Thursday, May 31, 2012

California senate passes ban on reparative therapy; 1st Circuit strikes down DOMA

The California state senate has passed, by a vote of 23-13, a bill banning reparative therapy for sexual orientation.  The original by was SB 1172; State senator Ted D. Lieu’s web page on the bill is here

Human Rights Campaign has a major news story by Dan Rafter here today, link.

Reuters is reporting that a US Appeals court has struck down DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, story on the Huffington Post here.  Judge Michael Boudin in the First Circuit in Boston wrote, “Under current Supreme Court authority, Congress’ denial of federal benefits to same-sex couples lawfully married in Masachusetts has not been adequately supported by any permissible federal interest.”

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Need Therapy? For real?

It seems that in NYC even weeknights are crowded with major shows in the bars.  In Hells Kitchen, at the Therapy, on Tuesday night there was a major jazz improvisation (please, not another "recomposition"), and some Broadway medleys.

The place has bartenders with shirts that read "need help?" or "got love?", and has a second-floor skylight, unusual for a bar at ground level.

This time, the performer seemed to be a real performer, and was really singing, not pantomiming as in a drag show.

The music set up is interesting too -- a Yamaha keyboard, and iPad with Adobe controlling what the performers see, but no pedals. 

"Therapy" was all the rage in the NYC community in the good old days of the 70s, with Identity House and the Ninth Street Center. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Do "gays" replace "Wall Street" for the Dems?; more on Workey's rant; Memorial Day weekend clubbing

What, CNN is now saying that the Democratic Party has replaced Wall Street with “gays” in its campaign funding base?  I’m a little surprised to hear that out of a “liberal” cable network.

Saturday, the New York Times ran a “Common Sense” story (by James Stewart) about North Carolina gay businessman Bob Page and his company Replacements Limited in Greensboro, link here.  The title is “A company’s stand for gay marriage, and the cost”.  One of the “hate” letters he got actually included this text:  “I am very concerned that with the increased visibility and acceptance of the gay and lesbian lifestyle, one of my children, who would have grown up happily married to a husband, could be tempted to the lesbian lifestyle.”  That’s pretty blunt, and people really believe that.  Translate it this way:  As a parent, I’m afraid my kids won’t give me any grandchildren, after all these years of active marital commitment.  It seems like there’s no right to refuse sex, ironically.

The Huffington Post has an article in which NC English teacher Evan Adams discusses his personal  reaction to Maiden NC Pastor Charles Worley and his unbelievable sermon, “How Pastor Charles Worley left me fearing for my safety,” link here. (See also yesterday’s post  for HRC link).  This is no longer about the abstract notion of personal equality; it is about being left alone by those who need to dominate you (to make their own lives work).  The First Amendment cuts both ways.  

Meanwhile: Holiday Weekend perambulations:

Last night, back in DC, I did a bit of an impromptu check-up adventure on the neighborhoods, expect light crowds since this was Memorial Day weekend and people really are traveling more again to the beaches.

I stopped at the Omega, on 22nd Street, found it pre-occupied with dancers, but no participant dancing. There’s a little stage that would work as a dance floor. There’s a couple of pool rooms, and upstairs, a place for “Wii” sports, which I had gotten introduced to a few years ago by “the kids” as a substitute teacher.  This time the game was bowling. 

Nearby, the old Apex-DC disco has become a women’s bar, Phase 1 of Dupont  (there’s another property in SE DC).  I could hear music from inside, but saw no line outside.  A police car was parked in the alley for a while as I walked past, don’t know why.  It didn’t appear that a whole lot was happening.  The Apex space had been one of my favorites, with many interesting spaces, and an elevated observation deck above the main dance floor.  In the 1990s it had been called “Badlands”.

I walked past the Pop Stop, and saw, across P Street, a long line to get into The Fireplace.  I don’t really know why that would be. 

