Friday, November 30, 2012

No word yet from Supreme Court on hearing DOMA, Prop 8; Nevada judge condones indirect prejudice in marriage law

First, let’s cover the obvious.  Friday afternoon, Nov. 30, a conference day at the Supreme Court, without indication as to whether the Court will take up any one of the ten cases involving same-sex marriage. The most likely to be taken are DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) and California Proposition 8.  But we could learn something Monday morning, December 3.

Lyle Denniston’s comments on the Supreme Court blog are here.

Pete Williams, of NBC, gives some analysis.

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Yesterday, a federal judge (a Bush appointee), Robert Jones, upheld Nevada’s law against recognizing same-sex marriage.  The Washington Blade story by Chris Johnson is here.  The story quotes the opinion, which has some interesting language.  The judge recognizes that same-sex families exist, and may be necessary when “traditional biological families fail”.  Question, is “failure” just part of natural diversity?  Moreover, when a same-sex partner is raising children (because, perhaps, of this “failure”) why not give it the same benefits for the sake of the kids.   In my own first “Do Ask Do Tell” book in 1997, I had even proposed recognizing marriage only when there are actual dependents in the family to raise or take care of.

The second quote gives a bald-faced statement that heterosexual couples may be less likely to get or stay married if the legal preference for maintaining the procreative model is removed.  It talks about out-of-wedlock children, but isn’t a child of a “common law” (not formally sealed) couple still effectively being raised in a conventional family?  (I know of  “libertarian” heterosexual couples with kids who do not want formal recognition for philosophical reasons.)   The judge seems to be suggesting that most men probably won’t make and keep the emotional commitment of heterosexual marriage unless some power and social perks come with it. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Middle school teacher in Michigan suspended for playing "gay song" in class, and someone is "offended"

A middle school drama teacher in Michigan, Susan Johnson of South Lyon,  was suspended after she played a supposed “gay song” in class and at least one student was “offended by it.”

The Huffington Post story is here.  The section of the site is called "Gay Voices". 

That reminds me of a major incident when I was subbing myself in 2005, and I told an interning teacher  privately about my website (because of a controversy that day in a local newspaper), and I got a call from an assistant principal when I got home that she had been “offended” by it.  

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

LGBT equality and sustainability: What did they want from me then? And now? Watch for those spin-down tornadoes!

Today, the buzzword for LGBT people is “equality” – in opportunity, benefits and responsibilities.  It wasn’t  always so. A few decades ago, during my own coming of age, it was about being left alone at all, about “private lives”.  There has indeed developed a progression that many younger LGBT adults probably don’t fully grasp. They didn’t experience the changes in focus; older men did.

A couple of geographical metaphors come to mind as a prelude.  One of these is to recall what you see when driving west from Kansas into Colorado.  For a while, you see only flat plains.  Then the mountains gradually grow on a distant horizon, and change your perception about what matters.

Or consider weather.  The recent superstorm Sandy had two components: a tropical “core” or eye, and a huge surrounding field more like a cold “Noreaster”.  The storm represented two interrelated meteorological issues, that overlapped but weren’t equivalent.  Or think about what happens along a cold front dragged by low pressure.  At some point, there is a sudden wind shift, a change in priorities, sometimes causing local spindowns like tornadoes.  Low pressure systems are like illustrations of self-serving, circular reasoning in social and political issues, spinning forever, going nowhere.

“Gay rights” (to use the term loosely) overlaps but does  not maintain congruence with the broader questions about hyper-individualism, and whether our western society can sustain itself forever without strong expectations of social capital and cohesion.  There’s your hybrid storm. And as social attitudes toward LGBT people (to use the term with laxity, again) develop, there are sudden changes (like microbursts in thunderstorms) about what should be expected of “us”.

When I wrote my first “Do Ask Do Tell” book in 1997, I presented what seemed like a pivot in understanding anti-gay attitude – playing up the metaphor of Ayn Rand’s character Wesley Mouch. On page 14 of the Introduction I wrote, “cultural conservatives see gays as freeloaders, who ‘cheat’ by leading adult lives that apparently allow them to spend all of their resources upon themselves without the adaptive psychological sacrifices (particularly from men) necessary to become providers of wives and children. They really don’t care what gay men ‘do’ …, as what they  ‘don’t do’ to validate the supposed male responsibilities , domain over, and protection of women and children.”  I played up the last scene of Titanic, released about the same time. There was indeed, in this formulation, a certain emphasis on economic mapping:  in the 1990s, as the debate on gay marriage (and civil unions) was just starting (lagging just beyond gays in the military), it seemed that gay people, who were still usually single, seemed to have a lot more disposable income than “families with children” – despite the supposed discriminatory treatment in taxes and benefits (offset by the “marriage penalty”).  What we knew intellectually but hadn’t personally yet experienced yet was the notion that the sharing and sacrifice expected in family life went way beyond economics (the emotional aspect became the distant mountain range in a Tolkien landscape).   I have covered (on a posting here Oct. 8, 2012) why in 1993 I perceived the issue of gays in the military (leading to “don’t ask don’t tell”) as a test of the way individuals in a democratic society share risks and common obligations – and the marriage and parenthood issues would quickly follow.

