Monday, October 29, 2012

Paid ad opposing gay marriage in MD goes for the LCD

A "conservative" paid broadcast as opposing gay marriage in Maryland claims that children will be taught in schools that boys can marry boys.  It then claims, "believe it or not, this issue affects you and your family."
Sure, it sounds like they're claiming that accepting gay marriage as legal will reduce a parent's chances for a biological lineage.

This one is pretty transparent.

For journalistic completeness, I'll link to Rick Santorum's op-ed in the Washington Times on the marriage issue in the election, here.  But the "logic" in his writing doesn't follow through.  The problems with children not having mothers and fathers comes from women becoming pregnant and men not marrying or staying married to them, not directly from gay marriage.  The "consequences" are more subtle: it's more about young adults deciding that it's not important to have families at all, and then you have a sustainability issue.  It's interesting because on the soap opera "Days of our Lives" were' about to see a situation where a gay man (Will) has impregnated a woman (Gaby) to prove his "masculinity" and may wind up raising a child with his male partner -- the partner (Sonny)  happens to be the most levelheaded character in the show. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

TownDC has huge Halloween party, pre-Sandy

TownDC was packed for its Halloween-Hurricane-Sandy party.  There was a costume contest upstairs.

The timing is perhaps fortunate, as the storm isn't expected to move into the area until Sunday In the past, the disco has had to deal with a couple of blizzard and hurricane closures when storms moved in on Saturday night.

One of the most interesting costumes involved a man carrying a doll made to look like a real baby, homage to procreation.

Another costume played on Chick-fil-A's "Eat more ..." ad signs in malls around its stores, which could be interpreted by the public as conveying an inappropriate message.  Think about it.

I noticed the Howard Theater nearby as I drove up.
  This time, the parking lot was nearly full much earlier than usual for a Saturday night.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

AIDSWalk DC well attended in 2012

"AIDSWalkDC" for Washington DC started at 8 AM at Freedom Plaza this morning, with some yoga warmup.  The walkers stepped off about 8:30 and did 5 kilometers, down to the Capitol and back. It appeared to me that there might be 3000-5000 walkers.  It was a good turnout on a mild morning, as tropical clouds from Sandy started to appear in the Southeast and a breeze started. This was in contrast to 2011, when the Walk was held on the day of another noreaster, with unusual October snow flurries. Today there were plenty of shorts (but not for me).

Dogs were present, and some seemed to be interested in the sky.  Animals know when storms are coming,

After the March, there was a break-dancing show on stage with some hip-hop music. Some drag queens (from Town?) were present nearby. So was a motorcycle club, and some Nationals fans with Natitude T-shirts, despite the loss to St. Louis.
Here's another Teddy Roosevelt Bobbelhead from Postseason.
National Institutes of Health is still doing vaccine work, which I should cover again later.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Dance of the Angels" at a DC Disco -- a preview of my sci-fi movie?

I’ve often wondered how I would have lived had “gay life” been socially acceptable at the time I was growing up in the 1950s. 

Certainly, in college, I would have found someone (or more than one person) with mutual attractiveness, when I was young enough to be at my own “summer solstice” in appeal.  I would not have been at a “disadvantage” as I would be when I entered the world “officially” at age 29.

Could I have maintained a relationship with someone for life, “till death do us part”?  Could I have participated in adopting and raising children and acting as a father, if society had supported that for same sex couples then?  What if society had accepted the idea (as expressed today) of total equality, and with “occasional” diversity of family structure as an idea that could be taught to children as they were brought up?
Could I have “done my part”?  I would like to think so.

In 1978, when I was living in Greenwich Village, in  the Cast Iron Building at 11th and Broadway, I would experience a dating episode with someone with whom I had a certain attraction, perhaps infatuation.  One night, in May, he would tell me of a medical issue that I found could distract my ability to keep feelings for him long time.  I still remember the evening well: the wait for the intercom in the apartment, the play we attended (“The Fifth of July”), the dessert in a café on Seventh Avenue.   There is  a certain complexity to all of this, a certain mystery, and I suppose it could make good material for a short film. Eventually, I would connect what he told me with what would be a warning sign for the coming epidemic, and that would be eventful  -- although neither one of us directly developed HIV.   After certain confrontations happened later, I finally “reacted” by moving to a different part of the country, Dallas, at the beginning of 1979 (where I would be living when the AIDS crisis became public, and where the political threat to the gay community there from the right wing and “Moral Majority” would become dire during the mid 1980s.)