I then “caved in” and hiked over to the Cobalt on 17th Street.   The crowd was a little smaller than usual, because of holiday.   Upstairs there was the “last Saturday” “Raw” party, with a brief clown stage show around midnight.  Not sure that I got the context;  maybe it’s a preview of the Joker from the upcoming “The Dark Night Rises”. The mist on the dance floor tends to reflect light from cheaper digital cameras and blur the images. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

CA state pension system must allow same-sex partners to buy long-term care insurance

A story by Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee reports that a federal judge in Oakland, CA ruled that California must allow same-sex partners to purchase long-term care insurance through the CalPERS state pension fund. The link for the story (May 25) is here.  

The judge struck down a portion of DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act.  But the outcome of Proposition 8 would not necessarily affect this case. 

The state had ruled that allowing gay couples to purchase LTC insurance for partners could jeopardize its tax-free status.

The ruling came at a time when long term care insurance has suddenly received increased attention with respect to filial responsibility laws, particularly a recent judgment against an adult child in Pennsylvania forcing him to pay his mother’s nursing home bills.  But the greatest danger from these laws for LGBT and often childless people could be liability for their parents, not spouses.  Adult children, especially the childless, should be encouraging parents to get LTC insurance. 

Also, HRC's Backstory Blog has a petition and embedded video from North Carolina Pastor Charles Worely. It's pretty  graphic -- he does play the "don't reproduce" card, and that's all that seems to matter to him.  The video has gone viral, yet might violate YouTube TOS; but HRC's link is here. No, I'll decline to embed this one. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

West Hollywood benefits from being its own city (a "gay metropolis"?)

I wanted to note that my own experience in “The Abbey Food and Bar” in West Hollywood is certainly one of the most “overwhelming” – that is, last Saturday night-Sunday around 1 AM.  (The website is here ).

The place was so packed I couldn’t even determine the layout.  I crept through the crowd, negotiating past the “mountain pass” through the dancers (one of whom was doing amazing acrobatics with the upper body strength of one arm) toward the back.   Dancers could lose their tattoos as far as I'm concerned. Things happen (generally "safer").  And there was no cover.

There is a restaurant, in a separate fireplace room, which wasn’t open when I was there.  I didn’t have time to get back for a return midweek visit to see how the food part works.

I did get into the Rage, earlier, and found the entire dance floor elevated as a stage, creating an effect similar to that of the Saloon in Minneapolis (where there are a number of stages around the floor).

Parking in the Library Garage in West Hollywood was no problem, around 10 PM PDT Saturday.  There was plenty of space. You just have to pay (reasonable).  If you park on the street at night in West Hollywood, you get towed. It’s that simple.

West Hollywood, having its own incorporated city, can run a more wide-open environment, and can fine tune the relationship between the businesses (bars and restaurants) and homeowners and renters.  (You do see LA County Sheriff vehicles driving around.)  A bureaucratic city government overseen by Congress in Washington DC doesn’t have quite the same “libertarian” opportunity.
Did I see familiar faces (from the “media”)?  Yes, I did.  As well as at LAX.  No names here.  Gay men play straight characters, and vice versa.

 Earlier, Saturday afternoon, I had made a return visit to Palm Springs, having lunch in what seemed like a gay-owned eatery, and then seeing the video bars down the end of the street.  The one name I remember from a 2002 visit was something like “Hunter”.  Again, it appears that business owners in Palm Springs have a much greater “political” say in how to run things than in larger bureaucratic cities around the country.

By the way, if Ashton Kutcher invites all of his Twitter followers (over a million) to his home for a party when I’m in LA again, I might take him up on it.   My hotel was near his pad.  I remember he had a Twitter mishap like this earlier this year.  He punked himself. 

As a post-trip bonus, Nate Berkus gave us (TV viewers) a tour of a Korean family's eco-friendly "Platinum House" in Santa Monica.  It was like being there.  When I'm in LA, it always seems like spring.  But not so in the desert. 

Video: ON Santa Monica Blvd, a spoof on the movie "Skyline":

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Filial responsibility laws: could develop as a big issue for many LGBT people

The recent media story about a Pennsylvania nursing home's "successful" lawsuit against a son (before even completing the process of trying to collect Medicaid), as discussed today on my retirement blog, calls attention to a generally obscure financial threat to the lives of many childless people, including gays and lesbians.