Of course, such a viewpoint assumes that people wouldn’t take the risk of having families if they could do well in expressive life without doing so.  I believe that cultural conservatives fear that this is so.  We see everything, from women who “want it all” to women who feel that motherhood has been undermined by individualism.  It’s easy to see how gay equality tracks closely to economic equality for women in general.  Looking ahead to modern concerns over sustainability, this anticipates the “demographic winter” beyond those mountainous, barely visible horizons.

Indeed, LGBT people – particularly the men – had developed a segregated (separate and not quite equal) existence since the time of Stonewall.  You lived your own life, usually in a large city, and it was your own circumstances (job, expression, and love life) that mattered, not the rest of the world.  You lived in an urban exile, in an enclave, which you hoped to maintain stability and an employment base.  And big cities in the 70s were starting to unravel.  The “real life world” of families was fleeing to more distant suburbs, borrowing too much money, spreading out, and employers followed.  The male community would be seriously challenged politically by AIDS (below) but the same pattern survived into the 90s, until about the time of Bill Clinton.
But some of the worst homophobia, that affected me, lived during earlier generations, before many of the challenges of the post-modern world were even known.  So, I ask the question, in the world as it was in 1961, why would the College of William and Mary chase me down , get me to admit being gay, and toss me out?  What did “they” really want?

 I could say that it’s procreation: it’s as simple and difficult as that. We all know those Vatican pronouncements to the effect that "reproduction rules." But it struck me as indeed a paradox (and a first “wind shift”) that it was a bigger problem, to hint that you would probably never father any children at all than to get a girl into trouble (the “opposite” sin  -- in the soap “Days of our Lives”, the kid Will Horton accomplishes both).   In my circumstances the idea was even more pressing – I am an only child.  That means that my parents’ marriage dead-ends with no lineage into the future.  In fact, it is indeed this belief system that is driving vicious anti-gay laws in Uganda now.  The outcome – my parents put me through college education at home (with work) under strict supervision – may have turned out well, and positioned me to lead “a  different life” when the world became tolerant enough (by about 1970) – but I lost my best chance to become socially competitive as a college-aged man.

The world in the 1950s  (maybe “According to Garp”) had evolved as a hierarchal society, built from old families and “tribes”, often abused by leadershi[p. In earlier times, a “tribe” or extended family indeed was very concerned about its collective future.  Any individual challenge to this future “human capital” (which used to have direct economic significance on the family farm) could not be tolerated.  It was not acceptable to pursue ends that implied that future children would not be born, or that the optimal familial environment for raising them (if somehow conceived anyway) could be compromised.  Of course, the understanding of the subtlety of nature and biological communities could eventually be shown to be incomplete.  What was previously thought as “illness” was later understood as a mere variation of nature;  “treating” if might serve tribal goals but not be right for the individual.  Not many people then understood “polarity” as a key concept that swallowed “gender”.

Part of the common good in those days was the capacity of men to collaborate to defend their women and children. On the surface, people thought that homosexuals would compromise the forced intimacy that becomes necessary in military life.  This all was found to be a most unreliable idea when there was a draft, and when the debate on the military ban broke open in 1993, the whole idea of "privacy" turned into a more subtle point about "unit cohesion" -- an idea that can become important again with regard to sustainability. 

When I was an inpatient at the National Institutes of Health in the latter half of 1962, I was confronted with my first couple of windshifts.  My “problem” was not homosexuality – but then it was.  Why were the therapists so concerned about what “part-objects”  excited me sexually?  It was all too passive a process. They quickly assessed me as a bookish, self-preoccupied boy (maybe the foreshadow of the modern nerd, but then very much the “sissy boy”) who hadn’t measured up when compared physically to other boys. But then why were they so surprised that I (having lived through physical body shame) wasn’t interested in girls, whom I saw just as “weak” and “dependent”, but instead affiliated upward, to more competitive male companionship?  Two micro tornadoes in my storm tracker count already. I had a feeling that they saw me as having access to secret reactive pleasure that could tempt anyone, since sexual drive tends to take on an existential importance within the "brain belief system".  

The NIH experience underscored another aspect of “individual rights” as we perceived them in the early 1960s, before the Civil Rights movement. You could summarize it with Judge Robert Bork’s phrase, “Freedom to do what?”  The therapists were concerned about what emotional benefit I gained from my fantasies.  If these fantasies could take on a sadistic (however defensively motivated) character, then others had a valid reason to be concerned about my future intentions and purposes. If this became an acceptable way for people to develop when unconventionally challenged, indifference could beget hostility, and social and political stability could be undermined, as it has before in history.  