The 1978 episode perhaps casts doubt on whether I really could have used “marriage” had it been available.  But had it been available when I was of college age, I would have had the experience of “passion” for a while when I was young and “attractive” enough to experience it without a sense of disadvantage.  Maybe this would have made a difference. On the other hand, from the time of Stonewall until well into the 1990s, most of us were more concerned about living our own lives, somewhat separately, our own way, and didn't feel compelled to fit into social institutions making us responsible for other generations.  Demographics and the Internet have both changed that. 

Last night, at the Town DC, two of the party-goers were dressed as “angels”, seemingly as a preview of Halloween.  For a while, they danced on one of the stands upstairs.  I thought about my own screenplay, for “Do Ask Do Tell”, where a character based on me has been “abducted” and finds himself in a kind of mobile space-station, set up as a complete little world, ruled by “angels”.  As “I” navigate the geography of the space station and complete the training tasks required of me, I find that I can go back and forth in time as to my own age, by going to certain areas along the Mobius track that runs through the station. Toward the end, I learn that the angels’ own “immortality” is a bit relative, and that while I am there, I am to determine who among them is the closest to “immortal”.  (Yes, this all came to be in a dream one time.)  The angels are concerned that earlier in my life, in 1978, I had left the “scene” of a similar challenge, as to whether I could remain loyal to someone if my ability to feel attracted to him were to be tested.  So I have to perform certain tasks to have the right to sit in judgment.

After that, we return to Earth and find it is undergoing selective “purification”.  More people will be rescued and given the chance to move through these space stations to other solar systems, but they have to pass the “tests” first, given by the angels, who themselves are not perfect.

My novel  manuscript “Angels’ Brothers” carries a similar idea, with more detail.  Angel-hood can be transmitted by a virus.

Did the “angels’ dance” last night provide a preview of my movie? (Actually, in my script, the angels don't wear wings.  But in the 1999 fantasy "Dogma" (Lionsgate), Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, as angels living in Wisconsin, wore them in a climactic scene.) 

By the way, I have a bad hip, residual from a 1998 fracture, acting up. Nevertheless, two men danced with me last night, and in both cases, the motion, of being lifted up slightly off the floor, provided the therapy that the hip pain needed -- maybe not by any conscious intention.  

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Snoqualmie Pass on I-90, Washington State, where I had a major "epiphany" in May 1978, part of the "story". 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gallup poll (new) finds fewer people self-identify as "gay" than had been thought, but numbers are still open to interpretation

An AP story by Paul Stanley, reprinted widely today in conservative publications, reports a new Gallup poll of 120,000 interviewees, with a result that only 3.4% self-identified as homosexual  (bisexual) or transgender (or both). 

Surprisingly, more non-whites now classify themselves as LGBT than whites, and higher income people and people with advanced degrees are less likely to do so.  But young adults (especially young women) are more likely to so.  Among young adult women, the rate is over 8%. The poll reported about 4.6% for young adult men.  In major cities, I'm rather confident that among young "professional" adult men the number would be well over 10%.  Around Washington DC, in some suburbs where there are not many bars as such, it's very clear that there are a lot of gay and lesbian young adults living there (particularly  some upscale "gentrified" areas in Arlington, Falls Church, and closer in areas of Fairfax county).  
It’s not clear how the sampling was done.  In urban areas, the numbers surely would be higher.  But many people have long accepted the 3-4% range, as that would lead to about 8-10 million openly gay American adults.  In major cities, on Saturday nights, gay discos can pack hundreds of people, but then there are only so many such big discos (maybe 50-75 or so in the nation).  Pride parades in major cities can attract in the hundreds of thousands – at least to observe. 