It may become much more common soon.  Just check Google on "Pennsylvania filial responsibility laws" and one finds a number of law firms suddenly weighing in on the topic  "Poor laws", making children and sometimes siblings responsible for parents debts are on the books in 30 states, which may get more aggressive with them given longevity and economic pressures, and even some nursing homes may go after family members directly, without waiting for Medicaid.

This is not about just emotions.  Filial responsibility can come about regardless of a person's "choices".  It could turn around our concept of personal responsibility.

With parents having longer lifespans and possibly longer periods of disability because of medical advances (which can have two faces), previously childless adults are sometimes forced to deal with becoming "parents in reverse".  There can be legal implications.  Responsibility for an incapacitated parents can be enforced by Adult Protective Services in many states and has legal (sometimes criminal) implication sometimes similar to those for minor children.

As for "LGBT people", it does seem that the age off "separation", and living our own lives as if we were on another planet (a mentality common in the 70s when I came of age) is long over.  It makes the capability to get and stay married (in an emotionally permanent relationship) and participate in raising another generation and caring for a previous one (and having some command over a family structure) a likely prerequisite for "equality".  And the moral arguments about "commitment" make us run in circles.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Rutgers webcam "spy" gets light sentence; apparently this is not typical anti-gay bullying

Dharun Ravi was sentenced to 30 days in jail for bias intimidation after a webcam videotaping incident that ended in the suicide of gay Rutgers student Tyler Clementi.  Given the minimal sentence and the apparent belief by the judge that there are unusual circumstances, Ravi probably will not face deportation. He was also sentenced to fines and community service.

Jonathan Capehart commented on MSNBC, that Ravi was held accountable for his actions, but that Tyler’s tragedy was unusual in that he was one of the oldest kids in a wave of bullying cases.

The judge may have believed that Tyler had other issues, and that Ravi actually though that web monitoring of their premises is just something people do.  There may have been questions as to whether the expectations of privacy in a dorm are the same as would be in an apartment.  The judge reportedly said that he did not believe Ravi had experienced real hatred.

The case really is not typical of other bullying cases in middle and high schools. But as noted often, administrators in many school systems seem to have double standards,  having zero tolerance policies for violence and weapons but turning aside on bullying, as if the victims had some unspecified moral responsibility to meet the social “standards” of their group.  The double standard has always been very disturbing to me.

Update: June 19

Emily Bazelon has an article in Slate discussing whether Ravi should have testified, and mentions three computer Word document files and a written note from Clementi that were not introduced into the trial or made public, because Ravi was not charged in the death.  Ravi was released today from jail after 20 days, for work and good behavior.

The private files could shed light on Clementi's mindset, and might suggest that he had issues even before the spying incident.  The Slate story is here.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

MN the next focus in gay marriage battle; LA clubs are very festive

CNN on Saturday morning has a detailed report on the schizophrenic aspect of gay rights battles in Minnesota, a “blue state” but home to Michele Bachmann.  It does house one of the largest pride festivals, in Loring Park in Minneapolis, in the nation the last weekend of June (when one year I was 102F with lots of people passing out).

CNN has a perspective by Chris Welch here. CNN offer also an op-ed “The Christian Case for Gay Marriage”, by Mark Osler, in which the discussion surrounds apostle Peter, who said that no one has the authority to deny baptism for those who seek it.

It still strikes me that when you oppose gay marriage for a lifelong committed couple, you're admitting that you need the special recognition given to total physical intercourse possible in heterosexual marriage -- and a need for that social approbation (along with the procreative and lineage-forming meanings) to maintain interest for life in "your own" marriage. Everybody has to be bound by the same rules for it to mean anything, so the feeling goes. 

In the meantime, I continue to offer my gay geography lessons, not the sort that would win for a team on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice (even if you have Carson).

Los Angeles – West Hollywood has its festival June 8-9 – same time as Washington DC.

The West Hollywood area (actually a separate incorporated city) is notable is banning all street parking at night for those without permits – and towing.  Fortunately, the nearby public library offers garage parking for barhoppers for reasonable rates.  But night life, even in gay-friendly neightborboods, is always at odds with neighbors who want quiet and security.  We know that well from zoning battles in DC.