But I can certainly read between the lines as to what "they" really "needed" or wanted from me.  I needed to belong to the group, to a family, to have its best interests at heart, become socialized.  My homosexuality was seen then as a failure to join in the daily life of family, to having the skills to step in and take care of other people when necessary.  In larger families, people were expected to learn to take care of younger siblings, or even (as adults) step in and raise their kids after family tragedies.  I had no sense of that.

The “wind shifts” in moral expectations do help explain why people look to religion to solve moral paradoxes that come up in contemplating human ends and behaviors.  What happens is that they look to religious establishment figures to interpret scripture to achieve some circular end.  (Pastor Rick Warren talked about this on Piers Morgan when he said that scripture has civil, ceremonial, and moral aspects, and only the last part matters now.) There is a new windshift in the “love the sinner but hate the sin” paradox.  If someone is a “sinner”, he must become unworthy of real affection from others.  This situation becomes so psychologically threatening that the person himself becomes the object of hate, and then bullying.  Pretty soon the next paradox occurs – people for get about the charity inherent in “natural family” life and turned to focus on social combat.  People simply need to find others to feel superior to (as a gay prosecutor in the Midwest explains it). 

I did escape all this, by focusing entirely on myself as a young adult, and placing myself in an urban situation where I could find what I “wanted”. The succor of my own castle, after I adapted to separate city life as a young adult (and worked in an area that required “only” technical performance, not salesmanship or social persuasion) would seem to migrate toward atomized individualism (of the beginnings of the Reagan era) , to be threatened by AIDS.  I would not become infected myself, but have to deal with friends who became ill, and with a dire threat to our rights in Dallas, where I was living then.  It wasn’t just about “quarantine”.  The far right tried to push through an almost Ugandan bill in the Texas legislature, banning gays from most occupations (and remember the Briggs Initiative in California in 1978, before HIV, which had tried to impose a military-style ban on gay teachers). The far right (like a group called the “Dallas Doctors Against AIDS”) had promoted a theory  that the “chain letter” behavior in the gay male population had “amplified” a bizarre virus in such a way that it could mutate and threaten the general population.  Charles Ortleb’s rag “The New York Native” fed gasoline to the fire by speculating that AIDS had been caused by an arbovirus like African swine fever.  These sci-fi scenarios did not come to pass; there are many good reasons that make them unlikely. But today, we find similar discussions of public health in other areas, like bird flu and the agricultural practices of poor countries, and more recently, West Nile.  It’s not so easy to dismiss such hostile speculation completely.

In the 1990s, the idea of living privately and separately would start to break down, as new political debates about “equality”, previously thought inconceivable, arose, and communications developed with the Internet.   Previously, gay men had often scoffed at the idea of family and children as straight institutions; they had wanted to be left alone to follow their own scents.  Getting married and having children had come to be seen as a "private choice" that one took responsibility for, with little public consequence, almost an afterthought to one's own professional or expressive (or public) life.  That would change first with AIDS, where monogamy was suddenly a desired thing, and then with the more open communications in the 1990s.  The economic differences between families and singles (including most gays then) was one thing, but so were the emotional gaps.  The world was becoming wired together, and lives (and fates) were becoming more interconnected. 
What would make this real for me was my own experience with eldercare, which took a big jump in 1999 when my mother needed coronary bypass surgery, and might demand real changes in my own life.  I explained some of the details in the Oct. 8 posting.  In time, I did come back “home” to look after her care.  I also substitute-taught.  I found myself confronted with interpersonal challenges that I had not expected.  I was supposed to take initiative and bond with people who would in very recent years have rejected connection with me.  I found this new “wind shift” really difficult.  I began to grasp that most people made emotional connections with much less critical attitudes toward others than I had.  I was perceived as aloof (which I had thought was a good thing, and which some gay therapists – especially a boy friend in Dallas -- had thought of as good), but suddenly this closure was seen as self-serving.  I was unable to appreciate emotional bonding with anyone who would actually need to “depend” on me for very basic things – an idea that had crawled out of the woodwork at NIH. I had never experienced the idea that I should “protect” anyone socially since I had been a boy. But that sort of local compassion is supposed to make up the essence of "family", even for the childless. 

There is a policy aspect of eldercare – filial responsibility is legally driven in most states, and it confounds the idea that family responsibility waits until you procreate.  That can indeed have an effect on the debate about marriage.  It also plays into a basic aspect of conservative “ideology”: if people take care of each other personally (and this goes way beyond just the children you sire), then they don’t have to let the government intrude to take care of them.
But ethically it’s even more.  There is more that can be done to extend lives than there was when I was growing up, and there is more that can be done for the disabled.  But that demands more for others in the “society environment”  (a term from my old manuscript “The Proles”)  – both family, and strangers.  It is again another windshift.  In earlier times, the concern was more about the core of the family; the more dependent people stayed home (and depended on “family slaves” – unmarried women – to look after them)  and probably didn’t live as long.  But in the new world of longevity, family cohesion seems more critical than ever.  The right wing is correct to point out that lower birth rates and longer life spans are creating an sustainability issue, and that sheds light on why some smaller religious cultures place so much emphasis on families having children.