Politicians might take the "lower" Gallup numbers as reason to take gay equality issues less seriously, but candidates could be mistaken in the way they interpret the polls. On the other hand, if gay numbers are relatively low as part of the population, what explains the mass homophobia of the past? 
By my general observation over the past decade or so,  the percentage of people in discos who are not white males has increased slowly.  There are more non-white males, including Blacks and non-European Latinos than before (say than 15 years ago), and a lot more women.  There has been a general belief that non-white cultures are less accepting of homosexuality, but in the past five years or so, among young adults in the US, that seems to be changing rapidly (again, according to what people say to me directly).  As an older white male (who can look a bit younger with a fake Argo Navy cap, and still a slender build), I find a lot of people who are not white males approach me (maybe 70% of those who approach are other than white male), and leave the impression that it would be politically incorrect (to say the least) for me to ignore or turn them down, while I am watching activity more “interesting” to me.  One could take this and try to spin moral arguments out of it.

A typical link for the AP Gallup story is in the “Christian Post”, here

A version in the Washington Times today seems a bit more complete, here

Gallup's page on gay issues is here

Another story today, on the issues blog, is very distantly related: it concerns the idea that parents should be able to vote for their children as well as themselves.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Second Circuit: DOMA is unconstitutional

A federal appeals court in New York (Second Circuit) has become the second appeals court to rule that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed by President Clinton in 1996, is unconstitutional.

David Aristo has a detailed story on CNN here

The case concerned Edith Windsor, 83, who had sued when the IRS tried to charge her over $360,000 in estate taxes from inheritance and had disallowed spousal deductions.

The other appeals court to have so ruled is in Boston.

“Homosexuals are not in a position to protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of a majoritarian public” the court wrote.  My own father used to rant, "The majority has rights, too!" 

Here is a PDF of the opinion, link

Thom Hartmann debates Maggie Gallagher on DOMA on the YouTube link above (6 months ago). 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Straight man who pretended to be gay for empathy appears on "The View" ("The Cross and the Closet")

On Tuesday Oct. 16, ABC’s “The View” interviewed Timothy Kurek, a heterosexual man who pretended to be homosexual in order to learn what it was like and develop empathy, and wrote the book “The Cross in the Closet” (which I have just ordered but may not receive until Nov. 7).  He decided to do this after meeting a lesbian who had been disowned by her family.

Kurek said that most heterosexuals have no concept of the obstacles homosexuals have typically faced in living the romantic aspects of their own lives, obstacles created by others.  

He spoke of the idea that some people are brought up to see homosexuals as "enemies" because they are "apparently" not interested in providing more babies or continuing a family lineage.  This idea is particularly evident in Africa today (as in Uganda). People who don't have economic opportunities to shine on their own terms may be more likely to believe such ideas.  

The book seems to have been written in the spirit of “Black Like Me”, by John Howard Griffin, in 1961. 

 Former midshipman Joseph Steffan mentioned Griffin’s book in his own 1992 book “Honor Bound” (books blog, Oct. 10, 2007). 

Second picture: MOVA lounge, 14th St, Washington (club owned by a Miami FL company).  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Maryland voters now more inclined to support gay marriage than casinos

A few weeks ago, it was feared that the casino referendum (Question 7) would hurt the chances of gay marriage surviving its own referendum (Question 6) this November 6, because a casino referendum could draw socially conservative voters to the polls.

It may instead draw some libertarian voters who would favor casino expansion and who, while they may oppose measures that focus so much on government “benefits” or institutionalism, would still favor civil equality.

In fact, a WTOP poll found that 60% of Maryland voters surveyed would vote for recognizing same sex marriage (that is, would not overturn the law signed March 1), and 34% would vote to disallow gay marriage. But 48% would vote to allow big gaming expansion in Maryland (beyond Maryland Live) to allow a big operation at National Harbor, whereas 46% oppose.

The gaming question has been affected by media ads paid for by Hollywood casinos, operating a major facility in Charlestown W VA, 80 miles from DC, which would lose business.  One such ad hired a former Maryland teacher to say that casino revenues would not wind up in classrooms. 

The WTOP story is here

Monday, October 15, 2012

Nordstrom signs on to support of gay marriage (a change from 1993?)

Nordstrom, the upscale retail chain, has announced its support for same-sex marriage in a memo to employees, as outlined in this Chicago Tribune story, link

The memo was issued by company president Blake Nordstrom
The company joins Starbucks and Amazon in supporting gay marriage, in contrast to Chick-fil-A.

