Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pentagon hosts its first gay pride event today

Today, Tuesday June 27, DOD hosts its first “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month Event” at the Pentagon

Department of Defense Counsel Jeh Johnson will be the keynote speaker at an event which will include a panel discussion “The Value of Open Service and Diversity”.

The official DOD “press advirosy” announcement is here.

Leon E. Panetta, Secretary of Defense, personally thanked LGBT servicemembers and DOD civilian employees, and mentioned DADT repeal.

Elizabeth Flock has a story in US News, (“Washington Whispers”), here

USCG Lt Commander Zac Mathews spoke about the event on CNN Tuesday morning.
CBS News has a YouTube video of Panetta’s remarks.

The mention of civilian employees is important.  After my college expulsion in 1961, getting a top secret security clearance became a big deal.  I actually served in the Army as a draftee (sheltered by my education) 1968-1970 but was transferred to Fort Eustis out of the Pentagon under bizarre circumstances in September 1968.  As a civilian employee of NAVCOSSACT in the Washington Navy Yard (1971-1972), I was interrogated about any risk of “blackmail” and the end result of my top secret security clearance investigation was ambiguous.  I left and went to “private industry”.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Ugandan police raid gay workshops; IGLHRC reports

Previously, media have reported escalating the anti-gay climate in Uganda, with proposed draconian legislation.

Today the International Gay and Lesbian Rights Commission reports on a police raid, still illegal, of a gay and lesbian rights workshop near Kampala, in this press release, link.

Ugandan authorities claim that promoting gay rights is a violation of "domestic law". Previous media coverage has reported that Ugandan culture regards avoidance of procreation as "killing one's family".  It has also reported participation by some of the US religious right. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

MSN gives report on specific employers on equal treatment of LGBT associates

MSN published an article Friday on where companies stand on equal rights for LGBT employees. It discussed five “progressive” employers and five that were not.

There is a typo in the writeup on Google, which has always been very supportive, both on same-sex marriage and DADT repeal, as long as I recall.

An unpleasant result is the lack of progress, according to the article, at ExxonMobil after Mobil was merged into the company, which has major presence in both northern Virginia and Dallas.

When I transferred from USLICO to purchasing company ReliaStar in Minneapolis in 1997, I found a major emphasis on diversity at ReliaStar then, which continued after the purchase by Netherlands-based ING in 2000.  As I recall, same-sex partner benefit became available in 1998.

The MSN link is here

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Study reports rapid increase in Americans' approval of same-sex marriage

An article in Gay News Magazine summarizes the progress in gay rights in terms of changing of attitudes of some major Protestant denominations.

Paul Hartman, author of a novel named “The Kairos” (hypothesizing that Jesus was gay), notes that Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Presbyterian dominations have, after internal struggles, gradually accepted gay clergy. 

The article also coordinated the progress in accepting gays in the military (43 other countries besides the US in 2011) with gay marriage (six states as well as the District of Columbia).

A poll of 1000 adults by Langer Research found that 53% of adults support same-sex marriage (at least accepting legalization), up from 36% in 2006.

I remember overhearing a radio interview of George McGovern in 1972 saying that “pressuring for the legalization of marriage among homosexuals will drive the Democrats to defeat”.

The link to the story (and email advisory was sent to me yesterday) is (website url) here

Monday, June 18, 2012

Baltimore's picturesque Pride festival at Druid Hill

I visited Baltimore’s Pride Festival in Druid Hill Park yesterday.  It was very similar to the festival during my last visit in 2010.

In the 1990s, Baltimore held the small festival Sundays in a recessed level plain in the park, also near the old Memorial Stadium. 

You pay $5 to park, on a maze of unnamed streets that crisscross the park, leading to the Zoo.
Blue Angels flew overhead, sometimes drowning out the hip-hop and then Balinese concert on the stage. 

The Libertarian Party had a booth, and told me that the person at the DC booth had been Montgomery County congressional candidate (District 5 – that’s not “District 9”) Arvin Vohra  (Facebook site).  His page says bluntly, “if somebody else’s gay marriage threatens your heterosexual marriage, you are too weak and too stupid to live in a free society”.   He also says that government has no place in defining or licensing marriage (as with the famous GLIL Quill essay "Licensed Expired" by Gene Cisewski in 1996).  But that’s something I remember about my 1961 college expulsion from William and Mary.  My presence in the dorm was viewed as a “threat” to the “normal function” in the future of other guys. The military gay ban was at one time partly based on a somewhat similar belief.  Vohra apprears to be in the education business with a company that reminds me of the Khan Academy. The link for his company is here

The festival, while small, was heavily attended, maybe a few thousand people.  There were volleyball courts at the site (reminding one of DC’s old bar “Tracks” in the 1990s), and there were “hunger games” all the time. 