As a “singleton”, I benefited from global infrastructure.  That’s obvious from the way I have leveraged the Internet, but that was true in the decades before, where personal  geographical mobility was such a critical individual issue for me given the energy crisis as it was seen then.   But the infrastructure was stable and efficient enough (despite all the threats of disruption) that I could be effective on my own, without needing others except on my own terms.  Future generations may not be able to count on this.

That brings me to a couple more big points.  Yes, my own “life expression” is very dependent on the stability of a global technological infrastructure which can be destroyed or seriously disrupted by nature (superstorms or even solar storms) or by enemies (terror threats, including nuclear and EMP).   I would amount to nothing in a  post-technological world (like in the show “Revolution”) and that observation and indeed invite attacks; social isolation (the prevalence of individuals who don't contribute to "social capital")  gradually becomes a national security problem.  Indeed, one of the relevant issues of my earlier young manhood was the idea that I could have to live with people whether I wanted to or not.  In the Army, ironically, I had managed to do that once.  Another issue is that personal mobility and expression are vital to me exactly because I resist being “coerced” (by circumstance) into closeness with someone I would not choose.

 This begs the next obvious question: how does climate change play out with personal lifestyles?  Indeed, the disproportionate use of energy and emission of carbon by individual people in the west becomes a flash point attracting enemies and becomes unsustainable.  This certainly gets into an area that affects everyone – not just LGBT people (and again, I go back to the “hybrid storm” analogy).

But it does bear on the question of procreation. The climate change issue shows that we can no longer afford a world in which people believe it doesn’t matter what happens after they pass away.  That’s already apparent with other issues (like the national debt).  The new moral concept is “generativity”  -- that everyone has his own personal skin in the future that follows him.  The unborn get extended to the unconceived.

Of course, this bears on the current debate on gay marriage and parenting.  As in the past, one argument against these developments is the notion that the optimal environment for raising children – effectively a responsibility of everyone now – is undermined.  But the notion of “optimal environment” may need extension.  Is it better that millions of children (as reported on NBC Washington’s “Wednesday’s Child”) remain orphans or in poverty if they could be adopted by singles or same-sex couples?  I suspect that delving into that question would change the perception of “optimum” – with a dose of reality.  Maybe there really is a moral question about deliberately conceiving a baby with a surrogate and then taking it from its mother.  But another practical cultural question becomes this: if other forms of families are viewed publicly as strong and even “optimal”, does the lifelong bond of man and wife start to mean less?  People seem to fear this. I’ve always sensed that sexual morality has an unwelcome collective component: I can thrive under the rules if I believe everyone else has to follow them, too.

I remained aloof and a singleton  (successfully and with a lot of stability) perhaps because no legitimate opportunity to connect was available.  Had gay relationships been acceptable when I was 18, would I have married and been able to adopt and raise children?  Maybe.  Would I have stayed with someone as he aged and no longer met my fantasies?  That sounds like a daunting question.  But a few ironic flash-back incidents in my life (some of them connected to the AIDS epidemic) do give me some confidence that I could have.  The irony in the story behind these sounds like a movie plot.

I haven’t said much about immutability, but depending on it as an “argument” has always sounded like a copout, evading any opportunity to get "the majority" to articulate what it wants and understand it.  Ultimately, people have to do “what they have to do” and have to be responsible for whether they “make it”.  It’s much more relevant to look at what people really expect of one another and sometimes people need to become coercive.  As for my part, I still wonder why I fell behind physically.  No clear medical explanation was available during the days of my coming of age, but it may be appropriate for me to find out now.

Ultimately, though, all these issues really do seem to have not so much to do with LGBT identity, but with personal freedom for everyone, and what people want to use it “for”.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ex-gay therapy group in New Jersey sued

JONAH (“Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuals”), a center in New Jersey that claims to be able to change homosexuals, is being sued for making false claims, as was reported on CNN tonight by Wolf Blitzer, subbing for Anderson Cooper. JTA has a story on the litigation here

The CNN report detailed humiliating therapy practices, similar to those reported before for other such centers.  The story by Alan Duke is here.

The CNN report reiterated the statements by the American Psychiatric Association and others which discredit the idea that homosexuality should be “treated” (to the obvious economic detriment of such “counseling services” or other practitioners like Joseph Nicolosi).  