The behavior of people  along the Santa Monica strip (not far from Beverly Hills) is festive but not effete– in the clubs, the dancers are more prominent than in the East Coast.  The Rage has long lines to get in. The Trunk has an odd d├ęcor on a tree outside simulating the destruction of LA in the movie “Skyline” with the drooping UFO-lights.  Eveyln’s “Bad Boys” is small but lively with two stories.  And (as is the case in Dallas) there are a couple of hamburger eateries nearby so people don’t drink on empty stomachs.

 In San Diego, along University Ave. in a neighborhood called Hillcrest, things seem low-key (Flicks).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lambda Legal will host "event" at Studio Theater in Washington May 21,

Lambda Legal will hold a fund raiser and social gathering at the Studio Theater in Washington DC on Monday May 21, with details of "The Event" (no pun with NBC) here.

The Studio Theater has hosted LGBT events before, such as a performance of the play "Another American: Asking and Telling" by Marc Wolf (now a film), in 2000, the year of the most recent "March on Washington".  HRC had an "event" at RFK Stadium that year, where I ran into Keith Meinhold.  These are very long memories.

Lambda's appearance seems timely given President Obama's recent statement on gay marriage and the flap over the Virginia legislature's treatment of Tracy Thorne.

I didn't learn of this happening until I saw the Washington Blade Saturday at Landmark's E Street Theater. Moral: Keep up with the Blade.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Colorado forces playing the "civil union" card

A debate rages on in Colorado over a bill to allow civil unions, inasmuch as the state constitution prohibits same-sex marriage. There would be a constitutional fight over whether it's wrong to "simulate" marriage under another name.  Familiar territory.

Gay activists can be put on both sides of the fence, wanting what can be "gotten" in some states, and insisting on full marriage in others.

Alan Duke has a full story today on CNN summing up the situation in many states, link here.  Does this issue need to be pursued "symptomatically", state by state?

Tim Hoover and John Ingold report that the civil unions bill in Colorado was just killed before reaching the house floor, link here.

Also:  Las Vegas ("Cibola") has it's images of straight marriage:

Look at this couple, too:
Nevada has always been the easiest place for heterosexuals to get married, and to get divorced.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

VA House of delegates turns down former gay Naval aviator for judgeship

The Virginia House of Delegates turned down a possible state judgeship to Tracy Thorne-Begland today.  He got 33 votes for, 31 against, and needed 51 in the General Assembly. Thorne is a prosecutor in Richmond.

Tracy Thorne made a name for himself in 1993 as a Naval Aviator appearing on Nightline early during the debate on gays in the military early in President Clinton’s first term.  He also testified in Norfolk in a notorious session in front of Senator Strom Thurmond (“it isn’t natural…”). Thorne was one of the most compelling young military officers fighting the ban.

The Richmond paper link is here

Social conservatives claimed his sexual orientation could influence his decision.

Delegate Mark D. Sickles, D-Fairfax, said “sexual orientation discrimination is alive and well in Virginia”.

Thorne would be about 45 years old now.  

Also, today CNN offered an op-ed on "What the Bible really says about homosexuality", "My Take", by Daniel A. Helminiak,  link .

Update: May 16:

The Washington Post has an editorial "Bigotry blocks a gay Virginian from bench", link here. The editorial mentions that Thorne and his partner are raising twin sons.  The news story in the Post refers to a GOP member of the legislature (Marshall, of the 2006 Marshall-Newman amendment) who compared Thorne's lifestyle to "polygamy".  A few comments in the legislature were pretty shocking. 

It is true, however, that advocacy for any particular political cause sometimes is seen as a sign of lack of "objectivity" required on the bench.  That's the old "conflict of interest" problem so familiar to me. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Romney urged to play same-sex marriage card; CNN reports that California will vote on banning reparative therapy

CNN is now reporting that Santorum told Romney, “Use same-sex marriage as a weapon”.