HRC had a small booth. There was a large presence of volunteers garnering support for a successful outcome from the marriage referendum in November. 

One of the cars, a pickup, had a banner that supported the recent repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and at the same time said that the owner had served in Iraq. 
I also noticed that some Maryland auto license plates have support for marriage equality written into the plate.  I don't know how much this endorsement costs.  

Druids were "priests" in prehistoric Britain, according to Wikipedia.  That's an interesting name for a venue. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Baltimore Pride block party seems to be largest ever

Baltimore Pride occurs on Father’s Day weekend, maybe not an irony any more. In fact, until the mid 1990s, it was held before DC’s Pride, which used to be held the weekend of Summer Solstice.

This year, the block party extended down Charles Street to the Baltimore Washington Monument park, with parking lots used for more vendors and concessions.  The Eager street area was packed, as usual. This year, there was no dance tent on the west side of Eager, but there was a kind of hip-hop dancing in the area.  The sight reminded me of the closing pages of Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End”, as a group mind forms – it’s never been made into a movie.

There were more Washington Nationals’ caps in the crowd than those of the Baltimore Orioles.  But, at the same time, the Nats were dropping their second straight to the Yankees. Saturday night, an Orioles' pitcher was tossing a one-hitter in Atlanta. 

It seems that the Orioles are usually on the road during Baltimore Pride; driving to the site and parking in the Penn Station garage (nothing was on the street) was a trial anyway.  There was a jet air show over the harbor area. This is the Blue Angels Air Show, commemorating the War of 1812.  A flotilla of jets flew very low over I-95 at about the 695 interchange, looking like UFO's.  

The Hippo opened its dance floor at 9 PM, and used the main entrance, rather than the Charles St entrance, as in past year. It was pretty lively by 10:30.  

A lot of people wore purple t-shirts supporting Maryland's "Civil Marriage Law" which will be challenged by referendum in November. 

More footage from Eager St:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Marriage Equality Project; pendant

I got a cell call today from a company offering a Marriage Equality Pendant.  It would seem to fit well with wide-open shirts, but then so do dog-tags.  Remember those in the Army?  (That's 1968-1970 for me.)

The website for the product is here. Zoom-enabled photographs are available there. 

The product is said to support Marriage Equality USA, site here

I don’t recall a booth last weekend at DC Pride – but there were so many I might well have overlooked it.  There seems to be a lot of overlap among different organizations. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tracy Thorne appointed judge in VA; Pentagon will honor LGBT servicemembers

NBC Washington is reporting that the Richmond Circuit Court has appointed Tracy Thorne-Begland to a judgeship to fill an open position. The General Assembly failed to ratify Thorne's appointment but no one else filled the position. The NBC4 story is here.  (See earlier story here May 15.)  Thorne's appointment holds only until the next legislative session starts in 2013.

NBC4 is also reporting that the Pentagon plans an event in the next few weeks to honor the accomplishments of LGBT servicemembers.  This should help solidify the "repeal", regardless of the outcome of the 2012 elections.

(Friday, according to WJLA, there was a reception at the White House for LGBT leaders. More details are forthcoming.)

SLDN on YouTube: 3 minute film, "Steve and Josh"

Picture: The Hotel Jefferson in Richmond (2004 personal photo): I spent my first night there in 1968 (before renovation) after being sworn in to the Army. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Studies challenge favorable positions on gay parents; LCR makes a pitch for ENDA

Monday, Cheryl Wetzstein reported on the front page of The Washington Times on two studies that question previously held positions that children raised by same-sex couples do as well as those raised by married (opposite sex) parents, link here

One study came University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus. The other study also came from “Social Science Research” and criticizes the parameters of an accept American Psychological Association report (I found an older link from 2004 here).

The studies maintain that the APA focused on higher income, usually female-couple families, which may be more stable for other demographic reasons (as in “The Kids Are All Right”).  How many same-sex couples with children have lower incomes?

A basic policy question remains.  In a society with many institutionalized and foster children, should adoption by same-sex couples be encouraged?  Otherwise, many children might go without families at all.  Another question: should birth surrogacy be encouraged from those who can afford it (Clay Aiken).