But back during the time of the enormous 1993 March on Washington (at the end of April), a few employees were reported as having been fired after showing up the following Monday with heavy sunburns. 

Another minor story Monday concerned some violence when the Westboro Baptist Church tried to disrupt a military funeral because the veteran being honored was said to be gay. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Michele Bachmann reminds us of Anita Bryant

Frank Bruni has a column on p. 3 of the New York Times Sunday Review, “Bachmann Family Values”, about the perspective of Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann held by her lesbian sister, who was shocked when Michele tried to make political capital out of homophobia, even after years of knowing her sister’s personal life.
Tea Party "guru" Michele Bachmann, besides supporting the referendum against same-sex marriage in Minnesota, has called homosexuality “personal enslavement” and accused homosexuals of “recruiting” minors, a charge that Anita Bryant had made in the 1970s.

It’s always curious to see homophobia from female celebrities, who obviously have nothing to fear directly from male homosexuals, but who may resent the idea that because of homosexuals not as many women will get to become mothers.  This seems to be about procreation. Her husband reportedly has been involved in reparative therapy ("The Daily Beast", July 10, 2011, here . 

All of this is bizarre from my perspective.  I lived in Minneapolis from 1997-2003, still have ties to the area, and I also worked there on computer benchmarks for Univac back in the early 1970s.  It’s one of the most socially liberal states in the nation, at least the Midwest.

And her Tea Party was supposed to be about libertarianism, economic conservaitism (the Libertarian Party of Minnesota was quite active when I lived there.) ]

The link for the NYT story is here .

Second picture: karaoke: I made a visit to PW’s, in North Laurel MD (south of Baltimore, on Rt 1) last night.  Link is here

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lawsuits for assaults in military include a male-male case

The Daily Beast is reporting that at least nineteen former service members are suing the Secretary of Defense for failing to act after they were raped.  At least one of the plaintiffs is a male., Kole Welsh, who says he obtained HIV from the attack.

The incident appears to have occurred about two years ago, before the formal  repeal of DADT.

The news reports indicate that the use of the chain of command in the military means that many incidents don’t get reported.

The male-male incident sounds significant because generally the Pentagon has been reporting almost no incidents or problems at all with the repeal. 

However, success with the repeal would require that actual assaults (heterosexual or homosexual) be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, without exception or command discretion.

The Daily Beast story is here.

A similar story is on The Gloss.

The story has also been aired Saturday on CNN.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gallaudet University official placed on leave for signing Maryland gay marriage petition referendum

A Gallaudet University Official, Angela McCaskill, responsible for diversity as part of her official duties, has been placed on administrative leave for signing a petition which put Maryland’s same-sex marriage law (signed March 1) onto a ballot for referendum.  Gallaudet is a university that serves the deaf, in NE Washington DC.

This appears to have happened merely for signing a petition, not for speaking out.

Earlier, the Washington Blade had created controversy by providing an Internet  link to the names of signers of the petition.

This seems to be a “conflict of interest” story, as I have described it before.

But both sides of the marriage debate have said that she should not be disciplined for expressing her personal views in a petition.  She may just be saying people should be able to vote on the issue through the referendum process, by direct democracy. 
The link to the Baltimore Sun (by Annie Linskey) story is here.

Wikipedia attribution link for Gallaudet picture.

Update: Oct. 16

McCaskill says she's "not anti-gay" and feels that she is being bullied; WJLA news story here.

I would seem to me that she did not seek to draw attention to her own views by signing a petition, so there is no conflict of interest.  The University should definitely reinstate her now.

This video, in sign language, says "Signing a petition is a civil right."  It would seem to be guaranteed by the First Amendment, for a public employee (but this university is private, isn't it?)

Monday, October 08, 2012

Why the military gay ban (even as repealed) matters to me (even as a retired civilian)

With the possibility of the unraveling of the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” apparently on the horizon of the Republicans broom their way into office in November, I wanted to go back and review why this issue (gays in the military) was of such existential importance to me.