Friday, Romney touched on same-sex marriage in a speech at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.  Even so, CNN reports that the LDS church is now at least saying that gays should not be discriminated against in employment and housing as a group.  Fox has a story on Romney’s speech here. The New York Times has a story here

CNN also reported on an upcoming vote Tuesday in the California legislature on whether to ban reparative therapy, advocated by the so-called “ex-gay” movement.  Saturday, CNN presented to story of Ryan Kendall, who was forced by his parents to undergo reparative therapy given by NARTH.  CNN presented Joseph Nicolosi  (book review here on Jan. 21, 2009 in books blog) and Reekers.

All of this sharpens some pencils for me.  I don’t personally have a problem with maintaining the traditional meaning of the word “marriage” as a dictionary matter.  But I do care about the effect of “family values” on those who live outside the world of conventional marriage, and the attitude that some families believe they are entitled to the tribal or biological loyalty of “everyone”, and that the marriages of parents need this loyalty.

A lot of my own experience revolves around the idea of “upward affiliation”, and accomplishing something by supporting “virtue”.  I can imagine that had I grown up with the value of personal lineage imprinted on my motives, I still could have experienced “upward affiliation” in a heterosexual context, and demand that a female partner be “perfect” so that I would have “perfect” children (not medically sound).   It sounds as though the “family values” crowd is concerned about the idea that every person adopt the purposes of the family as his own, which is a concept that digs deeper than just sexual orientation.  But it does address the question of the need of others for someone like me to find passion in previously uninvited situations.

Friday night, at Cobalt 30 Degrees in Washington, was packed as before, and pretty wild by about 1 AM or so.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

President Obama now openly supports same-sex marriage

President Obama today said, “It is important to me to affirm that same-sex couples should be able to get married,” Yahoo! video link.  His position has evolved to a logical conclusion. 

The President mentioned the issue of equality for soldiers “now that don’t ask don’t tell is gone”.

The Chicago Tribune has a detailed story by Michael A. Memoli and Kathleen Hennessey, link here

Last night, Piers Morgan was interviewing another Baptist preacher from the FRC (not the same one who stirred up a furor on AC360), who claimed “it was a policy issue, not about how individual people turn out.”  He claimed that if marriage is “diluted”, fewer people will be interested in marriage and raising children. It seems like it’s about getting privileges, rewards, and social support.  Sometimes those privileges do get subsidized by sacrifices from others. 

I can tell you that the issue didn’t really affect me until I was in an eldercare situation and working as a substitute teacher.  When people expect you to “take care of them”, you have to be seen as an equal, or the whole scene can become humiliating very quickly.  It’s not just about couples.  It’s also about singles who find themselves challenged as “members of a community”.

ABC’s main video link is here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

NC approves referendum (in its primary) banning civil unions as well as gay marriage

North Carolina voters have passed a state constitutional amendment (in a primary election, showing how aggressive the referendum was pursued) limiting marriage to one man and one woman and banning any legal recognition of rights for partners in civil unions (even heterosexuals).  In some ways, it resembles Marhsall-Newman in Virginia, passed in 2006.

A Raleigh newspaper was the first to carry the story.  The Charlotte Observer still carried a chat on the matter a few minutes ago. The Raleigh link is here. Around 9:10 PM, CNN and MSNBC flashed an AP headline that the measure had passed, without links to stories.  (By the way, the AP's own site no longer carries stories, only member papers do.)

Polls show that many North Carolina voters didn't understand the "civil union" part. The text of the measure is on Ballotpedia here.
Anderson Cooper, on CNN AC360, reported on a pastor in North Carolina who preached that parents should "punch" boys who seem to be gay, here.  The pastor tried to half-recant the sermon on the show tonight. 

Monday, May 07, 2012

Indiana school expels bullied boy who "protects self"; Biden, Duncan support gay marriage

The Indianapolis Star reports that a gay student (at Indianapolis Tech High School) was suspended and may be expelled for bringing and fake-firing a taser at school, after his mother gave him the taser, because he didn’t feel safe from the bullies. 
Yet, the principal, in remarks to the press, stressed the behavior of “dressing like a girl” as bringing on the taunts.