Update: Nov. 29

Congresswoman Jackie Speier called for Congress to pass a non-binding resolution that states should ban reparative therapy for homosexuality. She did say that it is up to states to regulate "professional" services.  The link from her website is here

Sunday, November 25, 2012

For a disco in the country, try "The Lodge", in the Maryland Blue Ridge

It’s interesting to try something different.  How about a gay disco where, when you step out, you look into woods, and can look down a mountainside into a valley to a lighted town miles away. No, there’s no ski yurt for bunking overnight. But there were snow spits last nights as I drove up to “The Lodge” on US 40, way up the west slope of “South Mountain” (the Blue Ridge), probably at about a thousand feet elevation.

The venue is about two miles East of the intersection of US 40 with MD 66 (where there is a Sheetz), just off I-70; it is on the north side of US40 (and south of I70). The nearest small town is actually Boonsboro, and Myersville is off to the East, on the others side of the ridge crest. There is plenty of free parking on a gravel lot.

The disco used to be called “Deer Park Lodge” and an unlit sign of that name is still in a window.

The venue is spacious, and built like a log cabin (pun on the GOP) resort. The dance floor is modest.  There is a patio, and some separate spaces, including a small theater for the drag shows.

The theme last night was the not politically correct “cowboys and Indians”.  The dancers and drag queens were painted appropriately.

The crowd was pretty robust, for a holiday weekend.  I guess this is not the "Lodge" of "Twin Peaks"!

The website is this. The website has a page with some strict conduct rules, which may be explainable given the rural location.  The cover was $5 after 10 PM. 

Downtown Hagerstown, eight miles away, has some interesting spots.  One of these, according to a Google search, is Spin.  I poked my head in the door  (10 PM) and it was rather quiet, rather hard to assess, for me at least.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Uganda may vote on even more draconian anti-gay law, makes baldfaced statement about protecting collective cutlure (or "cult")

The White House and State Department have as yet made no comment on the even more draconian anti-gay bill in the parliament in Uganda, although it may make a statement next week.  Top Magazine has a story this morning here

The wording of the law is rather bald-faced in its purpose: protecting the “cherished culture of the people of Uganda” against “sexual rights activists”.  It minces no apologies about “group culture”, a notion that we find with the “natural family” movement on the right wing in the US.  Such writings become anti-individualist and express the importance of “shared goals”.  It isn’t too hard to see that such thinking, when carried to extremes leads to cults (like Waco, Jonestown or the FLDS in Colorado City), and when done by governments leads us toward states like Nazi Germany or North Korea.  It seems bizarre to brag about a culture that leads to such places.  It’s an easy play for power mongerers.  One aspect of Ugandan culture (note, how the word “cult” gets derived), however, is the belief that married parents have a “right” to lineage (and that unborn souls have a right to conception) and that homosexuals are “murdering” the lineage by refusing to procreate.  I experienced some of this a half century ago as an only child.

The CIA says that Uganda has a birthrate of about 6.14 children per female (4th in the world).  But it had 64000 deaths from HIV in 2009, 8th in the world (link). 

The law would sometimes impose the dearth penalty, make it illegal to rent to homosexuals, and even to fail to turn in homosexuals.  But even in the US, there used to be laws in some states making it illegal to serve alcohol to homosexuals (in Virginia) or even sometimes to rent to gays. 

The bill is reported to have passed a parliamentary committee and could come up for vote any time, as with this Towleroad report here.

CNN has a story and video about the upcoming vote here. CNN has been airing a report where reporters interview ordinary Ugandans on the streets of Kampala about the matter.  Many seem indifferent, but some say "gays have no place in our culture".  Very interesting.  Does that mean, "in our cult"? 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Four new LGBT members of Congress, one in Senate; did I spend my life on another planet except during holidays?

The Washington Blade has a detailed story on the plans for newly elected LGBT members of the House of Representatives.  These are Mark Takano (CA, who was a public school teacher for 23 years),  Kyrsten  Sinema (AZ), Sean Patrick Maloney (NY), and Mark Pocan (WI), who will take the seat left by Tammy Baldwin, who was elected to the Senate. The link for the story is here.  

The Blade also discusses the possibility of Obama's appointing John Berry as Interior secretary, and Fred Hochberg as Commerce secretary. 

And Ned Martel has an essay in the Washington Post Thanksgiving morning, “Thanksgiving is a good day to come out as gay or lesbian,” link here

I remember when I was “younger” and living in other cities (especially New York and Dallas), that the “Holidays” seemed like a time when I voyaged back to a “home planet”.  I was living in a parallel universe (for adults) most of the time.  

Update: Thanksgiving dinner at MCCDC in Washington:
Note the view from the sanctuary, which actually benefits from having leaves off the tree:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pro football ticket giveaway reinforces blood donation ban

On NBC Washington (Channel 4) Saturday morning, on the Washington Redskins preview, I saw a pitch for a Red Cross blood drive sponsored in part by the NFL professional football team.  One of the perks possible for blood donors was a ticket to a Redskins' game.  (The Skins won on Sunday, for a change.)