My own story starts with my expulsion from the College of William and Mary in November 1961 after confiding to the Den of Men that I was gay when prodded and called in over Thanksgiving weekend. At the time, the “privacy” and “well being” of other young men in the dorm was a “concern”. 

I would, given the values of the times, fight to regain my “reputation”, taking the draft physical three times, going from 4-F to 1-A and “volunteering” for the draft in early 1968, after graduate school.  I would be somewhat sheltered by my degree and specialized MOS (“01E20”) and avoid the sacrifice in Vietnam that others made.  But I would serve without incident (essentially).

I would spend three weeks of my Basic Training period at Fort Jackson, SC in “Special Training Company”, or “Tent City” in the early spring of 1968.  Young men who whose performance in PT was below substandard were considered moral pariahs and possible cowards or malingerers in those days. Yet, there was no focus on homosexuality.  Some of these men were “gay”, but by no means all or even most of them.
In the early years of my civilian work life, the ability to get a top secret security clearance would become an issue, given my “psychiatric” history.

I think the reader can tell where I am going with this.  I grew up in a world where young men were presumed to have a pre-existing obligation to protect women and children collectively, even before attempting to have families of their own.  In many parts of the world today, it’s still that way. (Look at radical Islam.)

Throughout most of the 70s and 80s, my main concern was the right to live my own “private” life, apart from work, apart from interference by others. That’s the way it was then.  In the 1980s, the biggest political (and practical) threat came from AIDS.  In the meantime, Nixon had ended the draft in 1973 (after the row over student deferments and then the lottery), shortly after “peace” in Vietnam. (Nixon got some things right and sometimes could sound like a “liberal”.)  The military did not seem as important as a part of American life.  But the draft might have come back after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and in 1981, just as Reagan took office, the Pentagon implemented a service-wide policy absolutely banning gays from the all-volunteer military (“with asking”).  This was the policy summarized in the notorious 123 words, beginning with “Homosexuality is incompatible with military service.”  It sounded like a litany, or homily.  In those days, getting the administration to at least grant civilian gays higher level security clearances was a big goal, because of the circular reasoning involved. In a few cases, though, gay officers resigned commissions and continued doing critical intelligence work not in uniform.

In May 1992, Petty Officer Keith Meinhold announced his homosexuality on national television, resulting in discharge, and then a legal fight that he personally eventually won, over the old policy. I heard abput the broadcast shortly thereafter. In September 1992, former midshipman Joseph Steffan’s book “Honor Bound” about his expulsion from the Naval Academy just before graduation (almost #1) in his class (and after a summer of “intimacy” on submarine, which he says was spent with playing a lot of chess) appeared, and I went to his book signing at the Lambda Rising in Washington and met him.  This was about the time of a vitriolic Anita-Bryant-style referendum in Oregon. At the same time, incumbent president George H. W. Bush, despite his victory in the Persian Gulf War (which had already exposed the problems with the military ban) was losing traction against upstart Bill Clinton, who was making “promises” to end the ban if elected.  I read Steffan’s book in one night (Books blog Oct. 10, 2007) and was quite moved by it. 

After Clinton was inaugurated, I followed the 1993 “debate” initiated by Sam Nunn and Charles Moskos in great detail.  I thought that there was a parallel between the arguments they made and the reasons for my WM expulsion in 1961 (and subsequent  inpatient “reparative” psychiatric treatment at NIH in the latter part of 1962, right during the Cuban Missile Crisis). Shortly after the overwhelming March in Washington in late April 1993,  I had some meetings with the rather progressive pastor at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC at 16th and O Sts NW, near the White House, which Bill Clinton sometimes attended.  We worked out a “white house letter” to propose a compromise on the ban, which he says was “delivered up” to the White House around June 20, 1993.  The one point that the letter stressed was that comments about male sexual attractiveness (well known in the male community) could not be tolerated well in a military environment.

When Bill Clinton announced his “honorable compromise” on July 19, 1993 at Fort McNair, a lot of “us” thought that it was the best deal possible (with a touch of “Argo” logic, perhaps).  Barney Frank had suggested something similar, proposing a policy distinguishing between off-base and on-base or during-deployment behavior.  However, for good legal and perhaps practical reasons, this is a difficult distinction to make, because of the very definition of military active duty status.  Even Bill Clinton said that the rules had to apply “at all times and all places”.   Some activists (including a friend who lead a lot of Adventuring hikes) said “Barney Frank stabbed us in the back.”  On the other hand, I got into a discussion with a military officer one time at Koons Ford when picking up a car, “Oh, I think we should ask. We can ‘t have a second rate military like the Europeans.” I don’t think he knew what Israel was doing.