The mother stood behind her son, African American. The story is (wesbite url) here

Dr. Phil appeared on Monday on the “The View” and was critical of the behavior of many parents, including bullies’ parents, for leaving kids the impression that life is about social combat in a pecking order.

I was teased from about third to ninth grades (1950s). Once or twice I "fought with my fingernails" and could have inflicted real injury, in seventh grade.  But teachers were indifferent. But I got in trouble in ninth grade for verbal abuse in a time when disability was not looked at the way it is today.

In another development Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden told Meet the Press that he is comfortable with gay marriage, with story by Carrie Dann here.   The president's position is still "evolving". 

It’s a matter of equality and “who you love”.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told NBC’s “Morning Joe” that he agrees with Biden’s position.

See Saturday, April 28 for extra note about referendum Tuesday in North Carolina.  MSNBC says it pits Bill Clinton against Billy Graham.  I'll stay tuned on this. 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Baltimore clubs are very near the Maryland film festival

Last night, a few blocks from the Maryland Film Festival in Baltimore, I checked out the “scene” at Grand Central and then the Hippo. 

At Grand Central, the disco was already open at 9:30 PM and it appeared to be a women’s party.  Customers often wore black jerseys with various markings, such as “Caustic”.  (I actually misread it as “Gnostic”).  The third floor dance parlor now appears to be reserved for women.

Across the corner, the Hippo crowd, from 11 PM-12 midnight, seemed smaller than usual, but the karaoke was vigorous.  One gal sang “For Your Eyes Only” (from the James Bond film) -- very well, on pitch, and with operatic professionalism -- and, curiously, Karaoke software advertised the fact that the song was in F# Major, a curious key for a popular Hollywood tune.

There are at least two gay films at the Maryland festival.  I skipped on Gayby because I saw the short was not so impressed.  The movies blog will cover the story of Bishop Gene Robinson soon.  

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Obama administration remains ambivalent on DP rights for federal workers, and transgendered employees in law enforcement: say one thing, do something else

The Obama administration has remained Janus-faced on same-sex marriage and DOMA.  In “The Federal Worker”, by Joe Davidson, on p B4 of the Saturday Washington Post, the paper reports that the administration said that the case of Karen Golinski, a federal courts employee in California, must not be used as a precedent for other federal employees, who are still technically precluded from d.p. benefits by DOMA.  The link to the column, “Cases address lesbian, transgender worker rights”, is here

Obama has said he supports repeal of DOMA and the Department of Justice is no longer defending the law in court.

The column also covers Mia Macy, a former male police officer in Phoenix, who transitioned to female and was not hired by ATF in California, with evasive reasons given. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

GOP senate candidate (VA) backtracks from "libertarian" identity over gay marriage: bigoted "Amendment One" in NC

Richard Sincere, from Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty, has an article in Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about a debate grilling done of GOP US senate candidate E. W. Jackson (to replace Jim Webb from Virginia) on his inconsistency.  He had apparently been regarded as libertarian under asked to defend his opposition to gay marriage (that is, in relation to litigation against DOMA), when he backtracked and claimed that others don’t consider him libertarian. (Remember, how Charles Murray reminded everyone that he is a libertarian despite his “moral lectures” in his book “Coming Apart”.)  

DOMA, signed by President Clinton in 1996, would not have prevented states from experimenting with marriage on their own, but would have precluded federal recognition of gay marriage.  

The Examiner link is here, and leads to a podcast. Sincere’s own blog has a discussion of the Roanoke (VA) debate (and video) here

The Examiner linked to a recent story in “Pink Paper” where Pope Benedict XVI “urges US bishops to defend marriage from gay people”, (wesbite url) here. He called the traditional family a “fundamental cell of every society”.

The New York Times, on April 30, carried an editorial, “Bigotry on the Ballot” (link) blasting the referendum in North Carolina to reinforce the law banning gay marriage with a constitutional amendment (called “Amendment One”) banning recognition of any kind of gay civil unions.  The Times writes “Opponents of marriage equality have never been able to show that any harm is caused to heterosexual marriage by granting all American adults the right to marry as they choose – because there is no such evidence.”  But defeating the amendment will be an uphill struggle.