This reminded me of the ban on blood donations from MSM (one instance since 1977).  There is a recent detailed article on the issue in the Atlantic ("Tainted"), from October 2012, here. Why not use a one-year self-deferral policy instead now, given the advances in detection of all known STD's?

The ban does not affect lesbians.

I am 69, with persistent negative tests, and no "activity" since 1999.  Yet I am banned.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Supreme Court seems likely to take gay marriage cases after political success; DC club gets nice renovation; more on parking and Metro

The Supreme Court is supposed to announce Dec. 3 whether it will take up courses regarding bans on same-sex marriage or its federal recognition:  that is, the California Proposition 8, and four challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act.

The recent victories on election day in Maryland, Maine and Washington, and the indirect victory in Minnesota, are thought to make it more likely that the Supreme Court will take all this up.  Otherwise it could be left with a situation where DOMA is invalidated only in two circuits, complicated the Full Faith and Credit Clause.  Furthermore, the sudden success of gay marriage in popular votes  makes it appear that the political process will gradually overcome historical refusal to recognize same-sex relationships.

The Washington Blade on Nov. 16 has the story by Chris Johnson (website url) here

On another matter, the Cobalt-30 Degrees Club in Washington DC has renovated its dance floor, enlarging it, moving the bar to one side with a “California style” display, putting an extra step to the stage, and more decoration around the DJ area.  Friday night was packed and festive to say the least (perhaps wild).  In the middle of the floor, the music gets a bit shrill, but that effect dissipates toward the walls, particularly on the stage. 

I guess I was intercepted for these two shots.

One other note:  I am not aware of any 24-hour parking garage in the area.  I usually take the Metro to Farragut Square and it is about a 15-minute (almost one mile) walk.  (Dupont Circle  on the Red Line is closer but an extra train change for me, and Metro is getting increasingly slow and unreliable on weekends with so many track-work shutdowns.)  There is a Colonial Parking garage at 18th and M that used to be open until 3 AM weekends but now is open only until 1 AM.  Businesses in the 17th St area should arrange with a commercial garage to provide 24-hour parking. They do it well in West Hollywood, why not here?  (Because we don't own the city, stupid!)

I understand that Town has its Fifth Anniversary Sat. Nov. 17.  Town, remember, “replaces” the Velvet Nation (which gave way to the real estate development that accompanied Nationals Park – maybe a necessary sacrifice to have a first place team) – and remember Velvet had replaced Tracks, which had been a great Navy Yard area disco in the 1990s (remember the volleyball courts!) 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gay vote in presidential election may have create an electoral blowout for Obama

A study by Gary Gates at the Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. Law School showed that President Obama carried the 5% (that’s more than the 3% previously reported) of voters who self-identified as LGBT) by a ratio of 76% to 22%.  Romney and Obama almost split evenly the vote of the “straight slate”.

Furthermore, there is evidence that Romney might have carried Ohio and Florida were it not for the gay vote. The gay vote played a large role in bumping up the electoral college majority and helped make the Nov. 6 election an electoral rout.

Log Cabin and libertarian-leaning Republicans tried to improve the image of the party with gay voters at Tampa with big parties, but Romney’s own inconsistent and sometimes hostile behavior on social issues drove the voters away.

Back in the 1980s, the Dallas Gay Alliance (when I lived there) had the benefit of a political science professor who really helped the DGA “get out the vote”.  In the early 1980s, it was also "common knowledge" that there would be more police harassment of gay bars in Texas just before "elections". 
The news story by Micah Cohen, “Gay support buoyed Obama, as the straight vote split”, appears on p. A21 of the New York Times on Friday November 16, 2012, link here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Will", on "Days of our Lives", demonstrates a moral dilemma

An “ultimate” moral dilemma has surfaced on the NBC soap “Days or our Lives”.  I’ve covered the outing of Will (Chandler Massey) and his relationship with Sonny (Freddie Smith) on my TV blog.  Wednesday November 14, 2012 aired some of the most intimate gay soap scenes ever – it was interrupted by Obama’s news conference (largely about Petraeus’s heterosexual indiscretion, as well as other heterosexual misadventures in the CIA and military both), but fortunately it is playable today on NBC (here ).  One note – you can’t back up on the timeline below without starting over, so pay attention if you watch it.

About three months ago, Will was intimate with a reckless female character Gabi, in order to prove himself a “man” to his father Lucas.  Yesterday, during the part pre-empted by Obama’s conference, Gabi learned she was three months pregnant, which meant that Will is the father.