The Pentagon, in fact, tried to draw this line with its administrative rules that it published in early 1994.  By the summer of 1994, it was apparent that many commands have violated them and sometimes were conducting more witch-hunts than they had during the pre-Clinton days when in many cases (like Keith Meinhold) some gays had been “semi-open” (to borrow a term from chess theory) in the military for years with brass looking the other way, because nothing had to be politicized.

It was in August of 1994, on vacation in Colorado, that I decided to “tell my story” and write my “Do Ask Do Tell” book.  I remember walking out of a family restaurant, having read an obscure story about another witch-hunt in a local paper, in Sterling, CO knowing that I had decided to write the book.  That changed my outlook for myself and my life.  I had been in some kind of obsessive funk for sometime (abut work) before the political and moral issues around the ban woke me up.

We’re in a different world now than then, with a younger generation that attaches much more importance to equality and to governments and public institutions “telling the truth” and shooting square with citizens.  Culture has changed. The double life that was possible in the 90s no longer works.  The Internet is one reason for that.  Indeed, Facebook requires everyone to use their true legal name and identity. 

In fact, the “double life” problem played out in another way in the 90s.  As I worked on my book, I was employed by a life insurance company that specialized in selling to military officers.  I felt that I could be in a conflict of interest, and, even though there was not direct reason for sexual orientation to come up where I worked, I was uncomfortable staying there indefinitely. One time, I was approached about a company blood drive.  That was embarrassing because of the ban on gay male donors, even though I am HIV-.  But the company got bought in a takeover, and this time the merger worked well for me, as I transferred to the acquiring company in Minneapolis at the time (1997) my book came out. The timing was perfect.

There would occur another wrinkle, as my mother need coronary bypass surgery in 1999, at age 85, which seemed unheard of at the time.  I was concerned for a time that she would not get the operation unless I transferred back, creating a moral dilemma requiring “sacrifice”.  That did not happen, fortunately, but it could have.

The military gay ban was important then because the military has a lot to do with defining common obligations, sometimes calling for “reciprocal” sacrifice, from all citizens.  If someone cannot serve in the military for “moral” reasons, he or she could be kept out of other opportunities, too.  So that was with security clearances, although President Clinton issued an executive order protecting gays in security clearance matters in 1995.  Another big issue that SLDN (Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network) often assisted discharged servicemembers with was Pentagon recoupments of ROTC scholarships or sometime service academy “tuition”.  Still another issue was the Solomon Amendment and denial of funds to universities which banned military recruiters because of discriminatory policies.

After the 9/11 attacks, there was sporadic talk of renewing the draft (probably to include women), and even Charles Moskos supported this, telling me in a personal email in late 2001 that the military ban would go away with a draft.  In fact, during the Iraq war, the Pentagon practiced a “stop-loss” policy, with repeated deployments of guardsmen and reservists, almost a “backdoor” draft, of some people.

Concerns about “privacy” in “barracks” environments had been expressed in comparable civilian situations for years.  In the 1970s, the New York City Firefighters union opposed anti-discrimination laws because gays would be sleeping in their firehouses (ironically, NYGAA met in a building on Wooster street called “The Firehouse”).  Reasoning that had justified the military ban could be used by police and fire departments, Boy Scouts (it still is, as of this writing), and possibly other overseas service programs, although the Peace Corps has been able to deal with this.  Yet, at the 2012 HRC National Dinner, a video of Maine Firefighters supporting gay marriage was shown.

I think the concern was not so much about privacy in the sense of physical modesty as it is in a broader sense, of having individuals in your midst who don’t share your deepest motives (like procreation) but who may seem to be setting themselves up in a position to “judge” your worthiness (based on attractiveness).  It’s comparable to allowing vocal kibitzers at a chess tournament.  The whole idea of “unit cohesion” in the military may revolve more around this observation, but it can spill over into other civilian areas, as shown in the 2011 HBO Documentary film, “The Strange History of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’”.

