat north of Cincinnati.

There is later news to the effect that the school has said it would allow the T-shirt on one day, April 20. 

School districts feel they are caught in a vise, as “neutrality” on this subject gets interpreted indirectly as hostility.  I didn't encounter anything directly of this nature when subbing in Arlington and Fairfax county (VA) school systems 2004-2007. 

Picture: Oberlin, OH, fall, 2010. 

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Cobalt's "Micro circuit party"; Parking and biking when clubbing; more on service academies and the end of DADT

Well, the Cobalt DC’s “last Saturday” “Raw” party March 31 turned out to be a micro circuit party. There were “movies” projected which showed some kinky things from the “black party” world that I had never seen before.  There was “Bruno” as a character.  Some people know what this means.  And there were dancers.  

The music tends to be rather non-stop, and very dissonant.  This is not the kinder and gentler 80s and 90s.  Anyway, I must have played my cards the previous weekend in NYC right.  No reason to cough up $140 for a leather party if you’re just a “forward observer” and can watch something like it later for free (or maybe $7).  (And, as I said last weekend, the “preppy crowd” had its own free party one block away from the “big event”).

So a guest's shirt reads “Don’t Chase, Get Chosen”.  My immediate reaction to the idea of being “chosen” is that of  being “raptured”.  Maybe that’s from living in Dallas for nine years in the 80s.

The downstairs “30 degrees” lounge was decked out with fog, red and green lasers, and (fake) “bongs” hanging from the ceiling, as if to make fun of Michael Phelps. (We expect Phelps to win Olympic medals as a "thmooth" jock, but, please, no more hosting of SNL; an actor he is not.) 

It was actually a cold night to walk from the Farragut Metro (about 15 minutes).  After a warm winter, we suddenly have a winter-like night before April Fool’s Day. 

It looks like there is some 24 hour parking (or until 3:30 AM weekends) not too far from the 17th St bars.  I’ve never tried it, but Colonial Parking has a property on 18th, just below M, 1150 Connecticut Ave, zip 20036.  This seems to be Lot 121, and the web link is here.   It seems as though there are very few parking garages in DC that stay open all night (or past business hours).   I saw a lot more of them in NYC last weekend.

How about doing biking (or bike rental) to go clubbing? (and save energy, gas, and pollution, and not depend on an unstable Metro).  Good idea, if there were some racks around 17th St and U St.   As for biker behavior, it seems a lot more prudent in NYC than it is in DC, and it is very bad here in Arlington, where cyclists ride between lanes and disobey lights, even though Arlington goes out of its way to provide bike lanes.  

Friday night, by the way, Freddie's (Crystal City, Arlington) had the usual karaoke, and just a little dancing up front.  Sometimes, a singer will show genuine vocal talent with his adult voice.  (I once tried Karaoke at Baltimore pride, singing Remy Zero's "Save Me" from "Smallville".) 

The other “news” for the day is that “pride” groups are starting to form at the Service Academies, at least the Coast Guard Academy and West Point.  They’ll be more about all this soon.  CNN’s story by Chris Boyette is here

First picture: that's me, caught in the middle; couldn't hide the "movie" completely.