It’s easy to imagine the fun writers can have with this – or that social conservatives can display.  First, let’s accept the idea that terminating the pregnancy is out for moral reasons.   Let’s say that the “progressive” solution is the “Modern Family” approach:  Will and Sonny raise the child (I don’t know whether Sonny can adopt in Ohio) and Gabi stays around as the mother.  Some will say that is not in the best interests of the child.  That goal would require that Will marry Gabi, and learn to channel his passions into the rest of his life with one woman, whose character is flawed from the outset (Will doesn’t know what she had done to Chad – but that’s another topic.)  Also, Gabi is “in love” with Nick Fallon (appealing actor Blake Berris), who doesn’t know either – and who (a prototypical geek) really shouldn’t have been in prison – again, another topic.  But one can say a lifelong monogamous marriage between Will and Gabi (without the other characters) could be in the best interest of the child – the next generation.  

Or perhaps one could say, Sonny is obviously much more mature than Gabi and probably much better suited to be the second parent, even if adoptive. (He'll obviously be much better able to support the child financially, too.) Maybe a marriage (not yet legal in Salem) between Will and Sonny (giving Sonny parenthood) really is the best solution for the child.  
Gabi has really done horrible things – which some say doesn’t make her a horrible person. 

All that made me wonder something.  When I was thrown out of William and Mary as a freshman in 1961 for telling the Dean of Men that I am gay, would people have preferred that I had gotten a girl pregnant to “prove my manhood”?  As absurd as that sounds today, that’s probably how they felt.  I was an only child, and a “Gabi” incident could have guaranteed my parents a lineage. 

I perceived the “straight world” then as limiting, as channeling one’s innermost passions to meet the demands of others, who then can become corrupt.  But of course, one can say that “sustainable freedom” requires that people be willing do just that.  While more naturally aggressive men sacrifice themselves in war (and sometimes even on the gridiron) for the good of the group, someone like me was supposed to sacrifice innermost passion, sometimes predicated on fantasy and emotional self-indulgence (at least so it seemed in that “reparative therapy” at NIH in 1962). 

It sometimes seems that Sonny is about the only sane character in the show, which until now has been dedicated to showing how Midwestern heterosexuals can mess up.

There are other questions which must seem tempting to the writers of Corday Productions.  Will or Sonny (and then Gabi)  could have HIV (without symptoms), and the baby could be born with it.  (In fact, Nick could have subsequently gotten it from Gabi  -- yes, it can go both ways even for heterosexuals, sometimes.)  And why, in a soap opera, doesn’t anyone ever use condoms?  Is it because they don’t think they can get STD’s?  Pregnancy seems almost to be an accident most of the time.

During the scene where Gabi told Will that he was the dad, some of my own composed piano music was playing off Sibelius on my Mac (some rather dissonant fugal-like stuff with a lot of triplets).  It fit the emotional framework of the scene perfectly, a lot better than the stereotyped background score in the soap.

Oh, any by the way, on the Petraeus Scandal: “Heterosexuality is incompatible with military service.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Minorities much more likely to accept gay equality and gay marriage than earlier; two gay dads talk about a hitch in adoption on NBC Today

Aaron Blake has a little piece in Chris Cilliza’s blog “The Fix” in the Washington Post on Tuesday November 13, 2012, “A shift on gay marriage”, p. A4, link here

Blake points out that gay equality “won” four straight “games” in all four states Tuesday largely because the support for gay marriage, and even “gay rights” as a whole has improved in minority communities.
This is particularly true in Maryland, a “blue state” but a portion of whose African-American pastors were vociferously against gay marriage during the whole process.

Generally, in the past, racial or ethnic minorities (whatever their religious stands) have opposed gay marriage as part of their opposition to supposed “gay lifestyles” as hostile to the idea of continuing family lineages through procreation.  The same kind of thinking undergirds the Vatican’s position, as well as vitriolic anti-gay laws in countries like Uganda.

Prince George’s County, on the eastern side of Washington DC, with a majority population of minorities (especially African American, particularly in newer home developments), barely approved same-sex marriage, as it also barely approved casino construction which will happen in the county (at National Harbor) (story link here)
The Baltimore Sun ran a proud article Nov. 7 about Maryland’s historic vote, link here

The “Best of the Left” has a YouTube video on the principle that you should not put rights up for a vote.

To change the subject to gay parenting:

Also, on the NBC Today Show, Mark and Paul appeared as gay dads having adopted a girl, and talked about the 10 to 30-day waiting period where a biological mother can contest and adoption in some states (like Connecticut).  They were on a show “The Baby Wait” on Logo Tuesday Nov. 13 at 10 PM (to be reviewed later  -- Nelson and Tiyale tonight). 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

On gay marriage, voters give equal rights three wins and approach a 4-game sweep (the "San Francisco Giants" won)

Voters in Maryland and Maine approved same-sex marriage in referendums Tuesday.  The Washington Blade has a detailed (just off the press as of early AM) story here

In Maryland, Question 6 passed by a 52-48 margin. 