In another area, Log Cabin Republicans are reporting that “Americans are not “doing fine” without ENDA”, here

Monday, June 11, 2012

Part 2 of Pride DC 2012, the PA Ave. Festival

Back in the good old days of the 1990s (the era of the 1993 March on Washington), Pride Festival was usually held around the 20th of June, the Summer solstice, and the March occurred on Sunday, mid day, as the parade ended around the P-Street beach and the festival was held in a field above N Street.  With green grass around, it wasn’t as hot.  In fact, on a cloudy Pride Sunday in 1991, it was downright cool.

In those years, Baltimore’s Pride happened first, and Philadelphia’s was in May.  NYC’s is always the last Sunday in June, because that’s when the Stonewall Raid happened in 1969, on a Thursday night near the end of June.

Minneapolis always does the last weekend in June, with a two-day Loring Park fair that is one of the largest physically in the nation.  The March is always on Sunday.  The Festival follows up on a similar May Day festival in Bloomfield park.   In 2002, it was 102F on the Pride Fair grounds. 

Dallas always held its march in September, when I lived there in the 1980s.

Yesterday’s festival in Washington DC was very hot, because of the blacktop on Pennsylvania Ave. 
Many advocacy orgs had booths.   I wonder who the hunk was speaking for the Libertarian Party. (I have since been told it's Arvin Vohra, candidate for Congress in Maryland.  

There were several booths regarding military issues near the entrance, such as SLDN.

There mow are other organizations dealing with families of military members with same-sex partners.
There were some performances: the end stage, and arts stage, and a Joy of Motion dance,.

as with this segment.

Movie distributor TLA Releasing was present
as was the festival Reel Affirmations.
The issue of HIV Prevention is still around:
as is the idea of a vaccine some day.
Some people don't look quite as good in summer sunlight as in dark shadows.  Remember the conclusion of the "Gurrelieder". 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Part 1 of Pride DC 2012

The Pride Parade in Washington DC again started at 4:30 PM, an hour earlier than two years ago, and this year, I did get there on time, more or less.

As usual, it went north from Dupont Circle, made a loop and came back down 17th Street.

Some of the highlights: DC Front Runners wore long, almost gartered black socks, don't know why.

ACLU has one of the "loudest" floats.

Food and Friends came to bat early.

No, MLB does not have a float, but now people were actually following the Nationals beating the Red Sox, 4-2, at the same time on their cell phones.

Cobalt Level One started serving delicious burgers outside around 5 PM.  A dog kept begging for mine.

JR's "bullpen party" started early, and had a line before 8 PM.

Cobalt's Pride Dance upstairs didn't really get going until about 10:30 PM.  Higher cover than usual for Pride. The laser show (and some "M star Red Dwarf" lights) was impressive.

Don't forget The Washington Blade and its float.

Gay Mormons had a float.

There was also a band performance.

My first pride march was in NYC in June 1973, when I marched with the Ninth Street Center and wore a T-shirt with one of the letters.  

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Parents of victim of anti-gay bullying in Florida sue school district, say law was not followed

Saturday morning (June 9, 2012), Randi Kaye on CNN is reporting on a terrible case in Florida, which has a law requiring schools to report bullying to parents.  A boy, targeted by anti-gay bullying, attempted to hang himself. His parents found him and he wound up with severe brain damage. The parents are suing the school district for the son’s injuries, because they were never informed about the problem first.

Here’s the text of the Florida law.

The CNN story did not seem to have a link yet. 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Capital Pride holds "jello wrestling" contest

Wednesday night (June 6), DC Pride Week continued with the Capital Pride 2012 Jello Wrestling contest at the Phase 1 on 8th Street SE, near Eastern Market Metro.  A typical event announcement is here

I arrived about 10:10 PM and was surprised to find a slow line outside the premises on a weekday night. Metro stops at midnight, but the event was to go until 1 AM.  It took about 25 minutes to get in, and once inside, I found the place as packed as the Abbey in West Hollywood a couple weeks ago.

I wondered why the event wasn't held at Phase 1's larger space on 22nd St NW (the old Apex-DC).

Yes, there was an inflatable wading pool, filled with jello, and women really were wrestling, and there really was a referee.  They pretty much followed the rules.
The Nationals had just won as I got in line; the ballpark isn’t too far away.   

By the way, it seems that "Capital Pride" (link) is spelled with an "a", not an "o", to refer to the Capitol itself.