Today, SLDN is fighting mainly for the rights of gay military families, and there are many specific issues that conservatives still resist.  But we could easily backslide into the days of DADT or even “asking” if the GOP sweeps in November. 

The military ban (and the issues for military families today) affects a relatively small percentage of Americans directly. Likewise, denial of equal gay marriage rights probably affects relatively few people as a percentage of the electorate.  But the implications of these issues, indirectly, can affect all of us.  I can recall an attorney at Covington and Burling, which worked with SLDN on many cases, saying this one time.  Like it or not, we all have to deal with sharing risks with others and service to others.  Eldercare is the latest wrinkle that affects many LGBT people big time (as caregivers first).  So “unit cohesion” becomes “social cohesion” and takes on a whole bigger meaning.

Above: More of Corey Booker's speech from the HRC 2012 National Dinner. 

Sunday, October 07, 2012

HRC National Dinner for 2012: the speakers this year made many important points

The HRC National Dinner for 2012 (sometimes called "annual dinner"), at the Convention Center in Waashington DC, wasn’t quite as huge as that in 2011, but it featured addresses or speeches with real substance this year.

Chad Griffin (Human Rights Campaign president)  started out (when I hear the name “Chad” I keep thinking of the anger in the young male character in “Days of our Lives”), and soon introduced Newark NJ major Corey Booker.  I thought about the days in the fall of 1972 when I had worked in downtown Newark at Public Service for Univac.  And I thought about the meeting of the People’s Party of New Jersey in a drafty rowhouse in Newark that December.  Speakers can bring back memories, although I don’t know my New Jersey politics today.  I memorized the name (not a “Looker” or “Looper” but “Booker”).

Booker said that he had been taught by his parents not to take for granted the world that he had inherited from others but did not create. It was his responsibility to make it better.  It was also possibly his responsibility to be able to participate in defending it. He wound up with a reference to Thomas Jefferson.

Screenwriter Justin Lance Black (“Milk”) taught about his own upbringing in Texas and Virginia.  When he was of college age, he made a visit home in Virginia to family that had raised him as Mormon (like Bryce Harper, I thought).  His mother upset him with a comment that “don’t ask don’t tell” was objectionable not because of discrimination, but because it allowed gays to hide in the military and keep secrets, when they weren’t (I use the subjunctive mood in reporting by hearsay what she said) worthy of service or even citizenship.  That was a shocking comment.  But later his mother visited him where he lived in California and had a change of heart when she met his real friends.  His mother was left with wondering why the LDS church insisted on making such personal demands on people – but that sort of answers its own question.
Black also said that it was important to win the “gay marriage” referendums, differently posed, in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington State, and to raise money to place ads for these votes.  He said that the Supreme Court would eventually rule on the matter, and that the Supreme Court would notice the results of the elections. The Court, he said, likes to be two steps ahead of the public, not four steps, when decided how far to defer to  popular political judgments. .

Actress Sally Field accepted and HRC award from her 25-year-old youngest son Sam, and said that parents need to learn from the children that they bring into the world.  HRC showed a montage of her films, including “Forest Gump”.

Jessie Tyler Ferguson from “Modern Family” spoke.  I believe that a few cast members were present in the audience and in the clubs this weekend.

No one spoke in detail about the 2011 repeal of "don't ask don't tell", which could be jeopardized if the GOP sweeps into office in November.  

During dinner, “Cirque du Soleil” performed (see drama blog).

Most of the audience (about 2000 people, a sellout) was local.  But a man from Michigan took note of the progress of the Detroit Tigers baseball game on my cell phone (the Tigers won, and, yes, pitcher Justin Verlander is cute).  One person at my table was a student at William and Mary, and I mentioned GALA (see Oct. 23, 2011).

The dinner was interesting, as there was choice between chicken, vegetarian, or vegan.  Having heard Bill Clinton talk about diet, I tried vegan.  A Portebello mushroom made up the heart pf the meal.

The silent auction was conducted by a text messaging system.  The matched contribution session, following a short auction, was conducted by a similar system, with a running total and names of donors and table numbers posted on the screen. I think this session raised about $200000.  