In Maine, an Augusta television station has the details here

Voters in Minnesota disapproved of a measure that would limit marriage to a man and a woman.  The St. Paul Pioneer Press has a story here

And early Wednesday morning, the Seattle Times reported that voters  were leading and would probably approveda measure allowing gay marriage, just as in Maryland, link here

So in four states, voters approved (or on the verge of approving) of the idea that adults of the same biological gender should be able to marry and enjoy full legal recognition. This was a four-game world series sweep!
The federal government still does not recognize gay marriage (as with immigration rights and survivorship of social security – already strained) but that’s what DOMA litigation is all about. 

Update: The gay marriage vote is reported to have passed in Washington state (Wed. night), barely. Story is here.

Wikipedia attribution link for Pike Place Farmer's Market in Seattle, near, I think, the location of the Cadillac Bar which I visited in 1996 and met someone (one of the Navy military discharge cases) to discuss DADT for my book. 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Town DC holds "set the clock back" party; Metro Weekly assesses Romney

Saturday, Nov. 2, the Town Discotheque in Washington DC held a huge post-Halloween, post-High-Heels “set the clock back” party, with huge crowds early, people clubbing because of the extra hour. I arrived at about 10:30 PM and found the parking lot had already gone into valet mode (had no problems with it, but I carry two keys; car was brought to me immediately when I left about 2 AM becoming 1 AM).

The lot used to fill up early on Friday nights (because of Bear Happy Hour maybe) and have plenty of room early Saturday nights.  The attendants say that two nearby lots have closed for real estate construction, leading much more demand for parking.

The decorations were down, but the drag show was long, and both floors were as crowded as ever. 
The Metro Weekly has an important comparison of Romney and Obama in an article by Justin Snow, here (no url yet for article).

Snow says that Romney has not made any statement about the repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell” and has not said that he would try to bring back the military ban. However he did oppose the repeal in 2010 (pretty much the way John McCain did). 

He also says that Romney says that the Boy Scouts should not discriminate against openly gay members and volunteers, even though he thinks that government has no role in a private organization’s policies.

Romney is said not to believe that ENDA is necessary, and even Obama has not made much progress in ordering federal contractors not to discriminate – in practice they do not, but this issue harkens back to the days less than 20 years ago when security clearances could be an issue.  Lifting DADT has also relieved potential issues with security clearances.

‘Romney is said to oppose not only gay marriage but also civil unions which confer the benefits of marriage.  The only benefit he thinks should be honored is hospital visitation.

Romney thinks that every child should have a mother and father if possible, but does not oppose adoption by same-sex couples. 

Romney opposes specific legislation for LGBT-related hate crimes (or bullying).

Romney does have a pretty good record of keeping his religion out of his policy beliefs.  But procreation is looked at as a major moral responsibility by his Mormon faith.  

Friday, November 02, 2012

Dupont High Heels Race: Election volunteering; ex-gay stories persist in news

Today, three different topics are covered:

The Dupont High Heels Race is almost as much a Washington tradition as the Easter Egg Roll (although other cities have one, too).  I got to 17th Street last night as the crowd was packed, south of JR’s.  The various drag queen personalities (like Lena from Town – “Are you having a good time?”) and a pantomime of “The View” had assembled, to race north. This is the first time I've ever gotten to this race. 

I had a ticket for a 9 PM show nearby (which see on movie’s blog), so I couldn’t see the entire race. I understand that JR’s showed it on closed-circuit television.

This would be a good place to give the link for HRC’s Election activity, including phone-a-thon.  Yes, I got a robo message for it.  Here’s the link. The priority candidates are Pocan, Sinema, and Tokano for the US House (Wisconsin, Arizona, California).  The HRC is asking for volunteers to make calls – but I get irritated by so many calls from so many candidates, constantly!!

And, in general, some of these heavily sponsored broadcast ads are so childish in their wording (“MY family”) that they get sickening. The "logic" of the anti-gay-marriage paid ad is pretty sickening (it claims that employees of charities will lose their jobs).  It plays all the time.  

There was a distracting story, by Erik Eckholm, in the New York Times Thursday bringing back a little legitimacy in claimed ex-gay conversions.  I leave it to the visitor to draw his or her own conclusions. The link is here

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A simplified happy Halloween

For  the real Halloween night, this year I kept it simple and drove over to Freddie’s Beach Bar in Crystal City in Arlington.  I couldn’t stay out late this time. 

The usual Karaoke was going on, in costumes.  

A bartender-waiter wore a placard with a fake hairless chest, and multiple YouTube-like panels on the back.   Dinner was being served, still.

I’ve never tried asking for diet cola in a bar before, but they had it.  Today I have to do my annual blood test after a fast (it got postponed by Sandy), so I was appreciative of the fact that the business could accommodate my “special need”. 

I’ve had experiences with being accommodated before.  In 1998, after my hip fracture and surgery,I was on crutches, but got myself over to the Gay Nineties, a quarter mile from the Churchill Apartments in downtown Minneapolis.  They invited me to use the freight elevator to get to the stage show space upstairs. 
So, this is “Happy All Saints Day”.