There was an After Party, but it appeared this year you needed to purchase a specific ticket for it.

One of the prizes from the raffle was a Lexus.  

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Vote-registration site, in ABC ad, says that Romney would re-implement military ban, stop marriage rights

A site called “Go to Register” has been running and ad reiterating the idea that “my vote doesn’t count” and then saying “who is going to vote for ‘them’”? Or, “how you voted for them”. The link is here

One of my favorite sayings is “there is no They”.

In the ad, “they” are gays and lesbians who won’t be able to get married if Romney wins (according to the spot), and who won’t be able to serve in the military.  Yes, a regular commercial on ABC is saying that Romney would undo the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” and re-implement the total ban on gays in the military.

The spot also mentions the right of women to control their own bodies. 

Anderson Cooper quizzes Romney on the issue in 2007:

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

CA governor signs ban on reparative therapy for minors into law

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a state law banning reparative therapy on homosexuals under 18.  It is the first such law in the nation, and the governor referred to the practice as “quackery.”

A few groups plan to challenge the law under First Amendment grounds. These include the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, and the Pacific Justice Institute.  David Pickup, from this group, is interviewed here on CNN.

Spokespeople for one of the groups referred to the idea of “heterosexual potential.”  The motive for parents seeking such therapy for their kids could likely be related to wanting to "guarantee" themselves a lineage.

It strikes me that an underlying “argument” against accepting gay equality (or even permitting homosexual behavior at all a half century ago) would be a belief (in a society’s controlling “power structure”) that it can maximize the participation of any generation turning into adulthood in forming opposite-sex parents having children.  In other words, participation in providing the next generation in an “optimal manner” is seen as a moral requirement.  Of course, this argument sounds like a canard, but that is what many arguments against “gay equality” ultimately seem to imply.

Monday, October 01, 2012

"Number Nine" near Logan Circle seems to draw Nationals', Redskins' fans on Sunday afternoon

I visited “Number Nine” on P Street, near Logan Circle, in Washington Sunday evening, about the time the Redskins started blowing their 21-3 lead in Tampa Bay.  (The Skins came back to win on a “ground rule” field goal, but I had left by then.)

In front of the bar, the Washington Nationals’ bobbeheads (aka Teddy Roosevelt) put on a street show.  The bartenders said they had nothing to do with it, their appearance was coincidental.  The Nats had just lost and the Braves had just won, putting off the clincher at least one more day.  (I think that  Nats reserve pitcher John Lannan just might clinch it tonight.)

It is a modern (though retro), quiet bar, with more space upstairs for Wii games and extra space for “sports bar” atmosphere.  Like Nellie’s, the “gay sports bar” seems to be a coming thing.  It could make a good venue for an Academy Awards party in the early spring.

The website is here

Food was not served, but there was a small sports-bar café right next door to the West (forget the name).
Don’t mix the name of this place up with DC9, in the U-Street area (near Nellie’s), a straight bar involved in an unfortunate incident a couple years ago, with legal consequences. 

Another trivia: The “Number Nine” is more or less around a long corner from 14th Street, from the Crew Club.  I’ve been to Crew only once, in the 90s; it was slow then.  I remember a “barber chair” – would make an interesting prop for a gay short film.  I remember seeing an employment ad from the place (a few years ago) saying, “those who object to scrubbing toilets and floors on their hands and knees need not apply.”  The world still needs manual labor.  Really, how many of us could hold down jobs tending bar (and balancing the register every night) anyway. 

That brings up one more trivia:  I remember a wonderful quiet bar in Alexandria, in Old Town, in the 90s.  It was the French Quarter, with a restaurant downstairs.  It’s long gone now. But that area, I would think, would support a new bar.  So might Ballston in Arlington.  There are a lot of rowdy “straight bars” in nearby Clarendon, and when I drive home late at night through the area, people stumble around, almost getting hit by cars.  The cops stay busy.  

The last picture, below, a billboard on 14th St at P: a medical issue that has apparently gotten a lot better in the past few years as the anti-HIV protease inhibitors improve.  Yet, when I brought this up a number of years ago at a Pride Event, people accused me of "lookism".